A. More on walking in the light.
1. (1-3) How children walk in the light: obeying their parents.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
a. The command is simple: children are to obey their parents, and that in the Lord - for the simple reason that it is right!
b. This not only means that children have the responsibility to obey, but parents have the responsibility to teach their children obedience - one of the most important jobs for a parent.
i. We don't need to teach our children how to disobey, because they have all inherited an inclination to sin from Adam - but obedience must be taught.
ii. It is essential that a parent teach the child obedience, so that the child will grow knowing how to obey God even when he doesn't understand everything or doesn't want to.
iii. This is what all a parent's discipline for a child must come to. Disobedience must be punished, so that obedience can be learned.
c. In the Lord reminds us that the children obey not only for the sake of their parents, but for the sake of the Lord also. This idea is amplified by the quote from Deuteronomy 5:16 - God promises to bless the obedient child.
i. Christians have normally divided the Ten Commandments into the first four, directed towards God, and the last six, directed towards our fellow man. But the Jews divided the commandments into two sets of five, seeing the law to honor your father and mother more as a duty towards God than a duty towards man.
d. What it means to honor our father and mother may change as we grow into adulthood, but the principle always endures.
i. "When the bonds of family life break up, when respect for parents fails, the community becomes decadent and will not live long." (Foulkes)
2. (4) How parents walk in the light: not provoking their children to wrath.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
a. Parents certainly have the opportunity to provoke their children to wrath, through an unkind, over-critical attitude that torments the child instead of training them. But Christian parents should never be like that.
i. "The gospel introduced a fresh element into parental responsibility by insisting that the feelings of the child must be taken into consideration. In a society where the father's authority (patria potestas) was absolute, this represented a revolutionary concept." (Wood)
b. Provoke your children to wrath: This harsh kind of parenting Paul speaks against gives an unnecessary justification to a child's natural rebellion.
i. "When you are disciplining a child, you should have first controlled yourself . . . What right have you to say to your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself?" (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
c. Positively, fathers are to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Not just training and admonishing them in the things of the Lord, but training and admonishing them as the Lord would - with firmness, yet gentleness.
i. Fathers must not neglect their responsibility to teach and be a spiritual example for their children. It is not a responsibility that should be left to the mother or the Sunday School.
d. Bring them up was a word used originally of bodily nourishment as in Ephesians 5:29. But it came to be used for the nurture of body, mind and soul. The form here suggests "development by care and pains" or as Calvin translated, "Let them be fondly cherished."
e. Training is the same word translated chastening in Hebrews 12:5-11. It has the idea of training through corrective discipline. Admonition has more of the idea of "teaching" - both are necessary, though it may be significant that training comes first.
i. Significantly, both training and admonition are used to describe the purpose of the Scriptures (1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:11). Parents are to raise their children on the word.
3. (5-8) How employees walk in the light: working as servants of Jesus.
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
a. Bondservants, be obedient . . . as to Christ: As to Christ changes our whole perspective as workers. It reminds us that our work can and should be done as if we were working for Jesus - because we are!
b. We are not to work with eyeservice (working only when the boss is looking) or as men-pleasers (those who only care about pleasing man), but with good will (a good attitude, not complaining) doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.
c. Doing the will of God: In Greek culture, manual work was despised, and the goal of being successful was getting to the point where you never had to do any work. This isn't how it is in God's kingdom, where hard work and manual labor are honorable.
i. It should be said of every Christian that they are a hard worker and give their boss a full day's work for their pay; to do anything less is to steal from your boss.
e. He will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free: Paul relates a final reason for working hard for the Lord. God will return to us in the measure that we have worked hard for others; God will not allow our hard work to go unrewarded.
i. This connects to an interesting principle. When people are born again, their life changes and they become harder workers and less wasteful, and they are blessed thereby and become prosperous. But after becoming prosperous, we often allow our hearts to grow far from God, then god disciplines us with hard times, then we repent - and the cycle starts again. This is not a necessary cycle, but it is a common one.
4. (9) How employers walk in the light: treating their workers well.
And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
a. Masters are told to do the same things to them (their employees). The same things are hard and honest work that employers are to do on behalf of their employees.
b. Employers are also give up threatening, and other forms of harsh treatment, knowing that they are employees of their Master in heaven - and He judges without regard to wealth or position.
B. Fighting against the darkness.
William Gurnall, a pastor, published his book The Christian in Complete Armour, an exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20. He subtitled the work The saint's war against the Devil, wherein a discovery is made of that grand enemy of God and his people, in his policies, power, seat of his empire, wickedness, and chief design he hath against the saints; a magazine opened, form whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. In his dedication, he describes his book as a "mite" and a "little present" but it comprises three volumes, 261 chapters, and 1,472 pages - all on these eleven verses.
1. (10-11) The call to stand against the devil.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
a. Paul's exhortation to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might is rightly prefaced by "Finally." We can only walk in the glory of Ephesians 1 through 3 and live in the integrity of Ephesians 4 through 6 by doing it all in the God's strength.
i. Literally, Paul says strengthen yourselves in the Lord. He probably takes the idea from 1 Samuel 30:6, where it is said that David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
b. That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil: We express the strength we have in God by standing against the wiles of the devil. Satan's schemes against us come to nothing when we stand against them in the power of God.
i. We must live in light of the fact that just as much as "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," so it is true that "Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life." We have a spiritual enemy who wishes us nothing but evil.
ii. Stott quoting Simpson: "The tactics of intimidation and insinuation alternate in Satan's plan of campaign. He plays both the bully and the beguiler. Force and fraud form his chief offensive against the camp of the saints."
c. The armor of God will be explained for fully in the next passage; but notice the emphasis on the whole armor of God. God gives the believer a full set of equipment, and He sends us out into battle with everything we need at our disposal.
i. However, none of the whole armor of God provides protection for our back. God expects us to face our foe.
d. This ancient Greek word for armor is used in only one other place in the New Testament. In Luke11:21-22, Jesus speaks of the strong man who is fully armed, but is stripped of all his armor when a stronger one comes and defeats him. We know that Jesus disarmed all principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15).
e. This armor is of God both is the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His actual armor. In the Old Testament, it is the LORD who wears the armor (Isaiah 59:17). He now shares that armor with us - no wonder we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)
2. (12-13) The fact of spiritual warfare.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
a. Paul does not call the believer to enter into spiritual warfare. He simply announces it as a fact: we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but (we do wrestle) against principalities and so forth. You are in a spiritual battle. If you are ignorant or ignore that fact, you probably aren't winning the battle.
b. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood: The fact that our real battle is not against flesh and blood is lost on many Christians, who put all their efforts in that direction. Paul's idea here is much the same as in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.
i. Foulkes says a more literal translation is, Not for us is the wrestling against flesh and blood.
c. Principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places: Paul uses a variety of terms to refer to our spiritual enemies. We should regard them as being on many different levels and of many different ranks, yet they all have one goal: to "knock down" the Christian.
i. Some have interpreted the nature of principalities and powers in purely naturalistic terms. Markus Barth wrote, "We conclude that by principalities and powers Paul means the world of axioms and principles of politics and religion, of economics and society, of morals and biology, of history and culture." But this contradicts what Paul says about our battle not being against flesh and blood.
d. Without the whole armor of God, we are not able to withstand in the evil day. It is essential that we walk in the protection and power that God has granted to us in Jesus Christ.
e. The goal of our battle is to stand in the midst of the evil day and after we have done all. Here, Paul doesn't really have the idea of us hunting out and pursuing spiritual enemies, but for us to remain unhindered by their persistent attacks.
i. This guards us from an unhealthy and arrogant "we're going to whip the devil" attitude. We go about our business serving the Lord, and we stand steadfast against his every attempt to deter us.
3. (14-18) Our equipping for spiritual warfare.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints;
a. Stand therefore: We can only stand when we are "equipped" with the "armor" God has given us in Jesus Christ. Each aspect of this symbolic armor answer to a specific dynamic within the Christian life that enables us to stand against spiritual attack.
i. Paul wrote this while in the custody of Roman soldiers. It was easy for him to look at the equipment of his guards and see how God has equipped the believer.
ii. The order in which the pieces of armor are described is the order in which the soldier would put them on.
b. Having girded your waist with truth: Truth is symbolically represented as a belt which both protects our abdomen and gathers up our garments so that we can fight effectively.
i. Strictly, the belt is not part of the armor, but before the armor can be put on, the garments underneath must be gathered together.
ii. "The soldier might be furnished with every other part of his equipment, and yet, wanting the girdle, would neither be fully accoutered nor securely armed. His belt . . . was no mere adornment of the soldier, but an essential part of his equipment . . . it was of especial use in keeping other parts in place, and in securing the proper soldierly attitude and freedom of movement." (Salmond)
iii. With truth: Paul probably means "the truth of the gospel" and our own integrity when he describes truth.
c. Having put on the breastplate of righteousness: Righteousness is represented as a breastplate which provides essential protection for the most vital organs. We can no sooner battle against spiritual enemies in our own righteousness than a soldier can effectively fight without his breastplate.
i. Paul probably has in mind our received righteousness in Jesus and our practical righteousness in daily living.
d. Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace: The preparation of the gospel is represented as the protective shoes (or sandals) worn by Roman soldiers. No one can fight effectively or effectively go about their business without this equipment.
i. Preparation is a word meaning "a prepared foundation." The gospel provides the footing for everything we do.
ii. On the shoes: "Josephus described them as 'shoes thickly studded with sharp nails' . . . so as to ensure a good grip. the military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies' being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain." (Wood)
iii. Paul has Isaiah 52:7 in mind when he refers to having shod your feet: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
e. Taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one: Faith is represented as a shield, protecting us from the fiery darts of the wicked one, those persistent efforts of demonic foes to weaken us through fear and unbelief.
i. The shield Paul describes is not the small round one, but the large, oblong shield that could protect the whole body.
ii. "Even when such a missile was caught by the shield and did not penetrate to the body, says Livy, it caused panic, because it was thrown when well alight and its motion through the air made it blaze most fiercely, so that the soldier was tempted to get rid of his burning shield and expose himself to the enemy's spear-thrusts. But the shield of faith not only catches the incendiary devices by extinguishes them." (Bruce)
iii. Peter also mentions the role of faith in spiritual warfare: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
f. And take the helmet of salvation: Salvation is pictured as a helmet, protecting essential material. A soldier would be foolish to go into battle without his helmet.
g. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: The word of God is a represented as the sword of the Spirit. God's word is our only offensive weapon, because when we answer the devil's deception with God's word, we let God do the fighting through us.
h. All prayer and supplication in the Spirit: The armor of God "goes into action" through prayer and supplication. We exercise truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel, faith, salvation and the word of God as we submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7) in prayer.
i. For all the saints: We can battle spiritually not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of others.
4. (19-20) Paul's own request for prayer.
And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
a. And for me, that utterance may be given to me: After bringing up the idea that spiritual warfare can be waged on behalf of others, Paul asks his readers to pray for him.
b. What Paul specifically asks for is the strength to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel. He probably has in mind his upcoming defense before Caesar.
i. We could imagine Paul asking for many things, such as relief from his imprisonment or other comforts. But his heart and mind are fixed on his responsibility as an ambassador of the gospel.
c. The idea behind utterance is clear speaking. Added to boldly, Paul asks for prayer that he might proclaim the gospel both clearly and with a fearless power. It is easy to neglect one or the other.
d. I am an ambassador in chains: The ancient Greek word for chains of course meant a prisoner's shackles. But it could also be used for the gold adornment worn around the neck and wrists of the wealthy and powerful. On special occasions, ambassadors wore such chains to show the riches, power, and dignity of the government they represented. Paul considers his prisoner's chains to actually be the glorious adornment of an ambassador of Jesus Christ.
C. Conclusion to the letter.
1. (21-22) The sending of Tychicus.
But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.
a. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister: Tychicus was an associate of Paul's mentioned in other letters (Acts 20:4, Colossians 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:12, Titus 3:12). He seems to have been often used by Paul as a messenger (that you may know our affairs).
b. That he may comfort your hearts: Paul wanted Tychicus to comfort the Ephesians (and everyone else who read the letter) about Paul's condition during his imprisonment in Rome.
2. (23-24) Final words.
Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
a. Peace to the brethren . . . Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus: Paul concludes the letter as he began it, with reference to grace and peace, two essential cornerstones for the Christian life.
b. All those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity: In sincerity is literally "in uncorruptness." The idea may well be with an undying love. Our love for the Lord should be undying.
c. Paul ends by pronouncing a blessing - his way of helping the Ephesians to walk in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)