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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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As in most of his Epistles, the Apostle turns his didactic statements into practical exhortations. The latter are not appended, but grow out of the former (‘therefore,’ chap. Ephesians 4:1). This Apostolic ‘therefore ’ is the characteristic of all Christian ethics; the duties are presented as deduced, not from abstract moral principles, but from the facts of Redemption, the privileges in Christ Jesus. Christian morals, no less than Christian doctrines, always form a part of a circle whose centre is Christ; when the Christian curvature is wanting, the duties, however strictly performed, are no longer ‘good works.’ We may distinguish, but cannot divide, Christian doctrine and precept. This part of the Epistle may be analyzed as follows:

I. The statement of the practical theme: walk, worthy of Christian privilege, in humility and unity; chap. Ephesians 4:1-3.

II. Motives for the preservation of unity; chap. Ephesians 4:4-16. (This section has been regarded as a final summary of the doctrinal position.)

III. General Christian duties, characteristic of the new walk in the Spirit (over against the old), in various aspects; chaps, Ephesians 4:17 to Ephesians 5:21.

(1.) Exhortations based upon the contrast between the old and the new man; chap. Ephesians 4:17-32.

(2.) Precepts having as their motive the self-sacrificing love of Christ; chap. Ephesians 5:1-21.

IV. Special Christian duties in household relations; chaps, Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9.

(1.) Wives and husbands (chap. Ephesians 5:22-33). (2.) Children and parents (chap. Ephesians 6:1-4). (3.) Servants and masters (chap. Ephesians 6:5-9).

V. Concluding exhortation: be strengthened in the Lord and put on the armor of God; chap. Ephesians 6:10-20.

VI. Closing words; chap. Ephesians 6:21-24. Mention of the bearer (Ephesians 6:21-22); benediction (Ephesians 6:23-24).

Verse 1

Ephesians 6:1. Children. The exhortation to children is placed first; the general precept in chap. Ephesians 5:21 (‘submitting yourselves,’ etc.) calls for this order.

Obey your parents in the Lord. ‘Obey’ is stronger than ‘submit yourselves;’ the sphere or element of the obedience is ‘in the Lord.’ The phrase, which qualifies the verb, is regarded by some as limiting the obedience to Christian commands, but the whole context implies that both parents and children are ‘in Christ’ The relation to Christ rests on the relation to the believing parents. The baptismal rite does not create, but signifies and seals, the relation to Christ. The children are thus publicly acknowledged as ‘in Christ,’ and believing parents thus promise to regard and train them as Christian children, whose personal piety is to be looked for in faith, as it is prayed for in faith. The evils from the superstitious view of the rite do not invalidate the true principle here involved, and implied in the Old Testament doctrine of covenant blessings on the households of God’s people a doctrine which is not altered by any statement in the New Testament.

For this is right. The natural obligation, which is recognized by all systems of morals, comes first; the enforcement through the revealed law of God is added.

Verses 1-4

2. Christian Duties of Children and Parents.

These exhortations naturally follow those of the last section and rest, as the previous ones do, upon the common relation to the Lord. For the children of Christian parents, through the vital fellowship with them, are recognized as ‘holy’ (1 Corinthians 7:14; Acts 16:15), i.e., consecrated to the Lord (so Meyer).

Verses 1-9

IV. Special Christian Duties in Household Relations.

(1.) Of wives and husbands; chap. Ephesians 5:22-33. (2.) Of children and parents; chap. Ephesians 6:1-4. (3.) . Of servants and masters; chap. Ephesians 6:5-9.

Verse 2

Ephesians 6:2. Honor thy father and thy mother. See marginal references for repetitions and citations of Exodus 20:12. ‘Honor’ includes more than obedience; Luther: ‘serve, love and esteem.’ ‘Thy’ should be repeated with ‘mother,’ to give the force of the article which occurs twice: both parents standing on an equality with respect to the honor due them.

Which is. The relative may be taken as explanatory (= the which), or as causal = ‘seeing that it is.’ The latter lays too much stress upon the promise as the motive to obedience.

The first commandment with (lit, ‘in’) promise. First in order, the first one involving a promise. The second commandment in the Decalogue does not contain a specific promise, but adds the general principles of God’s dealings: ‘showing mercy,’ etc. Other explanations: the first that meets us in life; the first of the second table of the law, an important commandment. The first is for fetched; the second is opposed by the fact that the fifth commandment belongs to the first table, respecting duties to God, since parents stand for the time being in the place of God. It is true no commandment ‘with promise’ follows in the Decalogue; but ‘first’ may refer only to what precedes, or, as is preferable, other Mosaic commands may be regarded as forming the rest of the series.

Verse 3

Ephesians 6:3. That (‘ in order that’) it may be well with thee, etc. The Apostle here follows Deuteronomy 5:16, rather than Exodus 20:12; the two passages differing slightly from each other. He, however, omits ‘which the Lord thy God giveth thee,’ This omission gives the promise a wider reference to all lands, since ‘land’ (here rendered ‘earth’) meant in the Old Testament promise the land of Canaan. It is hardly safe to affirm that the original commandment necessarily implied the wider reference; and that Paul omitted the last clause because his readers were not only familiar with the passage but understood it in this wider sense. To give the promise an exclusively spiritual meaning is altogether unwarranted. It is to be applied ‘simply and plainly to individuals, subject of course to the conditions which always belong to such temporal promises’ (Ellicott). The last clause is future in the Greek, but depends on ‘that;’ suggesting a further result

Verse 4

Ephesians 6:4. And ye fathers. ‘And’ suggests that there are duties on the side of the superiors also. ‘Fathers,’ because in the household these represent the ultimate authority (chap. Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:24; Ephesians 5:33); Ephesians 6:1-2 show that no depreciation of the mother is involved.

Provoke, or, ‘fret,’ not your children to wrath, ‘It is the hasty, rough, moody treatment of children, so that, without childish confidence, without joyful obedience, they are repelled and enticed to opposition, defiance, and bitterness. Righteous, wholesome parental anger is not excluded, but painful, arbitrary, grumbling treatment, as well as rough, unjust treatment, without sparing the childish nature’ (Braune).

But bring them up, or, ‘nourish them;’ the same Greek word as in chap. Ephesians 5:29.

In the discipline and admonition of the Lord. This is the element or sphere in which the children should be brought up. ‘Discipline’ includes training as well as punishment; ‘admonition,’ warning and kind exhortation; the former is in deed, the latter in word. ‘Of the Lord’ is not = about the Lord, nor, for the Lord, but prescribed by the Lord, belonging to Him, and administered on His behalf by the father who represents Him. Evidently the Apostle’s language enjoins educational, rather than spasmodic, methods of bringing children to an acceptance of Christ. The responsibility of such training rests primarily on the parents, though they often seek to shift it to pastors and teachers. Many a son is kept from utter ruin by remembering a pious mother’s love, but he is most blessed who has a father that, by proper discipline tempered with affection, has kept the hearts of his children in intimate and trustful allegiance, and by his very demeanor taught the best lessons concerning God and Christ. Such a father remains the strongest ‘evidence of Christianity.’

Verse 5

Ephesians 6:5. Servants; lit, ‘bondmen,’ slaves. While the passage has its very obvious application to all servants, the word itself refers to ‘slaves.’ The last clause of Ephesians 6:8 (‘bondman or free’) does not oppose this view. The application of the principles here involved must legitimately result in the abolition of slavery; but the Apostle rightly deemed it of more importance to secure Christian ethics in the already existing relation than to violently overthrow it. Here is the true point of view for Christian reformers. When these principles fail to secure the proper result, God’s Providence does quickly and retributively what His professed people would not permit the gospel to do.

Be obedient, or, ‘obey,’ as in Ephesians 6:1.

According to the flesh your masters. The best authorities give this order, and the phrase suggests that there is a higher Master (Ephesians 6:7), Others find in the expression a limitation of the idea of servitude, as temporary or merely bodily; but this is not probable.

With fear and trembling; with anxious, conscientious solicitude, in singleness of heart, as the element of their anxious service; opposed to duplicity, in which the inner disposition and outward appearance do not correspond.

As to Christ. The distinctly Christian motive is especially important here,’ as common and secular inducements can have but small influence on the mind of a slave’ (Eadie). The same motive ought to have validity in connection with the duties of any Christian employé, from a cabinet minister to a day laborer. Fidelity is a rare virtue when this basis does not exist.

Verses 5-9

3. Christian Duties of Servants and Masters.

The precepts for the subordinate class come first, but both are exhorted as Christians; the servants to serve as to the Lord, the masters to rule as having a common Master with their servants. The principles here set forth may readily be applied to all industrial and social relations of service and authority.

Verse 6

Ephesians 6:6. Not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers. A further description of the last clause, ‘in singleness,’ etc. ‘Eyeservice’ is a word coined by the Apostle to express that kind of service which seeks the appearance of fidelity, namely, under the master’s eye; hence rendered as ‘men-pleasers,’ solely to please the master.

But as servants (bondmen) of Christ (not ‘as men-pleasers’); doing the will of God from the heart (Greek, ‘soul’), not ‘in the way of eye-service.’ The last clause, however, defines how ‘as servants of Christ’ their service is rendered. Some without sufficient reason join ‘from the heart’ to the next verse.

Verse 7

Ephesians 6:7. With good will. The word is not that sometimes rendered ‘good pleasure,’ but another which implies a well-disposed mind. The work is to be clone ‘from the soul,’ heartily (Ephesians 6:6), but this phrase refers to the disposition to the master.

Doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. This virtually sums up Ephesians 6:6, and returns to the motive to Ephesians 6:5: ‘as to Christ.’

Verse 8

Ephesians 6:8. Knowing; since ye know; encouraging motive for such obedience.

That whatsoever good thing each one doeth. The early manuscripts present a number of various readings of this clause, affecting mainly the order of the words; the better supported variation may be rendered: ‘that each one if he doeth any good thing,’ ‘Each one,’ whether ‘bondman or free;’ ‘good thing’ means what is done ‘as to the Lord, and not to men.’

The same, or, ‘this,’ this good thing, shall he receive again from the Lord; in the day of final recompense, when Christ returns to judge. ‘This he shall then receive in its value as then estimated changed, so to speak, in the currency of that new and final state’ (Alford).

Whether he be bondman or free. To apply this merely to two classes of servants weakens the force of the verse as a whole. The more obvious reference is to servants and masters, thus giving to the verse the character of a general proposition, which affords an easy transition to the succeeding exhortation to the free man in Ephesians 6:9 (‘masters’).

Verse 9

Ephesians 6:9. And ye masters. The position and authority is recognized.

Do the same things to-wards them. ‘The Apostle had stooped to the slave, and he was not afraid to speak with erect attitude to the master. The language is general, and expresses what Calvin well calls jus analogum’ (Eadie). The reference need not be limited to Ephesians 6:7, or Ephesians 6:6, nor extended to every detail of the preceding exhortation.

Forbearing threatening, lit., ‘the threatening,’ your habitual threatening. ‘St. Paul singles out the prevailing vice and most customary exhibition of bad feeling on the part of the master, and in forbidding this naturally includes every similar form of harshness’ (Ellicott).

Knowing (as in Ephesians 6:8) that their Master and yours, lit, ‘both their and your Master,’ according to the best authorities, the variations being numerous. The best paraphrase would be: ‘He who is both their Master and yours.’

Is in heaven. ‘Before Him earthly power does not appear, is of no value; in His time He comes from heaven as Judge; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 (Braune).

If either is there respect of persons with him. With Him there is no partiality; He will not regard a rich man favorably because he is rich; nor yet a poor man favorably because he is poor; comp. Colossians 3:25. The reference is to the final Judgment.

The general principles underlying this section are applicable to all the relations of employer and employee. The latter is warned against eye-service, exhorted to faithful labor ‘as in God’s sight,’ bidden to look unto a higher recompense than the temporal wages, because he serves a higher Master. The former is reminded of the equality of all before God, 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. Our duties to one another are duties to Christ.

Verse 10

Ephesians 6:10. Henceforth. So the oldest authorities read; this suggests an inference. The words ‘my brethren’ must be rejected. Singularly enough the Apostle does not thus address his readers throughout this Epistle.

Be strengthened; the verb is passive. It is God who strengthens (Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17); we are strengthened, and thus become strong, but we are not exhorted to ‘be strong.’ The internal fitness for the fight is from God, as the armor is from Him.

In the Lord, i.e., Christ, in whom is our life and strength; in fellowship with Him, ‘out of weakness’ we are ‘made strong’ (Hebrews 11:34)-

And in the might of his strength. Here, as chap. Ephesians 1:19, the latter word refers to inherent strength, the former to the manifestation of it. The clause explains where our strength resides; until thus strengthened the armor is useless, and the foes too powerful for us. Here our sense of weakness is essential to our strength. Notice, this expression is applied to Christ, as it is to God in chap. Ephesians 1:19.

Verses 10-20


Having exhorted his readers with respect to these various duties, the Apostle most appropriately concludes the practical part of the Epistle by directing them to the true source of strength and defence in the discharge of these duties. The section is readily analyzed: Exhortation to be strengthened within by God’s power (Ephesians 6:10); the need of armor from the nature of the Christian’s foes (Ephesians 6:11-13); the description of the armor, and the one weapon of attack (Ephesians 6:14-17); the prayer and intercession of the Christian soldier (Ephesians 6:18-20). The personal turn given to Ephesians 6:19-20 aptly leads to the concluding paragraph (Ephesians 6:21-24).

Verse 11

Ephesians 6:11. Put on the whole armour, lit, panoply, a term then applied to the entire equipment, offensive and defensive (comp. Ephesians 6:17), of heavy armed infantry, the choice troops of those days. The several parts are spoken of in Ephesians 6:14-17. As Paul was bound by a chain to a soldier thus equipped (comp. Ephesians 6:20), the figure was literally at hand.

Of God. Supplied by God, ‘altogether of a Divine kind, in contrast to the arms of the opponent’ (Braune).

That ye may he able to stud; to stand one’s ground against foes, a military phrase, the opposite of fleeing.

Against the wiles of the devil; in contrast with ‘the whole armor of God.’ ‘Wiles,’ or, stratagems, usually in a bad sense; the plural marking the variety of the attacks. Luther: ‘against the crafty assaults of the devil.’ He is the real enemy against whom we contend (Ephesians 6:12), and without the Divine equipment he will be too powerful for us. The existence of a personal devil (not ‘demon’ here) is assumed.

Verse 12

Ephesians 6:12. For explains why we need to stand against this foe.

Our wrestling; the conflict in which we are engaged; the term being applied to hand to hand contests in athletic games.

Is not against flesh and blood. (The original has the unusual order: ‘blood and flesh.’) Our real conflict as Christians is not with men, nor even with our own human nature. There is no need of softening down the word ‘not.’ The men with whom we may contend ‘are vessels which another uses, instruments which another touches’ (Augustine).

But against principalities, etc. The contrast with what precedes compels us to explain this clause as meaning Satan and his organized forces. ‘Principalities’ and ‘powers’ refer to classes of superhuman beings in his kingdom; the former apparently superior (comp. chap. Ephesians 1:21). But more than this we cannot even conjecture.

Against the world-rulers; a peculiar term, also referring to the evil angels who serve the prince of this world (John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 5:19).

Of this darkness. So the best authorities; the other words having been inserted, probably to explain the peculiar term ‘world-rulers.’ The evil angels exercise dominion in the world, and its depraved character is expressed by ‘this darkness.’

Against the spiritual hosts or wickedness in the heavenly places. There can be little doubt that this is the sense of this difficult clause. The reference is still to evil spirits, but to their collective bands, hosts, armies, forces (the form of the original being indefinite); all these are characterized as being ‘of wickedness.’ The main difficulty, however, is with the last phrase: ‘in the heavenly places, which is found in chap. Ephesians 1:3 also. ‘High places’ is a gloss to avoid using ‘heavenly’ in a description of evil spirits. Some have attempted to obviate the difficulty by connecting the phrase with the former part of the verse, and explaining that the contest is about heavenly things or has its scene in the heavenly places, or, in the Church, etc. But the obvious connection is with what immediately precedes, either with ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness,’ or with the last word alone. The former is preferable on grammatical grounds. ‘That habitation of the evil spirits, which in chap. Ephesians 2:2 was said, when speaking of mere matters of fact, to be in the air, is, now that the difficulty and importance of the Christian conflict is being forcibly set forth, represented as “in the heavenly places,”

over us, and too strong for us without the panoply of God’ (Alford). The word ‘heavenly’ usually has either a local or an ethical meaning; the latter disappears here, but in this connection the local sense has added to it the idea of might, in contrast with ‘flesh and blood.’ The one great practical purpose is to warn us against misapprehending the nature of the spiritual conflict Satan is a read person; his emissaries are numerous and powerful, though like him unseen. It increases their advantage to have us deny their existence. The three great mistakes are: not knowing our own weakness; not knowing the strength of our spiritual foes; not knowing God’s provision for our defence (Ephesians 6:11) which is next set forth in detail.

Verse 13

Ephesians 6:13. Wherefore. Against such superhuman foes we need not only Divine strength (‘in the Lord’) but Divine equipment, defensive and offensive.

Take up. A technical term, used of taking armor in order to put it on.

The whole armour of God; see Ephesians 6:11, and below.

That, in order that, ye may be aide to withstand, a more vivacious expression than that of Ephesians 6:11, as if the assault had begun.

In the evil day. ‘ The war is perpetual; the fight rages less on one day, more on another. It is the evil day, on the approach of death, or during life; longer or shorter, varying in itself, when the Evil One attacks us, and his malignant host infest us’ (Bengel). More particular explanations seem open to objection.

Having accomplished all; whether of preparation or of conflict; not to be referred to one or to the other exclusively, not yet to the final victory an interpretation incompatible with the next phrase.

To stand, i.e., either to stand firm until the combat is over, or, to stand victorious after it is over. The former seems more accordant with usage.

Verse 14

Ephesians 6:14. Stand therefore. Stand ready for the fight, as the description of the armor indicates; others include the thought of standing in the fight. Standing victorious is the result, but is not referred to here.

Having girt your loins with truth. Putting on the girdle was the first act in arming. ‘An ungirded soldier would be a contradiction in terms’ (Meyer). In the East, where flowing robes are worn, the girdle is necessary, and in the case of a soldier, it not only kept the armor in place, but covered some of the most vulnerable parts of the body. It was also used to support the sword. In the Christian, armor ‘truth’ is the girdle. By this is not meant the word of God, which is mentioned in Ephesians 6:17, nor sincerity, nor mere truthfulness (in the sense of telling the truth); nor does the figure suggest a mere ornament. It refers to the state of heart answering to God’s truth, the agreement of our convictions with what God has revealed. It is based on faith; ‘and indeed without faith no attempt will be made to put on the armor.

Having put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate was in many respects the most important piece of defensive armor, since it protected the heart and lungs. ‘Righteousness’ here cannot mean our own righteousness, but that which God provides, since the whole armor is from Him. But righteousness from Him is both imputed and inwrought; He both justifies and sanctifies His people. Both are probably included here, but more particularly the moral purity wrought in us by the Spirit of God, which has as its necessary basis God’s accounting us righteous for Christ’s sake.

Verse 15

Ephesians 6:15. And having shod your foot. The Roman soldier wore sandals, in the soles of which nails were thickly studded, to give firm footing. Doubtless Paul had this in mind.

With the preparedness, not, ‘preparation,’ but promptitude of soul, readiness to act, giving firmness and constancy to the conduct. This ‘preparedness’ is more than a natural readiness or courage, it comes from the gospel of peace, the gospel whose contents are peace with God. This gives alacrity and courage to fight boldly for the sake of eternal peace. Peaceableness toward men is not excluded; but there is no reference to readiness to preach the gospel. That is the aggressive, not the defensive part, of our duty; and, strictly speaking, the three parts of the soldier’s equipment already mentioned are not his armor, still less his weapons, but only the preparation for these.

Verse 16

Ephesians 6:16. In all things, i.e., on all occasions. The received reading is, however, well supported, and means ‘in addition to all.’

Taking up, as in Ephesians 6:13.

The shield of faith. The large shield of ancient times is referred to; four feet long, and two and a half wide. It was held on the left arm, and could be used to protect the entire body. In the Christian armor ‘faith’ is the shield; and we should have this on all occasions. ‘Faith entirely covers and defends the Christian; as God’s gift effecting salvation (chap. Ephesians 2:8), bringing about forgiveness of sins in the past (chap. Ephesians 1:7), affording for every moment access to God (chap. Ephesians 3:12), assuring in advance of eternal life, by securing to us the gift of the Holy Ghost (chap. Ephesians 1:13-14), rendering holy and without blame (Ephesians 1:4)’ (Braune). This is better than to restrict it to justifying faith.

Wherewith. Literally, ‘in which,’ when the darts light upon it

Shall be able. This does not point to the last great fight: the conflict was after the arming.

Quench all the fiery darts of the evil one, the personal Evil One. Satan is represented as throwing many (‘all’) burning darts or javelins at the Christian. In ancient warfare this was common; the darts were caught on the large shield covered with tough hides, and extinguished by the contact. The emphasis is on the word ‘fiery,’ pointing to what inflames the passions, corrupts the heart, and fills our mind with horrible thoughts. But a special explanation is not absolutely necessary.

Verse 17

Ephesians 6:17. And receive, as offered to you by the Lord.

The helmet of salvation. The protection for the head of the ancient soldier, and his chief ornament, was the helmet. The Christian’s helmet is ‘salvation,’ i.e., the fact that he is saved, salvation appropriated by faith. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, we have a similar, but not an identical figure. Here the helmet is not, as there, ‘the hope of salvation,’ but the fact of being saved. This protects the head, and enables the Christian to face the adversary.

And the sword of the Spirit. This too is to be received, as offered. It is the one offensive weapon, the short sword for close combat. It is from the Spirit, made by the Spirit. It is also the weapon which the Spirit uses, but that is not asserted here.

Which is the word of God, i.e., the gospel. There is no immediate reference to the written word of God, but we must thus apply it. Then the inspired preachers spake the gospel: now it has been written for us. The Bible, especially the New Testament, has been the one great weapon of attack in the Christian warfare for centuries; hence we may believe that, so far as we are concerned, it is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, here proffered as our weapon. On the Christian armor, see Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, especially the scenes at the Interpreter’s house, and in the Valley of Humiliation. Too many practical writers have overdone the exposition of the passage by frivolous analogies.

Verse 18

Ephesians 6:18. This verse is to be connected with ‘Stand therefore’ (Ephesians 6:14). Prayer must attend the putting on of the armor and the subsequent use of it.

With all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit. This is the correct order, the emphasis resting on the phrase ‘with all prayer and supplication.’ Prayer in general is meant by the former term, special petition by the latter: every form of both is commanded. ‘With,’ literally, ‘through,’ as if this were the instrument by which the praying took place. Some prefer to translate it ‘throughout;’ while the seeming repetition of thought has led others to disconnect the phrase from ‘praying.’ But the Apostle is enjoining prayer with great fulness of expression. This phrase describes it as earnest and varied; ‘at all times’ defines it as constant; while ‘in the Spirit’ (which is to be joined with ‘praying’) sets forth the necessary sphere of Christian prayer. ‘The Holy Spirit, in whose blessed and indwelling influences, and by whose merciful aid, we are enabled to pray (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), yea, and who himself intercedes for us’ (Ellicott).

And watching thereunto, i.e., with reference to this varied, constant prayer in the Spirit, since such prayer cannot be maintained without personal watchfulness for that very purpose.

In, not the same word as before.

All perseverance and supplication. This is nearly equivalent to persevering supplication; in this they should abide. Watchfulness unto prayer leads to sympathy with others, and to constant supplication for all the saints, i.e., believers, who are consecrated to God and thus become sanctified; the word including both ideas.

Verse 19

Ephesians 6:19. And on my behalf, especially for him among the saints. Not for himself, but for the sake of the gospel he thus speaks.

That utterance may be given; from God.

In the opening of my month, i.e., when I speak for God, the reference being, not to the quality or source of the discourse, but to the simple fact of speaking.

In boldness is emphatic, and to be connected with to make known, etc., which indicates the purpose for which he desired utterance and asked their supplications.

The mystery of the gospel; the mystery contained in the gospel; comp. chaps. Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:9.

Verse 20

Ephesians 6:20. In behalf of which, i.e., the mystery of the gospel, I am an ambassador in a chain. His preaching had made him a prisoner, but this is not the important thought; even when chained to a Roman soldier, he was still an ambassador of God to proclaim the gospel mystery. In view of his office (Ephesians 6:19) they ought thus to pray for him, still more in view of his condition.

I may speak boldly; lit., ‘be bold,’ as I ought to speak; as becomes my office,’ that he might expound his message in a manner that became him and his high commission, that his imprisonment might have no dispiriting effect upon him, and that he might not in his addresses compromise the name and dignity of an ambassador for Christ’ (Eadie).

Verse 21

Ephesians 6:21. But. With this word of transition the Apostle passes to his brief conclusion.

That ye also; as well as those who are near him. Some explain: you as well as the Colossians to whom I have just written; but this will hold good only when the priority of that Epistle is otherwise established (see Introduction, § 2). Alford paraphrases: ‘As I have been going at length into matters concerning you, so if you also on your part, wish to know,’ etc. But this is far from natural.

The things concerning me, how I fare, not, ‘what I do,’ for he did but one thing (Meyer). The two phrases point respectively to his external circumstances, and to his demeanor therein.

Tychicus. The bearer of this Epistle and that to the Colossians; mentioned several times in the New Testament (see references), but nothing more known of him than that he was a native of Asia and a faithful companion of Paul.

The beloved brother; a fellow-Christian, probably known to them (Acts 20:4).

And faithful minister in the Lord; ‘faithful,’ ‘trusty,’ but without reference to the trustworthiness of his message, which is taken for granted. The word ‘minister’ is that sometimes rendered ‘deacon,’ but can scarcely have that sense here. Whether it points to his preaching the gospel, or to his ministering to Paul personally, is difficult to decide; comp. Colossians 4:7, which seems to favor the former view. But Paul seems to have employed him in such personal errands. Yet his ministering was ‘in the Lord,’ since what he did for Paul was done as Christ’s work, in fellowship with Him. Some join the last phrase with both nouns.

Shall make known to you all things, i.e., ‘concerning me,’ etc. In the Greek this comes before ‘Tychicus,’ etc.

Verses 21-24


Personal Intelligence by Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21-22); closing benedictions, peace and grace (Ephesians 6:23-24).

Verse 22

Ephesians 6:22. Whom I sent. The sending would be a past act, when the letter was received. Meyer says, sent from Colosse, but the same phrase occurs in Colossians 4:8, so that nothing can be inferred as to the priority of writing, or in delivering the letters.

For this very purpose, namely, that ye may know the things respecting us. This phrase ‘merely extends the circle: the situation, not merely of the Apostle, but of his companions also (Colossians 4:10-14; Philemon 1:10; Philemon 1:23-24). Paul does not send these merely in his own interest’ (Braune). Comp. Colossians 4:9, where the reading is in doubt.

And that he may comfort your hearts. This may refer to their need of consolation in view of the imprisonment of the Apostle; ‘it is better, however, owing to our ignorance of the exact state of the Church, to leave the precise reference undefined, and to extend it generally to all particulars in which they needed it’ (Ellicott). It is evident that the Apostle sought to maintain fellowship among the churches by sending such messengers, to give such intelligence as would strengthen the hearts of the distant brethren. The press in these days does much of this duty, but communication through beloved brethren will always remain an essential part of wider Christian fellowship.

Verse 23

Ephesians 6:23. Peace to the brethren, etc. This double greeting is quite peculiar: it is in the third person, although Ephesians 6:21-22 were in the second; ‘peace’ comes before ‘grace’ (Ephesians 6:24), reversing the usual order, while the two-fold form is quite as peculiar. (See further, at close of Ephesians 6:24. J ‘Peace ‘is to be taken as usual; comp. chap. Ephesians 1:2. ‘Brethren’ refers to the readers (= ‘you’); the next verse seems to extend the benediction.

And love with faith; the latter is pre-supposed in the use of the term ‘brethren;’ in inseparable connection with this he wishes for love, Christian love of the brethren. Without faith love cannot exist; ‘faith is the characteristic of proper love (as Galatians 5:6), love is the characteristic of proper faith’ (Harless).

From God the Father, etc. The form is the usual one; comp. chap. Ephesians 1:2.

Verse 24

Ephesians 6:24. Grace, lit, ‘the grace,’ the grace of God in Christ (comp. the usual benediction).

With all them that love, etc. The reference here seems to be to all Christians; comp. the anathema in 1 Corinthians 16:22.

In incorruption, not, ‘in sincerity,’ which forms an anti-climax, not ‘in eternity’ for which another expression would be used. It qualifies ‘love,’ defining its element or manner, and indicating its character as ‘perennial, immutable, and incorruptible’ (Ellicott).

The best authorities omit the word ‘Amen.’ In the received text, ‘Amen’ occurs at the close of nearly every book of the New Testament. It is rarely genuine; the scribes would naturally add it. The subscription ‘written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus,’ like all the others, is a later addition, though in this case probably correct, which is rarely the case.

This wish differs from all other Pauline benedictions in its definition of Christians, a definition that forms a fitting close to an Epistle having as its theme ‘the Church in Christ Jesus,’ since this Church is made up of ‘them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption.’ Extensively, the Church is not bounded by those external limits necessarily established by ecclesiastical organizations, nor by those logical ones as necessarily defined by detailed dogmatic statement. Still less is it confined by the empirical partition walls set up by morbid and fanatical, or spasmodic and mystical religionism. The empire of love is wider than all these. Intensively, however, this definition opposes the view that the Church can dwell in the region of indifferentism, ignorance, doubt, or unbelief. Her characteristic is love, love for the one living Object, ‘the Lord Jesus Christ.’ And love for Him who is the Truth seeks to know Him better; to see Him as He is. Speculative doubt about His Person may not drive away love, but it certainly does not promote it. Mere ‘sincerity’ is not sufficient; the love must move in a sphere, partake of a character, which is ‘perennial, immutable, incorruptible,’ and Christ’s grace alone can produce such a love. Those who possess it are ‘in Christ,’ of His Body, which, like the Head, shall, in the fuller and higher sense, live and love ‘in incorruption,’ through the same ‘grace.’ Gerlach well says: ‘The grace which is the cause of our love to Christ, becomes at the same time the reward of our love to Him: all may be hoped from Him, if one loves Him; all feared, if one does not love Him.’

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/ephesians-6.html. 1879-90.
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