Daily Archives: October 19, 2008

The church as a solid bulwark

The apostle Paul wrote these words to the saints at Colossae:

For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:5 ESV)

J. B. Lightfoot suggested that the term stereoma [firmness] was a military metaphor. He says that Paul’s companionship with soldiers of the praetorian guard (Philippians 1:13) might have suggested the image.

I always enjoy William Barclay’s comments on words. He makes the following comments on order and firmness.

These two words present a vivid picture, for they are both military words. The word translated order is taxis, which means a rank or an ordered arrangement. The Church should be like an ordered army, with every man in his appointed place, ready and willing to obey the word of command. The word translated firmness is stereoma, which means a solid bulwark, an immovable phalanx. It describes an army set out in an unbreakable square, solidly immovable against the shock of the enemy’s charge. Within the Church there should be disciplined order and strong steadiness, like the order and steadiness of a trained and disciplined body of troops.

These soldiers from the Roman Army and Chariot Experience at Jerash, Jordan, demonstrate what is meant by the term firmness (stereoma).

Soldiers in formation as a solid bulwark. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Soldiers in formation as a solid bulwark. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.