“Children obey your parents,” etc. There were children in the church at Ephesus and Colosse. The Lord has a word to say to them. He speaks to them before the parents. They are to be obedient to their parents.
Verse 2.—What a singular recipe God gives for long life! Not a cold bath every morning, or abstinence from food, meat, etc., or so much exercise, but to honour the father and mother. It is a blessing to live. There is an old heathen saying, “Those whom the gods love, die early.” Scripture seems to go the other way. This Scripture and others show it is a mercy if He continue His people in life. See Phil. 1:21, 22. Increasing years of service to the Lord will bring increasing reward in that day, when He dispenses His crowns. It is a real thing to live, and be spent in His service. God grant us grace to do it.
Verse 4.—Parents are prone to neglect to train their children. They shelter themselves with the excuse, “I cannot give them grace.” No, but if you bend a growing tree in any direction, it will grow strong in that direction. Parents often look after others, and neglect their own homes. If we train our children, He pledges His word they shall not depart from His way when old.
Verse 5.—“Fear and trembling” are rather favourite expressions of Paul. How wonderful that the Lord will accept the work of a servant! Rom. 16 mentions servants. No path is too humble to serve the Lord. In fact we are all servants. (Tit. 2:9, 10.)
Verse 7.—A diminution of reward for wrong doing. (Col. 3:22, 25.) 2 John 8, explains that passage in Colossians. We may be Christians, and yet backslide and get worldly too, though we could not lose heaven. We may lose the reward, so
Now to watch, to work, to war,
And then to rest for ever.
Every bit of service I do for Jesus He will reward. What does it matter about our being ridiculed by poor, dying worms, when there is the glory? “Strengthened with all might, by the power of the glory.” (Col. 1:10.) The glory has the power to nerve me to watch, to work, to war. It sheds its light on the world, and shows its temptations.
Verse 9.—Masters should seek to act kindly to servants. Forbear threatening. No one likes to act under a threat. If God puts these things in His Word, we should seek to obey them. Brethren, servants, children, masters, all stand together on one simple level, saved, washed sinners, sons of God, equally dear. In Col. 4:3, Paul asks for all to pray for Him. In Philemon, the robber and the robbed, both on the same level.
Verse 10.—“Be strong in the Lord.” The very power of God should be used to fight with. Do we realize it? Do you say “I am so easily tempted or overcome.” Be strong in the Lord. Has the Lord any strength? It is mine; use it. God will equip you for the battle, strengthen you for the fight. The weapons are all provided. The whole armour of God (verses 13-18.) We are not only called to be pilgrims, but soldiers. We are not only in a foreign country, but in an enemy’s land.
Verse 11.—“Wiles.” Deceits, cunning. Not his might, but his wiles; not his power but his cunning. “Calling evil good, and good evil,” etc.
Verse 12.—This is the conflict with Satan in the heavenlies. Christians are in two places: 1. Here, in the wilderness. 2. Up there with Christ. This speaks of how we are to live up there, in the presence of God. Satan tries to get us down; our wisdom is to stand, to stay where God has put us. We do have conflict with the devil in the wilderness. There he is called the “roaring lion,” but here, Satan is in the heavenlies, and we fight wicked spirits. When Israel got to Canaan, they had to fight every inch of their way. We have died, been buried and raised with Christ, then we have to fight. A conflict here with the devil presupposes we have perfect peace with God. The devil troubles those who have believed; them he tries to ensnare. This armour is to fight with, not in our own strength.
Verse 12.—The allusion is to the Hittites and Amorites. The word “heavenlies” is used several times in this Epistle. The fighting is going on there now.
Verses 13-14.—Ever to watch the avenues of the heart; to guard against everything that God wouldn’t give us. We must rein in our desires. Just now (“Your loins girt about with truth”). When in heaven, there will be no need to rein in the desires, but now we are to “set our affection on things above,” etc. (Col. 3:2.) Gird our desires with the belt of Scripture. Whatever is inconsistent with His will, do not desire it.
“The Breastplate of Righteousness.” It is a practical righteousness. If I don’t want the devil to gain an advantage over me, I must act righteously. If I have something preying on my conscience, either a command neglected, or His will disobeyed, then I am standing to fight without the “breastplate of righteousness.” And Satan gains an advantage.
Verse 15.—“Feet shod,” etc. Not “peace with God,” for Christ is my peace and that cannot be touched. It is the enjoyment of the peace. He can touch that. God would have me so to live in the enjoyment of that peace, that I may be a blessing to others; rivers flowing out. “Shod,” that is constant habit. Blessed are the peacemakers.” There are seven pieces of armour.
Verse 16.—“Over all, the shield of faith,” etc. The devil tries to distress us with unbelieving thoughts of God. When we get into perplexity or trial, he says, “There now, you can’t say God cares for you now.” So we are to take the shield of faith. “He that spared not His own Son, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32.) There is a specimen of faith. God lets us pass through trial. “That the trial of your faith,” etc. When the devil would inject hard thoughts of God, when trouble comes, remember it does not alter God’s love, or God’s heart. “The trial of faith” which is more precious than gold. (1 Pet. 1:7.)
“Able to quench all the fiery darts.” Thoughts that would deny His love, thoughts that wrong God. Take the shield of faith. I believe God. He loves me still, as much as when He gave his Son to die for me.
Verse 17.—“Take the helmet of known salvation.” That is for the head. Not the same “take “as in verse 13: it is a more passive word—“receive.” It is all God’s gift. Simply to take the consciousness of a known salvation that God has saved us, that we are dear to Him. A Christian should never have a fear or doubt about his salvation.
Oh! to think I am God’s child. It is through the blood of Jesus, and with the Helmet we are to stand, surely.
“The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” What a blessed thing to have the Word of God; we need still to use it.
Verse 18.—“Praying always.” It is one of the weapons to fight with. It comes beautifully last. To fight on our knees, to stay in the place in which God has put us. The Lord Jesus has carried us right up into the presence of God. If we are giving way to sin, we cannot enjoy the consciousness of being up there. I have not the “breastplate of righteousness” on, if I am coveting after something God doesn’t want me to have. Then I shall not have the “loins girt about with truth,” I am not reining in the desires, so that the devil gains the advantage. Or, if when I go abroad, I am quarrelling and upsetting other people, then my feet are not “shod.” If you have to earn your bread with the ungodly, in a very humble sphere, God would have you go with a smile, and so be a blessing to others, so that they may feel there is a difference, and the Scripture will be fulfilled, “Out of him shall flow rivers of water.” Or again, “The shield of faith,” etc. As long as we are in this world, we shall know what it is to be tempted with unbelief; then take the shield of faith and say, “The living God is my Father and Friend; He is ordering my steps; they are all right, though they may be rough.” What a blessed thing to know whatever betides us, He is at the helm.
“The helmet of a known salvation.” Mind, you keep that on the head. It is terrible to have the head exposed. How can you fight calmly, resolutely, boldly, if the helmet is not on? In Acts 27:23, Paul had the helmet on. God has done that. The blood of Jesus has done everything. Now fight, knowing without a doubt that you are saved. This is because you are God’s child, the devil tries to drag you down. As He is, so are we. “Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”
“The Sword of the Spirit,” etc. “It is written again.” The great snare with Christians is, they are prone to think that one side of truth sets aside another. We must take the entire Word of God. Ephesians says we are in heaven, Peter says, we are in the wilderness. So then let us watch and war, soon we shall “rest for ever.”
“Praying always.” Never forget the way that Satan drags down spiritual souls is by quoting Scripture. Deal with the Word of God wisely, prudently, carefully. Pray always, pray everywhere. The soul is in a good state, when it is in the habit of referring everything to God. It is a blessed thing to tell God everything at any time, anywhere. “Praying always? shows God would have us pray when off our knees. However busy we are, we can lift up our hearts to God. All sorts of prayer, at all sorts of time, in all sorts of ways. Some prayers are wrung out of an anguished spirit, squeezed out in sorrow or temptation; others more peaceful, when we are conscious that God’s eye is upon us. Some prayers look for an immediate answer; some, that we may be keeping up a general current between God and our soul. No need specially pressing, but we like to tell Him everything. “If we know that He hear us, we know we have the petitions that we asked of Him.” He would have us know He hears us. There are three things we should know; 1. That we are in His presence; 2. That He hears our prayers; 3. That we please Him. These three are essential to communion with God. God is teaching us by His Spirit how to behave before He takes us home. We should never let a care get between us and God, but always cast it on God. There is the living God. We cannot pray as long as we have a care on our mind. When you draw near always seek to get rid of the care. When there is any temptation or sin, begin by confessing that. “And watching thereunto.” Watch one’s thoughts; keep on calling them back. Watch things that would hinder. The moment you take the eye off God, you begin to wander. The Psalmist said, “Bow down Thine ear, O God.” If God puts down His ear, how nice that we may put our mouth close, as it were, and tell Him all.
“For all saints.” I don’t think we pray enough for other Christians. Prayer for the saints draws out the heart to them. Our prayers are often too selfish, we should have a heart for all saints. Each has his own distinct trial, therefore we should pray for them and they for us. They are all our brethren.
Verse 19.—“And for me,” etc. To think of the great apostle asking even children to pray for him, for from this chapter we learn there were children in the Church at Ephesus. “That utterance may be given.” Not like the preachers now a-days who preach the same sermon in twenty different places. No, what Paul preached, he got directly from God.
Verse 20.—“An ambassador in bonds.” Suppose our country’s ambassador were put in prison in Germany, war would be the consequence. Our God is patient. He lets His people be in bonds. He not only sent His Son, and that Son was crucified, His Spirit and that Spirit rejected, but He lets his servants be in bonds. And that good God is still patient. When He does come down, He will come down heavily, but now He is patient. (Rom. 15:3-5, 2 Peter 3:9.) He will show other parts of His character some day as the God of judgment, but now He is saving, reconciling and showing patience to man.
Verse 23.—“Love with faith.” Keep the two together. Putting on the breastplate of faith and love. If I believe, I am to love.
Verse 24.—“In incorruption.” We can’t tell a person’s heart whether he loves God sincerely, but we can tell a person’s life. If he is seeking to avoid disobedience—to tremble at God’s word—to shudder at sin, “grace be with him.”
“That love our Lord Jesus Christ.” What an appeal this is at the end of the Epistle. Think of everything in heaven being ours, that we owe it all to Jesus; what should I have been but for Jesus? Well may I love Him. He does care for our love, it is a wonderful thing. “Our Lord.” He is yours, he is mine. Some one has said, “My Jesus—Our Lord—God’s Christ.” Anyhow, He is our Lord, and we are to love Him. “We love Him because He first loved us,” but we are to reverence Him also.
Christ is the servant of all, and yet He is Lord of all.