Raise Your Children With Respect And God’s Law


Ephesians 6:4 (New Living Translation)

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Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Fathers do not instigate and create anger by the way you treat your children instead raise them with discipline and respect and the law of the lord

Ephesians 6:4 Meaning of Do Not Exasperate Your Children

Sep 23, 2020 by Editor in Chief

Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Explanation and Commentary of Ephesians 6:4

Children are commanded to submit to and obey their parents because God has given them parents as his own agents to raise them and teach them to follow him. Furthermore, when children are taught to honor their father and mother (Ex 20:12), they will have no trouble honoring their Heavenly Father as adults. But Fathers here are warned not to take advantage of their position to “exasperate” their children.

There are several ways in which exasperation can be achieved, all of which will undermine the authority of the parent, creating unnecessary conflict and power struggles that will end in a breakdown of trust in the relationship, undermining the main goal of parenting, which is producing godly and productive offspring in the world.

The ways parents commonly exasperate their children include: erratic behavior, quick temper, inconsistency with rules and discipline, neglect, various forms of mental, emotional, and physical abuse. God will hold us accountable for the way we have brought up our children, and it will not go well for those who take it lightly.

To “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” we should lead by example, and with gentle, consistent instruction on the Word of God. Additionally, kids should be taught to think rationally, and independently, so that when the time comes, they can freely choose the most rational action possible, that of putting their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ephesians 6:4

#1 “Fathers,”
While the verse is specifically addressed to fathers, the wisdom would apply as well to mothers.

#2 “do not exasperate your children;”
To exasperate to irritate someone until they are angry. There would be nothing gained from treating children this way. Rather, it is a cruelty.

#3 “instead,”
What follows is set as an alternative to exasperating, since exasperating and good parenting do not go together in any way.

#4 “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
“Bring them up” means to walk with God as he grows them. It means to show our children the way by example and accountability. We are to be attentive to their growth and their relationship with God. Modeling and teaching them to love and fear God are paramount.

What Does Ephesians 6:4 Mean for Fathers of Young Children?

by Mark Ballenger


Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

Young children are so simple minded, but man can they create confusion in our lives. As fathers, obviously we are smarter, stronger, and more capable in every way than our young children. So why does it seem like they are always winning the war?

Well, maybe “war” is a bit strong. But all fathers of young children know there really are plenty of parenting battles throughout week, and it can be hard to know if we are doing a good job or not. Thankfully the Bible gives us some really specific advice on what our goals as fathers should be.

Ephesians 6:4 is one of the most specific verses given directly to fathers. So let’s unpack what Ephesians 6:4 means for fathers of young children.

Ephesians 6:4 Means Fathers Are Responsible for Bringing Up Young Children

As dads to young children, it can be easy to pass the buck off to mommy when it comes to raising young children. It’s so easy for this to take place in the early years because it seems in most cases that the younger the children are, the more they gravitate towards their mothers.

But Ephesians 6:4 means fathers are commissioned to have an active role in bringing up their young children. Certainly mom has this responsibility too (Ephesians 6:1), but as the leader of the home, the father should be leading in discipline and instruction too.

Leading as a father doesn’t mean dominating, acting like a swooning mother, or commanding our wives to parent in a certain way. Leading as a father means we are not leaving our wives in full responsibility of our children’s well being and behavior. It means we are making sure the goals of Christian parenting are being met.

Ephesians 6:4 Means Fathers Have Two Primary Goals for Their Young Children

Ephesians 6:4 gives us two goals. One goal is to avoid provoking our children to anger. The second goal is to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

If we want the best for our kids, Ephesians 6:4 has prioritized exactly what we need to do. While it’s important our kids get excellent grades, do well in sports, and have the best material life we can offer, these are not what’s most important. Ephesians 6:4 means we will need to be thoughtful in what our aim as a father really is.

Now that we know what our two main goals are as fathers, let’s talk about three ways we can accomplish them.

Ephesians 6:4 Means Fathers Should Not Be Harsh With Their Young Children

Being harsh, angry, or frustrated will hurt a father’s chances of accomplishing both goals outlined in Ephesians 6:4.

Being Harsh Provokes Your Child to Anger

I think the most obvious way to “provoke your children to anger” is to parent them out of anger.

Young children may be simple, but they are not stupid. They may not be able to articulate how they are receiving you, but they feel it inside. When we disrespect our children, it angers them. Our children may be young humans, but they are still human, and all humans get defensive when they are disrespected.

We can yell louder, we can push harder, and we can get our way when our children our young. But parenting out of a negative spirit, while it may produce external results, is not accomplishing the goals of Ephesians 6:4. The goals listed were not a clean room, toys put away, eating dinner quietly, or brushing teeth immediately when asked.

Obviously we should enforce rules and expectations like these. But if we are getting our children to do what we want because we are harsher than them and more manipulative, as they grow older we will see our children become like us – angry. If we focus on our young children’s behavior as our ultimate goal, we will be missing the heart behind Ephesians 6:4.

Ephesians 6:4 means that as fathers, we not only must ensure our children do certain things, we must also help them accomplish our expectations in ways that do not disrespect them and damage their hearts, thus provoking them to anger.

Being Harsh Hurts Your Ability to Discipline

Additionally, being harsh drastically hinders our ability to discipline our children in the ways of the Lord. The difference between discipline and punishment is the intent. Discipline is meant to correct bad behavior. Punishment is meant to make someone pay for their bad behavior.

These two can look the same on the outside, but our children will feel the difference. If in a fit of anger you send your child to their room, they will feel like you are punishing them, which is not a goal in Ephesians 6:4. But if you explain that they are getting a timeout because they just disobeyed what you said, they may still be angry in the moment when you close the door, but inside they will know you care.

Being Harsh Hurts Your Ability to Instruct

Being harsh directly compromises are ability to teach and instruct. Instructing our children in the Lord doesn’t mean we have to be theologians or gifted Bible teachers. What we need to do is transfer the truth of God’s word into the hearts of our children. This is always done in both word and deed.

We need to tell them the truths in the Scripture, and we need to model the truths in the Scripture. When we as fathers are angry, it will clog our children’s ears when we speak and blind our children’s eyes when we model good behavior.

Imagine sitting under a pastor who you know is an angry jerk Monday through Saturday, but on Sunday morning he tells you to be nice and tries to model it for you in his sermon. Is it easy to learn from a guy like that? The same is true for our children when we father them in anger.

Ephesians 6:4 Means We Should Not Spoil Our Children or Withhold Discipline

There’s more than one way to provoke your child to anger. While being harsh and overbearing is the most obvious downfall, spoiling children can have almost the same affect.

When a child has no boundaries, that child will always be pushing harder and further to see where the line will eventually be drawn. As pushover-dads, we mean well. But when we set a boundary or consequence and then allow our children to railroad us with loud screams and fits so we don’t follow through, we are still provoking our children into anger.

When a dad spoils or withholds discipline, it’s basically a temptation to the child saying, “If you get angry enough, you can get what you want. Go ahead, it worked before. Throw a fit. I’ll bend if you freak out.”

It may be done in love, but spoiling and being a pushover causes your young child to grow into an angry teenager and adult who can’t relate to authority. They are the ones who always have a problem with their teachers or who are always getting fired because they are such a pain in the neck to their bosses.

Being a gracious, lavish, and loving dad can be done without spoiling kids rotten. Disciplining doesn’t mean you have turn into a grumpy old man who can’t joke around with his kids. But if we spoil and withhold discipline, we won’t be accomplishing the goals of Ephesians 6:4.

Ephesians 6:4 Means We Must Be Able to Model an Authentic Christian Life

Last but certainly not least important, if we hope to accomplish the two goals of Ephesians 6:4, we must be authentic, God-loving Christians.

Nothing hurts our ability to pour biblical truth into our children’s life more than being fake. Again, young kids may not be able to articulate what they are feeling by our hypocrisy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.

When you yell at the top of your lungs, “Stop yelling at your sister!”, your young child may not be able to trap you with a clever comeback like, “Oh, like you’re not yelling too!” But that snarky comment will be waiting after puberty hits. When they become a teenager, all that hypocrisy they felt as a young kid will be expressed through a lack of respect for your counsel.

Bringing kids up in the training and instruction of the Lord is one of those “caught” and not just “taught” spheres of life. We can’t turn our homes into pulpits, preaching at our kids all day. But for better or worse, they’re always watching and learning by being in such close proximity to us.

Therefore, Ephesians 6:4 means we must have an authentic Christian life if we hope to not provoke our children to anger and to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Today’s Verse – Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)


Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Malachi 4:6 promised that fathers and children would be reunited in heart. Let’s make that true in our homes by nurturing and correcting our children — with a balance between nurture and correction. Let’s not make our faith so full of rules and restrictions that it becomes impossible for our children to hear that they are our beloved children, with whom we are very pleased! Let’s not grant so much freedom that our children feel neglected and uncertain. Let’s turn our hearts toward them and pray for God to turn their hearts toward their home with us and their home with you!

My Prayer…

O Lord God Almighty, Abba Father, our land lies under a curse because so many Fathers have spiritually and physically abandoned their children. Please raise up parents, especially fathers, who will balance the challenging tasks of love, nurture, and correction so that our land may be healed and our children may know your love and grace. In Jesus name. Amen.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Related Topics: Children, Lord, Disciple Making, Discipleship, Discipline, Fatherhood, All Topics…

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Malachi 4:6 promised that fathers and children would be reunited in heart. Let’s make that true in our homes by nurturing and correcting our children — with a balance between nurture and correction. Let’s not make our faith so full of rules and restrictions that it becomes impossible for our children to hear that they are our beloved children, with whom we are very pleased! Let’s not grant so much freedom that our children feel neglected and uncertain. Let’s turn our hearts toward them and pray for God to turn their hearts toward their home with us and their home with you!

My Prayer…

O Lord God Almighty, Abba Father, our land lies under a curse because so many Fathers have spiritually and physically abandoned their children. Please raise up parents, especially fathers, who will balance the challenging tasks of love, nurture, and correction so that our land may be healed and our children may know your love and grace. In Jesus name. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.

Ephesians 6 – Walking in the Light and Fighting the Darkness

A. The Spirit-filled life and two other special areas of submission.

1. (1-3) The Spirit-filled life and the parent-child relationship.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

a. Children, obey your parents: The command is simple. Children are to obey their parents. This not only means that children have the responsibility to obey, but parents have the responsibility to teach their children obedience – one of the most important jobs for a parent.

i. We don’t need to teach our children how to disobey because they have each inherited an inclination to sin from Adam – but obedience must be taught.

ii. It is essential that a parent teach the child obedience, so that the child will grow up knowing how to obey God even when he doesn’t understand everything or doesn’t want to.

iii. This is what all a parent’s discipline for a child must come to. Disobedience must be punished, so that obedience can be learned.

b. In the Lord, for this is right: The apostle gives us two reasons for the child to obey the parent. First, they are to obey in the Lord. This means that their obedience is part of their Christian obedience, in a similar way to the wife’s command to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). The second reason is because it is simply right for a child to obey their parent.

i. What it means to honor our father and mother may change as we grow into adulthood, but the principle always endures. The adult child does not owe the parent obedience, but they do owe the parent honor.

ii. “When the bonds of family life break up, when respect for parents fails, the community becomes decadent and will not live long.” (Foulkes)

c. The first commandment with a promise: Paul reinforced this idea with a reference to Deuteronomy 5:16, where God promised to bless the obedient child.

i. Christians have normally divided the Ten Commandments into the first four (directed towards God) and the last six (directed towards their fellow man). But the Jews divided the commandments in two sets of five, seeing the law to honor your father and mother more as a duty towards God than a duty towards man.

2. (4) How parents walk in the light: not provoking their children to wrath.

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

a. Do not provoke your children to wrath: Parents certainly have the opportunity to provoketheir children to wrath, through an unkind, over-critical attitude that torments the child instead of training them. But Christian parents should never be like this.

i. “The gospel introduced a fresh element into parental responsibility by insisting that the feelings of the child must be taken into consideration. In a society where the father’s authority (patria potestas) was absolute, this represented a revolutionary concept.” (Wood)

b. Provoke your children to wrath: This harsh kind of parenting Paul speaks against gives an unnecessary justification to a child’s natural rebellion.

i. “When you are disciplining a child, you should have first controlled yourself… What right have you to say to your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself?” (Lloyd-Jones)

c. Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord: This does not mean merely scolding your children in the sense of admonition. It means to train and admonish. Encouragement and rebuke must be combined with training and teaching.

i. This is a responsibility for fathers. They must not neglect their responsibility to teach and be a spiritual example for their children. It is not a responsibility that should be left to the mother or the Sunday School.

ii. Training is the same word translated chastening in Hebrews 12:5-11. It has the idea of training through corrective discipline. Admonition has more of the idea of teaching – both are necessary, though it may be significant that training comes first.

iii. Significantly, both training and admonition are used to describe the purpose of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:11). Parents are to raise their children on the Word of God.

d. Bring them up: This ancient Greek word was originally used of bodily nourishment as in Ephesians 5:29. But the word came to be used for the nurture of body, mind, and soul. The form here suggests “development by care and pains” or as Calvin translated, “Let them be fondly cherished.”

3. (5-8) How employees walk in the light: working as servants of Jesus.

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

a. Bondservants, be obedient… as to Christ: The words “as to Christ” change our entire perspective as workers. It reminds us that our work can and should be done as if we were working for Jesus – because we are!

i. “The Gospel found slavery in the world; and in many regions, particularly the Roman and the Greek, it was a very bad form of slavery. The Gospel began at once to undermine it, with its mighty principles of the equality of all souls in the mystery and dignity of manhood, and of the equal work of redeeming love wrought for all souls by the supreme Master. But its plan was – not to batter, but to undermine… So while the Gospel in one respect left slavery alone, it doomed it in another.” (Moule)

b. Not with eyeservice: We are not to work with eyeservice (working only when the boss is looking) or as men-pleasers (those who only care about pleasing man), but with good will (a good attitude, not complaining) doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.

i. As to the Lord means that all our work is really done unto the Lord, not unto man. “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.” (Spurgeon)

c. Doing the will of God: In Greek culture manual work was despised and the goal of being successful was getting to the point where you never had to do any work. This isn’t how it is in God’s kingdom, where hard work and manual labor are honorable.

i. It should be said of every Christian that he is a hard worker and gives his employer a full day’s work for his pay; to do anything less is to steal from your employer.

d. He will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free: Paul relates a final reason for working hard for the Lord. God will return to us in the measure that we have worked hard for others; He will not allow our hard work to go without reward.

i. This connects to an interesting principle. When people are born again, their life changes and they become harder workers and less wasteful, and they are blessed thereby and become prosperous. But after becoming prosperous, we often allow our hearts to grow far from God, then God disciplines us with hard times, and then we repent – and then the cycle starts again. This is not a necessary cycle, but it is a common one.

4. (9) How employers walk in the light: treating their workers well.

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

a. You, masters, do the same things to them: Masters are told to do the same things to them (their employees). Even as servants are to work hard and honestly for their masters, so masters are to do the same on behalf of those who work for them.

i. “So the Gospel leaves its message of absolutely equal obligation, in Jesus Christ, upon the slave and upon the slave owner. The principle will do its work. There is no word of Revolution.” (Moule)

b. Giving up threatening: Employers are also to give up threatening and other forms of harsh treatment. They do this knowing that they are employees of their Master in heaven, and He judges without regard to wealth or position.

B. Fighting against the darkness.

1. (10) The call to stand against the devil.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

a. Finally: This comes at the end of the letter – a letter in which Paul has carefully established our place in Jesus, and then the basics of the Christian walk. This is his last section dealing with that walk. For Paul to write finally here means that he speaks in light of all he has previously said.

· In light of all that God has done for you.

· In light of the glorious standing you have as a child of God.

· In light of His great plan of the ages that God has made you part of.

· In light of the plan for Christian maturity and growth He gives to you.

· In light of the conduct God calls every believer to live.

· In light of the filling of the Spirit and our walk in the Spirit.

· In light of all this, there is a battle to fight in the Christian life.

b. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might: Literally, Paul wrote strengthen yourselves in the Lord. He probably took the idea from 1 Samuel 30:6, where it is said that David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

i. The detailed teaching of spiritual warfare in this passage presents two essential components. First, you must be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Then, you must put on the whole armor of God. The two are essential, and much teaching on Christian combat neglects the first. If you take a weak man who can barely stand, and put the best armor on him he will still be an ineffective soldier. He will be easily beaten. So equipping for Christian combat must begin with the principle, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

ii. Before a soldier is given a gun or shown how to fire a missile, he goes through basic training. One great purpose for basic training is to build up the recruit’s physical strength. It is as if the army says, “Soldier, we are going to give you the best weapons and armor possible. But first we have to make sure that you are strong and that you can use what we give you.”

c. And in the power of His might: This shows how to get this strength. This does not happen just by saying the words. It is not an incantation or a spell. You can’t just walk around saying, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” over and over and it will happen. Those kind of mental games can accomplish something, but it certainly wasn’t what Paul meant here.

i. Might is inherent power or force. A muscular man’s big muscles display his might, even if he doesn’t use them. It is the reserve of strength.

ii. Power is the exercise of might. When the muscular man uses his might to bend an iron bar, he uses his power. It means that the reserve of strength is actually in operation.

iii. God has vast reservoirs of might that can be realized as power in our Christian life. But His might does not work in me as I sit passively. His might works in me as I rely on it, and step out to do the work. I can rely on it and do no work. I can do work without relying on it. But both of these fall short. I must rely on His might and then do the work.

iv. It is not “I do everything and God does nothing.” It is not “I do nothing and God does everything.” It is not “I do all I can and God helps with what I can’t.” Each of those approaches falls short. The key is for me to by faith rely on His might – and rely on it more and more – and then do the work.

v. In his great series of sermons on this text, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones listed many ways in which he believes Christians wasted their strength. It was as if they had received some of the available might of God, but it simply leaked away like water in a bucket that is full of holes. These are some of the things Lloyd-Jones thought sapped the strength of the Christian:

· Committing to too many spiritual works or things.

· Too much conversation.

· Arguments, debates, wrangling.

· Laziness.

· Too much time in the wrong company.

· Too much foolish talk and joking.

· Love of money and career.

· A desire for respectability and image.

· An unequal yoking with an unbeliever.

· Ungodly entertainment.

· A wrong attitude toward or doubting the Word of God.

vi. “We have to walk on a knife-edge in these matters; you must not become extreme on one side or the other. But you have to be watchful. And, of course, you can always tell by examining yourself whether your strength is increasing or declining.” (Lloyd-Jones)

2. (11) The command for the whole armor of God.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

a. Put on the whole armor of God: The armor of God will be explained more fully in the next passage; but here the emphasis is on the whole armor of God. God gives the believer a full set of equipment, and He sends us out into battle with everything we need at our disposal.

i. This ancient Greek word for armor is used in only one other place in the New Testament. In Luke11:21-22, Jesus speaks of the strong man who is fully armed, but is stripped of all his armor when a stronger one comes and defeats him. We know that Jesus disarmed all principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15).

ii. This armor is of God both is the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His actual armor. In the Old Testament, it is the LORD who wears the armor (Isaiah 59:17). He now shares that armor with us. Equipped with God’s armor, no wonder we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

b. That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil: We express the strength we have in God by standing against the wiles of the devil. Satan’s schemes against us come to nothing when we stand against them in the power of God.

i. Stott quoting Simpson: “The tactics of intimidation and insinuation alternate in Satan’s plan of campaign. He plays both the bully and the beguiler. Force and fraud form his chief offensive against the camp of the saints.”

3. (12) The fact of spiritual warfare.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

a. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers: Paul did not call the believer to enter into spiritual warfare. He simply announced it as a fact: we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but (we do wrestle) against principalities and so forth. You are in a spiritual battle. If you are ignorant or ignore that fact, you probably aren’t winning the battle.

b. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood: The fact that our real battle is not against flesh and blood is forgotten by many Christians, who put all their efforts in that direction. Paul’s idea here is much the same as in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.

i. Foulkes says a more literal translation is, Not for us is the wrestling against flesh and blood.

c. Principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places: Paul used a variety of terms to refer to our spiritual enemies. We should regard them as being on many different levels and of many different ranks, yet they all have one goal: to knock the Christian down from their place of standing.

i. Ephesians 6:11 tells us that all of our warfare is combating the wiles of the devil. At the end of the day it is completely irrelevant if the particular opponent we face is a principality, a power, or a ruler of the darkness of this age. Collectively, they are all members of spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. They are all part of a spiritual army that is organized and established into ranks and is under the headship of Satan who comes against us.

ii. We learn more about these principalities and powers from other passages in the New Testament.

· Romans 8:38 tells us that principalities cannot keep us from God’s love. Therefore, there is a limit to their power.

· Ephesians 1:20-21 tells us that Jesus is enthroned in heaven, far above all principalities and powers. Colossians 1:16 tells us that Jesus created principalities and powers. Colossians 2:10 tells us that Jesus is head over all principalities and power. Therefore, Jesus is not the opposite of Satan or principalities.

· Ephesians 3:10-11 tells us that the church makes known the wisdom of God to principalities and powers. 1 Corinthians 15:24 tells us that principalities and powers have an end; one day their purpose will be fulfilled and God will no longer let them work. Therefore, God has a purpose in allowing their work.

· Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus disarmed principalities and powers at the cross. Therefore, our victory is rooted in what Jesus did, not in what we do. It isn’t that there is no doing on our part – but our doing is the appropriation and application of what Jesus did.

iii. Some interpret the nature of principalities and powers in purely naturalistic terms. Markus Barth wrote, “We conclude that by principalities and powers Paul means the world of axioms and principles of politics and religion, of economics and society, of morals and biology, of history and culture.” Yet this contradicts what Paul says about our battle not being against flesh and blood.

4. (13) The proper response to the fact of spiritual warfare.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

a. Therefore take up the whole armor of God: Paul introduced the idea of the whole armor of God back in Ephesians 6:11. In the following passage he details the specific items related to the armor of God. In this verse, he simply states what the main purpose of spiritual warfare and the armor of God is.

b. That you may be able: Without the strength of God and the protection of spiritual armor, it is impossible to stand against the attacks of spiritual enemies.

c. That you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand: This describes the purpose for the strength of God and the armor of God; what we are to use them for.

i. God has given His people a call, a mission, a course to fulfill. Satan will do his best to stop it. When he attacks and intimidates, we are to stand. It is plain that this is Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 6:11 and 6:13. We do the Lord’s work and stand against every hint of spiritual opposition.

ii. God gives the Christian a glorious standing to maintain by faith and spiritual warfare:

· We stand in grace (Romans 5:2).

· We stand in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1).

· We stand in courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13).

· We stand in faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).

· We stand in Christian liberty (Galatians 5:1).

· We stand in Christian unity (Philippians 1:27).

· We stand in the Lord (Philippians 4:1).

· We should stand perfect and complete in the will of God (Colossians 4:12).

iii. All in all, there is a lot indicated by that one word, stand.

· It means that we are going to be attacked.

· It means that we must not be frightened.

· It means that we must not droop or slouch; nor be uncertain or half-hearted in the fight (no self-pity is allowed).

· It means that we are at our position and alert.

· It means that we do not give even a thought to retreat.

5. (14-15) The spiritual armor to have.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

a. Stand therefore: We can only stand when we are equipped with the armor God has given us in Jesus Christ. Each aspect of this symbolic armor answers to a specific dynamic within the Christian life that enables us to stand against spiritual attack.

i. Paul wrote this while in the custody of Roman soldiers. It was easy for him to look at the equipment of his guards and see how God has equipped the believer.

ii. The order in which the pieces of armor are described is the order in which the soldier would normally put them on.

b. Having girded your waist with truth: Truth is symbolically represented as a belt which both protects our abdomen and gathers up our garments so that we can fight effectively.

i. Strictly, the belt is not part of the armor, but before the armor can be put on, the garments underneath must be gathered together.

ii. “The soldier might be furnished with every other part of his equipment, and yet, wanting the girdle, would neither be fully accoutered nor securely armed. His belt… was no mere adornment of the soldier, but an essential part of his equipment… it was of especial use in keeping other parts in place, and in securing the proper soldierly attitude and freedom of movement.” (Salmond)

iii. When a man sat down and was relaxed, he took off his belt. Putting on the belt prepared for action, it freed one for movement, and it put a soldier in a battle frame of mind. The same idea was communicated by Jesus in Luke 12:35-36.

iv. The belt of truth puts on the Biblical beliefs of the Christians as a whole, what other passages call the faith. Many people believe that the church will never go forward until it takes off this belt of truth, but that is completely wrong. This is part of the armor to have, which is a foundation to live upon all the time, our understanding of and confidence in the basic doctrines of the faith.

c. Having put on the breastplate of righteousness: Righteousness is represented as a breastplate which provides essential protection for the most vital organs. We can no sooner battle against spiritual enemies in our own righteousness than a soldier can effectively fight without his breastplate.

i. This is not our own earned righteousness, not a feeling of righteousness, but a righteousness received by faith in Jesus. It gives us a general sense of confidence, an awareness of our standing and position.

ii. “Thank God for experiences, but do not rely on them. You do not put on the ‘breastplate of experiences’, you put on the breastplate of ‘righteousness.’ ” (Lloyd-Jones)

iii. We are sometimes tempted to say to the devil, “Look at all I’ve done for the Lord.” But that is shaky ground, though sometimes it feels good. It is shaky because feelings and experiences change quickly. God’s righteousness isn’t. The breastplate of righteousness is your best defense against the sense of spiritual depression and gloom that comes against us.

d. Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace: The preparation of the gospel is represented as the protective shoes (or sandals) worn by Roman soldiers. No one can fight effectively or effectively go about his business without this equipment.

i. Preparation is a word meaning “a prepared foundation.” The gospel provides the footing for everything we do. However powerful the rest of your body is, if you are wounded in your feet you are easy prey for the enemy.

ii. On the shoes: “Josephus described them as ‘shoes thickly studded with sharp nails’… so as to ensure a good grip. The military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.” (Wood)

iii. Paul had Isaiah 52:7 in mind when he refered to having shod your feet: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

iv. The idea of preparation is really readiness. We must be mobile, flexible, and ready with the truth. This is a place to have in the Christian life, to live in constant readiness and flexibility.

6. (16-18) The spiritual armor to take.

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

a. Above all: This really has the idea of “in addition to the previous,” and it applies to each of the three pieces of armor that follow. It isn’t the idea, these parts of the armor are more important than the others.

b. Taking the shield of faith: Ephesians 6:13-14 tells us of armor to have. Some of the armor we must wear all the time and have as a standing foundation. Therefore having comes first. We must be rooted in the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the “combat boots” of the gospel. Yet now Paul will deal with aspects of the armor we are to take at the necessary moments of spiritual warfare and opportunity.

c. Taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one: Faith is represented as a shield, protecting us from the fiery darts of the wicked one, those persistent efforts of demonic foes to weaken us through fear and unbelief.

i. The shield Paul describes is not the small round one, but the large, oblong shield that could protect the whole body. In ancient warfare, these fiery darts were launched in great numbers at the beginning of an attack. The idea was not only to injure the enemy, but to shoot at him at all sides with a massive number of arrows, and thus to confuse and panic the enemy.

ii. “Even when such a missile was caught by the shield and did not penetrate to the body, says Livy, it caused panic, because it was thrown when well alight and its motion through the air made it blaze most fiercely, so that the soldier was tempted to get rid of his burning shield and expose himself to the enemy’s spear-thrusts. But the shield of faith not only catches the incendiary devices but extinguishes them.” (Bruce)

iii. Thoughts, feelings, imaginations, fears, and lies – all of these can be hurled at us by Satan as fiery darts. Faith turns them back.

d. And take the helmet of salvation: In the ancient world this usually was a leather cap studded with metal for extra strength. Often some kind of plume or decoration was added, perhaps to identify the solider to his regiment. Salvation is pictured as this kind of helmet, protecting an essential part of the body. A soldier would be foolish to go into battle without his helmet.

i. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 speaks of the helmet of salvation in connection to the hope of salvation. The helmet of salvation protects us against discouragement, against the desire to give up, giving us hope not only in knowing that we are saved, but that we will be saved. It is the assurance that God will triumph.

ii. One of Satan’s most effective weapons against us is discouragement. When we are properly equipped with the helmet of salvation, it’s hard to stay discouraged.

e. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: The idea is that the Spirit provides a sword for you, and that sword is the word of God. To effectively use the sword of the Spirit, we can’t regard the Bible as a book of magic charms or tie one around our neck the way that garlic is said to drive away vampires.

i. To effectively use the sword, we must regard it as the word of God – which is the word of God. If we are not confident in the inspiration of Scripture, that the sword really came from the Spirit, then we will not use it effectively at all.

ii. But we must also take the sword of the Spirit in the sense of depending that He helps us to use it. Not only did the Spirit give us the Scriptures, but also He makes them alive to us (or us alive to them), and He equips us with the right thrust of the sword at the right time.

iii. Think of a soldier or a gladiator in training, practicing sword thrusts and moves and positions. Now, he must practice them ahead of time and if he is a superior fighter and has a great fighting instinct, at the time of battle he will instantly recall which thrust, which position suits the precise moment. He will never be able to use the thrust in the fight if he has not first practiced it; but he still needs to make the move at the moment.

iv. Therefore, effectively using the sword takes practice. The great example of this was Jesus combating the temptation of Satan in the wilderness.

7. (18-20) How to use spiritual strength and the armor of God.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

a. Praying always with all prayer: The idea is all kinds of prayer or prayer upon prayer. We should use every kind of prayer we can think of. Group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, eloquent prayer, groaning prayer, constant prayer, fervent prayer – just pray.

i. We can say that it is through prayer that spiritual strength and the armor of God go to work. In theory, the prayerless Christian can be strong and wearing all the armor; but never accomplishes anything because he fails to goes into battle through prayer.

ii. Often we just don’t pray because we are simply overconfident in our own abilities. Winston Churchill said to Britain in the early days of the Second World War: “I must drop one word of caution, for next to cowardice and treachery, overconfidence leading to neglect and slothfulness, is the worst of wartime crimes.”

b. For all the saints: We can battle spiritually not only on our own behalf, but also on the behalf of others. The soldier isn’t only concerned for his or her own safety. He feels an instinct to protect and to battle on behalf of others.

c. And for me, that utterance may be given to me: After bringing up the idea that spiritual warfare can be waged on behalf of others, Paul asks his readers to pray for him.

d. Boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel: Paul could have asked prayer for many things, but he wanted his readers to pray for this. He probably had in mind his upcoming defense before Caesar.

i. We could imagine Paul asking for many things, such as relief from his imprisonment or for other comforts. But his heart and mind were fixed on his responsibility as an ambassador of the gospel.

e. That utterance may be given to me: The idea behind utterance is clear speaking. Added to boldly, Paul asked for prayer that he might proclaim the gospel both clearly and with a fearless power. It is easy to neglect one or the other.

f. I am an ambassador in chains: Of course, the ancient Greek word for chains meant a prisoner’s shackles. But it could also be used for the gold adornment worn around the neck and wrists of the wealthy and powerful. On special occasions, ambassadors wore such chains to show the riches, power, and dignity of the government they represented. Paul considers his prisoner’s chains to actually be the glorious adornment of an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

C. Conclusion to the letter.

1. (21-22) The sending of Tychicus.

But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.

a. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister: Tychicus was an associate of Paul’s mentioned in other letters (Acts 20:4, Colossians 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:12, Titus 3:12). Tychicus seems to have been often used by Paul as a messenger (that you may know our affairs).

b. That he may comfort your hearts: Paul wanted Tychicus to comfort the Ephesians (and everyone else who read the letter) about Paul’s condition during his imprisonment in Rome.

2. (23-24) Final words.

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

a. Peace to the brethren… Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus: Paul concluded the letter as he began it, with reference to grace and peace, these two essential cornerstones for the Christian life.

b. All those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity: In sincerity is literally “in uncorruptness.” The idea may well be with an undying love. Our love for the Lord should be undying.

c. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity: Paul ended by pronouncing a blessing, which was his way of helping the Ephesians to walk in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Categories: New Testament Paul’s Letters

Enduring Word

What does Ephesians 6:4 mean?

After three verses dedicated to how children should obey parents, one verse is given specifically for fathers. As the head of the household, the father is charged with ultimate responsibility for the way the children are raised. In practice, this instruction is meant for both parents, and would have been understood that way by Paul’s readers.

Fathers are commanded not to agitate or irritate their children. The Greek word is parorgizete, which implies exasperation or frustration. In practice, this means avoiding unfair and cruel behavior, or blatant favoritism. Godly fathers are not to push their children toward anger. Anger can sometimes be a healthy emotion, yet can often lead to sin (Ephesians 4:26).

Instead, fathers (parents) are given a positive command to “bring them up.” In other words, Christians are expected to be highly involved in raising their own children. Two areas are mentioned. First, Paul includes discipline. Discipline involved learning self–control and the ability to restrain from personal desires in order to do what is right. Second, Paul adds the “instruction of the Lord.” We should be involved in teaching our children about God’s ways through both education and example.

According to Scripture, a father trains the child he loves (Proverbs 3:12), instructs him (Proverbs 13:1), and provides for his children (Proverbs 19:14).

Context Summary

Ephesians 6:1–4 gives instructions for children to obey their parents, and for parents to be careful in how they raise their children. Children who learn respect for proper authority will have a better chance at success in life. And, obedience to parents is the morally right way to behave. Parents, however, are to be careful not to antagonize their children. Instead of pushing them towards anger or frustration, Christian parents should give their children loving, God-centered teaching and discipline.

Chapter Summary

Paul gives specific instructions to children and fathers, stressing obedience and patience, respectively. He also directs servants to serve with sincerity and good intentions, as if they were working for Christ. Masters are warned not to be harsh: the same God who judges all will not give them preference over those they supervised. All Christians are called on to use the tools given us by God for surviving the attacks of the devil. These are imagined as pieces of a suit of armor. Paul ends this letter in his typical style, with prayer, blessings, and news about his plans.

Author: J. Palmer

Living under the wings of God and the angels around me keeping me going and safe. Sharing the love of Christ.

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