Ecclesiological Metaphors: The Church as an Army.

The imagery of an army is also used for the Church in the Bible. God wants every member of the Church to see himself as a member of the Lord’s army.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 2, “You therefore must endure hardship as A GOOD SOLDIER of Jesus Christ. No one ENGAGED IN WARFARE ENTANGLES HIMSELF with THE AFFAIRS OF THIS LIFE, that he may PLEASE him who ENLISTED him as a SOLDIER” (vv. 3-4). This implies discipline. The Church cannot afford to be distracted by the affairs of this life. Rather, we must ensure our conduct is pleasing to Him who called us.

We are in a battle in this world, and we must not forget that. That battle is preaching the Gospel. This is how we wage war against the kingdom of darkness.

Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 10 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for PULLING DOWN STRONGHOLDS” (vv. 3-4). What are these strongholds? The next verse (vs. 5) tells us, “Casting down ARGUMENTS and every HIGH THING that EXALTS ITSELF against the KNOWLEDGE of God, bringing every THOUGHT into CAPTIVITY to the OBEDIENCE of Christ.” So the strongholds refer to false knowledge in the hearts of men (which oppose the knowledge of God). By preaching, we pull down these strongholds in the minds of men. This is our warfare.

The members of Christ’s Church are soldiers in the Lord’s army, and how we fight is by preaching the Gospel. This is why Paul refers to preachers of the Gospel as his FELLOW SOLDIERS.

Philippians 2:25 (NKJV)

25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and FELLOW SOLDIER, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.

Philemon 2 (NKJV)

2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our FELLOW SOLDIER, and to the church in your house.

The term “fellow soldier” translates the Greek “sustratiótés” (συστρατιώτης). A compound word from “sun” (meaning “together” or “co-“) and “stratiótés” (literally “a soldier,” and figuratively “a CHAMPION of the cause of Christ”). Properly, it means, “co-champion or co-warrior of the cause of Christ.” This is who we are!

The word “co-” implies there are many of us (just like it is said contemporarily “co-workers” in today’s parlance i.e. several workers in a particular place). So, Christ’s Church is an army of champions fighting in a war; the war of telling others about the Gospel, and delivering them from the power of the devil!

Christ Himself is the captain of this army. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the CAPTAIN OF THEIR SALVATION perfect through sufferings.” The word “captain” translates the Greek “archégos” (ἀρχηγός). It means leader or prince.

Peter uses this same word “archégos” (ἀρχηγός) for Jesus in Acts 5:31-32, “Him (i.e. Jesus) God has exalted to His right hand to be PRINCE (“archégos“) and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.

Jesus is the Prince of God’s army. He is that leader and commander of the people of Whom Isaiah prophesied, “Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, A LEADER AND COMMANDER for the people” (Isaiah 55:4). Jesus, the Seed of David, who receives the “sure mercies” (vs. 3) is that leader here (cf. Acts 13:34).

Every member of the Church has been enlisted to fight in His army. We have been given our armour. Paul says in Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Vs. 11 speaks of an armour, “Put on THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD…” Now, what is this armour for? The verse continues, “…that you may be able to stand against the WILES of the devil.” That word “wiles” translates the Greek “methodeia” (μεθοδεία) which refers to lies or deceit. The armour of God is to withstand LIES (or false knowledge).

Paul goes on to list the armour pieces, from vv. 12-18.

Ephesians 6:12-18 (NKJV)

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD, that you may be able to WITHSTAND in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having GIRDED YOUR WAIST WITH TRUTH, having put on THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having SHOD YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 above all, taking THE SHIELD OF FAITH with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is THE WORD OF GOD; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Observe how every single piece of the armour is a fact of the Gospel—the whole armour of God actually comprises WORDS!


the belt of truth (vs. 14).

The word “truth” translates the Greek “alétheia” (ἀλήθεια) which literally means “reality“; used for divine truth revealed to man. This word was used to describe the Gospel, earlier in the same book.

Ephesians 1:13 (NKJV)

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard THE WORD OF TRUTH, THE GOSPEL OF YOUR SALVATION; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Alétheia” (ἀλήθεια) is also used in Galatians 2:5, “to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL might continue with you.” Then in vs. 14 “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

So, “truth” is found in the Gospel. This is the belt of our armour.


breastplate of righteousness (vs. 14)

This righteousness is the one we received in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 4:5-8 (NKJV)

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

We are to arm our hearts with this righteousness (notice it is a breastplate), as we preach the Gospel. Breastplates were used in Bible days to guard the heart during battle. As the devil seeks to condemn our hearts with his wiles of guilt and sin-consciousness, we remind ourselves that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). So again, righteousness (a fact of the Gospel) is part of God’s armour.


the Gospel of peace as shoes (vs. 15).

The shoes signify our readiness or preparedness to preach the Gospel. Paul is obviously making reference to Isaiah 52:7 here, “‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the FEET OF HIM WHO BRINGS GOOD NEWS (or the Gospel), who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!’

The word “gospel” (used in Eph 6:15) translates the Greek “euaggelion” (εὐαγγέλιον), which means “good news,” similar to what Isaiah says here (Isaiah 52:7). The shoes again, have to do with the Gospel.


shield of faith (vs. 16)

Faith” here refers to “(sound) doctrine” (“pistis” in the Greek). This is to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” In Bible days, enemy nations would set arrows on fire and shot them at opponents during battle. The shield was used to protect the anterior parts of the body. Paul makes an allusion to this here.

From vs. 11, we know what the devil fires at us in this battle—wiles! That is, lies, falsehood. So sound doctrine (“the shield of faith“) will STOP the lies of the devil! AGAIN, the shield of faith is the message of the Gospel (doctrine).


the helmet of salvation (vs. 17)

This would refer to the message of salvation. The helmet protects the head in battle. Figuratively, it guards our minds.

So again, we are to arm our minds against the lies of the devil, with the message of salvation. Again, that helmet is the Gospel.


the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Vs. 17)

The sword is God’s Word or His message (“rhéma” in the Greek). The Gospel preached is that sword.


The armour therefore comes together as the GOSPEL OF CHRIST, i.e. sound doctrine. All the pieces of the armour are simply different ways of referring to THE SAME THING, THE SAME SINGULAR CONCEPT—the Gospel. This is our ARMOUR.

It therefore makes sense that Paul then says, “and for me, that UTTERANCE MAY BE GIVEN TO ME, that I MAY OPEN MY MOUTH BOLDLY to MAKE KNOWN THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I MAY SPEAK BOLDLY, as I OUGHT TO SPEAK” (vv. 19-20). The armour of God (which are actually the facts of the Gospel) are for PREACHING. That is how we fight; by proclaiming the Gospel.

This is further clarified in 2 Corinthians 6, where Paul talks about the armour of righteousness, “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by THE ARMOUR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS on the right hand and on the left” (vs. 7). The “armour” to which he refers is “the word of truth” (i.e. the Gospel).

The armour of God is therefore words i.e. the facts of the Gospel preached. These facts are also to guard our hearts, minds and consciousness as they are preached.

As soldiers of Christ, we wear our armour (the Gospel) and follow our Captain unto victory. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be to God WHO ALWAYS LEADS US IN TRIUMPH in Christ, and (kai- that is) THROUGH US diffuses THE FRAGRANCE OF HIS KNOWLEDGE in EVERY PLACE.” In this lies our victory; that the knowledge of God (the Gospel) is spreading all around the world.

He continues in vv. 15-16, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

To those who RECEIVE our message (the preaching of the Gospel), we are the aroma of life. To those who reject it, we are an aroma of DEATH, just like Mark 16:15-16 says, “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved (i.e. “he receives the Gospel as an aroma of life”); but he who does not believe will be CONDEMNED (i.e. he receives the Gospel as an aroma of death).”

2 Corinthians 2 ends thus, “For we are not, as so many, peddling THE WORD OF GOD; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (vs. 17). The Gospel must be sincerely taught. This is how we wage a good warfare.

So the Church is Christ’s army, we are all co-soldiers. When a soul is saved, we have won! When a Christian is delivered from ignorance, we have won again! We are CONTINUALLY winning the battle, spreading the fragrance of the Gospel in every place.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.

1 Comment

  1. Maxwell Ojay

    Thank you very much for this enlightenment.
    I am blessed by it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *