Ephesians 6
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
b. Children and parents

Ephesians 6:1–4

1,2Children, obey your parents in the Lord:1 for this is right. Honor thy father and [thy]2 mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4And, ye fathers, provoke [or fret] not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [discipline] and admonition of the Lord.


The precept for children; Eph 6:1–3. Eph 6:1. Children, τὰ τέκνα.—The next step from the married state is the family. The wedded pair become parents through God’s gift, which may also be denied. The address to children in a letter to the Church presupposes, that the Apostle regards them as belonging to the Church, present at public worship, understanding the word read to and applicable to them; indeed they must be regarded as baptized, since Eph 6:1: “in the Lord,” Eph 6:4: “in the admonition of the Lord,” obliges us to do so (STIER, HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, II., 2, p. 192.)3 See Doctr. Note 1.

Obey your parents in the Lord [ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεύειν ὑμῶν ἐν κυρίῳ].—The verb coming first has the emphasis: this one precept comprises the main part of filial duty in itself. The word is stronger than ὑποτάσσεσθαι (BENGEL: id plus etiam dicit quam subordinamini; obedire est imperitioris: subordinari cujusvis inferioris). To the more mature and experienced persons, who are God’s representatives and the child’s supporters, and guides in fidelity, love and wisdom, obedience is to be rendered, not because they are Christians, or good and rich, or masters over the child, but because they are the parents (“your parents”), with the duty of bringing up (Eph 6:4) as they have brought forth. As Christians the children, however, must obey “in the Lord,” in Christ (Eph 6:10, 21; 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; WINER, p. 364); analogous to “in the fear of Christ” (5:21), “as to the Lord” (5:22). Thus the kind of obedience, not immediately and chiefly the kind of parents, is more closely defined, as specifically Christian in ground, measure and limit. It is incorrect to take it as=κατὰ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγον (THEODORET), or to refer it to God (CALVIN), in Deo, or to connect it with “parents,” or to take it as merely a designation of the mode of obedience (HARLESS).4

For this is right [τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι δίκαιον.—Quickly, briefly Paul presses the proof (γάρ) forward. “This” refers to the whole: the obedience of children to their parents in Christ. In τέκνα and γονεῖς there is a reminder of the μυστήριον (Eph 6:32), which lies in the τόκος and γονεία (STIER). Hence δίκαιον, “right,” refers to the relations both as given in nature and ordained by Divine law. BENGEL: etiam natura; MEYER: according to nature and law. This LUTHER wishes to express with his “it is proper.” It should not be referred to the Divine law alone (THEODORET, MEYER, SCHENKEL), to which prominence is given in the next verse. [The natural obligation seems to be brought out here, the enforcement through the Divine law is added in the next, verse (so EADIE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, HODGE, following BENGEL, ESTIUS and THEOPHYLACT).—R.]

Eph 6:2. Honour thy father and thy mother.—This is the commandment, Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Matth. 15:4. In τίμα there is more included than obedience. Obedientia testimonium est ejus honoris, quem debent parentibus. Sub voce honoris complectitur officia, quibus serio tuam erga parentes observantiam et pietatem sestantur filius (CALVIN). In Matth. 15. Jesus deduces from the honor the nourishment, and provision and care. Sirach 3:8. LUTHER: serve, love and esteem. With emphasis the commandment places on an equality over against the children “thy father and thy mother;” in Lev. 19:3 the latter even comes first.

Which is, ἤτις ἐστίν, introduces a reason, as in 3:13; it is not=, quæ, but ut pole quæ.5The first commandment with promise.—Ἐντολη evidently refers to the Mosaic law, the Decalogue, of which what has just been said is one commandment, hence without the article; on the thought that it is a command of God an emphasis rests,6 which is strengthened by the added phrase: πρώτη ἐν ἐπαγγελία: at first; it is not the first. According to the context it is as respects the time in which it applies to human beings, a first one: children must first honor God’s representatives, in order to learn how and to be able to keep those which precede and follow (STIER). And it is indeed placed on the promise, conceived in promise, because thus the obedience to parents becomes joyful, and upon this obedience salvation actually rests both internally and externally (1 Tim. 3:1, 2). BENGEL: Honor parentibus per obedientiam præsertim præstitus initio ætatis omnium præceptorum obedientiam continet. It is not necessary therefore to say that it is in the series of commandments the first with a promise (HARLESS and others) [see below], as if there were not a promise annexed to the first or second [the Catholic and Lutheran first, our second] (Exod. 20 Eph 6:9, 10), or as though it were the first with a promise in the second table (AMBROSE and others). It belongs to the first table, and such a distinction is not “a comment of modern theologians, a distinction not founded in the sacred Scriptures “(ERASMUS), since it is definitely stated in Deut. 5:22, and the tenor of the commandments are distinguished accordingly. (Matth. 22:37–40; Lev. 19:18, 34; Deut. 6:5; 10:12.) Least of all does πρώτη mean the most important, a chief commandment (KOPPE [HODGE] and others). But while it is incorrect to take ἐν ἐπαγγελία=annexa, addita promissione, it is quite as much so to understand it as=in point of promise (WINER, p. 366; and others).

[The view of STIER, advocated by Braune, is not altogether satisfactory, that of KOPPE and HODGE is still less so. Nor is any importance to be attached to the absence of the article with πρώτη. The simplest view, one that usually suggests itself to the children, is that of HARLESS and MEYER, accepted by EADIE, ALFORD and MEYER: first in order; in point of, involving a promise, the preposition showing that in which the priority consists. The second commandment has attached simply “a broad declaration of the great principles of the Divine government,” not a specific promise. As regards the difficulty that no commandment follows in the Decalogue with a promise, we may either accept the explanation of HARLESS that “first” refers only to what precedes in this case, or that of MEYER, which finds the rest of the series in other Mosaic commands (so ELLICOTT).—R.]

Eph 6:3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.—This is the purport of the promise. Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; LXX.: ἵνα εὖ σοι γένηται καὶ ἵνα μακροχρόνιος γένη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἦς ὁ κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσί σοι. The Apostle only alters: καὶ ἔση μακροχρόνιος, omitting the last relative clause, which as a commandment of God designates, not merely Canaan, but every country appointed by Him as a home, Palestine in the case of the Jews. According to the quotation ἵνα must be retained in the second half with the future, although the conjunctive occurs in the first half. WINER (p. 271) explains the construction with the future as a lapse into a direct discourse, despite similar examples. MEYER finds indicated in the conjunctive the mere actualization, in the future the certain entrance and continuance, hence a logical climax.7 Undoubtedly ἵνα is to be taken as telic, and on account of the phrase, “thy father and thy mother,” to be applied to individuals, not toti eorum genti (BENGEL, who prudently says beforehand: non tantum singulis; HARLESS and others). The well being is put in the front rank, the long life in the second. Even among the most decayed people it will go well with him who honors his parents in obedience, and his life will be long, at least quoad sufficientiam for eternal salvation (STIER). Godliness has indeed a promise for this life also (1 Tim. 4:8), but certainly for that which is to come. To limit the promise to the spiritual possessions of the heavenly Canaan (JEROME, OLSHAUSEN) is incorrect, Tenerior ætas pro captu suo allicitur promissione longæ, vitæ (BENGEL). The attracting promise is chiefly to be taken in the sense and spirit of children, who hope for a long life; the history of nations and families confirm the truth of the promise. Hodie æque bene vivunt pii in omne terra, atque Israel olim in illa (BENGEL).

[We must reject both the generalizing and spiritualizing interpretations of the promise, and accept an individual reference of present validity. On this most recent commentators agree. And the promise is fulfilled in the usual course of providence with obedient children. The only question is: Did the Apostle by omitting the latter part of the commandment, which had a special reference to Canaan, himself apply the promise to obedient children in all lands, or did the original commandment imply this (the given land being the home in every case), so that the Apostle omits the last clause as unessential for his present purpose and really implied, τὴς γῆς? The former is the view of EADIE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, and HODGE, the latter of Braune and others. Either is preferable to MEYER’S notion that the Apostle omitted the clause because his readers were familiar with the passage, and understood it in the general sense, though its original reference was only to Palestine.—R.]

The precept for fathers; Eph 6:4. And ye fathers.—Quickly and closely he connects this with καί.8 He addresses the “fathers,” because he regards the mothers as “submitting to their own husbands” (5:22, 24, 33), who are their responsible representatives. Facilius parentes et heri abutuntur potestate sua, quam mariti (BENGEL); that lies in the freer position of the former. We are not to refer this to grown up children (OLSHAUSEN), since “bring them up” follows; nor is there any oriental depreciation of the mother (RUECKERT), since Eph 6:2 commands: “honor thy mother,” and Gen. 24:67; 37:10; 1 Kings 2:19; Judges 5:7; 2 Sam. 20:19 teach us otherwise.9

The prohibition: Provoke [or fret] not your children to wrath, μὴ παροργίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν.—It is parallel to the παραζηλοῦν, Rom. 10:19; it is explained by Col. 3:21 (א.: παροργίζετε, others: ἐρεθίζετε—ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν). It is the hasty, rough, moody treatment of children, so that, without childish confidence, without joyful obedience, they are repelled and enticed to opposition, defiance and bitterness. Righteous, wholesome parental anger is not excluded, but painful, arbitrary, grumbling treatment, as well as rough, unjust treatment, without sparing the childish nature. [ALFORD: “The Apostle seems to allude to provoking by vexatious commands and unreasonable blame, and uncertain temper, in ordinary intercourse.”—R.]

The command: But bring them up, ἀλλὰ ἐκτρέφετε αὐτά (5:29).—This points to children who still require care. But it should not be the mere growing up of the proletarians, but spiritual also. Hence:

In the discipline and admonition of the Lord, ἐν παιδεία καὶ νουθεσίᾳ κυρίου. Thus the element is denoted in which the bringing up should be consummated.10 The former consists in work, the latter in word; the former is discipline (LUTHER), not merely punishment, also strict ordering of the household, accustoming to self-denial, serviceableness, confession of faults without shuffling. Heb. 12:6, 7. The latter (LUTHER: admonition) comprises earnest warning (1 Cor. 10:11) and kind exhortation (Tit. 3:10; Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16; 1:28; 1 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:15), which evidently predominates over serious rebukes. It is important that the former comes first, and this last. Harum altera occurrit ruditati, altera oblivioni et levitati; utraque et sermonem et reliquiam disciplinam includit (BENGEL). [Comp. TRENCH, Syn. § XXXII, whose views correspond in the main with those suggested here, and are adopted by EADIE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT.—R.] Hence the first is not general, the training of children in general, the latter special, the reproof for the purpose of improvement (HARLESS, MEYER), nor are they indistinguishable synonyms (KOPPE). The genitive belongs to both words: the Lord does it through the father as His representative; it is therefore a genitive subjecti. [So HARLESS, DE WETTE, MEYER, EADIE, HODGE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT and others: the discipline and admonition prescribed by the Lord and to be regulated by His Spirit.—R.] It is not then: to the Lord (LUTHER), nor=well-pleasing to the Lord (FLATT), or=de Christo (MICHAELIS), nor are we to accept that the Apostle himself scarcely knew how to explain it (RUECKERT).


1. The presupposition for the conduct of children to parents and parents to children is the relation of both to Christ. The children should do their duty “in the Lord” (Eph 6:1), the parents “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4), and that too from infancy (“bring them up”). Baptism, infant baptism, is thus presupposed as the basis for the children as well as for the treatment of children. And all the more so, that there is expressed for the children no termination or cessation of their conduct toward their parents and for the parents no beginning of the influence on the children, nor is any hint given of the baptismal act to be effected or experienced, which could scarcely be wanted after 4:5 (“one baptism”), since the fellowship of the Lord is indicated in the case of children as well as parents. HOFMANN (Schriftbeweis, II., 2, p. 193) properly recalls Acts 16:15. For before mention was made of the household of the jailer, and without any impression of what had occurred having been made upon his household, it was said to him: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” We should therefore with AUGUSTINE (De Gen. X., 23, Serm. X) and ORIGEN (ad Rom. vi.) regard infant baptism as an ordinance instituted by the Apostles. It was practised in the days of TERTULLIAN, but no mention is made of its having been introduced. Accordingly our passage refers the nurture of children to the basis of baptism and the family: family education and baptismal education are enjoined. [The relation to Christ rests not on the baptismal act, but on the relation to the believing parents, hence children are to be baptized “as members of Christ’s Church” (Ref. Church, form of baptism), are thus publicly acknowledged and sealed as Christian children, whose personal piety is to be looked for in faith just, as it is prayed for in faith. Despite all abuse of this Christian truth, it is the truth, and holding it fast we may hope for a piety which rests on an educational, not a spasmodic, basis.—In regard to the apostolic origin of the ordinance, the negative proof is overwhelming. Besides the allusion here and in Acts 16, it is inconceivable that the Jews, who attacked Paul on every actual point of difference, could have omitted opposition here, had he failed to perpetuate in some distinct form the Old Testament doctrine of covenant blessings on the household.—But as negative proof it leaves room for honest adherence to that marked individualistic form of Christianity, which is necessary, it would seem, for many minds of that cast.—R.]

2. The Apostle requires obedience on the part of the children to their parents as God’s representatives. This is a manifestation of that honor which God requires. It is established, regulated and limited through Christ, and is the foundation of earthly happiness. While ὑπακούειν denotes obedience as a reverent hearing, listening to the parents’ will, not merely in order to know it, but rather to be directed by it, so the German word: gehorchen [derived from horchen=our English hearken], related to hörig, gehörig, zugehörig [all meaning: belonging to, but strengthened in the longer forms], refers to the internal relation of dependence which finds its answering expression in gehorsam [obedience]. Both refer to the relation of piety [i.e., filial piety, since piety toward God and parents are recognized as identical in the Latin word pius], and include as the innermost motive love, which devotes itself with recognition of the parental dignity, even when parental worthiness is wanting. Over against the will of the parents the will of the child is illegal; but this statement is valid only so far as the parents exercise their will as the representatives of God, and their will is not opposed to God’s will. In this there is a hint that the Fifth Commandment belongs to the first table (BRAUNE, Die heil. 10 Geb. pp. 85–88). This requirement, to agree to the will of parents, does not cease in the course of years, though it receives limitations from the avocation and position of the children, as in the case of our Lord (John 2:4)

3. The blessing of the Fifth Commandment points to this fact, that in God’s world and God’s government His law, which is in accordance with the whole as well as with each individual part, is and must be of validity, and because it is valid for life, is given in correspondence with the ordinances of His Creation and Providence. The blessing is not an arbitrarily placed reward, but a result of obedience, actual and true obedience. One cannot creep into the blessing through constrained or feigned obedience. Obedience, this deeply rooted act of a will, growing morally, is not an affair of selfish calculation, still less can an immoral or demoralizing observance of a natural law be spoken of. Nor is the blessing promised for the life of the earthly family and people to be so lightly esteemed, that it must be transferred to the inheritance of the heavenly Canaan. Welfare and long life will be constantly regarded and used by the Christian as a gift of the gracious God; if something is lacking, he will never murmur nor doubt, as if God did not keep His promise, since our obedience of His commandment is never so perfect that it can be brought into an account with Him; it is rather the case that He has always vouchsafed and still vouchsafes to us more than we deserve.

4. Christian education must be consummated in the family, and if the family, in which children are born, is broken up by death, or destroyed by social, individual or sinful relations, and made incapable of fulfilling the task of education, each child should still be transferred to a family, or every institution which undertakes the task must be formed as a family.—Christian nurture must begin with the earliest childhood, with the beginning of the child’s life (ἐκτρέφετε). On this account ἐν παιδεία comes first, and νουθεσία follows. Matters pertaining to the ordering of the household, to habitudes, to treatment without speaking, even to punishment, come first. Comp Heb. 12:6; Prov. 3:11, 12; 22:15; 23:13.—But it must add to this and pass over into admonition by word, both alike “of Christ,” not in self-will, but under the Lord to whom we are responsible. Hence this education must be Christian.11—Further it connects itself with baptism; hence it is Churchly. Comp. VON ZESCHWITZ, System der Christlich Kirchlichen Katechetik, II. 1, §2. [More Christian than Churchly however. Hence in those lands where the Church as such must needs control education, there is little gain for the Church or for Christ. Were the family instruction what it ought to be, there is no fear of children becoming irreligious from attending common schools (i.e., schools of the State, not of the Church).—The question of Sunday Schools ought to be far oftener studied in the light of this section.—R.]—The mother is not excluded, but only subordinated to the father (Eph 6:2, 4). The mother’s influence on the formation of character is quiet and deep, reaching both to the tenderest germs and the profoundest depths of the heart. 2 Tim. 1:5.—Finally the individuality of the child must be well considered, and one not be treated as another. Such a difficult task can be performed only in the strength of the Lord, by whom we are ourselves educated.


Comp. Doctr. Notes and BRAUNE, Die heiligen 10 Gebote, pp. 84–106.—True obedience is so difficult, that it becomes possible only to the Christian child in the strength of the developed baptismal grace; not the natural, only the spiritual man is capable of proper obedience and becomes more and more so. On the other hand Christian training is so difficult, that only Christian parents can grant it, and this too without having learned the art, often without being conscious of it.—By the child’s cradle you still humbly look up to God; you cannot boast that you have given the child life; must indeed confess that you have imparted sin to them.—Eve preferred her first-born Cain (==weapon) to Abel (=shadow, nothingness).—Be sparing of words in your discipline; let your children obey without asking why and punish rather before than after five years of age, else they will punish you.

STARKE: God joins certain promises to His commandments, that we may be the more willing to live in accordance with them. If obedient children have a promise, disobedient ones have a threatening.—The training of children is an art not easily learned. Parents, you must study this, that you may learn it, and implore this grace from God; but especially must you be watchful over all your own conduct, that you give no bad example to your children; and above all implant the true fear of God in their hearts.—If parents bring up their children to the glory of God and the advantage of the world, that is more and better than to leave them great earthly treasures.

RIEGER: The phrase: in the Lord, leads us to perceive that they must be chiefly guided and impelled therein by God’s commandment, the walk of the Lord Jesus on the earth; the hope of future recompense from the Lord; but also that it sometimes requires courage to be obedient in all things, and for the Lord’s sake to rise above even the parents who stand in the way.—It is often asked how shall we encourage and incite children to their duty? and it is generally thought that the love of honor and the excitement of this feeling are the best means. But he who in accordance with God’s word meets their sense of truth with this thought: for this is right, proceeds far more securely. There is often in children a far purer feeling than we suppose, we frequently corrupt it by presenting so many frivolous motives.—With the power of self-will love, would never suffice for constant obedience, did it not derive support from reverence.—All promises of God must however be treated believingly, i.e., humbly, for they allow nothing to be extorted from them. Provoking to wrath takes place not only through unmerciful beating, but also through other unskilful treatment, even though it often has the appearance of right.—God has Himself given us the best pattern of “bringing up.” At first without the sharp condemnation of sin designed in the law He led men by His eye and kept them walking before Him. After the stricter imputation of sin through the law, He guided them through His grace in Christ.

HEUBNER: The forbearance, the mildness, the fairness towards children, which Paul enjoins, consists in this, that one neither unmercifully punishes them on account of faults and infirmities, nor teases them with their education and conversion, but leads them with love and earnestness, removing hindrances, and for the rest commending them to the care of the Lord, who loves children. The child has not yet a very lively sense of sin, hence you must not overdo this matter of conversion.—Thus much is certain: religious culture should begin early; the child’s heart can be early won and be influenced by love to Jesus. This is the spirit of Christian nurture, which proceeds without constraint and cannot play much with dogmatics.

PASSAVANT: How difficult for a child’s heart is child-like obedience! for all are sinners, and in all sin there is self-desire, self-will, opposition.—Ill-bred children rarely become good subjects to the king, good citizens for the State, good brethren, good friends, or good parents to their children.

STIER: The obedience of children is due according to natural and revealed right.—The first school of obedience for man is his relation as child.—The mother’s love must compensate when the father’s character inclines to severity; the father’s earnestness and strictness must step in where the mother’s natural tenderness is insufficient.

SCHLEIERMACHER: The nature of filial obedience: 1. From what it should arise: neither hold out rewards, nor threaten punishments; nor gratify froward asking for reasons; solely out of filial respect. 2. On what grounds it is recommended: citing the old promise.

ANACKER: To what education must be directed, that it may bear fruit for time and eternity. 1. That the youth learn proper obedience; 2. That they are led through love to obedience; 3. That mildness and strictness be rooted in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

HOFMANN: The personal work of the parents: anger their greatest hindrance; their surest means: nurture your children into the Lord.—The nurture of the Lord: The fundamental traits and principles of Divine training, presented in the history of salvation from the beginning of our race on and in the conversion of individuals through the training of the Holy Ghost; some applications thence to our training: doing acts of love, blessing (MEYER), preserving from ungodly influences, promising, punishing.—Admonition of the Lord: reminder that Christ should be glorified in the children and that they should become happy men, skilful warriors of God.

ZIMMERMANN: From what you seek in your children, measure what you owe to them! 1. You desire obedience from them, show yourselves full of love to them. 2. You desire that they honor you, apply to them the right nurture. 3. You desire that they protect and adorn your old age, so help them to inherit the promise: that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest live long on the earth.

[HODGE: Children should obey their parents. This obedience should be in the Lord, determined and regulated by a regard to Christ. The ground of the obligation is: 1. It is in itself right; it is enforced by an express command in the Decalogue, to which a special promise is annexed, Eph 6:1–3.

Eph 6:4. A parent had better sow tares in a field from which he expects to derive food for himself and family, than by his own ill-conduct nurture evil in the heart of a child.—R.]

[EADIE: Eph 6:1. The love which Jesus showed to children, when He took them in His arms and blessed them, should induce them, in a spirit of filial faith and fondness to obey their parents, and to regard with special sacredness every parental injunction. And that obedience, if prompted, regulated, and bounded by a sense of religious obligation, will be cheerful, and not sullen; prompt, and not dilatory; uniform, and not occasional; universal, and not capricious in its choice of parental precepts.—Filial obedience, under God’s blessing, prolongs life, for it implies the possession of principles of restraint, sobriety, and industry, which secure a lengthened existence.

Eph 6:4. Such training leads to early piety, and such is ever welcome to Christ and His Church. For the sun shining on a shrub, in its green youth, is a more gladsome spectacle than the evening beam falling dimly on the ivy and ruins of an old and solitary tower.—R.]

[While Eph 6:4 does not mean (see Exeg. Notes) instruction and admonition concerning Christ, it is still true that a father, who, by proper discipline tempered with love, ever keeps the heart of his children in intimate and trustful allegiance, by his very demeanor teaches lessons concerning Christ and God, that are rarely learned so easily in other ways. Many a son is kept from utter ruin by remembering a mother’s love and piety, but happy is he who has had such a father as Paul here sketches in bold outline, for amid every doubt that assails head and heart alike, the reality of that father is an evidence, in kind though not in degree, of what God is to us, which no speculations can overbear.—R.]


[1] Eph 6:1.—[Lachmann, Rueckert, and Mill omit ἐν κυρίῳ on the authority of B. D.1 F., some fathers. It is bracketted by Alford; but Harless, Meyer, Ellicott accept it on the strong support of א. A. D. 2 3 K. L., nearly all cursives and versions, express statement of Chrysostom; especially since, as Meyer urges, we would have found ὡς τῷ κυρίῶ in case of an insertion from 5:22, and if from Col. 3:20, it would have been placed after δίκαιον. Braune’s note here speaks of the absence of the phrase in Col. 3:20, a manifest error.—R.]

[2]Eph 6:2.—[The E. V. omits “thy,” without reason and unfortunately, for the article occurs in the Greek, and the same emphasis rests on thy mother as on thy father.—R.]

[3][To this MEYER objects, but in its stead lays down a principle which approaches the strict Reformed view: “The children of Christians through their vital fellowship with their Christian parents were even without baptism ἅγιοι (see 1 Cor. 7:14; Acts 16:15) and should render to their parents obedience ἐν κυρίῳ.”—R.]

[4][HODGE seems to follow HARLESS but EADIE, ELLICOTT, ALFORD rightly take ἐν κυρίῳ as indicating the sphere or element of the action. ALFORD adds, in reference to the common view that the Apostle gives a hint as to commands not according to the will of God: “I should rather believe, that he regards both parents and children as ἐν κυρίῳ, and the commands, as well as the obedience, as having that sphere and element. How children were to regard commands not answering to this description, would be understood from the nature of the case.” Certainly, if the reference be, as is thought by most, to baptized children, then this presupposes the parents ruling “in the Lord.” On the limits of obedience, ELLICOTT refers to TAYLOR, Duct. Dub. III. 5, Rule 1 and 4 ff.—R.]

[5][This is the view of MEYER and formerly of ELLICOTT, but the latter now accepts the explanatory force of the pronoun, since, as Alford intimates, the other view throws “the motive to obedience too much on the fact of the promise accompanying it, whereas the obedience rests on the fact implied in ἐντολή, and the promise comes in to show its special acceptableness to God.”—R.]

[6][ALFORD’S remark in loco must be taken with caution. He says the reference is to “the Decalogue, which naturally stands at the head of all God’s other commandments; and which, though not formally binding on us as Christians, is quoted, in matters of eternal obligation (not of positive enactment), as an eminent example of God’s holy will.”—R.]

[7][On this ELLICOTT remarks: “The future undoubtedly often does express the more lasting and certain result (comp. Rev. 22:14, where the single act is expressed by the aorist subj., the lasting act by the future); still as the present formula occurs in substance in Deut. 22:7 (Alexand.), and might have thence become a known form of expression, it seems better not to press the future further than as representing the temporal evolution of the εὖ γενέσθαι.”—R.]

[8][ELLICOTT suggests that the particle “marks that obligation was not all on one side, but that the superior also had duties which he owed to the inferior.”—R.]

[9][EADIE limits this precept to fathers, urging that mothers are apt to spoil the child by indulgence, while fathers are apt to chastise in a passion. But the other view is preferable.—R.]

[10][Dr. HODGE, whose comments on this verse are very clear and instructive, falls into his usual error, in taking the preposition ἐν as instrumental: “developing all their powers by the instruction and admonition of the Lord.” The thought is rather that the child shall grow up, be trained in an element, sphere, atmosphere, etc.—R.]

[11][HODGE: “As Christianity is the only true religion, and God in Christ the only true God, the only profitable education is the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That is, the whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which He prescribes and which He administers, so that His authority should be brought into constant and immediate contact with the mind, heart and conscience of the child. It will not do for the parent to present himself as the ultimate end, the source of knowledge and possessor of authority to determine truth and duty. This would be to give his child a mere human development. Nor will it do for him to urge and communicate everything on the abstract ground of reason; for that would be to merge his child in nature. It is only by making God, God in Christ, the teacher and ruler, on whose authority everything is to be believed, and in obedience to whose will everything is to be done, that the ends of education can possibly be attained.” But it must still be maintained, that the place where this close contact with Christ as Ruler and Teacher and Saviour is to be brought about is not the school, whether parochial school or Sunday School, but as a rule the household, since the command is addressed to “fathers,” who, standing in loco Dei in the family, should not too readily abdicate from their responsible position.—R.]

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;
c. Servants and Masters

(EPH 6:5–9)

5Servants,12 be obedient to them that are your masters [to your masters] according to the flesh,13 with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto [to] 6Christ; Not with [or in the way of] eye service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ,14 doing the will of God from the heart; 7With good will doing service, as15 to the Lord, and not to men: 8Knowing that whatsoever16 good thing any man doeth [each one shall have done], the same shall he receive17 of the Lord, whether he be bond [bondsman] or free. 9And, ye masters, do the same things unto [towards] them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also [their Master and yours]18 is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.


The precept for SERVANTS; Eph 6:5–8. a. The precept, Eph 6:5. b. Closer definition, Eph 6:6, 7. c. Praise and promise, Eph 6:8. Comp. Col. 3:22–25.

Eph 6:5. The precept. Servants, οἰ δοῦλοι.—In this context this means the domestics, the serving members of the household, as. Eph 6:3: “as the servants of Christ,” shows, and Eph 6:8: “whether bond or free,” requires; it includes here the free servants also (BENGEL, STIER, BLEEK), does not refer to slaves alone (MEYER, SCHENKEL).19 Thus this section gains its continued validity and importance for all relations of subordination, that of subject and citizen also (GROTIUS: eadem est ratio in republica et in familia). The passage says nothing for or against slavery. See Doctr. Notes.

Be obedient, ὑπακούετε.—Thus the Apostle places the servants on an equality with the children, in the same dependence upon the masters, who are the parents to the children.

To your masters according to the flesh, τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα.—Thus the masters are designated as bodily (LUTHER) according to Rom. 1:3; 9:3, 5, where the last phrase denotes external, temporal, earthly relations. There is also thereby involved at the same time the δεσποτεία πρόσκαιρος καὶ βραχεῖα (CHRYSOSTOM) and the limitation of freedom in external relations (CALVIN).20

The obedience is more closely defined: with fear and trembling, μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου.—Comp. Phil. 2:12; 2 Cor. 7:15; 1 Cor. 2:3. This is sollicita reverential, which has in mind as regards the masters the copied majesty of God, remembering the judgment and recompense before Him. [So HODGE], It does not refer then to anger and rebuke and punishment (BENGEL), nor is it to be weakened into tender, anxious conscientiousness (OLSHAUSEN, MEYER, SCHENKEL). [So ALFORD, ELLICOTT. EADIE remarks: “The Apostle in the following clauses hits upon those peculiar vices which slavery induces, and which are almost inseparable from it: indolence and carelessness.”—R.].

To guard against every misunderstanding there is added: in singleness of your heart, ἐν ἀπλότητι τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν.—This not only consists in considering the one interest of the master (HARLESS), but like 2 Cor. 8:2, 3; 11:3, includes willingness and the opposite of πανουργὶα, excluding all untruth. [This phrase sets forth the element (ἐν) of the obedience, as the last phrase expressed its accompanying features. “Singleness” is an apt rendering of the word, which marks that openness and sincerity of heart which repudiates duplicity in thought or action. On the classical use of the word see HARLESS; comp. TRENCH, Syn. II. § 6.—R.] Quoniam pessimos etiam quosque pœnæ timor coge-bat, Christianos servos ab impiis discernit affectu (CALVIN). It is all to be done: as to Christ, ὡς τῶ Χριστῶ, tamquam (ERASMUS), not sicut (Vulgate) Christo; 5:22. [“He being the source and ground of all Christian motives and duties” (ALFORD). “As common and secular inducements can have but small influence on the mind of a slave, so the Apostle brings a religious motive to bear upon him” (EADIE). It may be added that if this motive could be brought to bear on the class to whom the exhortation of the Apostle most directly applies in these days when “the workingman’s question” is so much discussed, the solution of that question would be less difficult.—R.]

Eph 6:6, 7. Closer definition. Not with [or in the way of] eye-service as men-pleasers, μῆ κατ̓ ὀφθαλμοδουλείαν ὡς ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι.—The first phrase, as the opposite of “in singleness of your hearts,” denotes the mode, method, maxim of the service (STIER).21 Paul uses the plural in Col. 3:22: ἐν ὀφθαλμοδουλείαις. THEODORET explains the word as τὴν οὐκ εἰλικρινοῦς καρδίας προσφερομένην θεραπείαν, ἀλλὰ τῶ σχήματι κεχρωσμένην. ŒCUMENIUS also remarks: μὴ ὅταν πάρεισιν οἱ δέσποται καὶ ὁρῶσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀπόντων αὐτῶν. The reference is not simply to compulsion, but the appearance of faithful service is designated. They are really “men-pleasers,” they wish to please men alone, who can only see what is before their eyes; thus they use their master’s human weakness to their own advantage. The studium placendi hominibus is expressly rejected from the Christian point of view.

The antithesis follows: but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.—The first phrase is opposed to: “as men-pleasers,” the second, which characterizes the servants of Christ,22 to: “with eye-service.” The servants of Christ naturally do the will of God, which is also the will of Christ (John 10:30; 5:30), and that too “from the heart,” without discontent with their service or murmuring in their service; this necessarily distinguishes them from others, even from those who may be doing the will of God.23

Eph 6:7. One thing more is added, which completes the last designation: with good-will doing service, as to the Lord.—Μετ̓ εμὐνοίας δουλεύοντες marks the personal dependence on the masters, in which they serve them (LUTHER, [E. V.]: “with good-will”), so that they serve them, “as to the Lord,” tanquam domino, i.e., Christo. This is rendered emphatically prominent by the antithesis: and not to men, καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις.—On this account “from the heart” is not to be separated from “doing” (Eph 6:6) and joined to “doing service” (CHRYSOSTOM, JEROME, BENGEL, HARLESS, STIER), which in that case would unnecessarily receive two adverbial qualifications. [So LACHMANN, DE WETTE and ALFORD (who makes a good defence), but the other view is maintained by TISCHENDORF, MEYER, ELLICOTT, HODGE and EADIE. ELLICOTT, however, defends the view of HARLESS (against MEYER), that ἐκ ψυχῆς seems to mark the relation of the servant to his work, μετ̓ εὐνοίας pointing to his relation to his master.—R.] Still less is “with good-will” to be joined with what precedes and this verse rendered: Let yourselves think that you serve the Lord and not men (LUTHER). Thus the precept of Eph 6:5 has been more closely described and a return made to it.

Eph 6:8. Basis and promise. Knowing, εἰδότες. [ELLICOTT: “seeing ye know.”]—Thus Paul refers the servants to their faith, to the certain confidence: that whatsoever good thing each one shall have done, the same shall he receive of the Lord.—Ὅτι ὅ ἐάν τι ε͂καστος is grammatically clear: ἐάν often is=ἄν in relative clauses (WINER, p. 291) and τι is tmesis (BENGEL); ἕκαστος is not to be extended to both masters and servants; the context (“whether bond or free”) limits it to those addressed; each one of you. [This view assumes that “bondman or free,” refers to two classes of servants, but the more commonly received opinion includes the masters under the latter term, thus giving the verse the character of a general proposition. This is the more obvious reference, and has the advantage of giving an easy transition from the exhortation to the bondman to that to the free man (masters, Eph 6:9).—R.] In ποιήση ἀγαθόν the verb stands first with emphasis; something depends on the doing; the will of God must be done by you, as well as on you. [The rendering: “shall have done,” brings out best the relation to the time of recompense, i.e., the Second Advent of the Lord.—R.] ‘Ἀγαθόν, “good,” is only what takes place for Christ’s sake, in love and obedience to Him. Τοῦτο is the “good,” which the servant has done, and which παρὰ κυρίου κομίσται, “he shall receive of the Lord.” The verb is joined with μισθός, 2 Pet. 2:13; with ἐπογγελίαν, Heb. 10:36; 11:39; and with similar expressions, 1 Pet. 1:9; 5:4; it means: sibi auferet, reportabit (ERASMUS), recipiet (Vulgate) [E. V.: receive], from the Lord, from Christ in the Judgment. [ALFORD: “ ‘This in full,’ ‘this exactly,’ he shall then receive in its value as then estimated, changed, so to speak, into the currency of that new and final state.”—R.] Thus the complete recompense is marked (τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τῆς κληρονομίας, Col. 3:24).—Whether he be bondman or free, added quickly without a verb; it is better to supply: fuerit (ERASMUS), than sit (MEYER and others). [ELLICOTT: “Whatsoever be his social condition here, the future will only regard his moral state.” Comp. the citation from CHRYSOSTOM in ALFORD.—R.] From this it cannot be inferred that Paul had not conceived of the cessation of slavery before the Second Advent.

The precept for MASTERS and its basis, Eph 6:9. a. Positively; b. negatively; c. basis.

Eph 6:9. And ye masters, καὶ οἱ κύριοι, who are thus recognized, just as “and ye fathers” (Eph 6:4).—The positive precept: do the same things towards them.—Τὰ αὐτὰ ποιεῖτε refers back both to “the will of God from the heart, with good-will” (RUECKERT), and to “submitting yourselves to one another” (5:21); as the former should serve (δουλεύειν), so the latter should rule (κυριεύειν). He does not require a δουλεύειν from the masters (CHRYSOSTOM). Amor officia servilia et herilia moderatur (BENGEL). “Towards them” denotes the equal footing, as was already required in Deut. 15:12; Levit. 25:42, 43; Job 31:13–15, and enlarged in Christ. [EADIE: “The Apostle had stooped to the slave, and he was not afraid to speak with erect attitude to the master. The language is general, and expresses what Calvin well calls jus analogum,—R.]

The negative precept: forbearing threatening.—Ἀνίεντες, placed emphatically first, is according to Acts 16:26; 27:40: to leave off, cease from; τὴν ἀπειλήν (Acts 4:17, 29; 9:1) they should not only moderate; for the singular docs not mean a single threat, but threatening, minatio (Vulgate). [“Your usual, too habitual threatening” (MEYER, following ERASMUS; so ALFORD and ELLICOTT). The last named author says: “St. Paul singles out the prevailing vice and most customary exhibition of bad feeling on the part of the master, and in forbidding this naturally includes every similar form of harshness.”—R.] Deposita fere a dominis sævitia erat, suscepta fide; nunc etiam minæ remittendæ, ne ostentent servis potestatem suam ad terrendum (BENGEL). Thus Paul defines the action of the masters according to their disposition; in different forms of action the same disposition. Æqualitas naturæ, et fidei potior est. quam differentia statuum (BENGEL).

Basis: Knowing that their Master and yours is in heaven, εἰδότες ὅτι καὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ὑμῶν κύριός ἐστιν ἐν οὐρανοῖς. [See Textual Note7].—“Knowing” (as in Eph 6:8) “that their Master and yours” conceives of both masters and servants as standing on an equality before Him, who helps the latter to their rights and will and can give the former their due. He “is in heaven,” omnipotens, (BENGEL); before Him earthly power does not appear, is of no value; in His time He comes from heaven as Judge (1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7). Hence: neither is there respect of persons with him, καὶ προσωποληψία οὐκ ἔστιν παῤ αὐτῶ:—The substantive (Rom. 2:11; Col. 3:25;24 Jas. 2:1) is used by Paul in every case with reference to the Judgment. This is decidedly excluded, and the phrase suggests what one may expect to receive from Him (παῤ αὐτοῦ, Eph 6:8). Comp. Wisdom 6:5–9; Gal. 2:6.


1. Paul takes occasion elsewhere also to speak of the relations of service and the state of slavery (1 Cor. 7:21–24; Col. 3:22–25: 1 Tim. 6:1, 2; Tit. 2:9, 10), as does Peter (1 Pet. 1:18–25), without condemning these relations. But sympathizing, in a specially detailed manner, the Gospel instructs those who serve, having for them an affectionate heart, an interesting discourse, a consoling word. It does not without further delay declare the slaves free, but it makes them free from within. Paul sent back to Philemon his escaped slave.25 In the Church the master remains a master and the slave a slave. The Apostles see in the service of the bondmen, and in the position of servants, though established by wrong and deformed by sin, the fundamental traits of master and servant, as these are established by God. What the ancients already knew, that the slaves participated in the dignity of humanity and had the rights of humanity as well as their masters (SENECA: servi sunt? imo homines; servi sunt? imo contubernales; servi sunt? imo conservi, si cogitaveris tantundem in utrosque licere fortunæ), that was not first taught by Christianity. But it brought to masters and slaves one Redeemer, in whom both are brethren (Gal. 3:28; Philem. 16); it wrought upon the disposition from the inner life of faith, so that at once the burden was lightened in Christian families, and in the course of centuries the relations were altered and the state of slavery was done away. Still “it must not be overlooked that Paul’s mode of viewing the already present relation of freedom and slavery cannot be used to justify slavery introduced by Christians, the enslaving of free men, the slave-trade,” etc. (MEYER). The most modern form of slavery, the Helotism of industry, cannot be viewed in the same way as something existing and historical; it remains a disgrace on which Christianity must prove, whether it is antiquated or retains its eternal powers.

2. The care of the Apostle in teaching servants is for every preacher as well as for the Church an earnest exhortation to take up the oppressed.

3. Servants, subordinates, subjects must, irrespective of the example and conduct of their masters, demean themselves according to the commandment and direction of God. Benevolentiam, quæ in servo est, ne asperitas quidem heri exstringuit, ut in catellis (BENGEL).—[The general principles underlying this section are applicable to all relations of employer and employee. The latter is warned against eye-service, exhorted to faithful labor “as in God’s sight,” bid look to a higher recompense than the temporal wages, because serving a higher master; the former is reminded of the equality before God, how position does not avail before Him, and of the duty to Him involved in the duties of an employer. How many then may study these words with profit. Comp. Colossians, p. 79.—R.]

4. The following applies to the masters: ut Dominus vos tractavit, ita vos traciate servos; aut ut vos tractatis servos, ita ille vos tractabit (BENGEL).

5. The Judgment of God finally awards strict recompense. [“The Christian doctrine of reward is too often lost sight of or kept in abeyance, as if it were not perfectly consistent with the freest bestowment of heavenly glory” (EADIE).—R.]


God’s service and the master’s service.—Eye-servants and God’s servants.—Those who serve are a necessary evil for the masters, who are unable by themselves alone to take care of their own, rather than the employers for the servants, who often first learn of them something of order, cleanliness and skill.—Ernest the Pious once said: Masters and mistresses can never answer to God, if they keep their domestics away from church-service.—STARKE: Those who murmur and growl in the services, as though weary of them, murmur against God Himself.—Servants can lay up for themselves in continued service a blessing or a curse: a blessing if they faithfully serve in the fear of the Lord, a curse, however, if they act falsely and faithlessly.—A pious serving-man, whose fidelity and industry is not perceived by his employers, and whose wages are improperly withheld or cut down, is known by God, who will give him the best reward.

RIEGER: Compulsory measures, severity and cunning are of no avail. They only make the servants more crafty.—A servant has often nothing in the world but his good name; and anxiety about this can easily lead one into eye-service; but with singleness of heart better progress is made in this direction.—Eye-service spoils the heart, wasting those powers, which would remain united in the fear of the Lord and preserve from weariness also.

HEUBNER: The higher Master frees from slavery. The Lord regards all; servants and slaves are as well-known to Him as masters and princes. Before Him the heart alone gives rank, and even the most trifling services, if rendered with an honest heart, receive their reward. What a transformation the Lord’s Judgment will bring about! How much the serving class has to thank Christianity! It has made a freer feeling in service and better masters, and effected all this without a violent subversion of relations.—The rough and coarse master makes rough and coarse servants, the gentle master makes gentle servants. The master should not have an imperious, despotic feeling, but a ministering one.

PASSAVANT: This is true, and those who stand high and rule in the world, cannot bethink themselves of it too earnestly and humbly: Before God we are all alike, all of one origin, one nature, one sin—and all partakers of one grace, one redemption, one glory.—You look for so many virtues and perfections in your maid or man; with such conditions do you think you would be worthy or capable of being man or maid-servant?

GERLACH: Obedience to the bodily master should constantly be directed toward Christ.

[EADIE: “And with respect to servants of every denomination, equity requires that we treat them with humanity and kindness; that we endeavor to make their service easy, and their condition comfortable; that we forbear rash and passionate language; that we overlook accidental errors, and remit trivial faults; that we impose only such labor as is reasonable in itself and suitable to their capacity; that our reproofs be calm and our counsels well timed; that the restraints we lay upon them be prudent and salutary; that we allow them reasonable time for refreshment, for the culture of their minds, and for attendance on the worship of God; that we set before them a virtuous example, instil into them useful principles, warn them against wickedness of every kind, especially against the sin which most easily besets them; that we afford them opportunity for reading and private devotion, and furnish them with the necessary means of learning the way of salvation; that we attend to the preservation of their health, and have compassion on them in sickness; and, in a word, that we contribute all proper assistance to render them useful, virtuous, and happy” (from LATHROP, Ephesians).—R.]


[12]Eph 6:5.—[Literally “slaves;” but as Braune accepts a reference to free servants, and since in any case the injunction has a wider application, the E. V. need not be altered (against Alford). See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[13]Eph 6:5.—[Lachmann (א. A. B., a few cursives and fathers) places κατὰ σάρκα before κυρίοις, but Tischendorf and recent editors regard this as a conformation to Col. 3:22.—R.]

[14]Eph 6:6.—[The article before Χριστοῦ (Rec., D.3 K. L) is omitted by recent editors on the authority of א. A. B. D.1 F, etc.—R.]

[15]Eph 6:7.—[The Rec. (with D.3 K. L.) omits ὡς, but it is well sustained and generally accepted.—R.]

[16]Eph 6:8.—[The reading of the Rec.: ὅτι ὁ ἐάν τι ἕκαστος, is accepted by Griesbach, Scholz, De Wette, Meyer, Tischendorf, Ellicott and others, not so much on external authority (K. L., most cursives, Syriac versions, fathers), as because the very great number of various readings can be best accounted for by regarding this as the original reading. See Ellicott and Meyer, on this point. The second reading in point of preference is that accepted by Lachmann, Rückert Wordsworth: ὅτι ἕκαστος ὁ ἐὰν ποιήσῃ which is found in A. E. (D.1 F. G., ἄν); many cursives, Vulgate. B. has ὅτι ἕκαστος ἐάν τι, accepted by Alford; א. has the easiest reading: ἐὰν ποιήση ἕκατος, while we find in cursives and fathers, ὁ ἐάν τις, ἐάν τις, ἐάν τι, ὁ ἐάν, between ὅτι and ἐκαστος, besides ἅνθρωπος instead of the latter word. The theory of Meyer is simple: The received reading was the original one; but the transcriber passed directly from ὅτι to τι, hence the reading: ὅτι ἕκαστος ποιήση; then came the corrections as above, the greater number tending to prove that ἕκαστος should come last, as in the Rec.—The acceptance of the inverted reading of Lachmann or Alford would require this rendering: “that each man if he shall have done any good thing.”—R.]

[17]Eph 6:8.—[The Rec. has κομιεὶται, with א.1D.3K. L., most cursives, fathers, but κομίσεται is now generally preferred on the authority of א1 A. B. D.1 F. The other reading is regarded by many as taken from Col. 3:25, where however the same variation occurs.—The article before κυρίου (Rec, K. L., cursives) is generally rejected, not occurring in the best uncials.—R.]

[18]Eph 6:9.—[The variations are numerous, but καὶ αὐτῶν καί ὑμῶν accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott, Meyer, Harless, because it has good support (A. B. D.,1 versions and fathers) and best accounts for the occurrence of the other readings. א1 has ἑαυτῶν, while six other variations (in position or through omission) occur. The Rec. (ὑμῶν αὐτων) is poorly supported, hut probably arose early, as a correction, the reference to the slaves being misunderstood; partial attempts at restoration led to changes in position (see Meyer).—The idea presented, that of a common Master, seems to be better preserved by omitting the word both, which, a literal translation would insert before theirs.—R.]

[19][Nearly all English and American commentators accept the exclusive reference to slaves, bondmen (CONYBEARE); and with good reason, since the word means “slave” over against a hired servant (Luke 15:17, 19), and since the greater proportion of servants in those days were slaves. Eph 6:8 may be quite as readily urged in favor of the exclusive reference. Still the passage has, and was designed to have, a continued validity, which is better indicated by retaining the word “servants.”—R.]

[20][On the distinction between κύριος and δεσπότης, which Paul uses in 1 Tim. 6:1; Tit. 2:21, see TRENCH, Syn. 28; it is neglected here probably because the former word was to be used again (Eph 6:7) in a higher sense, as indeed κατὰ σαρκα implies. The deduction from the latter phrase, that spiritual freedom was left intact is generally accepted, though it is doubtful whether the phrase itself implies this.—R.]

[21][The preposition marks the norm of the action; ELLICOTT: in the way of; ALFORD: in the spirit of. The substantive is one of Paul’s coining, occurring only here and in Col. 3:22. ELLICOTT says: “the more correct form is ὀφθαλμοδουλία. (D. E. F. G. L. א.),” but does not put it in his text.—R.]

[22][RUECKERT makes the first phrase subordinate to the second, removing the comma after Χριστοῦ (so TISCHENDORF, ed. 7; against recent editors generally); but this destroys the obvious antithesis.—R.]

[23][EADIE, HODGE and ALFORD render: “the slave of Christ,” but this is a harsh expression; ELLICOTT: “bond-servants.” The idea of purchase and possession is probably implied.—R.]

[24][In Col. 3:25, the same thought occurs in the former part of the exhortation, with a slightly different reference therefore. See Colossians, pp. 78, 79.—MEYER and ALFORD cite Seneca, Thyest. 607: “Vos, quibus rector maris atque terræ jus dedit magnum necis atque vilæ, Ponite inflatos tumidos-que vultus. Quicquid a vobis minor extinescit, major hoc vobis dominus minatur; Omne sub regno graviore regnum est—R.]

[25][The reader is referred to the remarks of Dr. HACKETT, Philemon, pp. 29 ff., and the extracts there given on the subject of Christianity and slavery. On the general principles which this section implies most commentators agree; and these principles did abolish slavery in the early Christian centuries. Unfortunately there are times when and places where these principles, while theoretically accepted, do not operate toward the desired result; then God’s Providence does quickly and retributively what men would not let His Gospel do. Still emancipation is not necessarily Christian freedom. The Gospel method begins within; the other lays upon Christ’s Church the responsibility of so teaching the truth that the “truth may make free” those suddenly released from bondage. That is but the beginning of freedom.—R.]

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
5. Concluding exhortation

Ephesians 6:10–20

10Finally, my brethren, be strong [Finally be strengthened]26 in the Lord, and in the power of his might [in the might of his strength]. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle [our27 wrestling is] not against flesh and blood, but against [the] principalities, against [the] powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world [the world-rulers of this darkness],28 against spiritual wickedness [the spiritual hosts of wickedness]29 in high [heavenly] places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done [accomplished] all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt [girt your loins] about with truth, and having [put] on the breastplate of righteousness. 15And your feet shod [having shod your feet] with the preparation [preparedness] of the gospel 16of peace; Above [In addition to]30 all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall 17be able to quench all the fiery darts31 of the wicked [evil one]. And take32 [or receive] the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication [With all prayer and supplication praying at all times] in the Spirit, and watching thereunto33 with [in] all perseverance and supplication for all [all the] saints; 19And for me [or on my behalf], that utterance may be given34 unto [to] me, that I may open my mouth boldly, [in the opening of my mouth, in boldness] to make known the mystery of 20the gospel,35 For [or In behalf of] which I am an ambassador in bonds [literally in a chain]; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.


Summary: 1. Internal strengthening, Eph 6:10; 2. Necessity of armor on account of the enemies, Eph 6:11–13; 3. The armor itself, Eph 6:14–17 (a. the preparation, Eph 6:14, 15; b. the defensive armor, Eph 6:16, 17 a; c. the one offensive weapon, Eph 6:17 b); 4. The prayer and intercession, Eph 6:18–20 (a. prayer in general; b. intercession in general, Eph 6:18; c. intercession for the Apostle, Eph 6:19, 20).

Eph 6:10. Finally, τὸ λο.ìπόνParticula sive formula concludendi et ut ad rem magnam excitandi, 2 Cor. 13:11, formula progrediendi (BENGEL). Phil. 3:1; 4:8; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:1. LUTHER is good: finally. Τοῦ λοιποῦ [See Textual Note!] would mean: henceforth, in future (Gal. 6:17); here it would be unintelligible.

Be strengthened in the Lord, ἐνδυναμουσθε ἐν κυρίω—What in the active form is ascribed to the Lord, who strengthens (Phil. 4:13; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:17), is expressed by the passive36 here, without further qualification, Acts 9:22; more closely defined in 2 Tim. 2:1: “in the grace;” Rom. 4:20: “in faith;” Heb. 11:34: “out of weakness” (ex morbo convalescere). It cannot be middle (PISCATOR), nor can κυρίω refer to God (B-CRUSIUS). The general qualification: in the Lord is then more closely defined: and in the might of his strength, καὶ ἐν τῶκράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αύτοῦ.—Καί explicative here. [“This appended clause serves to explain and specify the principle in which our strength was to be sought for, and in which it dwelt” (ELLICOTT).—R.] On the whole phrase see Exeg. Notes, 1:19. This gives prominence to what comes, to us from, Christ (1 Cor. 12:9): Christ’s strength becomes our strength; only in Him are we strengthened.

The necessity of armor (panoply) on account of the enemies; Eph 6:11–13.

Eph 6:11. Put on the whole armour of God [ἐνδύσασθε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ θεῦ].—To those being strengthened in the Lord it is said: “put on;” ἐνδύσασθε has something of a paronomasia between ἐνδυναμοῦσθε and δύνασθαι. The internal strengthening must appropriate the proffered means of assistance, in order to become powerful in conflict. For this the Christian requires τὴν πανοπλίαν37 τοῦ θεοῦ (here, Eph 6:13; Luke 11:22). The figure of a conflict is frequently used by the Apostle (2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rom. 6:13, 23; 1 Thess. 5:8; comp. Isa. 59:16–19; Wisdom 5:17–24). The word πανοπλία refers to the entire equipment; it will not suffice to choose, or put on one or another piece of this military equipment; AMBROSE: universitas armorum; LUTHER incorrectly limits it to: Harnesch [old English harness, defensive armor], both here and Eph 6:13. But it must also be “the panoply of God,” arma, quæ offeruntur, suppeditantur a Doc (CALVIN, CALOVIUS), therefore a Divine armament; the arms should be altogether of a Divine kind, in contrast to the arms of the opponent. The emphasis rests on the whole idea: God’s equipment, neither on πανοπλία alone (MEYER), nor on θεοῦ alone (HARLESS).38 It is not a detailed and playful imitation of 1 Thess. 5:8 (DE WETTE), but rather an independent reference to Isa. 59:16–19, which is used in a different way for the Judgment in (Wisdom 5:17–24). Whether a Roman or Jewish warrior was in Paul’s mind is in itself an unprofitable question; the former met him constantly, the latter not.

That ye may be able to stand, πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι ὑμᾶς στῆαι. The first verb is repeated in Eph 6:13 (δυνηθῆτε) and Eph 6:16 (δυνήσεσθε). Στῆναι πρός τίνα is a military phrase, the opposite of φεύγειν, and denotes the acceptance of a conflict with him who attacks. [“To stand one’s ground;” ELLICOTT remarks on the sense ofπρός in this phrase, that it means adversus, with the implied notion of hostility (‘contra’), which is otherwise less usual unless it is involved in the verb. Comp. WINER, p. 378.—R.]

Against the wiles of the devil, πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου.—LUTHER very aptly renders it: “against the crafty assaults of the devil.” The plural marks both the multiplicity of the concrete cases, and the obstinacy of the repeated attack (STIER).39 Craft and strength are both present in the assault, but the latter is concealed under the former, thus becoming dangerous and destructive. “The devil” is mentioned as the precise enemy, even though it be sin that is to be immediately contended against (Heb. 12:1, 4). “The panoply of God” and “the wiles of the devil,” are thus opposed to each other. The power of the latter is by no means inconsiderable and the contest is difficult, hence the next statement.

Eph 6:12. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood [ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἱμα καὶ σάρκα.]—“For” (ὅτι) introduces a reason for the proposition: “to stand against the wiles of the devil” is in question. The form οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη is remarkable; ἡμῖν includes with emphasis the Apostle; a proposition valid for all is treated of; ἔστἰν πάλη denotes the present conflict, while πάλη (πάλλειν, to throw, to swing), the wrestling-match, lucta (ERASMUS), colluctatio (AUGUSTINE, Vulgate), is used in order to characterize the close, personal, struggle. Paul had in view the subject-matter and the readers, not mere rhetorical beauty. The article denotes the contest, which exists and which every one already knows. The Apostle denies the contest “against blood and flesh” because pone homines, qui nos infestant LATENT spiritus (BENGEL). Underneath and behind what is human and sinful, Satan himself is active (STIER). Paul insists on the final ground, the deepest cause of the contest, the guiding principle, the commanding general; flesh and blood is to him only the division of the army which presses forward, occasioning special danger. Comp. WINER, p. 463. AUGUSTINE: Non est nobis colluctatio adversus carnem et sanguinem, i.e., homines, quos videtis sævire in nos. Vasa sunt, alius utitur; organa sunt, alius jungit. We have οὐκἀλλά, hence not=non tam, non tantumquam (GROTIUS, STIER and others). [Most commentators now oppose the softening down of the negation (following WINER and METER). The word πάλη (only here) has been generally considered a change of metaphor or taken in a general sense. It undoubtedly marks the hand to hand conflict, and should therefore be taken literally. MEYER, who formerly accepted a change of metaphor, now maintains that this figure enters only in the negative clause, and that some general word is to be supplied after ἀλλά. This avoids a mixing of metaphors, but the learned author does not seem to notice that it weakens the sense just where it ought to be strongest, in the positive clause. He also takes the article as generic, but ALFORD suggests that ἡ πάλη refers to “the only conflict which can be described by such a word—our life and death struggle, there being but one such,” which is better.—R.]

The contest with flesh and blood is not, however, on this account excluded. The usual order is σὰρξ καὶ αἶμα (Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 1:16), in Heb. 2:14 we find as a various reading [probably the correct reading, as it is supported by our best uncial authorities.—R.]: αἵματος καὶ σαρκός. Since the formation of the flesh proceeds from the blood (Wisdom 7:1, 2), reference is made here to the origin of man and his corrupt nature denoted, according to the context. The position of the two words is not accidental (MEYER). Elsewhere the phrase means human nature in itself (1 Cor. 15:50), including what is sinful, Matt. 16:19; Gen. 1:16. One’s own flesh and blood is also included here; it is not to be referred only to the human persons about one’s self (BENGEL, HARLESS, MEYER, and others).

But, ἀλλά supply ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη.—Against the principalities, πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς.—The repetition of the preposition with each term gives prominence rhetorically to the several notions. WINER, p. 392. Ἀρχάς indicates the organization of the kingdom of the devil, denoting the chiefs and heads of the separate groups,—Against the powers, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας marks the efficient, attacking powers, comp. 1:21; 3:10.—Against the world rulers of this darkness, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας του σκότους τούτου.—This term (also in the Hebrew [Rabbinical term] קוֹזְמוֹקרָטּוֹר) denotes the world-ruling power: for “the whole world lieth in darkness” (1 John 5:19; 2:14) and Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of this world” (John 16:11; 14:30); his angels are under him world-rulers, whose sphere is designated by the genitive: “of this darkness.” Κόσμος more closely designates the local extension and region of the dominion, τοῦ σκότους its quality as to origin and corruptness, but it is limited by τούτου, which points to something transient and bounded. On this account we should neither weaken the meaning of κοσμοκράτορες into “rulers” (HARLESS), nor is it necessary (with BENGEL, STIER [E. V. ] and others) to read τοῦ αἰῶνος after τοῦ σκότους. BENGEL: Bene quod non sunt omnitenentes: magna tamen non solum ipsius diaboli, sed etiam eorum, quibus præest, potentia est. Videntur alia esse genera malorum spirituum, quæ magis domi in arce regni tenebrarum manent, imperia, potestates, aliud hoc tertium, quod foris mundanas quasi provincias obtinet munditenentes.40 The power is made prominent in the first two terms, and in the third the sphere; there follows next a designation which gives prominence to the character:

Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness.Πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ (Vulgate: spiritualia) is an abstract term, the concluding antithesis of “flesh and blood,” comprising all the spiritualities, which, in contrast with the kingdom of the Holy Ghost, deserve the characteristic: τῆς πονηρίας, as the spirit of revolution; to such belong moral wickedness and malice, which is directed to the destruction of others. It is incorrect to take πνευματικώ=πνεύματα (LUTHER: with evil spirits), or collectively as Geisterschaft (MEYER), or to translate the phrase spirituales nequitias (ERASMUS). [This view, supported by Braune, is that of STIER, but it is by no means so satisfactory as that of MEYER, accepted by HODGE, EADIE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT and others. This takes the term collectively (see WINER, p. 224, and MEYER), as implying something more than “spirits,” rather the bands, hosts, armies, confraternities of spirits, best expressed by the German term: Geisterschaft. See ELLICOTT against the altogether untenable rendering of the E. V., as well as against the abstract meaning in general.—R.]

In heavenly places, ἐυτοῖς ἐπουρανίοις.—This is to be connected grammatically with τὰ πνευματικά (omnium doctorum opinio, JEROME), and, as in 3:10; 1:3, 20; 2:6; has a local signification, designating a region in antithesis to the earthly, to what is in any manner perceptible to the sense; here, where angels are spoken of, it means the region assigned to these beings who are purely spiritual over against men, and although there are angels who have not remained in their original fellowship with God, yet there still remains to them a region corresponding to their nature, of course not in nearness to God. It does not then mean in statu cœlesti as a moral notion, but only as a physical one, so that it may be taken as parallel to ἀήρ, 2:1, though it is not exactly equivalent; ἀήρ is spoken of from the stand-point of man, τὰ ἐπουράνια from the nature of angels, marking the dangerous element of the contest with these spirits and their spiritualities. Hence before all we are to reject the explanation: “for heavenly possessions” (GREEK FATHERS, CALOVIUS, MORUS and others), since the position of the words will not permit this phrase to be joined with πάλη in the beginning of the sentence, passing over ἀλλά, nor is ἐν = ὑπέρ, δὶά, while the signification of the phrase is uniformly local. [Comp. 1:3.] It does not designate the place of the conflict, the kingdom of heaven (MATTHIES),41 nor the place, but in a symbolical sense, out into the fathomless air, in order to show that the contest is unequal Marte iniquo (RUECKERT), or in such a way that region and subject meet, as though a conflict was spoken of in our souls, but respecting calling and sanctification, our praying and preaching of God’s grace (STIER); nor yet are we to think of the spiritual world and its affairs (B-CRUSIUS). Finally with the proper view of the connection we should neither interpolate a “formerly” (SEMLER), as though only the previous condition of the angels was denoted, nor does it suffice to accept the limitation to a locality excluded (HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, i. 455), nor is it admissible to treat the notion of heaven as an elastic one, so that these angels are still relatively in a heaven, the atmospheric one (MEYER). Nor does it at all mean a pretended stay, so that the expression is apt irony in view of the arrogation of equal dignity, power and glory with God. (SCHENKEL).

[The connection with the phrase immediately preceding is accepted by nearly all recent commentators, but there is necessarily difference of opinion about the exact force of the term. ELLICOTT objects to any precise specification of locality, though referring to HOFMANN, whose view is properly rejected by MEYER. SCHENKEL’S view is a pure invention. Such irony was not befitting the earnestness of Paul’s discourse, and was scarcely so “apt” as SCHENKEL thinks, if no one else but himself has hitherto appreciated it. ELLICOTT aptly expresses the sense: “supernal spirits of evil.” The E. V. shows the reluctance to apply the word “heavenly” to evil spirits. See MEYER and EADIE for notice of other shifts.—R.]

Eph 6:13. Wherefore, διὰ τοῦτο, because we have to contend against such.—Take up the whole armour of God.—Comp. Eph 6:11. Ἀναλάβετε is a technical term for taking up the arms.—That ye may be able to withstand.—Instead of πρός (Eph 6:11) we here have ἵνα; the goal is denoted there, the purpose here; ἀντιστῆναι is somewhat livelier, indicating the attacks of the spirit, whom he in spirit sees making an assault.—In the evil day, ἐν τῇ ἡμέρα τῇ πονηρᾶ.—At all events this means a particular day, immediately impending, but quite as certainly is it not the same for every one, since a common contest is not implied, not a battle, but a πάλη, “wrestling,” in which the victory is decisive for “the day of redemption.” Therefore the decisive, imminent day of conflict for each one is marked. BENGEL: bellum est perpetuum; pugna alio die minus fervet; dies malus vel ingruente morte, vel in vita; longior, brevior, in se ipso sæpe varius. [So HODGE, EADIE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT.] See Doctr. Notes. It is neither the day of death (SCHMID), still less the day of Judgment (JEROME), nor in general every day of conflict with its calamity (THEODORET, PELAGIUS, HARLESS and others), [nor the present life with the accompanying thought of brevity, CHRYSOSTOM, ŒCUMENIUS, THEOPHYLACT,] nor the particular common day [of the last great Satanic outbreak] before the Second Advent (KOPPE, MEYER, STIER and others), nor is it merely the evil hours (LUTHER.)

And having accomplished all, to stand [καὶ ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι στῆναι].—To ἀντιστῆναι, referring to the conflict, the Apostle appends (καί) στῆναι, which designates the victorious keeping the field on the place of contest; it is the opposite of fleeing, yielding, being thrown down. Ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι, placed first, denotes a performing, effecting, the object of which is more fully designated with ἅπαντα, more comprehensible than πάντα, omnia operati (JEROME), well executing all (LUTHER); comp. Rom. 7:13; Phil. 2:12. The Apostle here treats of the doing of the Divine will in all directions and relations, the ethical activity and efficiency of the Christian, which outs its way through all assaults and conflicts from the side of the demons, without being led astray or weakened. It is neither=παράσκευασάμενοι, omnibus rebus probe comparatis ad pugnam (BENGEL and others), nor=debellare, phrasis bellica (GREEK FATHERS, GROTIUS, KOPPE, HARLESS and others), nor does it refer to the conflict itself (MEYER and others), nor yet is it: in omnibus perfect (Vulgate).

[The participle is never used by Paul in the sense of “having overcome;” it is therefore best to accept the usual meaning: “having accomplished,” especially as we might expect a masculine object instead of the neuter ἅπαντα, were the former sense intended. At the same time the view of BENGEL is evidently too restricted for the extended meaning of both participle and object. There remains still another question respecting the scope of the clause. Braune follows LUTHER in referring the infinitive to keeping the field; in that case the participle necessarily refers to all the antecedent action. EADIE, ALFORD, and ELLICOTT however apply the term to standing firm until the end of the combat, which seems preferable in view of the continued reference in context to the conflict itself. The participle, with its object, then means: having done all that the exigencies of the conflict require, “being fully equipped and having bravely fought.”—R.]

The ARMOR itself; Eph 6:14–17. a. The preparation; Eph 6:14, 15. b. The defensive armor; Eph 6:16, 17 a. c. The one offensive weapon; Eph 6:17 b.

Eph 6:14. Stand therefore, στῆτε οὐν, in the conflict, in order after the conflict to stand as victor. [MEYER, ELLICOTT: “stand ready for the fight;” ALFORD: “whether ‘ready for the fight’ or ‘in the fight’ matters very little: all the aoristic participles are in time antecedent to the στῆτε—and the fight ever at hand.”—R.]—Having girt your loins about with truth, περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθεία.—Being girded about their loins, they have on the girdle, or waist-belt (ζωστήρ, ζώνη), which covers the groin and the stomach below the breastplate, the most vulnerable part of the body, the region of the hips and loins; this is the first and a very important piece (Isa. 5:27; 11:5; Luke 12:35; 1 Pet. 1:13). [MEYER: “An ungirded soldier would be a contradiction in terms.” The girdle kept the armor in place, formed in itself a part of the cuirass, and was also used to support the sword. The latter notion ALFORD regards as confusing here, but it hardly seems so, since the sword was objective truth.—R.]—Ἐν ἀληθείᾳ that with which the loins are enveloped, like καίειν ἐν πυρί, καλύπτειν ἐν ἱματίῳ (WINER, p. 36342); here it means the objective truth revealed in the word, which is appropriated. Veritas adstringit hominem, mendaciorum magna est laxitas (GROTIUS). On this account we should neither exclude the former (HARLESS, MEYER), nor understand merely the moral truth of willing (HARLESS) or the agreement of knowledge with the objective truth given in the gospel (MEYER), or sincerity (CALVIN and others), or apply this to ornament (HARLESS). [“Truth” here is subjective truth, since the article is wanting and the objective truth is mentioned in Eph 6:17. Still it is based on the faith and standing of a Christian (ALFORD); “the assured conviction that you believe” (EADIE). It should be noticed that faith (by implication) enters here and in the mention of the sword, as well as explicitly in the figure of the shield.—R.]

And having put on the breastplate of righteousness [καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης].—Here καί adjoins another piece. Ἑνδυσάμενοι43 means putting on like a part of the clothes. Τὸν θώρακα is added by the Apostle without a designation of the part of the body (στῆθος) which it covers because that is self-evident. The genitive (τῆς δικαιοσύνης) is appositional; here it means the righteousness of faith and of life, justification and sanctification before God and men (Rom. 6:4, 13). In pectore sedes est conscientiæ, quæ munitur justitia. Hostis per omnia ipsi contraria vincitur (BENGEL). MEYER finds here the ethical rectitude, as in the previous clause the intellectual, which is only so far correct, that here we should find an ethical reference, there an intellectual one, as in 5:9; Isa. 11:5. HARLESS: The righteousness of faith, with which alone one does not stand on the place of conflict, which also passes over into the life. [So ALFORD: “The purity and uprightness of Christian character which is the result of the work of the Spirit of Christ; the inwrought righteousness, not merely the imputed righteousness.” The latter reference is defended by EADIE and HODGE; the former pressing the article in support of it, the latter urging that no moral virtue forms part of the armor and then saying that the subjective sense of righteousness was included already in the word “truth.” The wider reference is preferable, for the more restricted one belongs to a view of the word δικαιοσύνη, which is too forensic, sundering in twain an indivisible truth. For the correct meaning of the word, see Romans, pp. 74, 75, 78, etc.—R.]

Eph 6:15. Having shod your feet, καὶ ὑποδησάμενοι τοὺς πόδας.—This adds the third piece, and the terms are again significant. Here we must think of the war-sandals, προκνημῖδας, ocreœ militares,44 which give firm footing and gait.—With the preparedness of the gospel of peace [ἐν ἁτοιμασία τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς εἰρήνης].—That in (ἐν) which the feet stand, is for the warrior of Christ ἑτοιμασία, readiness, promptitudo animi, internal and external, the ready courage and preparedness for conflict, firmitas et constantia, which the gospel gives; hence τοῦ εὐαγγελίου is auctoris, the contents and pledge of which is set forth by τῆς εἰρήνης chiefly with God, (Rom. 5:1; 8:31, 38 f.), then in one’s self and peaceableness toward men as such.45 The Christian fights in peace for the sake of peace, viz. the eternal one. That is an oxymoron (SCHENKEL): the gospel of peace instils readiness for conflict. We should not then, because pedumsæpe (Rom. 10:15; 3:16 sqq.; Luke 1:79) conjuncta mentio cum evangelis et cum pace (BENGEL), allow ourselves, contrary to the context to think of the proclamation of the gospel (LUTHER: ready to carry on the gospel, HARLESS and others). [So CHRYSOSTOM and now CONYBEARE, but the Apostle was addressing the whole church as engaged in an individual conflict, mainly defensive too.—R.] Notwithstanding the frequent use of ἑτοιμασία to translate the Hebrew מָכוֹך (LXX. Ezra. 2:68; 3:3; Ps. 89:15; Dan 9:20, 21), it is not to be rendered as=fundamentum (BENGEL and BLEEK and others), although what is positive is not to be excluded. Εἰρήνη is neither to be limited to peace with God (HARLESS, MEYER and others), nor referred to peace between Gentile and Gentile (MICHAELIS). ERASMUS is irrelevant: evangelium—non-tumulta, sed tolerantia tranquillitateque defenditur.

The defensive armor; Eph 6:16, 17a.

Eph 6:16. In addition to all, ἐπὶ πᾶσιν (WINER, p. 367), as in Luke 3:20: “Added this above all;” 16:28. ERASMUS: super omnia, for a protection over all. Incorrect: before all things (LUTHER). [MEYER, HODGE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT agree with Braune (as does EADIE, who formerly defended the local sense) in taking the preposition as=in addition to rejecting the local (Bengel and others) and ethical references (E. V.). If ἐν be accepted as the correct reading (see Textual Note5) the meaning would be: in all things, i.e., on all occasions.—Having taken up, ἀναλαβόντες, aptly chosen here:46 the shield of faith.Τον θυρεόν (from θῦρα, originally that which closes an entrance) is chosen by the Apostle because he has in mind the scutum, which was four feet long and two and a half broad, צִנָּה (Ps. 35:2; Ezek. 23:24, LXX.) and not ἀσπίς, clypeus, מָגֵך, the smaller, round shield. The concern is that the whole person be covered, as indeed faith (τὴς πίστεως, genitive of apposition as in Eph 6:14, 17) entirely covers and defends the Christian: as God’s gift effecting salvation (2:8) [MEYER: fides salvifica], bringing about forgiveness of sins in the past (1:7), affording for every moment access to God (3:12), assuring in advance of eternal life, by securing to us the gift of the Holy Ghost (1:13, 14), rendering holy and without blame (1:4). Comp. Rom. 8:14–16, 31–39. Man’s own holiness is not a shield for him, as in Wisdom 5:20; God’s holiness is his shield; God Himself is our shield (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 18:31; Prov. 30:5; 1 Pet. 5:9; 1 John 5:4). It is faith, entirely and constantly giving itself up to God in Christ, on the part of a child and heir, hence not the faith of miracles, nor justifying faith alone (SCHENKEL).

Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.—Thus the Apostle describes the protection of faith against dangerous attacks. Ἐν ᾦ is on which, not with which (LUTHER and others). [It means either, lighting on it and being quenched in it, or “as protected by and under cover of which” (ELLICOTT). The former is perhaps preferable.—R.] The figure and the reality are here so much complicated in each other, that we should not think of a shield with wet hides (OLSHAUSEN), but of faith on which the destructive fire from Satan is extinguished, without causing damage. The future (δυνήσεσθε) refers to the impending conflict.47 In this are thrown τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηποῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα; these are malleoli (darts), falaricæ (javelins), tela ignita (made of reeds, with tow and pitch), which are ignited and then hurled (Ps. 7:14; LIVY, 21:8). The evil one, i.e., Satan48 (Matt. 5:37; 13:19, 38; John 17:15; 2 Thess. 3:3) throws temptations of many kinds; hence πάντα comes first and τὰ πεπυρωμένοι is placed last for emphasis (WINER, p. 127)49. Certainly we are to understand in part dangerous and corrupting words and speeches which come to one’s ears, impart thoughts cast into the heart, the fire of passions, etc. In the σβῆσαι the figure is simply exceeded by the reality. Of course we need not think of poisoned darts (RUECKERT and others), which are not burning, but inflict burning wounds. Yet it cannot be said that we should not think of burning desires (CHRYSOSTOM), because these are present within man (SCHENKEL); faith is an affair of the heart, and in the heart the conflict of redemption is fought and won; besides fire and iron could scarcely be two deadly elements, which aptly illustrate the attacks of Satan. [SCHENKEL].

Eph 6:17. And take [or receive] the helmet of salvation [καὶ τῆν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε].—This advance is natural. In accordance with the genius of the Greek language a translation is made to the finite construction; it is not simply Paul’s lively method (MEYER), but that of the language. The genitive, τοῦ σωτηρίου, is one of apposition, as in Eph 6:14, 16.] The word is entirely general as in Luke 2:30; 3:6; Acts 28:28 (from Isa. 59:17, LXX. with a reference to the name of Jesus, in which the battle is fought and won, whom faith appropriates) and is used for σωτηρία. The salvation of the Messianic kingdom is represented as a helmet, covering the head. For the warrior does not hide himself behind his shield, but looks over it into the face of his opponent.—Δέξασθε, accipite oblatam a domino. Salute erigitur caput et munitur. 1 Thess. 5:8; Psa. 3:3, 4 (BENGEL). Salvation is the subject of the faith, in which the salvation is apprehended (HARLESS). [HODGE: “That which adorns and protects the Christian, which enables him to hold up his head with confidence and joy, is the fact that he is saved.” The German has an alliteration here: Den Helm des Heils nehmt, which Wickliffe gives in the Old English of his version: “the helme of helthe.”—R.]

The one offensive weapon; Eph 6:17b.

And the sword of the Spirit, καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος.—There is no mention, in addition, as in 1 Sam. 17:47; of the “spear,” or of the “bow” (Gen. 48:22; Josh. 24:12; Psa. 44:7). The Christian has only to contend cominus, personally, not eminus. The sword is “of the Spirit;” τοῦ πνεύματος is a genitive auctoris: He gives it, makes it. It cannot be appositional (HARLESS and others), as before, since the apposition follows in the relative clause.50

Which is the word of God.Ὅ ἐστι which is neuter by attraction of ρῆμα θεοῦ, relates to μάχαιραν, and is not to be construed with πνεύματος (OLSHAUSEN), for the Holy Ghost is not the Word of God; the latter is the product, the former is the Producer of what is in the word of God. Concinne subsequitur mentio Spiritus, adeoque coll. Eph 6:13 habetur mentio s. trinitatis (BENGEL). The Holy Ghost is meant, in antithesis, both to the letter and to the flesh, hence not the human spirit (MORUS), which in itself is also σάρξ. “The Word of God” is not to be limited to commandments (FLATT), or threatening against the enemies of the kingdom (KOPPE).

This completes the equipment. Two things are to be maintained: 1. The difference of the arms and the ethical or supersensuous realities set forth in them should not be arbitrarily weakened. It should not be said: universa potius armorum notio tenenda est. Nor can a proof of this be deduced from 1 Thess. 5:8, where we read: “the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation.” From a different stand-point there can be afforded a partially different point of view. 2. The figures are not to be pressed beyond measure and the lively objective metaphor of the Apostle to be dissected in arbitrary subjectivity to practical use.51

The prayer and the intercession; Eph 6:18–20. (a.) Prayer in general, Eph 6:18 a. (b.) Intercession in general, Eph 6:18 b. (c.) Intercession for the Apostle, Eph 6:19, 20.

Eph 6:18. With all prayer and supplication praying.—[The connection of this verse is with στῆτε (Eph 6:15), not with δέξασθε, which is a subordinate thought referring to a definite act, hence inconsistent with the “all,” “always” of this verse (MEYER). MEYER is scarcely justifiable in disconnecting διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως from προσευχόμενοι on the ground of tautology and logical difficulty. Each phrase expresses a proper qualification of the participle, and to pray always with every form of prayer involves no contradiction. HODGE seems to have been led into MEYER’S view. CONYBEARE improperly takes the participle as an imperative and begins a new paragraph with this verse.—R.]

The participle (προσευχόμενοι) is closely connected with the summons to the conflict and the putting on of the armor. The summons to prayer did not appear independently. Prayer is rather to be regarded as attending the taking up of the weapons and the conflict, as the present strongly indicates. The phrase: διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως, placed first, only requires, that prayer should not be neglected and that constant prayer of every form be earnestly offered up. The first term means prayer in general, the second the special request. [So HARLESS, MEYER, FRITZSCHE, TRENCH (Syn. II., § 1), ELLICOTT, ALFORD and most recent commentators.—R.] The opinion [GROTIUS] is untenable, that the former refers to the bestowment of a blessing, the latter to the averting of an evil (Jas. 5:16, 17).

At all times in the Spirit.Ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ gives prominence to the prayer as persevering, despite all change of relations and circumstances, at every opportunity, ἐν πνεύματι to prayer, as fervent and Christian occurring in the impulse of the Holy Ghost.52 BENGEL: Quoties cunque oratis, orate in Spiritu, quippe qui nullo tempore excluditur.

Intercession in general. And watching there unto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.—With reference to the already described prayer (εἰς αὐτό) there should also enter (καί), “watching” (ἀγρυπνοῦντες, from ἅϋπνος, Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36), which is elsewhere also joined with prayer (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Col. 4:2). [ALFORD: “continual habits of prayer cannot be kept up without watchfulness to that very end.”—R.] This should take place: “in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” The feeling of fellowship in the conflict finds its immediate expression in the supplication for all the fellow-combatants, whose standing fast is strength and assistance to their neighbor. The Christian should have a clear view about him, to the companions in conflict at other positions, in other places, and besides continue constant in such supplication. [“Perseverance and supplication” here amounts to “persevering supplication,” though it is not a grammatical Hendiadys, since the order would be inverted in that case. Ellicott says it is “a virtual or what might be termed a contextual ε͂ν διὰ δυοῖν.” Eadie: “In praying for themselves they were uniformly to blend petitions for all the saints.”—R.] How much depends on this is exemplified in what follows.

Intercession for the Apostle, Eph 6:19, 20. Eph 6:19. And for me [or on my behalf], καὶ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ.—[Καί brings into prominence a particular instance: WINER, p. 407.—R.] On the change of prepositions (see Exeg. Notes on Eph 5:2) it may be remarked: As regards the saints the figure of encirclement by attacking foes is the one, hence περί, but in the case of the Apostle in prison, that of a fallen combatant, hence ὑπὲρ. Or the former is=on account of, propter, the latter=for, pro (1 Pet. 3:18), making known a stronger personal interest.53

That utterance may be given to me.Ἵνα μοι δοθῇ, that there may be given me from the Lord as His gift.54 Non nitebatur Paulus habitu suo (BENGEL). But. what? Utterance, in the opening of my mouth, λόγος ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματός μου.—This is one conception: λόγος without the article, indefinite, is more qualified by the prepositional phrase. Ἄνοιξις τοῦ στόματος is a pregnant expression (Matth. 5:2; 2 Cor. 6:11), signifying joyful courage, streaming fulness, as well as granted freedom and fit opportunity (STIER). It is an emphatic designation of the inworking of God upon him who should speak in His name (HARLESS). Comp. Exod. 4:12; Psa. 51:17; Isa. 51:66; Ezek. 3:27; 29:31; 32:22; Matth. 10:19; Luke 21:15. CHRYSOSTOM: ἡ ἅλυσις ἐπίκειται τήν παῤῥησίαν ἐπιστομίζουσα, ἀλλἡ εὑχὴ ἡ ὑμετέρα ἀνοίγει μου τὸ στόμα, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῶ παῤῥησιάσωμαι. CALOVIUS: Petit sibi sermonem dari, non catenas solvi; petit apertionem oris, non vinculorum; petit sermonis παῤῥησίαν in ipsis vinculis, non liberationem ab iisdem. A word thus uttered in the opening of the mouth effected by God is God’s word. He therefore wishes a word, not for himself in his heart, but a word in his mouth for others, in furtherance of the conflict which tends to peace. This differs then from Col. 4:2, where external opportunity is in question, while here the internal life of the Apostle is treated of. Accordingly it is incorrect to render: ut aperiam os meum (BEZA [E. V.] and others); in that case εἰς would occur instead of ἐν. So too: when I speak or open my mouth (MEYER and others) [so substantially EADIE, ELLICOTT, ALFORD and HODGE]; it is not merely a graphic and solemn expression, that would be too flat. Nor is an improvisation referred to (ŒCUMENIUS), or an internal moral quality of Paul, the frankness=ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ (CALVIN, KOPPE [BLEEK, SCHENKEL] and others), or occasione data (GROTIUS and others), nor is it to be joined with what follows. [The connection with what precedes (not, as in the E. V., with what follows) is now generally accepted. “The opening of the mouth” most naturally refers neither to the quality nor to the source of the discourse, but to the simple act or fact of speaking, so that the view of MEYER is on the whole preferable. As the phrase occurs here in the purport of a prayer, it may refer to an act of God in opening the mouth, as Braune claims, but in that case another form would have made the sense much clearer.—R.]

In boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel [“So that with boldness I may make known,” etc.].—This expresses that for which he wishes that to him “utterance may be given,” “in the opening of my mouth.” He would gladly “make known,” and this was permitted to him in Cesarea (Acts 24:23) and in Rome (Acts 28:30, 31; 2 Tim. 1:16) in spite of his bonds. But he wishes to do it ἐν παῤῥσίᾳ (3:12), hence the phrase stands emphatically in advance. What he will gladly make known is the “mystery” (1:9; 3:9), which is the substance “of the gospel.” [ELLICOTT takes it as a genitive subjecti, “the mystery which the gospel has, involves.”—R.]

Eph 6:20. For which [or in behalf of which (ELLICOTT:in commodum cujus, to preach which”); see below on the exact reference.—R.]

I am an ambassador.—He thus expresses the reason why he would so gladly stand up and labor for the gospel [not merely why he was in bonds.—R.] As Christ’s ambassador he holds that office for all nations, and for the gospel; hence ὑπὲρ οὖ, not ὸὖ. Πρεβεύω is I am an ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20) and that too in bonds, ἐν ἁλύσει.—What a contrast: to be an ambassador in a chain! BENGEL: Paradoxon; mundus habet legatos splendidos. WETSTEIN: Alias legati jure gentium sancti et inviolabiles, in vinculis haberi non poterant. The verb does not however indicate that he was accredited to the Roman court (MICHAELIS), nor does the noun in the singular refer to the single chain with which he was bound to a soldier, to the custodia militaris (BAUMGARTEN and others).55 GROTIUS is incorrect: nunc quoque non desino legationem, for we do not read: καὶ ἐν ἀλύσει πρεσβεύω. Nor is it=πρεσβεύων ἐν ἀλύσει εἰμί (RUECKERT). Finally οὖ does not refer to μυστή ριον or to τὸ ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ γνωρίσαι. [EADIE refers it to the whole preceding clause, but this is indistinct; MEYER, ELLICOTT and ALFORD (apparently most correctly) refer it to “the mystery of the gospel,” since this was the object of γνωρίσαι, and what he should make known would naturally be that for which he was an ambassador in bonds. R—.]

That therein I may speak boldly, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ παῤῥησιάσωμαι.—Ἵνα introduces an end, and the final one: “that therein I may speak boldly.” [“His being thus a captive ambassador, was all the more reason why they should pray earnestly that he might have boldness” (ALFORD). On the grammatical connection see the concluding note.—R.] The gospel is the immediate task of the free discourse, in this, however, there is also a message of Divine power, is the source and ground of the boldness. When there is first vouchsafed to him “an utterance in the opening of his mouth,” then also does he obtain “boldness” in the gospel, and that too: as I ought to speak, ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι.—The emphasis rests on the ὡς as in Luke 12:11 (STIER). Much depends on how it is done, hence “as I ought to speak.” He must indeed testify; that is his “necessity” (1 Cor. 9:16); but to him belongs also, beyond the εὐαγγελίσασθαι, the manner worthy of the ambassador of Christ. This defines the fulfilling of his task, his duty. Comp. Col. 4:4; 1 Thess. 2:2. Accordingly ἵνα in this verse is not co-ordinate with the first ἵνα in Eph 6:19 (MEYER, BLEEK and others), since this is the final end of the Church’s supplication, to be attained through the fulfilment of the first ἵνα; nor is it dependent on πρεσβεύω (BENGAL), which is inconceivable.

[EADIE, ALFORD, HODGE and ELLICOTT, all agree with MEYER, in taking this ἵνα as co-ordinate with that in Eph 6:19, thus setting forth a second purpose of the watching and the supplication for the Apostle. This involves no tautology, as HARLESS supposes, since the reference here is to a conditioned boldness, and “therein” indicates not the source or ground, but the sphere of the boldness: “in the matter of, in dealing with the mystery of the gospel;” God is the source. Such a co-ordinate ἵνα occurs in Rom. 7:13; Gal. 3:14; 2 Cor. 9:3. It is true as Braune suggests, that this design is accomplished only through the fulfilment of the previous purpose (Eph 6:19), but grammatically the clause must be either co-ordinate or subordinate (the view of BENGEL being altogether untenable); if the latter, then it would express the purpose, not of the whole previous context, the supplication and consequent utterance, but simply of the gift of utterance, a view which Braune himself does not accept. We prefer therefore the other construction as more grammatical and not militating against the special point our author would bring out. For convenience a paraphrase of Eph 6:18–20 is appended: In this conflict therefore stand, not only armed thus, but with all (every form of) prayer and supplication, praying at all times (perseveringly and under all circumstances) in the (Holy) Spirit, and watching thereunto (in respect to this varied and constant prayer) in all perseverance and supplication (abiding even as you pray in persevering supplication) for all the saints; and (in particular) on behalf of me, that to me may be given (from God) utterance, in the opening of my mouth (when I am called upon to speak), so that with boldness I may make known the mystery of the gospel (whose contents are the gospel), in behalf of which (gospel mystery) I am an ambassador in bonds (a chained ambassador); (praying for me too in view of my office and condition) that therein (in the matter of the gospel mystery) I may speak boldly, as I ought (as becomes my office) to speak.—R.]


1. The kingdom of Satan. There is an organized kingdom of evil (HAHN, Theologie des N. T., I., p. 347), opposing the kingdom and people of God. In this there is a head, διάβολος (Eph 6:11; 2:2; 4:27); there are different groups, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι (Eph 6:12; 3:10; comp. 1:21), superior and inferior, with dominion over the world, κοσμοκράτορες. The nature of the prince and his dependents is pneumatic (Eph 6:12: τὰ πνευματικά) and super-terrestrial, ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις (Eph 6:12); thus prominence is given to their might over against men; they are super-terrestrial, with angelic power. Their character, however, is marked by the terms “wickedness” (Eph 6:12: τῆς πονηρίας), “darkness” (τοῦ σκότους, Eph 6:12) and “the evil one” (Eph 6:16); at his service are multifarious wiles (Eph 6:11: αἱ μεθοδεῖαι), which perceive the necessities and weakness of the object to be assaulted in all relations, preparing the attacks accordingly. [EADIE: “To rouse up the Christian soldiery, the Apostle brings out into bold relief the terrible foes which they are summoned to encounter. As to their position, they are no subalterns, but foes of mighty rank, the nobility and chieftains of the spirit-world; as to their office, their domain is ‘this darkness’ in which they exercise imperial sway; as to their essence, they are not encumbered with an animal frame, but are ‘spirits;’ and as to their character, they are ‘evil’—their appetite for evil only exceeds their capacity for producing it.”—R.]

2. The contest in its essence is a single-handed struggle in wrestling (Eph 6:12: α̇λλα, sc. ἕστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη), in which each for himself is attacked. The danger lies in the power and character of the enemy and of his wiles (see 1), in which he does not himself openly appear; he casts βέλη, many (πάντα) and fiery ones (Eph 6:16), as also in the end of the vanquished one, who belongs to “darkness” (Eph 6:12) as a result of the “deceit” (4:14). The means for assault and conflict are afforded to the Evil one by the world, which is at his disposal, and by “flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12), which war against the soul and become allies in the service of Satan, against whom the contest really is waged, standing behind these as he does with his stratagems and artifices. What is natural and created is not the precise antagonist against whom we must contend. The Apostle sketches the conflict as a present one (ἔστιν, Eph 6:12), concerning every member of the church, the Apostle and every Christian, having however its history, its various stages up to the day of decision (“in the evil day,” Eph 6:13) for which we must be prepared by opposition from the very start, being practiced in the turns and twists of the contest. Hence we are to understand the temptations and antagonisms, which meet every Christian in this world, which are spared to no period of the Church. They appear as contests with flesh and blood, with the world and its influence through its possessions, pleasures and honors, but back of this there stands really and in truth the kingdom of darkness.56 At certain times and hours they are intensified into specially decisive conflict. The evil day may be either the most fierce persecution and bitter sorrow, or quite as readily prosperity and undisturbed earthly happiness, in which some may fall even deeper and the Church itself be corrupted into unfaithfulness. This is true in particular for every Christian and his Christian life, and also in general for the Christian Church in its groups and its course of development. As the power of the Evil one is a cosmical one, and not merely a human one, humanly individualized, so the conflict itself is a cosmical one also, and not merely an individual one.

3. The panoply. In such a conflict the Christian needs an equipment, given by God and covering the whole man (ἡ πανοπλία τοῦ θεοῦ, Eph 6:11, 13). Man of himself, in his own power and strength, is unable to withstand the attacks; he has assailable and vulnerable points, which he must protect against the assaults of the Evil One, but which he alone cannot protect; only with the Lord Christ and in His power can he do it, even though he stands isolated; without God in Christ never!—The separate pieces of this armor (Eph 6:14–17) are: truth, righteousness, zealous but not passionate witness, faith, which concerns the whole personality, hope, which exalts, and God’s Word. The first three pieces betoken the garments, the next two the defensive armor, the last the one only weapon of offence and attack adapted only for single-handed and close combat, which belongs to the Christian warrior, to the Christian assailed by the Evil One and yet courageous and assured of victory. No one piece can be undervalued or neglected: each one requires the other; they together form one whole.—The putting on of this armor presupposes a being strengthened, points to an internal and vital appropriation, and requires faithful fulfilment of duty (ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι, Eph 6:13). Neither a knowledge which is a matter either of the memory merely or of the reflecting understanding, nor an external mechanical skill in the handling of these spiritual pieces of armor, will suffice for the conflict and the victory. Even the standing ready for the combat is not enough; there must be a solicitous regard as to what is to be done, and performance of the immediate task in peaceable walk. But above all must we cling to the Lord, in order to become inwardly strengthened by Him.—Hence Paul adjoins to the lively sketch of the panoply in close connection soberly without a figure.

4. Praying and watching (Eph 6:18), just as the Lord enjoined it and practiced it in the struggle in the garden of Gethsemane (Matth. 26:36–46); God’s Word to and for us teaches and leads us to open our hearts before Him in our word to Him. There must be at length intercourse between Him and our souls, in order to strengthen us more and more and enable us to do our duty. In prayerful intercourse, that grows ever more fervent, free, joyous and constant, we obtain God’s power. But we must with true open look see about and within ourselves, so that our weakness, the motions of the flesh, the surrounding agitation, the state of the times, the assaults of the enemy, God’s will and word, do not escape us.

5. We must advance to intercession for all saints and for the special warriors of the present. The Christian stands in single-handed combat, but is not isolated; the fall of one may involve the fall of another, perhaps of many. The victory of one preserves many from a fall. The conflict of the Christian is a common concern, the cause of the Church. That is an evidence of watching, when in the supplication for all special thought is given to those who are fighting in the van and most of all exposed to assaults. That is watchfulness, when one sees that the matter is not that the external condition of the assailed one is altered and improved, that the prison should be opened for the prisoner, but rather that he continues internally in joy and boldness to be an unhampered witness of the gospel, especially of the marrow of the gospel, full of life, of the profoundest contents of revelation, thus enabled amid all outward disgrace before the world to preserve the inward dignity of a child and servant of God, of His ambassador.


About nothing does man have such indistinct views as about his own strength. Every one, be he never so weak, thinks himself strong: this is proved by his resolutions, his plans, which have been mostly frustrated and shattered. It is with strength as with beauty, which no one even the ugliest thinks is far off. Indeed man is often afraid for himself just where there is nothing to fear, as the miser of unnecessary expense, the ambitious man of renouncing something, not knowing their own weakness. That in the Lord alone, the strong and mighty One, strength is to be sought and found, all those do not consider who are unwilling to ground true freedom in the service of God; only the children of God are strong, and he who stands fast on the soil of Divine precepts, eternal principles, has unconquerable might. He who is overcome by God and holds to Him, overcomes himself and the enemies without him.—The conflict is stirred by a powerful enemy without us, who is the more dangerous, the more allies he finds within us in our flesh and blood, in our natural man. Were there no false friends in us, the enemy, Satan, without us would not have so great power.—The Christian alone is assailed; he who is not assailed is no Christian, either no longer, or not yet. Satan does not attack his own, but rather uses them only in assaulting believers.—In the panoply of God all temptations of the devil turn out to be trials from God, in which we become stronger and more invincible.—The girdle of the Christian warrior is a chain of eternal truths, his breastplate is righteousness which avails before God, his war-shoes are skill in Gospel testimony in word and deed without precipitancy in peaceableness; his shield is that faith of the heart which hangs on Christ, securing against seven darts, those of sin, virtue, the world, the cross, despair, calumny and death (H. MUELLER); the helmet is the hope of everlasting salvation, and the short sword is the apprehended word from God, which has the edge and point to parry as drawn by the Lord Himself. Only learn how to choose and use such texts as Matt. 4:4, 7, 10! See thou hast the sword of the Spirit! 1. The sword which is of the Spirit is a word, God’s word, but this word is a sword. 2. The Spirit, whose the sword is, is the Holy Spirit, not theology, not polity, nor confession, neither letter nor man’s reason.—Without God’s word reason and strength were a leaden banner, a lance without a head, a sword without an edge.—To handle the sword Of the Spirit thou needest the strength of God. HAMANN says aptly, the breastplate is no bodice but a breast-plate, to which a champion is as much accustomed as patrons to their loose clothes. From supplication we first learn how to pray for ourselves rightly.—More depends on internal than on external freedom. To be free in chains and bonds, to be full of pure joy hr tribulation, to be oppressed and yet freehearted, is the Apostle’s wish and precept.

STARKE: Do you suppose that Christianity comes off without a conflict or that you will receive a crown of glory without having contended? You deceive yourself. Daily must you be in the combat and show good knighthood in faith. Do you ask: who then are my enemies? look into your own breast and there you will find sinful lusts, warring against you; sloth and sleepiness, clouding thy spirit, unbelief and doubt, wounds of conscience, disturbing you, etc. Without you are Satan and the world, setting their nets. If you are not properly armed in faith against these enemies, you will go to ruin.—Since artifice is so much more dangerous than force, we must specially protect ourselves against this.—He who is well armed can composedly look the devil in the face and stand up to him foot to foot; he will assuredly conquer.—A good conscience is the Christian’s breastwork.—The less sin, the less the power of the devil.—Let a believing Christian take especial care that he guards his heart.—When the enemy is there it is too late to begin to arm; prepare yourself beforehand and be always ready.—Where there is no faith, there is no armor that avails against Satan; all is lost.—The word of God is necessary for all men, even for the overcoming of spiritual adversaries. How can the Romish Church answer for this, that they have refused this to their poor people?—Prating is not praying. He who has not the spirit of prayer, cannot pray aright.—Strong, well-fortified and blessed souls need our intercessions also.—Ye hearers, why is it that your teacher is so dull and that he cannot speak with power to your conscience! The answer is: you do not pray for him! Oh, as often as he enters the pulpit, so often should your mind and your whole heart rise to the Lord, praying earnestly that he may with boldness and great impression speak to your souls.—Oh how much useless stuff is often brought out from the pulpit! Let him who appears before the Lord, see to it that he speaks nothing else than God’s word.

RIEGER: A good warrior needs inward courage and then outward armor.—The devil has a great advantage when his power is denied or deemed trifling. For there is then the less arming against him.—The magnificent names which the Apostle applies to these powers arranged in the kingdom of darkness, we must never look at in themselves, for then they might appear to be expressed only to increase the fear of our hearts; but when we consider in addition the destruction of all these works which is announced in the Gospel, they serve rather to exalt the name of Christ.—In the entire period of life, during which we find ourselves placed on the field of conflict, there still occurs some one occasion which constitutes the evil day, and upon which it depends whether the purpose of the enemy be repelled, our will for good, taken from God’s word and Spirit, become strengthened and thus God’s will toward us be accomplished.—It is really a principal part of the honorable condition of the children of God, that they cannot only present their own concerns in prayer to Him, but also assume those of others in supplication.—There is here however no approval of an indolent leaning upon the intercessions of others, such as Simon sought with a heart “not right” (Acts 6:24), or of a self-interested application of intercession, such as our Saviour rebuked in the Pharisee (Matt. 13:14), but we are to understand a common contest and mutual help in prayer.

HEUBNER: Weapons of human prudence, the straw-armor of our reason, as Luther says, are not sufficient against the evil, spiritual powers. If God is not with us, with His counsel and His strength, all is in vain.—The Christian must ever stand, ever be armed, because there is always a conflict. A fool does not know what kind of a contest there is going to be! He calls the evil powers the fancies of benighted ones.—As among the Spartans the saying was: “either with this or on this,” so the Christian should either preserve his shield of faith or die on it.—No one is so strong that he can do without the intercession of others. Even a Paul still needed strengthening and stimulus. The word to be preached is given by the Lord; the Lord opens the mouth. From Him must come the impulse to speak; he who preaches according to his own fancies and pleasure accomplishes nothing. The Gospel is to the perverted heart always a mystery.

PASSAVANT: Paul was a man of God and as such of varied and great experience in all these conflicts.—The more earnestly Paul contended, the more earnestly did his love for the Christians, the brethren, the churches of the Lord, fear and tremble.—Paul is the ambassador on behalf of the Gospel and on account of the preaching of it in bonds.—This office has its sorrows and dangers; it has heights and also abysses, a destruction, a condemnation, a death.

STIER: As certainly as you can count upon God’s help, so necessary is your own activity in the use of means, which God proffers that you may offer resistance.—To withstand the enemy and to stand is already the entire, difficult triumph.—We are not however once for all done with girding, putting on, grasping our arms and armor; in the midst of the conflict we must constantly look after them and keep them in order.—The contest, the enemies, the field of battle, the equipment,—that is all; but the arms, which the Spirit gives, can be managed only with the prayer of our spirit, can be attained, put on and grasped only through prayer.—An ambassador in bonds! But although bound, he can still proclaim unhindered and conduct properly his embassy.—GERLACH: Bound with a chain to a soldier, Paul preached the Gospel and dictated this Epistle, from which the Christian Church in all ages has received so much love and pleasure.

On the Epistle for the 21st Sunday after Trinity [Eph 6:10–17].—HERBERGER: The hand-book (Enchiridion) of a Christian knight. 1. What kind of heart and courage such an one must have to appear in the place of review. 2. Who is his chief Captain, to whom he must have regard. 3. What kind of equipment he must have, what is the best armory, the best arsenal. 4. Who are his worst enemies. 5. How he ought and must accustom himself to his armor. 6. What a severe regimen he must carry out. 7. Finally what he has to expect, if he conduct himself in a knightly manner.—LISCO; The sacred combat of the Christian: 1. The cause for which he contends (Eph 6:10, 11); 2. The enemies against which he contends (Eph 6:12, 13); 3. The weapons with which he contends (Eph 6:14–17).—RAUTENBERG: Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might! How the equipment with the whole armor of God is 1) so indispensable, 2) so accessible, 3) so glorious.—HARLESS: The bond of Christian fellowship consists: 1) in the assurance of the same contest for all; 2) in the possession of the same arms; 3) in the command to accordant love.—Gesetz und Zeugniss [a German periodical]: The secret conflict of the Christian. 1) The secret of his danger, 2) of his strength, 3) of his victory.—MUENKEL: The Apostle’s war sermon shows 1) the enemy against whom, 2) the armor in which, 3) the kingdom for which we contend.—PRÖHLE: The Christian warrior. 1. The host of foes against him (Eph 6:12); 2. The heroic spirit in which he goes forth (Eph 6:10, 11); 3. The armor he bears (Eph 6:13–17).

[HODGE: Eph 6:10–13. As a conflict is inevitable, the believer should: 1. Muster strength for the struggle. 2. He should seek that strength from Christ. 3. Since his enemies are not human, but superhuman, he needs not only more than human strength, but also Divine armor.

Eph 6:10. He who rushes into this conflict without Christ has not strength even to reach the field. When most empty of self, we are most full of God.

Eph 6:14. With the flowing garments of the East, the first thing to be done in preparing for any active work was to gird the loins. To enter on this spiritual conflict ignorant or doubting, would be to enter battle blind or lame.—A warrior without his breast-plate was naked, exposed to every thrust of his enemy, and even to every casual dart. In such a state flight or death is inevitable.

Eph 6:15. In ancient warfare swiftness of foot was one of the most important qualifications for a good soldier. As the Gospel secures our peace with God, and gives assurance of His favor, it produces that joyful alacrity of mind which is essential to success in the spiritual conflict.

Eph 6:16. It is a common experience of the people of God, that at times horrible thoughts, unholy, blasphemous, sceptical, malignant crowd upon the mind, which cannot be accounted for on any ordinary law of mental action, and which cannot be dislodged. There are others which enkindle passion, inflame ambition, excite cupidity, pride, discontent, or vanity. Against these most dangerous weapons of the evil one, the only protection is faith.

Eph 6:17. This sword puts to flight all the powers of darkness; it is true in the individual experience of the Christian, and in the experience of the church collective. All her triumphs over sin and error have been effected by the Word of God. When anything else takes its place, the Church, or the Christian, is at the mercy of the adversary.

Eph 6:18. To obtain strength to use this armor aright, and to secure victory, we should pray. These prayers should be: 1. Of all kinds; 2. On every occasion; 3. Importunate and persevering; 4. By the aid of the Holy Spirit; 5. For all saints.—R.]


Eph 6:10. The valor is as spiritual as the armor.

Eph 6:11. The great enemy of man, a veteran fierce and malignant has a method of warfare peculiar to himself, for it consists of “wiles.” His battles are the rush of a sudden ambuscade.

Eph 6:12. It is no vulgar herd of fiends we encounter, but such of them as are darkly eminent in place and dignity.

Eph 6:16. The biography of Luther and Bunyan affords apposite examples of these fiery darts.

Eph 6:17. The Captain of salvation set the example, and once and again, and a third time, did He repel the assault of the prince of darkness by three brief and simple citations from Scripture.

Eph 6:18. “ ‘Praying always’—what does it mean? Being always on our knees? always engaged in the act of prayer? This I believe to be one of the grossest glosses that Satan casts on that text. He has often given it that gloss; monkery, nunnery, abstraction from the world in order to give up one’s self to prayer, are but the effects of that false gloss” (EVANS).—“All the saints” pray for us, and in a spirit of reciprocity it becomes us to pray for them.

Eph 6:19. “The mystery of the Gospel.” It is a system which lay hidden till God’s time came for revealing it. To know it there must be a Divine initiator, for its truths are beyond the orbit of human anticipations. The God-man, a vicarious death, gratuitous pardon, the influence of the Spirit—are doctrines which man never could have discovered. This Gospel, without mutilation, in its fulness and majesty, and with all its characteristic elements, the Apostle wishes to proclaim with plain and unfaltering freedom.

Eph 6:20. The Apostle’s earnest wish was, that he might expound his message in a manner that became him and his high commission, that his imprisonment might have no dispiriting effect upon him, and that he might not in his addresses compromise the name and dignity of an ambassador for Christ.—R.]


[26] Eph 6:10.—[The Rec. reads: τὸ λοιπὸν ἀδελφοὶ μου, but μοῦ λοιποῦ occurs in א1. A. B.,2cursives, and some fathers; it is accepted by Lachmann, Rückert and Alford, but the other form is retained by Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott on the authority of א.3D. F. K. L., most cursives and fathers. Most editors, however, reject ἀδελφοί μου, which is found only in א.3 K. L. (though in others with the omission of μου, and in a different position) most cursives and fathers; besides the good external authority for the omission (א.¹ B. D. E., good versions), the phrase is open to double suspicion: first, as usually following τὸ λοιπόν and hence likely to be inserted second, as not used in direct address in this Epistle (Olshausen). Meyer holds that the reading τοῦ λοιποῦ is a mechanical repetition from Gal. 6:17, urging the insertion of the added phrase in favor of τὸ λοιπόν (see his critical note).—R.]

[27]Eph 6:12.—[Lachmann and Rückert accept ὑμῖν on the authority of B. D.1 F. G., a few cursives, a number of versions and fathers; but ἡμῖν is very well supported (א. A. D. 3 K. L., most cursives, versions and fathers), while the change to the second person is an apparent correction on account of the individualizing, hortatory character of the passage as a whole.—R.]

[28]Eph 6:12.—[The Rec. reads: τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, but the words τοῦ αἰῶνος are rejected by all recent editors as an explanatory gloss. They are found in א3 (but rubbed out) D.3 K. L., most cursives, a number of fathers (with an asterisk in Syriac-Phil.), but omitted in א.2 A. B. D.3 F., good versions, most fathers.—R.]

[29]Eph 6:12.—[The emendations in the latter part of this verse are required by the exegetical views adopted in the additional notes. The only variation from the rendering required by Dr. Braune’s opinions is in the insertion of hosts. See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[30]Eph 6:16.—[Instead of the well-Supported reading of the Rec. (ἐπί) א B., 10 cursives, a few fathers reads, ἐν, which is adopted by Lachmann, but rejected by nearly all more recent editors as a correction for the ambiguous ἐπί. Alford is in doubt.—The force of ἐπί is correctly given in the above emendation; comp. Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[31]Eph 6:16.—[In B. D.1 F., τά his omitted, rejected by Lachmann, bracketted by Alford, but “it seems more probable that the article was omitted by an oversight, than that the transcriber felt any grammatical difficulty, and sought to remedy it by insertion” (Ellicott). So Meyer, and most, with the support of א. A. D.2 K. L., and most minor authorities. On the effect of the omission on the grammatical construction, see Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[32]Eph 6:17.—[In D.1 F. G., some minor authorities the verb is omitted; in A. D.3 K., a number of cursives, it is changed into δέξασθαι (Matthies), but the reading of the Rec. (δέξασθε) is well supported, and generally accepted. The internal grounds are strongly in favor of it; had the verb been originally wanting the corrector would probably have supplied ἀναλάβετε, while the infinitive form may be ascribed either to itacism or to the presence of an infinitive in the clause immediately preceding (so Meyer.)—R.]

[33]Eph 6:18.—[The Rec. inserts τοῦτο after αὐτό with D.3 K. L., some cursives and fathers, but it is rejected as an explanatory addition by recent editors on good uncial authority, confirmed by variations which are best accounted for on the theory of its spuriousness.—In is more literal than with, indicating also the variation in prepositions.—R.]

[34]Eph 6:19.—The Rec. reads δοθείη, but it has no uncial support, found only in a few cursives.—The emendations in this verse are necessary, as the E. V. gives a wrong connection and interpretation.—R.]

[35]Eph 6:19.—[The words τοῦ εὐαγγελίου are omitted in B. F. G., and bracketted by Lachmann, but accepted by more recent editors (Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott) on the evidence of א. A. D. E. K. L., good cursives and versions.—R.]

[36][“Be strong” does not bring out this passive force; hence “be strengthened” is generally substituted by English commentators and revisers.—R.]

[37][The E. V.: “whole armour,” is the only possible translation of this word; “panoply” is simply the Greek word with an English termination, and is less readily understood by the ordinary reader. That both offensive weapons and defensive armor are included will appear at first glance from Eph 6:17.—R.]

[38][EADIE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT follow METER, urging that the emphasis on τοῦ θεοῦ would imply some other spiritual armor, but Braune’s view avoids this objection, and is preferable on account of the double antithesis: “the wiles of the devil.”—R.]

[39][The word is generally used in a bad sense, though Diodorus Siculus uses the verb of geometrical investigations (ALFORD). EADIE renders it: “stratagems;” ALFORD: “schemes.” The form μεθοδίας is found in א. A. B.1 D.1 F. K. L., many cursives, but not generally received, as the variation is supposed to be due to itacism (comp. 4:14).—R.]

[40][ELLICOTT: “The dogmatical meaning is correctly explained by the Greek commentators: the evil spirits exercise dominion over the κόσμος, not in its mere material nature, but in its ethical and perhaps intellectual character and relations, the depravation of which is expressed by τοῦ σκότους τούτου.MEYER’S note (mainly adopted by ELLICOTT) in loco is interesting and valuable.—R.]

[41][EADIE adopts this view: “The celestial spots occupied by the Church; on them this combat is to be maintained. Those evil spirits have invaded the Church—and therefore believers must encounter and fight them ‘in the heavenly places.’ ” To this view nothing in the context points, while it seems a too remote connection to join this phrase with πάλη.—R.]

[42][MEYER, ELLICOTT and others take the preposition as instrumental, but ALFORD is more exact: “not instrumental, but local; the girt person is within, surrounded by the girdle; but this is necessarily expressed in English by ‘with.’ ”—R.]

[43][The aorist participles are not used for presents (HOLZHAUSEN), but with propriety; “the different acts specified by the participles were all completed before the soldier took up his position” (ELLICOTT).—R.]

[44][The Roman caligæ were probably in the Apostle’s mind; sandals with soles thickly studded with nails.—R.]

[45][This view of the passage is now generally accepted (MEYER, ALFORD and many others). On the word ἑτοιμασία, used principally in the LXX. and ecclesiastical writers (the classical form was ἑτοιμότης), see MEYER and ALFORD in loco.—R.]

[46][EADIE: “The pieces of armor already mentioned being fitted on to the body and fastened to it, each by appropriate mechanism, have each its characteristic verb—but shield, helmet and sword need no such special fastening, for they are simply taken up or assumed, and therefore they are joined to the one general participle, ἀναλαβόντες, and the verb δέξασθε.”—R.]

[47][Not, however, as MEYER thinks, to the last great future fight. ALFORD thinks the future implies the certainty that the shield of faith will thus quench. ELLICOTT regards it as only “a conditioned present.”—R.]

[48][Should the article be omitted (see Textual Note6) the participle would be a tertiary predicate; “fire-tipt as they are” (ELLICOTT), “when inflamed, even in their utmost malice and fiery power” (ALFORD).—R.]

[49][ELLICOTT: “Not ‘evil,’ τὸ πονηρόν, but in accordance with the individualizing and personal nature of the conflict which the context so forcibly depicts—the Devil.” ALFORD: “The conflict being personal, the adversary must be, not an abstract principle, but a concrete person.”—R.]

[50][“Still less probably is it a genitive of quality, ἡ μάχαιρα πνευματικά (CHRYSOSTOM), or a simple genitive of possession in reference to the τιμωρητικὴ ἐνέργεια (Lever. ap. Cram. Cat.) of the Spirit, both of which seem to be at variance with the general tenor of the passage, which represents the ‘armatura’ as furnished to us by God. Thus then it is from the Spirit that we receive the sword, that sword being the Word of God, the Gospel (Eph 6:15), which is the δύναμις θεοῦ (Rom. 1:18; 1 Cor. 1:18) to every one who believeth; comp. Heb. 4:12” (ELLICOTT).—R.]

[51][EADIE mentions among the works which are open to this objection: GURNALL, Christian in complete armour, Glasgow, 1763; AINSWORTH, Tactica Sacra, 1657; LYDIUS, Syntagma de re militari. ed Van Til, 1698, Dort.—The best practical commentary on this section is undoubtedly to be found in BUNYAN’S Pilgrim’s Progress, especially the armory in the “Interpreter’s house,” and the combat with Apollyon in “the valley of humiliation.”—On the arms, comp. SMITH’S Bible Dictionary, Arms.—R.]

[52][“The Holy Spirit in whose blessed and indwelling influence, and by whose merciful aid, we are enabled to pray (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), yea, and who Himself intercedes for us (Rom 8:26).’ So ELLICOTT, who analyzes the clause thus: “With all prayer and supplication” denotes the earnest, because varied character of the prayer; “at all times” the constancy of it, thus showing that there is no tautology as MEYER asserts and HODGE implies.—R.]

[53][MEYER, ELLICOTT and others attach little or no importance to the change of preposition here, but HARLESS, EADIE, ALFORD and others are not satisfied with the explanation that the change was occasioned by mere desire for variety. That is unlike Paul. To mark the variation in English, ALFORD renders: “concerning all the saints and for me.” The Revision by Four Anglican clergymen gives: “for all the saints and on my behalf.” ELLICOTT in his translation gives: and in particular for me, but this is a paraphrase of the specializing καί.—R.]

[54][The reading of the Rec. (δοθείη), on which see Textual Note 9, would give the purpose a more subjective reference, and represent the feeling of a more dependent reality (ELLICOTT).—R.]

[55][The allusion is probable, but as the singular is frequently used in a collective sense, and this word is employed by Paul only in the singular, we cannot certainly infer that there is such an allusion here.—R.]

[56][HODGE remarks respecting the conflict: “It is one also in which great mistakes are often committed and serious loss incurred from ignorance of its nature, and of the appropriate means for carrying it on. Men are apt to regard it as a mere moral conflict between reason and conscience on the one side, and evil passions on the other. They therefore rely on their own strength and upon the resources of nature for success. Against these mistakes the Apostle warns his readers. He teaches that everything pertaining to it is supernatural. The source of strength is not in nature. The conflict is not between the good and bad principles of our nature. He shows that we belong to a spiritual as well as to a natural world, and are engaged in a combat in which the higher powers of the universe are involved; and that this conflict, on the issue of which our salvation depends, is not to be carried on with straws picked up by the wayside. As we have superhuman enemies to contend with, we need not only superhuman strength, but Divine armor and arms. The weapons of our warfare are not natural, but Divine.”—R.]

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:

CHAPTER 6:21–24

1. Personal intelligence is brought by the bearer of the letter

Ephesians 6:21, 22

21But that ye also may know57 my affairs, and how I do [the things concerning me, how I fare]58, Tychicus, a [the] beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things [shall make all known59 to you]: 22Whom I have sent unto you for the same [this very] purpose, that ye might [may]60 know our affairs, and that he might [may] comfort your hearts.


Eph 6:21. But that ye also may know, ἵνα δὲεἰδῆτε καὶ ὑμεῖς.—Passing over to another subject (δέ) the Apostle hastens from the intercession for himself to a conclusion. He wishes that in order to make proper intercession for him, they might also know his condition more exactly, referring them, however, to oral communications. The καί before ὑμεῖς points to others (BENGEL; perinde ut alii). The immediate antithesis is Tychicus and those who are near Paul in his imprisonment. Not merely those about him (Eph 6:22: τὰ περὶ ἠμῶν), even those more remote should know respecting him. It cannot be in antithesis to the Apostle himself (RUECKERT and others); this gives no meaning. Even STIER’S view: You also on your part should know what I on my part experience and suffer, does not correctly explain the καί before ὑμεῖς. To think of the Colossians (HARLESS, MEYER, BLEEK) or of Timothy (comp. 2 Tim. 4:12) is not warranted by anything in the passage.61

The things concerning me, how I fare, set forth a double object of the communication: τὰ κατ̓ ἐμέ (Phil. 1:12; Col. 4:7) denotes the external circumstances, τί πράσσω the personal demeanor and state in the same.62Tychicus—shall make all known to you.Πάντα comprises what has already been referred to, pointing to the full and detailed deportment (γνώρίσει) of Tychicus, who is mentioned in Acts 20:4; Col. 4:7, 8; 2 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 3:12, without imparting any further information than that he was a native of Asia and a serviceable companion of Paul, who here characterizes him as:

The beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord.Ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφός designates him as a stout-hearted Christian, καὶ πιστὸς διάκονος as a reliable servant, a servant of the gospel, in accordance with the context, which indicates that Tychicus would come not for personal reasons, but in the interest of the Church (παρακαλέση τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν), and in agreement with Col. 4:7 (where “minister and fellow-servant in the Lord “marks him as a servant who with Paul is a δοῦλος of Christ). We should not then think (of the ecclesiastical office of the diaconate (ESTIUS), nor yet of a personal servant to Paul himself (MEYER).63 The added phrase ἐν κυρίῳ, “in the Lord,” is to be joined with both ἁδελφός and διάκονος since they are connected without the article, thus confirming the reference to the ministry of the Gospel, through which he is a brother; his Christian character he manifests in the service of Christianity. Christ is the sphere of life and effort for Tychicus; hence ἐν κυρίῳ which refers back to ἀδελφός also.

Eph 6:22. Whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, ὅν ἕπεμψα πρὸς ὑμᾶς εἰς αὑτὸ τοῦτο, for the very purpose, which has been already mentioned [“I have sent” is on the whole preferable to “I send” (WORDSWORTH) or “I sent” (ALFORD).—E.]—That ye may know our affairs.64Ἵ να must be parallel to the first one, as γνῶτε to εἰδῆτε, Τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν merely extends the circle: the situation, not merely of the Apostle, but of his companions also (Col. 4:10–14; Philemon 10, 23, 24). Paul does not send there merely in his own interest.

And that he may comfort your hearts, καὶ παρακαλέσῃ τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν.—This denotes the consequence of communication, or the impression which accompanies it. Accordingly it is not necessary to give prominence to ministerial address as the signification here (STIER), BENGEL: Ne offenderetis in vinculismeis. [“It is better, however, owing to our ignorance of the exact state of the church, to leave the precise reference undefined, and to extend it generally to all particulars in which they needed it” (ELLICOTT).—R.]


1. Personal and Congregational interests stand in close connection. Still the latter are the preponderating ones; the former must fall into the back-ground. 2. Independency. The proposition of Robinson in the beginning of the 17th century: cœtum quemlibet particularem esse totam, integram et perfectam ecclesiam ex suis partibus constantem immediate et INDEPENDENTEM [quoad alias ecclesias sub ipso Christo), cannot be justified from the Apostolic age, in which the local churches stood in active intercourse and received suggestions from various quarters. [Every attempt to carry into practice this extreme view of Robinson has resulted either in ecclesiastical anarchy or a quasi-independency, such as exists in Congregational churches.—R.]

3. Our times are successful in spreading intelligence in many ways from one parish to another. This is well both for those who desire such personally imparted communications, and for those who make a sacrifice in this service, in order to receive as well as give refreshing, revival, consolation and strength. It always happens so, where the inner life is in action, even though the organization and polity are still incomplete, as in the early churches. Care however should be taken, that there be not mixed with this a dissipation of the strength required for the immediate task, or the merest of curiosity. It is precisely the fresh, glad taking root in the local churches which bears flower and fruit to be imparted for the edification of other churches. [These remarks, so pertinent to such an event as the sending of Tychicus, have a bearing on the influence of ecclesiastical bodies on the congregations within whose bounds they assemble, but more especially on the labors of I those ministers who travel from place to place as! “evangelists,” “revival preachers.” The good and the evil attendant on their labors are clearly indicated above. Such journeyings find their parallel not in the travel of the Apostles, but in those of Tychicus.—R.]


Comp. Doctr. Notes.STARKE:—Preachers should behave to each in a friendly, peaceable, affectionate, brotherly manner.—It pleases God very much, when preachers are concerned for their hearers, and hearers for their preachers.—RIEGER:—More particular intelligence respecting each other awakens also the more fitting intercession for each other.—[It ought to be the aim of the “religious newspaper,” to do for churches and families what Tychicus was to do for Paul: Communicate such personal intelligence as would comfort the hearts of those who read. Those editors who do this rather than to minister to pride or to provoke angry discussion, well deserve the title “beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord.”—R.]


[57] Eph 6:21—[The order in B. K. L., great majority of cursives, fathers, is: εἰδῆτε καὶ ὑμεῖς (so Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford); א. A. D. E. F., Latin fathers:καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰδῆτε (so Lachmann, Ellicott). The former admits of the best explanation of the variation (see Meyer).—R.]

[58]Eph 6:21.—[ How I fare is less ambiguous than How I do, while the things concerning me is literal and avoids the somewhat uneuphonic juxtaposition: my affairs, how I fare.—R.]

[59]Eph 6:21—(“The order: ὑμῖν γνωρίδει is accepted by Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott on the authority of A. K. L. nearly all cursives, good versions, fathers, although א. B. D. E. F. (Lachmann) sustain γνωρίσει ὑμῖν. The probability of a conformation to Col. 4:7 leads to this view.—The E. V. deviates from the order of the Greek, which would be best brought out by a change to the passive form: “all shall be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, whom I have sent,” etc. Alford: “Tychicus shall make known all to you, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, whom,” etc.—R.]

[60]Eph 6:22.—[ May instead of “might,” “in accordance with the law of the succession of the tenses” (Ellicott).—R.]

[61][ALFORD: “As I have been going at length into the matters concerning you, so if you also on your part, wish to know,” etc. But this is scarcely an obvious antithesis. HODGE explains indefinitely: “You as well as other Christian friends who have manifested solicitude about me in my bonds.” The presence of καί here has been used as an argument in favor of the priority of the Epistle to the Colossians, who are supposed to be referred to (antithetically) in καί, but though its presence would be naturally explained were the priority of that Epistle fully established, it scarcely amounts to an argument in favor of that hypothesis.—R.]

[62][Not “what I do,” for Paul always did one thing (MEYER).—]

[63][ALFORD and ELLICOTT follow MEYER, in taking διάκονος in the sense of “servant,” Paul’s servant, not the servant of the Gospel; they also join ἐν κυρίῳ with this term alone, as indicating that his service for Paul was yet in Christ. But Braune’s view is the more natural one—The adjective πιστός here means “trusty,” “trustworthy,” but with no reference to the trustworthiness of his message, as CHRYSOSTOM and BENGEL imply, since he was probably known to the Ephesians, though not to the Colossians (MEYER).—R.]

[64][ALFORD, referring to the fact that this verse occurs word for word in Col. 4:8, except that γνῷ τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν is substituted there, asks; “Does not this variation bear the mark of genuineness with it?” Braune (Colossians, p. 82) accepts the reading which conforms exactly to this verse, but the other is defended in the additional notes.—R.]

Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Twofold salutation to the Church

(EPH 6:23, 24)

23Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord 24Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that [those who] love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity [incorruption]. Amen, [omit Amen.]65


The form of the greeting is altogether unusual; the third person, not the second, is used in spite of the direct address (Eph 6:21, 22); instead of ὑμῖν we find in Eph 6:23: τοῖς ἁδελφοῖς, in the usual position of ὑμῖν after the first word of the salutation, and in Eph 6:24 we read: μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἀηαπώντων instead of ὑμῶν. Thus a general application corresponding with the universal Epistle is strongly marked. Further we find here divided into two salutations what is elsewhere comprised in one. This points emphatically from the actual effects of grace within the Christian heart and life to the ultimate real ground of the same. Finally, the first salutation begins with “peace,” which elsewhere forms the close, and the second with “grace,” which is the usual beginning. See on Eph 1:2. The explanation must accept the sense of the words as used elsewhere, unless other reasons compel a departure from it. In addition this original form supports the originality of this Epistle, its Pauline origin, against the acceptance of a pseudepigraphic work.

Eph 6:23. The first salutation. Peace be to the brethren and love with faith.Εἰρήνη καὶ ὰγάπη μετὰ πίστεως expresses a wish for two things.66 Grammatically the three substantives stand in different relations to each other: the first two are connected as co-ordinate with καί, the third is joined to them with μετά, which unites more closely than καί and σύν, the latter denoting external connection, while μετά points to an external one, to a belonging together (WINER, p. 353). This has its influence on the explanation of the substantives, which must designate internal, ethical things. The first is “peace,” as the fruit of “grace,” out of which it springs (see all the Pauline salutations) [comp. Romans, p. 57], communicated through “mercy,” as the salutations in Epistles to Timothy conjoin; we must therefore refer it to peace of heart, peace with God, rest of soul. The next, “love,” is something springing out of the “peace,” hence love to the brethren, who with us have become children of Him who is Love; this love too is in the closest union with faith. “Faith is the characteristic of proper love (as Gal. 5:6), love is the characteristic of proper faith “(HARLESS). “There remains, however, a distinction, inasmuch as faith is the ground and beginning, bringing love with it, not the reverse” (STIER). BENGEL: Fides præsupponitur ut donum Dei. By “the brethren” we are to understand Christians in general, not those in Asia (GROTIUS), nor Jewish Christians in particular (WIESELER), nor yet the readers merely (MEYER).67 It is incorrect to take εἰρήνη=concordia (CALVIN), ἀγάπη as God’s love (BENGEL), or μετά=according to (MEYER). It is arbitrary to introduce here, in accordance with the salutations in the Epistles to Timothy, ἔλεος instead of ἀγάπη (RUECKERT), nor is it pertinent either, since “mercy” effects “peace,” and would not occur after the latter.

From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Ἀπό denotes the source, as always in the salutations. Paulus conjungit (καί) causam principem (θεοῦ πατρός) cum causa secunda (κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). Comp. 1:2, 22; Phil. 2:9.

Eph 6:24. The second salutation. Grace be with all, ἡ χάρις μετὰπὰντων.—Elsewhere (Rom. 16:20, 24; 1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:13: Gal. 6:18; Phil. 4:23; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18; Philemon 25) we find ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ; the simple ἡ χαρις only here, Col. 4:18; 1 Tim. 6:22; 2 Tim. 4:22 (where, however, ὁ κύριος μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματός σου precedes); Tit. 3:15. Paul, after the wish which is directed to what is subjective and ethical, points to its objective ground. The article () marks the grace as that which is well-known to all, of which the Epistle bears testimony. The single limitation to “all” is given by the following characteristic designation:

Those who love our Lord Jesus Christ, τῶν ἀγαπώντων τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν.—Thus Paul gives prominence to what should be the agens in every called and baptized Christian. The twofold salutation, bordering on a parallelism, is thus to be distinguished; the first part points to the inner life of the Christian, the second to the principle on which this life is based, with its immediate effect, love to Christ. In this we find then both an advance and a justification of the explanation of ἀδελφοί. [MEYER and most find here alone the wider reference to all real Christians, corresponding to the Anathema in 1 Cor.—R.] So 1 Cor. 16:22. Comp. John 14:21, 23. Hence the first wish is not for all members of the church, and the second for genuine disciples (STIER); as if the effect were to be wished for the former, and the efficient cause only for the latter! WIESELER finds a most remarkable reference, in the first, to the Jewish Christians, as especially “brethren” after the flesh, in the second to the Gentile Christians, as though they were not brethren; no reader would have thought of this.

In incorruption, ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ (from ἄφθαρτος, incorruptus, corruptioni et interitui non obnoxius, 1 Cor. 9:25; 15:52; Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:4, 23; 3:4), is used here as in 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, 53, 54; Rom. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:10, where the resurrection of the body is spoken of, and is not to be applied differently. BENGEL: ἀφθαρσία dicit sanitatem labis expertem et inde fluentem perpetuitatem. The phrase is an adverbial qualification of ἀγαπώπτων, as Tit. 3:15: τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἡμᾶς ἐν πίστει. [So MEYER, ALFORD, HODGE, and most recent commentators.] Accordingly it is inadmissible to connect it with χάρις (supplying ἔστω) with the explanation that it is=ἐν ἀφθάρτοις, in whom it manifests itself (HARLESS, STIER and others), still more so, to join it with Χριστόν (SEMLER), as though the glorified Saviour, and not rather the One in the form of a servant, were the object of the love. It is not=in eternity (MATTHIES), that would be εἰς αἰῶνα, nor in sincerity [E. V.],68 either of love (CALVIN, CALOVIUS and others) or of life (GREEK FATHERS, ERASMUS, ESTIUS), that would be ἐν ἀφθορία (Tit. 2:7). LUTHER renders it well: unverrücht [immovably]; the phrase denoting that the love is one belonging to incorruption, not succumbing to the fluctuations and changes of the world. BENGEL, who joins it with χάρις, remarks aptly, however: Congruit cum tota summa epistolæ: et inde redundat etiam ἀφθαρσία in amorem fidelium erga Jesum Christum. [Comp. the terse and lucid note of ELLICOTT in loco, who, after defending the view not commonly accepted, on grammatical and lexical grounds, adds: “in incorruption, i.e., in a manner and in an element that knows neither change, diminution nor decay. Thus then this significant clause not only defines what the essence of the ἀγάπη is, but indicates that it ought to be perennial, immutable, incorruptible.” “Not a fleeting earthly love, but a spiritual and eternal one” (ALFORD).—R.] There inheres a mighty earnestness in these closing words, which however may not be spared even with a child; the smallest child can love its mother.

Thus the conclusion returns again to the beginning, and this is the more significant, when one remembers, that Paul, who did not himself write his letters, but always dictated them (Rom. 16:22), penned the salutation alone with his own hand, as Col. 4:18: 1 Cor. 16:21; 2 Thess. 3:17, probably also Gal. 6:11–18.69 See LAURENT, Neutestamentliche Studien, pp. 4–9.


1. The Epistle began (1:2) and now it closes with the greeting: “grace be with you!” This grace, God’s condescending love in Christ, is the ground and the goal of all human effort directed toward salvation. 2. From grace there is first brought about in the heart of the Christian, peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the reconciliation, which drives away the unrest caused by the re-echo in our conscience of the accusing and condemning law, making real rest of soul. Then in and by the side of peace toward God there enters love toward our neighbor; both, peace and love, in the convoy of faith which casts itself upon Christ as Lord. The objective grace works subjectively through faith and peace and love, unfolding and moulding the strength and beauty of the human character in every department of life. Christianity animates and exalts in noble activity the Divine in the human, as a whole and in particular, to a blessed and beatifying permanence. 3. We should not be brethren merely through the external church relation, but prove ourselves such in love to the Lord. This will depend on the healthfulness of our faith, which in spite of external “progress,” hindrances, dangers, influences, proves itself from the beginning to the very close by incorruptible love to the Lord Jesus.

[4. The closing benediction (Eph 6:24). It differs from all other Pauline benedictions; not in what is wished, but in its definition of those for whom it is wished. This definition makes it a fitting close to our Epistle, the leading idea of which is: “the Church in Christ Jesus.” For we thus have a final definition of those who constitute this Church: “those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption.” Extensively, then, the Church is not bounded by those external limits necessarily established by ecclesiastical organizations, nor by those logical ones as necessarily defined by detailed dogmatic statement, still less by those empirical ones set up by morbid, fanatical or spasmodic religionism. The empire of love is not co-incident with such boundaries. Still this is not the “broad” territory of indifferentism, ignorance, doubt or unbelief, for the definition is intensive also. The love has for its object “the Lord Jesus Christ,” whom Paul loved. And those who love as Paul loved, must apprehend this Object in good measure as Paul apprehended Him. No one can define how far speculative doubt about the Person of Christ leaves scope for a real love to Him as “the Lord Jesus Christ,” but love seeks to know the dear object, and those who seek Him will find Him, here or hereafter, “as He is.” Love is the best preceptor in Christology. Mere sincerity is not enough; the love must, move in a sphere, partake of a character, “perennial, immutable, incorruptible.” That Christ’s grace alone can beget such a love is evident both from the Apostle’s words and human experience. Those who have it are “in Christ,” of His Body, which, in a fuller, higher sense, like the Head, shall live and love “in incorruption,” through the same “grace.”—R.]


Comp. Doctr. Notes.

RIEGER: The sum of the whole Epistle was: God in Christ, before the world began in purpose, God in Christ in the accomplishment of our destined Redemption, God in Christ in the saints, appropriation of this salvation provided for us, unto its consummation in glory; hence the benediction at the conclusion concentrates itself upon fellowship with God and His peace and His love. The smallest child in Christ, and he who is the strongest through God’s Spirit in the inner man, can unite on the precious heart-point of love to Jesus. The grace remains immovable, and out of this the love also reaches to something amaranthine, which in the heat of the contest does not fade away.

HEUBNER: The love to Jesus must abide, must be immovable, whatever fortunes meet us, however the spirit of the age may change; else it is not pure. Sans in amore mori.

PASSAVANT: Here we have an apostolic conclusion. It is a reminder, first, of that peace, which comes down from God’s heaven alone upon our earth, into our hearts; secondly, of that love, which is pure, holy, Divine; thirdly, Paul reminds the Christians of that faith, which, inseparable from love, living and active through it, born of God, alone is pleasing to God, alone gives to God His glory, alone exalts the soul to Him. Fourthly, we are reminded of that grace, through which first and alone there comes to us all true, eternal, blessed good, continuing ours out of pure mercy and unto eternity.—The whole of vital Christianity is contained in love to Jesus. Those then who love this Jesus with their whole heart, so that in this love they look to Him alone, desire Him alone, follow Him alone, deny themselves for Him, willingly bear His cross and their cross after Him, living to Him and dying to Him—those are Christians, are God’s children, His special, His constant and dear objects of regard.

STIER: If any one loves our Lord Jesus Christ, in vain and in wrong would all the churches pronounce the ban against him, nor are formulas of faith valid against him.

GERLACH: The grace which is the cause of our love to Christ, becomes at the same time the reward of our love to Him; all may be hoped from Him, if one loves Him, all feared, if one does not love Him.


[65] Eph 6:24 [The Rec. inserts ἀμήν, with א.3 D. K. L., most versions and fathers, but, as it is not found in א.1 A. B. F. G. 2 cursives and good minor authorities, it is rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Ellicott and most recent editors, as a liturgical gloss. In regard to such concluding words, the obvious rule is that good authority is sufficient to warrant a rejection, preponderating external evidence being of itself insufficient to establish the genuineness.

The SUBSCRIPTION in the Rec., with K. L., is: πρὸς Ἐφεσίους ἀπὸ Ῥώμης διὰ Τ̔υχικοῦ. B2 has πρὸς Ἐφεσίὸυς ἐγράφη ἀπο Ρώμης א.A. B.1 D.:προς Ἐφεσίους, to which F. adds ἐτελέσθη. Comp. the subscriptions to the Epistle to the Colossians.—R.]

[66][Two, not three, for the term “brethren” presupposes “faith” there already. The form indicates also, that he wishes for them “peace “and “love” in inseparable connection with the already present “faith.” Of course the increase of “love” necessarily implies the increase of faith, but the wish is strictly a double one.—R.]

[67][MEYER, followed by EADIE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT, takes “the brethren “here as=“you,” finding in the second benediction a wider reference; Braune, on the other hand, seems to refer to the same persons, viz., all Christians. The former view is the more obvious one, but the latter accounts for the peculiar form of the salutation, and accords with the universal character of the Epistle. Still it lays a great stress upon a form that may have no special significance.—R.]

[68][ALFORD, with right, urges that this would make the Epistle end with an anticlimax, “by lowering the high standard which it has lifted up throughout to an apparent indifferentism and admitting to the apostolic blessing all those, however otherwise wrong, who are only not hypocrites in their love of Christ.”—R.]

[69][Comp. Galatians, in loco, where the additional notes defend the view that the whole of that Epistle was penned by Paul himself. This opinion includes the presupposition that he rarely did so, strengthening therefore, not weakening, the point Dr. Braune here introduces.—R.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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