A metaphor is a figure of speech in which the subject is related (in some way) to another object. The focus is on the subject, and the object exists only as a point of comparison and/or description.
There is a very famous set of metaphors (probably just one big metaphor) toward the middle of Ephesians 6. I’ll get to that soon.
Sunday morning, we talked a little about metaphors (and similes, since they are related to one another). And, I asked for examples of metaphors. (Everyone gave similes, but that works…) These are some of the examples offered: “cold as ice,” “fast as a cheetah,” “eyes like diamonds.”
In those metaphors, the focus is on “cold,” “fast,” and “eyes,” with the objects “ice,” “cheetah,” and “diamonds” offering points of comparison and/or description.
This brings me to the metaphor(s) of Ephesians 6:
Therefore take up the whole armor of God… Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… (Ephesians 6:13-16 ESV)
What are the subjects of focus in this list, and what are the objects of comparison/description? If you make that decision based on the “Armor of God” playset that we bought our son several years ago, then the important parts of that list would be the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword. (By the way, my son – who will be 19 in a few days – informed me that it was not a playset; it was real armor.)
In fact, if you check various pieces of artwork, books, and even sermons (along with various toys like the aforementioned playset), you might think that Paul was making that list so that we would know how a Roman soldier was decked out for battle. But, I don’t think Paul’s focus is on the armor at all, except as a point of comparison/description.
Instead, I believe that Paul is focusing on his readers “putting on” truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, and the Spirit (which is the word of God). It’s in this way that they are about to stand… or withstand… spiritual attacks.
These are not items that we can put on or take off, per se. Instead, they are ours in Jesus Christ. Always. All of them. Our “putting on,” then, is not about making sure we walk out the door with our “righteousness” strapped in place. Instead, “putting on” is about recognizing who we are in Jesus Christ and living in that reality. (Paul talked alot about that reality in Ephesians 1-3, and discussed alot about “putting on” that reality in various forms in Ephesians 4-6.)
So, when you think about the “armor of God,” where is your focus? Is it on the various pieces of armor? Or, do you focus on the realities of our life in Christ – a life which is filled through Jesus Christ with truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, and Spirit.