WOW! We are almost done with Ephesians. This is the penultimate lesson of this study. Let’s jump in.
Teaching Text: Ephesians 6:10-24
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 6:10–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
As a reminder, this is part two of a look at the classic armor of God passage. In the last lesson, we looked at how Paul told the Ephesians to be strong and put on this armor of God. And we walked through a majority of the pieces which are all intertwined with one another. In this lesson, we will focus on the sword, prayer and the enemies we face.
We have looked at the defensive pieces of the armor, but there are two other components that serve a dual purpose.
Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
Everything has been defensive at this point but swords are not just for defending, but also attacking. The writer of Hebrews shares the same metaphor for the word of God where it talks about how the word impacts our own thoughts and intentions of the heart. The word of God is the ultimate rubric for how we ought to live.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 4:12–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Think about the temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) and how Jesus deflected and eventually caused the devil to depart by retorting with Scripture. A strong command of God’s word will allow us to best know how to handle what is thrown at us.
Another way the word of God advances the battle is that it multiplies his kingdom. His word leads to salvation. We see an example of this in Acts 11:13-14:
13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 11:13–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
We also referenced this verse from Romans last time:
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 10:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
We employ this sword liberally in this way. Think about the parable of the sower. The word of God is scattered to many. Even continually scattered to ourselves.
Praying at all times in the Spirit
Here we have the final piece of the armament—prayer and supplication. Supplication is not a term we use that often. One commentary tells us that supplication is…
a common term for a special kind of prayer [HARLESS], an imploring request. “Prayer” for obtaining blessings, “supplication” for averting evils which we fear [GROTIUS].
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 358). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
We have already seen two examples of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians, one in chapter 1 and the other in chapter 3. Both of these ask for God’s blessings for the Ephesians that they may have greater knowledge of God’s love and be strengthened. These are great models of prayers that show the types of requests that the Ephesians, and we, should have of God. Paul goes onto request that they pray for him, that he may be able to boldly proclaim the gospel. Even Paul, whom we might think is already so bold, is still requesting prayers on his behalf. Through our requests, we are continually aligning our will to God’s.
And as he told the Thessalonians (5:17), there is a non-stop nature to prayer that Paul is advocating for. This isn’t to say there aren’t times set aside for devoted prayer, but there is one way of entering God’s presence which is a part of our cycle that we’ve talked about. Tim Keller says this:
Paul’s main concern, then, is for their public and private prayer life. He believes that the highest good is communion of fellowship with God. A rich, vibrant, consoling, hard-won prayer life is the one good that makes it possible to receive all other kinds of goods rightly and beneficially. He does not see prayer merely as a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself. Prayer is a striving to “take hold of God” (Is 64:7) the way in ancient times people took hold of the cloak of a great man as they appealed to him, or the way in modern times we embrace someone to show love.
Keller, Timothy. Prayer (p. 21). Penguin Books.