Friday, 18 November 2016
..and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Ephesians 6:15
The words of this verse have caused a great deal of variety in commentary. But what one simply needs to do is remember that Paul is in prison, probably looking at a Roman soldier, and he is using the military wardrobe of his guard to make spiritual applications for the believer in Christ.
The Roman army was the preeminent power and it was a great and conquering force. This was because its soldiers were well trained and their uniforms were designed for waging war. This included their feet as well. A soldier whose feet hurt, or which were either not protected or which were inappropriately protected, would be at a significant disadvantage.
The feet are the base of the body, and they are that upon which everything else is supported. For this reason, the Roman soldier’s shoes were carefully designed for use in both offense and defense. Vincent’s Word Studies describes their footwear –
“The Roman soldier substituted for the greaves of the Greek (metal plates covering the lower part of the leg) the caligae or sandals, bound by thongs over the instep and round the ankle, and having the soles thickly studded with nails. They were not worn by the superior officers, so that the common soldiers were distinguished as caligati.”
This is certainly what Paul is describing. A guard in the prison where he was would not be an officer, but a battle-ready soldier. His shoes would have these studded nails so that he could firmly plant his feet and strike without slipping. Further, the heavy materials would, at the same time, protect his feet on top, bottom, and sides. With feet that were protected, he could then go forward in battle without worrying about suffering injuries to them. Thus, they were at once defensive and offensive.
We are instructed by Paul with the words, “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” In other words, the gospel is our base, and it is what we are to use as the support for everything else we do. If someone comes against us, we are to stand firm on the gospel, not slipping and caving on our convictions. We are not to budge even an inch on the truth that Jesus is the way to peace with God, and that there is no other.
And with this conviction and firm base as a defense, we will stand steady. Also our feet (which are our base) will be protected from harm. In this protected state, we can then use them for offensive purposes – that of going forward in the battle, carrying the good news of Jesus Christ. Isaiah speaks of this –
“How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Paul uses Isaiah’s words in Romans 10 –
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 52:7
Life application: The gospel of peace must be both defended and actively proclaimed. A gospel which is proclaimed, but which is not defended will not be the sound and true gospel. If the true gospel is defended, but not proclaimed, it will be a wasted message which dies with the one who bears it. Let us both stand firm on the true gospel, and let us be bold in our proclamation of this marvelous good news.
Heavenly Father, You have given charge of defending and sharing Your good news to the sons of men. We are never to allow it to be watered down, and we are not to hold it in and keep it secret. As faithful followers of Christ Jesus, we are to both care for this sacred trust, and also tell others about it. If we defend the gospel, but don’t proclaim it, that is a sad waste. If we don’t defend it, then it will suffer in its content. Should we proclaim a gospel which has not been protected, we will be proclaiming a false gospel – one which only condemns. Help us to be proper stewards of this sacred treasure You have given to us. Amen.