Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Every Part Must be Protected Against the AdversaryEphesians 6:12
Our Spiritual FoesJ. Eadie, D. D.Ephesians 6:12
Spiritual Wrestling is PersonalDr. Talmage.Ephesians 6:12
The Christian Soldier's WarfareTheological SketchbookEphesians 6:12
The Craft of Our Invisible FoesJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 6:12
The Evil AngelsJ. Parsons.Ephesians 6:12
The Existence of Evil SpiritsR. W. Dale, LL. D.Ephesians 6:12
The FoeW.F. Adeney Ephesians 6:12
The Holy WarW. Jay.Ephesians 6:12
The Invisible Enemies of ManCanon Liddon.Ephesians 6:12
The Nature of the ContestH. J. Foster.Ephesians 6:12
Panoply of God. Conclusion of EpistleR. Finlayson Ephesians 6:10-20
Soul-MilitancyD. Thomas Ephesians 6:10-20
The Christian PanoplyR.M. Edgar Ephesians 6:10-24
The Divine Panoply: its Necessity and DesignT. Croskery Ephesians 6:11, 12

The Christian life is a warfare. In order to wage this successfully we must understand the nature of the foes we have to contend with, because the weapons and armor will have to be selected according to the character of the attack that is made upon us.


1. Negatively considered.

(1) Not material. Imagination has given the tempter a material form, e.g. in the legends of St. Anthony, because it is so much easier to grapple with the most fearful enemy that can be seen and touched than with an invisible, intangible foe. But our foe is not of flesh and blood. The subjugation of the physical world is easy compared with the task of conquering this invisible enemy.

(2) Not human. It is hard enough to think of the obstructive and tempting influence of bad men. But we have something worse to resist. We are attacked by an unearthly army. The black tide of hellish sin surges against the shores of our human world and bespatters us with its withering spray.

2. Positively considered.

(1) Spiritual. The fact that the word "immaterial" has come to mean "unimportant," is a striking proof of our earthly-mindedness. The spiritual world is the most real world. These spiritual foes are the most truly existing enemies we can ever meet. Our experience of them is in spiritual attacks, i.e. in temptations.

(2) Dominant. They are "world-rulers," they are in "heavenly" (or high) places. When St. Paul wrote this Epistle evil was uppermost in the world. Is it not also supreme in many regions now? We have to oust the forces that hold the field and to storm the citadel.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE WARFARE, Mediaeval armor is useless before rifle-bullets. Old castle walls are no protection against modern artillery. Nor will modern cannon drive back noxious gases. Sennacherib's hosts were powerless before that invisible angel of God, the pestilence. So the foe in the Christian warfare determines the character of the armor and weapons and the tactics to be pursued.

1. Negatively.

(1) Physical force will not serve us. Samson's strength is of no avail against temptation. Money, material resources, scientific skill, are useless. This is the age of steam, steel, and electricity. But such things give us no help in subduing greed, lust, and self-will.

(2) Human influence is vain. Arguments, threats, and promises; influences of authority and of sympathy; appeals to the reason, the feelings, and the conscience; these methods that affect our fellow-men do not touch the awful foes we have to contend against.

2. Positively.

(1) Spiritual armor and weapons are needed, i.e. truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer (vers. 14-18).

(2) These must be obtained from God. They constitute "the whole armor of God. ' There m nothing m the armory of human resources, physical or intellectual, that is adequate for meeting the dread spiritual foes of our warfare. The Christian warrior must be a man of Divine strength girded about by Divine graces. - W.F.A.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities. -
(Canon Liddon.)

I. THE FOES. Spiritual enemies. Our danger arises from -

1. The advantage they find in this world. It is in many respects their own.

2. Our natural inclinations.

3. Their number - Legion.

4. Their mightiness.

5. Their invisibility.

6. Their artfulness.

7. Their malignity.


1. The articles in which it consists. None provided for the back. He who flees is wholly defenceless, and sure to perish.

2. Its nature - Divine.

(1)Appointed by God.

(2)Provided by God.

3. The appropriation of it. You must apply it to the various purposes for which it has been provided. There are some who are ignorant of it; these cannot "take it to themselves," and they are "perishing for lack of knowledge." There are others who know it, but despise it; they never make use of it; their religion is all speculation; they "know these things," but "they do them not"; they believe - and "the devils believe and tremble."

4. The entireness of the application - "The whole armour." Every part is necessary. A Christian may be considered with regard to his principles, with regard to his practice, with regard to his experience, with regard to his comfort, and with regard to his profession; and oh! how important is it in each of these that neither of them is to be left in him exposed and undefended. He is to "stand complete in all the will" of his heavenly Father; he is to be "perfect and entire, lacking nothing." Nothing less: than this must be our aim.

III. THE SUCCESS. Three inquiries are here to be answered. The first regards the posture; what does the apostle mean by "standing"? It is a military term; and "standing" is opposed to falling. A man is said to "fall" when he is slain in battle; and he does so literally. It is opposed to fleeing. We often read of fleeing before the enemy in the Scriptures: this cannot be "standing." It is opposed to yielding or keeping back; and so the apostle says, "Neither give place to the devil." Every inch you yield he gains, and every inch he gains you lose; every inch he gains favours his gaining another inch, and every inch you lose favours your losing another inch. The second regards the period; what does the apostle mean when he says, "Stand in the evil day"? All the time of the Christian's warfare may be so called in a sense, and a very true sense; but the apostle refers also to some days which are peculiarly evil days." Days of suffering are such. The days in which the poor martyrs lived were "evil days"; they could not confess and follow Christ without exposing their substance and their liberty and their lives; but they "stood in the evil day," and "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Dame." There are "evil days" morally considered - perilous periods, in which "iniquity abounds and the love of many waxes cold," in which many may "turn aside from the faith and give themselves to vain janglings." The third regards the preeminence of the advantage gained; "stand in the evil day, and, having done all, stand." Some of God's servants have been foiled after various successes, and have become affecting examples to show us that we are never out of the reach of danger as long as we are in the body and in the world. The battle of Eylau, between the French and the Russians, was a dreadful conflict; more than fifty thousand perished. Both parties claimed the victory. What, then, is the historian to do? To do? Why, he will inquire, Who kept the field? And these were the French, while the Russians all withdrew. Oh, my brethren! it is the keeping of the field to the last - to see all the adversaries withdrawn - that is to make us "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." It is this that gives decision to the battle. Some have overcome, and then, alas! they have been overcome. What is it to gain success and yield it at last? The Romans often were checked: they often met with a defeat; but then they succeeded upon the whole, "and having done all, they stood." Of Gad it is said, "A troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last." And this will be the case with every real Christian. What comes from God will be sure to lead back to God.

(W. Jay.)

Theological Sketchbook.

1. Spirits.

2. Wicked spirits.

3. Formidable spirits.

(1)On account of their strength.

(2)On account of their weapons.

(3)On account of their extensive influence.

(4)On account of their wiles.


1. In the armour of God.

(1)This must be all put on.

(2)We must retain it till our warfare be past.

(3)We must take and use it whenever assaulted.

2. In the spirit of prayer and watchfulness.

3. In the exercise of firm resistance. Let your resistance be -

(1)Early. At the first approach of the enemy.


(3)Unwearied. Till you conquer.


1. Because the most important objects depend on this contention.

(1)Your steadfastness;

(2)your liberty;

(3)your glory;

(4)your eternal life.

2. Because victory is certain to the faithful soldiers of Christ.

(1)Victory over the world;

(2)victory over sin;

(3)victory over Satan;

(4)victory over tribulation;

(5)victory over death.

3. Because victory will be attended with certain glory.

(1)A glorious rest from all painful toil and contention;

(2)glorious exemption from all penal evil;

(3)glorious honours;

(4)a glorious throne, crown, kingdom.

(Theological Sketchbook.)

1. The subject is confessedly difficult, obscure, and mysterious; but there is nothing incredible in the existence of unseen and evil powers, from whose hostility we are in serious danger. Give the faculty of vision to the blind, and they see the sun and the clouds and the moon and the stars, of whose existence they had known nothing except by hearsay; give a new faculty to the human race, and we might discover that we are surrounded by "principalities" and "powers," some of them loyal to God and bright with a Divine glory; some of them in revolt against Him, and scarred with the lightnings of the Divine anger. The moral objections to the existence of evil spirits can hardly be sustained in the presence of the crimes of which our own race has been guilty. There may be other worlds in which the inhabitants are as wicked as the most wicked of ourselves; we cannot tell. We may be surrounded - we cannot tell - by creatures of God, who hate righteousness and hate God with a fiercer hatred than ever burned in the hearts of the most profligate and blasphemous of our race. And they may be endeavouring to accomplish our moral ruin, in this life and the life to come.

2. Our Lord plainly taught the existence of evil spirits (Matthew 13:19, 39; Luke 10:18; Luke 22:31; John 12:31; Matthew 25:41). No use to say that as He spoke the language, He thought the thoughts, of His country and His time; for it was impossible that He should mistake shadows for realities in that invisible and spiritual world which was His true home, and which He had come to reveal to man. Nor can we believe that Christ Himself knew that evil spirits had no existence, and yet consciously and deliberately fell in with the common way of speaking about them. The subject was one of active controversy between rival Jewish sects, and in using the popular language Christ took sides with one sect against another. That He should have supported controverted opinions which He knew to be false is inconceivable. Again: He came to preach glad tidings; can we suppose that, if the popular dread of evil spirits had no foundation, He would have deliberately fostered such a falsehood?

3. The teaching of Christ on this point is sustained by all the apostles (James 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Ephesians 4:26; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:13, 14; 1 John 3:8, 10, 12; 1 John 5:18, 19, etc.).

4. The teaching of Christ and His apostles is confirmed by our religious experience. Evil thoughts come to us which are alien from all our convictions and from all our sympathies. There is nothing to account for them in our external circumstances or in the laws of our intellectual life. We abhor them and repel them, but they are pressed upon us with cruel persistency. They come to us at times when their presence is most hateful; they cross and trouble the current of devotion; they gather like thick clouds between our souls and God, and suddenly darken the glory of the Divine righteousness and love. We are sometimes pursued and harassed by doubts which we have deliberately confronted, examined, and concluded to be absolutely destitute of force, doubts about the very existence of God, or about the authority of Christ, or about the reality of our own redemption. Sometimes the assaults take another form. Evil fires which we thought we had quenched are suddenly rekindled by unseen hands; we have to renew the fight with forms of moral and spiritual evil which we thought we had completely destroyed. There is a Power not ourselves that makes for righteousness; light falls upon us which we know is light from heaven; in times of weariness strength comes to us from inspiration which we know must be Divine; we are protected in times of danger by an invisible presence and grace; there are times when we are conscious that streams of life are flowing into us which must have their fountains in the life of God. And there are dark and evil days when we discover that there is also a power not ourselves that makes for sin. We are at war, the kingdom of God on earth is at war, with the kingdom of darkness. We have to fight "against the principalities," etc. And therefore we need the strength of God and "the armour of God." The attacks of these formidable foes are not incessant; but as we can never tell when "the evil day" may come, we should be always prepared for it. After weeks and months of happy peace, they fall upon us without warning, and without any apparent cause. If we are to "withstand" them, and if after one great battle in which we have left nothing unattempted or unaccomplished for our own defence and the destruction of the enemy we are still "to stand," to stand with our force unexhausted and our resources undiminished, ready for another and perhaps fiercer engagement, we must "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might," and we must "take up the whole armour of God."

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

1. That our enemies aim at us personally.

2. The nearness of the parties to each other.

3. The severity of the struggle, παλη.

4. The continuance of it. The present tense.

(H. J. Foster.)


1. Actual beings, possessing an angelic order of existence.

2. Beings deeply and fearfully characterized by evil.

3. Beings who possess wide power and authority over the world.


1. Notice the manner in which that conflict is conducted. These principalities, etc., fight against the children of God through the medium of their own thoughts; as those thoughts may be influenced independent of external objects, or as those thoughts may be influenced by the thoughts and passions of other men; and by the various events and occurrences which are transpiring in this sublunary and terrestrial world. It is intended by this power and instrumentality to lead to principles, to actions, and to habits which are inconsistent with the maintenance of the Christian character.

2. Mark the spirit in which that warfare is conducted. It is precisely such as we might expect from the character and attributes of the principalities, the powers, and the rulers against whom we wrestle. It is, for instance, conducted with subtlety and cunning. We find that Satan is said to transform himself into an angel of light. Hence, again, we read of "the devices of Satan" and "the rulers of Satan" as being "the old serpent." It is, further, conducted in cruelty, Hence, we read of Satan as being "the adversary"; we read of his fiery darts; and we are told that he "goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." It is, again, conducted in perseverance. All the statements which are urged with regard to subtlety on the one hand, and cruelty on the other, show that there is one incessant labour, which is perfectly unvaried and unremitting on their part, to accomplish the great designs they have in view with respect to the character and the final destiny of the soul.

3. Observe for what purpose the conflict is designed. That there may be a failure on the part of the redeemed, in their character, their consistency, and their hopes; and this, under the impulse of one dark and fearful result, as bearing both upon God and upon man. As regards God, it is intended that the purpose of the Father should be foresworn; that the atonement of the Son should be inefficacious; and that the influence of the Spirit should be thwarted. And, as bearing on man, it is intended that his life should become bereft of honour, comfort, and peace; that his death should be a scene of agitation, pain, and darkness; that his judgment should he an event of threatening and bitter condemnation; that his eternity should be the habitation of torment and woe; and that over spirits, who once had the prospects of redemption, there shall be pronounced that fearful sentence, "Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."


1. The nature of the means of preservation.

(1)A constant and diligent attempt, in the strength of the living God, to live in practical conformity with the doctrines and precepts of the gospel.



2. The effect which these means, when used aright, will secure. That the Christian warrior, fighting against these mighty and invisible foes, shall, although faint, yet pursue, and although feeble, shall yet conquer.

(J. Parsons.)

(J. Pulsford.)

1. Their position. They are no subalterns, but foes of mighty rank, the nobility and chieftains of the spirit world.

2. Their office. Their domain is this darkness in which they exercise imperial sway.

3. Their essence. Not encumbered with an animal frame, but "spirits."

4. Their character - "evil." Their appetite for evil only exceeds their capacity for producing it.

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

cap-a-piewith that panoply - the whole armour of God. For the devil will be sure to hit the least part that he finds unarmed; if it be the eye, he will dart in at that casement by the presentation of one lewd object or other; if it be the ear, he will force that door open by bad counsel; if the tongue, that shall be made a world of mischief; if the feet, they shall be swift to shed blood, etc.

(Dr. Talmage.)

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