More Thoughts about Ephesians 6:1-4
Paul has just talked about the relationship between husbands and wives. Now, he turns to a discussion of how children and parents should relate to each other. He writes:
“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:1 NAS).
First, children should obey their parents. Children learn from what their parents do and from what they say. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children how to live. As children are growing up, they should obey their parents.
Parents should lead their children to obey them. This is unambiguous and easy to understand when parents are committed to living righteously. Unfortunately, sometimes parents ask their children to be disobedient to the commands of God. No doubt this is why Paul adds “in the Lord.” Parents do not have a right to ask their children to go against the commands of God.
Second, children should honor their father and their mother. When they do, they will be rewarded with long life, and it will be well with them. This is not an absolute promise. However, when children relate well to their parents and honor them, it is a definite blessing to their own lives.
Third, Paul addresses fathers. They should not provoke their children into anger. This means that fathers can act in such a way that it unsettles their children and causes them to act negatively. Instead of doing this, they should teach and discipline them by the Lord’s principles.
Perhaps the most difficult problem for believers is that sometimes their children do not follow the Lord. This happens even though the children have had the best training and example set before them. Parents who have wayward children should continue to love them, treat them with kindness, and keep praying that they will turn to God.
More Thoughts about Ephesians 6:5-9
Paul has written about wives and husbands and children and parents. Now, in this passage, he discusses slaves and masters. He writes,
“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; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. 9 And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
What Paul teaches here is not an endorsement of slavery. He lived and wrote his letters in an era when slavery was a part of the social order. In this letter, he did not confront the governments or society over the issue. Over time Biblical principles would be a strong force for the abolition of slavery. However, given the circumstances of the time, Paul taught the slaves and masters how to behave properly toward each other.
The main principle that Paul taught the slaves is that they should serve as unto the Lord. Although the slaves are living under the supervision of their masters, they can consider that this counts as service to Christ. They serve as unto to the Lord and not to men. They should do the will of God from the heart.
All men, whether slave or free, will be rewarded for their good deeds. Masters are to treat the slaves well. They should not threaten the slaves, but they should reward the slaves for their service.
The Master of both the slaves and the masters is in heaven. Masters, as well as slaves, should do the will of God. In heaven there will be no slaves; rather, all people will be free. All people there will be sons of God with the full privileges of sons. In heaven, there is no partiality with God.
How shall we apply this to our lives? Employees and employers can learn from these verses. Although the situation is not the same, some thoughts apply. As employees, we can perform our work, not only for the benefit of our employers but also as unto Christ. Employers should treat their employees well and reward them for their efforts. Both employers and employees do well to realize that Christ is Lord of all.
More Thoughts about Ephesians
In Ephesians 6:10-20 the apostle Paul encourages all believers, individually and collectively, to be “strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.” We can be strong in the Lord because He empowers us. The strength that we have is His might.
We stand strong by taking up the full armor of God. The “full armor of God” can mean the armor that God wears (Isaiah 59:17) or the armor provided by God for us to wear. The latter is the more likely meaning. Even if we think Paul refers to the armor that God wears, we are to take it up and put it on. Either way, we are superbly equipped for spiritual warfare.
This armor is to be used both defensively and offensively. We resist the “flaming missiles of the evil one” and we also are witnesses to the truth. We are not simply defending ourselves. Rather, we are aggressively countering evil forces and are proclaiming truth to everyone.
The source of our strength must be the Lord because “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.”
In our next “thoughts” we will focus on verses 17-18 which mention the “sword of the Spirit” and praying “in the Spirit.” Meanwhile, we know that today we can put on the armor of God and face all challenges with confidence in Him and the armor He has provided.
Thought Number Two from Ephesians 6:10-20. In this passage, Paul exhorts us to be strong warriors, both defensively and offensively, in our spiritual warfare. The forces of evil are arrayed against us, but we can stand firm. Not only can we stand our ground, but we can move decisively against the devil and the forces of darkness. To do this we must wear the armor of God. Paul talks about that armor in verses 13-18:
“13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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.”
As a key part of the armor, we must take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Although this can mean the “sword which is the Spirit,” I believe the better reading is that Paul refers to the sword which the Spirit possesses. That sword is the “word of God.” This is the word that God has spoken and that we preach. The gospel is the Spirit’s sword. Let us arm ourselves with the Word of God and go forth to build His Kingdom.
Paul exhorts us to pray “at all times” in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit should not be just an occasional exercise, but rather such prayers should be uttered as a normal part of our spiritual discipline. Paul emphasizes that the prayers should be “in the Spirit.” Our prayers “in the Spirit” may include prayers in our known languages and unknown tongues. The important point is that the prayers are inspired by the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit often elevates a somewhat mundane prayer session into a rich experience of fellowship with God.
In my next “thoughts” I will comment further on the armor of God. Meanwhile, I pray that God will strengthen that the Spirit will strengthen you, defensively and offensively, through the Word of God and prayer.
More Thoughts about Ephesians
Ephesians 6:10-20. We are in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil. The apostle Paul says to put on the armor of God. This will empower us defensively and offensively. Dr. Mark Flattery, in his book entitled Stand Firm, comments advocates 10 Victory Actions. Six of them are based on the parts of this armor. These six Victory Actions are:
- Live in Truth: Focus on the One who is Truth
- Live in Righteousness: Live with Intentionality
- Live in the Gospel of Peace: Be Confident in the One to whom You Belong
- Live in Faith: Your Beliefs Are your Strength
- Live in Hope: Hope Keeps Your Life Vibrant
- Live in the Word of God: Align Yourself with the Holy Spirit
After dealing with the armor of God, Paul requests prayer for himself and his ministry. He writes: “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, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20 NAS)
In verse 19 Paul says, “I am an ambassador in chains.” He was a prisoner. Yet, he proclaimed victory! This is a graphic illustration of Paul’s attitude about His life with God. No matter what His circumstances at the time, He maintained His faith and trust in God. Our prayer is, “Lord, help us to maintain our trust in you.”
More Thoughts about Ephesian
Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians with these comments: “21 But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 And I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, 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 a love incorruptible” (Ephesians 6:21-24 NAS)
The letters of Paul are amazing. They include great doctrinal truths, very practical exhortations, and personal matters that would be of concern to his audience. We notice the following:
First, Paul wanted the Ephesians to know about his circumstances. He had a long missionary career, and he had been a pastor in Ephesus. In a sense, he was like a missionary writing to a church. He wanted them to know how he was doing. In another sense, he was a respected apostle who was writing the revelation of God’s Word to them.
Second, Paul was sending Tychicus to the Ephesians to make everything known to them. Paul had a lot of confidence in Tychicus. In Colossians 4:7 Paul wrote:
“As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.” Tychicus was a member of Paul’s team.
Third, Paul closes with a benediction. He wishes that all who loved Jesus with a love incorruptible would be blessed with grace. All of us who follow Jesus are blessed with the grace of God. We cannot earn His blessings. We simply are grateful for all that He pours out upon us.
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.