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Ephesians 6

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-9

XIV

THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION

Ephesians 4:17-5:21; 6:1-9


This section extends from Ephesians 4:17-6:9, except we leave out the illustration in Ephesians 5:21-33, Christ and the Bride. That will follow in the next chapter.


Attention has already been called to the remarkable parallels between Colossians and Ephesians. They are nowhere more striking than in the exhortations to newness of life in the world and in the family. In both we find the sharp distinction between the philosophy of a corrupt life and the philosophy of a pure life.


Effects are traced in each case to an adequate cause. The unrenewed nature causes the first. The renewed nature, which is a new creation, causes the second. Nowhere else in the Scriptures, except perhaps in Romans 1 and Romans 7, is there more clearly shown the power and depravity of original sin, the inheritance of sin – nature, and the necessity of regeneration in order to a life of holiness. That is the capital thought in this section.


The two sources of such divergent life are here called the "old man," and the "new man." In the first the fruit is bad because the tree is bad. In the second the fruit is good because the tree has first been made good. The whole exhortation powerfully expounds the words of our Lord to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God," therefore, "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again." If any man has any doubt about the necessity of regeneration, let him read this section. It is the most powerful argument on the necessity of regeneration anywhere in the Bible.


Henry Ward Beecher, the great Congregationalist preacher, who had several heretical tendencies, was once subjected to an examination on orthodoxy before a council of his people. I have the paper which he submitted at that time. One of the points on which he was examined was the subject of regeneration. He said, "I unswervingly hold to the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit in order to be a Christian." That looks all right. But when one of the examiners asked, "Do you hold that regeneration is necessary for any other reason than the actual transgressions of men?" What a searching question that! His reply was a dodge: "I believe that a man needs to be regenerated because he is an animal." He would not admit original sin. He would not admit inherited depravity. He said that the Adam man was an animal and must be regenerated before he can become a spiritual man in Christ. That was new to me. Beecher was one of the most remarkable thinkers the world has ever known. Nobody else would have thought of replying just that way. If I had been there I would have asked Mr. Beecher some questions on the letter to the Ephesians.


The reader will notice that every gradation in process of corruption is set forth with philosophical power in this section. In analyzing it we see that he starts with spiritual ignorance. That produces vanity of mind, darkness of understanding, and alienation from the life of God. Then evil practice hardens the heart until we lose sensitiveness to right and wrong, become past feeling, so that the whole life is surrendered to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.


How much we are reminded here of the terrible process set forth in Romans 1:21-32! There also the whole process is given: "Because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their imaginations, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Because they did not like to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them up to reprobate minds, to the working out of all evil passion. Read the whole of that awful indictment against the Gentile world.


A great missionary in the early days here in Texas preached for me in Waco on this theme: "Are the heathen lost without the gospel?" His answer was, "Yes, lost." He took the first chapter of Romans and showed how what is there said fits just as well to conditions in heathen lands today as then; that human nature is always the same, and that through the fall of Adam an evil nature was inherited. That evil nature develops into acts. The wicked man waxes worse and worse and finally becomes crystallized, past feeling, without God, and without hope in the world. That was once the condition of these Ephesians. Many of them were Greeks, who prided themselves upon the greatest intellectual development in the world. Highest in art, science, sculpture, painting, eloquence, philosophy, they thought themselves the cream of the earth, but notwithstanding this culture their moral corruption was extreme. But new in Christ, renewed in mind, they are exhorted to put off the old man with his lusts, his anger, falsehood, idleness, theft, evil speaking, bitterness, clamor, railing, malice, fornication, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking and jesting, and drunkenness. These are overt acts. As soon as we are renewed in Christ we are obliged and empowered to put on the new man with his truth, industry, generosity, thankfulness, spirituality, mercy, love, praise, and prayer.


We see in the letter to the Galatians the fruits of the two trees contrasted. Galatians 5:22: "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." Galatians 5:19: "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." When I was a young preacher I preached a sermon on the two trees – the tree of the flesh and the tree of the Spirit – and stated that some people spend half a lifetime trying to find out whether or not they are converted. I held up these two trees, saying, "Under which tree do you stand? There is a practical way of knowing that you are a child of God. Here are the things that are the fruits of the flesh, and here are the things that are the fruits of the Spirit. You know the fruit of your life; judge from that. If a man sows to the flesh, he reaps corruption; if he sows to the Spirit, he reaps life everlasting." Our Lord said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." The carnal nature and spiritual nature are opposites and antagonists. He had already shown the source of the different fruits: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." They are just as wide apart as possible. There is, however, one difficulty in reaching a correct judgment from the fruit, to wit: Even the renewed man, until sanctification is complete, finds a war in himself, as we learn from Romans 7. Sometimes the soul is on top and sometimes the fleshly lusts. In such cases there are yet two ways of ascertainment:


1. What is the trend of the life, good or evil, and is there progress toward the good?


2. Which trend does the person deliberately encourage and make provision for?


"You may not be able to keep a bird from lighting on your head, but you can keep him from building a nest in your hair." "You may not be able to keep the devil from knocking at your door, but you are able to refrain from asking him to spend the night."


In this careful elaboration of both good and evil fruits there are several expressions calling for special notice: "Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath: neither give place to the devil." The first part of this statement shows that there is no sin per se in indignation against a wrong. Christ became terribly indignant at many evils which he saw in his day. We cannot stand by and see a great, burly boy browbeat and evil treat a weak little fellow without being indignant, that is, if we are any good ourselves. If a man sees a snake creeping up just about to strike a child, love in that case reaches out after a stick and hits quickly, and hits to hurt. In this way a man may be angry and sin not.


We come now to a nice point of discrimination: In our indignation at what is wrong there is a great hazard of committing a sin, so our text puts in three cautions. One is, "do not let the sun go down on your wrath," that is, "do not cherish it until it breaks out in the wrong direction – get rid of it before night." When a man carries anger in his heart and broods over it for a week, or a year, or waits, as Absalom did, two years before striking, it grows into malice. There are two things the sun ought never to go down on, viz.: Never let the sun go down on your anger – cool off before night – and never let it go down on unpaid wages due a day laborer. Many are entirely dependent on each day’s pay. So let us pay our washerwomen and not forget that there are some obligations that a gentleman cannot defer. The next danger in anger is this: We are apt, if we are very hot about a matter, to take vengeance into our own hands. I will cite a passage which explains: "Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God; for it is written, vengeance belongeth to me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."


I knew a man once to make a wrong application of that. While he was conducting family prayer his boy kept doing something that angered him, and he overcame evil with good by throwing the family Bible at him and knocking him down, which was not promotive of reverence for that service.


No matter how angry we get, we should never forget that vengeance is a divine prerogative. Nobody is qualified to take vengeance except God. He never forgets, and he takes everything into account. Our text says, "Neither give place to the devil." When a Christian gets angry there stands the devil, whispering, "Hit him!" "Kill him!" "Take vengeance in your own hands!"


I saw a man once walk the floor for hours, and finally I said to him, "What is the matter?" "I am trying," said he, "to get rid of a desire to get on the train, go to a certain place and cowhide a man until his skin hangs in strings. It is not right for me to do that, but I am continually reaching out my hand and trying to take hold of the thunderbolt of the Almighty and hurl it."


The question has been asked, "What bearing has Ephesians 4:19, ’being past feeling’ on the unpardonable sin?" It is the tendency of turning away from light to have less light; turning away from the feeling to have less feeling. A young man in a protracted meeting may be wonderfully impressed. He is convinced that the Bible is true, that Christ is a Saviour and that he is a sinner. He is stirred up over the matter, and feels impelled to go and fall upon his knees and say, "God have mercy on my soul," but says, "Not right now – at a more convenient season – some other time." The next time he will not feel that impression as strong as the first time. The third time he feels it still less, and after a while he is past feeling – cannot be awakened. The sun shines on wax and melts it. The sun shines on soft clay and hardens it. So light followed gets brighter; light neglected dims into darkness. Being past feeling may well, in some cases, indicate the unpardonable sin, but not in all cases. Some feel, by anticipation, the pangs of hell. Remorse can be active when there is no repentance.


The next particular passage is Ephesians 4:28: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give him that hath need." The point that I want to impress is this: Many people in the church think, because they have no real estate, no bank account, and are not rich, that they ought not to help. They say, "I have nothing." Here is the answer: "Go to work, get something, and help. You have strength." One of the sweetest offerings ever laid upon the altar of God is the offering of the poor which is the result of the labor of their hands.


One day when I was taking up a great collection, people calling out in hundreds all over the house, an old woman, who had to be helped up, came on her crutches to the table and put on the table a pair of socks which she had knit. I felt the tears running down my face, and I almost listened to hear a voice from heaven say, "Behold, she hath done more than they all!" She felt that she had a right to help, even if she was poor, and that God did not require her to give beyond her ability. She could labor with her hands and make a contribution.


Next consider specially Ephesians 5:4: "Nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not befitting." This is the "fly in the apothecary’s ointment" in the case of many preachers. Many a good meeting has been ruined by the talk in the preacher’s tent. Let a young man who has been deeply concerned about his salvation hear that foolish talking and jesting in the hour of the preacher’s relaxation, and it hurts him; he is led to question the sincerity of the previous exhortation.


That is why, in my young manhood, I made a covenant with Dr. Riddle, moderator of our association, that we would never tell an obscene anecdote and never let anybody tell us one. He and I made that covenant when camping out on the prairie between Waco and Groesbeck. Afterward many people joined us in that covenant. It had a marked effect. I would like to see every preacher solemnly enter into an agreement with God to set a watch before his lips, to avoid foolish jesting and foolish, obscene stories.


I was in a stage traveling from Canyon to Plainview, one other Christian besides myself on the stage, and two worldly sinners. One of them started to tell a very vulgar anecdote. I said, "Stop! I imagine that is going to be tough. Let me get out and walk; I do not want to hear it. I am willing to help you while away the time by telling anecdotes, if they be good ones without any twang in them." He said, "If you will let me tell this one, I will not tell any more." "But I do not want to hear that one; I know it is bad, and I do not want to hear it." "Why?" he asked. "Sir," I said, "I made a covenant with a man who is now in heaven that I would never allow any one to tell me a smutty anecdote." "Well," he said, "Dr. Carroll, I respect your wishes in the matter." I said to him, "Now you feel better; you have a better taste in your mouth."


The next passage Isaiah 5:5: "Nor a covetous man, who is an idolater." Just look at that language! We claim that idolatry has passed away. But there stands that text: "A covetous man is an idolater." He worships an idol, and that idol is money.


No devotee ever bowed before Moloch, or any other hideous idol in China or India, who was more of an idolater than a covetous man is.


When I was a boy a book of poetry was largely read called Pollok’s Course of Time. I am sorry people stopped reading it. It describes a miser in hell with the devil pouring melted gold down his throat.


The miser is the meanest, ghastliest, grizzliest of all gross men!


Milton does the same thing in Paradise Lost when he comes to describe Mammon. He makes other demons somewhat respectable, but when he comes to Mammon, there is nothing in him to admire.


We now notice Ephesians 5:7. Here arises the question, "What are you going to do with this evil tide all around you?" (1) "Be ye not partakers with them." We cannot help what they do, but we should not be partakers. (2) We should have no fellowship with their unfruitful works. (3) We should reprove them. I do not say that we ought to go out on the streets and denounce them. Our lives will reprove them if we show by the way we live that we do not touch those things. We cannot walk down the street without condemning them.


Again, Ephesians 5:14: "Wherefore he sayeth, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." That is a great text. Who can locate that text in the Bible? On that passage one of the greatest sermons I ever read is by Dr. Addison Alexander, a Presbyterian. I give the divisions of his sermon:


1. Sin is a state of darkness – "Christ shall give thee light."


2. A state of sleep – "Awake, thou that sleepest."


3. A state of death – "Arise from the dead."


Let us look at Ephesians 5:18: "Be not drunken with the wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit." There are two kinds of intoxication, one of wine and one of the Holy. Spirit. I have seen people under the intoxication of the Spirit. I remember one lady – one of the sweetest ladies I ever knew. I was not a Christian, but it did me good to watch her in a meeting. When the power of the Spirit would begin to fill her heart, she would begin to show her intoxication. Her face would become luminous, her lips would quiver and she would commence to sing: "Oh, Love Divine, how sweet thou art." It was like the rustling of the wings of an angel.


A preacher oftentimes needs a stimulant. The trouble is that some of them take the wrong kind. One thing I know: Nobody respects a preacher who, before he enters the pulpit, takes a little toddy or opium to enable him to take hold of things lively while in the pulpit. One of the most brilliant preachers in the South made a shipwreck of himself that way. I was called on to preach for him in his church, and when he got up to make his introductory remarks he was braced up right sharply with whiskey, and said some very foolish things. He could get a church anywhere at first, but at last he could get a church nowhere. Whenever we want to be stimulated, we should go off and pray. As we are infilled with the Spirit, we become enthusiastic; a divine afflatus rests upon us, enabling us to think thoughts that breathe, to speak words that burn and to sing songs that have more convincing power than the sermon. That is spiritual intoxication.


It is often a practical question: "What shall we do with exuberant feelings?" How may we find a safe vent for our enthusiasms, ecstasies, exultations? Edward Eggleston tells of a crowd of intoxicated boys raising this very question. One of them said, "Let’s do something lu-dick-er-ous." When asked what he would call a "ludickerous" thing he replied, "Let’s go and rock the Dutchman’s house." There was one inoffensive German in the neighborhood, and their rocking his house led to some costly and disastrous results. But Ephesians 5:19 suggests a better and safer vent: "Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." I have known churches intoxicated with the Spirit to do that very thing, the members going from house to house holding glorious song services that did much to deepen and widen the religious awakening.


From the general discussion of "the old" and "the new man" expressed in life’s work, he turns to the application in life’s relation, viz.: husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant, pointing out clearly as he does in other letters the reciprocal obligations, but as these relations have been discussed in the letter to the Colossians, we pass them here.

QUESTIONS

1. What philosophy of a good or evil life does this section give?

2. What is the bearing of the philosophy on the necessity of regeneration in order to a good life?

3. Cite the case of Henry Ward Beecher’s examination by a council of his people.

4. Are the heathen lost without the gospel?

5. What is our Lord’s standard for our judgment of men’s professions?

6. What is the difficulty in applying this test, and how obviated?

7. Expound: "Be ye angry and sin not."

8. What is the first hazard in being angry, and how guarded?

9. What is the second, and how obviated?

10. What is the third, and how obviated?

11. What is the bearing of "past feeling" on the unpardonable sin?

12. Show how the poor should help in Christ’s work.

13. What danger attends the preacher’s hours of relaxation, and what examples cited?

14. Prove that we have idolaters among us.

15. What two poets describe the miser?

16. Where do you find the quotation: "Awake, thou that sleepest, etc.," who preached a great sermon on the text, and what his outline?

17. What two intoxications are contrasted?

18. What prescription in this section for finding a safe vent to religious exuberance, and what Edward Eggleston’s account of a different vent for worldly exuberance?

Verses 10-24

XV

THE CHURCH IN GLORY

Ephesians 5:22-33; Ephesians 6:10-24.


This chapter closes the exposition of the letter to the Ephesians, elaborating the twelfth and thirteenth items of our analysis, to wit: Christ and the bride, or the church in glory. The Christian’s enemy, warfare and armor.


First, we will expound the relation between Christ and his church, so far as set forth under the figure of husband and wife. We need to recall so much of the first part of our definition of the word "church" in New Testament usage as applied to our subject: "In the divine purpose from eternity and in its consummation in glory, the whole number of the redeemed are conceived of as a unit, set forth in the Scripture under the figure of the bride, or wife, of the Lamb." This divine conception was foreshadowed in Eve, the first woman, derived from Adam, the first man, so as by derivation to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. As Adam was the head, or lord, over Eve, so is Christ head, or Lord, of the church. As Eve was derived from Adam, being made a part of himself, extracted from his side in a deep sleep, so the church is derived from the body of Christ in the sleep of vicarious death on the cross. As Eve, when fashioned gloriously, was presented to Adam and united to him in marriage, to be his companion, so the church, when complete as to its number, and complete as to the glorification of each member, will be presented to Christ and married to him, to be his companion forever. Under this imagery the church is the mystical bride of the Lamb.


The reader will readily see that the church in this mystical sense has no real existence now except in the continuous preparation of its members. It is not yet a church except in purpose, plan, and prospect. It is called a church by anticipation. Some of its members are already prepared in both soul and body, for example, Enoch and Elijah, and perhaps those who rose after Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 27-53). Some are prepared in spirit, and constitute the "spirits of the Just made perfect," whose bodies yet sleep. Some on earth yet are prepared so far as regeneration, justification and adoption go, but are not yet sanctified in spirit or glorified in body. By far the greater number are not yet even born. To be a church they must be assembled and organized. What is called the "presentation and marriage" is a definite transaction yet for the future.


We hear much of the "universal church." The word, katholikos ("universal"), is not found in the Greek Bible in either the Old or the New Testament. When those so fond of this phrase as expressive of a now existing church are called on to define it, they go to pieces. Some of them say it means all existing denominations, which are branches of the church. Others say that it means all the particular churches collectively. Yet others, that it means all living Christians, whether or not they are members of the church. And so they go. In all probability, i.e., judging from the prophecies of the uncountable number that will ultimately be saved, not one thousandth part of the elect are yet in existence. How can a thousandth part of the whole be universal?


It has no actual existence beyond the preparation of material for it, constantly going on. One may say, "I believe in the Catholic (universal) church," just as he may say, "I believe in the judgment to come," "I believe in the second advent," "I believe in the regeneration of the earth."


The whole of the modern Baptist idea of a now existent "universal, invisible church" was borrowed from pedobaptist confessions of faith in the Reformation times, and the pedobaptists devised it to offset the equally erroneous idea of the Romanist "universal visible church." We need to be well indoctrinated on this point, because the error is not harmless. It is used to depreciate Christ’s earth church, "the pillar and ground of the truth."


Let us carefully analyze the paragraph before us:


1. "Christ loved the church," that is, he loved the people who were to be given to him – all of them. In eternity a joy was set before him – a future reward.


2. "He gave himself for it," that is, he died for his promised people. They in prospect constituted the travail of his soul. It was promised that he should see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.


3. He will cleanse it in order to its holiness. Our text reads, "that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it."


4. This cleansing is to be by "the washing of water with the word" that is, a method of cleansing was established. In the Old Testament time this cleansing was by the water of purification, which was the sprinkling on the unclean the ashes of the red heifer mingled with water. The sprinkling was done with a bunch of hyssop. (See Numbers 19; Psalms 51:7; Ezekiel 36:25). This typical water of purification finds its antitype in the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:13-14). So that the washing of water in our text means simply the application of the blood of Christ by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Hence it is called "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5). In regeneration there are always two elements: (1) Cleansing by the application of Christ’s blood; (2) Renewing or changing the heart, or nature (Ezekiel 36:25-26; Titus 3:5) : Christ gave himself for his people that he might cleanse them by washing them in his blood. (See revised text of Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14.) This cleansing is also, of course, "by the word." It is the gospel preached that leads to regeneration. (See John 1:9; John 1:13; John 1:15; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 4:15.) The word of God is not only an instrumentality of the cleansing part of regeneration but also of the continued sanctification. It includes all expressed in the prayer for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:23), "body, soul, and spirit" and "wholly." It includes the glorification of the body. So that when complete it is a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing, but that it be complete in the presence of all its members, and complete in the full salvation of every member.


5. He makes it holy. Our text says, "That he might sanctify it, having cleansed it." Cleansing or regeneration first, then holiness. "Sanctify" here may not mean to set apart, to consecrate. The glorified church is set apart to its eternal mission, but more naturally "to make holy," as is implied by the next thought.


6. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." This means complete holiness as God is holy. This presentation is the offering of the Bride to the Groom at the marriage altar. She is adorned as a bride for her husband. Psalm 45, which is intensely messianic, anticipates this presentation thus: Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house: So will the king desire thy beauty; For he is thy Lord; and reverence thou him. – Psalms 45:10-11 The king’s daughter within the palace is all glorious: Her clothing is inwrought with gold. She shall be led unto the king in broidered work. – Psalms 45:13-14 a


7. Then follows the marriage. Let inspiration describe it: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth. Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:6-9).


The event here described is the crowning glory of the future. It follows the advent of our Lord. He will come in glory. He will bring with him the spirits of the just made perfect. He will raise and glorify their bodies. He will transfigure the living saints. He will catch up all the redeemed to himself in the air and thus separate between the sheep and the goats. He thus assumes his mystical body, the church, as at his first advent he assumed the body of his humiliation, and as in his second advent he assumed the resurrection body of his glory.


How vivid the picture in Matthew 25:5-12: "Now while the bridegroom tarried, the virgins all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, Behold the Bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. . . . And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us I But he answered them and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not."


On this great day is fulfilled the scripture: "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied." Now to the universe appears "the riches of his inheritance in the saints." "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed."


We thus see in these prison letters of Paul the several meanings of the word "church," all illustrated:


As an institution, it is one new man made out of the Jew and Gentile; it is one commonwealth in which both alike are citizens. It is one temple. It is one body. It is one bride. As an institution it is appointed to instruct angels, and to be the depository of the divine glory unto all generations.


As a particular church, in which alone this institution finds expression, "each several building fitly framed together groweth into a holy temple of the Lord for a habitation of God in the Spirit." Each particular church is a body "fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part."


As a glory church it includes all the redeemed, and each one of the redeemed saved fully, in body, soul, and spirit. The use of the word "church" in a sense too broad for application to a particular church must be found in this letter, if anywhere. In view of this fact, it is fortunate that we have such historical passages touching the Ephesian church as appear in Acts 20:17-38 and 1 Timothy 3:14. In both these passages there can be no doubt that the address concerns the particular church at Ephesus, and yet these broad terms are used: "Take heed to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood." "These things write I unto thee . . . that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." There is no term so broad, whether house, temple, body, flock, bride, but may be applied to a particular church, because each particular church in itself alone foreshadows the church in glory.


The several steps which lead up to the assembling, organization, visibility, and locality of the universal church – the steps which lead to its constitution – are as clearly set forth in the Scriptures as the steps looking to the constitution of any particular earth church. These steps are as follows:


1. Jesus will come, bringing with him the souls in heaven ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).


2. He raises and glorifies their bodies ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16).


3. He glorifies without death the Christians then living, ( 1 Corinthians 15:51-55).


4. Both classes are caught up in the clouds with the Lord ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is the separation of the righteous from the wicked (Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 24:27-31; Matthew 25:10; Matthew 25:31-32). They are now for the first time an assembly – an organization – and they can discern between the righteous and the wicked (Malachi 3:17).


5. At this time the world is purified by fire (Malachi 4:1-3; 2 Peter 3:4-12; Romans 8:19-23).


6. Presentation and marriage of the bride (Ephesians 5:27; Psalms 45:10-15; Revelation 19:6-9).


7. The church then sits on the throne and with Christ judges the evil man and angels (Revelation 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Matthew 19:28). This judgment is final (Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 20:11-15).


8. There is now a redeemed earth, purified by fire (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1) and the glorified church rules therein (Revelation 21:2-27); so that lost paradise with its tree of life is regained (Revelation 22:1-15) and at last "the meek inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).


9. The wicked, both men and angels, having bowed the knee and confessed Christ’s sovereignty (Philippians 2:10), are isolated forever in their final prison (Revelation 20:14-15; Matthew 25:41; Matthew 25:46) and so the pacification is complete and then cometh the end ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).


The entrance qualifications for the church in glory may be summed up in one sentence: The complete and eternal salvation of the entire man –body, soul, and spirit. That derivation of the woman from the man, and God’s uniting them in marriage, while a historical fact, foreshadowed a greater mystery – the derivation of the church from the Lord, and their final marriage in heaven.


The latter part of this book commences with Ephesians 6:6 and goes to the end of the chapter. This paragraph presents to us the Christian’s warfare, the Christian’s enemies, and the Christian’s armor. We make a very great mistake if we think that in the happy hour of our conversion all trouble, battle, and strife are over. They have just commenced. That is the day we enlisted. The whole war is ahead of us – not a war for our salvation, but a war in Christian service. The writer brings out very clearly the nature of the enemies with which the Christian has to contend. He expressly says that they are not human enemies – not flesh and blood. He must not be understood as denying that "the flesh" is an enemy, for that enmity has been clearly expressed in Romans 7, but "flesh and blood" as here used mean simply human enemies who are unimportant when compared with the superhuman enemies of whom he speaks. He refers to these greater enemies and specifies thus: "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood (human enemies), but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places." These are the enemies in his mind. He tells us who is the leader of these enemies: "That we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."


It is the teaching of the Scriptures that Satan, a distinct angelic person, sinned in heaven and led away with him a great number of angels. My own judgment of the occasion of that sin is that he revolted against being put lower than man. God having announced that the new creature, which at first was made for a season a little lower than the angels, would ultimately be put above the angels and that the angels should be ministering spirits unto them. That caused the revolt of Satan in heaven. That was the cause of his downfall, and it also accounts for his enmity to the human race.


Having been expelled from heaven because he refused to submit to this divine enactment, he determined to wage a perpetual warfare against man to thwart the purpose of God that man should be put above the angels. That accounts for the introduction of sin on earth, in the garden of Eden. He determined to bring about the downfall of the human race. If he could make them enemies to God, and God an enemy to them, they would become his subjects, and he would still be over them.


He certainly did win his fight in the garden of Eden. He captured the whole world in capturing the head of the human race, and from that time on the whole human race has been in bondage to Satan. He and his evil spirits are the world rulers. He dictates its maxims of pleasure and business. Of course, when grace comes in to destroy the work of the devil and to rescue the human race from his dominion, and people were converted into the power of this grace, the devil did not give up the fight. If he cannot destroy Christians who have escaped from him, he at least can worry them, and he will wage a warfare against Christian people who, as he calls them, are rebels against him. They were in his kingdom, and are now trying to pull down his strongholds, lessen his empire, and spread revolt in his kingdom.


It is to the reality and intensity of this struggle that the apostle calls attention here. He is very careful to teach that Christians unaided are unable to cope with such adversaries – that if they go into this fight, they need to go into it protected in every possible way defensively, and equipped with effective offensive weapons.


In a most beautiful allegory Bunyan brings out the whole thought. As soon as Christian gets rid of the burden of sin at the cross, he is led to the Interpreter’s house (the house of the Holy Spirit), where many things are explained to him, and before he starts off on his pilgrimage to heaven he is led into the armory, where he puts on the armor which God has provided for his people. Long before a child can appreciate the spiritual significance of the book, he is delighted and carried away with its imagery of warfare. Christian soon, in going down the hill Difficulty, commits a sin and meets Apollyon, who straddles his pathway. There ensues a terrible conflict. The book in its allegorical form describes the victory which Christian won over Apollyon.


Our text says that in view of these enemies, in view of the wiles of the devil and his demons, on account of their cunning, on account of their malice, on account of the hold that they have on the Christian through the remains of his carnal nature yet with him, for he is not yet sanctified, and in going out to this battle he needs an armor, or panoply. The idea is doubtless suggested to Paul by the fact that even as he wrote he was chained to the soldier of the Praetorian guard, the most formidable of Roman soldiers. The soldier has on a helmet, breastplate, a military girdle, war sandals, and has a sharp two-edged sword, certainly the most formidable weapon ever devised for warfare, and a long shield with which, when he goes out into battle, he protects himself. So Paul takes this imagery to show how the Christian must guard against the wiles of the devil – that the Christian must be panoplied.


As has been said, Paul illustrates by the armor of a Roman soldier, so familiar to him from being chained to one of the Praetorian guard every day. The pieces of armor specified are all defensive, except the sword and prayer, which are offensive weapons. The office of the girdle was to gather up and hold together both the loose dress and parts of the armor. In the place of this girdle he offers truth, that is, the truth of the gospel. In the place of the breastplate, whose office is to protect the heart, he offers righteousness. Of course this raises the question, Whose righteousness – Christ’s as imputed, or the Christian’s own right doing? Something May be said for the second, but more for the first. It is true that right doing is a conscious defense against false charges. But the devil is not apt to confine himself to false charges. He will hurl the fiery dart of true charge against some weakness, infirmity and sin of the Christian. The imputed righteousness of Christ is impervious to any missile whatever.


The office of the spiked sandal was to insure safe footing on slippery or treacherous ground. For this he offers the preparation of the gospel of peace. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and if God be for us who can be against us? Peace in the heart, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, will aid to step surely and stand firmly.


The office of the helmet is to protect the head, another vital part, and for this Paul offers salvation. He means salvation so far as justification goes, and all its pledges. The thought is: "He that believeth hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation." If God justifies, who can condemn? Who can lay any charge to God’s elect? This thought nourished in the heart protects from any fiery dart of doubt Satan may hurl at the mind.


The office of the shield is more general. It is carried on the left arm and covers the whole vital part of the body. In the place of this, Paul offers faith. But the question arises: Is faith itself a shield, or is it the hand that interposes the true shield? In Genesis 15, where, in giving an account of Abraham’s conversion, so many new words appear for the first time in the Bible, among them, "shield," "believe," "imputed righteousness," God says, "I am thy shield." God, then, is the shield of faith – the shield that faith lays hold of and interposes between the soul and danger. We are not equal to Satan. God is greater than Satan. When we see Satan coming faith puts God, the shield, between our weakness and Satan; we hide behind God. One of Aesop’s fables says. "A kid standing on the roof of a house railed at a wolf passing by, to whom the wolf replied: Not you, but the roof raileth at me." This fable teaches that time and place often make the timid brave. A timid little fellow gets behind a big brother and valorously shakes his fist at an opponent from whom he had just fled.


One of the great magazines-illustrated that point. Andrew Johnson wanted to get rid of Secretary Stanton. Stanton refused to resign or to be removed, and defied Johnson, whereupon Johnson appointed U. S. Grant war secretary. Stanton dared not defy him. The magazine, in telling the illustration, pictures the irate and terrible Stanton charging on the little President, but just before he get to him, Johnson reaches back and pulls Grant in front of him. Under the picture it reads: "Let me see you hit him!" So faith puts God, its shield, between us and the devil.


The office of the sword is offensive. With it an enemy is thrust or smitten. Paul commends as the Christian’s sword the Word of God. This is called the sword of the Spirit, not merely because the Spirit inspired it, but also because the Spirit gives it point and edge when rightly used. Just here we need to connect Hebrews 4:12: "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." With this compare Isaiah 49:2 and Hosea 6:5. The most striking example for us in the right use of this sword against Satan is our Lord’s use of "It is written" in replying to Satan’s temptation. Another one is the case of Michael mentioned in Judges 1:6.


The second offensive weapon of the Christian is prayer: "With all prayer and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."


This praying covers a wide field: (1) All prayer and supplication. (2) At all seasons. (3) In the Spirit. (4) Watching thereunto. (5) In all perseverance. (6) For all the saints.


Helmet, breastplate, girdle, sandals, and shield are defensive – they protect us. The Word of God, and prayer, are offensive weapons; with them we smite Satan. Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees. Cromwell’s Ironsides, about to join battle, first prayed, then, singing a battle song, they smote with the sword.

QUESTIONS

1. Give so much of the definition of the word "church" as relates to Christ as bridegroom and the church as bride.

2. In what sense only does this glory church now exist?

3. Why must we call it a church in prospect, and not an actuality?

4. What is the Greek word for "universal," and how often is it used in Greek Old Testament and New Testament?

5. Where do all break down who claim that there is now a universal church? Cite examples.

6. Who invented the phrase, "A universal, spiritual, invisible, church," and why, and how did Baptists obtain it?

7. In analyzing the paragraph, point out what Christ did or will do.

8. Expound the cleansing, showing Old Testament type and New Testament type, giving scriptures.

9. What the instrumentality employed, and what the scriptures?

10. When is this marriage between Christ and the church, and what scriptures?

11. As this letter, more than any other, gives the usage of the word "church" in broad senses, show from Acts and Timothy the application of these broad terms to the particular church at Ephesus.

12. Cite every use of the word "church," or any corresponding in this letter, and locate each use under one of three heads – the church as an institution, a particular church, the glory church.

13. Give carefully all the steps of the constitution of the glory church.

14. What is its entrance qualifications?

15. Who is the Christian’s most formidable adversaries?

16. How are Christians qualified to cope with them?

17. What great Baptist author illustrates all this in an allegory?

18. Name and explain each piece of defensive armor.

19. Give the offensive pieces, and an illustration of each.

20. What are the circumstances of Paul’s prison condition suggested the imagery?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/ephesians-6.html.
 
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