Do you know what it means to put on the armor of God? In this summary of Ephesians chapter 6 we will take a look at Paul’s final commands to the church in Ephesus, then take a look at how we are to stand firm in the Lord.
This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure for more details.
Meaning of Ephesians 6
Paul has spent much of the final portion of this epistle explaining what it looks like to walk worthy of our calling in Christ.
This chapter is broken up into 3 main sections. Paul begins by completing his instructions to the church on how they are to walk in a worthy manner. He then moves into the importance of wearing the full armor of God.
Here is a basic outline of Ephesians chapter 6:
- Ephesians 6:1-9: Children, Fathers, Slaves, and Masters
- Ephesians 6:12-20: Armor of God
- Ephesians 6:21-24: Final Greetings
Ephesians 6 Explained
There is a lot to unpack in this chapter so let’s take a look at Ephesians 6 verse by verse.
Paul starts by giving instructions to different groups of people and then explains his reason for the command.
Instructions to Children
Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may turn out well for you, and that you may live long on the earth.
Command: Children obey parents in the Lord
Reason: This is right, so that it may go well for you, that you may live long on the earth
This verse shows the importance of obedience. Jesus said in John 14
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – John 14:15
Children need to learn obedience in the home so that they are better equipped to practice obedience to God. Obedience to God is how we express our love and devotion to Him.
Instructions to Fathers
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Command: do not provoke your children to anger
Reason: bring them up in discipline and instruction of the Lord
Word Study: discipline – tutorage, education or training, by implication disciplinary correction: – chastening, instruction, nurture
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. Hebrews 12:7-10
Discipline is part of how we love, train, and nurture our children. But, we must be careful in how it’s executed. Discipline from a place of anger and frustration will not produce the results we desire.
The goal for discipline in the Christian home is to assist the Lord in the process of refining and shaping the character and hearts of our children.
Instructions to Slaves
Ephesians 6:5-8 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With goodwill render service, as to the Lord, and not to people, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive this back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Command: be obedient to masters
Reason: whatever good thing each one does, he will receive this back from the Lord
The phrase “as to Christ” helps us to shift our focus from obedience to human masters to obedience to Christ.
“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)
Instructions to Masters
Ephesians 6:9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Command: render service as to the Lord (do the same)
Reason: we all have a Master in heaven and He does not show partiality
Masters were not to treat their slaves harshly, but with kindness and justice. This is what the Lord desires from everyone because it is in accordance to His very nature. Scripture teaches us that Jesus is the exact representation of the character and nature of God (Hebrews 1:3). During His life, Jesus lived to serve others (Mark 10:45)
When we put on a mindset of a servant we are better equipped to love others the way God does.
Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Paul begins this section with the word “finally”. We see him them move into teaching about the armor of God. If we watch closely we will see that the armor of God encapsulates many of the ideas and principles that he just laid throughout the whole book of Ephesians.
Paul now comes to the end of his letter and says, “Finally…”
- Because of all that God has done
- Because you have become part of His body through the gospel
- Because you have been filled with the Spirit
- Because you have been called to walk worthy…
… “be strong in the Lord…”
We put on the strength of the Lord by putting on the spiritual armor.
One thing we should notice is what we are battling against. We are not in a battle against flesh and blood, but rather against spiritual forces and powers.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
We battle against ideas and against any thought or knowledge that opposes the truth and nature of God.
Therefore, the armor of God is designed to protect against wrong ideas and guard right ideas.
Ephesians 6:14-17 Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Notice how 5 of the 6 pieces of armor mentioned are defensive weapons. This shows us that we must take a defensive approach in our battle against the enemy. In fact, the past tense verbs preceding the first 3 parts of the armor (“having belted…”, “having put on…”, “having strapped on…”) suggest that we must always walk in preparation for spiritual battle.
The final 3 pieces of armor are those which we need to “take up” as we come into contact with the enemy.
Paul only gives an explanation for one piece of the armor – the sword. This is because each piece of the armor illustrates a principle that he had already thoroughly explained in the book of Ephesians.
- Belt of truth: Ephesians 5-6:9
- Breastplate of righteousness: Ephesians 4:17-5:2
- Shoes of peace : Ephesians 2:11-4:16
- Shild of faith: Ephesians 1:15-2:10
- Helment of salvation: Ephesians 1:1-14
Ephesians 6:18-20 – With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints, 19 and pray in my behalf, that speech may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul could have asked for prayer for anything.
- Deliverance from prison
- Justice for his enemies
- Good health
Instead, he asked for the boldness to keep proclaiming the gospel – the very thing for which he was in chains.
God doesn’t promise to deliver us from our circumstances. He has given us everything we need to stand firm in the midst of them.
We should also notice Paul’s command to pray. Prayer is our access to the heavenly places. Therefore, prayer is what activates the armor.
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 go into battle through prayer. – David Guzik
Final Greeting to the Ephesians
Ephesians 6:21-24 – Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. 23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
Finally, in Paul’s typical fashion, he ends his letter to the church in Ephesus with final instruction and encouragement.
Ephesians 6 Final Thoughts
Ephesians chapter 6 is a great reminder of the battle that exists in the heavenly places. We as the body of Christ have been called and equipped to engage in this battle and because we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, we fight from a place of victory.
Additional Posts and Resources: