In our outline of Eph 6:10-24, (The Believer’s Walk in Warfare; God’s Provision for His Children’s Spiritual Battles), we have:
- The Empowerment, vs. 10.
2. The Enemy, vs. 11-12.
3. The Equipment, vs. 13-17.
4. The Energy, vs. 18-20, God’s Appeal for Prayer in the Church.
5. The Encouragement, vs. 21-24.
We are now on the fourth point: The Energy, vs. 18-20, God’s Appeal for Prayer in the Church. Here we see the Royal Family’s responsibility to exercise our corporate privilege of prayer as professional Christian soldiers. The question is; would you rather stand alone with all your armor or stand in array with your fellow Christian soldiers when facing the enemy?
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Vs. 18, Prayer Makes the Armor of God Effective for Victory!
Eph 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
This verse begins with “With all prayer and petition,” DIA PAS PROSEUCHE KAI DEESIS.
DIA, διά is a Preposition that means, “through, by, with, because of, or for the sake of.” Being in this Genitive construction, it is a Genitive of Means, showing us it is a marker of instrumentality that tells us “HOW” something is accomplished. We could translate this “by means of all prayer and petition.” Here we see that the “Full Armor of God,” which is made up of the Word of God resident in your soul, is both put on and made effective by the means of prayer and petitions.
The Adjective PAS, πᾶς that means, “all, every, each, etc.,” tells us that “by means of all” of our prayers we should be asking God to empower us with His Armor.
Then we have the word for “prayer,” which is PROSEUCHE προσευχή, that means, “prayer or petition.” We noted this word back in Eph 1:16, regarding Paul’s prayer for the Church and will note the principles of prayer below. It is used about 40 times in the NT.
Then we have the coordinating Conjunction KAI, “and,” with DEESIS, δέησις that means, “request, petition, prayer, or supplication.” Petition means, “to make a demand for action, an appeal or request to a higher authority.” Supplication means, “to make an appeal to someone in authority, a humble and sincere appeal to someone who has the power to grant a request.” Prayer is general, supplication is special and specific.
This is the first time DEESIS is used in the Book of Ephesians and will be used again at the end of this verse. Related to the verb DEOMAI, “ask, beg, or beseech,” DEESIS is basically a “request” or an “entreaty” in a religious context. When addressed to God it can mean a “prayer,” but a specific type of prayer called a request or petition prayer. Yet, Papyri also indicates that the word was a strong term meaning more than a simple request. It was used of a prisoner’s request, (probably for freedom or some favor), as well as in requests to false deities. Paul explicitly linked DEESIS to prayer four times, Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 2:1; 5:5. In His role as High Priest, Heb 5:7 portrays Jesus as offering “prayers and petitions” to God. Therefore, this word is used to doubly emphasize our prayers to God where we have specific requests or action items for Him.
The context here is that we are to be asking God directly to equip us with His armor.
Phil 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Now we are given the action item, “pray or praying,” with the Verb PROSEUCHOMAI, even though the substantives have indicated this thus far. PROSEUCHOMAI προσεύχομαι is in the Present, Middle Deponent, Participle, Nominative, Plural. It is the “thing” we are to be doing on behalf of ourselves and others: Praying to God! This is the first time this word is used in Ephesians, but is used extensively throughout the NT; used nearly 90 times.
In the Bible, we find that this word means both intimacy with the one we are praying to, as well as being a personal petition. The previous sections of this passage have indicated that for us, but this word by itself explains that to us.
Next, we have the frequency or “WHEN,” of our prayers and petitions, “at all times,” which in the Greek is EN PAS KAIROS. KAIROS, καιρός means, “time, a fixed time, season, or opportunity.” We saw this word in Eph 1:10; 2:12; 5:16. In those instances it was speaking of specific time periods or seasons. Here in this construction, it is in the Dative of Time, denoting a point of time or in this case the frequency of when we should to be petitioning God. It answers the question “WHEN?” If we translated it “praying in every season” it would indicate that we are to pray in both the good times and the bad times. “Praying at all times” gives us that sense as well, as does “praying on every occasion.”
The answer to the question, “when should I be petitioning God in prayer to equip me with His armor?” is “all the time” or virtually every time you pray. The reason is, because any time you pray to God asking Him for something, the answer is based on having the Full Armor of God.
So in the first part, we saw the “HOW?” How do I complete the equipping of God’s Armor? The answer is, “through petition prayers.” Now in the second part, we see the “WHEN?” When do I petition God for His armament in prayer? The answer is, “every time you pray, on every occasion.” Prayer is needed in this fight. The Armor of God is necessary, but so is prayer.
Luke 18:1, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”
Col 1:3, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.”
Col 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
1 Thes 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
“Satan trembles when he sees, The weakest saint upon his knees.” (A.T. Roberts, Word Pictures in the New Testament.)
Therefore, the position of victory for the Christian Soldier is on his knees in prayer and reverence to God.
Next, we have the Dative of Means construction of the Preposition EN, and the Noun PNEUMA for “in the Spirit.” This could be a Dative of Sphere, indicating that the filling of the Holy Spirit is necessary as we pray. Yet, the Dative of Means tells us of the instrument by which the action is accomplished. This gives us a principle of prayer that is noted in Rom 8:26-27.
Rom 8:26, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
When we are in the sphere of the filling of the Holy Spirit, He is the instrument by which our prayers are effective.
The second half of this passage tells us of two other important aspects of our prayer life; “and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
“And with this in view be on the alert,” in the Greek is simply, KAI EIS AUTO AGRUPNEO. KAI EIS AUTO means, “and with this thing or same thing.” In view” is added in the English translation for emphasis and understanding. This is a Prepositional phrase of “PURPOSE.” In other words, being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are to be praying for every occasion, including all categories of prayer; petitions, intercessory, imprecatory, thanksgiving, glorification, rebounding, etc.
“Be on the alert,” is the Verb AGRUPNEO ἀγρυπνέω in the Present, Active, Participle, Nominative, Plural, that means, “keep oneself awake, be on the alert, or to be vigilant.” It is only used in Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; Heb 13:17, and our verse. As you can see, this is not in the Imperative Mood for a command, but the word itself with its meaning virtually is a command to “stay awake, keep alert, etc.” Figuratively, it was used for, “to guard or care for,” as we should be diligent and mindful of our prayer life at all times, including the content of our prayers regarding God’s guidance and protection from Satan through His Armor that we put on. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus admonishes us to be constantly alert with the notion of prayer.
Luke 21:36, “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Paul also noted in Col 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
A better translation of this section would be, “and into (i.e., regarding) this same thing, (i.e., prayers and petitions), be vigilant.”
Next, we have the emphasis for how we are to be vigilant in our prayer life, “with all perseverance and petition,” which in the Greek is EN PAS PROSKARTERESIS KAI DEESIS. This is another “HOW” Prepositional Phrase.
We noted DEESIS above, so petition prayer is in view once again, but here is added the Noun in the Dative of Manner case of PROSKARTERESIS, προσκαρτέρησις that means, “perseverance, continue to do something with intense effort, or devotion.” BDAG defines it as, “persistence in an undertaking or circumstance.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.)
The Noun is only used here in the NT; it is an hapaxlegomena. But the verb PROSKARTEREO that means, “to persist in or adhere to, or remain devoted to” is used 10 times in the NT, and 6 of those are regarding prayer, Acts 1:14; 2:42, 46; 6:4; Rom 12:12; Col 4:2.
The root word is KARTEREO that means, “persevere, be strong, endure, or be steadfast.” And in fact, TEREO means, “to watch carefully, guard, preserve, or protect.” With the prefix “PROS,” that means “with or face to face,” we see the emphasis of our prayer life to continue steadfastly in our petitions face to face with God the Father.
Rom 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”
Acts 1:14, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
In addition, this third “all” in this passage, is a marker of the highest degree of something. It means, “to have the greatest,” that is, the greatest perseverance possible, along with the greatest petitions possible.
“Part of the spiritual warfare which the Christian has to wage in daily life is the prayer which must be constantly offered in faith. Prayer knits together all Christian Soldiers with a firm bond. It establishes the community in the power of God. The bond should not be broken. Indeed, it should become increasingly close. The roots should go deeper and deeper into the sphere of God’s life and power. To this end, there is need of persistence. Prayer is not just a pious exercise. It is serious work. It is part of the battle, of our spiritual warfare.” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)
And finally, we have the group we should be praying for, “for all the saints,” PERI PAS HO HAGIOS, in the Genitive case. In other words, “On whose behalf should we be praying?” The answer is, “all fellow believers.”
The preposition PERI means, “About, concerning, on account of, for, near, around.” Our prayers should not just be about our own warfare, but that of our fellow brethren. We should be constantly concerned about others’ spiritual walk, which should be reflected in our prayer life.
“The Saints” is HO with the Adjective HAGIOS, ἅγιος in the Genitive case that means, “holy, consecrated, unapproachable, perfect, pure, upright, worthy of God, or saint.” Here it describes the position every believer stands in before the Lord. Therefore, our mental attitude towards our fellow believers should not be based on their experiential status as a sinner, but on the positional status as holy, righteous, and blameless before the Lord; fellow members of the family of God, fellow members of the body of Jesus Christ. When we view one another from the position we have in Christ, we always see Christ in each other and will love one another more, and more, and more, regardless of “who they are,” or “what they have done.” And in return, we will pray for each other, and pray for one another more diligently, as we should.
2 Thes 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you. 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.”
Therefore, because the proper attitude in battle is just as important as the proper equipment, Paul reminds us of the need for prayer and watchfulness in this spiritual conflict. Prayer must be “in the sphere of the Holy Spirit,” in order to be effective. “Praying” speaks of the necessity of always being in an attitude of prayer, of having a consistent prayer life. “Supplication” comes from a Greek term which relates to special times of need. If Christians truly practice prayer as a way of life, when the special times of need come, they will be prepared for them.
That is why having the proper mental attitude in this spiritual warfare cannot be overemphasized. It is dangerous to take a flippant attitude about something this serious. The conflict is a real one, the enemies are spiritual forces that are not limited to the physical realm, but God has provided sufficient necessary equipment and power for believers to be victorious in the battle. And with prayer, the whole thing works together for good. Therefore, the believer should be devoting himself to prayer, Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 12:5.
Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 12:5, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”
Christians should first and foremost be people of prayer. You should be continually in prayer, 1 Thes 5:17, “Pray without ceasing,” realizing that Jesus’ words in Mark 11:24, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you,” are true! Faith and confidence in God and His Word provide holy boldness before the Almighty.
When we pray for each other, we are fulfilling our corporate duty as professional Christians. We are “closing the ranks” as it were, regarding our collective spiritual warfare. Just as the Roman soldiers closed ranks and were arrayed for both defensive and offensive success, with prayer the full Armor of God closes our ranks and arrays our spiritual gifts inside the body of Christ for both defensive and offensive victory inside the Angelic Conflict.
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Someone once correctly stated, “the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” This does not just mean that we are not praying – our failure to pray, but more importantly, how we go about our prayers – our failure in prayer.
Written by the anonymous author of the classic little book on prayer entitled, “The Kneeling Christian,” (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids: 1971). The author means that the reason we so often fall into sin or live in discouragement or fail to bear fruit is because we do not cling to God in Christ above all things. We do not diligently seek Him or lean on Him or plead with Him or draw on His strength. We give ourselves to busyness over communion with God, and in this way, we seek to accomplish in our flesh what can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.
This is demonstrated for us by our Lord in the parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:11-14, when a Pharisee went up to the temple to pray, he literally prayed with reference to himself, thus we would understand that he was not really concerned about his relation to God. As a result, his prayers were never heard by God because neither he nor his prayers were ever right with God.
You see his thought and prayer exclude one key ingredient, “Your will be done.” This individual was self-centered. It was all about him, rather than about His relationship with God and God’s will for his life. When our prayers are all about ourselves, we do not have the proper motivation in prayer and do not have the proper requests in prayer.
You see, prayer moves to a whole new plane when you are willing to say, (and truly mean and believe), “Your will be done.”
When you can get to the point in your spiritual walk when your prayer time involves relinquishing your grip on your own personal desires and abandoning yourself to God in every possible way, then your prayers will be on target and you will see them answered time after time in fantastic ways.
Victor Hugo said, “Prayer, then, is an attitude of the heart that humbles itself before a living God, silently declaring, ‘I need You’.”
Scripture clearly indicates that there are hindrances to an effective prayer life. That is why our Lord tells us in Mat 6:1-7, that prayer is not some formula for attaining personal wants or ambitions, nor is it expressly designed for crisis situations.
James Hudson Taylor said, “When we work, we work, when we pray, God works.”
Throughout history, the men and women that God has used mightily have been people who knew how to pray and for whom prayer was both a priority and a necessity. Our Lord demonstrated and taught the disciples how to pray when we compare John 14:12-13; 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15.
John 14:12-13 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.
1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
The vision and discipline of Biblical praying as committed disciples of the Lord Jesus has somehow escaped the body of Christ. We talk of its necessity, but too often we fail to accomplish its reality. This is what led the disciple to plea to the Lord in Luke 11:1.
Luke 11:1, “It came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
It is interesting that if you were to open your Bibles and read through the four gospels, you would never find an instance where the disciples asked, “Lord teach us how to witness,” or “teach us how to perform miracles,” or “teach us how to teach.” But in this passage, we do find one of the disciples asking, “Lord, teach us to pray …” That is quite incredible and significant.
This was a very wise question, a very needed question, and from these disciples, who were sometimes so slow about spiritual values, this question becomes extremely significant.
Remember, these disciples heard the Pharisees prayer and they witnessed Jesus praying too. So, what was the difference they saw in Jesus that they wanted to have themselves? It was the way He prayed in relation to God the Father and the plan the Father had for Jesus’ life on earth. It was Jesus’ manner and attitude in prayer that saturated His total being and living, His every step and action, which also manifested the intimacy of His relationship with and dependence on the Father.
Prayer for Jesus, as it should be for you and I, was never just a religious responsibility or an exercise He engaged in because He was obligated to do so.
Prayer for our Lord proceeded out of a basic attitude of deep dependence that resulted in a very intimate fellowship that He always had with the Father. This relationship came from the viewpoint of His humanity, He was totally convinced He could do nothing from His own resources. Therefore, He was totally dependent on the Father for all things, situations, and circumstances. It was this reliance and dependence that demonstrated Jesus’ deep conviction to the disciples that created a longing in their lives for the same. As such, they came to recognize that while they could be believers in the Lord, they could not be true disciples who became like their teacher unless they learned to pray to the Father like the Lord Jesus in the intimacy and dependency that He constantly demonstrated, cf. Luke 6:40.
Luke 6:40, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
This principle shows us one of the basic principles that governed the life of the Savior. In John 5:19 Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
Then, in John 8:28-29 and 14:10 He repeated the principle.
John 8:28-29, “So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him”.”
John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
The principle should be obvious to us. For Jesus Christ, prayer was a way of life, an absolute necessity: it was a means of communion with the Father and the means of bringing the power of God the Father to bear on the humanity of Jesus Christ moment by moment. We see this in Mat 12:18 when Jesus quoted Isa 42:1.
Mat 12:18, “Behold, My servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the gentiles.”
Therefore, you have to ask yourself this question, “Has God put His Spirit upon you?” If the answer is yes, and it is for those who believe in Jesus Christ, then your attitude in prayer, your attitude in life should be the same as it was in Jesus.
As we study the life of Jesus Christ in the gospels, we note a consistent pattern:
1. In the midst of a busy schedule, when men were clamoring in their need for His attention, Christ retired to pray and to draw upon the resources of God the Father for He knew that “the Son can do nothing of Himself,” Mark 1:32-37.
2. When it was time to choose the disciples, we do not find Christ reviewing the qualifications of each of the disciples. Rather we find Him retiring to pray, Luke 6:12-13; Mark 3:13. Why? Because, “the Son can do nothing of Himself.” He needed the direction and provision of the Father.
3. When Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus, He raised His eyes heavenward in dependence and thanksgiving for what the Father was about to do, John 11:40-42.
a.) The actual prayer of Christ is not given, only the fact of His dependence, thanksgiving, and confidence that His prayer had been heard.
b.) The words of vs. 41-42 imply, however, that not only did He pray to the Father, but that He wanted all those standing around to know it as well that they might learn the secret of dependence.
c.) This teaches us that when performing miracles, though not always heard by men, Jesus the man was praying in dependence upon the Father from the standpoint of His humanity.
4. When He fed the five thousand. The words “and looking up toward heaven” demonstrate the Lord’s prayerful dependence, Mark 6:41. Also, “He blessed the food” which shows He thanked God the Father for it and for what He, the Father, was about to do through Jesus, the man, a God-dependent, God-approved man.
Think of Jesus Christ. He was the Son of God, God incarnate, the perfect man and the absolute Creator God who also as the God-man adequately and continuously fulfilled every expectation of God for man. He was the constant delight and joy of the Father’s heart. He always pleased the Father.
Now, thinking of Him as such, ask yourself this question. How much did He personally, as man, contribute to His mighty works, deeds, and ministry? NOTHING! Christ Himself gives us the answer, “. . . the Father abiding in Me does His works,” John 14:10. And how did that come about? Through prayerful dependence on the Father!
When we work, we work. When we pray, the Father works. So out of this conscious and constant sense of need, there arose a continuing attitude of prayer: a continual expectation in the Lord Jesus that if anything was to be done, the Father must do it both by way of initiative, and wisdom, and power.
The disciples saw in Christ’s life, not only prayer, but a prayer life which demonstrated a dependency upon and intimacy with the Father unlike anything else they had ever seen and they wanted to know the secret of this.
What was the request posed by the unnamed disciple? It was, “teach us to pray.” Not just how to pray, the “mechanics,” but how in the sense of the “attitude and motivation.” The “how” aspect is included by Christ in His answer in Luke 11:2-13.
Therefore, prayer is communication between those who have become His children in Christ and God the Father. It is conversing with our Father in Christ, discussing every circumstance, tackling every problem, celebrating every victory, and growing in love with Him. Prayer is one means of communion with God.
We are to approach prayer this way, rather than seeing it as some kind of magical incantation or even out of a sense of duty. When we do it is the key to victory and fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit. It is the pipeline through which the power of God is delivered to the child of God. When we fail to tap into this pipeline, we guarantee our failure. Indeed, “the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” The secret of all failure is our failure to pursue communion with our Father above all things.
Therefore, we have the following principles:
1. Prayer should demonstrate a total consciousness of our need, a sense of our complete inadequacy along with a sense of God’s complete adequacy and willingness, 2 Cor 3:5.
2 Cor 3:5, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”
2. Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s ever-present willingness.
3. Prayer is not for emergency use only, when we get in a pinch and need someone to bail us out.
4. Prayer is not an “Aladdin’s Lamp” or a trip to the wishing well for our wants.
5. By contrast, prayer is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon God the Father who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through Him.
6. Prayer is for everyday living, moment by moment.
7. Prayer is a means of claiming God’s promises and knowing and becoming abandoned to God’s will.
In John 14:10-14, note the relationship to prayer mentioned in vs. 13-14, and the works we, as disciples, are to do in vs. 12.
John 14:10-14 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. 12Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
There is no activity in your life that does not require a prayerful attitude; a prayerful dependence on and an expectation that God is at work and will work according to His purposes and leading.
In ourselves we can do nothing. Yet, Christianity is living by faith in the Creator God who dwells in us, and prayer is God’s means for us to draw upon Christ’s miraculous life. Christianity is as Paul expressed it in Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
Faith for a committed believer is expressed in intimate, prayerful living.
Unfortunately, we usually recognize our need of God’s enablement in things like witnessing or major disasters in our lives. Yet, we tend to take God for granted and operate in our own abilities in other areas of our lives, because we think something does not seem too difficult or it is within our area of expertise. That is a mistake!
Biblical Christianity is never a matter of living by who and what we are; our insight, background, experience, training, giftedness, etc. Rather, it is a matter of living prayerfully by faith in God’s Word, having Biblical insight, and by faith in Jesus Christ, the Creator God, and His availability to work through us as we are available and submissive to Him. But, this only happens when we live by intimate prayerful dependence upon the Father through a life of prayer, praying without ceasing, and devoting special times of prayer alone with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
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Eph 6:19, “And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”
This continues the theme began in vs. 18, “In spiritual conflict prayer is vital; victory is won when we are on our knees.” This verse changes the object of prayer from ourselves and other members of the body of Christ to Paul himself. Or, as we would today, pray for those who are witnessing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This prayer has the pattern of all of our prayers, both a Request (petition), and a Desire. As you may know, God answers both aspects of our prayers, both the Request and the Desire. His answers range from Yes, Yes; to Yes, No; to No, Yes; to No, No, respectfully. He answers both our requests and desires in every prayer, in every situation.
This passage begins with the Coordinating Conjunction KAI, “and,” to include this intercessory prayer for one individual with the previous exhortation to pray for “all the saints.” Interestingly, “pray” or PROSEUCHOMAI is not in this sentence in the Greek. That why it is italicized in the NASB. But it is implied with the Coordinating Conjunction KAI with the following Preposition HUPER and the Personal Pronoun EGO that translates, “for me.” In addition to praying for themselves and other members of the body of Christ, Paul is requesting personal prayers for himself and his ministry. That is why the NASB translates it “on my behalf.”
Next, we have the specific request, “that utterance,” which begins a Purpose HINA clause “that,” with the Noun LOGOS that means, “word, subject, a matter, thing, speech, declaration, message, proclamation, etc.” Here, LOGOS means preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically verbally, given the following words in this sentence. In context we could say, “the ability to speak,” or the “the words that proceed.” This sets up the purpose or why Paul is asking for their prayers.
“May be given,” is the Verb DIDOMI, δίδωμι that means, “give, give out, hand over, etc.” It is in the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive.
The Subjunctive mood goes along with the HINA, “that” purpose clause. It is Paul’s desire to speak the gospel going forward in his ministry and therefore, he petitions the early church to pray that it might be so.
The Constative Aorist tense views the action of verbally evangelizing and witnessing from this day forward as a whole.
The Passive Voice tells us that Paul recognizes that he receives the ability to verbally evangelize and witness the gospel of Jesus Christ from God. It is not by his ability, but by the power of God the Holy Spirit working through him.
“To me,” is the Personal Pronoun EGO in the Dative of Indirect Object that tells us Paul is asking for this prayer for himself, so that he is given the ability to preach by God.
Next, we have, “in the opening of my mouth,” which begins with the Preposition EN and the Dative Noun ANOIXIS, ἄνοιξις that is only used here in the NT. It is an hapaxlegomena. It denotes the act of “opening.” It is a Hebrew idiom expressing, “to speak boldly,” as we see in Ezek 29:21; cf. 2 Cor 6:11.
Paul is asking for the opening, in this case, “of my mouth,” the Genitive Singular of HO STOMA. So, Paul is requesting prayers for himself so that he can speak the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul then adds to the request by asking not only for the opportunity to witness, but how he would like to speak the gospel, “with boldness,” which is the Dative Preposition EN with the Noun PARRHESIA, παῤῥησία that means, “outspokenness, frankness, unreservedness in speech, plainness; freely, openly publicly; courage, assurance, boldness, and fearlessness.” In Greek literature, the term primarily refers to freedom of speech, the sort of speech appropriate to a free human being. Therefore, not only is Paul requesting prayer for the ability to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to do so with great courage and confidence, which too, God provides. Cf. 1 Thes 2:2; Acts 9:27, 29; 13:46; 19:8; 26:26; 28:31; Phil 1:20; Philem 8.
Next, we have an Infinitive of Result clause to indicate the outcome Paul desires, “to make known the mystery of the gospel.”
The Infinitive is found in the first word in the Greek for “to make known,” which is GNORIZO, γνωρίζω in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive that means “make known, reveal, point out, or declare.” We could say, “with the result that it is made known.” This word may have originated as a combination of the root GINOSKO, “to know,” and HORIZO, “determine or cause to happen,” with the resultant idea of causing someone to know something that he previously did not know, comprehend, or understand. It stresses obtaining new information or understanding.
The Culminative Aorist views the completed action of teaching for comprehension.
The Active Voice: Paul desires to teach unbelievers so that they come to the knowledge of salvation in Jesus Christ.
The Infinitive of intended Result shows us Paul’s great desire and request for prayer; to teach the gospel so that people are saved. Therefore, we see the intensity of this word, and the intense desire of Paul to reach the lost souls of this world.
We have noted this word in Eph 1:9; 3:3, 5, 10. Eph 3:3 says that God made known the mystery of the Church to Paul by revelation. Now Paul desires to make that same knowledge known to the unbelievers of the world.
What Paul desires to be made known is, “the mystery of the gospel,” HO MUSTERION HO EUAGGELION. MUSTERION, μυστήριον is the Accusative Noun that means, “Secret, secret teaching, mystery, anything hidden or unrevealed.” We noted this back in Eph 1:9, 3:3, 4, 9, in the other “made known” passages in this letter, and in Eph 5:32, regarding Christ’s relationship to the Church. Here, it is linked with EUAGGELION, εὐαγγέλιον that means, “good news or the gospel,” which we noted in Eph 1:13; 3:6; 6:15.
The greatest Divine secret of all time is the now-revealed mystery of Christ, who has come to redeem the world through His death on the Cross, 1 Cor 2:1-2, cf. 9-10. In addition, this mystery includes the radical revelation that salvation is offered to the Jews and Gentiles on the same basis, which “has been made known,” e.g., Eph 2:1f.; 3:3ff. As such, Paul regarded this revelation of the universal scope of God’s redemption as his purpose and therefore, asked the Church to pray for him in this endeavor, Eph 6:19; cf. Col 1:26-27.
The “mystery of the faith” and the “mystery of godliness,” 1 Tim 3:9, 16, are also linked to the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Following the statement, “great is the mystery of godliness,” we have the famous Christ-hymn that summarizes the gospel story of Jesus.
The idea that “mysteries” are now “revelations” is also represented in the Book of Revelation. John explained the “mystery” of the seven lampstands, Rev 1:20, and the mystery of God which is “completed,” refers to the eschatological program already preached by the prophets that is destined to reach its fulfillment, Rev 10:7. Therefore, that which was hidden, but is now revealed openly, is also to be proclaimed openly.
Paul did not depend on his natural speaking ability and knowledge, but he relied on the Spirit for words to be given to him. Thus, he asked for the prayers of his brothers that he might be given the words to speak the mystery of the gospel.
As the Christ Centered Commentary notes, “The greatest theologian-missionary of all times is asking for prayer! That should encourage you! He has the position (as do we) of being an “ambassador,” a representative of Jesus; but, he knows he does not have sufficient resources to communicate the gospel effectively, so he calls on the Church to pray for him. Instead of feeling self-pity or resentment, he asks for prayer for the mission!” Cf. Col 4:3-4.
Col 4:3-4 “Praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
If Paul asked for the prayer support of the Church, (and he had been to the third heaven and back), if Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do you and I need them! As such, there is no man so richly endowed with gifts as not to need this kind of assistance from his brethren and God, so long as he remains in this world.
Why is this an important prayer not only for Paul, but for all of us? It is because Satan does not want you to have the right words to say or to be bold in the face of temptations and conflict. Evangelism is part of the spiritual warfare we are all a part of. Our society today, likes Paul’s in his day, is very much opposed to it. Therefore, we need God’s power to do it faithfully, consistently, confidently, shamelessly, and bravely. And, if your prayers help another believer defeat Satan, then that victory will help you too.
If Paul proclaimed the gospel boldly while being imprisoned, whatever the difficulties of your circumstances might be, you have no reason to be ashamed of and every reason for confidence in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, to which you owe your Christian existence. You are not to think of yourselves as a little group that needs to hide away. Rather, you have a gospel that is to be announced freely and openly in the midst of the hostile surrounding world.
Paul’s request teaches an important lesson about the purpose of prayer. There is no doubt that Paul prayed for his own needs, Rom 15:30–32; 2 Cor 1:11; Phil 1:19; 1 Thes 5:25; 2 Thes 3:1; 2 Philem 22, yet, the main emphasis of this prayer request was that God would give him the enablement to present the gospel message with boldness. This is consistent with Jesus’ teachings to His disciples that His children should seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, and depend upon Him to supply their needs, Mat 6:33. Therefore, Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry. Perhaps Christians would receive more answers to prayer if they followed Paul’s example and pray more for the power to proclaim the gospel, rather than always asking God for things for self.
So, we see that it is not armor or weapons that make the warrior, it is courage and strength. As the Christian has no resources of strength in himself, and can succeed only as helped from God, Paul urges the duty of prayer. As such, the believer should avail himself to all kinds of prayer: He is to pray on every suitable occasion; he is to pray in the Spirit by His guidance and according to God’s will, cf. Rom 8:26-27; he is to be alert and persevering in praying because it is easy to lose focus, cf. Luke 18:1; Rom 12:12; Acts 2:42; he should pray not only for himself but for all the saints, he is to pray for others; he is especially to pray for the delivery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with boldness and clarity, vs. 19-20.
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The principles of Christian service apply to every believer and every prayer the believer makes. Prayer, especially intercessory prayer, is a major part of your Christian service inside the body of Christ. Since every believer is in full-time Christian service, he should express in prayer that service by praying for other members of the Church. When he does under the filling of the Holy Spirit, his intercession for others will be Divine Good rather than human good or dead works.
Interceding on behalf of others is of major importance. It is a holy calling made to each Christian, Luke 18:1; Col 4:2. As we noted in Eph 6:18, Paul, through the Holy Spirit, commanded it, 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1; cf. Col 1:3.
1 Tim 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.”
As you know, the basic principle for prayers is that the believer offers all prayers to God the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit. Prayer should be directed to God the Father, Mat 4:10, (but there are also examples that prayer can be made to Christ, Luke 23:42; Acts 7:59). Believers are to pray in the name of Jesus, John 14:13, (who was Himself the greatest example of one who prays, Luke 11:1). Believers may pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, Eph 2:18; 6:18; Jude 20; cf. 1 Cor 14:14. They are to pray in light of the great forgiveness they have received, Mat 6:12, and with all confidence, Mat 7:7-8, 11; Mark 11:24; Phil 4:6; Heb 4:16. Although prayer can take place anywhere, an emphasis is placed upon private prayer, Mat 6:6; cf. 1 Tim 2:8.
There are several examples of Intercessory prayers in the Bible that we can learn from.
1. Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel demonstrated the power of intercessory prayer for the nation, 1 Kings 18:42-46; James 5:16-18. Compare with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8, and Daniel’s prayer for Israel while in captivity, Dan 9:1-19.
2. The true “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17, the most phenomenal prayer ever made, where He prayed on behalf of all future believers.
3. The power of intercessory prayer was exercised in the early Church on behalf of Peter, who was in prison and about to be executed, Acts 12:5.
Acts 12:5, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”
The result of this prayer was Peter’s dramatic deliverance. He was chained between two Roman soldiers. But with every Roman guard asleep, Peter simply walked out of the prison. All the Roman soldiers were executed for this.
4. Prayer for unbelievers is legitimate and a part of your dynamics in intercessory prayer. You can absolutely pray for the salvation of the unbelievers. But, remember not to ask God to violate their volition by asking Him to make them believe in Christ. That He cannot do. Yet, He can work to present the gospel to them clearly and often, Rom 10:1.
Rom 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (Jews) is for their salvation.”
5. We can pray for believers we have not met, Col 1:3-12. This is a demonstration of the power of impersonal love. When we can pray for those we personally do not know or even our enemies. It demonstrates the functional virtue of impersonal love.
6. Therefore, with impersonal love operating within our souls, we can also pray intercessory prayers for our enemies, Mat 5:44; Luke 23:44.
Mat 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
7. Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21, demonstrates intercessory prayer for believers we do know.
8. We can have intercessory prayers for the sick, James 5:13-15.
James 5:15, “And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
9. We can pray that others reach spiritual adulthood, Phil 1:9-11.
10. There is prayer for the communication and communicators of Bible doctrine; for Pastor‑Teachers, missionaries, evangelists, etc., Col 4:2-3; 2 Thes 3:1; Heb 13:18.
Col 4:2‑3, “Devote yourselves to prayer; in it, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving, 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.”
2 Thes 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.”
Heb 13:18, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.”
11. There is the intercessory prayer of widows, that is, ladies who become single either by the death, divorce, or abandonment of their husbands. They have a special opportunity to pray intercessory prayers both night and day, (more often than once a day), because first, they can no longer rely upon their husband to take care of them, so they must turn to God, and secondly, they may not be distracted by the details of life caring for their husband as the married woman might be. As a result of their very tranquil and uncomplicated life, they are able to be effective in continuous prayer on behalf of others, 1 Tim 5:5.
1 Tim 5:5, “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.”
When you reach spiritual adulthood, intercessory prayers really become effective, because now, like never before, you have impersonal love that gives you the ability to forget about the personality, the idiocy, the antagonism, etc. of others, and to actually pray for those people with whom you do not agree with.
This is very important regarding political leaders who you may think are leading our nation in the wrong direction, or the wrong way, or are damaging our client nation. Regardless of what you think about them, as a Christian you are to be praying for them. Cf. Rom 13:1-10. In fact, not praying for them and instead running them down all the time with your mouth is “doing evil” and not applying impersonal AGAPE love.
Impersonal love gives you phenomenal power and the confidence to offer all kinds of intercessory prayer, which comes from having personal love for God in the first place. That is because; virtue‑love is confidence from personal love for God and impersonal love toward man. Virtue‑love is not only a Problem Solving Device, but it is maximum effectiveness in prayer. This is especially true for the various categories of intercessory prayers.
Remember, prayer is a privilege, the function of the Royal Priesthood. Therefore, it is a powerful weapon in the hands of the believer.
Since grace is the principle of prayer, no believer can petition for himself or make intercession for others on the basis of human merit, ability, morality, production, service, or spiritual gift. Every believer approaches the Throne of Grace on the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our great High Priest. While the Father is propitiated with the work of Christ on the Cross, He is no respecter of persons. Therefore, we must approach the Father from our position of fellowship and Grace.
Grace is the policy of the integrity of God in the imputation of blessing from the justice of God to the indwelling righteousness of God in the believer. The believer out of fellowship is not only weak but has no effectiveness in his prayer life because, God does not answer prayer because the believer is “good,” moral, sincere, benevolent, religious, concerned, altruistic, talented, or possesses a pleasing personality. Answer to prayer is based on the Divine Integrity of God. Therefore, the believer’s human merit is never a factor in answered prayer.
Finally, remember that prayer is a weapon. You must understand how it functions, just as you should understand how any weapon functions before you use it. One prayer can change the course of history, e.g., some of Christ’s prayers, and Paul’s prayer in Ephesians. Prayer must be used as a weapon. Unfortunately, most people blaspheme when they pray because of arrogance while praying and ignorance of how to pray.
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Eph 6:20, “For which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
This verse continues Paul petition for intercessory prayer on his behalf by the Church. He recognizes the strength received through the power of intercessory prayer.
“For which,” is the Preposition HUPER with the Genitive Relative Pronoun HOS that relates this continuation of Paul’s petition for intercessory prayer to communicate the Mystery Gospel of Jesus Christ back to vs. 19, where the petition began.
“I am an ambassador,” is the verb PRESBEUO, πρεσβεύω in the Extending from the Past Present, Active Indicative, 1st Person, Singular that means, “to act as an ambassador or representative for someone.” This is one of two uses of this term in the NT. The other is in 2 Cor 5:20, that tells us all believers are to “act as ambassadors” for Christ, where it is used in the 1st Person Plural. Paul, like all who are to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ are royal ambassadors of God, 1 Peter 2:9, “…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The word was commonly used in classical Greek to denote an aged person or elder, and the activity of an official envoy of a ruler or government who legally represented the authority responsible for sending him.
Given that the English word ambassador can be used as a noun or a verb, here the Greek is telling us that this is an action to be performed. Therefore, we should translate this “I am to act as an ambassador.”
Next, we have some definition to Paul’s present state with “in chains.” It is the Dative of Manner of the Preposition EN Plus the Dative Singular Noun HALUSIS, ἅλυσις that means, “chain or captivity.” It is an old Greek word from the negative prefix A, the verb LUO, “loose,” and the suffix SIS that indicates action. Literally, it means, “not loose,” and became the term for, “being in bondage, tied up, in chains, shackled, handcuffed, imprisonment, etc.” In addition, in our passage the singular “chain” is used. The Romans would bind a prisoner to a soldier by a single chain, in a kind of free custody, cf. the singular in Acts 28:16, 20. The term “bonds” was used when the prisoner’s hands and feet were bound together, cf. the plural in Acts 26:29; 12:6. Here, “imprisonment,” is the better context as Paul was under house arrest at the time and guarded by Roman soldiers, cf. Acts 28:20; 2 Tim 1:16.
In the ancient world, as today, ambassadors were to be received with all the respect due to the ones who sent them; as heralds, they were to be immune from hostility even if they represented an enemy kingdom. Paul, an “ambassador” of the greatest King and the greatest Kingdom, Eph 6:20, is instead chained in Rome for his mission of peace, Eph 6:15. In Greek literature, a true philosopher was characterized by his “boldness,” or frank speech. Therefore, we see that Paul was an ambassador in chains, and yet he did not lose his courage, but preached with as much boldness as ever, Eph 3:1-13. He had just written about the spiritual warfare, and now we see that he was experiencing the onslaught of the enemy at the very moment he was writing. Paul was an ambassador in chains; cf. Acts 28:16, 20; Eph 3:1; 4:1; Phil 1:7, 13-14, 16; Col 4:3, 18; Philemon 1, 9-10, 13.
So far, we have, “for which (on behalf of the mystery gospel), I am acting as an imprisoned ambassador.”
Then we have the reiteration of Paul’s desire in the petition for intercessory prayer, “that in proclaiming it, I may speak boldly.”
This is a HINA of Result clause, which begins with HINA for “that.” Then we have Dative Preposition EN “in,” with the Dative Personal Pronoun AUTOS in the Neuter, 3rd Person, Singular for “it,” that refers back to the “mystery gospel” that Paul desires to proclaim. “Proclaim” is not found in the Greek but is the context here. That is why it is in italic in the NASB.
Next, we have, “I may speak boldly,” which is the Verb PARRHESIAZOMAI, παῤῥησιάζομαι that means, “to speak openly, fearlessly, boldly, or freely.” We had the Noun of this word, PARRHESIA, in vs. 19.
It is formed from PAN, “all”; RHESIS, “speech, word”; and ERO, “say, speak,” and means “freedom to say all.” In classical Greek it refers to fearless and frank speaking with the freedom to speak openly even in the face of opposition. It was also used to express the openness of intimate conversation with a friend, which also hints at the relaxed mental attitude we should have while witnessing. Later, it was used to denote the freedom of speech that someone who is morally pure has; he need not fear the public scrutiny of his life which his words might incite. In the NT it is used of the fearless and free proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, cf. Acts 9:27,29; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 1 Thes 2:2, even in chains before kings Acts 26:26. Therefore, it means, “to speak openly, boldly, and without constraint.”
Here, it is in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive as part of the HINA purpose clause.
The Constative Aorist Tense views the entirety of the process of witnessing with confidence and boldness.
The Middle Deponent Voice: gives this an active meaning, with results that go back to Paul; “He may speak boldly.”
The Subjunctive Mood is for the “Results Clause.” This is the desired result Paul is looking for when asking for their prayers. As such, Paul, who was “in chains” or “imprisoned,” desired to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ just as a free man would.
1 Thes 2:2, “But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.”
In essence, this is the third time in this petition for intercessory prayer that Paul emphasized speaking boldly in regard to the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ; twice in vs. 18 and now here. Three is the number of Divine perfection. Therefore, when we speak the gospel with bold confidence, we are operating as God has designed and would intend for us to do.
Finally, we have, “as I ought to speak,” which is the Subordinating Conjunction HOS, “as,” with the Personal Pronoun EGO, “I,” the Verb DEI, and the Verb LALEO.
Here, we have two verbs. The first is DEI, δεῖ that means, “it is necessary, must, ought, has to, or should,” do something. It says that something “must” be done without indicating the source or intensity of the demand. It is in the Present, Active, Indicative, for the reality of the ongoing action that Paul should adhere to. This is simply how he should speak. This is what is expected of the professional Christian in full-time Christian service. And, we know from Scripture, that this is only considered Divine good when performed through the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
Then, we have LALEO, λαλέω that means, “to speak, proclaim, say, communicate, or utter sounds,” in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive. We saw this word in Eph 5:19, for how we are to encourage to one another, “with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” It relates more to the external sound rather than to the content of what is said. Yet, in this case we know what the content is, the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this simply emphasizes the communication of that gospel.
The Constative Aorist views the entirety of the action of Paul witnessing / proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Active Voice: Paul is to communicate this information.
The Epexegetical Infinitive clarifies the previous HINA result clause, to indicate this is Paul’s desired outcome in his petition to the Church for intercessory prayers on his behalf. He desires to speak boldly and confidently the mystery gospel of Jesus Christ, as he should speak, being an ambassador for Christ in chains.
From the time of his conversion, Acts 9, Paul was consumed with one main goal in life; to proclaim the gospel to the world. He considered himself a special appointee of Jesus Christ. Just as a King, Caesar, President, etc., of a country appoints an ambassador to represent him personally in another country, so too did God appoint Paul to represent Him and His gospel to the world. Remember, an ambassador does not speak for himself, but for the prominent person he represents. This gives a certain amount of boldness to the ambassador, because it is not his words but that of his sovereign. How much more this should be true of a representative of Jesus Christ.
Fear hinders us from preaching Christ openly and fearlessly. That is why the absence of all restraint and disguise in confessing Christ is demanded from his ministers. As we have noted, evangelism is spiritual warfare. The culture opposes it. Therefore, we need God’s power to do it faithfully and confidently. That is why Paul asks for these prayers on his behalf.
Therefore, in this section we have seen several aspects of prayer. Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor of God and wield the sword. We cannot fight the battle in our own power, no matter how strong or talented we may think we are. When Amalek attacked Israel, Moses went to the mountaintop for intercession, while Joshua used the sword down in the valley, Ex 17:8-16. It took both to defeat Amalek; Moses’ intercession on the mountain, and Joshua’s use of the sword in the valley. Prayer is the power for victory, but not just any kind of prayer.
Paul tells us how to pray, if we are to defeat Satan:
1. Pray always. This does not mean “always saying prayers.” We are not heard for our “many words,” Mat 6:7. Instead, “pray without ceasing,” 1 Thes 5:17, means that we are to be diligent and consistent in our prayers, as well as continual until a resolution is seen. A Christian must “pray always” because he is always subject to temptations and attacks of the devil. A surprise attack has defeated more than one believer who forgot to “pray without ceasing.”
2. Pray with all prayer. There is more than one kind of prayer we can be praying: Rebound, supplication, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, glorification, etc., Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 2:1.
Phil 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
1 Tim 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, …”
The believer who prays only to ask for things is missing out on blessings that come with other types of prayers like intercessions and giving of thanks. Intercession for others can bring victory to our own lives too, Job 42:10.
Job 42:10 (KJV), “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
3. Pray in the Spirit. The Biblical formula is that we pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Rom 8:26-27, tells us that only in the power of the Spirit can we pray in the will of God. Otherwise, our praying could be selfish and out of the will of God.
In the OT tabernacle, there was a small golden altar standing before the veil, and here the priest burned the incense that was a fragrant aroma to our Lord, Ex 30:1-10, 34-37. The incense had to be mixed according to God’s plan and could not be counterfeited by man. It had to be a right thing done in a right way. The fire on the altar was a picture of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who takes our prayers and “ignites” them in the will of God. Therefore, the burning incense is a picture of our prayers in the Holy Spirit that are a pleasing aroma to the Lord, Psa 141:2; Prov 15:8; Luke 11:1-13; Rev 5:8; 8:3-4.
Psa 141:2, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.”
Prov 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
Rev 5:8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
It is possible to pray fervently in the flesh and never get through to God. It is also possible to pray quietly in the Spirit and see God’s hand do great things.
4. Pray with your eyes open. In vs. 18, we are to “be on the alert,” in our prayer life. In fact, the Lord used the phrase “watch and pray” several times, as do the writers of the Bible. When Nehemiah was repairing the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemy was trying to stop the work, Nehemiah defeated the enemy by watching and praying, Neh 4:9.
Neh 4:9, “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.”
“Watching and praying,” are the secret of victory over the world, Mark 13:33, the flesh, Mark 14:38, and the devil, Eph 6:18. On the other side, we are cautioned as Peter went to sleep when he should have been praying, and the result was victory for Satan, Mark 14:29-31, 67-72. God expects us to use our God-given senses, led by the Spirit, so that we detect Satan when he is beginning to work.
5. Keep on praying. The word perseverance simply means, “to stick to it and not quit.” The early believers prayed this way, Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; and we too should pray this way, Rom 12:12.
Rom 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”
Perseverance in prayer does not mean we are trying to “twist God’s arm,” but rather that we are deeply concerned and burdened and cannot rest until we get God’s answer. And remember, as Robert Law put it, “Prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven; it is getting God’s will done on earth,” (Tests of Life, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968]).
Most of us quit praying just before God is about to give the victory. Not everybody is so constituted that he can sincerely spend a whole night in prayer, but all of us can persevere in prayer far more than we do. As we noted above, the early church prayed without ceasing when Peter was in prison and, at the last moment, God gave them their answer, Acts 12:1-19. Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you. Just about the time you feel like quitting, God will give the answer.
6. Pray for all the saints. The Lord’s template for prayer begins with “Our Father,” not “My Father.” Therefore, we are to pray as part of a great family that is also talking to God, and we ought to pray for the other members of the family. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Church, and he had been to the third heaven and back. If Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do you and I need them! If your prayers help another believer defeat Satan, then that victory will help you too. Note that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry.
7. Ask others to pray for you. Do not be a selfish, standalone Christian. You have a very, very large church family. Think of the power that your prayers have and then multiple that power times all of the other believers who could be praying for you. As a Christian, we are not to be self-centered, egotistical, shy, or fearful. If you are afraid to let others know what you need them to prayer for on your behalf, then arrogance has overwhelmed your soul. Paul’s request for confidence and boldness in proclaiming the mystery gospel tells us a little something about him. If you recall, in his prior life as Saul, he was always behind the scenes giving encouragement or commands to persecute the church, cf. Acts 7:58; 8:1. But now as an ambassador for Christ, he is in the front and center stage. He was most likely a little awkward verbally. Therefore, he requested the prayers of the Church to throw off that awkwardness by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he could proclaim the gospel with boldness and confidence “as he ought to.” Cf. 2 Cor 10:1. Therefore, just as Paul threw off his inhibitions and asked for help, so too should we, “as we ought to.”
Your Royal Ambassadorship
Remember Mat 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Does this count?
Our passage of study, Eph 6:20, is one of two places in the NT where the term “ambassador” is used. The other is 2 Cor 5:20. Other passages, like 1 Peter 2:9, speak to the role of ambassador, but these two passages are the only ones that directly identify it. Therefore, since we do not often come across this term, we need to spend a little time understanding it, and its application to our lives.
Every believer is entered into the Royal Ambassadorship of God at the moment of their salvation. It is one of the 40+ things we receive on the day of our conversion. It is a position that God has sovereignly chosen for us and bestowed on us. It is not a choice of our own, other than the fact that you chose to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. On the day that you did, you were ordained as a Royal Ambassador for Christ and entered into your Royal Ambassadorship.
The Greek word for Ambassador is the PRESBEUO, πρεσβεύω, (pres-byoo’-o), that means, “an aged person, elder, be an ambassador, or be a representative (for someone).” It is used in classical Greek to denote the activity of an official envoy of a ruler or government who legally represented the authority responsible for sending him. It is similar to the Noun PRESBUTES or the Adjective PRESBUTEROS that means, “older man, ancestor, elder, presbyter.”
In fact, it is part of the PRESBUS family of words that relates to elders or those in authority, especially inside the Church. It is where the Christian denomination Presbyterian got its name, which also signified its organizational structure of elders in the local assembly, rather than the hierarchical structure of the Roman catholic church or the protestant English Episcopalian church.
PRESBEUO, πρεσβεύω, Verb; “Act as an ambassador,” 2 Cor 5:20; Eph 6:20.
PRESBEIA, πρεσβεία, Noun; “Embassy, ambassador,” Luke 14:32; 19:14.
PRESBUTEROS, πρεσβύτερος, Adjective; “Older man, ancestor, elder, presbyter,” used many times in Scripture.
PRESBUTERION, πρεσβυτέριον, Noun; “Assembly of elders, presbytery,” Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5; 1 Tim 4:14.
PRESBUTES, πρεσβύτης, Noun; “An old man,” Luke 1:18; Titus 2:2; Philemon 1:9.
PRESBUTIS, πρεσβύτις, Noun; “Elderly woman,” Titus 2:3.
SUMPRESBUTEROS, συμπρεσβύτερος, Noun: “Fellow elder, fellow minister, co-pastor,” 1 Peter 5:1.
The earliest mention of political “ambassadors,” called messengers or envoys in the Bible, are found in Num 20:14; Josh 9:4; Judg. 11:17-19.
The Hebrew utilizes the Noun TSIYR, צִיר that means, “an ambassador, an envoy, or a messenger.” Also, Malakh מַלְאָךְ, “messenger;” LITS, לוּץ, “interpreter.”
Definition and Description:
An ambassador is a high-ranking minister of state or of royalty sent by one country as its long-term representative to another country to represent his home sovereign or country. An ambassador is an official envoy who represents a foreign sovereign, providing a link between his host country and the country he represents. Ambassadors work to build relations and develop policies that favor both the host and the home of the ambassador. An ambassador is appointed by the leadership of those he represents and is given authority to speak on their behalf.
By analogy, we are spiritual aristocracy as members of the Royal Family of God, and Christ is the King who has sent us into a foreign country; Satan’s cosmic system – the world.
At salvation, every believer enters the Royal Family of God through adoption by means of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time we become a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth. Ambassadorship results from the fact that we are in union with Christ, caused by the Baptism of the Spirit, cf. Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27. Therefore, every Church Age believer is part of the Royal Family of God representing the King of kings and Lord of lords during our time on this earth. Therefore, two commissions are given to the believer at salvation: The Royal Priesthood, which is a part of the equal privilege of election; and the Royal Ambassadorship, which is a part of the equal privilege of predestination, 1 Peter 2:5-9. As such, we represent ourselves before God and we represent God before men.
Ambassadorship emphasizes that every believer is in full-time Christian service. Yet, there are different services. Differences of service depends on differences of spiritual gifts, stages of spiritual growth, historical circumstances (prevalence of positive or negative volition), and environment at any given moment, 1 Cor 12:4-6.
1 Cor 12:4, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Our spiritual gift is a specific gift given to each of us that we use distinctly for the common good of our generation. But there are also common functions and services related to our Priesthood and Ambassadorship that the Word commands us to participate in, such as witnessing, praying, learning God’s Word, assembly together faithfully, etc., so that there is no confusion between what your spiritual gift demands and those functions which are common to all believers. Ambassadorship is common to all believers; it is not just the title for Pastors, evangelists, or missionaries.
In addition to the mandates of Scripture, there are many avenues of expressing your Ambassadorship, such as utilizing the Faith‑Rest life and Impersonal Love as Problem Solving Devices with emphasis on your spiritual growth. Even though you are an ambassador from day one of your salvation, it is not until you grow spiritually that you are able to exercise your position. Spiritual Self-Esteem, the first stage of spiritual adulthood, results in the maximum expression of your ambassadorship, which is a result of consistent residence inside of God’s Power System under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit and momentum from metabolized Bible doctrine in your soul.
In 2 Cor 5:20, Paul speaks of himself and others as “ambassadors for Christ,” commissioned by their sovereign King to engage in the ministry of reconciliation. As official representatives, they spoke, (as we should also speak today), with the authority of God to the extent that when they spoke the message of reconciliation, it was as though God himself was doing the talking.
Similarly, in Eph 6:20, Paul described himself as acting as an “ambassador in chains,” the imprisoned representative of Christ. This image conveys both the risk involved for the emissary of God, and the oneness the ambassador has with the message he is speaking.
An ambassador must walk a very fine line. He lives in one country, but he is responsible to another. He must represent the message of a leader who is not directly present. He must also embody the character of his home country, following laws and customs that are not necessarily known or even welcome in the host nation. All while respecting the laws and customs of that host.
The Bible contains no finer characterization of the exalted and spiritual nature of the believer’s vocation as the representative of Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Savior of the world, Mal 2:7.
Malachi 2:7, “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger (MALAKH) of the LORD of hosts.”
This verse confirms the solemn responsibility and high calling of the priesthood in the OT. In applying here this term, “messenger of the Lord,” the priest is made aware of the awesome responsibility that, just as angels and prophets, he is to be a spokesman for God. (Many times in the Old Test. MALAKH or “messenger” is used with YHWH that indicates the “angel of the Lord.” Only here is this term applied to a priest, KOHEN. As such, our Ambassadorship goes hand-in-hand with our Royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9.
In 2 Cor 5, instead of a nation, Paul is an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Unlike modern political ambassadors, Paul did not originate from the “nation” he represented. He had to be adopted in, through Christ’s sacrifice, and then he had to undergo a change of perspective. He was no longer a citizen of the world and he no longer saw things as a citizen of the world. He saw things through the perspective of a citizen of the Kingdom of God; he was a new creation, vs. 17.
If we are to represent Jesus to the world, we must first belong to the Kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of Satan’s world and self. We must live by the standards of our new King, even though we are temporarily away from Him, vs. 6-9. Most importantly, we must accept that this earth is not our home; our home awaits us, “eternal in the heavens,” vs. 1, even if we are imprisoned and abused by our host country, Eph 6:20. In addition, ambassadors must spread His message: that everyone is welcome to have such a relationship with God.
Paul’s work as ambassador, as is ours, was to spread his Ruler’s message to his host nation. That message was reconciliation. God wanted to be personally reconciled to the people Paul lived with. In a way, Paul was asking his hosts to commit treason against the kingdom of the world and pledge citizenship to the Kingdom of God. They could then follow in Paul’s footsteps by becoming an ambassador for Christ in their own lives, just as we have become. It starts with a change in citizenship.
I am convinced that many of us have misunderstood our ambassadorship and our ministry. We think it is clocking in and clocking out, either as a paid employee or as a volunteer. But God has something radically different in mind. He wants us on call in every conversation and in every interaction.
The OT gives us some understanding as to the role of the Church Age ambassador for Christ:
- David sent ambassadors to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, to congratulate him upon his accession to the throne, 2 Sam 10:2, and Hiram sent them to Solomon for a like purpose, 1 Kings 5:1. Toi, king of Hamath, sent his son Joram to David “to greet him and bless him” after his victory over Hadadezer, 2 Sam 8:10. Therefore, we see the ambassador as one bringing a word of encouragement to others.
- Ambassadors were also sent:
- To protest against a wrong, Judges 11:12,
- To seek friendship, Num 20:14,
- To contract alliances, Joshua 9:3-6.
As ambassadors for Christ, we are to save people from their sins, plead for them to be reconciled to God, and invite them into the Royal Family of God.
In addition, the OT shows us that faithful ambassadors bring health to a nation, Prov 13:17, i.e., salvation to the people. In addition, we see in Isaiah that he condemned Israel for sending ambassadors to Egypt seeking military aid rather than seeking God’s aid, Isa 30:4; Cf. Isa 57:9. Therefore, we are to make it clear that the world cannot save or truly provide, but only God can. Ambassadors need to encourage all to trust in God, rather than themselves or the world.
When we became ambassadors for Christ, our lives ceased to be our own. We need to acknowledge that our lives belong to another Person now.
But if we are honest with ourselves, this is where we fall into trouble, because we do not really want to live as ambassadors, at least not ALL the time. Some days, we would rather live as a mini-king. We know what we like and the people we want to be with. We know the kind of house we would like to own and the car we want to drive. Without even recognizing it, we quickly fall into a “my kingdom come, my will be done” lifestyle.
Why does it seem that people, things, and situations get in our way? Why do we seldom go through a day without some experience of conflict? The answer is that we view our lives as our own. Often, we are more committed to the purposes of our own little kingdom than we are to God’s eternal kingdom. This is why Christ said that to be his disciples, we must die to ourselves, Luke 9:23, Gal 2:20, and why no one can serve two masters, Mat 6:24.
As ambassadors, we must sacrifice our own kingship before we can properly represent the one true King. The biggest reason for lack of ministry in the church and in our culture is not a lack of training. It is our hearts. Where is God specifically calling you to die to yourself so you can live for a kingdom much bigger than your own?
Therefore, if we know what God’s intention for ministry is, (everyone, everywhere, all the time), and if we know what the biggest obstacle to our ministry lifestyle is, (our hearts pursuing the kingdom of self), what then is the best way to minister to others? The last phrase of 2 Cor 5:20 tells us, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
That directive does have evangelistic application. Believers should look for opportunities to implore non-believers to be reconciled with God, so they can experience eternal life. But, in the context of this passage, Paul has another line of reasoning.
Look back a few verses, 2 Cor 5:14-15 “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this; that One has died for all, therefore all died; 15and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
Paul is saying that the purpose of the Cross is not just to secure an eternity for sinners, but to also recapture the hearts of God’s people to serve God alone. Our sin not only separates us from God, but even after we have been reconciled to God through justification, our remaining sin causes us to be incredibly self-absorbed, reducing us to idolatrous worshippers of self.
The focus of Christ’s work is to deliver us from our bondage to ourselves, even after we have been saved! As long as sin indwells us, which it will until Jesus returns or we are taken home, we tend to wander away from the worship of God and serve ourselves. God is intent on owning our hearts unchallenged. His goal is that our lives be shaped by a worship of Him and nothing else. And, He has chosen to send us as His ambassadors to make His appeal for people’s hearts. What an exciting calling! Who is God calling you to engage with in “the ministry of reconciliation?”
As such, an ambassador is one through whom a sovereign speaks. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God,” 2 Cor 5:20.
The apostles, as sent by Christ with authority to speak in his name, and to negotiate with men, proposing the terms of reconciliation, and urging their acceptance, were in an eminent sense His ambassadors. Just as all believers are sent by Christ and are commissioned by Him to propose the terms of salvation, they too are entitled to the same honorable designation: AMBASSADOR!
Summary, The Profile of the Ambassador:
1. Ambassadors do not appoint themselves. We are appointed by God Himself at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. God also gives us the power and ability to handle the job.
2. The Ambassador does not support himself. The Church Age believer, as an ambassador for Christ, is provided for by God’s logistical grace blessings.
3. The Ambassador’s instructions are always in written form, so he has no doubt as to what he should do. We have the policies, Problem Solving Devices, instructions, principles, doctrines, and concepts in written form in the Scripture.
4. The Ambassador does not belong to the country to which he is sent. Our citizenship and home is in heaven, Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Cf. Eph 2:19; Phil 1:27; Heb 12:22. We are also citizens of a client nation to God – the USA.
5. The Ambassador does not live in the foreign country for his own personal interest. We live here on earth solely to serve in the interest of our Lord. Therefore, we subordinate all personal interest to the function of our ambassadorship, which includes the development and function of the spiritual skills, including the Filling of the Spirit, understanding of Bible doctrine, and the execution of the Plan of God. Our position as Ambassadors for Christ is in place as of the moment of salvation, but it is not effective until we develop spiritual skills by growing to spiritual maturity.
6. The Ambassador does not treat any insult to himself as personal, Prov 12:16b. This is the Royal Ambassador’s function in both Spiritual Self-Esteem and Impersonal Love for All Mankind. We tolerate others and hold no grudges. When we are insulted, treated unfairly, or ridiculed, we have tremendous Problem Solving Devices (PSD) to handle the situation. You recognize that it is God who they are insulting and not us, we apply the PSD’s, and we turn the matter over to the Supreme Court of Heaven in Faith-Rest.
7. When an Ambassador is recalled, it means either that his job is done, or it means a declaration of war. This is analogous to our death when our Lord will bring us home as a good servant, Mat 25:21, 23, or the Rapture of the Church, 1 Thes 4:13-18. The Tribulation is analogous to the period of war.
8. Everything the believer does in life becomes a part of his way of life as a Royal Ambassador. Every believer, therefore, makes a pulpit out of his circumstances in every area of life. Every believer is in full‑time service; this is a decision God made, not one that we make. The Lord uses ambassadors in business, professions, homes, academic life, and in local churches. Your circumstances are your full-time Christian service whether you work in the military, in labor, or in management.
- Believers as ambassadors are the personal representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer is in the Plan of God and lives his life under the principle of full-time Christian service. The profession of every believer is representing Christ as a Royal Ambassador. The avocation of every believer is making a living as per Philemon. Paul was as much an ambassador in prison as when he was a traveling missionary. You always represent Christ.
9. Your ambassadorship is basically made up of two factors: how you live, and what you say as a result of what you think. Generally, in private, you function under your priesthood; in public, you function under your ambassadorship. This is the function of every believer who witnesses and is the special function of the believer with the gift of evangelism. We are to witness through verbal communication of the gospel of the Word of God. We are not to witness only through our lifestyle.
10. The Church Age believer is not only an Ambassador to human creatures but to angels as well. You are a Royal Ambassador being watched right now. Angels observed our Lord, 1 Tim 3:16. They observe and rejoice over the conversion of one person, Luke 15:7-10. Fallen angels are organized to resist and oppose your ambassadorship and your growth in grace, Job 1:6, 2:1‑3; Eph 6:12. The fact that angels are watching you as an Ambassador is found in 1 Cor 4:9; Eph 3:10; 1 Tim 5:21; 1 Peter 1:12.
1 Cor 4:9, “For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death (last ones into the coliseum); because we have become a spectacle (amphitheater) to the world, both to angels and to men.”
Eph 3:10, “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places (angels).”
1 Tim 5:21, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen (elect) angels, to maintain these principles (doctrines) without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”
1 Peter 1:12, “It was revealed to them (OT Prophets) that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those (Church Age Ambassadors) who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”
11. Christians are God’s ambassadors in that they have been “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,” 1 Thes 2:4. As we go through this world, we represent another Kingdom, John 18:36, and it is our responsibility to reflect the “official position” of heaven. We are in this world, but not of it, John 17:16.
12. God’s ambassadors are to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,” Mat 10:16. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we must take the message of our King to the “ends of the earth,” Acts 1:8, imploring men and women everywhere to be reconciled to God.
Being an ambassador for Christ is the fulfillment of the incredibly important kingdom perspective. To follow Christ means to give up the kingdom of self and the kingdom of the world, and pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. It means our home is heaven, not earth. Our responsibility is to tell others about that good news, so they can join the Kingdom of God as well.
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Click Here for Part 7 (vs 21-23). The study includes:
Exegesis of Ephesians 6:21-23
F. Conclusion; Benediction, God’s Encouragement to Carry on, Eph 6:21-24.
- The Doctrine of Encouragement
- The Doctrine of Tychicus
- The Doctrine of Peace
- The Doctrine of Worrying and Anxiety
- The Doctrine of Love
- The Doctrine of Faith
- The Doctrine of Grace
- The Doctrine of Motivational Virtue AGAPE Love for our Lord