10. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power
of his might.
10. Quod superest, fratres mei, sitis fortes in Domino, et in robore
11. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil.
11. Induite totam armaturam Dei, ut possitis stare adversus insidias
12. 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.
12. Quia non est nobis lucta adversus carnem et sanguinem, sed adversus
principatus, adversus potestates, adversus mundanos principes tenebrarum
saeculi hujus, adversus spirituales malitias in coelestibus.
13. 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.
13. Quapropter assumite totam armaturam Dei, ut possitis resistere
in die malo, et omnibus peractis stare.
10. Finally. Resuming his general exhortations, he again enjoins
them to be strong, — to summon up courage and vigor; for there is always
much to enfeeble us, and we are ill fitted to resist. But when our weakness
is considered, an exhortation like this would have no effect, unless the
Lord were present, and stretched out his hand to render assistance, or
rather, unless he supplied us with all the power. Paul therefore adds,
in the Lord. As if he had said, “‘You have no right to reply, that you
have not the ability; for all that I require of you is, be strong in the
Lord.” To explain his meaning more fully, he adds, in the power of his
might, which tends greatly to increase our confidence, particularly as
it shews the remarkable assistance which God usually bestows upon believers.
If the Lord aids us by his mighty power, we have no reason to shrink from
the combat. But it will be asked, What purpose did it serve to enjoin the
Ephesians to be strong in the Lord’s mighty power, which they could not
of themselves accomplish? I answer, there are two clauses here which must
be considered. He exhorts them to be courageous, but at the same time reminds
them to ask from God a supply of their own deficiencies, and promises that,
in answer to their prayers, the power of God will be displayed.
11. Put on the whole armor. God has furnished us with various
defensive weapons, provided we do not indolently refuse what is offered.
But we are almost all chargeable with carelessness and hesitation in using
the offered grace; just as if a soldier, about to meet the enemy, should
take his helmet, and neglect his shield. To correct this security, or,
we should rather say, this indolence, Paul borrows a comparison from the
military art, and bids us put on the whole armor of God. We ought to be
prepared on all sides, so as to want nothing. The Lord offers to us arms
for repelling every kind of attack. It remains for us to apply them to
use, and not leave them hanging on the wall. To quicken our vigilance,
he reminds us that we must not only engage in open warfare, but that we
have a crafty and insidious foe to encounter, who frequently lies in ambush;
for such is the import of the apostle’s phrase, THE WILES (ta<v
meqodei>av) of the devil.
12. For we wrestle not. To impress them still more deeply
with their danger, he points out the nature of the enemy, which he illustrates
by a comparative statement, Not against flesh and blood. The meaning is,
that our difficulties are far greater than if we had to fight with men.
There we resist human strength, sword is opposed to sword, man contends
with man, force is met by force, and skill by skill; but here the case
is widely different. All amounts to this, that our enemies are such as
no human power can withstand. By flesh and blood the apostle denotes men,
who are so denominated in order to contrast them with spiritual assailants.
This is no bodily struggle.
Let us remember this when the injurious treatment of others provokes
us to revenge. Our natural disposition would lead us to direct all our
exertions against the men themselves; but this foolish desire will be restrained
by the consideration that the men who annoy us are nothing more than darts
thrown by the hand of Satan. While we are employed in destroying those
darts, we lay ourselves open to be wounded on all sides. To wrestle with
flesh and blood will not only be useless, but highly pernicious. We must
go straight to the enemy, who attacks and wounds us from his concealment,
— who slays before he appears.
But to return to Paul. He describes our enemy as formidable, not to
overwhelm us with fear, but to quicken our diligence and earnestness; for
there is a middle course to be observed. When the enemy is neglected, he
does his utmost to oppress us with sloth, and afterwards disarms us by
terror; so that, ere the engagement has commenced, we are vanquished. By
speaking of the power of the enemy, Paul labors to keep us more on the
alert. He had already called him the devil, but now employs a variety of
epithets, to make the reader understand that this is not an enemy who may
be safely despised.
Against principalities, against powers. Still, his object in
producing alarm is not to fill us with dismay, but to excite us to caution.
He calls them kosmokra>torav, that is, princes of the world; but he explains
himself more fully by adding — of the darkness of the world. The devil
reigns in the world, because the world is nothing else than darkness. Hence
it follows, that the corruption of the world gives way to the kingdom of
the devil; for he could not reside in a pure and upright creature of God,
but all arises from the sinfulness of men. By darkness, it is almost unnecessary
to say, are meant unbelief and ignorance of God, with the consequences
to which they lead. As the whole world is covered with darkness, the devil
is called “the prince of this world.” (John 14:30.)
By calling it wickedness, he denotes the malignity and cruelty of the
devil, and, at the same time, reminds us that the utmost caution is necessary
to prevent him from gaining an advantage. For the same reason, the epithet
spiritual is applied; for, when the enemy is invisible, our danger is greater.
There is emphasis, too, in the phrase, in heavenly places; for the elevated
station from which the attack is made gives us greater trouble and difficulty.
An argument drawn from this passage by the Manicheans, to support their
wild notion of two principles, is easily refuted. They supposed the devil
to be (ajnti>qeon) an antagonist deity, whom the righteous God would not
subdue without great exertion. For Paul does not ascribe to devils a principality,
which they seize without the consent, and maintain in spite of the opposition,
of the Divine Being, — but a principality which, as Scripture everywhere
asserts, God, in righteous judgment, yields to them over the wicked. The
inquiry is, not what power they have in opposition to God, but how far
they ought to excite our alarm, and keep us on our guard. Nor is any countenance
here given to the belief, that the devil has formed, and keeps for himself,
the middle region of the air. Paul does not assign to them a fixed territory,
which they can call their own, but merely intimates that they are engaged
in hostility, and occupy an elevated station.
13. Wherefore take unto you. Though our enemy is so powerful,
Paul does not infer that we must throw away our spears, but that we must
prepare our minds for the battle. A promise of victory is, indeed, involved
in the exhortation, that ye may be able. If we only put on the whole armor
of God, and fight valiantly to the end, we shall certainly stand. On any
other supposition, we would be discouraged by the number and variety of
the contests; and therefore he adds, in the evil day. By this expression
he rouses them from security, bids them prepare themselves for hard, painful,
and dangerous conflicts, and, at the same time, animates them with the
hope of victory; for amidst the greatest dangers they will be safe. And
having done all. They are thus directed to cherish confidence through the
whole course of life. There will be no danger which may not be successfully
met by the power of God; nor will any who, with this assistance, fight
against Satan, fail in the day of battle.
14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and
having on the breastplate of righteousness;
14. State igitur succincti lumbos veritate, et induti thoracem justitiae,
15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
15. Et calceati pedes praeparatione evangelii pacis;
16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be
able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
16. In omnibus assumpto scuto fidei, quo possitis omnia tela maligni
17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God:
17. Et galeam salutaris accipite, et gladium Spiritus, qui est verbum
18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
18. Per omnem precationem et orationem omni tempore precantes in
Spiritu, et in hoc ipsum vigilantes, cum omni assiduitate et deprecatione
pro omnibus sanctis;
19. 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,
19. Et pro me, ut mihi detur sermo in apertione oris mei cum fiducia,
ut patefaciam mysterium evangelii;
20. For which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak
boldly, as I ought to speak.
20. Pro quo legatione fungor in catena; ut confidenter me geram
in eo, quemadmodum oportet me loqui.
14. Stand therefore. Now follows a description of the arms which
they were enjoined to wear. We must not, however, inquire very minutely
into the meaning of each word; for all allusion to military customs is
all that was intended. Nothing can be more idle than the extraordinary
pains which some have taken to discover the reason why righteousness is
made a breastplate, instead of a girdle. Paul’s design was to touch briefly
on the most important points required in a Christian, and to adapt them
to the comparison which he had already used.
Truth, which means sincerity of mind, is compared to a girdle. Now,
a girdle was, in ancient times, one of the most important parts of military
armor. Our attention is thus directed to the fountain of sincerity; for
the purity of the gospel ought to remove from our minds all guile, and
from our hearts all hypocrisy. Secondly, he recommends righteousness, and
desires that it should be a breastplate for protecting the breast. Some
imagine that this refers to a freely bestowed righteousness, or the imputation
of righteousness, by which pardon of sin is obtained. But such matters
ought not, I think, to have been mentioned on the present occasion; for
the subject now under discussion is a blameless life. He enjoins us to
be adorned, first, with integrity, and next with a devout and holy life.
15. And your feet shod. The allusion, if I mistake not, is to
the military greaves; for they were always reckoned a part of the armor,
and were even used for domestic purposes. As soldiers covered their legs
and feet to protect them against cold and other injuries, so we must be
shod with the gospel, if we would pass unhurt through the world. It is
the gospel of peace, and it is so called, as every reader must perceive,
from its effects; for it is the message of our reconciliation to God, and
nothing else gives peace to the conscience. But what is the meaning of
the word preparation? Some explain it as an injunction to be prepared for
the gospel; but it is the effect of the gospel which I consider to be likewise
expressed by this term. We are enjoined to lay aside every hinderance,
and to be prepared both for journey and for war. By nature we dislike exertion,
and want agility. A rough road and many other obstacles retard our progress,
and we are discouraged by the smallest annoyance. On these accounts, Paul
holds out the gospel as the fittest means for undertaking and performing
the expedition. Erasmus proposes a circumlocution, (ut sitis parati,) that
ye may be prepared; but this does not appear to convey the true meaning.
16. Taking the shield of faith. Though faith and the word of
God are one, yet Paul assigns to them two distinct offices. I call them
one, because the word is the object of faith, and cannot be applied to
our use but by faith; as faith again is nothing, and can do nothing, without
the word. But Paul, neglecting so subtle a distinction, allowed himself
to expatiate at large on the military armor. In the first Epistle to the
Thessalonians he gives both to faith and to love the name of a breastplate,
— “putting on the breastplate of faith and love,” (1 Thessalonians 5:8.)
All that was intended, therefore, was obviously this, — “ He who possesses
the excellencies of character which are here described is protected on
And yet it is not without reason that the most necessary instruments
of warfare a sword and a shield — are compared to faith, and to the word
of God. In the spiritual combat, these two hold the highest rank. By faith
we repel all the attacks of the devil, and by the word of God the enemy
himself is slain. If the word of God shall have its efficacy upon us through
faith, we shall be more than sufficiently armed both for opposing the enemy
and for putting him to flight. And what shall we say of those who take
from a Christian people the word of God? Do they not rob them of the necessary
armor, and leave them to perish without a struggle? There is no man of
any rank who is not bound to be a soldier of Christ. But if we enter the
field unarmed, if we want our sword, how shall we sustain that character?
Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the darts. But quench
appears not to be the proper word. Why did he not use, instead of it, ward
off or shake off, or some such word? Quench is far more expressive; for
it is adapted to the epithet applied to darts. The darts of Satan are not
only sharp and penetrating, but — what makes them more destructive — they
are fiery. Faith will be found capable, not only of blunting their edge,
but of quenching their heat.
“This,” says John, “is the victory that overcometh the world, even our
faith.” (1 John 5:4.)
17. And take the helmet of salvation. In a passage already quoted,
(1 Thessalonians 5:8,) “the hope of salvation” is said to be a helmet,
which I consider to be in the same sense as this passage. The head is protected
by the best helmet, when, elevated by hope, we look up towards heaven to
that salvation which is promised. It is only therefore by becoming the
object of hope that salvation is a helmet.
18. Praying always with all prayer. Having instructed the Ephesians
to put on their armor, he now enjoins them to fight by prayer. This is
the true method. To call upon God is the chief exercise of faith and hope;
and it is in this way that we obtain from God every blessing. Prayer and
supplication are not greatly different from each other, except that supplication
is only one branch of prayer.
With all perseverance. We are exhorted to persevere in prayer.
Every tendency to weariness must be counteracted by a cheerful performance
of the duty. With unabated ardor we must continue our prayers, though we
do not immediately obtain what we desire. If, instead of with all perseverance,
some would render it, with all Earnestness, I would have no objection to
But what is the meaning of always? Having already spoken of continued
application, does he twice repeat the same thing? I think not. When everything
flows on prosperously, — when we are easy and cheerful, we seldom feel
any strong excitement to prayer, — or rather, we never flee to God, but
when we are driven by some kind of distress. Paul therefore desires us
to allow no opportunity to pass, on no occasion to neglect prayer; so that
praying always is the same thing with praying both in prosperity and in
For all saints. There is not a moment of our life at which the
duty of prayer may not be urged by our own wants. But unremitting prayer
may likewise be enforced by the consideration, that the necessities of
our brethren ought to move our sympathy. And when is it that some members
of the church are not suffering distress, and needing our assistance? If,
at any time, we are colder or more indifferent about prayer than we ought
to be, because we do not feel the pressure of immediate necessity, — let
us instantly reflect how many of our brethren are worn out by varied and
heavy afflictions, — are weighed down by sore perplexity, or are reduced
to the lowest distress. If reflections like these do not rouse us from
our lethargy, we must have hearts of stone. But are we to pray for believers
only? Though the apostle states the claims of the godly, he does not exclude
others. And yet in prayer, as in all other kind offices, our first care
unquestionably is due to the saints.
19. And for me. For himself, in a particular manner, he enjoins
the Ephesians to pray. Hence we infer that there is no man so richly endowed
with gifts as not to need this kind of assistance from his brethren, so
long as he remains in this world. Who will ever be better entitled to plead
exemption from this necessity than Paul? Yet he entreats the prayers of
his brethren, and not hypocritically, but from an earnest desire of their
aid. And what does he wish that they should ask for him? That utterance
may be given to me. What then? Was he habitually dumb, or did fear restrain
him from making an open profession of the gospel? By no means; but there
was reason to fear lest his splendid commencement should not be sustained
by his future progress. Besides, his zeal for proclaiming the gospel was
so ardent that he was never satisfied with his exertions. And indeed, if
we consider the weight and importance of the subject, we shall all acknowledge
that we are very far from being able to handle it in a proper manner. Accordingly
20. As I ought to speak; meaning, that to proclaim the truth
of the gospel as it ought to be proclaimed, is a high and rare attainment.
Every word here deserves to be carefully weighed. Twice he uses the expression
boldly, — “that I may open my mouth boldly,” “that therein I may speak
boldly.” Fear hinders us from preaching Christ openly and fearlessly, while
the absence of all restraint and disguise in confessing Christ is demanded
from his ministers. Paul does not ask for himself the powers of an acute
debater, or, I should rather say, of a dexterous sophist, that he might
shield himself from his enemies by false pretences. It is, that I may open
my mouth, to make a clear and strong confession; for when the mouth is
half shut, the sounds which it utters are doubtful and confused. To open
the mouth, therefore, is to speak with perfect freedom, without the smallest
But does not Paul discover unbelief, when he entertains doubts as to
his own stedfastness, and implores the intercession of others? No. He does
not, like unbelievers, seek a remedy which is contrary to the will of God,
or inconsistent with his word. The only aids on which he relies are those
which he knows to be sanctioned by the Divine promise and approbation.
It is the command of God, that believers shall pray for one another. How
consoling then must it be to each of them to learn that the care of his
salvation is enjoined on all the rest, and to be informed by God himself
that the prayers of others on his behalf are not poured out in vain! Would
it be lawful to refuse what the Lord himself has offered? Each believer,
no doubt, ought to have been satisfied with the Divine assurance, that
as often as he prayed he would be heard. But if, in addition to all the
other manifestations of his kindness, God were pleased to declare that
he will listen to the prayers of others in our behalf, would it be proper
that this bounty should be slighted, or rather, ought we not to embrace
it with open arms?
Let us therefore remember that Paul, when he resorted to the intercessions
of his brethren, was influenced by no distrust or hesitation. His eagerness
to obtain them arose from his resolution that no privilege which the Lord
had given him should be overlooked. How absurdly then do Papists conclude
from Paul’s example, that we ought to pray to the dead! Paul was writing
to the Ephesians, to whom he had it in his power to communicate his sentintents.
But what intercourse have we with the dead? As well might they argue that
we ought to invite angels to our feasts and entertainments, because among
men friendship is promoted by such kind offices.