Ephesians 3:1-6:20-The message of God given to the Gentiles (continued) Ephesians 5:22-6:9-How to live in your family life (continued)
Ephesians 6:1-3-Children are to be subject to their parents...in a manner that is in keeping with the obedience of Christ to the law...He is the promise. Ephesians 6:4-Parents are to be subject to their children in a manner that is in keeping with the care of Christ for the church ("bring them up" is the same word as "cherish" in verse 29)...He is its provider.
Ephesians 6:5-8-Slaves are to be subject to their masters...in a manner that is in keeping with the service of Christ to the Lord...He is faithful.
Ephesians 6:9-Masters are to be subject to their slaves...in a manner in that is in keeping with the grace of Christ to all men...He is impartial.
Ephesians 6:10-20-The source of power to live life
Ephesians 6:10-20-Paul has given us the foundation for the Christian life (what God has done for us) in chapters 1-3. Then, in chapters 4:1-6:9, he has given us some practical examples and applications of how we are to live the Christian life. Now, in 6:10-20 ("Finally" means "in conclusion, having said all of this"), he tells us where to get the strength and ability to do these things...it is a spiritual (not a mental or physical) battle that we are in. Our struggle is not simply with ourselves, or with other people...but at its heart, our struggle is with Satan and all of his insidious forces.
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.
David Guzik, Study Guide for Ephesians 6,
Ephesians 6:10-12-Paul tells us that we must have God's strength in order to "stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (:12), “resist in the evil day” (:13), “stand firm” (:13,14), “extinguish the flaming missiles of the evil one” (:16).
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)
David Guzik, Study Guide for Ephesians 6,
Ephesians 6:13-We are to "take up" (this is in the imperative...it makes it clear that it is my responsibility to do so...same root word as in 4:24-“put on” ) the "full armor of God" (not some of it, but all of it). This armor includes: 1.-"truth"; 2.- "righteousness"; 3.-"gospel of peace"; 4.-"faith"; 5.-"salvation"; 6.-"word of God" (the sword is the only offensive weapon mentioned); 7.-"all prayer and petition...for all the saints" (this is what connects the individual soldier to the commander and which keeps him as part of a cohesive army).
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.
Guzik, Study Guide for Ephesians 6,
Bible as book of magic charms or tie one around our neck the way that garlic is said to drive away vampires.
Ephesians 6:21-24-Paul’s Concluding Words
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 may have been often used by Paul as a messenger. Remember that this letter was written from prison. Paul wants the members of the church in Ephesus to be aware of the difficulty of his situation...but he also wants to give them comfort.
Prayer: Father, everything that I have learned about how I am to live as a Christian, in Ephesians, requires the work of Your Holy Spirit. It is beyond my ability...I cannot do it. You have already told me that You will give me whatever is necessary to be faithful and obedient. I pray that You will help me to readily and consistently seek You. I am so prone to return to my own ability, strength, and understanding. Most of the time it is unintentional...I am not deliberately turning my back on You. It is just the natural thing for me to do. Please help me to live supernaturally, in the Spirit...and not in the flesh. Help me to daily "take up" Your armor.