Ephesians 6 - Pray In The Spirit

INTRODUCTION: Paul completed his instructions for the various stations in life that apply to believers: parents, children, those who serve others, and those who have administration over those who serve. He then used an extended metaphor to describe the defenses the Christians need to employ against spiritual darkness and hostile unbelievers in the world. He closed with a reminder for believers to always pray in the Spirit for each other.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - INSTRUCTION FOR CHRISTIAN CHILDREN AND PARENTS

Ephesians 6 "1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), 3 that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord."

COMMENTS: This instruction would have direct value only to those children with a level of understanding adequate for it to affect their own conduct. As the word of God would become more familiar to them, they could begin to realize the value of parental authority administered in the Lord. If they developed a willing spirit, then they could demonstrate honor toward their parents even as they reached maturity, and they could believe that God rewards those who trust in him. Paul made direct reference to one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God when he spoke of a promise. Deuteronomy 5 "16 Honor thy father and thy mother, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee; that thy days may be long, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee." Paul did not say that anger would never surface between parent and child, but it should be a goal of the parent that their words or actions do not become the cause for bitterness in the child. A Christian parent is responsible to help their child to grow and develop through practical training about matters of daily living. The word of God should form the basis of all truth and proper conduct for Christian living. The most important factor for Christian children and parents in the family relationship is that they strive to have their attitude and actions to be pleasing to the Lord.


B - CONDUCT OF SLAVES AND MASTERS

Ephesians 6 "5 Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men: 8 knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, and forbear threatening: knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no respect of persons with him."

COMMENTS: The servants who would benefit from comments in this letter would need to have some connection to the church at Ephesus because Paul addressed them as believers who should serve their masters as though they were directly serving Christ. The most likely way for that to be the case would be if their masters were also believers, otherwise they probably would not have opportunity to be in a body of believers. Paul emphasized that their service should be motivated from their heart at all times, and that they accept their station in life to be the present will of God for them. Their work should be done in kindness as they would do for the Lord, knowing that whatever good thing each person does, whether they are bond or free, their reward will come from the Lord. The masters of the slaves are to treat the servants in a fair and kind manner without the need to threaten them, giving full recognition to the truth that the master in heaven of all servants and masters shows no favoritism when he issues his judgments. These principals apply in the same manner through the centuries and in various cultures for those under authority and for those who have authority over others.


C - BE STRONG IN THE LORD

Ephesians 6 "10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. 13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil [one]. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"

COMMENTS: Paul has to this point outlined conduct primarily within the community of believers. Now in closing his letter he explained the absolute necessity to employ the strength of the Lord as saints will always be under the threat from spiritual darkness. He used a description of a soldier suited up for battle in that time period, and his metaphors can be helpful as word pictures to remember the elements he described. He started out by advising the whole armor of God, so each element should be kept in mind in order to stand against the wiles of the devil. We need the superior might of the Lord since it is not just our own weaknesses or the temptations presented by other people, but the real enemy of our soul has wicked power in the spiritual realm. Paul's advice to the believer is to be fully outfitted to be able to stand in the evil of the times, and then to firmly hold that position.

The Christian is to be clothed in truth, and to wear a breastplate of righteousness. That breastplate should symbolically hold all other believers close to the heart of the wearer, and it must be realized that only the Lord can provide that righteousness. There is an interesting connection to the breastplate (as described in Exodus 28:15-29) that could only be worn by the Aaronic priest. As well as being precious and beautiful, it symbolized the duty the priest had to represent all twelve tribes of Israel before God. The gospel of peace will provide good footing to enable the believer to stand firm or to go where there is need of that message. The peace that God supplies is the only peace that will remain into eternity. Faith in God is the shield that can deflect all of the evil fiery darts that may come at the believer, sometimes with no apparent warning. The helmet of salvation is essential to protect from lethal blows if any Christian is directly engaged with the enemy. The Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, can destroy error and deception when it is used by God's leading.

In one of his earlier letters while he was still establishing churches, Paul used two of these metaphors to describe the security provided by Christ that believers can use in love to comfort each other. 1 Thessalonians 5 "8 But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." Believers have a common bond and a relationship together in Christ.


D - PRAY AT ALL TIMES IN THE SPIRIT FOR THE SAINTS

Ephesians 6 "18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, 19 And on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22 whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ with [a love] incorruptible."

COMMENTS: Daily living for Christians should be marked by the relational aspects Paul has described, and there should be consistent prayer guided by the Spirit at all times for other Christians. This is especially true when we know there are trials or temptations to be overcome. Jesus made this statement in the garden when he knew his apostles would soon see him taken to the cross. Matthew 26 "41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Paul's advice was that the Christians be on watch for those challenging times when continuing strength and patience would be needed to make humble and earnest requests to the Lord in prayer. Even as an apostle of the Lord, Paul wanted them to know that he had the same type of need for prayer from others that he would continue to speak out to make known the mystery of the gospel, and to speak with boldness because he believed while he was a prisoner he was an ambassador for Christ.

Before Paul closed his letter, he commended Tychicus to the believers at Ephesus as a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord. They could depend on him to give more information about Paul's affairs and of how he was doing. It was Paul's express purpose to send Tychicus that they would know the state of affairs for Paul and that he would comfort their hearts. When Paul was making his last visit to some of the churches Tychicus was in his company as they stopped outside of Ephesus on the way. to Jerusalem where he became a prisoner of the Romans, and later was transferred to Rome upon his appeal. Acts 20 "4 And there accompanied him as far as Asia, Sopater of Beroea, [the son] of Pyrrhus; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus." From that passage we know that Tychicus was from Asia, and Paul also commended him in a separate letter to another church in Asia. Colossians 4 "7 All my affairs shall Tychicus make known unto you, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord:"

Paul had opened the letter to the Ephesians speaking of grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As he closed he again mentioned the peace of God that Christians have, and love with faith that comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus had assured us that the peace from God is far superior to any peace that the world can give. John 14 "26 But the Comforter, [even] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with all those who love God with an undying love.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, your influence within a family can have positive impact even when not all of the members have placed their trust in you. Thank you for your word through the Apostle Paul to direct children in ways that are pleasing to you as they grow to maturity. Parents who are called by your name need to remember the love and patience you provide as a heavenly Father to them, so that will guide and motivate them in their parenting. Lord, I believe that there is no position of service among men that cannot be offered fairly and honestly and with dignity, if each person fulfills their duty in the best manner as though it was a service to God. I know that you do not show favoritism because of rank among men, but instead each person is rewarded only if they are doing the will of God as you have determined for them.

Thank you, Lord, that you have given me your Holy Spirit to equip me with the whole armor that will allow me to stand against the wiles of the devil. These deceptions are spiritual in nature because our real enemy is the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. So I want to be wrapped in your truth as I wear the breastplate of righteousness you have given to me. When I have the opportunity to stand firm or to carry forth the gospel of peace, I want to remember to take up the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the evil one. Your helmet of salvation will always be with me as I take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. May I be consistent in prayer for other Christians as they stand against the wiles of the devil, and especially for those who spread your gospel to others who need salvation in Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the everlasting peace and for the love among saints that you have given by your grace to each one who can now love you with an undying love. Hallelujah, Amen!

Published 4 June 2015