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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ephesians 5

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Ver. 1. Be ye therefore followers] In forgiving one another.

As dear children] God hath but a few such children. {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:45"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:48"}


Verse 2

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Ver. 2. Hath loved us, and hath given] When Christ wept for Lazarus, "Lo, how he loved him," said the Jews, John 11:35-36. When he poured forth his soul for a drink offering for us, was not this a surer seal of his endeared love?

An offering and a sacrifice] By this to expiate our sins, by that to mediate and make request for us; and so to show himself a perfect High Priest.


Verse 3

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ver. 3. But fornication and all uncleanness] As standing in full opposition to that sweet smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2, being no better than the corruption of a dead soul, the devil’s excrement. That people fitly punished this filthy sin, who put the offenders’ heads into the paunch of a beast where all the filth lieth, and so stifled them to death.

Let it not be once named] Much less acted as in stage plays. Ludi praebent semina nequitiae. (Ovid. Trist.) How Alipius was corrupted by them, St Austin tells us. How the youth of Athens, Plato complaineth. One of our countrymen professeth in print, that he found theatres to be the very hatchers of all wickedness, the brothels of baudery, the black blasphemy of the gospel, the devil’s chair, the plague of piety, the canker of the commonwealth, &c. He instanceth on his knowledge, citizens’ wives confessing on their death beds that they were so impoisoned at stage plays, that they brought much dishonour to God, wrong to their marriage beds, weakness to their wretched bodies, and woe to their undone souls. (Spec. Belli Sacri.) It was therefore great wisdom in the Lacedaemonians to forbid the acting of comedies or tragedies in their commonwealth, and that for this reason, lest either in jest or earnest anything should be said or done contrary to the laws in force among them. (Plutarch.) What a sad complaint was that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 5:1, that that which was not so much as named among heathens was done by a Christian; whereas the rule of piety here is, that those sins should not be so much as named among Christians which are done by the Gentiles.


Verse 4

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Ver. 4. Neither filthiness] Borborology (rumblings?), ribaldry, {a} the language of hell. Some men as ducks have their noses always guzzling in the gutter of obscene talk. Of Eckius’ last book concerning priests’ marriages, Melancthon saith, Non fuit Cygnea cantio, sed ultimus crepitus: Et sicut felis fugiens pedit, sic ille moriens hunc crepitum cecinit. Legi librum, subinde accipiens partem ad cloacam; alioqui non legissem. These filthy speakers make podicem ex ore, excrement from their mouth, as one phraseth it.

Nor jesting] Salt jests, scurrility, jocularity, dicacity, to the just grief or offence of another. This consists not with piety and Christian gravity. Aristotle useth the word ευτραπελια, here found in a good sense, for urbanity, facility, and facetiousness of speecb, in a harmless way. But Jason in Pindarus saith, that he lived twenty years with his tutor Chiron, and never in all that time heard him speaking or acting ουτ εργον ουτ επος ευτραπελον, anything scurrilous or abusive to another. On the contrary, our Sir Thomas Moore never thought anything to be well spoken, except he had ministered some mock in the communication, saith Edward Hall the chronicler, who therefore seemeth to doubt whether to call him a foolish wise man or a wise foolish man. Quid nobis cum fabulis, cum risu? non solum profulos, sed etiam omnes iocos arbitror declinandos, saith Bernard. What have we to do with tales and jests? Tertullian saith he was Nulli rei natus nisi poenitentiae, born for nothing else but for repentance. Crede mihi, res severa est gaudium verum, saith Seneca, True mirth is a severe business.

Which are not convenient] τα μη ανηκοντα. As not conducing to the main end of our lives.

But rather giving of thanks] A special preservative against the former evils, the filth and power of those base vices. And the word rather imports an extraordinary earnestness to be used in giving thanks to God.

{a} Debauchery, lasciviousness, vice. Obs. ŒD


Verse 5

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ver. 5. Who is an idolater] Dancing about his golden calf, and saying to his wedge of silver, "Thou art my confidence," Job 30:24; which yet shall prove but as Achan’s wedge to cleave his soul in sunder, and as that Babylonish garment to be his winding sheet.


Verse 6

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Ver. 6. Let no man deceive you] So as to make you think there is no such danger in fornication, covetousness, &c. There wanted not such proctors for hell in the primitive times, as may be gathered out of 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1:6-11. Against these he here cautioneth.


Verse 7

7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

Ver. 7. Be not ye therefore partakers] Lest by infection of their sin ye come under infliction of their punishment. We are accountable as well for sins of communion as of commission; and he knew what he said, that prayed, From mine other men’s sins, good Lord, deliver me. Evil men endanger good men as weeds the corn, as bad humours the blood, or an infected house the neighbourhood. And when an overflowing storm sweeps away the wicked, the tail of it may dash their best neighbours, Zechariah 9:3. Hamath lay near to Damascus in place, and therefore partook with it in punishment.


Verse 8

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Ver. 8. For ye were sometimes darkness] Which hath in it (as Mr Dugard well noteth): 1. Error. 2. Terror. 3. Inconsistency with light. 4. Impossibility of reducing itself to light.

But now are ye light] Semper in sole sita est Rhodos, saith Sylvius. The saints are always in the sunshine.

Walk as children of light] A godly man should be like a crystal glass with a light in the midst, which appeareth through every part thereof. He is in the light, and shall be more.


Verse 9

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Ver. 9. For the fruit of the Spirit] Why grace is called fruit, see note: {See Trapp on "Galatians 5:22"}


Verse 10

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Ver. 10. Proving what is acceptable] By the practice of what you know. Let your knowledge and obedience run parallel, mutually transfusing life and vigour one into another.


Verse 11

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Ver. 11. Have no fellowship] No needless society for fear of infection; get the wind of those stinking carcases; "hate the garment spotted by the flesh," that is, avoid ill company (saith Perkins), as Leviticus 15:4. The Lacedaemonians would not allow a stranger to be with them more than three days; and shall we associate ourselves with such as are strangers to God?

Works of darkness] Work done in the dark must be undone again, or else we are sure to be thrust into outer darkness, where we shall never see light again till we see all the world on a light fire.

But rather reprove them] At least by your contrary courses, as Noah condemned the old world, by being righteous in his generation. Revelation 14:1-5, those who stood with the Lamb, had his Father’s name on their foreheads, led convincing lives: so did Luther, Bucer, Bradford, &c.


Verse 12

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

Ver. 12. For it is a shame] Sit honos auribus. Joannes a Casa so far forgot both honesty and nature, that he boasted openly of his beastly sodomy; yea, most impudently commended that odious sin in an Italian poem, set forth in print. Faber of Vienna, another filthy Papist, published such a stinking book that Erasmus thus wrote to him,

" Mente cares, si res agitur tibi seria: rursus

Fronte cares, si sic ludis, amice Faber."

Which are done of them in secret] Sin secretly committed shall be strangely discovered, either by the sinner himself, as Judas, or by his companions in evil. When the solder is once melted, this glass will fall in pieces, and all will come out.


Verse 13

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Ver. 13. But all things that are, &c.] Or, But all these things, viz. these unfruitful works of darkness, while they are reproved or discovered by the light (viz. of the word, as 1 Corinthians 14:24; Hebrews 4:12), are made manifest; so that thereby they grow abashed and abased before God and men.


Verse 14

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Ver. 14. Wherefore he saith] Or, the Scriptare saith. See the like, James 4:6; "But he giveth (or the Scripture giveth) more grace." It convinceth not only, but converteth; it discovereth not only, but cureth corrupt hearts. These waters of the sanctuary are healing, Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 60:1. Some there are that interpret this "he" of our Saviour Christ, and take this saying for a sentence of his; such as was that, Acts 20:35. Others read, Therefore the light saith, &c.

Awake, thou that sleepest] Lex iabet, gratia iuvat: praecipit Deus quod ipse praestat, God giveth us to do what he biddeth us to do.


Verse 15

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Ver. 15. See then that ye walk circumspectly] Precisely, exactly, accurately, by line and by rule, and as it were in a frame, striving to get up to the top of godliness, as the word importeth; to keep God’s commandments to the utmost, to go to the extremity of it, ακριβως εις ακρον βαινειν. Hereunto if we stand straightly, one may say safely, Lord, if I be deceived, thou and thy word have deceived me.

Not as fools] Christians must excel others, standing as standard bearers.

But as wise] Great need we have to fly to Christ, who dwells with prudence, Proverbs 8:1-36, to stand upon our watch. ( σοφος ab Heb. Tsopheh. Speculator.) And when we walk, to tread gingerly, step warily; since as those funambulones, rope walkers (it is Tertullian’s comparison), if we tread but one step awry, we are utterly gone.


Verse 16

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ver. 16. Redeeming the time] As wise merchants, trading for the most precious commodity, and taking their best opportunity. The common complaint is, We lack time; but the truth is, we do not so much lack it as waste it. Non parum habemus temporis, sed multum perdimus. (Sen.) The men of Issachar were in great account with David, because they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 1 Chronicles 12:32. So are they in great account with God that regard and use the season of well doing. It is reported of holy Ignatius, that when he heard a clock strike, he would say, here is one hour more now past that I have to answer for. And of Mr Hooper the martyr, that he was spare of diet, sparer of words, and sparest of time; for he well knew that whereas of all other possessions a man might have two at once, he cannot have two moments of time at once, for any money.

Because the days are evil] Corrupted by the devil, who hath engrossed our time, and out of whose hands we must redeem time for holy uses and pious purposes.


Verse 17

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ver. 17. But understanding what] Drawing your knowledge into practice, as Ephesians 5:10. For "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding," Job 28:28 : where wisdom (proper to the understanding) is ascribed to the will, because practice should be joined to knowledge. Hence also, Ecclesiastes 10:2; "A wise man’s heart is at his right hand," because his heart teacheth his hand to put things in practice.


Verse 18

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ver. 18. And be not drunk with wine] Nothing so opposite to an accurate life as drunkenness; which therefore is not specially prohibited in any one of the Ten Commandments (saith a divine) because it is not the single breach of any one, but in effect the violation of all and every one; it is no one, but all sins, the inlet and sluice to all other sins, and by them to the devil. Behemoth lieth in the fens, Job 40:21, he finds no rest in dry places, sober souls, Luke 11:24. Oh that our carousers were persuaded (as Mahomet told his followers) that in every grape there dwelt a devil.

Wherein is excess] Excessive drinking then is drunkenness; when as swine do their bellies, so men break their heads with filthy quaffing; and are besotted in their very parts, as a snuff of a candle in the socket, drowned in the tallow; a stench, but little or no light remains. Such a deep drunkard was Diotimus, surnamed Tundish, and young Cicero, surnamed Tricongius; and such are not a few in this day among us, to the great shame of our nation.

But be filled with the Spirit] Call for flagons of this holy wine, Song of Solomon 2:5, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak, Song of Solomon 7:9. This is called by Luther, Crapula sacra, a spiritual surquedry {a} or surfeit.

{a} Arrogance, haughty pride, presumption. ŒD


Verse 19

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Ver. 19. Speaking to yourselves, &c.] As drunkards sing and halloo over their cups in their goodfellow meetings; so in a sober sense, do you express your spiritual jollity in psalms, &c.

Melody in your hearts unto the Lord] This is the best tune to any psalm. Spiritual songs they are called, both because they are indited by the Spirit, and because they spiritualize us in the use of them.


Verse 20

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ver. 20. Giving thanks always] In our deepest miseries let us sing cheerfully, as Paul and Silas in the dungeon, as Philpot and his fellows in the coal house, as many martyrs in the flames, as Luther did in a great conflict with the devil: Venite, said he to his company, in contemptum diaboli Psalmum de profundis quatuor vocibus cantemus: Let us sing the 130th Psalm in despite of the devil. (John Manli. loc. com.) Happy was that tongue in the primitive times that could sound out aliquid Davidicum, anything of David’s doing.


Verse 21

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ver. 21. Submitting yourselves] This is a general admonition to all inferiors, whose duties are afterwards described. Thus in the second table of the law, the fifth commandment for order and obedience is fitly premised to the following precepts.

In the fear of God] This frameth the heart to a ready and regular submission. Hence that saying of Luther, Primo praecepto reliquorum omnium observantia praecipitur, The first commandment includes the other nine.


Verse 22

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ver. 22. Wives, submit, &c.] This includes reverence, obedience, &c. God hath scattered the duties of husbands and wives up and down the Scriptures, that they may search, and by learning to be good husbands and wives, they may learn also to be good men and women.

As unto the Lord] Who taketh himself dishonoured by wives’ disobedience. And though husbands may remit the offence done to them, yet they cannot remit God’s offence, but there must be special repentance.


Verse 23

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Ver. 23. For the husband is the head] And would it not be ill-favoured to see the shoulders above the head?


Verse 24

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ver. 24. Therefore as the Church] Denying herself to please Christ, making his will her law.

In everything] In all her husband’s lawful commands and restraints. A wife should have no will of her own, but submit to her husband’s; albeit there are those who merrily say that when man lost freewill, woman took it up.


Verse 25

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ver. 25. Husbands, love your wives] He saith not, rule over them (in answer to submit, Ephesians 5:22), for this they can readily do without bidding; but love your wives, and so make their yoke as easy as may be. Columbae trahunt currum Veneris. Doves draw the charriot of Venus.


Verse 26

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ver. 26. That he might sanctify] The maids were first purified and perfumed before Ahasuerus chose one. But here it is otherwise. Sanctification is a fruit of justification. The Lord will not have a sluttish Church, and therefore he came not by blood only, but by water also, that clean water of his Spirit, whereby he washeth away the swinish nature of his saints, so that they desire no more to wallow in the mire.


Verse 27

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ver. 27. That he might present] As Isaac did his Rebecca, adorned with his jewels. See Ezekiel 16:14. Tales nos amat Deus, quales futuri sumus ipsius done, non quales sumus nostro merito, saith an ancient Council.


Verse 28

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Ver. 28. As their own bodies] No man may hide himself from his own flesh at large, Isaiah 58:7, that is, from his neighbour of the same stock; much less from a wife, which is such another as himself, Genesis 2:18, nay, his very self, as here.


Verse 29

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Ver. 29. For no man ever hated] No man but a monk, who whips himself, or a mad man, Mark 5:5, who cuts himself. It was the saying of the Emperor Aurelius, a wife is to be often admonished, sometimes reproved, but never beaten. And yet of the Russian women it is reported, that they love that husband best that beats them most, and that they think themselves else not regarded, unless two or three times a day well favouredly swadled. Chrysostom saith, It is the greatest reproach in the world for a man to beat his wife.

But nourisheth it, and cherisheth it] θαλπει. As the hen doth her chickens, or as the cock pigeon doth the eggs. {a} Contrariwise the magpie hunts away from his mate about autumn, lest he should be forced to keep her all the winter; and so becometh the hieroglyphic of an unkind husband.

Even as the Lord, the Church] Lo, this is the pattern of all true love, whether to ourselves or others.

{a} Columbarum masculus ipse ovis incubat.


Verse 30

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Ver. 30. Of his flesh, and of his bones] While he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:17. This union is neither natural, nor corporal, nor political, nor personal, but mystical and spiritual; and yet it is no less true and real than that of God the Father and God the Son, John 17:21-22. For as the Holy Ghost did unite in the Virgin’s womb the Divine and human natures of Christ, and made them one person; by reason whereof Christ is of our flesh and of our bones; so the Spirit unites that person of Christ, his whole person, God-man, with our persons, by reason whereof we are of his flesh and of his bones.


Verse 31

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Ver. 31. For this cause, &c.] {See Trapp on "Matthew 19:5"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 2:24"}

Shall be one flesh] By virtue of that covenant of God between married couples, Proverbs 2:17, for he keepeth the bonds of wedlock.


Verse 32

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ver. 32. This is a great mystery] To wit, this mystical marriage with Christ. It passeth the capacity of man to understand it in the perfection of it. Preachers can make it known but in part, and hearers can but in part conceive it. Let us therefore wait for perfect understanding of it, till all things be perfected in Christ.


Verse 33

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ver. 33. Nevertheless] q.d. But that I may return to my former discourse, from the which I have somewhat digressed for your satisfaction.

See that she reverence] 1. In heart, as Sarah did Abraham, and she is crowned and chronicled for it, 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 2:1-25. In her speeches both to him, and of him, as the spouse in the Song of Solomon 3:1-11. In all her gestures and deportments; for she may scold with her looks, &c. Vultu saepe laeditur pietas. By looks often is goodness offended. God hath a barren womb for mocking Michal.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ephesians-5.html. 1865-1868.


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Sunday, June 25th, 2017
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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