Final Exhortation from Paul

While a member of Mars Hill Church, I was honored to serve on the team that wrote inductive studies in support of the sermon series. From 2011 to 2014, we wrote seven inductive studies; many are no longer in print. This series of blogs include the individual lessons I contributed to each study. I pray that they help you come to a deeper understanding of Jesus through the study of God’s word.


Read Ephesians 6:10-20.

Paul concluded his letter to the church at Ephesus with a final exhortation.  The Christian life is rich in blessings, but not always peaceful and problem free.  Believers face a cosmic battle with the forces of darkness.  Though the ultimate war has been won, and Jesus is the victor, the battle still wages.  We are soldiers for the gospel under attack.  Therefore, we must take on the whole armor of God.

God, thank you that we are strengthened by your might.  We pray that we won’t abandon the armor you have provided for our battle.  Thank you that Jesus has won the war, and please continue to strengthen us as we face a battle every day.

 

OBSERVATION

What is the big idea of this passage? How would you title it in your own words?

Who is mentioned in this passage? 

What is Paul’s intent in this passage?

Why does Paul end Ephesians this way?

 

INTERPRETATION

Paul finished his letter to Ephesus instructing believers on how to fight against the devil.  The battle strategy differs from the typical worldy approach.  While it’s not aggressive, it’s not passive either.

Read Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) and mark every use of the word strength and its derivatives. 

How did Paul define our strength?  Where does it come from?

Ephesians 6:10 exhorts us not to act strong but to be strong in the Lord.  This strength doesn’t come from what we do or say, or from our own resolve; rather, strength comes from the Lord.

The ESV reads “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” while the NIV reads, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Distilling this verse down to its essence, we are to be strong in the strength of God’s strength.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible best captures the original passive tense by saying, “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his vast strength.”  Human strength always fails in the end.  Fortunately, we’re not required to muscle up and power through our battles.  We merely take God at his word that he is strong for us.

Read Ephesians 6:11-13 marking the verbs “put on,” “take up,” and “stand”. 

What do you learn about the manner in which we engage in battle with the enemy?

Read Ephesians 6:14-17. 

Next to each piece of armor, label whether its function is defensive or offensive.  The final piece of armor Paul mentioned is the sword of the Spirit.  It is the only weapon described.  What is the sword of the Spirit?

Jesus had scripture memorized and ready when temptations arose.  Likewise, deep knowledge of Scripture is so important to our daily existence as well.  When we memorize God’s Word, we are ready to wield it in moments of temptation and attack.  Scripture memory isn’t a mental contest, accomplishment, or achievement; it’s necessary for enduring in battle until our final day.

Read Matthew 4:1-11. 

How did Jesus combat the enemy Satan?  Record his words in response to Satan’s temptation.

So far we could outline this passage, “Be strong in the Lord, Stand Firm, Put on God’s armor.”  Now read Ephesians 6:18-20.  What was Paul’s final exhortation?  Refer to Matthew 26:41, where Jesus gave the same exhortation to the disciples at Gethsemane.

 

APPLICATION

Several years back, I researched the meaning of my name.  Marci is derived from Mars, the Greek god of war.  I’m sure my parents had no idea when they named me how appropriate it was!  In my sin nature, I want to fight and defend.  Ephesians 6 challenges me to fight a different way, not relying on myself.

How about you? Are you strong in the Lord’s strength or your own?  What do you need to relinquish control of to be strengthened in the Lord?

Have you ever experienced a “when you have done all, stand” situation (see Ephesians 6:13)?  May I recommend that you journal that moment so you have a written record to share with others and remind yourself of the time when God fought a battle for you.

That’s it friends.  Christians are called to fight and defend themselves with God’s armor against spiritual attacks, as we go forth spreading the gospel.  In battle, we need to put on God’s armor, to know and wield God’s word, and to watch and pray.   We are victorious in Christ!  Our sword cuts to the bone (Heb 4:12) and brings light to the darkness (Ps. 119:105).  And our prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16).  We are more than conquerors in Christ (Rom. 8:37).

 

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