Armour of God

Belt

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Eph. 6: 14)

The belt is a universal garment of every culture in every period of history.  It holds clothing up or in place but it’s unique purpose is to support tools or weapons to your person to have them readily available when and where the need arises to use them.

Breastplate

“…with the breastplate of righteousness in place” (Eph. 6: 14)

A breastplate protects the front of the torso and along with the helmet comprise the nucleus of armour in general, protecting bodies most vulnerable areas. When the breastplate is worn with a back plate, the torso pieces together are called the cuirass.

Roman Breastplate circa 100 BC

The classic muscular steel breastplate of ancient Rome provided excellent protection and as an added bonus, gave it’s wearer a heroic physique (rock hard six pack abs). The Romans copied this design from the Greeks who originally created it in bronze. The draw back to this solid one piece design is that it greatly restricts torso movement.

Coat of Plates circa 800 AD

This segmented cuirass appeared in many times and cultures.  Relatively easy to build and quite flexible, this type of armour was practical, dependable and financially viable for the lowly man at arms.

Boots & Sandals

“And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace…” (Eph. 6: 15)

The Caligula (named after the emperor Caligula) was the standard issue army boot of the day.  The Roman legion’s simple, sturdy sandal design was worn for centuries from Britain to Byzantia (Istanbul)  Egypt to Spain.  The soles of these sandals were hobnailed for durability, traction and an offensive weapon.  These iron hobnails also produced a very intimidating sound for the marching soldiers demoralizing their enemies with terror.  The hobnail has been used by armies throughout history for these reasons, most recently and infamously by the Nazis in WWII.

Shield

“In addition to all this take up the shield of faith…” (Eph. 6: 16)

The shield provided a portable “wall” to defend against weapons both flung and swung.  Shields came in all shapes and sizes from small round bucklers to protect the back of the hand, to the giant shields of the Roman legions which covered most of the body.  A primary concern for any shield is weight.  Anything over 8 pounds would be to cumbersome to be manoeuvred effectively for any length of time.  An indestructible shield that is too heavy to lift is as useless as no shield at all.

Shields were constructed to maximize lightness yet to be as strong and durable as possible.  Typically shields were made of thin strips of wood laminated  together in perpendicular layers to create the original plywood.  Leather or fabric was glued over this, then metal bands riveted the entire structure into a solid whole.  These shields took a tremendous beating in battle and probably needed repair or replacement after every conflict.  They were considered expendable, disposable, being cheap means of protection when compared to the rest of the armour.

Shields were often emblazoned with figures or designs usually in bold contrasting colours.  These provided easy identification on the battlefield much like numbers on a football jersey.  These symbols eventually became more formalized and the basis for heraldry.

Roman Shield circa 0 AD 32” x 50”
This curved rectangular shield is constructed of laminated wood covered in linen and iron fittings.

Viking Shield circa 900 AD 24” diameter
A simple round shield constructed from planks held together with iron fittings. A common shield style from many periods of history.

Helmet

“Take the helmet of salvation…” (Eph. 6:17)

The head was one of the first body parts to be armoured in early times.  The body being somewhat protected by the shield and simple clothing, the head was not and stuck out a very vulnerable target.  Early helmets consisted of a simple bowl shape to cover the skull.  Eventually extra plates where added to protect the cheeks and the back of the neck.  Protecting the face always proved a problem as extra coverage meant less visibility and breath ability  both very important factors in the heat of battle.  History gave us many compromises to this dilemma, some better designs than others.  Most helmet styles are peaked somewhat to provide a glance surface, deflecting weapons away from the head.

Corinthian Helmet circa 100 BC
The classic helmet design of classical Greece.  Made of bronze forged from one piece, it provided a sturdy glancing surface with decent visibility but good face protection.

Roman Coolus circa 100 AD
The Romans designed practical effective armour designs.  This helmet is comfortable, durable and provides good protection.

Sword

“…and the sword of the spirit,which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6: 17)

Throughout history the sword had represented power and nobility.  The sword was a more prestigious weapon than an axe or mace (club).  Swords of this era (New Testament 50 AD)  tended to be about 24-28” long handle included.  At the time of Christ mankind had recently entered the iron age which saw the emerge of steel swords. (and other weapons and armour).

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon.  The carbon strengthens the iron to make it both flexible and hard (able to hold an edge)  This allowed swords to be much lighter than their bronze fore bearers but also much stronger and more flexible.  All swords took a high level of skill and a lot of time to produce, this added to their prestige and value hence an elitist mystic surrounds the sword.

Falcata circa 100 BC
Greek or Etruscan in origin 25” overall approx. 2.5 pounds.  The inward curving blade adds extra momentum to slashes compared to a straight blade.  The tempered steel blade is light and flexible.

Bronze Sword circa 0 AD 24” 6 pounds
This bronze sword is cast (molten bronze poured in a mould), then hammered to work harden the edges.  The brittleness of the casting meant this sword needed to be fairly thick with a central rib for extra support.  Bronze is also significantly heavier than steel.  Fierce weapons for their time but inferior to steel weaponry because of weight and durability.  Bronze weapons and armour continued to be used in the remote regions beyond civilization for centuries after the iron age was in full swing.