Ephesians 6:1-24 - Outline of Ephesians (Menu page)
As we have seen, thus far in Ephesians, Christians are called to a "walk in love" with Christ and toward one another. In chapter 5, this walk of love was applied to the mutual submission of members within the church, the body of called out ones (5:21). We are to voluntarily place our own interests and opinions aside, in deference to those of our brothers. The unity of body, which is a harmony of humility, cannot be realized unless the members are filled with the Spirit of God (5:18-19), who produces within us the selfless love which characterizes the Head of the body, our Lord Jesus Christ.
     Since He is the Head over all, all the members of the body are to be arranged in order under Him, to fulfill His will. Likewise, the members are to voluntarily arrange themselves according to the order of authority and responsibility, which Christ has established within the body. The younger (or less mature) are to submit themselves to the elder(s) (1Pet 5:5). Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands... with the understanding that husbands are to be in submission to Christ, and that His love for the church, will be reflected in the husband's love and care for his wife. The wife submits to her husband "as unto the Lord" (5:22), since the Lord has placed her husband over her. The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife, "even as the Lord the church" (Eph 5:29).
     Through comparison with the marriage relationship, the Lord has given us a better understanding of the tender intimacy of His relationship to His called out ones... He has also revealed the secret of a healthy marriage between a man and a woman (5:33).
     The discussion of marriage was a direct application of Eph 5:21. Now, in the first portion of chapter 6, we are given practical instruction of what it means to 'submit to one another in the fear of God' in the context of other relationships (ie., Parent and child; Employer and employee, Master and slave).
1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
"Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
  • Why is it 'right' {ie., righteous, just}?
         Because God has said so. Verse 2 and 3 quote from Ex 20:12 (the fifth of the Ten Commandments). All of the other commandments are expressed in the negative: "Thou shalt not..." But this charge is given with a promise "...that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
         Paul qualifies his instructions: "...obey your parents in the Lord..." Not every child has parents who are honoring the Lord with their lives. There may be times, when a believing child must choose to obey God rather than man.
         The intent of the original command was that parents would teach their children, to follow the ways of the Lord, by the example of their own way of life (Deu 4:40; 5:16).
  • "Children obey..." - Note that it does not say "submit."
         The relationship of Parent to child is different than that of husband and wife. The husband and wife are equals, who voluntarily arrange themselves in the order designed by God. The child is to obey {GK= hupakouo, to do as he is told}. The parent has the wisdom of years by which to discern the way that is right. Children who refuse to obey need to be corrected. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." (Prov 22:15)
  • "...that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth." -
         Children need to understand the consequences of obeying or disobeying God's Word. The nation of Israel was cast out of the promised land, because the people turned from the God of their forefathers. Individuals had their lives cut short due to their rebellion against the counsel of their parents (eg., Samson, Absalom...).
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath..."
{ie., do not exasperate them, do not give them valid reason to be angry with you}. See also Col 3:21 (where 'provoke' is a different word, meaning 'agitate, irritate,' with the result that the children lose heart). In either case, the attitude and demeanor of a parent may discourage a child from following the God, whom their parents claim to serve.
     Christian parents ought not live in the hypocrisy of "do as I say, not as I do." Rather, parents also, are to live in loving obedience to their heavenly Father (Eph 5:1, in context 4:31- 5:1f).
but 'bring them up' {this phrase is one GK word, translated 'nourish' in 5:29)...
...in the nurture {GK=paideia, discipline, corrective instruction (appropriate for children)} eg., Prov 13:24; 19:18; 23:13,14; 29:15,17
...and admonition {GK=nouthesia, instruction of the mind}
...of the Lord. - eg. Prov 1:7-9; 3:1,2
The child will not benefit from the wrath of an angry man. But he or she needs the loving correction and instruction from the heavenly Father, as administered by the earthly parents to whom He has given that responsibility. Heb 12:9-11
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh,
with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart,
as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;
but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth,
the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.
9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening:
knowing that your Master also is in heaven;
neither is there respect of persons with him.
Here, the mutual submission of believers to one another is applied to the workplace.
We read this in the context of the employee - employer relationship with which we are familiar. But Paul's original readers had a very different work environment. How do you live as a servant {GK=doulous, slave, one in bondage} under your master {GK=kurios, lord, the one in control, the one with full authority}?
  • be obedient {GK=hupakouo, do what you are told} - just like a child, without argument.
    • with fear {GK=phobos, terror, dread} and trembling {GK=tromos, quaking with fear... ie., of failure to fulfill responsibilities, of being held accountable}
    • as unto Christ... - You are to serve your earthly master (your fleshly boss), with the attitude that you are serving the Lord who placed you under that boss. Christ has made us free from bondage to our former sinful condition, so that we can serve Him (Rom 8:2; Gal 5:1). The rebellious attitudes and actions which once tainted my relationship to my earthly master have been put aside.
      Service for Christ must be:
      • not with eyeservice... - ie., not only while the boss is looking.
      • doing the will of God from the heart...
      • with good will {ie., an attitude of kindness}
      • doing service {ie., the work of a slave} as to the Lord, and not to men. He is your true Master. You are accountable directly to Him.
In verse 9, Christian masters are reminded that they serve the same Master that their slaves serve.
Therefore, they also are to conduct themselves with fear and trembling, in anticipation of giving account to Him. They are to 'forbear threatening' {ie., omit, from their methodology, menacing words and actions designed to force their will upon the slaves}. See Col 3:22-4:1.
     Before the heavenly Master, there is no respect of persons. Rather, Master and Slave are on the same level, as brothers. See the example of Philemon 15,16
10. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
Finally, my brethren... - Paul is bringing his letter to a conclusion.
He has been focusing on our relationship to the Lord and to one another, as members of His body. We are to be walking together in love. Paul has dealt with some of the things that arise between us to hinder that walk. Now, he warns us to be prepared for relentless attacks from outside of the body, from Satan and his angels, who oppose the Lord and His people.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood (v.12).
  • The enemy is not...
    • the old fleshly nature. We cannot deliver ourselves from what we are. Paul tried and failed (in Rom 7:7 f). Rather, we are to reckon on the victory which Christ accomplished for us (Rom 6).
    • other men (even though they act with fleshly motivations and methods). A brother or an unbeliever may be a hindrance or a cause of stumbling. But we will not right the wrong with argument or politics.
  • The enemy is Satan and his forces. The "wiles {GK=methodeia} of the devil," include doctrines of demons, and deception on many levels (Eph 4:14; 2Cor 11:13-15; 2Tim 3:12-14). However, Satan eagerly takes advantage of our fleshly weaknesses, and of disagreements between brothers (eg., 2Cor 2:10,11; 1Pet 5:5,8).
We have no strength in ourselves to stand against such spiritual enemies. They are entities, with great power, who are well organized with a hierarchy which extends from "the rulers of the darkness of this world" and to depraved {Gk= poneria, wickedness} spiritual beings "in the heavenlies." [The word here translated 'in high places' is rendered as 'in heavenly places' in Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10. However, our place is with our Lord, who is 'far above' these evil forces (Eph 1:20-22; 4:10).]
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
...that ye may stand...- Four times (in v.11, 13, 14), we are told to "stand."
Believers are not to go on the offensive against spiritual wickedness in high places. Rather, we are to stand against the attacks of wickedness, in this day of evil {GK=poneros, hardship, wickedness, depravity}. (Even Michael, the archangel, deferred to the Lord, when dealing with Satan. Jude 1:9). Christ has won the victory over the enemy. We are to stand in His victory. We are established upon Him, who is the one sure foundation. We have no strength in ourselves, our strength is entirely in Him ("be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might," v.10). We have no provision in ourselves, our protection is entirely from Him ("the whole armor" is "of God," v.11,13).
The elements of the 'whole armor' (GK=panoplia, the complete equipment, the full preparation).
Each piece speaks of Christ:
  • The girdle of truth - Christ is the Truth (Joh 14:6).
    The Roman soldier's girdle was the undergirding upon which all of the other pieces were hung. If the straps of the girding failed, everything fell apart. It is essential that we know the Truth. The Holy Spirit assures believers of what is right and true (Eph 5:9). These things are the characteristics of Christ (Isa 11:5, Rev 3:14; 19:11) and of His Word (Rev 21:5,6).
  • The breastplate of righteousness - "Christ Jesus... is made unto us wisdom and righteousness..." (1Cor 1:30; 2Cor 5:21; Php 3:9).
    The righteousness in which believers are clothed is not our own. Yet, His righteousness is not merely external garb. As the breastplate covers the heart, so, our hearts are to be filled with Christ's righteousness, that the words and deeds which proceed out of our innermost being would be pleasing to Him, in everything (Eph 5:9). The LORD equipped Himself with this armor (Isa 59:16,17).
  • Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace -
    I suppose we usually view this piece of armor as a readiness to go and preach the gospel to others (Rom 1:15,16; 10:15; Isa 52:7). We ought to be prepared to do that. But this piece of armor, like the others, is to enable us "to stand against the wiles of the devil." The gospel of peace upon which we stand is entirely God's doing (Luke 2:30,31; Rom 5:1). We can be at peace {in a state of tranquility, and 'blessed assurance'} regardless of what Satan throws at us, because we are confident of our Lord's preparation in our behalf (Joh 14:1-3; 1Cor 2:9). [Trace the words 'preparation' & 'prepare' through these two verses.]
  • The shield of faith -
    'Shield' {GK=thureos} refers to a large rectangular shield. (The GK word is derived from 'thura' meaning 'a door.') This type of shield was 'above all' in that it provided a layer of protection which completely covered the soldier and every piece of his body armor. The Roman soldiers would form a wall with their shields, and wait until their enemies exhausted their supply of arrows and fiery darts, which were deflected harmlessly by the shields. Then, they would rush upon them with their swords.
         Faith {GK=pistis, belief, assurance, conviction of the truth} is only as strong as the object of that faith. If you trust in someone or something that is not trustworthy, you will be disappointed, disillusioned and defeated. The Christian trusts in One who cannot fail. 1Joh 5:4,5; Gen 15:1,6; Deu 31:6; Psa 56:1-4,10,11; Heb 11:1f; 1Pet 5:8,9
  • The helmet of salvation - This is a piece of the LORD's own preparation (Isa 59:17).
    Our confidence is in what He has accomplished and will accomplish for us (1The 5:8 ...the hope {confident expectation} of salvation {GK=soterion, deliverance from all danger and enemies}). As a helmet protects the brain, so, our mind and thoughts are to take refuge in what the Lord has done for us. We are to fill our minds with God's Word and the good things which He has prepared for us (Php 4:6-9). We need to give diligence to rightly understanding God's Word (2Tim 2:15).
  • The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God -
    It has been often pointed out that this is the only offensive weapon listed. However, it is also a primary defensive weapon. It is a right understanding of God's Word that enables us to discern between truth and error (2Tim 2:15-18); and between thoughts and intents of the heart which are rooted in the flesh versus in the Spirit (Heb 4:12). A complete understanding of the Word of God is essential for the individual believer to be 'thoroughly furnished' {GK=exartizo, lit., 'out fitted'}, for the work of edifying the body of believers (2Tim 3:14-17).
         Yet, no matter how well versed a man might be in the scriptures, he will be unable to wield this sword effectively. The Bible is "the sword of the Spirit." Unless the Spirit of God brings conviction, gives understanding, and makes application to the hearer's heart, the Word of God will not penetrate to do its work.
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me,
that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds:
that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Prayer is also an essential part of the soldier's armor.
Just as electronic communication is essential to a modern soldier. So, by prayer, the child of God calls for reinforcements, resupply, and intervention from above. 'Prayer' is the general term for personal communication with God. 'Praying always,' we continually acknowledge the Commander and His orders, and seek clarification of His way (Luk 18:1; 21:36; Rom 12:12; 1The 5:17). 'Supplication' is the urgent request for specific need(s).
     Yet, because of our fleshly short-sightedness, we usually misperceive the battlefield situation. We do not know how to pray, or for what to ask. Therefore, to be effective, prayer must be 'in the Spirit' (Rom 8:26,27).
     To watch in prayer, is to be awake and alert, like the soldier on guard duty, watching for enemy action, and also in anticipation of answers to previous requests. To persevere in prayer, is to continue praying when the answer is delayed. (From Daniel's experience, we understand that the answer may be delayed due to opposition by the forces of the enemy, in the unseen spiritual battle. Dan 10:11-14)
     Paul knew his need for prayer (v.19,20). The enemy who hinders archangels will certainly intimidate the Lord's human ambassadors, who may be handicapped by other circumstances (eg., Paul was in prison). Only the Lord can enable His servant to be bold. Only the Lord can make His Word effective in the hearer's heart.
     Do you pray for 'all the saints'? ...those who minister God's Word? ...those who hear it? ...our missionaries, and the people to whom they have gone? (Someday, we will meet them. Rev 5:9) ...our Sunday School and children's ministry teachers ...our church family, in their personal witness ...whoever has the privilege and responsibility to minister from the pulpit...? Praying, for those who minister, that the Word of the Lord may have free course {accomplishing that to which He has sent it} is an essential part of spiritual warfare (2The 3:1; Isa 55:10,11).
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, [and] how I do,
Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,
shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose,
that ye might know our affairs, and [that] he might comfort your hearts.
23 Peace [be] to the brethren, and love with faith,
from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Grace [be] with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Paul's personal comments and benediction.
Peace... love... faith... grace... - All belong to the brethren who are in Christ, who is the source of these blessings, and who enables His own to walk with Him and with one another, in a state of 'sincere' {GK=aphtharsia, incorruptible, immortal} love for Him who is the Head of the body.

This concludes the study in Ephesians.
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