This is a letter written by the Apostle Paul believed to not be designed for just one congregation, but intended to be passed around to several churches in the area surrounding Ephesus. The epistle itself is in the form of a general document dealing with a particular or in this case several subjects rather than as a letter written to a specific church. For example, there are no specific exhortations or personal greetings, as with most of Paul’s letters.
Unlike other epistles written to specific churches, this epistle does not deal with specific problems in a local congregation. Instead, Paul addressed great themes that pertain to the Christian's position in Christ, as a member of the body of Christ, the church.
The last major section of this epistle is a call to "walk in victory", with a charge to stand strong in the power of the Lord's might. To be able to withstand the wiles of the devil and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, Christians need to adorn themselves with the whole armor of God. This armor includes such elements as truth, righteousness, the gospel faith, salvation, and the Word of God.
To hear an audio of the session click on the YouTube link at the end of the notes.
Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul knows from his own experience that he is in a war. His enemy is the Devil (Satan). Satan will fight against all that God has done by Jesus Christ. He will work as hard as he can to destroy God’s work. The new Christians, Paul is writing to, now enjoy unity and peace. The Devil will try to destroy that. We would all like to live peaceful lives. We would all like a life with no worries. But this is not possible in the world as it is. We need to know that we are in a battle. We need to know our enemy. We need to know how strong he is.
We have one important need as we fight this war. It is the power of God. We ‘must be strong in the Lord’. You cannot make yourself strong. God must give you strength. He must give it to you more than once. He must give it to you all the time. The Greek word means ‘continue to let God make you strong’.
Paul says ‘in the Lord’, not ‘by the Lord’, although that would be true. The strength comes from being united with Jesus. It comes from being ‘in Christ’. This is what Jesus taught.
John 15:1-5 NLT “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Apart from Jesus, the Christian can do nothing. So the strength that we have is in ‘His great power’. You could also say, ‘in the strength of his great power’.
Back in Ephesians 1:19, Paul talks about God’s great power. It was the power that God used to raise Jesus from death. With that power, he defeated his enemies.
Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Paul uses the same words here - power, strength and might.
Ephesians 6:10 NLT A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
We are at war against our enemy, the Devil (Satan). We therefore need this kind of power for all these qualities. But we need something more. ‘You must wear all the armor that the Lord gives to protect you. Then you can stand against the evil attacks of the Devil.’
When Paul was in prison, they chained him to a Roman soldier. Therefore, he could always see the soldier’s armor. But our weapons for war are not weapons with sharp points like a sword. They are weapons of the Spirit. You need these so that ‘you can stand against the evil attacks of the Devil’. The word used here is ‘stand’. It is as if you are in a castle. It is the castle of the church of Jesus Christ. You are guarding the castle against all the clever and evil plans of the enemy.
This war is different from a war with weapons like guns. This battle is not against people. It is against all kinds of ‘spiritual forces’. They are in a world that you cannot see. ‘We are not fighting a human army, but we are fighting against the powers of this dark world. We are fighting against the rulers, authorities and evil spiritual forces in the heavens.’ These evil forces will use people to do their evil work. The war is against the Devil and his armies. These armies consist of many different kinds of spirits.
Back in 2:2, Paul speaks about ‘the king who rules the spiritual forces in the air.
Ephesians 2:2 NLT You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
He’s talking about Satan. He is the head of all the evil spirits. We cannot see them. But they are working in this world. These spirit forces are very real. We see this all through the New Testament. Jesus fought and won against all these evil forces.
Colossians 2:14-15 NLT He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
‘Rulers’ refers to world rulers. This does not mean human rulers.
Daniel 10:12-13 NLT Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.
This refers to those who rule the whole world. When we say world we are referring to the world system. There is the kingdom of heaven and then there is the world. And the chief ruler is Satan. Jesus said that Satan is ‘the ruler of this world’.
John 12:31 NLT The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.
John 14:30 NLT “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me,
John says that ‘the whole world is in the control of the devil’.
1 John 5:19 NLT We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
Paul calls him ‘the god of this age’
2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
These spiritual forces are fighting against the Christians. So Paul tells the Christians to ‘wear God’s whole armour’. Then, after that, they will be able to stand. They will stand firm against the devil’s attacks. He will not be able to knock them down.
We find it in the Old Testament. God himself wears things like armour as he fights.
Isaiah 59:17 NLT He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
Now God gives these same things to his people. To help them in the war against Satan. Notice how often Paul uses the word ‘stand’. The first time it means, ‘stand against’ or ‘stand firm’. It is because your enemy is very strong. A time will come, when the fight will be very hard. It will be in two places. It will be both inside and outside the church. So the Christian should be ready for it. So Paul says, ‘And having done all, you will still stand firm’. Then, ‘when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.’
Paul would have watched the soldier who was always near him. He would have seen him put on his armour. The soldier put on each piece in the right order. So Paul tells his readers: Wear your armour as the soldier does.
Ephesians 6:14 NLT Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
The belt is first before any of the outer pieces. The clothes underneath must first be in place. Then the soldier can put on the outer pieces. The belt will hold all the pieces together. Then the soldier will be ready for action.
Truth can be everything that God has told us about himself and Jesus Christ. We read about this in the Bible.
Jesus said, ‘then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free’.
John 8:32 NLT And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The Bible speaks about ‘truth in the inner parts’
Psalms 51:6 NKJV Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
If we know the truth, the inner part of us will be right. If we are not right inside, we will not feel right. We will have no inner peace. We will not feel comfortable with people. We will not be right with God and with other people. We will lose our peace. This will stop us from doing the things that we ought to do. It will stop us saying the things that we ought to say. So, we must make the belt of truth firm round us.
The second piece to be put on is ‘the breastplate of righteousness’.
It is God’s righteousness.
Isaiah 59:17 NLT He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
God himself puts it on us.
Romans 3:21-22 NLT But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
This is our justification. It makes us right with God. It is as if we had never sinned. It is goodness on the inside of us. A soldier wears the breastplate at the front of the body. It will not be of much use if there is a hole in it. The purpose of all the armour is to stop the enemy hurting you.
The third piece of armour is for the feet.
Ephesians 6:15 NLT For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
We should ‘put on the gospel of peace like shoes’. Paul is now thinking about the shoes of the Roman soldier. They must fit well and they must be ‘ready to use’. It could be about speaking the gospel to other people. This is the good news about the peace of God. We should always be ready to tell this to other people. The apostle Peter said this too.
1 Peter 3:15 NLT Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
The Roman soldier’s shoes were short leather boots. These would grip the ground and they would keep his feet firm on the ground. They would prevent him from falling. The idea is that we should stand firm in the war. But this is not all. We should also tell the good news to other people. Our gospel boots should be a proper fit. We fight the war. But we send out the good news about peace at the same time.
Ephesians 6:16 NLT In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
This protects all the rest of the armour. It was a large object in the shape of a door. The Greek word for ‘shield’ is from the Greek word for ‘door’. The shield is ‘faith’, which is trust in God. Before a soldier shot an arrow from his bow, he could set fire to the point of the arrow. The burning arrow would hit the shield. So the wooden shields needed a leather cover. They would also put the shields into water. Then the wet shields could put out the fire quickly. The evil plans of the enemy, Satan, are like these ‘burning arrows’. They could be angry words. They could be doubt. They could be fear, or they could be pride. They could be lies. The enemy puts these into our minds. One of these lies would be that God does not forgive us. Then the enemy might remind us about all the sins that God has forgiven.
The enemy will try to use all these ‘arrows’ to destroy our faith. God himself is ‘a shield to those who take shelter in him’
Proverbs 30:5 NLT Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
Psalms 3:3 NLT But you, O Lord , are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
Only one thing can put out the ‘fire’ of these ‘burning arrows’. It is a strong faith in God.
The Romans would fix their shields together. That would make a larger wall. It would cover more soldiers. It is the same with the Christian church. Christians can join together. Then they can be safe from the attacks of the enemy.
Next is your helment
Ephesians 6:17 NLT Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
‘You know that God has saved you by the love of Christ.’ Such knowledge is a gift from God. The gift is salvation from sin and the results of sin.
Romans 6:23 NLT.For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We receive this gift from God. God rescues us from all the sin in the past. God saves us from the power of sin today too. He also gives us hope to be free from sin in the future. Such knowledge protects us, like wearing a ‘hard hat’. Otherwise Satan can hurt us. It is wonderful to know that God has saved us. We can have confidence in our salvation. The helmet covers the head. This is where we have our thoughts. We need something that will protect us from wrong and unpleasant thoughts. We should keep remembering that God has saved us. Then we can enjoy good and pleasant thoughts.
Philippians 4:8 NLT And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
The last piece of armour is the ‘sword’. That is the word of God. The sword is the only piece of armour that they used for attack. The other pieces are for protection.
The word of God is itself is like a ‘sword’
Hebrews 4:12 NLT For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
When the enemy, Satan, attacks us. We must then use our weapon. A good example of this is our Lord himself. Satan attacked him in the desert. Satan put thoughts into his mind. These were not God’s thoughts. Jesus used the word of God against Satan. When Satan attacked him, Jesus said, ‘it is written’.
Matthew 4:1-11 NLT Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ ” Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
We should hold the word of God in our minds.
Psalms 119:11 NLT I have hidden your word in my heart, that I mig ht not sin against you.
Now we have our armor on so that we can stand but we also need something else.
Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
Standing strong also requires fervent and watchful prayer, not just for one's self, but for all Christians. Even Paul solicits their prayers that he might be bold as an ambassador in chains as he makes known the mystery of the gospel
As we put on each piece of our spiritual armour, we need to pray. This is what he is saying. Christians should be praying at all times. They should pray about everything that happens. They should pray on all occasions (‘at all times’). Life should be one great prayer to God.
You can ask God for anything.’ We should pray with all kinds of prayers and requests. There are many kinds of prayers. In one kind of prayer, we tell God how good and great he is. There is the kind of prayer when we thank God. We thank him for who he is. Or, we thank him for what he does for us. There is the kind of prayer for other people. There is the kind of prayer for ourselves and about the events in our lives. We must ask God to guide us. And there is the kind of prayer for kings and our rulers (1Timothy 2:1-2). Then Paul adds ‘continue to pray for all Christians’. Prayer should become a habit.
Last, Paul asks for prayers for himself. He is still in prison. He wants to be free. He could ask people to pray that God would free him. That would have been a natural thing to ask. But he does not ask for that. He knows how important he is in God’s plan. Even in prison, he works to spread the gospel. Yes, he is in prison. But he knows that he is in God’s war. Paul asks for two things.
First, he asks them to pray ‘that God will give me his words’. This is for whenever he is able to speak. Paul wants God to give him the right words and the right message each time that he speaks. Then everyone that he speaks to will clearly understand God’s message.
Next, Paul always needs God’s power to speak. He needs to ‘speak boldly’ and bravely. This is how he is asking the Christians to pray. He will preach the gospel. But he wants to do this without fear. He wants everyone to understand Christ’s wonderful good news.
Every Christian is in the war against Satan. But a Christian prays not only for himself. He prays not only for his own part in the war. He prays also for the whole church of Christ. He prays ‘for all Christians’.
Verse 20 Before this, Paul has not said much about himself. Twice he reminds his readers that he is in prison. But there is an advantage in that. He is God’s ‘special messenger, although I wear chains’. An ambassador (or special messenger) represents his king in another country. He has a job to do in that country. It is to show all the good things about his king and country.
Paul is in prison. But he does not tell the Christians to be sorry for him. They should not pray that God would free him. No, he wants them to pray that he will continue to *preach the *gospel. He must not stop. So this is how he is really asking them to pray. ‘Do not ask God to free me from these chains. Instead, pray that God will free my mouth to speak. Then I will be able to *preach the *gospel.’ He knows that God has given him this one main purpose. So far in his life, everything has been for this purpose. So, he asks his readers, ‘Pray that I will declare the message bravely, as I should do.’
Ephesians 6:21-24 NLT To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.
A brief explanation is then given concerning Tychicus, who is to let them know how Paul is doing. The epistle then concludes with a prayer for peace to the brethren, love with faith, and grace for all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in all sincerity (21-24).