Ephesians 6 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ephesians 6)

Verse 1

[1] Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Children, obey your parents — In all things lawful. The will of the parent is a law to the child.

In the Lord — For his sake.

For this is right — Manifestly just and reasonable.

Verse 2

[2] Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Honour — That is, love, reverence, obey, assist, in all things. The mother is particularly mentioned, as being more liable to be slighted than the father.

Which is the first commandment with a promise — For the promise implied in the second commandment does not belong to the keeping that command in particular, but the whole law. Exodus 20:12

Verse 3

[3] That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

That thou mayest live long upon the earth — This is usually fulfilled to eminently dutiful children; and he who lives long and well has a long seed-time for the eternal harvest. But this promise, in the Christian dispensation, is to be understood chiefly in a more exalted and Spiritual sense.

Verse 4

[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 — Mothers are included; but fathers are named, as being more apt to be stern and severe.

Provoke not your children to wrath — Do not needlessly fret or exasperate them.

But bring them up — With all tenderness and mildness.

In the instruction and discipline of the Lord — Both in Christian knowledge and practice.

Verse 5

[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;

Your masters according to the flesh — According to the present state of things: afterward the servant is free from his master.

With fear and trembling — A proverbial expression, implying the utmost care and diligence.

In singleness of heart — With a single eye to the providence and will of God.

Verse 6

[6] Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Not with eye-service — Serving them better when under their eye than at other times.

But doing the will of God from the heart — Doing whatever you do, as the will of God, and with your might.

Verse 7

[7] With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

Unto the Lord, and not to men — That is, rather than to men; and by making every action of common life a sacrifice to God; having an eye to him in all things, even as if there were no other master.

Verse 8

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

He shall receive the same — That is, a full and adequate recompence for it.

Verse 9

[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.

Do the same things to them — That is, act toward them from the same principle.

Forbearing threatening — Behaving with gentleness and humanity, not in a harsh or domineering way.

Verse 10

[10] Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Brethren — This is the only place in this epistle where he uses this compellation. Soldiers frequently use it to each other in the field.

Be strong — Nothing less will suffice for such a fight: to be weak, and remain so, is the way to perish.

In the power of his might — A very uncommon expression, plainly denoting what great assistance we need as if his might would not do, it must be the powerful exertion of his might.

Verse 11

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

Put on the whole armour of God — The Greek word means a complete suit of armour. Believers are said to put on the girdle, breastplate, shoes; to take the shield of faith, and sword of the Spirit.

The whole armour — As if the armour would scarce do, it must be the whole armour. This is repeated, verse 13, because of the strength and subtilty of our adversaries, and because of an "evil day" of sore trial being at hand.

Verse 12

[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.

For our wrestling is not only, not chiefly, against flesh and blood - Weak men, or fleshly appetites.

But against principalities, against powers — The mighty princes of all the infernal legions. And great is their power, and that likewise of those legions whom they command.

Against the rulers of the world — Perhaps these principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness. But there are other evil spirits who range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed.

Of the darkness — This is chiefly spiritual darkness.

Of this age — Which prevails during the present state of things.

Against wicked spirits — Who continually oppose faith, love, holiness, either by force or fraud; and labour to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry malice, envy, anger, hatred.

In heavenly places — Which were once their abode, and which they still aspire to, as far as they are permitted.

Verse 13

[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.

In the evil day — The war is perpetual; but the fight is one day less, another more, violent. The evil day is either at the approach of death, or in life; may be longer or shorter and admits of numberless varieties.

And having done all, to stand — That ye may still keep on your armour, still stand upon your guard, still watch and pray; and thus ye will be enabled to endure unto the end, and stand with joy before the face of the Son of Man.

Verse 14

[14] Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Having your loins girt about — That ye may be ready for every motion.

With truth — Not only with the truths of the gospel, but with "truth in the inward parts;" for without this all our knowledge of divine truth will prove but a poor girdle "in the evil day." So our Lord is described, Isaiah 11:5. And as a girded man is always ready to go on, so this seems to intimate an obedient heart, a ready will. Our Lord adds to the loins girded, the lights burning, Luke 12:35; showing that watching and ready obedience are the inseparable companions of faith and love.

And having on the breastplate of righteousness — The righteousness of a spotless purity, in which Christ will present us faultless before God, through the merit of his own blood. With this breastplate our Lord is described, Isaiah 59:17. In the breast is the seat of conscience, which is guarded by righteousness. No armour for the back is mentioned. We are always to face our enemies.

Verse 15

[15] And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel — Let this be always ready to direct and confirm you in every step. This part of the armour, for the feet, is needful, considering what a journey we have to go; what a race to run. Our feet must be so shod, that our footsteps slip not. To order our life and conversation aright, we are prepared by the gospel blessing, the peace and love of God ruling in the heart, Colossians 3:14,15. By this only can we tread the rough ways, surmount our difficulties, and hold out to the end.

Verse 16

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

Above or over all - As a sort of universal covering to every other part of the armour itself, continually exercise a strong and lively faith. This you may use as a shield, which will quench all the fiery darts, the furious temptations, violent and sudden injections of the devil.

Verse 17

[17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

And take for an helmet the hope of salvation1 Thessalonians 5:8. The head is that part which is most carefully to be defended. One stroke here may prove fatal. The armour for this is the hope of salvation. The lowest degree of this hope is a confidence that God will work the whole work of faith in us; the highest is a full assurance of future glory, added to the experimental knowledge of pardoning love. Armed with this helmet, the hope of the joy set before him, Christ "endured the cross, and despised the shame," Hebrews 12:2.

And the sword of the Spirit, the word of God — This Satan cannot withstand, when it is edged and wielded by faith. Till now our armour has been only defensive. But we are to attack Satan, as well as secure ourselves; the shield in one hand, and the sword in the other. Whoever fights with the powers of hell will need both. He that is covered with armour from head to foot, and neglects this, will be foiled after all. This whole description shows us how great a thing it is to be a Christian. The want of any one thing makes him incomplete. Though he has his loins girt with truth, righteousness for a breastplate, his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit; yet one thing he wants after all. What is that? It follows,

Verse 18

[18] Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Praying always — At all times, and on every occasion, in midst of all employments, inwardly praying without ceasing.

By the Spirit — Through the influence of the Holy Spirit.

With all prayer — With all sort of prayer, public, private, mental, vocal. Some are careful in respect of one kind of prayer, and negligent in others. If we would have the petitions we ask, let us use all. Some there are who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship, far superior to any other: but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations.

And supplication — Repeating and urging our prayer, as Christ did in the garden.

And watching — Inwardly attending on God, to know his will, to gain power to do it, and to attain to the blessings we desire.

With all perseverance — Continuing to the end in this holy exercise.

And supplication for all the saints — Wrestling in fervent, continued intercession for others, especially for the faithful, that they may do all the will of God, and be steadfast to the end. Perhaps we receive few answers to prayer, because we do not intercede enough for others.

Verse 19

[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,

By the opening my mouth — Removing every inward and every outward hinderance.

Verse 20

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

An ambassador in bonds — The ambassadors of men usually appear in great pomp. How differently does the ambassador of Christ appear!

Verse 21

[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:

Ye also — As well as others.

Verse 22

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

That he might comfort your hearts — By relating the supports I find from God, and the success of the gospel.

Verse 23

[23] Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace — This verse recapitulates the whole epistle.

Verse 24

[24] Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

In sincerity — Or in incorruption; without corrupting his genuine gospel, without any mixture of corrupt affections. And that with continuance, till grace issue in glory.