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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

Ephesians 6

Verses 1-99

6:1-9. Special injunctions to children and fathers, slaves and masters. Slaves are called on to regard their service as a service done to Christ; masters are reminded that they, too, are subject to the same Master, who has no respect of persons

1. τὰ τέκνα, ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεῦσιν ὑμῶν ἐν Κυρίῳ. ἐν Κυρίῳ is omitted by B D* G, but added in, א A Dbc K L P, Vulg., Syr., etc. Origen expressly, who mentions the ambiguity of the construction, i.e. that it may be either τοῖς ἐν Κυρίῳ γονεῦσιν or ὑπακούετε ἐν Κ. If the words had been added from Colossians 3:20 they would probably have come after δίκαιον. Assuming that the words are genuine, as seems probable, the latter is the right construction. “In the Lord,” not as defining the limits of the obedience, ἐν ὁ͂ς ἂν μὴ προσκρούσῃς (τῷ Κυρίῳ), Chrys., but rather showing the spirit in which the obedience is to be yielded. It is assumed that the parents exercise their authority as Christian parents should, and we cannot suppose that the apostle meant to suggest to the children the possibility of the contrary.

τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν δίκαιον, i.e. καὶ φύσει δίκαιον καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου προστάσσεται, Theoph. Compare Colossians 3:20. From the children being addressed as members of the Church, Hofmann infers that they must have been baptized, since without baptism no one could be a member of the Church (Schriften, ii. 2, p. 192). Meyer’s reply, that the children of Christian parents were ἅγιοι by virtue of their fellowship with their parents (1 Corinthians 7:14), loses much of its point in the case of children who were past infancy when their parents became Christians. But no conclusion as to infant baptism can be deduced.


2. ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐντολὴ πρώτη ἐν ἐπαγγελίᾳ. ἥτις, “for such is,” Alf. To translate “seeing it is” would be to throw the motive to obedience too much on the fact of the promise.

πρώτη ἐν ἐπ. has caused difficulty to expositors. The second commandment has something which resembles a promise attached. Origen, who mentions this difficulty, replies, first, that all the commandments of the Decalogue were πρωταί, being given first after the coming out of Egypt; or, if this be not admitted, that the promise in the second commandment was a general one, not specially attached to the observance of that precept. The latter reply has been adopted by most modern commentators. Others have supposed “first” to mean “first in the second table”; but the Jews assigned five commandments to each table, as we learn from Philo and Josephus. See also Leviticus 19:3 and Romans 13:9. The position of the precept in the former passage and its omission in the latter agree with this arrangement. In either case this would be the only commandment with promise. Meyer and Ellicott suppose, therefore, that it is not the Decalogue alone that is referred to. Braune and Stier understand πρώτη as first in point of time, namely, the first which has to be learned. Compare Bengel (not adopting this view): “honor parentibus per obedientiam praesertim praestitus initio aetatis omnium praeceptorum obedientiam continet.”


ἐν ἐπαγγελίᾳ. Ellicott, Meyer, and others take this to mean “in regard of, or, in point of, promise.” “The first command we meet with which involves a promise” (Ell.). Meyer compares Diod. Sic. xiii. 37, ἐν δὲ εὐγενείᾳ καὶ πλούτῳ πρῶτος. But to make this parallel we should understand the words here: “foremost in promise,” i.e. having the greatest promise attached, or, at least, “having the advantage in point of promise,” which is not their interpretation. Chrysostom says: οὐ τῇ τάξει εἶπεν αὐτὴν πρώτην,

3. ἵνα εὖ σοι γένηται, κ.τ.λ. The text in the Sept. proceeds: καὶ ἵνα μακροχρόνιος γένἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦς ΚύριοςΘεός σου διδωσί σοι. The latter words are probably omitted purposely as unsuitable to those addressed. The future ἔσῃ is to be regarded as dependent on ἵνα,—a construction which is found elsewhere in St. Paul, as 1 Corinthians 9:18, ἵνα Galatians 2:4, ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλώσουσιν. In Revelation 22:14 we have future and conjunctive, just as in classical writers future and conjunctive are used after ὅπως. It is possible that ἔσῃ is used here because there was no aor. conj. of the verb. In the passage referred to in Rev. the future is ἔσται.

4. καὶ οἱ πατέρες. καὶ marks that the obligation was not all on the side of the children. So καὶ οἱ Κύριοι, ver. 9. πατέρες, “patres potissimum alloquitur, nam hos facilius aufert iracundia,” Bengel. μὴ παροργίζετε, Colossians 3:21, μὴ ἐρεθίζετε, “Do not irritate.”

ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ Κυρίου. παιδεία occurs only in one other place in St. Paul, viz. 2 Timothy 3:16, πᾶσα γραφήὠφέλιμοςπρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ. The verb παιδεύω also, although used of chastening in 1 Corinthians 11:32; 2 Corinthians 6:9, is employed in a wider sense in 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 2:12. There is no sufficient reason, then, for supposing that the two substantives here are distinguished, as Grotius thinks: “παιδεία hic significare videtur institutionem per poenas: νουθεσία autem est ea institutio quae fit verbis,” followed by Ellicott and Alford. Rather, παιδεία is, as in classical writers, the more general, νουθεσία more specific, of instruction and admonition. νουθεσία is a later form for νουθέτησις. Κυρίου is not “concerning the Lord,” as Theodoret, etc.,—a meaning which the genitive after such a word as νουθ. can hardly have, but the subjective genitive; the Lord is regarded as the guiding principle of the education.


5. οἱ δοῦλοι, ὑπακούετε τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις. This is the order in א A B P, etc. Rec. has τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα.

Bengel thinks that κ. σάρκα is added, because after the mention of the true κύριος it was not fitting to use κύριοι without qualification. In Colossians 3:22 a sentence intervenes, but still the reason holds good, for ὁ Κύριος was their κύριος also κατὰ πνεῦμα. δεσπότης is the word used for the master of slaves in the Pastorals and 1 Peter.

μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου. These words are similarly associated in 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 2:12, expressing only anxious solicitude about the performance of duty, so that there is no allusion to the hardness of the service. In Colossians 3:22 it is φοβούμενοι τὸν κύριον.

ἐν ἁπλότητι τῆς καρδίας. The word ἁπλότης is used several times by St. Paul (by him only in the N.T.), and always indicates singleness and honesty of purpose, sometimes showing itself in liberality. (See Fritzsche’s note on Romans 12:8, vol. iii. p. 62.) Here the meaning is the obvious one, there was to be no double-heartedness in their obedience, no feeling of reluctance, but genuine heartiness and goodwill. ἔνι γὰρ καὶ μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου δουγεύειν,


ὡς τῷ Χριστῷ, as ὡς τῷ Κυρίῳ, 5:22, “so that your service to your master is regarded as a service to Christ.”

6. μὴ κατʼ ὀφθαλμοδουλίαν. “Not in the way of ὀφθ.” The word is not found elsewhere except in Colossians 3:22, and may have been coined by St. Paul. The adjective ὀφθαλμόδουλος is found in the Apost. Constit., but with reference to this passage (i. p. 299 A, ed. Cotel.). The meaning is obvious.


ὡς Psa_52(53):6; not as a rendering of our Hebrew text. It is also found in Psalt. Sol. iv. 8, 10. This is the opposite of ὡς τῷ as well as of the following words.


ἀλλʼ ὡς δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ. τοῦ before Χριστοῦ rests on insufficient authority, Dc K L, etc., against א D* G L P, etc. Not subordinate to the following clause, as if it were “as servants who are doing,” etc., for the words are clearly in contrast to the preceding, and ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλ. has much more force if taken as a separate character.

6, 7. ἐκ ψυχῆς μετʼ εὐνοίας δουλεύοντες ὡς τῷ Κυρίῳ. ἐκ ψυχῆς may be connected either with what precedes or with what follows. The latter connexion (adopted by Syr., Chrys., Jerome, Lachm., Alf., WH.) seems preferable, for ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ does not require such a qualification, nor is there any tautology in taking ἐκ ψ. with the following, for these words express the source in the feeling of the servant towards his work; μετʼ εὐνοίας his feeling towards his master (Harless). Compare Raphel’s apt quotation from Xen.: οὐκοῦν εὔνοιαν πρῶτον, ἔφην ἐγώ, δεήσει αὐτὸν [τὸν ἐπίτροπον] ἔχειν σοι καὶ τοῖς σοῖς εἰ μέλλοι

κομίζεσθαι is to receive back, as, for example, a deposit, hence here it implies an adequate return. Compare 2 Corinthians 5:10, ἵνα κομίσηται ἕκαστος τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος, and Colossians 3:25.


This lesson to slaves is equally a lesson for all kinds of service, as the following for all masters.

9. καὶ οἱ κύριοι. See on καί, ver. 4.

τὰ αὐτὰ ποιεῖτε. I.e. act in a similar manner, in the same spirit. De Wette refers it to

καὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ὑμῶν is supported by preponderant authority, א* (ἑαυτῶν) A B D*, Vulg. Boh. Arm., Petr. Alex. etc. Dc G have καὶ αὐτῶν ὑμῶν: K and most cursives, καὶ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν. Meyer thinks the mention of slaves (αὐτῶν) here appeared unsuitable, partly in itself and partly in comparison with Colossians 4:1. Whether this be a correct account of the causes of the variation, it cannot be doubted that the reading attested by the best MSS. here is the more forcible, expressing, not merely the fact that “ye also have a Master,” but that both you and they are subjects of the same Master.


προσωπολημψία, like προσωπολημπτής, and the verb προσωπολημπτέω, is found only in N.T. and ecclesiastical writers. The expression πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν has a different meaning in the N.T. from that which it had in the O.T. In the latter it only meant to show favour, in the former it is to show partiality, especially on account of external advantages.

10-12. Exhortation to prepare for the spiritual combat by arming themselves with the panoply of God, remembering that they have to do with no mere mortal foes, but with spiritual powers

10. τοῦ λοιποῦ. So א* A B 17.

τὸ λοιπόν. אc D G K L P, Chrys., etc.

Meyer points out that B 17 have δυναμοῦσθε instead of ἐνδ., a variation which Meyer thinks may have arisen from a confusion of the N of λοιπόν with the N of ἐνδυν., thus pointing to the reading λοιπόν. Properly, τοῦ λοιπόῦ means “henceforth, for the future,” Galatians 6:17, in which sense τὸ λοιπόν may also be used; but the latter alone is used in the sense “for the rest,” Philippians 3:1, Philippians 3:4:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:1. As the latter is the meaning here, we should expect τὸ λοιπόν.


ἀδελφοί μου is added in Rec. before ἐνδυν., with אc K L P, most cursives, Syr. (both) Boh., but om. by א* B D 17, Arm., Aeth,. A G, Vulg., Theodoret have

ἐνδυναμοῦσθε. “Be strengthened.” Cf. Romans 4:20. Not middle but passive, as elsewhere in N.T. (Acts 9:22; Romans 4:20; 2 Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 11:34). The active occurs Philippians 4:23; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17. The simple verb δυναμόω, which B 17 have here, is used in Colossians 1:2, and according to א* A D* in Hebrews 11:34. ἐνδυναμοῦσθαι occurs once in the Sept. Psa_51 (52): 7 rather in a bad sense. There is no reason why a verb which occurs once in the Sept. and several times in the N.T. should be said to be “peculiar to the Alexandrian Greek.”


καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. Not a hendiadys. Compare i. 19.

11. ἐδύσασθε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ. “Put on the panoply of God.” πονοπλία occurs also in Luke 11:22. The emphasis is clearly on παν. not on τοῦ Θεοῦ. Observe the repetition in ver. 13, “of God,” i.e. provided by God, ἄπασιν διανέμει τὴν βασιλικὴν παντευχίαν, Theodoret. There is no contrast with other armour, nor is πανοπλία to be taken as merely = “armatura.” The completeness of the armament is the point insisted on. St. Paul was, no doubt, thinking of the Roman soldiery, as his readers also would, although the Jewish armour was essentially the same. Polybius enumerates as belonging to the Roman πανοπλία, shield, sword, greaves, spear, breastplate, helmet. St. Paul omits the spears, and adds girdle and shoes, which, though not armour, were an essential part of the soldier’s dress.


πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι. “To the end that ye may be able.” στῆναι πρός, “to hold your ground against,” an expression suited to the military figure.

τὰς μεθοδείας. Cf. 4:14. The plural expresses the concrete workings of the μεθοδεία. We can hardly press it as specially appropriate to the military metaphor and = “stratagems.”

12. ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖνπάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα.

ἡμῖν, with א A Dc K L P and most MSS. and vss.

ὑμῖν, B D* G, Goth., Aeth., adopted by Lach., and admitted to the margin by Treg. and WH. The second person would very readily occur to a scribe, the whole context being in the second person.

πάλη. “Our wrestling.” The word is suitable to πρὸς αἷμα καὶ ς., but not to the struggle in which the πανοπλία is required. The word is indeed found in a more general sense (see Ellicott), but only in poetry, as “wrestling “also might be used in our own tongue. But as the word is here used to describe what the struggle is not, it is most natural to supply a more general word, such as ἡ μάχη or μαχετέον, in the following clause, according to an idiom frequent in Greek writers.

αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, in this order here only. Jerome understands this of our own passions; but that would be πρὸς τὴν σάρκα without αἷμα. Moreover, the contrast is clearly not between foes within and foes without, but between human and superhuman powers.

πρὸς τὰς

πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας. “World-rulers.” The word κοσμοκρατωρ occurs in the Orphica (viii. 11, xi. 11), and is used by the Schol. on Aristoph. Nub. 397, Σεσάγχωσιςβασιλεὺς τῶν Αἰγυπτίων κοσμοκράτωρ γεγονώς. It frequently occurs in Rabbinical writers (transliterated), sometimes of kings whose rule was world-wide, as “tres reges κοσμοκράτορες, dominatores ab extremitate mundi ad extremitatem ejus, Nebucadnesar, Evilmerodach, Belsazar” (Shir Rab. iii. 4, ap. Wetst.); also of the four kings whom Abraham pursued (Bereshith Rabba, fol. 57. 1). These are so called to add glory to Abraham’s victory. Also the angel of death is so called, and by the Gnostics the Devil (Iren. i. I). In the Test. XII Patr., Test. Sol. the demons say: ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν τὰ λεγόμενα στοιχεῖα, οἱ κοσμοκράτορες τοῦ κόσμου τούτου. It appears, therefore, that it differs from “rulers” in implying that their rule extends over the κόσμος. Schoettgen supposes that St. Paul means the Rabbis and Doctors of the Jews, and he cites a passage from the Talmud where it is argued that the Rabbis are to be called kings; he also compares Acts 4:26. But the context appears to be decisive against such a view. The contest is clearly a spiritual one. Compare the designation of Satan as ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, 2 Corinthians 4:4; ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούου, John 14:30.


τοῦ σκότους τούτου.

So, without τοῦ αἰῶνος, א* A B D* G 17 672, Vulg. Boh. Syr-Pesh and Harcl (text), etc.

After σκότους, τοῦ αἰῶνος is added by אca Dc K L P most MSS. The words were not likely to be omitted because they seemed superfluous or difficult to explain; and an omission from homoeoteleuton is not to be supposed in the face of so many documents. They might, on the contrary, have been added as a gloss, the phrase σκότους τούτου being rare.

πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας. “Against the spirit forces of wickedness,” which belong to or are characterised by πονηρία. RV. has “hosts of wickedness.” So Alford, Ellicott, Meyer, comparing τὸ ἱππικόν, “the cavalry,” Revelation 9:16; τὸ πολιτικόν, Herod. vii. 103; τὰ λῃστρικά, Polyaen. v. 14. 141. But these are not really parallel; ἱππικόν, primarily meaning “appertaining to ἵπποι, ” hence “equestrian,” was naturally used for brevity to designate the cavalry of an army, as πεζικά the infantry, just like our “horse and foot.” Thus Polyb. xv. 3. 5, Ἁννιβὰς ἐλλείπων τοῖς ἱππικοῖς, “in the matter of cavalry”; ib. xviii. 5. 5, Αἴτωλοικαθʼ ὅσον ἐν τοῖς πεζικοῖς ἐλλιπεῖς εἶσικατὰ τοσοῦτον τοῖς ἱππικοῖς διαφέρουσι πρὸς τὸ βέλτιον τε͂ν ἄλλεν Ἑλλήνων: ib. iii. 114. 5, τὸ τῶν ἱππικῶν πλῆθος τὸ σύμπαν τοῖς Καρχηδονίοις εἰς μυρίους. … In Revelation 9:16 we have ὁ


Giving up, therefore, this rendering as untenable, we may translate “the spiritual forces, or elements of wickedness.”

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις is connected by Chrysostom with ἡ πάλη ἐστίν. Thus: ἑν τοῖς ἐπ. ἡ μάχη κεῖταιὡς ἂν εἰ ἔλεγεν, ἡ συνθήκη ἐν τίνι κεῖται: ἐν χρυσῷ, i.e. our contest is for the heavenly blessings, and so Theodoret, Oecum. al. But in the illustration cited it is the connexion with κεῖται that makes this sense possible; the idea is “rests in, or depends on,” which does not suit ἡ πάλη ἑστίν.

The view generally adopted by modern expositors is that τὰ ἐπ. means the seat of the evil spirits or spiritual hosts referred to, corresponding to the τοῦ Matthew 6:26. This comment seems to amount to this, that these spiritual hosts dwell in the air; but to impress us the more with the difficulty of the combat, the air is called “heaven.” There is, however, no proof that τὰ ἐπουράνια meant the atmosphere, and this is not the meaning of the word elsewhere, e.g. 1:3, 20, 2:6.


The view of Eadie, al., is that τὰ ἐπ. means the celestial spots occupied by the Church, and in them this combat is to be maintained, “These evil spirits have invaded the Church, are attempting to pollute, divide, and overthrow it.” Barry, while adopting the former view of τὰ ἐπ., yet adds that the meaning points to the power of evil as directly spiritual, not acting through physical and human agency, but attacking the spirit in that higher aspect in which it contemplates heavenly things and ascends to the communion with God.

In the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, which is pre-Christian, and perhaps as early as b.c. 30, we have “a scheme of the seven heavens which, in some of its prominent features, agrees with that conceived by St. Paul. Paradise is situated in the third heaven as in 2 Corinthians 12:2, 2 Corinthians 12:3, whereas, according to later Judaism, it be longed to the fourth heaven. In the next place the presence of evil in some part of the heavens is recognised. Thus, in Ephesians 6:12, we meet with the peculiar statement, Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavens” (Morfill and Charles, p. xl). Charles points out other parallels between the Epistle and the Book of the Secrets of Enoch; e.g. Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 3:4:10, 25 (pp. xxii, xli); and the possibility that the present passage has been influenced by these speculations must be admitted.


13-18. Detailed description of the spiritual armour

13. ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ πονηρᾷ. “The evil day,” the day of the power of evil, when the conflict is most severe, “any day of which it may be said, ‘this is your hour, and the power of darkness,’ ” Barry. Meyer understands it as referring to the great outbreak of Satanic power expected to occur before the second coming. ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι; Oecum. and Theoph. take this to mean “having overcome all,” AV. marg.; but although the verb has this sense occasionally in classical writers, or rather “to despatch, to finish,” “conficere,” it never has it in St. Paul, who uses it twenty times. This would not be decisive if this meaning were more suitable here. But the conflict is perpetual in this world, it is ever being renewed. On the other hand, we cannot without tautology understand this clause as merely expressing preparation for the combat. κατεργάζεσθαι, too, means to accomplish a difficult work: “notat rem arduam,” Fritzsche, and could hardly be used of mere arming for the fight. It appears, then, to mean having done all that duty requires, viz. from time to time. The Vulgate (not Jerome) has “omnibus perfecti,” or, in some MSS., “in omnibus perfecti,” following, as some think, the reading κατειργασμένοι. A has κατεργασμένοι, doubtless a mistake for κατεργασάμενοι, not meant for κατειργασμένοι στῆναι. opposed to φεύγειν, “hold your ground.”

14. στῆτε οὖν. This στῆτε cannot be taken in the same sense as the preceding, otherwise we should have the end there aimed at, here assumed as already attained when the arming begins.

In the following details of the figure, each part of the equipment has its appropriate interpretation, which, however, must not be pressed too minutely. In the case of the breastplate and the helmet, St. Paul follows Isaiah 59:17, ἐνεδύσατο δικαιοσύνην ὡς θώρακα, καὶ περιέθετο περικεφάλαιον σωτηρίου ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς, but the remainder of Isaiah’s description was unsuitable, viz. καὶ περιεβάλετο ἱμάτιον ἐκδικύσεως καὶ τὸ περιβόλαιον ζήλου. The figure of Isaiah is more fully carried out in Wisd. 5:18, 20, λήψεται πανοπλαίον τὸν ζῆλον αὐτοῦἐνδύσεται θώρακα δικαιοσύην, καὶ περιθήσεται κόρυθα κρίσιν Isaiah 11:5, δικαιοσύνη and


περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν

ἐν ἑτοιμασίᾳ. The more classical form is ἑτοιμότης, but Hippocr. has ἑτοιμασία. The word occurs in the Sept. in the sense of “preparedness” (Ps. 9:41, Psalms 10:17), but more frequently as representing the Hebrew מָכוֹן, which they rendered according to their view of its etymology, not its meaning. It is quite erroneous to interpret it here by this use, or rather misuse, of it, as some expositors have done, taking it, for example, to mean ‘vel constantiam in tuenda religione Christi, vel religionem adeo ipsam certam illam quidem et fundamento cui insistere possis, similem,” Koppe. This is also against the figure. Shoes are not the firm foundation on which one stands, but we may compare with them the readiness of mind with which one advances to the conflict, and which is wrought by the gospel τοῦ εὐαγ. It is not preparation to preach the gospel that is meant, for the apostle is addressing all Christians; and, moreover, this interpretation does not agree with the figure.


τῆς εἰρήνης, peace with God and amongst men, see ch. 2:17; an oxymoron. ἂν τῷ διαβόλῳ πολεμῶμεν εἰρηνεύομεν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, Chrys.

16. ἐν πᾶσιν. So א B P 17, al., Cat. text, Vulg., Boh., Syr-Harcl., Aeth.

ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, A D G K L most cursives, Syr-Pesh, Arm., etc.

There is a similar variety in Luke 16:26, where א B L Boh. read ἐν, but A D X Δ al. ἐπί. This alone is sufficient to set aside Ellicott’s suggestion that ἐν here was a correction for the ambiguous ἐπί. Meyer thinks it was substituted as the more common.

If ἐπί is read it is not to be rendered “above all,” AV. Beza, nor “over all,” but “in addition to all“; cf. Luke 3:20, προσέθηκε καὶ τοῦτο ἐτὶ πᾶσι.


τὸν θυρεόν. θυρεός is used in Homer of a great stone placed against a door to keep it shut. In later writers, Plutarch, Polybius, etc., it means a large oblong shield, “scutum,” according to Polyb. 4 ft. by 2 ½, differing from the

τῆς πίστεως, genitive of apposition. Only where faith is weak does the enemy gain access. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 faith and love are the breastplate.


ἐνδυνήσεσθε. The future is properly used, not because the combat does not begin until the day of the great future conflict with evil, but because the whole duration of the fight is contemplated. At all times ye shall be able, etc.

τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα σβέσαι. The figure alludes to the darts or arrows tipped with tow dipped in pitch and set on fire, mentioned, for example, in Herod. viii. 52. Some of the older interpreters (Hammond, al.) understood the word to mean poisoned, the word “fiery” being used with reference to the sensation produced; but this is contrary to the grammatical meaning of the word. “Fiery darts” is a suitable figure for fierce temptations; beyond this there is no need to go.

σβέσαι is appropriate, since the shields alluded to were of wood covered with leather, in which when the arrow fixed itself the fire would go out. So Thucydides tells us of hides being used for this very purpose (ii. 75).

τά is omitted by B D* G, and bracketed b Treg. and WH.; omitted by Lachm. If omitted, the interpretation would be “fire tipped as they are.” The authority for omission is small; but the insertion would be more easily accounted for than the accidental omission.

17. καὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε. This verse is separated from ver. 16 by a full stop in RV. as well as by Lachm., Tisch., not Treg., WH. But though the construction is changed, as in 1:22, this is only a result of the rapidity of thought for which a strict adherence to the participial construction might be a hindrance. The same vividness of conception leads the writer to put τὴν περικ. first.

Σωτήριον is not used elsewhere by St. Paul; here it is taken with the preceding word from the Sept. Theodoret understands it as masculine, referring to Christ; and so Bengel, “salutaris, i.e. Christi”; but this is refuted by the parallel, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, where the περικ. is the hope of salvation. Soden thinks that in that passage the apostle purposely corrects the σωτήριον of the Sept.


καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος. This cannot well be a genitive of apposition, since the following clause explains the sword as ῥῆμα Θεοῦ. Olshausen, indeed, and Soden, take the relative ὅ as referring to πνεύματος. They understand the writer as speaking of the Holy Spirit in relation to man, as finding expression in the word of God. But there is no parallel for thus calling the Spirit ῥῆμα Θεοῦ. It is much more natural to interpret τοῦ πν. as “which is given by the Spirit’; nor is there any difficulty in taking this genitive differently from the others, since this alone is a genitive of a personal name. Chrysostom suggests the alternative: ἤτοι τὸ Πνεῦμά φησιν, ἤτοι ἐν τῇ πνευματικῇ μαχαίρᾳ (or ἤτοι τὸ χάρισμα τὸ πνευματικόν, διὰ γὰρ πνευματικῆς μαχαίρας, κ.τ.λ.).

ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ. Compare Hebrews 4:12, ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦτομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον.


δέξασθε. “Accipite, oblatum a Domino,” Bengel.

A Dc K L, etc., read δέξασθαι, perhaps only by itacism. The verb is omitted by D* G, al.

18. διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως, κ.τ.λ. These words are best taken with the principal imperative στῆτε, not simply with the previous clause, for πάσης and ἐν ηαντὶ καιρῷ would not agree with the momentary act δέξασθε, which is itself subordinate to στῆτε. “With all prayer, i.e. prayer of every form.”

προσευχή and δέησις differ in this respect, that the former is used only of prayer, whether supplication or not, to God, while δέησις means “request,” and may be addressed to either God or man. Here, then, we may say that πρ. expresses that the prayer is addressed to God, and δ., that it involves a request. Compare Philippians 4:6, ἐν παντὶ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δέησει, and see on Luke 1:13.

ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ corresponds with the 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

ἐν Πνεύματι. “In the Spirit” (cf. Jude 1:21) not = ἐκ ψυχῆς, for which interpretation St. Paul’s usage supplies no justification, besides which it was not necessary to say that the prayer was to be from the heart. Chrysostom supposes ἐν πν. to be in contrast to βαττολογίαις, which is also open to the objection that he who has put on the specified armour must be assumed not to pray ἐν βαττολογίᾳ.


καὶ εἰς αὐτό. “Thereunto,” i.e. to the προσευχόμενοι ἐν π. κ ἐν πν.



Rec. has τοῦτο after αὐτό, with Dc J K, etc.; but αὐτό alone, א A B (D* G, αὐτόν). The frequent occurrence of αὐτὸ τοῦτο in St. Paul accounts for the insertion.

ἀγρυπνοῦντες ἐν πάσπροσκαρτερήσει. Compare Colossians 4:2, τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε, γρηγοροῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν εὐυχαριστίᾳ, “keeping watch,” or “being watchful”; cf. Mark 13:33, Luke 21:36,

Προσκαρτέρησις is not found elsewhere, but the verb προσκαρτερέω is frequent both in classical writers and N.T. always with the sense of continued waiting on, attention to, adherence, etc. Cf Acts 2:42, τῇ διδαχῇ: ib. 46, ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ: 8:13, τῷ Φιλίππῳ: Mark 3:9, ἵνα πλοιάριον προσκαρτεπῇ αὐτῷ: Romans 12:12, προσευχῇ: ib. 13:6, εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο. It is clear, then, that Alford is not justified in rendering it “importunity” in order to avoid a hendiadys. Practically, there is a hendiadys.


περὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων, καὶ ὑπὲρ ἐμου. καί, introducing a special case, see ch. 5:18. Harless and Eadie distinguish περί here from ὑπέρ, regarding the latter as more vague. “They could not know much about all saints, and they were to pray about them.” Eadie admits, however, that such a distinction cannot be uniformly Carried out. Meyer, to prove the prepositions synonymous, quotes Dem. Phil. ii. p. 74, μὴ περὶ τῶν δικαίων μηδʼ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἔξω πραγμάτων εἶναι τὴν βουλήν,

ἵνα μοι δοθῇ λόγς ἐν 2 Corinthians 11:2, ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ. The words ἐν

Taken with the preceding, the words may mean the opening of the mouth by God, as in Psalms 51:17. Or they may mean, “when I open my mouth.” The latter is the interpretation adopted by Alford, Ellicott, Eadie, Meyer. But so understood, the words are superfluous, not to say trivial.

On the other hand, with the former interpretation they give a fulness of expression to the idea in δοθῇ λόγος, which is in harmony with the gravity of the thought; they complete from the subjective side what is expressed on the objective side in δοθῇ λόγος. This is the view of Harless, Olsh., Soden. The absence of the article is also in its favour. Compare Colossians 4:3, although there it is ἵναΘεὸς

ἐν παρρησίᾳ γνωρίσαι. “To make known with openness of speech “; cf. Philippians 1:20. The margin of RV. connects ἐν παρρησίᾳ with the preceding words, as the AV. had done. This involves a tautology with παρρησιάσωμαι.


δοθείη of Rec. rests on very slight evidence.

τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγ. See ch. 1:9.

20. ὑρὲρ οὗ πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει. οὗ refers to τὸ μυστ., for this is the object of γνωρίσαι, and γνωρίσαι is in substance connected with πρεσβεύω Compare Colossians 4:3, λαλῆσαι τὸ μυστ. τοῦ Χριστοῦ διʼ ὃ καὶ δέδεμαι. The simplest view is probably the best: “I am an ambassador in chains”; but Grotius understands the words to mean: “nunc quoque non desino legationem”; but this would require some emphasis on ἁλύσει, as, for example, καὶ ἐν ἁλ. πρεσβεύω: and there is no reference here, as in Philippians 1:12 ff., to the good effects of his imprisonment. The oxymoron is noted by Bengel and Wetstein: “alias legati, jure gentium sancti et inviolabiles, in vinculis haberi non poterant.” So, indeed, Theoph., τοὺς πρέσβεις νόμος μηδὲν πάσχειν κακόν. ἐν ἁλύσει is in distinct opposition to ἐν παρρησίᾳ.

Paley and others have drawn attention to the use of ἅλυσις here as referring to the “custodia militaris” in which St. Paul was kept at Rome, Acts 28:16, Acts 28:20; cf. 2 Timothy 1:16. It is true the singular might possibly be used in a general sense, although the instances cited from Polyb. of εἰς τὴν ἅλυσιν ἐμπίπτειν (xxi. 3. 3, iv. 76. 5) are not parallel, since the article there is generic. Still it can hardly be denied that the term has a special suitability to the circumstances of this imprisonment, or rather custody. Of course, δεσμοί as the general term might also be used, and therefore the fact that it is used, Colossians 4:18, is no objection.


ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ παρρησιάσωμαι. Co-ordinate with the preceding ἵνα. Soden, however, takes the clause as depending on the πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλ., the meaning according to him being that St. Paul might have been set at liberty on condition that he did not preach the gospel, but remained in custody in hope that the result of the trial would be that he would be at liberty to preach. This, he adds, corresponds to ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι, and escapes the tautology involved in the other interpretations.

21-24. Personal commendation of Tychicus, who carries the letter, and final benediction

21. ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε καὶ ὑμεις. καί is probably simply “ye as well as others.” Meyer and others suppose a reference to the Epistle to the Colossians, “ye as well as the Colossians”; cf. Colossians 4:7. But this seems forced, for this significance of καί could hardly occur to the readers. But it may mean, “although there are no personal relations between us.” Alford understands: “as I have been going at length into the matters concerning you, so if you also, on your part, wish,” etc.

τὰ κατʼ ἐμέ = Colossians 4:7.


τὶ πράσσω, nearer definition of τὰ κατʼ ἐμέ, “how I do,” not “what I am doing,” which they knew was the one thing that always engaged his thoughts.

ΤύχικοςActs 20:4, as accompanying St. Paul from Macedonia to Asia. His services as διάκονος are alluded to 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12. It was only ἐν κυρίῳ that he was Paul’s διάκονος. In Colossians 4:7 σύνδουλος is added.


22. ὃν ἔπεμψα εἰς αὐτό τοῦτο ( = Col_4.), i.e. for the very purpose now to be mentioned: ἵνα γνῶτε τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν, κ.τ.λ. = Colossians 4:8 (where, however, there is a difference of reading).


23. Εἰρήνη τοῖς

For 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1.


24. Ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων τῶν

ἀφθαρσία elsewhere means the incorruptibility of future immortality; see, for example, Romans 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:10. The adjective ἄφθαρτος has a corresponding meaning. God is ἄφθαρτος, Romans 1:23; 1 Timothy 1:17; the dead are raised ἄφθαρτοι, 1 Corinthians 15:52; the Christian’s crown is ἄφθαρτος. So 1 Peter 3:4, the ornament of women is to be ἐν τῷ Titus 2:7); it is “imperishableness, incorruptibility.” It is a “spiritual, eternal love, and thus only is the word worthy to stand as the crown and climax of this glorious Epistle,” Alford. Some connect the word with χάρις. Soden defends the connexion on the following grounds: first, that if connected with


There is no analogy for the connexion with τὸν Κύριον ἡμῶν, adopted by some expositors.

Ἀμήν is added in אc D K L P most MSS., Amiat.**, Syr. (both), Boh., not in א* A B G 17, Arm., Amiat.*









Alf Alford.

Ell Ellicott.

WH Westcott and Hort.

Treg. Tregelles.

Arm Armenian.

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Boh Bohairic. Cited by Tisch. as “Coptic,” by Tregelles as “Memphitic,” by WH. as “me.”

Syr-Pesh The Peshitto Syriac.

Harcl The Harclean Syriac.



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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/ephesians-6.html. 1896-1924.