Matthew Poole's English Annotations
EPHESAIANS CHAPTER 6
Ephesians 6:1-3 The relative duties of children,
Ephesians 6:4 and parents,
Ephesians 6:5-8 of servants,
Ephesians 6:9 and masters.
Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul exhorteth the brethren to resist spiritual
enemies by putting on the whole armour of God,
Ephesians 6:18-20 and by perseverance in prayer, which he requireth for
all saints, and particularly for himself, that he
might preach the gospel with due boldness.
Ephesians 6:21,22 He commendeth Tychicus,
Ephesians 6:23,24 and concludeth with good wishes to all sincere Christians.
Obey your parents; with inward reverence and promptness, as well as in the outward act.
In the Lord; either, because the Lord commands it; or, in all things agreeable to his will: see Ephesians 5:21 Acts 5:29.
For this is right, or just, every way so, by the law of nature, of nations, and of God.
i.e. A special promise annexed to the particular duty commanded. There being promises added to only two commandments, viz. the second and this fifth; that which is annexed to the second commandment is a general one, and which relates to the whole law, but this a special one, and which respects this commandment in particular.
That thou mayest live long and happily. This promise is still fulfilled to believers, either in the thing itself here promised, or in a better way, God’s giving them eternal life.
Provoke not your children to wrath; viz. by unreasonable severity, moroseness, unrighteous commands, &c.
But bring them up in the nurture; or correction, as the word signifies, Hebrews 12:6-8.
And admonition; this denotes the end of the former; instruction in their duty must be, as well as correction to drive them to it.
Of the Lord; the Lord Jesus Christ; and so it is either that admonition which is commanded by him, or whereby they are brought to be acquainted with him.
Servants; these servants were generally slaves: Christian liberty doth not take away civil servitude.
Be obedient to them that are your masters; whether good or bad, as 1 Peter 2:18, is expressly said.
According to the flesh; as to your outward state, not as to your souls and consciences.
With fear and trembling; either with reverence and fear of offending them, and being punished by them, see Romans 13:4; or rather, with humility, as appears by Psalms 2:11 1 Corinthians 2:3 2 Corinthians 7:15 Philippians 2:12: compare Romans 11:20.
In singleness of your heart; sincerity, and without guile.
As unto Christ, who hath commanded this obedience, and whom ye obey in yielding it to your masters.
Not with eyeservice; not merely having respect to your masters’ presence, and looking upon you in your work.
As men-pleasers; such as make it their only business to please their masters, right or wrong, and ingratiate themselves with them, though by offending God.
But as the servants of Christ; as becomes the servants of Christ, or as those that are the servants of Christ, and seek to please him.
Doing the will of God; performing obedience to your masters not barely as their will, but God’s will, who requires it, as Ephesians 6:5.
With good will doing service; not grudgingly or as of constraint, but freely and cheerfully.
As to the Lord, and not to men; not only regarding men your masters, but Christ your great Master. That which is done for the worst masters, and in the hardest things, is service done to Christ, when out of love to him servants bear their masters’ folly or cruelty.
Whatsoever good thing any man doeth; viz. as the servant of Christ and as unto the Lord.
The same shall he receive of the Lord; the reward of the same, by a metonymy.
Whether he be bond or free: Christ regards not those differences of men at the present, nor will in the day of judgment, 1 Corinthians 7:22 12:13 Galatians 3:28 Colossians 3:11.
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them; not the same in special, which belong only to servants, but in general, which concern you no less than them, viz. do your duty to them with good will, with an eye to God and Christ, &c.; or rather, do your duty mutually to them, according to your condition and calling, Colossians 4:1.
Forbearing threatening; or rather, (as in the margin), moderating, or remitting; i.e. do not carry yourselves angrily to them, (which appears in vehement and frequent threatenings), when ye may otherwise maintain your authority over them.
Knowing that your Master also is in heaven; and therefore too strong for you, though you may be too hard for your servants.
Neither is there respect of persons with him; he is just as well as powerful, and will neither spare you because you are masters, nor punish them because they are servants: see Acts 10:34 Galatians 2:6 Colossians 3:25.
Be strong; or, strengthen yourselves; i.e. be courageous, and constant in the practice of your duty, against the devil and all his assaults.
In the Lord: not in yourselves, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom your strength lies, and from whom by faith you may obtain it: see Philippians 4:13 2 Timothy 2:1.
And in the power of his might; or mighty power, see Ephesians 1:19: q.d. Though your own strength be but weakness, yet Christ’s power is mighty, and he can communicate enough to you.
Put on the whole armour; get yourselves furnished with every grace, that none be wanting in you, no part naked and exposed to your enemies.
Of God; i.e. not carnal, but spiritual, and given by God: see 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
That ye may be able to stand; either to fight, or rather to overcome. He that loses the victory is said to fall; he that gains it, to stand: see Psalms 89:43.
Against the wiles of the devil: the devil useth arts and stratagems, as well as force and violence, and therefore, if any part of your spiritual armour be wanting, he will assault you where he finds you weakest.
We wrestle not; not only, or not principally.
Against flesh and blood; men, consisting of flesh and blood, Matthew 16:17 Galatians 1:16.
But against principalities, against powers; devils, Colossians 2:15: see Ephesians 1:21.
Against the rulers of the darkness of this world; either that rule in the dark air, where God permits them to be for the punishment of men; see Ephesians 2:2: or rather, that rule in the dark places of the earth, the dark minds of men, and have their rule over them by reason of the darkness that is in them; in which respect the devil is called the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the prince of it, John 14:30. So that the dark world here seems to be opposed to children of light, Ephesians 5:8.
Against spiritual wickedness; either wicked spirits, or, emphatically, spiritual wickednesses, for wickedncsses of the highest kind; implying the intenseness of wickedness in those angelical substances, which are so much the more wicked, by how much the more excellent in themselves their natures are.
In high places; or heavenly, taking heaven for the whole expansum, or spreading out of the air, between the earth and the stars, the air being the place from whence the devils assault us, as Ephesians 2:2. Or rather, in for about heavenly places or things, in the same sense as the word rendered heavenly is taken four times before in this Epistle, Ephesians 1:3,20 2:6 3:10; being in none of them taken for the air; and then the sense must be, that we wrestle about heavenly places or things, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, with powers, &c.
Objection. The Greek preposition will not bear this construction.
Answer. Let Chrysostom and other Greeks answer for that. They understood their language best, and they give this interpretation.
In the evil day; times of temptation, and Satan’s greatest rage: see Ephesians 5:16.
Having done all; all that belongs to good soldiers of Jesus Christ, all that we can do being little enough to secure our standing.
To stand; as conquerors do that keep the field, not being beaten down, nor giving way.
Stand therefore: standing here (in a different sense from what it was taken in before) seems to imply watchfulness, readiness for the combat, and keeping our places, both as to our general and particular callings: if soldiers leave their ranks they endanger themselves.
Having your loins girt about with truth: having exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, he descends to the particulars of it, both defensive and offensive. We need not be over curious in inquiring into the reason of the names here given to the several parts of a Christian’s armour, and the analogy between them and corporal arms, the apostle using these terms promiscuously, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and designing only to show that what bodily arms are to soldiers, that these spiritual arms might be to Christians; yet some reason may be given of these denominations. He begins with the furniture for the loins, the seat of strength, and alludes to the belt or military girdle, which was both for ornament and strength; and so is
truth, understood either of the truth of doctrine, or rather, (because that comes in afterward under the title of the sword of the Spirit), of soundness, and sincerity of heart, than which nothing doth more beautify or adorn a Christian. He alludes to Isaiah 59:17: see 2 Corinthians 1:12 1 Timothy 1:5,19.
And having on the breastplate of righteousness; righteousness of conversation, consisting both in a resolvedness for good, and repentance for evil done, which is as a breastplate (that piece of armour which covers the whole breast and belly) to a Christian; that resolvedness against sin fencing him against temptation, and the conscience of well-doing against the accusations of men and devils: see 1 Corinthians 4:3,4 1 John 3:7.
Your feet shod; in allusion to the greaves or military shoes with which soldiers covered their feet and legs. A Christian’s way lies through rough places, through briers and thorns, and therefore he needs this piece of armour. He must be prepared to hold the faith, and confess Christ in the most difficult times.
With the preparation of the gospel of peace; with that furniture which the gospel affords him, which being a
gospel of peace, and bringing the glad tidings of reconciliation to God by Christ, prepares men best to undergo the troubles of the world: see John 16:33.
Above all; chiefly, Colossians 3:14: this he sets, as the principal part of the Christian armour, against the greatest temptations, fiery darts, 1 Peter 5:8,9 1 John 5:4.
Taking the shield of faith: faith, as receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, is compared to a shield, (under which soldiers were wont to shelter themselves against their enemies’ darts), as being a sort of universal defence covering the whole man, and guarding even the other parts of our spiritual armour.
Fiery darts; it seems to be an allusion to the poisoned darts some barbarous nations were wont to use, which inflamed the bodies they hit. By them he means all those violent temptations which inflame men’s lusts. These fiery darts of temptations faith is said to quench, when, by the help of grace obtained of Christ, it overcomes them.
Of the wicked; the devil, Matthew 13:19.
Take the helmet of salvation: salvation, for the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8. This follows faith, and is of kin to it. Soldiers dare not fight without their helmet: despair, to which the devil tempts us, makes us quit our combat; whereas hope of salvation makes us lift up our heads in the midst of temptations and afflictions. This likewise alludes to Isaiah 59:17.
The sword of the Spirit; either the spiritual sword, the war being spiritual, and the enemy spiritual, or rather the sword which the Spirit of God furnisheth us with, and makes effectual in our hands.
Which is the word of God; the doctrine of God in the Scripture, called a two-edged sword, Revelation 1:16 2:12; which enters into the soul, and divides between the most inward affections, Hebrews 4:12, and cuts the sinews of the strongest temptations, Matthew 4:4,7,10; and conquers the devil, while it rescues sinners from under his power. This relates to Isaiah 49:2.
Praying always; i.e. in every opportunity, so often as our own or others’ necessities call us to it, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
With all prayer and supplication; prayer, when opposed to supplication, seems to signify petitioning for good things, and supplication the deprecating of evil, 1 Timothy 2:1.
In the Spirit; either our own spirit, with which we pray, so as not to draw nigh to God with our mouth only, as Isaiah 29:13; or rather, the Holy Spirit of God, by whose assistance we pray, Romans 8:26,27 Jude 1:20.
Watching thereunto; to prayer, in opposition to sloth and security: see Matthew 26:41 Colossians 4:2 1 Peter 4:7.
With all perseverance; constancy and continuance in prayer in every condition, adverse as well as prosperous, though prayer be not presently answered, Luke 18:1.
And supplication for all saints; not only for ourselves, but for our brethren in the world, none being in so good a condition but they may need our prayers.
Utterance, or speech, viz. both the things I am to speak, and the faculty of speaking as becomes the matter I deliver.
That I may open my mouth; or, in or unto the opening of my mouth, i.e. full and free profession of the truth, without shame or fear.
Boldly; either, freely and confidently, the same as before in other words; or, openly and plainly, in opposition to speaking closely and in secret, Mark 8:32 John 11:14; and so it may have respect to the removing of his bonds, which were the present impediment of his so speaking.
For which I am an ambassador in bonds; for which gospel I still continue, though a prisoner, in the embassy committed to me by Christ.
That therein I may speak boldly; this may imply not only free speaking, but free acting in all things whereby the gospel may be propagated.
But that ye also, as well as other churches,
may know my affairs, how I am used by the Romans in my bonds.
How I do, or rather, what I do, i.e. how I behave myself: see Acts 28:30,31.
Faithful minister: minister is here taken in a large sense, for any that labour in the gospel, such as were not only ordinary pastors, but evangelists and apostles themselves.
That ye might not faint at my tribulations, Ephesians 3:13. It might be a comfort to them to hear that Paul was well used, (setting aside his bonds), and had liberty to preach to those that came to him.
He prays for their continuance and increase in these graces, which already were begun in them.
This is more extensive than the former, he prays here for all true believers every where.
In sincerity; or, with incorruption, i.e. so as that nothing can draw them off from the love of Christ, and so it implies constancy as well as sincerity.
Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ephesians 6:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ephesians-6.html. 1685.