THE EPISTLE (LETTER) OF PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS

EPHESUS - Mentioned in the NT in Acts 18:19; Acts 19; Rev 2.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4:1-16

Chapter 4:17 - 5:33

Chapter 6


CHAPTER 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God.

Paul here states his claim to authority, to support the doctrines and instructions which he is going to elaborate in the letter. We also see that one becomes an apostle by the will of God, not by promotion or examinations. In a sense, an apostleship is not to be desired for or sought after (eg. like CG leader, Worship leader, etc.), but is appointed to by God. We shall see more of it in Ch.4.

The epistle is written to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.

The contents of this letter is meant for Christians, and as such the doctrines thereof can be understood and applied only in the light of salvation. Non-Christians may take offense at the "doctrine" of predestination described, but they have no right to do so as this letter is not meant for them or for their understanding in the first place. You cannot understand the things of God if you do not have the Spirit of God in the first place. Paul never refers to us as "Christians", but as saints, and the faithful. This subtle address makes it such that classification is not based on association to a group, but on the essence of what makes the group, in this case, "saints"- redeemed and made holy by Christ, and "faithful"- remaining in Him.

Paul then describes the centrality of Christ in God's dealings with us:

v3 - we are blessed in Him

v4 - we are chosen in Him

v5 - we are predestined in Him

v5 - we are adopted through Him

v6 - we are given grace in Him

v7 - we are redeemed through Him

v7 - we are forgiven through Him

v9 - we are purposed in Him

v13- we are marked in Him, having believed in Him

Note that ALL blessings are in and through Christ (v.3; cf. Matt 7:11)


We were chosen before the creation of the world to be made holy, and predestined in accordance with his pleasure and will (v.3).

A few things need to be clarified here.

1) It is not fatalism. Rom 8:29 says that God predestined those He foreknew and willed (would make the choice to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord).

2) We were chosen even before the world was created. This means that God had the Church and us in mind even before the creation; He didn't make a mistake with Adam and Eve, or with the nation of Israel (more about this "mystery" later).

3) Although we were chosen before creation, this does not mean we were pre-existent before creation. Some cults and non-Bible based hypercharismatic churches have taken this to mean that our "souls" or "self" or "being" (or whatever), pre-existed in heaven, and was sent down to earth to inhabit our physical bodies when we are born. This is very much like some of the heresies during the early Church times, in which the God Christ came down to inhabit the body of the man Jesus. This heresy is called the "doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul".

4) However, even though we have a choice, we have to keep in mind that we were chosen not so much because of our choice, but that it is God's pleasure and will (v.5) to do so. It is His prerogative and right, not ours. That he chose us is purely because he loves us (v.4), and He has given us grace (through Christ)(v.7), meaning that it is totally undeserved (1Jn 4:10,19). With wisdom and understanding God has chosen us to be His Church, according to His will and purpose (v.11), in Christ. God has plans. THE big plan for salvation and the Church, and a plan for each and everyone of us.

Comparing   Rom 8:29-30   with   Eph 1:4-14

Foreknew


Chosen

Predestined Predestined

Called

Justified Redeemed & Forgiven


Sanctified

Glorified Redemption


We are marked in Him with a seal (v.13)

What does this mean? It means that God has stamped His seal of ownership on us, just as we sign or seal things which belong to us. Or sometimes, when two parties make an agreement or treaty, they sign the document, and affixing their respective seals to it. In our case, God is making a covenant with us, and He has set His seal on us, the seal being the Holy Spirit. Our obligation to the covenant is to remain faithful in and to Him. Just as seals can be broken, so can our covenant with God be broken (Heb 6:4-6; Matt 12:31). Again, the choice to break or not to break the covenant is ours.

What does having the seal do? In Eze ch.9, we see that God had commanded an angel to go forth through Jerusalem, making a mark on the foreheads of the faithful. He then commanded six other angels to follow the first angel and kill those who had not the seal on their foreheads. They were to begin at His sanctuary. In Rev 7, we also see the same thing - the people of God were sealed on their foreheads, and when tribulation came, they were not harmed (Rev 9:4; 14:1)(cf. the mark of the beast, Rev 13:16-18). The seal of the Holy Spirit sets us apart from the unbelievers, who have the seal of the beast. It is separating the sheep from the goats. Another function of the seal is the legal aspect. It is like God's guarantee. It is a deposit, guaranteeing our salvation. It is like a fiancé leaving his signet ring with his fiancee before he goes away on a long trip. The ring represents his authority, his covenant with her, and his personal assurance that he will return and claim her (cf. Gen 38:18,25). Also, the ring is the fiancee's only proof of the covenant made. Similarly, having the Holy Spirit is our only proof that we are Christians, and Jesus will return to claim His bride, those that have His "ring", the Holy Spirit.


Paul stresses that the main aim of Christians is to know God better (v.15-23).

The purpose of having the Spirit, and His power, is to know Him better. Paul keeps praying that the Ephesians will know God better (v.17). Why is this so important? The reason is that we really need to know God, and the more we know Him, the clearer we will know what His will for us is. And then, whatever we ask for in accordance to His will, will be answered, and whatever we do in His will, will have anointing and power. That is why Psa 37:4 says that when (and only when) we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts, because our hearts will be filled with the knowledge of His will when we delight in Him and will desire to do His will. There is a danger of leaving God out of the focus of our activities and "play church". We evangelize, counsel, deliver, pray, even worship, but without putting God at the centre of it. We do not even consider what He really wants. In effect we are doing things for the sake of doing it, and not for the purposes of God. Evangelism become a task, counseling becomes a "shrink session", deliverance becomes a showcase, prayer a chore, and worship becomes a concert. Jesus warns us in Matt 7:21-23 that only those who do the will of God the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven. The acts of prophesy, deliverance, etc., are only acts in themselves and have no worth to the practitioner if done outside of the will of God (though God may use it for effect on the recipient). Another way of understanding the Matt verse is that only those who are true believers (i.e. those that know God and are known by Him) will enter heaven, and that it is useless to do "spiritual" things if we ourselves do not have a saving knowledge of Him. The seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-16) tried deliverance using the name of Jesus without themselves knowing Jesus. In either way, the lesson is that everything we do must be done in and through Christ, with His will at the focus. It is the difference between man-centered action and God-centered action. God-centredness is only possible if we know Him. We won't know what a person wants unless we know him. And, it is not impossible to know God. Paul prays that we might have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may know Him better (v.17). We are to actively and continually ask God for the means (His Spirit) to know Him better.


Paul also prays that we would know how BIG God is. Our hope in God is there because we know how great God is, and as we know Him more, our faith in him increases, as we realise how awesome is His power and riches and glory, and what He is capable of doing for us (eg. Matt 26:53). The power of God is such that He raised Christ from the dead, and had the authority to place Him above all earthly and heavenly powers forever. Temporal power may place a person above some people for a limited time, while God's power places Christ above everything for all time. And not only this, God had placed Him head over everything for the church (v.22). It is like our party's "candidate" being made president over the whole world, not by democratic means, or despotic means, but by the authority of God's power. Not all men will acknowledge Him, but that does not negate the fact of His presidency. Like in politics, the members of the winning party reap benefits from their candidate's victory; in our case, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (v.18). The essential difference is that we did not chose to be in Christ's party, but that He chose us (Jn 15:16). Also, Christ was not elected, but placed in that position by the sheer power and authority of God (the authority He has because He is the Creator). If someone could be placed in such a high (the highest) office, imagine the power and authority of the person that enabled it.


Finally, we see that the church is Christ's body (v.23), the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. This should remind us that our idea of church should not be limited to our little corner of the padi (our local church), but to lift our eyes upwards and see the "grandness" of the church which God has in His plan.

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CHAPTER 2

We are dead in our transgressions and sins (v.1)

We not only have physical death (which is to come when we die), which is a consequence of sin, but are also spiritually dead (even now)(cf. Rom 5:12). We follow the ways of the world, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. Rom 1:24,28 reinforces this and gives the reason why we disobey God. As a result, we are objects of wrath (v.3; Rom 2:5). We also note here that we follow the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Satan is also known as the ruler of this world. What does it mean that the spirit is at work in those who are disobedient? Man was created to rule the world (Gen 1:26), but because of disobedience and sin, he surrendered his legal right to rule to Satan, i.e. he followed the way of Satan. Therefore all men already belong to the kingdom of Satan. Because we are part of that kingdom, Satan has legal right to work in us to do all Rom 1:18-32 describes. However, thanks be to God, Jesus Christ has set us free from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into His kingdom. We are under new management. Just as we followed Satan's ways when we were in his kingdom, now we follow Christ's way because we are now part of His kingdom. However, as v.2 says, the spirit is at work in those who are disobedient. We know we all still sin, and sin is the result of disobedience to God. Even when we are Christians, when we disobey, we sin, and we give Satan an opportunity (or legal right) to work in us. And if we keep on sinning, he exploits that gap and leads us to further disobedience and even demonization. Three points need to be noted here. First, as always, we have a choice to obey or disobey God, just as Adam had. Secondly, we must not be too quick to blame every sin that we commit on the devil, and attribute every wrongdoing on our part to him. We cannot shift responsibility for sinning to him. He will tempt us, but the choice is ours. While we were in his kingdom, we had no choice but to sin, because we had no alternative. Now that we are redeemed by Christ, we have a choice to sin or not to sin, because Jesus has provided us a way out (cf. Gal 5:16-18). Thirdly, we see that there is actually two sources of temptations - the world, and Satan, though Satan works through the world. While some of us may claim that we can resist Satan spiritually, we often forget that the lure of the world is stronger and more subtle. We may not indulge in obvious vices such as adultery, fraud, etc, but how often have we succumbed to materialism, the need to be one-up, and so on? We cannot blame Satan for leading us into materialism, because it is us trying to satisfy the cravings of our flesh. However, Satan can make use of these weaknesses to lead us further down the road to destruction, because when our focus is on things of the world then we loose sight of Christ. We cannot say that Satan entered into us and made us follow the world, but it is our choice to do so (Heb 10:26-27). While we can say that we do not indulge in Satan worship or actively "sin" like unbelievers, once we make the choice to follow the world, Satan, who is the ruler of the world, has legal access to us.

Because of God's love, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and saved us (v.4-5; cf. Rom 5:8).

It is precisely that it is Christ that died for us, not some sacrifice or works that we ourselves had offered (v.9), and that it was done while we were still undeserving and objects of wrath, that makes it grace, i.e. us getting something totally unworked for or undeserved (v.5,8). It is the gift from God, a gift which we don't deserve (v.8), therefore we cannot boast about ourselves (v.9).


We now come to the crucial question - what is God's purpose in doing it? Why did He do it?

v.6 says that God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms. Using the imagery of Christ being the head and the church being the body, we can see how it is "possible" for this to happen. We will be with Christ, seated in the heavenlies, because we are part of Him (cf. Rev 20:4). Just as the body cannot exist without the head, and is directionless, we cannot be in the heavenly realms without Christ. What is God's purpose? To show the incomparable riches of His grace (v.7), that the glory of God may be shown. Why did He do it? To show that we are God's workmanship (v.10), created IN Christ Jesus to do His works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (cf. 1:3; restating His predestination of us). It is like a sculptor showing off his creation which he restored to what it was originally meant to be before it got vandalised.

We have observed the correlation between these Ephesian chapters with the Romans passages. The difference is that in the Romans passages, it deals primarily with the individual, while Ephesians addresses us as a corporate whole. How God redeemed us is emphasized in Romans, and why God redeemed us is explained in Ephesians. Romans explains why we need to be redeemed, and Ephesians declares why we were redeemed for.

Under the old covenant, only Israelites (including proselytes) could enter the house of God, i.e. come under the promises of the covenant. The Ephesians were mainly Gentiles (lit. barbarians). Under the Law, they never had a hope and could never come to God unless they bound themselves to the Mosaic covenant and got circumcised (the sign of the Mosaic covenant), in effect becoming Jews. However, now in Christ, we have the same access to God (v.14-16). In the first place, we (Jews and Gentiles) were equally guilty of sin (Rom 3:9, 23). Therefore there cannot be two different propriations for sin for two peoples. By fulfilling the Law (Matt 5:17), Christ abolished in Himself the need to observe the Law for salvation. (This does not, however, negate the effect of the Law on convicting us of sin (Rom 3:19-20, 5:20, Gal 3:19-25)). Because He fulfilled the law, He Himself is now the way to God (Jn 14:6). Consider the Berlin Wall and East and West Germany. The wall was built by the East to preserve ideological purity and to keep out Western influences (just like the 38th parallel in Korea). But both the East and the West are one people - Germans. Just as the walls came down, and the two peoples became one, both Jews and Gentiles are people, sinners needing salvation, and Jesus has come to break down the dividing wall of hostility (the Law), to bridge the gap, and to make them one. To break down the wall, Jesus fulfilled the Law. To make them one, He had to create in Himself one new body out of the previous two. This new body is the Church visible. In Christ there is neither Jews nor Greek, slave or free (Col 3:10-11). Again the imagery is there. Unless he is schizophrenic, a person can have only one body, and the members of the body have to remain at peace with each other. How did Christ put an end to their hostility? He used this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross (v.16). When He was crucified, dead and buried, His body died. There is no hostility when you are dead. The physical and legal differences between Jews and Gentiles are (lit) put to death. When He rose from the dead, Jesus had the resurrection body, in which there is no distinguishing between the two peoples, only a completely new body. It is not an amalgamation of the two, but something new and different. And this new body is the Church. Because this is new, and does not demand separation of Jews from Gentiles, the Gentiles can now partake equally of God's grace and be fellow citizens of God's people (the legal right) and members of God's household (the inheritance right)(v.19). And this Church is built with Christ as the chief cornerstone (without which a building cannot stand) and on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The cement for the building is Christ Himself (v.21). We ourselves are being built in Him to be God's temple (1Cor 6:19). And it must be in Him, not someone or something else, for God would not now reside in a temple made by hands, but only in the temple built in and by Christ, which is the Church.

Does this mean that the Church only came into being when Christ rose from the dead? Or, now that there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the church, what about the Jews/Israelites before the time of Christ? Are they excluded from the church? Or is the church (as some say) a parenthetical invention of God which He had to institute because the Jews failed in their duty? The answer is found in Eph 3:6, Col 2:2, Rom 11:11-32, and Heb 11.

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CHAPTER 3

Paul states that he is a prisoner for the sake of the Ephesian gentile Christians. He also tells them that by God's grace the mystery was made known to him for their sakes. He then proceeds to explain his insight into the mystery of Christ to them. It was not made known to men of previous generations because Christ had not yet been revealed, and as such, the joining of the two to be one in His body would not have been possible or comprehended. The mystery of Christ is revealed to the recipient by the Spirit of God (v.5). Paul also implies the authority apostles and prophets have because of the revelation of Christ imparted to them by the Spirit. The mystery is plainly, that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ. Firstly, it means that the Gentiles now also share in the inheritance of Abraham. Secondly, in Christ they are now "ethnically" the same as the Jews. Thirdly, they also share in the promises and blessings of the covenant. Note however that the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, not supplanting Israel, or that Israel had been disowned or removed from their inheritance.

In v.7-9, Paul again states that it is by God's grace that he was chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and to explain "the mechanics" of how God was going to save the Gentiles i.e. through Christ. Note that Paul describes himself as a servant of the gospel, not what some modern self-styled "apostles" would describe themselves.

God's intent is to demonstrate His wisdom through the body of Christ, the church. Who are the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms? Satan and his minions. God intends to use the Church, which is the body of Christ the second Adam, and composed of "man", to reclaim what the first Adam lost.

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Jesus is the way to the Father, and He has opened the way through the veil to Him. Note that Paul stresses through faith.

v.15 says that God's whole family in heaven and on earth derives their name from Him. It is like our surname. We are named after our fathers. All of us who believe have God as our Father. As such, the Church has the authority to use His name in the course of our work for Him. Again, as before (1:15-23), Paul prays that we may know God, that the power of the Spirit is to enable us to have Christ dwell in our hearts, and to know the depth of God's love for us (v.18-19) and to be filled with the fullness of God.

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CHAPTER 4

We are all called to a life which God has planned for us. We have to make every effort to keep united. Note that effort has to be put in to keep the peace and maintain unity. We cannot let things be and expect the Holy Spirit to "bind us together" when we ourselves are not willing.

There is one body (v.4) - Christ has only one body, the Church, and only one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, which is present in every believer (1:13). Therefore, there may be many local churches and denominations, but only one Church, and everyone who claims membership in this Church must have the Holy Spirit in him. We are called to one hope, because our hope is in Christ alone and in none else. Christ alone is our Lord and Master (One Lord); We place our faith only in and through Him (one faith); and we are baptised into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, into the body of Christ, the one Church (one baptism). And, because of these, we have one God and Father of all, because we are in Christ. In this, Paul stresses that we are all redemptionally equal in the eyes of God, and therefore have to maintain unity as none are more "saved" or superior to another (eg. Jews vs Gentiles).

However, though we are all equal in salvation, grace has been distributed differently (as Christ apportioned) to each of us according to God's plans for us. Paul is stressing this to explain why some were called into different ministries and different levels of leadership. Note that he first stresses unity and "oneness" before explaining the different ministries (apparent differences) within the Church. Meaning that leaders and elders have no greater claim to salvation and Christ than the congregation, but then the congregation should accept that the leaders and elders were given grace by God to function in their positions because of God's will. Because we are equally saved does not mean that we have the same functions within the body of Christ (1Cor 12:12-31). We can't all do the same thing. Remember - priesthood of all believers does not mean eldership of all believers.

The illustration Paul is trying to portray in v.8 is that of a victorious general marching through his city in triumph. In such a procession, he would march at the head of the train, leading the captured booty for display, and followed by the captured enemy leaders in chains to humiliate them. Occasionally, if the cheering crowd pleased him, or if he were in a generous mood, he would distribute gifts to the crowd from the captured plunder. However, this distribution of gifts was strictly the prerogative of the victor. The illustration is much like what Jesus said of binding the strong man (Matt 12:29). In this case, it is Jesus who has triumphed over death and the grave, and over Satan. Thus Satan is humiliated by Jesus' victory, and his defeat is displayed for all to see. And because of Jesus' victory, he has bound the strong man, and we have therefore the right to plunder Satan's kingdom for souls. But remember, it is because of Jesus' victory, not because of our work.


v.9-10 is sometimes misinterpreted. Where did Christ descend to, and where did He ascend to; or to put it another way, where did He descend from, and from where did He ascend? There are two ways of interpreting this. 1) He descended from earth into hell, and ascended from hell to heaven; 2) He descended from heaven to earth, and ascended from earth to heaven (and higher). The second interpretation is more likely from a plain reading of v.8 and Psa 68:18. Paul used Psa 68:18 to justify v.8. However, this created a potential problem of suggesting that man may ascend into heaven, that Jesus was just a superlative man "who made good". Therefore Paul further clarified in v.9-10 that Jesus came from heaven, and after having completed His victory on earth, is returning there.


v.11-13 then goes on to describe the "five-fold ministries". Who or what are they? From v.8, we see that they are gifts, and from v.11 we see that they are people. Also, the terms described are "offices" rather than "ministries". Taking it together, we see that they are God's gifts to the church in the form of people who will take the offices of apostles, prophets, etc. These people themselves are gifts. We must remember that not all who prophesy are prophets, not all who teach are teachers, etc. (1Cor 12:27-30). i.e. performing the respective functions and ministries does not necessarily make one a "five-fold" ministry. The "five-fold" ministries are sometimes known as "ascension-gifts" ministries (with reference to v.8), when Christ ascended back to heaven, He gave these gifts of people to the Church to complete His task on earth. Where should these people be with respect to the local church? They most certainly should be among the eldership, if not leading the eldership (1Cor 12:28), remembering that not all elders are "five-fold" ministry. What are their tasks? To prepare God's people for works of service, with the aim of knowing God more, and so becoming mature, attaining to the fullness of Christ. In other words, they function as coaches. They equip the saints. Note again the key objectives of unity and knowledge of God. These are the hallmarks of a mature church. Why are these necessary? This is so that the church can withstand attack, both physical and spiritual, and not fall prey to deceitful things and ideas (Matt 24:24; 2Thess 2:9). In the end, growth is described as like a normal physical bodily growth (v.15-16; 1Cor 12:12-31), taking its direction from the head, which is Christ. Note also v.16 says that the whole body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament. We have to make every effort to keep the unity of the church, not only local, but universal, for if one ligament will not support another body part, the whole body will fall apart.

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CHAPTER 4:17 - 5:33

4:17-5:21 following is a list of directives on how to live lives as children of God, ranging from thought (4:23) to word (4:25) to deed.

In 5:22-33, Paul describes the relationship between a man and his wife as modeled after the relationship between Christ and His Church. Just as the Church is to submit to Christ, so also are wives to submit to their husbands. On the other hand, the injuncture for the husband is to take care of their wives and to protect them even as their very own bodies, just as Christ loves and takes care of His body, which is the Church. Paul draws the parallel in v.31, "where the two will become one flesh". We are the body of Christ, i.e. of "one flesh with the head", and Christ loves us and takes care of us like His very own body (v.29). When a man and woman get married, they become one flesh (Gen 2:24), and as the man is now the head of this "one flesh", he is to take care of his wife as like his body. Finally, the wife is to submit and respect her husband, like the Church to Christ. This is so that the wife does not usurp the position and authority of the husband. That is why Christian relationship in a marriage is very important. What we do or do not do will be reflected in our life, attitude, and ministry in the Church.

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CHAPTER 6

Next, the command to obey our parents (6:1). We are told to obey our parents in the Lord. The conjunction "in the Lord" is often forgotten. The qualifier is that we are to obey our parents as far as it is Biblically possible, but to obey God and His Word first and foremost when His wishes and our parents' wishes differ. After all, Jesus said that He had come to bring a sword to earth (Matt 10:34-39). We must be careful not to use this verse as an excuse to compromise when basically it is out of fear of our parents (and not love) that is driving us to actions which are not honouring to the Lord. If we really love our parents, we would obey the Lord first, and by our stand, bear witness of our faith and so be a testimony of the Lord to them. Accusations of filial piety, disobedience, disrespect, breaking traditions, etc. are often leveled at Christians, but these concepts are Confucian in origin, which is fundamentally a humanistic philosophy. We must know where we stand, although it does not remove from us the responsibility of communicating our stands in love.


Finally, be strong in the Lord. We are told to put on the FULL armour of God (v.11,13). We are not to put on some of it, but all of it. Sometimes we tend to place uneven emphasis on particular elements of the armour. However, just as a soldier going into battle is handicapped by too much of the same thing and lack of other essentials (eg. what Saul wanted David to wear and use; 1Sam 17:38-39), we too must put on the full armour of God equally. v.12 reminds us that only heavenly armour is effective against heavenly adversaries. v.13 is interesting as it says that after we have done everything, we continue to stand. It also implies that after we have done everything humanly possible, God's armour will enable us to continue standing, not by our effort, but by His power and might.

Paul describes the armour in terms of the Roman soldier which would be immediately recognizable to the people of the day, assigning their items to truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, and Word. While not placing overemphasis on the significance of each item of the soldier's armour, we see that truth is described as a belt buckled around the waist. The belt in those days was not so much to hold up the pants as to gird up the waist (gird up your loins), to prepare for movement and battle. If you do not know what the truth is, you will not be prepared for battle. The breastplate protects the chest and heart, that your heart should be righteous. We are told to be ready to preach the gospel in season and out of season, and hence the footwear (knowing the gospel) should already be on so that we can set out any moment to witness at any time. Remember the Israelites ate Passover with their shoes on. Faith is our shield to protect us from attacks and accusations. Job had faith in God (Job 13:15; 19:25), and it sustained him from attacks from satan and accusations from his "friends". Salvation is liked to the helmet, which protects the mind. If we know and remember that we are saved and redeemed, then our mind cannot be manipulated or tempted. Finally, the Word of God is likened to a sword (Heb 4:12). Interestingly, it is the only offensive weapon described. A sword can be used to fend off attacks and to attack the enemy, as Jesus amply demonstrated when He was tempted in the wilderness. (However, as someone has observed, the length of your sword depends on your knowledge of the Word - no knowledge, no sword).


Finally, we are told to pray in the Spirit at all times. Praying in the Spirit does not mean only in tongues as we know it, but encompasses tongues known (2 Pet 1:21), tongues unknown (Ac 2:4), tongues angelic (1Cor 13:1), and "tongues" unheard (Rom 8:26). This verse should not be used to justify praying in tongues 24 hrs a day, nor justify praying in tongues as a means of gaining spirituality. The main lesson here is that we should pray Spirit-inspired prayer, at all times and in all circumstances, rather than mouth religious platitudes.

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© Nicholas Tay 1996