Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).
1. Of what does the apostle Paul inform us in Ephesians 6:11-12 (printed below?)
Put on the complete armor of God so that you may be able to withstand the schemes of the devil; (12) because our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
Verse 11 informs us that as Christians we are facing “the schemes of the devil.” These “schemes” refer to the tricks or stratagems of the devil that are intended to ensnare and deceive (compare the clear warning of God recorded in Genesis 2:16-17 with the deceptive insinuations of the devil recorded in Genesis 3:1,4-5). Not only are we opposed by a powerful spiritual foe, but one who is extremely cunning, ruthless, and completely anti-moral (note John 8:44). Our struggle is nothing less than a spiritual warfare being waged against us by the devil and all of his hosts (as verse 12 enumerated them).
2. What exhortation, or command, does Paul give the Christian in Ephesians 6:10 (printed below?)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty strength. (Ephesians 6:10)
If we are to survive in this spiritual conflict, we must rely upon the strength of the Lord; we must be “strong in the Lord.” The command, “Be strong in the Lord,” reminds us that we have no strength in ourselves to combat and to conquer the enemy of our souls. The command also reminds us that we must avail ourselves of Christ’s divine power and victory, a victory ultimately won at Calvary.
3. What instruction does the apostle give us in Ephesians 6:14a (printed below?) What do you think this means?
So then, stand with truth wrapped around your waist like a belt, and clothed with the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)
The instruction is to stand “with truth wrapped around your waist like a belt.” When the loose-fitting tunic was gathered up around the waist and held fast with a belt, the soldier was ready for battle. The “belt” that holds the Christian’s “tunic” in place and prepares us for spiritual warfare is “truth.” The point being made: the way you prepare yourself for the assaults of the devil and guard yourself against those assaults is by having a firm connection to the truth of God, knowing the truth and building your life upon it. As Christians, we have the divine resource to stand firm in the midst of the destructive relativism of the age: the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (note John 17:17b; John 8:31-32).
4. In addition to putting on the whole armor of God, what else must we do? See Ephesians 6:18 (printed below)
By means of every prayer and petition, keep praying in the Spirit on every occasion, and in this state keep watch for all the saints with all perseverance and every petition. (Ephesians 6:18)
Verse 18 must actually be connected to verse 14; “Stand…by means of every prayer and petition.” Only those who spend time with God in prayer are able to stand against the devil. Let us remember how our Lord Jesus prepared Himself for His greatest hour of trial: He resorted to prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36). The combination of the terms “prayer and petition” emphasize earnest prayer as well as being specific with regard to our prayer requests. Prayer must not be viewed as a last resort; on the contrary, prayer is the essential starting point for victory in spiritual matters.
5. For whom are we instructed to pray? See Ephesians 6:18-19 (printed below)
By means of every prayer and petition, keep praying in the Spirit on every occasion, and in this state keep watch for all the saints with all perseverance and every petition. (19) Also pray for me, that words may be given to me, together with boldness, whenever I open my mouth to make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-19)
Prayer is not merely to be a private matter devoted exclusively to personal needs and requests; we are instructed to pray for “all the saints.” We must remember that as fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are all members of the same spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). We must recognize that we all undergo the same trials and the same temptations (1 Peter 5:8-9). According to verse 19, we are especially instructed to pray for God’s servants who are proclaiming the gospel.