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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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Verses 1-9

A. Spiritual walk 4:1-6:9

Paul had explained the unity of Jewish and Gentile believers in the church and had prayed for the realization of that unity in experience (Ephesians 2:11 to Ephesians 3:21). He now told how to attain a spiritual walk, namely, a life that manifests the Holy Spirit’s control.

"The key word in this last half of the book is walk (Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:17; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 5:15), while the key idea in the first half is wealth." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:34.]

Verses 1-20


Practical application (chs. 4-6) now follows doctrinal instruction (chs. 1-3).

"Now the apostle moves on from the new society to the new standards which are expected of it. So he turns from exposition to exhortation, from what God has done (in the indicative), to what we must be and do (in the imperative), from doctrine to duty, . . . from mind-stretching theology to its down-to-earth, concrete implications in everyday living." [Note: Stott, p. 146.]

5. Walking in Wisdom of Solomon 5:15 to Wisdom of Solomon 6:9

Paul introduced a new thought with the repetition of "Therefore" and "walk" for the fifth time (cf. Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 5:1-2; Ephesians 5:7-8). We can walk (live) wisely by letting the Holy Spirit control our lives.

"For Paul, the Christian faith was not an abstract exercise in theological discourse. Instead it called for a different way to relate to others." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 317.]

Verse 1

Children express their submission by obeying their parents (plural). "In the Lord" modifies "obey," not "parents." Children should not obey their parents if their parents tell them to disobey the Lord. [Note: Morris, p. 190.] Their primary responsibility is to the Lord, as is also true of wives. Obedience is right in the sense that it is in harmony with God’s will for children (cf. Colossians 3:20). Children should obey their parents as long as they are children living under their parents’ authority. When a child becomes an adult, he or she no longer has to obey parents but should continue to honor them. [Note: Ibid.]

"So long as they are regarded in their culture as children or minors, they should continue to obey their parents." [Note: Stott, p. 243.]

Verses 1-3

The duty of children 6:1-3

The next basic human relationship that needs affecting by the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-21) is that of children and parents.

Verse 2

Even though as Christians we are no longer under the Mosaic Law (Romans 7:6; Romans 10:4; et. al.), Paul quoted the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) to stress the importance of children obeying their parents. He restated this command as part of the Law of Christ. Honoring (Ephesians 6:2) is a larger concept than obeying (Ephesians 6:1). It involves a proper attitude as well as appropriate behavior. [Note: See Mollie Ann Frye, "How to Honor Your Parents When They’ve Hurt You," Psychology for Living 28:6 (June 1986):12-14.]

The first commandment in the Decalogue with a promise was really the second commandment. Evidently Paul meant that for children the fifth was the primary commandment, and it contained a promise.

Verse 3

When he restated the promise connected with obeying the fifth commandment, Paul changed it. God promised obedient Jewish children who lived under the Mosaic Law long life in the Promised Land (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). Since He has not promised Christians a particular piece of land, Paul stated the more general promise that lay behind the specific promise, namely, longer physical life on earth. Normally children who obey their parents end up avoiding many perils that would shorten their lives.

Verse 4

The duty of fathers 6:4

Paul addressed fathers because they are God’s ordained family heads on whom the primary responsibility for child training rests. When a father is absent in a family, the mother usually assumes this responsibility. In Greco-Roman society the father’s authority over his children was absolute.

"This idea would have been revolutionary in its day; in the first-century Roman Empire, fathers could do pretty much what they liked in their families. They could even sentence family members to death . . ." [Note: Morris, p. 191. Cf. Genesis 22:1-14; Genesis 38:24; Deuteronomy 21:18-21. See also Barclay, p. 208.]

Christianity stressed consideration for the feelings of the children in parental responsibility.

Essentially this command forbids making unreasonable demands on children in the everyday course of family life. "Provoke" (Gr. parorgizete) means to exasperate (cf. Romans 10:19; Colossians 3:21). Exasperating provocation can enflame the child’s anger unnecessarily (cf. Ephesians 4:31). Studies indicate that the factor that causes rage in teenagers more than any other is having to face life without adequate direction from their parents. Instead fathers should provide for the physical and spiritual (non-material) needs of their children (cf. Ephesians 5:29). "Discipline" or "training" refers to directing and correcting the child (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 12:8). "Instruction" denotes correction by word of mouth, including advice and encouragement (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11; Titus 3:10). Fathers are to do all this with the Lord at the center of the relationship and training.

"Responsible authority does not wield power; it serves with it." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 318.]

". . . too many parents nowadays foster the latent mischief by a policy of laissez faire, pampering their pert urchins like pet monkeys whose escapades furnish a fund of amusement as irresponsible freaks of no serious import. Such unbridled young scamps, for lack of correction, develop too often into headstrong, peevish, self-seeking characters, menaces to the community where they dwell, and the blame rests with their supine and duty-shirking seniors." [Note: Simpson, p. 136. See also Wiersbe, 2:54-55.]

Verse 5

Paul contrasted masters according to the flesh with the Master of the human spirit, namely, Jesus Christ. Christian slaves owed their earthly masters obedience. Obedience demonstrated their submission to Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:22).

"Christianity does not offer us escape from circumstances; it offers us conquest of circumstances." [Note: Ibid., p. 214.]

Seven qualifications describe proper obedience. Service was to be respectful (with fear, reverence; cf. Ephesians 5:33). Second, it was to be with "trembling" or "fear," that is, with care that the slave not make a mistake. Third, it was to be sincere, without hypocrisy or duplicity. Fourth, service should be as to the Lord.

Verses 5-8

The duty of slaves 6:5-8

The third group that Paul addressed was slaves and masters (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:17-24). Most slaves served in the home in Paul’s day, so this section fits in well with what precedes about other household relationships. Some students of Roman history have estimated that about one-third of the population in the Roman Empire at this time was slaves, approximately 60 million individuals. [Note: Wood, p. 83.] Many of these people were Christians. Most ancient Greeks and Romans regarded slaves as little more than living tools. [Note: See the excursus on slavery in Paul’s time in Hoehner, Ephesians, pp. 800-04.]

"Aristotle lays it down that there can never be friendship between master and slave, for master and slave have nothing in common; ’for a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.’ A slave was nothing better, and had no more rights, than a tool. Varro, writing on agriculture, divided agricultural instruments into three classes-the articulate, the inarticulate and the mute. The articulate comprises the slaves; the inarticulate the cattle; and the mute the vehicles. The slave is no better than a beast who happens to be able to talk. Cato gives advice to a man taking over a farm. He must go over it and throw out everything that is past its work; and old slaves too must be thrown out on the scrap heap to starve. When a slave is ill it is sheer extravagance to issue him with normal rations. The old and sick slave is only a broken and inefficient tool." [Note: Barclay, p. 213.]

Verse 6

Fifth, service was to be consistent, whether the master was watching or not. Paul may have also had in mind doing work that the human master could not check on. Sixth, it needed to arise from proper motives, not to please men only but, more importantly, to please the Lord.

Verse 7

Seventh, the slave should have an attitude of goodwill toward his or her master. He should serve for the master’s welfare. Such good will "does not wait to be compelled." [Note: J. Armitage Robinson, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 211.] This kind of service is to be done as to the Lord, not as if to the Lord. The Lord is the One whom the Christian slave really serves as well as the earthly master.

Verse 8

Paul reminded faithful slaves that they would receive a reward from Jesus Christ in the future whether their masters on earth acknowledged their good service or not. This reward would come at the judgment seat of Christ if not earlier.

"Like Jesus himself, Paul does not shrink from referring to rewards." [Note: Wood, p. 84.]

This principle of reward for faithful service applies to all who serve the Lord, whether slave or free.

". . . although the numerous slaves who had come into the Christian fold were in the apostle’s mind as he wrote these words, the principles of the whole section apply to employees and employers in every age, whether in the home, in business, or in the state." [Note: Foulkes, p. 167.]

Verse 9

The duty of masters 6:9

Masters should seek to please the Lord in their dealings with their slaves even as slaves should try to please Christ as they serve their masters. They should not threaten because our heavenly Master does not threaten us. Threatening means warning that punishment will come immediately (cf. Acts 4:17; Acts 4:29; Acts 9:1); threatening goes beyond just warning. The opposite of threatening is gracious, just, and fair treatment (cf. Colossians 4:1; James 5:4). Masters should also remember that their Master in heaven will not show favoritism to them because of their social or economic status. He will evaluate them by the same standard that they have used to judge others (Matthew 7:1-5).

"This is a gentle reminder that earthly rank has no relevance in heaven." [Note: Morris, p. 198.]

Stott identified and discussed three major reasons he believed the apostles did not urge the abolition of slavery. First, Christians were an insignificant group in the Roman Empire during the first century and were politically powerless. Second, it was fairly easy to make the transition from slavery to freedom, and there was a growing tendency for Romans to free their slaves and even establish them in a trade or profession. Third, by this time the legal status of slaves was beginning to be eased and showed signs of further improvement. [Note: Stott, pp. 254-59.]

"The application of this passage to contemporary times must be done with caution. Paul was writing specifically for a society where slavery was a legal institution. However, there are certainly some principles from the passage that can be applied to employee/employer relationships in the present time. Primarily, Christian employees should serve their employers with fear, diligence, integrity, and good will and Christian employers should deal with their employees with integrity and goodwill, without threats. Both Christian employees and Christian employers need also to realize that they have a heavenly master to whom they are accountable for their attitudes and conduct. Furthermore, the behavior of both parties should be a testimony to the unbelievers with whom they work." [Note: Hoehner, Ephesians, p. 816.]

William Webb did not believe these exhortations apply to employer employee relationships. [Note: William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals.] Wayne Grudem rejected Webb’s "redemptive-movement hermeneutic" because he believed it nullifies in principle the moral authority of the entire New Testament. [Note: Wayne Grudem, "Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47:2 (June 2004):299-346.] I agree with Grudem’s analysis.

As we review this section of duties, we need to remind ourselves that only a Spirit-filled believer will be able to fulfill them (Ephesians 5:15-20). Essentially what Paul urged was humility that expresses itself in loving submissiveness to others rather than arrogant self-assertiveness.

So ends Paul’s commands concerning how the Christian is to walk (live; Ephesians 4:1 to Ephesians 6:9): in unity, in holiness, in love, in light, and in wisdom.

Verse 10

"Finally" means "For the rest" and introduces what remains for the readers to do. "Be strong" is a passive or middle imperative in the Greek text. It probably meant both "allow the Lord to strengthen you" (passive) and "strengthen yourself in the Lord" (middle; cf. 1 Samuel 30:6). It is the Lord who provides the power in both cases. The theme of power introduced earlier in this epistle recurs here (cf. Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 3:16-21). Three different words for power in this verse, all of which appear in Ephesians 1:19, remind us that the Lord’s might is available to us in our spiritual warfare.

"’The strength of his power’ is a striking use of two words for might. There is probably no great difference in meaning here, but the combination puts emphasis on the importance of the divine power at work in believers." [Note: Morris, p. 201.]

This may be a figure of speech meaning powerful strength. A hendiadys is the expression of a single complex idea by joining two substantives with "and" rather than by using an adjective and a substantive. Another example of this figure is "the sacrifice and service of your faith" (Philippians 2:17), which means the sacrificial service of your faith.

Verses 10-20

B. Spiritual warfare 6:10-20

That this section is distinct from the five that precede it is evident from two facts. Paul introduced it differently, and the emphasis in it is on God’s resources. Earlier Paul urged the strengthening and growth of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16). Now he explained the need for this. The body is at war with a spiritual enemy. We do not just walk, but we also war.

"These two responsibilities (home and work on the one hand, and spiritual combat on the other) are quite different from each other. Husband and wife, parents and children, masters and servants are visible, tangible human beings, while the ’principalities and powers’ arrayed against us are invisible, intangible demonic beings." [Note: Stott, p. 213.]

"Sooner or later every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is-apart from the Lord." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:56.]

"The image of the cosmic struggle or confrontation with evil is frequent in the book, but it hits its high point here (Ephesians 1:19-23; Ephesians 2:1-7; Ephesians 4:7-10; Ephesians 5:7-14; Ephesians 5:17)." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 318.]

According to the Book of Acts and other sources, there was an unusual amount of demonic activity in Ephesus, and Paul encountered it when he ministered there (cf. Acts 19:13-20). [Note: See The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. "Ephesus," by E. M. B. Green.] It was, therefore, appropriate that he addressed this subject at some length in this letter to the Ephesians.

Verse 11

To be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10) the Christian must "put on" (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8) the full armor that is God’s. He supplies it for the believer (cf. Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 59:17).

"Both commands are conspicuous examples of the balanced teaching of Scripture. Some Christians are so self-confident that they think they can manage by themselves without the Lord’s strength and armour. Others are so self-distrustful that they imagine they have nothing to contribute to their victory in spiritual warfare. Both are mistaken. Paul expresses the proper combination of divine ennabling [sic] and human co-operation." [Note: Stott, p. 266.]

The purpose of accepting the equipment that God provides for waging spiritual warfare is essentially to withstand all of Satan’s attacks. In the context of this epistle the aim of Satan in view primarily has been the disunity of the body of Christ. However what Paul said here doubtless applies to all of Satan’s aims and attacks. These offensives come to us from a very intelligent and experienced strategist, and they are frequently deceptive (cf. Ephesians 4:14).

From other Scripture we know that Satan is behind many of our temptations, having received permission to assail us from God (e.g., Job 1-2). He uses the world system and our flesh (sinful nature) as his tools. He also attacks us directly himself and through his angelic emissaries. God has given us specific instruction in Scripture about how to combat these attacks. We are to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9), flee the temptations of the world system (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22), and deny the flesh (Romans 6:12-13; Romans 7:18-24; Romans 8:13). How do we know the source of a given temptation so we can respond to it appropriately?

Satan has consistently aimed his personal attacks at getting people to doubt, to deny, to disregard, and to disobey the revealed will of God (cf. Genesis 3; Matthew 4). The world system seeks to get people to believe that they do not need God but can get along very well without Him (1 John 2). The flesh tempts us to think that we can find satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment on the physical, material level of life alone (Romans 7). [Note: See J. Dwight Pentecost, Your Adversary the Devil, and C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, for further insight into the devil’s strategies.]

"A thorough knowledge of the enemy and a healthy respect for his prowess are a necessary preliminary to victory in war. Similarly, if we underestimate our spiritual enemy, we shall see no need for God’s armour, we shall go out to the battle unarmed, with no weapons but our own puny strength, and we shall be quickly and ignominiously defeated." [Note: Stott, p. 263.]

Verse 12

If we want to obey God and resist the devil, we are in for a struggle. It is not easy to become a mature Christian nor is it automatic. It takes diligent, sustained effort (cf. Philippians 2:12-13). This is part of our human responsibility in progressive sanctification.

This struggle does not take place on the physical level primarily, though saying no to certain temptations may involve certain physical behavior. It is essentially warfare on the spiritual level with an enemy that we cannot see. This enemy is Satan and his hosts as well as the philosophies and feelings he promotes that people implement. Stott refuted the view that the principalities and powers are only structures of thought, especially embodied in the state and its institutions. [Note: See ibid., pp. 267-75.]

Some commentators believe that Paul described four different orders of angelic beings here. Probably the four terms used of our spiritual enemies in this verse do not identify four separate kinds of adversaries as much as they point out four characteristics of all of them. "Rulers" stresses their authority and "powers" or "authorities" their strength. "World forces of this darkness" or "powers of this dark world" point to their wide influence in the world, and forces "of wickedness" or "spiritual forces of evil" relate to their evil character. They operate in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10). Presently Satan and his hosts have access to God in the sense that they can communicate with Him but not in the sense that they can coexist in fellowship with Him (cf. Job 1-2).

The idea that certain demons have special authority over specific territories comes from Daniel 10:13 where we read that the "prince [Heb. sar, head, official, captain] of Persia" withstood Michael, one of the "chief princes [same Hebrew word]." It is impossible to know whether all demons have territorial authority and whether all territories have demonic heads because we do not have sufficient revelation. Clearly some demons have territorial assignments, but it seems unwarranted to conclude that all of them do.

"Nowhere in the NT do we find a territorial view of demons. Jesus never casts out a territorial demon or attributes the resistance of Nazareth or Jerusalem to such entities. Paul never refers to territorial spirits, nor does he attribute power to them-despite the paganism of cities where he established churches." [Note: Gerry Breshears, "The Body of Christ: Prophet, Priest, or King?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37:1 (March 1994):15. See also Robert A. Guelich, "Spiritual Warfare: Jesus, Paul and Peretti," Journal of Pentecostal Studies 13:1 (Spring 1991):33-64.]

John Armstrong refuted from Scripture several of the teachings of some modern deliverance ministries. He wrote the following.

"In the face of growing citizen militia groups, committed to arming themselves in order to defend personal freedoms, it seems ironic that the church has forgotten that she is spiritually armed for an entirely different battle. As the church, in response to various culture wars, increasingly turns to numerous battles ’with flesh and blood’ rather than to the primary battle with ’the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12), one must wonder if we have forgotten the teaching of the New Testament itself." [Note: John H. Armstrong, "How Shall We Wage Our Warfare?" in The Coming Evangelical Crisis, p. 227.]

Verse 13

This verse summarizes what has just preceded. It does not describe the Christian standing in victory after his or her conflict, as is clear from Ephesians 6:14-18. Probably Paul repeated himself here because of the urgency of taking up God’s provisions in view of the serious struggle we face.

The evil day in view probably describes any day in the present evil age in which the evil forces attack. A less likely possibility is that it is some day yet future that is more evil than the rest, such as the day of the Lord. Every day of temptation is an evil day for the Christian.

Verse 14

This verse begins the eighth long sentence in this epistle, and it runs through Ephesians 6:20 (cf. Ephesians 1:3-23; Ephesians 2:1-7; Ephesians 3:1-19; Ephesians 4:1-7; Ephesians 4:11-16). The main verbs in this sentence are "stand" (Ephesians 6:14) and "take" (Ephesians 6:17). They are imperatives denoting urgency (cf. Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:13). Four participles follow in Ephesians 6:14-16 that describe how to stand.

Isaiah described God as a soldier (cf. Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 49:2). Paul may have had these descriptions in mind, but he probably used this figure to describe God’s protection because armored Roman infantrymen were commonplace throughout the empire. One may have been guarding Paul when he wrote this epistle (cf. Acts 28:16). Everyone knew what they looked like.

Paul described the items that the Roman infantryman wore in the order in which he would have put them on. He first put on, over his short tunic (shirt), a belt that would hold both the breastplate and scabbard in place. The "truth" could refer to both God’s revealed truth that the Christian has believed and the Christian’s own truthfulness, specifically a lifestyle that reflects the truth. Full truth is the only adequate basis for a defense against Satan (cf. Ephesians 4:25).

"A man of integrity, with a clear conscience, can face the enemy without fear. The girdle also held the sword. Unless we practice the truth, we cannot use the Word of truth. Once a lie gets into the life of a believer, everything begins to fall apart. For over a year, King David lied about his sin with Bathsheba, and nothing went right." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:58.]

"People of that time did not normally wear a belt in the house, but when they faced some vigorous action such as running, or when a soldier was preparing for battle, they raised their loose robes above the knees and fastened them in place with a belt . . . Thus the ’girding’ of the loins meant preparation for physical activity or, as here, for engaging in conflict." [Note: Morris, p. 205.]

Likewise righteous conduct seems to be in view as well as the righteousness of Christ that becomes ours at regeneration. The breastplate covered the soldier’s body from the neck to the thighs. It was usually bronze or chain mail. [Note: Wood, p. 87.] It had a back piece, but it was the front part that gave it its name.

Verse 15

Roman infantrymen wore tough sandals studded with sharp, thick nails on the bottoms to increase traction. [Note: Josephus, The Wars . . ., 6:1:8.] The gospel that has brought peace to the Christian enables him or her to stand firmly against temptation. Likewise the gospel is what enables us to move forward against our enemies (cf. Isaiah 52:7). The preparation of the gospel of peace probably refers to the gospel the Christian soldier has believed that enables him to stand his ground when attacked. We must be so familiar with the gospel that we can share it with others (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). That grip on the gospel will enable us to hold our ground and even advance when tempted. The gospel in view is the whole Christian message viewed as good news, not just how to become a Christian.

". . . protection comes from reflecting the unity that the gospel provides within the community (’shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel,’ Ephesians 6:16 [sic, Ephesians 6:15], looks back to Ephesians 2:11-22; it is not a reference to evangelism)." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 318.]

Verse 16

The Roman soldier’s shield was wood covered with leather to make it flame retardant. It was rectangular in shape and about two and one-half feet wide by four feet long. With it the soldier could protect his whole body.

"Before a battle in which flaming arrows might be shot at them, the soldiers wet the leather covering with water to extinguish the arrows. The Roman legionaries could close ranks with these shields, the first row holding theirs edge to edge in front, and the rows behind holding the shields above their heads. In this formation they were practically invulnerable to arrows, rocks, and even spears." [Note: The NET Bible note on 6:18.]

"These darts were sometimes ablaze in order to set fire to the enemies’ clothing or camp or homes just as the American Indians used to shoot poisoned arrows." [Note: Robertson, 4:551.]

The faith that provides such a defense for the Christian in his or her spiritual warfare is two-fold. It is trust in all that God has revealed and active application of that trust at the moment of spiritual attack.

The first three participles that explain how to stand fast are "having girded" or "buckled" (Ephesians 6:14), "having put on" or "in place" (Ephesians 6:14), and "having shod" or "fitted" (Ephesians 6:15). The fourth participle is "taking up" or "take up" (Ephesians 6:16).

Verse 17

The second main verb in this long sentence (Ephesians 6:14-20) is "take" or, better, "receive" or "accept" (Gr. dexasthe). In addition to standing firm, having received and having already put on four pieces of armor, we also need to receive and put on two more.

Since Christians are to put this salvation on, the salvation or deliverance in view seems to refer to the present and future deliverance we need when under attack by Satan (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8). We have already received salvation from condemnation. We receive this present salvation (deliverance) as we receive all salvation, namely, by calling on God and requesting it (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).

This salvation is evidently similar to a helmet because deliverance involves a mental choice, namely, trust in God rather than self, and obedience to Him. Confidence in God becomes our salvation and so protects our thinking when we are under attack.

The sword carried by the Roman infantryman (Gr. machaira) was short and two-edged. Soldiers used it to thrust and cut in hand-to-hand combat. In Paul’s description it is the soldier’s only offensive weapon. Infantrymen usually also carried a long spear, but Paul did not mention that in his analogy. The word of God is similar to this short sword for the Christian. "Word" (Gr. rhema) refers to the utterance of God rather than to the written Word or the living Word of God (Gr. logos). It seems most likely to refer to the words of Scripture that we use to counteract the particular temptation we face. It is the appropriate Scripture spoken or put to use by the Christian in a given instance of temptation that is in view (e.g., Matthew 4:4; Matthew 4:6; Matthew 4:10).

"As Jesus used the words of Scripture to repulse the tempter, so must the Christian the words the Spirit has inspired to drive away Satan." [Note: John A. Allen, The Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 138.]

The Holy Spirit both gives the word and empowers it as we use it. It is His sword (cf. Isaiah 49:2).

Verse 18

Prayer and alertness (two participles in the Greek text) describe how we should "receive" present salvation and use the word appropriate to our trial. We should be in constant prayer in preparation for our spiritual battles and as we engage our enemy (cf. Mark 14:34-38; Colossians 4:2). The Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26) and enables us to pray, as He enables us to do everything else.

"Man very easily takes his difficulties to his fellows instead of to God." [Note: Foulkes, p. 178.]

"Prayer" refers to our communication with God generally and "petition" to our supplications specifically. The antecedent of "this" is the first clause of the verse: "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit". In addition to praying for our own needs we should also, as good soldiers, keep alert to the needs of other fellow soldiers, namely, all the saints. We must not fail them but pray for them persistently. The great need for prayer that exists is obvious in Paul’s use of the word "all" four times in this verse (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1).

"Prayer is an engine wieldable by every believer, mightier than all the embattled artillery of hell." [Note: Simpson, p. 153.]

". . . nuclear wars cannot be won with rifles. Likewise, satanic wars cannot be won by human energy." [Note: Hoehner, Ephesians, p. 859.]

Donna Reinhard pointed out that in the flow of Paul’s argument in Ephesians, we should understand spiritual warfare as influencing life within the church, not just as a personal matter. [Note: Donna B. Reinhard, "Ephesians 6:10-18 : A Call to Personal Piety or Another Way of Describing Union with Christ?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48:3 (September 2005):521-32.]

"Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest saint upon his knees." [Note: Anonymous.]

Verses 19-20

Paul sensed his own great need for the prayer support of his readers. It was incongruous that an ambassador of Christ should be in chains. He was in heavenly places, but he was also in earthly confinement. An encounter with spiritual enemies awaited him when he would make his defense before Caesar Nero. Paul wanted utterance and boldness to characterize his witness. Utterance probably refers to clarity of communication and boldness to courage. He needed bold utterance and courageous clarity in all of his ministry opportunities, but especially in the defense he anticipated in the imperial court (cf. Acts 28:30-31). There are nine references in Acts alone to various people witnessing boldly (Acts 4:13; Acts 4:29; Acts 4:31; Acts 9:27-29; Acts 14:3; Acts 18:26; Acts 19:8; Acts 13:46) plus others elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:12).

"The word for ’boldness’ is made up of two words meaning ’all’ and ’speech.’ It signifies the attitude when one is completely at home and the words flow freely. Thus it may mean ’outspokenness,’ or ’frankness.’ When a person is speaking in this way, he or she is not in the least afraid, and thus the expression comes to signify ’boldly.’" [Note: Morris, p. 211.]

"Note that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:60.]

The mystery of the gospel (i.e., God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ) needed defending in Rome because the Romans viewed Christianity as simply a sect within Judaism (cf. Acts 18:12-17). The Jews saw it as a heretical religion (cf. Acts 21:27-28).

Verses 21-22

Tychicus (lit. Chance) accompanied this letter to Ephesus and may have carried it. What Paul wrote about Tychicus and his purpose in sending Tychicus to Ephesus was almost identical to what he wrote in Colossians 4:7-8. Tychicus’ mission was to give the Ephesian Christians further information about Paul and to comfort and encourage them (cf. Acts 20:4; Colossians 4:7; Titus 3:12; 2 Timothy 4:12).

Verses 21-24


Paul’s anticipation of his defense before Nero brought him back to the present in his thinking. His exposition of the mystery of the church to his readers had ended. He had also explained their proper conduct in view of their calling. All that remained was to share with them some personal information and to pray God’s blessing on them.

Verse 23

Peace, love, and faith are all important communal virtues in the Christian life. Peace was necessary because of the Jewish Gentile problems Paul wrote Ephesians to ameliorate (Ephesians 2:14-16; Ephesians 3:15; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:3). Mutual love is the key to peace (Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 3:17-18; Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:16), and mutual love rests on a common faith (Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 3:17; Ephesians 4:5; cf. Galatians 5:6). The ultimate source of all three of these essential qualities is God and Jesus Christ, united here in perfect equality.

Verse 24

As the apostle opened his epistle by referring to God’s grace, so he ended it (Ephesians 1:2). God’s grace was the key to the calling of the Christian and the creation of the church. It is also essential to the conduct of the Christian (cf. Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:7-8; Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 4:7). Paul wished God’s unmerited favor and divine enablement on all who love Jesus Christ purely, without wrong motives or secret disloyalties (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22). As God has poured out His grace to us in all purity, so we should pour out our love to Him in purity.

"Ephesians is ultimately about how God has powerfully equipped the church to experience blessing in Christ, by creating a new community that is able to honor God and resist the forces of evil. No longer does one’s Jewish or Gentile identity dominate. They are part of a new, reconciled community, a reconciliation that involves not only God but also one another. All enablement in this new sacred community is rooted in what the exalted Christ has provided for His people. That is why believers can have hope, since they have begun participation in a wealth of benefits distributed from heaven. The church’s members are citizens raised and seated with Jesus in a heavenly citizenship, though they represent Him now as light on the earth, fully enabled for the task. In all of this, God is taking steps toward the ultimate summation of all things in Christ." [Note: Bock, "A Theology . . .," p. 319.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/ephesians-6.html. 2012.
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