Paul’s last words give us a lot to think about, he gives the Ephesian church a hint of both how they are to live, and what they are up against. People are to live clothed in Truth, Justice, Peace (and news of peace), faith, and prayer. We like these short descriptions of how we are supposed to live — something that we can memorize, and something that we can ask ourselves about: “Am I wearing God’s armor?”
The thing is that very often, we miss why we need this armor. When Paul uses the term armor, he is using military language — one does not wear armor without anticipating the need for it. The metaphor is not complete if we forget that this directly follows what we need to protect us in battle.
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood.” These words come, traditionally, a couple years before Nero’s great persecution of the Christians, so they would have taken quite a bit of meaning as the government authorities fought against Christianity, making themselves the enemy.
The church survived by arming itself with the right armor, and fighting the true enemy. Thousands of Christians died at the hands of the apparent enemy, but because they did not attempt to conquer Rome, they did not follow by dying the death of empires. Christianity is not about political power, but about good news, and a changed life. Good news survives, and God continues to transform lives.