Ephesians 6

 

 

 

1  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

The first duty of children is obedience, and “in the Lord,” i.e. in Christ, this

duty is confirmed. The ejn Kuri>w| - en koo-ree-ooin the Lord - qualifies,

not “parents,” but “obey,” and indicates that the element or life which even

children lead in fellowship with Christ makes such obedience more easy

and more graceful. The duty itself rests on the first principles of morality —

for this is right.”  It is an obligation that rests on the very nature of things,

and cannot change with the spirit of the age; it is in no degree modified

by what is called the spirit of independence in children.  The child’s faculties

cannot be developed apart from God!  Secular education is a contradiction

of terms.  Let the parents look well to the minds of their children.  They are

to show them by their own practice what to follow and imitate; and what

to shun and avoid!

 

2  Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with

promise.”   The exhortation, based on natural morality (v. 1), is here confirmed

from the Decalogue (Exodus 20:12). “Honor” is higher than obedience (v. 1);

it is the regard due to those who, by Divine appointment, are above us, and

to whom our most respectful consideration is due. Father and mother, though

not quite on a footing of equality in their relation to each other (ch. 5:22), are

equal as objects of honor and obedience to their children. It is assumed here

that they are Christians; where one was a Christian and not the ether, the duty

would be modified.  But in these succinct verses the apostle lays down general

rules, and does not complicate his exhortations with exceptions. The latter part of

the verse contains a special reason for the precept; it is the first commandment

with a promise attached. But obviously the apostle meant more than this;

for as in v. 1, he had affirmed the duty to be one of natural religion, so

here he means to add that it is also part of the revealed will of God — it is

one of the commandments; but still further, it is the first commandment

with a promise. It may, perhaps, be said that this is appealing, not to the

higher, but to the lower part of our nature — to our selfishness, not our

goodness; but it is not an appeal to one part of our nature to the exclusion

of the rest; it is an appeal to our whole nature, for it is a part of our nature

to expect that in the end virtue will be rewarded and vice punished. In the

case of children it is difficult to look far forward; the rewards and the

punishments, to be influential, must be within the ken of vision, as it were;

therefore it is quite suitable that, in writing to them, the apostle should lay

emphasis on a promise which had its special fulfillment in the life that now is.

 

3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on

the earth.”  A free rendering (after the manner of the apostle) of the reason

annexed to the fifth commandment, “that thy days may be long in the land

which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” While the Decalogue was an

expression of the will of God on matters of moral and indefeasible

obligation, it had a local Hebrew element here and there. In the present

case the apostle drops what is specially Hebrew, adapting the promise in

spirit to a wider area. The special promise of long life in the land of

Canaan is translated into a general promise of prosperity and longevity. As

before, we must not suppose that the apostle excludes exceptions. The

promise is not for each individual; many good and obedient children do not

live long. But the general tendency of obedience to parents is towards the

results specified. Where obedience to parents is found, there is usually

found along with it temperance, self-control, industry, regular ways of life,

and other habits that tend towards prosperity and longevity. In Christian

families there is commonly affection, unity, prayer, mutual helpfulness,

reliance on God, trust in Christ, and all that makes life sweet and

wholesome. The spirit of the promise is realized in such ways, and it may

be likewise in special mercies vouchsafed to each family. 

 

All God’s commandments carry blessings in their bosoms. In the

keeping of them there is great reward (Psalm 19:11).  “His commandments

are not grievous.”  (I John 5:3)

 

Long life among the Jews was a token of Divine favor and it seems to have

been an emblem of the life to come.

 

Scripture references to back up the respect of children to parents:

 

  • Children are never to set light by their parents – Deuteronomy 27:16

            Children are sometimes rude to their parents.  “The eye that mocketh at his

            father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick

            it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17); - that is,

            something terrible shall overtake him who dares to make light of

            his parents.  There was a time when they were entirely helpless, could

            neither walk nor speak, and, but for the care of parents, they would have

            perished.  The children are not in a position to know all the sacrifices their

            parents make for them, and the amount of thought that is bestowed on them,

            and the prayers that are put up for them.  (I think the first time the kindness

            of my parents really came home to me was the first time I changed a diaper –

            CY – 2010)   Children receive daily acts of kindness from their parents

            and these should be received, not as though they were entitled to them,

            but with feelings of gratitude ever fresh.  (How much more, as adults should

            we likewise show gratitude to our Heavenly Father!  - CY – 2010)

 

  • One would never have on earth better friends, greater benefactors, than

      God has given in one’s parents!  There is nothing by which a child can

      better requite all the trouble that their parents have had on their account

      than by their obedience!

 

  • The sphere in which obedience is to take place is “in the Lord”.

      Children are to look to their parents as standing in the place of  Christ

      to them, and to obey them as though they were obeying Christ!

            “For this is right.” There is a relationship founded deep in nature

            between parents and those to whom they have given being. This is

            associated with an affection which is one of the most beautiful things

            in the world. The strength of the parental affection qualifies the

            parents for being placed in authority over their children. And

            the filial affection leads the children to look to their parents as the natural

            source of authority ever them.  The obedience to parents has NO EXCEPTION!

            Nor does any majority make the obligation to cease.  (Especially in this day –

      remember that one of the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

      is that children will be “disobedient to parents” [II Timothy 3:2] – CY – 2010)

 

  • “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of

      the old man and fear thy God:  I am the Lord.. Leviticus 19:32

 

  • “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy

      mother when she is old.”  Proverbs 23:22

 

  • Parents know more than their children; therefore “a wise son heareth

            his father’s instruction” (Proverbs 13:1). The child must take much of

            his knowledge for granted on the mere authority of his father.

 

  • Children should show reverence to their parents because of their years of

      experience.  Those years are associated with superior attainments. A big ship

      leaving for another land needs to be cautiously piloted out of the dock and past

      the other ships in the harbor or river, away beyond the bar, and, it may be,

      through the channel, until it is out to the open sea.  (I recommend Thomas

      Carlyle’s paintings called The Voyage of Life which can be found on the

      internet or on this web site under:  -CY – 2010)

 

  • Children are not able to guide themselves; for “foolishness  is bound up

       in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15).

 

Remember what the first verse says, “FOR THIS IS RIGHT!”

 

4  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:” -  “Fathers”

 is inclusive of mothers, to whom the practical administration of

the household and training of the children so much belong. The first

counsel on the subject is negative, and probably has respect to a common

pagan habit, against which Christians needed to be put on their guard.

Irritation of children was common, through loss of temper and violence in

reproving them, through capricious and unsteady treatment and

unreasonable commands; but more especially (what is still so common) by

the parents being violently angry when the children, inconsiderately,

perhaps, disturbed or annoyed them, rather than when they deliberately did

wrong. All this the apostle deprecates – “but bring them up in the nurture

(training) and admonition of the Lord.” The words paidei>a - pahee-di’-ah;

correction, chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture - and nouqesi>a -

nouthesiaputting in mind; training by word; whether by reproof or

remonstrance - are not easily defined in this connection; the former is thought to

denote the discipline of training, with its appropriate rewards and punishments; the

latter, instruction. Both are to be “of the Lord,” such as He inspires and

approves. Instilling sound principles of life, training to good habits,

cautioning and protecting against moral dangers, encouraging prayer,

Bible-reading, church-going, sabbath-keeping; taking pains to let them

have good associates, and especially dealing with them prayerfully and

earnestly, in order that they may accept Christ as their Savior and follow

him, — are among the matters included in this counsel.  The former of these words

(paidei>a) is associated more with discipline, made up of order and of act, under

which the children grow, while the latter word (nouqesi>a) will indicate education

by word. “The same spirit,” says Monod, in loco, “which in our day relaxes filial

obedience, softens paternal power; the abuse of independence among

inferiors and the forgetfulness of authority among superiors, march hand-in-

hand. Parents who have known how to guard themselves against an

excessive rigor, whether as a matter of principle or of temperament, fall

usually into the contrary excess; chastisement is banished from their

household, and as for corporal punishment in particular, it is held most

frequently for a mark of a hard heart or of a base-born spirit. Let us oppose

to these prejudices:

 

  • “He that spareth his rod hateth his son:  but he that loveth him

      chasteneth him betimes.”  (Proverbs 13:24)

 

  • He that will not use the rod on his child, his child shall be used as a rod

      on him!

 

  • “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of

      correction shall drive it far from him.” (Ibid. 22:15)

 

  • “Withhold not correction from the child:  for if thou beatest

      him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him

      with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell. ”  (Ibid. 23:13-14)

 

  • “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall

      give delight unto thy soul.”  (Ibid. 29:17)

 

By the rod we do not mean corporal punishment alone; we simply say that one

ought not to exclude it (Ibid. 23:14), and that there are some cases where nothing

else will do. As for the rest, behold the principle which should direct Christian parents

in such a case — to employ discipline of the sweetest possible character, but

discipline sufficient to repress the sin.” Let this careful discipline be supplemented

by a careful instruction and the children shall be faithfully “nurtured” for the Lord.

(If we do our part, the Lord, when it comes time, will do His part – (i. e. Ibid. 22:6)

If the Christian father keeps Christ before him as his Great Ideal, then the

Divine Fatherhood regulates his conscience and he nurtures the little ones

accordingly.

 

The Lord’s command is, “Bring up this child for me, and I will pay thee thy wages.”

What infinitely precious results depend on the execution of these two precepts in

this verse! Every well-trained Christian household is a nursery of all that tends to

bless the world; while disorderly and unchristian families are hotbeds of vice and

evil. The prayer of Psalm 144:12,15, is never out of date: That our sons

may be as plants grown up in their youth; our daughters as cornerstones,

polished after the similitude of a palace.... Happy is that people that is in

such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will

not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6)

 

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which

are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is

in Christ Jesus.”  (II Timothy 3:15)

 

We shall thus restrain our children from many follies and sinful habits

which would otherwise be the burden and curse of their after life.  We

also shall be promoting our own happiness and comfort in old age.

We shall also be shaping the DESTINIES OF FUTURE GENERATIONS.

 

How wonderful to have the INTERESTS OF ETERNITY SECURED

EARLY IN LIFE!

 

5   Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the

flesh,” - There were many slaves in the early Church, but, however unjust their

position, the apostle could not but counsel them to obedience, this course

being the best for ultimately working out their emancipation. The words of

Christ were peculiarly welcome to them “that labor and are heavy laden;”

(Matthew 11:28-30) and, as we find from Celsus and others, the early Church

was much ridiculed for the large number of uneducated persons in its pale –

“with fear and trembling,” -  Comp. I Corinthians 2:3; Philippians 2:12, from

which it will be seen that this expression does not denote slavish dread, but

great moral anxiety lest one should fail in duty. It was probably a

proverbial expression – “in singleness of your heart, as to Christ.”  Not

with a made-up semblance of obedience, but with inward sincerity, knowing

that it is your duty; and even if it be irksome, doing it pleasantly, as though

Christ required it, and you were doing it to Him.

 

6   Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ,

doing the will of God from the heart.”  Exegetical of the last exhortation,

with a negative and a positive clause, according to the apostle’s frequent practice

(comp. chps. 2:8, 19; 3:5; 4:14-15, 25, 28-29; 5:18, 27, 29;  and v. 4 above).

Eye-service and men-pleasing have reference only to what will pass muster in the

world; Christians must go deeper, as bound to Christ’s service by the great claim

of redemption (I Corinthians 6:20), and remembering that “man looketh on the

outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

The will of God is our great standard, and our daily prayer is, “Thy

will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” In heaven it is done “from the

heart.”

 

7   With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

 Some join the last words of the preceding verse to this clause, “from

the heart with good will,” etc., on the ground that it is not needed for v.6,

for if you do the will of God at all, you must do it from the heart. But

one may do the will of God in a sense outwardly and formally, therefore

the clause is not superfluous in v. 6, whereas, if one does service with

good will, one surely does it from the heart, so that the clause would be

more superfluous here. Jesus is the Overlord of every earthly lord, and His

follower has but to substitute Him by faith for his earthly master to enable

him to do service with good will.

 

8  “Knowing that whatsover good thing any man doeth, the same shall

he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”  The hope of reward

is brought in to supplement the more disinterested motive, such addition being

specially useful in the case of slaves (as of children, vs. 2-3). For the slave the

hope of reward is future it is at the Lord’s coming that he will have

his reward.  Whatsoever good you do, you shall receive of the Lord; He

will repay you.  “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and

labor of love, which ye have shewed toward His name” (Hebrews 6:10).

 

9  And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing

threatening”” -  Act correspondingly toward your slaves, as if the eye of

Christ were on you, which indeed it is; if you are ever tempted to grind

them down, or defraud, or scold unreasonably and make their life bitter,

remember that there is a Master above you, into whose ears their cry will

come. If they are to do service to you as to the Lord, you are to require

service of them as if you were the Lord. Therefore forbear threatening;

influence them by love more than by fear – “knowing that your Master

also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him.”

Both of you stand in the same relation to the great Lord, who is in heaven

and over all (comp. ch. 1:20-21). Your being higher in earthly

station than they will not procure for you any indulgence or consideration.

You will be judged simply and solely according to your deeds. Your

responsibility to the Judge and your obligations to the Savior alike bind

you to just and merciful treatment. If such principles were applicable to the

relations of enforced labor, they are certainly not less so to the relations of

labor when free.

 

This can be carried out to employers and employees – both need to beware of

offending Christ by a bitter and unreasonable spirit. Occasions for glorifying God

by the manifestation of a noble Christian spirit may become occasions for letting

out the selfishness of the carnal heart. Yet, complicated though the question is,

it is probable that the true solution would be reached by all Christian men if the

spirit of this text were carried out, if both masters and men tried to do all as to

the Lord and not to men, and to esteem His approval the very highest reward to

which they could look.

 

 

THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE (vs. 10-20)

 

After having treated Christian morals so carefully and shown how

Christianity elevates the individual, the family, and the slave, Paul

proceeds, in the close of this remarkable Epistle, to speak of the enemies

and the arms of a Christian. Life is seen to be a battle, The enemies are

manifold. It is not flesh and blood against which we fight. We leave the

carnal warfare to the world. We contend against “the principalities, against

the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual

hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Revised Version). These foes

are of a spiritual character – false principles and their advocates, whether

men in flesh and blood or demons in their invisible might. So that the

Christian finds himself confronted by a most serious host, perhaps not in

very strict order of battle, yet mobbed together into perplexing power.

How is one to withstand the assault of so many? There is but one way, by

becomingstrong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might” (Revised

Version).

 

10  Finally,” - The apostle has now reached his last passage, and by

this word quickens the attention of his readers and prepares them for a

counsel eminently weighty in itself, and gathering up the pith and marrow,

as it were, of what goes before. “My brethren,” A.V., is rejected by R.V,

and most modern commentators, for lack of external evidence. We note,

however, that, whereas in the preceding verses he had distributed the

Ephesians into groups, giving an appropriate counsel to each, he now

brings them again together, and has a concluding counsel for them all – “be

strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  Compare with

ch. 3:16, where the heavenly provision for obtaining strength is specified,

and with ch. 4:30, where we are cautioned against a course that will fritter

away that provision. The ever-recurring formula, “in the Lord,” indicates

the relation to Christ in which alone the strength can be experienced (comp.

II Corinthians 12:9). The might is Christ’s, but by faith it becomes our strength.

As the steam-engine genders the dynamic force, which belts and wheels

communicate to the inert machinery of the factory, so Christ is the source of

that spiritual strength which through faith is communicated to all His people.

To be strong is our duty; to be weak is our sin. Strong trust, strong courage,

strong endurance, strong hope. strong love, may all be had from Him, if only

our fellowship with Him be maintained in uninterrupted vigor.

 

11   “Put on the whole amour of God,” -  Chained to a soldier, the

apostle’s mind would go forth naturally to the subject of amour and

warfare. Put on amour, for life is a battle-field; not a scene of soft

enjoyment and ease, but of hard conflict, with foes within and without; put

on the amour of God, provided by Him for your protection and for

aggression too, for it is good, well-adapted for your use, — God has

thought of you, and has sent His amour for you; put on the whole amour of

God, for each part of you needs to be protected, and you need suitable

weapons for assailing all your foes – “that ye may be able to stand against

the wiles of the devil.”  Our chief enemy does not engage us in open

warfare, but deals in wiles and stratagems, which need to be watched

against and prepared for with peculiar care, “for we are not ignorant of

his devices.”  (II Corinthians 2:11)

 

12   “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” - Our conflict is

not with men, here denoted by “flesh and blood,” which is usually a symbol

of weakness, therefore denoting that our opponents are not weak mortals,

but powers of a far more formidable order -  “but against (the) principalities,

against (the) powers,” - The same words as in ch.1:21; therefore the definite

article is prefixed, as denoting what we are already familiar with: for though

all of these, evil as well as good, have been put under Christ the Head, they

have not been put under the members, but the evil among them are warring

against these members with all the greater ferocity since they cannot assail

the Head – “a the rulers of the darkness of this world,” - (Compare

Ephesians 2:2). “World-rulers” denotes the extent of the dominion of these

invisible foes — the term is applied only to the rulers of the most widely

extended tracts; there is no part of the globe to which their influence does

not extend, and where their dark rule does not show itself (comp. Luke 4:6).

“This darkness” expressively denotes the element and the results of their rule.

Observe contrast with Christ’s servants, who are children of light, equivalent

to order, knowledge, purity, joy, peace, etc.; while the element of the devil

and his servants is darkness, equivalent to confusion, ignorance, crime,

terror, strife, and all misery – “against spiritual wickedness in high

places.”  Who are these beings?  We are not confronted with beings like

ourselves; it is not our own flesh and blood that we are pitted against,

“But against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers

of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

To show the need for being properly armed, the apostle gives a bold description

of the foes with which we have to contend.  As to their rank, they are powerful

chieftains (principalities and powers).  As to their domain, it is “this darkness,”

which is world-wide. As to their essence, they are not encumbered with clay,

but are spirits. As to their number, they are hosts, vast multitudes. As to their

character, they are wicked, their inveterate disposition is to seek to work our ruin.

As to their haunt, as it was before hinted at (rather than dogmatically taught) as

The air, so here it is the heavenly or super-terrestrial places. The general effect

of the description is that, as men ourselves, we are unequally matched in

having to fight against superhuman powers.  The natural meaning, though

questioned by some, is, either that these hosts of wickedness have their

residence in heavenly places, or, that these places are the scene of our

conflict with them. The latter seems more agreeable to the context, for

in heavenly places” does not denote a geographical locality here any

more than in chps. 1:3 and 2:6,  when it is said that “we have been seated

with Christ in heavenly places,” the allusion is to the spiritual experience of

His people; in spirit they are at the gate of heaven, where their hearts are full

of heavenly thoughts and feelings; the statement now before us is that,

even in such places, amid their most fervent experiences or their most

sublime services, they are subject to the attacks of the spirits of wickedness.

 

13 “Wherefore take unto you the whole amour of God,” - WhatBre

the Christian combatant is to do, when he is thus assailed, is not certainly

to under-estimate the force that is brought against him, but it is also by

faith rightly to estimate the force that is placed at his service. What can he

do against the principalities and powers and the fiery darts they send out

for his destruction? If he look to himself, he can do nothing. But he looks

away to the power which placed Christ above all the principalities and

powers, and he places it as a shield between him and the fiery darts, and in

it their fire is quenched, their force is lost.  American servicemen are

given government issued clothing and armaments, thus the men are

often called G. I.’s.  God provides for His own in this spiritual

warfare, of which are:

 

  • Girdle of Truth – v. 14
  • Breastplate of Righteousness – v. 14
  • Shoes of the Gospel of Peace – v. 15
  • Shield of Faith – v. 16
  • Helmet of Salvation – v. 17
  • Sword of the Spirit – v. 17
  • Prayer – v. 18

 

The apostle Paul lays stress upon every one taking the whole armor (and not

merely some of its parts). No one, for instance, is a worthy combatant who feels

no responsibility in the carrying of the gospel message. If we would have the

strength our Captain would see in us, we must use all the pieces of the

Christian armor - “that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,” - Some

have tried to affix a specific time to the “evil day” of the apostle, as if it were

one or other of the days specified in the Apocalypse; but more probably it is a

general phrase, like“the day of adversity,”(Proverbs 24:10; Ecclesiastes 7:14) or

the day of battle,” indicating a day that comes often. In fact, any day when the

evil one comes upon us in force is the evil day, and our ignorance of the time

when such assault may be made is what makes it so necessary for us to be

watchful - “and having done all, to stand.” “Having done fully,” or “completed,”

is the literal import of katergasa>menoi, -  having reference, not only to the

preparation for the battle, but to the fighting too. The command to be

strong in the Lord” is fitly associated with our “having done all,” because

leaning on almighty strength implies the effort to put forth strength by our

own instrumentality; when God’s strength comes to us it constrains us

to do all” that can be done by us or through us (comp. Psalm 144:1;

Philippians 2:12-13). We are not called to do merely as well as our neighbors;

nor even to do well on the whole, but to do all — to leave nothing undone that

can contribute to the success of the battle; then we shall be able to stand, or

stand firm.

 

14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,” - The “stand”

in v. 13 denotes the end of the conflict; this “stand” is at the beginning. Obviously

there must be a firm stand at the beginning if there is to be at the end. In order to

this, we must fasten the girdle round our loins viz, truth, here used in a

comprehensive sense, denoting honesty; sincerity of profession in opposition

to all sham, levity, hypocrisy; and likewise the element of “truth in Jesus”

(ch. 4:21), the substance of the gospel revelation. We are to gird ourselves

in truth, ejn ajlhqei>a|,   en al-ay’-thi-a; in truth - establishing ourselves in

that element, wrapping it round us; ejn ajlhqei>a|, literally, “girded in truth.”

and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”  Comp. 4:24, for at least

one element of the righteousness — righteousness wrought in us by the

Holy Ghost after the image of Christ. But a more comprehensive use of the

term is not excluded — the whole righteousness that we derive from Christ,

righteousness imputed and righteousness infused.  If we are able to let

righteousness reign in all our relations, the hostility of men and devils

will but little avail. It is to be “God-like” in all our attitudes, and nothing

then can harm us.

 

15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”

The metaphor becomes somewhat difficult to follow; the feet have to be shod

or armed as with military sandals, and the sandal is the eJtoimasi>a,

het-oy-mas-ee’-ah; or preparedness of, or caused by, the gospel of peace. The

idea seems to be that the mind is to be steadied, kept from fear and flutter,

by means of the good news of peace — the good news that we are at peace

with God; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

The Roman sandal was furnished with nails that gripped the ground firmly,

even when it was sloping or slippery; (like spikes or cleats on athletic shoes –

CY – 2010) - so the good news of peace keeps us upright and firm.

The Christian has ceased to be self-centered. He cannot live the selfish life. He

must be a missionary. The gospel of peace is to be sent round the world. In

doing so he must have some share. He makes progress by giving the

evangelistic centrifugal force free play. We are never so safe as when the

safety of others has become our great concern.  (Job 42:10)

 

16  Above all, taking the shield of faith. The quxeo>v was a large

oblong shield covering a great part of the body, not the ajspi>v, as-pece;

 smaller and more round. Faith, in its widest sense, constitutes this shield

faith in God as our Father, in Christ as our Redeemer, in the Spirit as our

Sanctifier and Strengthener — faith in all the promises, and especially such

promises as we find in Revelation 2 and 3. to him that overcometh

(comp. promise to Ephesus, Revelation 2:7) .  Faith is  the victory that

overcomes the world.” – (I John 5:4-5) – The shield of faith’s special service

is “to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Satan showers his burning

arrows upon the soul of the Christian, either in the shape of blasphemous

suggestions, or unholy thoughts, or dark despair; but faith makes the soul

impenetrable to such destructive missiles, because it falls back upon the

Divine Word, and apprehends the mercy of God, the merits of Christ,

and the help of the Spirit.  Wherewith ye shall be able to quench

all the fiery darts of the wicked (evil one).”  “Fiery darts”

were weapons tipped with inflammable materials, firebrands, curiously

constructed, adapted to set on fire. Metaphorically, considerations darted

into the mind inflaming lust, pride, revenge, or other evil feelings,

emanations from the great tempter, the evil one. That such considerations

sometimes start up suddenly in the mind, against the deliberate desire,

sometimes even in the middle of holy exercises, is the painful experience of

every Christian, and must make him thankful for the shield on which they

are quenched. An act of faith on Christ, placing the soul consciously in His

presence, recalling His atoning love and grace, and the promises of the

Spirit, will extinguish these fiery temptations.  This loyalty to an Christ enables 

us to see through the wiles of the arch enemy, enables us to see how narrow are

Satan’s limits, and how wide the order and interests of our Savior’s

kingdom. (Remember that in the Garden of Eden God said “Of EVERY

TREE of the garden thou mayest FEELY EAT, but of the tree of knowledge

of good and evil,, THOU SHALT NOT EAT OF IT: for in the day that

thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.” (Genesis 2:16-17)  We are

thus transported to the wider relations of the spiritual world, and the temptations

through sense and passion fall extinguished at our feet. As we live by faith in Him

who rules the universe and dwells within us, Satan finds himself defeated.

 

17  And take the helmet of salvation,” -  This is the head-covering

(comp. Psalm 140:7). In I Thessalonians 5:8 we read, “putting on

for an helmet the hope of salvation.” The glorious truth that we are saved

(comp. Ephesians 2:5, 8) appropriated, rested on, rejoiced in, will

protect even so vital a part as the head, will keep us from intellectual

surrender and rationalistic doubt – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is

the Word of God.” The Bible is a wonderful weapon. It cuts men and devils

to the heart. It enters into the very joints and marrow. There is no such

discerner of the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts (Hebrews 4:12).  Now,

when we consider that force is only the preliminary to reason — individuals

or nations fight first and then make up peace upon some pretence of principle

 we see that what Christianity does is to keep strictly to the sphere of reason,

and to refuse all seduction into the field of brute force. The doctrine of

non-resistance is the highest of all tributes to the reasonableness of Christianity.

The Christian, then, who masters most thoroughly the Word of God will be the

most powerful among his fellows. For after all, this inspired Word is ahead of

all human wisdom. It is the crown and anticipation of human genius. If we have

mastered it in the spirit, we are ahead of our time and shall understand what we

can best do for our generation (Acts 13:36).  The Word of God is a sword,

because it pierces like a sword into the heart (Hebrews Ibid.), because

it pierces through all disguises of error, because it lays bare the

wiles” of the devil. It was wielded by Christ Himself in His great

temptation. It is still the saint’s only weapon of offence.  Whether the

temptation is to atheism, to impiety, to despair, to unbelief, to covetousness,

to pride, to hatred, or to worldliness, the legend, “It is written,” - (Matthew 4:7) –

stands clearly revealed on the handle of this sword.  It is still the saint’s only

weapon of offence.  The sword supplied by the Spirit, the Word being inspired

by Him, and employed by the Spirit; for He enlightens us to know it, applies

it to us, and teaches us to use it both defensively and offensively.  Our Lord

in His conflict with Satan, and also with the scribes and Pharisees,

has taught us how this weapon is to be used, and with what wonderful effect.

Paul, too, reasons from the Scriptures and proving from them“that this

Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Christ,” or (going back to the Old Testament),

the author of the hundred and nineteenth psalm, showing us how the soul is to

be fed, quickened, strengthened and comforted out of God’s Law, indicates the

manifold use of the sword, and shows how earnestly we should study and

practice this sword exercise, for our own good and the good of others. 

(A former pastor once suggested a daily meditation on one verse, consecutively,

from Psalm 119 – you could go through it twice in a year –  CY – 2010)

 

18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication” The metaphor of

armor is now dropped, but not the idea of the conflict, for what is now insisted on

is of the most vital importance for successful warfare. Though prayer is virtually

comprehended in most of the previous exhortations, it is now specifically enjoined,

and in a great variety of ways; “all prayer and supplication,” equivalent to every

form of it, e.g. ejaculatory, secret, spoken, domestic, social, congregational –

always” – at all seasons. No period of life should be without it — youth,

middle life, old age, all demand it; no condition of life — adversity, prosperity,

sunshine, desolation, under sore temptation, under important duty, under heavy

trial, under all the changing circumstances of life, personal, social, Christian.

See the hymn-

 

“Go, when the morning shineth;

    Go, when the noon is bright;

Go, when the day declineth;

    Go, in the hush of night.”

 

in the Spirit,” - for true prayer is spiritual, and it is not true prayer unless by

the Holy Spirit the heart is filled with heavenward longings and aspirations,

changing our prayer from cold form to heartfelt realities. The ordinary

habit of the soul should be prayerful, realizing the presence of God and

looking for His grace and guidance -  “and watching thereunto” - that is,

towards spirituality, against formality, as also against forgetfulness and

neglect of prayer. Perhaps also the idea of watching for the answer is

involved, as you wait for an answer when you have dispatched a letter –

with all perseverance” - this being very specially needed to make prayer

triumphant, as in the case of the Syro-phoenician mother, (Matthew 15:21-28)

or in that of Monica, mother of Augustine, and many more – “and supplication

for all saints;” - this being one of the great objects for which saints are gathered

into the “one body” the Church, that they may be upheld and carried on, in

warfare and in work, by mutual prayer, kept from slips and infirmities, and from

deadly sins, and enabled one and all to “walk worthy of the vocation

wherewith they are called.” – (ch. 4:1)

 

We are not to think of “all prayer” as a separate weapon. We are

rather to think of it as that which conditions the right use of the whole

armor.

 

  • Without prayer we cannot gird ourselves for the conflict, but are

cumbered as with loose robes.

 

  • Without prayer we cannot have that purification of motives,

that rectification of life, which the conflict demands.

 

  • Without prayer we cannot have swift-footedness in carrying the gospel.

 

  • Without prayer we shall not have faith to ward off the enemy’s darts.

 

  • Without prayer we shall not be able to lift our head in the assurance

of our salvation.

 

  • Without prayer we shall be unskillful in the use of the Word.

 

Constant use prayer, will keep the Christian in a state of preparedness,

well trained and ready for battle!  Prayer must not be from self.

“Praying in the Spirit,” it is said here, and there is the same association in

Jude 1:20. Prayer is dependence, and we have the influences of the Spirit

on which to depend in prayer. We can only pray aright, under the impulse

of the Spirit, when the Spirit indeed makes intercession for us.

And, therefore, we should look to the Spirit to put the right desires within

us and to give us right words.  With petitions .for ourselves we are to blend

petitions for others. “And watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication.”

The apostle is here carrying forward his thought into a special channel. While

we are to take heed to be persevering in praying for ourselves, we are to be

especially persevering in praying for others.  The combatant is to remember his

fellow-combatants. Every combatant has his peculiar difficulties, his weak points.

But, if he feels the struggle to be hard for himself, that should put him in

sympathy with all others, to whom (in their own way) it is hard too. And he

should manifest that sympathy by beseeching God to make their armor bright,

to hold them up, to give them to win the day, wherever they are appointed

to fight.

                                                           

19  And for me” -  Mark the un-priestly idea; so far from Paul

having a store of grace for all the Ephesians, he needed their prayers that,

out of the one living store, the needful grace might be given to him – “that

utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to

make known the mystery of the gospel.”  With all his practice in

preaching, he felt that every instance of right utterance was a gift“may

be given to me;” especially when great matters were involved — “in the

opening of my mouth.” To open the mouth denotes an authoritative act of

teaching (comp. Matthew 5:2); on such occasions he especially desired

boldness, not stormy vehemence, but earnestness, fearlessness in making

known the destination of the gospel, once secret, now designed for all

(comp. Ephesians 2.). Boldness was needed because the message was so

hateful to some and so contemptible to others.

 

20   “For which I am an ambassador in bonds (chains):” - Thereby not only

physically helpless, but in danger of being subdued into tameness, the

ordinary effect of captivity, and thus reduced to a spirit not befitting the

bearer of a great message from the King of kings -  “that therein” — i.e.,

in the matter of it, of the gospel — “I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

 

 

THE MISSION OF TYCHICUS (vs. 21-22)

 

21  But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do.” -  Having

referred to his captivity, he thought it natural for the Ephesians to desire

more information about him, how he did or fared in his captivity – Tychicus,

a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,” -  Nothing more is

known of him than that (with Trophimus) he was a man of Asia (Acts 20:4),

who accompanied Paul when traveling from Macedonia to Asia, and was sent

by him to various Churches (Colossians 4:7; II Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12).

The two qualities by which he is noted, lovableness and fidelity, have not only

served to embalm his name, but show that he had much of Paul’s own character -

shall make known to you all things.”

 

22  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye may know

our affairs (state), and that he might comfort your hearts. This serves

to explain the absence of personal remembrances, allusions, and messages

in the Epistle. Tychicus, who had his full confidence, would tell them all by

word of mouth. The concluding words show that it was not to gratify any

mere personal feeling that Paul directed Tychicus to make this

communication; but knowing how much they felt for him, he believed it

would be a comfort to hear how he fared. To pagans the idea of captivity

was always dolorous and dreadful; it was well for them to learn how

Christians could glory in tribulations (Romans 5:3). Tychicus, the

beloved brother, was evidently well fitted to apply to the Ephesians this

comforting view of his state

 

 

 CLOSING BENEDICTION (vs. 23-24)

 

23   “Peace be to the brethren,” - There is a double invocation of

blessing — to the brethren, and to all that love the Lord. “The brethren”

must mean the members of the Church addressed, with special reference to

the amalgamation in one body of Jews and Gentiles, or to the one family

(ch. 3:15) in which they were brethren, Peace is the echo of ch. 1:2, and

denotes the apostle’s desire for the continuance among them of the peace

with God to which they had been admitted, as well as the prevalence of

peace in every sense of the word – “and love with faith,” - “Love” in the

widest sense (ch. 3:17, 19) — the love of Christ to them, their love to

Christ, and their love to one another; and love is coupled with faith, because

faith is the companion of love, they are in the closest relation to each other.

Faith in Christ receives Him as He is offered, in all His love and goodness;

it sees His loving face, and is changed into the same image – “from God the

Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” -  (comp. Ephesians 1:2).

 

24   “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity

(incorruptibility) .”  As grace was the first word, so it is the last (Ibid.),

not as denoting anything essentially different from the blessings invoked

in the preceding verse, but for variety, and in order that the favorite word

may be, both here and before, in the place of prominence.  The expression

is peculiar — love the Lord Jesus Christ ejn ajfqarsi>a, — af-thar-see’-ah;

incorruption, sincerity - The word denotes, especially in Paul’s usage, what

is unfading and permanent.  The love that marks genuine Christians is not a

passing gleam, like the morning cloud and the early dew, but an abiding emotion.

Nowhere can we have a more vivid idea of this incorruptible love than in

Romans 8:38-39.  “Amen.”

 

Grace, sum and substance of the Epistle — “the Epistle of grace.” With that Paul

began, with that he ends. But the word is much richer after the exposition of the

Epistle. It has been connected with two eternities, past and future. And

with the infinity of the three-in-one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the

soul of the reader has been exercised and expanded to its utmost stretch, in

trying to comprehend it; but it is incomprehensible. And now, with all this

added fullness of meaning, it falls on the head of all that love the Lord

Jesus in incorruptibility (sincerity).  This treasure, multiplied, deepened,

lengthened, heightened to infinity (ch. 3:18-19), I invoke on you, says the

apostle, in the Name of God. Blessed privilege of the minister who can do so.

Deep responsibility of the people to whom it is done. Great importance of

the closing benediction in public service; tendency to think of it as a mere closing

form. It contains the very essence of all blessing. Let it be received reverently,

pondered seriously, accepted joyously.

 

 

 

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