Ephesians

Ephesians 6:21-24 A Final Blessing.

Paul was ever mindful that his friends and fellow members of the church, were interested in him and his work, so he wanted to keep them informed. Sending word through a beloved brother and fellow minister was his way of addressing this. They could be sure of being able to trust this brother (v. 21 Cf. Acts 20:4; I Cor. 4:1-2). Hearing from Paul would bring comfort to their hearts, knowing that he was well and that his efforts were progressing (v. 22). Paul also was no doubt interested in learning of their situation, as Tychicus also fulfilled this purpose with the Colossians (4:7-8). Today, with the freedom of communication which we have, it is good to remind ourselves that we are not alone in the world, and there are those who have taken an interest in us and our work.

Though these last words will conclude his letter, they are ironically a personal greeting from the author to the first readers. However, it is just this kind of communication which goes on everyday in our lives, and well it should. As is the Jewish custom still today, Paul wishes for his brethren peace, but also “love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 23) One might very well have a kind of peace without “love with faith,” but it would not be the peace of the body of Christ. Likewise one might have love without faith, but not so with Christ’s church. He also wishes grace for “all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” This is a final reminder that there are those who do not love the Lord from the heart, which is what sincerity means.

Ephesians

Ephesians 6:10-20 The whole Armour Of God.

Paul’s final words are directed to the entire church. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (v. 10) This is the same power that raised Christ from the dead (1:19). “We are not encouraged to face the evil hosts of darkness in our own strength, but in the strength that raised Jesus and believers with Him.” (NGSB, p. 1871) This is a power over death, the last enemy to be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26). Therefore, how much more power do we then have over all our other enemies? It is important to remember, even as we ensure that we are well equipped, that the power to be victorious comes from the Lord! Having pointed this out, it is also important to remember that the new clothes we put on as Christians (Cf. 4:22-24), is that of a warrior prepared for battle (Cf. Col. 3:10). It is the devil with his schemes and minions who is the real enemy, but whom we are promised the victory over (vv. 11-12 Rom. 8:37-39; 16:20; II Cor. 10:4-5).

This calls for us to stand firm with the whole armour of God on (vv. 13-14 Cf. Is. 11:5; 59:17). It entails “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” (II Cor. 10:5) There is an important order to how the whole armour is put on. The belt girded on one’s waste is the foundation-it is the word of truth. “The Roman soldier’s leather belt supported and protected his lower abdomen, gathered his tunic together, and held is sword. Paul seems to have in mind the confidence that comes from certainty about the truthfulness of God’s word.” (NGSB, p. 1871) The breastplate of righteousness is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Cf. Is. 59:16-17). We are able to withstand the slanderous accusations of the devil because we are clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ (Cf. Rom. 4:6-11; 8:31-34; II Cor. 6:7; Phil. 3:9). This is the only way we are able to stand any accusations or condemnation.

“Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (v. 15) “Despite a clear allusion to Is. 52:7, Paul does not have in mind the barefooted messenger who takes the gospel to others. The image here is of a Roman soldier’s sturdy sandals, which gave him stability and protection in battle. Ironically, the peace that comes from the gospel readies one for war against evil (2:14, 15, 17).” (NGSB, p.1871) It is a gospel of peace, even in the midst of war. Likewise, the Roman shield covered the entire body so that the soldier’s protection might be complete (v. 16). Such is the importance of faith-it covers everything. There is no weapon in this war where faith is not a constant prerequisite (Cf. I Jn. 5:4). “The helmet of salvation,” (v. 17) is how we are able to stand with confidence (Cf. I Th. 5:8). Furthermore, the word is not only our foundation, it is also our weapon of defense and offense as “the sword of the Spirit.” (v. 17 Cf. Heb. 4:12)

Having put on the full armour, now with the sword the soldier could go on the offence. Furthermore, added to this offensive weapon is “prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (v. 18 Cf. Mt. 26:41; Lk. 18:1; Phil. 1:4) It is particularly important for the saints to pray for those who are called to preach the word, as praying for those who are on the front lines of this war. Even so, Paul asks for prayer for his work (v. 19). Boldness, courage, and perseverance are required. This was especially so for Paul who was literally “an ambassador in chains.” (6:20 Cf. Col. 4:3) Boldness was required, because as an ambassador he, and we, are called to minister the Lord’s word and not our own, when we might otherwise want to be more politically correct and diplomatic. It is a duty that any ambassador must fulfill. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” (Cf. II Cor. 5:20).

Ephesians

Ephesians 6:5-9 Serving The Lord In Our Work.

The closest analogy we have in the present day to that of the master and slave is the employer-employee relationship, even though there was more to slavery in the first century than just work (v. 5). Nevertheless, there are valuable insights here for the working environment. Every Christian should work as though working for Christ, for in reality this is what we do. It reflects on the name of God and His doctrine (Cf. I Tim. 6:1). It is part of God’s will for us that we are dedicated and sincere in our work (v. 6). This will sometimes mean even going beyond what is expected, because we have service to Christ in view. Many work only for what can be seen by their employer, and some even embellish this. The Christian works knowing that we are ever before the eyes of the Lord in all we do (v. 7 Cf. Col. 3:22). Furthermore, it is the Lord himself who will ultimately reward us, and judge all men (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 2:6). A paycheque is merely what we earn for work accomplished. Similarly, a Christian boss should lead with justice and fairness, knowing that they also are ultimately accountable to the Lord (v. 9 Cf. Rom. 2:11; Col. 4:1).

Ephesians

Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, Parents, And The Law-Word Of The Covenant.

In writing to the early Christians Paul does not depart from the old testament law, rather he refers back to it as the biblical standard still in effect. As he instructs the children in the church he goes to the foundation of the fifth commandment, “the first commandment with promise.” (vv. 1-3 Cf. Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:3; Dt. 4:40; 5:16, 33; 6:2; 11:8-9; Col. 3:20-21) Health and prosperity come to those who keep this commandment. It is also in stark contrast to the heathen who disobey their parents (Cf. Rom. 1:30; II Tim. 3:2). There is also a warning to fathers not to provoke their children (v. 4). This carries the idea of jealousy, born from comparing oneself with another (Cf. Rom. 11:11). Rather, children should be taught to be all that God has gifted and called them to be without comparison to others, even parents and siblings. A nurturing approach seeks to train and admonish the next generation to serve the Lord, by learning discipline and renewing the mind in the law-word of the covenant.

Ephesians

Ephesians 5:22-32 Life In The Family Of God, And Christian Marriage.

Having just emphasized the need to submit to one another, Paul grounds this submission in that which the church has to Christ. This also leads into his treatment of marriage, and the example which the church provides for this relationship. Wives are to submit to their own husbands, and husbands are to love their wives (vv. 22-25, 33 Cf. Acts 20:28; I Cor. 11:3; Col. 1:18; 3:18-4:1; Titus 2:4-5; I Pet. 3:1, 6). The goal is sanctification in this relationship, and the word, as always, is the sole source for this purpose (vv. 26-27 Cf. John 15:3; 17:17; Col. 1:22). A husband’s love for his wife is an example of loving one’s neighbour as oneself (vv. 28-29). Paul in fact brings this back to the life of the church (v. 30). Furthermore, the word teaches that the marriage relationship goes back to the foundations we find in Genesis (v. 31 Cf. Gen. 2:23-24; I Cor. 6:16). However, this is a parenthetical topic, albeit important one. His main topic was the church (v. 32). When we love and respect each member of the church we are blessed in return.

Ephesians

Ephesians 5:15-21 The Way Of The Wise.

The Christian walk is one of wisdom. In another opposite, we go from being foolish to wise (v. 15). The wise are careful to understand what the will of the Lord is (v. 17 ). We must redeem time for this purpose (v. 16). It is the way of sanctification (Cf. I Th. 4:3). It also becomes a testimony to those yet in darkness (Cf. Col. 4:5). Being filled with the Spirit is another way to describe this life of wisdom. Again, it is the opposite of being in a drunken stupor, foolish and without discretion (v. 18 Cf. Prov. 20:1; 23:31). It is sad to think that some think that being “filled with the Spirit” is some non-alcoholic way to get drunk. It is the opposite. Speaking and singing the word of God and Christian truth is what is involved in renewing our minds-this is what it means to understand His will (Cf. Rom. 12:1-2). It is something which must go to the very core of who we are-our hearts (v. 19). It is also something that those in darkness will see and hear (Cf. Acts 16:25). It must also be accompanied by thanksgiving, and “submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord.” (v. 21 Cf. Phil. 2:3) As Paul will go on to point out, the Lord has established an authority structure which is also made to serve the purpose of learning to walk in the way of the wise. However, it all starts with gratitude, for we have nothing except what we have received.

Ephesians

Ephesians 5:8-14 Light And Darkness.

Opposites. We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord (v. 8 Cf. I Th. 5:5). This means “the fruit of the Spirit…in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” (v. 9 Cf. Gal. 5:22) This is not something we do to earn membership in the family, these are signs of a new birth. We are ever learning “what is acceptable to the Lord.” (v. 10 Cf. Rom. 12:1-2) There is no such thing as bad fruit. There is fruit, or an unfruitful life of darkness (v. 11 Cf. II Cor. 6:14). It is the truth, and those who live a life based on that truth, which exposes the unfruitful works of darkness (vv. 12-13 Cf. John 3:20-21; Rom. 1:24). Christ is the light which shines in the darkness to redeem or expose (v. 14 Cf. Is. 26:19; 60:1).

Ephesians

Ephesians 5:1-7 Walking In Love.

Children are great imitators of parents, often to the surprise and sometimes chagrin of the latter. God has no such fear, but only His plan and purpose that this be the case (v. 1). We are His dear children, and it is our heritage to be conformed to the image of His son, our elder brother by adoption. To walk in love is to imitate Christ who “also loved us and gave Himself for us.” (v. 2) So we have the perfect example of what walking in love means. He offered Himself to God on our behalf. His death was more than a mere example, it was a needed sacrifice because of our lost condition, “a sweet smelling aroma” to the Father. Again, the Christian life is one of opposites. Fornication is not love, it is in fact it’s opposite. Fornication is unclean and covetous, so that Paul should write, “let it not even be named among you as is fitting for saints.” (v. 3)

Speech also comes in its opposites. Instead of filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting, we are to give thanks. Thanksgiving is the opposite of covetousness, which is in fact idolatry. The latter is what bars one from the great inheritance that is bequeathed to the saints as part of the kingdom of Christ (v. 5). The opposite of thanksgiving is empty words, just as idolatry, the expression of covetousness, is empty and lifeless. There are really only two groups of people in the world-the children of God and the sons of disobedience. The former are given over to obedience to God, the latter to covetousness and idolatry, the former to love, the latter to hate. The sons of God have a great inheritance, the sons of disobedience await nothing but wrath (v. 6). Paul’s injunction is therefore clear, “Do not be partakers with them.” (v. 7)

Ephesians

Ephesians 4:25-32 Family Characteristics.

From lying to speaking the truth (v. 25), to winning over anger and the devil with peace (vv. 26-27), from stealing to working and having something to give to others (v. 28), from corrupt speech to what edifies, imparting grace to the hearers (v. 29)-these are the signs of a spiritual transformation. If repentance is a 180 degree turn, then a life of opposites results. It is a work of the Spirit-not of gift signs but of fruit, provided He is not grieved. We grieve Him when this fruit is nowhere to be found. This fruit is in fact a sign that we are “sealed for the day of redemption.” (v. 30) “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” There is a place for anger, but not for these consequential sins. In fact one must be angry at sin but, “forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you.” So another sign one has been transformed-the ability to forgive others as we have been forgiven. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted.” (v. 32)

Ephesians

Ephesians 4:17-24 The New Man.

Thinking and walking are inseparable. It is a common thought in our day for people to say that the truth must travel the distance between the head and the heart, but this is far from the biblical testimony. The fact is, human beings will always walk as they think. The heart will always show itself in words and deeds. When the bible speaks of the heart, it usually refers to one’s core, of one’s emotions for sure, but usually to one’s thinking. Therefore, Paul instructs his readers to no longer walk in the futility of their former way of thinking (v. 17). One is alienated from God when one’s understanding is darkened, it is ignorance because of a blind heart (v. 18 Cf. Rom. 1:21). Again, the heart refers to one’s core, who we really are. It is what we really think and feel, or not (v. 19 Cf. I Tim. 4:2; I Pet. 4:3). Similarly, Christ must be learned from our core (v. 20).

We must not only hear, but we must be taught by Christ, who is the truth itself (v. 21). In order to learn Christ truly, we must put off our former way of thinking, feeling, and doing. Only then will our conduct follow (v. 22). There are really only two kinds of people in the world-the true Christian, and the corrupt. Both these groups will grow, the former more and more into the image of Christ, and the latter according to deceitful lusts (v. 22). Note well, lusts are deceitful-they never deliver what they promise. The latter have “given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (v. 19) The Christian, on the other hand, is to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (v. 23 Cf. Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:8-10) This is what it means to put on the new man. It starts with going to the core of one’s thinking. The new man is of God’s creation (v. 24 Cf. Rom. 6:4; 7:6).