Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Ephesians 6:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Wherefore - Because ye have such enemies to contend with, take unto you - assume, as provided and prepared for you, the whole armor of God; which armor if you put on and use, you shall be both invulnerable and immortal. The ancient heroes are fabled to have had armor sent to them by the gods; and even the great armor-maker, Vulcan, was reputed to be a god himself. This was fable: What Paul speaks of is reality. See before on Ephesians 6:11; (note).

That ye may be able to withstand - That ye may not only stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, but also discomfit all your spiritual foes; and continuing in your ranks, maintain your ground against them, never putting off your armor, but standing always ready prepared to repel any new attack.

And having done all, to stand - Και ἁπαντα κατεργασαμενοι στηναι· rather, And having conquered all, stand: this is a military phrase, and is repeatedly used in this sense by the best Greek writers. So Dionys. Hal. Ant., lib. vi., page 400: Και παντα πολεμια εν ολιγῳ κατεργασαμενοι χρονῳ· "Having in a short time discomfited all our enemies, we returned with numerous captives and much spoil." See many examples in Kypke. By evil day we may understand any time of trouble, affliction, and sore temptation.

As there is here allusion to some of the most important parts of the Grecian armor, I shall give a short account of the whole. It consisted properly of two sorts:

  1. Defensive armor, or that which protected themselves.
  • Offensive armor, or that by which they injured their enemies. The apostle refers to both.
  • I. Defensive Armor

      Περικεφαλαια, the Helmet; this was the armor for the head, and was of various forms, and embossed with a great variety of figures. Connected with the helmet was the crest or ridge on the top of the helmet, adorned with several emblematic figures; some for ornament, some to strike terror. For crests on ancient helmets we often see the winged lion, the griffin, chimera, etc. St. Paul seems to refer to one which had an emblematical representation of hope.

      Ζωμα, the Girdle; this went about the loins, and served to brace the armor tight to the body, and to support daggers, short swords, and such like weapons, which were frequently stuck in it. This kind of girdle is in general use among the Asiatic nations to the present day.

      Θωραξ, the Breast-Plate; this consisted of two parts, called πτερυγες or wings: one covered the whole region of the thorax or breast, in which the principal viscera of life are contained; and the other covered the back, as far down as the front part extended.

      Κνημιδες, Greaves or brazen boots, which covered the shin or front of the leg; a kind of solea was often used, which covered the sole, and laced about the instep, and prevented the foot from being wounded by rugged ways, thorns, stones, etc.

      Χειριδες, Gauntlets; a kind of gloves that served to defend the hands, and the arm up to the elbow.

      Ασπις, the clypeus or Shield; it was perfectly round, and sometimes made of wood, covered with bullocks' hides; but often made of metal. The aspis or shield of Achilles, made by Vulcan, was composed of five plates, two of brass, two of tin, and one of gold; so Homer, Il. U. v. 270: -

    - επει πεντε πτυχας ηλασε Κυλλοποδιων,Τας δυο χαλκειας, δυο δ ' ενδοθι κασσιτεροιο,Την δε μιαν χρυσηνπ .

    Five plates of various metal, various mold,

    Composed the shield; of brass each outward fold,

    Of tin each inward, and the middle gold.

    Of shields there were several sorts: Γερῥων or γερρα, the gerron ; a small square shield, used first by the Persians.

    Λαισηΐον, Laiseion ; a sort of oblong shield, covered with rough hides, or skins with the hair on.

    Πελτη, the Pelta ; a small light shield, nearly in the form of a demicrescent, with a small ornament, similar to the recurved leaves of a flower de luce, on the center of a diagonal edge or straight line; this was the Amazonian shield.

    Θυρεος, the scutum or Oblong Shield; this was always made of wood, and covered with hides. It was exactly in the shape of the laiseion, but differed in size, being much larger, and being covered with hides from which the hair had been taken off. It was called θυρεος from θυρα, a door, which it resembled in its oblong shape; but it was made curved, so as to embrace the whole forepart of the body. The aspis and the thureos were the shields principally in use; the former for light, the latter for heavy armed troops.

    II. Offensive Armor, or Weapons; the Following Were Chief:

      Εγχος, enchos, the Spear; which was generally a head of brass or iron, with a long shaft of ash.

      Δορυ, the Lance; differing perhaps little from the former, but in its size and lightness; being a missile used, both by infantry and cavalry, for the purpose of annoying the enemy at a distance.

      Ξιφος, the Sword; these were of various sizes, and in the beginning all of brass. The swords of Homer's heroes are all of this metal.

      Μαχαιρα, called also a sword, sometimes a knife; it was a short sword, used more frequently by gladiators, or in single combat. What other difference it had from the xiphos I cannot tell.

      Αξινη, from which our word Axe; the common battle-axe.

      Πελεκυς, the Bipen ; a sort of battle-axe, with double face, one opposite to the other.

      Κορυνη, an iron club or mace, much used both among the ancient Greeks and Persians.

      Τοξον, the Bow; with its pharetra or quiver, and its stock or sheaf of arrows.

      Σφενδονη, the Sling; an instrument in the use of which most ancient nations were very expert, particularly the Hebrews and ancient Greeks.

    The arms and armor mentioned above were not always in use; they were found out and improved by degrees. The account given by Lucretius of the arms of the first inhabitants of the earth is doubtless as correct as it is natural.

    Arma antiqua manus, ungues, dentesque fuere,

    Et lapides, et item silvarum fragmina rami,

    Et flammae, atque ignes postquam sunt cognita primum:

    Posterius ferri vis est, aerisque reperta:

    Sed prius aeris erat quam ferri cognitus usus:

    Quo facilis magis est natura, et copia major.

    De Rerum Nat., lib. v. ver. 1282.

    Whilst cruelty was not improved by art,

    And rage not furnished yet with sword or dart;

    With fists, or boughs, or stones, the warriors fought;

    These were the only weapons Nature taught:

    But when flames burnt the trees and scorched the ground,

    Then brass appeared, and iron fit to wound.

    Brass first was used, because the softer ore,

    And earth's cold veins contained a greater store.


    I have only to observe farther on this head,

    1. That the ancient Greeks and Romans went constantly armed;
  • That before they engaged they always ate together; and
  • That they commenced every attack with prayer to the gods for success.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    In the evil day - The day of temptation; the day when you are violently assaulted.

    And having done all, to stand - Margin, “or overcome.” The Greek word means, to work out, effect, or produce; and then to work up, to make an end of, to vanquish. Robinson, Lexicon. The idea seems to be, that they were to overcome or vanquish all their foes, and thus to stand firm. The whole language here is taken from war; and the idea is, that every foe was to be subdued - no matter how numerous or formidable they might be. Safety and triumph could be looked for only when every enemy was slain.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.
    Ellen G. White
    Evangelism, 704

    Our Duty in the Moment of Respite—Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth, and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.... Ev 704.1

    A moment of respite has been graciously given us of God. Every power lent us of heaven is to be used in doing the work assigned us by the Lord for those who are perishing in ignorance.... Ev 704.2

    God's people should make mighty intercession to Him for help now. And they must put their whole energies into the effort to proclaim the truth during the respite that has been granted.... Ev 704.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 218

    Where are those who would be wise laborers together with God? The apostle says, “Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” But will men trust that they may be able under pressure of circumstances to step into some important position, when they have neglected to train and discipline themselves for the work? Will they imagine that they may be polished instruments in the hands of God for the salvation of souls for whom Christ died, when they have neglected to use the opportunities placed at their command for obtaining a fitness for the work? “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Every one needs to improve his God-given faculties and opportunities, that individually we may be laborers together with God. FE 218.1

    God is continually working for us that we may come behind in no gift. He has given us our physical, mental, and moral powers, and if we improve as we should, we shall be able to meet the supernatural powers of darkness and conquer them. Jesus has pointed out the way of life, He has made manifest the light of truth, He has given the Holy Spirit, and endowed us richly with everything essential to our perfection. But these advantages are not acknowledged, and we overlook our privileges and opportunities, and fail to co-operate with the heavenly intelligences, and thus fail to become noble, intelligent workers for God. Those to whom their own way looks more attractive than does the way of the Lord, cannot be used in His service, for they would misrepresent the character of Christ, and lead souls away from acceptable service to God. FE 218.2

    Those who work for the Master must be well-disciplined, that they may stand as faithful sentinels. They must be men and women who will carry out the plans of God for the wise improvement of the minds of those who come under their influence. They must unite with all the agencies who are seeking to fulfill the will of God in saving a lost world. Christ has given Himself, the just for the unjust, He has died on Calvary's cross, and He has intrusted to human agencies the work of completing the great measure of redeeming love; for man co-operates with God in His effort to save the perishing. In the neglected duties of the church we read the retarding of the fulfillment of the purpose of God; but if men fail to accomplish their work, it would be better had they never been born. Great evil will follow the neglect of co-operating with God; for eternal life will be lost. Our success as candidates for heaven will depend on our earnestness in fulfilling the conditions upon which eternal life is granted. We must receive and obey the word of God, we cannot be idlers, and float with the current. We must be diligent students of the word of God. We must train and educate ourselves as good soldiers of Christ. We must advance the work, becoming laborers together with God.—The Review and Herald, February 14, 1893. FE 219.1

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    Ellen G. White
    In Heavenly Places, 259

    Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13. HP 259.1

    There are many who do not understand the conflict that is going on between Christ and Satan over the souls of men. They do not realize that if they would stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel they must be willing to be partakers of His conflicts and wage a determined war against the powers of darkness. HP 259.2

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1106

    (Matthew 7:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12.) An Unfailing Test—Satan has come down in these last days to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. His satanic majesty works miracles in the sight of false prophets, in the sight of men, claiming that he is indeed Christ Himself. Satan gives his power to those who are aiding him in his deceptions; therefore those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah. The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep's clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf can be discerned only as we go to God's great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah (The Review and Herald, August 25, 1885). 6BC 1106.1

    Preparing for the Final Act—This world is a theater. The actors, the inhabitants of the world, are preparing to act their part in the last great drama. God is lost sight of. There is no unity of purpose, except as parties of men confederate to gain their ends. God is looking on. His purposes in regard to His rebellious subjects will be fulfilled. The world has not been given into the hands of men, though God is permitting the elements of confusion and disorder to bear sway for a season. A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama—Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies. Those who are yielding to the passion for confederation are working out the plans of the enemy. The cause will be followed by the effect (Letter 141, 1902). 6BC 1106.2

    (Ephesians 6:10-12.) Constant Vigilance Demanded—[Ephesians 6:10-12 quoted.] Every one who has enlisted under the bloodstained banner of Christ has entered upon a warfare that demands constant vigilance. Satan is determined to keep up the warfare to the end. Coming as an angel of light, claiming to be the Christ, he will deceive the world. But his triumph will be short. No storm or tempest can move those whose feet are planted on the principles of eternal truth. They will be able to stand in this time of almost universal apostasy (Manuscript 74, 1903). 6BC 1106.3

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