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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-4

1 4 .] See on ch. Ephesians 5:22 . Duties of children and parents . Children, obey your parents [ in the Lord (i.e. Christ: the sphere in which the action is to take place, as usual: ἐν κυρίῳ belonging to ὑπακούετε τ . γον . , not to τοῖς γον . , as if it were τοῖς ἐν κυρίῳ γον ., nor can this be combined, as a second reference, with the other, as by Orig. in Cramer’s Catena, understanding ‘your fathers in the faith, ὁποῖος ὁ Παῦλος ἦν Κορινθίων .’

I should venture however to question whether the Apostle’s view was to hint at such commands of parents as might not be according to the will of God, as is very generally supposed (‘quia poterant parentes aliquid imperare perversum, adjunxit in Domino.’ Jer.): for cf. Colossians 3:20 , ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεῦσιν κατὰ πάντα . I should rather believe, that he regards both parents and children as ἐν κυρίῳ , and the commands, as well as the obedience, as having that sphere and element. How children were to regard commands not answering to this description , would be understood from the nature of the case: but it seems to violate the simplicity of this ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις passage, to introduce into it a by-thought of this kind)]: for this is right (Thdrt., Harl., De W., Mey., al., regard δίκαιον as explained by the next verse, and meaning κατὰ τὸν θεοῦ νόμον . But it seems rather an appeal to the first principles of natural duty, as Est., ‘ut a quibus vitam acceperimus, iis obedientiam reddamus.’ So Beng. Stier, as usual, combines both senses just, according to the law both of nature and of God. Surely it is better to regard the next verse as an additional particular, not the mere expansion of this).

Verses 1-9

22 6:9 .] The Church, in her relation to Christ, comprehending and hallowing those earthly relations on which all social unity (and hers also) is founded, the Apostle proceeds to treat of the three greatest of those : that of husband and wife ( Eph 5:22-33 ), that of parent and child (ch. Eph 6:1-4 ), that of master and servant ( Eph 6:5-9 ). See this expanded by Stier, in his very long note, ii. 316 329.

Verses 1-20

Eph 4:1 to Ephesians 6:20 .] SECOND (hortatory) PORTION OF THE EPISTLE: and herein [A] ( Eph 4:1-16 ) ground of the Christian’s duties as a member of the Church , viz. the unity of the mystical Body of Christ ( Eph 4:1-6 ) in the manifoldness of grace given to each (7 13), that we may come to perfection in Him (14 16).

Verse 2

2 .] Honour thy father and thy mother, for such is (‘ seeing it is ,’ as Ellic., is rather too strong for ἥτις , throwing the motive to obedience too much on the fact of the promise accompanying it. Whereas the obedience rests on the fact implied in ἐντολή , and the promise comes in to shew its special acceptableness to God) the first commandment (in the decalogue, which naturally stands at the head of all God’s other commandments; and which, though not formally binding on us as Christians, is quoted, in matters of eternal obligation (not of positive enactment), as an eminent example of God’s holy will) with a promise (i.e. with a special promise attached: ‘in respect of promise’ is too vague, and does not convey any definite meaning in English. The fact certainly is so, and the occurrence of the description of God as ‘shewing mercy unto thousands, &c.’ after the second commandment, does not, as Jer., al., have thought, present any difficulty for that is no special promise attached to the commandment. Nor does the fact that no other commandment occurs in the decalogue with a promise: see above. The ἐν , as in reff. in the sphere or department of characterized by accompanied with), that it may be well with thee, and thou be long-lived upon the earth (he paraphrases the latter portion of the commandment, writing for ἵνα μακρ . γένῃ , ἔσῃ μ ., and omitting after γῆς , ( τῆς ἀγαθῆς , so in Exod., but not in Deut.) ἧς κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσίν σοι : thus adapting the promise to his Christian readers, by taking away from it that which is special and peculiar to the Jewish people. It is surely a mistake, as Jer., Aq., Est., Olsh., to spiritualize the promise, and understand by τῆς γῆς the heavenly Canaan. The very fact of the omission of the special clause removes the words from the region of type into undoubted reality: and when we remember that the persons addressed are τὰ τέκνα , we must not depart from the simplest Sense of the words. For the future after ἵνα , see 1 Corinthians 9:18 , note: and John 7:3 ; Revelation 22:14 . To consider it as such, is far better than to suppose a change of construction to the direct future ‘and thou shalt be, &c.’).

Verse 4

4 .] And ye, fathers (the mothers being included, as ὑποτασσόμεναι τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν they being the fountains of domestic rule: not for any other less worthy reason, to which the whole view of the sexes by the Apostle is opposed), irritate not ( οἷον , says Chrys., οἱ πολλοὶ ποιοῦσιν , ἀποκληρονόμους ἐργαζόμενοι , καὶ ἀποκηρύκτους ποιοῦντες , καὶ φορτικῶς ἐπικείμενοι , οὐχ ὡς ἐλευθέροις ἀλλ ʼ ὡς ἀνδραπόδοις . But the Apostle seems rather to allude to provoking by vexatious commands, and unreasonable blame, and uncertain temper, in ordinary intercourse: cf. Col 3:21 ) your children, but bring them up (see on ch. Ephesians 5:29 , where it was used of physical fostering up: and cf. Plato, Rep. p. 538 c, περὶ δικαίων κ . καλῶν , ἐν οἷς ἐκτεθράμμεθα ὡς ὑπὸ γονεῦσι ) in (as the sphere and element: see Plato above) the discipline and admonition (‘ παιδεία hic significare videtur institutionem per pœnas: νουθεσία autem est ea institutio quæ fit verbis.’ Grot. Such indeed is the general sense of παιδεία in the LXX and N. T., the word having gained a deeper meaning than mere ‘eruditio,’ by the revealed doctrine of the depravity of our nature: see Trench, Syn. § 32. Ellic. remarks, that this sense seems not to have been unknown to earlier writers, e.g. Xen. Mem. i. 3. 5, διαίτῃ τήν τε ψυχὴν ἐπαίδευσε κ . τὸ σῶμα …, he disciplined &c., but not Polyb. ii. 9. 6, where it is ἀβλαβῶς ἐπαιδεύθησαν πρὸς τὸ μέλλον .

νουθεσία (a late form for νουθέτησις , see Phryn. Lob. p. 512) is as Cicero, ‘ quasi lenior objurgatio :’ ‘the training by word by the word of encouragement, when no more is wanted; of remonstrance, reproof, or blame where these are required.’ Trench, ubi supra) of the Lord (i.e. Christ: either objective, ‘ concerning the Lord :’ so Thdrt. and very many of the ancients, and Erasm., Beza (not Est.), &c.; or subjective ‘ such as the Lord approves and dictates by His Spirit,’ so De W., Harl., Olsh., Mey., Stier. Conyb. renders ‘ such training and correction as befits the servants of Christ ,’ which surely the words can hardly contain).

Verses 5-9

5 9 .] See on ch. Ephesians 5:22 . Duties of masters and slaves . Slaves (or as Conyb., ‘ Bondsmen .’ There is no reason to render οἱ δοῦλοι , servants , as in E. V., for by this much of the Apostle’s exhortation is deprived of point), obey your lords according to the flesh (= τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις , Colossians 3:22 : not to be joined with ὑπακούετε : nor can it be here said as so often, that κύριοσκατὰ - σάρκα is united in one idea: for in the context, another description of κύριος is brought forward, viz. ὁ χριστός . Chrys. sees in κατὰ σάρκα a consolatory hint that the δεσποτεία is πρόσκαιρος καὶ βραχεῖα : Calv., that their real liberty was still their own: Ellic. in citing these, rightly observes, that however they may be doubted, still both, especially the latter, are obviously deductions which must have been, and which the Apostle might have intended to have been, made) with fear and trembling (see reff., and note on 1 Corinthians 2:3 : whence it appears that the φόβος κ . τρόμος was to be not that of dread, arising from their condition as slaves, but that of anxiety to do their duty, ‘sollicita reverentia, quam efficiet cordis simplicitas.’ Calv.), in (as its element) simplicity (singleness of view: “so Pind., Nem. viii. 61, speaks of κελεύθοις ἁπλόαις ζωᾶς in contrast with πάρφασις , treachery: in Aristoph. Plut. 1159, it is opposed to δόλιος : in Philo, Opif. 36, 39 (§ 55, 61, vol. i. pp. 38, 41), it is classed with ἀκακία ,” Harl.) of your heart, as to Christ (again He being the source and ground of all Christian motives and duties), not in a spirit of (according to, measuring your obedience by) eyeservice ( τὴν οὐκ ἐξ εἰλικρινοῦς καρδίας προσφερομένην θεραπείαν , ἀλλὰ τῷ σχήματι κεχρωσμένην , Thdrt. Xen. Œc. xii. 20, βασιλεὺς ἵππου ἐπιτυχὼν ἀγαθοῦ παχῦναι αὐτὸν ὡς τάχιστα βουλόμενος ἤρετο τῶν δεινῶν τινα ἀμφ ʼ ἵππους δοκούντων εἶναι , τί τάχιστα παχύνει ἵππον · τὸν δὲ εἰπεῖν λέγεται ὅτι δεσπότου ὀφθαλμός ) as men-pleasers (on ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι , see Lob. on Phryn., p. 621; who, while disapproving of forms such as εὐάρεσκος and δυσάρεσκος , allows ἀνθρωπάρεσκος ), but as slaves of Christ ( ὁ ἄρα ἀνθρωπάρεσκος , οὐ δοῦλος τοῦ χριστοῦ · ὁ δὲ δοῦλος τοῦ χριστοῦ , οὐκ ἀνθρωπάρεσκος . τίς γὰρ θεοῦ δοῦλος ὤν , ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν βούλεται ; τίς δὲ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκων , θεοῦ δύναται εἶναι δοῦλος ; Chrys. The contrast is between κατ ʼ ὀφθαλμοδουλείαν and ὡς δοῦλοι χρ . , and ποιοῦντες κ . τ . λ . is a qualification of δοῦλοι χριστοῦ . This is much more natural, than, with Rückert, to make ποιοῦντες κ . τ . λ . carry the emphasis, and ὡς δοῦλ . χρ . to be merely subordinate to it), doing the will of God (serving not a seen master only ( ὀφθαλμοδουλ .), but the great invisible Lord of all, which will be the surest guarantee for your serving your earthly masters, even when unseen); from your soul with good will doing service (this arrangement, which is that of Syr., Chr., Jer., Beng., Lachm., Harl., De Wette, seems to me far better than the other (Tischdf., Mey., Ellic., al.) which joins ἐκ ψυχῆς to ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλ . τοῦ θεοῦ . For 1) these words need here no such qualification as ἐκ ψυχῆς : if the will of God be the real object of the man’s obedience, the μὴ κατ ʼ ὀφθαλμοδουλ . will be sufficiently answered: and 2) were it so, it would be more natural to find ἐκ ψυχῆς preceding than following the clause, ἐκ ψυχῆς ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλ . τοῦ θεοῦ , or ἐκ ψυχῆς τὸ θέλ . τοῦ θεοῦ ποιοῦντες , or τὸ θέλ . τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκ ψυχῆς ποιοῦντες , whereas 3) the double qualification, ἐκ ψυχῆς μετ ʼ εὐνοίας , attached to δουλεύοντες , describes beautifully the source in himself ( ἐκ ψυχῆς ) and the accompanying feeling towards another ( μετ ʼ εὐνοίας ) of Christian service. On εὔνοια in this sense, cf. Eur. Androm. 59, εὔνους δὲ καὶ σοί , ζῶντι δ ʼ ἦν τῷ σῷ πόσει : Xen. Œcon. xii. 5, εὔνοιαν πρῶτον … δεήσει αὐτὸν ἔχειν σοι καὶ τοῖς σοῖς …; ἄνευ γὰρ εὐνοίας τί ὄφελος ἐπιτρόπου ἐπιστήμης γίνεται ; and the other examples in Wetst.) as to the Lord and not to men ,

Verse 8

8 .] knowing (as ye do; i.e. seeing that ye are aware) that each man if he shall have done (at Christ’s coming) any good thing (the reading is in some doubt. If we take the rec., or that of A, &c. we must render ‘ whatsoever good thing each man shall have done ,’ and take ὃ ἐάν τι for ὅτι ἄν ; so Plato, Legg. ix. p. 864 E, ἢν ἄν τινα καταβλάψῃ : and Lysis. p. 160, ὃς ἄν τις ὑμᾶς εὖ ποιῇ (cited in Mey.). On ἐάν , see Winer, § 42. 6 obs.), this (emphatic: ‘this in full,’ ‘this exactly’) he shall receive (see reff. where the same expression occurs this he shall then receive in its value as then estimated, changed, so to speak, into the currency of that new and final state) from the Lord (Christ), whether he be slave or free (Chrys. beautifully gives the connexion of thought: ἐπειδὴ γὰρ εικὸς ἦν πολλοὺς τῶν δεσποτῶν ἀπίστους ὄντας μὴ αἰσχύνεσθαι μηδὲ ἀμείβεσθαι τοὺς οἰκέτας τῆς ὑπακοῆς , ὅρα πῶς αὐτοὺς παρεμυθήσατο ὥστε μὴ ὑποπτεύειν τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν , ἀλλὰ σφόδρα θαῤῥεῖν ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀμοιβῆς . καθάπερ γὰρ οἱ καλῶς πάσχοντες , ὅταν μὴ ἀμείβωνται τοὺς εὐεργέτας , τὸν θεὸν αὐτοῖς ὀφειλέτην ποιοῦσιν · οὕτω δὴ καὶ οἱ δεσπόται , ἂν παθόντες εὖ παρὰ σοῦ μή σε ἀμείψωνται , μᾶλλον ἠμείψαντο , τὸν θεὸν ὀφειλέτην σοι καταστήσαντες ):

Verse 9

9 .] and ye masters, do the same things (‘jus analogum, quod vocant:’ as they are to remember one whom they serve, so (below) are ye and, ‘mutatis mutandis,’ to act to them as they to you. This wider sense is better than that of Chrys., τὰ αὐτὰ ποῖα ; μετ ʼ εὐνοίας δουλεύετε ) with regard to them, forbearing your (usual) threatening ( τήν , ‘quemadmodum vulgus dominorum solet,’ Erasm. par. in Mey.), knowing (as ye do: see Eph 6:8 ) that both of them and of yourselves the Master is in the heavens, and respect of persons (warping of justice from regard to any man’s individual pre-eminence, see reff. exists not with Him (Wetst. quotes the celebrated lines of Seneca, Thyest. 607, ‘vos quibus rector maris atque terræ | jus dedit magnum necis atque vitæ | ponite inflatos tumidosque vultus: | quicquid a vobis minor extimescit, | major hoc vobis dominus minatur: | omne sub regno graviore regnum est’).

Verses 10-20

10 20 .] General exhortation to the spiritual conflict and to prayer . Henceforward (cf. Galatians 6:17 , note: τὸ λοιπόν (see var. readd.) would be ‘ finally .’ Olsh.’s remark, that the Apostle never addresses his readers as ἀδελφοί in this Epistle, is perfectly correct: the ἀδελφοῖς in Eph 6:23 does not contravene it (as Eadie), but rather establishes it. He there sends his apostolic blessing τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς , but does not directly address them) be strengthened (passive, not middle, see reff. and Fritz. on Rom 4:20 ) in the Lord (Christ), and in the strength of his might (see on κράτος τῆς ἰσχύος , note, ch. Eph 1:19 ). Put on the entire armour (emphatic: repeated again Ephesians 6:13 : offensive, as well as defensive. It is probable that the Apostle was daily familiarized in his imprisonment with the Roman method of arming) of God (Harl. maintains that the stress is on τοῦ θεοῦ , to contrast with τοῦ διαβόλου below: but there is no distinction made between the armour of God and any other spiritual armour, which would be the case, were this so. τοῦ θεοῦ , as supplied, ministered, by God, who ἅπασι διανέμει τὴν βασιλικὴν παντευχίαν , Thdrt.), that ye may be able to stand against (so Jos. Antt. xi. 5. 7, θαῤῥεῖν μὲν οὖν τῷ θεῷ πρῶτον , ὡς καὶ πρὸς τὴν ἐκείνων ἀπέχθειαν στησομένῳ : see Kypke, ii. p. 301, and Ellicott’s note here) the schemes (the instances (concr.) of a quality (abstr.) of μεθόδεια . τίἐστι μεθόδεια ; μεθοδεῦσαί ἐστι τὸ ἀπατῆσαι , κ . διὰ συντόμον ἑλεῖν , Chrys.: the word is however sometimes used in a good sense, as Diod. Sic. i. 81, ταύτας δὲ οὐ ῥᾴδιον ἀκριβῶς ἐξελέγξαι , μὴ γεωμέτρου τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐκ τῆς ἐμπειοίας μεθοδεύσαντος , ‘if the geometrician had not investigated, &c.’ The bad sense is found in Polyb. xxxviii. 4. 10, πολλὰ δή τινα πρὸς ταύτην τὴν ὑπόθεσιν ἐμπορεύων κ . μεθοδευόμενος , ἐκίνει κ . παρώξυνε τοὺς ὄχλους . See Ellic. on ch. Eph 4:14 ) of the devil .

Verse 12

12 .] For (confirms τ . μεθ . τοῦ διαβ . preceding) our (or ‘ your :’ the ancient authorities are divided) wrestling ( πάλη must be literally taken it is a hand to hand and foot to foot ‘tug of war’ that in which the combatants close, and wrestle for the mastery) is not (Meyer well remarks, that the negative is not to be softened down into non tam , or non tantum , as Grot., &c. the conflict which the Apostle means (qu.? better, ἡ πάλη , the only conflict which can be described by such a word our life and death struggle, there being but one such) is absolutely not with men but &c. He quotes from Aug., “Non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem, i.e. adversus homines, quos videtis sævire in nos. Vasa sunt, alius utitur: organa sunt, alius tangit”) against blood and flesh (i.e. men: see reff.), but (see above) against the governments, against the powers (see note on ch. Eph 1:21 ), against the world-rulers ( munditenentes , as Tert. c. Marc. Ephesians 6:18 , vol. ii. p. 58. Cf. Joh 12:31 note; John 14:30 ; Joh 16:11 ; 2 Corinthians 4:4 ; 1 John 5:19 . The Rabbis (see Schöttg.) adopted this very word קוסמוקרתור , and applied it partly to earthly kings (as on Genesis 13:0 ), partly to the Angel of Death; ‘quamvis te feci κοσμοκράτορα super homines &c.’ So that the word must be literally understood, as in the places cited. Cf. Ellicott’s note) of this (state of) darkness (see ch. Ephesians 2:2 ; Ephesians 5:8 ; Eph 5:11 ), against the spiritual ( armies ) (so we have (Mey.) τὸ πολιτικόν (Herod. vii. 103), τὸ ἱππικόν ( Rev 9:16 ), τὰ λῃστρικά (Polyæn. Eph 6:14 ), τὰ δοῦλα , τὰ αἰχμάλωτα &c. Winer, Gr. § 34, remark 3, compares τὰ δαιμόνια , originally a neuter-adjective form. See Bernhardy, Synt. p. 326, for more examples. Stier maintains the abstract meaning, ‘ the spiritual things :’ but as Ellic. remarks, the meaning could not be ‘ spiritales malignitates ,’ as Beza, but ‘ spiritualia nequitiæ ,’ as the Vulg., i.e. ‘ the spiritual elements ,’ or ‘ properties ,’ ‘ of wickedness ,’ which will not suit here) of wickedness in the heavenly places (but what is the meaning? Chrys. connects ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις with ἡ πάλη ἐστὶν ἐν τοῖς ἐπ . ἡ μάχη κεῖται … ὡς ἂν εἰ ἔλεγεν , ἡ συνθήκη ἐν τίνι κεῖται ; ἐν χρυσῷ . And so Thdrt., Phot., Œc., al. But it is plain that ἐν will not bear this (Chrys. says, τὸ ἐν , ὑπέρ ἐστι , καὶ τὸ ἐν , διὰ ἐστι ), though possibly the order of the sentence might. Rückert, Matth., Eadie, al., interpret of the scene of the combat , thus also joining ἐν τ . ἐπ . with ἔστ . ἡμ . ἡ πάλη . The objection to this is twofold: 1) that the words thus appear without any sort of justification in the context: nay rather as a weakening of the following διὰ τοῦτο , instead of a strengthening: and 2) that according to Eadie’s argument, they stultify themselves. He asks, “How can they (the heavenly places, the scenes of divine blessing, of Christ’s exaltation, &c.) be the seat or abode of impure fiends?” But if they are “ the scene of ” our “ combat ” with these fiends, how can our enemies be any where else but in them? Two ways then remain: to join ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ . a) with τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας b) with τῆς πονηρίας only. The absence of an article before ἐν forms of course an objection to both: but not to both equally. Were b) to be adopted, the specifying τῆς would appear to be required because the sense would be, ‘ of that wickedness ,’ viz., the rebellion of the fallen angels, ‘ which was (or is) in the heavenly places .’ If a), we do not so imperatively require the τά before ἐν , because ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ . only specifies the locality, does not distinguish τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρ . ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ . from any other πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας elsewhere. So that this is in grammar the least objectionable rendering. And in sense it is, notwithstanding what Eadie and others have said, equally unobjectionable. That habitation of the evil spirits which in ch. Eph 2:2 was said, when speaking of mere matters of fact, to be in the ἀήρ , is, now that the difficulty and importance of the Christian conflict is being forcibly set forth, represented as ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις over us, and too strong for us without the panoply of God. Cf. τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ , Matthew 6:26 ; and reff.).

Verse 13

13 .] Wherefore (since our foes are in power too mighty for us, and in dwelling, around and above us) take up (i.e. not ‘to the battle,’ but ‘to put on:’ ‘frequens est ἀναλαμβάνειν de armis;’ Kypke in loc. He refers to Diod. Sic. xx. 33, ἕκαστοι τὰς πανοπλίας ἀνελάμβανον ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ φονεύσαντος τιμωρίαν , and many places in Josephus. See also Wetst.) the entire armour of God (see on Eph 6:11 ) that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day (not as Chrys., ἡμέραν πονηρὰν τὸν παρόντα βίον φησί for then the evil day would be upon the Christian before he has on the armour; the ἀεὶ ὁπλίζεσθε of Chr., if taken literally, would be but a poor posture of defence. Nor again can his view stand, ἀπὸ τοῦ χρόνου παραμυθεῖται · βραχύς , φησίν , ὁ καιρός evidently no such point is raised in the following exhortations, but rather the contrary is implied a long and weary conflict. The right interpretation is well given by Bengel “Bellum est perpetuum: pugna alio die minus, alio magis fervet. Dies malus , vel ingruente morte, vel in vita: longior, brevior, in se ipso sæpe varius, ubi Malus vos invadit, et copiæ malignæ vos infestant, Eph 6:12 ”), and having accomplished all things (requisite to the combat: being fully equipped and having bravely fought. The words must not be taken in the sense of, ‘ omnibus debellatis ,’ as if κατεργασάμενοι = καταπολεμήσαντες (so Chrys. ἅπαντα τουτέστι , καὶ πάθη κ . ἐπιθυμίας ἀτόπους κ . τὰ ἐνοχλοῦντα ἡμῖν ἅπαντα ), nor again, understood of preparation only (= παρασκευασάμενοι , 1Co 14:8 ) as Erasm., Beza, Bengel, al. To finish, or accomplish, is the invariable Pauline usage of the word when taken in a good sense) to stand firm (at your post: as Estius, reporting others, ‘ut posteaquam omnia quæ boni militis sunt, perfeceritis, stare et subsistere possitis:’ that you may not, after having done your duty well in battle, fall off, but stand your ground to the end. The other interpretation, ‘stare tanquam triumphatores,’ is precluded by what has been said above).

Verse 14

14 .] Stand therefore (whether ‘ready for the fight,’ or ‘in the fight,’ matters very little: all the aoristic participles are in time antecedent to the στῆτε and the fight ever at hand), having girt about your loins with ( ἐν , not instrumental, but local : the girt person is within, surrounded by, the girdle: but this is necessarily expressed in English by ‘ with ’) truth (not truth objective , which is rather the ῥῆμα θεοῦ below, Ephesians 6:17 : but ‘ truthfulness ,’ subjective truth: to be understood however as based upon the faith and standing of a Christian, necessarily his truthfulness in his place in Christ . As the girdle (hardly here, however true that may have been, to be regarded as carrying the sword, for that would be confusing the separate images, cf. Eph 6:17 ) kept all together, so that an ungirded soldier would be (see Mey.) a contradiction in terms, just so Truth is the band and expediter of the Christian’s work in the conflict, without which all his armour would be but encumbrance. Gurnall’s notion (Christian Armour, vol. i. p. 378), that ‘the girdle is used as an ornament, put on uppermost, to cover the joints of the armour, which would, if seen, cause some uncomeliness’ (see also Harl. ‘ sie ist des Christen Schmuck ’), is against the context, and against the use of the phrase ζωνν . τ . ὀσφ . in the N. T.), and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (see ref. Isa., and Wis 5:19 . As in those passages, righteousness is the breastplate the genitive here being one of apposition. The righteousness spoken of is that of Rom 6:13 the purity and uprightness of Christian character which is the result of the work of the Spirit of Christ; the inwrought righteousness of Christ, not merely the imputed righteousness), and having shod your feet (as the soldier with his sandals cf. the frequent description of arming in Homer ποσσὶ δ ʼ ὑπαὶ λιπαροῖσιν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα . The Roman caliga may be in the Apostle’s mind: see on Eph 6:11 ) with (local again, not instrumental: see on Eph 6:14 ) the (article omitted after ἐν ) readiness (the uses of ἑτοιμασία (‘in classical Greek, ἑτοιμότης , Dem. 1268. 7.’ Mey.) in Hellenistic Greek are somewhat curious, and may have a bearing on this passage. In Psalms 9:17 , it has the sense of inward ‘preparedness ,’ τὴν ἑτοιμασίαν τῆς καρδίας ( τῶν πενήτων ) of outward , in Jos. Antt. x. 1. 2, δισχιλίους … ἵππους εἰς ἑτοιμασίαν ὑμῖν παρέχειν ἕτοιμός εἰμι : of preparation , in an active sense, Wis 13:12 , τὰ ἀποβλήματα τῆς ἐργασίας εἰς ἑτοιμασίαν τροφῆς ἀναλώσας ἐνεπλήσθη : in Ezra 2:68 , it answers to the Heb. מָכוֹן , a foundation, τοῦ στῆσαι αὐτὸν (the temple) ἐπὶ τὴν ἑτοιμασίαν αὐτοῦ , see also Psalms 88:14 , δικαιοσ . κ . κρίμα ἑτοιμασία τοῦ θρόνου σου , and Dan 11:7 Theod. From this latter usage (which can hardly be a mistake of the translators, as Mey. supposes) some (Beza, Bengel, al.) have believed that as the ὑποδήματα are the lowest part of the panoply, the same meaning has place here: but no good sense seems to me to be gained: for we could not explain it ‘pedes militis Christiani firmantur Evangelio , ne loco moveatur,’ as Beng. Nor again can it mean the preparation ( active ) of the Gospel, or preparedness to preach the Gospel, as Chrys. and most Commentators (‘shod as ready messengers of the glad tidings of peace,’ Conyb.), for the persons addressed were not teachers, but the whole church. The only refuge then is in the genitive subjective, ‘ the preparedness of ,’ i.e. arising from, suggested by ‘ the Gospel of peace ;’ and so Œc. (2), Calv., Harl., Olsh., De W., Mey., Ellic., al.) of the Gospel of peace (the Gospel whose message and spirit is peace: so ὁ μῦθος ὁ τῆς ἐπιστήμης , Plato, Theæt. p. 147 c: see Bernhardy, p. 161), besides all (not as E. V. ‘ above all,’ as if it were the most important: nor as Beng., al. ‘ over all ,’so as to cover all that has been put on before: see especially reff. to Luke. And the all , as no τούτοις is specified, does not apply only to ‘quæcunque indu istis ’ (Beng.), but generally, to all things whatever. But it is perhaps doubtful, whether ἐν πᾶσιν ought not to be read: in which case it will be “ in all things ,” i.e. on all occasions) having taken up (see on Eph 6:13 ) the shield ( θυρεός , ‘scutum:’ οἷόν τις θύρα φυλάττων τὸ σῶμα : the large oval shield, as distinguished from the small and light buckler, ἀσπίς ,‘clypeus.’ Polybius in his description ( Eph 6:23 ) of the Roman armour, which should by all means be read with this passage, says of the θυρεός , οὗ τὸ μὲν πλάτος ἐστὶ τῆς κυρτῆς ἐπιφανείας πένθ ʼ ἡμιποδίων · τὸ δὲ μῆκος , ποδῶν τεττάρων . Kypke quotes from Plutarch, that Philopœmen persuaded the Achæans, ἀντὶ μὲν θυρεοῦ καὶ δόρατος ἀσπίδα λαβεῖν καὶ σάρισσαν . He adduces examples from Josephus of the same distinction, which Phryn. p. 366, ed. Lob., states to have been unknown to the ancients, as well as θυρεός in this sense at all. See Lobeck’s note, and Hom. Od. i. 240) of (genitive of apposition) faith, in which (as lighting on it and being quenched in it; or perhaps (as Ellic. altern. with the above), “as protected by and under cover of which”) you shall be able (not as Mey., to be referred to the last great future fight but used as stronger than ‘in which ye may,’ &c., implying the certainty that the shield of faith will at all times and in all combats quench &c.) to quench all the fiery darts (cf. Psalms 7:13 , τὰ βέλη αὐτοῦ τοῖς καιομένοις ἐξειργάσατο : Herod. viii. 52, ὅκως στυπεῖον περὶ τοὺς ὀϊστοὺς περιθέντες ἅψειαν , ἐτόξευον ἐς τὸ φράγμα : Thucyd. ii. 75, καὶ προκαλύμματα εἶχε δέῤῥεις καὶ διφθέρας , ὥστε τοὺς ἐργαζομένους καὶ τὰ ξύλα μήτε πυρφόροις ὀϊστοῖς βάλλεσθαι , εἰς ἀσφάλειάν τε εἶναι , and other examples in Wetst. Apollodorus, Bibl. ii. 4, uses the very expression, τὴν ὕδραν … βαλὼν βέλεσι πεπυρωμένοις .… Appian calls them πυρφόρα τοξεύματα . The Latin name was malleoli . Ammianus Marcellin. describes them as cane arrows, with a head in the form of a distaff filled with lighted material. Wetst. ib. The idea of Hammond, Bochart, al., that poisoned darts are meant (‘ causing fever ’), is evidently ungrammatical. See Smith’s Dict. of Antiq. art. Malleolus, and Winer, Realw. ‘Bogen.’ If the art. τά be omitted, a different turn must be given to the participle, which then becomes predicative: and we must render, ‘ when inflamed ,’ even in their utmost malice and fiery power) of the wicked one (see reff. and notes on Matthew 5:37 ; John 17:15 . Here, the conflict being personal, the adversary must be not an abstract principle, but a concrete person).

Verses 14-20

14 20 .] Particulars of the armour, and attitude of the soldier .

Verse 17

17 .] And take (‘accipite oblatam a Domino.’ Beng.) the helmet ( πρὸς δὲ τούτοις … περικεφαλαία χαλκῆ . Polyb. ubi supra) of (genitive of apposition as above) salvation (the neuter form, from LXX l. c.: otherwise confined to St. Luke. Beng. takes it masculine, ‘ salutaris , i.e. Christi,’ but this is harsh, and does not correspond to the parallel, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 , where the helmet is the hope of salvation, clearly shewing its subjective character. Here, it is salvation appropriated , by faith), and the sword of (furnished, forged, by: cf. τ . πανοπλ . τ . θεοῦ Ephesians 6:11 ; Ephesians 6:13 : not here the genitive of apposition, for ὅ ἐστιν follows after) the Spirit, which (neuter, attracted to ῥῆμα : see ch. Eph 3:13 and reff. there) is (see on ἐστιν , Gal 4:24 reff.) the word of God (the Gospel: see the obvious parallel, Hebrews 4:12 : also Romans 1:16 : and our pattern for the use of this sword of the Spirit, Matthew 4:4 ; Matthew 4:7 ; Mat 4:10 ); with (see reff.: as the state through which, as an instrument, the action takes place. The clause depends on στῆτε οὖν , the principal imperative of the former sentence not on δέξασθε , which is merely a subordinate one, and which besides (Mey.) would express only how the weapons should be taken , and therefore would not satisfy πάσης and ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ ) all (kind of) prayer and supplication (“it has been doubted whether there is any exact distinction between προσευχή and δέησις . Chrys. and Thdrt. on 1Ti 2:1 explain προσευχή as αἴτησις ἀγαθῶν (see Suicer, Thes. s. Eph 6:1 ), δέησις as ὑπὲρ ἀπαλλαγῆς λυπηρῶν ἱκετεία (so Grot. as ἀπὸ τοῦ δέους , but see 2Co 1:11 ): compare Orig. de Orat. c. 33 (vol. i. p. 271). Alii alia. The most natural and obvious distinction is that adopted by nearly all recent Commentators, viz. that προσευχή is a ‘vocabulum sacrum’ (see Harl.) denoting prayer in general, ‘ precatio :’ δέησις a ‘vocabulum commune,’ denoting a special character or form of it, ‘petitum,’ rogatio : see Fritz. Romans 10:1 , vol. ii. p. 372. Huther on Tim. l. c.” Ellicott) praying in every season (literal: cf. Luk 18:1 note, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 . There seems to be an allusion to our Lord’s ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ δεόμενοι , ref. Luke) in the Spirit (the Holy Spirit: see especially Jude 1:20 , and Romans 8:15 ; Romans 8:26 ; Galatians 4:6 : not, heartily , as Est., Grot., al.), and thereunto (with reference to their employment which has been just mentioned. Continual habits of prayer cannot be kept up without watchfulness to that very end. This is better than to understand it, with Chr., &c. of persistence in the prayer itself, which indeed comes in presently) watching in (element in which: watching, being employed, in) all (kind of) importunity and supplication (not a hendiadys: rather the latter substantive is explanatory of the former, without losing its true force as coupled to it: ‘ importunity and (accompanied with, i.e. exemplified by) supplication ’) concerning all saints, and ( καί brings into prominence a particular included in the general: see Hartung, i. 145) for me (certainly it seems that some distinction between ὑπέρ and περί should be marked: see Eadie’s note, where however he draws it too strongly. Krüger, § 68. 28. 3, regards the two in later writers as synonymous. So Meyer, who quotes Demosth. p. 74. 35, μὴ περὶ τῶν δικαίων μηδ ʼ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἔξω πραγμάτων εἶναι τὴν βουλήν , ἀλλ ʼ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ ; and Xen. Mem. i. 1. 17, ὑπὲρ τούτων περὶ αὐτοῦ παραγνῶναι ) that (aim of the ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ ) there may be given me (I do not see the relevance of a special emphasis on δοθῇ as Mey., Ellic. That it is a gift , would be of course, if it were prayed for from God) speech in the opening of my mouth (many renderings have been proposed. First of all, the words must be joined with the preceding, not with the following, as in E. V., Grot., Kypke, De W., al., which would (see below) be too tame and prosaic for the solemnity of the passage. Œc. (and similarly Chr.? see Ellic.) regards the words as describing unpremeditated speech: ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ ἀνοῖξαι ὁ λόγος προῄει . But as Mey., this certainly would have been expressed by ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ἀν . or the like. Calv., ‘os apertum cupit, quod erumpat in liquidam et firmam confessionem: ore enim semiclauso proferuntur ambigua et perplexa responsa,’ and similarly Rück., al., and De W. But this again is laying too much on the phrase: see below. The same objection applies to Beza and Piscator’s rendering, ‘ut aperiam os meum:’ and to taking the phrase of an opening of his mouth by God , as (Chrys. ἡ ἅλυσις ἐπίκειται τὴν παῤῥησίαν ἐπιστομίζουσα , ἀλλ ʼ ἡ εὐχὴ ἡ ὑμετέρα ἀνοίγει μου τὸ στόμα , ἵνα πάντα ἃ ἐπέμφθην εἰπεῖν , εἴπω ) Corn.-a-lap., Grot., Harl., and Olsh. from Psa 50:17 and Ezekiel 29:21 . The best rendering is that of Est. (‘dum os meum aperio’), Meyer, Eadie, Ellic., al., ‘ in (at) the opening of my mouth ,’ i.e. ‘when I undertake to speak:’ thus we keep the meaning of ἀνοίγειν τὸ στόμα (reff. and Job 3:1 ; Dan 10:16 ), which always carries some solemnity of subject or occasion with it), in boldness ((subjective) freedom of speech, not as Grot. (‘ut ab hac custodia militari liber per omnem urbem perferre possem sermonem evangelicum,’ &c.), Koppe (objective), liberty of speech ) to make known (the purpose of the gift of λόγος ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματος ) the mystery of the gospel (contained in the gospel: subjective genitive. ‘The genitive is somewhat different to τὸ μυστήρ . τοῦ θελήματος , ch. Ephesians 1:9 : there it was the mystery in the matter of, concerning the θέλημα , gen. objecti,’ Ellic.), on behalf of which (viz. τοῦ μυστ . τοῦ εὐαγγ . for as Meyer remarks, this is the object of γνωρίσαι , and γνωρίσαι is pragmatically bound to πρεσβεύω ) I am an ambassador ( of Christ (ref.): to whom , is understood: we need not supply as Michaelis, to the court of Rome) in chains (the singular is not to be pressed, as has been done by Paley, Wieseler, al., to signify the chain by which he was bound to ‘the soldier that kept him’ ( Act 28:20 ): for such singulars are often used collectively: see Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 58 f., Polyb. xxi. 3. 3, παρὰ μικρὸν εἰς τὴν ἅλυσιν ἐνέπεσον . Wetst. remarks, ‘alias legati, jure gentium sancti et inviolabiles, in vinculis haberi non poterant.’ His being thus a captive ambassador, was all the more reason why they should pray earnestly that he might have boldness, &c.), that (co-ordinate purpose with ἵνα δοθῇ , not subordinate to πρεσβεύω . See examples of such a co-ordinate ἵνα in Romans 7:13 ; Galatians 3:14 ; 2 Corinthians 9:3 . But no tautology (as Harl.) is involved: see below) in (the matter of, in dealing with: cf. λήθη ἐν τοῖς μαθήμασι , Plato, Phileb. p. 252 B: and see Bernhardy, p. 212: not as in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 , ἐπαῤῥησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν , where ἐν denotes the source or ground of the confidence) it I may speak freely, as I ought to speak (no comma at με , as Koppe ‘ that I may have confidence, as I ought, to speak ;’ but the idea of speaking being already half understood in παῤῥησίᾳ , λαλῆσαι merely refers back to it. This last clause is a further qualification of the παῤῥησία that it is a courage and free-spokenness ὡς δεῖ : and therefore involves no tautology).

Verse 21

21 .] But (transition to another subject: the contrast being between his more solemn occupations just spoken of, and his personal welfare) that ye also (the καί may have two meanings: 1) as I have been going at length into the matters concerning you , so if you also on your part, wish to know my matters, &c.: 2) it may relate to some others whom the same messenger was to inform, and to whom he had previously written. If so, it would be an argument for the priority of the Epistle to the Colossians (so Harl. p. lx, Mey., Wieseler, and Wigger’s Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 432): for that was sent by Tychicus, and a similar sentiment occurs there, Ephesians 4:7 . But I prefer the former meaning) may know the matters concerning me, how I fare (not, ‘ what I am doing ,’ as Wolf: Meyer answers well, that he was always doing one thing : but as in Ælian, V. H. ii. 35, where Gorgias being sick is asked τί πράττοι ; or as in Plut. inst. Lac. p. 241 (Kypke), where when a Spartan mother asks her son τί πράσσει πατρίς ; he answers, ‘all have perished’) Tychicus (Acts 20:4 .Colossians 4:7; Colossians 4:7 . 2 Timothy 3:12; 2 Timothy 3:122 Timothy 3:12 . He appears in the first-cited place amongst Paul’s companions to Asia from Corinth, classed with Τρόφιμος as Ἀσιανοί . Nothing more is known of him) shall make known all to you, the beloved brother (reff.) and faithful (trustworthy) servant (‘ minister ’ is ambiguous, and might lead to the idea of Estius, who says on ‘ in Domino ,’ ‘non male hinc colligitur Tychicum sacra ordinatione diaconum fuisse:’ see Colossians 4:7 , where he is πιστὸς διάκονος καὶ σύνδουλος , and note there) in the Lord (belongs to διάκονος , not to both ἀδ . and διάκ . He διηκόνει ἐν κυρίῳ , Christ’s work being the field on which his labour was bestowed); whom I sent to you for this very purpose (not ‘ for the same purpose ,’ as E. V.) that ye may know the matters respecting us (see Colossians 4:8 , where this verse occurs word for word, but with ίνα γνῷ τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν for these words. Does not this variation bear the mark of genuineness with it? The ἡμῶν are those mentioned Col 4:10 ) and that he may comfort (we need not assign a reason why they wanted comfort: there would probably be many in those times of peril) your hearts .

Verses 21-24


Verse 23

23 .] Peace (need not be further specified, as is done by some: the Epistle has no special conciliatory view. It is sufficiently described by being peace from God ) to the brethren (of the Church or Churches addressed: see Prolegg. to this Epistle, § ii.: not as Wieseler, ἀδελφοῖς to the Jews, and πάντων below to the Gentiles: for least of all in this Epistle would such a distinction be found) and love with faith (faith is perhaps presupposed as being theirs: and he prays that love may always accompany it, see Galatians 5:6 : or both are invoked on them, see 1Ti 1:14 ) from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (see note on Rom 1:7 ).

Verses 23-24

23, 24 .] Double APOSTOLIC BLESSING; addressed (23) to the brethren, and (24) to all real lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 24

24 .] General benediction on all who love Christ: corresponding, as Mey. suggests, with the malediction on all who love Him not, 1 Corinthians 16:22 . May the grace (viz. of God, which comes by Christ) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility (i.e. whose love is incorruptible. The method of exegesis of this difficult expression will be, to endeavour to find some clue to the idea in the Apostle’s mind. He speaks, in Colossians 2:22 , of worldly things which are εἰς φθορὰν τῇ ἀποχρήσει · ἄφθαρτος is with him an epithet of God (Romans 1:23 . 1Ti 1:17 ): the dead are raised ἄφθαρτοι ( 1Co 15:52 ): the Christian’s crown is ἄφθαρτος ( 1Co 9:25 ). ἀφθαρσία is always elsewhere in N. T. (reff.) the incorruptibility of future immortality. If we seek elsewhere in the Epistles for an illustration of the term as applied to inward qualities, we find a close parallel in 1 Peter 3:4 ; where the ornament of women is to be ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ τοῦ πραέος κ . ἡσυχίου πνεύματος the contrast being between the φθαρτά , ἀργύριον καὶ χρυσίον , and the incorruptible graces of the renewed spiritual man. I believe we are thus led to the meaning here; that the love spoken of is ἐν ἀφθαρσία ; in, as its sphere and element and condition, incorruptibility not a fleeting earthly love, but a spiritual and eternal one. And thus only is the word worthy to stand as the crown and climax of this glorious Epistle: whereas in the ordinary (E. V.) rendering, ‘ sincerity ,’ besides that (as Mey.) this would not be ἀφθαρσία but ἀφθορία ( Tit 2:7 ) or ἀδιαφθορία (see Wetst. on Tit. l. c.), the Epistle ends with an anti-climax, by lowering the high standard which it has lifted up throughout to an apparent indifferentism, and admitting to the apostolic blessing all those, however otherwise wrong, who are only not hypocrites in their love of Christ. As to the many interpretations, that ἐν is for ὑπέρ (Chr. 2nd alt.), διὰ (Thl.), μετά (Thdrt.), εἰς (Beza), σύν (Piscator) that ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ is to be taken with χάρις (Harl., Bengel, Stier), that ἐν ἀφθ . means ‘in immortality,’ as the sphere of the ἀγάπη , cf. ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις , ch. Ephesians 1:3 , that it is to be joined with Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (‘Christum immortalem et gloriosum, non humilem,’ Wetst.), that it is short for ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ (Olsh.), &c. &c. (see more in Mey.), none of them seem so satisfactory as that assigned above).

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/ephesians-6.html. 1863-1878.
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