Ephesians 6




Children and Parents (6:1-4)

1 This verse applies primarily to young children, not adult children. Paul does not mean here that grown-up children must obey their parents. Paul is saying that only younger children who are still dependent must remain obedient to their parents (Proverbs 8:32-33; 15:5).

2-3 However, no matter how old we are, we must continue to honor our parents. Among the ten commandments of the Old Testament, the command to honor one’s parents comes fifth (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). But it is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it. If one obeys this commandment, God promises that it will go well for that person and he will enjoy long life (verse 3).

4 Having talked about the duties of children, Paul now talks about the duties of parents. That is, parents must bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The parents’ goal is to teach the children obedience, so that when they grow up they will obey Christ, just as they obeyed their parents when they were young (Proverbs 22:6).

Together with teaching them obedience, parents must also be loving and tender toward their children. They must treat their children with fairness. They must not exasperate their children; that is, they must not needlessly rebuke or punish them, or inflict other unnecessary hardship upon them. Parents must not make their children angry without cause. Yes, we must discipline our children, but this is always in order to insure their future welfare. And we must always discipline them in love; love and discipline must always go together equally. We must discipline our children only after explaining what they have done wrong and why we are punishing them. Our discipline should not be overly severe; we must be careful not to grieve or harden the tender hearts of our children. We must never discipline our children in anger or impatience. If we are angry or upset with our children for doing something wrong, we must wait until our anger is over before we discipline them (Colossians 3:21). Just as God has given husbands authority to be used for the benefit of their wives, so God has given parents authority to be used for the benefit of their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 2:4).

Slaves and Masters (6:5-9)

5 During New Testament times, the practice of slavery was widespread throughout the Roman Empire. Slaves were treated very badly. They had no freedom, no rights; they were treated like animals. They had to obey their masters in everything. Many slaves became Christians, because they received peace and hope from the Gospel of Christ, from Christ’s promise of salvation and eternal life.

However, even though their situation as slaves was very grievous, Paul still tells them that they must remain obedient to their masters.

In today’s world, the practice of keeping slaves is rarely found. However, the same principles that applied to masters and slaves in Paul’s day can be applied to employers and employees in our day. Christian employees should obey their employers (in the work situation), just as they obey Christ (Colossians 3:22-24).

6 We must not do good work to win the approval of men; we must do it to win the approval of God. We must work with sincerity of heart (verse 5), not to appear good in the eyes of others, but rather to please God.

7-8 The master or employer’s authority comes from God. There is neither … slave nor free … for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). All Christians are equal in the sight of God. On earth, their positions and ranks may be different, but in heaven they will all be equally the servants of one Lord (verse 9). God has appointed people to different callings; some He called to be employers, others He called to be employees.26 Therefore, let us not grumble or complain against authorities which God has appointed. Just as we submit to Christ’s authority, so must we whole-heartedly submit to the authority of our employer, or to the authority of our leaders in government or in the church (see Titus 2:9-10 and comment). If we willingly fulfill all our duties to our masters, God has promised that we shall be rewarded (see Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

9 The duty of the employee is to obey. Now Paul tells us about the duty of the employer, or master. The duty of the master is to treat those under him in the same way that he hopes the heavenly Master, Christ, will treat him. That is, the employer must treat his employees with kindness and respect. The employer must give his employees a fair wage; he must not exploit them. He must give them suitable work and provide them with proper working conditions. The employer or master must not make people work to satisfy his own selfishness or greed. God has granted to us mercy, love, and forgiveness; the employer or master should treat his workers in the same way. Just as the worker will receive a reward for fulfilling his duties in obedience to his master, so the master also will receive a heavenly reward for fulfilling his duties toward his workers. Let earthly masters always remember that they have a Master in heaven! (Colossians 4:1). We are all fellow servants of Christ, and each of us—whether master or servant, employer or employee—will be rewarded in heaven according to how well we obeyed Christ here.

Let each person think only about his duty to others. Let us not think about what we can get from others, but rather what we can give to them. Let employees not think primarily about what wages and benefits they can get, but rather let them think about how they can do the best work for their employer. Let employers not think about how much work they can squeeze out of their workers, but rather let them think primarily about giving their workers a fair wage and good working conditions. This is the Christian way. If the people on each side would concentrate mainly on their duties instead of always worrying about their rights, then there would no longer be complaints, disagreements, demonstrations, and strikes. Jesus taught all of us to put the interests of others above our own.

The Armor of God (6:10-24)

10 … be strong. That is not a suggestion; it is a command. How can we obey this command? How can we be strong? By putting on the full armor of God (verse 11).

11 There is no point in thinking about how weak we are. Of course, we’re weak! That’s why God has given us His armor, so that we might be strong and equipped to fight the enemy. Therefore, Paul says to us: Put on [this] armor.

God has given to us His armor. It is spiritual armor, and it will protect us from our chief spiritual enemy, the devil—that is, Satan.

12 Our Christian life in this world is like a struggle or battle. In order to be victorious in battle, the first thing that’s necessary is to put on one’s armor. The second necessary thing is to understand one’s enemy and know how strong he is. Let us not make the mistake of supposing that Satan is not strong; he is very strong. If we think Satan is not strong, he will surely overcome us. He is much stronger than we are! If we are without our armor, Satan will easily defeat us.

And Satan is not alone. Allied with with him are rulers, authorities, powers on earth, and spiritual forces of evil in heaven. These are the same authorities and powers over which Christ now reigns in heaven (Ephesians 1:20-21); they are the same rulers and authorities to whom God, through His church, is making known His manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). However, here on earth the power of all these rulers and authorities is still very great, and thus we need God’s armor to stand against them.

Therefore, having put on our armor, what do we need to know about our terrible enemy, Satan? First, he is invisible; he is a spirit. Second, as we have already said, he is powerful. Third, he is wicked and evil; he is the leader of all the spiritual forces of evil. There is no good, no mercy in Satan. His one desire and goal is to destroy, by any means possible, the spiritual life of every Christian. The fourth thing to know about Satan is that he is crafty and cunning. Peter says that Satan is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). That is true; but more usually Satan does not roar. He sneaks up on us quietly when we are not watching. Or he disguises himself, so that we can’t recognize him (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is like a wolf who puts on sheep’s clothing; the sheep think he’s just another sheep, and let him into the flock (see Matthew 7:15 and comment).

How can we fight against such a terrible enemy?

13 We can fight against Satan with God’s strength, because God’s strength is far greater than Satan’s (see 1 John 4:4 and comment). By putting on God’s armor and standing our ground, we can cause Satan to flee (see James 4:7 and comment). Here again, as in verse 11, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God. If even one piece of the armor is missing, Satan will immediately wound us in that unprotected area.

Paul tells us here to be ready to stand against Satan when the day of evil comes. The day of evil is the day of temptation, the day of persecution. In particular, it is any day when Satan especially attacks us.

14 In verses 14-17, Paul mentions six parts of God’s armor: the belt and the breastplate (verse 14), “shoes” for the feet (verse 15), the shield (verse 16), the helmet and the sword (verse 17). In Paul’s day, a soldier’s armor consisted of these six pieces. Paul wrote this letter while a prisoner in Rome; he was probably being guarded by a soldier who was wearing just this kind of armor. Perhaps Paul’s description of God’s armor was based on the armor of his guard.

Now let us examine each piece of this armor. First, Paul mentions the belt of truth. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and only the truth can defeat his lies. Truth also means trustworthiness, because in our battle with Satan we must be able to trust one another.

The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness (Isaiah 59:17). God has declared believers in Christ to be righteous; we have received Christ’s RIGHTEOUSNESS. We are declared righteous because Christ took upon Himself the punishment for our sin; through faith in Him, we are no longer guilty of sin (see Mark 10:45 and comment). We must put on the breastplate of righteousness; otherwise, Satan will accuse us of being unrighteous. Without righteousness, we shall lose our standing with God. Satan is a great accuser; he is called the accuser of our brothers (Revelation 12:10). Satan will try to make us doubt if we are really saved. One of Satan’s main tactics is to shake our faith by creating all kinds of doubts in our minds. He tries to make us doubt our standing with God; he tries to make us doubt that God is on our side. He says to us: “You’re just a sinner; you are unrighteous. God isn’t going to take your side.” Let us not listen to Satan when he talks like this. Rather, let us put on the breastplate of righteousness; let us hold fast to our faith that through Christ we have indeed been declared righteous in God’s sight.

15 The third part of God’s armor is footwear. We need to put on the “shoes” of readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. That is, we must be ready to carry the Gospel of Christ to others. A farmer doesn’t need shoes, but a soldier does. Shoes help keep us from stumbling. Shoes help us to be ready; they put us in readiness. With our shoes on, we shall be ready to carry the Gospel, and we shall not stumble on the way. Wherever our shoes go, there also will go the gospel of peace—the Gospel of Christ! Here Paul calls the Gospel the gospel of peace, because through it peace can come between man and God (see Romans 5:1 and comment).

16 The fourth piece of armor is the shield of faith. This shield is our faith in God. When we raise our shield, we can have complete confidence in God’s power. In Paul’s day, the shield of a soldier was four and a half feet high and two and a half feet wide; it was big enough to protect the entire body. In the same way, when we raise our “spiritual shield,” we are fully protected from Satan’s flaming arrows. Satan’s “flaming arrows” are such things as fear, discouragement, confusion, and doubt. When our shield of faith is raised, these things will not be able to touch us.

17 The fifth piece of God’s armor is the helmet of salvation (Isaiah 59:17). The steel helmet of a soldier protects his head, so that his enemy cannot kill him. In the same way, the helmet of salvation protects us from being spiritually “killed” by Satan. The helmet is the guarantee of our salvation, our eternal life. With our helmet on, Satan cannot take away our eternal life.

The sixth part of God’s armor is the sword of the Spirit. Notice that the first five pieces of the armor are defensive in nature. But the sixth part, the sword, is offensive. It is for attacking Satan. Without the sword, we cannot defeat Satan. What is the sword? It is the word of God.

Remember, by His word alone, God created the whole earth, the whole universe. By His word He also created all the rulers, authorities, and powers mentioned in verse 12, who afterward began to oppose Him. The word of God is effective; it’s powerful! It has far more power that anything on earth. And when we hold the sword of the Spirit in our hands, that power is ours!

That sword is the sword of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s word (John 14:26). God intends that we use His word to defeat Satan. The best example of the use of God’s word as a “sword” can be seen in Jesus’ answers to Satan during His temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11).

18 We must put on all of our armor with prayer. Some people call prayer the seventh part of our armor. Without prayer, our armor will be useless. Our prayers should not only be for ourselves, but for our other Christian brothers and sisters, that they might be able to stand against the attacks of Satan and overcome him. If we neglect to pray for them, they will be defeated. We must pray on all occasions … and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Paul tells us to pray in the Spirit—that is, with the help and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit inspires our prayers and teaches us what to pray (Romans 8:26).

19-20 Even the greatest Christian leaders and preachers need our prayers. Paul was able to do the great works he did because of the prayers of fellow Christians.

In verse 20, Paul calls himself an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Yet even though he is an ambassador of the King of kings, Paul has ended up in chains in a Roman prison!

21-22 Tychicus was one of Paul’s colleagues, who was with him during part of his imprisonment in Rome. In addition to delivering this letter to the Ephesians, Tychicus also delivered Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:7-8).

23-24 Paul began this letter by expressing his desire that the Ephesians might experience the grace and peace of God (Ephesians 1:2). Now Paul ends the letter by giving to the Ephesians a benediction of peace (verse 23) and grace (verse 24). From this we are again reminded of the great theme of this great letter: Peace through grace (see Ephesians 1:2 and comment). Even though we are in the midst of a great spiritual struggle, we have peace with God, and peace within our church and within our hearts.

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not love the Lord have not experienced His love, His grace. Anyone who has received the grace of God will love His Son Jesus, for it is through Jesus that God’s grace has come to us. Therefore, let us love our Lord with an undying love. And let us live our lives to the praise of the glory of His grace!


1 The words in Ephesus in verse 1 are not found in all ancient manuscripts. This suggests that this letter was meant to be read in other churches besides the church in Ephesus.

2 Indeed, this same principle applies to our study of the entire Bible. The Bible is God’s own word, and He speaks to us through every verse.

3 To be adopted in a natural sense means to become the legal child of someone who is not one’s natural parent. The adopted child receives all the rights and privileges that a natural heir would receive. In the spiritual sense, to be “adopted” by God is to become entitled to all the blessings of heaven; it is to become a member of God’s own family. For further discussion, see Word List: Adoption.

4 The word redemption in the New Testament means the setting free or delivering of a person from the penalty of sin by paying a ransom or offering a sacrifice. It is one aspect of our salvation. For further discussion, see Word List: Redemption.

5 The Jews were a race of people living in the Middle East, who from the beginning worshiped the one true God. God had chosen the Jews to be His own special people. Jesus Himself was a Jew. For further discussion, see Word List: Jew.

6 In place of the words were chosen, some translations of the Bible say, “were made heirs.” The meaning is the same. 1he Jews were “chosen to be heirs.”

7 In place of the word “forms." it is more accurate to say “modes of existence." For further discussion of the Holy Spirit, see General Article: Holy Spirit.

8 Worldly men are those men who love the world and the things of the world more than they low God.

9 It is not certain whether Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit here, or only to a “human spirit” of wisdom and revelation. In the original Greek text, there is no way to distinguish between Spirit with a capital “S” and spirit with a small “s.” However, there is not much difference in the meaning either way, since all true wisdom and revelation comes from the Holy Spirit in the first place.

10 Natural man follows the natural and selfish desires of his heart. He knows of no other rule but to gratify the desires of his sinful nature. AD men by nature are sinful (see Romans 3:10-12).

11 Surrounding the inner court of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, there was a wall or barrier through which Gentiles were not permitted to pass. In this verse Paul calls it a dividing wall of hostility, because that wall was, in a sense, a sign of the hostility between Jews and Gentiles. It was also a sign that the Gentiles were far away (verse 13), that they could not come near to God.

When Paul says Christ destroyed that wall, he means that Christ destroyed the significance of the wall, not the wall itself. The original purpose of the wall was to keep the unclean Gentiles from coming into the presence of a holy God. Now Christ has made it possible for the Gentiles to be cleansed through faith and thus to come into God’s presence. The wall is no longer necessary. Thus Christ has removed the barrier keeping the Gentiles away from God; through His death the Gentiles are now brought near to God (verse 13).

12 However, Christ did not abolish the “moral law.” For further discussion, see Matthew 5:17-20 and comment.

13 The kind of cornerstone which Paul refers to here is a capstone which covers the right angle where two walls join together. Without such a capstone, the walls will fall down.

14 These are New Testament, not Old Testament, prophets.

15 We must remember that the Bible is not on!)’ a book of laws and prophecies; it is also a book of history. And the history written in the Bible is completely accurate.

16 Paul says that we should be humble and gentle. Gentleness always goes together with humility. The eighth fruit of the Holy Spirit is gentleness (Galatians 5:23). Indeed, some translations of the Bible call the eighth fruit of the Spirit “humility” instead of “gentleness.”

17 In another sense, however, Christians should be like children. In particular, we should have the open and trusting attitude of children. We need to have a child’s faith (see Mark 10:15 and comment).

18 In place of the word attitude, some translations of the Bible say “spirit.” In this context, the meaning is the same.

19 When we are angry with the offense, we use our anger to benefit the offender. But when angry with the offender, we desire to hurt him, not benefit him. And that is a sin.

20 For further discussion of redemption, see comment on Ephesians 1:7 and footnote to comment

21 If our parents are not Christians and give advice that is opposed to God’s word, than we must not follow their advice in that particular matter.

22 God leads some Christians to completely abstain from any kind of alcoholic beverage (see Luke 1:15). Certainly, any believer who had a drinking problem before becoming a Christian must stop drinking altogether.

23 In the Greek text, the words be filled mean “keep on being filled.”

24 For further discussion of the role of baptism in cleansing us from sin, see General Article: Water Baptism

25 After birth, mother and child become two flesh, not one.

26 During their lifetime, God gives most Christians opportunities to advance. It is right for Christians to take these God-given opportunities to improve their life situation. But the main thing is this: We must accept God’s will for our lives no matter what that will turns out to be. We must never grumble against God (see 1 Corinthians 7:17-24; 10:10 and comments).