Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. obey--stronger than the expression as to wives, "submitting," or
Obedience is more unreasoning and implicit; submission is
the willing subjection of an inferior in point of order to one
who has a right to command.
in the Lord--Both parents and children being Christians "in the Lord,"
expresses the element in which the obedience is to take place, and
the motive to obedience. In
it is, "Children, obey your parents in all things." This clause,
"in the Lord," would suggest the due limitation of the obedience
compare on the other hand, the abuse,
right--Even by natural law we should render obedience to them from
whom we have derived life.
2. Here the authority of revealed law is added to that of natural
which is . . . promise--The "promise" is not made the main motive to
obedience, but an incidental one. The main motive is, because it is
"Honor thy father and mother, as the Lord thy God hath COMMANDED thee"); and that it is so peculiarly,
is shown by His accompanying it "with a promise."
first--in the decalogue with a special promise. The promise in
the second commandment is a general one. Their duty is more
expressly prescribed to children than to parents; for love descends
rather than ascends [BENGEL]. This verse proves the law in the Old
Testament is not abolished.
3. long on the earth--In
"long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee," which
Paul adapts to Gospel times, by taking away the local and limited
reference peculiar to the Jews in Canaan. The godly are equally blessed
in every land, as the Jews were in the land which God gave them. This
promise is always fulfilled, either literally, or by the substitution
of a higher blessing, namely, one spiritual and eternal
The substance and essence of the law are eternally in force: its
accidents alone (applying to Israel of old) are abolished
4. fathers--including mothers; the fathers are specified
as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to
passion in relation to their children than mothers, whose fault is
provoke not--irritate not, by vexatious commands, unreasonable blame,
and uncertain temper [ALFORD].
"lest they be discouraged."
nurture--Greek, "discipline," namely, training by chastening
in act where needed
admonition--training by words
Margin), whether of encouragement, or remonstrance, or reproof,
according as is required [TRENCH]. Contrast
of the Lord--such as the Lord approves, and by His Spirit dictates.
5. Servants--literally, "slaves."
masters according to the flesh--in contrast to your true and heavenly
A consolatory him that the mastership to which they were subject, was
but for a time [CHRYSOSTOM]; and that their real
liberty was still their own
fear and trembling--not slavish terror, but (See on
an anxious eagerness to do your duty, and a fear of displeasing, as
great as is produced in the ordinary slave by "threatenings"
singleness--without double-mindedness, or "eye service"
which seeks to please outwardly, without the sincere desire to make the
master's interest at all times the first consideration
Mt 6:22, 23;
Seeking to please their masters only so long as these have their eyes
on them: as Gehazi was a very different man in his master's presence
from what he was in his absence
men-pleasers--not Christ-pleasers (compare
doing the will of God--the unseen but ever present Master: the best
guarantee for your serving faithfully your earthly master alike when
present and when absent.
from the heart--literally, soul
7. good will--expressing his feeling towards his master; as "doing
the will of God from the heart" expresses the source of that feeling
"Good will" is stated by XENOPHON
[Economics] to be the principal virtue of a slave towards his
master: a real regard to his master's interest as if his own, a good
will which not even a master's severity can extinguish.
8. any man doeth--Greek, "any man shall have done," that is, shall
be found at the Lord's coming to have done.
the same--in full payment, in heaven's currency.
shall . . . receive--
but all of grace,
bond or free--
(1Co 7:22; 12:13;
Christ does not regard such distinctions in His present dealings of
grace, or in His future judgment. The slave that has acted faithfully
for the Lord's sake to his master, though the latter may not repay his
faithfulness, shall have the Lord for his Paymaster. So the freeman who
has done good for the Lord's sake, though man may not pay him, has the
Lord for his Debtor
9. the same things--Mutatis mutandis. Show the same regard to God's
will, and to your servants' well-being, in your relation to them, as
they ought to have in their relation to you. Love regulates the duties
both of servants and masters, as one and the same light attempers
various colors. Equality of nature and faith is superior to distinctions
of rank [BENGEL]. Christianity makes all men brothers: compare
Le 25:42, 43;
as to how the Hebrews were bound to treat their brethren in service;
much more ought Christians to act with love.
threatening--Greek, "the threatening" which masters commonly
use. "Masters" in the Greek, is not so strong a term as "despots":
it implies authority, but not absolute domination.
your Master also--The oldest manuscripts read, "the Master both of
them and you": "their Master and yours." This more forcibly brings out
the equality of slaves and masters in the sight of God.
[Thyestes, 607], says, "Whatever an inferior dreads from you, this a
superior Master threatens yourselves with: every authority here is under
a higher above." As you treat your servants, so will He treat you.
neither . . . respect of persons--He will not, in judging, acquit thee
because thou art a master, or condemn him because he is a servant
10. my brethren--Some of the oldest manuscripts omit these words. Some
with Vulgate retain them. The phrase occurs nowhere else in the
Epistle (see, however,
if genuine, it is appropriate here in the close of the Epistle, where
he is urging his fellow soldiers to the good fight in the Christian
armor. Most of the oldest manuscripts for "finally," read,
"henceforward," or "from henceforth"
be strong--Greek, "be strengthened."
in the power of his might--Christ's might: as in
it is the Father's might.
11. the whole armour--the armor of light
on the right hand and left
The panoply offensive and defensive. An image readily suggested by the
Roman armory, Paul being now in Rome. Repeated emphatically,
it is, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ"; in putting on Him, and
the new man in Him, we put on "the whole armor of God." No opening at
the head, the feet, the heart, the belly, the eye, the ear, or the
tongue, is to be given to Satan. Believers have once for all overcome
him; but on the ground of this fundamental victory gained over him,
they are ever again to fight against and overcome him, even as they who
once die with Christ have continually to mortify their members upon
Col 3:3, 5).
of God--furnished by God; not our own, else it would not stand
Spiritual, therefore, and mighty through God, not carnal
wiles--literally, "schemes sought out" for deceiving (compare
the devil--the ruling chief of the foes
organized into a kingdom of darkness
opposed to the kingdom of light.
12. Greek, "For our wrestling ('the wrestling' in which we are
engaged) is not against flesh," &c. Flesh and blood foes are Satan's
mere tools, the real foe lurking behind them is Satan himself, with whom
our conflict is. "Wrestling" implies that it is a hand-to-hand and
foot-to-foot struggle for the mastery: to wrestle successfully with
Satan, we must wrestle with
GOD in irresistible prayer like Jacob
Translate, "The principalities . . . the
The same grades of powers are specified in the case of the demons here,
as in that of angels there (compare
The Ephesians had practiced sorcery
so that he appropriately treats of evil spirits in addressing them. The
more clearly any book of Scripture, as this, treats of the economy of
the kingdom of light, the more clearly does it set forth the kingdom of
darkness. Hence, nowhere does the satanic kingdom come more clearly
into view than in the Gospels which treat of Christ, the true Light.
rulers of the darkness of this world--Greek, "age" or "course of
the world." But the oldest manuscripts omit "of world." Translate,
"Against the world rulers of this (present) darkness"
(Eph 2:2; 5:8;
On Satan and his demons being "world rulers," compare
Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11;
Greek, "lieth in the wicked one." Though they be "world rulers,"
they are not the ruler of the universe; and their usurped rule of the
world is soon to cease, when He shall "come whose right it is"
Two cases prove Satan not to be a mere subjective fancy: (1) Christ's
temptation; (2) the entrance of demons into the swine (for these are
incapable of such fancies). Satan tries to parody, or imitate in a
perverted way, God's working
(2Co 11:13, 14).
So when God became incarnate, Satan, by his demons, took forcible
possession of human bodies. Thus the demoniacally possessed were not
peculiarly wicked, but miserable, and so fit subjects for Jesus' pity.
Paul makes no mention of demoniacal possession, so that in the time he
wrote, it seems to have ceased; it probably was restricted to the
period of the Lord's incarnation, and of the foundation of His Church.
spiritual wickedness--rather as Greek, "The
spiritual hosts of wickedness." As three of the clauses describe
the power, so this fourth, the wickedness of our
in high places--Greek, "heavenly places": in
"the air," see on
The alteration of expression to "in heavenly places," is in order to
mark the higher range of their powers than ours, they having been, up
to the ascension
(Re 12:5, 9, 10),
dwellers "in the heavenly places"
and being now in the regions of the air which are called the heavens.
Moreover, pride and presumption are the sins in heavenly places
to which they tempt especially, being those by which they themselves
fell from heavenly places
But believers have naught to fear, being "blessed with all spiritual
blessings in the heavenly places"
13. take . . . of God--not "make," God has done that: you have only
to "take up" and put it on. The Ephesians were familiar with the idea of
the gods giving armor to mythical heroes: thus Paul's allusion would be
the evil day--the day of Satan's special assaults
(Eph 6:12, 16)
in life and at the dying hour (compare
We must have our armor always on, to be ready against the evil day
which may come at any moment, the war being perpetual
done all--rather, "accomplished all things," namely, necessary to the
fight, and becoming a good soldier.
14. Stand--The repetition in
Eph 6:11, 14,
shows that standing, that is, maintaining our ground, not
yielding or fleeing, is the grand aim of the Christian soldier.
Translate as Greek, "Having girt about your loins with truth,"
that is, with truthfulness, sincerity, a good conscience
1Ti 1:5, 18; 3:9).
Truth is the band that girds up and keeps together the flowing robes,
so as that the Christian soldier may be unencumbered for action. So the
Passover was eaten with the loins girt, and the shoes on the feet
Faithfulness (Septuagint, "truth") is the girdle of
so truth of His followers.
having on--Greek, "having put on."
breastplate of righteousness--
similarly of Messiah. "Righteousness" is here joined with "truth," as
righteousness in works, truth in words [ESTIUS]
Christ's righteousness inwrought in us by the Spirit. "Faith and love,"
that is, faith working righteousness by love, are "the breastplate" in
15. Translate, "Having shod your feet" (referring to the sandals, or
to the military shoes then used).
the preparation--rather, "the preparedness," or "readiness of," that
is, arising from the "Gospel"
Preparedness to do and suffer all that God wills; readiness for march,
as a Christian soldier.
gospel of peace--(compare
The "peace" within forms a beautiful contrast to the raging of the
16. Above all--rather, "Over all"; so as to cover all that has
been put on before. Three integuments are specified, the breastplate,
girdle, and shoes; two defenses, the helmet and shield; and two
offensive weapons, the sword and the spear (prayer). ALFORD translates, "Besides all," as the Greek is
But if it meant this, it would have come last in the list
shield--the large oblong oval door-like shield of the Romans, four
feet long by two and a half feet broad; not the small round buckler.
ye shall be able--not merely, "ye may." The shield of faith will
certainly intercept, and so "quench, all the fiery darts" (an image
from the ancient fire-darts, formed of cane, with tow and combustibles
ignited on the head of the shaft, so as to set fire to woodwork, tents,
of the wicked--rather "of the EVIL ONE."
Faith conquers him
and his darts of temptation to wrath, lust, revenge, despair, &c. It
overcomes the world
and so the prince of the world
17. take--a different Greek word from that in
Eph 6:13, 16;
translate, therefore, "receive," "accept," namely, the helmet offered
by the Lord, namely, "salvation" appropriated, as
"Helmet, the hope of salvation"; not an uncertain hope, but one that
brings with it no shame of disappointment
It is subjoined to the shield of faith, as being its inseparable
Ro 5:1, 5).
The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended,
as on it the deadliest strokes might fall, and it is the head that
commands the whole body. The head is the seat of the mind,
which, when it has laid hold of the sure Gospel "hope" of eternal life,
will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan's temptations to
despair. God, by this hope, "lifts up the head"
sword of the Spirit--that is, furnished by the Spirit, who inspired
the writers of the word of God
Again the Trinity is implied: the Spirit here; and Christ in
"salvation" and God the Father,
Re 1:16; 2:12).
The two-edged sword, cutting both ways
(Ps 45:3, 5),
striking some with conviction and conversion, and others with
is in the mouth of Christ
in the hand of His saints
Christ's use of this sword in the temptation is our pattern as to how
we are to wield it against Satan
(Mt 4:4, 7, 10).
There is no armor specified for the back, but only for the front of the
body; implying that we must never turn our back to the foe
our only safety is in resisting ceaselessly
18. always--Greek, "in every season"; implying
opportunity and exigency
Paul uses the very words of Jesus in
(a Gospel which he quotes elsewhere, in undesigned consonance with the
fact of Luke being his associate in travel,
&c.; 1Ti 5:18).
Ro 12:12; 1Th 5:17.
with all--that is, every kind of.
prayer--a sacred term for prayer in general.
supplication--a common term for a special kind of prayer
an imploring request. "Prayer" for obtaining blessings,
"supplication" for averting evils which we fear [GROTIUS].
in the Spirit--to be joined with "praying." It is he in us, as the
Spirit of adoption, who prays, and enables us to pray
(Ro 8:15, 26;
So in the temple a perpetual watch was maintained (compare Anna,
thereunto--"watching unto" (with a view to) prayer and supplication.
with--Greek, "in." Persevering constancy ("perseverance")
and (that is, exhibited in) supplication are to be the element
in which our watchfulness is to be exercised.
for all saints--as none is so perfect as not to need the intercessions
of his fellow Christians.
19. for me--a different Greek preposition from that in
translate, therefore, "on my behalf."
that I may open my mouth boldly--rather, "that there may be given to
me 'utterance,' or 'speech' in the opening of my mouth (when I
undertake to speak; a formula used in set and solemn speech,
so as with boldness to make known," &c. Bold plainness of speech
was the more needed, as the Gospel is a "mystery" undiscoverable by
mere reason, and only known by revelation. Paul looked for utterance to
be given him; he did not depend on his natural or acquired
power. The shortest road to any heart is by way of heaven; pray to God
to open the door and to open your mouth, so as to avail yourself of
(Jer 1:7, 8;
Eze 3:8, 9, 11;
20. For--Greek, as in
"On behalf of which."
an ambassador in bonds--a paradox. Ambassadors were held inviolable
by the law of nations, and could not, without outrage to every sacred
right, be put in chains. Yet Christ's "ambassador is in a chain!"
The Greek is singular. The Romans used to bind a prisoner to a
soldier by a single chain, in a kind of free custody. So
Ac 28:16, 20,
"I am bound with this chain." The term, "bonds" (plural), on the
other hand, is used when the prisoner's hands or feet were bound
where the plural marks the distinction. The singular is only used of
the particular kind of custody described above; an undesigned
21. that ye also--as I have been discussing things relating to you, so
that ye also may know about me (compare
Col 4:7, 8).
NEANDER takes it, "Ye also," as well as the
my affairs--Greek, "the things concerning me."
how I do--how I fare.
Tychicus--an Asiatic, and so a fit messenger bearing the respective
Epistles to Ephesus and Colosse
a beloved brother--Greek, "the beloved brother"; the same
epithet as in
minister--that is, servant.
in the Lord--in the Lord's work.
22. for the same purpose--Greek, "for this very purpose."
is almost word for word the same as this verse.
our affairs--Greek, "the things concerning us," namely,
concerning myself. "Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, and Marcus,
sister's son to Barnabas"
23. love with faith--Faith is presupposed as theirs; he prays that love
may accompany it
24. Contrast the malediction on all who love Him not
in sincerity--Greek, "in incorruption," that is, not as
English Version, but "with an immortal (constant) love"
Compare "that which is not corruptible"
Not a fleeting, earthly love, but a spiritual and eternal one [ALFORD]. Contrast
worldly things "which perish with the using." Compare
"corruptible . . . incorruptible crown." "Purely,"
"holily" [ESTIUS], without the corruption of sin
Where the Lord Jesus has a true believer, there I have a brother
[BISHOP M'IKWAINE]. He who is
good enough for Christ, is good enough for me [R. HALL]. The differences of opinion among real Christians
are comparatively small, and show that they are not following one
another like silly sheep, each trusting the one before him. Their
agreement in the main, while showing their independence as witnesses by
differing in non-essentials, can only be accounted for by their being
all in the right direction
(Ac 15:8, 9;
1Co 1:2; 12:3).