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Thursday, June 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-24

Ephesians 6:1-3 . Children, obey your parents, because they are your parents, who gave you birth, and nourished you with food and fond affection in all your tender years. Their age and experience qualify them to guide and command, and in all their domestic regulations they aim solely at your good. If you disobey them in their wise and just commands, you disobey the Lord, whom your parents represent. Therefore love them, as they love you; and honour them with reverence and filial obedience. God who commands other duties by sovereignty, commands this, the most excellent of duties, with promise, that it may be well with thee, and that long life may crown all thine other mercies.

Ephesians 6:4 . Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, by requiring any thing that is unsuited to their age and circumstances, nor by unseasonable rebukes, or severity of correction. As we whet a knife when it has lost its edge, so you may correct a son when all other means fail; but let the manner and degree be such, that he himself may approve at a future day. Above all, aim to make him a good son; and let your own house be the happiest house he can find. Bring him up in the knowledge and discipline of the Lord, as stated on Proverbs 22:6. Be parents in the Lord, that you may the more win your children’s hearts to love his name.

Ephesians 6:5-8 . Servants, be obedient to your masters. In all things do their pleasure, and not your own. Let it appear that the profession of the gospel has illuminated your mind, to know your duty towards God and man. Act for your masters with fear and trembling, being in subjection to their authority, but more abundantly as the free and noble-minded servants of Christ. Be careful to become such servants as shall gain your masters’ entire confidence, that when they are absent their minds may be easy, knowing that their work will be done as if they were present. Let all your services be performed as to the Lord, who in the day of his coming will reward the faithful servant, as well as the wise and prudent master.

Ephesians 6:10 . Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Be like Samson, when the Spirit came upon him, and like all the heroes of the Lord. I will go forth, said David, in the strength of the Lord God. I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. He will strengthen his servants with might in the inner man, and will be with them in the day of trouble.

Ephesians 6:11 . Put on the whole armour, the panoply, of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. You have not only to fight with the lion, who roars and rushes on to battle; but with the lurking leopard, who hides in the bushes, and leaps unawares on his prey. The enemy not only roars on the church in popular fury, but attacks with ingenious malice, as when the council of the jews crucified the Saviour.

Ephesians 6:12 . We wrestle not, like the Roman armies, against flesh and blood, the men of the age, but against principalities and powers Satan and his evil angels. In heaven Christ has principalities and powers under him, and Satan also has subjection in his kingdom, to which the apostle here alludes. But when Satan excites war and mischief in the church, Michael, the great prince, comes to our aid. Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20; Daniel 12:1.

Against the rulers of the darkness of this world. Satan’s power is not real, but assumed; it is the darkness, the spiritual darkness of the age in which men are blinded and captivated by their passions, which concedes this mock sovereignty to the common foe. They call good evil, and evil good.

Against spiritual wickedness in high places. Επουρανιος , “in heavenly places.” Our version follows Beza, in reading sublime or high places, and the fathers in succession, to the aërial regions, where the prince of the power of the air is allowed to range, and prompt mankind to every evil deed.

Ephesians 6:13 . Wherefore take to you the whole armour of God, which he has provided for the defence of his saints, that ye may be able to withstand, as the army of the Lord of hosts, that you may manfully resist the enemy, and he will flee from you; for the Lord is your shield, your buckler and defence.

Ephesians 6:14 . Stand therefore, fast in the Lord, having your loins girt about with truth; for it is the promises of victory and salvation which gird up the mind with courage and strength for the war.

Having on the breastplate of righteousness; or as he says to the Thessalonians, “having on the breastplate of faith and love.” Virtue in all its powers, and piety in all its characters, as Erasmus turns the phrase; for the breastplate resisted the point of the sword, and diverted the point of the spear, as was the case when Hector threw his spear at Achilles. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ, if we mean to be safe from the arrows of death.

Ephesians 6:15 . Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The eyes of your understanding must be enlightened; you must be ready in the scriptures, fully prepared for disputation, and for the defence of the gospel, the word of reconciliation. You must walk as becomes the gospel of peace. By so doing St. Paul defeated his enemies in the public fight. His manner of early life, he told the kings of Asia, had been that of a pharisee; he had exercised himself to have a conscience void of offence towards God and man. The jews, he said, found him neither with noise nor tumult, nor disputing with any man, but purified and praying in the temple.

Ephesians 6:16 . Above all, over all, taking the shield of faith, which gives us the victory over the world. Θυρεος is rendered by the Romans, clypeus, an oblong shield from the wrist to the elbow, and buckled on the left arm. They call it also scutum, a shield of round or more ovalar figure, to repel arrows, as well as blows. Such, it would seem, was the shield of Achilles, concerning which Homer has given us a very minute description. It was made of five plates of different metals. On one part were the emblems of war in all its horrors; on another, cities with flourishing agriculture and commerce, to show that peace should be the end of war. The shield of faith will cover our head in the crisis of conflict, and crown us with the joy of salvation.

Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, which the malice of demons may throw against you. Julius Cæsar, in his wars of Gall, gives us a comment here. When he besieged the Gauls in the city of Tours, Turones, or Cæsarodunum, where the river Loire makes a tour round the city, except one isthmus, which was fortified, the Romans built mount against mount with facines, or faggots of wood and earth. The Gauls rushing from under cover, threw darts at the facines, with ignited balls of combustibles at the end. Those darts, on being repelled, fell back into the ditch, and were quenched. The Romans succeeded in gaining the walls, and then put all the people, to the amount of about forty thousand, to the sword. In like manner, Satan throws his darts with fiery indignation, hoping to pierce or to arrest our shield. He assails with attacks against the being of a God, against the deity of Christ, and the truth of the scriptures. He tries to set our concupiscence on fire, to enflame our anger, swell our pride, or cause the slower flames of avarice to smother in the heart. The remedy is,

Ephesians 6:17-18 . Take the helmet, the hope, of salvation. The helmet covered the head, having in its superior structure the wide gueles of some wild beast, or the like figure. The valiant ones of Christ must know nothing of discouragement and despair.

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The word emanating from the living oracle, Out of whose mouth goes a sharp two- edged sword. With this the Lord causes the people to fall under him, pierced in the heart. With this sword he hewed his enemies to pieces in the temple. “Woe unto you, scribes, pharisees, hypocrites.” We must with wisdom and courage attack the enemy; for if we, like the fallen prophet in Bethel, hold our peace at the wickedness of the age, God will not hold his peace at us. We must do it with all the forms of prayer, and constant exercises of devotion, adoring, confessing, and pleading with heaven.

Ephesians 6:20 . For which I am an ambassador in bonds. His chain did not supersede his commission, but modified it. He prays that he might preach with clearness, with eloquence and power; and on all subjects magnify the ministry with which he was clothed. Let us learn of Paul to pray for the like power and influence from on high.


After the sublime of christian doctrines, after disclosing the moral code to all orders of men in the church, next follows the christian armour, for upon all the glory there shall be a defence. It is the complete panoply of the christian soldier, whose back alone is undefended, for he must never fly from the enemy. In the list of opponents, men consisting of flesh and blood are scarcely reckoned; they are chiefly of a more formidable description, even principalities and powers in heavenly places, who rule the darkness of this world, idolatry, and all the mysteries of iniquity. We must therefore take the whole armour of God, that we may stand in the evil day, a time when many fall, or wax cold.

The parts of the ancient armour here improved are,

( 1) The girdle of truth. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. And wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way, but by taking heed to God’s word? As a girdle strengthens the loins, and compacts the robe, so truth strengthens the mind.

(2) The breastplate of righteousness, as in Romans 3:4. This guards the vitals from the deadly blows of sin.

(3) Armed for war, we must walk in peace with God, with men, and with our own conscience. And the gospel preparation implies that we be prompt and ready for all the will of God.

(4) Our shield, target, or buckler, must be an unshaken confidence in God’s word; a faith that magnifies heaven, and diminishes earth. This will receive and repel the darts of Satan, called fiery because of his malice, and of the burning poison of sin.

(5) Our helmet must be hope. In every fight we must be assured of victory; and this hope is the pledge of victory, from the first conflict, leading to a final triumph. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

(6) Our offensive weapon must be the sword of the Spirit, which is the quick and powerful word of God. Our voice to sinners must be the echo of Jehovah’s voice. We must use the sword as Christ did when tempted of the devil, and everywhere confound and affright the hordes of the wicked. We must do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s spirit, praying always with all prayer and supplication. By prayer we renew our strength to fight and endure to the end. And in every conflict, let us hear our Captain’s cry: Him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father on his throne.

The concluding argument, in soliciting prayers for divine assistance, is most of all to be admired. The eloquence of the prophets is perfect in its kind, and full of the Spirit. Of Paul’s eloquence we have specimens in his reasonings with the jews; in his manner of talking to the spoiled and party men of Corinth; in the climax of antitheses, 2 Corinthians 6:4-11; and in his charge to Timothy. 1 Timothy 6:11-12. But he yet wanted more of that triumphant eloquence and unction which converts the world to God. Let every minister then, as Erasmus says, endeavour to be taught of God, and have a fountain of truth and wisdom in his own breast.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ephesians-6.html. 1835.
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