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6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

6:2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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; 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

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.

6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

6:12 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.

6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 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, 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

6:21 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: 6:22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.


Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ephesians
Book: Ephesians
Chapter: 6

The duties of children and parents. (1-4) Of servants and
masters. (5-9) All Christians are to Put On spiritual Armour
against the enemies of their souls. (10-18) The Apostle desires
their prayers, and ends with his apostolic blessing. (19-24)

1-4 The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. That
obedience includes inward reverence, as Well as outward acts,
and in every Age prosperity has attended those distinguished for
obedience to parents. The duty of parents. Be not impatient; use
No unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with
children; convince their judgements and work upon their reason.
Bring them up Well; under proper and compassionate correction;
and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Often is this
duty neglected, even among professors of the Gospel. Many set
their children against religion; but this does not excuse the
children's disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it.
God alone can change the Heart, yet he gives his blessing to the
good lessons and examples of parents, and answers their prayers.
But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children should be
rich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must not
look for the blessing of God.

5-9 The duty of servants is summed up in one Word, obedience.
The servants of old were generally slaves. The apostles were to
teach servants and masters their duties, in doing which evils
would be lessened, till slavery should be rooted out By the
influence of Christianity. Servants are to reverence those over
them. They are to be sincere; not pretending obedience when they
mean to disobey, but serving faithfully. And they must serve
their masters not only when their master's Eye is upon them; but
must be strict in the discharge of their duty, when he is absent
and out of the way. Steady regard to the Lord Jesus Christ will
make men Faithful and sincere in every station, not grudgingly
or By constraint, but from a principle of Love to the masters
and their concerns. This makes service easy to them, pleasing to
their masters, and acceptable to the Lord Christ. God will
reward even the meanest drudgery done from a sense of duty, and
with a view to Glorify him. Here is the duty of masters. Act
after the same manner. Be just to servants, as you expect they
should be to you; show the like good-will and concern for them,
and be careful herein to approve yourselves to God. Be not
tyrannical and overbearing. You have a Master to obey, and you
and they are but fellow-servants in respect to Christ Jesus. If
masters and servants would consider their duties to God, and the
account they must shortly give to him, they would be more
mindful of their duty to each other, and thus families would be
more orderly and happy.

10-18 Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our
spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove
themselves to have true Grace, must aim at all Grace; and Put On
the whole Armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The
Christian Armour is made to be worn; and there is No putting off
our Armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our
course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our
own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a
thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us
in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the
heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve By God's Grace,
not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give
way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our
Leader, or our Armour, we give him advantage. The different
parts of the Armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain
the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is
none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the
Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the Girdle. This
girds On all the other Pieces of our Armour, and is first
mentioned. There can be No religion without sincerity. The
Righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a Breastplate against
the Arrows of Divine wrath. The Righteousness of Christ
implanted in us, fortifies the Heart against the attacks of
Satan. Resolution must be as Greaves, or Armour to our legs; and
to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the
feet must be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear
knowledge of the Gospel. Faith is all in all in an Hour of
Temptation. Faith, as relying On unseen objects, receiving
Christ and the benefits of Redemption, and So deriving Grace
from him, is like a Shield, a defence every way. The Devil is
the wicked one. Violent temptations, By which the soul is set On
Fire of Hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts
of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the Word of God and
the Grace of Christ, quenches the darts of Temptation. Salvation
must be our Helmet. A good Hope of Salvation, a Scriptural
expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from
being defiled By Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in
battle, the Apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it
is enough, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It
subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as
they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault
from without. A single text, Well understood, and rightly
applied, at once destroys a Temptation or an objection, and
subdues the most formidable Adversary. Prayer must fasten all
the other parts of our Christian Armour. There are other duties
of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep
up times of Prayer. Though set and solemn Prayer may not be
seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious
prayers darted out, always are So. We must use holy thoughts in
our ordinary course. A vain Heart will be vain in Prayer. We
must pray with all kinds of Prayer, public, private, and secret;
social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of
Prayer; Confession of Sin, petition for Mercy, and thanksgiving
for favours received. And we must do it By the Grace of God the
Holy Spirit, in dependence On, and according to, his teaching.
We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding
discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for
all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength,
but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his might we
may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we,
when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think
upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.

19-24 The Gospel was a Mystery till made known By Divine
Revelation; and it is the work of Christ's ministers to declare
it. The best and most eminent ministers need the prayers of
believers. Those particularly should be prayed for, who are
exposed to great hardships and perils in their work. Peace be to
the brethren, and Love with Faith. By peace, understand all
manner of peace; peace with God, peace of Conscience, peace
among themselves. And the Grace of the Spirit, producing Faith
and Love, and every Grace. These he desires for those in whom
they were already begun. And all Grace and blessings come to the
saints from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace, that is,
the favour of God; and all good, spiritual and temporal, which
is from it, is and shall be with all those who thus Love our
Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and with them only.

The mini-sermon: (Episcopal Church Lectionary date, August 23 2015)


Ephesians 6:10-20

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.



Being in the Deep South, the sermon today drew on American football and/or also as well the getting kids ready for school, complete with their shoes - and their Under Armor. That one drew a few groans from the audience, just as how some in the congregation drew in breath a bit sharply at the mention of college team A vs college team B. Clear to see the audience was mixed about this team vs that one.

But not only do I personally like looking at the original language behind the verse, I like looking at the culture to which it was written.

What Paul is describing here has been kind of lost with the transition of warfare over the centuries. To most these days warfare is either gritty footage of drones or the staccato rapping of a machine gun in the distance in a sand pit somwehere, or some kind of lush first person shooter game in which a lone soldier takes on wave after wave of soldiers, only dying from multiple gunshot wounds if he takes too many in one sitting. But the soldier in these verses appears to be describing a Hoplite, a Greek soldier back in the day - one who was armored and equipped in ways that make the metaphor work.

The Greeks acted remarkably similar to the Romans in one respect - you most likely have seen the "turtle" in any period gladiator piece - a manoever in which the soldiers cover themselves with overlapping shields, with only swords protruding. The Greeks did something similar - taking the shield, or hoplon, and overlapping it with the hoplon of the neighbor either side, forming an inpenetrable wall. What's intriguing of note here is that Paul never mentions a spear, which was the soldier's primary weapon - instead he's talking about the sword. He's therefore not referring to the phase of battle in which the two sides taunt each other from camps, or stand facing each other making threats - or even a ranged fight in which spears were used to pick off or wound advancing armies. He's talking about the phase in which two walls of shields are banged against each other, shoving, trying to break formation either side - two walls of men shoulder to shoulder in a "push of war" so to speak, hacking and poking through any gap trying to make lethal strikes at the chest or groin. We've grown accustomed to drones, or guns in which a simple finger movement ends someone else's life - or worse still, to that being button "X" on the XBox. It's another matter still to be dodging a sharpened piece of metal while simultaneously trying the very grim and physical task of running yours through another living, breathing human being. Slick blood, the scent of punctured abdominal contents, vomit and fecal matter together. Cries of pain, shouts and curses, and the rugby scrum of bodies holding firm even as common sense says to run from a blade you'll never see coming if it does hit you. And you're not always able to see the way forward, it's a lot of the time on feel and instinct and being in tune with the other men in your unit.

But Paul in the midst of all this spent his time emphasizing the helmet and breastplate which many soldiers didn't have. A bronze helmet and/or linothorax armor wasn't cheap, and soldiers were expected to come to battle with their own equipment. This makes the whole thing seem closer to rec league hockey than well-equipped college football but it emphasized one thing: society isn't going to equip you for this - if you weren't fortunate enough to inherit a hoplon and inherit armor from a relative now too old to fight, you had to come up with the resources yourself. That bronze helmet might have been magnificent in design and execution, but as someone who's tried to wear the very well made clothes of now-deceased relatives, you're not guaranteed to be their size, so tailoring, possibly swapping with another would be the order of the day.

But what you inherited from somewhere would save you from whatever got through the wall of shields, not only yours but those of others. A hoplon was designed so you could deal with fatigue by resting your weight into the shield, leaning against the bronze, pushing with as you'd push against a car in a ditch on your seventh try. You'd be in theory resting on your neighbor as well, and he on you.I hope the rich metaphors are not lost on this modern audience, in that light. If I was going to rewrite it today I might talk about the fourth quarter of a football game, where the offensive linemen and defensive linemen are standing with their arms resting on their knees, sucking in wind, but shoving at each other time and time again and trying to hold the line those few last times before the end to secure victory. Except that there are pauses in the game, and that you only need to protect a quarterback for so long. The helmet metaphor in that instance might work better though, because a modern helmet protects the head against immediate injury, but also the devastating long-term effects of head trauma.

Out of this very grim, very bloody, very human and very macho metaphor comes a couple of hopeful observations - apart from the metaphors about being well-armored for the task thanks to God. The first is about the enemy using arrows - that was considered a coward's tactic in the ancient world - and also not one particularly effetive against a line of shields. Of course, if you were in a phalanx, you were golden, but it would have been an easy kill for some random Joe standing there. Satan's the kind of guy who shoots people in the back from a moving car, and if you know that tactic, you know to face him with some armored glass in the way, and wave to his impotent sniping.


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