Ephesians 6

We pass from the relationship of husband and wife to those of
children and fathers, servants and masters, as we open chapter 6.
Obedience is to mark the child, and careful nurture and admonition the
father. But all is to be as under the Lord, as indicated in verses 1
and 4. This sets everything on a very high level. So also it is with
the servant and the master. Their relations are to be regulated as
before the Lord, as verses 7, 8 and 9 show.

All these exhortations are very important today for strong Satanic
influences are sweeping through Christendom, to the denying and
disturbing of all that should characterize these relationships. But the
very fact that this is so presents to the believer a great opportunity
for witness to the truth, by carefully maintaining the relationships in
their integrity according to God's word. The opportunity for witness as
servants or masters is very pronounced, inasmuch as that relationship
is much in the public eye. The sight of a Christian servant marked by
obedience and service with all good will, as rendered unto the Lord, is
a very fine one. So also is that of a Christian master marked by an
equal good will and care, in the sight of the great Master of both in

Thus far the epistle has given us a very wonderful unfolding of
truth as to Christ and the church, followed by exhortations to life of
a very exalted character. Now in verse 10 we come to his final word. It
concerns the adversaries and the armour that we need, if we are to
maintain the truth and live the life that has been set before us. We
are not left at our own charges. The power of the Lord is at our
disposal and we are to be strong in His might.

The adversaries that are contemplated here are not human but
Satanic. They exist in the world of spirits and not in flesh and blood.
Satan is their chief, but they are spoken of as principalities and
powers, and also as "world-rulers of this darkness" (R.V.). We know
very little about them, and do not need to know. It is enough for us
that their evil design is unmasked. They are "world-rulers" for the
whole world system is controlled and dominated by them, little as the
human actors on the world stage may suspect it. The effect of their
domination is darkness. Here is the explanation of the gross spiritual
darkness which fills the earth. How often after the Gospel has been
very clearly preached have we heard people express their wonder that
unconverted folk have listened to it all without a ray of light
entering their hearts. In this scripture, and also in 2 Corinthians 4:
4, is an explanation which removes all element of wonder from the

The point here however is that these great antagonistic powers exert
all their wiles and energy against believers. They cannot rob them of
their soul's salvation, but they can divert them from an understanding
of their heavenly calling, and from a life which is really in keeping
with it; and this is what they aim at doing. Now it stands to reason
that we cannot meet such powers as these in our own strength. Thank God
we need not attempt any such thing for all the armour that we need is
freely provided of God. But we have to take it. Otherwise we shall not experience its value.

We are to take unto us the whole armour of God, and also we are to
put it on. Then we shall be able to withstand, and to stand. The
conflict here is viewed mainly as being defensive. We are set in an
exalted and heavenly position by the grace of our God, and there we are
to stand in spite of every attempt to dislodge us. In keeping with this
the various parts of the armour specified are, with one exception, of a
defensive nature. Girdle, breastplate, shoes, shield and helmet are
none of them weapons of offence; only the sword is that.

The Apostle is speaking figuratively of course, for we find that
each item of the armour is something of a moral and spiritual sort
which is to be taken up by us: things which though given to us by God,
and hence to be taken by us, are also to be put on in a practical and
experimental way. The first item is truth. That is to be as a girdle to
our loins. The girding up of the loins expresses a preparing for
activity. All our activities are to be circumscribed by truth. The
truth is to govern us. The truth is given to us by God, but we are to
put it on, so that it may govern us. God's word is truth; but it is not
truth in the Bible which is going to defend us, but rather truth applied in a practical way to all our activities.

The breastplate is righteousness. We are the very righteousness of
God in Christ, but it is when we as a consequence walk in practical
righteousness that it acts as a breastplate, covering all our vital
parts from the blows directed by our powerful foes. How many a
Christian warrior has fallen sorely wounded in the fight because there
were grievous flaws in matters of practical righteousness. Chinks in
the breastplate offer an opening to the arrows of the enemy.

In a normal way we hardly think of shoes as being in the nature of
armour, yet inasmuch as it is with our shoes that we continually come
into contact with the earth, they take on that character from the
Christian standpoint. If our contact with earth is not right we shall
be vulnerable indeed. What does "the preparation of the gospel of
peace," mean? Not that we should be preparing the way of the gospel in
an evangelistic sense (though to do that is of course very desirable)
but that we ourselves should come under the preparation which the
gospel of peace effects. If our feet are shod in this way we shall
carry the peace of the Gospel into all our dealings with men of this
world, and be protected ourselves in so doing.

Then besides all this there is faith to act as a shield; that faith
which means a practical and living confidence in God; that faith which
keeps the eye on Him and His Word, and not on the circumstances nor on
the foes. With the shield protecting us, outside our other armour, the
darts of fiery doubt flung by the wicked are averted and quenched.

The helmet protects the head, which next to the heart is the most
vulnerable point in man. Salvation, known, realized, enjoyed and worked
out in practice, is that helmet for us. When Paul wrote to the
Philippians, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for
it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good
pleasure," (Phil. 2: 12, 13) he was really exhorting them to take and
wear the helmet of salvation.

Lastly comes, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
This may be used both defensively and offensively. The Word of God will
parry every thrust which our adversary may make; it will also put him
to eight with one well directed blow. It is spoken of as the Spirit's
sword, for He indited it at the outset, and He it is who gives skill
and understanding in its use. Our great Example in the use of this
sword is the Lord Himself, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.

Our Lord is also our Example as to the prayer which is enjoined upon
us in verse 18. Luke's gospel specially emphasizes this feature of His
life. Having assumed Manhood, He took the dependent place which is
proper to man, and carried it through in the fullest perfection. Hence
prayer characterized His life, and it is to characterize ours. Prayer
is always to be our resource, and especially so in connection with the
conflict of which we have just been reading. The Word of God is indeed
the sword of the Spirit. But just because it is we shall only wield it effectively if we are praying always in the Spirit. Without continued and abiding dependence on God we shall not wear any piece of the armour aright.

Our prayers are to reach that earnestness which is indicated by the word, supplication; they
are also to be accompanied by watching. We are to be on the look-out to
avoid all that would be inconsistent with our requests on the one hand,
and to welcome the answer to our requests on the other. This indicates
intensity and reality in our praying, so that our prayers are indeed a
force and not a farce.

We are not to be circumscribed in our prayers. We have to begin with
ourselves doubtless, but we do not stop there. We enlarge our requests
to include "all saints." Just as all saints are needed for the
apprehension of the truth (Eph. 3: 18), so the scope of our prayers is
not to be less than all saints. The scope of our prayers is enlarged to
"all men" in 1 Timothy 2: 1. Ephesians is however pre-eminently the
church epistle and hence "all saints" is the circumference contemplated

Yet we are not to be so occupied with all that we wander off into indefiniteness. So the Apostle adds, "and for me." Great
servant of God though he was, he desired to be supported by the prayers
of others not so great as he. Only he desired prayer, not that he might
be released from prison, and his circumstances eased, but that he might
be able to fully accomplish his ministry though a captive. He was in
bonds, yet as much an ambassador as when he was free (See 2 Corinthians
5: 20).

When free he thought of himself more as an ambassador of the Gospel,
beseeching men to be reconciled. Now in captivity he regards himself as
an ambassador of the mystery-that mystery which he has briefly unfolded
in the earlier part of the epistle. It is "the mystery of the Gospel,"
inasmuch as the one springs out of the other and is its appropriate
sequel. If we do not understand the Gospel we cannot understand the
mystery. The mystery, for instance, must be as a closed book to those
who imagine that the Gospel is intended to Christianize the earth and
thus introduce the millennium.

Paul's closing desires for the brethren though simple are very full.
How happy must the brethren be when peace, love and faith, all
proceeding from a Divine source, have free course in their midst. Then
indeed grace rests upon them. Only there must be purity of heart and
motive. The last words of verse 24, "in sincerity," or, "in
incorruption" are a reminder to us that even in such early days, as
those in which Paul was writing, that which was corrupt had found an
entrance amongst those who professed to be Christian. To love the Lord
Jesus Christ in incorruption is the hallmark of reality, the fruit of
the genuine work of God.