By Mike Riley
A song we often sing in our worship to God is, “Soldiers of Christ, Arise.” One verse of this song states, “Stand, then in his great might, with all his strength endued; But take to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God.” In singing this great song, I often wondered what the “panoply” of God was since I rarely saw or used that word at any other time.
The word “panoply” comes from the Greek term (panoplia). This word refers to the full equipment of the heavily armed foot-soldier, including both offensive and defensive weapons. Every Roman soldier going into battle would take special care to be thoroughly equipped and prepared, as his life might well depend on it. “Among the Greeks the panoplia was the complete equipment used by heavily armed infantry” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary, Pg. 75).
This word is used in the New Testament – not in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. Paul exhorted the Ephesians to put on the “whole armor” (panoply) of God (Ephesians 6:11) This would enable them to stand against the devil’s schemes. God’s armor provides everything the Christian needs to stand strong in Him and His salvation. From the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14), to the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), God has provided us the spiritual equipment needed for overcoming the temptations of the devil (Ephesians 6:11, 13) and to be victorious in daily Christian living.
When the Apostle Paul used this term, he wasn’t romancing. He had in view the harsh and stern reality of the soldier’s life. While it is true that the Christian has peace, love, and joy in Christ, our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
As Christians, we are engaged in a war for our souls (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:12). We take heart that God has provided everything we need to be victorious in Him. Let us rejoice in the loving care God exercises through his Son, that “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
We certainly need to “rejoice” in all the blessings we have in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), but take seriously the constant struggle we face with sin. We can be completely equipped and prepared for Satan’s attacks if we take advantage of the provision God offers through Christ (Ephesians 6:10). Stand firm in the “panoply of God” – our soul’s salvation depends on it! (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9).