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.

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.

Ephesians 6:14


The breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate protects your heart and your very life.

When we make mistakes or hear that we are not doing enough for God, the temptation is to slip into dead works of self-righteousness. We resist this temptation and guard our hearts from the enemy’s accusations by standing secure in the righteous affirmation of our Father’s love and acceptance. When the accuser says you are a sinner, reply, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Ephesians 6:17

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

(a) 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.

(b) 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 6:19

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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