Ephesians Chapter 6: Lessons of Obedience, The Whole Armour of God

Dec 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Ephesians, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Ephesians Chapter 6: Lessons of Obedience, The Whole Armour of God

Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Verses 1-4 apply to the parent-child relationship where one or both parents are “in the Lord.”

The Bible is written for the consecrated. Its instructions are for the development of the consecrated and those who are tending in that direction.

In this context, the account does not say that the children are in the Lord. The child is simply instructed to obey his or her consecrated parent(s), “for this is right.” Colossians 3:20 reads, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is wellpleasing unto the Lord.” “In all things” does not mean 100 percent, for something might be a violation of conscience. Also, we do not know the age of the child under parental care. Is the child 16 years old or perhaps 18? In other words, there can be exceptions to this admonition for obedience.

“Obey your parents” is the general rule. The thought is, “Obey your parents in the Lord” as long as they follow the Lord’s precepts. If, when one reaches the age of accountability, he feels that what his parents are asking is not what the Lord would want, then conscience would rule.

Sometimes parents ask unreasonable things in the estimation or judgment of the child, but the child has to suffer them unless there is a real violation of conscience. A parent may give wrong advice, but again the child should obey. The child will be rewarded by the Lord for obedience, even though the demand is unreasonable. Such obedience is pleasing to Him, as long as it is not obedience to do wrong.

The family arrangement specified here pertains to being in the Lord. The general admonition is for the child to obey his parents to the extent they are following the Lord and His principles.

Eph. 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;

Eph. 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

“Honour thy father and mother” is one of the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:12), but why did Paul call this one the “first commandment,” especially when the First Commandment is to love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength? The Ten Commandments can be summarized into two commandments: (1) Love God and (2) love neighbor. However, the closest of all “neighbors” would be our parents. Therefore, in loving our neighbor, we should start with our personal family first. Stated another way, to honor father and mother is the primary commandment of the “neighbor” aspect.

Verse 3 is the “promise.” The thought is helped by a change in punctuation: “Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment, with the promise that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” In other words, the promise is that “it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Although the Ten Commandments were given to the nation of Israel, most of them also apply to the Christian. Six of the commandments pertain to actions in dealing with a “neighbor”— love your neighbor as yourself, do not steal, do not lie, do not commit fornication, etc. All of these pertain to dealings with a neighbor, with somebody else. Our “neighbor” can be our own parents, relatives, an actual neighbor, a coworker, etc.

But notice what Paul was saying to the Christian. Obeying the commandment to honor father and mother carries the promise that it may be well with the child and the child may live long on the earth. How startling that this principle operates in the Christian family! If a child is obedient to his parents and pleases God in this matter—even though some demands may be very unreasonable—God will reward him. The child will be less apt to be cut off in death.

We should keep in mind that verses 1-3 were presented from the standpoint of the unconsecrated child. The epistle was written to consecrated parents, who instruct their children as to what the Lord’s will is. Considered a part of the family, the unconsecrated child is reckoned of the Lord through the consecrated parent(s) and is given special providences until the age of accountability. At that point, he is on his own. If a child lives long, he may eventually consecrate. The greatest blessing is for a person to live long enough to come to his senses and realize the value of consecration with the reward of the highest honor to be given, namely, being part of the Bride of Christ. Thus, again, verses 1-3 are a general principle. If children are obedient, there is a better chance they will live on to the point where God will favor them with certain providences that, hopefully, result in consecration. This explanation is one facet of the subject.

In Deuteronomy 5:16, the word “prolong” is the key thought, and it reinforces the principle: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” If the child obeys the providences and consecrates, great blessings await him. If the providences are unheeded, then the blessings go to someone else. Acts 2:39 expresses the principle: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” If the children are not responsive, the privilege goes to someone else. There is a prolongation of opportunity—but for how long is the question.

There is another facet to this subject. A child of consecrated parents who does not consecrate can still form a good character for getting life in the Kingdom on earth. Obedience to parents helps a child develop a good character, whereas rebelliousness may jeopardize that child’s future life. Resentment, disobedience, and disregard can so affect character development that one may ultimately lose all life, including life on earth, restitution.

The thought is sometimes presented that the special favor and providences granted to a child of consecrated parents, who is thus tentatively justified, can continue on into adulthood, even though the “child” does not consecrate, as long as he maintains a “righteous” character. Furthermore, it is said that this favor can continue right on into the Kingdom. However, this thought does not seem scriptural. Character formation is entirely separate from the maintenance, or continuance, of providence after the age of accountability. All keep on forming characters, but not all continue to receive special providences unless they consecrate.

The one who turns down the opportunity to be espoused to Christ in the present life will not be given special favor in the next age. There will be no special favors or rewards for turning down the offer now. Such individuals will be on a common basis with the majority of mankind.

Of course, having already tried to develop a righteous character will be to one’s credit in getting life here on earth, but if rewards are given in the Kingdom besides those to the Little Flock, the Ancient Worthies, etc., they will be given to those who respond quickly and heartily when they hear for the first time. Thus character development is one thing, and rewards, favor, and providence are another.

Q: What about those who hear the truth and are not called? Since the general call has ended, God is handpicking those whom He calls. Some children of the consecrated may not be especially called but still want to live a righteous life. What about them?

A: They should still obey their parents up to the age of accountability, and even beyond that point, they should honor father and mother. However, there are degrees of honor based on the character and acts of the parents.

If another person is to be called, the Bible says that God will choose among the children of the consecrated first. Thus if a child hesitates or delays too long, God could pass him by for another family, and another, etc., and eventually go to the world if none respond. Therefore, even if a “child” is not called, when God does call, it will be one in the right heart condition, hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

Q: If the “child” of consecrated parents desires and tries to live a righteous life, wouldn’t it be almost automatic for him to know that consecration is the next step? And even if the number were filled, it is recommended that a person consecrate anyway, knowing that the Lord has rewards in reservation for those who love Him.

A: However, there has to be an inner persuasion for one to consecrate. Jesus said, “Sit down and count the cost” (Luke 14:28 paraphrase). We should realize before we make a commitment of consecration that we really mean business—that it is a wholehearted commitment.

Consecration should not be the result of a negative situation, for example, being embarrassed into it or peer influence. We should not make a decision because of what others think or do or pursue. Consecration should be voluntary. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and one who enters consecration with the right attitude will be especially blessed—and have a running start, as it were.

Comment: Wanting to live a righteous life does not automatically lead to consecration. In other words, consecration is not necessarily the next logical step. Many in the world lead noble lives based on principles.

Reply: Those who come from unconsecrated families are another subject. There is no question that such who live uprightly are developing good characters. But the Scriptures under discussion relate to the children of consecrated parent(s). An adult who was raised in a consecrated family and does not go on to consecrate and is not contemplating consecration is not tentatively justified.

Eph. 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“And ye fathers, … bring them [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Verse 4 qualifies the obedience of the children. Parents have a responsibility to instruct a child “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” and the child should obey.

How are children provoked to wrath? Parents nag them and try to force them into a Christian life when they are content to just lead a moral life. Sometimes parents think they have all the answers and refuse to listen to an opposing viewpoint, or they do not say they are sorry when they are wrong.

The parents should not make unreasonable demands. The demand may or may not have anything to do with consecration. When parents try to push their children to make decisions, resentment is built up in the child. Some parents make their little children sit through all-day conventions—all discourses. The children are forced to sit for these long sessions and listen to adult instruction from the platform. This goes on for years. As a result, when the children become of age, they reject consecration and/or the truth. They are turned off because their parents were too rigid. As little children, they appear “ideal,” but then they bolt when they grow up. Parents should be reasonable.

In Volume 6, the Pastor said parents should inform children why they are being punished so that the experience will be constructive. Children appreciate the parents’ willingness to reason with them, even if they are punished. To just give orders right and left without explanation creates a robot-like effect until such time as rebellion may take place. Personalized instruction and consideration are important. Otherwise, the child’s character could actually be damaged.

However, in spite of abuse, there are some remarkable cases where unusual children develop, but these cases are the exceptions.

Comment: Parents should not do the types of things that will cause their children to be angry.

Sometimes the parents are aware of what will anger their children, but they want to force their own will in the matter rather than find another way to accomplish the same obedience. Parents should think in broader terms of how an action or words will affect the child’s character.

Reply: That is the ideal way.

Notice that the emphasis is on “nurture” ahead of “admonition.” In other words, flexibility and consideration are important. Nurturing implies tenderness (like a babe suckling at the mother’s breast) and concern for the welfare of the child. Some natural parents are better along this line than consecrated parents.

Colossians 3:21 reads, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Some children would become discouraged, others wrathful. Different temperaments react differently, but both are adverse reactions. According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, “provoke” means to irritate beyond measure.

Eph. 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Verses 5-8 are admonitions to servants in the Lord. Christian servants were not to seek their freedom. However, if freedom was granted, they could certainly take it. If followed, this advice would keep Christians from getting involved in civil rights movements or political causes that create upheavals in society.

There was a tendency for new Christians back there to think their liberty in Christ extended to obtaining freedom from their masters. But the issue was not to be forced. Unless freedom was granted voluntarily, the Christian was to remain in the situation in which he was when the Lord called him.

The Christian servant was not to serve reluctantly but was to render service to his master with a new attitude: “as unto Christ.” An application today would be to render work unto our employer as though we are serving the Lord. The same would be true regarding household duties (washing dishes, cleaning, etc.). All should be done as unto the Lord—not grudgingly.

The servant-master relationship was quite prevalent at the time Paul gave this advice. The point was not to seek freedom as a slave but to serve even better than before. Otherwise, unnecessary reproach would be brought on Christianity. If those who became converted started to rebel against the established order, the cause of Christianity would suffer. Civil rights and other issues would be introduced, and these would distract from the main preoccupation of a Christian, namely, to make his calling and election sure.

If a Christian slave followed this advice and obeyed much more enthusiastically, diligently, and quickly than before, others would look on Christianity not as a threat but as something to be desired, and they would not find fault with the Christian religion. In fact, the master might wonder what accounts for the change, and be persuaded thereby to become a Christian himself. The principle is the same for a consecrated wife. If she pleases her husband, who knows but that the husband may eventually consecrate too? Noticing what the power of Christianity can do in a person’s life can be a powerful witness.

Eph. 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

As Christians, we are not to put on a false front or say one thing to a person’s face and another behind his back. We should be cooperative and obedient where no principle is being violated. We should do the best we can, with a good conscience toward God, as if He or Christ were our Master. “Eyeservice” is similar to lip service.

Eph. 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

Paul repeated the same thought from different angles to make sure we get the point. We are to work not grudgingly—not as if it is against our will—but “with good will … as to the Lord, and not to men.” We are not to fawn upon a person, however. We might think we are working as unto the Lord yet really, because of our attitude, lead the individual we are serving to think we adore him rather than the Lord. The serving should be done in an impersonalized manner; that is, work should come from the goodwill of our heart but not on too intimate a basis. We serve well because of the Lord, not because of the individual.

Eph. 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Eventually God will reward Christians who follow this advice. Perhaps the reward will come sooner, but if not, it will come sometime.

What do the words “bond or free” have to do with context? This message, which started in verse 5, was addressed to servants. Verse 9 will begin advice to masters. Bondservants were bound to a master, whereas free servants were more like employees in their relationship to employers. A “servant” in either circumstance should perform in order to please the Lord and then rest and trust in God’s providence to grant a reward, sooner or later, for obedience.

Eph. 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

In the final analysis, all Christians are servants to the Master. If we appreciate that relationship, then a Christian “master” in the secular life should have the proper attitude toward others.

Verse 9 reminds us of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:23-35). Mercy was shown to a servant, but he, in turn, was unmerciful to another servant who came to him under similar circumstances. The first servant refused to forgive the debt and did not remember the mercy extended to him previously. The same “rules” that are applied to self should be applied impartially to others.

Eph. 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Verse 10 begins another situation—general advice to the Christian to put on the whole armor of God. We are reminded of Philippians 4:13, “I can do [endure] all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” By ourselves we are nothing, but with his strength, we can achieve spiritually.

Subsequent verses amplify how to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” The Lord gives us the weapons of both offense and defense. It is up to us to use them. Generally speaking, the “power of his might” would be the defensive armor. The strength of the Lord is needed to obey the advice just given for various circumstances (servant, master, parent, husband, wife, redeeming the time, walking as children of light, etc.).

Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Notice the emphasis: “Put on the whole armour of God”; that is, pay attention to acquiring every item comprising that armor. There is a tendency to concentrate on the things we like, sometimes to the exclusion of another necessity. We could buckle on three or four pieces of armor, yet because one piece is neglected, God would not consider us properly armed. All of the armor is needed so that we can stand against the wiles of Satan. Otherwise, Satan will find the weak spot(s).

We must defend against Satan and the fallen angels (verse 12), Satan being the most wily. Unseen enemies are extremely dangerous, and we fight the invisible foe. The principle is illustrated in reverse with David and Goliath. The giant was fully clothed with armor—a big shield and a tremendous spear—but little, unarmed David defeated him when Goliath laughed. The laugh left a chink, a little slit, in the armor. When Goliath threw back his head to laugh, his forehead was exposed. As Christians, we are to be fully armed, but Satan will find the chink if it exists. And even if we are fully armed, prayer and watchfulness are needed (verse 18).

Incidentally, in addition to putting on our own armor, we have a responsibility to help others put on armor.

Eph. 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Since we do wrestle against flesh and blood, the thought is that we wrestle not against flesh and blood merely, or only, but chiefly against the invisible powers. The Church has human opponents, but they are nothing in comparison to the spiritual powers.

The term “spiritual wickedness in high places” refers to leaders in the nominal Church system. Of course the term can also be considered in the usual way as “wicked spirits,” or spirit beings, in exalted positions. Not only do invisible spirit beings exercise power and influence, but also invisible things are conceived in secret by leaders in the false Church. When enemies in high places in the nominal system devise nefarious schemes in secret, we are unaware of those schemes and thus are unprepared for them. We have no defense because they are sprung on us suddenly. This warfare is almost like fighting invisible spirit beings.

Jesus said the scribes and Pharisees were of their father the Devil because they schemed in darkness behind closed doors for Jesus’ demise. In antitype, the Church will have similar experiences. Satan, the archenemy, has both spiritual agencies and angels at his beck and call, as well as willing servants in the false nominal system.

The Diaglott interlinear reads, “With the spiritual things of the evil one in the heavenlies,” that is, “in the [nominal] heavenlies.” A conspiracy is coming in the near future in the church-state hour of power (Rev. 17:11,12). Hence we must be prepared against the unseen and the unpredictable. We need the armor, and it must be put on piece by piece until we are fully clothed. We cannot just put the armor on at the last minute. To be faithful, we must be fully clothed and in readiness BEFORE the occasion arises.

Eph. 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The whole armor, which is to be put on in advance, is mentioned the second time. The purpose is so that we “may be able to withstand in the evil day,” that is, in the future hour of power. In principle, all Christians all down the age have needed the armor, and they were blessed

proportionately as they put it on according to their ability and the understanding then due. As much as possible, all Christians, to be faithful, have to be armed with Scripture and a Christlike character and be prepared against any eventuality. However, from the collective standpoint, the “evil day” refers to the true Church’s hard experience in the near future.

The “evil day” is the “hour of temptation,” from which the sixth Church was kept (Rev. 3:10). At a specific point in time in the seventh Church, the evil day will occur.

“Having done all [having put on all the armor], … stand.” Not only should all the armor be put on, but the Christian is to stand in readiness against the opponent. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). The watchfulness aspect is being emphasized here.

Having put on the armor, stand in readiness for whatever will occur. One will not be ready without the whole armor. Since armor is heavy, just standing in the armor is a feat. After putting on the armor, the danger is a measure of spiritual fatigue, wanting to sleep, etc. When danger lurks in warfare, this behavior is not appropriate.

Eph. 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

How are one’s “loins girt about with truth”? With a girdle, belt, or band, a person who is about to labor lifts up and secures his garment so that it is not in the way. But notice that Paul was talking mostly about the body. First, the Christian is to get into the suit of armor, but in addition, there is weaponry for defense. Therefore, girding the loins is simply a tightening of the belt after the armor is already on so that the armor really fits and the Christian is ready for action. Now he will not get entangled when the warfare comes.

The girdle of truth is used to pull the armor closer to the body. Therefore, the belt is separate.

First, the armor is put on. Then the armor is tightened with the girdle. Next comes the separate breastplate, which is put on by dropping it over the head. A shield, a helmet, and a sword will subsequently be handed to the Christian (verses 16 and 17). Stated another way, the body suit of armor is one thing, but that is not enough. Just having all these plates like eggshells overlapping one another comes first, but then the girdle of truth and the breastplate, etc., are needed. Although the breastplate fits over both the chest and the back, the front is the significant portion.

The loins are the seat of strength in an individual. The hips, or loins, can bear the most weight, and the truth is the source of our strength. The instruction is to put on the whole armor, and when that is done, to stand (verse 13). The instruction continues: “Stand therefore, having your loins [the lower part of the torso] girt about with truth” (verse 14). The weight and the strength of a person are needed in order to stand.

Comment: The “breastplate of righteousness” refers to our justification. Dispensationally speaking, we are warned by the Parable of the Wedding Garment to have on the robe of Christ’s righteousness (Matt. 22:11-13).

Reply: Yes, there is a relationship to the breastplate.

The breastplate is over the chest (the heart), and in warfare, it is vital to keep this area woundfree in order to continue the fight. We fight the “fight of faith,” but there are also the deeds of a Christian life—living in harmony with the truth (1 Tim. 6:12). Not only is a Christian to be justified by faith, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Thus both faith and inner works (a strengthening of the body, as it were) are needed. Justification by faith is essential, but works must accompany that faith. We must live in harmony with truth as well as have the knowledge of truth, realizing that God is dealing with us not according to the flesh but according to the spirit (our heart, will, and intentions).

How does the Adversary usually puncture the breastplate of righteousness? He finds and attacks the weak spot and also uses discouragement. If he is successful, the result is that the Christian gives up the narrow way. Instead of giving up, the Christian should fight the discouragement and try to rectify the weakness.

The word “breastplate” is the Greek thorax, which is also used in the expression “the breastplate of faith and love” (1 Thess. 5:8). In other words, the breastplate has two aspects: (1) justification by faith and (2) love. Faith is a great defensive part of the armor for warding off discouragement. Faith and love are both inner qualities, while the breastplate, which is without, is seen by the enemy. What is the admonition? “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). If Satan sees that we are spiritually strong in certain areas, he probably will not attack us there but will look for more vulnerable areas.

Eph. 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Why did Paul use the word “preparation”? It takes time to understand the “gospel of peace.”

Spiritual “homework” must be done before the test; that is, we are to prepare for the test. Just because we have all of the armor on does not mean we should go out looking for a fight. We should not have a chip on our shoulder. If we get a big head, the danger is that we will knock someone out with the truth.

The armor is chiefly defensive against the wiles of Satan and the other evil spiritual powers.

Having the gospel of peace, we should not deliberately walk into trouble. Jesus gave instructions to the disciples when he sent them out to witness, saying in effect, “When you enter a house, pray that peace and blessing will abide thereon, but if there is an adverse reaction, shake the dust off your feet and go on to the next city” (Matt. 10:12-14 paraphrase). If there was little hope of finding converts, they were not to stay for a fight but were to go on to an area with more receptive ears. They were not to walk (use their feet) deliberately looking for a fight. In other words, the primary motive of the Christian should be the gospel of peace, but we are to be prepared for questions or confrontations that may arise. We should be prepared to give a ready answer to one who may oppose us.

Q: If the main purpose of putting on the whole armor is to stand in the evil day yet future, there will come a time when to peaceably sit back might mean we would lose our crown. How would verse 15 be applied in view of these expectations that a faithful witness will have to be given and the penny used?

A: If one is assailed by the enemy, he will have to stand and not run. Just as Jesus knew his time had come, so the feet members will realize it too. Previously, Jesus evaded opposition—he left—but at the end of his ministry, as the date approached in which he was supposed to die, he deliberately walked into the trouble. He knew the particular Passover on which he would be put to death.

“Make straight paths for your feet” means to avoid situations and/or temptations where we know we have a weakness that could be inflamed or encouraged (Heb. 12:13). The same principle applies here—except when it is the due time to act. The main purpose of the gospel is to find all the members of The Christ, whoever and wherever they are. But as the trouble at the end of the age draws closer and closer, we will see that the times are not propitious for the calling and development of such a one. In other words, there will come a time when the door is about to be closed. At that point, we would not be looking around for new converts—not under the tremendous pressures that will be brought to bear in the not-too-distant future. But we do not know the exact day and hour in advance when we must stand. In the meantime, we are to put on the armor, the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sandals of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Of course, as with Jesus, the voice may be raised and animated, but we are to make sure there is no ill will or feeling toward the person being addressed, the one who may be our adversary. The thrust of the confrontation should be on the issue being discussed, not on or against a personality. Thus we are to be shod with the sandals of peace and pray that we may remain humble and have the spirit of Christ, realizing the necessity of standing up for the truth and even “fighting” for it at the end of the age.

Eph. 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“Above all” signifies “in addition” to the rest of the armor. In other words, Paul was not saying that the “shield of faith” is the most important, for all of the armor is needed. Rather, the shield of faith was a type of shield above all. Many warriors had a strap with a circular shield about 24 inches in circumference with which they could parry blows as in a prize fight. The thought is that the shield of faith is large and covers almost the entire body. With this body shield, the Christian can quench all of the darts from whatever angle they come. When the enemy charged, those in the front lines of battle were most liable. Holding their shields, the forces were like a movable fort as they walked forward. Today riot police often use similar shields that act like a buffer and protect against unruly crowds that throw bottles, stones, and other objects. Accordingly, the Christian in the front line is to have a large shield of faith.

The “fiery darts,” which are to be quenched, are insidious little doubts, qualms, and fears. For example, in the Garden of Eden, Satan made suggestions to Eve through the serpent, implying that God was withholding desirable information by forbidding the eating of a particular kind of fruit. Suggestions and innuendos can be powerful, insidious, and dangerous. The only way to quench them is to be prepared by knowing, through a development of faith, that God is with us.

“The wicked [one]” is Satan, and his darts are darts of disbelief. The Christian is assailed with doubts both without and within. Satan and all of his supporters, unseen powers, are cooperating in warfare to defeat Jesus Christ. The spirit mediums back at the time of the French Revolution knew about the confrontation to occur at the end of the Gospel Age. Just as Jesus has his plans, so Satan and his cohorts have plans and have been preparing for a long time for this final battle. It is known that there is to be a mortal struggle at the end of the age. Satan knows that Jesus’ victory is predicted, but he does not believe it. Therefore, he is using all of his strategies to be successful in withstanding the success of the Kingdom work of Christ.

Eph. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

“Take the helmet [hope] of salvation.” The helmet protects the intellect, but that intellect should be infused with the theme of the hope of salvation. We should hope and pray that we personally are right with God, that what we are doing is correct, and that our standing with the Father and the Son is maintained. If our personal hope of salvation wavers and does not hold like an anchor within the veil, then we are open for all kinds of assault and invasion—mortal invasion—from the enemy (Heb. 6:19). When hope becomes a part of the Christian character, the individual is truly looking forward to his salvation. Stated another way, he is ready for his change; he is ready for death.

We all start as little babies of faith, but we grow in grace, faith, knowledge, hope, love, and the various fruits of the Spirit. Of the three steps of faith, hope, and love, the second and third steps, hope and love, are very close together. In the beginning of our consecration, we had hope that we would get a reward for faithfulness unto death in the present life, but this hope becomes more mature as we develop. Here in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, other qualities were mentioned first: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the feet shod with peace, and the shield of faith. Paul did not mention hope until verse 17. The hope we usually think of in Scripture is the earlier hope, but Paul was talking about the later hope of salvation, which is very helpful for protecting the mind.

Q: Is this hope our looking forward to meeting Jesus Christ and being introduced to God?

A: Yes, that is a real hope. We want to grow stronger and stronger in this desire so that we are ready in our heart with fervency. For one who truly has the hope of salvation, it is hard for Satan to insert a fiery dart through the steel helmet.

Faith, hope, and love are three cardinal ingredients in the Christian’s armor, as set forth below:

Breastplate of the love of righteousness

Shield of faith

Helmet of the hope of salvation

Our hope of salvation is based not on credulity but on an intellectual understanding of God’s Word and promises and knowing they are sure. This hope is based on faith rather than on credulity. Our hope is increased if, in searching our heart, we know we have tried to comply with the terms of these promises. We should properly apply the instruction and intellectual concepts in the Word. Salvation comes in proportion to obedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice [works]” (1 Sam. 15:22). Intellect is involved, but the intellect is that we are complying with the concepts received from meditating on God’s Word.

The “sword of the Spirit” is the Word of God. All the other armor is more or less defensive, but the sword is offensive. The sword suggests an intellectual confrontation at the end of the age.

We have more light now. Therefore, the individuals at the forefront—whoever they might be—will be assailed with doctrine in the future. Thus we need a good deal of faith and knowledge as a helmet in order to be sustained. We will not be able to convince the majority, but we must have confidence in our relationship with the Lord. Otherwise, we will be “goners” in that battle.

When we compare verses 14 and 17, we see that there is a difference between having our loins girded with truth and having the sword of the Spirit. Having our “loins girt about with truth” is putting on the armor of God with sincerity of purpose and truthfulness. This aspect applies to our personal application of truth, whereas the “sword of the [Holy] Spirit,” the Word of God, pertains to our use of the truth toward others. The belt girding the truth around our robe and body means our own steadfastness and the application of truth in our own life. But in addition, we are to have the sword ready to use or thrust out suddenly and more aggressively when certain situations arise. We need to use the truth with others as well as to buckle on our own defensive armor. The sword is used for both parrying a blow and thrusting. We defensively try to stop the death stroke, and we also act offensively.

Eph. 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Still more is needed: prayer and watchfulness. We are to pray not only for self but also for others in the body. Although we may be a loner when assailed in the future, we will know that others are also being assailed. Therefore, in our prayers, we will be thinking of the standard of truth— not just of self but of others in the same situation. We will be praying for them, and they will be praying for us. This way there will be a unity in the future Gideon-like stand for truth, even though all are physically separated.

It is interesting that the emphasis on others is inserted here. The rest of the chapter stresses what we ourselves must do—we must put on the whole armor—but now, in addition, we are told to pray for the other brethren and with perseverance and supplication. This is not a perfunctory instruction for prayer (not a “pray for me as I pray for you” request) but, as far as possible, a personalized prayer command.

As conditions get worse in the future and the numbers begin to dwindle, individuals will be more recognized as being under duress and pressure. Some we will not know, but those we do know can be very specifically prayed for with supplication. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Q: Should the “watching” also be done for others, for “all saints”? If we see someone going into a pitfall, is there a responsibility?

A: Yes. In a battle, a post is set as a watchman. The one who sees danger alerts his comrades also. We can alert another brother from a personal standpoint, one on one, or a group can do the alerting. We are in this together, and togetherness is emphasized here. We are to both pray for others and watch on behalf of others. In other words, we are to watch and pray for self, and we are to watch and pray for others—and with perseverance and supplication.

Q: How do we watch for others?

A: We will answer that question from a doctrinal standpoint. How do we doctrinally watch for others? We are to supply information as we see the battle approaching. As in a literal battle, we should share “combative skills.” One teaches another what to do and what not to do. If we believe from the heart that the church-state hour of power is coming, and if we know others do not, we cannot be a hammer, but we can certainly let our viewpoint be known scripturally.

We can warn and advise as we see the events approaching, but when the actual battle comes, it will be too late to warn others, for we will be too busy ourselves. In the heart of the battle, it is hard to pray, supplicate, and watch on behalf of others, but these actions can be done beforehand—even the night before when we see the issues arising. Maybe we personally will not be involved in that particular issue, but we will feel a common bond of being in this together when we see another party being brought to the fore for a certain trial and experience. We will pray for that brother or sister in a very pertinent fashion. And we will pray that when our turn comes, if it is to come, that we will be faithful too. This spirit and power will be realized by the Elijah class and them only, whoever they are. Jesus endured his trials alone, but this bond of feeling and togetherness will be quite a blessing to the saints, even though there will still be the individual stand. Jesus had a very depressing moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he was succored and strengthened.

At present, part of the watching is being aware of what our brethren are going through so that we can be more persevering in prayer and supplication for them. If we develop this attitude now, then in the trials at the end of the age, we will feel more of that camaraderie and bond.

Periods of persecution draw the faithful closer together. The flesh is not rewarded, but the inner man is.

Eph. 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Now Paul reflected on his own situation in writing this epistle. He was saying, “Pray for me that I may be faithful in my commission. I realize my responsibilities, and I intend to fulfill them, but I still need your prayers.”

Eph. 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Paul was an “ambassador in bonds,” that is, under house arrest in Rome. He was chained and he had a guard. This was his first imprisonment in Rome. Both his first and his second imprisonments were under Nero.

Verses 19 and 20 show Paul’s humility. He gave good, strong counsel to others, and now he showed he was not above his own advice. He had spoken boldly for years, yet he asked, “Pray for me that I may speak boldly.” Acts 28:30,31 tells that Paul was under house arrest for two whole years, receiving all who came to him and preaching and teaching “with all confidence.

Thus he did speak boldly while “in his own hired house [while under house arrest].”

Probably Paul’s father had died during his earlier arrest in Israel when he pleaded, as a Roman citizen, for trial before Caesar. Paul traveled by boat and arrived in Rome, where he was placed under house arrest, which was given only to privileged prisoners. He had the means and the money to afford house arrest. Obviously, he could witness better than if he were in a dungeon, and he wanted to continue the public witness as long as possible.

Eph. 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:

Eph. 6:22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

To relate about his welfare, affairs, and circumstances and to bring this letter, Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians. Tychicus had to travel a great distance in order to comply with this request—all the way over to Asia Minor. (At the same time, he delivered a letter to the Colossians.) Paul wanted Tychicus to comfort the hearts of the Ephesians with the information he was delivering.

Eph. 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul wished peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from the Father and the Son.

Eph. 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

He also desired grace for all who loved Jesus “in sincerity,” that is, for all brethren who were really immersed. The thought was not that brethren had to be scholars but that they had the truth and were fully absorbed in it. The word “sincerity,” from the Greek aphtharsia, means “incorruption.”

Q: What are the overall questions or lessons from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians that were hinted at earlier in the study?

A: Since Colossians is related to Ephesians and both letters were delivered by Tychicus, we will weave the lessons into the Colossians study. It would take too much time now to develop the main point.


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