Effessians Exegesis

 

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An Exegesis of Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV

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Central idea:

Believers should be ready to engage in spiritual warfare because life is a   battlefield.

Table of Content

 

Central idea: 1

An overview of Ephesians 6:10-20 [NIV] 2

Introduction. 3

Historical Context 3

Cultural Context 4

Literary Context 5

Content 6

Be Strong (6:10) 6

The True Enemy (6:11-12) 7

The Armor of God (6:13-17) 9

Prayer (6:18-20) 12

Application. 14

Conclusion. 14

Bibliography. 16

 

 

An overview of Ephesians 6:10-20 [NIV]

Paul recognizes the mighty power of God and asks the church at Ephesus to find their strength in it and in God Himself. They would be able to resist the Devil’s tricks and strategies by putting on the full armor of God, for the war they were fighting was not a physical one but a spiritual war. Their enemy was not a physical being, but the ruling forces, powers and authorities of this evil world as well as the invisible forces of wickedness in the heavenly kingdoms. The full armor of God would enable the Ephesians to be steadfast when faced with wickedness. After all is said and done, the Devil would find them intractable. Paul advises them to be steadfast and recommends six items to be worn as part of the armor of God:

  • The belt- This represents the truth, and would be firmly fastened around the waist
  • The breastplate- Representing righteousness, this would be put appropriately in its place
  • Readiness- Fitted on the feet, this comes from the good news of peace
  • The shield- When the Devil throws flaming darts at them; they would quench them using this shield, which represents faith
  • The helmet- Representing salvation
  • The sword- They would need the Word and the Spirit of God in fighting this war

In all circumstances and with all manner of prayer and supplication, they should pray in the Spirit. They should also be alert and keep beseeching for all of God’s people. Paul, a diplomat in chains, requests the Ephesians to intercede for him that he would have the right words to speak and as he should, fearlessly declare and reveal the enigma of the good news.

 

 

Introduction

One of the most commonly used terms by the body of Christ is “Spiritual warfare”. The clergy, religious scholars, as well as common men, often use this term. It is beyond human ability to understand and conceive of this battle, and Paul the Apostle was cognizant of this fact. The church at Ephesus is permitted to make use of the tools in this battle, as addressed in Ephesians 6:10-20. The contemporary Christian church can also utilize these tools to stay firm during spiritual warfare. It is important for believers to fully understand the full armor of God with invariability, focused dedication and oriented configuration development, considering that their daily experiences have continuous costly consequences now and hereafter. “Sooner or later every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is – apart from the Lord,”[1]Warren Wiersbe stated concerning the weighty matter of spiritual warfare. The Ephesians are encouraged, by Paul the Apostle, to carry on with a compressed and strengthened outlook against the attack of the Devil. This will be achieved by taking up the armor of God which contains the weapons of this warfare and praying for one another always. In light of this, an exhaustive expository commentary of the armor of God, according to Paul the Apostle, is of utmost importance.

Historical Context

Apostle Paul is the author of this letter (Eph 1:1; 3:1).  What Christians know concerning Paul is explained in his ministry evident in the book of Ephesians (3:7, 13; 4:1; 6:19–20). This is confirmed by the testimonies and words of apologists including Ignatius.  Perhaps, this writings materialized between AD 59 and AD 63 when Paul was in prison[2]. “The letter clearly suggest that Paul was the author not only in the introductory thus (1:1) part but also in the body (3:1). There are various special notes: the author is aware of the readers love and faith (1:15); he is thankful and prays on their behalf (1:16); he affirms that he is a prisoner of Jesus Christ (3:1; 4:1)[3].

Cultural Context

In olden days, Ephesus was the centre of commerce and travel. The region had three main roads that headed from the seaport. One was in the north of Smyrna, another one in the east towards Laodicea and the other one on the south to Meander valley. Ephesus was a great trading town of Asia Minor. It is currently known as Turkey. It had a haven and by that time it opened into a river Cayster which poured into the Aegean Sea. Ephesus came to be a commercial centre since it as an intersection of main trade routes. Besides, it has the pagan temple which was devoted to the Roman goddess Daina. Paul turned Ephesus Center into a place for evangelism for more than two years.  Apparently, the church prospered for some time although it required the warning of   Rev 2:1-7.”[4] It seems that there was no theological, spiritual or doctrinal issues which influenced Paul to write to the church of Ephesian besides encouragement. However, many people believe that most likely Paul wrote the letter just after lettering the Colossians as an add-on to that letter[5].              According to Carson and Douglas, while some Paul was trying to secure unity due to the possible tension between the Gentile and the Jewish, others argue that the  letter was meant to direct Gentiles when it came to important issues concerning the new faith[6].  Other people have suggested that Paul wanted to set out great truths that would guide early Christians[7].  Although the reason behind the writing to the church of Ephesians is unknown, the assigned passage indicate a spiritual realm for Christians to be aware of. This is evident in the book of Ephesians.

Literary Context

The first section of the book of Ephesians talks about Scriptural training and lays emphasis on the doctrine while the second section focuses on how Christians can embrace instructions and how they should behave. The literary context is practical, truthful and forthright.  The key theme builds the body spiritually. The book begins with a statement that reminded Ephesians about the divine approval which they enjoyed due to the redemption and salvation brought about by Jesus Christ. In the first chapter of the book of Acts, they glorify God since -they are chosen, saved by Jesus Christ (1:7-12) and because they discerned and sealed the Holy Spirit (1:13-14). Paul explains how he used to live; he was dead in sin but he was saved and now lives a righteous life. He is thankful for the redemption and the power of Christ which has enabled them to become one (2:5-6).  Paul addressed the thoughts regarding “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (4:3).”[8] He explains how his righteous life and agreement in spirit is completely different from old life demonstrated by the behaviour in his walk, in marital relationships as well as extended family relationships (4:17-6:9).  In the concluding section of the letter, Paul urges the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and put on the full Amor of God to be able to deal with spiritual attacks against them as people who are not controlled by the desires of the flesh but the Holy Spirit (6:10-17). Paul tells the Ephesians to pray without ceasing, pray for at all times for all saints including himself (6:18)6:19-20).

Content

Be Strong (6:10)

 

Paul provides an overview regarding being strong in an overall statement in the book, followed by specific arguments. He urges the Ephesians to remain strong in the Lord and His mighty power[9]. The word “be strong” in the lord is key in the scripture. The word His has been used as a pronoun to refer to God. Christians can “be strong” in the lord by putting on the armor of God, and this is how something is attained in verse 10:11

The author (Paul) starts with the word ‘’finally”. This informs the readers that the author intends to close the letter. The word serves as a transition. The word is important because it allows Paul to inform the reader about the unity and love that is experienced through Christ. The tools that a person ought to exercise to enjoy the unity in Christ lies in solidness (strong) in God. In Greek, the word ‘strong’ means to give strength, to be powerful and to be strong[10]. The New Bible Commentary suggests that perhaps, the phrase, ‘Be strong’ does not bring out the power the passive verb ‘strengthened’. The Revised English Bible version describes the term in a better way by stating, ‘Find your strength in the Lord’[11].  Paul does not only use the word ‘strong’ to emphasize his teachings but goes further to use the word ‘armor’. He describes how to be strong, something which can only be achieved through the mighty power of God. The emphasis is based on the great power of God in the fight against the powers of the enemy. Through his arguments, readers can understand Paul’s main point in his previous prayers for the people (1:19-2:10)[12]. The author uses God’s image and His power to align his conclusions with his message.

The True Enemy (6:11-12)

While reading the sentences a reader realizes that some words have been repeated. For instance, strong, put the full armor of God, against, take, you and ‘your’ are repeated several times in the text.  The word stand has been repeated twice, against six times, take three times and you four times.  The speech presented in verse 11 of chapter 6 is full of armor of God. The statement ‘put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the schemes of the devil’ contains some of these special words and phrase. It provides directions to Christians and explains the purpose of taking the action. Thus, believers are advised to take full armor of God (purpose) so that they can overcome the weapons fashioned against them by the devil. The phrase put on (active) the complete armor of the Lord….and take your stance (active) against the schemes of the devil. The word ‘our” stated in verse 12 of chapter 6 is a pronoun that refers to both reader and writer.

Paul encourages Ephesians to put on the armor of God since it is the only way through which they can have the power to stand against the plans of the devil[13]. In declaring this, He laid reveals the true enemy of Ephesians who is the devil and his tricks. In Kinga James version devil’s tricks are referred to as wiles. The phrase ‘rendered wile’ means that which is marked out with the method; something is methodized and what is well cunning. The schemes of the devil can be described as various stratagems and arts which he uses to drag souls away from God and into hell[14]. Moreover, Paul argues that the struggles of believers are not against the blood and flesh.

In the Greek language, blood is referred to as haima, meaning “something of natural descent.”[15] The word is related to the word ‘flesh’, which is converted from the Greek word sarx. Sarx means the soft tissue of a living being, the body the flesh, always in contrast to bone, sinew or ligament; by extension human; humanity[16]. Paul constantly instructs the Ephesians and the church to fight not in through natural and humanistic approach but through a divine approach that is fueled by the power of the almighty God. Even though what people experience in the flesh is audible and visible, the fight against not worldly but ought to be spiritual and pure.

Paul explains and specifies that the fight is against authorities, against rulers, against the power of darkness and the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly kingdom[17]. Charles Hodge explains the importance of the terms which are used in this passage. The perspective and the resemblance of the word of God makes it clear that the reference is made to evil spirits.  In the Bible evil spirits are referred to as ‘demons’ who are said to be the fallen angels. The fallen angels are guided by Satan who is their prince[18]. Charles argues that the term ‘authorities’ and ‘rulers’ do not have a fleshly reference but maybe refers to the relationships between the spirits themselves[19]. Biblical commentary suggests that some pagan divinities were known as ‘world rulers’. The popularity of the terms for highly ranked good as well as evil angels were increasing during that period[20]. The temple of Diana that Paul probably knew about it was situated in Ephesus, hence he used the phrase ‘powers of this dark world’ while referring to her without invoking her name. Ephesian were familiar with the term ‘world ruler’. They knew the term when Paul mentioned Diana.

The Armor of God (6:13-17)

After keenly reading the scripture, one would realize that some words have been repeated in verses 13-17.  These terms include stand, you, with, against, your and the phrase, put on the full armor of God. The association is evident in verse 14 where the belt is related to the truth and verse 15 where breastplate is associated with righteousness, feet fitted with shoes linked with readiness, verse 16 where shield is related to faith, verse 17 where the helmet is associated with salvation and the sword linked  to the word of God. Verses 14, 15, 16 and 17 gives a list of words like a breastplate, the belt of truth, feet fixed with readiness, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit and the helmet of salvation. Verse 14 and 15 suggest that the reader of a believer can stand firmly by guarding himself or herself with the belt of truth, having the breastplate of uprightness in place, and having his or her feet fitted with preparedness that is brought about by the gospel of peace. In verse 16, the reader can turn off the flaming arrows of the evil spirit and take up the armor of faith

Paul opens this part by emphasizing the directive that he had given before thus, put on the full armor of God. Primarily, the armor of God helps a believer to stand against evil spirits and the schemes of the devil.  Now, the armor of God helps believers to stand their ground when the days of evil come and after one has done all things, to stand[21]. The idea that the armor is viewed from a spiritual perspective

The idea that armor viewed from the divine kingdom is one that Ephesians would be familiar with as the ancient conquerors are great to have had the armor sent to them by their gods; and even Vulcan, the great armor-maker, was believed to be a god[22]. Paul claims that the spiritual armor is the armor of God recognizing that it did not come from a Roman mythical god but from the living and almighty God. Paul makes a point of speaking in perpetual vigilance and preparedness, he does not state that if the day of evil comes but instead, he says that when the day of evil comes. In the New International Version, the statement, ‘when the day of evil comes’ could suggest the ultimate rise of tribulations and evils that the Jewish apocalyptic script anticipated the prior to the day of the lord. The thought definitely ensigns the language here yet for Paul, the times were already evil (5:16); the fight had already begun and the armor of God was required for believers to stand[23].

Paul reiterates standing firm before introducing the sections of armor, directing the reader to verse 10 and telling how Ephesian were expected to stand firm. He then presents more information about the armor of God. He talks about believers having the belt of truth buckled around their midriff[24]. It is necessary to understand that the God’s word comes later in form of a sword and the truth talked about in this part is not that yet according to Hodge it is the belief and knowledge regarding the truth. This is the leading and essential qualification for a strong believer. Entering a spiritual conflict with doubts and ignorantly is like going for a battle blindly[25].  Also, Paul related the belt of truth with the breastplate of uprightness in the same verse. The two concepts refer to readings in the book of Isaiah.   Isaiah 59:17 refers to the lord as He put on uprightness as breastplate[26].  It is stated that “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance   and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” The book of Isaiah verse 5 of chapter 11 reveals that the Messiah guard Himself with righteous belt[27].

Paul talks about the feet being fitted with preparedness that is brought about the gospel of peace[28]. This is another representation that Ephesians were expected to understand. The Roman soldiers were supposed to be fleet of foot, having defensive and helpful footgear was an important part of their armor. He provokes them to take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one[29]. A person must understand that the shield is part of the armor of a soldier, which he can use for defence during an attack. Barnes states that faith is meant to occupy a large part and the most important place that all other Christian graces. Faith protects human beings and is key when it comes to the security of all believers just like the shield.  When a soldier has his shield, he feels secure; and if a believer has faith in the Lord, he is secure[30]. The defensive shield for Ephesians is the contemporary Christian faith.

Paul shifts from faith and begins to talk about the helmet of salvation with reference to the book of Isaiah 59:17 where it says that God put the helmet off on his head[31]. The helmet was the most ornamented and distinguishable part of the armor that the Roman militias could wear. In Ephesians 6:17 the bible states that “The head is the seat of the mind and thoughts, which when it has laid hold of the Gospel hope of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan’s temptations to despair[32].  In the entire account of protection, Paul ultimately comes to the attacking weapon and that is the sword of the spirit. Paul makes it clear to the Ephesians that it is the word of God. Paul gives a further description of the word of God and the relationship between the word and the sword. In Hebrews 4:12, he states that the word of God is active and living. The word is sharper than any sword, be it double-edged on not. It pierces through souls and can divide souls and spirits and the marrow and the joints; the word judges the attitudes of the heart and the thoughts in mind[33]. God’s word is great and is spiritually capable of penetrating the soul of a toughened heart.

Prayer (6:18-20)

There are several words which have been repeated several times to support the purpose of the verses. For instance, the word praying and pray has been repeated more than three times, the word fearless twice while the word I has been reiterated five times. The reasons and the effects are stated in verse 19. The verbs include: and pray in spirit (active)…and with this in your thoughts, be vigilant (active) and always pray (active)…also, pray for me (active)…the words could be provided passive and without fear, I will make what is passive be known in verse 19

Ephesians are given a directive to pray so that they can be strong. It is not the weapons or the armor that makes a warrior. One must have the required strength and courage coupled with help. Believers do not have the resources of strength themselves, they can only succeed when they seek help from above. Hence, all Christians have a duty to pray including the apostle[34]. Paul urges Ephesians to often pray in the spirit in all circumstances with every kind of prayer and wishes that they keep on praying for all saints[35]. This appeal was an extension of the military imagery since it brings about the thought of martial units closing rank amongst one another for assurance and reinforcement in the course of a fight.

The significance that the apostle ascribed to intercessory prayers as well as his faith in its effectiveness are marked by the rate of recurrence with which he enjoins the calling, and form the sincerity with which he implores  such prayers for himself[36]. When he was writing the letter, Paul was detained in Rome. One should understand that Paul was not praying for his release but prayed for fearlessness when chances presented itself.  The apostle did not wish the Ephesians to pray that God would give him the power and the opportunity to preach with boldness and freedom and not deliverance from prison to be free to preach the good news or temporal blessings[37].

Application

Believers can embrace the Paul word that is presented in the book of Ephesians. They can execute the directives conveyed to the church of Ephesian.  The Enemy that Paul talks about in the book of Ephesians in the same that churches face in the contemporary world. The church ought to know that the enemy that Paul spoke about is the devil. The attractive behaviour of the enemy could be adjusted to keep up with the advancement of civilization yet at the base they are similar. Christians fight giants the authorities, powers, rulers as well as the spiritual wickedness that the church of Ephesian was battled against in the course of the first century.

Paul argued that the church of Ephesian ought not to be on the offence and also believers must consider this as the possible and legal way to execute the message that is put forth in this book in their lives. Instead of doing things that are not in line with the word of God, believers must be aware of the spiritual armor and put it on, stand firm through the power of God, but prepared to engage in the fight against the devil and evil tricks. Prayer is not an option as explained in this passage.  Paul laid emphasis regarding whom to pray for as well as the time to pray. Believers ought to pray consistently and actively. Their life should be coupled with prayers which covers themselves and other people.  In the absence of prayers, believers are prone to lack of preparedness and evil attack. Prayers create a strong relationship between believers and the master (God). It allows them to stand firm and overcome evil tricks through the power of God.

Conclusion

The armor of God enabled Paul to conquer the devil and the darkened kingdom. In the same way, all believers can be victorious is they put on the armor of God. The portions that make up a great warrior armor involves the belt of the truth, the shield of faith, the breastplate of the upright, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit and preparedness. This discussion does not support physical violence but rather encourages believers to confront the antagonist (devil) and defeat the prognosis of the kingdom of misery through spiritual aggressiveness. The text urges believers to always be prepared to deal with devil’s attack. The areas that are susceptible to attacks is in an individual’s personal life.  Personal life is characterized by spiritual conflicts and adversity. Spiritual warfare is a common phrase yet the ability to acknowledge the fight constantly is not easy. All believers must be prepared to embrace al significant tactics which are efficient and effective when it comes to winning spiritual fights. The fight is not a playground but a battleground.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical (Edited by Robert Frew),

WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Bruce, F.F., The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Verse-by-Verse Exposition (Claverton Down, UK –

Creative Communications Ltd), 2012, WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Carson, D. A., Moo, Douglas J., An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition (Grand

Rapids, MI – Zondervan Publishing), 2005

Clarke, Adam, A Commentary and Critical Notes (New York, NY – Abingdon-Cokesbury Press,

1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001).  In Tyndale Bible Dictionary (p. 432), Wheaton, IL:       Tyndale House Publishers

Hodge, Charles, and Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 1860. A Commentary on the Epistle to

the Ephesians. New York: R. Carter and Brothers. WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Jamieson, Robert, Fausset, A.R., Brown, David, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and

Practical on the Old and New Testaments (Toledo, OH – Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Keener, Craig S., The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL

– InterVarsity Press), 1993, WORDsearch CROSS e-book

Polhill, John B., Paul and His Letters (Nashville, TN – Broadman & Holman Publishers), 1999

Wenham, G.J., Motyer, J.A., Carson, D.A., France, R.T., The New Bible Commentary, 21st

Century Edition (Downers Grove, IL – InterVarsity Press), 1994

Wiersbe, Warren, The Bible Expositional Commentary (Wheaton, IL – Wheaton Scripture Press), 1989

 

Zondervan, The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan Publishing), 1984

 

 

[1] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL – Wheaton Scripture Press, 1989), 2:56

[2] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 434). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale

House Publishers.

[3] D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI –

Zondervan Publishing, 2005), 480

[4]  Zondervan, The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan Publishing, 1984), 1830

[5] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians, WORDsearch CROSS e-book

[6] Carson and Moo, 491

[7] Ibid

[8] Zondervan, The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan Publishing, 1984), 1830

[9] Zondervan, The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan Publishing, 1984), 1830

[10] Goodrick and Kohlenberger, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan

Publishing, 1999), 1548

[11] .J. Wenham, et al, The New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition (Downers Grove, IL – InterVarsity Press,

1994), 1243

 

[12] Ibid

[13] Zondervan, 183

 

[14] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical (Edited by Robert Frew), WORDsearch

[15] Goodrick and Kohlenberger, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI – Zondervan

Publishing, 1999), 1548

[16] Ibid., 1590

[17] Zondervan, 1839

[18] Charles Hodge, A Commentary on Ephesians, WORDsearch CROSS e-book

 

[19] Ibid

[20] Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament (Downers Grove, IL – InterVarsity Press,

1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book

 

[21] Zondervan, 1839-1840

[22] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes (New York, NY – Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book

[23] Wenham, et al, 1243

[24] Zondervan, 1840

[25] Hodge, CROSS e-book

[26] Zondervan, 1120

[27] Ibid., 1050

[28] Ibid., 1840

[29] Ibid

[30] Barnes, CROSS e-book

[31] Zondervan, 1120

[32], Jamieson,, et al, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments (Toledo,

OH – Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book

[33] Zondervan, 1902

[34] Hodge, CROSS e-book

[35] Zondervan, 1840

[36] Hodge, CROSS e-book

[37] Ibid

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