Bible Book: Ephesus 6

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor thy father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise, 3 "that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." In this epistle the high and blessed heavenly position of the church is emphatically explained. Just as emphatically the Spirit gives admonitions for our walk upon earth. Our heavenly calling and position ought to be reflected in our daily walk. As for the obedience of children to their parents, a promise for the earth is attached to it. I wonder whether people think often of that. 4 And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In our attitude to the children we often for the greater part let us lead by our feelings and our own experiences in our youth. Owing to that we often act unbalanced though not seeing that ourselves. The word of God is not unbalanced. We must not provoke our children, nor exasperate or always slate them without ever cheering them up. Some are of the opinion that they should not raise their children as severely as they themselves have been brought up. Not seldom their remembrance is wrong. Decisive is the Word of God that is not too severe nor too soft. We should not provoke the children but not raise them without discipline. It has however to be the discipline and admonition of the Lord and not the product of our temper or domineeringness. 5 Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ, 6 not with eyeservice as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he is in bondage or free. About slaves we have written. In the service to their masters they serve the Lord Christ. That Lord finally will give them the reward for their loyal service. How much blessing they have brought to many by that service and their truthful testimony as Christians eternity will make clear. 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. A patron or employer who is a Christian may realize that he in his turn has a Patron above him and that with God there is no respect of persons, nor difference between master and servant. And employers too can be a blessing as witnesses of Christ by their behaviour in the contact with their employees.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

 With this verse the apostle opens the passage in which he has been writing about the wrestling of the Christian and the necessity to put on the whole armour. Our struggle is not with human forces, but with spiritual powers, though satan often uses men. The wrestling of the Christian has rightly been compared with the struggle of Israel with the peoples in Canaan. That fighting did not occur as long as they were walking through the wilderness, but as soon as they had crossed Jordan and entered the promised land. In the wilderness the problem again and again had been their rebelliousness and unbelief and an often returning longing for Egypt. The cause of course lay in their own heart, the flesh. Likewise a Christian, seen as travelling through the world, has problems with his flesh wherefore we have to reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin. But seen as set together in Christ in heavenly places, we have to do with the wicked powers which are meant in this passage. In this epistle to the Ephesians we read in chapter two that God has made us sit in heavenly places “in Christ” Jesus. There is a difference between the position of Israel in the wilderness and their position in the land. So there is a difference between a Christian as being on earth, for us a wilderness, and a Christian in his heavenly position “in Christ”. A difference indeed, but both are true for all Christians in the same time. Some make the mistake to make a difference between Christians still being in the wilderness and others being in heavenly Canaan. That difference does not exist. Every Christian is united to the Lord as rejected on earth, but at the same time to the Lord as glorified on high. Zipporah, the wife of Moses, depicts the church as united to the rejected Lord, whereas Asnath, the wife of Joseph, depicts the church as united to the Lord in glory. Both positions are true for any Christian. Another matter is, that some, owing to ignorance or by an inclination to concentrate on the own problems hardly know that God has made them sit together “in Christ” in heavenly places. The other possibility is that someone knows that very well but forgets that he is dead for sin and the world as well. It is true that we have been raised through the water of Jordan and have entered into the heavenly land, but no less true that we have been buried in the water of the sea and so are dead to Egypt. This aspect is treated in the epistle to the Romans.

Now however we will see what the Spirit has to say about our spiritual armour.

 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. It must be a very remarkable armour, because we must stand against whiles and not against material weapons, nor against brute force. The devil is sly and knows to adjust his tactics when trying to seduce believers. Seduction is a far more dangerous weapon than open hostility. 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. Our struggle is with spiritual powers. They deny us our heavenly position and spiritual blessing, like the Amorites denying Israel the blessing of the promised land. But we are wrong when we think that they meet us as devils. That would not be very seductive nor very sly. No, they present themselves in sheepskins but are wolves under it. 13 Therefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and, having done all, to stand. We have no power against the whiles of satan and only can stand when we have put on the armour of God. And we should not forget particularly to withstand the moment we have gained a victory over the enemy, for he knows it is the moment we are the least careful. We then feel safe and able to defeat him again and trust in our own abilities. So that is the moment to be very watchful. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, We must stand in readiness not knowing when the enemy will attack. The truth will protect us from stumbling and the breastplate of righteousness will protect our heart. Full righteousness is the righteousness by faith, the righteousness God has given us. The safety of that breastplate must be precious for the Christian, never to be handed over to the enemy nor to be forgotten. Another thing is the practical righteousness in our walk. If deviating from that we grant the enemy openings to attack us and to make us tumble. A dart he often uses is the question: Are you a Christian? Really? Do you call yourself a child of God? Can you maintain that, knowing what you have done yesterday? I think you only flatter yourself with false hopes. Another dangerous dart is the remark: You have to await whether the Lord is willing to draw you. Similar darts are: “It is not that easy”, and “we cannot repent, for we are dead sinners”, “you never can know whether you are elected to be a sheep, for that will be seen before the throne”. Another reasoning is: “Science has proved that God has not created; all came into being by evolution”. For those darts we need the shield of faith, mentioned in verse 16. Of faith indeed. Not of better arguments, except the argument that God has spoken, which is sufficient. 15 and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. With our zeal in preaching that gospel we make breaches in the line of the enemy. It is the gospel of peace, but must be recognized as such, as well by the way we bring it. It is not a gospel of peace in the sense that it glosses over all sin and is ready to accept that all religion is a way to God and the light. There is one way to God only and the way is Christ. 16 Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Much can be said against us and much of it is true. Who reproaches us not being perfect and often making mistakes, is quite right. But we walk by faith. And faith is a shield. It does not mean that believing is taking a leap in the dark, on the contrary. We believe the most reliable One and the most true book, the Bible and the reliable message of the gospel. And the Bible can be easily verified by reading the book. But most people are not interested enough to do that. So they attack or reject what they do not know. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,

The consciousness of salvation, full achieved redemption and forgiveness of sins are a helmet protecting our mind against endeavours to confuse us. But with that the Word of God is needed, the godly sword for attack and defence, like the short sword of the Roman soldiers. It will be necessary to be trained in the use of that sword, without which we can do little with it.

 Many think they know the Word but prove that they are not able to withstand the adversary and to put him right. We need to feed on the Word of God. Not on confessions or theological publications though they often contain much good instruction. The real bread of God however is Jesus and we find Him in the Word of God. And like the Lord fought the devil with that Word, we also should do so. 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. That is not the least important thing. Our mighty Help is in heaven and he is ready to sustain us when we cry. 19 And pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in bonds, that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Nobody knew better than the apostle that he needed the help of the Lord. He did not feel independent and strong, having apostolic authority, but said “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10) He felt his need of help particularly for going on in preaching the gospel. Even he again and again needed boldness from above. How much more we. God is willing to give it, not to Paul only, but to all who pray for it. 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. 22 I have sent him unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. The apostle did not take the view that the Christians were indifferent but that there was love and sympathy for his person and work. And so it ought to be.23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Peace, love, faith and grace are needed and ought to be characteristics with us. The Lord may give it to us abundantly.  

J. Ph. Buddingh