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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-24



Children are next addressed. The instruction is simple and uncomplicated. They are to obey their parents in the Lord, that is, as subject to the Lord's authority. False educators today boldly undermine this parental authority, and it is leading to ruin, for it denies what is right before God. The relationship of children is typical of that of believers to God as their Father. If a believer should obey God, then a child should obey his parents. More still is involved in verse 2: the need for due respect is added. This verse is quoted from the ten commandments, not as putting children under law, but as showing the law's importance as an abiding governmental principle which brings temporal blessings as a result. For children are certainly to be subject to their parents, and this has much to do with their welfare on earth.

Fathers, being in authority, are not to abuse that authority (v.4). It is too easily possible for a father's impatience with his children to lead to unfair treatment of them, and this is likely to provoke their anger. Let us rather have sober exercise to bring up children "in the discipline and admonition of the Lord" (JND), that is, as disciples under the gentle, firm authority of the Lord, being kindly and consistently reminded of His grace and truth.



The Greek word for servants is bondservants or slaves. Yet God did not give them permission to rebel against slavery, but told them to obey their masters (vs.5-6). Certainly the same principle applies to employees in any business. They are to show honest concern to faithfully discharge every duty of their business relationships in sincerity of heart, as to Christ. "Not with eye service as men-pleasers" -- working only when being watched, and trying to gain special favor by deceit. The ultimate object of their honest hard work is to please the Lord, not men. For God is watching always and we should always practice obedience from the heart. If Christ is the Object of our service, then it will never become irksome. Even in the bondage of slavery, one could so please the Lord as to be well rewarded at His judgment seat (v.8). Every good thing is remembered by Him, whether one is in bonds or free.

Such instruction from God may sound strange to many Christians who are anxious to correct all the social wrongs that threaten their comfort. But God is wiser than we. People's efforts to set things right in the world have only resulted in things becoming more and more complicated and people becoming more and more bitter against each other. God will correct these things in His own time. Meanwhile, believers are to receive grace from God to patiently bear injustices, inequities and hard treatment with calm submission and living faith in the Lord.

Masters are told to "do the same things" to servants. Employers may not think of this, but they ought to serve their servants, not as being subject to them, but as concerned about their proper welfare and treating them kindly and fairly Threatening, simply as a tool to instill fear, would be an abuse of authority. Consider the character of Boaz in Ruth 2:4. His relationship with his servants was excellent, for he first recognized his Master in heaven. If any master feels himself more worthy of respect than his servants, he is not subject to God's will. God is perfectly fair, and every Christian -- whether employee or employer - likewise ought to be.



Verse 10 begins the last division of Ephesians and reminds us of the conflict and victory of Israel in the book of Joshua, when on entering the land of Canaan, they fought to obtain the inheritance God had promised them. Our proper possessions in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3) are of such great value that the enemy of souls is determined to keep us from the enjoyment of them, and he employs formidable hosts of evil spirits (demons) in this cruel warfare. God tells us of this awful power of satanic hosts to make us realize the utter poverty of our own resources in meeting the enemy, but at the same time to cast us totally upon the Lord in whom there is no doubt of victory.

"Be strong in the Lord," that is, be firmly, fully subject to the Lord's authority, for such subjection is true strength. This subjection makes available to us the power of His might, an inward, vital strength, even in apparent weakness, that is not overcome by evil. This power involves the armor now spoken of -- the whole armor of God -- with which each believer is to actively clothe himself as the only protection against the cunning deceit of the devil (v.11).

Fleshly weapons or armor in this warfare are useless, for the conflict is against principalities, authorities and rulers, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (v.11). Principalities refers to dignities, in this case demonic, whom we must never treat with contempt (Jude 1:8-9), but firmly stand against them. Authorities are the authorities of darkness. They have no authority over believers, though that authority which they hold over unbelievers, is cruel tyranny, keeping great numbers of people in subjection, and they use such people to attempt to force their authority on believers. False cults that use the method of brain-washing are adept at pressing people into conformity with their wicked teachings, so that once they are trapped, they become virtual slaves of Satan. We must be on guard therefore to refuse such evil authority. Rulers have to do with administration. Satan has his organization of evil forces that is not to be lightly regarded, and he uses people for his evil purposes, to contest every inch of the way in which a believer seeks to enter into and enjoy his proper possessions in heavenly places. These possessions that Satan seeks to keep us from enjoying are the vital truths of Scripture which cannot be learned except by spiritual means (1 Corinthians 2:13), and are held in daily practice only by using the whole armor of God.

"The whole armor of God" is necessary to enable us first of all to withstand (v.13), for Satan will attack strongly even a young believer at his first attempt to truly take in and act upon the Word of God. How important from the very first to withstand such attacks. Yet, in once doing this, we cannot complacently let down our defenses. Indeed, even after fully repulsing the enemy, it is still imperative that we "stand," that we maintain the practical application of the truth of God in our daily lives, day in and day out, day by day, year by year.

Strength for the legs comes from the loins (KJV) or strong thigh muscles, and these are to be girded with truth (v.14). Truth is not to be held in a loose, careless way, but used to keep our habits and walk properly under control.

The breastplate is a special protection for the heart and lungs, and practical righteousness in daily living provides this (v.14). Too frequently our emotions or feelings can deceive us, so we act because of how we feel at any given time. Thus, we need to protect ourselves from giving in to such feelings when they are not in accord with the Word of God. Stable practical righteousness is the one answer to this need. If we lack this stability we will be vulnerable to the enemy's attack for lack of a proper breastplate. The breast -- our affections - cannot be right unless protected by righteousness in our conduct according to the Word of God.

Our feet must have on battle shoes, for the soles of the feet are sensitive (v.15). Thorns and thistles, sharp stones, hot sand, cold temperatures, can all have adverse effects. We need that which protects us against sensitive feelings that can lead us into wrong paths and associations, Such protection is "the preparation of the gospel of peace." This preparation does not refer to our preaching the gospel, but to the good news of peace being always a reality in our hearts. This peace is brought to us by the Lord Jesus through His sufferings and death, enabling us to face every objectionable thing without giving way to sensitive feelings. In this, let us watch to always have our shoes on our feet, and not be so easily hurt by the words, actions or inactions of our brothers and sisters in Christ, nor by those of unbelievers.

"The shield of faith" (v.16) is to be used as an over-all protection, ready to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, from whatever direction they come. Faith is able for this, but only because it acts on the truth of the Word of God. Satan's darts are many and varied such as subtle deceit, insinuation, flattery, intimidation, wrong teaching or emphasis, lack of balance, working on the emotions, enticements to sin, and many more. An active, watchful confidence in the Lord alone will keep us prepared to properly meet and quench these darts. "I believe God" is a wonderful protection for every believer, for such faith depends on the truth of His Word.

"The helmet of salvation" is protection for the mind, for salvation gives the ability to have a true viewpoint for reasoning, although again it involves being led by the Holy Spirit and subjection to the Word of God. Philosophy ignores the need of salvation and flounders in uncertainty. A Christian is to reason, not as does the world but as one now saved from the world's vanity and pride, and who will be saved totally out of the world. Thus he may triumph over human "arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). But, as with every article of armor, it still requires heart-exercise to put it on and keep it on.

"The sword of the Spirit" is the one offensive weapon mentioned here (v.17). To use it, we must first have it. It is the Word of God that cuts both ways (Hebrews 4:12), so to use it rightly on the enemy, we must know how to rightly use it on ourselves. How important then that we spend time in learning God's Word well, so that on any given occasion we may be prepared with the suitable scripture to meet the enemy in whatever way he attacks.

Closely linked with our using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is consistent, unceasing prayer and supplication in the Spirit (v.18). Prayer is the very expression of our dependence on the living God, while supplication is earnest entreaty because of seriously felt need. We are not only to pray for personal needs but for all saints, among whom we know that trials, exercises and problems are always present, and the enemy is determined to deceive or intimidate them.

Paul, faithful and devoted as he was, felt himself in no less need than any other believer of the prayers of the saints. Certainly every servant of God may echo verse 19 in desire for courage and faith to speak truly for God. "The mystery of the gospel" was that mystery revealed especially to Paul -- the gospel of the grace of God and of the glory of Christ, which eternally saves lost sinners who receive the Lord Jesus and gives them a place of acceptance in Christ in the heavenlies. To believers it is no longer a mystery, but Paul desired to spread the news of this gospel everywhere so that souls would be saved and therefore find the gospel no longer a mystery.

For the sake of this great revelation as to the gospel of salvation and of the truth concerning the Church of God, Paul was an ambassador in bonds. Though imprisoned, he did not forget the dignity of the place God had given him of representing the Lord of glory in a foreign land. He desired to speak boldly, not in fleshly arguments as to the truth, but as he ought to speak, consistently with the dignity he had been given in being entrusted with a magnificent revelation from God.



Tychicus carried this letter from Paul to Ephesus and brought information to the Ephesians as to Paul's welfare and circumstances, which would much interest them. Paul did not consider it important to write about himself, but he knew their concern and that Tychicus would encourage them..

In this epistle God has through Paul communicated the sublime truths of His marvelous counsels in blessing to His saints. Paul ended the epistle with the assurance of "peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (v.23), for he wrote by the clear guidance of the Spirit of God. Then grace is added for all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, lifting them above all present circumstances to enjoy the preciousness of their heavenly inheritance and blessings in Christ Jesus.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/ephesians-6.html. 1897-1910.
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