Ephesians 6 – The Whole Armor of God

Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians in this chapter beginning with the admonition for children to “honor your father and mother,” referring to the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) as being “the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'”  It was the only one of those ten commandments to contain a promise; and the emphasis throughout the Bible on children being expected to obey their parents is nothing to be taken lightly.  Consider the opposite of the aforementioned promise, for example.  Verse 4, as with all of these “submission passages” reminds fathers of their duty to them – to love their children enough to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  As Proverbs 22:6 teaches, such instruction will stay with them.

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:16-31).

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:16-31).

He continues the theme of Christians submitting one to another that he began in Chapter 5:21 with similar instructions for bondservants and their masters.  Verses 5-9 do not constitute an endorsement of slavery or servitude on the part of the Apostle.  Its applications then and today are relevant to the relationship of people to any lawfully established authority (and vice-versa, which is sometimes forgotten).

The “meat and potatoes” of this chapter come in verse 10 and following.  The “whole armor of God” described in these verses correlate to a fully armed soldier, and the descriptions would be familiar to people throughout the Roman Empire.  Verse 12 reminds us that the spiritual forces of evil – the devil himself – is a very real adversary, not some imagined foe, but the very real “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8).  Christians arm themselves for this battle with a list of items he relates to this armor and weapons – truth, righteousness, and the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  Faith, he says, is our shield against “flaming darts of the evil one.”

As he encourages them to be strong in prayer, he asks also for their prayers for him to be strong, as he declares himself their “ambassador in  chains.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Ephesians 5 – Walk In Love

As Paul opens in this chapter telling the Ephesians to be imitators of God, he tells them in verse 2 to “walk in love.”  The verb “walk” is used to mean “to live ones life, and exhibit the characteristics of.” This fits perfectly with 1 John 4:8, which says “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Paul refers to the expectation that Christians walk in love in other passages such as Romans 14:15, and says it is what “binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14).

Ruins at Ephesus

Ruins at Ephesus

Paul contrasts that by urging them to stay away from sexual immorality (which covers everything outside of relations between a husband and a wife), as well as all impurity and covetousness – which is idolatry – and even filthy talk, or crude joking.  Indeed, he says that such should not even be named of the people of God.  A Christian’s integrity and reputation matter, and public sins dishonor the Lord.  He makes it clear in verse 5 that those who are guilty of these things have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”  Verse 8’s “children of light” remind us of Jesus’ words in John 12:35-36.

Verses 21-33 deal with the relationship of a husband and wife – not women and men in general.  Paul restates Genesis 3:16 in terms of the husband being the head of the wife, just as Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  But that does not give the husband license to be a tyrant.  Rather, the husband is to love his wife as Jesus loved the church, and “gave himself up for her.”  A wife should be able to count on just such love from her husband.  Verse 31 quotes Genesis 2:24, as they become one flesh; and the husband should also love his wife as he loves himself.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 4 – Unity in the Body of Christ

Paul is preaching unity here, as he emphasizes the church as the body of Christ, with Christ as the head (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 2:16, 1 Corinthians 12:27) – that there is one body and one Spirit, just as we have been “called to the one hope” (verses 4-5) of eternal life in Christ and “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”  But in this unity, grace was given to each individual member, according to the measure of Christ’s gift (verses 7-11).  This is not speaking just of supernatural gifts, as the age of those will soon pass (though they, too, had their place in “building up the body of Christ”); and Paul is speaking not just to Christians of that age, but to all future Christians.  Verse 8 is from Psalm 68:18.

Along a main inland road from Ephesus to the Euphrates River, Colossae shared the beauty of the Lycus Valley with its sister cities Hierapolis. The original roads from Ephesus and Sardis joined there, and this defensible and well-watered hill became a strategic point in antiquity. Declining in importance by the time of Paul's Epistle to them, they had already been surpassed in size by the other Lycus Valley cities.

Along a main inland road from Ephesus to the Euphrates River, Colossae shared the beauty of the Lycus Valley with its sister cities Hierapolis. The original roads from Ephesus and Sardis joined there, and this defensible and well-watered hill became a strategic point in antiquity. Declining in importance by the time of Paul’s Epistle to them, they had already been surpassed in size by the other Lycus Valley cities.

Paul began in verse 1 stating that we must walk in a manner worthy of that calling; and he picks up that thought again beginning in verse 17, as he says they (we) must no longer walk as the Gentiles do.  This is relevant to us as well as a reference to all unbelievers, who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart…given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

But instead, a Christian, taught the truth in Christ, is “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (verses 21-23).  Then, he turns in verses 25-32 to the importance of honesty and being Godly in speech, thought, and heart, which is to rule how we treat each other; and sharing with those in need is to play an important role in our lives (verse 27).  Verse 26 says “be angry and do not sin.”  One can have anger, particularly “righteous anger,” but it should not rule our hearts or our mouths.    Verse 32 sums up that section well – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 3 – The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

Verse 1 of this chapter is key to the message Paul is conveying here.  He is a prisoner for Jesus Christ, on behalf of the Gentiles.  The “mystery” that he received revelation about was (as  verse 6 says) “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” This plan was not known to previous generations (verse 5), but now has been revealed to His apostles and prophets.  He declares this as his ministry in verse 7 – “of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me…”  And he makes it known in verses 10-11 that this was always God’s plan, according to His wisdom – “this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

The chapter ends with Paul’s prayer for spiritual strength in verses 14-21, that he began in the previous chapter.  This is one of the most beautiful and poignant prayers in the Bible.  Read it again and again, and take comfort in wisdom and truth of it, as well as the promise it brings to the hearts of Christians:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 2 – By Grace Through Faith

The ruins of the Roman Theater in Ephesus, Turkey. Paul visited here on his Second Missionary Journey and later wrote the epistle Ephesians to the Christians of Ephesus

The ruins of the Roman Theater in Ephesus, Turkey. Paul visited here on his Second Missionary Journey and later wrote the epistle Ephesians to the Christians of Ephesus

Paul, addressing the Ephesians, interchanges the pronouns “you”, “we”, and “us” (verses 1, 3, and 4, for example), pointing out that we were all lost in our sin.  But God, being rich in mercy, made us alive through Jesus Christ, in whom we were raised up, along with Him.  He says that we are saved by grace through faith.  The significance of that statement is emphasized by making clear that it is not by anything that we did (verse 8), but it is the gift of God.  But one must take account of the whole of Scripture in order to understand this part, as is always the case.  It is by grace that we are saved, certainly.  But it is not by grace alone, otherwise the entire world would be saved without even having belief.  Therefore, faith is a necessary part of that salvation, but faith alone, without grace, cannot save us.  But one must also remember that, as James said (James 2:24),  “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

He then goes on to remind that the Gentiles were once separated by the Law of Moses, a wall that in Christ Jesus was broken down (verses 13-16); and through Him, Jews and Gentiles alike have access “in one spirit to the father” (verse 18).  Such salvation for all people of the world was always the plan of God through Jesus (Titus 2:11), on which foundation He is the cornerstone (verses 20-21, Isaiah 28:16).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 1 – Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Paul finally visited Rome while a captive awaiting his trial before Caesar. The letter to the Ephesians is one of the Prison Letters. It was probably written during his first imprisonment in Rome, which lasted from A.D. 60 to 62.

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is one of the four “prison epistles” that he wrote while imprisoned by the Romans (the other three being Philippians, Colossians and Philemon).  Paul established the church there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-21) and returned on his third missionary journey, staying for two years (Acts 19). and said a tearful farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-38.

In chapter one, he begins with his signature greeting; and speaks in verses 4-12 of their (and his) “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”  This does not mean that certain people are selected by God to be saved, and certain others to be condemned, no matter what they do.  The Lord predestined His chosen people – the ones who serve Him – to be saved.  Whether we wish to be part of that blessing is our choice to make.  Coffman’s commentary says it well:

“Inherent in this is the fact of God’s calling and electing people before the foundation of the world; and very few theological questions have demanded more attention and interest than this. Clearly revealed in this is the fact that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world for the purpose of taking out of it a people for himself and redeeming them unto eternal life was no afterthought on God’s part. Before the world was ever created, the divine plan of the Son of God’s visitation of the human family existed in the eternal purpose of God. That body that Christ would gather from the populations of earth is destined to receive eternal life; because what God purposes is certain of fulfillment. Such a calling and election of those “in Christ” to receive eternal glory, however, is not capricious. Every man may decide if he will or will not become a part of it and receive the intended blessing.”

Regarding verse 9’s use of the word mystery, there is more in Ephesians 3:3 and 1 Timothy 3:16.   But Coffman’s comments on this as well are salient: The New Testament use of the term ‘mystery’ is not very closely related to the modern use of the word, conveying instead the meaning of a secret once unknown, now revealed. Mackay called it ‘God’s unveiled secret.”  

Paul commends them for their faith in Jesus, and declares the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ as the “head” of the church, speaking of it as a spiritual body (verses 15-32).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, many of us will eat too much food, watch a lot of football, and enjoy the company of friends and family that we love.  This tradition that we call Thanksgiving Day is most often associated with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock as they celebrated the “first Thanksgiving”  Others argue that it was actually Spaniards in the 16th century that celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast in America. One thing we know for certain is that the first official Thanksgiving celebration that became a yearly tradition was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 – right in the middle of the Civil War.  He called this national day of celebration one of  “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Most of us living in the United States have much to be thankful for as, by and large, we have so much more materially than a great percentage of the population of the rest of the world – so much so that even some of the poorest in this country would be considered rich by those standards.  As we enjoy the grace that God has extended to us so richly today, let us remember to give great thanks to him daily, and share the joy and hope that we have in Jesus Christ with others, and pray that they will share in His salvation, which is freely given.

With love and best wishes, I leave you today with three verses from a great Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord (Psalm 105):

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

make known his deeds among the peoples!

 Sing to him, sing praises to him;

tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.