Updated: Dec 19, 2020
In Chapter 6, Paul gives specific instructions on how Christians should relate to each other. Whether at home or in public, our relationships should mirror our devotion to the Lord. God has no favorites sets the example, treating all as we should, with love and respect. In Chapter 5, Paul compared the melding of husband and wife into one being to the union of Christ and His church. Paul brings the theme forward in Chapter 6, implying the relationship between parents and children should reflect the family’s devotion to God. Chapter 6 is a short but very important, especially the part about God’s armor. Take your time, listen to and enjoy this fine reading by Johnny Cash, and I’ll catch up with you below for further discussion.
Paul warns that being overly strict with children can drive them from the Lord, which brings me to my own strict upbringing. Without boring you with details, I can attest that I happily abandoned the church when I left home for college in 1961, putting up with it again from 1963-1965 in order to graduate from Gordon College. I joined my very first church fifty years later, in 2012, become the Bible-study leader and a deacon. I left Gordon College and the church for what I thought would be for good, and I lay the blame on an overdose of strict “Christian” discipline! Discipline is necessary, and if done in a way that’s pleasing to God, it usually has the opposite effect. Paul continues that the relationship between master and slave, applying equally well to employer and employee, should be shaped by their commitment to the Lord and in building each other up in Christ.
Imprisoned by Rome when he wrote Ephesians, Paul alludes to the armor worn by his guards to illustrate his point. He calls for us to don God’s armor, especially in perilous times such as these, reminding us it’s not just this world from which we need protection, but also the devil’s dark forces in the unseen world over which Christ has authority. He uses armor to describe God’s gifts, describing each gift like a certain piece of armor to help people remember God’s armor is mostly defensive, allowing us to resist the attacks of the devil in this time of great evil, to stand securely grounded in Christ and Scripture. It allows us to protect ourselves and stand firm behind our shield of faith in these times of drastic change. When Paul urges us to “pray in the Spirit", he’s talking about prayer that arises from the Spirit within each of us, a 24/7 lifestyle that wards off evil spiritual forces every time.
Paul closes his epistle with a personal note and a benediction that echoes his desires from Chapter 1. Although written from prison, Ephesians is one of the finest expressions of Christian life, filled with joy, praise, and thanksgiving. It’s a fitting reminder of God’s amazing grace poured out for Jew and Gentile alike.
Food for Thought:
How can we stand against the devil’s strategies?
What benefit is there in taking up the whole armor of God?
What is this armor? How does it work?
What does Paul stress about prayer?