Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

Paul wrote about “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). What do shoes have to do with the armor of God?

This piece of armor is a mouthful in English: the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Sometimes we shorten it to “the shoes of peace” or “the shoes of the gospel,” but the whole phrase is important. Before we can unpack exactly what “the preparation of the gospel of peace” means, let’s take a closer look at the shoes themselves.

During the time of the apostle Paul, the shoes worn by the soldiers of the Roman Empire were called caligae. They were specifically designed to keep soldiers’ feet healthy during the rigors of long forced marches and were very different from the sandals worn by most of the populace.

The shoes were constructed from three layers of leather, which were pulled up and laced around the ankle. The caligae helped protect against blisters and foot diseases. In addition, small spikes or iron hobnails were often driven into the soles of the shoes in order to give firm footing on uneven terrain.

The shoes of peace provide a firm foundation

A soldier’s shoes formed the foundation of his armament. In those days, the foot soldiers of the empire relied on walking as their primary means of transportation, so the ability to move easily and comfortably was a necessity for them.

In addition, they needed to be able to step about in battle without thinking about where they placed their feet. They needed solid footing in order to concentrate on the battle at hand. The hobnails on their shoes made it easier to hold their ground or navigate through difficult terrain.

The word preparation used by Paul in Ephesians 6:15 comes from the Greek word hetoimasia. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says this about the word hetoimasia in this context: “The Gospel itself is to be the firm footing of the believer, his walk being worthy of it and therefore a testimony in regard to it.”

The Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament uses the same word, hetoimasia, to convey the meaning of a firm foundation in Psalm 89:14: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face” (emphasis added throughout).

Just as righteousness and justice underpin the throne of God, so the gospel message provides the solid footing a Christian must have. The gospel of peace provides us with the preparation, or foundation, we need to face life’s spiritual battles.

What is the gospel of peace that Jesus Christ brought?

The gospel message that Jesus brought was about a coming government of God on earth and what we should be doing to prepare for it!

The word gospel is translated from the Greek word euangelion, and it means “good news” or “good tidings.”

During His ministry on this earth, Jesus Christ made multiple references to the gospel message. An example can be found in Matthew 4:23: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”

So Jesus came to tell people the good news, the gospel, of a coming Kingdom of God. It was a message that included a call to action: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).

The gospel message that Jesus brought was about a coming government of God on earth and what we should be doing to prepare for it!(We cover this subject in greater detail in our articles “What Is the Kingdom of God?” and “What Is Repentance?”)

The gospel of peace was the focus of the Great Commission

The gospel message that Jesus brought was about a coming government of God on earth and what we should be doing to prepare for it!

Jesus brought a directive to His disciples, whose feet were to be firmly planted in the gospel: The good news of His coming Kingdom was to be shared and spread.

Notice His charge to the original 12 disciples: “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).

The disciples carried out His command! “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:6).

His final command to His disciples, sometimes called “the Great Commission,” contains the same instruction. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15-16).

In fact, the feet of those disciples, who were delivering that message of peace, are figuratively described as beautiful: “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’” (Romans 10:15).

What is peace?

In our world, we have come to think of peace as a time when there are no active wars being waged. But the Bible shows us that peace is more than just the absence of conflict—peace comes from unity and closeness with God.

There are many prophecies in the Bible about the world that will exist when the Kingdom of God has been established, and peace is the operative word to describe the world that is pictured. Notice this passage from Isaiah 2:2-4:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

The world that will exist when the Kingdom of God has been established will be a world where the instruments of war will be destroyed and real peace will exist! What better news could there be?

The shoes of peace offer protection

A solid belief and grounding in the gospel of peace brings hope to a Christian’s life. That hope should keep us unmoved and pointed toward our goal: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:21-23).

The enemies of the Roman Empire would sometimes place sharp, spiked objects on the ground in front of them before a battle. Any attacking soldier not wearing shoes substantial enough for the attack would soon find himself crippled or killed. Though the shoes were not by any means the most well-known part of the soldier’s armor, they were vital.

The same is true where the armor of God is concerned. Our enemy, Satan the devil, will use every opportunity to litter our path with distractions and traps—and only the shoes God gives us as part of His armor can give us the protection we need to keep moving safely across the battlefield.

Putting all three elements of the shoes of peace together

At the beginning of this article, we noted that “the preparation of the gospel of peace” is something of a mouthful. But none of those words are fluff. Each of them tell us something important about these shoes.

At the core of it all, we have the gospel. The good news. The proclamation and the promise of the Kingdom of God—that it is real, that it exists and that it is coming.

That gospel message is, at its core, a message of the peace that will envelop the entire world when God established His Kingdom on this earth. And when we wear that gospel of peace like shoes on our feet, it provides us with a preparedness—a firm foundation—that allows us to keep a sure footing in life’s more difficult moments.

There is a famous quote of unknown origin that goes as follows: “If you’re going to talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk.”

How are your feet prepared for the walk? A Christian wearing the armor of God will have his or her feet prepared and shod in the gospel of peace!

Learn more about the entire armor of God and how to put it on.

About the Author

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and lived for 14 years in Missouri before moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he completed high school. After moving to Pasadena, California, for 11 years and completing college and graduate studies, Dave moved to Texas.

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