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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ephesians 6

 

 

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Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. Children, obey your parents] As Isaac did Abraham in submitting to be sacrificed; as Christ became obedient even to the death of the cross.

For this is right] Good and acceptable before God and men, 1 Timothy 5:4. {See Trapp on "Matthew 15:4"}


Verse 2

2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Ver. 2. First commandment with promise] To wit, with special promise of long life. {See Trapp on "Matthew 15:4"}


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. And thou mayest live long] Good children help to lengthen their parents’ days, as Joseph did Jacob’s. God therefore lengthens theirs in red-hostimentum, as it were. Or if he take from them this long lease, he gives them a freehold of better value.


Verse 4

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ver. 4. Provoke not, &c.] God forbids bitterness and austerity in husbands, Colossians 3:19; masters, Colossians 4:1; parents here, and Colossians 3:21. Superiors must so carry themselves as to be at once loved and feared.

But bring them up in the nurture, &c.] Or, nourish them and nurture them. The latter is as needful as the former. They that nourish their children only, what do they more than the unreasonable creatures? The blessing upon posterity is entailed to piety in the second commandment. If I may see grace in my wife and children, said reverend Claviger, Satis habeo, satisque mihi, meae uxori, filiis et filiabus prospexi, I shall account them sufficiently cared for. (Selneccer.) Let parents labour to mend that by education that they have marred by propagation; for else they are Peremptores potius quam parentes, parricides rather than parents, and shall dearly answer for their poor children, which like Moses in the bed of flags, are ready to perish if they have not help. Nurture is a great help to nature; and some sons hononr not their fathers, because, as Eli, they honoured their sons, that is, they corrected not, but cockered them, 1 Samuel 2:29; 1 Kings 1:5-6.


Verse 5

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Ver. 5. Servants, be obedient] The centurion was happy in his servants: and no marvel, for he was a loving master. {See Trapp on "Matthew 8:6"} And observe here that inferior duties are first described; because, 1. They are less willing to subject themselves. 2. They should be readier to perform duty than to expect it. 3. Hereby they shall win upon their superiors, who will lie the heavier upon them if there be strife who shall begin. (Bernard.)


Verse 6

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Ver. 6. Not with eyeservice] And yet it were well if we would do God, our great Master, but eyeservice. For his eye is ever upon us, and pierceth into the inward parts. So that they much deceive themselves, who think all is well because no man can say to them, Black is thine eye.


Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. As to the Lord] In obedience to his will, and with reference to his glory.


Verse 8

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Ver. 8. Whether he be bond or free] The centurion did but complain of the sickness of his servant, and Christ, unasked, says, I will come and heal him. He that came in the shape of a servant, would go down to the sick servant’s pallet, would not go to the bed of the rich ruler’s son.


Verse 9

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Ver. 9. Do the same things] That is, Do your parts and duties by them; and use them as men, not as beasts. Eadem dicit, non opere et officio, sed modo et proportione, saith Estius.

Forbearing threatening] Those blusters and terrible thunder cracks of fierce and furious language found in the mouths of many masters, if never so little crossed. Severitas nec sit tetra, nec tetrica: Servants should be chidden with good words, with God’s words, and not reviled. (Sidon. Epist.)


Verse 10

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ver. 10. Be strong in the Lord] For by his own strength shall no man prevail, 1 Samuel 2:9. Get God’s arm, wherewith to wield his armour, and then you may do anything.


Verse 11

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ver. 11. Put on the whole armour] Or else never think to do the afore mentioned duties; we have a busy adversary to deal with. The Turks bear no weapons but in travel; then some of them seem like a walking armoury; so must a Christian be. Coriolanus had so used his weapons of a child-little, that they seemed as if they had been born with him, or grown into his hands. {a} Seneca reports of Caesar that he quickly sheathed his sword, but never laid it off. No more must we.

The wiles of the devil] Gr. The methods or way-layings of that old subtile serpent, who like Dan’s adder in the path, biteth the heels of passengers, and thereby transfuseth his venom to the head and heart, Genesis 49:17. Julian by his craft drew more from the faith than all his persecuting predecessors could do by their cruelty. So doth Satan more harm in his sheepskin than by roaring like a lion.

{a} εγγενη και εμφυτα. Plutarch.


Verse 12

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ver. 12. Not against flesh and blood] Hereby the apostle meaneth not so much the corruption as the weakness of our natures, q.d. We have not only to conflict with weak, frail men, but with puissant devils. Look to it therefore, and lie open at no place; but get on every piece of this spiritual armour, whether those of defence (as the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace and patience, the helmet of hope), or those of offence, as the sword of the Spirit, and the darts of prayer. Fetch all these out of the Holy Scriptures, which are like Solomon’s tower, where hang a thousand shields and all the weapons of strong men. The apostle here soundeth the alarm, crying, Arm, arm, &c.

But against principalities] So wicked men make the devils, by being at their beck and obedience. Observe here, saith an interpreter, in the Holy Ghost a wonderful pattern of candour: he praiseth what is praiseworthy in very enemies. How then shall not the saints be accepted and acknowledged, since they sin not of malicious wickedness, as devils do?

Against spiritual wickedness] Gr. πνευματικα της πονηριας, The spirituals of wickedness, those hellish plots and satanical suggestions, black and blasphemous temptations, horrid and hideous injections, &c. Whereby he seeks to dispirit and defeat us, by setting before us the difficulties of Christian warfare; like as some inhospitable savages make fearful delusions by sorcery upon their shore, to fright strangers from landing.

In high places] εν τοις επουρανιοις, or, about our interest in those heavenly privileges, which the devil would wring from us, and rob us of. He strove with the angel about the body of Moses; but with us about our precious souls. And herein he hath the advantage, that he is above us, and doth out of the air assault us, being upon the upper ground, as it were.


Verse 13

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ver. 13. That ye may be able to withstand] Not seeking to resist Satan’s craft with craft, fraud with fraud, sed per apertum martem, but by open defiance. He shoots, saith Greenham, with Satan in his own bow, who thinks by disputing and reasoning to put him off. To argue the case with him is but, as the proverb hath it, to light a candle to the devil. Button up his mouth therefore, as our Saviour did, Mark 1:25, and buckle close to him and he will fly, James 4:7, for he is but a coward.

" Est leo si fugias; si stas, quasi musca recedit."

And having done all to stand] Charles V while he was putting on his armour looked pale, and seemed fearful; but when once armed, he was bold as a lion, and feared no colours.


Verse 14

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Ver. 14. Stand therefore] στητε, a military expression. A man may well say to the Christian soldier, as Simon in the ecclesiastical history did to the pillars, which he whipped before the earthquake, Stand fast, for ye shall be shaken.

Your loins girt about] Here, if ever, "ungirt, unblest." He is a loose man that wants this girdle of sincerity.

The breastplate of righteousness] Inherent righteousness, 1 John 3:7, that insureth election, 2 Peter 1:10. The use of a breastplate is to keep the vital parts from being mortally wounded, that a man be not stricken down without recovery; so doth righteousness the soul. "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing; but righteousness delivereth from death," Proverbs 10:2. This is that aes triplex circa pectus, that privy armour of proof, that the saints have about their hearts, so that that "wicked one toucheth them not" with any deadly touch, 1 John 5:18. It is well observed by some, that in all this panoply there is no mention of a back plate (as there is of a breastplate), because the Christian soldier should never flee, but be like Androclid, whom when one derided, because being lame he went to the wars, he answered merrily, he came to fight, and not to run away.


Verse 15

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Ver. 15. And your feet shod] As one that is well booted or buskined can walk unhurt amidst briars and brambles, so may he amidst Satan’s snares, whereof all places are full, that is, fortified with gospel comforts, whereby God creates peace.


Verse 16

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Ver. 16. Above all] επι πασιν, Or, over and upon all. For the word here rendered a shield, cometh from another word that signifieth a door, θυρεος, θυρα; to note, that as a door or gate doth the body, so the shield of faith covereth the whole soul. Let us be therefore (as Epaminondas), Non de vita, sed de scuto solliciti. Sceva at the siege of Dyrrachium so long alone resisted Pompey’s army, that he had 220 darts sticking in his shield, and lost one of his eyes, and yet gave not over till Caesar came to his rescue.

To quench all the fiery darts] Pointed and poisoned with the venom of serpents, which set the heart on fire from one lust to another; or fiery for the dolour and distemper that they work: in allusion to the Scythian darts, dipped in the gall of asps and vipers; the venomous heat of which, like a fire in their flesh, killed the wounded with torments the likest hell of any other. The apostle here might allude to the custom of soldiers in those times, who, to prevent the mischief of those impoisoned darts, had shields made of raw neats’ leather, and when the firey darts lighted upon them they were presently quenched thereby. (Polyb. Vegetins.)


Verse 17

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ver. 17. The helmet of salvation] Hope which holds head above water, and maketh the soul with outstretched neck expect deliverance, Romans 8:19, crying out not only, Dum spiro, spero, While living I hope, but Dum expiro, spero. While dying, I hope.

And the sword of the Spirit] Wherewith our Saviour beat the devil on his own dunghill, the wilderness, fetching all out of that one book of Deuteronomy, Matthew 4:4. {See Trapp on "Matthew 4:4"}


Verse 18

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ver. 18. Praying always] Prayer is not only a part of the armour, but enables to use all the rest. It is not only a charm for that crooked serpent, Leviathan, Isaiah 26:16, to enchant him, but a whip of the devil ( Flagellum Diaboli) to torment him, and put him into another hell, saith Chrysostom. It fetcheth Christ into the battle, and so is sure of victory. It obtaineth fresh supplies of the Spirit, Philippians 1:19, and so maketh us more than conquerors, even triumphers., It driveth the devil out of the field, and maketh him flee from us. Tanquam si leones ignera expuentes essemus, saith Chrysostom. Especially if we go not to the battle δορπον ελοντες, with our breakfast, as Nestor in Homer, but "fasting and praying." For some kind of devils are not cast out but by fasting and prayer.

And watching thereunto] That we be not surprised at unawares. The bird Onocratalus is so well practised to expect the hawk to grapple with her, that even when she shutteth her eyes, she sleepeth with her beak exalted, as if she would contend with her adversary. Let us likewise stand continually upon our guard. The devil watcheth and walketh the round, 1 Peter 5:8. Watch therefore.


Verse 19

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Ver. 19. And for me] Ministers must be especially prayed for, that they may have a door not only of utterance, but of entrance to men’s hearts, and so be able to save themselves and those that hear them. In praying for such, we pray for ourselves.


Verse 20

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ver. 20. I am an ambassador] Venerable for mine age and authority, as the word πρεσβευω signifieth. The ancient and the honourable are usually employed as ambassadors. Cognata sunt γηρας and γερας. Old age and honour are akin in the Greek tongue.

In bonds] Gr. In a chain; instead of a chain of gold (worn commonly by ambassadors), and far more glorious, I bear about my bonds (saith Ignatius in his Epistle likewise to the Ephesians), as so many spiritual jewels or ensigns of honour. {a} Oh, said Alice Driver, here is a goodly neckerchief, blessed be God for it, when the chain was put about her neck.

That therein I may speak boldly] He saith not that I may be freed from my chain, but that I may do my office well in my chain. Let God serve himself upon us, and then no matter what becomes of us. Martinas decumbens, Domine, dixit, si adhuc populo tuo sum necessarius, non recuso laborem. (Sever. Epist. iii.)

{a} τα δεσμα περιφερω τους πνευματικους μαργαριτας


Verse 21

21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

Ver. 21. But that ye may know] It is of good use to the Church to know the lives and affairs of men eminent in goodness and of exemplary holiness, that others may express them; as Polycarp did John the Evangelist, as Irenaeus did Polycarp, as Cyprian did Tertullian, Paraeus did Ursin, &c.


Verse 22

22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

Ver. 22. Comfort your hearts] It is God that comforts by the creatures, as by conduit pipes. The air yields light as an instrument; the water may heat, but not of itself. When a potion is given in beer, the beer of itself doth not work, but the potion by the beer. So in this case.


Verse 23

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ver. 23. Peace be to the brethren] These only be the children of peace, Luke 10:10. The wicked are like the troubled sea, Isaiah 57:20, which may seem sometimes still, but is never so; no more are they. The peace of prosperity they may have, but not of tranquillity. Sinceritas serenitatis mater. Hence it followeth,


Verse 24

24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.

Ver. 24. In sincerity] εν αφθαρσια. Or "immortality," opposite to that Anathema Maranatha, 1 Corinthians 16:23.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ephesians-6.html. 1865-1868.


Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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