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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-24


Rules for the Family. The Christian's Aemoue

1-4. Second illustration of orderly subordination: the relation between children and parents.

1. As before, those who have to obey and submit are taken first. Cp. in the Lord here with 'unto the Lord' (Ephesians 5:22) and 'unto Christ' (Ephesians 6:5). Right] both nature and the express Law of God enjoin it.

2. With promise] the first which is accompanied with a promise: cp. 'with the word' (Ephesians 5:26). We might punctuate, 'the first commandment, with promise that it may be well,' etc.

3. On the other hand, disobedience to parents is very heinous (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2).

4. And] 'Parents also have their obligations: they must (1) not be unreasonable in their demands on their children; (2) give godly discipline.' He says 'fathers,' because mothers would be less likely to be too severe or to control the education.

Nurture] RV chastening' (Hebrews 12:5, Hebrews 12:7-8, Hebrews 12:11): in 2 Timothy 3:16, 'instruction.' Of the Lord means 'such as God would provide': cp.' of God,' 2 Timothy 3:11.

5-9. Third illustration: the relation between servants and masters.

5. Servants] All servants then were slaves and St. Paul says 'slaves': 'be obedient to' might be 'obey,' as in Ephesians 6:1 : 'according to the flesh' = earthly. With fear and trembling] 'very anxious to do well': it does not imply a harsh master (2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 2:12).

6. Christianity gives no sanction to rebellion: it elevates and intensifies the duty of obedience. From the heart] These words may be taken with what follows; 'from the soul with good-will doing service.'

7. 'Obedience must be not only thorough, but hearty: temper is all-important.'

8. 'Good conduct, whether of slave or lord, will be fully requited by Him who is Lord of both.'

9. 'Masters, like husbands and parents, have their obligations; they also must have good-temper and goodwill, and be God-fearing.' St. Paul does not tell them to emancipate their slaves; but he tells them to love them as brethren (Philemon 1:16). This does not free the slave, but it frees slavery of its evils.

10-20. The final charge is, 'Be strong, and find your strength in the Lord. Be armed with God's armour; for we have to contend, not with earthly foes, but with spiritual powers of great wickedness. Watch and pray ceaselessly for the whole Church and for me, that I may be a courageous missionary, even in prison.'

10. My brethren] an insertion from Philippians 3:1 : cp. 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 3:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Be strong] lit. 'be strengthened' (Romans 4:20).

11. Whole armour] 'Nothing must be missing of the full provision which God makes for our safety.' St. Paul omits the spear or pike and the greaves of the Roman soldier, yet mentions being girded and shod, which most men are, but soldiers must be.

12. The malignant powers, by which the wiles or stratagems of the devil are carried out, are specified. The passage is tinged by Jewish ideas about the unseen world. The rulers of the darkness of this world] This fairly represents the Gk., which means powers of darkness, that are rulers of this world, but not rulers of the universe: cp. Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:15. In the heavenly places (RV)] 'In the spiritual world': but the Jews contemplated the possibility of evil in some of their seven heavens.

13. 'Against these superhuman powers nothing less than the whole armour of God will suffice; but with that the Christian warrior is safe.'

14. The Septuagint of Isaiah 11:5 and Isaiah 59:17 is in the Apostle's mind: there it is Jehovah who wears the panoply.

15. The preparation] 'readiness' to preach the good-tidings of peace: cp. Isaiah 52:7. The Christian warrior fights to bring peace.

16. 'Fire-tipt darts' is a metaphor for fierce temptations coming from the outside. Faith in God is a sure protection against them.

17. Take] 'Receive from God who supplies the panoply, and whose Spirit furnishes the sword, the helmet that is salvation.' He is thinking of Isaiah 11:4 : cp. Hebrews 4:12.

18. The thought of the sword furnished by the Spirit, 'who maketh intercession for us' (Romans 8:26), naturally leads on to the thought of prayer: 'receive this sword, with all prayer and supplication praying in every season (1 Thessalonians 5:17) in the Spirit.' Watching] as a trusty warrior should (Luke 21:36).

19. For me] RV 'on my behalf,' there being a change of preposition in the Gk.: cp. Colossians 4:2, Colossians 4:3. Boldly] This probably belongs to what follows, as RV 'that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness,' etc. 'Pray that all this may be granted to me.'

20. Am an ambassador in bonds] RV 'in chains': mg. 'in a chain.' The singular may refer to the coupling-chain by which he could be attached to the soldier that guarded him. In any case, that an ambassador, whose person was inviolate, should be chained, was a paradox.

21, 22. The Mission of Tychicus: almost verbatim as Colossians 4:7-8, Tychicus is the bearer of both letters, and of that to Philemon: cp. Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12, By long service he well earned the title of 'faithful minister.'

23, 24. Concluding Benediction.

Note the omission of all personal salutations and similar details, of which we have eight vv. in the Epistle to the Colossians. This is a circular letter to several Churches, and hence no individuals are mentioned. Note also the change to the third person, 'to the brethren.. all them that love our Lord.' In Colossians, as elsewhere, he says 'you.' In two other points this benediction differs from that in other letters. It is twofold, not single; Peace be to, Grace be with; and 'Peace' is placed before, not after 'Grace.' Contrast Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Colossians 1:2, etc. An imitator would have copied other Epistles.

24. Sincerity] It is doubtful whether the Gk. can mean this; better, 'incorruption' (1 Corinthians 15:42, 1 Corinthians 15:50, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54) or 'iacorruptibility.' It is those who love with an imperishable love that are meant: there must be neither decrease nor decay. 'Those who were “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) retain their love for Him undiminished after the world itself has passed away.' A worthy conclusion to this immortal Epistle!

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 6:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/ephesians-6.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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