Ephesians 6: Cosmic Reconciliation

The Power of the Gospel To Reconcile Humanity

Ephesians six brings us to the conclusion that the work of reconciliation that was made possible in and through Christ alone has tremendous impact in both a spiritual and physical sense. The cosmic reconciliation of mankind through the power of the Gospel of Jesus invades every aspect of our present life and should be transformative in every relationship. The presence of the Gospel and how it transforms families should be seen within the context of marriage, extending further into parental relationships with children. An interesting note in Ephesians 6 is that this is the first time when children are directed to honor their parents where there is also a promise attached to it. In fact, Paul is taking a command from the Old Testament (Ex 20) that was specific to the children of Israel and now communicates that same message and command to the children of Christians and universalizes the promise by saying that it would “go well for them and result in a long life”. However, it’s important to note that Paul views this as a two way road with a special message for fathers to not provoke their children, rather; to raise them up in the LORD. The emphasis that Paul is making for parents is not so much for children to learn moralistic behaviorism which is predicated on good works. Rather, obedience should come from a heart that is aware of the great grace that was given and in response to the beauty of the Gospel.

Gospel Reconciliation

Attitude and Motivation:

Ultimately in every situation that Paul addresses there seem to be two important factors that must come into play, attitude and motivation are important. First, motivation is derived from an understanding of our relationship with God. As we better come to know Him and find ourselves in Him we are motivated towards the things that are on His heart. Further, the means by which we live our lives are not only dictated by motivation but our attitude and emotion is also important as it is a witness of what we actually believe to be true about God.

The Real Battle:

This leads us to the final section of Ephesians that leads us to the real battle. Spiritual warfare is real and it is important that the believer is equipped in every way to respond to the battle at hand. It is here that the earthly motivation for living a life worthy of the Gospel finds its climax as we see this is part of a much larger spiritual battle that is in play. As Paul gives us clear direction in how to be prepared for this battle he is drawing imagery from Isaiah’s prophecy that describes the armor of God (Is. 11:4-5; Is. 59:17; Is. 49:2; Is 52:7). As we look closer at these references in Isaiah we see that God is a warrior that is fully dressed from head to toe in battle as he goes out to restore and redeem his people. During the time that Paul was writing the people in Ephesus would instantly be drawn to the Roman military that and armor that they wore. Every part of the Roman armor had a specific purpose and was designed to not only protect the soldier individually but also as whole team or unit.

Be Strong:

The imperative command that Paul gives, “be strong” in the original Greek can actually be interpreted in the passive voice. This means that Paul is saying that we should, “be made strong, or be strengthened”. Again, the activation of this strength is through the empowerment of the Spirit of God and is tangibly witnessed by the believer as they put on the full armor of the King of Kings. What is compelling here is that Paul’s verbiage and direction is that we are not putting on just any armor, rather we are putting on the very armor of the Messiah, Himself. Not only are we putting on the armor of God but we are also told to put off our old self earlier in Ephesians (4:24). So we come full circle in Ephesians 6. Implicit in putting on the new self or armor of of God is the need for the believer to put off the old self. As we put on the armor of God consider that God, Himself provides the armor and spiritual gifts that we need. We are not wearing any armor but God’s armor.

Therefore, our victory is fully wrapped up first and foremost in the victory of God.

Digging Deeper:

  • Paul’s encouragement for parents to bring up their children in training and admonition of the Lord brings to recollection the earlier instruction for people to be committed to studying and learning the Christian tradition (V4:20-21). We see that parents ability to accomplish this encouragement is predicated upon they themselves being rooted in the Word of God.
  • The commandment to honor parents is seen five other times in the NT – However, this is the only instance that it happens with a promise attached to it.
  • “In the lord” is an indication that expected obedience is due not to age or authority but as a result of their position and relationship with Christ. Therefore, it is our communion with Christ that motivates us to action and obedience.
  • The break out the paragraph about the armor of God can be outlined as follows:
    • Vv 10-13 – Be strong in the LORD and put on the full armor of God
    • Vv 14 – 17 – Stand firm. With the full armor of God we are equipped to stand firm in the LORD.
    • Vv 18-20 – Even in light of this there is need for constant prayer and to stay watchful.
  • The imperative “be strong” should be seen in the Greek as being in the passive tense and more literally “be made strong, be strengthened”. The emphasis is on the one who does the empowering and the person who receives the empowerment is truly passive in the experience and not an active agent in being able to achieve this through amy means or work.
  • Be strong – Brings us to many OT passages – Josh 1:6, Deut 31:6, 7, 23; 1 Sam 30:6; Zech 10:12)

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