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Section Eleven: 6:1-12
We have just seen that the wife is to submit to the husband and now we move into other sorts and depths of submission. We see now that the child is to obey their parents as well as honor them. A double hit for the child, but there is certainly a reward for proper actions on the part of the child - long life on earth.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Children obey your parents in the Lord - why? It is the right thing to do - simple enough.
A pastor I once knew years ago took this passage to an extreme which led him into trouble with the law. He misconstrued this verse to mean that if you lead a child to Christ, that child is to obey you and no longer obey their natural parents. He actually took some boys into his home as his own under this premise, alienating them completely from their natural parents.
This is not the meaning of the passage and this man was never corrected by his association for his false doctrine, nor for his intervention into the families that he sent into chaos. He was listed in the association’s yearly compilation of pastors/churches for several years after and to my knowledge they never once cautioned him about his false doctrine.
The phrase "in the Lord" is better related to the child obeying, rather than to the parents. The child is to obey the parent as an outworking of the life committed to Christ. This is part of their lifestyle; it is part of their being to be an obedient child.
This is the proper lifestyle for a Christian child. It is right and it will please God and it will result in a reward of long life on this earth.
I have taken no official survey, but I have talked to many older folks and have asked them if they were obedient children, and every one of them said that they had been.
1. I would imagine the first point to consider is just what the idea presented in the last verse means - that phrase "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood" - what did Paul mean. Is he saying that our struggles with fleshly desires are not the important battle? Is he saying that our only real fight is with the Devil?
No, I don’t think this passage is an out for us in the battle with fleshly and personal desires. It has to do with the fact that we do not battle with other men, we do not have to settle disputes with other denominations, and we do not have to fight those in our church. In the context, we don’t have to fight with those that we have relationships with.
Our real battle is the spiritual darkness around us which really includes the world, the Devil and all lost people that might oppose us and our work for God.
Years ago there was a book relating to our struggle with "THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL. This would have us believe, as was the teaching of many back then, that we fight all three on an equal basis. Yet, this verse seems to speak to the main battle being the world and the devil. The flesh or our bent toward sin is a different problem than the battle that is mentioned here.
Our personal bent toward sin is our personal bent toward self-centeredness. We do what we desire, rather than what the Spirit desires. This is a matter of personal decisions of the mind and this is the ease with which they should be settled.
The world and the Devil are another thing. They also attach us in the mind but it is those outward temptations that our personal battle is with. The Devil tempts, but it is our personal mind’s decisions that determine our sin or not. It is that decision making that is centered in the area of our commitment to God. We are committed or we are not.
That decision making session is the place where we need the armour of God, which is where we need the power of his might. The Devil cannot force us into sin, his legions cannot arrange circumstances so that we must sin, and the world cannot make itself so beautiful that we must follow its ways.
STAND is the word. Prepare yourself to stand and not fall - that is the passage’s message for us. Our decision making is that standing or falling.
2. We saw that children are to obey and honor their parents. Most writers state that obedience is for childhood and honor is for life. I would concur I believe, with this line of thought.
There is a current phenomenon that might relate to this. There are many grown children living at home. To an extent there should be a bit of obedience to them in this case even if grown and making your own living. Some might say that this would be covered in "honoring" and if that is the case then I would agree.
The grown child under the roof of the parent should adhere to the norm of the house as far as lifestyle and activities. If they don’t want to abide by the parent’s restrictions, then a move out would be appropriate.
I would want to think about "honor" for a moment. Just what does it mean to honor your parent? Is it complete obedience to their wishes? Is it obedience to their choice of a spouse for you? Just how and what is this honor that we are to show to our parent.
In general it is giving due respect to the parent. It is keeping a proper relationship with the parent. It is listening to the parent, even if you don’t accept and follow their wishes, an attentive ear should be theirs.
Let’s list some points for the honor of the parent.
a. It is the child’s responsibility to honor, not the parents place to live and act so as to deserve honor, though that would be nice in the equation.
b. It is the child respecting the position of the parent in their life, not necessarily over them, but an integrated part of their life.
c. The word relates to placing a value upon the parent. Valuing who and what they are. Valuing their values might also relate. You don’t have to live by their values, but giving them the honor of listening to their values and understanding them and not demeaning the parent or value system.
d. One of the usages of the word is to revere or venerate. We don’t have to put them on a pedestal and bow down to them, but we should see them as something of great value to us.
The care homes of our country are full of parents that have no visitors - not even their children. This does not reveal any great value on the part of the child.
e. Matthew 15:4 tells us that the alternative to proper honoring is cursing of the parent and the result is to be death. This is of note in that God promises long life for those that honor correctly.
Not cursing would indicate the use of loving and correct terms with the parent rather than cutting and hurtful words that demean and destroy.
Just a side note, the Life Application Bible writers are a little sloppy at this point. They mention "Matthew 15:4. This verse quotes or is quoted inEx 20:12;Deuteronomy 5:16" Just how can a New Testament verse be quoted in the Old Testament that was written hundreds of years prior?
f. Patience should be the watchword in this relationship. If the parent is not what they should be, the child is obligated to honor anyway, however they can have hope in the fact that most parents mellow over the years and it may come easier to properly honor them.
g. Know, some parents aren’t easily honored. It will take work and effort on the part of the child to properly fulfill their Scriptural obligation.
h. As a free word of advice, to those of you that still have living parents - get to know them. Sit and talk to them and mostly listen to them. Listen to their stories, listen to their hard ships, listen to their unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and listen to their fulfilled hopes and dreams. Know them before you lose them.
So many of my generation did not talk to their folks and after they are gone we realize we know little about them or what their life was like. It is only by piecing together little bits of information from many many sources that I have gotten to know a little bit about my parents, and what they were like and why they related to me as they did or didn’t do.
It is only by knowledge that you can really properly honor them as you can and should. I am sixty-five and still putting together the pieces that I have gleaned over the years and the picture is quite spotty at best.
Parents, I would suggest that you start putting down notes of information that come to mind about your life. Your kids may not be interested, but I’d guess that most will one day realize that they would like to know you better. If you are gone it will be impossible, unless you have given them the information that they will need.
On a personal basis, my kids are going to be so sick of knowing me that they will one day quite reading my sermons and writings that are full of illustrations from my life. They will have ample opportunity if they desire. I would encourage all parents to give their kids this option.
I. Honor or respect for the parent relates to the honor and respect, or lack there of, in our society for older people. In years gone buy elders were something to be desired in a community or society, but today they are mostly the cast aways of society and relegated to the old folks home or to the senior centers. There is little respect for them or their knowledge and this is sad for their lives are filled with knowledge that could teach and guide the present generation.
The boomer generation is going to change this some. They are such a large economic block that the younger generation is going to have to get to know them to be able to get their money. Sad that the respect of elders has to be on the basis of economic status rather than a societal desire to honor those that have so much wisdom.
3. I think that we have had a real opportunity to see verse four played out on our televisions of late - at least the wrong side of the verse. The parent is not to provoke the child to wrath. The self help shows have been overflowing with examples of bad parenting and the children that are in the throws of wrath and rejection of parental authority. Teens that have been provoked over and over are viewed on television as those taking drugs, drinking, smoking and having sexual relationships.
Most of these teens are in the mess they are in due to some of the bad parenting they have been under. The parents have, by their improper discipline, provoked their children into actions that are not fitting for them.
The parenting of today is based in part upon the teaching/writing of Dr. Spock and he has supposedly confessed that his parenting information was false and just plain wrong yet the parents of today continue to follow in his muddied foot steps and have added to the problem by providing the kids with everything they want when they want it.
The kids of America know they have been raised incorrectly, but they enjoy the toys so continue on as if nothing is wrong and fail to learn the meaningful experience of waiting for satisfaction, and working for the things that they desire.
4. In this passage the apostle speaks to the fact that we wrestle with the Devil and his minions. We are to be wrestling with them, not playing with them! We have Christians messing around with Ouija boards. We have seen them in churches - what are people thinking? Or are they even thinking? Exposing their children and youth to one of the Devil’s toys and making it a fun activity!
We have Christians involved in Halloween; we have churches and Christian colleges involved in Christianized Halloween called harvest festivals - black cats, ghosts and all! Again, what are people thinking - we can’t call ourselves Christian and wrap ourselves in satanic memorabilia and look spiritual to the lost around us.
I recently read a thread on a message board relating to whether Christians should watch television. The overwhelming attitude was that there is nothing wrong with it. Those that feel it is okay railed against those that felt it was evil by saying it is no more evil than a car or a stove or any other modern convenience. One apt lady observed that cars are not without their own evil side.
I posted the following and not one person responded to the post. "Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things." How do you follow this verse watching television?"
You can’t possibly fill your mind with good while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or some of the other programming on television. The evil and the trash and the vile language sent over the airwaves are the worst kind of air pollution we could conceive, and we invite it into our children’s minds for their contemplation. We invite it into our own minds for our own self pollution.
Imagine how God must feel when He is waiting for our fellowship and He sees us watching some of the sex scenes on television, or some of the wholesale murders, and corruption. This is God’s mind, this is God’s time, this is God’s property and we pollute it with garbage.
5. Barnes suggests some reasons why the child should obey the parent.
"(1.) because the good order of a family, and hence of the community, depends on it; no community or family being prosperous where there is not due subordination in the household.
"(2.) Because the welfare of the child depends on it; it being of the highest importance that a child should be early taught obedience to law, as no one can be prosperous or happy who is not thus obedient.
"(3.) Because the child is not competent, as yet, to reasons on what is right, or qualified to direct himself; and, while that is the case, he must be subject to the will of some other person.
"(4.) Because the parent, by his age and experience, is to be presumed to be qualified to direct and guide a child.
"(5.) It is important, because the family government is designed to be an imitation of the government of God."
The whole nature of the child is at risk if the parent isn’t doing their job and if the child isn’t obedient to that parent. The personal safety is an issue, the personal life is at issue, and the personal salvation of the child is at issue - all must be guided and nurtured to maturity.
Studies have found that an obedient child will react to the parent correctly when in a dangerous situation. The disciplined child will know to hearken to the parents commands, while the non-disciplined child may or may not adhere to commands that will lead to safety. They may do their own thing, and go further toward danger, they might panic and freeze resulting in further danger or they might, if the parent and child are fortunate, follow the parents command to safety. Other studies have shown that there are many other benefits to an obedient child.
Barnes elaborates on number five by saying that the child will be accustomed to this relationship to God when maturity comes and the child will naturally follow what he already knows.
6. Let’s explore this idea of relationships in the family and work place as they relate to the person’s relationship to the church. The same relationship exists. The leaders are over the congregation, but they are also under God, thus how they treat the congregation will be part of their accountability. How we, as congregants, react to the leaders is also our responsibility before the Lord.
Let’s think of some situation and how this might work out.
a. The leaders make a decision which you disagree with. What will be your reaction to them? It should be polite, and it should be Christian, but you may do some different things. You can let it slide, leaving them to the responsibility if things go wrong and do what you are supposed to do - be under their leadership. You might go to them in a Christian manner and voice your concern/disapproval and submit to their reaction to that whether positive or negative. You could also do as many do today, find another church.
I would submit that the choice may relate to how serious the disagreement is and whether it is Biblically based or not. Do you have a clear command or prohibition against what the leaders have done? Do you know for a fact that there was an error in their decision making process, etc.?
b. The leaders do something which is against the church documents (constitution, by-laws, or doctrinal statement). You have the same choices as above, but you have a more serious basis for leaving if there is no change or response. You need to also, know just what powers the leaders have. Are the leaders able to change the documents without congregation approval, etc.?
Congregations must know what the documents contain. I was filling in at a small church and finally was given the constitution. I went through it and found that the pastor had no vote on any committee, no vote as a member of the congregation, and no power to move or change anything in the church. On top of this there was one committee which had total power over the Christian education in the church and it answered to no one, not the pastor, not the elders, and not the congregation. They could have suspended Sunday school and instituted the weekly movie and nobody could have said a thing.
Know your church documents before you join a church and feel free to educate those in leadership if they don’t know them.
c. Leaders need to know their people and what they are thinking. Many leaders make changes that are against the wishes of the entire church. When they find opposition they feel persecuted - well they shouldn’t, they should know what the congregation desires for their church.
The Bible is clear on a few things relating to what "church" is to be, but outside of those stipulations there seems to be wide latitude. Music is to be a part of the church, but what type of music should be up to the congregation and leaders to decide as a unit, not the leaders doing it in the board room.
The Bible is clear on the need for fellowship, but little is seen as to how this was accomplished other than in gatherings and meals. Again, the congregation and leaders should determine what would work best for them.
The Bible is clear on the ordinance of the Lord’s Table. How this is carried out is also up to the entire congregation, though the leaders may vary it from time to time to keep the service from becoming mundane.
d. The leaders may use the documents to wield their power, which is not right either. I knew of a Bible college where the board and faculty were at odds as to the running of the school. The board thought that the faculty had the power and that they had to just buck the faculty as best they could. The president of the school asked one of the faculty to go through the documents and figure out the structure of the school via the documents. Odd, that after twenty plus years someone decided to wonder, but the faculty member set about the task.
The result was that the board had total and complete power to do anything it wanted, but it could delegate what it wanted to delegate to the faculty. The result of finding they had total power, was that the board put a statement to the faculty that the faculty would adhere to what the board said without question. The "or leave" was not in the document, but the faculty obliged the board by vacating the school.
The board also changed the school’s purpose statement, which was a part of the constitution which they were not allowed to do by the constitution. They found they had power and they used it for their own purposes. I won’t comment on the purpose of God in all of this, but have to wonder, since every man on the faculty had been called to serve at the school specifically and were serving on a bare minimum of support that they had to raise themselves.
Power is delegated by the Lord, but how power is used will be overseen by the Lord as well.
7. The passage is clear that the Devil will use any and every trick that he has to bring about problems for the believer. He will use temptation, he will cunningly bring about situations were we need to make a split second decision that had better be the right one. He is able to trick believers into coming against other believers.
Beware of all that goes on in your life, you may be looking to fight the Devil, but it may well be a misguided to sinful believer that brings you into a problem situation.
A pastor was accused of making obscene phone calls from the church to one of the ladies of the church. The woman hated the pastor and was bent on getting rid of him. The storm finally was quieted when the woman finally confessed to her sin and guilt before the congregation, but due to the upheaval within the church the pastor was forced to leave within a few months, even though he had done nothing, and the falsehood had been corrected. The rumors and innuendo did not stop with the confession and a good man was forced to move on.
Another pastor had lead his church through a very hard decision making process. The vote was unanimous not to move forward on a project. There was one family that was not present for the vote because they disagreed with the pastor very strongly on the project. About a month after the vote, the man that disagreed approached the pastor and announced that the church wanted to take another vote. Truth revealed that the man had gone to every home in the church and convinced all families to now oppose the pastor on the project.
Understanding that the congregation saw the man as the leader rather than the pastor, the pastor resigned and moved on to a ministry where his leadership was of use.
I am not saying that one should mistrust church members, but they should give due caution to all situations of life and know that it isn’t always the out and out sinner that can cause you problems.
8. The Christian is to put on the whole armour of God. There are two distinct items and two distinct reasons for the two. The believer is to do something, yet God is to do something. The distinct reasons are that we cannot do it alone, we need God’s assist, and God wants to assist us, but we have to allow Him to do so.
Some are so confident, Constable observes, that they do not rely on God, while others, he also correctly observes, are so afraid to do that they shrink from doing for fear of failure. Both extremes are outside the idea of the passage and are also outside the will of God for our lives.
We must balance our confidence and our fear with the power of God that is needed for victory over the Devil.
We might point out that there are two sources of this false confidence. We may think we are so great and spiritual that we don’t need any help. On the other hand we may not appreciate the Devils power and we don’t see him as a real threat, thus having confidence to overcome this simple and puny enemy.
9. Constable seems to divide sin into the three items, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life that John mentions in 1 John 2:15-17. He seems to separate these from the Devil. What do you think? Are these separate from the wiles of the Devil?
I view these as the internal dialogue that we have with ourselves before we sin, but I am not sure just how separated these are from the Devil’s world and ways. The Devil isn’t inside our head causing the conflict, we can do that quite effectively ourselves, but He is outside bringing his world into our view for our consideration.
No, he does not cause the lust or the pride, but he is most likely the originator of our thinking along those lines because of the situations we find ourselves in - situations of his making, as well as situations of our allowing - we should have brains enough to stay away from situations that will cause us to consider sin.
Instead of watching "a little porn" and taking the chance of falling into problems, stay away from it all together. Instead of having "just a social drink" and taking the chance of falling into problems, stay away from it all together. Instead of going to the strip club (this applies to both sexes) to "see what it is like" and taking the chance of falling into problems, stay away from it all together. Don’t toy with sin for many are the believers that have gotten tripped up with "A LITTLE" sin.
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Not only are they to be obedient, but they are to honor their parents. Now, the usual question is "How long do I have to honor them?" and the answer is not given in this text, but since there is silence on the when, maybe we should take it to mean that the child is to always honor their parent. This would seem logical to me.
"Which is the first commandment with promise" is from the ten commandments. Exodus 10:12 "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." It however is not the "first" commandment, it is indeed the fifth in the Exodus listing. It is however the first of the second section of commandments. The first four are related to God and His worship, while the last six relate to our relationships to man. (See also Deuteronomy 5:16"Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.")
Might we take a moment and review the ten - we all tend to think we know them, but I wonder how many of us could list them if asked.
1. Don’t have any other Gods before Him.
2. Don’t make any graven images.
3. Don’t bow down to them if there are some already made.
4. Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain.
5. Honor thy father and mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s belongings.
Note should be made also that this is the only commandment put in the positive spin. Years ago when on the faculty of a small Bible institute the faculty was admonished that the student handbook was made up of negative rules. The board suggested we redo the handbook in positive terms, so the faculty spent many hours rewriting the entire book to show a positive spin rather than a list of don’ts. Humm, if don’ts are good enough for the Lord why not us?
Don’t is not a bad word, and parents need to know this and use the word now and then when speaking to their children. Restrictions are not always bad; they indeed are good in the family. God has many restrictions in His family, why in the world shouldn’t we?
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Note that God is asking for good behavior on the part of the child and to encourage it He gives a positive reward to bring the child to desire to behave well. This is actually a Biblical principle that these child experts of today are encouraging us to use. If you do this, then you will gain this reward. However, notice that the reward is way far off in the future, not something that the child will gain immediately. This encourages one of the growth developments that children should learn - putting off gratification. We teach our kids today that they should get everything that they want - NOW - not in the future when they can afford it, or when they have done some work to earn it.
Now is the key to the now generation and believe me we have done a good job of training this present generation of kids in the NOW. They want it all NOW, not when they are fifty and have earned the money to pay for it ALL.
This is part of the problem with government, it is run by a bunch of spoiled elected officials that got it all RIGHT NOW when they WANTED it and are not willing to wait for anything. The national debt is on the increase due to their unbridled spending to get it ALL for EVERYONE that WANTS it ALL!
"Live long" is of interest in three ways. First, that it is a reward for a proper lifestyle as a child, and secondly it is not wrong to want to live long. Thirdly, to not want to die must be somewhat normal if we want to live long here.
Let’s expand on those for a moment.
a. Reward for living correctly. What an encouragement to the child to have a reward from God for living as they ought. It is also a reward to the parent because they child will not precede them in death most likely and the grand children will most likely be forthcoming.
b. Wanting to live longer. It is natural to want to live in this life as long as possible. Very few find a desire to check out early, and most of them do so because of some mental condition that puts them into depression.
To want to live longer is not abnormal for the believer, for even Paul seemed to plan and have desires toward the future.
c. Not wanting to die. Some have criticized believers that were terminal for wanting to live. To fear death might be something to be considered, but to want to live is most natural. Death is the last ENEMY, according to Paul the apostle so why would we want to throw ourselves into the enemy’s arms?
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The term translated "provoke" and the term translated "wrath" are the same Greek word and the word only appears in this verse. It can relate to provoke or anger or wrath or exasperate. The thought of the verse would seem to run along the line that the father (or mother) is not to cause anger or exasperation in the child. Maybe more to the point, the parent is not to anger the child to exasperation. I might add that the present tense would indicate not provoking on a continuing basis, which might allow for an occasional provoking.
Now, to relate this to our modern society I am not sure that we can. The teenager of today is full of anger to begin with, they are against all authority, and they are quick to let you know all about it. To say hello might well set some teens off into a fit of rage. Indeed, this is true of many children. Say no and the items at hand will be in the air headed your direction.
So, how do we understand this verse and apply it to our own lives today?
a. As Dr. Phil says, "Pick your battles." Be sure what you are going to say is worth the battle that will come forth. He also adds that no matter what happens when you have started a battle that you are sure that you win.
b. Be sure you are right and that what you are going to say or prohibit is really wrong and not just you’re on the spot opinion.
c. Start when the child is a baby to bring them up properly - that is what the last part of the verse is telling us. Raise them properly and the "attitude" won’t develop. The child will want to obey and honor you because of their upbringing.
d. If you failed to do "c" then you will have to rely on "a" and "b" and find some help from the word on how to relate to one that dislikes you.
In case anyone wants my opinion, the anger of today’s child/teen is often caused by improper upbringing in the first place. Correct your mistake and the anger may well disappear.
Now, the last part of the verse is where we are going to run into trouble. "Nurture" is a word that can include chastisement and discipline. It is the whole educational process of bringing a child into adulthood. It is the loving instruction at the Word, it is the loving feeding at the table, it is the loving kindness when they have been hurt by another, and it is the loving discipline when they have erred. From kissing to spanking if the need should arise - this is what nurture is.
All of the above is to be done in accord with the admonitions of the Lord, from His Word. The Word should be our guide to all nurture as we travel through life with our families.
"Admonition" is an interesting term. It isn’t the soft cuddly term that you might imagine. It is used in Titus 3:10 "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;" This would not necessarily be an easy time of admonition with an heretick. I have dealt with people that were in doctrinal error and they aren’t easily, if ever, convinced that they are in the wrong. This might relate to how teens today relate - they are just as set in their incorrect behavior as the heretic is his doctrine.
The verse seems to indicate whatever measures are required to bring up the child in a proper manner.
We now shift to another relationship that deals with the servant’s submission to the master. This is a forced submission by way of the relationship itself, but the servant should, in their mind, submit willingly to the master in light of the Savior. That submission will rather naturally result in a better servant that is a more willing participant in the relationship.
Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
We need to understand this text in light of the position of the slave. The slave was considered as one of three classifications of farming equipment. There were the slaves, the animals and the equipment - just a different class of farm equipment; a slave is only a tool that is able to talk. A sick or maimed slave was not worth expending any effort - simply a tool that won’t work any longer.
"Obedient" is the same word that is used in verse one where we saw the child was to "obey" the parent. There is an element of listening in this word. It means that the one that is obeying is listening to the one giving the request. The listening would also result in a better execution of the request which will result in a better servant or child.
I don’t mean to demean computer telephone and email support people, but seldom do I find one that is interested in listening to the request. Often they will interrupt me in the middle of my first question with an answer to a question I have not asked, nor was I in the process of asking.
I recall one email exchange where I asked a question and the result was a long-winded reply that did not relate to my question at all. I replied that I would like for the person to read my original question and answer it rather than the one I did not ask. The reply to my reply was not actually a reply to my reply, nor the original question, it was a reply to some figment of his imagination, for it had nothing to do with my question either. Finally on the third try, he read my question and answered it fairly quickly.
When you relate to another, be sure that you listen to what is being said, and listen carefully so that you can respond as you ought rather than as you desire.
I find, also, that many Christians in leadership positions have a tendency to ask questions to show interest, but they seldom are really listening nor interested. If you ask questions, listen with interest to the answer.
The servant is to listen carefully to the request of the master so that they can do the task with the utmost clarity and quickness.
"To them that are [your] masters" is one word and that is the word that is normally translated Lord. This master is to have the response that the Lord Himself would expect. Our response to the employers is to be as if we are responding to Christ - a very heavy responsibility we have in the workplace.
The verb "obedient" is an imperative and a present tense - a command for ongoing living as a servant, or in our society, an employee.
The rest of the verse explains just how this is to be done - in fear and trembling and in singleness or simplicity of the heart - as unto Christ. We seem to be responsible for taking this obedience very seriously.
Since we are relating this to the employee relationship - and it is such a relationship. Servant is a bondservant, one that has placed themselves under the authority of another. This describes well the employee/employer relationship. I, however, do not see this relationship, nor this attitude in the work place.
I see lack of respect, I see lack of obedience, I see lack of actual work and I see lack of any portion of this verse in the work of many employees. The attitude today is more of the employee thinking they are the employer and that they are there to tell the employer how to run his business. There is complaining, there is bickering and there is little similarity to what should be.
Christ would have His people submit to those that they are under with FEAR AND TREMBLING WITH SINGLENESS OF HEART!
Singleness relates to simplicity, it relates to bountiful, and it relates to mental honesty. It can relate to generosity of heart as well. Does that sound like most Christian employees you know? I trust that is true, but I fear it is not.
God would have us serve our employers as He would have us serve Him.
Just one further application. Missionaries that are on the field are there to serve their Lord and Savior, and I trust that they are doing so with fear, and trembling and singleness of heart. A total service to Him rather than to self or things.
It is easy, when no one is watching, to become lax in our responsibilities. This is one reason many mission organizations place several missionaries in the same place - there is more accountability to the Lord and the contributors. One mission, though they have stopped doing it, required each missionary to do a self-evaluation for their overseer quarterly, including goals and how they are doing on those goals. The overseer then wrote a letter to the contributor yearly to tell them what their missionary is doing and what the goals are and how they are going to approach them. This gives indication of the work as well as it gives the giver some specific items to pray about.
It was a very beneficial practice that should not been allowed to die.
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
"Menpleasers" is one that does things in front of his master. It is one that does things to impress the master and relates to those that do what they do to please the one watching them in the hope of impressing. The implication is that they don’t necessarily do what they should when the master is not watching. The next word gives further explanation to the thought - one that wants to please man rather than God.
We are to do this as the servants of God, rather than as servants of men - we ought to want to please Him rather than all others. We are not only to be doing for God, but we are to be "doing" within his will and not our own. We are to do all this from the heart - with all our soul. "Heart" is not the normal word for the pump within our chest, but it refers to the soul, our thought center or who we really are under the cover of any and all facades.
I could never count the people that are in the ministry for the purpose of pleasing those around them. This would include the congregation they pastor, or the pastor’s fellowship that they belong to or the fellowship of churches that their church belongs to - they do what they do and are always in tune with those around them so that they might be sure to please others, and not offend them in anyway.
I also have observed that this activity is usually in the hope of finding respect and/or recognition. There is often a desire to have position in the fellowship or group that is in view. If they find no respect they feel they have failed.
I must wonder just where this drive for recognition and acceptance comes from - it certainly isn’t the Lord because many of these groups tend to reduce the whole to the spiritual level of the least spiritual in the group.
It seems logical to me to seek a higher spiritual plain rather than the lesser. This might well illustrate the verse, seeking the pleasure of man or the pleasure of God. We have to be told to do that which pleases God, thus we must naturally seek to please man.
I must admit that seeking the recognition of man is needed if you are ever going to be the "in" type of person. If you are going to find a church to pastor, if you are going to find a ministry, if you are going to find a financial support base, you MUST get "in" with the right group. Otherwise you will be out in the cold with no hope of doing what you might feel the Lord calling you to do.
This also relates well to staying within a group. You will either comply with the whole, or you will be out. You will be like everyone else or you won’t fit and probably won’t survive.
NOW, I say these things not to get you to comply with the norm, but to do what God leads you to do, and be what God leads you to be. This will quite often leave you out in the cold - without a group to fellowship with, without a support base, and without anyone of like mind.
You might as well face reality that if you aren’t complying with the group, you are alone with God. Personal opinion - being alone with God is much preferable to the group - it is He that we must satisfy, and no one else. Satisfaction of the group can only lead to lessening of who and what you are before God.
Any time you place yourself under someone else in a Christian organization you tend to lessen your ability to follow what God wants you to be. Not necessarily, but the tendency is there. If there is a lesser standard set, you will be expected to follow it by the one above you. If you stick to your own standard, often you will be looked down upon by the superior. It will likely lessen your chances for advancement, it will likely lessen your respect, and it will likely lessen your own feeling of yourself.
HOWEVER, serve God and all this stuff is for the other guys and will not weigh on your mind.
Lonely? Yes, it will be lonely as far as man is concerned, but then how lonely can you be if God is with you? He is our supply, He is our strength, and He is our sustenance - why do we feel we need to please men?
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Here we have further basis for what has been said - that we are to "do" as to the Lord not to men. Serve Christ, not man. Service is a term that is related to the word we observed earlier when we looked at the servant. It is the service or work of a servant. All we do is for the Lord, no matter whom the earthly superior might be that is over us.
Good will could be translated benevolence as well. It is the doing of good. When you serve the Lord via earthly work relationships we are to "serve" and do it with good will or benevolence, not as something that we begrudge those we are under. You might want to take a look at Colossians 3:22-23 and Titus 2:9-10 for further on this subject line.
The Life Application Bible states that at this time in the Roman Empire there was upward to a million slaves, thus this topic would have been very important for Paul to address. There were undoubtedly servants in the churches, also masters, and indeed, most likely there were masters and servants in the same assembly and they vitally needed to know just how they were to relate to one another as believers.
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.
Here we see why we are to do well in our service under others. We will be rewarded for what we do as if it were done directly to the Lord. God wants us doing good and no matter who we do good to or who we do good for, God takes it as having been done to or for Him. What a deal - do good and God will notice as if it were done for Him. You can’t beat a deal like that and not only that you can feel good about doing good, because you know God is pleased with what you do.
When you do that little extra at work for the boss that never notices your work, you can feel good about it because you know God noticed and you know you did it for God anyway and not the boss that doesn’t pay attention.
If we do good with the proper attitude we win. God not only provided salvation for us and he provided all the other things we’ve studied about in this book and now he gives us notice when we do what we are supposed to do.
Years ago it was the custom at my place of work for the store manager to take everyone with perfect attendance for the year to dinner at a nice restaurant. I was one of the few and after the great meal I turned to the manager and said, "Thanks a lot for rewarding us for what we are supposed to do." God does the same for us at every turn of good.
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Can you imagine a moment, as the masters and servants are sitting there in church, maybe in a circle where they can see one another, and listening to Paul’s letter being read? The master hears these admonitions aimed at the servants that have been giving them grief thinking, ya, Paul you go guy, you tell them what for, they really need this stuff. Go for it, tell them how they are to act - then verse nine is started - "ye masters, do the same things unto them," WHOOOOOOPPS, that must be a misprint, or computer glitch, did Paul really say the masters are to do the same? Naaah cannot be Paul wouldn’t do that to us masters!
Ah, the masters are now faced with a few things to think about. "Do the same things unto them" would relate to their treatment of the servant, or in our line of thought employees. They are to do for the servants with good will or benevolence and they are to treat them as they ought not - as someone trying to make points with his own superior. God is the standard - treat all that you relate to, whether master or servant as if you are dealing with God Himself.
With this concept in mind, can you imagine how it would be to work for a Christian employer, and how it would be to hire Christians to work for you? The work place would be full of benevolence and what a place to work it would be!
This is the standard God has set and we ought to follow it - even if the other party forgets the principle.
The master is also admonished not to include threatening in the relationship. The term forbearing can be translated "give up" thus have no threatening in the master/servant relationship. Keep that relationship on a level where the master asks/commands and the servant does; a situation where the master gains what he wants without having to threaten the servant with retribution.
Again, imagine the work place if there were no threats of any sort to coherence the employees into proper action. This is actually a two-edged sword. The master is not to use threats, but his servants ought to relate to him in a way so that threats are not needed to gain the desired work.
I had a young man that worked well when he showed up for work, but often was the times that he just would not show up. He wouldn’t call in sick, he wouldn’t call in with even a lame excuse, he just wouldn’t show up, thus forcing the rest of the crew to work three times as hard to do his work, as well as their own, in a short period of time.
I must admit I did not forbear threatenings altogether, but the threats were encased in positive encouraging thought provoking comments. He was a good worker when he showed up, and I really thought that with some chances he would become a regular, good worker. He had other thoughts on the subject evidently. One day two hours after he hadn’t shown up he called in and quit, since he knew if he showed up after being this late that he would be let go.
He was not a believer so I shouldn’t be too disappointed in him, but as an employer, or a manager, or a supervisor we must do all we can to deal with the lost employees as God would have us do. We should treat them as if they have worth to our Lord, but we must also deal with them as the lost, the self-centered being that they are - not that believers aren’t totally self centered as well.
The basis - God is master of all and He will show no favoritism when it comes to dealing with master or slave - both will receive equal and just treatment.
This is also a comfort to all people in all relationships - it is God that we serve and it is God that will settle all accounts. It is our responsibility to do what He asks us to do in these relationships, and if someone wrongs us when we are doing right, then it is God that will settle accounts.
We do not have to dwell on these inequities, we do not have to deal with those that cause the inequities, we only need to continue as God has directed, and allow him to settle all the accounts.
This is an easy concept to state in words, but it is not an easy concept to practice at times. When someone has really wronged you, it is very difficult to just walk away and let God deal with it, but that is the standard that we should vow to operate within.
When teaching I often had people doing things that were really out of line and I would go to my office and spend long periods of time stewing about the situation and trying to figure out how to correct the situation and all the time knowing that God would deal with it. It is our nature to want to fix wrongs ourselves, but it is our sole duty to allow God to fix things - after all it is He that can do the much better job of fixing.
In the situation that I was in, there was seldom any fixing that would ever be done. This was sad because one day all that unfixed business is going to detract greatly from the great things that some of those people had been doing in their life. Because they had problem areas of life that they failed to deal with it tended to detract from their example before men as well.
See also Job 31:13-14;Colossians 4:1 for some further study. Job points out the fact that we will answer for our relationships to the one that matters - God.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Be strong is an imperative or command, yet the mood of the verb is passive which shows something is acting upon the subject. This would be of interest for how can we be expected to do something if the action is dependant on something out side of us - the Holy Spirit is the only answer that really fits the construction. Be strong in the Lord, by allowing the Spirit to work through you.
There are three different words used here. "Strong," "power," and "might." They are three different words and we should look at them briefly.
Strong: This has to do with the strength one has. It may relate to increasing in that strength. It may be strength that you do not necessarily have, but strength that can be gained or brought into being.
Power: Seems to indicate the power one has, that which one can exercise. Strength would be the muscle strength to lift weights, while power might relate better to the power of a president or of a political leader.
Might: This word is usually used of people like a judges, magistrates or even God. It relates to the whole realm of power and might that one has at his disposal.
In light of the verse, we are to gather strength, or increase our strength by standing in the power of His might. In other words we should become strengthened by the power that He makes available to us through His might or being.
Now, I won’t draw any real conclusions, but in a context of wives submitting to husbands, children obeying their parents, servants obeying their masters and masters treating servants correctly, we have this call to be strong. Hummmmmm. Do you suppose there is a relationship? I suspect that there is.
Not only this, the next verse calls us to put on armor - not to fight with our spouses, parents and masters, but to confront the Devil, the one that causes so much trouble in these precious relationships.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We might set the stage of the conditions in Ephesus when Paul was there earlier. Acts 19:13-20 "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."
"Put on the whole armour of God" is not a daily item of business, it is a one time act. This ought to confuse some of those spiritual warfare folks that tell us to get ready for battle daily - nope, get ready for battle once and that is it. AND it is also a command, so not an option folks.
"That ye may be able to stand" - notice this is not a battle, this is a standing against the Devil. We aren’t told to go to war and whip his hide, we are told to stand against his wiles.
The "whole armour" is the Greek word that we gain panoply from which also means whole armor. Note it is the armour of God and not our own.
"Wiles" are not something ethereal, they simply relate to methods of the Devil, which by their nature are cunning and sneaky. The Greek term here is the one we gain "method" from which originally meant to subtly arrange things.
We are to protect ourselves so we can stand up to the Devil’s ways and methods toward us. That seems to indicate to me that we aren’t to sin, we aren’t to fall into his temptations. It is our responsibility to stand and not fall.
I watched a movie once that declared that the glory of man was that he would fail God. Now, I don’t know how long that premise took to conger up, but it must have been one of Satan’s prized followers that dreamed it up. It is in no way glorious for man to sin, nor is it glorious that we all do. It is our failing, not our gain.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
There are a number of terms that we want to look at but the overview of this verse is that we don’t wrestle with man, but that we wrestle with all sorts of other beings and evils. The term wrestle is a good choice, it is a struggle between us and all sorts of things that the Devil shoves in front of us, and it is a match that must end in one or the other as victor.
Since we are to stand, it must be us that God expects to be the winner. So, many people have talked to me about not being able to stand against temptation that they have failed due to their weakness - not true - they have not wanted to stand nor have they wanted to win. They have not prepared themselves for spiritual warfare, and they have succumbed to the Devil’s wiles.
"Flesh and blood" simply relates to humankind. We don’t have a fight with others of our kind, be they believers, or lost, but we have our fight with all that is the Devil’s and all that he has at his command.
"Against principalities" is the seat of power, or the beginning of power that a person/system has; that overall power to wield over those that serve it. The church constitution is the seat of power to the church leaders. It is where power begins within the church.
"Against powers" is the power that authority has for its use. The powers of the world, the powers of the Devil and the powers of the demons. This would be the massive power that our president commands. He has the power of the armed forces and all that the country to produce to back up his decisions.
"Against the rulers of the darkness of this world" actually is in the singular, the ruler of this world or the Devil himself. The one that has the rule over the world as we know it right now.
"Against spiritual wickedness in high [places]" relates to the wickedness in high places, in the heavenlies, again referring to the Devil and His assistants and all that they are doing in this world.
Section Twelve: 6:13-24
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
It is of note that all verbs in this verse are aorist - one time action. You are to take, withstand, and are to have done all to stand - once, not daily, not as it is convenient - you know after you have sinned a lot and want to clean up your act a little - no, we are to take on the armour and take our stand - period.
Rather, takes the sails out of some of the spiritual warfare teachings. Standing is to be the hallmark of our lives; it is to be backed by that taking on of our armour. We should be noted for being at the ready; never not being at the ready.
God wants a standing army, not a bunch of reserves that will get armoured up when the time is forced upon them; they are to be armed and ready at all times - a natural state of affairs.
Note also that it is the "whole" armour, not just part of it. Fully prepared is the desire of God, not partially prepared. "Whole" and "armour" are one term that we have mentioned - we get our word panoply from the Greek word which also means whole armour.
This is only logical, what soldier would put on his helmet, flack jacket and go out to fight without his rifle? When you step up to stand in the gap, you want to have yourself covered as best you can so that your armour can deflect oncoming weapons. You also want that weapon to help in the protection of your person and others around you.
One of the saddest parts of the Iraq war was that we sent our troops in with less equipment than they should have had. This was a major mistake of preparations long before the war was undertaken. The leaders should have had the equipment on hand to face any war. You can’t take two years to prepare for war, then attack - that is illogical. The armour should have been available for the soldier’s protection when they hit the ground running.
When I was in grade school I accidentally made a big huge sixth grader run off the sidewalk on his bike and he was scraped up a little. The bell rang for school to start or I would have been in serious trouble. As I headed for school he was shouting at me that he was going to clobber me after school.
The rest of the afternoon I was putting my little mind to work as to how I was going to hop on my bike and make a quick get away. I had several routes planned on paper to get myself home safely. NO, I was not about to STAND against this huge guy; I was going to run for all I was worth. Stand? Never, there was not enough armour in the world to protect me against that guy.
God’s armour, on the other hand, is sufficient to stand against any comer, including the Devil himself. We don’t have to plan exit strategies, we don’t have to plan attacks, we have only to put on the armour and stand in the Devil’s way.
"In the evil day" is the time to stand. I don’t know of a time or day in history since Paul penned these words that we couldn’t call the "evil day." We, as believers, are to stand in our day against the evil that is present.
As I read more and more from the old time writers, I am finding that the evil of their day is basically the evil of our own day. Nothing much has changed except the sugar coating on the outside of the evil. Evil is evil and it will not change - it will just change its shape or color or configuration now and then to look new, but it is that same old evil.
Our job is to take on the armour and stand, we are to stand against evil - that is important - evil, not good, don’t use that armour to wound the Christian, use it against the Devil. Paul says this is all we have to do to stand against evil.
Once the armour is on, we have done all we can do - God is going to do everything over and above that if there is any need. We armour ourselves and stand and we have done everything that we need to do to do the task of standing against evil.
So many today feel we have to get the armour on, then we have to strategize, then we have to march off into the sunset chasing down evil. Some suggest that we must do other things to protect ourselves, some of special formulas that you need to pray to get God’s protection. Nope, it is the armour and standing and that is all that is needed.
Oh, the big huge kid. When the bell rang to finish school, I was on the run out of the school, grabbed my bike, pedaled west a block then north two blocks then east three blocks and then south to my home. Never saw the big kid. Guess that means I outsmarted him. Well, maybe I was just quicker. Well, maybe he cooled off and decided the little squirt didn’t deserve death by beating after all. No matter the reason home was so sweet that day.
1. Verse thirteen speaks specifically of an evil day in which we are to stand. We have taken it to mean on an ongoing basis and I believe this to be a right and proper application of the text. There is also a real truth that this may be speaking of a specific time in a person’s life - not world wide, but for some generations and some geographical locations.
For example I am sure it has a real meaning to the Christians in China that are being imprisoned and persecuted. I am sure that the believers in Sudan that are being starved could view this passage as their day.
On the other hand I personally believe American believers may well have their day coming. We have enjoyed the luxury of decades, but that "Christian nation" concept is wearing way too thin in our country today.
The last presidential election was won by only a few percentage points, and we see conservatives under attach from the liberal side constantly. They are demeaning and vicious in their attacks trying to picture a conservative as a Hitlerite.
We may have our evil day in America soon. We are in the precursors of it now and we have another generation of liberal students graduating each year from the liberal based schools of our country.
Now! The following comments are not "against" any believer that is in the public school system, though some of them may be adding to the problem for there are many liberal thinking Christians. The following comments are not "against" the home school movement nor the Christian school movement. I have always considered Christian schools and home schools a wise choice for believers.
I say what I say from perfect hindsight and none of what I will say was in my mind until recent months as I was evaluating our country and how believers relate to it. Remember - nothing against anyone, just some observations of where "we" as believers may have gone wrong.
The public school system is creating class after class of liberal humanists. Yes, I am sure that there are some young people that do not buy into the teaching that they are getting, but many are.
The point? The Christians of America have given the public school system over to the liberal humanist slice of society, and since it is educating the most students, they are dictating the move away from a "Christian nation" to a liberal humanist state. Sure, it will take a long time, but that is where we are headed and these liberal and humanist youth are becoming the voters of America - the majority one day and where will Christians be?
There is one hope, that these young people will see the error of their education as they grow older, but if this does not happen we will find ourselves in a state where the majority can close churches and ban Christianity. They are already trying to push Christianity out of public life and they are succeeding. They are pushing Christianity out while providing places for Muslims to pray in public schools.
Add to this the fact that many of our evangelical churches are full of humanism themselves and you will see that hard times are coming. I have taught a class or two that takes the Humanist manifesto point by point and have shown that it is already in our Christian thinking. Not just a point or two, but the entire mind set of the humanist.
Don’t say that is impossible, for the Roman church started out in the beginning much straighter than it is today and it accepted humanism and integrated it into their system.
Had Christians been in the school system, and had run for school board offices there would have been a huge dampening effect on the slide of public education. I must wonder if the march away from the school system was not, in part, a mistake on the part of believers.
Again, I stress I am not casting stones at anyone, just musing from hindsight what might have been.
We have school teachers teaching students that Total English Immersion is Racist and it bars students from their culture. For those that do not know about the TEI program it is where a student that does not speak English is placed in a class by them selves with a teacher that is fluent in the student’s language. For one year the student is taught English only with some math and other subjects mixed in. The teacher speaks both languages but teaches English to the student.
Now, what is racist about that, and how does that bar a student from their culture. It is a program that will save millions of dollars and help the students - it has been proven to work in other states, yet in our state the school system is against it - most feel it is because it will reduce the number of teachers/administrators to produce the programs that "they" want to keep going, or institute.
More and more countries in the world are outwardly persecuting Christians. We had better prepare our thought lives for the day when it could happen here.
There are a couple of choices believers have. Face what is coming as strong Christians or buckle under to the trouble; these are the two obvious choices. We ought to become more active in our governments and school boards so that we are an influence that will slow if not change the direction of things.
We need to get involved in political campaigns and be an influence for the positive.
No, I am not saying detract from what you are doing for God, but in some of that spare time you have get involved in something that will make a difference in the country. Get involved in what your city council is doing, watch them on public access, follow their votes, see what they are doing and make your voice heard when they are wrong.
2. When I consider this verse telling us to stand I am reminded of two specific military actions. The first was the Spartans. They were terribly outnumbered but they stood fast till the last man died. They formed themselves into a geometrical shape and withstood the onslaught of thousands before being killed. They were beaten only because they were seriously outnumbered, a situation which we will never face - God is the equalizer of all time and we will never be outnumbered.
An Old Testament account has always been a true blessing for me, let us take a moment and read it.
2 Kings 6:14 "Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
We do not stand alone. Years ago Faith and I had a card on our bedroom wall. It was during a time when we were in heavy trials and hard times. The card had a picture of the earth on the backs of a young couple. On the card was printed the words, "It’s you and me against the world babe." We both knew full well it was the Lord holding up the world and we were only bowed down doing our part, but it was of great encouragement to know that no matter how bad things became, it was God that was doing the hard work for us.
The slightly more successful account is the wagon trains of old. When they could circle up the wagons they had a good chance of beating the Indians. Again, this "standing" against the enemy. No, we won’t consider Custer’s last stand.
3. We noted that the armour of God is to protect the believer, but protect only the front. There are two truths here. We aren’t going to be protected if we are on the run, and we aren’t going to be protected from the attacks from the rear - from other believers.
This thought of humanism in the church is producing a mind set in believers that allows them the freedom, in their own mind, to attack another believer, no matter whether there is truth or not. Many stories I have heard of people that have been maliciously attacked verbally from other believers, from the pulpit and especially that brave and tried method from behind.
Many are the people that have been forced to leave a church because a pastor or a board has accepted the word of one person against another without caring what the other side of the story was.
Believer, stand against the enemy Satan, but beware your back as well. The importance of your church selection cannot be overstressed. Be very careful where you decide to attend. It could have a direct bearing on how long you stay.
4. Barnes makes a good point when commenting on Paul asking for prayer. He was at that time a prisoner and he asks for prayer.
What might our response be to this - should we not be praying for those in prison? Ought the Christians in our prison system in need of prayer be held before the Father? Talk about standing against evil! They are in the midst of their day of evil. True they are there due to their own actions, but they are still believers and they are also in need of prayer.
Many have come to Christ since being imprisoned, but they still are believers in need of the same thing Paul asked for - boldness of mouth. Might we consider adding the prisoners to our prayer list?
I raise this question out of a recent burden for these people that have strayed from truth, or did not have it until it was too late. I was contacted by a prisoner that still had about eight years to go on his sentence. He was not crying about the inequity, he was sharing his dumb mistakes of the past and the fun and excitement of trying to rectify his wrongs. He was taking seminary courses while in prison - he has it planned that he will have his doctorate when he is released.
His descriptions of prison life are not pleasant and his surrounding "Christian" group is not all that pleasant either. He is one of the few that really follow a true view of the Word and the rest are a hodge podge of denominational error. Yet, he is upbeat and looking forward to serving God now and in the future. He has truly taken the standing concept to heart and is doing so in that evil place.
5. Barnes makes point that Paul asked for boldness but nothing else. He didn’t ask them to pray for his need of a BMW, nor his need to be released, nor his need of a new leather jacket, but BOLDNESS. My how messed up his priorities seem to be according to our time.
6. Tychicus means fateful or as Constable suggests "chance." Tychicus was from the district in which Ephesus resided (Acts 20:4) and may even have been from Ephesus. This may have been part of the reason Paul sent him - someone that the people knew and would be sure to listen to. He most likely delivered Colossians as well, Colossians 4:7 "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:" and 2 Timothy 4:12 "And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus."
We do not know why he was in Rome with Paul; he may have come to visit, or may have been with him when he arrived in Rome. Little is known of the man, but he was important to the apostle.
Paul was also considering Tychicus for the ministry of replacing Titus in Titus 3:12 "When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter."
We know nothing else of the man, except that the Greek tradition believed him to have become a bishop over the province of Asia. It is clear that he was in the confidence of Paul, and that Paul had a great respect for his abilities to serve God.
7. One must consider the apostle and his cool mind and strong faith. He is in prison awaiting a date with most likely death and he is concerned with the churches that he has planted. He took some of the little time he had left to write these important doctrinal issues to them. True, he had talked with the Lord, and true he knew the Lord wanted the church well grounded in doctrine, but to take some, if not all, of your last hours or days to write letters to the churches must have taken some good concentration.
Paul was one that could really isolate what was important and focus on the completion of that task. How focused are you on the task that God has given to you to do? How sure are you of that task? Was it God that gave it to you or was it your own desire and mind?
We must seek out what God wants us to do in this life then pursue that task with vigor.
If you take time to look out over a congregation and watch to see how many of the people are involved in the church ministry you will see that in most churches there are a few that are doing all the work. The many are sitting from week to week doing nothing except giving their attendance and some cash and calling it good.
Ephesians calls us to consider just what we should do for Him. The book tells us many things that He has done for us, and the end result SHOULD be that we love Him so much that we want to do for Him.
He has gifted each and every one of us for ministering within the church, so there is no reason for ALL of us not to be doing something! It is a sad day in most churches because there are many gifts sitting idle in the pew and nothing is being gained for God from the non-use of those gifts.
Christ gave His life for us. Paul gave his life to serve Christ, just what are you giving? Have you even considered what God would have you do with your life? Have you even prayed about it and asked Him what He might have you do? It is time that Christians across the United States and the world to seek God and find out His will for their life!
In closing this study I find myself toward the end of my days. I have sought to do all I could for the Lord at every juncture of my life since He called me to ministry. I may have a number of years left to minister, but I might be gone tomorrow.
My study of this book has called my mind so often to the question, "Have I done all I could have for God in my life?" I am sure I could have fit in some more, I am sure I was lax at times through the years, but I can know that I have followed His will at every turn. I have sought His direction as to where, and what I should be doing in life. I have attempted to make Him first in my life, even though I know there are times when I have failed.
My question to the reader is this. Have you sought God’s will for your life, do you follow His will daily, are you attempting to do the very best that you can for Him? I trust that these are questions that you will consider if they aren’t already on your daily schedule.
Our purpose in life is to follow Him. If we are not doing that then we are missing the whole point of life as a believer.
I think this study has stirred more in my spiritual life than any other in my entire life. It has prodded me to be more productive in writing; it has prodded me to be more special in my prayer life, not only to God, but for others. I trust that you have found similar results in your life.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Notice these items are to be on, not in the closet or on your wife, they are to be on you.
Stand is rather plain but it also carries the thought of being put in place, set in place. You are to do it, but you are to be set as in firm so that you will stand and not fall.
When I was redoing our back yard I put some foot square bricks down to form a little pad for a bench. I did little in the way of preparation to the ground, just a shave here and there and a rock to hold the brick in place. It wasn’t long before it looked like a pair of drunks had put the brick in place. There were edges and corners sticking up everywhere.
Later in the spring I decided to extend our patio slab by a couple feet, but this time I softened the ground, smoothed the dirt and then put down some sand and leveled the area to be covered. After the brick was laid I poured fine sand between the bricks and tamped it all down. The job was much better and it was quite nice - very level. The first set of bricks may have been put in place, but they were not "set" in place properly.
As we are armoured, we need to set ourselves as if we desire to be there permanently. We don’t want to waver or falter in that stand; we want to be firmly planted. This does not allow for a strong stance on Sunday and Wednesday while you are at church and a mushy staggering stand the rest of the week.
Loins girt with truth: The loins would be the hip area on both sides. We are to have ourselves covered with truth - the truth of God, and certainly not the truth of mankind for it is part of the evil that we are standing against.
The word means to protect by belting on or girding on the shields that will protect you. Belt them on so the protection won’t slip or slide out of the way and allow for injury. Belt on truth, don’t just play around with it, and don’t just put enough on to look good, put all truth on, the truth that God has revealed in His word.
The question came to my mind, just how does truth relate to the hips? I am not sure there is a close connection but let’s think about it for a moment.
The hip is important to walking, but we are standing, so that isn’t important here. The hip is also the focal point of the muscles that hold us up. Without the muscles of the hip it would be very difficult to stand. We would be lopsided at best and on one knee most likely.
Truth is that which helps us to stand and remain standing.
Breastplate of righteousness: The breastplate covered from the neck to the stomach. That same area which flack jackets cover. The area of the vital organs of life is the specific area. This is to protect the one standing to be able to continue standing while living. If death comes, then there will be total failure of the system.
Righteousness relates to correct standing before God, it is one that is correct and right. If we are wrong before God we cannot be standing for Him. In the spiritual warfare we are as dead to Him, for we can do nothing to the Devil. We are powerless, and in a sense we are the same as He is; only we have a way out of the situation - confession and seeking of forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Feet shod or prepared for standing. If your feet aren’t right with the world then you aren’t right with the world. I used to do a lot of walking at the store where I worked. I purchased one set of tennis shoes that just were not built correctly. Over the course of several months I bought pads, and supports and little items to assist these shoes in correctly preparing my feet for the beating that they were taking.
There were times when I would stop in the stock room and pick up some soft plastic and role it up and put it under one of the pads to give added lift to cure a certain ache or pain. My feet were not properly prepared and I was really out of sorts until things became peaceful in the lower foot area. By the time I found cures for all the ills the shoes were worn out and I started over.
Now, I’m not suggesting we are to improvise till we get it right; God has given us the proper item to put on.
"The preparation of the gospel of peace" is the gospel or good news of peace. I assume that this speaks to the Gospel of Christ rather than some other gospel relating to peace - His Gospel does give peace.
Again, how does the gospel relate to the feet or preparing them for battle? Again, the feet are there for support, they are there as the foundation of the soldier. Without them it is difficult to stand properly. The Gospel is the only foundation that really gives the soldier the proper support to stand against the Devil.
I might add that all verbs since the last time I mentioned verbs are still all aorist - one time items, not a daily item, not a convenience item, but a one time commitment to stand on God’s side of the battle.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The shield is a tool of war that allows one to deflect that which is sent your direction. Quench means simply to put out or extinguish a fire. Years ago in the days of my childhood, my father took two old awnings that he had removed from our house and built my brother and me a fair sized tent in the yard.
My brother showed me that if you took a match and light it, then hold it close to the canvas that the fuzz of the canvas would sparkle and smoke without hurting the canvas. I watched in amazement and could hardly wait until he left so I could try the same thing. He left, I did and you know the rest of the story most likely. I did not quench the fire quickly enough and created the nicest skylight for our tent that you can imagine. Only a small one but a fist sized hole is as bad as a basketball sized one when you are talking about a tent.
It is with our faith that we can stand the Devil. Faith in God, faith in His Word, and faith in His protection. With this faith we can deflect or quench all of the problems that the Devil can send our way.
My electronic Bible shows "fiery" as a verb, not that it is awful significant if it is, but I found it curious that none of my resources mention this in any way. The thought would be that the fiery dart is blazing and that it will continue to do so until it is extinguished. It will serve its purpose.
What the darts are is of great controversy. Some suggest they are darts on fire, others say that they are poison darts and the poison causes the flesh to burn and others suggest both and suggest it is one or the other. The darts were meant to be a harassment of the enemy and to distract them from the real battle. The soldier would be forced to dodge these darts instead of concentrating on the battle at hand. Some suggest these darts were used against ships as well in an attempt to set the ships on fire. (The LITV translates it as follows, indicating the thought of fiery being a verb, "Above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the darts of the evil one being kindled." The Net Bible translates it as "flaming arrows.") I would suspect flaming darts might be a good translation of the phrase, indicating the active nature of the darts. (I found that this word is a participle which can be used as a noun or verb and is called a verbal noun, but in this usage it seems to be used as a verb.)
The point is to guard against them and to deflect them, and possibly a little warning not to allow them to distract you from the real battle.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Again, the verb "take" is aorist, a one time occurrence. Take the helmet of salvation would relate to protection of the head where the knowledge of your salvation is retained. The mind and who we are is our soul - our brain/mind. One of the pop rock and roll songs of yesteryear had the words, we have to have rock and roll to know the hole in our soul" - not that the song nor its writer related it to spiritual things, but man does have a hole in his soul - a spiritual void that longs to be filled and I don’t think Rock and Roll has anything to do with it - sin is the key.
Salvation is our protection from the Devil. Christ has done all to keep us safe for all eternity.
Take the sword of the Spirit. Anyone remember the "Sword Drills" of the church quite some years ago? Someone would call out a Biblical reference and everyone would try to get to the verse first, stand and read the verse. The Word is our sword; it is that which Christ wielded against the Devil during His temptation. Knowing the Word and using the Word is the only offensive item in the armor, and since we are to stand, it is not to be used in an offensive manner, but in our own defense. (Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.")
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
This seems to be a very specific item to be done. Praying and supplicating, or seeking God with our needs, and "our needs" more specifically relates here to "all saints" which gives you a major part of our prayer life - others. There is also a major qualifier in the passage, those prayers and that watching is to be done "IN THE SPIRIT" - the Spirit should be the basis for these prayers and sharing of other people’s needs with the Lord.
The "watching" seems to indicate that we are to continue sleeplessly in that prayer, keeping up the prayer until it is no longer needed.
One must consider the prayer letters that supporters receive from missionaries. How much need is presented? How often are you updated on that need? Are you told when that need has been met? Missionaries tend to make needs known but seldom update, nor inform when the need is met - or how the need was met which could be of great blessing to the prayer warriors.
Speaking of prayer warriors, did you notice the context of this verse - the armour of God and His preparing us for battle? Seems this may be the basis for that term "prayer warrior."
Note, this is not a text that is addressed to a bare few in the church at Ephesus that will meet for prayer; it is addressed to all at the church of Ephesus. I have seldom seen a church prayer meeting attended by more than a few percent of the total church membership. Ten percent of membership at a weekly prayer meeting would be about the top in my experience.
No wander the church is so puny and weak, when those that are at God’s throne in prayer are so few. God has given us the great privilege of sitting at His feet while telling Him the needs of others and we all just flock to the prayer meeting to meet Him! Ya, right. You would think that God is a puny wimp the way we call on His name.
When I was a child I lived across the street from the church we attended. I saw a lot of people gathering at the church. I asked my mother what was going on since I knew Wednesday evening was prayer meeting. She told me that it was choir practice. I heard that as "car practice and for years wondered why all those people drove up in their cars and parked them to have car practice. Not sure why a church would schedule car practice on the same night that they had prayer meeting - seems that those practicing cars should be in the room praying, but then that would be too Biblical I guess.
I’m not sure how many years it was before I realized that it was choir practice - at least that is a little more spiritual than cars!
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
This passage has always been a blessing to me. Paul asked for boldness in witness - we have this picture of him out there like a street preacher giving forth the Gospel, yet he felt he wanted more boldness for his ministry.
Most of us need that boldness to share our faith. We need to realize witnessing is not something that comes totally naturally to the believer. There are some that can witness anywhere and to anyone without a thought, but that is not the norm. Most of us are not that bold.
It is also of note that Paul wanted to "OPEN MY MOUTH" to witness. There are many that have succumbed to the idea that we can witness by our life - yes that is part of the plan, but we might understand that Paul went from town to town witnessing, and at times did not take time to live in the town so that people could see his life. He would go in witnessing with his mouth, not his life.
Yes, live a proper life before your neighbors and co-workers, but don’t forget to open your mouth as well, for it is the spoken word that will help them understand the Gospel. The word translated "utterance" is the word "logos" which relates to utterance, to talking, to communication by mouth. It is also related to the Lord and His Word - important stuff, over and above a good lifestyle.
We need to do this no matter how it affects our life. Paul was in prison for his witness, so we should not shrink from the same if the occasion should arise.
It is our ministry to open our mouths - within that context you can live your life properly before men so that they might see Christ.
But that ye also may know my affairs, [and] how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
This isn’t a Biblical imperative to the Missionary to send prayer letters, but it certainly is a good example that they might want to follow. Giving report to those that are praying for you is certainly a good gesture of thanks giving as well as smart strategy - if you have people praying for you, it would seem prudent to have them continue to do so and if reporting will encourage that, then it is plain smart.
This also pictures Paul as a very open and transparent person relating to his own flaws, inabilities and needs. He wasn’t above asking for prayer, he wasn’t above telling others how he was "REALLY" doing.
So often saints tend to keep their fallacies within and their well being a secret lest they seem less than they ought to be. If Paul, an apostle, can be open and up front, why shouldn’t we all - including the pastor and other leadership within our churches?
We see that Paul was not above giving others credit for being a good servant of the Lord. He made mention of the messengers faith and service to the Lord. So often people minister in a church for years without any recognition. Not that they desire it, but that they ought to be recognized by the leadership as Paul did Tychicus.
"A beloved brother" is indicative of an acceptance of this man as a brother in Christ, a person that he ought to hold with some esteem. Often a pastor views his congregation as a body to assist him in advancing to bigger and better things instead of a group of brothers and sisters to be fellowshipped with.
There may be a relational side to a pastor of being shepherd, but there is also the "brother" side that is just as important. You don’t shut out the brother side so that you can assure your position of shepherd.
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and [that] he might comfort your hearts.
This is the purpose of his visit, but while he is there he will comfort your hearts. This may have been a comfort from the information from Paul, or from his own ministry to the people. Just hearing his report of Paul would have been a comfort, but it seems that a person’s presence can be a further comfort - one that has recently been with Paul.
When people die in war it always seems to be a real comfort to meet and talk with someone that was with the loved one that has died. I am sure that Tychicus was a comfort as well as his message.
Peace [be] to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace [be] with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
A great benediction to close the letter. To remind them of all the treasures that they have in Christ. That one term "sincerity" is quite the qualifier. If you sincerely love Christ, then these are yours, but the implied opposite is that if you don’t "sincerely" love the Lord they are not.
Imagine knowing that you did not have peace, love, faith and grace from God and understanding the ramifications of same. It might make you consider your place before God. It is also of note that the passage is introduced with the term "brethren" a further call to consider your place before God.
Are you really a brother in Christ? Seems that there may have been a touch of witness in this prayer of Paul’s.
There is a very stiff qualifier for those that are to receive this peace, love, faith, and grace. Those that love the Lord "in sincerity" which relates to purity, lack of corruption, and sincerity are the recipients of those wonderful benefits. Don’t live a life of sin and expect to have the good life that the verses describe, but look for a life that lacks these things. We have no claim on God’s good things if we are rejecting Him in the area of purity.
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany