Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
This verse is about children in the context of those living at home with their parents that have not reached adulthood. It is in the nature of us humans to reject and rebel against authority. Subjection to parental authority must be taught, and when learned leads itself to subjection to appropriate and righteous authority throughout life.
A newborn is nurtured and its demands must be met. We must feed, clothe, bathe, care for, and attend to its every need until the child matures enough to begin dong things for itself. The infant is used to making its demands known and receiving immediate attention. We have no choice at that stage of a child’s life but to immediately meet those needs. As the child ages he or she must be weaned off of that selfish expectation that its demands will immediately be fulfilled. Children must be taught to respect the authority of their parents.
Parents must use several means to accomplish this training. Children must be told no at times; some sorts of penalties must be imposed at times to train the children. Parents must be consistent in their dealings with children. Children who are obedient to parents are a blessing. Unruly children may be less of a blessing. But whatever the case, as parents, all of our dealings with our children, including punishment, must be done in the Lord’s way. While children should obey their parents, parents must not cause children to do things that are ungodly. For example, parents should not command their children to steal, commit any sin, or do anything ungodly or unseemly.
Paul enlarges on this verse in the next few verses.
Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Obedience is the outward demonstration of the honor we give to our parents. This is, of course, the Fifth Commandment (Exo 20:12). Regarding our elders with honor means to respect them for their experience and wisdom. Not only does this apply to disobedience to parents when we are children and adolescents, it includes honoring them throughout our lives; it also includes caring for your parents in their old age.
Even as adults, we have a duty to honor our parents. At times obedience to our parents is necessary as well. In modern society it is not nearly as much in evidence as it once was. An example of adult children obeying elderly parents is in Genesis:
“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt” (Gen 42:1-3).
Apparently, when the severe famine hit, the brethren were confused as to what to do. There was no rain so their flocks could not graze and their food supplies were dwindling. So they were standing around unsure of what to do next. Jacob, a wise man, gave them a command and they followed it. Jacob was the patriarch and his sons obeyed him. Therefore, even as adults, there may be occasions where we must obey our parents.
When my children were grown and I had grandchildren, I still obeyed my parents; I obeyed my mother right up into my fifties when she passed away. I respected her and heeded to her counsel. So should we all.
Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
This finishes what Paul wrote in the last verse, “which is the first commandment with promise.” The commandment is “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exo 20:12a). The promise is “that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exo 20:12b). In other words, honoring our parents will help us to live long lives. Our obedience to their counsel and our honoring their wisdom will allow us to make decisions that will prolong our lives.
Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
In a Christian household, the father is responsible to God for the correct raising of the family. Actually God holds all fathers responsible for their families, Christian or not. Thus this verse is addressed to fathers, but mothers are usually the ones doing the bulk of the raising, especially during the tender ages of the children. Both parents are responsible for raising the children—the husband is responsible to God, and the wife is responsible to her husband. The hierarchy for the family structure, according to the Bible is God, the father, the mother, and then the children. Though many in the modern West would disagree with this hierarchy, nevertheless, it is what the Bible says. And since this is a Bible study, we must be true to the Scriptures. (See Gen 3:16, Eph 5:22-28, 1 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:11-12, 1 Pet 3:1, 5, 6).
Children need to be disciplined and it is the duty of the parents to raise responsible, disciplined adults. The word discipline used in this context means self-control, not punishment. Children need to begin to learn at an early age to practice self-discipline. This means that children need to be taught self-discipline. Sometimes children are wrong and must be corrected. Parents, when you correct your children do not do so in anger. When a parent corrects a child in anger, anger also wells up in the child. This anger can lead to resentment and lack of discipline on the part of the child. If the child is corrected properly, then he will learn respect for his parents.
You have heard the saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Many think this is in the Bible. It is not. The closest verse to it is Pro 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Corollary verses are:
Pro 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Pro 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Pro 23:13-14 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (14) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Pro 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Pro 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Please understand that corporal punishment is sometimes necessary, but these verses, taken in the context of the entire Bible, do not mean to beat your children into submission. The rod is used euphemistically to indicate correction, and not literally to use a rod to beat your children. When corporal punishment is needed deliver it in love and do not use corporal punishment in anger. Beatings are never necessary for children. Never!
Spanking is not beating. Beating is usually done in anger while spanking should not be done in anger and should only be used in love and concern for the child’s welfare. Beatings often leave the child injured and sometimes even result in the death of the child. Spanking should be used sparingly; it should only serve for correction and must never physically injure the child in any way.
The problem is too many parents have thought beatings were needed, probably because of misinterpreting these verses to mean the children should be literally beaten. Thus the State has had to step in to prevent the actual physical abuse of children. Unfortunately the State has no real love or vested interest in the children but in the letter of the law, or in the personal prejudices of the State official involved. So the State has gone over to the extreme, in some cases, of never allowing a child to be corrected. That has manifested in many families being broken apart by the State taking children away in many cases from loving, concerned parents.
If all parents would follow Paul’s exhortation to bring children up in up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, then child welfare agencies would not be needed.
Nurturing is a bit like gardening. Before planting, a good gardener carefully prepares the soil, attends to the weather, and plants seed at the optimum time. As the seed comes up the gardener waters it, fertilizes it, and keeps the weeds from growing up and choking out the good plants. He prunes when necessary, stakes when needed to help plants to grows, and keeps insects and pests from destroying the plants. He checks on his garden daily to see what its needs are and he furnishes those needs. In doing these things diligently every day, the gardener reaps a bountiful harvest.
Nourishment means taking care of the needs of a child daily. Those needs include food, drink, clothing, shelter, safety, companionship, recreation, instruction, and correction. As the gardener so cares for his garden, so must the parents care for their children. This is a daily commitment in caring for your children.
Admonition means instruction, warning, exhortation, or the ethical and corrective instruction in regard to belief or behavior. The admonition of the Lord is instruction or correction that is pleasing to God. Throughout the Bible we are entreated to teach our children the precepts of God (e.g. Deu 6:7; 11:19). We are to teach children to be righteous using the Bible as a guide for what is righteous according to God. We are to teach them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind (Mat 22:37). And we are to teach them to love their neighbors as themselves (Mat 22:40).
Eph 6:5 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;
The Greek word rendered ‘servant’ here is δουλος, (doulos). Let me remind you that that word literally means slave. That is, a bond-slave owned by his master. As Christians, we are bond slaves of Christ. Since in modern times, especially in the West, there are normally no slaves. Of course there is still slavery in the world, but very little in the West. The word can also mean subservient to someone or a servant.
Lacking slaves as we do in most of the world, this verse may seem outmoded. However, at present, there are Muslim factions that are militant and they frequently make slaves of those they have defeated in battle, especially the women. Many of them, if not most, are Christians captured and sold into slavery. The consequences of being in such servitude are the unseemly things these slaves are forced to do. Many are so unseemly that we will not discuss them here. As bad as the conditions of these slaves are, these verses still apply. Slaves are to serve their masters as though they are serving Christ. They are to respect and fear their masters.
A corollary to this verse could be employees and employers. Christian employees should serve their employers with the same obedience and respect they give to Christ.
Eph 6:6-7 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:
Slaves and employees are to serve their masters and bosses when they are being watched and even when the boss of master is not present. They should treat their servanthood and employment as though they are doing it for Christ. Christian servants and employees are working for God as well as their employers or masters.
Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
This is an example of the axiom of sowing and reaping. Paul addresses this more completely in Galatians:
Gal 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Do your job well as a slave or and employee and God will reward you for it. You may receive your reward in this life or in the hereafter.
Eph 6:9 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.
Unfortunately, not all slave owners or employers are Christians. In today’s world the idea of a Christian slave owner is improbable. It is unlikely that any Christian living today would own slaves. There were Christians who owned slaves in history. We have one example in the Scriptures.
The Epistle of Paul to Philemon was written to Philemon, a brother in Christ, who was also a slave owner. Paul led him to Christ (Phm 1:19, Philemon owes Paul his own soul) at an earlier time. Apparently he was a prosperous man and probably a slave-owner before his conversion to Christ. Philemon had a slave, Onesimus, who ran away from him (Phm 1:11-12).
Onesimus was a slave of his that had run away from Philemon. Onesimus had met Paul when Paul was a Roman prisoner and Paul had led him to Christ (Phm 1:10). Paul is asking Philemon to take him back as a brother in Christ.
Christian masters and employers should return the favor to their employees of slaves, and treat them with the same respect they have for Christ. Their Christian slaves or employees do not need coercion or threatening to get them to do their jobs well. Just as God does not use partiality in judgement, neither should the master or the employer.
Eph 6:10-18 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11-18 Put on the whole armor 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. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armor 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: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Paul tells us that our fight in this life is not against other people, but against Satan and his minions. Even though we may face persecution from our human enemies, it is the spirits of wickedness that actually oppose us and incite our enemies against us. This is the source of all the strife we suffer in this world. Hence we are to put on and keep on the armor of God.
Wiles of the devil – the covert cunning, skills, methods, etc. of the great accuser of the saints (devil means accuser).
Wrestle – struggle, fight, contend, combat, grapple
Flesh and Blood – people, humans. We may certainly struggle with other people but that is not what is in view in this passage. Since we are not struggling against people, then we must be struggling with the invisible (to us) forces of evil in the world. Hence, the remaining terms must refer to evil spirits.
Principalities and Powers – The chief leaders of the demonic forces or fallen angels of Satan
The rulers of the darkness of this world – Demonic forces that preside over specific regions of the world such as the princes of Persia and Greece in Daniel 10:13 & 20.
Spiritual wickedness in high places – Wicked spirits in the air over the earth. Evidently they are not restricted to terrestrial or air travel as we humans are; apparently they can move about in the heavens above us. Since they are invisible, they must be incorporeal. Perhaps these are the so-called ghosts or departed spirits that claim to be the spirits of the dead (but are actually demonic) to those susceptible to such nonsense.
High places can also refer to those in powerful positions in the world. There are people in high, powerful positions who are evil and spread evil in their own empires and throughout the world. Whether they know it or not, they are influenced by the demonic forces of evil. Both things are in view in these verses.
Our fight is against demons and demonic forces and not with people. Without the armor of God we don’t have a chance against such an array of powerful beings. Paul uses the metaphor of the armor worn by a soldier into battle to help us to understand the tools we must use in our fight with Satan and his forces. Just as a soldier wears his armor into battle so we must use the tools at our disposal in our battle with demonic forces. The soldier of Paul’s day used a helmet, body armor (breastplate or cuirass), a shield, a sword, and combat shoes or sandals (and usually a spear but Paul did not use that metaphor). Another tool a soldier uses in close combat is his voice. That was true in Paul’s day and is true today. Here is how Paul applies the metaphor.
Belt of Truth
Paul discussed the pieces of armor in a specific order. He begins with the belt of truth. The loins or waist and hips were girt about or encompassed and secured with a belt. On this belt many things could hang. But its major use was to hold necessary items, weapons and to tuck clothing into. The belt was an important part of the soldier’s combat clothing. Without it, one could not carry all his weapons, nor could he properly tuck in his clothing. To use a more modern idea, a belt is used to hold one’s pants up. The Roman soldier wore a pair of trousers called braccae that were secured with a drawstring, so the belt was not used to secure his trousers. The tool Paul considers the most important is that of truth. The truth supports all the aspects of our Christian walk. The Truth braces or girds us against falsehood; much like a belt holds up our pants and supports our tools of combat. The Truth supports us and holds us up in battle. Without the Truth, we are powerless against the falsehoods of the devil. If we know not the truth, then a lie will be acceptable to us for we would not know the difference. Satan will use lies and half-truths to deceive us. Christ is the truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is truth Ps 119:160; 2 Tim 3:16). The first thing we need in our fight is the truth that comes from God. On a lesser note, it is also important that we tell the truth. Satan can easily confound any lies we utter. Lies can bring down our Christian witness immediately. Satan and his minions know that and will be quick to use any lies against us, thus defeating us. Have the Truth of God in your heart and have the truth on your lips.
Breastplate of Righteousness
The next piece Paul discusses is the body armor, which he calls the breastplate of righteousness. To be righteous means to be without fault or sin. We humans are not righteous, nor can we be in our own power. When we are saved Christ imputes or credits His righteousness to us. Therefore when we repent and believe on Christ, we become justified in God’s sight because the blood of Jesus covers our sins. We are then deemed righteous because of the righteousness of Christ in us. Just as body armor protects the soldier from death caused by the attacks of the enemy, so the righteousness of Christ protects us from eternal damnation.
Feet Shod With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
Soldiers could wear an open toed sandal, or a shoe that completely covered their feet depending upon their mission. The shoes a soldier wore gave him the mobility to go to many places, sometimes completely across the empire. Therefore we must have our feet shod with of the preparation of the Gospel of peace. The Gospel is that Christ died for us and that if we believe in Him we will have eternal life. That Gospel brings peace to whoever it reaches. I am saved and even in the midst of the world’s troubles, I have the peace to know that I will one day live eternally with my Lord. As a soldier is prepared to travel, we must be ever ready to go and share the Gospel with others.
Shield of Faith
Paul puts the shield of faith above all other pieces. The shield was used by the soldier to ward off the darts of the enemy. Darts could mean arrows, projectiles, missiles, spears, knives, or any weapon used against another in combat. It was with the shield that the soldier could ward off most of the attacks of the enemy from any direction directed to any part of his body. The shield could cover all parts of the body unlike the helmet, breastplate, shoes, and greaves, which only protected parts of the body. Just like a soldier could wield his shield in any direction to ward off the attacks of the enemy, so we can rely on our faith in God to protect us against the attacks of the devil. Our faith makes us strong in the Lord and hence the Lord is strong in us when we are faithful. We must remain faithful to God when the enemy attacks. Our faith is above all the other tools in our possession to fight the enemy. We must first have faith before any of the other tools are available to us.
Helmet of Salvation
At the top of the armor is the helmet of salvation. We must be saved or we have absolutely no hope in any battle with Satan or his minions. Without Christ, we already belong to Satan so why should he fight with us? The helmet covers the head, where the mind resides. We believe in our heart, which is a metaphor for the emotional area of our brain. Our belief unto salvation is with our mind, so the helmet readily applies to our salvation.
Sword of the Spirit, Which is the Word of God
With the sword a soldier could attack and defeat his enemy. With the word of God we can attack and defeat Satan and his minions. That is why it is important to study and meditate on the Scripture so that we can be well-versed in it. When we are well-versed in the Scriptures, we can easily defeat the attacks of the Devil simply by remembering or quoting Scripture. In order to know Scripture we must read it regularly and study it in depth. Some say this is our only offensive weapon in the armor of God. I disagree. There is another.
Prayer is also an offensive weapon. With Prayer we can enlist God’s help in withstanding an attack of the enemy and with defeating Him. Prayer is an important part of the armor of God. We must always be praying in the Spirit, which is not out loud, but silently with our thoughts. Then the Holy Spirit will know our thoughts and thus hear our prayers. A prayer should always be in our heart and ready to go. We should pray in every situation we come against in life. Since prayer in the Spirit is silent prayer, no one can hear it and no one can stop us from praying. Satan cannot hear or stop us either. This is not to say we should never pray out loud. We should do that often. However, silent prayer is also effective. When contemplating the Full Armor of God, never forget prayer. Paul makes it one of the pieces of our armor. Just as a solder can signal his fellow soldiers with his mouth and try to rattle the enemy with his words, so we can pray to help us to stand against the devil when he or his minions attack us.
With Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit
Of course, prayer is simply talking with Almighty God. Supplication is simply laying out our requests in prayer before God. Praying in the Spirit in this context means to allow the Spirit to guide us in our prayers so that we pray for the things that will glorify God. This is definitely not praying in tongues; it is praying with the Holy Spirit’s leading.
I am a preacher and a retired pastor. There have been times, when I was standing before the congregation preaching from a prepared sermon, when I moved away from the sermon I had prepared and spoke on something that had come to my mind. I do not mean chasing rabbits. At these times the words I spoke were not prepared beforehand nor were they something I planned. After speaking those words, I often needed to hear those words myself. There I was speaking words that I had never thought of and I was speaking them to me. The congregation heard them as well and assumed they were part of my sermon because the words did not detract from the sermon, but they were a revelation to me. That was the leading of the Holy Spirit when I was preaching; that was the Holy Spirit speaking to and through me.
Praying in the Spirit is similar to that. It is letting the Holy Spirit lead us to pray things we never thought of and things we realize we needed to pray but had not planned to pray. Sometimes we pray for something that seems off-the-wall, but almost instantly realize we needed to pray that. We don’t always know what we should pray for so the Spirit leads us to pray for the right things. There are times when the Spirit prays for us when we cannot express our prayer in words.
Eph 6:19 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,
Paul coveted the prayers of the saints to prepare him for his ministry and to give him the words to say when preaching the Gospel. He wanted prayer for boldness to speak the Gospel in the face of adversity, persecution, and even death. The Gospel is offensive to the world. Paul wanted prayers to cover his offense to the world and protect him while he fearlessly delivered the Gospel.
The Gospel was a mystery to the saints who lived their lives prior to the advent of Christ. They only knew of the yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily sacrifice of animals and produce. They knew that a sacrifice must be made every year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in order to allay their sins for another year. They had no idea that God Himself would be born of a virgin in lowly circumstance, and that he would grow from infancy to adulthood without sin, and that he would freely give up his life as a permanent, once for all time, atonement for our sins.
Praying in the Spirit is the kind of prayer we should pray for our pastors and our bible teachers. It is the prayer we must pray for ourselves to also boldly speak the Gospel to the world in our daily walk and in our relations with friends, neighbors and kinfolk; to boldly live for Christ daily; to boldly speak up for what is righteous and just in our relations with others; to boldly speak out against sin and sinfulness when necessary. We need to pray daily to boldly be Christians and live the Christian life even in the face of adversity.
Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul was truly in bonds, or chains, when he wrote this Epistle. The margin in the A.V. states “in a chain” meaning that Paul’s bonds were chains—he was imprisoned. The margin also suggests replacing the word ‘therein’ with ‘thereof.’ The Greek word rendered ‘bonds,’ αλυσει, halusei, literally means a chain or a manacle. The Greek word rendered ‘thereof’ is εν, en, is a preposition denoting a fixed position in place, time, or state. Hence is can be translated in many different ways in English depending on context. The KJV translators decided that thereof was the correct translation, but also gave an alternative translation in the margin.
Let us construct the sentence using these alternatives and compare them.
1. For which I am an ambassador in a chain: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
2. For which I am an ambassador in a chain: that thereof I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
The first sentence (#1.), which incorporates “therein,’ states that Paul wishes to speak boldly from within the prison. The second sentence (#2.), which incorporates “thereof,’ states that Paul wishes to speak boldly because he is in bondage. Both are excellent choices, and I daresay Paul wanted to both speak boldly from within the prison and to speak also because he was in the prison.
The phrase, “as I ought to speak” could be translated “as it behooves me to speak” or “as I must speak.” Paul was under compulsion to speak the Gospel boldly because he was “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1). Paul made this bold statement as well: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!“(1 Cor 9:14).
Eph 6:21-22 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.
Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians so that he could relate to them all the things going on with and happening to Paul. He was to comfort their hearts by telling them that Paul was still boldly proclaiming the Gospel and that his health and his joy was still intact even though he was imprisoned. Tychicus was with Paul “in his first and second imprisonments at Rome, and was twice sent by him to Ephesus, which was no doubt his native place, as it was that of Trophimus” (according to Bullinger). You can read every mention of Tychicus in these other passages: Act 20:4, Eph 6:24, Col 4:7 & 18, 2 Tim 4:12, and Tit 3:12.
Eph 6:23-24 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.
To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.
This is a fairly standard benediction used by Paul. It is the seventh and last combination of the grace and peace wishes Paul sends to his recipients. The final sentence or subscription, “To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus,” is absent from most manuscripts. It is included in the Textus Receptus (Received Text) of Erasmus, which is the basis of the KJV New Testament. In fact, some manuscripts do not even include the Amen. However, amen is a common benediction thus it is not incorrect here. The subscription is not incorrect either because the evidence concludes that this epistle was sent to Ephesus. See the notes on Ephesians 1:1.