This week we conclude the book of Ephesians. We’ve studied it for six weeks – verse-by-verse and chapter by chapter. Next week, we’ll continue our journey studying the Prison Epistles, which Paul wrote, and turn our attention to Colossians. But until then, chapter 6 of Ephesians is hard not to love because it contains practical instructions on how to act (and the world could use more of that these days!).
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 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
- We settled chapter 5 on the topic of submission, and the Biblical commentator, Adam Clarke, concisely said, “Let love rule.” Paul spoke to believers about submission to: the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:19-20), to one another (5:21), wives to husbands (5:22), and husbands to wives (5:25-30). In chapter 6, this message continues and speaks to children. God ordered these relationships as they occur in life. It is from your relationship with Christ that all other relationships flow. Often, when there is a rub with a relationship (whether a friend, boss, spouse, or child) it can be traced back to how we relate to Christ. If you’re experiencing friction, ask God to reveal where your relationship with Him may be misaligned.
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
- It makes me chuckle that God knew dads were more likely to exasperate [annoy, frustrate, irritate] their children than mamas. The queens of the household tend to be more loving and affectionate, so exasperation is simply swapped out with the other “e” word: exhaustion.
- Deuteronomy 11:18-21 talks more about the training and instruction the parents are to instill: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
- In this era, slaves still existed. We can apply this same slice of scripture to how the employee/employer experience should operate today. We are to obey our earthly masters (the boss-man or boss-lady) with respect and fear, and with a sincere heart. How do we keep that attitude even when it’s tough to respect them or you feel they are incompetent in their role? You work for Christ. Ultimately, it all rolls up to Jesus. So, the next time you’re not seeing eye-to-eye, remember that as a believer, you don’t serve man – you serve God. This swings us back to what we learned in chapter 5 about first being submitted to Christ.
- That’s why verse 6 says we are “doing the will of God” when we work and we should do so with a whole heart. Your timecard gets punched in the heaven, not on this earth!
- In keeping with the same topic, the employer (boss-man or boss-woman) is instructed in the same manner. As a leader of others, there must be respect, sincerity, a servant’s heart, and a fixation on how we serve Christ. There may be a propensity to motivate through fear or threats, but this is not appropriate and is not a sustainable way to achieve an outcome. We can take a lesson from Boaz in how he greeted his workers in Ruth 2:4: “The Lord bless thee” (Wiersbe).
I love this next section of Ephesians 6 because it speaks about the four “e’s” (and no, none of them are the word exhaustion): equipment, energy, encouragement, and empowerment. That’s how we’re going to break this down.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Paul makes it clear to us that we don’t fight man – we fight darkness. Satan is an accuser (Revelation 12:10) and a liar (John 8:44), and the Lord has provided us spiritual armor so that we can overcome Him. God’s provided you a closet (you didn’t know He was into fashion, did you?). And within that closet is a rack with gear hanging on it that you are to wear each day.
o Belt of truth. The belt (or girdle) holds the armor together. Our life must fully integrate with the Word of God. It is essential to the Christian life, and our life becomes saggy and falls apart without Truth.
o Breastplate of righteousness. Adam Clarke’s Commentary says the following: “As the breast-plate defends the heart and lungs, and all those vital functionaries that are contained in what is called the region of the thorax; so this righteousness defends everything on which the man’s spiritual existence depends.”
o Gospel of peace shoes. In Exodus 12:11, prior to the Israelites fleeing Egypt, they were given these instructions: “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover.” Our feet need to be ready to pivot and run in the direction God calls us to take the gospel!
o Shield of faith. Shields are our defensive equipment. Notice that it says, “…with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one.” All means all. Is your faith shield up?
o Helmet of salvation. The mind is the battlefield, and Satan loves to attack our thought life. He knows if he can deposit wrong thoughts that we then entertain, those thoughts will become feelings and those feelings will become outward action. We’re told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we are to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our thought life must line up with the redemptive love and salvation that Jesus Christ provided.
o Sword of the Spirit. While the shield was defensive equipment, the sword is offensive. It’s important that we don’t just pull the sword (the Word of God) out of our sheath whenever we are being attacked. It should be gripped firmly in our hand and ready to engage in offensive action even before the enemy strikes.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
- Our second “e” is energy. Having the right equipment is wonderful. We need to greet each day with the appropriate spiritual wardrobe; however, the equipment does no good if we’re too tired to move.
- “Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor and wield the sword” (Wiersbe). If you’re feeling worn down or weary, examine your prayer life. Are you praying on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests? Are you praying for the Lord’s people and for yourself (and others) to “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel”? May you declare it fearlessly, as you should!
21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
Encouragement and Empowerment
- Our final two “e’s” are encouragement and empowerment. Remember that Paul was in prison (i.e., house arrest) during this time so he could not go to the church at Ephesus. Instead, he sent Tychicus – a friend Paul loved and would bring encouragement to the people. Isn’t it wonderful to have people in your life who are an encouragement? I hope you experience encouragement, but also give encouragement to others. Be a Tychicus today!
- Finally, Paul ends with a beautiful closing of empowerment. He speaks of peace, love with faith from God, and grace (unmerited favor) through Jesus Christ. He ends with a powerful word, inspired by God: love. God is love and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Remember that as you walk in this dark world, be unshakeable in your spiritual equipment, energy, encouragement, and empowerment. Amen.