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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Ephesians 6

Verse 1

Eph 6:1. The fundamental commands by which one becomes a Christian are the same for all persons, regardless of their place in society and the nation. But there are various duties assigned to Christians that are adapted to them in the different relations of life. The preceding chapter deals with husbands and wives, while the present one starts with the special duties of children toward their parents. The original word for children means offspring, regardless of age or sex, and whether temporal or spiritual. But the connection here shows it means fleshly children of either sex, but old enough to have become Christians and thus subject to the religious instructions from the apostle. We learn also that a son or daughter may be old enough to obey the Gospel while still under the control of the parents. In the Lord means they are to obey as long as the parents do not require them to do something contrary to the word of the Lord. The proviso is similar to "in the fear of God" in chapter 5:21. For this is right states the highest motive that can prompt anyone in obeying the commands of the Lord.

Verse 2

Eph 6:2. Honor does not contradict the preceding verse. If a parent asks his child to do something that is contrary to the word of the Lord, then he is not required to obey it. But while refusing to obey the request of his parent because it is unscriptural, he should do so in a manner that does not show disrespect for the parent. The overbearing attitude that so many boys and girls manifest toward their parents is never right under any circumstances. With promise. (See next verse.)

Verse 3

Eph 6:3. This is the promise referred to in the preceding verse. It pertains to a temporal reward consisting of long life on the earth, particularly that part given to the Lord's ancient people. The promise is not literally extended to Christians, but it is mentioned to indicate the importance of the command. If children obey this command (together with all others given to Christians), they have the promise of sharing in the new earth promised the righteous. (Mat 5:5; 2Pe 3:13.)

Verse 4

Eph 6:4. Provoke not . . . to wrath all comes from PARORGIZO, which Thayer defines, "to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate [vex bitterly], anger." Parents who fail to control their children sometimes try to find justification by this passage. The rest of the verse shows they are wrong in such a course. The phrase means for a father to correct his child firmly, but in a spirit that shows he is doing it for his good. Bring them up refers to the supporting and rearing of one's children. Nurture is from PAIDEIA, and in the King James Version it has been rendered by chastening 3 times, chastisement 1, instruction 1, nurture 1. Thayer defines it, "the whole training and education of children." He adds by way of explanation, "which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employes for this purpose now commands and ad-monitions, now reproof and punishment." Robinson's definition and comments are virtually the same as Thay-er's. The correction that is included in the word nurture is to be accompanied with admonition or exhortation, which means an earnest plea for the children to give heed to the correction administered by the parent. Of the Lord. The third word is in the possessive case, and makes the phrase mean, "such as belongs to the Lord or proceeds from him." This would apply to a father's duty to discipline his children (including minors) in a way acceptable to the Lord.

Verse 5

Eph 6:5. The word servant in the King James Version comes from a number of Greek originals. The one in this verse is the most frequently used, and it means a slave or servant as we commonly use the term. It is from DOULOS, and Thayer defines it, "a slave, bondman, man of servile ["slavish"] condition." In the time of Christ and the apostles the Roman Empire contained millions of slaves. These were not all inferior persons as to intelligence, but were the victims of war or other conditions over which they had no control. The prevalence of these persons explains why so many references are made to them in the New Testament. Jesus did not intend to interfere with the relation of master and servant, but He did give many instructions about the duties of each to the other when either became a Christian. Hence our verse commands the servants to obey their• masters. According to the flesh denotes they were their masters in temporal things only. With fear and trembling. Not fear of punishment from the master, for that would be equivalent to "eyeservice" which is condemned in the next verse. Following his definition of the original for trembling, Thayer gives the following comment: "Used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfill his duty." Singleness means with sincerity from the heart. As unto Christ. A faithful servant of Christ will strive to do his duty because it is right, and a slave also should be conscientious in serving his master.

Verse 6

Eph 6:6. Both Thayer and Robinson explain eyeservice to be "service performed only under the eye of the master." Such service would not spring from a conscientious motive, and would indicate that if the master were absent the servant would come short of his duty. Doing the will of God. It is the Lord's will that all men who are employed by others shall fulfill their obligation with a pure motive.

Verse 7

Eph 6:7. As to the Lord is the same as the preceding verse.

Verse 8

Eph 6:8. Earthly masters may not always reward their slaves fully for their services, nor even give them due credit for the good work done; but one wrong act does not justify another. The slave who does his duty from the heart will not be forgotten by the Lord, and will be duly rewarded in the day of Final Accounts.

Verse 9

Eph 6:9. Do the same things. The masters were to conduct themselves as the servants were exhorted to do, namely, remembering their obligation to the Lord. Forbearing threatening. The first word means to cease using threats as a means of forcing the servant into obedience. This would not bar all reference to possible punishment for disobedience, for the apostle makes direct reference to the Heavenly Master in connection with the subject, and we know He has threatened to punish all of the disobedient servants. (See 2Co 5:11.) The phrase is clarified by the one at the close of the verse, namely, neither is there respect of persons with. him. Doubtless there were masters who felt superior because of their relation as masters, and took advantage of it to frighten their• slaves. Also there were certain slaves for whom they had a personal dislike, and would be influenced thereby to utter spiteful threats against them. Paul instructs them that the Master in Heaven will not make any distinction between any persons in the exercise of His judgments, whether between masters and slaves, or between one slave and another.

Verse 10

Eph 6:10. Finally. In this and the preceding chapter Paul gives special instruction to husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants. He now addresses his words to them all as his brethren, and the instructions he is about to deliver will apply to them all, as well as to other disciples of Christ. Be strong in the Lord. The apostle is about to introduce an illustration from a soldier in the Roman army. One of the first things to be considered when a war is being planned or expected, is to make sure that every possible preparation has been made to strengthen the forces soon to engage in battle. Accordingly, Paul tells his brethren to obtain such a strength from the Lord. Power and might mean virtually the same thing, being items added to the general instruction to obtain strength from the Lord. It is as if the apostle had said, "equip yourselves for the war by calling upon the Lord, for he is powerful and mighty."

Verse 11

Eph 6:11. A few verses are devoted to general remarks about warfare, after which Paul will specify the parts of equipment that make up the armor and fighting implements for the conflict. It is necessary to put on the whole armor, not merely the parts that may be the most agreeable to wear. Wiles is from a Greek word that Thayer defines, "cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery." The devil (from DIABOLOS) uses all sorts of tricks in his warfare against Christians, hence it is necessary to have on the whole armor, for there is no way of knowing just which piece will be needed most.

Verse 12

Eph 6:12. Paul likens the Christian warfare to a wrestling contest which was a common form of athletics in those days. In that bout the winner was required not only to throw his rival, but must hold him down with his hand upon his neck. A Christian must not only "win a point" against the devil, but must continue his victory until the antagonist acknowledges his defeat. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas 4:7). Not against flesh and blood means the warfare is not a temporal one, but one in which the issue is religious or spiritual. (See 2Co 10:3-6.) Principalities means rulers with seniority, and powers denotes that these rulers have authority from some effective source. The source is denoted by the phrase darkness of this world, which is a figure for the doctrines of error taught by false leaders. Spiritual wickedness is rendered "spiritual powers of wickedness" by the Englishman's Greek New Testament. High places is rendered "heavenly" in the margin. The Greek word OURANOS is the word for the three heavens the air, the starry region, and the dwelling place of God. In our verse it means the first heaven, because the devil and his angels were said to have that region for their dominion. Hence we read of "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh In the children of disobedience" (chapter 2:2).

Verse 13

Eph 6:13. After describing the kind of warfare the Christian is to fight, the apostle repeats his exhortation for taking on the whole armor, which is necessary for him to withstand the enemy. Evil day means any day in which the enemy appears. Having done all comes from the Greek word KATERGAZOMAI, and it is defined by T h aye r, "to perform, accomplish, achieve; to work out, i.e., to do that from which something results." Hence the last five words of the verse means, "having taken on the whole armor and thus made full preparation, then make good the use of it and stand firm against the enemy." The Christian soldier who avails himself of this complete armor, then follows up with faithful use of it, is assured of final victory (Rom 8:31 Rom 8:37).

Verse 14

Eph 6:14. Girt is from PERIZONNUO which Thayer defines, "to fasten garments with a girdle," and he explains it to mean, "to fasten one's clothing about the loins with a girdle." Robinson defines it, "to gird oneself around, to be girded around," and his explanation is, "spoken in reference to the long flowing garments of the orientals [people of the East], which they gird up around them while engaged in any business." Further light will be shed on the passage by a similar word in 1Pe 1:13, which Thayer explains by the following information: "A metaphor [illustration] derived from the practice of the Orientals, who in order to be unhampered in their movements were accustomed, when about to start on a journey or engage in any work, to bind their long and flowing garments closely around their bodies and fasten them with a leathern girdle. Robinson gives the same definition and explanations. It explains the words "loins girded" in Exo 12:11, and "cast thy garment about thee" in Act 12:8. Paul uses the circumstance as an illustration; that truth will help the Christian to "get himself together" and be unhampered for the service at hand. The breastplate was a piece made of metal, covering the body from the neck to the hips, thus protecting the heart and other vital parts of the body. If a Christian's life is one of righteousness, the attacks of Satan cannot harm him. 0, he might be put to death physically, but that will not injure his soul. (See Rom 8:31 Rom 8:38; Php 1:20.)

Verse 15

Eph 6:15. Feet shod. The Israelites were told to have their shoes on their feet as they ate the passover. That was in order to be ready to travel on a moment's notice (Exo 12:11). The Christian is to be prepared to travel as a spreader of the Gospel (Isa 52:7) by means of the story of peace--peace in the great warfare for all the forces in the enemy's ranks if they will surrender to Christ.

Verse 16

Eph 6:16. The shield was a protective instrument supplementary to the breastplate, but smaller, and was carried by one hand and could be turned toward various danger spots independent of the general movements of the body. Firebrands in the form of darts were hurled by the hand in the close-up conflict. The shield was made of metal and could receive the fiery darts without any harm. The shield of the Christian is his faith in the great Commander, who has given assurance of victory. When a disciple of Christ gives up to the attacks of the enemy, it is because his faith is weak, and he acts as if the experience had come upon him as an unforeseen incident. Such is not the case, for 1Pe 4:12 warns Christians not to look upon the circumstance as some strange thing that has happened to them.

Verse 17

Eph 6:17. The helmet was a cap for the head, made of metal as a protection from the darts of the enemy. The term is more definite in 1Th 1:8, where it is called "the hope of salvation." A Christian can face any foe and even rejoice in the presence of death, because of his hope for salvation after death. Mohammed inspired his soldiers to "fight to the finish" by his assurance that faithful servants who died on the field of battle, would be taken to a land filled with the things that gratify the lusts of the flesh. Christ promises that faithful soldiers of the cross will live after earthly death in a country that will give unending enjoyment of spiritual pleasure. This completes the armor, all of which is for the forepart of the body, indicating that Christ expects his servants to be always facing the foe. The only weapon that is furnished the Christian soldier is a sword, which denotes that the struggle is to be one of close contact no long distance fighting. The sword consists of the word of God, which Paul declares is "sharper than any twoedged sword" (Heb 4:12). It is the sword that Jesus used against Satan in the wilderness (Mat 4:4 Mat 4:7 Mat 4:10). Paul calls it the sword of the Spirit because the word of God is inspired by that source. Since the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit operates and speaks to man only by means of the Bible, hence the Christian soldier can "fight the good fight of faith" only if he knows what that Volume teaches.

Verse 18

Eph 6:18. Praying always is a general phrase, denoting that the soldier of the cross must never cease to be a praying man. With all prayer is rendered "with all manner of prayer" by Moffatt, and the lexicons agree with it. That is because the addresses offered to God are of various kinds and de• grees of intensity, and Paul mentions some of them here. The simple word prayer is general and means any request or plea. Supplication is a more intense pleading for the thing desired. In the Spirit denotes the prayer must be spiritual, which means it is in harmony with the teaching of the Spirit in the word of God. Watching. Jesus taught his disciples to "watch and pray" (Mat 26:41). The soldier of the cross must always be on the alert against the tricks of the enemy. Perseverance means patient continuance in the service of Christ, even when conditions might seem to be un favorable. For all saints. We should pray for ourselves and likewise for our brethren everywhere.

Verse 19

Eph 6:19. And for me. If an inspired apostle needed the prayers of his brethren, it is certain that other disciples need them also. However, Paul was not so much concerned about his personal welfare in the present instance. He was in Rome and was a prisoner, having been taken there upon his appeal when in the court of Festus (Act 25:9-12). He was anxious that utterance (opportunity to speak) might be given him to preach the Gospel boldly. Mystery is explained at chapter 1:9.

Verse 20

Eph 6:20. Ambassadors is from PRESBEUO, which is used only twice in the New Testament (here and in 2Co 5:20). Both Thayer and Robinson give us the simple word that is used in our verse as their definition, which shows they understand the Greek term to mean the same as the English, namely, "the official representative of his own government or sovereign." The term is never used in reference to any person but the apostles in the New Testament. Hence there are no ambassadors for Christ living on earth today, for the apostles are still in authority (Mat 28:20). Bonds is from ALUSIS which Thayer defines "a chain, bond," then adds the explanation "by which the body, or any part of it (the hands, feet), is bound." It is an apparent contradiction that an ambassador would be shackled with a prisoner's chain. But we need to observe that the chain attached to Paul was not placed there by the government of which he was an ambassador. Hence, while bound in a literal chain by an enemy government, he might be able still to represent the sovereign in a foreign land. "The word of God is not bound" (2Ti 2:9). Paul's mouth was still free, and he wished the brethren to pray for divine help that he might speak the Gospel of Christ with boldness.

Verse 21

Eph 6:21. Thayer says TYCHICUS was "an Asiatic Christian, friend and companion of the apostle Paul." Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary gives the same information, with additional notes that he carried the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.

Verse 22

Eph 6:22. Tychicus was near Paul much of the time and was acquainted with the state of affairs concerning the apostle. He could comfort the hearts of the brethren by the information that Paul was standing firm in his faith.

Verse 23

Eph 6:23. Paul's manner of salutation was not always the same as it pertained to the persons addressed. Sometimes he singled out certain individuals, at others he made it general as he does in this verse. Hence there is nothing significant in the form used.

Verse 24

Eph 6:24. Paul wishes the grace (favor of the Lord) to be with the brethren; that is, with those who professed to love Him and who were sincere.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ephesians 6". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/ephesians-6.html. 1952.