Ephesians 6
Vincent's Word Studies
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
In the Lord

The children being with their parents in the Lord, are to be influenced by religious duty as well as by natural affection.

Right (δίκαιον)

Belonging essentially to the very nature of the relation.

Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Honor thy father, etc.

To what is essentially right the divine ordinance is added. Compare Aeschylus: "For the reverence of parents, this is written third in the laws of much-venerated justice" ("Suppliants," 687-689). So Euripides: "There are three virtues which thou shouldst cultivate, my child, to honor the gods, and thy parents who gave thee being and the common laws of Hellas" (Fragment). Honor expresses the frame of mind from which obedience proceeds.

First - with promise (πρώτη εν ἐπαγγελίᾳ)

First in point of promise, as it also is in order the first with promise.

That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Thou mayest live long (ἔσῃ μακροχρόνιος)

Lit., mayest be long-lived. The adjective occurs only here.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Nurture and admonition (παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ)

Πας δείᾳ from παίς a child. In classical usage, that which is applied to train and educate a Child. So Plato: "Education (παιδεία) is the constraining and directing of youth toward that right reason which the law affirms, and which the experience of the best of our elders has agreed to be truly right" ("Laws," 659). In scriptural usage another meaning has come into it and its kindred verb παιδεύειν, which recognizes the necessity of correction or chastisement to thorough discipline. So Leviticus 26:18; Psalm 6:1; Isaiah 53:5; Hebrews 12:5-8. In Acts 7:22 παιδεύω occurs in the original classical sense: "Moses was instructed (ἐπαιδεύθη) in all the wisdom," etc. The term here covers all the agencies which contribute to moral and spiritual training. Discipline is better than Rev., chastening. Νουθεσία admonition occurs only here, 1 Corinthians 10:11, and Titus 3:10. The kindred verb νουθετέω to warn or admonish, is found only in Paul's letters, with the single exception of Acts 20:31 (see note). Its distinctive feature is training by word of mouth, as is shown by its classical usage in connection with words meaning to exhort or teach. Xenophon uses the phrase νουθετικοὶ λόγοι admonitory words. Yet it may include monition by deed. Thus Plato, speaking of public instruction in music, says that the spectators were kept quiet by the admonition of the wand (ῥάβδου νουθέτησις, "Laws," 700). He also uses the phrase πληγαῖς νουθετεῖν to admonish with blows. It includes rebuke, but not necessarily. Trench happily illustrates the etymological sense (νοῦς the mind, τίθημι to put): "Whatever is needed to cause the monition to be laid to heart." Admonition is a mode of discipline, so that the two words nurture and admonition stand related as general and special.

Of the Lord

Such discipline as is prescribed by the Lord and is administered in His name.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Servants (δοῦλοι)

Bond-servants or slaves. In this appeal Paul was addressing a numerous class. In many of the cities of Asia Minor slaves outnumbered freemen.

Masters (κυρίοις)

See on Colossians 3:22.

According to the flesh

Regarded in their merely human relation.

With fear

See on Philippians 2:12.


See on simplicity, Romans 12:8.

Unto Christ

"Common and secular inducements can have but small influence on the mind of a slave."

Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Eye service - men-pleasers

See on Colossians 3:22.

With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
With good-will

Bengel quotes Xenophon: "The slave that is a steward must have good-will if he is to on thy place adequately." Compare Colossians 3:23.

Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
Shall he receive (κομίσεται)

See on 1 Peter 1:8; compare Colossians 3:25.

And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Forbearing (ἀνιέντες)

See on the kindred noun ἄνεσις, A.V., liberty, Acts 24:23.

Threatening (τὴν ἀπειλήν)

Note the article, the threatening customary from the master to the slave.


Since ye know.

Your master also (ὑμῶν αὐτῶν ὁ κυριός)

The correct reading is καὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ὑμῶν ὁ κυριός both their master and yours. So Rev.

Respect of persons

See on James 2:1; see on Colossians 3:25.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Finally (τὸ λοιπόν)

See on 2 Corinthians 13:11. Omit my brethren.

Be strong (ἐνδυναμουοῦσθε)

Lit., be strengthened. Compare Romans 4:20, and Philippians 4:13. Power of His might. See on Ephesians 1:19.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Whole armor (πανοπλίαν)

Panoply is a transcript of the Greek word. Only here, Ephesians 6:13, and Luke 11:22, see note. In classical Greek of the full armor of a heavy-armed soldier. The student may compare the description of the forging of Aeneas' armor by Vulcan (Virgil, "Aeneid," viii., 415-459), and of the armor itself as displayed to Aeneas by Venus ("Aeneid," viii., 616-730). Also of the armor of Achilles (Homer, "Iliad," xviii., 468-617).

Wiles (μεθοδείας)

See on Ephesians 4:14. The armor is a defense against strategy as well as assault.

The devil (τοῦ διαβόλου)

See on Matthew 4:1; see on John 6:70. In Job and Zechariah used as the equivalent of Satan (hater or accuser, see on Luke 10:18), of a single person, the enemy of mankind. In the other Old-Testament passages in which it occurs, it is used to translate either Satan or its equivalent in meaning, tsar (adversary, distresser), but without the same reference to that single person. See Sept., 1 Chronicles 21:1; Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1; Psalm 108:6; Numbers 22:32. The Septuagint usage implies enmity in general, without accusation either true or false. In the New Testament invariably as a proper name, except in the Pastoral Epistles, where it has its ordinary meaning slanderous. See 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3. As a proper name it is used in the Septuagint sense as the equivalent of Satan, and meaning enemy.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We wrestle (ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη)

Rev., more literally and correctly, our wrestling is. Πάλη wrestling, only here.

Flesh and blood

The Greek reverses the order.

Principalities and powers

See on Colossians 1:16.

Rulers of the darkness of this world (κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τούτου)

Rev., more correctly, world-rulers of this darkness. World-Rulers only here. Compare John 14:30; John 16:11; 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Spiritual wickedness (τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας)

Lit., the spiritual things of wickedness. Rev., spiritual hosts of wickedness. The phrase is collective, of the evil powers viewed as a body. Wickedness is active evil, mischief. Hence Satan is called ὁ πονηρός the wicked one. See on Luke 3:19; see on Luke 7:21; see on 1 John 2:13.

In high places (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις)

Rev., more literally, in the heavenly places. Used in the general sense of the sky or air. See on Ephesians 2:2.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Because the fight is with such powers.

Take unto you (ἀναλάβετε)

Lit., take up, as one takes up armor to put it on. So Rev.

The whole armor

An interesting parallel passage, evidently founded upon this, occurs in Ignatius' Epistle to Polycarp, 6. "Please the captain under whom ye serve, from whom also ye shall receive your wages. Let no one of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism abide as your shield; your faith as your helmets; your love as your spear; your patience as your whole armor. Let your good works be your savings (τὰ δεπόσιτα deposita), that you may receive what is justly to your credit." Gibbon relates how the relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less willing and less able to support the fatigues of the service. They complained of the weight of their armor, and successively obtained permission to lay aside their cuirasses and helmets (ch. 27).


With has the sense of against, as appears in the older English withsay, to contradict; Anglo-Saxon, widstandan, to resist. Compare German, wider and Widerstand, resistance.

Having done all

Everything which the crisis demands.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Having your loins girt about (περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν)

The verb is middle, not passive. Rev., correctly, having girded. Compare Isaiah 11:5. The principal terms in this description of the christian armor are taken from the Septuagint of Isaiah.

Truth (ἀληθείᾳ)

The state of the heart answering to God's truth; inward, practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Him: the agreement of our convictions with God's revelation.

The loins encircled by the girdle form the central point of the physical system. Hence, in Scripture, the loins are described as the seat of power. "To smite through the loins" is to strike a fatal blow. "To lay affliction upon the loins" is to afflict heavily. Here was the point of junction for the main pieces of the body-armor, so that the girdle formed the common bond of the whole. Truth gives unity to the different virtues, and determinateness and consistency to character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Breastplate of righteousness (θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης)

Compare Isaiah 59:17. Righteousness is used here in the sense of moral rectitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the breastplate is described as of faith and love. Homer speaks of light-armed warriors armed with linen corsets; and these were worn to much later times by Asiatic soldiers, and were occasionally adopted by the Romans. Thus Suetonius says of Galba, that on the day on which he was slain by Otho's soldiers, he put on a linen corset, though aware that it would avail little against the enemy's daggers ("Galba," 19). Horn was used for this purpose by some of the barbarous nations. It was cut into small pieces, which were fastened like scales upon linen shirts. Later, the corset of metal scales fastened upon leather or linen, or of flexible bands of steel folding over each other, was introduced. They appear on Roman monuments of the times of the emperors. The Roman spearmen wore cuirasses of chain-mail. Virgil mentions those in which the linked rings were of gold ("Aeneid," iii., 467). The stiff cuirass called στάδιος standing upright, because, when placed upon its lower edge it stood erect, consisted of two parts: the breastplate, made of hard leather, bronze, or iron, and a corresponding plate covering the back. They were connected by leathern straps or metal bands passing over the shoulders and fastened in front, and by hinges on the right side.

The breastplate covers the vital parts, as the heart.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Preparation (ἑτοιμασίᾳ)

Only here in the New Testament. The Roman soldier substituted for the greaves of the Greek (metal plates covering the lower part of the leg) the caligae or sandals, bound by thongs over the instep and round the ankle, and having the soles thickly studded with nails. They were not worn by the superior officers, so that the common soldiers were distinguished as caligati. Ἑτοιμασία means readiness; but in Hellenistic Greek it was sometimes used in the sense of establishment or firm foundation, which would suit this passage: firm-footing. Compare Isaiah 52:7.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Above all (ἐπὶ πᾶσιν)

Ambiguous. It may mean over all, or in addition to all. The latter is correct. Rev., withal.

The shield of faith (τὸν θυρεὸν τῆς πίστεως)

Θυρεόν shield, is from θύρα door, because shaped like a door. Homer uses the word for that which is placed in front of the doorway. Thus of the stone placed by Polyphemus in front of his cave ("Odyssey," ix., 240). The shield here described is that of the heavy infantry; a large, oblong shield, four by two and a half feet, and sometimes curved on the inner side. Sculptured representations may be seen on Trajan's column. Compare "Compass him as with a shield," Psalm 5:12. It was made of wood or of wicker-work, and held on the left arm by means of a handle. Xenophon describes troops, supposed to be Egyptians, with wooden shields reaching to their feet ("Anabasis," i., 8, 9). Saving faith is meant.

Fiery darts (τὰ βέλη τὰ πεπυρωμένα)

Lit., the darts, those which have been set on fire. Herodotas says that the Persians attacked the citadel of Athens "with arrows whereto pieces of lighted tow were attached, which they shot at the barricade" (viii., 52). Thucydides: "the Plataeans constructed a wooden frame, which they set up on the top of their own wall opposite the mound.... They also hung curtains of skills and hides in front: these were designed to protect the woodwork and the workers, and shield them against blazing arrows" (ii. 75). Livy tells of a huge dart used at the siege of Saguntum, which was impelled by twisted ropes. "There was used by the Saguntines a missile weapon called falarica, with the shaft of fir, and round in other parts, except toward the point, whence the iron projected. This part, which was square, they bound around with tow and besmeared with pitch. It had an iron head three feet in length, so that it could pierce through the body with the armor. But what caused the greatest fear was that this weapon, even though it stuck in the shield and did not penetrate into the body, when it was discharged with the middle part on fire, and bore along a much greater flame produced by the mere motion, obliged the armor to be thrown down, and exposed the soldier to succeeding blows" (xxi. 8). Again, of the siege of Ambracia by the Romans: "Some advanced with burning torches, others carrying tow and pitch and fire-darts, their entire line being illuminated by the blaze" (xxxviii. 6). Compare Psalm 7:13, where the correct rendering is, "His arrows He maketh fiery arrows." Temptation is thus represented as impelled from a distance. Satan attacks by indirection - through good things from which no evil is suspected. There is a hint of its propagating power: one sin draws another in its track: the flame of the fire-tipped dart spreads. Temptation acts on susceptible material. Self-confidence is combustible. Faith, in doing away with dependence on self, takes away fuel for the dart. It creates sensitiveness to holy influences by which the power of temptation is neutralized. It enlists the direct aid of God. See 1 Corinthians 10:13; Luke 22:32; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12; 2 Peter 2:9.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Take the helmet of salvation (τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε)

Compare Isaiah 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Take is a different word from that used in Ephesians 6:13, Ephesians 6:16. It is receive as from God. The meaning is the helmet which is salvation. The protection for the head. The helmet was originally of skin, strengthened with bronze or other metal, and surmounted with a figure adorned with a horsehair crest. It was furnished with a visor to protect the face.

Sword of the Spirit (μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος)

See on Revelation 6:4. The word of God serves both for attack and to parry the thrusts of the enemy. Thus Christ used it in His temptation. It is the sword of the Spirit, because the Spirit of God gives it and inspires it. The Spirit's aid is needed for its interpretation. Compare John 14:10; Hebrews 4:12, in which latter passage the image is sacrificial.

Word of God (ῥῆμα θεοῦ)

See on Luke 1:37. See Luke 3:2; Luke 4:4; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 11:3.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Always (ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ)

Incorrect. It means on every occasion. Rev., at all seasons. Compare Luke 21:36.

With all prayer and supplication (διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως)

Prayer is general, supplication special. Διά with is literally through; that is, through the medium of. All, lit., every. Prayer is of various kinds, formal, silent, vocal, secret, public, petitionary, ejaculatory - shot upward like a dart (jaculum) on a sudden emergency. Compare Psalm 5:1, Psalm 5:2.

Watching thereunto (εἰς αὐτὸ ἀγρυπνοῦντες)

Compare Colossians 4:2. For watching, see on Mark 13:33, Mark 13:35. Thereunto, unto prayer, for occasions of prayer, and to maintain the spirit of prayer. One must watch before prayer, in prayer, after prayer.

Perseverance (προσκαρτερήσει)

Only here. The kindred verb προσκαρτερέω to continue, occurs often. See on Acts 1:14.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Connect with to make known, as Rev.; not with open my mouth, as A.V.


See on Romans 11:25; see on Colossians 1:26.

For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein 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.

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:
That ye also may know, etc.

Compare Cicero to Atticus: "Send us some letter-carrier, that both you may know how it goes with us, and that we may know how you fare and what you are going to do" (v., 18).


See on Colossians 4:7.

A beloved brother

Rev., correctly, the beloved brother. Tychicus is referred to as well known.

Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
In sincerity (ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ)

Rev., correctly, in incorruptness: who love Christ with an imperishable and incorruptible love.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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