BibleTools.info

Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Loading...

Ephesians 6:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood - Ουκ εστιν ἡμιν ἡ παλη προς αἱμα και σαρκα· Our wrestling or contention is not with men like ourselves: flesh and blood is a Hebraism for men, or human beings. See the note on Galatians 1:16.

The word παλη implies the athletic exercises in the Olympic and other national games; and παλαιστρα was the place in which the contenders exercised. Here it signifies warfare in general.

Against principalities - Αρχας· Chief rulers; beings of the first rank and order in their own kingdom.

Powers - Εξουσιας, Authorities, derived from, and constituted by the above.

The rulers of the darkness of this world - Τους κοσμοκρατορας του σκοτους του αιωνος τουτου· The rulers of the world; the emperors of the darkness of this state of things.

Spiritual wickedness - Τα πνευματικα της πονηριας· The spiritual things of wickedness; or, the spiritualities of wickedness; highly refined and sublimed evil; disguised falsehood in the garb of truth; Antinomianism in the guise of religion.

In high places - Εν τοις επουρανιοις· In the most sublime stations. But who are these of whom the apostle speaks? Schoettgen contends that the rabbins and Jewish rulers are intended. This he thinks proved by the words του αιωνος τουτου, of this world, which are often used to designate the Old Testament, and the Jewish system; and the words εν τοις επουρανιοις, in heavenly places, which are not unfrequently used to signify the time of the New Testament, and the Gospel system.

By the spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, he thinks false teachers, who endeavored to corrupt Christianity, are meant; such as those mentioned by St. John, 1 John 2:19; : They went out from us, but they were not of us, etc. And he thinks the meaning may be extended to all corrupters of Christianity in all succeeding ages. He shows also that the Jews called their own city עולם של שר sar shel olam, κοσμοκρατωρ, the ruler of the world; and proves that David's words, Psalm 2:2, The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, are applied by the apostles, Acts 4:26, to the Jewish rulers, αρχοντες, who persecuted Peter and John for preaching Christ crucified. But commentators in general are not of this mind, but think that by principalities, etc., we are to understand different orders of evil spirits, who are all employed under the devil, their great head, to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the world, and to destroy the souls of mankind.

The spiritual wickedness are supposed to be the angels which kept not their first estate; who fell from the heavenly places but are ever longing after and striving to regain them; and which have their station in the regions of the air. "Perhaps," says Mr. Wesley, "the principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness; but there are other spirits which range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed; the darkness is chiefly spiritual darkness which prevails during the present state of things, and the wicked spirits are those which continually oppose faith, love, and holiness, either by force or fraud; and labor to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry, malice, envy, anger, and hatred." Some translate the words εν τοις επουρανιοις, about heavenly things; that is: We contend with these fallen spirits for the heavenly things which are promised to us; and we strive against them, that we may not be deprived of those we have.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For we wrestle - Greek, “The wrestling to us;” or, “There is not to us a wrestling with flesh and blood.” There is undoubtedly here an allusion to the ancient games of Greece, a part of the exercises in which consisted in wrestling; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. The Greek word used here - πάλη palē- denotes a “wrestling;” and then a struggle, fight, combat. Here it refers to the struggle or combat which the Christian has to mainrain - the Christian warfare.

Not against flesh and blood - Not with people; see the notes on Galatians 1:16. The apostle does not mean to say that Christians had no enemies among men that opposed them, for they were exposed often to fiery persecution; nor that they had nothing to contend with in the carnal and corrupt propensities of their nature, which was true of them then as it is now; but that their main controversy was with the invisible spirits of wickedness that sought to destroy them. They were the source and origin of all their spiritual conflicts, and with them the warfare was to be maintained.

But against principalities - There can be no doubt whatever that the apostle alludes here to evil spirits. Like good angels, they were regarded as divided into ranks and orders, and were supposed to be under the control of one mighty leader; see the notes on Ephesians 1:21. It is probable that the allusion here is to the ranks and orders which they sustained before their fall, something like which they may still retain. The word “principalities” refers to principal rulers, or chieftains.

Powers - Those who had power, or to whom the name of “powers” was given. Milton represents Satan as addressing the fallen angels in similar language:

“Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers.”

Against the rulers of the darkness of this world - The rulers that preside over the regions of ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds, compare notes on Ephesians 2:2. “Darkness” is an emblem of ignorance, misery, and sin; and no description could be more accurate than that of representing these malignant spirits as ruling over a dark world. The earth - dark, and wretched and ignorant, and sinful - is just such a dominion as they would choose, or as they would cause; and the degradation and woe of the pagan world are just such as foul and malignant spirits would delight in. It is a wide and a powerful empire. It has been consolidated by ages. It is sustained by all the authority of law; by all the omnipotence of the perverted religious principle; by all the reverence for antiquity; by all the power of selfish, corrupt, and base passions. No empire has been so extended, or has continued so long, as that empire of darkness; and nothing on earth is so difficult to destroy.

Yet the apostle says that it was on that kingdom they were to make war. Against that, the kingdom of the Redeemer was to be set up; and that was to be overcome by the spiritual weapons which he specifies. When he speaks of the Christian warfare here, he refers to the contest with the powers of this dark kingdom. He regards each and every Christian as a soldier to wage war on it in whatever way he could, and wherever he could attack it. The contest therefore was not primarily with people, or with the internal corrupt propensities of the soul; it was with this vast and dark kingdom that had been set up over mankind. I do not regard this passage, therefore, as having a primary reference to the struggle which a Christian maintains with his own corrupt propensities. It is a warfare on a large scale with the entire kingdom of darkness over the world. Yet in maintaining the warfare, the struggle will be with such portions of that kingdom as we come in contact with and will actually relate:

(1)to our own sinful propensities - which are a part of the kingdom of darkness;

(2)with the evil passions of others - their pride, ambition, and spirit of revenge - which are also a part of that kingdom;

(3)with the evil customs, laws, opinions, employments, pleasures of the world - which are also a part of that dark kingdom;

(4)with error, superstition, false doctrine - which are also a part of that kingdom; and,

(5)with the wickedness of the pagan world - the sins of benighted nations - also a part of that kingdom. Wherever we come in contact with evil - whether in our own hearts or elsewhere - there we are to make war.

Against spiritual wickedness - Margin, “or wicked spirits.” Literally, “The spiritual things of wickedness;” but the allusion is undoubtedly to evil spirits, and to their influences on earth.

In high places - ἐν τοῖς ἐπουράνιοις - “in celestial or heavenly places.” The same phrase occurs in Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6, where it is translated, “in heavenly places.” The word ( ἐπουράνιος epouranios) is used of those that dwell in heaven, Matthew 18:35; Philemon 2:10; of those who come from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:48; Philemon 3:21; of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, 1 Corinthians 15:40. Then the neuter plural of the word is used to denote the heavens; and then the “lower” heavens, the sky, the air, represented as the seat of evil spirits; see the notes on Ephesians 2:2. This is the allusion here. The evil spirits are supposed to occupy the lofty regions of the air, and thence to exert a baleful influence on the affairs of man. What was the origin of this opinion it is not needful here to inquire. No one can “prove,” however, that it is incorrect. It is against such spirits, and all their malignant influences, that Christians are called to contend. In whatever way their power is put forth - whether in the prevalence of vice and error; of superstition and magic arts; of infidelity, atheism, or antinomianism; of evil customs and laws; of pernicious fashions and opinions, or in the corruptions of our own hearts, we are to make war on all these forms of evil, and never to yield in the conflict.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 15

Never, never was there a time when the truth suffered more from being misrepresented, belittled, demerited through the perverse disputings of men than in these last days. Men have brought themselves in with their heterogeneous mass of heresies which they represent as oracles for the people. The people are charmed with some strange new thing, and are not wise in experience to discern the character of ideas that men may frame up as something. But to call it something of great consequence and tie it to the oracles of God, does not make it truth. Oh, how this rebukes the low standard of piety in the churches. 2SM 15.1

Men who want to present something original will conjure up things new and strange, and without consideration will step forward on these unstable theories, that have been woven together as a precious theory, and present it as a life and death question.—Letter 136a, 1898. 2SM 15.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 140

Obedience to every word of God is another condition of success. Victories are not gained by ceremonies or display, but by simple obedience to the highest General, the Lord God of heaven. He who trusts in this Leader will never know defeat. Defeat comes in depending on human methods, human inventions, and placing the divine secondary. Obedience was the lesson that the Captain of the Lord's host sought to teach the vast armies of Israel..obedience in things in which they could see no success. When there is obedience to the voice of our Leader, Christ will conduct His battles in ways that will surprise the greatest powers of earth. 6T 140.1

We are soldiers of Christ; and those who enlist in His army are expected to do difficult work, work which will tax their energies to the utmost. We must understand that a soldier's life is one of aggressive warfare, of perseverance and endurance. For Christ's sake we are to endure trials. We are not engaged in mimic battles. We have to meet most powerful adversaries; 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.” Ephesians 6:12. We are to find our strength just where the early disciples found their strength: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” Acts 1:14; 4:31, 32. 6T 140.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 41

At these gatherings we must ever remember that two forces are at work. A battle unseen by human eyes is being waged. The army of the Lord is on the ground, seeking to save souls. Satan and his host are also at work, trying in every possible way to deceive and destroy. The Lord bids us: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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.” Ephesians 6:11, 12. Day by day the battle goes on. If our eyes could be opened to see the good and evil agencies at work, there would be no trifling, no vanity, no jesting or joking. If all would put on the whole armor of God and fight manfully the battles of the Lord, victories would be gained that would cause the kingdom of darkness to tremble. 6T 41.1

None of us should go to the camp meeting depending on the ministers or the Bible workers to make the meeting a blessing to us. God does not want His people to hang their weight on the minister. He does not want them to be weakened by depending on human beings for help. They are not to lean, like helpless children, upon someone else as a prop. As a steward of the grace of God, every church member should feel personal responsibility to have life and root in himself. Each one should feel that in a measure the success of the meeting depends upon him. Do not say: “I am not responsible. I shall have nothing to do in this meeting.” If you feel thus, you are giving Satan opportunity to work through you. He will crowd your mind with his thoughts, giving you something to do in his lines. Instead of gathering with Christ, you will scatter abroad. 6T 41.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 222

To become a disciple of Christ is to deny self and follow Jesus through evil as well as good report. Few are doing this now. Many prophesy falsely, and the people love to have it so; but what will be done in the end thereof? What will be the decision when their work, with all its results, shall be brought in review before God? 5T 222.1

The Christian life is a warfare. The apostle Paul speaks of wrestling against principalities and powers as he fought the good fight of faith. Again, he declares: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Ah, no. Today sin is cherished and excused. The sharp sword of the Spirit, the word of God, does not cut to the soul. Has religion changed? Has Satan's enmity to God abated? A religious life once presented difficulties and demanded self-denial. All is made very easy now. And why is this? The professed people of God have compromised with the power of darkness. 5T 222.2

There must be a revival of the strait testimony. The path to heaven is no smoother now than in the days of our Saviour. All our sins must be put away. Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off. The right eye or the right hand must be sacrificed if it cause us to offend. Are we willing to renounce our own wisdom and to receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child? Are we willing to part with self-righteousness? Are we willing to give up our chosen worldly associates? Are we willing to sacrifice the approbation of men? The prize of eternal life is of infinite value. Will we put forth efforts and make sacrifices proportionate to the worth of the object to be attained? 5T 222.3

Read in context »
More Comments