Modern Bible Commentary on Ephesians 6:1-24

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth. You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-3).”

In the final chapter, Paul exhorts believers in Ephesus to obey their parents in the Lord. The Greek word for obedience here is ὑπακούετε, and it means to listen attentively–heeding or conforming to a command.

Scripture is filled with commands to obey parents and honor father and mother (Ex. 20; Prov. 23:22; Ruth 3:5; Jer. 35:8; Col. 3:20). In fact, this is the first commandment with a promise. What does this mean? That God promises if you hearken to the laws and instructions of your parents, you will be granted a long life on earth.

This promise, ἐπαγγελίᾳ, is an announcement that literally “announces what is appropriate.” If you obey your parents, God will bring blessing and vitality to your life. However, if you are disobedient, God will bring curses and trials to come your way. Therefore, it’s vital to show respect to your parents and elders.

Furthermore, it warns fathers not to provoke your children to wrath. What does this mean? The word for provoke in Greek, παροργίζετε, literally means “anger alongside.” In other words, don’t exasperate your children to anger because this can cause enmity within the family. It’s easy to get frustrated when your kids don’t listen–however, this never works and will only cause tension; thus, it’s better to discipline in a calm manner.

“Servants, be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ, not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive the same good again from the Lord, whether he is bound or free (Eph. 6:4-8).”

In the context of this time period, there were servants who had masters. Paul is telling them that their ultimate Lord is Christ, and when they obey their bosses they should do it as if they are doing service to the Lord.

Whether one is bound or free, Scripture makes it clear all of us are on equal playing field. For the Bible says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink (1 Cor. 12:13).” Additionally, Colossians 3:25 states there should be no favoritism among those who claim to know God.

“You masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:9-12).”

As believers, it’s vital to put on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the schemes of the enemy. For Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy, and we must therefore defend ourselves from his attacks. This can be accomplished through reading of God’s word, prayer, accountability with your local church, and evangelizing to lost souls.

Don’t forget: our wrestling is not against flesh and blood. Our focus should not be on different political views; rather, against the principalities and powers of the dark world. These rulers want to spiritually harm innocent widows and orphans, and as Christians, we must stand against the wickedness of these spiritual forces in the heavenly places.

It’s shocking to see these dark spirits are in the heavenly places! That’s because Satan was once an angel of light. His name was Lucifer, son of the morning, and He was a powerful angelic being who tempted one-third of all the angels in heaven to rebel. Now there is this war going on, and we must put on the armor of God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

James 4:7 tells us: “Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When we allow God to become Lord over our lives, it makes our ability to fight temptation and sin much easier. Romans 13:12 also expresses this idea of putting on the “armor of light.” This armor is the truth of God’s word, which is able to eradicate false and evil thoughts.

“Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace, 16 above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:13-16).”

Paul uses the Greek word περιζωσάμενοι to express fastening the belt of truth all around us. It’s this idea of making sure you are protected, both on the front and back sides. This is because Satan can attack at all angles, and we must be prepared–like a wall of fire around us (Zech. 2:5), to quench these fiery darts.

Moreover, this letter to the church in Ephesus is practical for all generations. They, along with us today, need to have the belt of truth–which is the Word of God, the breastplate of righteousness–The Lord Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement, the Good news of peace, which is the death, burial, and resurrection, and the shield of faith–the Holy Spirit, which imparts upon us confidence and conviction.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: 19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:17-20).”

This notion of taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit is spoken throughout the entire history of the Judeo-Christian worldview. For instance, Isaiah says, “He made My mouth like a sharp sword; He hid Me in the shadow of His hand. He made Me like a polished arrow; He hid Me in His quiver.” Also, 2 Samuel 22:36 proclaims: “You have given me Your shield of salvation, and Your gentleness exalts me.”

The Bible really emphasizes this notion of war in the spiritual realm. It’s vital to pray constantly, being watchful, persevering through trials, speaking the truth in love, sharing the good news as ambassadors for Jesus. Thus, as the world becomes more antagonistic towards Christianity, we must mature in our faith so we can be ready when the time comes.

“But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know our state and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Amen (Eph. 6:21-24).”

Finally, Paul expresses his concern for the Church in Ephesus. He sends Tychius, a servant of the Lord, as a representative for Him since Paul is in prison.

He clearly says his reason for doing so is to make them known of his situation and to give them comfort, peace, and love from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Commentary written by Chad A. Damitz

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