Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Children - τέκνα tekna This word usually signifies those who are young; but it is used here, evidently, to denote those who were under the care and government of their parents, or those who were not of age.
Obey your parents - This is the first great duty which God has enjoined on children. It is, to do what their parents command them to do. The God of nature indicates that this is duty; for he has impressed it on the minds of all in every age; and the Author of revelation confirms it. It is particularly important:
(1) Because the good order of a family, and hence of the community, depends on it; no community or family being prosperous where there is not due subordination in the household.
(2) because the welfare of the child depends on it; it being of the highest importance that a child should be early taught obedience to "law," as no one can be prosperous or happy who is not thus obedient.
(3) because the child is not competent as yet; to "reason" on what is right, or qualified to direct himself; and, while that is the case, he must be subject to the will of some other person.
(4) because the parent, by his age and experience, is to be presumed to be qualified to direct and guide a child. The love which God has implanted in the heart of a parent for a child secures, in general, the administration of this domestic government in such a way as not to injure the child. A father will not, unless under strong passion or the excitement of intoxication, abuse his authority. He loves the child too much. He desires his welfare; and the placing of the child under the authority of the parent is about the same thing in regard to the welfare of the child, as it would be to endow the child at once with all the wisdom and experience of the parent himself.
(5) it is important, because the family government is designed to be an imitation of the government of God. The government of God is what a perfect family government would be; and to accustom a child to be obedient to a parent, is designed to be one method of leading him to be obedient to God. No child that is disobedient to a parent will be obedient to God; and that child that is most obedient to a father and mother will be most likely to become a Christian, and an heir of heaven. And it may be observed, in general, that no disobedient child is virtuous, prosperous, or happy. Everyone foresees the ruin of such a child; and most of the cases of crime that lead to the penitentiary, or the gallows, commence by disobedience to parents.
In the Lord - That is, as far as their commandments agree with those of God, and no further. No parent can have a right to require a child to steal, or lie, or cheat, or assist him in committing murder, or in doing any other wrong thing. No parent has a right to forbid a child to pray, to read the Bible, to worship God, or to make a profession of religion. The duties and rights of children in such cases are similar to those of wives (see the notes on Ephesians 5:22); and in all cases, God is to be obeyed rather than man. When a parent, however, is opposed to a child; when he expresses an unwillingness that a child should attend a particular church, or make a profession of religion, such opposition should in all cases be a sufficient reason for the child to pause and re-examine the subject. he should pray much, and think much, and inquire much, before, in any case, he acts contrary to the will of a father or mother; and, when he does do it, he should state to them, with great gentleness and kindness, that he believes he ought to love and serve God.
For this is right - It is right:
(1) because it is so appointed by God as a duty;
(2) because children owe a debt of gratitude to their parents for what they have done for them;
(3) because it will be for the good of the children themselves, and for the welfare of society.
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Honour thy father and mother - see Exodus 20:12; compare notes on Matthew 15:4.
Which is the first commandment with promise - With a promise annexed to it. The promise was, that their days should be long in the land which the Lord their God would give them. It is not to be supposed that the observance of the four first commandments would not be attended with a blessing, but no particular blessing is promised. It is true, indeed, that there is a "general declaration" annexed to the second commandment, that God would show mercy to thousands of generations of them that loved him and that kept his commandments. But that is rather a declaration in regard to all the commands of God than a promise annexed to that specific commandment. It is an assurance that obedience to the law of God would be followed with blessings to a thousand generations, and is given in view of the first and second commandments together, because they related particularly to the honor that was due to God. But the promise in the fifth commandment is a "special promise." It does not relate to obedience to God in general, but it is a particular assurance that they who honor their parents shall have a particular blessing as the result of that obedience.
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
That it may be well with thee - This is found in the fifth commandment as recorded in Deuteronomy 5:16. The whole commandment as there recorded is, "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." The meaning here is, that they would be more happy, useful, and virtuous if they obeyed their parents than if they disobeyed them.
And thou mayest live long on the earth - In the commandment as recorded in Exodus 20:12, the promise is, "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." This referred to the promised land - the land of Canaan. The meaning doubtless, is, that there would be a special providence, securing to those who were obedient to parents length of days. Long life was regarded as a great blessing; and this blessing was promised. The apostle here gives to the promise a more general form, and says that obedience to parents was connected at all times with long life. We may remark here:
(1) that long life is a blessing. It affords a longer space to prepare for eternity; it enables a man to be more useful; and it furnishes a longer opportunity to study the works of God on earth. It is not improper to desire it; and we should make use of all the means in our power to lengthen out our days, and to preserve and protect our lives.
(2) it is still true that obedience to parents is conducive to length of life, and that those who are most obedient in early life, other things being equal, have the best prospect of living long. This occurs because:
(a) obedient children are saved from the vices and crimes which shorten life. No parent will command his child to be a drunkard, a gambler, a spendthrift, a pirate, or a murderer. But these vices and crimes, resulting in most cases from disobedience to parents, all shorten life; and they who early commit them are certain of on early grave. No child who disobeys a parent can have any "security" that he will not fall a victim to such vices and crimes.
(b) Obedience to parents is connected with virtuous habits that are conducive to long life. It will make a child industrious, temperate, sober; it will lead him to restrain and govern his wild passions; it will lead him to form habits of self-government which will in future life save him from the snares of vice and temptation.
(c) Many a life is lost early by disobeying a parent. A child disobeys a father and goes into a dramshop; or he goes to sea; or he becomes the companion of the wicked - and he may be wrecked at sea, or his character on land may be wrecked forever. Of disobedient children there is perhaps not one in a hundred that ever reaches an honored old age.
(d) We may still believe that God, in his providence, will watch over those who are obedient to a father and mother. If he regards a falling sparrow Matthew 10:29, he will not be unmindful of an obedient child; if he numbers the hairs of the head Matthew 10:30, he will not be regardless of the little boy that honors him by obeying a father and mother.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
And ye fathers - A command addressed particularly to "fathers," because they are at the head of the family, and its government is especially committed to them. The object of the apostle here is, to show parents that their commands should be such that they can be easily obeyed, or such as are entirely reasonable and proper. If children are required to "obey," it is but reasonable that the commands of the parent should be such that they can be obeyed, or such that the child shall not be discouraged in his attempt to obey. This statement is in accordance with what he had said Ephesians 5:22-25 of the relation of husband and wife. It was the duty of the wife to obey - but it was the corresponding duty of the husband to manifest such a character that it would be pleasant to yield obedience - so to love her, that his known wish would be law to her. In like manner it is the duty of children to obey a parent; but it is the duty of a parent to exhibit such a character, and to maintain such a government, that it would be proper for the child to obey; to command nothing that is unreasonable or improper, but to train up his children in the ways of virtue and pure religion.
Provoke not your children to wrath - That is, by unreasonable commands; by needless severity; by the manifestation of anger. So govern them, and so punish them - if punishment is necessary - that they shall not lose their confidence in you, but shall love you. The apostle here has hit on the very danger to which parents are most exposed in the government of their children. It is that of souring their temper; of making them feel that the parent is under the influence of anger, and that it is right for them to be so too. This is done:
(1) when the commands of a parent are unreasonable and severe. The spirit of a child then becomes irritated, and he is "discouraged;" Colossians 3:21.
(2) when a parent is evidently "excited" when he punishes a child. The child then feels:
(a) that if his "father" is angry, it is not wrong for him to be angry; and,
(b) the very fact of anger in a parent kindles anger in his bosom - just as it does when two men are contending.
If he submits in the case, it is only because the parent is the "strongest," not because he is "right," and the child cherishes "anger," while he yields to power. There is no principle of parental government more important than that a father should command his own temper when he inflicts punishment. He should punish a child not because he is "angry," but because it is "right;" not because it has become a matter of "personal contest," but because God requires that he should do it, and the welfare of the child demands it. The moment when a child seem that a parent punishes him under the influence of anger, that moment the child will be likely to be angry too - and his anger will be as proper as that of the parent. And yet, how often is punishment inflicted in this manner! And how often does the child feel that the parent punished him simply because he was the "strongest," not because it was "right;" and how often is the mind of a child left with a strong conviction that wrong has been done him by the punishment which he has received, rather than with repentance for the wrong that he has himself done.
But bring them up - Place them under such discipline and instruction that they shall become acquainted with the Lord.
In the nurture - ἐν παιδεία en paideia. The word used here means "training of a child;" hence education, instruction, discipline. Here it means that they are to train up their children in such a manner as the Lord approves; that is, they are to educate them for virtue and religion.
And admonition - The word used here - νουθεσία nouthesia means literally, "a putting in mind," then warning, admonition, instruction. The sense here is, that they were to put them in mind of the Lord - of his existence, perfections, law, and claims on their hearts and lives. This command is positive, and is in accordance with all the requirements of the Bible on the subject. No one can doubt that the Bible enjoins on parents the duty of endeavoring to train up their children in the ways of religion, and of making it the grand purpose of this life to prepare them for heaven. It has been often objected that children should be left on religious subjects to form their own opinions when they are able to judge for themselves. Infidels and irreligious people always oppose or neglect the duty here enjoined; and the plea commonly is, that to teach religion to children is to make them prejudiced; to destroy their independence of mind; and to prevent their judging as impartially on so important a subject as they ought to. In reply to this, and in defense of the requirements of the Bible on the subject, we may remark:
(1) That to suffer a child to grow up without any instruction in religion, is about the same as to suffer a garden to lie without any culture. Such a garden would soon be overrun with weeds, and briars, and thorns - but not sooner, or more certainly, than the mind of a child would.
(2) people do instruct their children in a great many things, and why should they not in religion? They teach them how to behave in company; the art of farming; the way to make or use tools; how to make money; how to avoid the arts of the cunning seducer. But why should it not be said that all this tends to destroy their independence, and to make them prejudiced? Why not leave their minds open and free, and suffer them to form their own judgments about farming and the mechanic arts when their minds are matured?
(3) people do inculcate their own sentiments in religion. An infidel is not usually "very" anxious to conceal his views from his children. People teach by example; by incidental remarks; by the "neglect" of that which they regard as of no value. A man who does not pray, is teaching his children not to pray; he who neglects the public worship of God, is teaching his children to neglect it; he who does not read the Bible, is teaching his children not to read it. Such is the constitution of things, that it is impossible for a parent not to inculcate his own religious views on his children. Since this is so, all that the Bible requires is, that his instructions should be right.
(4) to inculcate the truths of religion is not to make the mind narrow, prejudiced, and indisposed to perceive the truth. Religion makes the mind candid, conscientious, open to conviction, ready to follow the truth. Superstition, bigotry, infidelity, and "all" error and falsehood, make the mind narrow and prejudiced.
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;
Servants - οἵ δοῦλοι hoi douloi. The word used here denotes one who is bound to render service to another, whether that service be free or voluntary, and may denote, therefore, either a slave, or one who binds himself to render service to another. It is often used in these senses in the New Testament, just as it is elsewhere. It cannot be demonstrated that the word here necessarily means "slaves;" though, if slavery existed among those to whom this Epistle was written - as there can be little doubt that it did - it is a word which would apply to those in this condition; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 7:21; Galatians 3:28, note. On the general subject of slavery, and the Scripture doctrine in regard to it; see notes on Isaiah 58:6. Whether the persons here referred to were slaves, or were those who had bound themselves to render a voluntary servitude, the directions here given were equally appropriate. It was not the design of the Christian religion to produce a rude sundering of the ties which bind man to man, but to teach all to perform their duties aright in the relations in which Christianity found them, and gradually to modify the customs of society, and to produce ultimately the universal prevalence of that which is right.
Be obedient to them - This is the uniform direction in the New Testament; see 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:1-3; notes 1 Corinthians 7:21. The idea is that they were to show in that relation the excellence of the religion which they professed. If they could be made free, they were to prefer that condition to a state of bondage 1 Corinthians 7:21, but while the relation remained, they were to be kind, gentle, and obedient, as became Christians. In the parallel place in Colossians Col 3:22, it is said that they were to obey their masters "in all things." But evidently this is to be understood with the limitations implied in the case of wives and children (see the notes on Ephesians 5:24; Ephesians 6:1, note), and a master would have no right to command that which was morally wrong.
According to the flesh - This is designed, evidently, to limit the obligation to obedience. The meaning is, that they had control over "the body, the flesh." They had the power to command the service which the body could render; but they were not lords of the spirit. The soul acknowledged God as its Lord, and to the Lord they were to be subject in a higher sense than to their masters.
With fear and trembling - With reverence and with a dread of offending them. They have authority and power over you, and you should be afraid to incur their displeasure. Whatever might be true about the propriety of slavery, and whatever might be the duty of the master about setting the slave free, it would be more to the honor of religion for the servant to perform his task with a willing mind than to be contumacious and rebellions. He could do more for the honor of religion by patiently submitting to even what he felt to be wrong, than by being punished for what would be regarded as rebellion. It may be added here, that it was presumed that servants then could read. These directions were addressed to them, not to their masters. Of what use would be directions like these addressed to American slaves - scarce any of whom can read?
In singleness of your heart - With a simple, sincere desire to do what ought to be done.
As unto Christ - Feeling that by rendering proper service to your masters, you are in fact serving the Lord, and that you are doing that which will be well-pleasing to him; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 7:22. Fidelity, in whatever situation we may be in life, is acceptable service to the Lord. A Christian may as acceptably serve the Lord Jesus in the condition of a servant, as if he were a minister of the gospel, or a king on a throne. Besides, it will greatly lighten the burdens of such a situation, and make the toils of an humble condition easy, to remember that we are then "serving the Lord."
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Nor with eye-service - That is, not with service rendered only under the eye of the master, or when his eye is fixed on you. The apostle has here adverted to one of the evils of involuntary servitude as it exists everywhere. It is, that the slave will usually obey only when the eye of the master is upon him. The freeman who agrees to labor for stipulated wages may be trusted when the master is out of sight; but not the slave. Hence the necessity where there are slaves of having "drivers" who shall attend them, and who shall compel them to work. This evil it is impossible to avoid, except where true religion prevails - and the extensive prevalence of true religion would set the slave at liberty. Yet as long as the relation exists, the apostle would enjoin on the servant the duty of performing his work conscientiously, as rendering service to the Lord. This direction, moreover, is one of great importance to all who are employed in the service of others. They are bound to perform their duty with as much fidelity as though the eye of the employer was always upon them, remembering that though the eye of man may be turned away, that of God never is.
As men-pleasers - As if it were the main object to please people. The object should be rather to please and honor God.
But as the servants of Christ - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 7:22.
Doing the will of God from the heart - That is, God requires industry, fidelity, conscientiousness, submission, and obedience in that rank of life. We render acceptable service to God when, from regard to his will, we perform the services which are demanded of us in the situation in life where we may be placed, however humble that may be.
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
As to the Lord, and not to men - That is, he should regard his lot in life as having been ordered by Divine Providence for some wise and good purpose; and until he may be permitted to enjoy his liberty in a quiet and peaceable manner (notes, 1 Corinthians 7:21), he should perform his duties with fidelity, and feel that he was rendering acceptable service to God. This would reconcile him to much of the hardships of his lot. The feeling that "God" has ordered the circumstances of our lives, and that he has some wise and good ends to answer by it, makes us contented there; though we may feel that our fellowman may be doing us injustice. It was this principle that made the martyrs so patient under the wrongs done them by people; and this may make even a slave patient and submissive under the wrongs of a master. But let not a master think, because a pious slave shows this spirit, that, therefore, the slave feels that the master is right in withholding his freedom; nor let him suppose, because religion requires the slave to be submissive and obedient, that, therefore, it approves of what the master does. It does this no more than it sanctioned the conduct of Nero and Mary, because religion required the martyrs to be unresisting, and to allow themselves to be led to the stake. A conscientious slave may find happiness in submitting to God, and doing his will, just as a conscientious martyr may. But this does not sanction the wrong, either of the slave-owner or of the persecutor.
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
Knowing that whatsoever good thing - Whatever a man does that is right, for that he shall be appropriately rewarded. No matter what his rank in life, if he discharges his duty to God and man, he will be accepted. A man in a state of servitude may so live as to honor God; and, so living, he should not be greatly solicitous about his condition. A master may fail to render suitable recompense to a slave. But, if the servant is faithful to God, he will recompense him in the future world. It is in this way that religion would make the evils of life tolerable, by teaching those who are oppressed to hear their trials in a patient spirit, and to look forward to the future world of reward. Religion does not approve of slavery. It is the friend of human rights. If it had full influence on earth, it would restore every man to freedom, and impart to each one his rights. Christianity nowhere requires its friends to make or to own a slave. No one under the proper influence of religion ever yet made a man a slave; there is no one under its proper influence who would not desire that all should be free; and just in proportion as true religion spreads over the world, will universal freedom be its attendant. But Christianity would lighten the evils of slavery even while it exists, and would comfort those who are doomed to so hard a lot, by assuring them that there they may render acceptable service to God, and that they soon will be admitted to a world where galling servitude will be known no more. If they may not have freedom here, they may have contentment if they feel that wrong is done them by men, they may feel that right will be done them by God; if their masters do not reward them for their services here, God will; and if they may not enjoy liberty here, they will soon be received into the world of perfect freedom - heaven.
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.
And, ye masters - The object of this is, to secure for servants a proper treatment. It is evident, from this, that there were in the Christian church those who were "masters;" and the most obvious interpretation is, that they were the owners of slaves. Some such persons would be converted, as such are now. Paul did not say that they could not be Christians. He did not say that they should he excluded at once from the communion. He did not hold them up to reproach, or use harsh and severe language in regard to them. He taught them their duty toward those who were under them, and laid down principles which, if followed, would lead ultimately to universal freedom.
Do the same things unto them - τὰ αὐτὰ ta auta. The "same things," here seem to refer to what he had said in the previous verses. They were, to evince toward their servants the same spirit which he had required servants to evince toward them - the same kindness, fidelity, and respect for the will of God. He had required servants to act conscientiously; to remember that the eye of God was upon them, and that in that condition in life they were to regard themselves as serving God, and as mainly answerable to him. The same things the apostle would have masters feel. They were to be faithful, conscientious, just, true to the interests of their servants, and to remember that they were responsible to God. They were not to take advantage of their power to oppress them, to punish them unreasonably, or to suppose that they were freed from responsibility in regard to the manner in which they treated them. In the corresponding passage in Colossians (Colossians 4:1), this is, "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal;" see the note on that place.
Forbearing threatening - Margin, "moderating." The Greek word means to "relax, loosen;" and then, to "omit, cease from." This is evidently the meaning here The sense is, that they were to be kind, affectionate, just. It does not mean that they were to remit punishment where it was deserved; but the object is to guard against that to which they were so much exposed in their condition - a fretful, dissatisfied temper; a disposition to govern by terror rather than by love. Where this unhappy state of society exists, it would be worth the trial of those who sustain the relation of masters, to see whether it would not be "possible" to govern their servants, as the apostle here advises, by the exercise of love. Might not kindness, and confidence, and the fear of the Lord, be substituted for threats and stripes?
Knowing that your Master also is in heaven - Margin, "Some read, both your and their." Many mss. have this reading; see Mill. The sense is not materially affected, further than, according to the margin, the effect would be to make the master and the servant feel that, in a most important sense, they were on an equality. According to the common reading, the sense is, that masters should remember that they were responsible to God, and this fact should be allowed to influence them in a proper manner. This it would do in two ways:
(1) By the fact that injustice toward their servants would then be punished as it deserved - since there was no respect of persons with God.
(2) it would lead them to act toward their servants as they would desire God to treat them. Nothing would be better adapted to do this than the feeling that they had a common Master, and that they were soon to stand at his bar.
Neither is there respect of persons with him - see this expression explained in the notes on Romans 2:11. The meaning here is, that God would not be influenced in the distribution of rewards and punishments, by a regard to the rank or condition of the master or the slave. He would show no favor to the one because he was a master; he would withhold none from the other because he was a slave. He would treat both according to their character. In this world they occupied different ranks and conditions; at his bar they would be called to answer before the same Judge. It follows from this:
(1) that a slave is not to be regarded as a "chattel," or a "thing," or as "property." He is a man; a redeemed man; an immortal man. He is one for whom Christ died. But Christ did not die for "chattels" and "things."
(2) the master and the servant in their great interests are on a level. Both are sinners; both will soon die; both will moulder back in the same manner to dust; both will stand at the tribunal of God; both will give up their account. The one will not be admitted to heaven because he is a master; nor will the other be thrust down to hell because he is a slave. If both are Christians, they will be admitted to a heaven where the distinctions of rank and color are unknown. If the master is not a Christian and the servant is, he who has regarded himself as superior to the servant in this life, will see "him" ascend to heaven while he himself will be thrust down to hell.
(3) Considerations like these will if they have their proper influence, produce two effects:
(a) They will lighten the yoke of slavery while it continues, and while it may be difficult to remove it at once. If the master and the slave were both Christians, even if the relation continued, it would be rather a relation of mutual confidence. The master would become the protector, the teacher, the guide, the friend; the servant would become the faithful helper - rendering service to one whom he loved, and to whom he felt himself bound by the obligations of gratitude and affection.
(b) But this state of feeling would soon lead to emancipation. There is something shocking to the feelings of all, and monstrous to a Christian, in the idea of holding "a Christian brother" in bondage. So long as the slave is regarded as a "chattel" or a mere piece of "property," like a horse, so long people endeavor to content themselves with the feeling that he may be held in bondage. But the moment it is felt that he is a "Christian brother" - a redeemed fellow-traveler to eternity, a joint heir of life - that moment a Christian should feel that there is something that violates all the principles of his religion in holding him as A slave; in making a "chattel" of that for which Christ died, and in buying and selling like a horse, an ox, or an ass, a child of God, and an heir of life. Accordingly, the prevalence of Christianity soon did away the evil of slavery in the Roman empire; and if it prevailed in its purity, it would soon banish it from the face of the earth.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord - Paul had now stated to the Ephesians the duties which they were to perform. He had considered the various relations of life which they sustained, and the obligations resulting from them. He was not unaware that in the discharge of their duties they would need strength from above. He knew that they had great and mighty foes, and that to meet them, they needed to be clothed in the panoply of the Christian soldier. He closes, therefore, by exhorting them to put on all the strength which they could to meet the enemies with which they had to contend; and in the commencement of his exhortation he reminds them that it was only by the strength of the Lord that they could hope for victory. To be "strong in the Lord," is:
(1) to be strong or courageous in his cause;
(2) to feel that he is our strength, and to rely on him and his promises.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Put on the whole armor of God - The whole description here is derived from the weapons of an ancient soldier. The various parts of those weapons - constituting the "whole panoply" - are specified in Ephesians 6:14-17. The word rendered "whole armor" πανοπλίαν panoplian, "panoply"), means "complete armor," offensive and defensive; see Luke 11:22; Romans 13:12 note; 2 Corinthians 6:7 note. "The armor of God" is not that which God wears, but that which he has provided for the Christian soldier. The meaning here is:
(1) that we are not to provide in our warfare such weapons as people employ in their contests, but such as God provides; that we are to renounce the weapons which are carnal, and put on such as God has directed for the achievement of the victory.
(2) we are to put on the "whole armor." We are not to go armed partly with what God has appointed, and partly with such weapons as people use; nor are we to put on "a part" of the armor only, but the "whole" of it. A man needs "all" that armor if he is about to fight the battles of the Lord; and if he lacks "one" of the weapons which God has appointed, defeat may be the consequence.
That ye may be able to stand - The foes are so numerous and mighty, that unless clothed with the divine armor, victory will be impossible.
Against the wiles of the devil - The word rendered "wiles" (μεθοδεία methodeia), means properly that which is traced out with "method;" that which is "methodized;" and then that which is well laid - art, skill, cunning. It occurs in the New Testament only in Ephesians 4:14, and in this place. It is appropriately rendered here as "wiles," meaning cunning devices, arts, attempts to delude and destroy us. The wiles "of the devil" are the various arts and stratagems which he employs to drag souls down to perdition. We can more easily encounter open force than we can cunning; and we need the weapons of Christian armor to meet the attempts to draw us into a snare, as much as to meet open force. The idea here is, that Satan does not carry on an open warfare. He does not meet the Christian soldier face to face. He advances covertly; makes his approaches in darkness; employs cunning rather than power, and seeks rather to delude and betray than to vanquish by mere force. Hence, the necessity of being constantly armed to meet him whenever the attack is made. A man who has to contend with a visible enemy, may feel safe if he only prepares to meet him in the open field. But far different is the case if the enemy is invisible; if he steals upon us slyly and stealthily; if he practices war only by ambushes and by surprises. Such is the foe that we have to contend with - and almost all the Christian struggle is a warfare against stratagems and wiles. Satan does not openly appear. He approaches us not in repulsive forms, but comes to recommend some plausible doctrine, to lay before us some temptation that shall not immediately repel us. He presents the world in an alluring aspect; invites us to pleasures that seem to be harmless, and leads us in indulgence until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat.
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 we wrestle - Greek, "The wrestling to us;" or, "There is not to us a wrestling with flesh and blood." There is undoubtedly here an allusion to the ancient games of Greece, a part of the exercises in which consisted in wrestling; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. The Greek word used here - πάλη palē - denotes a "wrestling;" and then a struggle, fight, combat. Here it refers to the struggle or combat which the Christian has to mainrain - the Christian warfare.
Not against flesh and blood - Not with people; see the notes on Galatians 1:16. The apostle does not mean to say that Christians had no enemies among men that opposed them, for they were exposed often to fiery persecution; nor that they had nothing to contend with in the carnal and corrupt propensities of their nature, which was true of them then as it is now; but that their main controversy was with the invisible spirits of wickedness that sought to destroy them. They were the source and origin of all their spiritual conflicts, and with them the warfare was to be maintained.
But against principalities - There can be no doubt whatever that the apostle alludes here to evil spirits. Like good angels, they were regarded as divided into ranks and orders, and were supposed to be under the control of one mighty leader; see the notes on Ephesians 1:21. It is probable that the allusion here is to the ranks and orders which they sustained before their fall, something like which they may still retain. The word "principalities" refers to principal rulers, or chieftains.
Powers - Those who had power, or to whom the name of "powers" was given. Milton represents Satan as addressing the fallen angels in similar language:
"Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers."
Against the rulers of the darkness of this world - The rulers that preside over the regions of ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds, compare notes on Ephesians 2:2. "Darkness" is an emblem of ignorance, misery, and sin; and no description could be more accurate than that of representing these malignant spirits as ruling over a dark world. The earth - dark, and wretched and ignorant, and sinful - is just such a dominion as they would choose, or as they would cause; and the degradation and woe of the pagan world are just such as foul and malignant spirits would delight in. It is a wide and a powerful empire. It has been consolidated by ages. It is sustained by all the authority of law; by all the omnipotence of the perverted religious principle; by all the reverence for antiquity; by all the power of selfish, corrupt, and base passions. No empire has been so extended, or has continued so long, as that empire of darkness; and nothing on earth is so difficult to destroy.
Yet the apostle says that it was on that kingdom they were to make war. Against that, the kingdom of the Redeemer was to be set up; and that was to be overcome by the spiritual weapons which he specifies. When he speaks of the Christian warfare here, he refers to the contest with the powers of this dark kingdom. He regards each and every Christian as a soldier to wage war on it in whatever way he could, and wherever he could attack it. The contest therefore was not primarily with people, or with the internal corrupt propensities of the soul; it was with this vast and dark kingdom that had been set up over mankind. I do not regard this passage, therefore, as having a primary reference to the struggle which a Christian maintains with his own corrupt propensities. It is a warfare on a large scale with the entire kingdom of darkness over the world. Yet in maintaining the warfare, the struggle will be with such portions of that kingdom as we come in contact with and will actually relate:
(1) to our own sinful propensities - which are a part of the kingdom of darkness;
(2) with the evil passions of others - their pride, ambition, and spirit of revenge - which are also a part of that kingdom;
(3) with the evil customs, laws, opinions, employments, pleasures of the world - which are also a part of that dark kingdom;
(4) with error, superstition, false doctrine - which are also a part of that kingdom; and,
(5) with the wickedness of the pagan world - the sins of benighted nations - also a part of that kingdom. Wherever we come in contact with evil - whether in our own hearts or elsewhere - there we are to make war.
Against spiritual wickedness - Margin, "or wicked spirits." Literally, "The spiritual things of wickedness;" but the allusion is undoubtedly to evil spirits, and to their influences on earth.
In high places - ἐν τοῖς ἐπουράνιοις - "in celestial or heavenly places." The same phrase occurs in Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6, where it is translated, "in heavenly places." The word (ἐπουράνιος epouranios) is used of those that dwell in heaven, Matthew 18:35; Philippians 2:10; of those who come from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:48; Philippians 3:21; of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, 1 Corinthians 15:40. Then the neuter plural of the word is used to denote the heavens; and then the "lower" heavens, the sky, the air, represented as the seat of evil spirits; see the notes on Ephesians 2:2. This is the allusion here. The evil spirits are supposed to occupy the lofty regions of the air, and thence to exert a baleful influence on the affairs of man. What was the origin of this opinion it is not needful here to inquire. No one can "prove," however, that it is incorrect. It is against such spirits, and all their malignant influences, that Christians are called to contend. In whatever way their power is put forth - whether in the prevalence of vice and error; of superstition and magic arts; of infidelity, atheism, or antinomianism; of evil customs and laws; of pernicious fashions and opinions, or in the corruptions of our own hearts, we are to make war on all these forms of evil, and never to yield in the conflict.
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 day of temptation; the day when you are violently assaulted.
And having done all, to stand - Margin, "or overcome." The Greek word means, to work out, effect, or produce; and then to work up, to make an end of, to vanquish. Robinson, Lexicon. The idea seems to be, that they were to overcome or vanquish all their foes, and thus to stand firm. The whole language here is taken from war; and the idea is, that every foe was to be subdued - no matter how numerous or formidable they might be. Safety and triumph could be looked for only when every enemy was slain.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Stand therefore - Resist every attack - as a soldier does in battle. In what way they were to do this, and how they were to be armed, the apostle proceeds to specify; and in doing it, gives a description of the ancient armor of a soldier.
Having your loins girt about - The "girdle, or sash," was always with the ancients an important part of their dress, in war as well as in peace. They wore loose, flowing robes; and it became necessary to gird them up when they traveled, or ran, or labored. The girdle was often highly ornamented, and was the place where they carried their money, their sword, their pipe, their writing instruments, etc.; see the notes on Matthew 5:38-41. The "girdle" seems sometimes to have been a cincture of iron or steel, and designed to keep every part of the armor in its place, and to gird the soldier on every side.
With truth - It may not be easy to determine with entire accuracy the resemblance between the parts of the armor specified in this description, and the things with which they are compared, or to determine precisely why he compared truth to a girdle, and "righteousness" to a breast-plate, rather than why he should have chosen a different order, and compared righteousness to a girdle, etc. Perhaps in themselves there may have been no special reason for this arrangement, but the object may have been merely to specify the different parts of the armor of a soldier, and to compare them with the weapons which Christians were to use, though the comparison should be made somewhat at random. In some of the cases, however, we can see a particular significancy in the comparisons which are made; and it may not be improper to make suggestions of that kind as we go along. The idea here may be, that as the girdle was the bracer up, or support of the body, so truth is suited to brace us up, and to gird us for constancy and firmness. The girdle kept all the parts of the armor in their proper place, and preserved firmness and consistency in the dress; and so truth might serve to give consistency and firmness to our conduct. "Great," says Grotius, "is the laxity of falsehood; truth binds the man." Truth preserves a man from those lax views of morals, of duty and of religion, which leave him exposed to every assault. It makes the soul sincere, firm, constant, and always on its guard. A man who has no consistent views of truth, is just the man for the adversary successfully to assail.
And having on the breast-plate - The word rendered here as "breastplate" θώρἀξ thōrax denoted the "cuirass," Lat.: lorica, or coat of mail; i. e., the armor that covered the body from the neck to the thighs, and consisted of two parts, one covering the front and the other the back. It was made of rings, or in the form of scales, or of plates, so fastened together that they, would be flexible, and yet guard the body from a sword, spear, or arrow. It is referred to in the Scriptures as a "coat of mail" 1 Samuel 17:5; an "habergeon" Nehemiah 4:16, or as a "breast-plate." We are told that Goliath's coat of mail weighed five thousand shekels of brass, or nearly one hundred and sixty pounds. It was often formed of plates of brass, laid one upon another, like the scales of a fish. The following cuts will give an idea of this ancient piece of armor.
Of righteousness - Integrity, holiness, purity of life, sincerity of piety. The breast-plate defended the vital parts of the body; and the idea here may be that the integrity of life, and righteousness of character, is as necessary to defend us from the assaults of Satan, as the coat of mail was to preserve the heart from the arrows of an enemy. It was the incorruptible integrity of Job, and, in a higher sense, of the Redeemer himself, that saved them from the temptations of the devil. And it is as true now that no one can successfully meet the power of temptation unless he is righteous, as that a soldier could not defend himself against a foe without such a coat of mail. A want of integrity will leave a man exposed to the assaults of the enemy, just as a man would be whose coat of mail was defective, or some part of which was missing. The king of Israel was smitten by an arrow sent from a bow, drawn at a venture, "between the joints of his harness" or the "breast-plate" (margin), 1 Kings 22:34; and many a man who thinks he has on the "Christian" armor is smitten in the same manner. There is some defect of character; some want of incorruptible integrity; some point that is unguarded - and that will be sure to be the point of attack by the foe. So David was tempted to commit the enormous crimes that stain his memory, and Peter to deny his Lord. So Judas was assailed, for the want of the armor of righteousness, through his avarice; and so, by some want of incorruptible integrity in a single point, many a minister of the gospel has been assailed and has fallen. It may be added here, that we need a righteousness which God alone can give; the righteousness of God our Saviour, to make us perfectly invulnerable to all the arrows of the foe.
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
And your feet shod - There is undoubtedly an allusion here to what was worn by the ancient soldier to guard his feet. The Greek is, literally, "having underbound the feet;" that is, having bound on the shoes, or sandais, or whatever was worn by the ancient soldier. The protection of the feet and ankles consisted of two parts:
(1) The sandals, or shoes, which were probably made so as to cover the foot, and which often were fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground: or.
(2) with "greaves" that were fitted to the legs, and designed to defond them from any danger. These "greaves," or boots 1 Samuel 17:6, were made of brass, and were in almost universal use among the Greeks and Romans.
With the preparation - Prepared with the gospel of peace. The sense is, that the Christian soldier is to be prepared with the gospel of peace to meet attacks similar to those against which the ancient soldier designed to guard himself by the sandals or greaves which he wore. The word rendered "preparation" - (ἑτοιμασία hetoimasia) - means properly readiness, fitness for, alacrity; and the idea, according to Robinson (Lexicon), is, that they were to be ever ready to go forth to preach the gospel. Taylor (Fragments to Calmet's Dic., No. 219) supposes that it means, "Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel; not iron, not steel - but patient investigation, calm inquiry, assiduous, laborious, lasting; or with "firm footing" in the gospel of peace." Locke supposes it to mean," with a readiness to walk in the gospel of peace." Doddridge supposes that the allusion is to "greaves," and the spirit recommended is that peaceful and benevolent temper recommended in the gospel, and which, like the boots worn by soldiers, would bear them safe through many obstructions and trials that might be opposed to them, as a soldier might encounter sharp-pointed thorns that would oppose his progress.
It is difficult to determine the exact meaning; and perhaps all expositors have erred in endeavoring to explain the reference of these parts of armor by some particular thing in the gospel. The apostle figured to himself a soldier, clad in the usual manner. Christians were to resemble him. One part of his dress or preparation consisted in the covering and defense of the foot. It was to preserve the foot from danger, and to secure the facility of his march, and perhaps to make him firm in battle. Christians were to have the principles of the gospel of peace - the peaceful and pure gospel - to facilitate them; to aid them in their marches; to make them firm in the day of conflict with their foes. They were not to be furnished with carnal weapons, but with the peaceful gospel of the Redeemer; and, sustained by this, they were to go on in their march through the world. The principles of the gospel were to do for them what the greaves and iron-spiked sandals did for the soldier - to make them ready for the march, to make them firm in their foot-tread, and to be a part of their defense against their foes.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Above all - Ἐν πᾶσιν En pasin. Not "above all" in point of importance or value, but "over" all, as a soldier holds his shield to defend himself. It constitutes a protection over every part of his body, as it can be turned in every direction. The idea is, that as the shield covered or protected the other parts of the armor, so faith had a similar importance in the Christian virtues.
The shield - note, Isaiah 21:9. The shield was usually made of light wood. or a rim of brass, and covered with several folds or thicknesses of stout hide, which was preserved by frequent anointing. It was held by the left arm, and was secured by straps, through which the arm passed, as may be seen in the annexed figures. The outer surface of the shield was made more or less rounding. Item the center to the edge, and was polished smooth, or anointed with oil, so that arrows or darts would glance off, or rebound.
Of faith - On the nature of faith, see the notes on Mark 16:16. Faith here is made to occupy a more important place than either of the other Christian graces. It bears, to the whole Christian character, the same relation which the shield does to the other parts of the armor of a soldier. It protects all, and is indispensable to the security of all, as is the case with the shield. The shield was an ingenious device by which blows and arrows might be parried off, and the whole body defended. It could be made to protect the head, or the heart, or thrown behind to meet all attack there. As long as the soldier had his shield, he felt secure; and as long as a Christian has faith, he is safe. It comes to his aid in every attack that is made on him, no matter from what quarter; it is the defense and guardian of every other Christian grace; and it secures the protection which the Christian needs in the whole of the spiritual war.
Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked - Or, rather, "of the wicked one" - τοῦ πονηροῦ tou ponērou. The allusion is undoubtedly to the great enemy of the people of God, called, by way of eminence, the "wicked one;" compare 2 Thessalonians 3:3. Mr. Locke renders this, "Wherein you may receive, and so render ineffectual," etc. There seems a little incongruity in the idea of "quenching" darts by "a shield." But the word "quench," here, means only that they would be "put out" by being thrown "against" the shield, as a candle would by being thrown against anything. "The fiery darts" that were used in war were small, slender pieces of cane, which were filled with combustible materials, and set on fire; or darts around which some combustible material was wound, and which were set on fire, and then shot "slowly" against a foe. The object was to make the arrow fasten in the body, and increase the danger by the burning; or, more frequently, those darts were thrown against ships, forts, tents, etc., with an intention to set them on fire. They were in common use among the ancients. Arrian (Exped. Alexan. 11) mentions the πυρφορα βελη purphora belē, the fire-bearing weapons; Thucydides (ii. c. 75), the πυρφοροι ὀΐστοι purphoroi oistoi, the fire-bearing arrows; and Livy refers to similar weapons as in common use in war; lib. xxi. c. 8. By the "fiery darts of the wicked," Paul here refers, probably, to the temptations of the great adversary, which are like fiery darts; or those furious suggestions of evil, and excitements to sin, which he may throw into the mind like fiery darts. They are - blasphemous thoughts, unbelief, sudden temptation to do wrong, or thoughts that wound and torment the soul. In regard to them, we may observe:
(1) that they come suddenly, like arrows sped from a bow;
(2) they come from unexpected quarters, like arrows shot suddenly from an enemy in ambush;
(3) they pierce, and penetrate, and torment the soul, as arrows would that are on fire;
(4) they set the soul on fire, and enkindle the worst passions, as fiery darts do a ship or camp against which they are sent.
The only way to meet them is by the "shield of faith;" by confidence in God, and by relying on his gracious promises and aid. It is not by our own strength; and, if we have not faith in God, we are wholly defenseless. We should have a shield that we can turn in any direction, on which we may receive the arrow, and by which it may be put out.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
And take the helmet - The helmet was a cap made of thick leather, or brass, fitted to the head, and was usually crowned with a plume, or crest, as an ornament. Its use was to guard the head from a blow by a sword, or war-club, or battle-axe. The cuts will show its usual form.
Of salvation - That is, "of the hope of salvation;" for so it is expressed in the parallel place in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The idea is, that a well-founded hope of salvation will preserve us in the day of spiritual conflict, and will guard us from the blows which an enemy would strike. The helmet defended the head, a vital part; and so the hope of salvation will defend the soul, and keep it from the blows of the enemy. A soldier would not fight well without a hope of victory. A Christian could not contend with his foes, without the hope of final salvation; but, sustained by this, what has he to dread?
And the sword - The sword was an essential part of the armor of an ancient soldier. His other weapons were the bow, the spear, or the battle-axe. But, without a sword, no soldier would have regarded himself as well armed. The ancient sword was short, and usually two-edged, and resembled very much a dagger.
Of the Spirit - Which the Holy Spirit furnishes; the truth which he has revealed.
Which is the word of God - What God has spoken - his truth and promises; see the notes on Hebrews 4:12. It was with this weapon that the Saviour met the tempter in the wilderness; Matthew 4. It is only by this that Satan can now be met. Error and falsehood will not put back temptation; nor can we hope for victory, unless we are armed with truth. Learn, hence:
(1) That we should study the Bible, that we may understand what the truth is.
(2) we should have texts of Scripture at command, as the Saviour did, to meet the various forms of temptation.
(3) we should not depend on our own reason, or rely on our own wisdom.
A single text of Scripture is better to meet a temptation, than all the philosophy which the world contains. The tempter can reason, and reason plausibly too. But he cannot resist a direct and positive command of the Almighty. Had Eve adhered simply to the Word of God, and urged his command, without attempting to "reason" about it, sire would have been safe. The Saviour Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:7,Matthew 4:10, met the tempter with the Word of God, and he was foiled. So we shah be safe if we adhere to the simple declarations of the Bible, and oppose a temptation by a positive command of God. But, the moment we leave that, and begin to parley with sin, that moment we are gone. It is as if a man should throw away his sword, and use his naked hands only in meeting an adversary. Hence,
(4) we may seethe importance of training up the young in the accurate study of the Bible. There is nothing which will furnish a better security to them in future life, when temptation comes upon them, than to have a pertinent text of Scripture at command. Temptation often assails us so suddenly that it checks all "reasoning;" but a text of Scripture will suffice to drive the tempter from us.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Praying always - It would be well for the soldier who goes forth to battle to pray - to pray for victory; or to pray that he may be prepared for death, should he fall. But soldiers do not often feel the necessity of this. To the Christian soldier, however, it is indispensable. Prayer crowns all lawful efforts with success and gives a victory when nothing else would. No matter how complete the armor; no matter how skilled we may be in the science of war; no matter how courageous we may be, we may be certain that without prayer we shall be defeated. God alone can give the victory; and when the Christian soldier goes forth armed completely for the spiritual conflict, if he looks to God by prayer, he may be sure of a triumph. This prayer is not to be intermitted. It is to be always. In every temptation and spiritual conflict we are to pray; see notes on Luke 18:1.
With all prayer and supplication - With all kinds of prayer; prayer in the closet, the family, the social meeting, the great assembly; prayer at the usual hours, prayer when we are specially tempted, and when we feel just like praying (see the notes, Matthew 6:6) prayer in the form of supplication for ourselves, and in the form of intercession for others. This is, after all, the great weapon of our spiritual armor, and by this we may hope to prevail.
"Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian armor bright,
And Satan trembles when he sees.
The meanest saint upon his knees."
In the Spirit - By the aid of the Holy Spirit; or perhaps it may mean that it is not to be prayer of form merely, but when the spirit and the heart accompany it. The former idea seems, however, to be the correct one.
And watching thereunto - Watching for opportunities to pray; watching for the spirit of prayer; watching against all those things which would hinder prayer; see the Matthew 26:38, note, 41, note; compare 1 Peter 4:7.
With all perseverance - Never becoming discouraged and disheartened; compare notes, Luke 18:1.
And supplication for all saints - For all Christians. We should do this:
(1) because they are our brethren - though they may have a different skin, language, or name.
(2) because, like us, they have hearts prone to evil, and need, with us, the grace of God.
(3) because nothing tends so much to make us love others and to forget their faults, as to pray for them.
(4) because the condition of the church is always such that it greatly needs the grace of God. Many Christians have backslidden; many are cold or lukewarm; many are in error; many are conformed to the world; and we should pray that they may become more holy and may devote themselves more to God.
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,
And for me - Paul was then a prisoner at Rome. He specially needed the prayers of Christians:
(1) that he might be sustained in his afflictions; and,
(2) that he might be able to manifest the spirit which he ought, and to do good as he had opportunity. Learn hence that we should pray for the prisoner, the captive, the man in chains, the slave. There are in this land (the United States) about ten thousand prisoners - husbands, fathers, sons, brothers; or wives, mothers, daughters. True, they are the children of "crime," but they are also the children of sorrow; and in either case or both they need our prayers. There are in this land not far from three million of slaves - and they need our prayers. They are children of misfortune and of many wrongs; they are sunk in ignorance and want and we; they are subjected to trials, and exposed to temptations to the lowest vices. But many of them, we trust, love the Redeemer; and whether they do or do not, they need an interest in the prayers of Christians.
That utterance may be given unto me - Paul, though a prisoner, was permitted to preach the gospel; see the notes, Acts 28:30-31.
That I may open my mouth boldly - He was in Rome. He was almost alone. He was surrounded by multitudes of the wicked. He was exposed to death. Yet he desired to speak boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and to invite sinners to repentance. A Christians in chains, and surrounded by the wicked, may speak boldly, and "may" have hope of success - for Paul was not an unsuccessful preacher even when a captive at Rome; see the notes on Philippians 4:22.
The mystery of the gospel - notes, Ephesians 1:9.
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
For which I am an ambassador in bonds - In chains (see the margin); or in confinement. There is something especially touching in this. He was "an ambassador" - sent to proclaim peace to a lost world. But he was now in chains. An ambassador is a sacred character. No greater affront can be given to a nation than to put its ambassadors to death, or even to throw them into prison. But Paul says here that the unusual spectacle was witnessed of an ambassador seized, bound, confined, imprisoned; an ambassador who ought to have the privileges conceded to all such people, and to be permitted to go everywhere publishing the terms of mercy and salvation. See the word "ambassador" explained in the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:20.
That therein - Margin, or "thereof." Greek, ἐν αὐτῷ en autō - "in it;" that is, says Rosenmuller, in the gospel. It means that in speaking the gospel he might be bold.
As I ought to speak - Whether in bonds or at large. Paul felt that the gospel ought always to be Spoken with plainness, and without the fear of man. It is remarkable that he did not ask them to pray that he might be released. "Why" he did not we do not know; but perhaps the desire of release did not lie so near his heart as the duty of speaking the gospel with boldness It may be of much more importance that we perform our duty aright when we are afflicted, or are in trouble, than that we should be released.
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:
But that ye also may know my affairs - May understand my condition, my feelings, and in what I am engaged. To them it could not but be a subject of deep interest.
And how I do - Greek, "What I do; that is how I am employed.
Tychicus - Tychicus was of the province of Asia, in Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital; see Acts 20:4. It is not improbable that he was of Ephesus, and that he was well known to the church there. He also carried the letter to the Colossians Col 4:7, and probably the Second Epistle to Timothy; 2 Timothy 4:12. Paul also proposed to send him to Crete to succeed Titus; Titus 3:12. He was high in the confidence of: Paul, but it is not known when he was converted, or why he was now at Rome. The Greeks speak of him as one of the seventy disciples, and make him bishop of Colophon, in the province of Asia.
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Whom I have sent unto you - The churches where Paul had preached, would feel a great interest in his welfare. He was a prisoner at Rome, and it was doubtful what the result would be. In this situation, he felt it proper to despatch a special messenger to give information about his condition; to state what was doing in Rome; to ask the prayers of the churches; and to administer consolation to them in their various trials. The same sentiment in regard to the embassy of Tychicus, is expressed in the Epistle to the Colossians, Colossians 4:7-8. No small part of the consolation which he would impart to them would be found in these invaluable letters which he bore to them from the apostle.
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace be to the brethren - The Epistle is closed with the usual salutations. The expression "peace to you," was the common form of salutation in the East (see the Matthew 10:13 note; Luke 24:36 note; Romans 15:33 note; compare Galatians 6:16; 1 Peter 5:14; 3 John 1:14), and is still the "salam" which is used - the word "salam" meaning "peace."
And love with faith - Love united with faith; not only desiring that they might have faith, but the faith which worked by love.
From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ - The Father and the Son are regarded as equally the author of peace and love; compare notes on 2 Corinthians 13:14.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Grace be, ... - note, Romans 16:20.
That love our Lord Jesus Christ - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 16:22.
In sincerity - Margin, "with incorruption." With a pure heart; without dissembling; without hypocrisy. There could not be a more appropriate close of the Epistle than such a wish; there will be nothing more needful for us when we come to the close of life than the consciousness that we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. To writer and reader may this be equally the inestimable consolation then! Better, far better then will be the evidence of such sincere love, than all the wealth which toil can gain, all the honors which the world can bestow - than the most splendid mansion, or the widest fame. The subscription to this Epistle, like those affixed to the other epistles, is of no authority, but in this instance there is every reason to believe that it is correct. Compare notes at the end of the Epistle to the Romans and 1 Corinthians.