Three Cycles of Growth: Warfare and Spiritual Metamorphosis in John and Paul
Mark R. Kreitzer and Nancy C. Kreitzer
Mark R. Kreitzer (D.Miss. Ph.D.) is Associate Professor of Theology and Missions at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona; Nancy C. Kreitzer (M.A.) is Adjunct Instructor at Grand Canyon University
Abstract: In this paper, we examine two key NT passages that address spiritual warfare and spiritual growth, showing how they are inextricably linked. In Ephesians 6:10–20, Paul shows believers that in order to stand in their faith, they must stand in God’s full armor, their identity “in Christ.” With each piece, he reveals essential aspects of Christ’s armor, beginning with the belt of truth and ending with requests for prayer for evangelism. Paul seems to organize them in three sets of three pieces of armor. In 1 John 2:12–14, John teaches that the natural outworking of standing in Christ’s armor is growth in three stages. As we compare the 1 John and Ephesians passages, we will see how each piece of armor, and the believer’s understanding of them, is necessarily linked during the three stages of growth. Finally, we conclude with the far-reaching missiological implications.
Key Words: 1 John 2:12–14, Ephesians 6:10–20, three stages of spiritual growth, spiritual warfare, identity in Christ, armor of God, 1 John, Ephesians