6:1 Children [indicates that children must have been present in the congregation when this letter was read; Gr. “tekna” refers to young children living at home], obey [listen attentively and respond positively; this command assumes the instruction of parents is in keeping with God’s Word] your parents in the Lord [or as a Christian should], for this is right [because it is in line with God’s will; cf. Col. 3:20].
6:2 [the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12)] “Honor [to give weight or consideration to; to count as valuable; children must honor parents for life] your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—
Note: Is it possible to obey parents without honoring them?
6:3 [note two benefits of honoring parents] “[the first benefit relates to quality of life] that it may go well with you and [the second benefit relates to quantity of life] that you may enjoy long life on the earth [the general principle is that children who listen to their parents can avoid the sins and dangers that can easily shorten their lives].”
6:4 [a prohibition (cf. Col. 3:21)] Fathers, do not exasperate [to provoke or irritate to the point of anger] your children; instead, [a command] bring them up [to nourish or feed] in the training [discipline; includes punishment for wrongdoing] and instruction [educate rather than exasperate] of the Lord [reminder to parents to offer training and instruction that is in keeping with God’s Word].
Note: Some parents exasperate their children by always saying one thing and doing another. Inconsistent and unfair discipline can also exasperate children. Showing favoritism is another common way of provoking children to anger. Humiliation, cruelty, and verbal and physical abuse can exasperate children and cause them to lose heart (see Col. 3:21).
Note: Martin Luther wisely wrote: “Spare the rod and spoil the child—that is true. But beside the rod keep an apple to give him when he has done well.” Parents must try to encourage and praise and not just scold or correct.
6:5 Slaves [there were several million slaves in the Roman empire in Paul’s day], obey [listen attentively and respond positively] your earthly [distinguished slave owners from God, our ultimate Master] masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity [uprightness; without pretense or evil motivation] of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you [eyeservice: refers to working only when master is watching; cf. Col. 3:22], but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart [in such a manner as to pass God’s inspection].
Note: How should you as a Christian employee or employer seek to demonstrate your relationship to Christ?
6:7 [cf. Col. 3:23] Serve wholeheartedly [with enthusiasm], as if you were serving the Lord [work should be an expression of commitment to the Lord], not men,
6:8 [cf. Col. 3:24] because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way [that is, out of concern for God’s will and the well-being of their slaves]. Do not threaten them, since [reason for not threatening them] you know that he who is both their Master and yours [earthly masters will one day have to answer to their heavenly Master] is in heaven, and there is no favoritism [no one is more important than anyone else] with him.
6:10 Finally [signals Paul’s concluding remarks], be strong in the Lord [we must derive our strength from God] and in his [not our] mighty power.
Becoming a Christian is no guarantee that life will be easier or trouble-free. In fact, becoming a Christian often invites trouble from Satan and his evil forces. Jesus said that Satan’s agenda is “to steal and to kill and to destroy” (John 10:10). Peter said that Satan is like a lion looking for anyone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
I heard a preacher remark that for Jesus, the battle came after His baptism, the Devil came after the dove, and the roar from hell came after the voice from heaven. Christians are indeed engaged in a spiritual battle.
Although the death and resurrection of Jesus have assured the victory, we must still battle daily against the forces of evil. The best way to do poorly in this battle is to try to fight alone and in our own strength. We need and must depend upon the vast divine strength that the Lord can provide and is so willing to give.
6:11 Put on [this is a command to dress and prepare for battle; it is the responsibility of the Christian to take the armor God provides and put it on] the full [complete] armor [cf. Isa. 59:17; Rom. 12:13] of God so that you can take your stand [cf. Ps. 18:30-39] against [“stand against” means to resist the enemy; no surrender] the devil’s schemes [a reminder that the devil does not fight fair; cf. 2 Cor. 2:11].
In addition to providing strength for the battle, God also provides believers with armor. He does not want for His people to engage in spiritual warfare unprotected or unarmed. However, it is the responsibility of every believer to put on the full or complete armor of God. Failure to do so will compromise a believer’s ability to stand against the tactics of the Devil, our primary enemy.
Stand against is a military term that refers to holding one’s position and not surrendering to the enemy. The word tactics, or schemes, reminds us that the Devil does not fight fair. He is cunning and deceitful and looks for every opportunity to destroy believers, both individually and corporately. He looks for areas in which we are weak and vulnerable, surveys our landscape for signs of eroding convictions, and calculates how much it will take to get us to make compromises. We must be armored and armed if we are to withstand his attacks.
Note: Satan’s schemes and methods of operation include the following:
• slander Gen. 3:4-5
• sowing tares Matt. 13:38-39
• lies John 8:44
• temptation Acts 5:3
• trickery 2 Cor. 2:11
• blinding minds 2 Cor. 4:4
• masquerading 2 Cor. 11:14-15
• Inciting persecution Rev. 2:10
• accusation Rev. 12:10
• deception Rev. 20:3
6:12 For our struggle [indicates hand-to-hand combat] is not against flesh and blood, but against [note descriptive terms for demons that illustrate the extent of Satan’s warfare…] the rulers [cf. Eph. 1:21], against the authorities [cf. Eph. 1:21], against the powers of this dark world [powers who aspire to control the world] and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms [the dwelling place of demons].
The reason we need divine strength is because of the nature of spiritual warfare. The battle in which we are engaged is not against human enemies made of flesh and blood. Instead, we are engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle against demonic forces controlled by Satan. Paul used four terms to describe Satan’s powerful army.
The goal of this army of evil is to destroy believers and defeat the church. Satan’s tactics include using human instruments, like the secular media or world systems, to gain battlefield advantage. However, he is the real enemy. We should never underestimate his cunning or his determination to carry out his destructive agenda.
6:13 Therefore [in response to the reality of “our struggle”] put on [believers must put on the armor that God has made available them] the full [in order to leave no area vulnerable to attack] armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand [cannot stand against the great opposition of Satan without God’s armor; cf. Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9] your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Because of the nature of the enemy and the reality of the battle in which we are engaged, we must take up the full armor of God. God’s armor is available, but each believer is personally responsible for preparing for battle. We must put on the full armor in order to leave no area vulnerable to attack. We have all experienced the evil day — those days when we go through trials and temptations and attacks launched against us by the enemy. We must arm ourselves and be prepared to take our stand and yield nothing to the enemy when we are engaged in these daily battles.
6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth [the truth of God’s Word, the gospel, personal character of believer; enables us to stand against Satan’s lies (Jn. 8:44) and false doctrine; important to know the truth, speak the truth, and insist on the truth; cf. Jn. 17:17] buckled around your waist [belt or girdle made of leather, about six inches wide, held other pieces of armor in place (breastplate, sheath for sword)], with the breastplate [protected body from neck to thighs; protected vital organs; protects the heart (seat of emotions, self-worth, and trust); often had a back piece to protect from blows from behind] of righteousness [evidence that we have been made right with God; Satan will attack and seek to frustrate all committed to righteous living] in place,
Paul was chained to a Roman soldier when he wrote to the Ephesians. Perhaps prompted by the living object lesson assigned to restrict his movement, Paul helped his readers understand how to prepare for battle.
Like a Roman soldier, believers must fasten the belt of God’s truth around their waist. A fastened belt signified that a soldier was on duty and ready to fight. Truth refers to the character of the believer. We must live lives that are unquestionably consistent with the truth of God’s Word and that tell a skeptical world that we are convinced Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6). We must know the truth, intelligently articulate the truth, insist on the truth, and always live the truth.
Additionally, we must put on the breastplate of righteousness, an essential piece of armor designed to protect vital organs. Our lives and daily choices must reflect the fact that we have been made righteous through the blood of Christ. We must live in a way that pleases the One who gave His life to make us right with God. Doing so is not an easy task because Satan continually tries to penetrate the believer’s breastplate to damage the heart and thwart righteous living.
6:15 and with your feet [Roman soldiers wore shoes with studded soles (cleats) to help them hold their ground in hand-to-hand combat; Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15] fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Romans soldiers wore thick military sandals studded with cleats to help give them stability and traction in combat. Our feet should be sandaled with readiness to share the gospel of peace.
While visiting a remote mountain village in India, I saw a woman who had no feet sitting by the side of the road. She lived in a place with little access to the gospel. I immediately looked at my own feet as the Lord reminded me of my responsibility to take the gospel to those who have little or no access to its life-saving message.
Isaiah described the feet of those who bring good news as beautiful feet (Isa. 52:7) because of their willingness to be sent. We must make our feet available to march into the entire world with the gospel of peace.
6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield [Roman shield approximately four feet high by two feet wide] of faith [complete reliance on God and willingness to do His will; cf. 1 Jn. 5:4], with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
6:17 Take the helmet [protects head; cf. 1 Thess. 5:8] of salvation [helmet protects our minds from doubting our salvation] and the sword [the only offensive weapon mentioned] of the Spirit, which is the word of God [cf. Isa. 11:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:8; Heb. 4:12].
A blow to the head can easily disorient, disable, or destroy any opponent. The enemy is always aiming for the head, seeking to strike a deadly blow with the battle-axe of doubt, confusion, and false doctrine. That is why we must put on the helmet of salvation (see 1 Thess. 5:8). We must protect and keep our minds focused on the fact that God has saved us from the penalty of sin, daily helps us to be victorious over the power of sin, and one day will rescue us from the presence of sin.
The only offensive weapon mentioned is the sword of the Spirit. Roman soldiers were proficient in the use of short double-edged swords that could be used in close combat. The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word. God’s Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). Just as Jesus used God’s Word when Satan tempted him in the wilderness, we must use God’s Word to send Satan away. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will help us to effectively wield the sword of the Spirit (see John 14:26).
Note: The battle for the mind is real. The consequences of losing ground to the enemy are serious for yourself and others. Our victories and failures will be felt beyond our own generation. Too much is at stake to stay home from the fight. Make it your aim to drag into heaven with a dirty uniform. Here are a few of the rules of engagement.
D = Devil | Know the enemy. Do not be “ignorant of his intentions” (2 Cor. 2: 11) or his “tactics” (Eph. 6:11).
E = Equipment | Know how to use your weapons and always wear your armor.
F = Fight | Don’t just passively wait for the enemy to attack. Take the initiative to engage on strategic fronts.
E = Enlist | Do not go into battle alone. The “one another” passages in the New Testament remind us that we need one another. Remember that Satan is a pirate looking for a vessel without a fleet.
N = Neutrality | The failure to choose sides is unacceptable. The stakes are too high to remain unaligned, uninvolved, and uncommitted.
S = Stand | Hold your ground. Do not be intimidated. Do not walk away.
E = Endure | In the words of Winston Churchill: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
6:18 And pray [a sign of our need for and dependence on God] in the Spirit [Spirit helps us when we pray (Rom. 8:26)] on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert [pray with your eyes open; cf. 1 Pet. 5:8] and always [don’t stop] keep on praying for all [no believer is exempt from Satan’s attacks] the saints.
6:19 Pray also for me, that [note that Paul did not ask for prayers for his release from prison] whenever I open my mouth, words may be given [Paul depended on the Spirit for inspiration and wisdom to speak] me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery [God’s plan to make Jews and Gentiles into a new people in Christ] of the gospel,
6:20 for which I am an ambassador [a government’s legal representative, in this case, of God’s kingdom] in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
6:21 Tychicus [carried Paul’s letters to Ephesians, Colossians (and probably to Philemon); also mentioned in Acts 20:4; Col. 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12], the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything [news about Paul and his welfare], so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.
6:22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage [perhaps Ephesians were discouraged by Paul’s imprisonment; Paul and the Ephesian believers were very close because Paul had lived in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:17-38)] you.
6:23 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from [point to source of peace, love, faith] God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
6:24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.