Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 6:16
“In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” – Ephesians 6:16
I want to start again with the several verses that introduce this idea Paul is putting forth. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13. He is telling us to put on the full armor of God for the following reason, that we can stand firmly against the powers of the enemy, namely the sly schemes of the devil.
The next part of our armor is the shield of faith. As our focus verse says, “in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16. What is meant here is that “over all” take up the shield of faith. It constitutes a protection over every part of the body, as it can be turned in every direction. The idea is, that as the shield covered or protected the other parts of the armor, so faith has a similar importance in the Christian virtues.
The shield in ancient Rome was made of a lightweight wood or a rim of brass which was covered by several folds of thick and strong animal hide, which was preserved by frequent anointing. This shield was carried or held by the left arm and was secured by straps which the arm passed through. The outer surface of the shield was made somewhat rounded from the center to the edge. It was polished smooth or anointed with oil so that the arrows or darts would glance off or rebounded. This large oblong oval door-like shield of the Romans was four feet long by two and a half feet wide; not the small round buckler. It was of great important to a soldier for it provided a blanket of protection which was meant to be taken up in all circumstances. And they would protect the soldier from fiery darts projected at them. These darts, known as “falarica” which were headed with lead, in or about which some combustible substance was placed that took fire in the passage of the arrow through the air, and often burnt up the enemy’s engines, ships, etc. They were made to stick in the shields and set them on fire.
And note that, when used, we will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Not that it might but will quench the fiery darts of the enemy. Paul here no doubt refers to the temptations of the great adversary, and/or those furious suggestions of evil that lures us to sin which he may throw into the mind like fiery darts. It would also refer to doubts placed in our mind regarding God and the Christian life.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. It is one of the three great gifts stated in 1 Corinthians, which are faith, hope and love. And it is through faith that we are justified. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. And because we have faith in God, our suffering need not faze us; in fact, we can persevere under it. All Christians have this promise. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5. Faith is a protective barrier between us and the schemes of Satan. When we believe God and take Him at His word, we remain grounded in truth, the lies of the enemy lose their power, and we become overcomers. In that way, faith is our shield.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.