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Christian relationships (5:21-6:9)
People can have good relations with one another only as they consider one another. When they insist on their rights without considering others, they only destroy harmony and fellowship (21).
In the next section Paul illustrates this principle in certain family and social relationships. In 5:22-33 he considers the the case of husbands and wives, in 6:1-4 the case of parents and children, and in 6:5-9 the case of masters and servants. In union with Christ, people within these various categories share the same spiritual status (Galatians 3:28). But in the family and in society, people have different functions, and they must know how they should act towards each other.
If a family is to enjoy genuine contentment, it must have leadership, and this responsibility rests with the husband. As the church submits to Christ, so the wife is to submit to her husband (22-24). Christ’s headship of the church, however, was shown not through the use of force, but through the sacrifice of himself for her, so that she might be pure and faultless (25-27). Likewise the husband’s headship of the wife is shown not by forcing his authority upon her, but by treating her as equal with himself (28-29). There is unity between husband and wife, as there is between Christ and his church. This unity is the basis of the relationship (30-33).
Paul refers to the Ten Commandments to support his teaching that in the Christian family, children have a responsibility to obey and respect their parents. Although this is a duty, it will also bring a reward (6:1-3). Parents, on their part, must combine wise teaching with understanding discipline if they are to expect the children’s respect and obedience (4).
Slavery was so widespread in the world of the first century that the social, political and economic order of the day could scarcely survive without it. Paul knew that he could not expect slavery to be abolished immediately, but he worked towards its abolition by encouraging new attitudes. In most churches there were Christian slaves and Christian masters, but their attitudes to each other had to change now that they were both ‘in Christ’. The same principles can be applied to employers and employees in any society. Christians must work honestly and well for an earthly master, as if they were working for Christ (5-8). Christian masters must act with similar honesty and concern towards those who work for them. They must remember that, in the eyes of God, masters are servants and God is their master (9).
The Christian’s warfare (6:10-24)
For Christians, life involves warfare, though the battle is not with earthy forces but with spiritual. They are involved in a struggle against hostile demonic powers who have rebelled against God and oppose his people. As ancient soldiers wore armour when they fought their battles, so Christians must prepare themselves for conflict. They receive their armour, as well as their strength, from God, but they themselves must fight the battle. Above all they must make sure that when the battle is over, they are still on their feet (10-13).
In putting on his armour, the Roman soldier first tied his under-robes together by a belt, then put on his breastplate and shoes, and finally took up his shield, helmet and sword. Christians likewise should be fully prepared to meet the enemy. They must secure the inner life through the truth, and protect the outer life by being morally upright (14). Their feet must be ready to take the gospel to any place at any time. A firm faith in God will provide them with a shield against the devil’s temptations (15-16). The knowledge of their sure salvation will give them assurance of complete victory. As they increase their knowledge of God’s Word, they will be able to use that Word when fighting the enemy. In addition they must pray constantly, both for themselves and for fellow Christians who are engaged in a similar battle (17-18).
Finally, Paul asks prayer for himself, not that he might escape prison, but that he might speak boldly for Christ as a good ambassador should (19-20). If the Ephesians want to know more about Paul’s circumstances in prison, Tychicus can tell them when he delivers the letter. They can always be assured that God will be faithful to those who are faithful to him (21-24).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent