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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

Duties of Children

Literally, Paul says children are to keep on obeying their parents. This is restricted by the expression "in the Lord" which means a child may refuse to obey his parents if they ask him to do something that is wrong in God's sight. Obedience is not only a good thing, it is right in God's sight (6:1). Exo_20:5 reads, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." This is the fifth commandment written on tables of stone at Mount Sinai. It is the first, or primary, commandment for children and, if obeyed, carries with it the promise of the next verse (6:2).

Obeying and honoring one's parents helps to develop a character well suited for a long life on earth. Such takes self-control, a teachable spirit, self-discipline and recognition of authority, which are necessary ingredients for living on this earth (6:3; Deu_5:16 ).

Verse 4

Duties of Fathers

To facilitate the child's obedience, Paul commands fathers not to provoke their children to wrath. Discipline is an important part of the parent/child relationship ( Heb_12:5-11 ). Yet, harsh discipline can cause a child to want to strike back. Also, being inconsistent in discipline, by laughing about something today and spanking for it tomorrow, can lead to outbursts of anger.

A child is not a piece of property or tool but a young man or woman needing molding and training ( Pro_22:6 ). The word "training" is from the Greek paideia which includes the whole training and education of children," according to Thayer. "Admonition" is from nouthesia which would mean to admonish or exhort. Notice it is the "admonition of the Lord," which is a loving reproof or encouragement to do what is right. As in the verses in Hebrews listed above, God's correction is always given out of love for the one corrected with the purpose of yielding righteousness as its fruit. Our motivation needs to be the same as his.

Verses 5-8

Duties of Slaves

Christ and his apostles did not violently oppose slavery, but set in motion the principles that would destroy it. Paul told Christian slaves to have proper respect for their master's authority. He said they should serve their masters sincerely, with no hidden motives. All of a Christian's acts are preformed in service to Christ as the true master of our lives (6:5; Gal_2:20 ).

Some would perform their tasks to be visually pleasing. Their work would not meet the test of a thorough inspection. Others only worked when someone in authority could see them. Either of these two actions is wrong because it is eye-service designed only to please men. Christ's servant will put his heart into his labors because he is working for God first (6:6; compare Mat_5:14-16 ).

Instead of giving grudging service, Paul instructed the Christian slave to serve with kindness, again because he is ultimately Christ's slave (6:7). Though the earthly master may be impossible to please, Christ sees every good work done in his service. He will reward good labors in the day of judgment. Christ's rewards extend to all men equally. There is no class or distinction in Christ (6:8; Gal_3:28-29 ).

Verse 9

Duties of Masters

Masters were to act toward their slaves with the same respect for God slaves were commanded to have. Christ does not threaten his followers. Neither should they threaten those who work in their service if they would truly be like him ( 1Pe_2:21-24 ). Christian masters were commanded to remember that they were slaves to righteousness in Christ ( Rom_6:16-18 ). The Master has no respect of persons and his followers must not either ( Act_10:34-35 ). It is such a change of heart and actions that would bring slavery to its knees (6:9).

Verses 10-12

The Christian's Battle

At the conclusion of this letter, Paul wanted to remind the brethren of the battle they were fighting. He also stressed the importance of being prepared for it. A Christian's true strength is in the Lord. His power comes from the Lord's great might (6:10; Php_4:13 ). Again, to win this battle, Christians are told by Paul to put on the Lord's armor, not some of our own making. The devil, like any enemy commander, has a strategy for victory. He seeks out areas of weakness and tries to exploit them to the destruction of the Lord's followers (6:11; 1Co_7:5 ; 2Co_11:14 ; 2Co_11:11-15 ).

Of the term translated "wrestle," Summers says, "was the word for 'hand-to-hand encounter.' It might be used of two wrestlers in hand-to-hand struggle or of two soldiers who in the midst of battle faced off one against the other for a very personal hand-to-hand combat." In either case, Paul is stressing the very personal nature of this battle for every Christian. The gravity of the battle should be seen in the nature of the opponent, who is not a man. Christians are fighting the devil and his whole organization of darkness ( Joh_12:31 ; Joh_14:30 ; Joh_16:11 ; 2 Corinthians 4:34 ). Wickedness is organized in its fight to overthrow Christ's army. The "heavenly places" would describe things beyond the ordinary or natural battlegrounds of which we might think.

Satan and his forces cannot challenge God in heaven because they have been cast down but they will fight in every other place including the church ( 2Pe_2:4 ; Jud_1:6 ; Act_20:29-31 ). It is vital that Christians take all of this personally since it is hand-to-hand combat. The devil is trying to capture anyone he can, including the individual Christian (6:12; 1Pe_5:8 ; 2Ti_2:23-26 ; 2Ti_2:16-18 ; 2Pe_2:17-22 ).

Verses 13-17

The Christian's Armor

Christians were urged by Paul to put on God's armor. He said they should stand their ground because the forces of evil were going to attack ( 1Co_15:58 ; 1Co_16:13 ). The "evil day" is a day of crises when the fight is on. One must prepare for a battle before it comes, not during the attack (6:13).

Soldiers in Paul's day girded their loins with a belt to hold things in place and allow freer movement. The truth is God's word and will make us free ( Joh_17:17 ; Joh_8:32 ). The breastplate protected the vital organs of the chest region. Righteousness is the word of God, specifically his commandments (6:14; Psa_119:172 ). To hold his ground in even the worst conditions, the Roman soldier wore hobnailed sandals. The Christian is prepared, or ready, for the battle when he has on his gospel shoes.

Actually, we can take the fight to the enemy with the good news that Jesus died to make men free (6:15; Rom_1:14-16 ; Mar_16:15-16 ). Lipscomb says the shield was two and one-half feet wide and four feet high. It was made of wood covered with thick leather on the outside. When the enemy fired flaming arrows, they bounced off the tough leather and dropped harmlessly to the ground. Faith, which is our shield, is produced by hearing God's word (6:16; Rom_10:17 ).

Lipscomb describes the Roman helmet as "a cap made of thick leather or brass, fitted to the head. It was used to guard the head from a blow by a sword, a war club, or a battleax." To learn the ways of salvation, the Christian must study the God-breathed, or spoken, word which is only found in scripture ( 2Ti_3:15-17 ). The sword was a defensive and an offensive weapon. It was used to deflect blows and pierce the opponent. God's word, as delivered by the Spirit, is the Christian's sword ( Heb_4:12 ). Jesus knew its value and used it to turn aside Satan's assault in the wilderness ( Mat_4:1-11 ). Only through study can the Christian soldier learn how to properly handle this important weapon (6:17; 2Ti_2:15 ).

Verses 18-20

The Prayer Supply Line

To be completely prepared, the Christian soldier must pray in addition to putting on his armor. Prayer should be more than occasional ( Luk_18:1 ; 1Th_5:17 ). We need to endure in it during good times and bad. It should be used in behalf of all we know in the Lord because they fight the same battles and face the same dreaded foe (6:18).

Paul felt the same need for the prayers of the saints that any other Christian feels. Particularly, he felt the need for courage in preaching that he might fully proclaim God's message. It is only through complete preaching of the truth that one can be free from the blood of his hearers (6:19; Act_20:26-27 ; Eze_3:17-19 ). Ambassadors carry the messages of the leader of their nation. Paul was the Lord Jesus Christ's messenger to the Gentile world ( Act_9:15-16 ; 2Co_5:17-20 ). At the time of this writing, Paul was in bonds, apparently on his way to Rome. God's intent was to use those bonds to the furtherance of his gospel, but it would only work to that end if Paul fully proclaimed the truth with courage (6:20).

Verses 21-24

Concluding Remarks

Tychius was a Christian from Asia ( Act_20:4 ), who carried this letter as well as the one to Colosse ( Col_4:7 ). He may also have born the letter to Titus as well as doing some further work in Ephesus ( Tit_3:12 ; 2Ti_4:12 ). Paul's love for him and reference to his faithfulness as a Christian servant would certainly commend him to any church (6:21). Since Tychicus would be the one bringing the letter to them, Paul could tell the Ephesian brethren he had sent him (6:22).

Paul's desire for them was the peace that passed understanding ( Php_4:7 ). He wanted them to have the love of the gospel which would keep them in the obedient path ( Joh_14:15 ; 1Jn_5:3 ). He also prayed they would have the faith that is so necessary to please God and sustain us in service ( Heb_11:6 ). All of these things come from the Father and his beloved Son (6:23). Paul prayed further that God would bestow upon them his favor, which was unmerited by them. Further, he desired this grace for those who had an incorruptible love for the Lord Jesus Christ (6:24).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/ephesians-6.html. 2014.
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