Paul’s discussion of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 is a passage of Scripture that preaches well. It inspires believers in their battle against sin and Satan. It’s a text that promotes victory, and encourages hope. There have been, as a result, numerous reflections on the text, and a particular desire by many to understand each of the pieces of the armor. Many have sought to align each piece with the specific armor of the Roman soldier, but Iain Duguid believes this is misguided. What Duguid offers in The Whole Armor of God is a fresh and Christ-centered approach to understanding the armor of God.
The way we read Scripture is often, even if unintentionally, shaped by our cultural context. The American ideal of rugged individualism and personal autonomy has most evidently shaped the way most of us read Scripture and that is true even as it relates to Paul’s teaching about the armor of God. For most of us we read these passages as pointing to a power that we can choose to tap into as we avail ourselves of the various pieces of the armor of God. So, the idea is that we put on the armor and we have power. Duguid suggests that such a view misunderstands the way sanctification works in the Bible. “Our sanctification,” writes Duguid, “rests first and foremost on the finished work of Christ in our place” (16). He is the source of our spiritual growth and spiritual victory, therefore our understanding of the armor needs to be connected to Him. The “armor of God is quite literally God’s armor – armor designed for and worn by God first.” What Duguid does throughout this book, then, is to highlight how Paul’s description of the armor of God finds its reference point not in Roman armor, but in the Old Testament. Each piece of the armor, he tells us, points us to Christ.
The lay out of the book is straight forward. The eight chapters highlight one piece of armor respectively. Duguid explains what each piece of the armor is, draws a connection to it’s Old Testament reference, and then draws a Biblical theological line to Christ. But Duguid doesn’t stop there. He clearly sees the gospel lurking in every text, but the gospel is both our victory and our power. The armor of God was worn first by Christ, but “Christ’s victory strengthens us for spiritual warfare” – says the subtitle of the book. So, Duguid illustrates how each piece of the armor can be utilized by believers now. Because Christ has won the victory for us we can fight effectively!
I throughly loved this book. Duguid’s exegetical work and redemptive-historical analysis was insightful and opened to me a fresh reading of a very familiar text. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter help readers not merely to learn new interpretations, but to apply truths in a meaningful way. The book can be a great resource for own spiritual evaluations and growth. The book can also serve as a useful tool in counseling and discipleship. I would highly recommend it, friends, and intend to make good use of it in the future. The Whole Armor of God is an insightful and practical book, worthy of your time.