- God has given us everything in Christ – it is now a matter of realising His blessings into our lives. In fact, so sure was Paul about God’s blessings, that he wrote about them in the past tense (1:3).
- Paul’s primary concern in prayer was for the spiritual growth of the Church, because he knew that if that is affected, everything else (organisation, ministries etc) would be too (1:15-23).
- The ultimate purpose of salvation is to glorify God (2:4-7).
- Salvation is a work of God’s grace alone – it cannot be merited, earned, inherited, gained or passed on (2:8-9). And yet, it is not a passive thing – it requires repentance and faith.
- Through the blood of Christ, Gentiles can now belong to the people of God (2:11-18).
- The cornerstone of the Church is Jesus Christ; the apostles and prophets laid the foundation, on which we are all being built together, aiming to perfection (2:19-21).
- The blessings that were set out for Israel to inherit have been made available to the rest of the world. We are able to share in the promise by being in Christ, possible only through the Gospel (3:1-6).
- Paul carried the gospel (hidden mystery) to the gentiles so that the church in its variety would glorify God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. God’s wisdom is shown to the heavenly places because God’s plan to save every people group works (3:7-10).
- God’s plan worked and now we have direct access to God, whom we can be confident and bold approaching him through faith (3:11-13).
- In Paul’s prayer for the church, he asks for essential things for the Church to grow spiritually. Spiritual strength and power form the Holy Spirit. Christ at the centre through faith as we learn about love. Understanding of God’s love for us. All so that we may grow to be like God fully (3:14-21).
- We are to bear with other Christians patiently, because we all come under Christ as one body. We are to be united as one church (4:1-6).
- Gifts have been given through Christ. Without fail, each Christian receives Grace as a gift. There are other gifts as well, they come so that we should serve Christ by using them to build up the Church in being like Jesus Christ (4:7-13).
- It is our responsibility to grow into mature believers, being able to discern spiritual truth from lies and being able to communicate the truth in love (4:14-16).
- The Christian’s way of life is a new life. We are to put away everything sinful, repent (change our minds) and take up a new sinless life in Christ. We are to be forgiving like God in every way (4:17-32).
- We are called to be imitators of Christ in terms of daily life (5:1). We are to walk in love (5:2) and avoid uncleanness (5:3-6), live in the light (5:8), walk in wisdom (5:17), not be drunk (5:18a) but continuously be filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18b).
- In marriage, wives are called to submit to their husbands as they submit to the Lord (5:22-24, 33b), while husbands are called to love their wives just as Jesus loves His Church (5:25-33a).
- In family relationships, children are called to obey their parents (6:1-3), while parents (“fathers”) are told not to abuse their position so as to cultivate feeling of anger and resentment by their children, but to raise them in Christ (6:4).
- In relationships between masters and slaves, slaves are called to respect their masters, while masters are told not to abuse their authority over their slaves (6:5-9).
- Christians are called to put on God’s armour in order to withstand Satan’s cunning and potentially devastating attacks (6:10-17)
- With the armour in place, Christians are called to faithful, frequent, and selfless prayer (6:18-20).
Also, we couldn’t leave without mentioning the Armour of God, described in 6:10-17:
- Truth (v14): The belt that holds all the loose ends together so that they don’t hinder combat (Ex. 12:11).
- Righteousness (v14): The breastplate that protects the vital organs – the ones that are also easily targeted and hit. God’s nature is righteousness and that’s why it’s the most vital element of the armour. Since Paul is writing specifically to Christians, righteousness (= holy living) here refers to daily life, not salvation.
- Gospel of peace (lit. “good news of peace”) (v15): Our shoes/boots. Roman army boots had nails on the bottom to provide a good footing during marching and, most importantly, battle. Our confidence in the fact that we now have peace with God through Jesus Christ gives us balance, stability and keeps us from falling even if we are hit (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-16).
- Faith (v16): Our shield, the basic trust in God – as a child trusts his/her father – is there to defend us from Satan’s temptations. The Roman shield (same root for the ancient Greek word for door!) mentioned here refers to the large, body size shield that legionnaires would use to protect entire platoons from arrows. It is interesting that the shield was the simplest, most basic part of the soldier’s armour – even a child could use it, while everything else required some form of training (even the boots!). Simple faith is something that every Christian – despite his/her level of spiritual maturity – can wield against Satan’s fiery arrows (a usual term for temptations).
- Salvation (v17): Our helmet, protecting the head – a major target in battle (even today), since a brain trauma will incapacitate the rest of the body, no matter how well it is protected. In short, if the head is damaged, all the rest of the armour is rendered useless. Our assurance of salvation is Satan’s favourite target. By shaking it, he can cause doubt and from there, like a brain injury, he can debilitate the body. Being certain that we are indeed saved is the only way to protect our minds and thoughts from Satan’s influences (Is. 59:17; 1 Thes. 5:8).
- God’s word (v17): Our sword and our only offensive weapon. The word Paul uses describes the gladius, the Roman soldier’s standard-issue sword. It was a short, 6-18 inches long sword. The blade was also flat enough to provide protection and defence too. As Christians, we are not merely withstanding attacks – we are given the resources to counter-attack, to strike back – the truth of Scripture (Col. 3:16; Heb. 4:12).
And finally, six elements of the Christian’s prayer, summarised in 6:18:
1. Prayer and supplication: Variety in prayer (Phil. 4:6)
2. Always: Frequency in prayer (Rom. 12:12; 1 Thes. 5:17)
3. In the Spirit: Submission in prayer – in line with God’s will (1 John 5:14)
4. Being watchful: Manner of prayer (Mat. 26:41)
5. With all perseverance: Persistence in prayer (Luke 11:9; 18:1-8)
6. For all the saints: The object of prayer (1 Sam. 12:23; remember Paul’s prayers in Eph. 1:15; 3:18)