Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (verses 10-11)
“Be strong.” Taken on its own, this phrase conjures up images of strenuous work-outs, exertion and sweat. Which could then lead to further implications of competition, self-reliance and independence.
Which would miss the point.
The word itself, as Paul uses it, already steers us away from dependence on ourselves. It’s got one of my favourite Greek words at its core – the Greek word “dunamis”, which means “power,” giving us the English words dynamo, dynamic and dynamite. Remember? We encountered this word back in Ephesians 3:16-21. Here, it’s at the core of a verb in the passive voice, yielding the meaning “be empowered,” the implication being that the power-source is outside ourselves. Paul is not instructing us to dig deep and grit teeth and exert every ounce of energy. No. Instead, he’s urging us to be fully connected with a powerful source, drawing our strength from there. Be strong, he says, by being empowered.
The rest of the sentence makes the point clear. This empowering happens “in the Lord.” Again, we encounter this wonderful sense of being caught up in the very life of Jesus himself because we are united with him. Again, the powerful sense of this little word “in.” In the Lord.
Paul adds an extra phrase – “and in his mighty power.” As he does so, he actually piles up two words, one upon the other, both of which mean much the same thing, but, stacked together, exponentially intensify the meaning. “In the strength of his might” is literally what Paul writes.
He’s used that same phrase earlier, back in the first chapter of this letter. At that point he prayed we would know the superlative greatness of God’s power (“dunamis”) extended into our lives in Christ, telling us it’s like “the strength of his might” (same phrase) that raised Jesus from the dead. How much power is that? Quite a bit! Imagine the power it took to lift Jesus up out of the blackness of death into life in all its fullness – life that will never end. Going further yet, this power exalted him fully to the right hand of the Father, far above any other rule and authority.
That’s an awful lot of power.
This is what it means to “be strong.” Be empowered with resurrection power. Be empowered with the strength of his might. Be empowered “in him.”
You’re going to need it, Paul says, because you need to stand firm against the schemes of your enemy, the devil.
(More on that tomorrow.)
O Lord, thank you for the strength of your might. I receive it’s empowering afresh as I live by faith in you alone. May your power – the power of your resurrection, the power of your Spirit – so fill me that I stand firm against the enemy. In so doing, may I bring glory to your holy name. Praise you, dear Lord Jesus.
Reflect and Receive: The power you need for this day has already been given to you in Christ, by his Spirit. Take a moment to give thanks for this gift. Receive it afresh by faith. Walk in it this day.