Feet Shod With Gospel of Peace
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” – Ephesians 6:15
I once met a tenderfoot who was just starting out and inexperienced. He had itching feet and wanted to travel. He was far too unrealistic and such a dreamer, he never had his feet on the ground. He never could hold down a job because he would get cold feet, change his mind, and back out on his employer. He also had a problem with putting his foot in his mouth by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in an inappropriate way. Others had to foot the bill for him. Until he could get on his feet and become prosperous on his own.
Ever notice he we have a lot of sayings about feet. And your feet can say a lot about you. Furthermore, what you wear on your feet can make a difference on how well you are doing in life. Perhaps this is why we have so many shoes to accommodate our various activities. Depending on what we are going to do, we have different shoes for the task. We may have work shoes, exercise shoes or dress shoes. If you are hiking, bowling, dancing, running or fighting you have to have the correct footwear. It is as foolish for a believer to enter spiritual warfare without his shoes of peace, as it is for a soldier to go to war barefooted. The Christian soldier must have his “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15).
Roman Soldier’s Shoes
The Roman soldier wore the caliga or “half-boot.” It was made of leather with heavy studded soles. The half-sandal half-boot was associated as a nickname of Emperor Caligula, Caligae. This foot wear provided the Roman Legionary with protection from the sharpened spikes covered with leaves and soft dirt the enemy sowed upon the battlefield prior to engagement. Metal plates that covered the lower part of the leg and shins offered much needed additional protection. Further protection was needed from the hazards of long marches over rough roads and jagged rocks. Shoes were usually impregnated with bits of metal or nails to give him greater traction much like baseball or football cleats. To lose one’s footing on the battlefield could cost one their life and the army the victory. “The military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary). The success of an army depends much on long swift marches. The greater the mobility and endurance in battle the better chance of victory.
Christian Soldier’s Shoes
Hetoimasis is translated as “preparation” in the text. It has the general meaning of readiness. Their feet fitted with these shoes results in “battle-readiness.” Little children understand the relationship between being ready to go “bye-bye” and having on their shoes. As soon as I show up at my little granddaughter’s house she starts running around saying, “shoes…shoes.” She is not ready to go with me to the park unless she has her shoes on. The “reference is, therefore, not readiness to proclaim the gospel, but to the readiness or preparedness for combat and for standing in the battle that is bestowed by the gospel of peace” (Murphy 411).
Christians are to be ready for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17) “and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” 1 Peter 3:15).
The Roman Empire ushered in a two hundred year period know as the Pax Romana. Everywhere the Roman Legions left a footprint on the map they maintained peace. Our warfare is to bring peace. Christ is the Prince of Peace (Eph. 2:3-18). Jesus told His disciples, “peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Reconciliation through obedience to the Gospel results in “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Though it seems quite paradoxical, army boots bring peace in the physical realm as well as the spiritual. Peace in the inward man even though outwardly war is raging. The enemy does not seek to bring peace but to create discord between God and man. Satan has declared war, but you and I are ambassadors to peace and as such, we take the Gospel of peace wherever we go.
The Gospel means “Good News.” The Christian soldiers are like the allied armies of World War Two. When they entered the cities and brought peace and the good news of liberation from the tyranny of the Nazis.
Those feet which are “shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” are beautiful. How? Paul explains, “how then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14-15,17).
A look at the book of Acts demonstrates the carrying out of these marching orders by the Christians of the first century. Christianity was opposed by the Jews. They even stoned Stephen and sent out Saul to arrest Christians. And yet, the Gospel message spread. Christianity has been scandalized by false accusations. At Philippi the preachers were accused of “advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:20-21). Paul and Silas are accused of “causing trouble all over the world” (17:6). However, they kept marching on. Christianity conflicted with the financial interests of pagans. Paul by casting out the demon possessed slave girl caused her owners to lose a good deal of money in the Philippi fortune-telling business (Acts 16:19). The guild of silversmiths at Ephesus suffered an even greater loss (19:24ff). Still the Gospel continued to prosper by winning souls. Christianity has received illegal treatment by Roman officials. At Philippi, Paul was beaten and imprisoned illegally as a Roman citizen (16:22). Felix wants a bribe from Paul (24:37). Nothing could hinder the preaching of the Gospel of peace. With all the hindrances the early Christians faced in spreading the Gospel it is amazing that Luke ends Acts on a positive note (28:31): “And he remained a whole two years in [his] own hired apartment, and welcomed all the [ones] coming in to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness unhinderedly” (Marshall 601).
By way of contrast our enemy has no peace or good news – the enemy is barefoot.
What shoes are you wearing today? Are you wearing sneakers because you are sneaking around trying to hide from God? Are you running from God with your running shoes? Do you prefer to wear house shoes because you rather stay home than attend worship? Are you one of those Christians who are hot and cold like Flip-Flops? Or, do you have on army boots, because you have put on the whole armor of God?