Paul was in prison under house arrest in Rome when he wrote this epistle, the date being about AD 64. This first imprisonment lasted for two years. Since he was executed in AD 66-68 under Nero, following his second imprisonment, the epistle was written near the close of his ministry, a ministry that lasted about 33 years. Evidently, he had inherited a lot of money and was a Roman citizen. While under house arrest, he had visitors and was able to witness, even converting some of Nero’s household.
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The personal instruction continued. Paul closed out the epistle with the admonition to put on the full armor, the whole armor, of God. This theme is in both Colossians and Ephesians, showing that, just as with us, when letters are written by one individual to others, certain thoughts and phrases are repeated because they are contemporaneous with our thoughts and feelings of the moment. Thus there are similarities between Paul’s letter to the Colossians and his letter to the Ephesians—the language, the thinking, etc.
The considerable detail of putting on the armor reflected that Paul was a prisoner stationed near the Praetorian guard in Rome. Daily he could see the guard marching with their armor paraphernalia, and thus he drew the analogy of how, spiritually speaking, the Christian soldier should also be armored and protected from the enemy. We need all this armor to stand against unseen powers, as well as the wiles of Satan himself.
Among the armor, Paul inserted the admonition to have the “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Often when one prepares for battle, he assumes the language of the battle, but while the Christian is a soldier, he is to be careful that the combativeness is not unnecessarily used; that is, he should not look for a fight. He is not to be contentious and then try to justify his actions by saying he is standing for the truth. The weaponry of the Spirit, not carnal weapons, is used in fighting the good fight of faith. While the armor application is beautiful for the Christian, it should be used, as far as possible, in peace.
Paul was headed to Rome, because he appealed to Caesar. He was initially imprisoned because the Jews made complaint against him. God told him that he was to be a witness before the Gentiles and Kings and magistrates, he took the opportunity (because he had Roman citizenship) to appeal to Caesar (Nero). Which meant that he had to appear in his presence.