” And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” (Eph 6:15)
When thinking about our preparedness for a spiritual battle, being ready for war against Satan and evil, ‘peace’ is probably not the first word that comes to your mind. In fact, when I first sat down to look at this verse in Ephesians in order to write this post, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say. The Belt of Truth and Breastplate of Righteousness are rich and deep, but at face value are also somewhat self explanatory- they make sense in the scene of battle. But shoes of peace – maybe not so much. Does it mean we should be pursuing peace? Or searching for peace? Or if we wear these said shoes we will have peace despite a raging battle around us?
To answer this, and to understand the meaning of this verse in its context of standing firm by wearing God’s Armour, we need to look a little more broadly than this verse alone – both to other sections of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and other parts of the Bible. One of the biggest indications to us that we need to do this is in the language of the verse itself. If you thought that it was slightly odd that the readers needed to be told explicitly that their shoes go on their feet, you are not alone. However, the reason for this wording is because the language is borrowed from a passage in the Old Testament, Paul is deliberately wanting to bring something specific to mind when this verse is read, and that is found in the book of Isaiah.
“”How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace…” (Isaiah 52:7)
God’s messenger announcing the good news of peace to God’s people is a beautiful picture. How much joy there would be, to receive the proclamation of God’s granted peace and salvation. Yet this is not the only connection between Isaiah and the letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 2, Paul echoes this picture of a messenger bringing news of peace in verse 17, “And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”
And of course, Paul is talking about a very specific messenger, Jesus. “ But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:13-14)
Jesus Christ himself is the embodiment of peace. Through his death and Resurrection, we obtain reconciliation to both God (v16) and to each other as brother and sister in Christ (v14).
So what does this mean for the heat of battle? What does it look like to put on the shoes of peace?
Well I think if we are to look at this in the context of Ephesians 2, we gain two perspectives of the shoes of peace. The first, is that through Jesus Christ, we have peace with God. Just sit on that for a moment. We had turned away from God, chose to pursue idols, put ourselves first, go our own way. We were separate from Christ and had no hope- we were enemies with God. As most of us would have fallen into the category of ‘Gentiles,’ we had zero right to any sort of blessing from God. And through His generous and totally undeserved grace, we are now reconciled to Him; we have peace with him. And knowing that we have this promised peace with God and are welcomed into his household gives us strength to stand in battle. When we remember and trust the peace that Jesus secured for us on the cross, we are putting our battle into perspective.
And secondly, an aspect of this image that can’t be ignored is the connection between the wearer of the shoes being the one to deliver peace. As we think about how we apply this verse, we need to be challenged to be witnesses for Jesus as the peacemaker. We need to be prepared, to have a readiness, to go out and share this good news with others. Being ready to share the gospel with others is part of being ready for battle against Satan and the forces of Evil.
We are made strong in the gospel and are empowered to hold ground in the midst of battle when we faithfully trust that Jesus is the embodiment of peace that through his victory over sin, he provides the way for us to have peace with God.