I strongly recommend that every believer in Jesus listen to this entire 46 minute combination history / Scripture lesson by a Roman historian. You’ll be encouraged and instructed. The information on the complete armor of a Roman soldier in the time of Christ is fascinating in itself, if you have any interest in history. But after that history lesson, the narrator explains how the metaphor of Roman armor of that time expresses some very important spiritual truths.
In this article I’m going to present some of the high points.
The narrator makes many very important points:
1) “No other army in the world at that time had such effective armor.” And only Christians have “The whole armor of God”.
2) “Paul, in Roman captivity, knew what a Roman soldier looked like.” Paul saw it every day – he was guarded constantly by a Roman soldier, both against rescue attempts and against assassination attempts.
3) “I can’t put the armor on, on my own. I need help.” The Roman armor of this period can’t be put on by the wearer only. Just so, we need God’s help, first, last, and always, to “put on our armor”. But fellow believers can help also.
4) There was a vulnerable spot in the Roman armor – under the arm. Therefore Roman soldiers were taught never to raise their arms. The moral: Never expose yourself to what you know is a temptation you struggle with.
5) There was no stainless steel in that time, therefore the armor rusted with amazing speed. It had to be maintained daily. We need daily prayer, daily Bible reading, daily fellowship with other believers.
6) The plates and the halves of the armor were held together with leather straps. One broken strap would be disastrous. Therefore the straps must be kept oiled. Every piece of the armor is important!
7) Belt of Truth: the video demonstrates how the belt of the Roman soldier held the rest of the armor in place and stable. In combat, you don’t want your weapons or your gear slopping around all over your body. They have to be in the same place, every time, all the time. When you need to draw your weapon, the last thing you need is to have to hunt around for it. Truth is the most important thing in the world, including truth about Christian faith. That’s why Paul mentions the belt first, although it doesn’t seem at first that in a battle, you’d think first about your belt.
8) Breastplate of Righteousness: The protection of the heart and vital organs against almost any attack gives the soldier the confidence to step forward and engage a deadly enemy at close range. If you don’t have that confidence, you’re a loss as a soldier. And righteousness keeps you from feeling guilty. Righteousness gives you self-confidence.
9) Shoes for your feet: The narrator pointed out, “They are very expensive Roman boots. They are NOT sandals.” Lose your footing in a fight and you may well be dead. Roman BOOTS had lugs on the bottom, similar to golf or football cleats, to give firm footing on any surface. Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul refers to “the gospel of peace” as firm footing? “Onward Christian Soldiers” did not, in Paul’s mind, refer to fighting with literal swords. Because, as Paul had said just a few verses earlier, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
10) Shield of Faith: The narrator point out that “it was unique to the Romans.” It was, for starters, designed to be linked with other shields! Like we are designed to be linked with other believers. It was made of plywood! Yes, the Romans made their own plywood. Much stronger than plain wood. Per another source, it was covered with animal skins, which were soaked in olive oil to keep them supple and fireproof! That’s why Paul said of the shield, “with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one”. If you didn’t maintain the olive oil on those animal skins, they dried out, cracked, and your shield became flammable. And the “fire arrows” of the enemy would set your shield on fire.
And if you lived through that, your gunny sergeant would set something else on fire.
The point is made from another source that olive oil was the oil with which ceremonial anointing was done in Judaism. Apparently that element of Roman armor was not unique to Rome, because it’s verified by Scripture in the Old Testament:
“O mountains of Gilboa, Let not dew or rain be upon you, nor fields with offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, [dry, cracked] not anointed with oil.” (AMP)
““O mountains of Gilboa, Let there be no dew nor rain upon you, nor fields of offerings. For the shield of the mighty is cast away there! The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.” (NKJV)
For believers after the Day of Pentecost, the anointing we receive is the anointing of the Holy Spirit: “... you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.“
BTW, I tried long ago to make an oil lamp using olive oil. It wouldn’t burn.
11) Helmet of salvation: It seems pretty obvious. Protect your head, where your brain is, with the knowledge of your salvation. Knowing you are saved means that many blows attempted by the enemy of your soul will be laughable.
1 John 2:3-6 “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.“
1 John 3:24 “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.“
1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
12) Sword of the Spirit: “… and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” A sword can be either a defensive weapon or an offensive weapon. Get to know the Word of God. An old-fashioned Fundamentalist preacher was once asked, “How do you know when you’ve studied the Bible enough?” He replied, “When you open your mouth and the Word of God comes out.” At least when it’s appropriate. We don’t go around speaking Scripture all day and nothing else. People would either run when they saw us coming or start stuffing our mouths for us. But when you need it, it should be at your command. Like a person with a concealed carry permit: the weapon is there, ready for use, but you don’t “flash your gun” until it’s needed.
The Bible, even in these days of rejection of Christianity and Christ, still has power. It can touch hearts like nothing else. When the time is right, and if your witness has been consistent. You will know when the time is right if you have studied the Bible, if you stay in communion with God and in fellowship with other believers, and if you live as righteous a life as you possibly can.
There’s more. There’s also a reference in that video to “impedimentia”. I’ll let you look for that one for yourselves. It is important, and is – by coincidence? – something the Lord has been talking to me about dealing with in my life. There’s an important reason, with an important spiritual parallel, the Roman soldier wore his sword apparently on the wrong side.
There is more, and also some of you may have greater knowledge than I have, or something in that video may strike you that I didn’t catch. So read the above, but please make time to watch the video. It’s fascinating how many parallels there are to spiritual principles. I firmly believe that God controlled everything so that Paul would be in prison in that time and that place, and He arranged for the Roman armor to be what it was, solely for the purpose of teaching us how to fight the spiritual warfare we are in. For one thing, nothing stays the same, and Roman armor changed a few years after Paul wrote Ephesians chapter 6.
It was all planned by God Himself.