John T. Willis

Friday, July 09, 2010

Put On The Whole Armor of God--Ephesians 6:10-24

Paul concludes his letter to Christians at Ephesus by encouraging them to "put on the whole armor of God." This paragraph falls into three parts.

I. Paul encourages God's people to "stand firm" in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10-17.
a. The word "Finally" indicates Paul is concluding this epistle. Paul encourages God's people to BE STRONG in the Lord and in the strength of his power. We human beings are very weak. God is the ONLY source of strength. Thus, it is imperative that we turn to God's strength--not anyone else's and not our own. 6:10.
b. "The devil" and his forces are our enemies. Thus, Paul instructs to "Put on the whole armor of God" (6:11, 13). This is not physical armor, but spiritual armor. There is a great battle going on in life. On the one side is God and his followers; on the other side is Satan and his forces. Christians MUST be equipped adequately spiritually to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:11.
c. It is easy to forget that the REAL battle is NOT against other people, but against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. The devil and his angels are invisible from our perspective, but in reality they are always present and opposing God's people. 6:12.
d. Paul repeatedly encourages God's people to "be strong," "stand firm." Trust in God when reversals, setbacks, enemies, failures, disappointments and anxieties arise. 6:10, 13, 14.
e. Then, Paul enumerates SIX specific pieces of the armor of God.
1. The belt of truth
2. The breastplace of righteousness
3. Shoes ready to proclaim the gospel of peace
4. The shield of faith
5. The helmet of salvation
6. The sword of the Holy Spirit, which is the word of God. 6:14-17.

II. Prayer is central in Christian Living. Ephesians 6:18-20.
a. Paul specifically refers to "prayer" or "supplication" in three verses: 6:18-20. Paul tells Christians to "pray in the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is a powerful source for daily thought, speech, and action. This enables us to "keep alert" and always "persevere" for all the saints. Perseverance or persistence or stick-to-itiveness or tenacity is a major "key" to being faithful to God. See Romans 5:1-5; James 5:7-11. 6:18.
b. Paul needs and desires the prayers of his fellow-Christians at Ephesus so he will faithfully proclaim "the mystery of the gospel." This "mystery" is Christ, Christ in you, the unity of Jews and Gentiles [hence, all human beings], the church. See Colossians 1:24-2:7; Ephesians 1-13. 6:19.
c. Physically, Paul is "in prison" at Rome. But spiritually, Paul is "free," and thus desires to proclaim God's message to the world. 6:20.

III. Concluding instructions concerning Tychicus. Ephesians 6:19-24.
a. Paul tells the family of God that he is sending Tychicus to inform them personally how Paul is doing in prison in Rome to encourage them. It seems clear that Paul sent Tychicus and Onesimus to Colossae and Ephesus to carry these epistles. See Colossians 4:7-9; Philemon 10-21. Paul calls his "a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord." 6:19-22.
b. Finally, Paul prays for their "peace" and "grace" given to God. From this source, he prays that they will practice "undying love" and "faith." 6:23-24.

The little Epistle of Ephesians contains the GREAT TEACHINGS of the Bible. I hope this Epistle encourages and deepens YOUR hearts. Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


There are twenty species of bowerbirds. They live in New Guinea and Australia. They belong to the Family Ptilonorhynchidae. They favor rainforest, eucalyptus and acacia forest, and shrublands.

Most bowerbirds at polygynous, but catbirds are monogamous. Hence, the male and the female mate and raise their chicks together. As for other bowerbirds, the female builds the nest and raises the young alone.

The female chooses the male mate. The male vogelkop builds a hut that appears to be much like a doll's house, arranging flowers, leaves, and mushrooms in a very artistic way. Some can sing simultaneously the male and female parts of another species' duet, while others imitate the raucous laugh of a kookaburra or the roar of a chain saw. The usual call is a machine-gun-like call: rat-a-tat-tat. These birds kill beetles to decorate their hut.

The female lays one or two eggs. These hatch in 19 to 24 days. Bowerbirds look like blue jays. They have olive-drab feathers and a single streak of orange on the head. Attempting to gain the fancy of a female, males often fight against one another, and steal the ornaments of one another.

Bowerbirds are another marvelous example of God's endless creatures. Bowerbirds have unique features and practices. Every creature of God is unique. YOU are unique. Rejoice in God's choice of YOU.

Share YOUR idea with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, July 05, 2010

Well-Rounded Godly Subjection--Ephesians 5:21-6:9

THE PRIMARY HUMAN SIN PROBLEM is EGO!!! Biblically, there are three terms to describe this sin problem:
1. Pride
2. Self-Centeredness
3. Ingratitude

Paul addresses this problem HEAD-On in Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

Actually, Ephesians 5:21 SAYS IT ALL: "BE SUBJECT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ." IF Christians REALLY honor God through Jesus Christ, EVERY PERSON OF GOD, EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST be SUBJECT to everyone else. Paul discusses this major concept in more detail under three sets of two relationships. This blog attempts to follow Paul's ideas about this issue.

I. Wives and Husbands--Ephesians 5:22-33.
a. Wives are to be SUBJECT to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24.
1. The church is SUBJECT to Christ, so wives are to be SUBJECT to their husbands. There is a well-known metaphor throughout scripture: God is the husband, his people are his wife. See Hosea 1-2; Jeremiah 2-3; Ezekiel 16; and often. So, Jesus Christ is the husband, and the church is the wife. The wife should gladly be in subjection to her husband. Why should she feel or act any other way? ONLY if a woman does NOT have a loving husband might she not desire to be in subjection to him.
2. The assumption is that the husband is loving, like God and Jesus Christ. An abusing, domineering, demanding husband is not worthy of having a godly, subject wife. "Subjection" is a "well-rounded, balanced" relationship, NOT a one-sided relationship favoring the man.
b. Husbands are to be SUBJECT to their wives. Ephesians 5:25-31.
1. The husband [man] must genuinely LOVE his wife, JUST AS Jesus Christ LOVES the church. 5:25.
2. The consuming purpose of having a wife is to make her hold and present her in splendor. His desire is to "glorify" his wife--JUST AS Jesus Christ desires to cleanse his wife the church "with the washing of water by the word," so as to present her to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle of anything of the kind, so that she may be holy and without blemish. The concern of the husband is to dignify and magnify his wife. 5:26-27.
3. Human beings naturally "love" and take care of and protects their bodies. Paul says Christian husbands must think of and treat their wives as they think of and treat themselves. 5:28-30.
4. A human being is born into the world, has parents, and grows into adulthood. At a certain point, one should "leave" his parents and "be joined" to one's spouse. All of this is a "great mystery." This applies to human beings and to the church. 5:31-32.
5. As a closing bracket or parenethesis from 5:21, Paul sums up: 1. Each husband must love his wife as himself. 2. Each wife must respect her husband. 5:33. NOTE the "well-rounded, balanced" submission of the wife to the husband, AND the husband to the wife.

II. Parents and Children--Ephesians 6:1-4.
a. Children are to be SUBJECT to their parents. "Obey"--"Honor" your parents "in the Lord." This is the first commandment with a promise--in the ten commandments--see Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16. That promise is that they might be well with them and love long on the earth. CERTAINLY, this does not mean that God wants children to adopt and follow the ungodly beliefs and practices of their parents. For example, Psalm 78:7-8 specifically says: "set your hope in God" and "not be like their parents and grandparents and ancestors" if they are stubborn and rebellious. BUT, if children have good parents, they are to be SUBJECT to them "in the Lord." 6:1-3.
b. Parents are to be SUBJECT to their children. This seems strange in many cultures and societies, but biblically, parents are HUMAN, and thus must be subject to their CREATOR, the God of the universe. Parents learn much from their children. Paul specifically says that parents are to: (1) not provoke their children to anger. The parallel in Colossians 3:21 says: "Fathers [Parents], do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart." As a teacher for 55 years, I have found many students feel "cowed" or "guilty" or "wrong" because their parents have raised them up to think this way. God did not intend to have parents who would keep their parents under their wings and never be free to live their own lives under God. (2) Bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. God gave parents for a reason. Children need "discipline" under godly parents. (3) Bring them up in the instruction of the Lord. It is so easy for parents to "force" their children to follow "their" instruction. Often, parents are wrong. God is right. Good parents bring up their children in the instruction of the Lord. Daily Bible study and meditation, prayer, godly influences, uplifting friends, a healthy church all contribute to the spiritual growth of children. 6:4.

III. Masters and Slaves--Ephesians 6:5-9.
a. Slaves are to be SUBJECT to their masters. Paul says slaves are to "obey" their earthly master just as they "obey" Jesus Christ. Slaves are to obey their masters gladly from the heart. They are to serve their masters with enthusiasm. Of course, all of this assumes that the masters are godly, Christ-centered people. As in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, Onesimus is a slave of Philemon and at the same time a "beloved brother" of Philemon. God through Jesus Christ "blurs" and "evens" the sharp distinctions between people on earth. The Bible NEVER teaches that Christians are not to be slaves. But in essence, Christians cannot actually have or be slaves because of the very nature of God's relationship to people. 6:5-8.
b. Masters are to be SUBJECT to their slaves. Paul says forthrightly: "Masters, do the same to them." Subjection is a mutual, well-rounded, balanced relationship. BOTH the master AND the slaves have THE SAME MASTER in heaven: God through Jesus Christ. ALL of us have ONLY two options: Be slaves of Satan, OR be slaves of God. See Leviticus 25:42-43; Romans 6:15-19; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24. 6:9.

Once a person comprehends Paul's teaching in Ephesians 5:21-6:9, one realizes that God "breaks down every dividing wall [barrier]" (Ephesians 2:14): Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female (Galatians 3:28). God accepts ALL people to worship and serve him in his presence. God seeks old and young, rich and poor, healthy and sick, male and female--everyone, to worship and serve God in every way.

Ponder Ephesians 5:21-6:9. Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis