Ephesians 6:20
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) In bonds.—Rightly, as in the margin, in a chain. The word is the same which is used in Acts 28:20, “For the hope of Israel I am bound in this chain.” It occurs also in Mark 5:4, Luke 8:29, where it is distinguished from a “fetter” properly so called, as binding the feet, and therefore obviously signifies a “manacle” binding the hand. Both are included (see Luke 8:29) in the general word “bonds.” The allusion is undoubtedly to the custom of chaining the prisoner by the hand to the soldier who kept him. Thus in Acts 12:6 we read that Peter “was sleeping between two soldiers,” and therefore “bound with two manacles;” and in Acts 21:33 that a similar precaution was used on the first apprehension of St. Paul. Here the singular number is probably to be understood literally. St. Paul was free except for the one chain, which the soldier was responsible for holding, and perhaps did not always think it needful to hold. That chain he seems to speak of as the badge of his ambassadorial dignity. To ambassadors, indeed, it belongs to be safe from imprisonment; but it was his greater glory to wear the chain for Christ.

That therein . . .—This is simply an enforcement of the previous phrase, in “plainness of speech.” The same word is used, and with the same signification of simplicity, as well as boldness, which (St. Paul here adds) alone befits his office.

6:19-24 The gospel was a mystery till made known by Divine revelation; and it is the work of Christ's ministers to declare it. The best and most eminent ministers need the prayers of believers. Those particularly should be prayed for, who are exposed to great hardships and perils in their work. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith. By peace, understand all manner of peace; peace with God, peace of conscience, peace among themselves. And the grace of the Spirit, producing faith and love, and every grace. These he desires for those in whom they were already begun. And all grace and blessings come to the saints from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace, that is, the favour of God; and all good, spiritual and temporal, which is from it, is and shall be with all those who thus love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and with them only.For which I am an ambassador in bonds - In chains (see the margin); or in confinement. There is something especially touching in this. He was "an ambassador" - sent to proclaim peace to a lost world. But he was now in chains. An ambassador is a sacred character. No greater affront can be given to a nation than to put its ambassadors to death, or even to throw them into prison. But Paul says here that the unusual spectacle was witnessed of an ambassador seized, bound, confined, imprisoned; an ambassador who ought to have the privileges conceded to all such people, and to be permitted to go everywhere publishing the terms of mercy and salvation. See the word "ambassador" explained in the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:20.

That therein - Margin, or "thereof." Greek, ἐν αὐτῷ en autō - "in it;" that is, says Rosenmuller, in the gospel. It means that in speaking the gospel he might be bold.

I may speak boldly - Openly, plainly, without fear; see the notes on Acts 4:13; Acts 9:27, note; Acts 13:46, note; Acts 14:3, note; Acts 18:26, note; Acts 19:8, note; Acts 26:26, note.

As I ought to speak - Whether in bonds or at large. Paul felt that the gospel ought always to be Spoken with plainness, and without the fear of man. It is remarkable that he did not ask them to pray that he might be released. "Why" he did not we do not know; but perhaps the desire of release did not lie so near his heart as the duty of speaking the gospel with boldness It may be of much more importance that we perform our duty aright when we are afflicted, or are in trouble, than that we should be released.

20. For—Greek, as in Eph 6:19, "On behalf of which."

an ambassador in bonds—a paradox. Ambassadors were held inviolable by the law of nations, and could not, without outrage to every sacred right, be put in chains. Yet Christ's "ambassador is in a chain!" The Greek is singular. The Romans used to bind a prisoner to a soldier by a single chain, in a kind of free custody. So Ac 28:16, 20, "I am bound with this chain." The term, "bonds" (plural), on the other hand, is used when the prisoner's hands or feet were bound together (Ac 26:29); compare Ac 12:6, where the plural marks the distinction. The singular is only used of the particular kind of custody described above; an undesigned coincidence [Paley].

For which I am an ambassador in bonds; for which gospel I still continue, though a prisoner, in the embassy committed to me by Christ.

That therein I may speak boldly; this may imply not only free speaking, but free acting in all things whereby the gospel may be propagated. For which I am an ambassador in bonds,.... The character the apostle bore was that of an ambassador; and he was an ambassador from and for Christ, in his room and stead; he represented him, he was sent by him, and entrusted by him with the Gospel; he gave him it, and a commission to preach it, and furnished him with qualifications for it; such as knowledge and faithfulness wisdom and prudence, courage and greatness of mind; and made his embassy successful: and he was chiefly an ambassador to the Gentiles, which showed great condescension in Christ to send him to them, and base ingratitude in the despisers and rejecters of the Gospel, for which he was an ambassador; for the embassy Christ's ministers are sent on, is the embassy of the Gospel of peace: their business is to declare that men by nature are enemies to God; that peace is made by the blood of Christ for such; by which means they are made useful to conciliate the minds of men to God's way of salvation and to bring them to submit to his government and laws: and when he adds, "in bonds", or "in a chain", he means, that he was in such circumstances, not for any crime, but for the Gospel, for which he was an ambassador; and therefore was not ashamed of his bonds, or chain, but rather gloried in them; and he makes mention of them to engage persons to a regard to him as an ambassador, and to his embassy; for an ambassador, especially an ambassador of Christ, that comes with his Gospel, and more especially that is suffering for it, ought to be received, heard, and honoured.

That therein I may speak boldly as I ought to speak; that is, the apostle beseeches the saints to pray for him, that since he was an ambassador for the Gospel, and in bonds, that he might speak in it, or rather of it boldly and freely; that he might have both liberty from his bonds, and liberty in his soul, and freedom of speech; and that he might use boldness in delivering his message, as became an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 6:20. For which (to conduct its cause) I discharge the office of ambassador in a chain. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:20. It is to be explained neither as though ὑπὲρ οὗ πρεσβεύων ἐν ἁλύσει εἰμί (Zachariae, Rückert, Matthies) were written, nor as though ὑπὲρ οὗ καὶ ἐν ἁλύσει πρεσβεύω were the reading (Grotius: “nunc quoque non desino legationem,” etc.); nor is οὗ to be referred, as is usually the case, merely to τοῦ εὐαγγελ., but to τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγ., seeing that this was the object of γνωρίσαι, and to this γνωρίσαι the πρεσβεύω significantly corresponds. Comp. Colossians 4:3 : λαλῆσαι τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ, διʼ ὃ καὶ δέδεμαι.

πρεσβεύω] whose ambassador he is, was at once understood by the reader, namely, Christ’s; and equally so to whom his embassy was addressed, namely, to all peoples, specially the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Acts 22:15; Romans 1:14; Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:9). The opinion of Michaelis, that Paul designates himself as delegate of Christ to the Roman court, would, even if he had written the Epistle in Rome, be imported, since no reader could find anything else than the apostle denoted by πρεσβεύω without more precise definition.

ἐν ἁλύσει] On ἐν, comp. phrases like εἰς τὴν ἅλυσιν ἐμπίπτειν, Polyb. xxi. 3. 3. Wetstein, we may add, aptly observes: “alias legati, jure gentium sancti et inviolabiles, in vinculis haberi non poterant.” To infer, however, from the use of the singular (Baumgarten, Paley, Flatt, Steiger) the custodia militaris, in which Paul was at Rome (Acts 28:20; 2 Timothy 1:16), is too hasty; partly for the general reason that the singular must by no means be urged, but may be taken collectively (Bernhardy, p. 58 f.), and partly for the special reason that we have to think of Paul at Caesarea too, and that from the very beginning of his captivity there (see on Acts 24:23), as in the custodia militaris; Acts 24:27; Acts 26:29.[315] The significant bearing of the addition ἐν ἁλύσει is to make palpable the so much greater need of the παῤῥησία, and so the more fully to justify the longing for the intercessory prayer of the readers.

ἽΝΑ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ ΠΑῤῬΗΣ. Ὡς ΔΕῖ ΜΕ ΛΑΛ.] Parallel to the ἵνα μοι δοθῇεὐαγγελίου, Ephesians 6:19, and indeed not tautological (in opposition to Harless), but, by means of Ὡς ΔΕῖ ΜΕ ΛΑΛῆΣΑΙ, more precisely defining the thought already expressed. As similar parallels by means of a second ἵνα, comp. Romans 7:13; Galatians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Corinthians 9:3. Harless regards this second ἽΝΑ as subordinate to the first. Thus the words would express not the aim on account of which Paul summons his readers to prayer, as stated by Harless, but the aim of the δοθῇ λόγος κ.τ.λ. But this would be inappropriate, since ΔΟΘῇ ΛΌΓΟς Κ.Τ.Λ. has already the definition of aim appropriate to it, namely, in ἐν παῤῥ. γνωρ. κ.τ.λ. Bengel and Meier make ἽΝΑ dependent on ΠΡΕΣΒΕΎΩ ἘΝ ἉΛΎΣΕΙ (in which case Meier imports the sense, as if the words were ἽΝΑ ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῇ ΠΑῤῬ.); but the clause expressive of the aim: “in order that I may therein speak as boldly as I am bound to speak,” does not logically correspond to the πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει, because without any reference to ἘΝ ἉΛΎΣΕΙ. Had Paul merely written: ἽΝΑ ΠΑῤῬΗΣΙΆΣΩΜΑΙ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ (without Ὡς ΔΕῖ ΜΕ ΛΑΛῆΣΑΙ), by which the ΠΑῤῬΗΣ. would have become emphatic,[316] or: ἽΝΑ ΠΟΛΛῷ ΜᾶΛΛΟΝ ΠΑῤῬΗΣ. ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ, the logical relation would be satisfied.

ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ] namely, in the mystery of the gospel, i.e. occupied therewith, in the proclamation thereof (Matthiae, p. 1342). Comp. Acts 9:27. Harless understands ἐν of the source or ground of the παῤῥησία, which has its basis in the message itself [rather: in the mystery of the gospel; see on ὙΠῈΡ ΟὟ]. But the context represents the ΜΥΣΤΉΡΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΕὐΑΓΓ. as the object of the bold discourse (Ephesians 6:19); and the source of the παῤῥησία is in God (see 1 Thessalonians 2:2), which is not indeed here expressed, but is implied in the fact that it is to be obtained for the apostle by prayer on the part of the readers.

ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι] to be taken together (comp. Colossians 4:4); and after με there is not to be put any comma, by which ΛΑΛῆΣΑΙ would be connected with ΠΑῤῬΗΣ. (Koppe),—a course, which is impossible just because ΠΑῤῬΗΣ. already expresses the bold speaking; and thus λαλῆσαι, if it were to be more precisely defining, could not but of necessity have with it a modal definition (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:2). See Fritzsche, Diss. II. in 2 Cor. p. 100 f.

[315] In the latter passage the plural τῶν δεσμ. τούτων is not at variance with this view, as it is rather the categoric plural, and leaves the question entirely undecided, whether Paul was bound with one or more chains.

[316] This seems also to have been felt by Bengel, who connected ὡς δεῖ με λαλ. with γνωρίσαι, which certainly could not occur to any reader.Ephesians 6:20. ὑπὲρ οὗ πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει: in behalf of which I am an ambassador in a chain. The οὗ is best referred, not to τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, but to τὸ μυστήριον, the mystery contained in the Gospel being the thing that Paul desired to make known (γνωρίσαι). So in Colossians 4:3 it is this μυστήριον that the writer is to utter (λαλῆσαι) and on account of which he is bound (δέδεμαι). πρεσβεύω = “I act as ambassador,” only here and in 2 Corinthians 5:20. The ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ of the latter passage is left to be understood here. The legation or embassage in Christ’s cause, which Paul here ascribes to himself, is not to be limited to the Roman Court (Mich.), but is to be understood as to the whole Gentile world, in the wide sense of the commission given (Acts 9:15; Acts 17:15); the debt professed (Romans 1:14); the office claimed (Romans 11:13), and recognised (Galatians 2:9). The noun ἅλυσις, which is not of frequent occurrence in classical Greek, means there a chain (Herod., ix., 74; Eurip., Or., 984); also a woman’s ornament, a bracelet (Aristoph., Frag., Mem., ii., p. 1079). It is taken by some to be a word of general application, denoting a chain or bond by which any part of the body may be bound, and it is questioned (e.g., by Mey.), whether it is distinguished from πέδη as hand-fetter from foot-fetter. But, while in such passages as Revelation 20:1 the specific sense may not be required, it seems clear that the distinction between manacle and fetter does obtain (cf. Polyb., iii., 82, 8); that this distinction is made in Mark 5:4; and that ἅλυσις is used of the “handcuff” by which a prisoner was attached to his guard (Joseph., Antiq., xviii., 6, 7, 10; Acts 12:6; Acts 21:33, etc.; cf. Light., Phil., p. 8). This may be its meaning here, and there will be no necessity for taking it to be a collective sing. = bonds; of which use indeed, though possible (cf. Bernh., Synt., ii., 1, p. 58), there does not appear to be any clear example in the NT itself. And such phrases as εἰς τὴν ἅλυσιν ἐμπίπτειν (Polyb., iv., 76, 5, xxi., 3, 3) are inconclusive, the article giving the word the generic sense. It has been thought that the expression points to the custodia militaris endured by Paul in Rome (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:20; cf. 2 Timothy 1:16; Beza, Grot., Paley, Steyer, etc.). That is possible, and indeed even probable, so far as the custodia is concerned. But the description might apply to the imprisonment in Cæsarea as well as to that in Rome. The real point of the clause is in the view it gives of the need of the παρρησία and of the intercessions that should bring that gift.—ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ παρρησιάσωμαι ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι: in order that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. How is this purpose-clause to be connected? Some attach it to the πρεσβεύω (Beng., Meyer, Von Soden), as if = “I act as ambassador in a chain with the object of speaking boldly,” etc. Others connect it with the whole foregoing clause, making it subordinate to that, and an explanation of the object of the gift of utterance, = “that utterance may be given to me to make known the mystery, with the view that I should speak boldly” (Harl.). But ἵνα is repeatedly used to introduce something that is not subordinate to, but coordinate with, what is stated in a former ἵνα clause (Romans 8:13; Galatians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Corinthians 9:3). It is best, therefore, to take it so here, and to understand the clause as giving a second object contemplated in the προσευχόμενοι and ἀγρυπνοῖντες, etc. First the gift of utterance, and now secondly the gift more particularly of a boldness or freedom (παρρησιάσωμαι) in preaching such as became the Apostle’s office and responsibility (ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι). The αὐτῷ refers to the μυστήριον which was to be preached. The ἐν is taken by some (e.g., Harl.) to denote the source or ground of the boldness in speaking (παρρησιάσωμαι). But it is God who is named as the source of such boldness (ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ Θεῷ, 1 Thessalonians 2:2). It might be an instance of ἐν expressing that on which a certain power operates or in which it shows itself (as in ἵνα οὕτω γένηται ἐν ἐμοί, 1 Corinthians 9:15; ἐν ἡμῖν μάθητε, 1 Corinthians 4:6; cf. Thayer-Grimm, Lex., p. 210). But it is best understood as the note of that in which one is busied (cf. Acts 22:12; 1 Timothy 4:15; Colossians 4:2, etc.), and so = “that, occupied with that mystery, i.e., in proclaiming it, I may speak boldly” (Mey.).20. for which] On behalf of which, in the interests of which. The Gospel is, so to speak, the Power whose envoy he is. Cp. 2 Corinthians 5:20 for the same phrase and image with express mention of the Sovereign, Christ, represented by His envoys.

an ambassador] Cp. 2 Cor. just quoted. And see Philemon 1:8, where Bp Lightfoot renders (and so R. V. margin) “an ambassador, and now also a prisoner, of Jesus Christ;” giving this passage, so closely parallel and exactly contemporary, as a main reason for the rendering. See his note there. This is not the place to discuss the question.

in bonds] Lit., in a chain. The Gr. word occurs elsewhere in St Paul’s speech or writings, Acts 28:20; 2 Timothy 1:16.—Prisoners detained upon appeal to the Emperor, as was St Paul, were sometimes “coupled by a slight chain round the right wrist to the left of a soldier, and, thus shackled … if they could afford it, were at liberty to hire a lodging for themselves without the walls, but within the prescribed limits” (Lewin, Life, &c., of St Paul, ii. 236. See too Bp Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 8). Cp. Josephus, Antiquities, xviii. c. 6, for similar custody (though not upon appeal) in the case of Agrippa, the Herod of Acts 12, in his earlier life in Italy in the reign of Tiberius. For St Paul’s allusions to the “bonds” of this Roman imprisonment, see Php 1:7; Php 1:13-14; Php 1:16; Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:10; Philemon 1:13; and above, Ephesians 3:1, Ephesians 4:1.

Wetstein calls attention here to the paradox; “an ambassador in chains.”

therein] I.e., in “the mystery of the Gospel.” This was the field or sphere of his speech. The Gr. makes it plain that the reference is to this, and not to the “bonds.”

speak boldly] The verb is cognate to the noun in Ephesians 6:19. See note above on “boldly” there. The tense is aorist, and suggests that he prays for grace to take, as it were, a “new departure” in outspoken testimony and exposition.

I ought] under the holy obligation of my commission. Cp. 1 Corinthians 9:16.

speak] The Gr. verb indicates specially the wording of the message. He prays for grace to be perfectly explicit in terms.—The tense is aorist; see last note but one.Ephesians 6:20. Πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει, I am an ambassador in bonds) A paradox [an ambassador, yet in bonds]. The world has its ambassadors surrounded with outward splendour. Ἵνα, that, which immediately follows, depends on this expression.[106]—ἐν αὐτῷ, in it) in the mystery.—ὡς, as) construed with to make known.

[106] Engl. V. by the stopping connects ἵνα rather with προσευχόμενοι, Ephesians 6:18 Praying—that therein I may speak boldly.—ED.Verse 20. - For which I am an ambassador in chains. Thereby not only physically helpless, but in danger of being subdued into tameness, the ordinary effect of captivity, and thus reduced to a spirit not befitting the bearer of a great message from the King of kings. That in it - i.e., in the matter of it, of the gospel - I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. I am an ambassador in bonds (πρεσβεύω ἐν ἁλύσει)

The verb to be an ambassador occurs only here and 2 Corinthians 5:20. See on Plm 1:9. In bonds, lit., in a chain: the particular word for the coupling-chain by which he was bound to the hand of his guard.

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