Ephesians

 

Ephesians 6:1-4

Children and Parents

­It is obvious from the different groups that Paul addresses in this section that he expects that local churches will be a place where whole families come together not only to praise God, but to hear His word taught.
­1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
­Here Paul gives a command to Christian children:
­obey your parents in the Lord
­He then gives the reason why they are to obey:
­for this is right
­He then gives two benefits of obeying based on Exodus 20:4-6:
­that it may go well with you
­that you may enjoy long life on the earth

 

­In the ancient world, children were expected to obey their parents.
­In other passages, the Bible lists children who disobey their parents with:
­Rebellious sinners who under the wrath of God (Rom 1:30)
­Evil people in the last days whom we should have nothing to do with (2 Tim 3:2)

in the Lord

­The obedience of a Christian son or daughter to their parents is a part of their obedience to Christ.

 for this is right

­Paul reminds us that it is fitting or right for children to obey their parents.
­In Colossians he puts it this way: Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
­2 "Honor your father and mother"-- which is the first commandment with a promise--
­Therefore Paul reinstitutes the OT command to honor our father and mother but generalizes it to apply to children in the New Covenant.

Honoring Father and Mother in the OT

­Exodus 21:15,17 - Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death… Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.
­Deuteronomy 27:16 - "Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother.”
­Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him,  his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.  They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard."  Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
­Notice that children honor their parents by obeying them.
­Notice also that father and mother both are to be honored.
­When children become adults, leave home and/or marry obedience is no longer required (Gen 2:24 cf. Mark 3:21,31-35)
­As adults we are still responsible to honor our parents, but we do it in other ways.

Honoring Father and Mother as Adults

­John 19:25-27 – Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother... When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son,"  and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
­Matthew 15:3-5 –  Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'  But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’”
­1 Timothy 5:4,8 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God…If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
which is the first commandment with a promise--
­Paul draws our attention to the blessings that come to children who obey their parents by pointing out that when the command was first given, it was the first (in fact only) commandment that had a promised blessing associated with.
­3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
­The OT promise of blessing said that the children would live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12). Paul upgrades the language for NT children.
­Children who habitually obey their parents will be benefit from their obedience in that they will tend to live better and live longer.
­4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
­Paul follows the same pattern used throughout this section:
­First he addresses those who are to submit – children
­Then the ones in authority – fathers
­Though the children are told to obey and honor both parents, Paul instructs only the fathers here – because it is fathers who have the ultimate responsibility for the family.
­In the society which Paul is addressing (both Romans and Hellenistic Jews), fathers had almost unlimited authority over their children.
­Paul says nothing about this authority, but instead spells out the father’s duties towards his children.

 

Fathers, do not exasperate your children
­Paul begins with a negative command – fathers are urged to avoid those attitudes, words, and actions which would provoke their children to anger.
­Paul has already expressed his concern about anger among God’s people and how Satan can use it for his own ends. (Eph 4:26-27,31)
­“Effectively, the apostle is ruling out excessively severe discipline, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, unfairness, constant nagging, subjecting a child to humiliation, and all forms of gross insensibilities to a child’s needs and sensibilities.” (O’Brien, p.446)
bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord
­Paul then gives a contrasting positive command: fathers are to bring them up or “nurture” them (cf. Eph 5:29) in:
­training = education, training, discipline,  punishment, correction
­instruction = counsel, admonition, correction warning
­of the Lord = fathers are acting as agents of the Lord as they do this important work

Training and Discipline

­Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
­Hebrews 12:7-9 – For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.
­Proverbs 22:15 – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
­Proverbs 23:13-14 – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
­Proverbs 13:24 – He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
­Proverbs 29:15 – The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

 

Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves and Masters

Introduction:

­Paul now addresses the third group who, through the filling of the Spirit, submit to those in authority: slaves to masters.

­Though slavery has been outlawed in our society, in Paul’s day it was an established institution.

­Paul neither condemns nor condones slavery as an institution, but instructs those within it how they should conduct themselves.

­But in another place Paul does instruct believers to avoid becoming slaves:

­1 Corinthians 7:23 – You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
­Furthermore Paul encourages slaves who have opportunity to be free, to do so:
­1 Corinthians 7:21 – Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you-- although if you can gain your freedom, do so.
­Paul also condemns those who kidnap other men in order to sell them into slavery:
­1 Timothy 1:9-11 – We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders [NASB – kidnappers] and liars and perjurers-- and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine...

Differences between Slavery in Paul’s Day and Early American Slavery

­Race or skin color was not a factor – slaves in Paul’s day were of various nationalities.
­Slaves belonged to a variety of social classes – it was usually impossible to distinguish between slaves and free men outwardly.
­Slaves could own property including other slaves!
­Free men could and frequently did voluntarily sell themselves into slavery to gain certain advantages.
­Slaves could become highly trained and educated as slaves.
­Slaves could eventually become free and even be granted Roman citizenship. Nearly half of all slaves were freed before their 30th birthday.

Similarities between Slavery in Paul’s Day and Early American Slavery

­The treatment of slaves depended to a great degree on the owners
­There were many cases where slaves were treated with great cruelty.
­On the other hand there were many masters who treated their slaves well.
­There was very little legal protection for slaves.

OT Slavery as Regulated by the Law of Moses

­The Law of Moses allowed for the ownership of slaves under certain circumstances, but provided them legal protection.
­Kidnapping a free person to make him a slave was punishable by death (Ex. 21:16, Deut 24:7)
­The Law of Moses allowed Israelites to buy foreign slaves (Lev. 25:44ff)
­A thief who was caught stealing but could not make restitution could be sold into slavery to pay for his theft. (Ex 22:3b)
­An Israelite could sell (or be forced to sell) himself, his wife, or his children into slavery to pay off his debt –  but Israelite slaves were to be freed after six years (Ex. 21:2ff; 2 Kings 4:1ff)  or on the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:40) and be given start up capital (Deut 15:14).
­An Israelite slave could also be redeemed from slavery by relatives (Lev 25:48ff)
­If a master permanently injured a slave (e.g. loss of an eye or tooth) the slave was to be immediately released (Ex. 21:26ff).
­Masters were prohibited from forcing a slave to separate from his wife and children (Ex 21:3-6).
­An Israelite had the option of becoming a permanent slave if he decided that it was in his best interest to do so (Ex 21:6; Deut 15:17)

 

­5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 
­The application of this passage to contemporary times must be done with caution – Paul was writing specifically for a society where slavery was a legal institution.

­However there are a number of principles from the passage that can be applied to employer/employee relationships.

Summary of Paul's Teaching to Slaves in vss. 5-8:

­A slave’s (or employee’s) obedience should be:
­With the same fear and sincerity you give to Christ
­Not just for show, when people are looking
­Doing God’s will from the heart
­Wholehearted, as one serving the Lord, not men
­The motivation for this kind of service is that the Lord will reward us!
Slaves, obey your earthly masters
­Just as family members sit side by side in the local church as fellow worshippers and heirs of Christ – so also do slaves and masters.
­masters = “lords” – our service and obedience to “earthly ” lords is a temporary service that is a part of our service and obedience to our ultimate and final Lord
 with respect and fear... just as you would obey Christ
­respect and fear = literally, “fear and trembling” (cf. Phil 2:12)
­These terms are often used to describe the fear and awe that humans experience in the presence of God (Ex. 15:16; Ps. 2:11) .
­While earthly masters (or bosses) may try to motivate us by fear of them – our fear of them should be the fear of displeasing Christ.
with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ
­heart = our inner most being, our inner motives
­sincerity =  simplicity, purity of motive, sincerity, integrity
­“Slaves are to obey their masters in singleness of heart… They are not to pretend to labor while actually loitering. They should give undivided attention and effort to the task at hand.” (Hoehner, pp.807-8)
 just as you would obey Christ
­“The performance of [our] earthly tasks is related to His rule over our lives. Ultimately the distinction between sacred and secular breaks down. Any and every task, however menial, falls within the sphere of His lordship and is done in order to please Him.” (O’Brien, p.450)
­1 Corinthians 10:31 –  whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
­6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 
­Paul further elaborates on the importance of slaves (employees) serving with integrity.
­Negatively: we are not to do things that are just designed to impress the boss, but leave things undone that should have been done.
­Positively: we are in reality, Christ’s slaves and should therefore serve Him from the heart.
­7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men
­For a third time Paul reminds us that as we serve other men, we are really serving Christ:
Verse 5: ...just as you would obey Christ.

Verse 6: ... like slaves of Christ 

Verse 7: ... serving the Lord, not men

­8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
­As Paul gives slaves incentive for obeying their masters, he reminds us of a principle that applies to all of us: God sees what we are doing (as well as our heart) and will reward us accordingly.
­Colossians 3:23-25 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
­Our earthly masters (bosses) may:
­Fail to notice our faithful service
­Fail to reward us for good service
­Fail to follow through on promised rewards
­But we have a heavenly Master who will never fail us!
­9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
­Paul now addresses the masters (bosses).
­“In what is a shocking exhortation to slave owners in the first-century Graeco-Roman world, the apostle admonishes masters: treat your slaves in the same way” (O’Brien, p.454)
­Like the slaves, the attitudes and actions of the masters are to be governed by their relationship to their heavenly Lord.
Do not threaten them
­“In order to deal with their slaves, owners were known to threaten beatings, sexual harassment, or selling male slaves away from their households …” (O’Brien, p.454)
­Paul commands masters to abandon the use of such threats.
­“This is not to suggest that slaves could not be warned of punishment if they did wrong.” (O’Brien, p.454)
­Most likely what Paul is commanding here is that masters treat their slaves with integrity and goodwill and avoid manipulating, demeaning , or terrifying them as unbelieving masters were known to do.
since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
­Paul gives two motivations for masters to be kind to their slaves. He reminds them that:
­Though they serve as masters on earth, they are fellow slaves of the same Master in heaven!
­That heavenly Master is fair and impartial and will not show any favoritism to masters or anyone else.

Ephesians 6:10-17

Spiritual Warfare

Introduction:

­In this final major section of Ephesians:
­Paul “pulls back the curtain” to show that the struggles that we face in this life are a part of a larger cosmic conflict involving spiritual beings who are far stronger and smarter than we are.
­Paul therefore urges us to put on the armor worn by the Lord of Hosts Himself which He has graciously provided for our use!
­This is not the first time that Paul has talked about these spiritual beings in this letter:
­1:20-21 – Christ [is] far above all rule and authority, power and dominion
­2:2 – the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
­3:10 – rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms
­4:27 – do not give the devil a foothold

Angels and Demons

­There are two categories of powerful spiritual beings who operate in the world:
­Angels
­Created Beings (Ps 148:2-5; Col 1:16)
­Worship and Serve God (Isaiah 6:3; Heb 1:6; Rev 7:11)
­Interested Observers of God’s Work in Heaven and on Earth (Job 38:7; 1 Cor. 11:10; Eph 3:10; 1Pet 1:12)
­Act as God’s Messengers (Gen 19:1; Dan 10:12-13; Luke 1:11)
­Act as God’s Ministers to Men (1 Kings 19:5; Dan 3:28; 6:22; Heb 1:14)
­Carry Out God’s Judgments (2 Sam 24:16; Rev 14:19)
­Demons
­Fallen Angels (Rev 12:3-9; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6)
­Under Satan’s Authority (Mat 12:24; 25:41; Eph 2:2; Rev 12:9)
­Hostile to God
­Behind the Worship of False gods and Practice of the Occult (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; Act 19:13-27; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rev 9:20)
­Seek to Control and Destroy Men (Mark 1:23-27; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29; Mat 9:32-34; 12:22-24; Luke 13:11; Acts 19:13-16)
­Glimpses of the Conflict Between Angels and Demons:
­Angel speaking to Daniel: "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12-13)
­But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!“ (Jude 1:9)
­And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.  (Revelation 12:7-9)

Satan (i.e. the Devil)

­Known by various names:
­Revelation 12:9 – The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil (“accuser”), or Satan (“adversary”)
­Beelzebub (“lord of the flies”) (Mat 12:24)
­The ruler of this world (John 12:31)
­The god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4)
­The prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2)
­The evil one (Mat 13:19; 1 John 3:2)
­Head of the Evil Demonic Forces
­The Originator of Sin (1 John 3:8 cf. Gen 3:1-6)
­Opposes God and Seeks to Destroy His Work
­Under God’s Sovereign Control (Job 1:12; 2:6)
­Seeks to harm and corrupt God’s image bearers (human beings) in every way possible
­Tactics:
­Tempting and Influencing Men to Sin (Gen 3:1-6; Mat 4:1-11)
­Lies and Deception (John 8:44; Rev 12:9)
­Murder, Theft, and Destruction (John 8:44; 10:10)
­Fear of Death (Heb 2:14-15)
­Blinds Men to the Gospel (Mat 13:19; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:24-26)
­Seeks to Destroy the Faith and Effectiveness of God’s People (Mat 16:23; Luke 22:31; 1 Pet 5:8)
­Satan and his demons can use the social, political, and economic structures of our world to accomplish their evil purposes.
­Some scriptural examples:
­Job’s suffering (Job 1-2)
­Paul’s attempts to visit the Thessalonians were blocked “again and again” by Satan  (1Thes 2:18)
­The devil put believers in prison (Rev 2:10)
­Demons sometimes caused illness (Mat 9:32, 12:22, Luke 9:42)
­Men are said to believe heresy as a result of their activity (1Tim 4:1; 1 John 4:1)
­The whole world is said to be under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19)

Jesus’ Triumph Over Satan on the Cross

­[Jesus] says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-- that is, the devil--  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:13b-15)
­When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
­I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)
­10 Finally, be strong [literally, be made strong] in the Lord and in His mighty power.
­The strength we need to fight the powerful enemies that we face requires strength far greater than any of us have.
­Therefore, we must look to the Lord to provide us with the strength that we need.
­The mighty power here is the same power that Paul talked about earlier (1:19-20) that God used to raise Jesus from the dead, sealing  Satan’s doom.
­11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
­Here we see:
­How we are to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power – by putting on the full armor of God.
­Why we need God’s mighty power – so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes.
­The armor of God can be understood as the armor that God supplies.
­At the same time, in light of the description of the armor of the LORD in Isaiah 11:5; 52:7; 57:19 it is important to recognize that the armor given to believers is God’s own.” (O’Brien, p.463)
­Mention of the ‘schemes’ of the devil reminds us of the trickery and subterfuge by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap” (Snodgrass – cited by O’Brien, p.464)
­12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
­Paul explains further why we are going to need God’s mighty armor if we’re going to stand firm.
­Our foe is:
­Supernatural
­Super-Powerful
­Super-Evil
­struggle = a wrestling term, emphasizing the closeness of our struggle with the powers of evil.
­“In this close struggle, hand-to-hand combat is in view not the firing of computer guided missiles from a distance.” (O’Brien, p.466)
­These evil powers operate both in the heavenly realm and on the earth – emphasizing again that our foe is supernatural and to stand against them we will need divine armor.
­13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
­The day of evil here refers to those critical times when we will experience Satan’s attacks.
­“There may appear to be times of reprieve for Christians, but they must not be lulled into a false sense of security thinking that the battle is over or that it is not especially difficult.” (O’Brien, p.472)
­Therefore put on the full armor of God,
­We must not wait until we are under attack before we begin putting on God’s armor – it will be too late then!
­The time to put on God’s armor is now!
­you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
­We are not told to have victory – Christ has already won that for us.
­We are told (three times so far) to stand our ground against the attack – and by God’s grace, wearing God’s armor which God provides we can do that!
­14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
­The idea of a soldier fastening clothing securely around his waist  (with a belt) was to be prepared for vigorous activity – in this case readiness for battle.
­truth as it has been used in the Ephesian letter is a reference to God’s truth, as it is revealed in the Gospel and in His Word (cf. 1:13, 4:15, 21).
­with the breastplate of righteousness in place
­For the Roman soldier, the breastplate was a piece of armor covering the chest to protect it from blows and arrows.
­righteousness as it has been used in the Ephesian letter is a reference to ethical righteousness (cf. 4:24; 5:9) – acting with integrity out of love for Christ.
­15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
­The soldier needed to be outfitted with the proper footwear in order to be ready for battle.
­We must understand and believe the gospel, living it out every day.
­If we do this, then we will not only be able to resist the evil influences of the devil, but we will be ready to carry the attack into enemy territory by proclaiming this good news to others.
­16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
­This was a large shield carried by Roman soldiers which covered the whole person.
­To take the shield of faith is to appropriate the promises of God on our behalf, confident that he will protect us in the midst of the battle.
­Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
­with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
­The large shield carried by Roman soldiers was especially designed to extinguish flaming arrows that were dipped in pitch and lit before they were fired.
­These arrow represent the attacks launched by Satan against God’s people.
­These attacks include every kind of temptation to ungodly behavior as well as persecution and false teaching.
­17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
­With his head protected the Roman soldier felt safe in battle.
­As we live our lives confident that our salvation is secure in Christ, we can feel safe in the midst of our battle with the powers of darkness.
­the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
­The term referred to the short-handled sword which was an important offensive weapon in close combat.
­The sword  of the Spirit is our offensive weapon: the spoken word of God which is to be used in combating the forces of evil.
­It is called the sword of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the author of the Word of God and He is the one who applies it to the hearts of those who hear it.
­For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

(verse 3)

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo, his doom is sure;

One little word shall fell him.

Ephesians 6:18-24

Being Alert in Prayer

Introduction:

­After commanding us to stand our ground in the battle against the powers of darkness fully equipped with the armor that God supplies, Paul now addresses a final critical aspect of our spiritual warfare: communication with our Commander in Chief – otherwise know as prayer.
­Overview of Paul’s Teaching on Prayer:
­General Admonition to Pray (vs. 18)
­Some Specific Requests for Prayer (vss. 19-20)
­Prelude to Informed Prayer – Communication with One Another (vss. 21-22)
­Closing Prayer (Benediction): Peace and Grace (vss. 23-24)
­18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
­in the Spirit – it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can pray as we ought. Such prayer will always be according to what the Spirit desires (as revealed in His Word).
­In another letter, Paul tells us that even on those occasions when we don’t know how we ought to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us and prays according to God’s will on our behalf. (Rom 8:26-27)
­And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
­Paul uses the word all four times as he describes the pervasive role that prayer must play in our lives.
­all occasions – any and every occasion should be viewed as an opportunity for prayer:
­pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
­we constantly pray for you (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
­I constantly remember you in my prayers. (2Timothy 1:3)
­with all kinds of prayers and requests
­The emphasis here is on prayers where we bring our needs and the needs of others before God.
­prayers – can refer to general prayer, though Paul often uses it for prayer offered for others
­requests – has the idea of asking God to fill a need
­be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
­be alert – means to watch for a possible threat
­Because we are in the midst of a spiritual battle, we must not let our guard down and fall into a pattern of prayerlessness.
­Instead we are urged to persistently pray for our fellow believers because they desperately need our prayers as they stand along side us in this battle.
­19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,  20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
­Having instructed them concerning their need to pray for one another, Paul now gives them specific examples of how they can pray for him.

Paul’s Prayers for Other Believers

­Paul has already modeled intercessory prayer for us by revealing his prayers for the Ephesians:
­1:15-23
­He thanks God for their faith and love (vs.15)
­He prays that they might know God better (vs. 17)
­That they might have confident expectation and longing for their heavenly blessings (vs. 18a)
­That they might appreciate the extraordinary value that God places on them as His inheritance (vs. 18b)
­That they might know God’s power in their life – the undoing of death, destruction of sin, triumph over demonic powers –  things which we received in Christ when we were crucified, resurrected and raised with Him. (vs. 19-23)
­3:14-21
­That Christ would strengthen them through His Spirit in their inner being so that He may be more at home in them (vss. 16-17a)
­That they would adequately appreciate the limitless dimensions of Christ’s love for them so that they may attain to spiritual maturity (vss. 17b-19)
­That God would be glorified through the church (vss. 20-21)
­Paul models prayer for us in many of his letters:
­Romans 15:14-33
­Ephesians 1:15-23
­Ephesians 3:14-21
­Philippians 1:9-11
­Colossians 1:9-14
­1 Thessalonians  3:9-13
­2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

Jesus Taught and Modeled Prayer

­Jesus often drew aside to pray, sometimes all night! (Mat 14:23; 26:36ff; Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:32ff; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:28; 22:41; John 17:1)
­Jesus taught us to pray:
­Pray for your enemies (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:28)
­Don’t pray to impress others (Mat 6:5-6; Luke 20:47)
­Don’t pray empty repetitious prayers (Mat 6:7ff)
­The model prayer “Our Father…” (Mat 6:9ff; Luke 11:2ff)
­Forgive others before you pray (Mark 11:25)
­Persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1)
­Jesus prayed for others (Luke 22:32; John 17:9ff)
 
­Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
­Even Paul’s prayer requests are a model of how we should ask others to pray for us.
­Of course, Paul already understands the mystery of the gospel (1:9; 17-23; 3:3-10).
­But like any preacher he recognizes that he is totally dependent on God in order to clearly and courageously communicate the message – as he should.
­21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.  22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
­Here Paul establishes a line of communication with the Ephesians (cf. Col. 4:12) through his companion Tychicus (Acts 20:4; 2Ti 4:12; Tit 3:12).
­If we are to pray in an informed way for one another’s needs, we must communicate those needs.
­23 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
­“Authors in the ancient world usually concluded their letters with a wish for the welfare of their readers. Paul turned this wish for welfare into a benediction type of prayer”. (O’Brien, p.492)
­Thus Paul closes this section on prayer (and the letter itself) with a final prayer to God for his readers.
­Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
­Paul prays that his brothers and sisters experience the peace that comes with having been being reconciled to one another and to God (cf. 2:14-18)
­Earlier in the letter Paul thanked God for the Ephesians' faith and love (1:15). Here he prays that these same qualities continue to characterize them.
­Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
­Throughout the letter Paul has shown that all those in Christ are the recipients of God’s grace (1:6-7; 2:5-8; 4:7).
­So here he prays for God’s grace for all who love our Lord with an undying love – a reminder to the Ephesians and to us of our need to persevere in our love for God.

Questions About Prayer

­If God is sovereign and has already determined the outcome of all things why bother to pray?
­Because God tells us to pray!
­God uses means:
­The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:16b-18)
­Prayer is a process that God uses to change us!
­Why doesn’t God always give us what we ask for in prayer?
­To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
­Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup [the death on the cross that He was about to endure] from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
­Why is it so difficult for us to pray?
­Prayer is spiritual work!
­We don’t really believe that we need prayer or that prayer accomplishes anything.
­How do we overcome this difficulty?
­Set aside regular time for prayer
­Replace anxiety with prayer (1Pet 5:7)
­Confess your lack of faith and ask God for more!

Jesus is our ultimate example in prayer, it is because of His continual intercession that we are saved!

­Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-- more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
­Therefore He [Christ] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)