Ephesians 6 - Walking in the Light and Fighting the Darkness
A. The Spirit-filled life and two other special areas of submission.
1. (1-3) The Spirit-filled life and the parent-child relationship.
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. Children, obey your parents: The command is simple. Children are to obey their parents. 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 each 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 up 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.
b. In the Lord, for this is right: The apostle gives us two reasons for the child to obey the parent. First, they are to obey in the Lord. This means that their obedience is part of their Christian obedience, in a similar way to the wife’s command to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). The second reason is because it is simply right for a child to obey their parent.
i. What it means to honor our father and mother may change as we grow into adulthood, but the principle always endures. The adult child does not owe the parent obedience, but they do owe the parent honor.
ii. “When the bonds of family life break up, when respect for parents fails, the community becomes decadent and will not live long.” (Foulkes)
c. The first commandment with a promise: Paul reinforced this idea with a reference to Deuteronomy 5:16, where God promised 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 their fellow man). But the Jews divided the commandments in two sets of five, seeing the law to honor your father and mother more as a duty towards God than a duty towards man.
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. Do not provoke your children to wrath: 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. Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord: This does not mean merely scolding your children in the sense of admonition. It means to train and admonish. Encouragement and rebuke must be combined with training and teaching.
i. This is a responsibility for fathers. They 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.
ii. 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.
iii. 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 of God.
d. Bring them up: This ancient Greek word was originally used of bodily nourishment as in Ephesians 5:29. But the word 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.”
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!
i. “The Gospel found slavery in the world; and in many regions, particularly the Roman and the Greek, it was a very bad form of slavery. The Gospel began at once to undermine it, with its mighty principles of the equality of all souls in the mystery and dignity of manhood, and of the equal work of redeeming love wrought for all souls by the supreme Master. But its plan was - not to batter, but to undermine. . . . So while the Gospel in one respect left slavery alone, it doomed it in another.” (Moule)
b. Not with eyeservice: 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.
i. As to the Lord means that all our work is really done unto the Lord, not unto man. “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.” (Spurgeon)
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 without reward.
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, and then we repent - and then 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. You, masters, do the same things to them: 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.
i. “So the Gospel leaves its message of absolutely equal obligation, in Jesus Christ, upon the slave and upon the slave owner. The principle will do its work. There is no word of Revolution.” (Moule)
b. Giving up threatening: Employers are also to give up threatening and other forms of harsh treatment. They do this 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) The call to stand against the devil.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
a. Finally: This comes at the end of the letter - a letter that Paul has carefully established our place in Jesus, and then the basics of the Christian walk. This is his last section dealing with that walk.
- In light of all that God has done for you.
- In light of the glorious standing you have as a child of God.
- In light of His great plan of the ages that God has made you part of.
- In light of the plan for Christian maturity and growth He gives to you.
- In light of the conduct God calls every believer to live.
- In light of the filling of the Spirit and our walk in the Spirit.
- In light of all this, there is a battle to fight in the Christian life.
b. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might: Literally, Paul wrote strengthen yourselves in the Lord. He probably took the idea from 1 Samuel 30:6, where it is said that David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
i. The detailed teaching of spiritual warfare in this passage presents two essential components. First, you must be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Then, you must put on the whole armor of God. The two are essential, and much teaching on Christian combat neglects the first. If you take a weak man who can barely stand, and put the best armor on him he will still be an ineffective soldier. He will be easily beaten. So equipping for Christian combat must begin with be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
ii. Before a soldier is given a gun or shown how to fire a missile, he goes through basic training. One great purpose for basic training is the build up the recruit’s physical strength. It is as if the army says, “Soldier, we are going to give you the best weapons and armor possible. But first we have to make sure that you are strong, and that you can use what we give you.”
c. And in the power of His might: This shows how to get this strength. This does not happen just by saying the words. It is not an incantation or a spell. You can’t just walk around saying, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” over and over and it will happen. Christianity isn’t one of those self-help formulas where you go around saying, “Every day, and in every way, I am getting better and better.” Those kind of mental games can accomplish something, but it certainly wasn’t what Paul meant here.
i. Might is inherent power or force. A muscular man’s big muscles display his might, even if he doesn’t use them. It is the reserve of strength.
ii. Power is the exercise of might. When the muscular man uses his might to bend an iron bar, he uses his power. It means that the reserve of strength is actually in operation.
iii. God has vast reservoirs of might that can be realized as power in our Christian life. But His might does not work in me as I sit passively. His might works in me as I rely on it, and step out to do the work. I can rely on it and do no work. I can do work without relying on it. But both of these fall short. I must rely on His might and then do the work.
iv. It is not:
- I do everything and God does nothing.
- I do nothing and God does everything.
- I do all I can and God helps with what I can’t.
Each of those approaches falls short. The key is for me to by faith rely on His might - and rely on it more and more - and then do the work.
v. In his great series of sermons on this text, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones listed many ways in which he believes Christians wasted their strength. It was as if they had received some of the available might of God, but it simply leaked away like water in a bucket full of holes. These are some of the things Lloyd-Jones thought sapped the strength of the Christian:
- Committing to too many spiritual works or things
- Too much conversation
- Arguments, debates, wrangling
- Too much time in the wrong company
- Too much foolish talk and joking
- Love of money and career
- A desire for respectability and image
- An unequal yoking with an unbeliever
- Ungodly entertainment
- A wrong attitude toward or doubting the Word of God
vi. “We have to walk on a knife-edge in these matters; you must not become extreme on side or the other. But you have to be watchful. And, of course, you can always tell by examining yourself whether your strength is increasing or declining.” (Lloyd-Jones)
2. (11) The command for the whole armor of God.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
a. Put on the whole armor of God: The armor of God will be explained for fully in the next passage; but the emphasis is 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. 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).
ii. 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)
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. 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.”
3. (12) 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.
a. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers: 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 used 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 the Christian down from their place of standing.
i. Ephesians 6:11 tells us that all of our warfare is combating the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). At the end of the day it is completely irrelevant if the particular opponent we face is a principality, a power, or a ruler of the darkness of this age. Collectively, they are all members of spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. They are all part of a spiritual army that is organized and established into ranks - and under the headship of Satan, the devil, who comes against us with his wiles.
ii. We learn more about these principalities and powers from other passages in the New Testament.
- Romans 8:38 tells us that principalities cannot keep us from God’s love. Therefore, there is a limit to their power.
- Ephesians 1:20-21 tells us that Jesus is in enthroned in heaven, far above all principalities and powers. Colossians 1:16 tells us that Jesus created principalities and powers. Colossians 2:10 tells us that Jesus is head over all principality and power. Therefore, Jesus is not the opposite of Satan or principalities.
- Ephesians 3:10-11 tells us that the church makes known the wisdom of God to principalities and powers. 1 Corinthians 15:24 tells us that principalities and powers have an end; one day their purpose will be fulfilled and God will no longer let them work. Therefore, God has a purpose in allowing their work.
- Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus disarmed principalities and powers at the cross. Therefore, our victory is rooted in what Jesus did, not in what we do. It isn’t that there is no doing on our part - but our doing is the appropriation and application of what Jesus did.
iii. Some interpret 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.
4. (13) The proper response to the fact of spiritual warfare.
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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God: Paul introduced the idea of the whole armor of God back in Ephesians 6:11. In the following passage he details the specific items related to the armor of God. In this verse, he simply states what the main purpose of spiritual warfare and the armor of God is.
b. That you may be able: Without the strength of God and the protection of spiritual armor, it is impossible to stand against the attacks of spiritual enemies.
c. That you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand: This describes what we use the strength of God and the armor of God.
i. Many Christians have a wrong idea about spiritual warfare. They picture the Christian army as assaulting the kingdom of hell, and on patrol against demons and spiritual enemies. Much of this is based on a misunderstanding of Matthew 16:18: And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
ii. It’s easy to see how a first reading of this passage gives the picture of the church as an assaulting army, bombarding the gates of Hell, and plundering Hell and conquering it. The problem is that this understanding is completely inconsistent with the rest of the Scriptures. Nowhere do we read of the church assaulting or conquering Hell in this way.
iii. Instead, we should understand what is meant by the phrase “the gates of Hades.” In the ancient world, the city council, judges, and city leadership gathered together at the gates of the city. It was the place where the city life was planned, organized, strategized. It’s in this sense that Jesus speaks of the gates of Hades. He means that no satanic strategy, no plot from Hell will ultimately succeed against the church.
iv. Instead of picturing the army of the church seeking out and attacking some kind of demonic fortress, we are to have the idea that Jesus illustrated in His ministry. Jesus didn’t patrol around, looking for demons to conquer. That would almost be allowing demons to set the agenda for His ministry. Instead, Jesus knew what God the Father wanted Him to do, He set about doing it, and He dealt with satanic opposition when it arose. When satanic opposition raised itself, Jesus stood against it and was not moved.
v. So the idea is that God has given us a call, a mission, a course to fulfill. Satan will do his best to stop it. When he attacks and intimidates, we are to stand. It is plain that this is Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 6:11 and 6:13. We love an energetic church that advances the Kingdom of God so vigorously that it shakes the councils of hell, but we don’t let principalities and powers set our agenda. We do the Lord’s work and stand against every hint of spiritual opposition.
vi. God gives the Christian a glorious standing to maintain by faith and spiritual warfare:
vii. The same idea is repeated in 1 Peter 5: 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, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
viii. All in all, there is a lot bound up in that little word, stand.
- It means that we are going to be attacked.
- It means that we must not be frightened.
- It means that we must not droop or slouch, being uncertain or half-hearted in the fight (no self-pity is allowed).
- It means that we are at our position and alert.
- It means that we do not give even a thought to retreat.
5. (14-15) The spiritual armor to have.
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;
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 answers 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. When a man sat down and was relaxed, he took off his belt. Putting on the belt prepares you for action, it frees your movements, and it put him in a battle frame of mind. The same idea is communicated by Jesus in Luke 12:35-36.
iv. The belt of truth puts on the Biblical beliefs of the Christians as a whole - what other passages call the faith. Many people believe that the church will never go forward until it takes off this belt of truth, but that is completely wrong. This is armor to have - it is a foundation you live upon all the time, your understanding of and confidence in the basic doctrines of the faith.
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. This is not our own earned righteousness, not a feeling of righteousness, but a righteousness received by faith in Jesus. It gives us a general sense of confidence, an awareness of our standing and position.
ii. “Thank God for experiences, but do not rely on them. You do not put on the ‘breastplate of experiences’, you put on the breastplate of ‘righteousness.’” (Lloyd-Jones)
iii. We are sometimes tempted to say to the devil “Look at all I’ve done for the Lord.” But that is shaky ground, though sometimes it feels good. It is shaky because the feeling and experiences and doing is so changeable. God’s righteousness isn’t. The breastplate of righteousness is your best defense against the sense of spiritual depression and gloom that comes against your gut.
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. However powerful the rest of your body is, if you are wounded in your feet you are easy prey for the enemy.
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!”
iv. The idea of preparation is really readiness - we must be mobile, flexible, ready with the truth. This is a place to have in the Christian life, to live in constant readiness and flexibility.
6. (16-18) The spiritual armor to take.
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;
a. Above all: This really has the idea of “in addition to the previous,” and it applies to each of the three pieces of armor that follow. It isn’t the idea, “this piece of armor is more important than any of the other.”
b. Taking the shield of faith: Ephesians 6:13-14 tells us of armor to have. Some of the armor we must wear all the time, and have as a standing foundation. Therefore having comes first. We must be rooted in belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the “combat boots” of the gospel
i. Now we come to the armor to take. These aspects of the armor we take up from situation to situation, as the moment demands. Think about those “demanding moments” in spiritual warfare”
- A flood of depression or discouragement, feeling like a black cloud.
- When a relatively insignificant thing gets blown way out of proportion.
- An opportunity to speak with someone about what Jesus did for you.
- Opposition against a sense that God wants you to do something, to follow through on something.
- A sense of panic and helplessness.
ii. In those critical moments, we need to
- Take the shield of faith.
- Take the helmet of salvation.
- Take the sword of God’s Word.
c. 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. In ancient warfare, these fiery darts were launched in great number at the beginning of an attack. The idea was not only to injure the enemy, but to shoot at him at all sides with a massive number of darts, and thus confuse and panic the enemy.
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. Thoughts, feelings, imaginations, fears, lies - all of these can be hurled at us by Satan as fiery darts. Faith turns them back.
d. And take the helmet of salvation: In the ancient world, this was a leather cap studded with metal for extra strength. Often some kind of plume or decoration was added, perhaps to identify the solider to his regiment. Salvation is pictured as this kind of helmet, protecting essential material. A soldier would be foolish to go into battle without his helmet.
i. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 speaks of the helmet of salvation in connection to the hope of salvation. The helmet of salvation protects us against discouragement, against the desire to give up, giving us hope not only in knowing that we are saved, but that we will be saved. It is the assurance that God will triumph.
ii. One of Satan’s most effective weapons against us is discouragement. When we are properly equipped with the helmet of salvation, it’s hard to stay discouraged.
e. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: The idea is that the Spirit provides a sword for you, and that sword is the word of God. To effectively use the Sword of the Spirit, we can’t regard the Bible as book of magic charms or tie one around our neck the way that garlic is said to drive away vampires.
i. To effectively use the sword, we must regard it as the word of God - which is the word of God. If we are not confident in the inspiration of Scripture, that the sword really came from the Spirit, then we will not use it effectively at all.
ii. But we must also take the sword of the Spirit in the sense of depending that He helps us to use it. Not only did the Spirit give us the Scriptures, but also He makes them alive to us, and equips us with the right thrust of the sword at the right time.
iii. Think of a soldier or a gladiator in training, practicing sword thrusts and moves and positions. Now, he must practice them ahead of time, and if he is a superior fighter, and has a great fighting instinct, at the time of battle he will instantly recall which thrust, which position suits the precise moment. He will never be able to use the thrust in the fight if he has not first practiced it, but he still needs to make the move at the moment.
iv. Therefore, effectively using the sword takes practice. The great example of this was Jesus combating the temptation of Satan in the wilderness. Luther was another example of this, when he came to any understanding of Psalm 31:1: deliver me in Your righteousness. This helped him understand the real meaning of the just will live by faith.
7. (18-20) How to use spiritual strength and the armor 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; 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. Praying always with all prayer: The idea is all kinds of prayer or prayer upon prayer. We should use every kind of prayer we can think of. Group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, eloquent prayer, groaning prayer, constant prayer, fervent prayer - just pray.
i. We can say that it is through prayer that spiritual strength and the armor of God go to work. In theory, the prayerless Christian can be strong and wearing all the armor - but actually goes into battle through prayer.
ii. Often we just don’t pray because we are simply overconfident in our own abilities. Winston Churchill said to Britain in the early days of World War II: “I must drop one word of caution, for next to cowardice and treachery, overconfidence leading to neglect and slothfulness, is the worst of wartime crimes.”
b. For all the saints: We can battle spiritually not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of others. The soldier isn’t only concerned for his or her own safety. They feel an instinct to protect and battle on behalf of others.
c. 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.
d. To boldly make known the mystery of the gospel: Paul could have asked prayer for many things, but he wanted them to pray for this. 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.
e. That utterance may be given to me: 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.
f. I am an ambassador in chains: Of course, the ancient Greek word for chains 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. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity: 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)
©2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission.