New Defender's Study Bible Notes
6:2 Honour thy father and mother. Paul here implicitly endorses all ten of God’s commandments to Israel, applying them to Christians as well as Jews. The fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) is actually the only commandment accompanied by a specific earthly promise. Obedience and honor to those who gave them birth and life is regarded as a virtue among all nations and religions; how much more should this be true in the case of children whose parents have led them into spiritual birth and life as well!
6:4 nurture and admonition. “Nurture” (Greek paideia) is the same as “chastening” in Hebrews 12:5,7, and “instruction” in II Timothy 3:16. It has particular reference to child-training, carried out with both firmness and gentleness as needed in each particular case. “Admonition” (Greek nouthesia) means literally “putting in mind”; thus “admonition of the Lord” implies teaching the Lord’s ways through His Word. Note that both—instruction through actions and instruction through verbal teaching—are primarily the responsibility of the father, although others (especially the mother—note, e.g., Proverbs 1:8) may be called upon by him to participate in the child-training activities. It is significant that the first reference in the Bible to teaching has to do with Abraham’s responsibility to bring up his own son in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Genesis 18:19).
6:5 Servants. See also the similar passage in Colossians 3:22-25. The “servants” here are actually “bond-servants” or “slaves.” Although the institution of slavery seems repugnant to us today, and certainly inconsistent with Christian ideals, it was a basic part of social order in the ancient world, impossible to eliminate without a revolutionary overturning of the entire society. Consequently, neither Paul nor the other apostles nor even Jesus Himself ever argued against it. Rather they urged true Christian behavior on the part of both master and slave, and eventually these principles would change society itself, as an indirect effect.
6:5 trembling. This is an idiomatic expression indicating serious recognition of the importance of a given responsibility, used by Paul of his own attitude in preaching the gospel (I Corinthians 2:3).
6:8 whatsoever good thing. One’s lot in this life, whether high or low, is merely a preparation for eternity. “Neither is there respect of persons” with God (Ephesians 6:9), and our position then is determined by faithfulness now, not eminence. Paul himself could say: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
6:11 wiles. The word “wiles” is equivalent to “strategy.” The devil is “the god of this world,” the one that “deceiveth the whole world” (II Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). He can appear as “an angel of light” and yet is “a roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour” (II Corinthians 11:14; I Peter 5:8). In our own strength, we are no match for him at all. Not even the archangel Michael could rebuke him on his own (Jude 9). We can only stand against him if we are “strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10) and wear “the whole armour of God.” We need not be “ignorant of his devices” (II Corinthians 2:11), the very first of which (and still the most effective) is to cause us to doubt God’s Word (Genesis 3:1, 4) and then to disobey it (Genesis 3:5-6). That he has been extremely successful with this device is evident, considering especially the modern widespread distortion of its foundation in the Genesis record of creation and earth history, followed by wholesale rebellion against all God’s commandments and finally by the rejection of His great love in the sacrifice of His Son.
6:12 darkness of this world. The curtain of the invisible is slightly opened here to give us a brief glimpse of the tremendous spiritual forces arrayed against the people of God. God created “an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22), and apparently at least a third of this host of created spirits have followed Satan in his long war against God and His people (Revelation 12:4,7). These are organized into a great hierarchy of principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world. We dare not be without God’s whole armor when wrestling against such powers. Nevertheless, “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” and “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (I John 4:4; II Kings 6:16). If we, using God’s armor, “resist the devil,” then he and all his minions “will flee from” us (James 4:7).
6:14 truth. The “whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11,13) involves seven units, all of which are vital if we are to prevail lastingly in the spiritual conflict with the great enemy of our souls. We must, first of all, be strongly girded about with truth—that is, the Word of God, and all its counsel (John 17:17; Acts 20:27)—if we hope to stand against the father of lies (John 8:44).
6:14 righteousness. The “breastplate of righteousness,” protecting the heart and lungs which provide life and breath to carry on the fight does not refer to personal righteous behavior (always imperfect at best) but His righteousness, imputed to us and in us (I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21) through faith by grace and thus eternally impregnable.
6:15 peace. The feet also must be prepared, shod with footgear able to move quickly and as far as the gospel requires. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15). Satan would bring doubt and rebellion and death, but the whole gospel, from creation to redemption to consummation, brings assurance and peace and life.
6:16 shield of faith. The Roman shield was metallic and thus invulnerable to the ignited missiles often fired by opponents, especially when the entire phalanx mounted shield adjacent to shield, giving a solid wall of advancing metal. The shield is faith, and faith in God’s promises is “the victory that overcometh the world,” especially that promise that the Creator, the Son of God, has also become, in Jesus Christ, our eternal Savior and Lord (I John 5:4-5).
6:17 helmet of salvation. This helmet is called “the hope of salvation” in I Thessalonians 5:8, and such a hope is, indeed, a hope involving “full assurance…unto the end” (Hebrews 6:11). Salvation involves an eternal future salvation as well as a past acceptance and present assurance thereof. It is that certain hope that protects the believer’s mind as he would, in this spiritual warfare, seek continually to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5).
6:17 word of God. The “sword of the Spirit” (note Hebrews 4:12) is not the logos (that is, the Word as a whole) but the rhema (that is, the individual text, or “saying,” of the Word) that is applicable in each particular situation and Satanic attack. Thus Jesus defeated Satan at each temptation merely by citing the appropriate Scripture (Matthew 4:4,7,10).
6:18 Praying always. Persevering prayer, not just for personal deliverance, but also in supplication for others, is the invisible, but powerful, weapon that assures that God Himself, with His angels, is also fighting for us.
6:19 mystery. Once again (see also Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-4,9; 5:32), as he closes the epistle, Paul speaks of that past mystery hidden in God since creation, which he now wants boldly to make fully known.