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Practical Truth in Ephesians (1)

"Be strong in the Lord" (Eph.6:10)

No 2 The Spiritual Armour (Eph 6:14-18)
No 3
"and having done all, to stand " (Eph. 6:13)

In this series we do not pretend to cover the whole of our subject in detail. We hope to be able to pick out some features of the subject which will encourage our readers to engage in a more complete and detailed study. Of course, there is a tremendous amount of material in In Heavenly Places by Charles H. Welch, and there is the exposition by Stuart Allen in Letters From Prison. Stuart Allen deals with Practical Truth in pages 71-96 (chapter 4), pages 97-105 (chapter 5), and in pages 106-114 he deals with chapter 6 of Ephesians. As the author has a lucid style, we recommend his book Letters From Prison.

The first three chapters of Ephesians are devoted to Doctrine and the final three to Practice. In Charles Welch's book there is a chart which demonstrates that in the structure of the epistle, Practice is shown to be the outworking of the Doctrine, so making a perfect balance. As Stuart Allen says in his book:

. . . but the truth of God is nothing if it is not balance from start to finish: not all doctrine and little or no practice: or all practice and little or no doctrine. By themselves, each of these would lead to lopsidedness".

He goes on to explain that it is important to base Christian practice on sound doctrine.

We shall take Ephesians chapter 6 first because this balances with Ephesians 1-2:7. Actually, the balancing section is Ephesians 6:10-20. At the moment we are looking at Ephesians 6:10, but the reader may like to read Ephesians 1 to 2:7 as an introduction to our study.

In Ephesians 1:19 there is the reference to the mighty power which was wrought in Christ when He was raised from the dead. We will quote part of verse 18 and verses 19 and 20:

. . . that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places".

In Ephesians 1:19 we have the "greatness of His power to usward", and the "working of His mighty power", while Ephesians 6:10 reads:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might".

These are not words that would be addressed to children. Indeed, the Scriptures tell us of the growth that should take place. Ephesians 4:14 says ". . . that we henceforth be no longer children . . . .", while Philippians expresses the growth in terms of a race or contest. Verses 12 to 14 of chapter 3 read,

 "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus".

To encourage us, he adds that if in any thing we are "otherwise minded" God will reveal even this to us. So there is much encouragement for all who no longer wish to remain as babes or children, but wish to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Christ Jesus.

The instruction "be strong" reminds us of Joshua 1:6, "Be strong and of a good courage". Joshua was not a babe; he was full grown man and indeed to be strong to lead the children c Israel into the promised land. He had to face enemies outside an doubters within the circle of the children of Israel. So we must be ready to face opposition, from any quarter, and taking the analogy of the soldier, we must endure hardship and continue right on to the end. But our strength is insufficient for such a task, so we must be strong in the Lord. It is not our strength, but the power of His might. Remember also Paul's word to Timothy,

"For God hat not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

Also Paul gave Timothy advice which is in line with Ephesians 6:10:

"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesu (2 Tim. 2:1).

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:3,4).

Then changing the figure to that of an athlete, he continues in verse 5:

"And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except strive lawfully".

We conclude therefore that;

1. The instruction is to a fully grown man who is able to bear the heat and burden of the day.

2. He is like a soldier whose life is wholely committed to his duties, and

3. Like the athlete who must keep to the rules of the game. He must realize that we face an enemy who is powerful, sly, and cunning and he cannot deal with such an enemy in his own strength.

The Greek word that is translated "be strong" is endunamoo and it appears 8 times in the New Testament. It is sometimes translated "strengthen", or "in strength", or "enabled me". We will list the eight passages for easy consideration:

Eph. 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord.

2 Tim. 2:1 Thou therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Rom. 4:20 He staggered not . . . but was strong in faith.

Heb. 11:34 . . . out of weakness were made strong.

Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength.

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

2 Tim. 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord . . . and strengthened me.

1 Tim. 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who hath enabled me.

Charles H. Welch in his book In Heavenly Places devotes a paragraph to this Greek word and its eight occurrences. We cannot do better than end this article with his remarks which are set out on page 404.

The Power of His Resurrection

No other writer in the New Testament uses the word that is here translated "be strong" except Luke, who in Acts 9:22 uses it of Paul himself. The exception proves the rule. The word is peculiar to the teaching of Paul and his own experience of the risen Lord. The eight occurrences of the word endunamoo speak of resurrection, and the seven occurrences in the epistles are worth a moment's attention:

A Rom. 4:19,20 Strong, not weak in faith. O.T.

    B a Eph. 6:10 Strong in the Lord- WAR

          b Phil. 4:13 Strong in Christ - ENDURANCE

             C 1 Tim. 1:12 Christ Jesus - MINISTRY

     B a 2 Tim. 2:1 Strong in grace - WAR

b 2 Tim. 4: 17 Strong in the Lord - ENDURANCE

A Heb. 11:34 Strong in faith, out of weakness. O.T.

The first example, that of Abraham, is a strong witness for "the power of His resurrection", for it is said that "he believed God Who quickeneth the dead". The words of Ephesians 6:10 look back to Ephesians 1:19. In 6:10 we have endunamoo "be strong", kratos "power", ischus "might". In 1:19 we have dunamis "power", ischus "mighty", kratos "power".

The believer is turned back to the risen and ascended Christ as the source of the power whereby he may stand the shock of battle. There is no other power at present either available or sufficient. All believers, whether conscious of it as an experimental fact or not,

 "have the sentence of death in themselves that they should not trust in themselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (2 Cor. 1:9).