The Lord is a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, and he will protect us.
Paul’s ‘finally’ is a word of deep encouragement. He will sign off with his ‘notices’ and his greetings, reminding them again of the grace which has been his theme throughout the letter. Before that, he wants to help them as they face the trials and temptations which come upon believers at any time, so he urges them to avail themselves of the protection of the Holy Spirit and to pray for themselves and for him.
Prayer and protection are good companions. The Spirit helps us with both. Paul lists the armoury which our faith makes available to resist the attacks against our faith and ourselves. We can hear the metal clank in his metaphors as swords, shields, helmets, belts and breastplates are all put in place, ready for the fight. Yet these weapons are not material ones, and might not do much against deadly missiles or bullets. They offer deeper protection. For the real human fight is against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness. Christians above all others need to be on guard against these and ready and able to resist.
Paul knows well that spiritual wickedness in high places often seeps down to material wickedness on earth. This is still true today. The challenge against God’s rule of love is war waged in the spiritual realm, but earth is its battlefield, and clashes with spiritual evil can end up very bloody and brutal. Greed, power, inhumanity, tyranny and murder are fed by the earthly weapons that are produced for profit and purveyed across the world. We hear Paul’s urgency as he pleads with us to keep alert, to persevere in prayer for other Christians. Today, let’s commit ourselves to greater protection for those who are facing the desperate heat of the battle.
Christians across the world face persecution from tyrants using weapons bought from the West. Will you write to your parliamentary representative about this trade, on their behalf?