Ephesians 7

Priests and Levites of All Nations

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

In this final post on the structure of Ephesians, we will cover stage 6 (Conquest/Atonement) and stage 7 (Glorification/Booths). (Unfortunately, I can’t refer to them as cycles because there are 8 cycles, as previously discussed.)

A common interpretation of the “armor of God” relies on the assumption that Paul is using the kit of a Roman soldier as a metaphor. This shows how fragmented is our understanding of the Bible, an organic text which is not fragmented at all, and not reliant upon the various contemporary cultures anywhere near as much as we assume. The armor in Ephesians 6 is that of a priest, a priest with a sword, fulfilling his guard duty at the gate of God.


Here’s an outline of this penultimate cycle, which concerns the Church as the Body of the totus Christus, standing in the open veil, mediating for the nations. [1] Corresponding also to Day 6, it is the glorified “new Adam,” able to stand and face God because He is sinless, and thus qualified to rule (which leads us to the final cycle, describing the character of this rule).

Christ’s Power (Genesis – Creation)
Priestly Armor (Exodus – Division)
Power of the Cursed Heads (Leviticus – Ascension)
The Evil Day (Numbers – Testing)
Power of the Resurrection Body (Deuteronomy – Maturity)
Priestly Cleansing (Joshua – Conquest)
Christ’s Mission (Judges – Glorification)

This cycle is thus the Day of Atonement transfigured in Christ and given to the Church as a ministry of cleansing, an outflow of blood and water, death and resurrection, from the Body of Christ.

Christ’s Power (Genesis – Creation)

[From henceforth, (Imperative)
be empowered (Delegation)
in the Lord (Ethics of the Spirit)
and in the strength (Overcomers)
of his absolute might.] (Omega Men)

The first line is a new beginning, a new history. The old leaven has been cut off, entirely cleansed from the house, and must not be allowed to multiply in the new. The stanza is fivefold, meaning that it is a Covenant scroll waiting to be opened (through sacrifice) into a sevenfold history (Ethics opens into three stages: priest, king and prophet, or head, fire and body.)

Priestly Armor (Exodus – Division)

Put on (Imperative)
the [complete] armor (Delegation)
of God (Worthiness)
that you may be able (Law Fulfilled)
to stand against (Military Strength)
the [craftiness] (Vindication)
of the [slanderer]. (Representation)

As the “Exodus” step, the New Israel, empowered in stanza 1 is now sent into battle. The ESV does not use the words craftiness or slanderer, which, to the English-speaking mind, tie this stanza to the events in Eden. This stage is Day 6, after all. The final line is interesting because one of its referents is fatherhood, that is, the beginning of a new Succession, a “gospel outflow.” Here it is Satan’s lies about the goodness of the Father.

Power of the Cursed Heads (Leviticus – Ascension)

For [it is not to us (Ark of the Covenant)
to wrestle against blood and flesh] (Veil of flesh)
but against the [chiefs], (Heads [ἀρχάς - beginnings]) (Bronze Altar)
against the authorities, (Delegated Power) (H) (Table of Showbread)
against the [world rulers of this darkness] (Satanic “lawyers”) (Lampstand)
against the spiritual forces (Incense Altar – Armies)
of [painful toil] (Covenant curses) (Mediators)
in the heavenly places. (Old Governors) (Heavenly Country)

The New Covenant battle is different in character to the Old. Here it is reinterpreted in the light of the victory of Christ. Since we are now indwelt by His Spirit, we deal not with the flesh-and-blood bodies animated by evil, wrestling physically with angels (as Jacob did and Adam was called to do) or with demonic men (as David and Jesus did) but with the very evil itself, as Jesus did in the wilderness, in the Garden and on the cross.

At Ascension, the “chiefs and authorities” are those like Satan, like Haman, like the Herods, who had “ascended” not through obedience to the Covenant but through a usurping of God’s power. They have thrown Covenant truth to the ground and attempted to “take on bodies,” false gatherings (church or state) that enslave and tyrannize. It is not ascension but levitation. It is the rule of Cain, who put his kingly offering before the priestly advocacy of his brother.

The word often translated “wickedness” in step 6 has the connotation of painful toil, which is interesting because it ties Satan’s power to that of the curse upon Adam, the Covenant Head. Satan had been cast down in the Garden. His ministers, the Herods and their priesthood, would soon be cast down in the Land

The Evil Day (Numbers – Testing)

Therefore take up (T – Imperative)
the [complete] armor (H – Government)
of God (E1 – Worthiness)
that you may be able (E2 – Strength)
to withstand (E3 – Results/Witness)
in the evil day, (O/S – Day of God)
and having done all, [to stand] (S – House upon Rock)

This is the centre of this cycle/stage. The Ephesians were being asked to persevere against all the powers of the Old Creation, all the false gods Satan could muster, including the idols of the Jews who had rejected both Christ and His Spirit. [2] The position of the “evil day” is interesting. This is the Day 4 cycle, the power of the sun, moon and stars, but the “day” here is the Day of Atonement, the Day of the Lord, which was coming upon not only Jerusalem, but upon the entire oikoumene. [3] Through the faithful witness of the martyrs, the noonday darkness of the old “sun, moon and stars” would be thrown down as Satan had been thrown down.

Power of the Resurrection Body (Deuteronomy – Maturity)

Stand therefore, (Genesis)
having [girded your loins with] truth, (Exodus)
and having put on the breastplate (Leviticus)
of righteousness, (Numbers)
and [having bound the feet (Deuteronomy)
with the firm footing] (Joshua)
of the gospel of peace. (Judges – Rest)

This stanza concerns the sacrificial Body, a cloud of fragrant smoke. It is the Church in preparation (at Trumpets), ready to be presented for battle and to appear in the court of God. It is at this point that “fragrant” Esther put on her royal robes to appear before the King, “awesome as an army with banners.” In the Revelation, the saints are described as having “Tabernacle armor.” The High Priest’s clothing was a replica of the Tabernacle itself, and I recently noticed that Mordecai’s glorious robes at the end of Esther are a replica of the king’s Garden court at the beginning.

Notice that truth appears in this stanza where slander appears in the entire cycle: step 2. Loins here might be reference to a priestly New Covenant circumcision. The breastplate refers to the High Priest. The “binding” of the feet is a connotation of being “shod.” Binding is both Covenantal and sacrificial. It is not clear whether the priests, whose feet and hands were washed before service in the Tabernacle, wore footwear within the compound, but I think it is likely. None is described, but the terrain was rough, and the Lord promised that their footwear would not wear out. As “standing” is the role of the Priest, serving as a butler and watchman, and “sitting” is the role of the King, so “walking” is the role of the prophet (like Enoch and others), who bridges the gap between Israel and the nations, extending the domain of God. The Church is a prophet Body, serving among the nations. At Maturity/Deuteronomy, the idea is also readiness for Conquest., feet bound by Covenant vow, washed by Christ in the Laver and now ready to walk on the stormy “waters” of the nations. [4] The Church was the entire tent on the move, but with all the old veils removed, worship open to all, and even the mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant open for all to see, prepared to scatter God’s enemies and gather His people.

Priestly Cleansing (Joshua – Conquest)

In all circumstances (T)
take up the shield of faith, (H)
[with which you will be able (E)
all the darts of the evil one (O/S)
flaming, to extinguish;] (S)

Because the epistle is a fractal, we can correspond the previous stanza to the “Deuteronomy” cycle of the letter. The preparation of the New Israel is ethical. It concerns relationships, the fulfillment of the Law by the Spirit. Unlike the Ten Commandments and the Levitical Laws, it is not “inward looking,” concerning prohibitions and didactic laws for cleansing that we may approach God. Christ has fulfilled that on our behalf. It is generally positive and outward looking, concerning testimony to each other and to the nations.

In this stanza, the shield is a veil. Those who are face to face with God in Christ are those who keep Satan “thrown down” from his position as the accuser. The darts appear here as Covenant curses, and Satan’s little fires as false “Shekinahs.” Those who are filled with holy fire, like Phinehas, who fulfilled the Covenant by dealing with idolatry and adultery, are impervious to strange fire. Faith is indeed the victory. A shield is defensive, but a sword is defensive, so in the final stanza we move from corporate coverings to commission.

Christ’s Mission (Judges – Glorification)

and take the helmet of salvation, (T)
and the sword of the Spirit, (H)
which is the word of God, (E)
praying at all times in the Spirit, (O/S)
with all prayer and supplication. (S)

Notice the move from salvation to supplication. Here is the true Shekinah glory of the Church as representatives of Christ.


The final cycle of the epistle is an expansion of this ministry of supplication.

Creation (Gentile Ark of the Covenant)

To that end (T – Purpose)
[watching] (H – Priesthood)
with all perseverance, (E – Testing)
[and] supplication (O/S – Mediation)
for all the saints, (S – Offspring of God)

Line 2 concerns the saints as “watchers,” as Lampstands (the Lampstand is literally a “watcher” tree). Interestingly, the second major cycle of the Revelation displays the churches of Asia as priestly lamps tended by Christ.

Division (Gentile Veil)

and also for me, (T)
that [utterance] may be given to me (H)
in opening my mouth (E)
boldly to make known (Oath/Sanctions)
the mystery of the gospel, (S)

“Mystery” often appears at this point. The veil is now open. Notice Paul’s bold witness in the usual place, and the mystery itself as the new “house” containing both Jew and Gentile at Booths/Succession.

Ascension (Gentile Altar)

for which I am (T)
an ambassador (H)
in chains, (E)
that [in it I might be bold], (O/S)
as I ought to speak. (S)

Now, Paul is putting himself on the altar, bound as the sacrifice, blameless in Christ, the Lamb who was worthy to open the New Covenant scroll.

Testing (Gentile Lampstand)

So that you also may know
[the things concerning me]
and what I am doing,
Tychicus (“fortuitous“)
the beloved brother
and faithful minister in the Lord
will tell you everything.

Being the Pentecost step, this is the “opening” of the Law, God’s intentions revealed. Just as Christ sent the Spirit to the Church, so Paul here sends Tychicus as “good fortune” or providence to the Ephesians, which also ties this central stanza to the purpose of this final cycle: commission.

Maturity (Gentile Incense)

have sent him to you
for this very purpose,
that you may know
[the things concerning us],
and that he may encourage
your hearts.

A short sentence, repeating “the Law,” and concerning revivification.

Conquest (Gentile Mediation)

Peace be
to the brothers,
and love with faith,
from God the Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the Sanctions step of the cycle, we have no curses, only peace with God. It begins with the Sabbath (the first feast in Lev. 23) and ends with Christ as our shelter (the final feast).

Glorification (Gentile Rest)

Grace (T)
be with all (H)
who love (E)
our Lord Jesus Christ (O)
[in incorruption]. (S)

The final stanza concerns “Ingathering,” our gathering to the Father in His Son. Peace and Grace are the results of the blood and the water (land and sea) of membership of Christ’s new Body. [5]

[1] See Under Your Feet.
[2] See When Judaism Jumped the Shark.
[3] See Peter Leithart, Jewish War.
[4] See Walking on Water.
[5] See The Water and the Blood.

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