Read the Passage: Ephesians 6:10–24
Spiritual Warfare (6:10–13)
After giving specific teaching on marriage and family, as well as on vocation, Paul turns at the end of his letter to the Ephesian church to address the topic of spiritual warfare. In Eph. 6:10–20 Paul explains that while believers already have victory over Satan through the cross of Christ, in our present earthly lives, temptation to sin will persist. Indeed, all Christians can testify to this truth, and there are many instances in Scripture of God’s people being tempted. In addition to Paul’s own temptation (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7–10), significant examples of others being tempted in the Bible include: Joseph (cf. Gen. 39:7), Job (cf. Job 2:9), and even Jesus (cf. Matt. 4:1–11). Indeed, Satan’s attacks on mankind are many and varied, and can be briefly summarized as relating to the world (i.e., money, riches, or lust of the eyes), the flesh (i.e., sex, youth, or lust of the flesh), and the devil (i.e., power, manipulating, or pride of life).
Paul continues his instructions about spiritual warfare, noting at Eph. 6:12, “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” (cf. Eph. 1:21; 3:10). Some have suggested that Paul’s reference to principalities, powers, rulers, and spiritual hosts here are strata or a hierarchy of demons. Although this could be the case, Paul’s point in this passage is not to give a taxonomy of the demonic realm, but to teach that since the battle in which believers are engaged is ultimately spiritual in nature, it must be fought by spiritual means. Indeed, since the fall, man has been living in an “evil day” (Eph. 6:13); therefore, followers of Christ must be vigilant, alert, and proficient in the use of the spiritual weapons at their disposal, which includes Scripture, faith, and prayer.
Armor of God (6:14–20)
Using the picture of a Roman soldier’s weapons, in Eph. 6:14–17 Paul gives details about what he refers to twice in this passage as “the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:10, 13). Here Paul identifies six pieces of armor: belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword. Note the first three items listed were always worn by Roman soldiers who were on duty; the last three were kept at hand, but only worn by soldiers who were going to battle. The items that were continually worn speak to a believers’ identity, as the belt represents truth (cf. John 14:6; 2 Tim. 2:15), the breastplate depicts righteousness (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), and the shoes symbolize peace (cf. John 14:27; Rom. 5:1). The last three pieces of armor are what believers use as they engage in spiritual warfare in the fallen world. Note all these spiritual gifts are given to believers by Jesus and each one is communicated via Scripture.
In Eph. 6:18–20 Paul gives instructions about prayer. First, Paul mentions the frequency of prayer, as he refers to “praying always” (Eph. 6:18a; cf. 1 Thess. 5:17). Second, Paul writes about the breadth of prayer, as he refers to “all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18b; cf. 1 Pet. 5:7). Third, Paul notes the manner of prayer, as he refers to praying “in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18c; cf. Jude 1:20). Then, in Eph. 6:19–20, Paul asks for prayer for himself. Although Paul was in prison as he wrote (cf. Eph. 6:20), it is noteworthy that he did not ask believers to pray for his release. Rather, Paul requested prayer “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). Indeed, being content in Christ, Paul understood that the gospel could go forth, and his ministry could be effective, whether he was free or in chains (cf. Phil. 1:12–14; 4:11–13).
Personal Greeting (6:21–24)
In Eph. 6:21–24, Paul concludes his letter with a personal greeting. In this brief greeting Paul mentions “Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord” (Eph. 6:21), who likely carried this epistle to the city of Ephesus. Although Tychicus is not as well-known as Timothy or Titus, he was a trusted ministry partner of Paul. Tychicus was likely a Gentile convert from Asia minor, and he is mentioned five times in the New Testament (cf. Acts 20:4; Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12). Just as Paul had begun this letter bestowing grace and peace upon the church (cf. Eph. 1:2), so here he ends this epistle wishing the believers in Ephesus grace and peace. Paul’s benediction reads, “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” (Eph. 6:23–24).
- What are some common ways in which Christians are tempted? In what areas of your life are you most vulnerable to temptation and sin?
- If believers have already won “the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57; cf. Heb. 2:14–15), why do Christians still experience spiritual warfare?
- Who are the principalities whom Paul mentions three times in this book (cf. Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12)? It is wise for believers to seek out spiritual battles (cf. Jude 9)?
- Do you think most Christians take seriously the fact that they live in a fallen world that is hostile to Christianity and is externally ruled by the lost?
- What is the best motivation to pray? Why did Paul not ask for prayers for his own release from prison? How can we pray more effectively?