A. CHRISTIAN LIVING APPLIED TO PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIPS
- Children are to obey their parents in whatever is in accordance with God’s will – that is the right thing to do. (6:1)
- They must honour both father and mother in order that God may bestow his blessing upon them, especially by prolonging their lives on earth – this is in fact no new commandment but dates right back to the Law God gave to Moses and is the very first precept accompanied by a specific promise. (6:2,3)
- Fathers must not exercise their authority over their children in a way insensitive to their human weaknesses, making it unnecessarily hard for them to obey and respect them, even up to the point where their anger is provoked because they feel they are being abused. (6:4)
- Children are to be reared and disciplined according to God’s will as revealed in his Word – the Law of love applies equally to both parents and children. (6:4)
B. CHRISTIAN LIVING APPLIED TO EMPLOYER/EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIPS
- Employees must:
- Be obedient to their employers.
- Search their own hearts and make quite sure that their motive for obeying is pure and sincere, wanting to obey, and not just to gain privileges for themselves by pleasing their masters with a false pretense of submission.
- Serve their employers in goodwill that flows from their hearts as if they are rendering their services to Christ himself.
- Know that every one that serves in this way, will be rewarded by the Lord, be he serving as slave or working for a salary.
- Employers must:
- Likewise, show the same sincerity and goodwill towards their employees, no less.
- Not threaten their work force with punishment or dismissal in order to exact more labour from them than what is fair.
- Always keep in mind that they too, are but servants serving a master: their heavenly Master.
- Remember that God does not consider one person to be more worthy than the other. He does not esteem, value or rank an employer above his servant, but sees them all on the same level.
C. THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD
- Having touched on specific details of Christian living, Paul now returns to the general overall principles that will enable a member to become powerful in his spirit and gain victory in every area of life. (6:10)
- First of all, he must understand in what circumstances he finds himself:
- He must not presume that Christian living consists of miles of smiles leading up to the Pearly Gates of heaven; on the contrary, a considerable part of it is spent in the midst of a raging spiritual war. (6:11-20)
- He must also recognize his enemy for what he is: not mortal men of flesh and blood, but an army of evil spirits of darkness, occupying the unseen spiritual world around him, spirits that have been well organized (by satan) into groups and individuals having authority over specific matters and areas while some are even appointed as rulers over countries. (6:12)
- Secondly, and of greater importance, the Christian must know that he need not fear defeat, nor excuse himself for failing, since God has made ample provision for him to remain standing and emerge from the battle, victorious. God’s provision is not farming equipment such as a sickle or harrow, adapted for warfare, but resembles a real soldier’s coat of armour (the very best battle equipment of that time) which, if used correctly, will provide ample covering of, and protection to the spiritual body (6:11). This coat of armour consists of the following:
- The helm.
- The Roman soldier’s helm protected his head against blows with a sword. It wrapped around the head and extended down the back of the neck and over the ears. The forehead was protected by a special protruding portion. Only the face was left open. It often had a bright plume on top which was sometimes coloured in different colours to distinguish the different ranks. The Roman soldier had great confidence in his helmet, knowing that it could block any blow of the enemy.
- The Christian’s helm is the helm of salvation (received by faith in the completed work of Christ).
- The Christian soldier must, at all times, be confident have no doubt that he has been saved and now is under God’s protection and guidance. (6:17) He must be convinced that Christ can save to the uttermost those that draw near to him because He is alive and forever sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for them. (Heb 7:25)
- He must also avail himself fully of Christ’s salvation in order that his will, emotions and thoughts may be fully set free from bondage. A soldier whose mind dwells on the lusts of the flesh, walks around with anger or jealousy in his mind or whose emotions fluctuate between joy despondency or sorrow, will not be able to concentrate on the enemy in front of him. He will be fighting two battles at the same time.
- The breast plate.
- This would normally also wrap around the upper part of the soldier’s body and covered a considerable part of his back. Sometimes it would extend to protect a portion of the groin. It was normally composed of a number of moving metal sheets, allowing the soldier maximum mobility. Above the breastplate were the shoulder pieces.
- The Christians breastplate is the righteousness of Christ and protects the vital organ of life, which is the heart – its effectiveness lies in the fact that it is not his own righteousness (having so many holes in it), but Christ’s perfect life and reciprocal death that was approved of and accepted by the righteous Judge himself as a redemptive offer for him (6:14).
- The girdle.
- Before donning the armour, a soldier would put on a linen cloth and also a tunic covering his body from the shoulders to just above the knees. A broad leather belt was buckled around the waist to keep these two garments in place as well as the breast plate, if it extended below the waist. A short dagger hung from the belt on the left hip and other pieces of equipment the soldier would carry were attached all around. The girdle kept many things in their proper places and if the buckle would break, the soldier will have to flee from the battlefront and first get it mended.
- The soldier of Christ’s loins are to be girded with truth – the unadulterated, undiluted, uncompromising truth as found in Scripture and applied in life. The moment when truth comes apart, deception and and all kinds of secret sins take over.
- Many a man of God had to cover his head in shame and flee from the ministry because of secret sins such as relationships outside of marriage and embezzling of funds. Sometimes the soldier’s whole tunic comes apart and he stands naked before the world. If he had been a general in God’s army, it makes it so much worse and many such soldiers never recover from this shame, their voices are no longer heard on the battlefield, nor is their impact felt in its ranks. (6:14)
- Truth also concerns the correct understanding of God’s Word. Misinterpretation of Scripture has lead to the founding of the many denominations found in every country of the world.
- The shield.
- This was a huge piece of equipment, in length between 1/2 and ¾ of the of the length of the soldier’s body and wide enough to protect him perfectly from side to side since it was formed in a half circle and thus wrapped around the person. It was of course held by a grip on its inside. Soldiers standing close to one another formed a solid wall of metal could even ward off arrows that were shot at them. Since they were decorated in bright paint, they presented a formidable picture of strength to the enemy.
- The Christian’s shield of faith (in God) to not only block the arrows of satan, but even extinguish those dipped in oil and set alight to scorch and burn his victims. Whereas the other parts of the armour are tied in place by thongs, the shield needs to be lifted up continually and always turned in the direction of the enemy to provide maximum protection to the body. The enemy can see at a distance when a certain soldier’s shield is not held high and will charge straight at him for he will know that, that one has become discouraged and grown tired. (6:16) Jesus said to Peter that satan feverishly desired to sift him as wheat, but that He had prayed for him that his faith might not be quenched. (Luk. 22:32)
- The sandals (shoes).
- The feet were not protected by heavy boots as with modern soldiers but with light, yet strong leather sandals, fitted with tough leather soles, toecaps and strapped to the feet above the ankles. They were light but strong, allowing the owner to move quickly while amply protecting him against thorns, and stones that could cripple and prevent him to reach his destiny.
- Christians are to be protected by the shoes of willingness to daily step forth and take possession of new territory for the King. Confronting a sinning world with the Word of God is a painful experience to an unwilling heart, whereas feet clad in eager willingness, step lightly over the sharp stones of criticism and mockery and bring peace to many, having heard the Good News of the Gospel. (6:15)
- The sword.
- Roman sword was a short instrument, about ¾ of a meter in length, some 8cm wide and had a sharp end and sides. It could be used both to thrust and slash and was carried in a shield on the right hip (not the left). A soldier spent endless hours, days, months and years all through his life to learn to handle his sword effectively and he would continually sharpen it to be as sharp as a razor for his life depended on it.
- The Christian’s sword is the Word of God. (6:17)
- The text says that it is the sword of the (Holy) Spirit because it was inspired by him.
- Jesus used this sword to defeat the devil three times in the wilderness and put him to flight.
- In the Book of Revelation (1:16; 2:12) where we see Jesus depicted in glory, He is still using this Sword of the Spirit and it proceeds from his mouth.
- It is also used very effectively in the conversion and sanctification of man because “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4;12)
- It is sharper than any sword ever forged by man.
- It cuts through the deception of the devil, disarms him and puts him to flight.
- The effective Christian soldier also spends a lifetime in studying and understanding the Word and in training to use it, both in countering the devil and in winning souls for Christ. When the Sword gets rusted and blunt, the soldiers defeat is just around the corner.
- The spear or lance.
- Two of these were carried into battle by every soldier and were thrown at the enemy while charging forward and still at some distance from his opponents. The intention was to let it stick in the opponent’s shield, disabling its use for protection.
- The Christian does not carry any of these, since he does not chase after demons but only defends himself when they attack him.
- The helm.
- The whole coat of armour.
- The whole coat of armour was to be put on by every soldier and, whilst standing to attention in their ranks, they would be inspected by their commanders before the divisions would march off into battle. When in constant danger of attack, they would even sleep, clad in armour so as to be ready for action at a moment’s notice.
- Christians are to be watchful that no part of their armour come loose, allowing the enemy to find a port of entry. (Even a lose shoe string can cause a soldier to stumble or find him bending down to tie it up at a moment when the enemy is right upon him.) It is therefore vitally important that the Christian soldier spend sufficient time with God and avail himself of all the means God has put at his disposal such as congregational services, retreats, courses, small group meetings, television and radio programs and literature, to strengthen and polish his armour and keep it shipshape for battle (6:11)
- The battle.
- The Christian soldier, thus ensconced, is a formidable sight to the enemy of souls and only needs to stand firm, facing him, not giving any ground. (6:14)
- He must also be mindful of the fact that he is part of an army and, in the Spirit, pray without ceasing for God to empower every one of his soldiers that they may gain the victory. He must, especially, pray for the leaders, the generals such as Paul, set apart to lead the battle, that they may receive words of wisdom (heavenly strategy) to not only protect gained ground, but also claim new territory by the forceful preaching of the Gospel. (6:18,19)
- By waging the spiritual battle in this way, the final victorious outcome is assured even before the first skirmish takes place. (6:13)
D. FINAL GREETINGS
- The bearer of this letter would be Tychicus that is also mentioned in Acts 20, Col 4:7, 2 Tim 4:12 and Tit 3:12.
- He would inform the Ephesians of Paul’s circumstances at that time.
- In closing, Paul pronounces God’s blessing over the readers.
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