Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Ephesians | Session 29 | 6:11-24

In our final study in the series today, we find Paul giving his concluding words and greetings to the Ephesians. His final words include encouragement for them to be strong in the Lord put putting on the whole armor of God, and his final greetings are regarding Tychicus who delivered the letter and someone he considered to be a faithful minister in the Lord.


Verse 11: Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. To be strong, the Ephesians are told that they are to put on the armor of God. Paul uses the analogy of the clothing that was worn by the Roman Centurion. His warning was that it was the only way that they were going to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil

Verse 12: 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. The point was that our struggle is not against our fellow man. Yes, we are all the race of man. We are all men. (I say that for those who struggle with that concept today by politicizing this fact.) Instead, our struggle is against principalities, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places. All of these entities are not in the physical, but in the spiritual realm. That does not mean that our fellow man can not be our enemy, but that what drives them is ultimately in the spiritual realm. 

Verse 13: 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. With that in mind, we must take up our spiritual armor if we are to withstand them as that a spiritual enemy can not be defeated by physical means. Of course, armor implies defense and to withstand means to set or stand against. 

So, when is they evil day? Albert Barnes says that it is any day that we are assaulted. 

Verse 14-17: Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: No doubt Paul by now was intimately familiar with the attire of a Roman soldier since he found himself chained to one on a few occasions. His point was that without truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God, it would be impossible for them to walk worthily, circumspectfully, or to redeem the time. 

Verse 18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And of course, prayer is needful always. Just as a side note, I have yet to meet a Marine or a soldier who did not acknowledge a supreme power, e.g., supreme commandant, especially in times of uncertainty. Nothing like staring the possibility of death in the face to make one reach out to something bigger than himself. This is often referred to as foxhole religion. Trust me, the chapel service is always full before things are about to get interesting! 

Verse 19: 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, Now Paul asks for prayer for his own ministry in proclaiming the mystery of the gospel. What is the mystery of the gospel? It is the grace gospel which is an individual salvation compared to the kingdom gospel which was a national salvation. It will be taught until the rapture of the Body of Christ, and then the kingdom gospel will once again be taught. 

Verse 20: For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. He says that it is because of the mystery of the gospel that he is in chains. His prayer request was that in spite of his chains, he would continue to speak boldly as he should. 

It is interesting that he didn't ask to be released. He was more focused on his eternal calling than his temporary condition. He also might have been thinking of his upcoming appearance before Caesar. 

Verses 21-22: 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: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Tychicus was the one that carried Paul's letters to the Ephesians (2 Timothy 4:12), and the Colossians (Colossians 4:7). 

Verses 23-24: 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. Paul's final words to the Ephesians. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Ephesians | Session 28 | 6:1-10

In our study today from Ephesians 6:1-10 we see Paul still addressing the issue of submission, but now focuses on the relationships between children and parents, fathers and children, servants and masters, and masters and God.

Chapter 6

Verse 1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Okay, wives need to be submissive to the leadership of their husbands, husbands need to love their wives unconditionally, and now children need to obey their parents. Why? - Because it is right. 

The phrase in the Lord is interpreted differently. 1. Some say that it means as long as their commandments are with those of the Lord (Albert Barnes). 2. Others will say that the phrase simply means that it is necessary on the part of the child as an act of obedience toward the Lord (David Guzik). The next verse will seem to confirm the latter. 

Verses 2-3: Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Now Paul refers back to Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16 where the commandments were given.  

Interestingly, Christians usually divide the Ten Commandments as the first four are toward God and the last six are toward man while the Jews divide the first five are toward God and the last five are toward man. 

Verse 4: And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now he turns his attention back to fathers regarding their children in relationship to their roles as leaders in their homes. His warning is about harsh leadership. This type of leadership can lead to anger which can cause bitterness and rebellion in their children. Provoke means to exasperate or frustrate. 

Fathers should be cultivating a loving relationship by example that can be emulated (Colossians 3:21), because they are the earthly reflection of their Heavenly Father. Broken homes have made this concept increasingly misunderstood. 

Verse 5: 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; Now he turns his attention to servants. The word is better translated as slaves. Despite what the liberals say, Paul was not condoning slavery, but merely speaking to it as an established institution. It was a fact of life and his encouragement to them was for them to be obedient as with the children earlier, but adds with fear and trembling. Why? - Because masters had the ability to exact retribution.

Instead, they were encouraged to obey with singleness of heart as unto the Lord. Barnes said, "Fidelity in whatever situation we find ourselves is acceptable service to the Lord." He also pointed out that it is easier to serve God than man. 

Verse 6: Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; They are encouraged to serve faithfully at all times, not just when the master if watching. Fidelity dictates obedience at all times. It was to be their testimony. Those who failed to do so were only menpleasers while God wants God pleasers. 

Albert Barnes said of this, "we render acceptable service to God when we perform the services which are demanded of us in the situation in life we find ourselves, however humble that may be." 

Verse 7: With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: The understanding here is that God is in charge and no matter where we are in life, we must trust that, and be faithful in it. Anything else, is not fully trusting Him. 

Verse 8: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. Here is the promise for those who take heed to Paul's counsel. Of course, none of us are guaranteed reward in this life, but we are in the next (2 Corinthians 5:10). 

Verse 9: 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. Here is the warning to masters, that while they are watching their servants, God is watching them. Colossians 4:1 says practically the same thing, Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven

Neither is there respect of persons with him means that God does not show favor regarding position or rank. The foot of the cross is absolutely level with no VIP seating (Romans 2:11). 

Verse 10: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Final thoughts. They all need to be strong in the power of his might. I believe his point is that it would be difficult for wives, husbands, children, slaves, and masters to do without the Lord's help. Reminds me of Zechariah 4:6 which says, Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Ephesians | Session 27 | 5:28-33

Our study today comes from Ephesians 5:28-33 where we conclude Paul's discussion about the relationship between Christ and his body by way of comparison with the marital relationship.

Verse 28: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Remember as we are reading through this that Paul is going to say in verse 32 that he is talking about Christ and the church and is merely using the marriage relationship as the example. So, we must pay attention to the interpretation before worrying about the application. 

I believe this verse is a reference to the one flesh mentioned in Genesis 2:24 which says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Albert Barnes says of it, "If a man wishes to promote his own happiness, he had better begin by showing kindness to his wife". He also said, "A man's kindness to his wife will be more than repaid by the happiness that she imparts". He that loveth his wife loveth himself means that when you love your wife, you benefit yourself. 

Verse 29: For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: We all do what is in our own best interest. Therefore, it is in our own best interest that our wives are cared for! It's like the old adage, "Happy Wife, Happy Life"! 

Verse 30: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. The Lord loves the members of his body. The application is that the man should love his wife in the same way. 

Verse 31: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. The verse seems to be an earthly illustration of the relationship that God has with his church. 

Verse 32: This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. This verse explains the previous ones (verses 22-31). Context seems to dictate that. Keep in mind that the issue is still unity and he is just using marriage as an example. That being said, some commentaries seem to ignore this verse. 

One said, "It would be easy to think that the Genesis 2:24 passage (also quoted by Jesus in Matthew 19:5) only speaks about marriage. Paul wants us to know that it also speaks about the relationship between Christ and the church.

Another said, "This is true in regard to the pattern of the first man and the first woman. Woman was made at the beginning as the result of an operation which God performed upon man. How does the church come into being? As the result of an operation which God performed on the Second Man, His only begotten, beloved Son on Calvary’s hill. A deep sleep fell upon Adam. A deep sleep fell upon the Son of God, He gave up the ghost, He expired, and there in that operation the church was taken out. As the woman was taken out of Adam, so the church is taken out of Christ. The woman was taken out of the side of Adam; and it is from the Lord’s bleeding, wounded side that the church comes.”

Albert Barnes comes the closest when he said, "This, it seems to me, is an explicit disclaimer of any intention to be understood as affirming that the marriage contract was designed to be a “type” of the union of the Redeemer and his people. The apostle says expressly, that his remarks do not refer to “marriage at all” when he speaks of the mystery. They refer “solely” to the union of the Redeemer and his people. How strange and unwarranted, therefore, are all the comments of expositors on this passage designed to explain marriage as “a mysterious type” of the union of Christ and the church! If people would allow the apostle to speak for himself, and not force on him sentiments which he expressly disclaims, the world would be saved from such insipid allegories as Macknight and others have derived from this passage. The Bible is a book of sense; and the time will come, it is hoped, when, freed from all such allegorizing expositions, it will commend itself to the good sense of mankind. Marriage is an important, a holy, a noble, a pure institution, altogether worthy of God; but it does not thence follow that marriage was designed to be a type of the union between Christ and the church, and it is certain that the apostle Paul meant; to teach no such thing."

Verse 33: Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. It all comes back to love and submission.