Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6:1

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

A legalist reads these words as law that must be obeyed: Children, obey your parents. But the apostle of grace is not preaching law. We are under grace, not law (Rom. 6:14). He is saying that obeying parents is the right thing to do. Having said that, he then quotes one of the Ten Commandments…

Ephesians 6:2-3

“Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), “so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

Why is the apostle of grace quoting the Fifth Commandment? And why is he quoting it to a non-Jewish church? He is not doing it to put law on people, but to show that honoring our parents is a good and right thing to do. Treat your parents well, and your life will go well.

If Paul were preaching law, he would have to include the penalties for breaking the law. Under the law, the penalty for dishonouring or cursing your parents was death (Ex. 21:17). Paul never mentions that because we are not under law. However, Jesus mentions the penalty when he quotes this same law in Matthew 15:4. But the context was different. Jesus was talking to religious leaders and law-teachers living under the law.

Jesus and Paul preached different parts of the same law to different audiences for different purposes. There’s a wonderful symmetry here. One used the law to silence the self-righteous; the other used it to illustrate a timeless truth which is that honoring your parents is a good idea. Whether you’re under grace or law, it’s a good thing to do.

Further reading: “New Testament commands

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

(a) Do not provoke your children to anger. Don’t be so harsh or unrealistic with your kids that they get angry and upset. See entry for Col. 3:21.

(b) Bring them up. A child’s heart is like soil. Into this soil we can sow the good seed of God’s word or we can let the devil plant weeds.

Jesus said make a tree good or make a tree bad (Matt. 12:33). We make our children good by teaching them the ways of the Lord and by leading them to One who clothes us with his righteousness. And we make our children bad by sending them unprepared into a corrupt world full of lies and deception.

(c) In the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The word for discipline means training. Train your children. See your children as the Lord sees them. Understand that your children were shaped by God (Job 33:4, Ps. 100:3, Ecc. 11:5) and are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). Truly, children are precious gifts from God (Ps. 127:3, Jas. 1:17).

Ephesians 6:5

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

(a) Your masters according to the flesh. Your earthly masters, your bosses (see Col. 3:22).

(b) With fear and trembling. With respect.

Ephesians 6:10

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

(a) Strong in the Lord. The strength to endure is one of the many blessings that we enjoy as a result of being in union with the Lord. See entry for Philemon 1:6.

(b) His might. We do not stand in our own strength but his mighty strength. It is the supernatural grace of God that enables us to stand.

Ephesians 6:11

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

(a) Full armor of God; see entry for Eph. 6:13.

(b) Stand firm; see entry for Eph. 6:13.

(c) Schemes of the devil. The devil’s many schemes all serve one purpose: to distract you from Jesus. He does not care whether you are good or bad, as long as you are relying on the flesh. He will use whatever bait he can to tempt you to look to yourself, your work, even your ministry if it means getting your gaze off the Lord. If he can separate you from Christ who is your life, he can render you ineffective and barren. You’ll still be saved, but you’ll be stressed and miserable. In view of this, we need to stand firm in the Lord and resist his diabolical schemes.

(d) The devil; see entry for Matt. 4:1.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

(a) Our struggle. Our wrestling.

(b) Flesh and blood. People.

When we are mistreated, the temptation is to respond in kind. Instead of loving and praying for our enemies, we may be inclined to smite them, perpetuating the cycle of violence. But people are not the enemy. Jesus died for people. Our true enemy is Satan and his demons.

(c) Rulers, etc. Four ranks or types of Satanic power are listed: rulers or principalities (arche), powers or authorities (exousia), world forces or rulers of darkness (kosmokrator), and spiritual forces of wickedness (poneria). All we need to know about these various forces is that they are (a) opposed to us and (b) no match for the believer who is standing firm in the armor of God (see next verse).

(d) Heavenly places. The devil and his minions may operate in heavenly places, but any battle you have will be in your body and mind (see entry for Eph. 6:17).

Ephesians 6:13

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

(a) Full armor. We are to wear the whole outfit, not just bits and pieces. A believer who is ignorant of their righteousness in Christ, is not wearing the full armor of God. They may be wearing the helmet of salvation, but they haven’t put on the breastplate of righteousness. This makes them vulnerable to the devil’s accusations. In the following verses, six pieces of armor are listed: a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, gospel shoes, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation, and a sword of the spirit. We need them all.

(b) Armor of God. It is God’s armor we wear. We are clothed with his righteousness, his truth, and his salvation (Is. 59:16–17, 61:10). God’s armor is effective. When we put on his armor of light (Rom. 13:12), darkness flees.

(c) Resist. To resist the enemy is to oppose and reject his lies. It’s refusing to give him ground and standing firm in the grace of God. See entry for Jas. 4:7.

(d) Stand firm. Whole books have been written about spiritual warfare, but any struggle against the enemy is won by standing firm in the full armor of God. We don’t need to march or charge or even pray for victory. We simply rest in the victory Christ has already won. We stand firm by lifting up the name of the conquering King (Heb. 2:14). In him, we are more than conquerors (see entry for Rom. 8:37).

Ephesians 6:14


(a) Stand firm; see previous verse.

(b) Loins with truth. We are to be encircled with a belt of truth. The devil will attack truth directly by assailing you with lies, and he will attack truth indirectly by telling you there is no truth. “There are many truths. There is your truth and my truth.” He will try to deconstruct your belt of truth by glorifying doubt and uncertainty.

Truth is not a manmade construct but is defined by the One who is truth personified (John 14:6). To be girded with truth is to define and interpret all things through the lens of Jesus Christ.

(c) The breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate protects your heart from the devil’s accusations and keeps you in right standing with the Lord.

The devil will accuse you of being a failure or not doing enough. Heed his lies and you will fall from grace into dead works of self-righteousness. We resist this temptation and guard our hearts by standing secure in the righteous affirmation of our Father’s love and acceptance. When the accuser points to your shortcomings, you need to remind yourself, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Ephesians 6:15


(a) Your feet. We stand ready and unshakeable when we stand on the gospel of peace. The gospel of peace reveals the God of peace who makes peace by making us righteous (Rom. 15:33). When the devil tries to unsettle us, we remember that God is for us and with us and in us. Knowing that we have been justified, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

(b) The Gospel of Peace. When we proclaim the gospel of peace we are revealing the way of peace (Luke 1:79) which leads us to the God of peace (Rom. 15:33) who gives us life and peace (Rom. 8:6).

Ephesians 6:16

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

(a) In addition to all. In all circumstances.

(b) Shield. The original word (thureos) means a large door-shaped shield. If Paul had been writing in Latin and not Greek, he might have said scutum, indicating the heavy shields used by the early Romans.

(c) Shield of faith. Faith is resting in the confident assurance that God is good and he longs to be good to you. Faith is not wishing the devil would go away or that God will do something for you if you do something for him. Faith is trusting in the unfailing love of God. See entry for Faith.

(d) Extinguish all. The enemy’s weapons are no match for the believer who is standing firm in the armor of God. Spiritual attacks and persecution are to be expected (2 Tim. 3:12). But by the grace of God you will win every battle. Your enemies will come at you in one direction and flee in seven (Deut. 28:7).

(e) Flaming arrows. The devil wants to set your world on fire so he peppers you with burning arrows. These are little temptations and deceptions that, if not quickly extinguished, can ignite great conflagrations.

(f) The evil one is the devil; see entry for 1 John 2:13.

Ephesians 6:17

And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

(a) Helmet. Most spiritual warfare takes place in the battlefield of your mind. Since we are facing a defeated foe (Col. 2:15), the only way Satan can win is if he gets you to take his side. Swallow his lies and fall for his schemes, and you empower a disarmed enemy. We refute his lies and deceptions by wearing the helmet of salvation. We take every thought captive to the obedience of the Savior. See entry for 2 Cor. 10:5.

(b) Salvation. The original word for salvation means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.

(c) The sword of the spirit is the word of God in our hearts and on our lips. It is a most effective weapon because the word of God has power. Jesus refuted the devil in the wilderness by speaking the word of God (see Luke 4:4). In the same way, we resist the enemy’s lies by clinging to, and speaking forth, the word of God.

(d) The word of God is the revealed will of God. When you know what God’s will is, you are able to stand your ground and defeat the lies and accusations of the enemy. But if you are uncertain, you will be double-minded and unstable.

See entry for Word of God.

Ephesians 6:18

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

(a) Pray at all times does not mean pray long-winded or repetitious prayers (Matt. 6:7). It means we live in a posture of prayer and supplication. We make it our habit to converse with God in all matters, small or large, knowing that he cares for us.

(b) In the spirit. To pray in the spirit is the opposite of religious praying. It’s keeping our spiritual antennas directed to the Holy Spirit and allowing him to guide us as we pray. See entry for Rom. 8:26.

Ephesians 6:19

and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

The mystery of the gospel is that God is with us and for us and desires to be in spiritual union in us (see Col. 1:27). Religion portrays God as distant and aloof, but Jesus Christ reveals a God who loves us like a Father and wants to share his life with all of us, both Jew and Gentile alike (Eph. 3:4–6).

Ephesians 6:23

Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Love with faith, from God. Just as our love for God is a response to his love for us, our faith in God is a response to his faith in us.

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