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Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-10

Everyday theology

Ephesians 6:1-10

I will divide this portion of the chapter into five parts:

Ephesians 6:1-3 The duties of children to parents;

Ephesians 6:4 The duties of parents to children;

Ephesians 6:5-8 The duties of servants to masters;

Ephesians 6:9 The duties of masters to servants;

Ephesians 6:10 Exhortation to all believers.

Ephesians 6:1-3 . This verse refers mainly to unmarried children who are yet living at home with their parents. There is an honour, respect and reverence that is due to our parents all the days of our lives. Children at home are under the authority of parents as God's ministers and representatives, and they are to be respected and obeyed with a sincere and willing obedience as if their words and wishes were the words of God himself. Of course, ‘in the Lord’ would rule out obeying our parents in evil activities which are contrary to the word of God.

This honoring of our parents touches several areas. It goes beyond loving them, obeying their commands, overlooking their infirmities and speaking respectfully of and to them. They are to be honored in our thoughts and attitudes. They are to be cared for in their old age. This is the first commandment that carries with it a promise (as indicated in v.3 and Exodus 20:12).

Ephesians 6:4 . Fathers are named because they are the heads of the families and are apt to be too severe (mothers are sometimes too indulgent); but both parents are intended, for both are responsible for the general welfare and behavior of the children. Children can be alienated from parents, from Christian doctrine and from the church by unwise and unreasonable discipline. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ does not mean that children are to be beaten. The rod of discipline can be exercised in other and more effectual ways. Public rebuke, harsh language and passionate rages and tantrums are to be avoided. Refusing them proper recreation and wholesome fellowship with other children will discourse them. They are not adults and should not be expected to think, behave, nor even to reason like adults. Adult problems and misunderstandings, especially church difficulties, should never be discussed in the presence of children. They should be protected as much as possible from the trials of a difficult world until they are more mature.

Ephesians 6:5-8 . Servants or workers, be obedient to those who are your superiors in things pertaining to the flesh. If you work for a person or you are under a foreman or a boss, do what you are told to do, do what you are paid to do, do what you are hired to do without complaining and quarrelling, but with respect and humility. Serve your superiors in singleness of heart, that is, cheerfully, readily and with full effort, as if you were serving Christ himself, for all of our deeds are to be done for the glory of Christ.

There are some workers who pretend to work with great diligence and industry when the boss is present (in order to impress him); then when no one is watching, they loaf and neglect their work. This is evil! We should work as diligently in his absence as in his presence; for believers have an eye to pleasing and glorifying God, not just winning the approval of men.

Working with ‘good will... as to the Lord’ is working with a good attitude, going beyond what we are told or expected to do, thankful that we have the health to work and a job with which to support our families and with concern for our superior's business and success.

Know this: that whatever a man does out of a right motive and principle of his heart for the glory of Christ, he will be blessed of God, whether he is a master or a servant!

Ephesians 6:9 . Masters, bosses and superiors, perform the duties and responsibilities toward your work as you would have your servants do theirs (the same way, with charity and humanity, as unto the Lord). Treat your servants as you would be treated. Pay them well, speak firmly but respectfully to them, remembering that you have a Master in heaven who deals with men as they deal with others. Your riches, power and position mean nothing to him; for he gives to all men the strength and possessions they have (1 Samuel 2:6-7). A good master is as difficult to find as a good servant.

Ephesians 6:10 . This begins the conclusion of Paul's exhortation on the duties of believers to others. He addresses them all and says, ‘Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord.’

1. The things which are commanded are impossible to perform without God's strength and grace.

2. We need his strength and power to overcome our enemies, our flesh and Satan. We need his strength to adorn the doctrine of Christ with holiness and integrity.

3. Though we are weak and can do nothing of ourselves, his grace is sufficient for all things.

Verses 11-24

The whole armour of God

Ephesians 6:11-24

Ephesians 6:11 . The believer lives in a world of evil. He is surrounded by evil powers and evil people. This world is not the friend of grace nor of God. Not only is sin around us, but sin is within us. The Christian life is a race to be run (Hebrews 12:0:l), a battle to be fought (l Tim. 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7) and a conflict that will not be over until we die. We need help and strength to stand up against all of the deceit and strategies of Satan, who is the great enemy of Christ and his people. God has provided an armor for his people and weapons to be used against Satan, sin and error.

Ephesians 6:12 . We are not contending against physical opponents. Frail, mortal men are not our real enemies. Our battle is against wicked spirits, who inhabit the supernatural sphere and who deal in lies, pride, idolatry, covetousness, lust, deceit, self-righteousness and all manner of sin against God.

Ephesians 6:13 . ‘Take upon yourselves the complete armour that God has provided for you, that you may be able to resist these evils and stand during every trial, conflict and temptation and having met every demand to continue to stand firmly in Christ.’ The battle is not against the flesh; therefore, the armour and weapons which God provides are not carnal but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Ephesians 6:14-18 . The parts of this armour are given in these verses.

1. ‘Your loins girt about with truth. Wrap about you (as a strong girdle) the gospel of God's redemptive glory in and through Christ Jesus’ (1 Peter 1:13). This is the first part of the armour mentioned, for it is the most important and the foundation of all the rest. The truth about God, myself and my race and Christ and his redemptive work keeps me close to God and defends me against all evil suggestions of Satan which lead to a false hope.

2. ‘The breastplate of righteousness.’ This breastplate of integrity, right standing before God and holiness cannot be works of righteousness and moral integrity done and produced by me, for Satan could easily find a defect in that breastplate and destroy me. But this is the righteousness of Christ, my Lord. His perfect righteousness imputed to me and received by faith repels any accusation or charge which Satan can bring (Romans 8:33-34).

3. ‘Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’ Several things could be taught here: a firm-footed stability or foundation in the gospel of peace; a godly walk that is agreeable to the gospel of peace; a readiness to go forth into the highways and hedges declaring the good news of peace through Christ.

4. ‘Take the shield of faith.’ Satan hurls darts of doubt, fear, depression, weariness and all manner of questions regarding our spiritual state. We can only be shielded against these fiery darts by faith in God's word (Romans 4:20-21), faith in God's purpose (Romans 8:29-30) and faith in Christ's redeeming work (Romans 8:34-39).

5. ‘Take the helmet of salvation.’ The helmet is a piece of armour for the head and protects the head against false doctrines. This helmet is the hope of salvation in Christ alone the salvation of which Christ is the author and the finisher (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

6. ‘The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.’ The word of God is compared to a sword in that it has two edges the law and the gospel (Hebrews 4:12). It is all edge; it has no blunt side. One cannot come near the word without its having some effect. It convicts of sin, cutting away the righteousness of men; it kills pride, envy, lusts and all sin; it reaches the hidden and secret parts; it is the weapon God uses to defeat all his enemies (Luke 4:3-12).

7. ‘Praying.’ The last weapon is prayer and includes all sorts of prayer mental, vocal, private and public. We should live in an attitude of prayer continually. Our prayers must and will be in the spirit, by the assistance of the Spirit of God, with a sincere heart for all believers. We will persevere in prayer regardless of the suggestions of Satan or our own weak hearts.

Ephesians 6:19 . Pray for the ministers of the gospel, that God will not only open effectual doors for them to preach, but that he will give them boldness and wisdom to preach the gospel of Christ (which is a mystery only understood as the Holy Spirit reveals it 1 Corinthians 2:8-10; Romans 10:13-17).

Ephesians 6:20 . Paul called himself an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). He was at that time in prison.

Ephesians 6:21-22 . Tychicus was a beloved brother, who accompanied Paul on his travels, whom Paul sent to the Ephesians to relate to them Paul's affairs and to encourage them in the gospel.

Ephesians 6:23-24. The epistle is concluded with the apostle's salutation. Those saluted are the brethren who love Christ sincerely. He wishes for them peace, love, faith and grace.

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/ephesians-6.html. 2013.
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