Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:14-17

στῆτε οὖν περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης καὶ ὑποδησάμενοι τοὺς πόδας ἐν ἑτοιμασίᾳ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς εἰρήνης, ἐν πᾶσιν ἀναλαβόντες τὸν θυρεὸν τῆς πίστεως, ἐν ᾧ δυνήσεσθε πάντα τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα σβέσαι· καὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος, ὅ ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ. Therefore, stand, girding your waste with truth and putting on the breastplate of righteousness and putting on the feet with a readiness of the gospel of peace, in all taking up the shield of faith, in which you will be able all the arrows of the evil one which burn to quench; and the helmet of salvation take and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

After having commanded his readers and listeners to resist and stand by taking up the full armor of God, Paul now defines the armor itself. He concludes, “Therefore, stand . . .” But how is one to stand? First, by girding the waist with truth. This participle, περιζωσάμενοι, “by girding,” involves one’s preparation. The Christian soldiers prepare themselves with the truth. Second, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness. One needs to have protective body armor in order to stand. Third, by putting on the feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. Again, we have this idea of preparation, that the feet are to be prepared with the gospel of peace. The gospel, good news, forms the source of the preparation, and the content of the good news is peace. Fourth, by taking up the shield of faith along with truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace. This shield will enable the Christian to extinguish all of the burning arrows being shot at them by the evil one. Furthermore, Paul instructs them to take hold of two pieces of equipment, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Not only are they to stand by equipping themselves with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith, but they are also to receive salvation and the word of God. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. This word, μάχαιραν, “sword,” refers to a short sword. In this instance, it highlights the power of the Spirit, which is defined as the word of God. God’s word is powerful, and it is one of the tools supplied in the armor. Christians receive salvation and the word of God as part of their armor.

Note the textual variant here. In τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα, the second τὰ is absent from several key witnesses (Papyrus 46, B, F, G, and the original hand of D). However, the rest of the witnesses include it (such as א, A, 33, 1739, the second corrector of D, and the majority text). Furthermore, if the article is omitted, then the following participle must be translated like a predicate adjective (“the arrows are burning”). It is most likely that the original text included the article and later scribes accidentally omitted it. Since its inclusion has early support, although not the earliest, and fairly wide support, and because the text makes no sense without it, we should include it as the best candidate for the original text. By including it, we translate the following participle as an attributive adjective (“the burning arrows”).

Therefore, stand by girding up your wast with truth, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by putting on your feet with a readiness of the gospel of peace, with all these things by taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the burning arrows of the evil one; and receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When the devil is bearing down on you, will you be prepared? Will you be able to stand against the devil’s onslaught? God has provided all that we need to withstand the devil. Truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God are all provided by the Lord so that we will be able to stand victoriously. But are we tapping into the very power of God by utilizing these resources? And not simply one resource, but we need them all. We are to put on the full armor of God, not part of it, and not most of it, but all of it. We need every part of God’s provision in order to be victorious. We cannot stand unless we are fully equipped. A football player who has all of his gear but forgot his cleats at home will not be able to win. He will not be able to stand his ground, his feet will be open to injury, he will not be able to sprint, and he will not be able to keep traction. By forgetting one small piece of his equipment, he effectively places himself into a losing position. If we want to beat the devil when he comes to attack us, we will have to be equipped with everything God has meant for us to have. God desires for us to win and he does not want us to be in a losing position, which is why he has provided all that we need in order to stand against the devil.

Aside from the need for the full armor of God, note the use of the short sword. It may have been a defensive tool primarily, but it was still used for offense. And we have all heard the saying, “A good defense is a good offense.” In what sense can the word of God be an offensive tool that we use as a defensive weapon? By learning the word of God, we are taking an offensive posture. By studying the word of God, we further equip ourselves in an active way for the purpose of being able to defend ourselves from the devil. Jesus was able to quote Deuteronomy to fight off the devil. Learning Scripture is an offensive, active tactic for being able to stand one’s ground defensively against the devil. It is absolutely vital that we learn Scripture by studying and memorizing it. Without it, we will fall, for we need the full armor of God. We might know the truth, we might be righteous as God declares us righteous, we might know and live out the gospel of peace, we might have faith, and we may be saved, but if we are not studying the word of God, we will not be able to stand. After all, it was Scripture that Jesus–Truth, the righteous one, the one who brought peace, the faithful one, the author of salvation–used to fight the devil.


Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:13

διὰ τοῦτο ἀναλάβετε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα δυνηθῆτε ἀντιστῆναι ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ πονηρᾷ καὶ ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι στῆναι. Because of this, take up the full armor of God, that you might be able to resist in the day in the evil and overpowering everything to stand.

Paul continues his discussion of the armor of God after having declared that it will help equip his readers and listeners stand against the evil spiritual things in the heavenly places. He says, “For this reason, . . .” Paul is restating his command, namely, to withstand the schemes of the evil one. We can translate διὰ τοῦτο as “therefore” in this instance. Instead of commanding his readers and listeners to put on the full armor of God, Paul now commands them to take it up. The purpose of taking up the full armor of God is for equipment. Those who take up the armor of God will be able to resist in the evil day. Furthermore, Paul emphatically states that they are to stand after having overcome everything. They are to be equipped for the purpose of resisting and standing, but standing only comes after having become victorious. The infinitive, στῆναι, “to stand,” is functioning as a complementary infinitive to δυνηθῆτε, just as ἀντιστῆναι functions (ἀντιστῆναι and στῆναι are therefore parallel to each other in connection with the helping verb). The purpose of taking up the armor is to resist and stand. Paul understands that his readers and listeners will need God’s armor in order to resist in the evil day and to stand after resisting and overcoming absolutely everything.

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, in order that you might be able to resist in the evil day and after overcoming to stand.

We need to equip ourselves with God’s armor. He makes it available to us for a reason. It is there so that we can be able to resist and stand victorious. Without such armor, we will be open and susceptible to attack. We would be vulnerable to the deceptive, spiritual schemes of the devil. We need God’s armor. It is our protection against such attacks. With it, we can be victorious. Without it, we will not be able to stand. Think about it. If a soldier goes to battle without his armor plating, boots, gas mask, rifle, and rounds, will he or she be able to withstand an attack from the enemy? Preparation is vital. Much like the soldier, Christians need to suit up. But God provides the armor. It is not our own armor that we take up. God provides us with what will be needed for resisting and standing. We must rely on God to supply us with what we will need. Clearly, the armor is not our own doing, but we must take responsibility to take what God provides for us and utilize it. Take his armor, resist the devil, and stand victorious.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:11-12

ἐνδύσασθε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ θεοῦ πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι ὑμᾶς στῆναι πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου· ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἶμα καὶ σάρκα ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. Put on the full armor of God for you to be able to stand to the methods of the devil; for our struggle is not to blood and flesh but to the rulers, to the authorities, to the world-rulers of this darkness, to the spirits of evil in the heavenly places.

Adding to the command to be strengthened, he instructs his readers and listeners to put on the full armor of God. Again, we see that God is the one who provided the strength and the equipment necessary for the task. However, Christians are expected to tap into those provisions. The purpose of putting on this armor is so that they will be able to stand against the deceitful schemes of the devil. Paul continues, saying that the struggle they have is not against blood and flesh (it is not with earthly, human things), but it is against rulers, authorities, world-rulers of this darkness, and the spiritual things of evil in the heavenly places (it is with heavenly, spiritual things).

Put on the full armor of God in order for you to be able to stand against the deceptive schemes of the devil; for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against rulers, authorities, world-rulers of this darkness, and the spiritual things of evil in the heavenly places.

If God’s armor is not physical, but rather spiritual, then it must follow that such armor is designed to protect those who wear it from spiritual things. We need to emphasize that being a Christian involves spiritual struggles. Spiritually, we are constantly to be on guard. Spiritually, we are to stand firm. The spirit world is present and evident, and if we let our guard down, we can be taken. We must prepare ourselves not by our own strength and not with our own guard but with what God has provided for us. God has provided us with what we need in order to withstand the deceptive schemes of the devil. If we rely on God and utilize what he has equipped us with, we will do well. But on our own, if we rely merely on ourselves and try do it our own way, we will fail.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:10

Τοῦ λοιποῦ, ἐνδυναμοῦσθε ἐν κυρίῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. Of the rest, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

Paul signals a new section with Τοῦ λοιποῦ. Does this phrase mean “of the rest,” “henceforth,” or “finally”? Since Paul is not talking about time, it cannot be “henceforth.” Since Paul is not referring to a remaining group of people, it cannot be “of the rest.” However, for it to be “finally,” it is typically in the accusative case. Aside from Eph. 6:10, the genitive form only occurs in one other place, Galatians 6:17, where it is understood temporally (“henceforth”). However, the accusative and genitive forms can be understood to be synonymous phrases, and, therefore, we can translate it as “finally” in this context, albeit a rare instance. Paul is introducing a conclusion to his letter. He tells his readers and listeners to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Christians do not draw on themselves for strength, but to God. The verb, ἐνδυναμοῦσθε, “be strong,” could be middle or passive. If it is passive, then the phrase might be translated, “Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and the power of his might.” In this way, the Lord and his mighty strength is seen as the sphere from which believers are strengthened. If it is middle, it might read, “Finally, strengthen yourselves in the Lord and in the power of his might.” In this case, believers are said to be the ones to strengthen themselves in the Lord and his mighty strength. However, Ephesians places an emphasis on God equipping the believers with power (3:16), so it is best to see ἐνδυναμοῦσθε as a passive. It is not Christians who supply or equip themselves with strength, but rather, God equips them.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

Are you trying to walk the spiritual walk and live the Christian life by your own strength? You do not have to do it by your own strength. In fact, God will provide for you all the strength you need. Christ came in the flesh, lived, died, and rose again. The very power that equipped him to sacrificially love you is accessible to you to live out your faith in a pleasing way to God. You need only to allow God to equip you! He gives his Spirit to his children in order that they might be strengthened. Being a Christian is not about living a good or righteous life by one’s own will. Rather, it is about Christ making it possible on your behalf to live a life that God declares to be righteous and by God making it possible for you to begin to live out a righteous life through the help of the Spirit. As a Christian, you do not do it alone. You do it with God’s helping hand. Allow him to equip you. And if you are already a Christian, realize that you have been equipped. Tap into God’s mighty power and so live a righteous life as the Lord himself is righteous.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:9

Καὶ οἱ κύριοι, τὰ αὑτὰ ποιεῖτε πρὸς αὐτούς, ἀνιέντες τὴν ἀπειλήν, εἰδότες ὅτι καὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ὑμῶν ὁ κύριός ἐστιν ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ προσωπολημψία οὐκ ἔστιν παρ᾽ αὐτῷ. And masters, do the same to them, ceasing threatening, knowing that also theirs and your Master is in heaven and partiality is not from him.

After having addressed the slaves, now Paul turns to the masters. He instructs masters to “do the same” to the slaves. Does this mean they are to obey the slaves? To do good as the slaves do? This phrase indicates that the masters were to fulfill their roles in the same way that the slaves fulfilled theirs, that is, they were to do the will of God wholeheartedly as though their actions were performed in service to Christ. They are not to rule their slaves by means of threats. Abusive leadership has no place in leadership done for Christ. They “do the same” by ceasing threatening their slaves. Why should they stop threatening their slaves? Because the heavenly Master, who is not only the Master of the masters but also of the slaves, does not show partiality (“partiality is not from him”). In other words, the Master will not be partial with the masters. He will be even-handed with the masters and the slaves.

And masters, do the same things to them, by ceasing threatening them, because you also know that theirs and your Master is in heaven and partiality is not from him.

If slavery is not a common thing in America today, what good is this verse for us? Many of us feel like slaves on the job. Those who are in administrative positions would do well to heed this verse. Managers, bosses, and the like should out of reverence for Christ, out of devotion and service to the Lord, deal respectfully with their employees, which excludes threatening them in order to get them to perform. Bribery or blackmail, threats of indirect or direct physical harm or destruction of property, or even verbal abuse should have no place for Christian masters. Honor God with your actions. Choose to treat your employees with the highest level of respect. When it all comes down to it, administrators and employees, or masters and slaves, will all be dealt with by God without partiality. Christians are all going to be held accountable by God, regardless of their financial, economic, social, or political statuses. We need to remember that God cares about how we interact with each other. Therefore, it is imperative that we treat each other with the love Christ demands of us.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:5-8

Οἱ δοῦλοι, ὑπακούετε τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου ἐν ἁπλότητι τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν ὡς τῷ Χριστῷ, μὴ κατ᾽ ὀφθαλμοδουλίαν ὡς ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι ἀλλ᾽ ὡς δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκ ψυχῆς, μετ᾽ εὐνοίας δουλεύοντες ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις, εἰδότες ὅτι ἕκαστος ἐάν τι ποιήσῃ ἀγαθόν, τοῦτο κομίσεται παρὰ κυρίου εἴτε δοῦλος εἴτε ἐλεύθερος. Slaves, obey according to the fleshly lords with fear and trembling in sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not with eye-service as people-pleasers but as servants of Christ doing the will of God from the soul, with a good attitude serving as a slave as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that each one if he might do what is good, this he will receive from the Lord whether a slave or a free man.

After having addressed husband and wife relationships, and parents and children relationships, Paul now turns to the relationship between masters and slaves. As before, the non-authoritative party is not addressed first. Paul instructs the slaves to obey the lords (masters) in accordance with the flesh, which is to say, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters . . .” He instructs slaves to obey with fear and trembling. This phrase highlights that the obedience is to be rendered with respect for the masters. Furthermore, slaves are to obey with sincerity of the heart. This word, ἁπλότητι, “sincerity,” literally means “singleness.” Slaves are to have a single purpose, not a dual intention with ulterior motives; they are to be sincere when they serve their masters, because such service is rendered as service to Christ. They are not to perform eye-service. Eye-service, ὀφθαλμοδουλίαν, marks insincere service or service rendered for the sake of making a good impression while the master is watching. Paul instructs the slaves not to render service in this manner. Those who perform eye-service are only people-pleasers. Paul says not to be a people-pleaser, but instead serve Christ and so please God. Slaves are to serve Christ, which is God’s will. By serving Christ, slaves are doing God’s will. But they are to do this will from the soul. This phrase, ἐκ ψυχῆς, “from the soul,” is a reference to one’s inner inclination. Not only are they to obey their masters with sincerity of their hearts, but they are also to serve Christ and do the will of the Lord being motivated from the inside. Christian slaves are to be motivated not by external factors, such as eye-service, but from internal conditions, such as a sincere heart seeking to serve, honor, and respect Christ. We can translate ἐκ ψυχῆς to be “wholeheartedly,” but remember that it really emphasizes the will of the inner center of a person. Not only should slaves obey with a sincere heart, and serve and do the will of God wholeheartedly, but they are also to serve with a good attitude. Still, their service is rendered as though it were to the Lord and not to men. Furthermore, slaves are to know that every one that does what is good will receive the same from the Lord whether a slave or a free person.

Note the use of the participles in this section. The first thought of the sentence is, “Obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling with a sincere heart.” Our first participle, ποιοῦντες, appearing close in proximity to δοῦλοι, is actually related to the main verb, ὑπακούετε. It is functioning as a participle of means (“. . . obey . . . as slaves of Christ by doing the will of God wholeheartedly . . .”). The second participle, δουλεύοντες, is likewise a participle of means (“. . . obey . . . as slaves of Christ . . . by serving with a good attitude . . .”). Obedience with fear and trembling and with a sincere heart is therefore defined as doing the will of God and serving with a good attitude. But why were they to obey? The third participle, εἰδότες, functions as a causal participle. It gives the cause or reason for the obedience (“. . . obey . . . because you know that . . .”). The slaves can obey their earthly masters because they know that the Master will reward them for the good that they do.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling with sincerity from your heart as to Christ, not for the purpose of eye-service as people-pleasers but as slaves of Christ, by doing the will of God wholeheartedly, by serving as slaves with a good attitude as to the Lord and not to men, because you know that each one, if what he does is good, will receive the same from the Lord whether he is a slave or a free person.

Slavery in America is not very common, if it exists at all. Perhaps prostitutes could be called slaves. In reality, this portion of Ephesians does not have much of a direct application for Americans as did its exhortations for wives, husbands, children, and parents. However, many of us feel like slaves on the job. It is important that when we work for our employers that we obey them as though we are serving Christ. We can respect our employers and obey them with a sincere heart. We do not obey them so as to win favor with men, but so that we can please God. We should not go above and beyond our job description for the mere sake of pleasing our bosses, but instead, we ought to seek to honor Christ in the way we behave and conduct ourselves at work, so that even our job becomes a spiritual activity. We should work with a good attitude, not fulfilling our tasks begrudgingly as though we have to do them, but with a newfound motivation as though we were doing them for the Lord. The Lord has promised to repay us for the good that we do, and therefore we can obey our employers. Be diligent to obey the demands and requests of your jobs. Fill out the forms, file the worksheets, enter the data into the computer, sort products, create spreadsheets, cut the lawns, wash the cars, and flip the burgers as though it were your spiritual act of devotion to Christ. Whatever your task is on the job, do not forget that your labor is ultimately done for Christ, so do it sincerely, wholeheartedly, and with a good attitude, for the job you do while here on earth is not done for men but for the Lord.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:4

Καὶ οἱ πατέρες, μὴ παροργίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν ἀλλὰ ἐκτρέφετε αὐτὰ ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ κυρίου. And fathers, do not provoke your children but raise them up in the discipline and warning of the Lord.

After having instructed children, Paul now instructs fathers. He exhorts the fathers not to provoke their children to anger. Instead, they are to raise them up or nourish them with the discipline and warning of the Lord. This word, παιδείᾳ, “discipline,” refers to instruction regarding responsible living. The other word, νουθεσίᾳ, “warning,” refers to instruction against improper living. Both types of instruction are “of the Lord.” This genitive, κυρίου, is a genitive of quality or an attributive genitive that attributes a quality to the nouns. We can translate it this way: “. . . but raise them up in Christian discipline and admonition.” Fathers are expected to raise up their children with proper Christian instruction, both what they should do and what they should avoid.

And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in Christian discipline and admonition.

Christians are not only to learn about godly living from Sunday school classes, but they are also to learn about godly living in the home. Parents are responsible for passing on Christian instruction as well as pastors. Parents, how are we doing? Are we responsibly and actively training up our children in the way that they should go? Are we teaching our children not only about the forgiveness that God has provided in Jesus, but also of the right way to live? Are we showing our kids what to do and what not to do? Even closer to home, by our own examples, how are we doing? Are our lives setting the right example of what do to and what not to do? For instance, dads, are you loving your wives sacrificially? You are setting the example for your children by how you treat your wives. Be careful to set a good example, for children’s little eyes absorb, learn, and implement their parents actions. It is not enough to tell our children how to live. We also have to practice what we preach, for our actions take part in instructing our kids.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:2-3

τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐντολὴ πρώτη ἐν ἐπαγγελίᾳ, ἵνα εὖ σοι γένηται καὶ ἔσῃ μακροχρόνιος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Honor your father and mother, which is the first command in a promise, that it might be good to you and you will be long-lived upon the earth.

Paul qualifies his instruction for children to obey their parents with this quotation from the Septuagint. He is quoting Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16. However, the quotation is not exact. The last clause, καὶ ἔσῃ μακροχρόνιος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, is more of a summary and does not quote the Scriptures verbatim. In any case, Paul is drawing on the authority of Scripture to qualify his instruction. Scripture teaches children to honor their parents. Obedience and honor are therefore synonymous for Paul. A son that obeys his mother is also honoring her. Paul adds his own commentary amidst the quotation with these words: “. . . which is the first command with a promise, . . .” There is a benefit to honoring one’s own parents. God has made a promise to those who honor their parents. Those who honor their parents do so for the purpose that their lives will be well and that they will live a long life upon the earth. A lifestyle of dishonor, constant disobedience, to the parents was punishable by death (Deut. 21:18-21). God was concerned with purging evil from the people in Deuteronomy. Dishonor was punished. Honor was rewarded. He had a behavioral economy set in place to help motivate their actions. By mentioning that the command for children to honor their parents was the first command with a promise, Paul is effectively emphasizing the benefit of the command. God has promised blessings, not curses, for those who honor their parents.

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first command with a promise, “in order that it might be well with you and you might live a long life upon the earth.”

When God gives us instructions, it is not to spoil the party. God instructs us for our own benefit. By following what he has commanded us to do, we are placing ourselves into God’s blessings. Likewise, children who obey God’s command, to honor their parents, place themselves under God’s blessings. It’s for their own benefit. Life will go well when they obey. They can avoid being grounded. They can avoid harming themselves. They can receive full rewards for their obedience, such as fulfilling chores. But when they disobey, they can hurt themselves, they can be punished by being grounded, or losing some of their weekly pay for not doing their chores as they were instructed. If they are not keeping their parents happy, then their life will likewise be distraught. It is a reciprocal relationship. God has, in his wisdom, stated that it will be well for children who honor their parents, and has promised that they will live long upon the earth. It is simply in the children’s best interests to obey their parents.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:1

Τὰ τέκνα, ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεῦσιν ὑμῶν ἐν κυρίῳ· τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν δίκαιον. Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.

After having addressed the marriage relationship in light of the instruction for all believers to submit to one another, Paul turns to the child and parent relationship next. He addresses the children first. He instructs the children to obey their parents. This word, ὑπακούετε, “you obey,” is somewhat synonymous with submission, but it bears the idea of willful obedience to requests more so than it does willfully placing oneself under someone else. Nonetheless, willful obedience implies willful submission.

Note the textual variant here. The prepositional phrase, ἐν κυρίῳ, “in the Lord,” is omitted by several witnesses (B, F, G, b, the original hand of D, Cyprian, Ambrosiaster, and apparently Marcion according to Tertullian). However, this phrase is included by the rest of the textual witnesses (Papyrus 46, א, A, 33, 1739, the first corrector of D, the Majority Text, the Vulgate, and the entire Armenian, Syriac, and Coptic traditions are some of these witnesses). If Marcion’s reading is correct, then the earliest support omits the phrase. But Papyrus 46 is not far behind Marcion, and it includes the phrase. If it was not part of the original text, it is easy to see why it would be added. Both wives and slaves are instructed to submit or obey “as to the Lord” or “as to Christ.” For stylistic reasons, it would have been tempting to add in something similar to these phrases regarding the instruction for children to obey, if the phrase was originally omitted. However, if it was added in at a later date for stylistic reasons, why not then use a similar formula (ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ/Χριστῷ)? The prepositional phrase in question in Eph. 6:1 does not bear a striking stylistic connection as it is a different construction. Why then is it there if it does not bear a striking similarity with the other constructions? In all likelihood, it is probably original. It does have early support, it has widest support, and the phrase itself is not inconsistent with the style of Ephesians. Since the explanation that it was added later is not satisfactory, and given the other factors previously mentioned, we can accept the prepositional phrase to be the original reading.

Just as wives were instructed to willfully submit as to the Lord, i.e., in service to the Lord, so also are children instructed to willfully obey in the Lord. Children’s service to the Lord is seen in their obedience to their parents. Paul adds that this obedience is right, meaning that it is the fulfillment of certain legal or social obligations (“lawful,” “just,” or “right”).

Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.

It’s important that children learn to obey their parents. It is a social obligation. If children are unruly in the home, they will likewise be unruly in public. But from a religious perspective, their obedience is essential, for it is part of their service to Christ. They can serve Christ by obeying their parents. When their parents make requests of them, they should listen to the request and then do as requested. This action should not be done with a sour attitude. It is an opportunity to serve Christ, and therefore it ought to be done with a cheerful heart! Doing household chores, following quick instructions in public, even following a parent’s discipline are all examples not simply of obedience but also of service, for to obey one’s parents is to serve Christ. What an opportunity!

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 5:33

πλὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς οἱ καθ᾽ ἕνα, ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως ἀγαπάτω ὡς ἑαυτόν, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φοβῆται τὸν ἄνδρα. Nevertheless, also, you each one, let each so love his own wife as himself, but the wife in order to fear the husband.

Paul now gives a short restatement of his exhortations to both the husbands and the wives. He begins with πλὴν. This word is functioning to break the current argument in order to give what is important. It is not contrasting what came before it. Therefore, we can simply translate it as “Now.” The next word, καὶ, is not functioning as a coordinating conjunction. Instead, it is simply marking additional content. In this way, Paul begins his summary statement with these words: “Now also, . . .” The next phrase is quite intriguing.

“. . . you each one, let each . . .” is a very rough translation of the Greek text. The location of the comma between ἕνα and ἕκαστος is confusing. Why does the article follow ὑμεῖς? What is κατά doing in the phrase (i.e., how is it functioning)? The phrase emphasizes the group, ὑμεῖς, “you,” by placing it first. The preposition, κατά, “each,” is functioning distributively here. We can therefore translate καθ᾽ ἕνα as “individually.” Furthermore, the article preceding κατά is not only referencing back to ὑμεῖς but it is also part of the distributive phrase, καθ᾽ ἕνα. We should take the article with the distributive phrase while realizing that it links the phrase as a reference to ὑμεῖς (literally, “. . . you, the ones individually, . . .”). But what do we make of ἕκαστος? There is normally an emphatic force with κατά + εἶς + ἕκαστος. However, this force comes only when we have matching cases. In this instance, we have an accusative, ἕνα, plus a nominative, ἕκαστος. These words cannot be understood together as an emphatic distributive phrase. Instead, they are separate. Paul starts with the group, transitions focus to the individual, and then instructs every individual. If we were to translate this phrase literally, it would be given this way: “. . . you, the ones individually, let each one . . .” But this translation is awkward. If we understand the phrase idiomatically with a special emphasis on the group, we can translate it with these words: “. . . let each one of you . . .” The subject of the text is in fact the group, but Paul is singling out every individual in that group all at once with the same instruction.

Paul instructs the husband to love his wife as himself. We have here a οὕτως . . . ὡς . . . construction. In what way will the husband love his wife? The answer is, “as himself.” It is understood that they all love themselves. Now they need to love their wives as themselves as well.

Paul then instructs the individual wife. Paul uses a ἵνα + subjunctive clause. This clause is not marking purpose, but instead, it is a subjunctive clause bearing the force of a command. Therefore, we should translate it, “. . . but let the wife fear the husband.” The article preceding ἄνδρα implies possession, so we can translate it as “her husband.” The wife is not to fear the husband in the sense that she fears for her life. Instead, this command bears the idea of reverence and respect, and it calls to mind the submission of Eph. 5:21. Wives are being commanded to respect their husbands, which implies voluntary submission.

Now also, let each one of you love his own wife as himself, but let the wife respect her husband.

Every husband has been instructed to love his own wife as himself. Wives have been instructed to respect their husbands. In truth, the act of the husband loving his wife and the wife respecting her husband is a prime example of the call for believers to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. It is part of one’s Christian duty. We are to live in such a way that we please God with our actions. One of the things that is expected of us is mutual submission. We do this not because we owe it to each other, but because we want to serve and honor Christ. To submit to someone else is to serve Christ. Therefore, such submission bears a great responsibility. Husbands are called to love their wives as themselves. Leviticus 19:18 rings loud and clear, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In the husband’s case, his wife is his neighbor. But the wife is to respect her husband. She actively chooses to place herself under her husband’s authority. This choice is done of her own accord, but out of service to Christ. We need to realize that the way we live and interact with each other has a significant place in our relationship to God and with Christ. We should put our actions to the test, making sure that all that we do is pleasing to God, even in our own marriages.