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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Ephesians 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

1, 2.] These verses are best taken as transitional,—the inference from the exhortation which has immediately preceded, and introduction to the dehortatory passage which follows. Certainly Stier seems right in viewing the περιπατεῖτε as resuming περιπατῆσαι ch. Ephesians 4:1, and indicating a beginning, rather than a close, of a paragraph. Be ye ( γίνεσθε, see on last verse) therefore (seeing that God forgave you in Christ, see next verse) imitators of God (viz. in walking in love, see below), as children beloved (see next verse: and 1 John 4:19, ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς) and (shew it by this, that ye) walk in love, as Christ also (this comes even nearer: from the love of the Father who gave His Son, to that of the Son, the Personal manifestation of that love in our humanity) loved (not, ‘hath loved’ as E. V.) you (the ὑμᾶςὑμῶν is more a personal appeal: the ἡμᾶςἡμῶν of the rec. is a general one, deduced from the universal relation of us all to Christ), and gave up Himself (absol.: not to be joined with τῷ θεῷ) for you (see note on Galatians 3:13 :—‘on your behalf:’ in fact, but not necessarily here implied, ‘in your stead’) an offering and a sacrifice (beware of προσφ. κ. θυσ. = θυσίαν προσφερομένην (Conyb.): it is our duty, in rendering, to preserve the terms coupled, even though we may not be able precisely to say wherein they differ. The ordinary distinction, that προσφορά is an unbloody offering, θυσία a slain victim, cannot be maintained, see Hebrews 10:5; Hebrews 10:18; Hebrews 11:4. I believe the nearest approach to the truth will be made by regarding προσφ. as the more general word, including all kinds of offering,— θυσία as the more special one, usually involving the death of a victim. The great prominent idea here is the one sacrifice, which the Son of God made of Himself in his redeeming Love, in our nature—bringing it, in Himself, near to God—offering Himself as our representative Head: whether in perfect righteousness of life, or in sacrifice, properly so called, at his Death) to God (to be joined, as a (dat. commodi, with πρ. κ. θυσ.: not with παρέδωκεν (as De W. and Mey.), from which it is too far removed: still less (as Stier, who would apply the clause τῷ θεὐωδίας, to us) with what follows) for an odour of sweet smell (the question so much discussed, whether these words can apply to a sin-offering strictly so called, is an irrelevant one here. It is not [see above] the death of Christ which is treated of, but the whole process of His redeeming Love. His death lies in the background as one, and the chief, of the acknowledged facts of that process: but it does not give the character to what is here predicated of Him. The allusion primarily is to ref. Gen., where after Noah had brought to God a sacrifice of every clean beast and bird, ὠσφράνθη κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας,—and the promise followed, that He would no more destroy the earth for man’s sake).


Verse 3

3.] But (not transitional merely: there is a contrast brought out by the very mention of πορνεία after what has just been said) fornication and all impurity or (see ch. Ephesians 4:19 note) covetousness (ib.), let it not be even named (‘ne nomen quidem audiatur.’ Calv. So Dio Chrys. p. 360 B (Mey.), στάσιν δὲ οὐδὲ ὀνομάζειν ἄξιον παρʼ ὑμῖν: Herod. i. 138, ἅσσα δέ σφι ποιέειν οὐκ ἔξεστι, ταῦτα οὐδὲ λέγειν ἔξεστι. Cf. Psalms 15:4) among you, as becometh saints (meaning, that if it were talked of, such conversation would be unbecoming the holy ones of God): and obscenity (not in word only ( αἰσχρολογία, ref. Col.): cf. Plato, Gorg. p. 525 A, ὑπὸ ἐξουσίας κ. τρυφῆς κ. ὕβρεως κ. ἀκρατίας τῶν πράξεων ἀσυμμετρίας τε καὶ αἰσχρότητος γέμουσαν τὴν ψυχὴν εἶδεν) and foolish talking (‘stultiloquium,’ Vulg. Wetst. quotes from Antigonus de Mirabilibus, 126, τὰ μεγάλα κ. ἐπανεστηκότα μωρολογίας κ. ἀδολεσχίας. Trench well maintains, Syn. § 34, that in Christian ethics, it is more than mere ‘random talk:’ it is that talk of fools, which is folly and sin together: including not merely the πᾶν ῥῆμα ἀργόν of our Lord (Matthew 12:36), but in good part also the πᾶς λόγος σαπρός of his Apostle (Ephesians 4:29)) or (disjunctive, marking off εὐτραπελία as πλεονεξία before) jesting (much interest attaches to this word, which will be found well discussed in Trench, as above. It had at first a good signification: Aristot. Eth. Nic. iv. 8, deals with the εὐτράπελοςοἱἐμμελῶς παίζοντες εὐτράπελοι προσαγορεύονται,—and describes him as the mean between the βωμολόχος and ἄγροικος. So too Plato, Rep. viii. p. 563 A,— οἱ δὲ γέροντες ξυγκαθιέντες τοῖς νέοις εὐτραπελίας τε κ. χαριεντισμοῦ ἐμπίπλανται, … ἵνα δὴ μὴ δοκῶσιν ἀηδεῖς εἶναι μηδὲ δεσποτικοί. But Trench remarks that there were indications of a bad sense of the word: e.g. Pind. Pyth. i. 178,— μὴ δολωθῇς, ὦ φίλε, κέρδεσιν εὐτραπέλοις, where he quotes from Dissen—‘primum est de facilitate in motu, tum ad mores transfertur, et indicat hominem temporibus inservientem, diciturque tum de sermone urbano, lepido, faceto, imprimis cum levitatis et assentationis, simulationis notione.’ I may add, as even more apposite here, Pyth. iv. 185, οὔτε ἔργον οὔτʼ ἔπος εὐτράπελον κείνοισιν εἰπών. Aristotle himself, Rhet. ii. 12 end, defines it as πεπαιδευμένη ὕβρις. “The profligate old man in the ‘miles gloriosus’ of Plautus, iii. 1. 42–52, who at the same time prides himself, and with reason, on his wit, his elegance, and his refinement (cavillatus, lepidus, facetus), is exactly the εὐτράπελος: and remarkably enough, when we remember that εὐτραπελία being only expressly forbidden once in Scripture, is forbidden to Ephesians, we find him bringing out, that all this was to be expected from him, seeing that he was an Ephesian: ‘Post Ephesi sum natus: non enim in Apulis, non Animulæ.’ ” Trench: whose further remarks should by all means be read), which are not becoming (the reading τὰ οὐκ ἀνήκοντα has perhaps come into the text from the τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα of Romans 1:28, the οὐκ of the text being preserved through inadvertence. If, however, the participial clause be retained in the text, it may be grammatically justified by remembering that, where the various objects are specified which as matter of fact are οὐκ ἀνήκοντα, the objective negative particle οὐκ may be used: whereas in Romans 1:28, where no such objects are specified, we have ποιεῖν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα, ‘si quæ essent indecora,’ as Winer, § 55. 5: see Hartung, vol. ii. p. 131): but rather thanksgiving (not, as Jer., Calv., al., ‘sermo qui gratiam apud audientes habet,’ which the word cannot mean. It is a question, what verb is to be supplied: Beng. supposes ἀνήκει, which is perhaps most likely, as suiting the simplicity of the construction of these hortatory verses better than going back to ὀνομαζέσθω (De W., Mey., al.),—and as finding a parallel in ch. Ephesians 4:29, where the ellipsis is to be supplied from the sentence itself. There is a play perhaps on the similar sound of εὐτραπελία and εὐχαριστία, which may account for the latter not finding so complete a justification in the sense as we might expect: the connexion being apparently, ‘your true cheerfulness and play of fancy will be found, not in buffoonery, but in the joy of a heart overflowing with a sense of God’s mercies’).


Verses 3-21

3–21.] Dehortation (for the most part) from works unbecoming the holiness of the life of children and imitators of God.


Verse 5

5.] Appeal to their own knowledge that such practices exclude from the kingdom of God: see below. For this ye know (indicative, not imperative: this to my mind is decided 1) by the context, in which an appeal to their own consciousness of the fact is far more natural than a communication of the fact to them: 2) by the position of the words, which in the case of an imperative would more naturally be ἴστε γὰρ τοῦτο γινώσκοντες: 3) by the use of the construction ἴστε γινώσκοντες, which almost necessitates a matter of fact underlying γινώσκοντες.— ἴστε γιν. is not an example of the γινώσκων γνώσῃ (Genesis 15:13 al.) of Hebrew usage, the two verbs being different) being aware that every fornicator or ( now, not καί, for individualization of each) unclean man, or covetous man, which is (i.e. ‘that is to say,’—‘quod;’ meaning, the word πλεονέκτης. This reading necessarily confines the reference to that one word) an idolater (cf. Colossians 3:5, which shews that even ὅς ἐστιν would apply to the πλεονέκτης only, not, as Stier, al., to the three: see Job 31:24; Psalms 52:7; Matthew 6:24. Mey. remarks well, that it was very natural for St. Paul, whose forsaking of all things (2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 11:27) so strongly contrasted with selfish greediness, to mark with the deepest reprobation the sin of πλεονεξία), hath not inheritance (the present implying more the fixedness of the exclusion, grounded on the eternal verities of that Kingdom,—than mere future certainty: see 1 Corinthians 15:25) in the Kingdom of Christ and God (not ‘and of God’ ( κ. τοῦ θ.) as E. V. No distinction is to be made, χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ being in the closest union. Nor is any specification needed that the Kingdom of Christ is also the Kingdom of God, as would be made with the second article. This follows as matter of course: and thus the words bear no. legitimate rendering, except on the substratum of our Lord’s Divinity. But on the other hand, we cannot safely say here, that the same Person is intended by χριστοῦ κ. θεοῦ, merely on account of the omission of the article. For 1) any introduction of such a predication regarding Christ would here be manifestly out of place, not belonging to the context: 2) θεός is so frequently and unaccountably anarthrous, that it is not safe to ground any such inference from its use here).


Verse 6

6.] Let no one deceive you with vain (empty—not containing the kernel of truth, of which words are but the shell—words with no underlying facts. Æschines, de Corona, p. 288, says that Demosthenes had drawn up a decree, κενώτερον τῶν λόγων οὓς εἴωθε λέγειν, κ. τοῦ βίου ὃν βεβίωκε. See other examples in Kypke h. l.) sayings (the persons pointed at are heathen, or pretended Christian, palliators of the fore-mentioned vices. The caution was especially needed, at a time when moral purity was so generally regarded as a thing indifferent. Harl. quotes from Bullinger,—“Erant apud Ephesios homines corrupti, ut hodie apud nos plurimi sunt, qui hæc salutaria Dei præcepta cachinno excipientes obstrepunt: humanum esse quod faciant amatores, utile quod fœneratores, facetum quod joculatores, et idcirco Deum non usque adeo graviter animadvertere in istiusmodi lapsus”); for (let them say what they will, it is a fact, that) on account of these things (the above-mentioned erimes, see Colossians 3:6, διʼ ὃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργ. κ. τ. λ.: not the ἀπάτη just spoken of, to which the objection is not so much the plural ταῦτα, as the τοὺς υἱοὺς τ. ἀπειθείας which follows, shewing that the carrying out of their ἀπείθεια are the ταῦτα spoken of; and the μὴ οὖν γίν. κ. τ. λ. of Ephesians 5:7) cometh (present, as ἔχει, Ephesians 5:5) the wrath of God (not merely, or chiefly, His ordinary judgments, ‘quorum exempla sunt ante oculos,’ as Calv.: nor the ‘antitheton reconciliationis,’ as Beng., for that is on all who are not in Christ (John 3:36): but His special wrath, His vengeance for these sins, over and above their state of ἀπείθεια) on the sons of (see on ch. Ephesians 2:2) disobedience (the active and practical side of the state of the ἀπειθῶν (John 3:36) is here brought out. The word is a valuable middle term between unbelief and disobedience, implying their identity in a manner full of the highest instruction).


Verse 7

7.] Be not (the distinction ‘Become not’ (‘nolite effici,’ Vulg.: so Stier, Ellic., al.) is unnecessary and indeed unsuitable: it is not a gradual ‘becoming,’ but ‘being,’ like them, which he here dehorts from. See on γίνεσθε not bearing the meaning “become,” note, ch. 4. ult.) therefore (since this is so—that God’s wrath comes on them) partakers (see ch. Ephesians 3:6) with them (the νἱοὶ τ. ἀπ., not the sins:—sharers in that which they have in common, viz. these practices: their present habitude, not, their punishment, which is future: nor can the two senses be combined, as Stier characteristically tries to do).


Verse 8

8.] For (your state (present, see above) is a totally different one from theirs—excluding any such participation) ye WERE (emphatic, see ref.) once (no μέν. “The rule is simple: if the first clause is intended to stand in connexion with and prepare the reader for the opposition to the second, μέν is inserted: if not, not: see the excellent remarks of Klotz, Devar. ii. p. 356 sq.: Fritz., Romans 10:19, vol. ii. p. 423.” Ellic.) darkness (stronger than ἐν σκότει, Romans 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:4 : they were darkness itself—see on φῶς below), but now (the ἐστέ is not expressed—perhaps, as Stier suggests, not only for emphasis, but to carry a slight tinge of the coming exhortation, by shewing them what they ought to be, as well as were by profession) light (not πεφωτισμένοι—light has an active, illuminating power, which is brought out in Ephesians 5:13) in (‘in union with’—conditioning element—not ‘by’— διὰ τῆς θεοῦ χάριτος, Chr.) the Lord (Jesus): walk (the omission of οὖν makes the inference rhetorically more forcible) as children of light (not τοῦ φωτός, as in Luke 16:8, where τὸ φῶς is contrasted with ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος, and in next verse, where τοῦ φωτός is the figurative φῶς—q. d. ‘the light of which I speak:’ here it is light, as light, which is spoken of. The omission of the article may be merely from the rules of correlation, as Ellic.: but I much prefer here to treat it as significant); for (gives the reason of the introduction of the comparison in the context, connecting this with the moral details which have preceded) the fruit of the light ( τοῦ, see above) is in (is borne within the sphere of, as its condition and element) all goodness and righteousness and truth (in all that is good (Galatians 5:22), right, and true. As Harl. observes, the opposites are κακία, ἀδικία, ψεῦδος): proving (to be joined with περιπατεῖτε as its modal predicate, Ephesians 5:9 having been parenthetical. The Christian’s whole course is a continual proving, testing, of the will of God in practice: investigating not what pleases himself, but what pleases Him) what is well-pleasing to the Lord;


Verse 11

11.] and have no fellowship with (better than ‘be not partakers in,’ as De W., which would require a genitive, see Demosth. p. 1299. 20, συγκεκοινωνήκαμεν τῆς δόξης ταύτης οἱ κατεστασιασμένοι: whereas the person with whom, is regularly put in the dative, e.g. Dio Cass. xxxvii. 41, συγκοινωνήσαντός σφισι τῆς συνωμοσίας,—ib. lxxvii. 16, συνεκοινώνησαν αὐτῇ κ. ἕτεραι τρεῖς τῆς καταδίκης. And Philippians 4:14 furnishes no objection to this rendering) the unfruitful works of darkness (see Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:22; on which Jer., vol. vii. p. 505, says ‘vitia in semetipsa finiuntur et pereunt, virtutes frugibus pullulant et redundant.’ See also the distinction in John 3:20-21; John 5:29, between τὰ φαῦλα πράσσειν and τὰ ἀγαθὰ or τὴν ἀλήθειαν ποιεῖν), but rather even reprove them (see reff.,—in words: not only abstain from fellowship with them, but attack them and put them to shame).


Verse 12

12.] For (the connexion seems to be, ‘reprove them—this they want, and this is more befitting you—for to have the least part in them, even in speaking of them, is shameful’) the things done in secret by them, it is shameful even to speak of (so καί in Plato, Rep. v. p. 465 B, τά γε μὴν σμικρότατα τῶν κακῶν διʼ ἀπρέπειαν ὀκνῶ καὶ λέγειν, see Hartung ii. p. 136. Klotz, Devar. ii. p. 633 f.: the connexion being—‘I mention not, and you need not speak of, these deeds of darkness, much less have any fellowship with them—your connexion with them must be only that which the act of ἔλεγξις necessitates’):


Verse 13

13.] but (opposition to τὰ κρυφῆ γιν.) all things (not only, all the κρυφῆ γινόμενα, as Ellic. after Jer. al.: the Apostle is treating of the general detecting power of light, as is evident by the resumption of the πᾶν in the next clause) being reproved, are made manifest by the light: for every thing which is made manifest is light (the meaning being, ‘the light of your Christian life, which will be by your reproof shed upon these deeds of darkness, will bring them out of the category of darkness into light’ ( ἐπειδὰν φανερωθῇ, γίνεται φῶς, Chr.). They themselves were thus once darkness,’ but having been ‘reproved’ by God’s Spirit, had become ‘light in the Lord.’ There is in reality no difficulty, nor any occasion for a long note here. The only matters to be insisted on are, 1) ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός belongs to φανεροῦται, not to ἐλεγχόμενα: for it is not the fact of φανεροῦται that he is insisting on, but the fact that if they reproved the works of darkness, these would become no longer works of darkness, but would be ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανερούμενα. And 2) φανερούμενον is passive, not middle, in which sense it is never used in N. T.; ‘every thing which is made manifest, is no longer darkness, but light: and thus you will be, not compromised to these works of darkness, but making an inroad upon the territory of darkness with the ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός.’ And thus the context leads on easily and naturally to the next verse. The objection to this (Eadie) that ‘light does not always exercise this transforming influence, for the devil and all the wicked are themselves condemned by the light, without becoming themselves light,’ is null, being founded on misapprehension of the φῶς ἐστιν. Objectively taken, it is universally true: every thing shone upon IS LIGHT. Whether this tend to condemnation or otherwise, depends just on whether the transforming influence takes place. The key-text to this is John 3:20, πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς, κ. οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ,—His works being thus brought into the light,—made light, and he being thus put to shame. Notice also φανερωθῇ in the next verse, which is the desire of him who ποιεῖ τὴν ἀλήθειαν. The E. V. is doubly wrong—1) in ‘all things that are reproved’ ( π. τὰ ἐλεγχόμενα): 2) in ‘whatsoever doth make manifest is light’ ( πᾶν τὸ φανεροῦν): besides that such a proposition has absolutely no meaning in the context. The meaning is discussed at length in Harl., Eadie, who however fall into the error of rendering φανερούμενον active (not middle),—Stier, Ellicott,—and best of all, Meyer):


Verse 14

14.] wherefore (this being so—seeing that every thing that is made manifest becomes light,—is shone upon by the detecting light of Christ,—objectively,—it only remains that the man should be shone upon inwardly by the same Christ revealed in his awakened heart. We have then in Scripture an exhortation to that effect) He (viz. God, in the Scripture: see ch. Ephesians 4:8 note: all other supplies, such as ‘the Spirit in the Christian’ (Stier),—‘the Christian speaking to the Heathen’ (Flatt),—‘one may say’ (Bornemann) &c. are mere lame helps out of the difficulty:—as are all ideas of St. Paul having quoted a Christian hymn (some in Thdrt.), an apocryphal writing (some in Jer., Epiph., al.), a baptismal formula (Michaelis),—one of our Lord’s unrecorded sayings (Rhenferd),—or that he means, ‘thus saith the Lord’ (some in Jer. al.), or alludes to the general tenor of Scripture (Wesley),—or does not quote at all (Barnes), &c. &c.) saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee (where is this citation to be found? In the first place, by the introduction of ὁ χριστός, it is manifestly a paraphrase, not an exact citation. The Apostle cites, and had a perfect right to cite, the language of prophecy in the light of the fulfilment of prophecy: and that he is here doing so, the bare word ‘Christ’ shews us beyond dispute. I insist on this, that it may be plainly shewn to be no shift in a difficulty, no hypothesis among hypotheses,—but the necessary inference from the form of the citation. This being so,—of what passage of the O. T. is this a paraphrase? I answer, of Isaiah 60:1-2. There, the church is set forth as being in a state of darkness and of death (cf. Isaiah 59:10), and is exhorted to awake, and become light, for that her light is come, and the glory of Jehovah has arisen upon her. Where need we go further for that of which we are in search? It is not true (as Stier), that there is ‘no allusion to sleep or death’ in the prophet: nor is it true again, that ἐπὶ σὲ φανήσεται κύριος κ. ἡ δόξα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ σὲ ὀφθήσεται is not represented by ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ χριστός. The fact is, that Stier has altogether mistaken the context, in saying,—“The Apostle quotes here, not to justify the exhortation—‘convict, that they may become light;’—but to exhort—‘Become light, that ye may be able to convict (shine):’ ” the refutation of which see above, on Ephesians 5:13).


Verse 15

15.] He now resumes the hortative strain, interrupted by the digression of Ephesians 5:12-14. Take heed then (there is not any immediate connexion with the last verse: but the οὖν resumes from the περιπατεῖτε in Ephesians 5:8, and that which followed it there) how ye walk strictly (the construction is exactly as in ref. 1 Cor., ἕκαστος δὲ βλεπέτω πῶς ἐποικοδομεῖ. ‘Take heed, of what sort your ἀκριβῶς περιπατεῖν is:’—the implication being, ‘take heed not only that your walk be exact, strict, but also of what sort that strictness is—not only that you have a rule, and keep to it, but that that rule be the best one.’ So that a double exhortation is involved. See Ellic. here: and the Fritzschiorum Opuscula, pp. 208 f., note), (namely) not as unwise, but as wise (qualification of the ἀκριβῶς περιπατεῖτε, and expansion of the πῶς ( μή, subj.): no περιπατοῦντες need be supplied after μή, as Harl.), buying up for yourselves (the) opportunity (viz. of good, whenever occurring; let it not pass by, but as merchants carefully looking out for vantages, make it your own: see Colossians 4:5. The compound ἐξ- does not suggest the question ‘from whom’ it is to be bought, as Beng., Calv., al., nor imply mere completeness, as Mey., but rather refers to the ‘collection out of’ (see reff. Gal.), the buying up, as we say: culling your times of good out of a land where there are few such flowers. The middle gives the reflexive sense: cf. ref. Dan.), because the days (of your time,—in which you live) are evil (see above. ὁ ἐξαγοραζόμενος τὸν ἀλλότριον δοῦλον, ἐξαγοράζεται κ. κτᾶται αὐτόν. ἐπεὶ οὖν ὁ καιρὸς δουλεύει τοῖς πονηροῖς, ἐξαγοράσασθε αὐτόν, ὥστε καταχρήσασθαι αὐτῷ τρὸς εὐσέβειαν. Severianus, in Cramer’s Catena).


Verse 17

17.] On this account (because ye have need so prudently to define your rule of life, and so carefully to watch for opportunities of good: not, because the ἡμέραι are πονηραί (Œc., Thl., De W., Olsh.), which would fritter down the context) be not (better than ‘do not become,’ which though more strictly the literal sense of μὴ γίνεσθε, puts the process of degeneracy too strongly in English) senseless (Tittmann, Syn. p. 143, has discussed the meaning of ἄφρων, ‘qui mente non recte utitur’), but understand ( συνιέναι, to know intelligently,— γινώσκειν merely to know as matter of fact, as the servant who knew his lord’s will and did it not, Luke 12:47) what is the will of the Lord.


Verse 18

18.] The connexion seems to be: after the general antithesis in Ephesians 5:17, μὴ ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνίετε κ. τ. λ., he proceeds to give one prominent instance, in the same antithetical shape. And ( καί is subordinate, introducing a particular after a general: so Herod. i. 73, τῶνδε εἵνεκα καὶ γῆς ἱμέρῳ … see Hartung i. 145) be not intoxicated with wine, in which practice (not, ἐν οἴνῳ, but ἐν τῷ μεθύσκεσθαι οἴνῳ—the crime is not in God’s gift, but in the abuse of it: and the very arrangement of the sentence, besides the spirit of it, implies the lawful use of wine—see 1 Timothy 5:23) is profligacy ( ἀσωτία, not from σώζεσθαι,—as Clem. Alex. Pædag. ii. 1, p. 167 P. ( ἀσώτους αὐτοὺς οἱ καλέσαντες πρῶτον εὖ μοι δοκοῦσιν αἰνίττεσθαι τὸ τέλος αὐτῶν, ἀσώστους αὐτοὺς κατὰ ἔκθλιψιν τοῦ σ στοιχείου νενοηκότες), al., but from σώζειν: ἀσωτία ἐστὶν ὑπερβολὴ περὶ χρήματα, Aristot. Eth. Nic. iv. 1. 3. But as spendthrifts are almost of necessity self-indulgent and reckless, the word comes to have the meaning of ‘dissoluteness,’ ‘debauchery,’ ‘profligacy,’—see Eth. Nic. iv. 1. 36, Tittmann, p. 152, and Trench, N. T. Syn. § 16. Theodotion renders Isaiah 28:7 by ἐν τῇ μέθῃ ἠσωτεύθησαν ὑπερόγκως): but (contrast, see above) be filled (antith. to μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ;—not to μεθύσκεσθε alone, so that ἐν πνεύματι should be opposed to οἴνῳ: see below) with ( ἐν, as ch. Ephesians 1:23, but also ‘in:’ let this be the region in, and the ingredient with which you are filled) the Spirit (the ambiguity in the preposition is owing to the peculiar meaning of πνεῦμα as applied to the Christian:—viz. his own spirit, dwelt in and informed by the Holy Spirit of God, see note on ch. Ephesians 4:23. If this is so, if you are full of the Spirit, full in Spirit, there will be a joy indeed, but not that of ἀσωτία: one which will find its expression not in drunken songs, but in Christian hymns, and continual thankfulness), speaking to one another (ch. Ephesians 4:32; see also the (9), Colossians 3:16. It is perhaps too much to find in this the practice of antiphonal chanting: but it is interesting to remember that in Pliny’s letter the Christians are described as ‘soliti stato die ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem:’ and that Nicephorus, Hist. xiii. 8 (cited by Eadie), says τὴν τῶν ἀντιφώνων συνήθειαν ἄνωθεν ἀποστόλων ἡ ἐκκλησία παρέλαβε. Conyb. places a full stop at ἑαυτοῖς: but surely both style and sense are thus marred) in (this must be the rendering, whether the preposition is inserted or not) psalms (not to be confined, as Olsh. and Stier, to O. T. hymns; see 1 Corinthians 14:26; James 5:13. The word properly signified those sacred songs which were performed with musical accompaniment (so Basil, Hom. in Psalms 29:1, vol. i. p. 124, ψαλμὸς λόγος ἐστὶ μουσικός, ὅταν εὐρύθμως κατὰ τοὺς ἁρμονικοὺς λόγους πρὸς τὸ ὄργανον κρούηται—and Greg. Nyss. in Psal. lib. ii. 3, vol. i. p. 493, Migne, ψαλμός ἐστιν ἡ διὰ τοῦ ὀργάνου τοῦ μουσικοῦ μελῳδία,—as ὕμνοι without it: but the two must evidently here not be confined strictly to their proper meaning) and hymns (see above) and [spiritual] songs ( ᾠδή being the general name for all lyrical poetry, and applying especially to such effusions as persons used in the state of drunkenness, the Christian’s ᾠδή is to be spiritual (Chr. opposes αἱ σατανικαὶ ᾠδαί), inspired by that fulness of the Spirit which is in him), singing and playing (as well as λαλοῦντες, not explanatory of it: ᾄδοντες and ψάλλοντες corresponding to ὕμνοις and ψαλμοῖς above) in your hearts (Harl. remarks that ἐν καρδίᾳ cannot, being joined with ὑμῶν, represent the abstract ‘heartily,’ as Chr., Thdrt., Pelag., &c.; but must be rendered as Bullinger, ‘canentes intus in animis et cordibus vestris’) to the Lord (i.e. Christ—cf. Pliny’s letter above),—giving thanks (another additional, not explanatory, clause) always for all things (see Philippians 4:6 : not only for blessings, but for every dispensation of God: Ellic. quotes from Thl.,— οὐχ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀγαθῶν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν λυπηρῶν, κ. ὧν ἴσμεν, κ. ὧν οὐκ ἴσμεν· καὶ γὰρ διὰ πάντων εὐεργετούμεθα κἂν ἀγνοῶμεν) in the name (the element in which the εὐχαριστοῦντες must take place. “The name of the Lord is there, where He is named. How He is named, depends on the particular circumstances: it is one thing to be reproached (1 Peter 4:14), another to be saved (Acts 4:12), another to be baptized (Acts 10:48), another to command (2 Thessalonians 3:6), another to pray (John 14:13), another to give thanks (cf. Colossians 3:17) in the name of the Lord.… The Apostle says, that all the Christian would do, he must do in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17).” Harl.: the rest of the note is well worth consulting) of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and the Father (see on ch. Ephesians 1:3),—being subject to one another (a fourth additional, not subordinate clause. λαλοῦντες,— ᾄδοντες κ. ψάλλοντες,— εὐχαριστοῦντες,— ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις: and then out of this last general injunction are unfolded all the particular applications to the relations of life, Ephesians 5:22—ch. Ephesians 6:9. It is not so easy to assign precisely its connexion with those which have preceded. It is hardly enough to say that as the first three name three special duties in regard to God, so this last a comprehensive moral duty in regard to man (Ellic.): for the question of the connexion is still unanswered. I would rather regard it (as I see Eadie also does), as a thought suggested by the μὴ μεθ. κ. τ. λ. with which the sentence began—that as we are otherwise to be filled, otherwise to sing and rejoice, so also we are otherwise to behave—not blustering nor letting our voices rise in selfish vaunting, as such men do,—but subject to one another, &c.) in the fear of Christ (‘rara phrasis,’ Beng.: of Him, whose members we all are, so that any displacement in the Body is a forgetfulness of the reverence due to Him).


Verse 22

22.] Wives (supply, as rec. has inserted, ὑποτάσσεσθε, seeing that the subsequent address to husbands is in the 2nd person), to your own husbands ( ἰδίοις, as we often use the word (e.g. ‘He murdered his own father’), to intensify the recognition of the relationship and suggest its duties: see 1 Corinthians 7:2 : also John 5:18), as to the Lord (‘quasi Christo ipsimet, cujus locum et personam viri repræsentant.’ Corn.-a-lap. in Ellic.: i.e. ‘in obeying your husbands, obey the Lord:’ not merely as in all things we are to have regard to Him, but because, as below expanded, the husband stands peculiarly in Christ’s place. But he is not thus identified in power with Christ, nor the obedience, in its nature, with that which is owed to Him): for a husband (any husband, taken as an example: the same in sense would be expressed by ὁ ἀνήρ, the husband in each case, generic: sing. of οἱ ἄνδρες) is head of his wife, as also ( καί, introducing identity of category) Christ is Head of the church (see for the sentiment, 1 Corinthians 11:3 note), (being, in His case—see below) Himself Saviour of the Body (i.e. ‘in Christ’s case the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having SAVED the body in the process of Redemption: so that I am not alleging Christ’s Headship as one entirely identical with that other, for He has a claim to it and office in it peculiar to Himself.’ ‘Vir autem non est servator uxoris, in eo Christus excellit: hinc sed sequitur.’ Bengel. Stier remarks the apparent play on σωτήρ σώματος, in reference to the supposed derivation of σῶμα from σώω ( σώζω); and has noticed that in the only other place (except the pastoral Epistles) where St. Paul uses σωτήρ, Philippians 3:20-21, it is also in connexion with σῶμα): but (what I do say is, that thus far the two Headships are to be regarded as identical, in the subjection of the body to the Head) as the church is subjected to Christ, so also (again, identity of category in the ὑποτάσσ.) let the wives be to their husbands (not ἰδίοις now, as it would disturb the perspicuity of the comparison) in every thing (thus only, with Calv., Beng., Mey., Ellic., can I find any legitimate meaning or connexion in the words. All attempts 1) to explain σωτὴρ τυῦ σώμ. also of the marriage state (Bulling., Beza, ‘viri est quærere quod mulier conservet’), or 2) to deprive ἀλλά of its adversative force (Rück., Harl., al.), or 3) refer it to something other than the preceding clause (De W., Eadie), seem to me unsatisfactory).


Verses 22-33

22–33.] Mutual duties of wives and husbands arising from the relation between Christ and the Church.


Verse 22

22–6:9.] The Church, in her relation to Christ, comprehending and hallowing those earthly relations on which all social unity (and hers also) is founded, the Apostle proceeds to treat of the three greatest of those: that of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22-33), that of parent and child (ch. Ephesians 6:1-4), that of master and servant (Ephesians 6:5-9). See this expanded by Stier, in his very long note, ii. 316–329.


Verse 25

25.] I cannot refrain from citing Chrys.’s very beautiful remarks on this next passage,— εἶδες μέτρον ὑπακοῆς; ἄκουσον καὶ μέτρον ἀγάπης. βούλει σοι τὴν γυναῖκα ὑπακούειν, ὡς τῷ χριστῷ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν; προνόει καὶ αὐτὸς αὐτῆς, ὡς ὁ χριστὸς τῆς ἐκκλησίας· κἂν τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς δοῦναι δέῃ, κἂν κατακοπῆναι μυριάκις, κἂν ὁτιοῦν ὑπομεῖναι καὶ παθεῖν, μὴ παραιτήσῃ· κἂν ταῦτα πάθῃς, οὐδὲν οὐδέπω πεποίηκας, οἷον ὁ χριστός· σὺ μὲν γὰρ ἤδη συναφθεὶς ταῦτα ποιεῖς, ἐκεῖνος δὲ ὑπὲρ ἀποστρεφομένης αὐτὸν καὶ μισούσης· ὥσπερ οὖν αὐτὸς τὴν ἀποστρεφομένην αὐτὸν καὶ μισοῦσαν καὶ διαπτύουσαν καὶ θρυπτομένην, περὶ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ τῇ πολλῇ ἤγαγε τῇ κηδεμονίᾳ, οὐκ ἀπειλαῖς, οὐδὲ ὕβρεσιν, οὐδὲ φόβῳ, οὐδὲ ἑτέρῳ τινὶ τοιούτῳ· οὕτω καὶ σὺ πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα ἔχε τὴν σήν· κἂν ὑπερορῶσαν, κἂν θρυπτομένην, κἂν καταφρονοῦσαν ἴδῃς, δυνήσῃ αὐτὴν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας ἀγαγεῖν τοὺς σοὺς τῇ πολλῇ περὶ αὐτὴν προνοίᾳ, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ φιλίᾳ. οὐδὲν γὰρ τούτων τυραννικώτερον τῶν δεσμῶν, καὶ μάλιστα ἀνδρὶ κ. γυναικί. οἰκέτην μὲν γὰρ φόβῳ τις ἂν καταδῆσαι δυνήσεται, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐδὲ ἐκεῖνον· ταχέως γὰρ ἀποπηδήσας οἰχήσεται· τὴν δὲ τοῦ βίου κοινωνόν, τὴν παίδων μητέρα, τὴν πάσης εὐφροσύνης ὑπόθεσιν, οὐ φόβῳ καὶ ἀπειλαῖς δεῖ καταδεσμεῖν, ἀλλʼ ἀγάπῃ καὶ διαθέσει.

Husbands, love your wives, as also (see above) Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (better than ‘it;’ the comparison is thus brought out as in the original. κἂν πάθῃς τι ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς, μὴ ὀνειδίσῃς· οὐδὲ γὰρ ὁ χρ. τοῦτο ἐποίησε. Chr.) that (intermediate purpose, as regarded her; see below, Ephesians 5:27) He might sanctify her, having purified her ( ἁγιάση and καθαρίσας might be contemporaneous, and indeed this is the more common usage of past participles with past finite verbs in the N. T. (see ch. Ephesians 1:9 note). But here, inasmuch as the sanctifying is clearly a gradual process, carried on till the spotless presentation (Ephesians 5:27), and the washing cannot be separated from the introductory rite of baptism, it is best to take the καθαρίσας as antecedent to the ἁγιάσῃ) by the laver (not ‘washing,’ as E. V.: a meaning the word never has) of the water (of which we all know: viz. the baptismal water, see ref. Tit. We can hardly set aside the reference to the purifying bath of the bride previous to marriage:—see below on Ephesians 5:27, and cf. Revelation 21:2) in the word (what word? ἐν ὀνόματι πατρὸς κ. υἱοῦ κ. ἁγίου πνεύματος, says Chrys. alluding to the formula in Baptism: and so many fathers:—the ‘mandatum divinum’ on which Baptism rests (Storr, Peile):—the ‘invocatio divini nominis’ which gives Baptism its efficacy (Erasm.):—the preached word of faith (Romans 10:8) of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real cleansing (John 15:3; John 17:17) and regenerating power (1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 3:21 (?))—so Aug. Tract. 80 in Joan. 3, vol. iii. p. 1840, Migne; where those memorable words occur, “Detrahe verbum, et quid est aqua nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum, etiam ipsum tanquam visibile verbum.” And this certainly seems the sense most analogous to St. Paul’s usage, in which ῥῆμα is confined to the divine word. But we must not join ἐν ῥήματι with τῷ λουτρῷ nor with τοῦ ὕδατος; for the former would require τῷ ἐν ῥήματι,—the latter, τοῦ ἐν ῥήματι,—there being no such close connexion as to justify the omission of the article; indeed the specification being here absolutely required, after so common a term as τὸ λοῦτρον τοῦ ὕδατος. So that we are referred back to the verb ( ἁγ.) and participle ( καθαρίσας) preceding. The former connexion is not probable, on account of the participle intervening: see also below. The latter is on all accounts the most likely. Thus, the word, preached and received, is the conditional element of purification,—the real water of spiritual baptism;—that wherein and whereby alone the efficacy of baptism is conveyed—that wherein and whereby we are regenerated, the process of sanctification being subsequent and gradual),


Verse 27

27.] that (further purpose of ἑαυτ. παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς) He might Himself present to Himself (as a bride, see reff. 2 Cor.: not as a sacrifice (Harl.), which is quite against the context. The expression sets forth that the preparation of the Church for her bridal with Christ is exclusively by His own agency) the church glorious (the prefixed adjective is emphatic, which we lose in translation), not having spot (a late word— τοῦτο φυλάττου, λέγε δὲ κηλίς—Phryn. Lobeck 28, where see note. It is found in Dion. Hal., Plut., Lucian, &c. The proper accentuation seems to be as in text, not σπῖλος. In Anthol. vi. 252, we have ἄσπιλον, ἀῤῥυτίδωτον, beginning a hexameter) or wrinkle ( ῥυτίς, ἡ συγκεκλυσμένη σάρξ, Etym. Mag.: from ( ) ρύω, see Palm and Rost, Lex. A classical word, see reff.), or any of such things, but that she may be holy (perfect in holiness) and blameless (see on both, note, ch. Ephesians 1:4). The presentation here spoken of is clearly, in its full sense, that future one at the Lord’s coming, so often treated under the image of a marriage (Matthew 22:1 ff; Matthew 25:1 ff.; Revelation 19:7 ff; Revelation 21:2 al. fr.), not any progress of sanctification here below, as Harl., Beng., al., maintain (and Calv., commonly quoted on the other side: for he says on παραστήσῃ, ‘finem baptismi et ablutionis nostræ declarat: ut sancte et inculpate Deo vivamus’): however the progress towards this state of spotlessness in this life may sometimes be spoken of in its fulness and completion, or with reference to its proper qualities, not here found in their purity. Schöttgen quotes a rabbinical comment on Song of Solomon 1:5 :—‘Judæi de synagoga intelligunt, et sic explicant: nigra sum in hoc sæculo, sed decora in sæcuIo futuro.’


Verse 28

28.] Thus (two ways of understanding this οὕτως are open to us: 1) as referring back to Christ’s love for the church,—‘Thus,’ ‘in like manner,’ &c., as (being) ‘their own bodies:’ and 2) as referring forward to the ὡς below, as very frequently (though Eadie calls it contrary to grammatical law) in St. Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:26, al., and Ephesians 5:33 below, where Eadie himself renders, ‘so … as himself’),—‘Thus,’ ‘so,’ &c., ‘as (they love) their own bodies.’ After weighing maturely what has been said on one side and the other, I cannot but decide for the latter, as most in accordance with the usage of St. Paul and with Ephesians 5:33 : also as more simple. The sense (against Ellic.) remains substantially the same, and answers much better to the comment furnished by the succeeding clauses:—husbands ought to love their own wives as they love their own bodies (= themselves: for their wives are in fact part of their own bodies, Ephesians 5:31): this being illustrated by and referred to the great mystery of Christ and His church, in which the same love, and the same incorporation, has place) ought the husbands also (as well as Christ in the archetypal example just given) to love their own (emphatic: see above on Ephesians 5:22) wives, as (with the same affection as) their own bodies. He that loveth his own (see above) wife, loveth himself (is but complying with that universal law of nature by which we all love ourselves. The best words to supply before the following γάρ will be, “And this we all do”): for (see above) no man ever hated his own flesh (= ἑαυτόν, but put in this form to prepare for εἰς σάρκα μίαν in the Scripture proof below. Wetst. quotes from Seneca, Ep. 14, ‘fateor, insitam nobis esse corporis nostri caritatem’), but nourishes it up (through all its stages, to maturity: so Aristoph. Ran. 1189, of Œdipus, ἵνα μὴ ʼ κτραφεὶς γένοιτο τοῦ πατρὸς φονεύς: and ib. 1427, οὐ χρὴ λέοντος σκύμνον ἐν πόλει τρέφειν (at all): ἢν δʼ ἐκτραφῇ τις (have been brought up), τοῖς τρόποις ὑπηρετεῖν) and cherishes (ref. 1 Thess. It is certainly not necessary to confine the meaning to ‘warming,’ as Beng. (‘id spectat amictum’), Mey., al.: for it is very forced to apply the feeding and clothing to the other member of the comparison (as Grot.: ‘nutrit eam verbo et spiritu, vestit eam virtutibus’), as must then be done (against Mey.)) it, as also (does) Christ (nourish and cherish) the church.


Verse 30

30.] For (again a link is omitted; ‘the church, which stands in the relation of marriage to Him: for, &c.’) members we are of His Body [,—(being) of His flesh, and of His bones (see Genesis 2:23. As the woman owed her natural being to the man, her source and head, so we owe our entire spiritual being to Christ, our source and head: and as the woman was one flesh with the man in this natural relation, so we in our entire spiritual relation, body, soul, and Spirit, are one with Christ, God manifested in our humanity,—parts and members of His glorified Body. Bengel well remarks, that we are not, as in Gen., l. c. ὀστοῦν ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων αὐτοῦ, καὶ σὰρξ ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτ.:—‘non ossa et caro nostra, sed nos spiritualiter propagamur ex humanitate Christi, carnem et ossa habente’)]: wherefore (the allusion, or rather free citation, is still carried on: cf. Genesis 2:24 :—i.e. because we are members of Him in the sense just insisted on. This whole verse is said (see on Ephesians 5:32 below) not of human marriages, but of Christ and the church. He is the ἄνθρωπος in the Apostle’s view here, the Church is the γυνή. But for all this, I would not understand the words, as Meyer, in a prophetical sense of the future coming of Christ:—the omission of the article before ἄνθρωπος sufficiently retains the general aphorismatic sense:—but would regard the saying as applied to that, past, present, and future, which constitutes Christ’s Union to His Bride the Church: His leaving the Father’s bosom, which is past—His gradual preparation of the union, which is present: His full consummation of it, which is future. This seems to me to be necessary, because we are as truly now εἰς σάρκα μίαν with Him, as we shall be, when heaven and earth shall ring with the joy of the nuptials;—and hence the exclusive future sense is inapplicable. In this allegorical sense (see below), Chrys., Jer., and most of the ancients: Beng., Grot., Mey. (as above), al., interpret: and Eadie would have done well to study more deeply the spirit of the context before he characterized it as ‘strange romance,’ ‘wild and visionary,’ and said, ‘there is no hint that the Apostle intends to allegorize.’ That allegory, on the contrary, is the key to the whole) shall a man leave father and mother and shall be closely joined to his wife, and they two shall become (see Matthew 19:5, note) one flesh (‘non solum uti antea, respectu ortus: sed respectu novæ conjunctionis.’ Beng.).


Verse 32

32.] This mystery is great (viz. the matter mystically alluded to in the Apostle’s application of the text just quoted: the mystery of the spiritual union of Christ with our humanity, typified by the close conjunction of the marriage state. This meaning of μυστήριον, which is strictly that in which St. Paul uses the word (see reff.),—as something passing human comprehension, but revealed as a portion of the divine dealings in Christ,—is, it seems to me, required by the next words. It is irksome, but necessary, to notice the ridiculous perversion of this text by the Romish church, which from the Vulgate rendering, ‘sacramentum hoc magnum est, ego autem dico in Christo et in Ecclesia,’ deduces that ‘marriage is a great sacrament in Christ and in His Church’ (Encyclical letter of 1832 cited by Eadie). It will be enough to say that this their blunder of ‘sacramentum’ for ‘mysterium,’ had long ago been exposed by their own Commentators, Cajetan and Estius): but I (emphatic) say (allege) it with reference to Christ, and [with reference to] the church (i.e. my meaning, in citing the above text, is to call your attention, not to mere human marriage, but to that high and mysterious relation between Christ and His Church, of which that other is but a faint resemblance).


Verse 33

33.] Nevertheless (not to go further into the mystical bearings of the subject—so Meyer) you also (as well as Christ) every one (see reff. and 1 Corinthians 14:27; Acts 15:21; Hebrews 9:25), let each (the construction is changed and the verb put into concord with ἕκαστος instead of ὑμεῖς: so Plato, Gorg. p. 503, ὥς περ κ. οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες δημιουργοὶ βλέποντες πρὸς τὸ ἑκάστου ἔργον ἕκαστος οὐκ εἰκῆ ἐκλεγόμενος προσφέρει κ. τ. λ.; Rep. p. 346, αἱ ἄλλαι πᾶσαι ( τέχναι) οὕτω τὸ αὑτῆς ἑκάστη ἔργον ἐργάζεται, κ. τ. λ. Cic. de Off. i. 41, ‘poetæ suum quisque opus a vulgo considerari vult’) so love his own wife as himself, and the wife (best taken as a nominative absolute, as Mey. Otherwise we should rather expect ἵνα δὲ ἡ γυνὴ κ. τ. λ. It is no objection to this (Eadie) that in the resolution of the idiom a verb must be supplied:—but the wife, for her part,—‘I order,’ or, ‘let her see,’ cf. note on 2 Corinthians 8:7), that she fear ( ὡς πρέπει γυναῖκα φοβεῖσθαι, μὴ δουλοπρεπῶς, Œc.) her husband.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/ephesians-5.html. 1863-1878.


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