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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 6

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

In the Lord. The children being with their parents in the Lord, are to be influenced by religious duty as well as by natural affection.

Right [δικαιον] . Belonging essentially to the very nature of the relation.

Verse 2

Honor thy father, etc. To what is essentially right the divine ordinance is added. Compare Aeschylus : "For the reverence of parents, this is written third in the laws of much - venerated justice" (" Suppliants, "687 - 689). So Euripides :" There are three virtues which thou shouldst cultivate, my child, to honor the gods, and thy parents who gave thee being and the common laws of Hellas " (Fragment). Honor expresses the frame of mind from which obedience proceeds.

First - with promise [πρωτη εν επαγγελια] . First in point of promise, as it also is in order the first with promise.

Verse 3

Thou mayest live long [εση μακροχρονιος] . Lit., mayest be long - lived. The adjective occurs only here.

Verse 4

Nurture and admonition [παιδεια και νουθεσια] . Pav deia from paiv a child. In classical usage, that which is applied to train and educate a Child. So Plato : "Education [παιδεια] is the constraining and directing of youth toward that right reason which the law affirms, and which the experience of the best of our elders has agreed to be truly right" (" Laws, "659). In scriptural usage another meaning has come into it and its kindred verb paideuein, which recognizes the necessity of correction or chastisement to thorough discipline. So Leviticus 26:18; Psalms 6:1; Isaiah 53:5; Hebrews 12:5-8. In Acts 7:22 paideuw occurs in the original classical sense :" Moses was instructed [επαιδευθη] in all the wisdom, "etc. The term here covers all the agencies which contribute to moral and spiritual training. Discipline is better than Rev., chastening. Nouqesia admonition occurs only here, 1 Corinthians 10:11, and Titus 3:10. The kindred verb nouqetew to warn or admonish, is found only in Paul 's letters, with the single exception of Acts 20:31 (see note). Its distinctive feature is training by word of mouth, as is shown by its classical usage in connection with words meaning to exhort or teach. Xenophon uses the phrase nouqetikoi logoi admonitory words. Yet it may include monition by deed. Thus Plato, speaking of public instruction in music, says that the spectators were kept quiet by the admonition of the wand (rJabdou nouqethsiv," Laws, "700). He also uses the phrase plhgaiv nouqetein to admonish with blows. It includes rebuke, but not necessarily. Trench happily illustrates the etymological sense (nouv the mind, tiqhmi to put) :" Whatever is needed to cause the monition to be laid to heart. " Admonition is a mode of discipline, so that the two words nurture and admonition stand related as general and special.

Of the Lord. Such discipline as is prescribed by the Lord and is administered in His name.

Verse 5

Servants [δουλοι] . Bond - servants or slaves. In this appeal Paul was addressing a numerous class. In many of the cities of Asia Minor slaves outnumbered freemen.

Masters [κυριοις] . See on Colossians 3:22.

According to the flesh. Regarded in their merely human relation.

With fear. See on Philippians 2:12.

Singleness. See on simplicity, Romans 12:8.

Unto Christ. "Common and secular inducements can have but small influence on the mind of a slave."

Verse 6

Eye service - men - pleasers. See on Colossians 3:22.

Verse 7

With good - will. Bengel quotes Xenophon : "The slave that is a steward must have good - will if he is to on thy place adequately." Compare Colossians 3:23.

Verse 8

Shall he receive [κομισεται] . See on 1 Peter 1:8; compare Colossians 3:25.

Verse 9

Forbearing [ανιεντες] . See on the kindred noun anesiv, A. V., liberty, Acts 24:23.

Threatening [την απειλην] . Note the article, the threatening customary from the master to the slave.

Knowing. since ye know.

Your master also [υμων αυτων ο κυριος] . The correct reading is kai aujtwn kai uJmwn oJ kuriov both their master and yours. So Rev.

Respect of persons. See on James 2:1; Colossians 3:25.

Verse 10

Finally [το λοιπον] . See on 2 Corinthians 13:11. Omit my brethren. Be strong [ενδυναμουουσθε] . Lit., be strengthened. Compare Romans 4:20, and Philippians 4:13.

Power of His might. See on ch. Ephesians 1:19.

Verse 11

Whole armor [πανοπλιαν] . Panoply is a transcript of the Greek word. Only here, ver. 13, and Luke 11:22, see note. In classical Greek of the full armor of a heavy - armed soldier. The student may compare the description of the forging of Aeneas' armor by Vulcan (Virgil, "Aeneid," 8, 415 - 459), and of the armor itself as displayed to Aeneas by Venus (" Aeneid, "8, 616 - 730). Also of the armor of Achilles (Homer," Iliad, " 18, 468 - 617).

Wiles [μεθοδειας] . See on ch. Ephesians 4:14. The armor is a defense against strategy as well as assault.

The devil [του διαβολου] . See on Matthew 4:1; John 6:70. In Job and Zechariah used as the equivalent of Satan (hater or accuser, see on Luke 10:18), of a single person, the enemy of mankind. In the other Old - Testament passages in which it occurs, it is used to translate either Satan or its equivalent in meaning, tsar (adversary, distresser), but without the same reference to that single person. See Sept., 1 Chronicles 21:1; Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1; Psalms 108:6; Numbers 22:32. The Septuagint usage implies enmity in general, without accusation either true or false. In the New Testament invariably as a proper name, except in the Pastoral Epistles, where it has its ordinary meaning slanderous. See 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3. As a proper name it is used in the Septuagint sense as the equivalent of Satan, and meaning enemy.

Verse 12

We wrestle [εστιν ημιν η παλη] . Rev., more literally and correctly, our wrestling is. Palh wrestling, only here.

Flesh and blood. The Greek reverses the order.

Principalities and powers. See on Colossians 1:16.

Rulers of the darkness of this world [κοσμοκρατορας του σκοτους τουτου] . Rev., more correctly, world - rulers of this darkness.

World - Rulers only here. Compare John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Spiritual wickedness [τα πνευματικα της πονηριας] Lit., the spiritual things of wickedness. Rev., spiritual hosts of wickedness. The phrase is collective, of the evil powers viewed as a body. Wickedness is active evil, mischief. Hence Satan is called oJ ponhrov the wicked one. See on Luke 3:19; Luke 7:21; 1 John 2:13.

In high places [εν τοις επουρανιοις] . Rev., more literally, in the heavenly places. Used in the general sense of the sky or air. See on ch. Ephesians 2:2.

Verse 13

Wherefore. Because the fight is with such powers.

Take unto you [αναλαβετε] . Lit., take up, as one takes up armor to put it on. So Rev.

The whole armor. An interesting parallel passage, evidently founded upon this, occurs in Ignatius' Epistle to Polycarp, 6. "Please the captain under whom ye serve, from whom also ye shall receive your wages. Let no one of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism abide as your shield; your faith as your helmets; your love as your spear; your patience as your whole armor. Let your good works be your savings [τα δεποσιτα δεποσιτα] , 171 that you may receive what is justly to your credit." Gibbon relates how the relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less willing and less able to support the fatigues of the service. They complained of the weight of their armor, and successively obtained permission to lay aside their cuirasses and helmets (ch. 27.).

Withstand. With has the sense of against, as appears in the older English withsay, to contradict; Anglo - Saxon, widstandan, to resist. Compare German, wider and Widerstand, resistance.

Having done all. Everything which the crisis demands.

Verse 14

Having your loins girt about [περιζωσαμενοι την οσφυν] . The verb is middle, not passive. Rev., correctly, having girded. Compare Isaiah 11:5. The principal terms in this description of the christian armor are taken from the Septuagint of Isaiah.

Truth [αληθεια] . The state of the heart answering to God 's truth; inward, practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Him : the agreement of our convictions with God 's revelation.

The loins encircled by the girdle form the central point of the physical system. Hence, in Scripture, the loins are described as the seat of power. "To smite through the loins" is to strike a fatal blow. "To lay affliction upon the loins" is to afflict heavily. Here was the point of junction for the main pieces of the body - armor, so that the girdle formed the common bond of the whole. Truth gives unity to the different virtues, and determinateness and consistency to character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Breastplate of righteousness [θωρακα της δικαιοσυνης] . Compare Isaiah 59:17. Righteousness is used here in the sense of moral rectitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the breastplate is described as of faith and love. Homer speaks of light - armed warriors armed with linen corsets; and these were worn to much later times by Asiatic soldiers, and were occasionally adopted by the Romans. Thus Suetonius says of Galba, that on the day on which he was slain by Otho's soldiers, he put on a linen corset, though aware that it would avail little against the enemy 's daggers (" Galba, "19.). Horn was used for this purpose by some of the barbarous nations. It was cut into small pieces, which were fastened like scales upon linen shirts. Later, the corset of metal scales fastened upon leather or linen, or of flexible bands of steel folding over each other, was introduced. They appear on Roman monuments of the times of the emperors. The Roman spearmen wore cuirasses of chain - mail. Virgil mentions those in which the linked rings were of gold (" Aeneid," 3, 467). The stiff cuirass called stadiov standing upright, because, when placed upon its lower edge it stood erect, consisted of two parts : the breastplate, made of hard leather, bronze, or iron, and a corresponding plate covering the back. They were connected by leathern straps or metal bands passing over the shoulders and fastened in front, and by hinges on the right side.

The breastplate covers the vital parts, as the heart,

Verse 15

Preparation [ετοιμασια] . Only here in the New Testament. The Roman soldier substituted for the greaves of the Greek (metal plates covering the lower part of the leg) the caligae or sandals, bound by thongs over the instep and round the ankle, and having the soles thickly studded with nails. They were not worn by the superior officers, so that the common soldiers were distinguished as caligati. Etoimasia means readiness; but in Hellenistic Greek it was sometimes used in the sense of establishment or firm foundation, which would suit this passage : firm - footing. Compare Isaiah 52:7.

Verse 16

Above all (ejpi pasin). Ambiguous. It may mean over all, or in addition to all. The latter is correct. Rev., withal.

The shield of faith [τον θυρεον της πιστεως] . Qureon shield, is from qura door, because shaped like a door. Homer uses the word for that which is placed in front of the doorway. Thus of the stone placed by Polyphemus in front of his cave (" Odyssey, "9, 240). The shield here described is that of the heavy infantry; a large, oblong shield, four by two and a half feet, and sometimes curved on the inner side. Sculptured representations may be seen on Trajan's column. Compare" Compass him as with a shield, "Psalms 5:12. It was made of wood or of wicker - work, and held on the left arm by means of a handle. Xenophon describes troops, supposed to be Egyptians, with wooden shields reaching to their feet (" Anabasis," 1, 8, 9). Saving faith is meant.

Fiery darts [τα βελη τα πεπυρωμενα] . Lit., the darts, those which have been set on fire. Herodotas says that the Persians attacked the citadel of Athens "with arrows whereto pieces of lighted tow were attached, which they shot at the barricade" (viii., 52). Thucydides : "the Plataeans constructed a wooden frame, which they set up on the top of their own wall opposite the mound.... They also hung curtains of skills and hides in front : these were designed to protect the woodwork and the workers, and shield them against blazing arrows" (ii. 75). Livy tells of a huge dart used at the siege of Saguntum, which was impelled by twisted ropes. "There was used by the Saguntines a missile weapon called falarica, with the shaft of fir, and round in other parts, except toward the point, whence the iron projected. This part, which was square, they bound around with tow and besmeared with pitch. It had an iron head three feet in length, so that it could pierce through the body with the armor. But what caused the greatest fear was that this weapon, even though it stuck in the shield and did not penetrate into the body, when it was discharged with the middle part on fire, and bore along a much greater flame produced by the mere motion, obliged the armor to be thrown down, and exposed the soldier to succeeding blows" (xxi. 8). Again, of the siege of Ambracia by the Romans : "Some advanced with burning torches, others carrying tow and pitch and fire - darts, their entire line being illuminated by the blaze" (xxxviii. 6). Compare Psalms 7:13, where the correct rendering is, "His arrows He maketh fiery arrows." Temptation is thus represented as impelled from a distance. Satan attacks by indirection - through good things from which no evil is suspected. There is a hint of its propagating power : one sin draws another in its track : the flame of the fire - tipped dart spreads. Temptation acts on susceptible material. Self - confidence is combustible. Faith, in doing away with dependence on self, takes away fuel for the dart. It creates sensitiveness to holy influences by which the power of temptation is neutralized. It enlists the direct aid of God. See 1 Corinthians 10:13; Luke 22:32; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12; 2 Peter 2:9.

Verse 17

Take the helmet of salvation [την περικεφαλαιαν του σωτηριου δεξασθε] . Compare Isaiah 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Take is a different word from that used in vers. 13, 16. It is receive as from God. The meaning is the helmet which is salvation. The protection for the head. The helmet was originally of skin, strengthened with bronze or other metal, and surmounted with a figure adorned with a horsehair crest. It was furnished with a visor to protect the face.

Sword of the Spirit [μαχαιραν του πνευματος] . See on Revelation 6:4. The word of God serves both for attack and to parry the thrusts of the enemy. Thus Christ used it in His temptation. It is the sword of the Spirit, because the Spirit of God gives it and inspires it. The Spirit's aid is needed for its interpretation. Compare John 14:10; Hebrews 4:12, in which latter passage the image is sacrificial.

Word of God [ρημα θεου] . See on Luke 1:37. See Luke 3:2; Luke 4:4; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 11:3.

Verse 18

Always [εν παντι καιρω] . Incorrect. It means on every occasion. Rev., at all seasons. Compare Luke 21:36.

With all prayer and supplication [δια πασης προσευχης και δεησεως] . Prayer is general, supplication special. Dia with is literally through; that is, through the medium of. All, lit., every. Prayer is of various kinds, formal, silent, vocal, secret, public, petitionary, ejaculatory - shot upward like a dart (jaculum) on a sudden emergency. Compare Psalms 5:1, Psalms 5:2.

Watching thereunto [εις αυτο αγρυπνουντες] . Compare Colossians 4:2. For watching, see on Mark 13:33, Mark 13:35. Thereunto, unto prayer, for occasions of prayer, and to maintain the spirit of prayer. One must watch before prayer, in prayer, after prayer.

Perseverance [προσκαρτερησει] . Only here. The kindred verb proskarterew to continue, occurs often. See on Acts 1:14.

Verse 19

Boldly. Connect with to make known, as Rev.; not with open my mouth, as A. V.

Mystery. See on Romans 11:25; Colossians 1:26.

Verse 20

I am an ambassador in bonds [πρεσβευω εν αλυσει] . The verb to be an ambassador occurs only here and 2 Corinthians 5:20. See on Philippians 1:9. In bonds, lit., in a chain : the particular word for the coupling - chain by which he was bound to the hand of his guard.

Verse 21

That ye also may know, etc. Compare Cicero to Atticus : "Send us some letter - carrier, that both you may know how it goes with us, and that we may know how you fare and what you are going to do" (v. 18).

Tychicus. See on Colossians 4:7.

A beloved brother. Rev., correctly, the beloved brother. Tychicus is referred to as well known.

Verse 24

In sincerity [εν αφθαρσια] . Rev., correctly, in incorruptness : who love Christ with an imperishable and incorruptible love.

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/ephesians-6.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.
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