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Ephesians 6:10-13

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 potentiae ipsius.

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 Diaboli.

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 170170     “Plutarch tells us, (Symp. l. 2., page 638,) that wrestling was the most artful and subtle of all the ancient games, and that the name of it (πάλη) was derived from a word, which signifies to throw a man down by deceit and craft. And it is certain that persons who understand this exercise have many fetches, and turns, and changes of posture, which they make use of to supplant and trip up their adversaries. And it is with great justice, that a state of persecution is compared with it; since many are the arts, arising from the terrors of worldly evil on the one hand, and the natural love which men have to life, liberty, plenty, and the pleasures of life, on the other, that the devil makes use of to circumvent and foil them.” — Chandler. (τὰς μεθοδείας) of the devil

12. For we wrestle 171171     “Πάλη is properly a gymnastic term; but the Apostle often unites military with agonistic metaphors; and here the agonistic is not less suitable than the military. So in a similar passage of Max. Tyr. Diss. Version 9, volume 1 page 79, ed. Reisk, we have mention of Socrates wrestling with Melitus, with bonds and poison; next, the philosopher Plato wrestling with a tyrant’s anger, a rough sea, and the greatest dangers; then, Xenophon struggling with the prejudices of Tissaphernes, the snares of Ariaeus, the treachery of Meno, and royal machinations; and, lastly, Diogenes struggling with adversaries even more formidable, namely, poverty, infamy, hunger, and cold.” — Bloomfield. 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 κοσμοκράτορας, 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 (ἀντίθεον) 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.


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