Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, is responsible for many of the Books of the New Testament. Because of all of the different Churches, his circumstances, and the various needs of the people, he addresses many topics. He likes to list things in his writings, and we love to form our beliefs around those lists. But he does vary those lists according to the Churches/people he is writing too. In this post I want to explore two topics he lists and how they are related. The topics are: 1. “Armor” 2. “Faith, Hope, Love”. I have previously written post on these topics, so if you want to see them they are: Faith, Hope, and Love; Putting On.
I think it would be safe to say that Paul’s habit of listing things has its foundations in the Old Testament. One that he expounds on for this study is Isaiah 59: 17. Isaiah is stating that the Lord was displeased because no one intervened for the sake of justice, so He clothed Himself with righteousness, salvation, vengeance, and zeal. We love to use Ephesians 6: 14 as the Armor of God that we are to put on, but Paul uses the idea of armor and “putting on” in other Letters. I think we focus on this one because it is a more complete list, and who does not want to be dressed up in armor!
1 Corinthians 13: 13 is our favorite verse for faith, hope, and love. This in part is due to the beautiful explanation of love, and maybe because he uses the word “greatest.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 8 Paul brings these two themes together; faith and love are the breastplate with hope of salvation as the helmet. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 faith is paired with works; love prompts labor; and endurance is from hope in Jesus.
He weaves faith, hope, and love together in Colossians 1:4+5 with what is stored for us in heaven. Changing ideas slightly Colossians 3:12 uses the idea of “clothe yourself” with a list that sounds like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22.
To keep this mix going, in Romans 13:11 – 14 Paul tells us to “put on the armor of light” and “clothe yourself” with Jesus in order to “put off” deeds of darkness, which are listed.
Trying to “split hairs” over these lists is not in the spirit of Paul’s writings, and it would be better to combine all of these various thoughts to get the big picture/message. One “big picture” I saw in doing this post is from 1 Thessalonians 5: 8 faith and love covers your heart, and hope covers your mind.