In part 1, we saw how feet and shoes were used symbolically through the Old Testament to represent possession. We went through several texts that helped us understand how important feet and shoes were in the time before mass transportation and telecommunication. Clothing, we discovered, also represents our character.
Now it is time to get into the meat of our study: Ephesians 6:15.
Caligae – Hobnail Boots
In part 1, I explained that the shoes Paul is referring to in Ephesians 6:15 were very special. They were not the average sandal, nor were they they very fancy but impractical sandals of the wealthy. Paul’s illustration is of the armor of a Romas soldier, so it is their sandals or caligae that he is talking about in Ephesians 6:15.
Caligae were what Roman soldiers wore. There were no other options. Even today, soldiers do not have another option regrading their uniform. In some cases the clothing assigned to one special group in the military was envied by others. Jump boots, for instance, were issued first only to paratroopers in World War 2. Soon other soldiers began wearing them because they liked the look, which led to many fights as paratroopers saw them a sign of their special job. In the same way, caligae were only worn by Roman soldiers; they represented status.
The caligae was made to allow the individual to adjust it specifically to his foot, so as to ensure a snug fit.
The vented top allowed air to flow around the foot to prevent blisters and other foot conditions caused by moist feet while still protecting the foot. Soldiers needed healthy feet to get where they needed to go and to do what they needed to do.
Hobnails reinforced the shoe which gave the wearer greater endurance, improved traction for difficult terrain, and became a weapon against fallen enemies.
On those famous Roman roads you could hear soldiers coming. Not just from the rhythmic marching, but also from the hobnails on the cobbled road surfaces. They were not afraid to announce their arrival.
Finally, soldiers were buried with the caligae on. Therefore, long after they died anyone who came across their grave would find hobnails and know that a Roman soldier was buried there.
So, what shoes are you wearing?
Several pieces of a Roman soldier’s kit are not mentioned by Paul in his illustration, but the shoes are.
“. . . and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. . . .”Ephesians 6:15
And notice with what detail Paul describes these shoes.
Some people have a hard time following Paul and part of that is due to his love (in translation) of prepositional phrases. He loves to describe things based on the relationship of different ideas. So what does this sentences say?
“. . .feet (our means of possession and transportation) shod (covered/protected/enabled) with the preparation. . . “
Paul here tells us how the feet are shod or covered. He is describing the boot.
Preparation in the the Greek is — preparation.
Very anticlimactic. And not very helpful until you contrast it with another word that means and is translated preparation. But the second word is specifically used to denote external preparation, whereas the Greek dictionary states that the preparation used in Eph. 6:15 is specific to an internal fitness.
Jesus spoke of this contrast.
“Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that they outside of them may be clean also.”Matthew 23:26
So, our verse could read:
“. . . feet (our doing) shod (coved/protected/enabled) with [the internal fitness] of the gospel . . .”
“Of the gospel” is describing the preparation or fitness of the person. The translation of gospel as “good news” comes from the Old English origin of gōd spell which means “good tale.” Actually, the Old English word spell meant “to mean, signify, read by spelling out letters.” It was something read or told. But beyond the Old English word that Wycliff and Tyndall kept, the actual Greek word means “good message”. Remember Isaiah 52:7?
How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news . . . .
Back to our sentence for the last phrase to find out what the good message is.
“. . . feet (our doing) shod (covered/protected/enabled) with [the internal fitness] of the [good message] of peace.”
Peace. But this is not just any kind of peace. It is eirënē. (Pronounced like Irene, for this is origin of that name.)
This peace, like the preparation, is not external peace. It is an internal peace. It is a quietness within, a resolution of internal conflicts. This pease comes directly from God.
“. . . Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.” Rev. 1:4
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
This peace comes from God, but how do we receive it?
“You [God] will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
So, here is Paul’s sentence:
“Our witness of our possession of the Kingdom is covered/protected/enabled with/by the internal fitness produced by the good message of the resolution from our internal struggles.”
In his letter to the Romans, Paul pull this together in another way.
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’”Romans 10:15
He anticipates his audience will remember the quotation from Isaiah and will complete the thought. Peace and salvation are aspects of the gospel tidings, but the full message is “Thy God reigneth!” But where, based on all this from Ephesians that we’ve done, should he reign?
So, what shoes are you wearing?
There you have it. We have only one message, just as the Roman soldiers had only one option of shoes they could wear.
Our message is not about outward show. It is practical for daily use.
We are to be filled with and conformed to the message. It should be bound tight around you for a sung fit.
Just as the hobnails announced a soldier’s presence, our message should be unmistakable. Our message will reinforce us as we share it and give us the endurance and traction to overcome any difficulty.
The message will bring health to the giver and the receiver.
As we commit to carry the message, we will conquer just like Caleb and receive a possession like Boaz.
And just as the hobnails were tale-tell evidence of the previous passage of a soldier, as we share the message evidence will be left of our efforts and identity.
So what is the message?
If you will, the eternal God of the Universe will reign in each of us bringing with Him freedom and resolution from all our internal conflicts, so we can exclaim with Isaiah, “My God reigneth!” And He wants to reign in your heart, too.
So, what shoes are you wearing?