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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

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Verse 1

Eph 6:1

Ephesians 6:1

Children, obey your parents—After speaking of the rela­tions of husband and wife, next comes that of parents and chil­dren. The child is begotten, conceived, and brought into exist­ence by the parents. It is a part of themselves, each imparting of their own life and being to the child. They take care of it, sustain it, and the child looks to the parent as the parent looks to God. In gratitude to the parent and as a means of training, it is to trust and obey God as it grows older. God has always required the child to obey the parent; under the Mosaic law, he said: “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and, though they chasten him, will not hearken unto them; then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones: so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). This was a son in his minority, but when the parents grow old and infirm in body and mind, and the child has reached the strength and wisdom of man­hood, honor then demands support and help, but always with deference, kindness, and respect.

in the Lord:—This limits the submission. That is, whatever can be done in obedience to the parents without violating the law of God, that do; but beyond this no child dare go without deep condemnation upon itself. The fearful doom of those who fail to obey God in order to please parents or propitiate the world is given in the following: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him. ... If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my words: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:21-24). When one does the will of parents rather than obey the commandments of God, or when he fails to do the commandments of God to please any earthly being, he shows that he loves that being more than he loves God. Whenever one fails to bear whatever cross stands in his way, he fails to obey God in order to save his life even, he cannot be a disciple of the Lord. (Luke 14:26-27; Luke 17:33).

for this is right.—The same obligation and restriction in obeying parents, not only for gratitude and love of the parent, but because God requires it. In obeying the parent the child obeys God. This is the added obligation. But the child old enough to be accountable to God is under higher obligation to obey God than it is to obey the parent. It must disobey the parent in order to obey God when their requirements conflict. The first duty is to God.

Verse 2

Eph 6:2

Ephesians 6:2

Honor thy father and mother (which is the first command­ment with promise),—This is one of the ten commandments written on tables of stone at Sinai. To honor father and mother is to discharge faithfully the duties the child owes them—obedi­ence in childhood, respect, reverence through life, tender care, and support in old age, and kindness and love at all times. This is the first commandment that has a specific promise connected with it.

Verse 3

Eph 6:3

Ephesians 6:3

that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.—The blessings come as the result of the character that loves and honors the parent, and then God, and preserves from the fatal ruin of the stubborn and rebellious son. [This blessing is the heritage of dutiful children in every land. The obedience of childhood and youth rendered to a wise Chris­tian rule forms in the young the habit of self-control, self-respect, diligence, promptitude, faithfulness, and kindness of heart, which are the best guarantees for happiness and success in life.]

Verse 4

Eph 6:4

Ephesians 6:4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:—Fathers are cautioned against an excessive severity that pro­vokes bitter, wrathful rebellion. Children should be corrected and restrained from self-will, and should be trained to be obedi­ent to their parents from earliest childhood; but this should be done in love for the child. The child will come to appreciate this and to love and honor the parent for the restraint and correction given.

but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.—Kindly and earnestly train them in the discipline of the Lord. It may be severe, but it is for the good of the child, and is prompted by love. In no point do Christians fail more than in the training of their children in the Lord. They allow them to grow up ambitious of worldly preferment, lovers of pleasure, greedy of gain, and frequently scoffers of God. This is due to lack of faithful training. The obedience of childhood and youth rendered to a wise Christian rule forms the habit of self-control, self-respect, diligence, faithfulness, and kindliness of heart, which are the best guarantees for happiness and success in life. Parents cannot be faithful servants of God without studying his word; treasuring it in their hearts, letting its teachings mold their feel­ings, direct their lives, and form their character. They must do this to fit them for heaven. In doing so they will teach the word to their children as the chief matter of life. They have brought them into existence, and are under every obligation to bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

So great and important were the issues involved concerning the teaching of the law given at Sinai that God said unto Israel: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). Again, he says: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). And still further, he says: “Set your heart unto all the words which I testify unto you this day, what ye shall command your children to observe to do, even all the words of this law. For it is no vain thing for you; because it is your life, and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over the Jordan to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47). This was said concerning the law of Moses, sealed with the typical blood of animals; we have the spiritual and eternal law of God, sealed with the blood of his beloved Son, the Savior of the world, concerning which it is said: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bear­ing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by mani­fold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4). Parents who fail to teach their children sin against God, themselves, their children, and how shall they escape the wrath of God on account of their neglecting this solemn warning?

Verse 5

Eph 6:5

Ephesians 6:5

Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters,—The apostle recognized the slavery of human beings in both master and slave. Slavery is a political relation, established by political governments. The Lord did not violently interfere with political relations. It was not an indis­soluble relationship like husband and wife, parent and child. Slavery was in force in all the countries to which letters were addressed. Indeed, it was in force in all countries at that time. Christ did not propose to break up such relations by violence. He recognized the relationship, regulated it, and put in operation principles that in their workings would so mold public sentiment as to break down all evil relations and sinful institutions. Slavery was so treated.

with fear and trembling,—With earnest, conscientious care and reverence. [The fear enjoined is no dread of human dis­pleasure, or the master’s whip or tongue. It is the same “fear and trembling’’ with which the child of God is to work out his “own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12). The inward work of the soul’s sal­vation and the outward work of the busy hands on the farm, in the mine, at the factory, or in the lowest domestic duties—all alike are to be performed under a solemn responsibility to God and in the presence of Christ who understands every kind of work, and will render to each of his servants just and exact reward.]

in singleness of your heart,—The honest desire to do right for its own sake, with inward sincerity, knowing it was their duty; and even if it was irksome, doing it pleasantly, with no feeling of reluctance, but genuine good will.

as unto Christ;—The Christian servant was required to obey his master not only from fear, but for conscience’ sake. It was not only to please the master, but to please Christ. It was an added obligation to fidelity in the service rendered.

Verse 6

Eph 6:6

Ephesians 6:6

not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers;—Eyeservice is either work done only to please the eye, which cannot bear to be tested; or it may be good work done only when the master’s eye is upon the worker. This was a vice not peculiar to slavery, but it enters into all forms of service. Dishonest work is to be avoided quite as much as dishonest words. An acted lie is as dishonorable as a spoken one.

but as servants of Christ,—The servants of Christ must apply the principles of Christ to their work.

doing the will of God from the heart;—The service was to be a faithful service, rendered from the heart, with a singleness of heart for the benefit of the master. [To do the will of God in this way may sometimes require Christian courage. In these days there are labor unions and combinations among workmen, with a view of protecting their rights. They may sometimes be dominated by selfishness, and act tyrannically; and a Christian workman may be in the position of choosing between the Lord and incurring the ill will of his fellow workers. If he is worthy of the Lord, he will not, to please his fellow workers, render unfaithful work, but will brave the consequences of rendering faithful service because he must be faithful to Christ rather than to men.]

Verse 7

Eph 6:7

Ephesians 6:7

with good will doing service,—Much of the service re­quired of slaves was done from fear and grudging; but the Chris­tian slave must do the will of God in the service of men, as Jesus Christ did it—with meekness and fortitude and unvaried love. The work will thus be rendered from inner principles, with thought and affection and resolution spent upon it.

as unto the Lord, and not unto men:—As a Christian he must do it willingly, and cheerfully as unto the Lord, for he ac­cepts only cheerful service.

Verse 8

Eph 6:8

Ephesians 6:8

knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth,—The Lord requires fidelity in any relation his servants occupy as service to him. They must be faithful in all relations of life.

the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free.—When the servants are so because they trust the Lord, he will reward them whether bond or free. So if the master be harsh and unreasonable, and the slave be discouraged from service, he will still do it from the fear of the Lord, and look forward for God to reward him.

Verse 9

Eph 6:9

Ephesians 6:9

And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, and for­bear threatening:—He commands the masters to act towards their slaves from the fear of God. The spirit that threatens is a bitter, dictatorial one, lacks kindness and consideration, and greatly exasperates and embitters the servant.

knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,—God will reward the master with good or evil as he treats his servants. God rewards the master for his course toward his servant as well as the servant’s course toward his master.

and there is no respect of persons with him.—God no more respects the person of the master than that of the servant. Indeed, he makes no allowance for him because of his superior station.

[The general principles underlying this section are applicable to all the relations of employer and employee. The employee is warned against eye-service, exhorted to faithful labor as in the sight of God, bidden to look unto a higher recompense than the temporal wages, because he serves a higher Master. The master is reminded of the equality of all before God, and warned that position does not avail in his sight, and exhorted respecting the duties to him involved in the duties of an employer. Here, and here only, is the true social science. Duties to one another are duties to Christ]

Verse 10

Eph 6:10

Ephesians 6:10

Finally,—In this section Paul draws his epistle to a conclusion, and by this word quickens the attention of his readers, and prepares them for a counsel eminently mighty in itself of what had already been said.

be strong in the Lord,—He now gives admonition as to their general deportment We become strong in the Lord by drawing near to God in a more faithful and trusting obedience to him, a closer walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ

and in the strength of his might—[Though the redemption in Christ is complete and free, yet between the beginning and the final consummation there is a continual conflict—it is some­thing real and arduous. It is not only real, but is difficult It is one in which true believers are often grievously tried; and multitudes of weak believers utterly fail. He knew that to meet these mighty foes they needed to be fully armed for the conflict To be strong in the Lord indicates the relation to Christ in which alone the strength can be experienced. (2 Corinthians 12:9). The might is Christ’s, but by faith it becomes our strength. Strong trust courage, endurance, hope, love may all be had from him, if our fellowship be maintained in uninterrupted vigor.]

Verse 11

Eph 6:11

Ephesians 6:11

Put on the whole armor of God,—God does not clothe Christians with this strength and power without earnest effort on their part, and without their making just such efforts and doing just what he commands. The spiritual or inner man becomes strong only by experience. God has prepared and furnished armor to be used by the Christian soldier. It is composed of weapons both defensive and offensive, those which ward off the blows of the enemy and with which they are to strike offensive blows to conquer others. [We are thus taught from the outset that as the strength which we need is not from ourselves, so neither are the means of offense and defense. Nor are they means of man’s devising. This is a truth which has been overlooked by many professed Christians in all ages of the church, to the injury of those who profess to be children of God. Instead of relying on the arms which God has provided, men have always been disposed to trust to that which they have provided for themselves or which have been prescribed by others.]

that ye may be able to stand—The Christian soldier ought to be prepared on all sides, so as to want nothing. The Lord has provided arms for repelling every attack. It remains for him to apply them to use. [To quicken our vigilance, he reminds us that we must not only engage in open warfare, but that we have a crafty and insidious foe to encounter, who frequently lies in ambush.]

against the wiles of the devil.—[These are the devil’s treacherous methods of warfare and his subtle plans of battle. Wiles are acts or means of cunning deception; something as a ruse or stratagem, by which he is enabled to trick or deceive. The idea here is that the devil does not carry on an open warfare. He does not meet the Christian soldier face to face. Hence the ne­cessity of being constantly armed to meet him whenever the attack is made. He presents the world in an alluring aspect; invites to pleasures that seem to be harmless, and leads in indulgence until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat]

Verse 12

Eph 6:12

Ephesians 6:12

For our wrestling—Wrestling is a technical word of the Greek athletic contests. It was probably suggested by the word stand. For the wrestler’s work is to maintain his position and to throw his adversary. And it is a most graphic picture of the Christian life. For, unlike military conflict, each one contends alone against a personal contestant, and can gain the victory only by intense personal effort and watchfulness. This suitability of the word led Paul to drop for a moment the military metaphor involved in the word armor, to which he returns in the next verse, and to borrow another metaphor from the athletic festivals.

is not against flesh and blood,—This denotes mankind as limited by the constitution of the human body. The Christian struggle is not against persons so limited. This is true even when we have resolute human opponents. For these are but in­struments of unseen and more tremendous foes.

but against the principalities, against the powers,—The sig­nification of this and the following terms, and the analogy of scripture, renders it certain that the reference is to evil spirits. For the angels that sinned and were cast out of heaven, it is said: “God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be re­served unto judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4). And again: “Angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judg­ment of the great day.” (Judges 1:6). They are now subject to Satan their prince. They are now called those who are first in high rank; and powers, those invested with high authority. These terms have probably reference to the relation of the spirits among themselves.

against the world-rulers—This expresses the extent of the dominion of these invisible foes—the term is extended only to the rulers of the most widely extended realms; there is no part of the earth to which their influence does not extend, and where this dark rule does not show itself. (Luke 4:6).

of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness—These evil spirits reign over the existing state of ignorance and alienation from God. That is, the world in its apostasy is sub­ject to their control; or ‘’this darkness” is equivalent to kingdom of darkness. Rulers of the kingdom of darkness, which includes in it the world as distinguished from the true people of God. Our conflict, therefore, is with the potentates who are rulers of the kingdom of darkness as it now is.

in the heavenly places.—Undoubtedly the places here meant are those in which are found the hosts of wicked spirits against whom believers are in perpetual struggle, and in which they need the panoply of God described in the following verses. These places cannot be called “heavenly” because of heavenly enjoyment experienced by these occupants, but for some other reason. The allusion is the same as in the following: "And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, where­in ye once walked according to the course of this world, accord­ing to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2). If our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), if he is “going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7), his activity is in the same place precisely in which the angels are employed. He is often at church, and some­times in the pulpit. He is at work in places that are heavenly, to angels, though they are far from being heavenly to him. Paul often speaks of the Christian life as a conflict, but only here does he name the opponent. In 1 John 5:4-5, the enemy to be con­quered is the world. This calls attention to the outward and visible form, and the multiplicity, of the foes arrayed against us. In 1 John 4:4-6, the power of this multiform antagonist is traced to one animating and personal principle. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says “the god of this world” proves his hostility by blinding “the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, . . . should not dawn upon them.” And the passage before us speaks of various superhuman powers acting under the directions of one supreme foe, the devil.

[At the head of the ranks of wicked spirits is the devil. The subject is a forbidding one, but the levity with which it is treated in many circles, the number of those who scorn the idea of per­sonal evil spirits whose sole aim is to antagonize the Lord’s work, grace among men, justifies some reflections on it. Probably there is no criminal known to men that has so many aliases as the devil. I subjoin a partial list of names given him by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit: Evil One (Matthew 13:19); Enemy (Matthew 13:39); Beelzebub (Mark 3:22); Prince of Devils (Mark 3:22); Strong One (Luke 11:21); Murderer (John 8:44); Liar (John 8:44); Father of Lies (John 8:44); Prince of This World (John 12:31); Satan (Acts 5:3); God of This World (2 Corinthians 4:4); Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15); Serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3); Spirit of Evil (Ephesians 2:2); Tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5); Adversary (1 Peter 5:8); Angel of the Abyss (Revelation 9:11); Apollyon (Revelation 9:11); Abaddon (Revelation 9:11); Great Red Dragon (Revelation 12:3); The Dragon (Revelation 12:7); Great Dragon (Revelation 12:9); The Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9); Devil and Satan (Revelation 12:9); Deceiver of the Whole World (Revelation 12:9); Accuser (Revelation 12:10). Here are twenty- seven names given the devil, each of which is descriptive of his energy, and his power. The Lord Jesus himself calls him “the prince of this world,” a title which invests him with marvelous authority. Paul calls him “the god of this world.” Both describe the sphere of the devil’s influence, and both have to do with that strange, lawless, and godless thing called “the spirit of the twen­tieth century.” How profoundly this spirit of the age is domi­nated by the devil and interpenetrated vicious influence which every observant Christian perceives. There is scarcely a beneficial invention of this age that is not perverted into an instrumentality for evil. With such a foe confronting him, the Christian needs “the whole armor of God,” which is fully provided and freely given.]

Verse 13

Eph 6:13

Ephesians 6:13

Wherefore take up the whole armor of God,—Having all these wicked spirits to fight, he admonishes them to take unto themselves the whole armor of God. [The repetition of the counsel given emphasizes its importance. The language used distinguishes it from all maimer of merely human precautions, defenses, or disciplines. It is a special provision for the believer in response to his prayerful trust in God.]

that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,—The commandment to be strong in the Lord is fully associated with our having done all, because leaning on almighty strength implies the effort to put forth strength by our own instrumentality; when God’s strength comes to us it constrains us to do all that can be done by us or through us, as Paul exhorted: "So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13). [We are to leave nothing undone that can contribute to the success of the battle; then we shall be able to stand, or stand firm.]

and, having done all, to stand.—It is important to bear in mind through the whole context that the central idea is prepared­ness, not progress or conquest; ideas of which the gospel is full, but which are not present here. [The scene is filled with the marshalled hosts of the evil one, bent upon dislodging the Chris­tian from the one possible vantage ground of life and power—union and communion with the Lord.]

Verse 14

Eph 6:14

Ephesians 6:14

Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth,—The girding the loins gives strength to labor. The truth of God taken into the heart is as a girdle to give strength to the loins. [The belt was an essential part of the soldier’s equipment. Pass­ing around his loins, it was of special use in keeping other parts of the armor in place and in securing the proper soldierly attitude and freedom of movement. The girding is the soldier’s own act by the help of God’s grace. It is subjective truth. In that of harmony of knowledge with the objective truth given in the gos­pel, of the inward practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Christ. The subjective application means obviously the personal grace of candor, sincerity, and truthfulness, as it is used also of the veracity of God (Romans 15:8). It seems simplest, therefore, and most accordant with usage to take it so here. And this plain grace of openness, truthfulness, reality, the mind will practice no deceits and attempt no disguises in our intercourse with God, is indeed vital to Christian safety and essential to the due operation of all other qualities of character. This is a wonderful source of strength, and requires much attention, careful thought, prayerful reading and meditation, to arm ourselves with the truth.]

and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.—The breastplate was to protect the breast and chest, and the vital organs within. Righteousness is the breastplate God has fur­nished man to protect himself from the darts the enemy may hurl at him. Righteousness is gained by doing the will of God. The righteousness of God is that plan of obedience to him, that he has ordained through which to save man. (Romans 8:1-11). Man clothes himself with that righteousness of God by walking in the way God has marked out for him to walk. "My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is right­eous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7). Jesus did the will of God and for that reason was righteous. All who do God’s will are righteous, for "if ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of him.” (1 John 2:29). Then to put on the breastplate of righteousness is to obey God.

Verse 15

Eph 6:15

Ephesians 6:15

and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;—Since the Christian warrior is to stand, he must have no unprotected and uncertain foothold. Preparedness is the thought here. As his fighting was so much of a hand-to-hand conflict, a firm footing was exceedingly important. His sandals were accordingly not only bound firmly to his feet and ankles, but were thickly studded with hobnails, to give a sure footing to those who would stand firm. The Christian soldier’s preparedness in this regard, he is to find in the gospel of peace, [it is that principle of steadfastness which has its origin in a sense of oneness with God, and so of divine aid in any emergency. The paradox here, of peace as part of the panoply of the holy war, is as significant as it is beautiful. The Christian soldiers foothold needs to be settled, sure, and restful, just in proportion to the stress around him. The peace of justification (Romans 5:1), and its accompaniment, “the peace of God, which passeth all understand­ing,” guarding the heart and thoughts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), are just then most necessary to the Christian’s spirit and most real to his consciousness, when put to the test in the evil day. Jesus Christ, in himself, is ground of vantage; a clear view and personal hold of him is the secret of a true foothold upon him. Paul himself, when facing death, stood in this strength when he wrote the following: "For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have com­mitted unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).]

Verse 16

Eph 6:16

Ephesians 6:16

withal taking up the shield of faith,—The shield to which reference is made was four feet long and two and one-half feet wide. It was held on the left arm and could be used to protect the entire body, and was very essential to the safety of the combatant. Joined together, these large shields formed a wall, behind which a whole body of troops could hide themselves from the rain of the enemies missiles. [Such is the office of faith in the conflicts of life; it is the Christian soldier’s main defense. To increase our faith it is necessary to study regularly the word of God, since belief cometh of hearing “the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). But in order that our faith may be strengthened and fixed as a part of our being, it is necessary that we give expression to our convictions in our daily life. No thought or feeling enters into the formation of our characters or becomes permanent until it controls the actions of our bodies and becomes a part of our being.—Faith itself is accepted by God only when it has molded the actions of the body and made the body subject to its control The conviction of the heart becomes a part of our being and alters into our character only when it prompts the body to action.]

wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.—Faith in God furnishes the shield that will ward off all the darts of the wicked one. [On the shield of faith the darts of Satan are caught, their points broken, and their fire ex­tinguished. The shields were made of wood, covered on the outside with thick leather, which not only deadened the shock of the missile, but protected the frame of the shield from the fire- tipped darts. These flaming arrows, armed with some quickly burning and light combustible material, if they failed to pierce the warrior’s shield, fell in a moment extinguished at his feet. It is not likely that Paul means by the fiery darts incitement to passions in ourselves, inflammatory temptations that seek to rouse the inward fires of anger and lust. The fire belongs to the enemy who shoots the dart. It signifies malignant hate with which Satan hurls his slander and threats against the people of God through his human instruments. An unwavering faith wards off and quenches this fire, so that the soul never succumbs to its heat.]

Verse 17

Eph 6:17

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet—The Roman soldier’s helmet was a cap made of thick leather or brass, fitted to the head. It was used to guard the head from a blow by a sword, a war club, or a battle-axe.

of salvation,—According to the analogy of the preceding expressions, “the breastplate of righteousness,” and “the shield of faith,” salvation is itself the helmet. That which adorns and protects the Christian, which enables him to hold up his head with confidence and joy, is the fact that he is one of the redeemed, made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of saints in light, who has been delivered out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom there is redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12; Colossians 1:14). [To the Christian soldier, the assurance of salvation is very important for the following reasons: To be firm and steadfast in the faith, he must have scrip­tural assurance of pardon or salvation from past sins, and he must have a well-grounded hope of the future and final salvation. This can be attained only by “them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption.” (Romans 2:7).]

and the sword of the Spirit,—This is the sword which the Spirit puts into the hands of the Christian, which he must accept and use.

which is the word of God:—The Spirit gave the word of God to the Christian, that he might use it both as a defensive and offensive weapon. It is that which God has spoken, his word, the Bible. This is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12). It is the wisdom of God and the power of God. It com­mends itself to reason and conscience. It has the power not only of truth, but of divine truth. [The Lord promised to give a word and wisdom which all their adversaries should not be able to gainsay or resist. (Luke 21:15). In opposition to all error, to all false philosophy, to all false principles of morals, to all sophistries of vice, to all suggestions of the devil, the sole, simple and sufficient weapon is the word of God. It puts to flight all the powers of darkness. The Christian finds this to be true in his individual experience. It dissipates his doubts; it drives away his fears; it delivers him from the power of Satan. It is also the experience of the church collectively. All her triumphs over sin and error have been accomplished through the word of God. So long as she uses this and relies on this alone, she goes forward conquering; but when she turns aside to reason, science, tradition, or the doctrines and commandments of men, then she is at the mercy of the adversary—the devil.]

Verse 18

Eph 6:18

Ephesians 6:18

with all prayer and supplication—In this verse there still lingers some reference to soldiers on guard. Prayer is the general word for worship appropriated to God alone; supplication, used also towards man, is one element of such worship—asking what we need from God. [Paul says: “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). In this we have first the general word prayer and then the two chief elements of worship, supplication with thanksgiving. It is not armor or weapons that makes the soldier. There must be cour­age and strength; even then he needs help. As the Christian has no resources of strength in himself, and can succeed only as aided from above, the apostle urges the duty of prayer.]

praying at all seasons in the Spirit,—[Believers should pray on all occasions, as Jesus said: “They ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1), and Paul exhorted Christians to “pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is obvious, there­fore, that prayer includes all converse with God, and is the ex­pression of our feelings and desires which terminate in him. True prayer is spiritual and comes from a heart filled with heavenward longings and aspirations, changing our prayer from a cold form to heartfelt realities. The ordinary habit of the soul should be prayerful, realizing the presence of God and looking for his grace and guidance.]

and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,—The conflict of which Paul has been speak­ing is not merely a single combat between the individual Christian and Satan, but also a war between the people of God and the powers of darkness. [No soldier entering into a battle fights for himself alone, but for all his fellow soldiers also. They form one army, and the success of one is the success of all. In like manner Christians are united in one army and therefore have a common cause; and each must pray and fight for all. Such is the com­munion of saints as set forth by the Holy Spirit that they can no more fail to take this interest in each other’s welfare than the eye can fail to sympathize with the foot.]

Verse 19

Eph 6:19

Ephesians 6:19

and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth,—Paul was a man of like passions and infirmities with us. His inspiration revealed unto him the will of God concerning man, and what was needed to carry forward God’s work among men. Seeing clearly his duty and responsi­bility, and seeing what he most lacked to enable him to do the work, he prayed to be strengthened and guarded against the weaknesses and dangers that beset him. A lack of courage to speak at all times the full truth of God was one of the besetting sins of the early preachers. No more courageous man ever lived than Paul; yet he felt there was danger that he might fail to speak the whole truth of God to the world, and prayed, and asked others to pray for him that he might have the courage to preach it faithfully. If one of such natural courage as he felt such danger and the necessity for praying for courage, how much more should we poor mortals fed the need of following his example. Our courage is not now tested exactly in the same way his was; but it is none the less fully tested, and we need the courage to do our full duty to God and man. His courage was tested by the danger of persecution, imprisonment, and death.

to make known with boldness—This includes frankness and boldness of spirit, of which this unrestrained declaration of truth is the expression. Men now as often fail to preach the whole truth of God with boldness and fullness, because it is un­popular and excites opposition of the public, as it did in apostolic days from fear of imprisonment and death. Courage to preach boldly and fully the whole truth of God is the crying need of preachers and teachers of God’s word. The word of God is corrupted, its teachings are perverted, and his truth is compro­mised, because they lack courage to speak boldly the whole truth. This weakens the church, and deprives men of the blessings of God’s help. He blesses only those who speak the whole will of God. Not to do so is to stain our souls with the blood of our fellow men.

the mystery of the gospel,—The mystery of the gospel is that the Gentiles are fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:1-7).

Verse 20

Eph 6:20

Ephesians 6:20

for which I am an ambassador in chains;—Paul was then in Rome, a prisoner, wearing chains for preaching the truth. He was an ambassador of God to the world to proclaim terms of pardon, as he says: “We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Am­bassadors are representatives of governments which send them. Paul, as sent by Christ with authority to preach in his name, and to negotiate with men, proclaiming the terms of reconciliation and urging their acceptance, was in an eminent sense an am­bassador. He was an ambassador in chains, yet he did not lose his courage, but preached with as much boldness as ever.

that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.—Every one who speaks in the name of the Lord ought to speak his word boldly, fearlessly, and fully as it is, no matter how unpopular it may be.

Verse 21

Eph 6:21

Ephesians 6:21

But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do,—Hav­ing referred to his captivity, he knew it would be natural for the Ephesians to desire more information about how he fared and his state of mind in captivity. The information regarding Paul and his friends would not be confined to the letter, but would be given no doubt also by Tychicus by word of mouth.

Tychicus,—He was of the province of Asia, in Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital. (Acts 20:4). He accom­panied Paul on his last journey from Corinth to Asia, although he is not, like Trophimus, actually named with Paul in Jerusalem. It is highly probable that he was one of the “messengers of the churches” spoken of in Second Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:18-23), as sent to bear the alms to Jerusalem. We now find him again with Paul, and made by him the bearer of this epistle and the one to the Colossians. He is alluded to as still his companion in the interval between the first and second captivity (Titus 3:2), and in the second captivity is dispatched once more to Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4:12).

the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,—[The character and career of Tychicus are such as show him altogether worthy of the confidence reposed in him by Paul, who sent him again and again on important work, which could be performed only by a man of ability and of high Christian character and experience. Thus all that is known of Tychicus bears out the description given by Paul himself, that he was a beloved brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant of the Lord. The two qualities by which he is noted—lovableness and fidelity—have not only served to embalm his name, but to show that he had a character much like that of Paul.]

shall make known to you all things:—It is supposed that this has reference to his commission as bearer of this epistle. As so sent, Tychicus would be a messenger direct from Paul, and could make known to these brethren, whose solicitude in his behalf was certainly great, all the particulars of his life in the Roman prison.

Verse 22

Eph 6:22

Ephesians 6:22

whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts.—[This serves to explain the absence of personal remembrances, allusions, and messages in this epistle. Tychicus, in whom Paul had full confidence, would deliver them all by word of mouth. The concluding words show that it was not to gratify any personal feeling that Paul directed Tychicus to make this communication; but knowing how much they felt for him, he believed it would be a comfort to hear how he fared. To pagans, imprisonment was always dreadful; it was well for them to know how Christians could glory in tribulations. (Romans 5:3). Tychicus, the beloved brother, was well fitted to apply this comforting view of his state.]

Verse 23

Eph 6:23

Ephesians 6:23

Peace be to the brethren,—The peace for which Paul prayed to be among those in Christ is the fruit of peace with Christ and God. [Such peace guarding the thoughts and heart of each Christian, nothing contrary thereto will arise among them. There can be no clashing of interests, no selfish competitions, no strife as to who shall be the greatest. The awe of God’s presence with his people, the remembrance of the dear price at which the church was purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28), the sense of Christ’s lordship (1 Corinthians 15:25), and the sacredness of the brotherhood (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), should check all turbulence and rivalry and teach us to seek the things that make for peace. (1 Peter 3:11).]

and love with faith,—Love includes peace, and more; for it labors not to prevent contention only, but to help enrich in all ways the body of Christ. [By such toil of love, faith is made per­fect. As faith grows and deepens, it makes new channels in which love may flow. To the Thessalonians Paul wrote: “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, even as it is meet, for that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). This is the sound and true growth of faith.]

from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.—Peace among Christians is the fruit of peace with God through Christ. With such peace guarding the thoughts and heart of each Chris­tian, nothing contrary thereto will arise among them. Calm and quiet hearts make a peaceful church. There are no clashing interests, no selfish competitions, no strife as to who shall be greatest.

Verse 24

Eph 6:24

Ephesians 6:24

Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ—God’s grace is to those who love Christ, and for those who con­tinue to love him is this grace continued. If our love to Christ fails, grace ceases to rest upon us. God does not look with favor upon those who turn from faith in his Son. [Of such persons, Paul said: “If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema. Marana tha.” (1 Corinthians 16:22). God’s love is not a love of in­difference; but a love of choice, Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him.” (John 14:23. ) God cannot grant his grace to those who have seen and hated him in his Son and image. By that hatred they refuse his grace, and cast it from them. On the other hand, sincere love to the Lord Jesus Christ opens the heart to all the rich and purifying influences of divine grace. If we love Christ, we shall love his people.]

with a love incorruptible.—[This love is the life of the body of Christ. In it lies the church’s immortality. The gates of death prevail not against her, rooted and grounded as she is in love to the risen and immortal Christ May that love be main­tained in deathless power!]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/ephesians-6.html.
 
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