Ephesians Chapter Six
I. Content of the Chapter
The Relationship Between the Parents and the Children
1. To obey your parents in the Lord (v.1);
2. To honor your father and mother (v.2);
3. The promise of God to those who honor your parents (v.3);
1. Do not provoke your children to wrath (v.4a).
2. To bring the children up in the training and admonition of the Lord (v.4b);
The Relationship Between the Masters and the Bondservants
1. Toward men: be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh as to Christ (v.5);
2. Toward things: do service with goodwill, as to the Lord (v.6-7);
3. Toward the Lord: one shall know that the Lord will reward according to what we have done (v.8).
1. Toward men: give up threatening (v.9a);
2. Toward the Lord: know that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him (v.9b);
How to Stand for God?
A. The Precondition for Overcoming in the Warfare:
1. One shall be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (v.10).
2. One shall put on the whole armor of God (v.11a).
B. To Know the Object of the Warfare:
1. The devil that has many wiles (v.11b);
2. Principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this age (v.12b);
3. It is not the flesh or blood, but the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (v.12a, c);
C. The Essential Points of the Warfare
1. One shall take up the whole armor of God to withstand in the evil day (v.28-30).
2. Having done all, one shall still stand (v.13a).
3. Stand (v.14a);
D. The Whole Armor of God (v.31-32):
1. The waistband of the truth (v.14b);
2. The breastplate of righteousness (v.14c);
3. The shoes of the gospel of peace (v.15);
4. The shield of faith (v.16);
5. The helmet of salvation (v.17a)
6. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v.17b)
E. The Way of Standing:
1. In the Spirit (v.18a);
2. To pray always with all prayer and supplication (v.18b);
3. Be watchful
a. For all the saints (v.18b);
b. For the workers of the Lord (v.19-20);
A. To introduce Tychicus (v.21-22);
B. The words of blessing (v.23-24);
II. Verse by Verse Commentary
YLT: “The children! Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is righteous;”
Meaning of Words: “obey”: to hear under, to heed or conform to a command or authority (containing the meaning of being inclined to hear and obey the command); “right”: equitable, just;
Literal Meaning: “children”, there is a definite article before the word “children”, indicating that there is the distinction between the children of believers and that of the world.
“Obey your parents in the Lord”, “being in the Lord” is the essence of obedience. We obey the parents in this range. “Parents”, we shall obey the both the father and the mother instead of hearing only either of them.
“Obey your parents in the Lord”, it has several meanings: (1) one shall obey his parents because of loving and fearing the Lord; (2) one shall obey his parents through the strength of the Lord by the union with Him; (3) one shall obey his parents according to the will of the Lord. If the parents command the children to do things (e.g. sins) against the will of the Lord, we shall not obey them blindly.
“Obey your parents in the Lord”, it indicates that the children’s obedience to the parents is not only the doctrine of the Holy Bible, but also is beyond question and beyond doubt according to men’s convention.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Our love to the parents should be brought before the Lord to be purified so that we may not love the parents more than the Lord (Matt. 10:37).
2) Children should honor and obey the parents, except for the condition that the parents’ commands are outside of the Lord.
3) Christians that do not hear the parents are not good Christians, and even not good children according to men’s general idea.
4) We obey the parents according to the words of the Lord, not the natural conception.
YLT: “honour thy father and mother, which is the first command with a promise, `That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live a long time upon the land.'”
Meaning of Words: “honor”: revere, value;
The Background: the Ten Commandments that God commanded for the people of Israel through Moses were written on two tables of stone (Deut. 4:13; 5:7:7-21). Some scholars said there were the first four commandments concerning God in the first table, and the last six ones concerning men’s relationship in the second table. However, there were also some scholars who thought that every table had five commandments. “Honor the parents” is the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments. No matter in the first table, or in the second table, it is the first commandment concerning men’s relationship as well as the only commandment with promise concerning men’s relationship.
Literal Meaning: “honor your father and mother”, we shall honor our father and mother, for we are out of them ---- it symbolizes that we are out of God.
“Father and mother”, we should respect the father as well as the mother ---- both of them are important, and we shall not be partial to any one of them.
“That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth”, honoring the father and mother is the way to blessing, so that we may be well and live long on the earth. Those who do not respect the parents will be cursed and live short eventually.
“Be well”, it does not only refer to the material blessing, but also to living in a peaceful condition. “Being well” leads to “living long”, and those who honor the parents will live long on the earth in the blessing of God, for such men will be self-control, sound in mind and be built, and all of these elements will prolong his lifetime.
“Which is the first commandment with promise”, that we honor the father and mother is not only because the parents are the origin of us, but also for it is the first commandment concerning men’s relationship as well as the only commandment with promise concerning men’s relationship.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Obey” is an external action. “Honor” is an internal attitude. Some children may obey the parents without honoring them. However, we Christians should learn to obey the parents in the attitude of honoring them.
2) The spiritual intention of “honoring your father and mother” is making us fear God. He who does not honor the parents shall never be good child before God the Father.
3) Since the children are out of the parents, the parents are the origin of their children, just like the fact that men are out of God, and God is the origin of men. If a man honors his parents, he will please God and be blessed by God.
4) It is a lifelong relationship between the children and the parents. The Lord is always teaching us how to be children throughout our life, for we are the children of God the Father for ever.
5) “Being well” and “living long” do not mainly refer to the spiritual blessing or the eternal life in the future, but the blessing and long life in this age. Whether a man is blessed or suffered on the earth is according to the situation that how he treats his parents. No matter how long the children who honor their parents live on the earth, their life must be meaningful.
6) He who does not honor his parents is committing suicide chronically ---- they have just shortened their days on the earth.
YLT: “And the fathers! provoke not your children, but nourish them in the instruction and admonition of the Lord.”
Meaning of Words: “provoke…to wrath”: irritate to anger; “train”: disciplinary correction; “admonition”: calling attention, mild rebuke or warning with words; “bring up”: rear up to maturity (it includes the cultivation of one’s character);
Literal Meaning: “do not provoke your children to wrath”, if the father is exceedingly severe or cruel, or treats his children unreasonably and partially, he will provoke his children to wrath. No matter how bad the children are, the parents should not provoke them to wrath but make them obey from their hearts.
“In the training and admonition of the Lord”, “training” refers to the disciplinary correction concerning the knowledge, and “admonition” speaks of the correction, restraint, warning or chastisement with words. It means that the fathers should: (1) train and discipline the children with the teaching and admonition of the Lord; (2) train and discipline the children according to the guidance of the Lord.
“Bring them up”, “bring up”, it refers to the nourishment and education of both the body and mind, including the meaning of being gentle and intimate.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The gentle attitude will enable the children to honor their parents and to obey willingly. However, the harsh and strict attitude may even make them more obstinate and hurt their filial piety.
2) “Do not provoke your children to wrath”, it will incite them to live in the flesh, and that will even hurt them.
3) If parents do not want to provoke their children to wrath, they should not lose their temper. And the way to escape from losing temper is to let one’s wrath be dealt with by the cross.
4) The lack of discipline will make the children fallen, so God does not please that the parents spoil the children.
5) “The training and admonition of the Lord”, it unveils that the training and discipline for the children should be based on the teaching of the Lord. It is the essential spiritual responsibility for the Christian-parents to bring up children in the Lord.
6) Parents should teach their children with the Lord’s words (Deut. 6:7), so the parents themselves should let the word of the Christ dwell in them richly (Col 3:16).
7) Parents should not teach the children with tongue only, but should have no good example in deed. The children are always like to imitate the parents, so the parents should lead the children by personal examples and set good examples at home.
8) The father should realize his position. If the father and the son are all in the Lord, though they have such spiritual relationship, the father should still not arbitrarily use the authority or position of the father, for the Father of us in the heaven will never do like this.
YLT: “The servants! obey the masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to the Christ;”
Meaning of Words: “bondservants”: slaves (who are bought and have no freedom); “truth”: singleness, sincerity;
The Background: the slavery was universally accepted in the old age, and was considered as an indispensible basic system of the civilized society. The masters bought the slaves with money and ordered them to do the lowest works. According to the law, the masters had the right to decide whether the slaves should live or die, except that some masters released the slaves kindly. Otherwise, the slaves would be bondservants all their life. They had no right at all, and their existence was totally for the satisfaction and comfort of the masters.
Literal Meaning: “bondservants, with fear and trembling”, “fear” is the internal condition of one’s heart. “Trembling” refers to the external attitude. The bondservants should fear the masters, for the master stands for the Christ. The attitude of fearing and trembling is not caused by faults, but the sense of responsibility ---- for fear of defection so that the servants can not fulfill the expectation of the masters.
“In sincerity of heart”, the obedience should be true and sincere from the bottom of one’s heart. There is no fraud or falseness. In other words, one should not obey apparently, but oppose in his heart.
“Masters according to the flesh”, it suggests another higher spiritual revel ---- Christ is the master. Paul has pointed in the beginning that the relationship between the bondservants and the masters is not an earthly matter. “Masters according to the flesh” refer to all the hirers or superiors.
“As to Christ”, to obey the masters according to the flesh with the attitude of obeying Christ; This idea will raise the lowest work to the highest one, thus generating a motivation for fulfilling the tasks.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) When it mentions the moral relationship between the father and the son as well as the bondservants and the masters in this chapter, both of the latter ones in the two relationships are encouraged first, and then the former ones. For men have the common fault of disobeying the authority appointed by God, namely, disobeying God Himself indirectly.
2) We must realize that “I am a man under authority, having under me others (see Matt 8:9)” in the interpersonal relationships. If we are not under authority, we will be unable to have others under us.
3) Men are totally corrupted, so that “they are not subject to…neither indeed can they be” (Rom 8:7). Therefore, “the offences against the authority” is often seen. However, we can not live in the old men, so that believers should obey the masters according to the flesh in their hearts.
4) Believers should keep our position toward the master or the superiors. Though such relationship is produced from working, which is a kind of reciprocal relationship concerning labor and payment, it is still arranged by the Lord.
5) A real faithful servant should obey the master according to the flesh with fear and trembling, for fear of displeasing the Lord Christ.
6) If a believer really obeys the master or the superiors with the attitude of obeying the Lord, he will be a “servant of Christ” in the sight of the Lord (v.6) as well as a man who does the will of the Lord.
Eph. 6:6 “not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,”
YLT: “not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as servants of the Christ, doing the will of God out of soul,”
Meaning of Words: “heart”: soul;
Literal Meaning: “not with eye-service”, when the master watches a bondservant, he will serve. When the master leaves, the servants will stop working. This is the fault of the servants ---- who like to do eye-service.
“As men-pleasers”, if one works only when the master is watching, he must be a men-pleaser.
“But as bondservants of Christ”, regarding oneself as a bondservant of Christ, one serves others with the attitude of glorifying Christ.
“Doing the will of God from the hear”, if a bondservant stands in the right position in the fear of the Lord and serves the Lord well, he is keeping the will of God, for God likes men to stand in the position of themselves.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Apparently, believers are the bondservants of the masters, but actually they are the bondservants of Christ. Therefore, we are working in the sight of the Lord, as to the Lord, and not to men.
2) Men usually work to make a living, so they more or less have the idea that “so-so is okay”. However, the work of believers does not only for making a living, but also for the Lord. Therefore, one shall do his best to do the work well.
3) Though believers are the bondservants of men, they shall still regard the will of God as the highest principle of life.
4) If our service only pleases men and receives men’s praise because of eye-service, it will be of no value. If we are willing to obey the will of God in our heart, even we do in secret and nobody knows us, we must be remembered God. This is the real “bondservants of Christ”.
5) Believers should serve the Lord not only with our physical body, but also in spirit (Rom 7:6; Heb 12:28).
Eph. 6:7 “with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, ”
YLT: “with good-will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men,”
Meaning of Words: “goodwill”: kindness, benevolence;
The Background: in the old ages, though the slaves were oppressed by the masters, they could not and dared not rebel openly, only being angry in the heart. They obeyed their masters apparently, but were much unwilling to do in fact, so they usually worked perfunctorily.
Literal Meaning: “with goodwill”, it means that the attitude towards service is not out of the sense of responsibility, but kindness and goodwill.
“As to the Lord”, we should not think we work for men, but regard it as the arrangement of the Lord and work for the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The work of Christians has no difference between “secular” and “sacred”. All that we have done before the Lord and do for the sake of the Lord are holy and are serving the Lord.
2) Though apparently there is the distinction between “serving the Lord” and “serving men” concerning the work of Christians, if we have the right attitude, the matter “of serving men” will be changed into the matter of “serving the Lord”.
3) Today, since many Christians’ masters or superiors are brothers and sisters in the Lord, the servants think that they are equal with their masters or superiors in the Lord so that they are not willing to serve. This kind of attitude and idea is false.
Ephe. 6:8 “knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”
YLT: “having known that whatever good thing each one may do, this he shall receive from the Lord, whether servant or freeman.”
Literal Meaning: “will receive the same from the Lord”, it has two meaning: (1) today, the Lord gives us blessings on the earth; (2) The Lord will reward according to what we have done this day until His second coming.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) He who “does something” must “receive something”. The problem is that what we will receive is “penalty” or “reward” is determined by what we have done at present.
2) All that we have done today is not in vain (see 1Cor 15:58), so we have no reason to not work diligently.
3) Though the goodness of believers is done before men, they usually are remembered before God.
4) The reward of the Lord is not based on our earthly position, but our spiritual condition.
5) The slaves who had no freedom at that time even could find the way of serving the Lord, working goodness and receiving the reward of the Lord. Today, how can we neither serve the Lord nor walk goodness to receive the Lord’s reward on the excuse of bad environment, improper opportunities or poor gifts?
Eph. 6:9 “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. ”
YLT: “And the masters! the same things do ye unto them, letting threatening alone, having known that also your Master is in the heavens, and acceptance of persons is not with him.”
Literal Meaning: “do the same things”, how should the masters treat the bondservants should be like how the bondservants deal with the masters. Though the positions of the masters and the bondservants are different, they have their respective obligations and should be all faithful to the Lord. It is the same principle that every one receives his own reward according to what he should do and what he has done.
“Give up threatening”, the authorities that are above usually have the sense of superiority concerning the power and status, but despise those who are under the authorities and oppress them and even deal with them wantonly.
“There is no partiality with Him”, or “there is no acceptance of persons with God”. Though there is the difference between the masters and the bondservants among men, they are the same in the sight of the Lord. They are merely different in the positions that they stand. The Lord will not esteem and or be gracious to someone because of his mastership, nor despise or abuse someone for he is a bondservant. The Lord treats everyone in the same manner.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Such “knowing” is a great comfort for the bondservants when they are tired in working as well as a reminder for the masters when they are dealing with the bondservants.
2) He who treats others with respect of persons is partial in him (James 2:1,4). Only the Lord is the one who searches reins and hearts (Rev. 2:23), so there is no partiality with Him.
3) We masters should realize that we ourselves are of the Lord, so we shall let others see from the attitudes towards life and the conduct of us that we are of the Lord.
Eph. 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
YLT: “As to the rest, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might;”
Meaning of Words: “strong”: (increase in) strength, be filled with the power;
Literal Meaning: “finally”, it means that it will mention another important thing: (1) another purpose of God in the church; (2) the next paragraph is based on the words before. It indicates that one should have the life mentioned from chapter one to the ninth verse of this chapter, if he wants to be a spiritual soldier.
“In the Lord”, the mystery of spiritual war should be “in the Lord”. We shall neither be in ourselves, nor rely on ourselves, nor see ourselves, nor think of ourselves. Whenever we see ourselves, we will be fall into infirmity and be unable to stand
“In the power of His might”, the source of our strength is the position of being “in the Lord”. The spiritual power of Him will be conveyed to us through the union with Him. I have strength for all things in him that gives me power (Phil. 4:13). “The power of His might”, it is a kind of strength in you no matter you appropriate it or not. The power of the Lord has already been in believers, but many believers do not actively appropriate it, so they have not been strong.
“Be strong”, it is the passive voice in the original, so we are not strong by ourselves, but become strong for some reasons. If we are in the Lord, His strength will become our strength and we can only be strong in His risen power.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The mystery of Christians’ strength is not ever in their own striving, but in the entire reliance on the Lord. We can be strong through the power of His might only.
2) The strength of men is not worthy of mentioning, but that of God is ever- invincible.
3) In the spiritual warfare, we shall neither rely on ourselves, but on the Lord, nor rely on the strength of ourselves, nor ask for the Lord to increase our strength, but rely on the power of His might.
4) What believers should hold fast is the status of “being in the Lord”. When we keep in this status, we will stand. Whenever we leave this status, we will lose.
5) “Be…”, the imperative sentence suggests that we should be responsible for the condition whether we are strong or not ---- if we refuse to cooperate with the Lord, His power of might still cannot bring into effect on us.
6) One shall neither be coward nor escape when dealing with the devil, but resist it boldly (James 4:7). Therefore, one should be strong in the spiritual warfare.
7) Many believers have such problems ---- they are stiff-necked before God and are not subject to God, but are timid and weak before the devil.
YLT: “put on the whole armour of God, for your being able to stand against the wiles of the devil,”
Literal Meaning: “put on the whole armor of God”, the “strength” is of the Lord, and the “armor” of God. “Armor”, or “armament”, it is what the warriors trust (Luke 11:22-23). The unarmed soldiers can not go to the front to fight. Here, God takes the responsibility of “giving” the armor, but we should “put on” it. The armor will not play the proper role if one does not put on it. Moreover, God has prepared us the “whole” armor, not a part of it.
“That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”, he who stands back, sits down or falls down can not against the devil, except for those who “stand”. He who stand must: (1) in the Lord; (2) put on the whole armor of God.
“The devil”, the purpose of “standing” is to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) He who stands steadfastly in the right position of the spiritual warfare and puts on the whole armor of God can go to fight the war. Since it is the spiritual warfare, the armor should also be spiritual. We should not war through fleshly arms, but through the whole armor of God.
2) God makes us deal with Satan and has prepared the armor for us, which is whole and spiritual. We shall put on the whole armor, any of them is indispensable. Otherwise, there will be a breach.
3) The work of the church is not overcoming the devil, but resisting the devil and holding fast the victory of the Lord.
4) Though it has not mentioned what the wiles of the devil are, the wiles must be manifested in many forms and are difficult to be on guard. Therefore, we should watch out and take precautions.
5) The whole armor of God is given to the whole “body”, not to some “members”. It is the whole body that should put on the whole armor, so that we can resist the devil. Therefore, the spiritual warfare is not advanced by any individual believer, but the whole church.
Eph. 6:12 “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.”
YLT: “because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places;”
Meaning of Words: “principalities”: chief; “powers”: privilege, magistrate, token of control, delegated influence;
The Background: “wrestle”, a sport in which two people fight by holding each other and trying to make each other fall to the ground in the original, which contains the meaning of “torment”. “Wrestling” is that a man makes the rival fall down to the ground and he can still stand. In the ancient times, there was the custom of duel. There were two men who were bound by firm ropes for the decisive battle.
Literal Meaning: “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”, “flesh and blood”, it speaks of the men. In the spiritual warfare, man is the apparent object, but the real object is the devil hid back. Today, we do not wrestle against men, but against the devil at the back of the men. Those who persecute and kill us are controlled by the devil behind the devil. Therefore, we should know clearly that our enemy is not man, but the devil.
“Principalities… powers”, it does not refer to the political power of the nations or the political rulers, but the invisible power that against God. The enemy of the spiritual warfare is not loose, but is systematically organized. Satan is the king of this system. “Principalities” and “powers” are the ministers of Satan.
“Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”, “heavenly places” refers to the places where the devil dwells and reigns ---- they act from the heavens above to the earth or the sea. “Spiritual”, it is the nature of the devil. Spiritual hosts of wickedness are spiritual, not fleshly, and they can attach to men and animals. “Wickedness”, the nature of the devil is evil, so the devil becomes the source of all the wickedness.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) In the spiritual warfare, believers should know clearly about the object of the war. The object is not men, but the devil, so we should not regard brothers and sisters as the enemies.
2) Since the object of the war is “spiritual”, not “fleshly”, we should obey the spiritual principle to appropriate the spiritual weapons in the war. If we fall into the flesh in our heart or method, we will immediately fall down from the spiritual position and be defeated just before the war.
3) The position of our war against the enemy should be above the heavens. The warfare of this chapter is according to the status of “sitting down together in the heavenly places”. Whenever we are in the earthly or worldly position, we have lost the status of war. Once the position is lost, one must be defeated in the war.
4) Since our rivals are spiritual, we have to stand in the spiritual position and appropriate the spiritual power to deal with the devil.
5) Our enemy is an organized system. Therefore, we shall never be faced with the enemy alone, but fight the enemy with brothers and sisters together.
Eph. 6:13 “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.”
YLT: “because of this take ye up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the day of the evil, and all things having done -- to stand.”
Literal Meaning: “therefore”, it continues with the words of the previous verse.
“Take up the whole armor of God”, we shall not deal with the devil according to flesh, for they are spiritual enemies. “Take up”, it is an urgent and decisive action. It will be very late to equip oneself until we meet the enemies. Christians should take up the armor swiftly at any moment, so that they can meet the urgent need.
“In the evil day”, it unveils that Satan disturbs us and makes us suffer the hard and evil days by various evil things.
“That you may be able to withstand”, “withstand”, here, we should not only make good preparation for the war, but should also stand fast in the position.
“And having done all, to stand”, it starts from “standing against (v.11)” to “standing” still after having done all. Therefore, such “standing” is a continual one.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Some of the armor of God should be “put on (v.11)”, and some of them should be “taken”. In the spiritual war, we should not use only a part of the armor
2) The days are evil (Eph. 5:16), for the devil is opposing us everyday, so we shall never lose watchfulness.
3) The devil is so crafty that it has many wiles and that it tortures us with many things. Therefore, it is “the evil day”.
4) This spiritual warfare is a matter concerning “standing”. Being able to stand is the focus of the war as well as victory.
5) One wave is passed, and another wave is approaching. The spiritual warfare will keep until the second coming of the Lord. Therefore, we should always stand after a single war instead of slacking off.
Eph. 6:14 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
YLT: “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about in truth, and having put on the breastplate of the righteousness,”
Meaning of Words: “breastplate”: corselet;
The Background: in the old times, the waistbands of the soldiers were used to grid the garments and let the scabbard be hung. And the breastplate was tightly bound to the breast so as to protect the heart.
Literal Meaning: “stand therefore”, the most important point of the spiritual warfare is to stand, which relies on putting on the armor of God instead of relying on fleshly methods. “Stand” is a gesture of triumph ---- believers that are equipped well can stand steadfastly. After the war, they have not been defeated down to the ground, but stand still and control the battle completely.
“Having girded your waist with truth”, “gird”: to bind up the garments closely for fear of being awkward. It means that our walking should be restrained by the truth. If believers’ life is not restrained by the truth, they cannot wrestle against the devil. “Gird”: to gather up the power of the whole man. “The truth” is the word of God and the principle of God. If believers know more about the words of God and the principle of God and keep the words of God in life and walk according to the principle of God, all these will become the waistband of us, enabling us to be strong.
“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness”, “breast” refers to the conscience. The conscience of everyone in the spiritual warfare should be a conscience void to offence. If the conscience is unclear, the faith will be lost at the same time, let alone the spiritual warfare. “Breastplate” is to resist Satan’s accusation in us. The “righteousness” here protects our conscience, having two meanings: (1) in the objective aspect: the redemption and the washing by the blood of the Lord (Rev. 12:11); (2) in the subjective aspect, one shall manifest the righteous deeds by the life of the Lord so that there is neither iniquity nor accusation in our conscience.
If the righteousness of believers is not sufficient, they shall appropriate the objective the blood of the Lord to cover.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Whenever believers have the revelation and understand the truth, they will be strong.
2) The enemy usually disturbs us in our thoughts, so we should gird the waist with truth.
3) The waistband is the first gift that God has given us, which indicates that the obedience of believers to the truth is the prerequisite and necessary condition in the spiritual warfare.
4) The fragmental truth is not enough to gird one’s waist. Only the consistent and complete truth is sufficient to gird one’s waist. Those who fail in the spiritual warfare may usually apprehend the truth imperfectly ---- they know superficially about the truth.
5) “Truth” means that Christ is the “reality” of our life (see Eph. 2:21, 24). Believers in their daily life know and experience and live out Christ ---- it will gird one’s waist with “truth” so that believers should be strong.
6) Believers are not be covered through one’s righteousness but through Christ (1Cor1:30), so we should overcome the accusation of the devil by the righteousness granted by God.
7) The breastplate can only cover the front, not backside. Therefore, in the spiritual war, Christians should only move ahead, not drop back, for once one stands back, his backside will be soon exposed and be shot by the fiery darts of the wicked one.
YLT: “and having the feet shod in the preparation of the good-news of the peace;”
The Background: in the old times, the soldiers had to put on the shod that was able to protect the feet before going to the battle field. The soles of such shod were made of thick leather with the nails in front of the shod, and there were also the horns made of iron. The shod did not only have protective function, but also made the soldiers walk faster and steadier. In the old times, most of the wars were hand-to-hand fights, so the soldiers should have agile actions.
Literal Meaning: “the gospel of peace”, it refers to the fact mentioned in chapter two that the Lord has reconciled both the Jews and the gentiles in one body to God through the breaking effect of the cross of the Lord. The disharmony among men themselves and that between men and God are mainly because of the flesh. The cross in us just does the work of cutting off the flesh, thus there is no gaps or friction of men with God or with men.
“Having shod your feet with the preparation”, “preparation” refers to the preparation for serving the Lord. The concentrated mind makes one quickly realize his post and prepare for the war at any time.
“Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”, it means that: (1) the walking should be on the principle of the purpose revealed by the gospel. One shall never do the things that disobey the purpose of the gospel (things that are enemies of God). (2) The walking is with the purpose of preaching the gospel widely. One shall never do the things that hinder the gospel. (3) One can share the goodness of the gospel in his walking. One shall never do the things that can not let others see the fruit of the gospel.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “The shod of the gospel of peace”, it is for the sake of being not stained with the world or Satan when one walks in the world. The more we preach the gospel, the less will we be stained with sins.
2) The peace accomplished on the cross of Christ is the steadfast standpoint, which enables us to stand fast and combat the spiritual combat with steady footsteps.
3) We fight by standing in the “peace”. If we have lost the peace with God and with men, we have lost the position of standing fast and cannot triumph in the combat.
4) The disputes may hurt others, but the gospel brings peace to others. The enemy scatters the hatred, struggle and murder…, however, we should preach the gospel of peace wherever we step.
5) He who is barefoot cannot go further. The way of life is rugged and is filled with obstacles that prevent us from moving ahead and make us lost heart or even faint. However, the gospel is the best tool for journey. A believer who is filled with the burden of the gospel must have good hope in his life.
YLT: “above all, having taken up the shield of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench,”
The Background: “shield”, it is not the small round shield carried by the cavalryman, but the big oval shield used by the heavy armed forces ---- such shield is a slightly crooked board, big and thick, which is overlaid with leather to protect one’s body.
In the war of the old times, “dart” was one of the most dangerous weapons. Such dart, dipped with bitumen or other flammable material, was kindled to throw at the enemy. It not only hurt men, but also ignited the object it shot.
Literal Meaning: “taking the shield of faith”, “faith” refers to the faith of believers in God ---- whatever we have been faced with, we always believe that God is faithful and trust, rely and believe in Him and His words. “Shield” is used to resist the external attacks. That believers take the shield of faith is not for the sake of “attacking”, but “defending”.
“You will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one”, except for the accusation and threat of Satan, all the agitation, ridicule, criticism, judgment, enticement, deceitfulness, captivation, pride and jealousy as well as anything that makes one doubtful, discouraged, depressed and unbelieving belongs to the fiery darts of the enemy.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The armor of the “faith” is after the “truth”, “righteousness” and “peace”. Believers should believe by the truth of God and then they will have the “righteousness” of the truth (Eph. 4:24). “Righteousness” brings about “peace” (Is. 32:17), and then there will be faith.
2) The arms of the devil are sharp darts with fire on the cusp, which can not only hurt men, but also burn the men and equipments. The fiery darts of the devil not only hurt one believer, but also hurt other believers together in the church.
3) This is the victory which has got the victory over the world, our faith (1John 5:4). Thanks God! The faith He has granted us can not only blunt the head of the arrow, but also eradicate the fire.
YLT: “and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God,”
Meaning of Words: “take”: receive, welcome, grasp;
Literal Meaning: “take the helmet of salvation”, “helmet” is the army uniform that protects one’s head, where is the mind of men. Taking “salvation” as the helmet means that the salvation can protect our mind. The devil may most easily attack our mind, so no matter how difficult the environment is, God will save us. Therefore, we will not receive any threat from Satan.
“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”, “the word of God” is the sword, which is used to kill the enemies. In the armor of God, only this one can both defend and attack, but one should use the word of God in the Holy Spirit, thus producing the power of God. The word of God can be the sword only in the Holy Spirit.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All the protective armor is the spiritual character trained from our daily life, such as the knowledge of the truth, the righteous disposition, the footsteps of the gospel, and the life of faith and the assurance of the salvation.
2) Our earthly mind should be saved. He who dares not rely on his own intelligence, methods and means but only holds fast the mind of God can resist the attacks of the devil.
3) We shall “take the helmet of salvation”, so that the absolute authority of the head, Christ, shall be kept from being infringed.
4) In the whole armor of God, the first five ones are used to defend, and only the “sword of the Spirit” can both defend and attack the devil. According to the order of the armor of God, it suggests us that we shall appropriate the first five ones to protect us before using the sword of the Spirit for fear of giving place to the devil.
5) The good soldiers of Christ do not defend the devil only, but also can attack the devil to overcome it by using the word of God (Rev. 12:11).
6) The word of God is living and operative and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of heart (Heb. 4:12). Therefore, using the word of God properly is the best weapon to expose and destroy the wiles of the devil (see Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).
7) Believers should make great efforts at the word of God ordinarily and let them dwell in us richly. If necessary, the Holy Spirit will remind us the word of God (John 14:26). Otherwise, we would have the sword in vain, for it had not been applied timely.
Eph. 6:18 “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--”
YLT: “through all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit, and in regard to this same, watching in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --”
Literal Meaning: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”, the whole armor of God should be carried out by prayer. If there is no prayer, the six kinds of armor will be of no effect. Prayer is asking God to work.
“In the Spirit”, it is because only the Spirit knows the will of God and only the Spirit can teach us to pray the will of God. We shall also pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20).
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication”, it includes the time, means, essence, place, object of prayer. No matter the time and means is, prayer shall be flexible in Spirit. “Prayer” refers to the general prayer. “Supplication” refers to the specific and concentrated prayer. We should have both of the two kinds of prayer.
“Being watchful to this end with all perseverance”, it indicates that we should pray with the attitude of enduring to the end. “Be watchful”: be sleepless; keep awake; “with all perseverance”: persistency, without slackness or discouragement;
“And supplication for all the saints--”, one shall not forget to pray for others when he prays for himself.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Prayer will make the whole armor operative, but the lack of prayer will make it cease to be effective.
2) One shall resist Satan in prayer and be watchful in prayer. If there is no prayer of being watchful with all perseverance, the church will become a city without wall. The enemy may come to destroy and kill at any time.
3) Prayer should not be restricted by time and space. We should pray, no matter being in peace or danger, infirmity or strength, favorable circumstance or unfavorable circumstance, being joyful or sorrowful.
4) Prayer should not be restricted by the forms. We can pray, no matter with voice or without voice, aloud or silently, praising or supplicating, singly or cooperatively, opening one’s eyes or closing one’s eyes.
5) The devil always makes one see the environment instead of God Himself so that one may be discouraged and weary. If believers want to triumph in the spiritual war, they shall overcome the discouragement and be watchful in prayer.
6) The Christians should be single. The spiritual war is of an overall one. Therefore, we should pray for every soldier in the battle.
YLT: “and in behalf of me, that to me may be given a word in the opening of my mouth, in freedom, to make known the secret of the good news,”
Literal Meaning: “that utterance may be given to me”, eloquence that enables one to express what he will say well and clearly.
“Boldly”, to say what one should say, i.e. to speak freely. Once one knows clearly what he has to say, he will be free without any anxiety.
“That I may open my mouth to make known the mystery of the gospel”, if there is no minister of the word of God to utter clearly the mystery, it will be difficult for men to understand clearly. “The mystery of the gospel”, it specifically refers to the mystery concerning the church in chapter three (Eph. 3:3-11). That is to say, one shall preach the purpose of God’s granting salvation to men clearly.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers should not pray for the members of the body of the Lord only, but also for the bondservants of God.
2) No matter how rich the gifts of a man are, there is no Christian in the world who does not need the prayer from other brothers and sisters. Even though the worker, like the apostle Paul, needs intercessions by others, let alone other servants of the Lord.
3) If he who serves the Lord has realized the importance and the degree of the hardship, he will confess that he cannot be competent for it.
4) If one has not opened his mouth, his utterance will not be clear. Therefore, we shall ask the Lord to give us the opportunity for utterance as well as the specific words when we have opened our mouth.
Eph. 6:20 “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
YLT: “for which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I may speak freely -- as it behoveth me to speak.”
Literal Meaning: “I am an ambassador in chains”, the apostle became an ambassador in chains for the sake of the gospel, and he felt that it was glory.
“That in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak”, concerning the result of the spiritual war, it deals with the devil in the negative aspect, and helps to preach the mystery of the gospel in the positive aspect. To deal with the enemy of God is for the sake of the gospel of God. How much the devil has been dealt with in the church, how much the gospel of God will be preached.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The devil spares no effort to prevent us from preaching the gospel, so it arouses many rebellious forces to bind us.
2) Every believer should take his own responsibility, so we should seek and receive the commitment of God before Him.
3) The fearing heart may infringe on the freedom of preaching the gospel openly, so we shall ask God to make us bold enough.
Eph. 6:21 “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;”
YLT: “And that ye may know -- ye also -- the things concerning me -- what I do, all things make known to you shall Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful ministrant in the Lord,”
Literal Meaning: the church then was concerned about the workers of the Lord, for the workers had close relationship with the church. Therefore, the apostle Paul not only wrote the messages of God to the church in Ephesus, but also was willing to tell them his conditions and affairs.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) How precious it is that the workers love one another!
2) It is the necessary condition for a bondservant of the Lord that one shall “love” men and “be faithful” unto the Lord.
Eph. 6:22 “whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.”
YLT: “whom I did send unto you for this very thing, that ye might know the things concerning us, and that he might comfort your hearts.”
Literal Meaning: “whom I have sent to you for this very purpose”, at that time, since the apostle was imprisoned in the prison (Rome in Italy), he could not go by himself. Therefore, he sent Tychicus to send this epistle to the church in Ephesus. It was long distance from Rome to Ephesus, so such sending work was really a great work at that time.
“And that he may comfort your hearts”, since the church at Ephesus was much concerned about the affairs of Paul, Paul feared that they might be discouraged for the sake of him, so he sent Tychicus to comfort and encourage them.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though Paul was in unfavorable condition, he still bore in mind constantly to comfort and encourage others. What a real worker was concerned about is not himself, but the children of God.
2) The comfort that Paul gave to the believers in Ephesus was not his outer circumstance, but his inner conditions in the difficulty.
Eph. 6:23 “Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
YLT: “Peace to the brethren, and love, with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Literal Meaning: “peace”, if we have the presence of God, we will have true peace. “Grace” is that God has been obtained and enjoyed by men. “Peace” is the result that one has received and enjoyed God.
“Love with faith”, concerning the relation of men with the Lord, it should be firstly “faith” and “love” secondly. For no one can have love without obtaining faith first. However, in the second public letter that the church received (Rev. 2), we could see that the Lord rebuke them that they had lost the first love (Rev. 2:4). Obviously, the church of Ephesus at this time had some problems in love. So here it mentions love first and faith later.
“To the brethren”, here it does not mention sisters, for there are only brothers in the new creation. There are only sons without daughters in the house of God. A certain saint said that there were two kinds of people in the house of God ---- “male brothers” and “female brothers”.
YLT: “The grace with all those loving our Lord Jesus Christ -- undecayingly! Amen.”
Literal Meaning: “in sincerity”, it is “incorruption” in the original, which has two meanings: (1) it is changeless; (2) all that are of God are incorruptible in eternity. All that are of men are corruptible in time.
“Love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity (incorruption, in the original)”, we do not love the Lord by our own zealousness or excitement, but by the incorruptible life of God. That is to say, we shall love the Lord in the incorruptible life of God, and such love never perishes.
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ”, when the apostle writes this epistle, he felt that there was something wrong with the love of the church in Ephesus unto the Lord, therefore, he said that grace would be with all those who loved our Lord.
The outset of the Book of Ephesians is grace, and the end is also grace. The whole book speaks of grace. The grace in this book is that God is possessed by men and becomes the enjoyment of men. The grace in chapter one is unconditional, but the grace here is conditional, namely, loving in incorruption. Love is the condition for us to enjoy the grace and peace.
The Book of Ephesians does not refer to the relation between grace and faith, but the relation between grace and love. It is not only receiving the grace, but also manifesting the grace, so we shall take the responsibility on our part. And this love comes from faith. The whole Bible reveals us that out contact with God is totally according to faith and love. Faith makes us receive God and love leads us to experience God, and thus manifesting God.
The end of the Book of Ephesians refers to love ---- on one part, it mentions that love comes from faith, and on the other part, it points that the result and nature of love is incorruption. The love of believers unto the Lord is everlasting and fearless.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Responsibility of the Children
A. To obey your parents in the Lord (v.1)
B. To honor your parents (v.2)
The Responsibility of the Parents (v.4)
A. Do not provoke the children to wrath
B. Bring the children up in the training and admonition of the Lord
The Responsibility of the Bondservants
A. With fear and trembling (v.5)
B. In sincerity of heart (v.5)
C. Not with eye-service (v.6)
D. With goodwill doing service, as to the Lord (v.7)
The Responsibility of the Masters (v.9)
A. To give up threatening;
B. There should not be partiality with Him.
The Bondservants of Christ
A. Who shall be in sincerity of heart, as to Christ (v.5).
B. Who shall do the will of God from the heart (v.6).
C. Who shall do service with goodwill (v.7).
D. Who shall receive the reward from the Lord (v.8).
The Secret of Spiritual Warfare
A. One shall be in the power of His might (v.10).
B. One shall put on the whole armor of God (v.11, 13).
C. One shall distinguish the object of the war ---- spiritual hosts of wickedness (v.12).
D. One shall stand (v.13-14).
E. One shall pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (v.18).
The Whole Armor of God
B. Breastplate of righteousness (v.14)
C. To shod one’s feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (v.15)
D. The shield of faith (v.16)
E. To take the helmet of salvation (v.17)
F. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v.17)
G. Prayer (v.18-19)
The Necessary Prayer of Believers (v.18)
A. Prayer in the Spirit
B. Prayer at all seasons
C. With all prayer
D. Concentrated Prayer
E. Prayer of being watchful
F. Prayer with all perseverance
G. Prayer for others
The Warfare in Christ
A. The Commandments for the Warfare:
1. One shall rely on the Lord and in the power of His might ---- be strong (v.10)
2. One shall put on the whole armor ---- resist the devil (v.11)
3. One shall stand and take up the whole armor of God ---- have done all (v.13-14a)
B. The Object of the Warfare (v.11b-12):
1. The devil
2. Principalities and powers
3. The rulers of the darkness of this age
4. Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places
C. The Armor for the Warfare:
1. To gird one’s waist with truth ---- to constrain oneself with the word of God (v.14a; 1Peter1:13);
2. Breastplate of righteousness ---- the righteousness of God protects one’s heart (v.14b; Pro. 4:23);
3. To shod one’s feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace ---- to toil for the sake of preaching the gospel (v.15; Rom. 10:15);
4. The shield of faith ---- to resist the temptation with firm faith (v.16; Luke 18:8);
5. To take the helmet of salvation ---- the salvation of God protects our mind (v.17a; Job 19:25);
6. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ---- to resist the devil by the words in the Holy Bible in the Holy Spirit (v.17b; Heb.4:12);
7. Prayer and supplication ---- to pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (v.18-20; 1Tim.2:11);
D. The Content of the Warfare:
1. The fellowship with the body and the comfort (v.21-22)
2. Grace be with the recipients (v.23-24)
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou