- Christogenea Internet Radio
Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians Part 8: The Full Armour of Yahweh
In the later parts of chapter 5 of this epistle to the Ephesians we saw Paul of Tarsus admonishing Christians to be subject to one another, men to be subject to Christ, and women to be subject to their husbands. This is the fabric of Christian society. No Christian society can succeed unless it is adorned with this fabric. The Christian household, which is the basic component of Christian society, is a menage a trois, or a household of three, God, a husband subject to God, and a wife subject to her husband. This is the natural order of the creation of Yahweh which is found in Genesis chapter 2, it is the way we are made, and when we try to change this model we end up with the very predicament which we face today: broken homes, single mothers, disgruntled absentee fathers, and children without any real foundation or guidance in society who are instead being trained by godless employees of the State in our corrupted public schools. In addition to these broken families, we have communities of near-dwellers who compete with and step on one another, rather than helping build one another up, being alienated from one another.
Today, without an anchor in Christ, and raised by State schools, for several generations we as a society have been “tossed as waves and carried about in every wind of teaching by the trickery of men,” as Paul had warned in Ephesians chapter 4, “in villainy for the sake of the systematizing of deception.” Now we see the results of our alienation as our formerly Christian nations are overrun with pestilence of Biblical proportions.
Here in this last chapter of this epistle to the Ephesians Paul continues explaining to them how they should be Christians, illustrating the proper function of a Christian household and community:
VI 1 Children, you must obey your parents in authority, for this is just.
As we have explained in earlier chapters of this epistle to the Ephesians, the word κύριος frequently appears where Paul did not use it as a noun referring to “the Lord”, as it is most often translated in the King James Version. While the word κύριος is often used as a noun, it is also an adjective meaning “having power or authority over” (Liddell & Scott). Therefore the phrase ἐν κυρίῳ, which is not a Substantive, is translated as “in authority” here.
The Codices Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D) want the phrase ἐν κυρίῳ, while our text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Freerianus (I), 0285, and the Majority Text.
If it was not our endeavor to adhere to a literal, concordant method of translation, perhaps we may write “Children, you must obey your parents who uphold authority, for this is just.” Paul then cites the appropriate commandment:
2 “Honor your father and mother”, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 “that it would be well with you, and that you may be a long time upon the earth.”
This commandment is found at Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” It is also found at Deuteronomy 5:16 which refers back to this commandment recorded in Exodus. In Matthew chapter 15 Christ is recorded as having said “For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”
4 And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them in education and admonition of authority.
This does not conflict with the words of Solomon in Proverbs chapter 13: “24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
Here the word κυρίου, the Genitive form of κύριος, is “of authority”. However as Paul has already outlined in chapter 5 of this epistle, the authority of which he speaks is the line of subjection from Christ down through the father and the mother. There Paul had admonished his readers to “21 Subject yourselves to one another in fear of Christ: 22 wives, to their own husbands, as if to the Prince, 23 because the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the assembly: He is deliverer of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, in that manner also wives in everything to the husbands.”
Now come the children, who must in turn subject themselves to their parents. Ostensibly, according to the Scripture, they should remain so until they are married, as it says in Genesis chapter 2 that “a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife”. From Sirach chapter 7 we read: “23 Hast thou children? instruct them, and bow down their neck from their youth.” Evidently that means that fathers must teach their children to be subject to Yahweh their God from their youth.
Mothers have an important role in the household and naturally conduct the menial education of their children, but here we see that fathers are ultimately responsible for seeing that children come to respect the authority of God. Now that parents have abdicated this responsibility to the State, the State has become the god of their children, and children no longer respect their parents. As it says in Proverbs chapter 22: “6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Paul now turns his attention to another class commonly found in many ancient households, which are the servants:
5 Bondmen, obey fleshly masters with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as with Christ.
Here the word for masters is also the Greek word κύριος. The plural form of the Greek word δοῦλος, which is kindly translated as bondmen and for which the King James Version has servants, refers to slaves. Originally, according to Liddell & Scott, the term was used to refer to someone who was born as a slave, as opposed to someone who was made a slave through some circumstance of life. The word δοῦλος was often used by Christ in the Gospel, and was therefore it is a factual state of life recognized by God Himself. In 1 Timothy chapter 6 Paul had written: “1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.”
Slavery was a fact of life in the ancient world, it was not necessarily demeaning to be a slave, and often it was a necessity as a matter of survival. There were Roman slaves who themselves had owned property, including other slaves, and Christianity does not despise the state of slavery as it had then existed. Rather, Christian slaveholders were only admonished to treat their slaves well, as we read further on in Paul's statement in that same place in 1 Timothy: “2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.”
Using these same Greek terms, Paul wrote in Colossians chapter 4: “1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” The apostle Peter would have agreed with the advice of Paul here, where he wrote in chapter 2 of his first epistle “18 Servants, subject yourselves with all fear to the masters, not only to the good and reasonable but also to the crooked.”
We will not discuss them here, but the 19th century objections to slavery made by Protestant ministers in the United States, mostly from the North, were all contrived and were absolutely contrary to Scripture. Those so-called ministers were the purveyors of an evil, anti-Christian agenda.
In Colossians chapter 3, Paul had written saying: “22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God”, and he also makes that same admonishment addressing servants, or slaves, here:
6 Not with lip-service as men-pleasers, but as bondmen of Christ, doing the will of Yahweh from the soul, 7 with good will doing service as if to the Prince and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good each may have done, this he will recover for himself as appropriate, whether bondman or free.
Like the word κύριος is treated in the preceding verses, here the phrase παρὰ κυρίου is rendered with the words as appropriate, as Liddell & Scott explain that the word was used to describe something which is valid, ordained, appointed or proper, or even something real, actual, or current (κύριος II.).
The word for lip-service (ὀφθαλμοδουλία, Strong's # 3787) is literally eye-service in Greek, where our departure fully suits the intended meaning of the idiom. The term men-pleasers is a literal translation. We may have written ass-kissers and achieved an accurate expression of the idiom according to our modern usage, but we chose to avoid introducing such vulgarity into the text. Next, Paul addresses the slave-owners.
9 And masters, these same things you must do towards them, giving up threat of punishment, knowing also that the Master of them and of you is in the heavens, and there is no respect of the stature of persons before Him.
The same word κύριος appears here both of fleshly masters and of Christ. The Greek word προσωπολημψία is the respect of the stature of persons, where status may also have been sufficient. The meaning of the word is best illustrated by James in Chapter 2 of his epistle, where he chastises those who would favor the rich for their wealth, and despise the poor for their poverty. The word has nothing to do with race or with the fact that the Covenants of God are with only one particular race, and the use of the word certainly does not make void the covenants of God.
So fleshly masters should fear God, and for that reason they should treat their slaves well. But if we examine the model of slavery in ancient Rome, and look at our society today, the closest comparison we have to ancient slavery is modern corporate employment. Therefore the advice Paul gives to masters and to slaves best fits those who today are called employers and employees. However Roman taxation was probably never so oppressive: evidently their slaves did not pay taxes.
Prophesying the punishment of the ancient people of Judah, Yahweh had said in Jeremiah chapter 15: “2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.” Later, in Revelation chapter 13, we see a similar warning of such predestination where we read in verse 10 that “If one is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If one is to be slain by the sword, he is to be slain by the sword. Thus is the patience and the faith of the saints.”
Slavery was a fact of life, and today it still exists even though it is called by other names and packaged in more appealing ways. Slavery too, when the children of Israel fall into it, is a punishment from God for their disobedience, on a national level as well as a personal. Jeremiah chapter 15 and Revelation chapter 13 reveal that captivity, which is slavery, is also a state of punishment ordained by God. One proof of our slavery is that we cannot conduct the course of our lives without paying debt usury, whether it be our own, our neighbor's, or that of our governments.
When Paul wrote to Philemon, he was writing to a slave-owner on behalf of a captured runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul did not command that Philemon release Onesimus. Rather, he requested that Philemon voluntarily release Onesimus from servitude so that he may be of service to the assemblies of Christ, where Onesimus would be more profitable to them all. Therefore while Paul had made the request for the freedom of Onesimus, he never made a demand for his freedom. The choice was left to his owner, Philemon. That reflects the Christian respect of the rights of property, even when that property is another person, that the holder of the property has a choice to dispose of it as he sees fit. So there is no legitimate “anti-slavery” position in Christianity whereby Christians may deprive other men of their lawfully obtained property. Paul had written in this same manner in 1 Corinthians chapter 7: “20 Each in the calling in which he has been called, in this he must abide. 21 A bondman, you have been called? It must not be a concern to you, but then if you have the ability to become free, rather you use it.” So if a slave has the ability to purchase his freedom, or if he may become free at the will of his master by some other means, he is encouraged to use that ability. Otherwise, the Christian must seek to serve Christ regardless of his status in life. Seeking to serve Christ, one's status in life should not matter.
10 For what remains, [Here the MT interpolates “my brethren”, and A “brethren”; the text follows P46, א, B, D, and I] be empowered [P46 and B have “be able”] in the Prince, and in the might of His strength.
The words empowered, might and strength are from three different Greek words whose roots, δύναμις (Strong's # 1411), κράτος (Strong's # 2904), and ἰσχύς (Strong's # 2479), have virtually identical meanings.
The words “for what remains” indicates that Paul is speaking in conclusion to his epistle. The passage which follows is commonly identified by Paul's analogy of the elements of the faith to the “full armor of God”. As we have the Old Testament today, the paragraph which follows seems to have been inspired from Isaiah 59:17. There, in a prophetic analogy, Yahweh responds to the complete lack of justice in the land, and we read: “12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.”
The similarity of the allegory here with that of of Isaiah 59:17 is striking, however with all certainty the true inspiration for this passage of Ephesians is found in chapter 5 of the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon. The allegorical similarities in the language which the passage from Isaiah also shares, are even more striking here in the Wisdom of Solomon. Additionally, the word for “full armour”, πανοπλία, appears only thirteen times in all Greek Scripture, both canonical and apocryphal. But in this context, the word is found both in Ephesians 6:11 and 13 and in the Wisdom of Solomon at 5:17, and these are the only passages of Scripture which have the word πανοπλία in this context.
Here we shall read the last ten verses of chapter 5 of the Wisdom of Solomon: “14 For the hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tempest, and passeth away as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day. 15 But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. 16 Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them. 17 He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour [or “a whole armour”, the same word πανοπλία which we see in Ephesians chapter 6], and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies [we will discuss this last phrase at length]. 18 He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of an helmet. 19 He shall take holiness for an invincible shield. 20 His severe wrath shall he sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with him against the unwise. 21 Then shall the right aiming thunderbolts go abroad; and from the clouds, as from a well drawn bow, shall they fly to the mark. 22 And hailstones full of wrath shall be cast as out of a stone bow, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them. 23 Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away: thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the thrones of the mighty.”
These verses from Solomon sound like the inspiration for the Greek epic poetry, and the Homeric Hymns for the pagan gods. In a similar manner Paul had mentioned the “armour of light” in Romans chapter 13, and the “armour of righteousness” in 2 Corinthians chapter 6. However note where Solomon mentioned that Yahweh shall “make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies”, and by creature we must understand that the enemies of God are not a part of the creation of Scripture. This same revenge is prophesied in Obadiah 15-18, Micah 4:13 and Revelation 18:6, as well as being mentioned by Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 where he tells them to be ready to “to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
The word for creature and creation in that passage of the Wisdom of Solomon as well as Romans 8:22 and 8:39 is κτίσις, the same word often translated in the King James Version as creation. Solomon said that Yahweh would make “the creation [κτίσις] his weapon for the revenge of his enemies” in the same manner that Paul had used the same word κτίσις in Romans chapter 8 of the singular creation of the Adamic race. In Romans chapter 8 Paul at first said that “the whole creation [κτίσις] groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”, and then he said “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature [κτίσις], shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” So by creation in Romans 8, Paul meant only the singular creation of the Adamic man, as opposed to other things which God had created. We can suppose that the racial message found in the Wisdom of Solomon, which helps to clarify the meaning of κτίσις as it was used by Paul, is perhaps at least one reason why the Wisdom of Solomon is not found in our Bibles today.
This passage from Solomon is indeed the inspiration for Paul's discourse here, and it just as well also demonstrates to us that the Wisdom of Solomon, which in many ways may be shown to have been written by the same author as the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, should indeed be alongside those other books in our Scriptures because from it Paul himself had drawn his inspiration.
11 Put on the full armor of Yahweh, for you to be able to stand against the methods of the False Accuser,
The word for methods is from the Greek root of our English word, μεθοδεία (Strong's 3180). At Ephesians 4:14 we rendered the same word as systematization in the phrase systematization of deception. The False Accuser is ὁ διάβολος, or the devil in the King James Version. The reference is not to some spiritual demon, but to particular persons, as the apostle Peter also warned, to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul continues:
12 because for us [P46, B, and D have “you”; the text follows א, A, I, and the MT] the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against realms, against authorities [P46 has “against methods” in place of the words “against realms, against authorities”], against the rulers of the order of this darkness [the MT has “of the darkness of this age”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and D], against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places [P46 wants “among the heavenly places”].
There are those who insist that the flesh is the devil. We cannot accept that insistence. Each Adamic man has a challenge to overcome concerning the flesh, which Paul describes at length in Romans chapters 7 and 8. But that conflict between the spiritual and the fleshly is not the struggle of which Paul speaks here. Neither is it the primary struggle of the Adamic man. The flesh is not the devil. In fact, Yahweh God created man in the flesh, and it was good. Rather, here Paul tells these Ephesian Christians that the struggle is not against the flesh, “because for us the struggle is not against blood and flesh”.
Here Paul makes a direct correlation between the Devil, or False Accuser, and the “rulers of the order of this darkness”. Of course, this may be correlated to that same devil of Luke chapter 4 where we read “5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” So the Christian struggle is against these devils, these rulers of the order of this darkness and the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places. Paul had written of these “heavenly places” in Ephesians chapter 3, where concerning the preaching of the Gospel to the Nations he wrote: “10 In order that the exceedingly intricate wisdom of Yahweh would now become known to the realms and to the authorities in heavenly places through the assembly, 11 in accordance with the purpose of the ages, which He has done in Yahshua Christ our Prince.”
Commenting on that statement, we discussed this revelation of the Gospel to the authorities in the heavenly places and we said: “The heavenly places that Paul speaks of here are the seats of government and the institutions of nations. Today, colleges and universities pretend to teach Christians, however it should be the other way around. At one time Christianity prevailed in Europe, and it was the other way around. Now for several centuries Judaism has dominated European thought and we are led to worship the gods of Secularism, but soon it will be the other way around once again. Christians should be teaching colleges and universities! The common people of the assemblies of Yahweh God are the revealers of truth, and not the Jews or the professional priesthoods, who are the merchants of Babylon.”
This is the struggle of which Paul speaks here: the struggle for the control of Society which Christians faced at his time, to convert Society from paganism and the “powers of darkness” to light in Yahshua Christ. Christ had told His adversaries, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 22, that “53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” So it is clear that the “princes of this world” are the “rulers of the order of this darkness” of which Paul speaks here, because Christ had called those same adversaries the “prince of this world”, speaking collectively, as Paul had later written of the wisdom spoken by Christians “which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).
A couple of years before writing this epistle from Rome, and shortly before his arrest in Jerusalem, Paul of Tarsus met the elders of the Christian assemblies of Ephesus as he stopped over in Miletus, as he was en route to Judaea. There, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20, Paul had told the Ephesians that he would not see them again face-to-face, and he warned them that men would attempt to corrupt them, saying “29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” So we see two types of men who would attempt to lead astray the flocks of Christ: those from without and those from within.
Likewise the apostle Peter says in chapter 2 of his second epistle: “1 Now there were also false prophets among the people, as even among you there shall be false teachers who shall introduce destructive systems of philosophy [or more literally, destructive heresies], even denying the Master who has bought them, bringing upon themselves quick destruction, 2 and many shall follow in their licentiousness, because of whom the way of truth shall be blasphemed, 3 and with greediness they shall make profit from you with fictitious words, for whom from of old their judgment is not idle and their destruction does not sleep!”
The apostle Jude described this same phenomenon only a little differently, where he had written “3 Beloved, making all haste to write to you concerning our common salvation I had necessity to write to you encouraging you to contend once for all for the faith having been delivered to the saints. 4 For some men have stolen in, those of old having been written about beforetime for this judgment, godless men, substituting the favor of our God for licentiousness and denying our only Master and Prince, Yahshua Christ.”
So we see in Jude men who are described as “those of old” who had “been written about beforetime”, and he later associates them with the “way of Cain”, the “error of Balaam”, which was without a doubt an incident of the “going after” of “strange flesh” which he also attributes to them, by which he calls them “clouds without water”, “twice dead” and “not having the Spirit”. Peter also described the false prophets among the people as having been condemned “from of old”, “following the way of Balaam” and as “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed”.
So we see those “grievous wolves” which Paul warned would “enter in among you, not sparing the flock” are described by Jude as men who have “stolen in”, meaning that they did not belong in the assemblies of Yahweh or of Christ in the first place. There are men who seek their own gain, which Paul describes to the Ephesians where he says “of your own selves shall men arise”, where Peter says of these false prophets that “many shall follow” them, and then there are others who are outside, and they infiltrate in order to corrupt the assemblies, which Paul describes as “grievous wolves enter[ing] in among you”, which Jude says “have stolen in”, and which Peter says are “natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed”.
We bring all of this to light in this context in order to show that Christians have a collective adversary, called the Devil or the False Accuser, and the “princes of this world”, which in Paul's time they had been challenged to resist. These are the purveyors of Peter's “damnable heresies” for which Jude “had necessity to write to you encouraging you to contend once for all for the faith having been delivered to the saints.” So Jude had necessity to write in order to explain the same struggle about which Paul had written to the Ephesians here. These men, “grievous wolves”, were not candidates to conversion to the truth of Christ, but rather they were infiltrators from outside who were already condemned “of old” by God, as Christ Himself had told them in John chapter 10, “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
Speaking of one of those “heavenly places” of power and authority, namely the temple in Jerusalem, Paul had written concerning those same men whom Christ had called “not My sheep” in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, that “3 You should not be deceived by anyone, in any way, because if apostasy had not come first, and the man of lawlessness been revealed; the son of destruction, 4 he who is opposing and exalting himself above everything said to be a god or an object of worship, and so he is seated in the temple of Yahweh, representing himself that he is a god.” Paul then said “7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already operating, he prevailing only presently, until he should be out of the way, 8 and then will the lawless be revealed, whom Prince Yahshua will destroy with the breath of His mouth, and abolish at the manifestation of His presence. 9 Whose presence is in accordance with the operation of Satan [the Adversary] in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, 10 and in every trick of unrighteousness in those who are perishing, because they accepted not the love of the truth, for them to be preserved.” Paul had written these things of the Edomite Jews who had control of the temple in Jerusalem as he wrote, since he was writing in the present tense, and not of the future. These are the same Edomite Jews whom Christ had called the children of the devil in John chapter 8.
So Paul admonishes these Ephesians to “11, Put on the full armor of Yahweh, for you to be able to stand against the methods of the Devil,” which are those eternal enemies of God who have infiltrated and corrupted all earthly governments and institutions since the dawn of Man. In Judaea in Paul's time, they were manifested as Edomite Jews, however they have gone by other names at other times. Then Paul says “12, because for us the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against realms, against authorities, against the rulers of the order of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places.” And this describes the workings of those same people, not only up to Paul's time, but up to our own time today, as they still operate in that same fashion, as the devil had rather confidently said to Christ, speaking of all the kingdoms of the world, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”
Paul also understood, as he was about to defend his Christian faith before the emperor Nero in Rome, that he faced this same dilemma in the court of the emperor. So towards the end of this epistle, in this same regard Paul asks for the prayers of his readers, “that speech may be given to me in the opening of my mouth with freespokenness to make known the mystery of the good message, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in them I may speak freely as it is necessary for me to speak.”
Then Paul repeats himself again, further stressing the importance of what he had just written:
13 Because of this take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day, even to stand, all things being accomplished.
As Christ Himself had insisted in the Gospel, Paul had always taught that the day of the return of Christ and the day of the judgment and wrath of Yahweh were forthcoming immediately. Many critics of Christianity claim that the apostles are at fault for teaching that the return of Christ was imminent, and since it has not yet happened that the apostles were somehow wrong, and Christianity is discredited. Foreseeing this very attitude the apostle Peter had written: “3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
Because of the presence of the words of Paul here, where he says “all things being accomplished”, we must make a long but rather necessary digression. There is another line of thinking, contrary to that which Peter addressed, which is often called preterism and which generally insists that because Christ had said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 21, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled”, and since Christ was describing the pending destruction of Jerusalem, all things written were fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. That is also a very simple-minded and mistaken viewpoint. These same people then insist that the Revelation was written before 70 AD, so that they could claim that it, too, was all fulfilled by 70 AD. But they have never provided an exegetical commentary on either the Revelation or the prophets as a proof of their theory.
In fact, Christ said that “these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” in reference to Jerusalem because if Jerusalem was not destroyed after the Messiah was “cut off”, as it is written in Daniel chapter 9, then all things written would never be fulfilled. But that does not mean that there were not other things written which concerned events apart from the advent of the Messiah or the destruction of Jerusalem. In fact, examining all the words of the prophets, there were many things written which are still not fulfilled, and other things written which certainly seem to have been fulfilled since the destruction of Jerusalem.
When a man plans a 2,000 mile journey and gets halfway there, he may say “I must get on to the next stop, so that I can complete my journey.” Arriving at the next stop may not be the completion of the journey, but the journey could not be completed without arriving at the next stop. So we have the same situation with the Scripture. We have seen the advent of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem so that all things written in the prophets may be fulfilled, but there are other things which are written in the prophets which have obviously not yet happened, so these things must still await us.
In fact, Paul had written to the Romans that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”, 13 years before Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman armies. Hundreds of thousands of Edomite Jews were destroyed. So Paul certainly understood Daniel chapter 9. But here he warns the Ephesians to “take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day”. Now, Ephesus was well out of the scope of the battles between the Judaeans and the Romans, so Paul must have been talking about some other evil day. And since the Edomite Jews were certainly not driven to extinction in 70 AD, then the words of Obadiah could not yet be fulfilled, where it says “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” So we still await the fulfillment of those words, and we still await the end of the enemies of Christ once and for all. Therefore Identity Christians should not be fooled by the preterists.
The same Paul who in 57 AD had told the Romans that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”, writes here to the Ephesians in 60 or 61 AD that “for us the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against realms, against authorities, against the rulers of the order of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places” and then he says “because of this take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day, even to stand, all things being accomplished.” With this it is clear that Paul had foreseen a long, ongoing process where Christians must struggle against evil until the coming of some other evil day, not related to what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD, and which was well beyond 70 AD. Yet just like its companion heresy futurism, preterism also makes a mockery of the language of Scripture, setting the Word of God at naught.
We do not limit the interpretation of the messages to the seven churches of the Revelation to the ancient Christian assemblies of those seven cities in the first century. We believe the meanings behind the messages transcend the specific assemblies to which they were written. However the messages were nevertheless intended for those assemblies, and an immediate interpretation must also be relevant to each of the assemblies themselves.
Concerning the Ephesians, in Revelation chapter 2 we read: “1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
It was Paul of Tarsus who had first preached the Christian Gospel in Ephesus. We see this in Luke's very terse language in Acts chapter 18, where speaking of Paul after his departure from Corinth, from which he had been accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, it says “19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there [which probably means that he left Aquila and Priscilla in the place where they were lodging]: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Judaeans. 20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.” Reading the rest of that chapter of Acts, we see that after this short stay Aquila and Priscilla had remained in Ephesus, where they had met Apollos in that same synagogue “and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”, because he knew only the baptism of John. After some months Paul returned, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 19, and then he remained in Ephesus for three years.
The message to the Ephesians in the Revelation admonishes them for having left their first love, and the Christian Gospel as taught to them by Paul of Tarsus must have been that first love to which the Revelation is referring. However here in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, written about 61 AD, there is no indication that Paul had known of any such problems among the assembly at Ephesus. In fact, Paul himself had warned the Ephesians of those same things for which the Revelation later complimented them, concerning the rejection of false apostles, in 57 AD where he had seen them in Miletus for the last time before his arrest in Judaea as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20. But in truth, the Revelation was not written before 70 AD. Rather, it was written around 96 AD, after John was released from Patmos and had returned to Ephesus, where he spent the last years of his life. During the thirty or so years between Paul's writing of this epistle and John's writing of the Revelation, the Ephesians must have suffered those things which the Revelation describes. But evidently, the candlestick was not moved from Ephesus until October, 1304, when the city surrendered to the Turkish hordes. That was also in fulfillment of other prophecies, such as those found in Daniel chapter 8 and Revelation chapter 9.
The preterists insist that all things written in the prophets were fulfilled by 70 AD, and their insistence makes God a liar in many ways. Instead, God is true, and every man a liar. What the preterists fail to understand is that Luke chapter 21 must be understood in context with the second witness to that same discourse given by Christ, recorded in Matthew chapter 24. There is a third witness in Mark chapter 13. The differences in the three accounts make them all the more credible, showing that at a much later time the apostles had each independently recorded what they had remembered of the words of Christ.
In Matthew chapter 24 we learn that after Christ foretold of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the apostles had asked Him three questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The first question was in reference to what Christ had said about the temple. The two other questions may have been related to the first in the minds of the apostles, but they were not necessarily related at all. So Christ goes into a long discourse answering all three questions, but that does not mean that all three of the events inquired of would necessarily happen at the same time. As the answers are recorded, it is also evident that Christ did not sort them out for us.
In Luke chapter 21, it speaks of the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem where it says in verse 24: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The word “Gentiles” is more properly “nations” since here in this passage it is the same Greek word which is translated as both nations and Gentiles in the King James Version. So we see Christ Himself speak of both the ongoing judgment of His enemies and the future fulfillment of the “times of the nations” following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. So it is foolish to think that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, seeing that there is a time for the fulfillment of the nations after the enemies of Christ are “led away captive into all nations”, and that those enemies still exist among those nations during that period of time. Yet other prophecies, such as Obadiah, promise the eventual and complete and utter destruction of those same enemies and therefore once again, all prophecy could not have been fulfilled by 70 AD. All prophecy cannot be fulfilled until the enemies of Yahweh taken captive into all nations are ultimately rooted out and destroyed. The Identity Christians who have succumbed to the sophistry of the preterists are either very gullible, or very much blinded by some underlying but foolish agenda.
So while the preterists think that the coming of the Son of Man refers to the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, at the end of the discourse in Matthew we see the contrary: “37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Paul of Tarsus, as well as the other apostles, taught the ever-imminent return of Christ because that was the exact teaching of Christ, “be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh”. Therefore we cannot imagine that when they saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, as it was in 70 AD, that by itself was the fulfillment of all of the words of the prophets. Paul did not have that understanding, and neither did the other apostles, because that is not at all what Christ had said, and we still await the fulfillment of the “times of the Gentiles”, along with the destruction of the enemies of our God.
Many Christians miss the fact that in Scripture, there are different aspects of the judgment of Yahweh. While there is a final and great Judgment Day to look forward to, which is promised in many places in Scripture, there is also the ongoing judgment of God which occurs on any and every day. So where Paul had told the Ephesians to “take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day, even to stand, all things being accomplished”, he is really telling them two different things. First, that the Ephesians taking up the full armour of Yahweh may stand in the evil day, which means that they may be preserved against any danger which may come upon them, their city, or their nation at any given time. But second, that they also may stand at all once all things are accomplished, meaning that they are able to stand with the children of God who are promised the ultimate salvation at that final judgment when all things are indeed accomplished: but that is not until after the “times of the nations be fulfilled”. Since we still have nations just as we had nations when Christ had spoken those words, those days are not yet fulfilled.
Because of this ongoing process in the necessary struggle against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places, which we see once again in all of our governments and institutions today, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day” and continues the analogy by stating:
14 Therefore stand, girding your loins with the truth, and putting on the breastplate of justice, 15 and binding the feet in preparation of the good message of peace; 16 in all taking up the shield of the faith, with which you will be able to quench all the burning arrows of the wicked.
The last words of verse 16, “of the wicked”, may have been rendered “of the evil one”, however that phrase may be mistakenly interpreted as referring to some particular spiritual demon, where here Paul refers to any wicked individual at any given time. Paul used the same phrase in the same manner in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3: “1 For what remains, pray brethren, for us - in order that the Word of the Prince may move quickly and be extolled, just as even with you, 2 and that we should be protected from those disgusting and wicked men, since the faith is not for all. 3 But trustworthy is the Prince, who will establish you and keep you from the wicked.”
As for their burning arrows, we think of the spiritual wickedness in high places which causes the just to be persecuted with lawsuits and regulations enforcing such perversions as “gay marriage” and “equal rights”, and we see the passage in Isaiah which we had cited earlier where it says “14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.” This is the political climate created by the enemies of God, where those who would seek to depart from the evil become a prey for lawyers and government agencies and other vultures. Paul's allegory describing the Christian's defense continues:
17 And receive [D wants “receive”] the helmet of deliverance, and the sword of the Spirit, which is Yahweh’s word. 18 Through all prayer and entreaty worshiping at all times in Spirit, and for this very thing being watchful with all persistence and entreaty on behalf of all of the saints;
So Paul of Tarsus takes for an analogy the same imagery which we see in chapter 5 of the Wisdom of Solomon, where it is said that the full armour of Yahweh is the starting point for the defense of the Faith and the salvation of His people, and speaking of Yahweh Himself it says that “17 He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies. 18 He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of an helmet. 19 He shall take holiness [which for true Israel is set-apartness] for an invincible shield. 20 His severe wrath shall he sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with him against the unwise. 21 Then shall the right aiming thunderbolts go abroad; and from the clouds, as from a well drawn bow, shall they fly to the mark. 22 And hailstones full of wrath shall be cast as out of a stone bow, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them. 23 Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away: thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the thrones of the mighty.”
Similarly, Paul describes the full armour of Yahweh as the sure knowledge of our Salvation which is the “helmet of deliverance”, with the Word of God which is the “sword of the Spirit”, with the “shield of the faith” which is a belief in the promises of God, and with the “breastplate of righteousness”, which is a willingness to keep the laws of God, girding the loins with the Truth and binding the feet for the spread of the Gospel which represents that Truth. The Greeks and Romans bound their feet, as they described the fastening of their sandals to their feet and lower legs in preparation for travel.
It is just as evident that Paul of Tarsus is using this same analogy to describe the exact same predicament that Solomon was describing. Here Solomon said that the creation, meaning the Adamic man, would be Yahweh's weapon for revenge against his enemies. Paul had said much the same thing in his second epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 10 where he had told them to be in readiness “to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” Solomon informs us that the wrath of Yahweh unleashes His fury through His people against the “thrones of the mighty” just as Paul tells us here that the struggle for us is “against realms, against authorities, against the rulers of the order of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places.” The message is the same with Solomon as it is with Paul, and there is nothing new under the sun. When the people of Yahweh choose obedience to His law, then Yahweh will employ His people in the destruction of His enemies and theirs. Only then shall all things written truly be fulfilled.
So in reality, adorning the full armour of Yahweh prepares Christians in obedience so that Yahweh God may use His people to destroy His enemies, and also to defend themselves against His enemies until the day of their destruction comes. This is not merely to convert those enemies, but to destroy them as it says in Obadiah, that “15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” In Obadiah as well as elsewhere, we see the end of the heathen as well as the end of the Edomite Jew.
For this reason we read in Micah chapter 4 “13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.” For this same reason we read in Revelation chapter 18 “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” Once again, only then shall all things written truly be fulfilled.
Paul continues by asking the Ephesians that they pray for him as well:
19 and on my behalf in order that speech may be given to me in the opening of my mouth with freespokenness to make known the mystery of the good message [B wants the words for “of the good message”; the text follows א, A, D, I, and the MT], 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in them I may speak freely as it is necessary for me to speak.
The beginning part of verse 20 literally reads “for which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I may speak...”, and we took a liberty in accordance with our own idiom.
Even when we are persuaded that we know all that we need to know, we are not always able to say the things that we would like to at the time which we think is most opportune. That may be because while we wish to speak, it is simply not time for those listening to hear. So Paul of Tarsus, with all of his knowledge and experience after 30 years of preaching the gospel, still prays, and asks for prayer, that he may be able to say the things which he esteems to be necessary in defense of the faith. That is also a reflection of his great humility.
As we have previously explained, Paul is under arrest in Rome and is about to be brought before the emperor Nero for a defense of the faith. Perhaps by petitioning this prayer immediately following his summons to “put on the full armor of Yahweh”, Paul reveals that he also had himself in mind, because he had not yet defended himself before Caesar, and would certainly need to withstand the “fiery darts of the wicked” when he did.
21 Now in order that you may also know of the things concerning me, what I am doing, Tuchikos, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Prince, will make all things known to you, 22 whom I have sent to you for this very thing, in order that you would know the things concerning us and that would encourage your hearts.
Here it is evident that Tychicus delivered this epistle, and Tychicus was mentioned as having been sent to Ephesus by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:12, which was a letter also written during Paul’s captivity in Rome. When we began this series on Ephesians, we related the doubt of the academic scholars that this letter was actually written to the Ephesians, since the earliest manuscripts want the word “Ephesus” in Ephesians 1:1. However since in 2 Timothy shortly after this letter was written Paul explicitly mentions having sent Tychicus to Ephesus, and since he is mentioned here as having been sent to the recipients of this letter by Paul, it is wholly evident that this letter was indeed originally meant for the Ephesians. Furthermore, it is evident that Tychicus himself was an Ephesian, as in Acts chapter 20 Luke informs us that Tychicus and Trophimus are “of Asia”, and at the time Ephesus was the capital city of Roman Asia.
As we have explained in our Ordering and chronology of the Epistles of Paul, an article which was only recently published at Christogenea, Paul's epistle to the Ephesians was written from Rome, and this is evident in 2 Timothy 4:12 where Paul explained that he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus, and we see that Paul is a prisoner when he wrote Ephesians (i.e. Ephesians 3:1). So here in Ephesians 6:21 we see that Tychicus must have brought this letter to Ephesus before Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy, as we see in 2 Timothy 4:12 where he mentioned that he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus. Perhaps the “full armor of Yahweh” prayer at the end of the epistle reveals that Paul had not yet defended himself before Caesar, something there was no mention of in the epistle, but that he was about to do so, which he mentions later in 2 Timothy.
The second epistle to Timothy was also written from Rome, after Paul had already offered his first defense of Christianity, which he mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:16. So this first defense must have happened after Paul wrote this epistle to the Ephesians, and then not long after that Paul wrote 2 Timothy. This agrees with his statement that he sent Tychicus to Ephesus, ostensibly with this very epistle to the Ephesians in hand. In 2 Timothy chapter 4 (verses 9, 11 and 13), Paul asks Timothy to come to Rome, and to bring Mark with him. In the three other surviving epistles which Paul later wrote from Rome, where in each one Timothy is with him, it is evident that Timothy did indeed comply. Those final three epistles are Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Either while or perhaps before Timothy had arrived to be with Paul in Rome, Tychicus returned from Ephesus, and Paul in turn sent Tychicus off once again to go to the Colossians with that epistle (Colossians 4:7).
Paul then concludes his epistle with a salutation:
23 Peace to the brethren [P46 has “saints”], and love [A has “mercy”] with faith from Father Yahweh, even Prince Yahshua Christ. 24 Favor is with all of those loving our Prince, Yahshua Christ, with incorruption. [Meaning with sincerity.]
The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text add ἀμήν (281, “amen” or “truly”) at the end of this verse. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B).
With this we conclude our presentation of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. We cannot imagine having anything more to say, except to pray that we said enough, to help our readers and listeners understand this epistle in its proper historical and Biblical perspective.
And we pray that among Identity Christians, preterism is dead. But if not, we will continue in that battle as well.