According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was imprisoned by the Roman government three times because he preached the Gospel of Jesus. Paul characterized himself as an ambassador of the Gospel of Christ and a prisoner of the Lord in chains. Paul had many contacts with Roman soldiers, and perhaps this was the reason he often likened Christians as the "soldiers of the Lord." In his epistles and example of life, Paulâ€™s "contending faith" was often an encouragement to Godâ€™s redeemed assembly.
A shield is used to protect oneâ€™s body. There are large shields as well as small ones. In the verse above, the "shield" probably refers to a thureos, a kind of shield made of wood that protected every part of the soldier. Since this type of shieldâ€™s surface was covered with leather, it could extinguish the flaming darts of the enemy. "Flaming darts" were a small but powerful form of ammunition commonly used in ancient Roman warfare. The phrase "all the flaming darts" means that Satan has an innumerable number of arrows, including: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, etc. All these sinful lusts are darts that Satan frequently employs.
As Satan has innumerable flaming darts, let us not be deceivedâ€”he is extremely skillful at using them. Satan knows when, to whom, as well as where to direct his darts. He is familiar with all our critical points. Take Adam and Eve for example. Satan skillfully shot the flaming dart of "doubt" and caused them to deny Godâ€™s authority. And to Cain, Satan shot the dart of "envy," eventually causing Cain to murder his brother out of jealousy. King Saul was shot with the dart of "rebellion," and later he forsook Godâ€™s command. Judas Iscariot was overcome by the dart of "greed," and this led him to betray Jesus. Examples from the Bible are too numerous to cite them all.
Although Satan has a horde of flaming darts, as well as a shrewd and scheming spirit, he must not be feared by Christians. As Christians, we must fear the loss of our faith, for this leaves a foothold for Satan to use. If as Christians we do not know how to defend against Satanâ€™s attack, we cannot become firmly rooted and grounded in the truth. Therefore, we need to hold fast to the "shield of faith" as recorded in Ephesiansâ€”diligently training ourselves up in the faith. If we take up the shield of faith, we will soon find that Satan has no way to attack.