Lesson 12: "Wives, husbands, children, fathers, servant, masters put on the whole armour of God."
Paul's Prison Epistles. This is lesson #12. In the last verse that we covered (Eph. 5:21), Paul said: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." In the next verse that follows (v.22), where we begin in this lesson, Paul continued with the idea of submission. V.22 began with: "Wives, submit yourselves..." Notice the verb:? that Paul used on down the page: "husbands, LOVE your wives" (v.25); "Children, OBEY your parents" (6:1); "servants, BE OBEDIENT..." (6:5); and "ye masters [i.e. slave owners], DO THE SAME things ..." (6:9), i.e. submit, love, and obey. Now, with that outline in mind, let's read! Beginning in 5:22...we'll read the rest of ch. 5. down through v.33. Are you ready? Beginning in v.22. Here we go: "Wives, sub- mit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Several years ago in Fort Lauderdale, FL I was sick one Sunday morning and not up to preaching. An elderly black brother, named: Glover Tucker, of that congregation, preached in my place. I have wished many times I would have recorded Bro. Tucker lesson, or at least taken some notes. He did a marvelous job of showing that for every step in temporal marriage, there is a corresponding step in the spiritual union between Christ and his church. For example, in marriage a man and a woman must first be introduced. They learn about each other and this usually leads into a period of courtship where they develop faith in each other and learn to trust and love each other. This is followed by an engagement period in which commitments are carefully considered and arrangements are made for the marriage ceremony. Yet, at this stage, they are still not married. If the man should die for example: the woman is not a widow. Likewise, she would not inherit his estate. Then, it finally comes down to that moment of saying "I do" and they are pronounced husband and wife. At that moment, the marriage is consummated, we say. All legal relationships change, they become husband and wife and the woman henceforth wears the name of her husband. Likewise, to become a Christian and to be united with Christ, one must first be introduced to Christ through the gospel. If and when they develop faith in Jesus, they still are not a Christian; contrary to what some denominations teach. They still ' cannot legally and legitimately wear Christ's name. If the relationship proceeds until they decide to commit their life to Christ (the Bible term for this is repentance), they still are not a legal heir. It is only after one is willing to speak out and say I do, i.e. tell others, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God," and to be baptized into Christ, following the example of Philip and the Eunuch in Acts 8:37 and Gal. 3:27 that this spiritual union is consummated. Bro. Tucker, very skillfully, developed this comparison into a fullblown sermon covering many steps that I have left out and many I have forgotten. However, there is an amazingly beautiful comparison here between marriage and becoming a Christian in every detail. Jesus alluded to this relationship and comparison many times, e.g. Matt. ch. 22, the parable of the Marriage Feast and in Matt. 25, the parable of the Ten Virgins. This figure is used other places and it occurs in the book of Revelation, take a glance at Rev. 19:9-10.
Paul (in 5:22-33, the verses we just read), does not cover the aspect of becoming a Christian and how the steps in temporal marriage compare as Bro. Tucker outlined. Although, "the washing of water" idea down in v. 26 is a reference to baptism, the consummating act in becoming a Christian; just like the marriage ceremony is the consummating act in temporal marriage. The Bible teaches that a husband and wife become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). As members of Christ's body, or the church, the same sort of bonding takes place when we are baptized into Christ (study v.30-31 here just a moment!). The church has no saving power without Jesus; just as a wife cannot bear children without the mating powers of her husband. The apostle Paul, HOWEVER, here in these verses (v.22-33), concerns himself PRIMARILY with the submission-duty idea after one becomes a Christian, i.e. as a wife would (or should) submit to her husband after the marriage union has been consummated. However, the submission-duty idea (here) is applied to all classes of Christian people (really), namely: wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves AND slave-masters. Don't miss this: Paul is discussing the church. This point, he drives home (in v.32). Marriage, as Paul discussed it in these passages, is used as an illustration (really) to describe the church and the church's relationship to Jesus Christ, the bridegroom. This is consistent with John the Baptist's illustration (John 3:29) and John was the first to apply this marriage illustration in the N.T. (to my knowledge). Nevertheless, you must realize Paul is doing a sort of double-barreled brush stroke in the portrait he is here painting. By that I mean: what Paul said here about marriage is true, and thus, God's standard with reference to marriage instruction to husbands and wives. However, his primary purpose here was to teach the Ephesian Christians (and us) HOW to go about "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" as Paul stated the principle (up in v.21). Thus, Paul saw a perfect correlation between Christian duty and marriage duty (a parallel, if you will). The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church (v.23). The church is subject to Christ as a wife is subject to her husband (v.24). Christ's relationship to the church serves as an example to husbands as to how a husband should treat and love his wife (v.25). Christians usually come in the form of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers or children; thus, there is much information coded into these verses as to the way Christians are to submit to each other (the idea back in v.21); as well as, the way we are to conduct ourselves as husbands, wives, children, etc. And don't miss Paul's statement in v.27 about the church being a glorious thing and it should be without spot, wrinkle or blemish. The church is a magnificent thing in the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's builder makes the church great (Matt. 16:18). Jesus paid a great price for the church (Acts 20:28). The church is built upon a strong foundation (Eph. 2:20). The mission of the church is also astounding (Luke 19:10 and Acts 2:47). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15). The church will continue with life eternal (Matt. 25:46, Rev. 22:5). The church is made up of people, sinful people, who have been freed from sin (Rom. 6:7). The only imperfections in the church come from the human element. We are subject to temptation and sin as long as we are human. This is a very interesting section and a most instructive passage and I recommend you re-read it and study it, study it, study it. However, to save time, I'm going to leave these probing analysis to you. Let's read v.1-9 in ch. 6, are you ready? Beginning in 6:1, let's read! "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forebearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."
You recognize, of course, this section was addressed to others in the Ephesian congregation, i.e. children, fathers, mothers, servants and slave-masters. Keep in mind also, the H.S. has preserved this instruction for our benefit. First off, connect this section back to 5:21, where the apostle said: "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Or, to put it in Paul's words back in 4:1, "walk worthy." Or, we might say it like this, very simply: be serious. Serve the Lord with all seriousness. You see, it goes back to that: inner-man principle, we have discussed before. Paul's words in v.6 (here) is simply a paraphrase of that principle: "doing the will of God from the heart...as to the Lord, and not to men..." (v.7). Like the passages before this, there is really not much I can say to help you with this. It is pretty straight forward material. So, I'm going to leave it with you and move on to v. 10-20. This contain's Paul's illustration. Let's read v.10-20. Are you ready?
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
If you'll take a moment to think about the circumstances, Paul's illustration is very natural. Paul was an ambassador for Christ. We usually think of ambassadors as persons with great power and great freedom. Yet, Paul as he wrote these things to the Ephesian brethren was in bonds (v.20), i.e. he was connected to a chain that was in turn connected to a Roman soldier. Those soldiers were very zealous, very punctual, and very dedicated to their commander and to their government. As those soldiers changed shifts, they undoubtedly came in full uniform with boots, breastplate, helmet and a shield, carrying a spear and with a heavy sword dangling at their side. As Paul watched the changing of the guard, he must have thought to himself: I wish my brethren were as meticulous and as committed and dedicated as Nero's soldiers are. Thus, Paul taunted his brethren (and us) as he continued to write: "put on the whole armor of God..." (v.11 and v.13). What does that mean? Brethren be dedicated! equip yourselves! Take a lesson from the soldiers. Put some real effort into serving King Jesus. Can you imagine a soldier without shoes? A tender-foot exposed to nails and barbed wire? Yet, how equipped are you "with the preparation of the gospel of peace?" (v.15). Does every wind and denominational doctrine upset you, and disorient you, spiritually? Are you able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one? (v.16). Those soldiers wore breastplates, some kind of thick and tough insulation over their chest. I suppose the counter part to what we know as the bulletproof vest. Their head was protected by a heavy helmet and they carried a shield, a piece of equipment that looked something like a heavy garbage-can-lid with the handle on the inside. This thing had the capability of stopping a deadly arrow. The Romans did not know the power of the atomic bomb. Gun powder had not been invented. There were no cannons, gatling guns or machine guns in the arsenal of the Romans. The most powerful weapon they knew was the bow and arrow or what we call archery equipment. However, mankind has always been very able, competent and inventive when it comes to weapons of warfare. For example, the Romans treated their arrows with deadly poisons that would kill their victim even if the arrow-wound didn't. Some arrows carried a burning wick that would start a fire if the arrow landed in combustible materials like straw. For example, Jesus said: "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." (Luke 16:8). Isn't it amazing how much more zealous my fellow citizens are with police matters, insurance and national defense than they are when it comes to spiritual matters? Attendance, Bible study, worship and spiritual preparation is back burner stuff. Can you see Paul's concern? There's a great lesson here. Paul said to Timothy, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." (II Tim. 2:4). But again, I leave itwith you. Let's read v.21- 24. Please read with me! Paul closed this letter with these words:
"But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." We talked about Tychicus before. He undoubtedly carried this letter from Rome to Ephesus. As the elders at Ephesus read this letter, they must have again "wept sore" as Luke described their actions in Acts 20:37 and they must have wished they could again embrace the old apostle, then in bonds. That last phrase: "in sincerity" (v.24) must have caused a self-examining resolve to settle over those elders. It gets to me. What about you? We'll begin the book of Philippi in lesson #13. Have a good day