Throughout Ephesians, the Greek word translated to English as “you” is predominately plural: humeis. Where the author addresses the individual, he does so very intentionally and explicitly (4:7, 5:33, and 6:8).
In general, however, the book is addressed — every bit as intentionally and explicitly — to the whole, or to use an American term, to “ya’ll.”
Perhaps the most striking implication of this comes in Ephesians 6. Throughout the description of the armor, the body of believers is addressed rather than the individual. It is not you individually who wrestles against the enemy, but rather we corporately.
This point is most clearly illustrated by the instruction to “take up the shield of faith, with which [ya’ll] can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (6:16, NIV).
Roman soldiers had various shields, but the one used to extinguish flaming arrows was the scutum, which was four feet high, covered with leather on the outside, and soaked in water before battle to snuff out ignited arrows. It is also the shield you picture when you imagine legionaires closing rank to form the “tortoise,” using their shields to form protective walls and a ceiling.
The shield is, by design, a weapon intended for members of a fighting unit. In individual, hand-to-hand combat, the scutum was useful only as a bludgeon, too large and heavy to be used for much else. So the implication of this particular shield being a part of our armor is that we are in this fight together.
These are not peaceful times we live in. We are in a struggle against our enemy, the devil. As we engage in warfare, we must be sure to stay in our position within the ranks. If we head off on our own, we endanger not only ourselves but also our fellow soldiers.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. —Ephesians 6:11–12, NIV
Prayer: Lord, help us—Your body—to stand firm together, to put on the whole armor and, when everything is done, to stand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Sturt is a data architect in Compassion’s Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
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