Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2016
Eph 6:10. For the rest, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the power of his virtue.
Eph 6:11. Put on you the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12. For not to us is the wrestling against flesh and blood; but against princes and powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness, in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:13. On this account take the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and stand in all things perfect.
For the rest. The Apostle has laid the foundation of Christian morality on a sound basis, in accordance with the commands and appointments of the Creator of the world, in the injunctions given from the beginning of Chapter 4 to this point, in opposition to the false doctrine of the heretics. In conclusion, he now sets before his readers, with extraordinary energy of language, the critical nature of the warfare
they had to maintain against these pestilent errors, which he traces to their true origin, the machinations of the devil, who was endeavouring to overthrow the Christian religion in its infancy. So insidious was the danger they had to combat, that it would require all their resolution and all their watch fulness to preserve their faith. Be strengthened in the might of the power of the Lord. Not the strength only, but the consciousness of strength, and the courage and determination arising from that consciousness. Put on the armour of God, in the Greek the panoply, or complete armour. As if he said, we have a crafty foe to contend with, and no part must be left unguarded, lest you be wounded there, as Achilles received his death-wound in his heel, though the rest of his body was protected. Our struggle is not against flesh and
blood. Our foes are not men, who are flesh and blood, but evil spirits who cannot be killed, subtle, strong, malicious; though they may make use of evil men as their instruments. They are princes and powers, once of heaven, since of all the heavenly orders some angels accompanied Lucifer in his fall.
The world-rulers of this darkness. The Greek word κοσμοκρατορας, Saint Jerome thinks, was coined by Saint Paul, being used no where else than in this passage. Tertullian, on Marc v. has mundi tenentes. The term used in the Vulgate, mundi retores, should be construed as one word, as in the Greek, and this will account grammatically for the genitive which follows, tenebrarum harum. The Syriac has, the possessors of this dark world. Not that evil spirits are the possessors or rulers of the world by God s appointment, but only by usurpation and conquest, and that only over the souls of men who willingly submit to their power. Probably, therefore, by the this dark world, we are to understand the infidels, heretics, and idolaters, of whom the world was then full, in opposition to whom the faithful are called sons of light, sup. v. 8. Christ speaks of the devil as the prince of this world, Joh. 14:30. Spiritualia nequitia is a literal translation of the Greek; it is a Hebraism for spiritual wickedness, or wicked spirits. And they dwell in the heavenly places. The whole of this passage is almost an exact description of the powers or intelligences, whom the followers of Simon supposed to dwell in the planets, and determine the fate of mankind, and who were therefore the objects of their devotion, and the language of the Apostle implies that the confidence of the heretics was really reposed in evil spirits. Our foes are invisible, in the air around us, innumerable, my name is legion, completely depraved and wicked, invincibly crafty and cunning, so powerful that they rule the world, hate us irreconcilably, are resolutely bent on our destruction. How, then, Saint Chrysostom asks, can we hope to overcome them, if we live in pleasure, and unarmed? On this account take the armour of God, the description of which is given in the following verses, that you may be able to resist in the evil day. The evil day is either the day of temptation, or the day of persecution, which the Apostle foresaw; or possibly the day of death, when the spirits of darkness will assemble their forces for a final assault. And stand in all things perfect, that is perfectly and completely armed for the conflict. Or else, as the Greek has, having completed all, and fought your fight, you will stand in the judgment of the last day. The Syriac has: that when in all things you are fully prepared, you may be able to stand firm in the profession of the true faith.
Eph 6:14. Stand therefore with your loins girded in truth, and clothed in the cuirass of justice.
Eph 6:15. And your feet shod in the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16. In all taking the shield of faith, in which you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
Eph 6:17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Stand, in order of battle, your loins girded in truth, a firm and resolute adherence to the one true Catholic and Apostolic faith, which you have received as God’s truth. Clothed in the cuirass, or coat of mail of justice, an habitual practice of the commands of God in all the relations of life, as set forth in the preceding chapters. Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, continually ready to maintain the Gospel of Christ in opposition to heretics and pagans. This is doubtless said with especial reference to those of the Ephesian Christians who were most thoroughly acquainted with the evangelical doctrine, and able to instruct and convince their neighbours, but all could illustrate its teaching by a Christian life. It is called the Gospel of peace because it proclaimed God s peace to man, reconciliation in
Christ, and remission of sins. Boldness, confidence, and alacrity are required for such a task, but also the nature of the promises they proclaimed was calculated to supply these. One who walks barefoot over rough places must proceed with timidity and caution; but if well shod or booted, he will move with boldness and freedom. Tepidity and timidity are generally associated together, and so are fervour and fearlessness. In all, the Greek has upon or over all, take the shield of faith, the creed of the Catholic Church, which will meet and extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one. These fiery darts are the insidious arguments, in the guise of philosophy, by which the heretics supported their monstrous system of error. The title here given to the devil, in the Greek, the wicked one, is the same by which Christ designated him in the Lord’s prayer, on both occasions on which he delivered the formula, deliver us from the wicked one, Matt. 6:13, Lk 11:4. The Vulgate has here the most wicked. Take for a helmet the assured hope of everlasting salvation, as the Apostle explains 1 Thess 5:8. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, by means of which Christ over came the devil in the temptation, and put him to flight.
Eph 6:18. With all prayer and entreaty praying at every time in spirit, and in it watching in all earnestness and entreaty on behalf of all the saints.
Eph 6:19. And for me, that speech may be given me in opening my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the Gospel;
Eph 6:20. For which I discharge an embassy in chains, so that in it I may have boldness to speak as I ought.
The Apostle looked forward with some degree of nervous apprehension, as this passage clearly shews, to his approaching interview with Nero, to whom he considered himself, as it were, accredited as an ambassador from a still greater King. He was most anxious to deliver his message clearly, faithfully, and fully, knowing how much might possibly depend on it. He makes the same earnest petition, on the same occasion, in the Epistle to the Colossians, 4:3. The intercessions offered by the Church for the Apostle of the nations on this occasion were doubtless heard, for although neither the emperor, nor his minister, the philosopher Seneca, were converted to the faith of Christ, they treated the ambassador of Christ with respect, and set him at liberty to pursue his apostolic labours in many distant countries, until the outbreak of the persecution some few years later.