Mark R Lindsey

Christian, Armed to Rescue Hostages. Ephesians 6:10-20

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2015 at 11:13 am
As I studied Ephesians 6:10-20 for LifeChange at North Wake Church in April through June, 2015, the overall impression was that Christians are Hostage Rescuers. Like the American FBI Hostage Rescue team, we’re fully armed, we have radio communication with the commander, and the enemy is going to try to stop us from going in to get the hostages.
The lesson of Jesus in Mark 3:22-27, he teaches that, to rob the Strong Man, Satan, someone has to restrain him.
Mark 3:22-27
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
Jesus has bound the strong man:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV)
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
The weapons we see in Ephesians 6 are to protect the Hostage Rescue Team. While Satan has been defeated, Spiritual Beings are still active and resisting our efforts to rescue.

Ephesians 6:10

Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

1. Why is this the final part? Why wasn’t this placed earlier in the letter?

— This is an echo and repeat of the calls to claim God’s strength earlier in the book: Ephesians 1:19, 3:16.
— Other letters have a final call for rejoicing (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 3:1), dwelling on good things (Philippians 4:8), and harmony (1 Peter 3:8)
— This is a climax. It faces the issue that all the righteous demands are DIFFICULT because we have sentient, determined, intelligent stackers.

2. What is the difference between “strengthened by the Lord” and “his vast strength”? Or is there no difference, only emphasis? If you’re strong in his vast strength, aren’t you also strong in the Lord?

— You have enemies AND God is with you! Deuteronomy 20:3
— God’s power is completed in weakness; the strength in our arms must be from God and devoid of our own strength. 2 Corinthians 12:10
— (ECS: Ephesians) It would have been sufficient for Paul simply to say, “be strong in the Lord,” but he expands on the magnitude of God’s power by adding the phrase, “and in his mighty strength” (καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ). The “and” (καί) does not connect two different sources of strength, but rather elucidates this attribute of the Lord. These are the same terms Paul used in eph. 1:19 – 20 to describe the divine power that brought about the resurrection and exaltation of Christ

3. What are the links between God’s power and strength used here and previous references to strength earlier in this letter? (In what way is this conclusive?)

— As he gave glory to God and trusted God, Abraham grew strong. Romans 4:20. We grow the same way.
— See #1

4. We’re admonished to “be strong;” does that suggest we would naturally be feeling weak or discouraged about now?

— You are expected to engage in battle. So strengthening is required.
— We ARE weak against spiritual opponents, whether or not we feel it.

4.1. Where does the strength come from? We’re told to do something, but then it’s clear that God is active. What is our part of strengthened, and what is God’s part?

— (ECS: Ephesians) Western readers might be conditioned to miss the fact that Paul is calling his readers to a relationship of dependence and not urging them to draw on their own internal fortitude and strength.t
— The words tell us to be strengthened BY God and His Vast Power. The “armor” given to us by God is what holds us up to be able to stand.
— (ECS: Ephesians) “Be strong” (ἐνδυναμοῦσθε) should be interpreted … stressing the idea of receiving strength from an outside source… Because it is imperative, it does imply volition and action on the part of the hearers to seek God and present themselves to him for filling with his power. Paul used the same verb to appeal to Timothy to “be strong” (2 Tim 2:1)
— This reminds me a bit of David taking on Saul’s armor. Saul was making an attempt to do God’s job. The armor David needed for a mere human foe, Goliath, was hope! But we can try to provide our own armor.

5. When else are people told to be strengthened like this in Scripture?

— (ECS: Ephesians). The language here evokes the memory of God’s repeatedly calling Joshua to “be strong” (Josh 1:6; 7, 9; see also Deut 31:6 – 7) as he was about to lead God’s people into the land of Canaan, where they would face many enemies and fight many battles. The difference now, however, is that God’s people face more powerful enemies than mere human opponents.

Ephesians 6:11

Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

1. Even though the angel said, “the LORD rebuke you Satan”, why does Paul act as if WE will be doing the standing?

— Jude 1:9 — the archangel Michael didn’t revile satan directly, but said “the LORD rebuke you.”
— 2 Peter 2:7 – we must not heap revile on angelic beings
— The strength to stand is given by God; but we do participate with our will.

2. Why does it say to put on armor rather than “put on Christ?” Or, “put on the new man”

— “Armor of light” is proper clothing instead of darkness, and represents living the life we’ve been chosen for. Romans 13:12.
— Ephesians 4:24 — Putting on the new man is essentially the same as putting on the armor here, argues Clinton Arnold
 In ECS: Ephesians. But here we’re given so much more details.

3. How can we be sure that the armor will be sufficient against the schemes of the devil?

— These weapons have power from God, not us. 2 Corinthians 10:4
— God does not allow temptations that are beyond the ability he gives. 1 Corinthians 10:13
— It is called. “Full, complete armor”, (ECS: Ephesians) πανοπλία, not just a few random bits picked up by someone rushing into a fight. God is the one described as equipping us, not unlike the giving of gifts to men that was described in Ephesians 4:7-11.

4. What are the schemes of the devil? What’s the effect of we do fail to stand?

— Being led astray by false teaching. Mark 13:22, 2 Corinthians 11:13, 2 Peter 2:1
— Not forgiving. 2 Corinthians 2:11

5. Is there any other putting on in Ephesians?

— Ephesians 4:24. Clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly.
6. Is the “standing” only offensive, or also defensive?
— The word is used to describe offensive military action in the LXX (ECS: Ephesians)

Ephesians 6:12

Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

1. Why would we be tempted to think that the battle is against flesh and blood?

— Ephesians 2:2 – the sons of disobedience, probably humans, are actively at work. And we can see them.
— Paul had been physically attacked by flesh and blood. 2 Corinthians 11:25. Acts 14:19.

1.1 We have on battle for war, but we’re discussing wrestling. That’s a mixed metaphor. Why?

— (ECS: Ephesians) It is possible that the image of wrestling may also have evoked the readers’ recollection of a widely attested tradition (presumably well-known in Asia Minor) regarding an Ephesian wrestler who used magic to help him defeat his opponents.
— (ECS: Ephesians) There was a tradition in the ancient world of the advantage a fully armed soldier had if he was also trained as a wrestler… If this is what Paul had in mind, then both images combine to express the notion of close, difficult, tiring, hand-to-hand combat.

1.2 What is the error Christians might make, which Paul is concerned about by saying “we wrestle not against blood and flesh…”?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The fact that the struggle is not “against blood and flesh” (πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα) strongly underlines the spiritual nature of the warfare. The order is reversed from Paul’s normal “flesh and blood” (1 Cor 15:50; Gal 1:16). He may have done so to prevent the potential confusion of some readers thinking that they were no longer urged to struggle against “the flesh” (see Gal 5:17). This expression also highlights the fact that the readers should not consider their fight as one against Roman rule or any of the local civic rulers who might oppose them or cause them harm. Paul is here unmasking the ultimate source of many of the evils they experience — the influences behind the Roman Imperium.
— Our REAL struggle is not political, or civic

2. What is the difference is between A. rulers B. authorities C. world powers of darkness D. spiritual forces of evil in the heavens?

— 1 Peter 3:22. Angels, authorities, and powers are subjected to Jesus.
— Colossians 2:15. Jesus disarmed rulers and authorities.
— Romans 8:38. Angels and rulers might put our connection to Jesus’ love at risk.
— World Powers: (ECS: Ephesians) The third expression, “world powers” (κοσμοκράτορες), is unique, never appearing elsewhere in the NT or LXX. This is, in fact, the earliest appearance of the term in Greek writings. … The word appears in second-century AD Anthologies of Vettius Valens, which is a compilation of more ancient works. This text gives evidence of its use by Pseudo-Petosiris in the second-century BC in reference to the planets (thought of as animated by spirits). This same term was also used to magnify the omnipotence and universal power of various deities. An inscription found in a bathhouse in Rome reads, “One Zeus, Serapis, Helios, world power (κοσμοκράτωρ), unconquerable.”

3. Why does Paul list out all these different categories? Why doesn’t he just say “bad guys you can’t see?”

— Mark 5:9. The “legion” of demons shows there are many.
— Luke 8:2. Mary Magdalene had 7 spirits.

4. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3); it seems like that would be a happy place. But is it really a place of warfare?

— Heavenly beings are disarmed by Jesus’s work on the cross (Colossians 2:15), and they see the proof of God’s wisdom (Ephesians 3:10)
5. What do we know about this “darkness”?
— Ephesians 5:8: without Jesus, we lived in the domain of darkness.

Ephesians 6:13

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

1. What’s the difference between A. “withstanding the devil”, B. “having done all”, and c. “stand firm”? Each expression suggests firm action undertaken by the Christian, but they seem to be sequential.

— Withstand is “stand against”, as in Lev. 26:37
— 1 Peter 4:1. “Arm yourself” can be a way of thinking and living like the flesh has died because we died with Christ.
— Colossians 4:12 Epaphras has PRAYED that God would make them stand firm.
— “Stand firm” sounds like a battle line reference; shoulder-to-shoulder with other soldiers.

2. What does “having done all” refer to?

— is it doing all in this book?
— (ECS: Ephesians) Preparation for the battle does not take place once it begins, but well in advance. With the temporal participle “once you have prepared” (κατεργασάμενοι), Paul indicates that a significant investment of time and effort is expended in becoming well prepared for the inevitable attacks. … It is better to side with the majority of commentators on this issue and see the participle as expressing the idea of making all necessary preparations before the struggle ensues. In other words, because of the certainty that believers will face concerted demonic attack at various intervals through their lives in the present evil age, it is imperative to grow deeper in a knowledge of God’s gifts and cultivate the practices essential to dependence on the unsurpassed power of God. The goal of the preparation is “to stand” (στῆναι) — to keep from falling into sin and to advance on enemy territory to bring the good news of deliverance to those who are oppressed.

2.5 What is suggested by “take up armor”?

— Romans 13:12. Armor of light is the appropriate way to dress for the “day” when God reveals all.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Instead of drowsiness or drunkenness, we’re to put on armor of faith and love on our chests.
— (ECS: Ephesians) Paul then repeats his appeal from 6:11 to put on the armor of God, but here with a different imperative verb, “take up” (ἀναλάβετε). This verb occurs frequently in ancient literature in connection with taking up weapons, as in Jer 46:3, “take up arms and spears”

3. When is “the evil day”?

— Is it the day of testing, common to man, from Luke 8:13, Ecclesiastes 12:1?
— or is it some great day of disaster we may never live to see, like Amos 6:3 and Revelation 3:10?
— Ephesians 5:6 refers to a day of punishment on those who do evil
— Ephesians 5:16 says we all live in evil days.
>> my best guess: We’re going to have some days that are harder than others and undergo trials, like in Luke 8:13 and Ephesians 5:16. We need to be ready for all those.

4. Components of this armor:

  • Belt — truth
  • Breastplate — righteousness
  • Shoes — readiness of the gospel of peace
  • Shield — faith
  • Helmet — salvation
  • Sword — of the spirit, the Word of God
  • (Like a war-time radio) — Prayer at all times in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:14

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

1. How is the truth like a belt?

— Jesus is the truth; John 14:6.
— Isaiah 11:4-5 calls truth, faithfulness a belt or waste cloth, the innermost piece of clothing. This Isaiah passage seems to be the basis of the imagery Paul is using. The messiah’s belt of truth is now provided to Us In Christ.
— John 1:14,17  — truth came in Christ.
— God’s spirit is the Spirit of truth. John 14:17, 15:26.
— Jesus asked his father to sanctify/consecrate us IN truth; and there’s some link between being sent into the world as Jesus’ emissaries, and the way Jesus consecrates/sanctifies himself. John 17:17-18.
— “Specifically, this belt is described as the belt of truth. That is, as Christians fastened this piece of God’s armor, they will be strengthened by the truth of God revealed in the gospel and consequently they will display the attributes of the Messiah in their attitudes and actions. ” (Merkle 2015)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The most pertinent background to Paul’s image here is the depiction of the coming Messiah in the LXX of Isa 11:5: “He shall be girded with righteousness around the waist (ἐζωσαμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ) and bound with truth around the sides” (NETS). Although many interpreters have looked to the Roman soldier as Paul’s model here, the messianic warrior is much more likely.

1.1. What is the truth referenced here?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The “truth” (ἀλήθεια) that Paul speaks of here can be interpreted in two ways: in the objective sense of the truth of the gospel or the elements of “the faith” (eph. 4:5), that is, the doctrinal truth of the common confession of the early church; or in the subjective sense of practicing honesty and living with moral integrity.

2. How is righteousness like a breastplate?

— A breastplate would be a front shield; or maybe it wraps around?
— Righteousness is a defense against accusation.
— Isaiah 59:17 refers to the messiah having a breastplate of righteousness.
 — We are given the messiah’s righteousness now; Jesus personally is our righteousness.  Romans 4:5, 5:17
— Righteousness can be weaponized. 2 Corinthians 6:7
— “Although some take the reference to righteousness here as God’s justifying, forensic righteousness, it is best to regard it as an ethical quality (see 4:24; 5:9). Thus, the breastplate that protects Christians from the assault of the enemy is nothing other than imitating the righteous character of God himself. Of course, shunning sin and cultivating holiness in life is impossible without first experiencing the objective gift of God’s righteousness which is received  through faith in Christ.” (Merkle 2015)
— It is the Messiah’s righteousness that is upon us: Romans 3:22
— Righteousness is given to us as a free gift. Romans 5:17

3. Is it important to be aware of the specific features at work?

— (ECS: Ephesians) One of the strategies of the accuser or slanderer (the meaning of διάβολος, often translated “devil”) is to call into question our status before God as righteous. Paul sought to counteract this through his continual reassurance that all who are in Christ are “saints” (see, e.g., Eph 1:1; Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:15, Ephesians 1:18)
— (ECS: Ephesians) Simultaneously, they are called to grow into a self-awareness of their new identity. This involves becoming profoundly cognizant of the changes that have occurred in their lives now that they have come to a knowledge of the truth, received righteousness, experienced salvation, been endowed with the gift of the Spirit, and are now able to exercise increasing faith in God.
— Knowledge of my status as Righteous is a defense against accusation by the devil.
— (ECS: Ephesians) The good news of the gospel Paul proclaims is that now “a righteousness from God …has been made known” (Rom 3:21), a “righteousness from God [that] comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (3:22). The believers in Ephesus had experienced this, Paul claims, when they heard the word of truth, put their faith in Christ, and received the Holy Spirit (1:13). The gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17) they received renders them free of all guilt on the day they will eventually stand before God in the end-time judgment, but right now they live in the freedom of that already realized verdict (Rom 5:1). They have been completely forgiven of all their sins on the basis of Christ’s blood (Eph 1:7), been reconciled to God as friends (2:16; Rom 5:10; Col 1:22), and enjoy a new status as sons and daughters (Eph 1:5; Gal 4:6).

Ephesians 6:15

Ephesians 6:15
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

1. What is the “gospel of peace”?

— reconciliation; we serve God by bringing it. 2 Corinthians 5:18.
— “the war is over”!

1.1 How are feet connected to the gospel of peace?

— Isaiah 52:7; the feet of the one bringing good news are special. This is probably the basis for the imagery Paul is using.
— Romans 10:15 also quotes Isaiah in connection with spreading the gospel.

2. What is the readiness given by that good news?

— since the war is over, and we are in the reconciliation business, then we’re equipped to do the job of the good news of peace.
— We’re prepared by having good news to share! «One debated issue is whether the phrase “the readiness of the gospel of peace” (literal translation) means (1) the preparation that comes from the gospel (ESV, NET, NIV, NLT) or (2) the readiness to proclaim the gospel (NJB, NRSV, TEV). The first option means that the believers are prepared for spiritual warfare and able to stand firm through the powerful message of the gospel, which is a message of peace. The focus is then on the defensive posture of the believer who keeps his ground, holding steadfast against the forces that are arrayed against him since his victory is already been won through the work of Christ. The second option involves the willingness of the believer to announce the good news about Jesus Christ and the peace he brings through reconciling God and man. This view involves a more offensive posture which views the shoes (or soldier’s boots) not merely as something to help him securely hold his position but something that helps him advance in order to attack into enemy territory. If Isa. 52:7 is seen as the source of Paul’s imagery, then the latter is to be preferred.» (Merkle 2015)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The third form of preparation that Paul advises believers to make is to ready themselves to share the gospel, which contains the message of peace with God.

3. How is this spreading of the gospel an active assault?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The proclamation of the gospel represents a major assault on the kingdom of Satan. By his work on the cross, Jesus has bound the strong man so that now God’s people can plunder the possessions of the strong man (Matt 12:29; Mark 3:27), that is, free the captives from Satan’s domain by announcing the good news of God’s salvation.

4. How is “peace” a weapon of war?

— (ECS: Ephesians) …weapon of peace. The warfare that believers are called to engage in does not view people as the enemies but as the victims. Unbelievers are in bondage to a threefold form of evil (the ruler of the realm of the air, the flesh, and the age of this world; eph. 2:2-3), which has led them to live sinfully and results in alienation from God and exclusion from his people (eph. 2:12). But at the heart of the gospel message is the good news that Jesus Christ can now be “our peace” (eph. 2:14) because he has shed his blood (eph. 2:13) for the forgiveness of sin. Spreading this good news means opposing the work of the principalities and powers, who endeavor to blind the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4).

Ephesians 6:16

Ephesians 6:16
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

1. What do we know about these darts?

— Faith is an adequate defense against them.
— They come in burning; but through trusting God we extinguish them.
— Every single dart can be extinguished!
— Without extinguishing, the fire of the evil one could spread.

2. Is faith a defense anywhere else in scripture?

— ephesians 2:8. You were delivered by grace through trusting.
— 1 john 5:4. With faith we overcome the world. In fact, faith seems to be the entire defense!
— in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Faith and love together are a breastplate
— 1 Timothy 1:19. Faith (together with a good conscience) defends us against spiritual shipwreck.

3. “In all circumstances” — are we tempted to not trust in some circumstances, and so make ourselves vulnerable?

— we need to be reminded that we cannot coast along through some encounters
— The flaming darts can and do shoot at us from anywhere.

4. What’s a flaming dart extinguished by faith?

— my guess: temptation?
— challenges to God’s ability, truth, holiness
— mark 4:40 — fear of being drowned in a boat
— it’s not the size of the faith that matters, but its existence, and the size of the thing trusted. Luke. 17:5-6
— Cultic gods might attack Christians, but: (ECS: Ephesians) The assurance of this passage is that they need not fear since the shield of faith supplied by the one true and omnipotent God is adequate to quench any of the flaming arrows sent by spirits associated with the Artemis cult or any other cult.
— Tempting thoughts, put in my mind. (Origen, Jerome)
— (ECS: Ephesians) persecution from political authorities,
—- thoughts of accusation of sin that bring intense feelings of guilt,
—- false teaching by those who claim to be Christians,
—- direct demonic attack through sickness and dreams,
—- and temptations to engage in behaviors displeasing to God (e.g., spontaneous “thoughts of doubt and disobedience, rebellion, lust, malice or fear”).

5. Are flaming arrows specific to Ephesians?

— No; (ECS: Ephesians) from Ammianus Marcellinus describes weaponry: But fire-darts (a kind of missile) (malleoli, teli genus) are made in this form: the shaft is of reed, and between this and the point is a covering of bands of iron; it looks like a woman’s distaff for making linen threads. It is skillfully hollowed out on the lower side with many openings, and in the cavity fire and some inflammable matter are placed. And if it is shot slowly from a somewhat loose bow (for it is extinguished by too swift a flight) and has stuck anywhere, it burns persistently, and water poured upon it rouses the fire to still greater heat; and there is no way of extinguishing it except by sprinkling it with dust.
— SPECIALLY ASSOCIATED WITH ARTEMIS. (ECS: Ephesians) One of the many ways that the Ephesian readers experienced the attacks of the enemy was through the local pagan cults, particularly the cult of Artemis. The bow and arrow was the preferred weapon of the Greek Artemis, and this was also the main weapon of the Asia Minor goddess. There is an important Roman era Ephesian inscription that records the instructions received by an embassy from an area northeast of Sardis who consulted the oracle god, Apollo. In this inscription, Artemis is described as the goddess “with the golden quiver” (line 2), as “the shooter of arrows” (line 11), and as “the straight-shooting one” (line 11). When this is combined with the last line (line 18) of the inscription that issues the warning that if they do not fulfill the rites prescribed by Apollo, then they “will pay the penalty of fire,” it is easy to see how Artemis could be seen as one taking vengeance “with fiery arrows” on those who do not live according to her code.

Ephesians 6:17

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

1. How is salvation like a helmet?

— 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The HOPE of salvation is a helmet.
— Isaiah 59:17: God wears a helmet of salvation.
— «Paul does not urge his readers to embrace salvation because they do not already possess it, but because they possess it, they must constantly appropriate it by faith. Thus, to put on salvation “means to realize and appropriate one’s new identity in Christ, which gives believers power for deliverance from the supernatural enemies on the basis of their union with the resurrected and exalted Lord.” (Clinton Arnold) (1 Thess. 5:8). » (Overall quote from Merkle 2015)
— God fights for us, but also gives us the gear we need to be in the fight ourselves.

1.1 is this salvation future hope, or something present?

— Ephesians 2:5. You HAVE BEEN saved.
2. How is the spirit like a sword, an offensive weapon?
— “We demolish arguments…take thoughts captive,” attacking 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
— Dangerous: Enemies are slain by the word of God’s mouth. Hosea 6:5
— Dissecting: Word of God compared to a sword, discerning between soul/spirit, thoughts/intentions of heart. And it is surgical: joints/marrow.  Hebrews 4:12.
— The Messiah armed: Isaiah 49:2
— God strikes the wicked with the sword of his mouth. Isaiah 11:4, revelation 19:15-21.
— The word of the Saints’ TESTIMONY defeats the accuser. Revelation 12:11
— (ECS: Ephesians) this weapon represents an appeal to the church to make known the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, an action that amounts to a major form of aggression against the kingdom of evil.

3. Do we have examples of God’s word used as a weapon?

— Jesus’ temptations. Matthew 4:4-11, he quotes the Bible.
— Our own struggle against sin and assailants. Hebrews 12:3-6. God’s words remind us that the struggle is allowed by God for our good.
4. Is it significant that this is the only clearly offensive weapon?
— (ECS: Ephesians) Believers will assuredly come under attack and need to take a defensive stance, but this will frequently happen in the context of making offensive inroads into the dominion of darkness by sharing the gospel and freeing the captives.

Ephesians 6:18

Ephesians 6:18
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

1. Why is prayer directly linked to the panoply?

— Perhaps it’s the image of alertness that a soldier should have
— maybe it’s really not so directly linked: Maybe, as in HCSB, this is a new sentence.
— Luke 22:46. Prayer is itself a defense against temptation.
— Deuteronomy 11:19. We’re to be constantly considering the Word of God. So praying at all times — in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication, alert with perseverance making supplication for everybody — is the METHOD of taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— 1 Corinthians 14:15. Alertness: Prayer happens In My spirit sometimes, but should also occur in your MIND.
— (ECS: Ephesians) [Prayer] ties the passage back to eph. 6:10 – 11, which calls on believers to depend on the power of the Lord, and it thus forms an inclusio bracketing the entire passage. Prayer is the means by which believers depend on the Lord and request his empowerment for themselves and others in the body of Christ.

2. This reminds me of the scene of prayer in Gethsemane, when the disciples failed to keep alert (Matthew 26:41). How are prayer and alertness linked?

— Colossians 4:2-4. Stay alert with thanksgiving; be ready == persevere.
— Mark 13:33-36. “Watch, and stay alert!” For the coming of the Son of Man. We’re to be like the overnight staff, expected to be alert.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8. We belong to the day, so we must be alert. So put on the armor…

3. What supplication for all the saints, I.e., all the Christians everywhere, required here?

— 1 Timothy 2:1. Prayers and supplications for ALL people
— Philippians 4:6. Prayers and supplications are a defense against anxiety,
— Supplication specifically for Paul to have boldness opening his mouth.
— Supplication for all the Christians, most obviously to STAND against the wiles of the attacker.
— (ECS: Ephesians) Since soldiers typically need help in putting on their armor, prayer can be seen as a way that we can help “arm” fellow believers for the struggle. Paul modeled this with his regular intercessory prayers for the people and even gives us an insight into how to pray for others. Since many Christians have a tendency to spend most of their small group prayer times praying for those who are sick or facing a crisis, Paul models here a different approach that stresses ongoing prayer in a way that prepares people to face inevitable struggles.

4. “To that end…” I.e., “Keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints [because you are to be] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” What is the structure and meaning here?

—  “(Complete Jewish Bible) …As you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people”
— HCSB 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
— ESV: It seems like “keep alert…saints” is a specific way commanded to follow a more general command to be “praying at all times…supplication”.

4.1. What does the expression “with all perseverance” add?

— This is the way the early church prayed. Acts 1:14, acts 2;42, acts 6:4)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The term was often used in Greek literature to express the relentless pursuit of something, or (as a standard lexicon puts it) “to persist obstinately in” something.

5. “praying at all times with all prayer and supplication”. What is “praying … with all prayer”? what is the difference between prayer and supplication?

— Ephesians 1:16. Paul never stops praying and thinking God for them.
— praying: verb. Prayers: expressions of need. Supplication: expressions of desires.
— (ECS: Ephesians) With every kind of prayer and request” (διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως) indicates that Paul is thinking of every conceivable form of prayer. In the normal usage of the terms, the first indicates prayer generally and the second refers to asking God to fulfill various requests.

5.1 Praying in/with the spirit: what does it mean?

— (ECS: Ephesians) It is better understood as a dative of means, that is, praying “by the Spirit.” The Spirit stands by the side of believers to prompt them to pray, to direct them whom to pray for and how to pray, as well as to energize them in praying for themselves and others. To limit the meaning of this expression to praying in tongues hinders us from seeing the full range of what Paul is saying here about the work of the Spirit in conjunction with prayer. Even when we do not know how we should pray, the Spirit is involved in interceding with God on our behalf (Rom 8:26 – 27).

6. Why the sudden emphasis on ALL the Christians in the world?

— There are lots of references in Ephesians to “all the Saints”
—- Ephesians 1:15 — the Ephesians are known for their love for all the saints
—- Ephesians 3:8 — Paul, the evangelist to Gentiles, is the least of all the saints
—- Ephesians 3:18 — The Ephesian Christians are called to comprehend with all Christians everywhere the enormity of God’s power
— Paul demonstrated this kind of prayer for the Ephesians in this book: (ECS: Ephesians) Paul has already modeled for them what to pray (see Ephesians  1:15 – 23; eph 3:14 – 21). In effect, he has repeatedly sought to “arm” them through his prayers.

6.1 What kind of prayer is this that Paul is recommending for everybody? What are we asking God to do?

— (ECS: Ephesians) far beyond a tendency for Christians to limit most of their praying to prayers for people in crisis (with health problems or in the midst of other kinds of difficulties). While that is important, there is much intercessory prayer that needs to take place “for all the saints” before the crises hit. This is probably the way that Epaphras was praying for the Colossians when Paul commended him in his letter: “Epaphras …is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm (ἵνα σταθῆτε) in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col 4:12).

7. Is prayer in battle part of the Roman military tradition?

— Yes: Devotio, a solemn offer of one’s life in exchange for victory.
— Soldiers would sacrifice to Mars before a war to ensure victory.
— After the battles the rite of supplicatio was prayer to gods.

Ephesians 6:19

Ephesians 6:19
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,

1. Paul asks elsewhere (Colossians 4:3) for an open door. Acts frequently describes the disciples preaching boldly. Does bold speaking fit in with the rest of Ephesians?

— A man wearing armor can be bold.
— Ephesians 3:12 — we have boldness and access to God through Jesus the Messiah

2. How common is it in the Bible to see a request for the clear, bold, undisturbed spread of the gospel?

— 1 Thessalonians 5:25
— 2 Thessalonians 3:1
— Acts 4:29-31

3. The term “παρρησία” translated as boldness (“opening my mouth boldly”) is elsewhere translated as clarity, and openness. However, in Ephesians 6:20, the word παῤῥησιάζομαι is also used specifically referring to boldness and courage. What’s the link between clarity and boldness?

— 2 Corinthians 3:12: to teach the gospel clearly is to teach without a veil, so the message can be seen clearly and directly.
— You can preach, but hide behind vagueness and obscurities to reduce the effect of the message.

4. Why does Paul pray for λόγος, logos, the message in words? Doesn’t he already have the words?

— Apparently he needs it for every interaction
— Boldness and the Logos have gone together elsewhere: Acts 4:31
— (ECS: Ephesians) The situation is not that Paul does not know what to say; he knows the gospel message extremely well. He wants divine leading and strength to put the words together in a timely and powerful way.

5. Paul asks here for boldness/clarity for declaring a mystery of the gospel. There’s an ironic tension between BOLDLY explaining a MYSTERY.

—  Ephesians  3:3-9 — numerous references to clearly explaining the mystery. Paul’s job is to “bring to light” for everyone; this sounds a lot like the 2 Corinthians 3:12 reference to the veiled truth.
— (ECS: Ephesians) the “mystery” is an apocalyptic expression from the book of Daniel that refers to God’s redemptive plan for the end of the age. In Paul’s understanding, Jesus is the fulfillment of this plan and is thus the content of the mystery (eph. 3:3 – 4). Here Paul explains the mystery as “the gospel” (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου; the genitive is explanatory, i.e., epexegetical). Although Paul could have stated this more simply as a request for boldness “to proclaim the gospel,” the idea of revealing the mystery puts this activity in the broader scope of God’s sovereign plan for the ages and for the nations of the world.
6. Is it selfish to ask people to temporarily stop praying for other stuff, and ask them to focus prayer on me?
— Paul does this right here so he can be bold in his desperate situation in Rome.

Ephesians 6:20

Ephesians 6:20
for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

1. Why does Paul repeat the boldness request?

Ephesians 3:19 “open mouth boldly”
Ephesians 3:20 “declare it [mystery of the gospel] boldly”
— 3:19 is παρρησία: outspokenness, frankness
— 3:20 is παῤῥησιάζομαι: speaking freely and frankly
— Both carry an idea of free speech, without masking or veiling the truth.
— see Ephesians 6:19 &N

2. “As I ought to speak”: there’s a particular way Paul believes he SHOULD speak, as if it’s moral. How do I apply that? Does the nature of the mystery of the gospel also mean that I *SHOULD* speak in a particular way, or is this necessity due to Paul’s commission as apostle to Gentiles? (See Ephesians 3:1)

— He doesn’t say “how we all ought to speak.” He’s not turning the prayer request into a sermon.
— But it seems reasonable for us to adopt this prayer for ourselves. Philippians 1:7 — we are partakers with Paul both in spreading the message and his imprisonment; so we can be sure Christ will complete his work in us.

3. “Ambassador in chains” seems ironic; I’m accustomed to an ambassador having some immunity. He’s an ambassador and emissary for Jesus, and he was also in chains. Why put these two together, here?

— Even in antiquity, an ambassador was to be treated well by the host country. The risk of mistreating an King’s envoy is that the King might attack the host.
— 2 Corinthians 5:20 — Paul and others are ambassadors for God, trying to win us over to be reconciled to God.

4. If he’s already in chains, shouldn’t he be bold already? How much worse could it get — he’s already arrested! Or maybe in being in prisoner, he’s that much closer to being executed.

— 1 Thessalonians 2:2-4 — His imprisonment would tend to make him fearful and timid. But he was MORE anxious about pleasing God than about pleasing men, even his captors.

5. How does Paul’s imprisonment contribute to his argument in Ephesians?

  • — Ephesians 3:1. He’s imprisoned for the sake of the Gentiles. And he’s committed, serious, about the gospel as he prays for us to be strengthened and to comprehend.
  • — Ephesians 4:1. Paul is taking this gospel seriously, and suffering personally for it. The man suffering for it wants us to live in a manner worthy of it (and worthy of the price.)
  • — Ephesians 6:20. He’s taking risk by preaching, and wants to keep doing so boldly.
  • — 1 John 3:16. He’s laying down his life for the spread of the gospel. He could have gone quiet to make himself more comfortable.
  • — He’s demonstrating the seriousness of the calling. He’s inviting us to prison along with him. Prison seems just the opposite of being a free and powerful, armed soldier; but it’s not the opposite.

6. What is the battle we’re to stand for?

  • — For Paul, it was: DECLARING the GOSPEL
  • — All this armor and alertness and prayer seems to come down to a single battle line: 1. praying for all the saints in general, but also, for an apostle, 2. Opening his mouth to speak boldly.
  • — Is declaring the gospel verbally and boldly the battle for everyone? He doesn’t say. He only says that we’re to pray for everyone.


All references are from the ESV unless noted.

“Merkle 2015” is Ephesians: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament by Benjamin Merkle.

“ECS: Ephesians” is by Clinton Arnold, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Ephesians.


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