Study Notes

Ephesians 6:14-14


We are currently in "basic training," being equipped to put on and use the "full armor of God" so that we are able to stand firm against the attacks of the devil. Last week, we saw the importance of truth in our lives. Truth keeps us from being tripped up. Today, we read the second half of verse 14...

6:14b The Breastplate Of Righteousness

What is a breastplate? It was a piece of armor that covered everything on a soldier's body from the collar bone to the hips. Depending on what could be afforded, it was made of either all leather, leather with metal bands, a single piece of metal, or chain mail.

Its purpose was to protect the soldier's vital organs in battle - predominantly the heart. The illustration Paul is making is that righteousness is a breastplate of protection for the Christian.

Using The Soldier As A Reference?

Now, many Bible commentaries wax eloquent about how Paul, sitting in prison while chained between two guards, looked around him and began to draw spiritual analogies with the armor the guards were wearing. There would certainly not be anything wrong with doing that. Jesus frequently referred to His surroundings to paint word pictures.

Matt. 6:28 "...Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,"

Matt. 10:29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."

But I don't believe that this is where Paul was drawing his inspiration. I believe that his inspiration was coming directly from God Himself. Peter said that the Scriptures were written when...

2Pet. 1:21 moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

And God had used this same figure of speech before. In the book of Isaiah, the Lord described Himself as having

Is. 59:17 ...put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head;

The breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation, illustrations which Paul used in Ephesians, were not conceived in a Roman prison. They were conceived in the throne room of God.

Which Righteousness?

So, the illustration is that righteousness is a breastplate. What kind of righteousness is he talking about? Certainly, there are several kinds of righteousness.

First of all, there is self-righteousness. This is when people put their trust in doing good works to be saved. The Bible called them...

Luke 18:9 ...people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous...

Relying on self-righteousness, trusting that since their behavior is better than most others, they will be qualified for heaven. But no one is that righteous. The Bible tells us that...

Is. 64:6 ...all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...

The second kind of righteousness on the list is the righteousness which God has given to us. This is the righteousness that God sees us as having because...

1Cor. 15:3 ...Christ died for our sins...

But this righteousness is nothing which Paul would have to encourage the church to put on, since we received it when we were saved.

Rom. 3:22 ...the righteousness of God (is available) through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe...

Verse 13 told us that we are to "take to ourselves" the full armor of God and verse 14 told us to "put it on." We did nothing to take or put on the righteousness of God. He freely gave it to us.

So, the breastplate of righteousness does not speak of the righteousness of Christ by impartation, and it's not self-righteousness for salvation, but in fact, it is personal righteousness for protection.

Protected By Righteousness

This kind of righteousness simply means, "doing what is right."

Rom. 12:17 ...Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

Our behavior, our speech, our thoughts, need to be righteous. Our lives must be marked by righteousness, walking in it.

Rom. 6:13 not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Righteousness is our breastplate - it protects us from two kinds of attack: accusation of the devil and deterioration of the heart.


Remember, the devil is on the prowl to devour you (1Pet. 5:8). He's going to do this by bringing accusation against you, to destroy your witness and steal your confidence. He will cause people to slander you. So...

1Pet. 3:16 keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

Righteousness will be a breastplate of protection against the devil's attack. This is what it means to be "above reproach." To walk in righteousness so that you are not open to any truthful accusation.


Another way that righteousness is a breastplate of protection is for your heart. And we must protect our hearts:

Prov. 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence...

When we fall into sin, our hearts condemn us (1John 3) and, unchecked, are hardened into unbelief, ruining our relationship with God. Because Job had walked in righteousness, he was able to say,

Job 27:6 "I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.

Righteousness will protect your heart from deterioration.


A Roman soldier would never dream of going into battle without his breastplate on. Will you hold fast your righteousness for protection in the spiritual battle?

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