We have been speaking about Ephesians a fair bit recently on this blog. I thought today I would share the following quote from the Doctor, which summarizes the book’s message.
“. . . we can say of the first three chapters that the Apostle is reminding these Ephesians . . . who they are, what they are, and how they have become what they are. That is his theme. All the major doctrines of the Christian faith are to be found in these first three chapters . . .
But the Apostle desires the Ephesians to understand above all else the privileges that belong to such a life . . . if we but realized the exalted character of what he calls our ‘high calling’, the whole situation would be transformed. He writes three chapters to bring them face to face with this teaching.
Then, having done that, the Apostle begins to appeal to them, and plead with them to live in a manner that is worthy of their calling. Such is the apostolic method. Paul never starts with morality and behaviour . . .
Paul therefore argues, Because you are God’s dear children, you do not behave as other people, there is something special about you, and you show this constantly in your demeanour . . .
Paul’s argument is that as we are filled with the Holy Spirit we must live in a way that is unique, a thing we can never do unless we are filled with the Spirit. He works that out along various lines. If you are filled with the Spirit, he says, when you meet together in church fellowship, there will be great praise and thanksgiving. ‘Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ What a picture of the Christian Church, and what a contrast to what is so often seen today!
Then the Apostle proceeds to say that we are all to be subject one to another, and he works that out in three main respects. Wives are to be subject to their husbands, children are to be subject to their parents, servants are to be subject to their masters. But he always puts it in a doctrinal manner. The husband is to love his wife ‘even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it’. You cannot find such subjection in anybody except Christians. But every Christian husband and wife should be manifesting the fact that they are ‘filled with the Spirit’; and they should be an astonishment to the world. The same is true of the relationship of children and parents. It is to be the exact opposite of what we are witnessing today—not lawlessness, but ‘honouring father and mother’. And the father must not ‘provoke his children to wrath’. On the contrary, because he is ‘filled with the Spirit’, there is understanding, tolerance, patience and everything that is necessary. And it is to be the same with Christian masters and servants, and with Christian servants and masters. Paul always deals with the two sides. He tells the servants, who were slaves in those days, how they are to behave; he tells the masters also to remember ‘that your Master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him’. In these ways Paul shows how, in life’s various relationships, this ‘life in the Spirit’ manifests itself.
Having done all that, the Apostle now says ‘Finally, my brethren’, as if to say, Now in the light of all I have been telling you about yourselves, and of the kind of life you have to live, is that all? ‘No’, he says, ‘there is still one other matter.’ That is the matter he now introduces for our consideration. He cannot stop at the end of the ninth verse in chapter 6, and for this reason, that we do not live this Christian life in a vacuum. It is not just a matter of, ‘Well, there it is all set out for you; now go and do it.’ There is another matter that must be considered, there is another factor that in a sense Paul has not mentioned yet, namely, the mighty opposition to Christian living which we all inevitably encounter in this world of time.
That is the subject Paul introduces here. He has reminded us of what we are, he has shown us the possibilities that belong to our new position, and there is no limit, no end, to them. ‘That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.’ ‘That ye might apprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.’ Limitless! endless! ‘Oh,’ you say, ‘how wonderful!’ Wait a minute! says Paul. Let me remind you that you have to live that kind of life in a world in which there is a tremendous power working against you, that you will be engaged in a terrible conflict with the devil and all his forces. If you do not realize that, he says, and take the appropriate action with respect to it, you will undoubtedly and inevitably be defeated. “
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1976). The Christian Warfare: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10-13 (10). Edinburgh; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust.