Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare, As Discussed In Ephesians 6:12

Is a prevalent topic when examining the leadership and impact of historic Christian figures. This verse, found both in the New International Version (NIV) and the Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DRC), underscores the belief that the struggles and conflicts faced by believers are not just physical or earthly but are also spiritual in nature.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV): “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12 (DRC): “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”

Historic Christian Figures and Spiritual Warfare

Leaders like the Apostle Paul, who authored Ephesians, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and many others were not only theologians and preachers but also warriors in the spiritual realm. They contended with heresies, moral decay, and societal issues that they perceived as manifestations of these “rulers of darkness” and “spiritual forces of evil.”

For instance, Paul, in his missionary journeys, frequently encountered opposition not just from human adversaries but believed he was also facing spiritual opposition. Acts 16:16-18 describes Paul’s encounter with a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Paul casts out the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ, viewing the act as a form of spiritual warfare.

Armor of God as Spiritual Defence

To further expand on Ephesians 6:12, Paul continues in verses 13-17 to describe the “armor of God,” which includes truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. This metaphorical armor represents the virtues and the divine resources that believers are to ‘put on’ to stand firm against spiritual adversity.

St. Augustine, in his work “City of God,” describes the cosmic struggle between the “City of God” and the “City of Man,” representing the spiritual and earthly kingdoms, respectively. He believed that the conflicts we experience on earth are reflective of a larger spiritual struggle between good and evil.

Reformation and Spiritual Warfare

Martin Luther’s contribution to the understanding of spiritual warfare came through his treatises and his translation of the Bible, which made the Scriptures accessible to the common people. He viewed the corruption in the church and society as indicative of a spiritual struggle. His famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” reflects this theme, portraying God as a bulwark against the devil’s assaults.

Scriptural Backing and Analysis

The idea of spiritual warfare is consistent throughout the Bible, not just in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, spiritual battles are depicted through narratives like the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6), where the walls fell not by human might but by the power of God. David, in the Psalms, frequently calls upon God as his deliverer from spiritual foes (Psalm 18).

In the Gospels, Jesus Himself engages in spiritual warfare. He fasts and resists temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), casts out demons (Mark 1:34), and ultimately, through His death and resurrection, claims victory over sin and death, which can be seen as the ultimate act of spiritual warfare.


Historic Christian figures embraced the concept of spiritual warfare through their teachings, practices, and hymns. They found in scriptures like Ephesians 6:12 not only an explanation for the struggles of life but also a call to spiritual vigilance. The “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” were, to them, as real as the physical world they lived in, and they engaged these forces with the spiritual ‘armor’ that Paul described. This scriptural analysis shows that the idea of spiritual warfare was central to their understanding of the Christian life and mission.


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