Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The word used in these two verses for “whole armor” is Strong’s G 3833 panoplian which occurs in Scripture just three times. The only other verse in which this word is used is Luke 11:22
But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance breaks the word down into being a combination of pas (G 3956) meaning every, and hóplon (G3696) meaning weapon. HELPS Word-studies explains further that panoplian is specifically a “complete set of defensive and offensive armor (weapons), i.e. everything needed to wage successful warfare.”
When looking further into hoplon, HELPS Word-studies indicates something that could be important. “Hóplon (“instrument”) is always in the plural (“weapons to wage war.”)
Okay, so we’ve all heard innumerable times that there are six pieces to the armor of God. Clearly, that qualifies as plural and does include both offensive and defensive items needed to wage war. There’s mention of a sword after all.
But what about the fact that throughout Scripture the number six is referred to as “the number of man” and represents human limitations. It always falls short of the righteous standards God has established within Scripture.
Why then, are we so quick to accept that surely, there are just six items in the armor that God makes available to us? Surely the armor that God Himself employs and provides to His children would represent Himself and therefore contain seven pieces within a complete set.
BibleStudy.org sums up the number seven’s meaning in Scripture by saying, “it symbolizes completeness and perfection, (both physical and spiritual).”
Now, were I a military strategist fanatically obsessed with the destruction of my enemy, I would be fine with them running around with a kit consisting of six pieces so long as that was an incomplete kit, knowing that there would always be one area of vulnerability that I could exploit. But perhaps I have merely spent too much time on the internet researching and exposed to conspiracy theories.
Surely there couldn’t be some grand failing that has festered for decades leaving the church vulnerable. Surely scores of well-meaning pastors and Bible teachers could not possibly have gotten this wrong so consistently.
One thing that I did used to engage in was historical reenactment.
Bear with me, I’ll be brief.
Some reenactors are obsessive about historical accuracy and will spend not only hours pouring over dusty tomes in a library and studying old wood carvings in order to learn the proper stitch length on a certain garment, but will go so far as to endeavor to re-create their kit by hand using methods that would have been employed in the era they represent. Some of the reenactors that most often fit this description are those that chose to reenact the Roman soldiers.
So what do they say that a standard kit contained?
Many websites mention that over the years, and based on the location in which the soldier served, the standard kit would vary. Despite this, at the most basic level, there was consistency. Most of the items, we expect; a helmet, shield, armor, short double-edged sword, sandals. Where the list varies from what we seen in Scripture is the inclusion of a heavy spear- a javelin or pilum.
This site does not include a belt among the list of items in a basic kit as it appears under a separate listing for balteus. But on that dedicated page is something worth noting: “It is worth mentioning that the arrested and POWs were stripped of their belts. A soldier without a belt is just an ex-soldier.”
What is a Christian without their belt of truth? As Russ would mention any time he was teaching a verse in which truth, alētheia (G 255) in the Greek appeared, not only does the word mean truth, but it also carries the connotation of “reality.”
But I digress. Back to the pilum.
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-
I could be wrong, but that definitely sounds like a long range weapon to me.
Perhaps it’s time that we started looking at Scripture for what the text plainly says instead of relying on what we’ve been taught, (in some cases, perhaps programmed to believe,) that the Word says.
As questions. Engage with the text. Dig into the words. Remember that those that we look up to as “giants in the faith” are, in and of themselves, just fallible humans as we are. They too, will make mistakes from time to time.
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
If even Paul commended those he was instructing for double-checking his teaching after not only meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus but having also been given visions of heaven, how much more so do we need to verify what is being taught in this day and age?
Truth thrives under scrutiny. It becomes more real and vibrant. You learn more about it and your faith increases. Oftentimes, you can easily detect a lie because you’re not allowed to question it.
Just something to consider