September 15th Ephesians 6 (A people in the world) Submit to parents
1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2: Honour 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. 4: And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Submit to masters
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; 6: Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; 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 of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 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.
(An army at war) Put on the whole Armour of God
10: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. 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. 14: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
D. Personal messages Pray for me
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, 20: For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Farewell & Personal messages
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: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. 23: Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24: Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Next Paul turns his attention to the Christian family and in the family the key point for children is obedience to parents. Paul says, ‘this is right’. In other words this is the right attitude of children to their parents in the Lord. For Paul’s basis for this injunction he turns to the principle behind the commandment of the Old Covenant. He quotes it saying…’Honour thy father and mother; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Paul also points out that this was the first commandment with a specific promised attached to it. The commandment stated that those who honour (the idea is not just obedience or even just respect but it includes the idea of giving financial support to those who are elderly and unable to support themselves) their parents are promised by Jehovah long life. Then Paul turns his attention to the Fathers and he says You Fathers, do not provoke your children (by unreasonable demands) to anger. But Fathers are to enable them to grow up to live righteously and by discipline to understand the ways of the Lord. Such discipline is prescribed by the Lord and is administered in his name. Next Paul gives exhortation to Servants. (Slaves or Bondslaves. It’s interesting that the Apostolic writers neither condemn nor support slavery) He says, Servants are to be obedient to their own masters in the flesh. And they are to do this in great reverence and with a devotion to their master alone, as if they are serving Christ. Again Paul raises the obedience of the Christian to a very high and noble level. They are to serve their slave master as if they are serving Christ himself. And they are not to serve only when they are seen but they are to serve with integrity, as if they are serving Christ. And in doing so they will be doing the will of God – from the whole person. These christian slaves must have been greatly valued by their masters. Christianity far from destroying slavery in the heart of the slave turned it into an honourable thing. What they did for their master they did as an act of devotion unto the Lord. Because they knew that God rewards all believers for the good they do, whether they are slaves or freemen. Next Paul turns his attention on the slave masters. Again Paul says nothing to destroy the concept of slavery in the Roman Empire. He addresses them as believers saying that they also have a master in heaven and that they are to treat their slaves in kindness and they are not to be overbearing. And so Paul is finally bringing his letter to an end. He says, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his almighty power. In other words lean heavily on him. Trust in his almighty enabling. Then Paul uses the analogy of a soldier. Perhaps he was thinking of the soldier chained to him while he wrote. He says, put on the whole armour of God so that you will be able to stand against all the battle tactics of the Devil. This was the Whole body armour of the heavily armed soldier. This armour is a defence against strategy as well as assault. Paul reminds the believers that our fight is not against human beings but against, Satanic princes and their demonic agents who do their will, and against ‘the world rulers of this darkness’. These beings are engaged in great wickedness in the heavenly realm. And so we are to, positively put on the armour that God provides. Not so that we might go forth and conquer but so that we might remain standing on the battle field when the battle is over. And so Paul describes the act of putting on the armour. There are two types of clothing here. Those that are already on and those that we pick up when the fight starts. First thing that we already have on, is the belt of truth. The image is of our minds uncontrolled and encumbering, so says Paul, pick up your thoughts and tie they together with truth. The second thing that the Christian soldier has on already is the body armour of moral uprightness. This is the very thing that will cause the soldier to stand erect, stiff and strong in battle. The third thing that the Christian soldier always has on in the field of battle is the heavy shoe, studded with nails and strapped firmly onto the calves. (It’s no good trying to strap it on when the enemy comes – then it will be too late.) This gives the soldier firm footing. Paul links this to the Gospel. Paul is saying a though understanding of the Gospel gives stability to the man of God in battle. Next he turns his attention to the three things that he picks up when battle commences. The first is the shield of faith. This is the long shield which was four foot six high and two feet six wide. Made of wicker and leather and covered in wet cloth, sometimes curved on the inside so that it stood upright by itself. It was used to hide behind when the flaming arrows rained down on the troupes. In a similar way we as believers need to learn to stand behind faith as our shield and this shield can extinguish all the flaming arrows of unbelief. Self confidence is combustible but faith puts out unbelief. The second item which we put on in the battle is the helmet of salvation. This is the thing that will ultimately protect the head and save the life. It is the helmet that saves. Thirdly Paul says; take the Sword of the Spirit. This is the only offensive weapon. The image is of the soldiers standing together on the field with their shields locked together. They do not progress but they stand firm and any evil one who comes near is stabbed though the gaps in the shield wall. And lastly he says, praying always. In other words to continue the analogy we keep in contact with the commander praying in every type of prayer and watching carefully on how the soldiers stand together. And Paul says, While we are talking about prayer – pray for me, (How touching) that l might have courage to preach the truth of the mystery of the Gospel. Because it is for this reason that l am Gods spokesman in chains. Pray that l will speak as l ought to speak. Paul says, So that you may know all my circumstances l have sent Tychicus a much loved brother in Christ and faithful minister in the Lord to you, and so that he will bring news from you to me. Paul closes by pronouncing a blessing of peace to the believers and adds to it love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.