Did George Duffield get scripture wrong in the third verse of his famous hymn:
Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Stand in his strength alone
The arm of flesh will fail you
Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armour,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.
I wanted to use the lines of Dufflield’s hymn in a recent sermon… “Put on the gospel armour, Each piece put on with prayer” but is that what the really Bible says? Those particular words certainly aren’t in the text! And does it really matter? They’re true aren’t they? Well, considering the subject Paul is discussing here I would agree with Francis Schaeffe and say it matters very much – “This is not a friendly gentleman’s discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ”. Which is really what the hymn is all about!
Typically v17 reads …take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (or , in ESV) then v18 reads…
|And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (NIV)||With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. (NET)||praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (ESV)||Διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως προσευχόμενοι ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ εἰς αὐτὸ ἀγρυπνοῦντες ἐν πάσῃ προσκαρτερήσει καὶ δεήσει περὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων (GNT)|
Each translation begins a new sentence at v18 (except ESV), commanding us to pray on all occasions, in the Spirit, being alert etc. But what is the purpose on the praying? There is no overt reference back to the armour of God in v14-17 except by implication ἐνπαντὶκαιρῷ, at all times. In fact the natural flow seems to point forward to πάντωντῶνἁγίων, all the saints, thus making prayer the 7th weapon of the Christians armour. So, is the participle προσευχόμενοι instrumental (as in the hymn) or yet another imperative? (Questionable! is Wallace’s comment. GGBB 652)
Put another way, what are the grammatical or syntactical connections of the participles in προσευχόμενοι (praying) andἀγρυπνοῦντες (being alert), to the rest of the text? Diagramming helps us here. The BW Leedy diagrams, show the two participle clauses of v18 are indeed linked back to two earlier imperatives. The firstστῆτε (stand) in v14 – which starts the section describing each piece of armour. The second is δέξασθε (take, receive) in v17, which refers to the helmet of salvation. Furthermore, the initial preposition of v18, δια followed by acc. should, according to BDAG, be either translated ‘through’ or, ‘because of, or, for the sake of’. Taking through as the translation of δια together with the participle connections, gives us…
14Stand therefore…having put on the armour of God…17And receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18through every prayer and petition, praying at all times in the Spirit, and to this end…
This is the translation Lincoln takes in WBC. So, I think George was right all along!