With Paul in the School of Spiritual Warfare (2 of 5)

Paul provides for us an important principle for spiritual warfare right from the start. Deliverance from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of the devil comes not from our conquest of Satan but Christ’s. Jesus is the strong man who binds the enemy (Mt. 12:29). The victory is His; the spoils are ours. We fight in His strength, living out His victory. We overcome in Him who overcame.


This is the second installment of a five-part series on spiritual warfare. For further study see my two books on the subject: Warfare Witness: Contending with Spiritual Opposition in Everyday Evangelism (Christian Focus, 224 pages) and What is Spiritual Warfare? (P&R Basics of the Faith Series, 44 pages). A link to the previous installment can be found here.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13–14, ESV)

Though chapter 6 contains the most focused treatment of spiritual warfare in his letter to the Ephesians that is not where Paul launches the training. Before instructing us to be strong in the Lord he instructs us in the Lord who is our strength.

The apostle begins his letter with a declaration of deliverance in Ephesians 1:3-14, one long sentence in the original language. This single statement unfolds in Trinitarian form, like the unfurling of the banner of our salvation, the flag of victory raised to herald the kingdom of God and His Christ. The Father appoints salvation in His predestinating love. The Son accomplishes salvation through His saving work on the cross. The Spirit applies that finished redemption as He unites us to Christ in our effectual calling, sealing us to belong to God.

This salvation rooted in our Triune God is expressed in Christ’s victory for His church over the dominion of Satan. The Sentence of verses 3-14 forms the ground for the prayer of verses 15-23 that showcases the kingdom authority of Christ.

…[God’s great might] that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:20–22).

Read More