Lesson 123

Ephesians 5–6

“Lesson 123: Ephesians 5–6,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Paul taught the Saints how to resist evil influences. He also taught them how to strengthen family relationships. Paul concluded his letter by exhorting followers of God to “put on the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11) in order to withstand Satan’s deceptions.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ephesians 5:1–20

Paul teaches the Saints to resist evil influences

If possible, display something that students would recognize as having been newly made or purchased, and ask:

  • How do we typically treat things that are new?

Remind students that Ephesians 4 contains Paul’s counsel to new Church members to “put off” their “old[,] … corrupt” selves (verse 22) and “put on the new man” (verse 24), or begin a new life as followers of Jesus Christ.

  • How could the life of someone who has determined to follow Jesus Christ be considered new?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Ephesians 5–6 that can help them “put on the new man” as followers of Jesus Christ.

Invite a student to read Ephesians 5:1–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul counseled the Saints to do and not do as followers of Jesus Christ.

  • What did Paul counsel followers of Jesus Christ to do? What did he counsel them not to do?

  • What truth can we identify from these verses about followers of Jesus Christ? (Students may identify a variety of truths, but be sure to emphasize that followers of Jesus Christ do not partake of the world’s evils.)

  • According to verse 5, what will those who partake of the world’s evils forfeit?

  • How could partaking of the world’s evils affect someone’s new life in Christ? How could this person’s example affect others?

Summarize Ephesians 5:8–20 by explaining that Paul encouraged the Saints to “walk as children of light” (verse 8), to be wise, and to seek to know the Lord’s will by being “filled with the Spirit” (verse 18).

Ephesians 5:21–6:9

Paul counsels the Ephesians regarding their family relationships

Ask students to think about their interactions with their family members during the past 24 hours and whether those interactions were positive or negative. (For example, were these interactions loving or contentious? kind or hurtful? uplifting or degrading?)

  • Why can it sometimes be difficult to have positive family relationships?

Invite students to look for principles as they study Ephesians 5:21–6:9 that can help them strengthen their family relationships.

Invite a student to read Ephesians 5:21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul encouraged the Saints to do.

  • What did Paul encourage the Saints to do? (Explain that “submit yourselves one to another” means we should place others ahead of ourselves and “fear of God” refers to our love and respect for God.)

  • In what ways did Jesus Christ exemplify the attribute of submission?

  • How can placing others ahead of ourselves help strengthen our family relationships?

Invite a student to read Ephesians 5:22–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul counseled husbands and wives to do in their relationships with each other.

  • What relationship did Paul counsel wives to pattern their relationships with their husbands after? (Explain that Paul taught that a wife should “submit” herself to her husband [verse 22]. This can be interpreted as sustaining, supporting, and respecting her husband as she does the Lord. A husband’s divinely appointed role is to preside or watch over the family, just as the Savior watches over and leads His Church.)

  • What did Paul counsel husbands to do in their relationships with their wives?

  • How will a husband who loves his wife as the Savior loves the Church treat her? (He will “[give] himself” for her [verse 25], or place her ahead of himself, and “cherish” her [verse 29].)

  • What truth can we identify from Paul’s teachings about what can happen in our families if we use the Savior’s relationship with the Church as our guide? (Using their own words, students should identify a principle similar to the following: When we use the Savior’s relationship with the Church as our guide, we can strengthen our family relationships.)

Invite a student to read Ephesians 5:30–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what husbands and wives become when they are married.

  • According to verse 31, what do husbands and wives become when they are married? (They become “one flesh,” or united physically, emotionally, and spiritually.)

  • How can following the Savior’s example in their interactions with one another help a married couple (and family) increase love and unity in their relationship?

Invite a student to read Ephesians 6:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how using Jesus Christ’s example as a guide applies to a child’s relationship with his or her parents. Invite students to report what they find.

  • How does a child follow Jesus Christ’s example by obeying his or her parents?

  • What did Paul counsel fathers to do in regards to raising their children?

Ask students to ponder how their family relationships would be strengthened if they used their relationship with the Savior as their guide. Invite them to choose one relationship they would like to improve and to write down some ways they can improve this relationship by following the Savior’s example. Encourage them to act on what they wrote.

Summarize Ephesians 6:5–9 by explaining that Paul taught about the relationship between a servant and master. In New Testament times, slavery was common throughout the Roman Empire, even among some members of the Church. Paul’s counsel does not imply that he approved of the institution of slavery.

Ephesians 6:10–24

Paul counsels the Saints to “put on the whole armour of God”

Write on the board the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson. (This statement is found in “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 79.) Invite a student to read this statement aloud.

“Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments” (President Ezra Taft Benson).

  • In what ways does Satan wage war against the youth of the Church?

Invite a student to read Ephesians 6:10–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul said the Saints in his day were fighting against. Explain that wiles refers to tricks or stratagems that are used to deceive or ensnare.

  • What did Paul say the Saints in his day were fighting against?

  • How is what Paul listed in verse 12 the same as what we are fighting against in our day?

  • What did Paul tell the Saints in his day to put on so that they could withstand these evils? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we put on the whole armor of God, we will be able to withstand evil.)

handout, armor of God

Put On the Whole Armor of God

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 123

diagram, armor of God

handout iconProvide students with the accompanying handout. Divide the class into five groups, and assign each group one of the pieces of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:14–17. (Do not assign the “loins girt about with truth” [verse 14]. If your class is small you may need to assign some groups more than one piece of armor.)

Write the following questions on the board:

  1. What is the piece of armor used for?

  2. What did Paul call the piece of armor?

  3. What could the body part being protected by the armor represent spiritually?

  4. How can wearing this piece of spiritual armor help you withstand evil?

To show students how to complete the handout, invite a student to read Ephesians 6:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the answers to the questions on the board as they apply to “loins girt about with truth” and writing the answers on their handouts.

Explain that armor “girt about” the loins is a belt that is tied around the midsection of the body. Students may suggest answers similar to the following: (1) It covers the loins (the vital organs dealing with reproduction). (2) Truth. (3) It represents our chastity or moral purity. (4) Knowing the truthfulness of the plan of salvation can motivate us to remain morally pure.

Invite students to follow this pattern as they read Ephesians 6:14–18 with their groups and complete the part of the handout that corresponds with their assigned pieces of armor. (Explain that having “your feet shod” [verse 15] means wearing shoes or other foot protection.)

After sufficient time, invite a representative from each group to report what they learned to the class. As each group reports, invite students to record the group’s findings on their handouts.

  • Why is it important to protect ourselves with the whole armor of God?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask students to listen for how we put on and strengthen the armor of God.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 8).

  • What do you do to put on and strengthen the armor of God each day? How has this helped you to withstand evil, temptation, or deception?

Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to write down their responses:

Which pieces of your spiritual armor do you consider to be strong?

Which is your weakest piece of armor?

What could you do to strengthen each of these pieces of spiritual armor in your life?

Summarize Ephesians 6:19–24 by explaining that Paul concluded his letter by asking the Saints to pray that he would be given “utterance” (verse 19) and be able to preach the gospel with boldness while in prison.

Share your testimony of the truths students identified in Ephesians 5–6. Encourage students to act on any promptings they may have received during today’s lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Ephesians 5:25–286:4; . “Even as Christ also loved the church”

President Ezra Taft Benson pointed to the Savior’s example as he counseled husbands on how to lead their families:

“We do not find the Savior leading the Church with a harsh or unkind hand. We do not find the Savior treating His Church with disrespect or neglect. We do not find the Savior using force or coercion to accomplish His purposes. Nowhere do we find the Savior doing anything but that which edifies, uplifts, comforts, and exalts the Church” (“To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 50).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught about the influence a husband can have when he loves his family as the Savior loves the Church:

“Christ loved the church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, suffered humiliating indignities for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.

“When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife but all the family will respond to his leadership” (“Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 5).

Ephesians 6:1. “Obey your parents in the Lord”

“Paul said, ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right’ (Ephesians 6:1; emphasis added), and then immediately thereafter adds, ‘Honour thy father and mother’ (v. 2). This time, however, he added no qualifying statement, describing it only as the ‘first commandment with promise’ (Ephesians 6:2). To obey one’s parents in the Lord means to obey them in righteousness (see McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:521). Anytime a child lives righteously he brings honor to his parents, whether those parents are themselves righteous or wicked. The opposite is also true. Anytime a child lives wickedly he brings shame to his parents, whether or not the parents are righteous. So, honoring parents may not always imply obeying them. In those relatively few cases where parents may ask for or encourage unrighteous behavior in their children, the individual brings dishonor to his parents if he obeys them” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 131).

Ephesians 6:11. “Put on the whole armour of God”

President Harold B. Lee explained the importance of putting on the whole armor of God:

“We have the four parts of the body that the Apostle Paul said [are] the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity. The heart typifying our conduct. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life and finally our head, our thoughts” (Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Nov. 9, 1954], 2).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what we must first do before we can put on the armor of God:

“The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before! (see Eph. 6:11, 13)” (“Plow in Hope,” Ensign, May 2001, 60).

President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency taught what we can do to put on the whole armor of God:

“Examine your armor. Is there an unguarded or unprotected place? Determine now to add whatever part is missing. …

“Through the great principle of repentance you can turn your life about and begin now clothing yourself with the armor of God through study, prayer, and a determination to serve God and keep his commandments” (“Put on the Whole Armor of God,” Ensign, May 1979, 46).