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Darlene

Ephesians 6:14-20

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I dunno why, but I'm increasingly feeling the need to finish this last part of Ephesians. All along while doing the study, it was either "I want to do this" or "I need to do this because I told people I would". Lately, this portion of the scriptures has been laying heavy on my heart because the need is evolving into "I need to do this because the battle is on and I need to learn how to 'fight' correctly, along spiritual lines"...

 

Heavenly Father,

 

It's been a rough time for me the last week or two, spiritually. I've felt really off kilter and I just don't like it. I keep trying to get back on track but it just doesn't seem to be working like I want it to work.

 

I keep sensing "Grace, Grace, Grace", and I'm not quite sure what that means, or at least I don't understand the depth of what that means, so I ask that You open my eyes and ears spiritually so that I can learn these things that You are teaching me. I've always been a 'mercy' kinda girl...my life has been jam packed with acts of mercy on Your part, so this grace thang is kind of a new concept to me.

 

Anyway Father, there is a little 'stunned' going on in my life right now. For so many years I've lived, learned, accumulated this prepping lifestyle. It's a burden You placed on my heart years and years ago and I have stood many times against the tide, walking out that burden and adding to my preps. These days, I feel like I'm this little tiny speck, and the winds are picking up faster and faster around this world...and while there's nothing I can do to stop it (it has a life of it's own, and is guided by Your hand), I continue to do the same thing, which is prep for as long as I can. It's one thing to prep for an unknown future...it's another thing to prep as this devestation unfolds. The more out of control it gets, the more I realize that my spiritual preps have the highest priority in my life. There is so much that is coming that we can't even begin to comprehend and if I don't have my spiritual preps in order then all the preps in the world will not begin to carry me through the rough waters ahead.

 

So Lord, this morning, I ask that as I do this portion in the Ephesians study, that You will teach me what You want me to learn. I just know that the biggest fight ahead of me will be spiritual, and no guns or ammo will work in that sphere. I also believe that this spiritual battle will amaze us all...we've never seen anything like it. Instead of the darkness of evil being cloaked, it will be as if the doors are thrown wide open and all the filth, deception and evil intent will be revealed in it's final act of defiance towards You, our Holy Father God. So, teach me, and us, how to properly arm ourselves spiritually so that as the battle gets closer and those times get hotter and more devestating that we will be able to accomplish what You say in Your Word...to STAND.

 

I know I would just be kidding myself if I thought that all my human efforts would get me through these coming days. I know that the future is so over my head and it will only be by YOUR hand that I'll get through it. So right now Father, send Your warring angels to surround each and every one that reads this study today. Teach us that it is not by our own might, but by Your powerful Word that will protect us in the days ahead. Accelerate this learning process in each of us Father, because the time really is short. Birth these truths into our hearts and our minds and plant our feet firmly on Your truths so that we may honor You with our 'stand'.

 

There ain't no way that I want to go one more minute into this future without Your holy hand of protection over me and mine.

 

 

14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

 

Clarke comments, "Stand therefore] Prepare yourselves for combat, having your loins girt about with truth. He had told them before to take the whole armour of God, ver. 13, and to put on this whole armour. Having got all the pieces of it together, and the defensive parts put on, they were then to gird them close to their bodies with the zwma or girdle, and instead of a fine ornamented belt, such as the ancient warriors used, they were to have truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth of God; unless this be known and conscientiously believed no man can enter the spiritual warfare with any advantage or prospect of success. By this alone we discover who our enemies are, and how they come on to attack us; and by this we know where our strength lies; and, as the truth is great, and must prevail, we are to gird ourselves with this against all false religion, and the various winds of doctrine by which cunning men and insidious devils lie in wait to deceive. Truth may be taken here for sincerity; for if a man be not conscious to himself that his heart is right before God, and that he makes no false pretences to religion, in vain does he enter the spiritual lists. This alone can give him confidence:- - Hic murus aheneus esto, Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.

 

Let this he my brazen wall; that no man can reproach me with a crime, and that I am conscious of my own integrity.

 

The breast-plate of righteousness] What the qwrax or breast- plate was, see before. The word righteousness, dikaisunh, we have often had occasion to note, is a word of very extensive import: it signifies the principle of righteousness; it signifies the practice of righteousness, or living a holy life; it signifies God's method of justifying sinners; and it signifies justification itself. Here it may imply a consciousness of justification through the blood of the cross; the principle of righteousness or true holiness implanted in the heart; and a holy life, a life regulated according to the testimonies of God. As the breast-plate defends the heart and lungs, and all those vital functionaries that are contained in what is called the region of the thorax; so this righteousness, this life of God in the soul of man, defends every thing on which the man's spiritual existence depends. While he possesses this principle, and acts from it, his spiritual and eternal life is secure."

 

Unbelieveable.

 

The promptings from Your Holy Spirit are so gentle and soft at times that I many times miss it. This morning, "Ephesians study" kept coming to mind and I kept thinking, "I don't know if I'm going to do it today...I need to 'this and that', etc"...

 

I just had a sense that I needed to just do it, and that's how I came to write this in the first place.

 

The past week or two, as I said above, has been one where I've not felt centered. I've been struggling with it, getting tired of it, having thoughts of "oh forget it, just give up, quit trying to live a more righteous life, there's no way you can do it...here you are trying so hard and it doesn't seem to be making much difference to why drive yourself crazy with failure after failure...on and on and on. Yet there was this part of me that knew if I were to 'give up', even just a little, that it would put a distance between me and the Father and my heart was struggling with that...I've come to love being in that intimate place with Him...I've come to appreciate and be grateful for being in His presence. The thought of losing that, or putting some distance to that was troubling me greatly but I couldn't find any answers.

 

Just reading what Clarke wrote, suddenly made the lightbulb go off in my heart and my mind. The enemy wants to fragment my stance with the Lord...whether it be by removing the 'breastplate of righteousness' or my 'shield of faith' or my 'sword of the Spirit'...the removal of just one of those armaments places me in great vulnerability...it assures the enemy of eventual victory, but God in His great mercy and grace is showing me, right now, what really is going on here.

 

Here, I've been thinking that these vulnerable feelings and such have been on human terms. I am just not realizing that that vulnerability is really on a spiritual level, or at least God was in the process of revealing that. I've been kinda upset with the Lord, telling Him over and over, "I don't like being put in vulnerable positions...I don't like feeling vulnerable...I really don't like having to trust people, as they are so fallible...I can trust You Lord, but I don't want to trust PEOPLE". I've been keeping my eyes bound here on earth, and God has been trying to lift my eyes up and to show me that the things on this earth don't matter one bit compared to the importance of this war in the spiritual realms. If I'm reacting to feeling this vulnerability here on earth, how much more SHOULD I be reacting to allowing myself to be feeling vulnerable in the spiritual sense? The enemy has been laughing, having a field day, keeping me blind to what the real truth was as he chipped away at my spiritual armor, removing my ability to be effective, or strong...setting me up to an eventual fall.

 

Unreal.

 

I dunno if I'm able to write all that out in a manner that makes sense, but once again, I know what I'm trying to say...lol

 

Calvin writes, "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 an 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."

 

Henry states, "Truth or sincerity is our girdle, v. 14. It was prophesied of Christ (Isa. xi. 5) that righteousness should be the girdle of his loins and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. That which Christ was girded with all Christians must be girded with. God desires truth, that is, sincerity, in the inward parts. This is the strength of our loins; and it girds on all other pieces of our armour, and therefore is first mentioned. I know no religion without sincerity. Some understand it of the doctrine of the truths of the gospel: they should cleave to us as the girdle does to the loins, Jer. xiii. 11. This will restrain from libertinism and licentiousness, as a girdle restrains and keeps in the body. This is the Christian soldier's belt: ungirded with this, he is unblessed. [2.] Righteousness must be our breast-plate. The breast-plate secures the vitals, shelters the heart. The righteousness of Christ imputed to us is our breast-plate against the arrows of divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us is our breast-plate to fortify the heart against the attacks which Satan makes against us. The apostle explains this in 1 Thess. v. 8, Putting on the breast-plate of faith and love. Faith and love include all Christian graces; for by faith we are united to Christ and by love to our brethren. These will infer a diligent observance of our duty to God, and a righteous deportment towards men, in all the offices of justice, truth, and charity."

 

15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

 

Clarke comments, "Your feet shod] The knhmidev, or greaves, have been already described; they were deemed of essential importance in the ancient armour; if the feet or legs are materially wounded, a man can neither stand to resist his foe, pursue him if vanquished, nor flee from him should he have the worst of the fight.

 

That the apostle has obedience to the Gospel in general in view, there can be no doubt; but he appears to have more than this, a readiness to publish the Gospel: for, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth PEACE; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Isa. lii. 7; Rom. x. 15.

 

The Israelites were commanded to eat the passover with their feet shod, to show that they were ready for their journey. And our Lord commands his disciples to be shod with sandals, that they might be ready to go and publish the Gospel, as the Israelites were to go to possess the promised land. Every Christian should consider himself on his journey from a strange land to his own country, and not only stand every moment prepared to proceed, but be every moment in actual progress towards his home.

 

The preparation of the Gospel] The word etoimasia which we translate preparation, is variously understood: some think it means an habitual readiness in walking in the way prescribed by the Gospel; others that firmness and solidity which the Gospel gives to them who conscientiously believe its doctrines; others, those virtues and graces which in the first planting of Christianity were indispensably necessary to those who published it.

 

Should we take the word preparation in its common acceptation, it may imply that, by a conscientious belief of the Gospel, receiving the salvation provided by its author, and walking in the way of obedience which is pointed out by it, the soul is prepared for the kingdom of heaven.

 

The Gospel is termed the Gospel of peace, because it establishes peace between God and man, and proclaims peace and good will to the universe.

 

Contentions, strife, quarrels, and all wars, being as alien from its nature and design, as they are opposed to the nature of Him who is love and compassion to man. "

 

Calvin writes, "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."

 

Henry writes, "Resolution must be as the greaves to our legs: And their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, v. 15. Shoes, or greaves of brass, or the like, were formerly part of the military armour (1 Sam. xvii. 6): the use of them was to defend the feet against the gall-traps, and sharp sticks, which were wont to be laid privily in the way, to obstruct the marching of the enemy, those who fell upon them being unfit to march. The preparation of the gospel of peace signifies a prepared and resolved frame of heart, to adhere to the gospel and abide by it, which will enable us to walk with a steady pace in the way of religion, notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers that may be in it. It is styled the gospel of peace because it brings all sorts of peace, peace with God, with ourselves, and with one another. It may also be meant of that which prepares for the entertainment of the gospel, namely, repentance. With this our feet must be shod: for by living a life of repentance we are armed against temptations to sin, and the designs of our great enemy. Dr. Whitby thinks this may be the sense of the words: "That you may be ready for the combat, be shod with the gospel of peace, endeavour after that peaceable and quiet mind which the gospel calls for. Be not easily provoked, nor prone to quarrel: but show all gentleness and all long-suffering to all men, and this will certainly preserve you from many great temptations and persecutions, as did those shoes of brass the soldiers from those galltraps," &c."

 

16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

 

Clarke comments, "Above all, (epi pasin, over all the rest of the armour,) taking the shield of faith] In the word qureov, thureos, the apostle alludes to the great oblong shield, or scutum, which covers the whole body. See its description before. And as faith is the grace by which all others are preserved and rendered active, so it is properly represented here under the notion of a shield, by which the whole body is covered and protected.

 

Faith, in this place, must mean that evidence of things unseen which every genuine believer has, that God, for Christ's sake, has blotted out his sins, and by which he is enabled to call God his Father, and feel him to be his portion. It is such an appropriating faith as this which can quench any dart of the devil.

 

The fiery darts of the wicked.] belov, a dart, signifies any kind of missile weapon; every thing that is projected to a distance by the hand, as a javelin, or short spear; or by a bow, as an arrow; or a stone by a sling.

 

The fiery darts - ta belh ta pepurwmena. It is probable that the apostle alludes to the darts called falarica, which were headed with lead, in or about which some combustible stuff was placed that took fire in the passage of the arrow through the air, and often burnt up the enemy's engines, ships, &c.; they were calculated also to stick in the shields and set them on fire. Some think that poisoned arrows may be intended, which are called fiery from the burning heat produced in the bodies of those who were wounded by them. To quench or extinguish such fiery darts the shields were ordinarily covered with metal on the outside, and thus the fire was prevented from catching hold of the shield. When they stuck on a shield of another kind and set it on fire, the soldier was obliged to cast it away, and thus became defenceless.

 

The fiery darts of the wicked, tou ponhrou, or devil, are evil thoughts, and strong injections, as they are termed, which in the unregenerate inflame the passions, and excite the soul to acts of transgression. While the faith is strong in Christ it acts as a shield to quench these. He who walks so as to feel the witness of God's Spirit that he is his child, has all evil thoughts in abhorrence; and, though they pass through his mind, they never fix in his passions. They are caught on this shield, blunted, and extinguished."

 

Calvin writes, "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 every hand.”

 

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.)"

 

Henry writes, "Faith must be our shield: Above all, or chiefly, taking the shield of faith, v. 16. This is more necessary than any of them. Faith is all in all to us in an hour of temptation. The breast-plate secures the vitals; but with the shield we turn every way. This is the victory over the world, even our faith. We are to be fully persuaded of the truth of all God's promises and threatenings, such a faith being of great use against temptations. Consider faith as it is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for, and it will appear to be of admirable use for this purpose. Faith, as receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a sort of universal defence. Our enemy the devil is here called the wicked one. He is wicked himself, and he endeavours to make us wicked. His temptations are called darts, because of their swift and undiscerned flight, and the deep wounds that they give to the soul; fiery darts, by way of allusion to the poisonous darts which were wont to inflame the parts which were wounded with them, and therefore were so called, as the serpents with poisonous stings are called fiery serpents. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are the darts which Satan shoots at us. Faith is the shield with which we must quench these fiery darts, wherein we should receive them, and so render them ineffectual, that they may not hit us, or at least that they may not hurt us. Observe, Faith, acted upon the word of God and applying that, acted upon the grace of Christ and improving that, quenches the darts of temptation."

 

17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

 

Clarke states, "Take the helmet of salvation] Or, as it is expressed, 1 Thess. v. 8, And for a helmet, the hope of salvation. It has already been observed, in the description of the Grecian armour, that on the crest and other parts of the helmet were a great variety of emblematical figures, and that it is very likely the apostle refers to helmets which had on them an emblematical representation of hope; viz. that the person should be safe who wore it, that he should be prosperous in all his engagements, and ever escape safe from battle. So the hope of conquering every adversary and surmounting every difficulty, through the blood of the Lamb, is as a helmet that protects the head; an impenetrable one, that the blow of the battle-axe cannot cleave. The hope of continual safety and protection, built on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a Divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by any temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the sophistical ungodly. He who carries Christ in his heart cannot be cheated out of the hope of his heaven, The sword of the Spirit] See what is said before on xifov and macaira, in the account of the Greek armour. The sword of which St. Paul speaks is, as he explains it, the word of God; that is, the revelation which God has given of himself, or what we call the Holy Scriptures. This is called the sword of the Spirit, because it comes from the Holy Spirit, and receives its fulfillment in the soul through the operation of the Holy Spirit. An ability to quote this on proper occasions, and especially in times of temptation and trial, has a wonderful tendency to cut in pieces the snares of the adversary. In God's word a genuine Christian may have unlimited confidence, and to every purpose to which it is applicable it may be brought with the greatest effect. The shield, faith, and the sword - the word of God, or faith in God's unchangeable word, are the principal armour of the soul. He in whom the word of God dwells richly, and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of any adversary. He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free. Some suppose that tou pneumatov, of the Spirit, should be understood of our own spirit or soul; the word of God being the proper sword of the soul, or that offensive weapon the only one which the soul uses. But though it is true that every Christian soul has this for its sword, yet the first meaning is the most likely.

 

Calvin writes, "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."

 

Henry comments, "Salvation must be our helmet (v. 17); that is, hope, which has salvation for its object; so 1 Thess. v. 8. The helmet secures the head. A good hope of salvation, well founded and well built, will both purify the soul and keep it from being defiled by Satan, and it will comfort the soul and keep it from being troubled and tormented by Satan. He would tempt us to despair; but good hope keeps us trusting in God, and rejoicing in him. [6.] The word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The sword is a very necessary and useful part of a soldier's furniture. The word of God is very necessary, and of great use to the Christian, in order to his maintaining the spiritual warfare and succeeding in it. It is called the sword of the Spirit, because it is of the Spirit's inditing and he renders it efficacious and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword. Like Goliath's sword, none like that; with this we assault the assailants. Scripture-arguments are the most powerful arguments to repel temptation with. Christ himself resisted Satan's temptations with, It is written, Matt. iv. 4, 6, 7, 10. This, being hid in the heart, will preserve from sin (Ps. cxix. 11), and will mortify and kill those lusts and corruptions that are latent there."

 

18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

Clarke comments, "Praying always] The apostle does not put praying among the armour; had he done so he would have referred it, as he has done all the rest, to some of the Grecian armour; but as he does not do this, therefore we conclude that his account of the armour is ended, and that now, having equipped his spiritual soldier, he shows him the necessity of praying, that he may successfully resist those principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places, with whom he has to contend. The panoply, or whole armour of God, consists in, 1. the girdle; 2. the breast-plate; 3. the greaves; 4. the shield; 5. the helmet; and 6. the sword. He who had these was completely armed.

 

And as it was the custom of the Grecian armies, before they engaged, to offer prayers to the gods for their success, the apostle shows that these spiritual warriors must depend on the Captain of their salvation, and pray with all prayer, i.e. incessantly, being always in the spirit of prayer, so that they should be ever ready for public, private, mental, or ejaculatory prayer, always depending on HIM who can alone save, and who alone can destroy.

 

When the apostle exhorts Christians to pray with all prayer, we may at once see that he neither means spiritual nor formal prayer, in exclusion of the other. Praying, proseucomenoi, refers to the state of the spirit as well as to the act.

 

With all prayer] Refers to the different kinds of prayer that is performed in public, in the family, in the closet, in business, on the way, in the heart without a voice, and with the voice from the heart. All those are necessary to the genuine Christian; and he whose heart is right with God will be frequent in the whole. "Some there are," says a very pious and learned writer, who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship far superior to any other; but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations." Rev. J. Wesley.

 

And supplication] There is a difference between proseuch, prayer, and dehsiv, supplication. Some think the former means prayer for the attainment of good; the latter, prayer for averting evil. Supplication however seems to mean prayer continued in, strong and incessant pleadings, till the evil is averted, or the good communicated. There are two things that must be attended to in prayer. 1. That it be en panti kairw, in every time, season, or opportunity; 2. That it should be en pneumati, in or through the Spirit - that the heart should be engaged in it, and that its infirmities should be helped by the Holy Ghost, Watching thereunto] Being always on your guard lest your enemies should surprise you. Watch, not only against evil, but also for opportunities to do good, and for opportunities to receive good. Without watchfulness, prayer and all the spiritual armour will be ineffectual.

 

With all perseverance] Being always intent on your object, and never losing sight of your danger, or of your interest. The word implies stretching out the neck, and looking about, in order to discern an enemy at a distance.

 

For all saints] For all Christians; for this was the character by which they were generally distinguished."

 

Calvin writes, "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 the change.

 

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 adversity.

 

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."

 

Henry writes, "Prayer must buckle on all the other parts of our Christian armour, v. 18. We must join prayer with all these graces, for our defence against these spiritual enemies, imploring help and assistance of God, as the case requires: and we must pray always. Not as though we were to do nothing else but pray, for there are other duties of religion and of our respective stations in the world that are to be done in their place and season; but we should keep up constant times of prayer, and be constant to them. We must pray upon all occasions, and as often as our own and others' necessities call us to it. We must always keep up a disposition to prayer, and should intermix ejaculatory prayers with other duties, and with common business. Though set and solemn prayer may sometimes be unseasonable (as when other duties are to be done), yet pious ejaculations can never be so. We must pray with all prayer and supplication, with all kinds of prayer: public, private, and secret, social and solitary, solemn and sudden; with all the parts of prayer: confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgivings for favours received. We must pray in the Spirit; our spirits must be employed in the duty and we must do it by the grace of God's good Spirit. We must watch thereunto, endeavouring to keep our hearts in a praying frame, and taking all occasions, and improving all opportunities, for the duty: we must watch to all the motions of our own hearts towards the duty. When God says, Seek my face, our hearts must comply, Ps. xxvii. 8. This we must do with all perseverance. We must abide by the duty of prayer, whatever change there may be in our outward circumstances; and we must continue in it as long as we live in the world. We must persevere in a particular prayer; not cutting it short, when our hearts are disposed to enlarge, and there is time for it, and our occasions call for it. We must likewise persevere in particular requests, notwithstanding some present discouragements and repulses. And we must pray with supplication, not for ourselves only, but for all saints; for we are members one of another. Observe, None are so much saints, and in so good a condition in this world, but they need our prayers, and they ought to have them. The apostle passes hence to the conclusion of the epistle."

 

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,

 

Clarke comments, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me] Æina moi doqeih logov. Kypke has proved by many examples that logov didonai signifies permission and power to defend one's self in a court of justice; and this sense of the phrase is perfectly applicable to the case of St. Paul, who was an ambassador in bonds, (chap. vi. 20,) and expected to be called to a public hearing, in which he was not only to defend himself, but to prove the truth and excellency of the Christian religion. And we learn, from Phil. i. 12-14, that he had his desire in this respect; for the things which happened to him fell out to the furtherance of the Gospel, so that his bonds in Christ were manifest in all the palace, and in all other places. Thus God had enabled him to make a most noble defense, by which the Gospel acquired great credit.

 

The mystery of the Gospel] The whole doctrine of Christ, not fully revealed previously to that time."

 

Calvin writes, "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."

 

I know that for me, there are many times when I feel totally inadequate to express in words, things that might have meaning to others...and that is when I spend time in prayer, asking the Father to give me His words, so that the things that I say will have His power, His meaning. Because I know that those things from God live forever, and those things just from the 'flesh' per se (although well intended) have no impact at all.

 

Henry states, "Here, I. He desires their prayers for him, v. 19. Having mentioned supplication for all saints, he puts himself into the number. We must pray for all saints, and particularly for God's faithful ministers. Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified. Observe what it is he would have them pray for in his behalf: "That utterance may be given unto me; that I may be enlarged from my present restraints, and so have liberty to propagate the faith of Christ; that I may have ability to express myself in a suitable and becoming manner; and that I may open my mouth boldly, that is, that I may deliver the whole counsel of God, without any base fear, shame, or partiality." To make known the mystery of the gospel; some understand it of that part of the gospel which concerns the calling of the Gentiles, which had hitherto, as a mystery, been concealed. But the whole gospel was a mystery, till made known by divine revelation; and it is the work of Christ's ministers to publish it. Observe, Paul had a great command of language; they called him Mercury, because he was the chief speaker (Acts xiv. 12), and yet he would have his friends ask of God the gift of utterance for him. He was a man of great courage, and often signalized himself for it; yet he would have them pray that God would give him boldness. He knew as well what to say as any man; yet he desires them to pray for him, that he may speak as he ought to speak."

 

20. For which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

 

Clarke comments, "An ambassador in bonds] An ambassador being the representative of his king, his person was in all civilized countries held sacred. Contrary to the rights of nations, this ambassador of the King of heaven was put in chains! He had however the opportunity of defending himself, and of vindicating the honour of his Master. See above.

 

As I ought to speak.] As becomes the dignity and the importance of the subject."

 

Calvin writes, "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 dread.

 

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."

 

Henry states, "The argument with which he enforces his request is that for the sake of the gospel he was an ambassador in bonds, v. 20. He was persecuted and imprisoned for preaching the gospel; though, notwithstanding, he continued in the embassy committed to him by Christ, and persisted in preaching it. Observe, 1. It is no new thing for Christ's ministers to be in bonds. 2. It is a hard thing for them to speak boldly when that is their case. 3. The best and most eminent ministers have need of, and may receive advantage by, the prayers of good Christians; and therefore should earnestly desire them. Having thus desired their prayers,"

 

Heavenly Father,

 

All day yesterday was a very rough day...it was as if everything was coming to a head and I was at one of those many forks in the road. Thoughts were starting to cross my mind about things I wrote above...'why try, etc etc etc'. As the day wore on, I began to notice a feeling of Your powerful presence in my heart. I remember it distracting me to the point of notice and acknowledging and thanking You for it, not knowing what it meant, just knowing it was You...

 

I also know for a fact that there were a couple of people that were praying for me, and after reading Paul's entrities above, I am reminded of how the body of Christ is so critical corporately...that we are not islands unto ourselves but that we need each other, and that there is power in that 'corporate membership'. It further cements the scripture that states, "where 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name..."

 

How many times have there been those that have asked for prayer in the past, when I have assured them I would, but then did not. Thankfully, it's been a long time since I've done that because I began to understand how important it really is when we pray for each other...it really is born outta care and concern and love for each other. That's one of the reasons I began writing out prayers to people...first of all because I know that sometimes when someone has done that for me, I have gone back again and again, just to get under the covering of that prayer. Sometimes just seeing and reading those words again gives me the strength to take one more step further.

 

Anyway Lord, I was just struck by Paul's request for prayer...that is a very moving and touching scripture that he voiced those requests.

 

Aside from that, I don't know how to put into words accurately, how I'm feeling right now. I sense that something has finally broken, although I do not understand exactly what that is all about. Regardless, I thank You Father for Your faithfulness, and for Your grace that covers my life.

 

Continue to birth in me, and us, the depth of knowledge contained in these spiritual battle scriptures for we will need to understand them further in the days ahead. I already know that You will because, well because You love us, and when we hurt, You hurt for us. When we're lost, Your heart goes out to us because You really are "The Way". It's unbelieveable the incredible patience You have with us, I know that I woulda given up on me long ago, but You never did, nor will.

 

Bless this day Father...with Your presence, with Your peace, with Your joy and with Your blessings. Draw each of us closer and tighter beneath the shadow of Your holy wings where we will find safety and rest.

 

I love You Father God.

 

In Jesus Name,

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Amen!

 

This is what is so important for us to realize - I can't word it like you have, Darlene. We are in dangerous times for our precious souls and the precious souls of our loved ones. Evil, very nasty and very thorough, is running unchecked about the world seeking the ruin of our connection to our Father, God. We can prep and prep and prep, but we must have our spiritual selves prepped, too! Thank you for stressing this and for this entire study. I feel verses 10-18 are the key to our survival in the here and now and for what is to come. I make every effort to pray always for all of us. I want us all to meet at our Heavenly Father's House one day, and take turns sitting in His lap!

 

Never figured that hunting for canning recipes last year would have led me to this wonderful place where we can encourage each other so.

 

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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As I mentioned in relation to the previous study, I think it's so important that we take Paul's instructions here literally. I simply pray everyday to take on each of these implements of spiritual warfare in order and recognizing their significance. These are 'real' spiritual things in the same sense that 'faith' is a 'substance' as it says in Hebrews. See Is 59:17ff for the first mention of these armaments and note who was putting them on. When we follow the directions He begins to teach us how to use each piece of the armor. The 'shield' of faith can be used to simply 'push out' every single attack in our thoughts that we know isn't from God. If it's fearful, doubting, accusing, criticizing, judging or condemning others, it's certainly not from God. Following Paul's instructions in 2 Cor 10:5, we simply hold up that shield (the Greek word indicates it's a door) and refuse to allow those thoughts to take root in our heart and soul. The sword of the spirit which is the word of God (rhema spoken word in this case) is the very authority of Jesus Christ as we stand in Him and works just like a 'physical' sword.

It's interesting to note also the difference between prayer and supplication. Supplication is generally regarded as intercession. Several times in the older Testament, God laments the fact that there were no people to intercede. It really is a different level of commitment to Him that He desires to bestow upon all of us as we die to ourselves in submission to Him alone. Intercession also is a very real thing and His Grace is enough to honor our requests as we stand with others to intercede.

Father, I pray that your people have the faith to take up these weapons that You have given us to intercede on behalf of Your Kingdom in and through each of us. Teach us now, prompt us to take up these weapons with Your promise to teach us how to use them. You are the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Grant to us the faith to take this word literally and follow Your lead through Your servant Paul. We thank You that Your Grace is indeed sufficient. Your Power is made complete in our weakness and we boast in our weakness with great humility as we stand in Your Covenant promises. We love you and praise you. Let these things be done for Your Glory, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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