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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Outline:

I. Imitating God:

A. Involves walking in love:

B. Involves avoiding sin:

C. Involves refusing to be deceived about sin:

II. Being children of light:

A. Involves bearing good fruit:

B. Involves active opposition to evil:

I. Walking In Wisdom Involves:

A. Making the most of the opportunities:

B. Understanding the Lord"s will:

C. Being influenced by the Spirit:

D. Mutual edification and gratitude towards God:

E. Mutual subjection:

Since Christians are being "re-created" into the image of the Creator (), it is only logical that we strive to imitate God"s moral qualities. Or, since we are children of God (5:1), it is only logical that we take on the family likeness. “Being, thought and action belong together and must never be separated. For what we are governs how we think, and how we think determines how we act. We are God"s new society, a people who have put off the old life and put on the new. Then we must actively cultivate a Christian life. For holiness is not a condition into which we drift. We are not passive spectators of a sanctification God works in us. On the contrary, we have purposefully to ‘put away’ from us all conduct that is incompatible with our new life in Christ, and to ‘put on’ a lifestyle compatible with it” (Stott p. 193).


Verse 1

Ephesians 5:1 “Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children”

Ephesians

Chapter

“The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians is rightly regarded as the most profound of his writings but he employs the main portion of his epistle with the plainest exhortations for daily life. It is true, however, that he enforces the simplest duties by reference to the most sublime motives. Paul insisted upon the sanctity of family life. He regarded the family, and not the individual, as the unit of society. The individualist and the socialist are the sworn enemies of the family. The former considers marriage as a contract between two parties, to be ended at any time by mutual agreement. The latter regards the state as supreme in its authority over all individuals, and as the rightful custodian of all children. Paul treats marriage as an inseparable union between a husband and wife, so sacred, so blessed, as to be a fit symbol of the relation between Christ and his church” (Erdman pp. 118-120).

In other words, Paul never becomes so "theological" that he ceases to be practical. Truth, to be of any use, must result in some very practical application. We cannot divorce this section from the rest of the book. If God has done so much to bring about unity in the church, then such unity must also be seen in the family. Stott rightly points out, “For the divine family ceases to be a credible concept if it is not itself subdivided into human families which display God"s love. What is the point of peace in the church is there is no peace in the home?"" (p. 213). Which means if you cannot apply Christianity in your relationship with the person whom you claim to love the most (your mate), then you are failing at being a Christian. “Too much so-called ‘holiness teaching’ emphasizes a personal relationship to Jesus Christ without any attempt to indicate its consequences in terms of relationships with the people we live and work with. In contrast to such holiness-in-a-vacuum, which magnifies experiences and minimizes ethics, the apostles spelled out Christian duty in the concrete situations of everyday life and work” (Stott p. 214). Which means that a great test of one"s spirituality is determined by how does this Christian get along with their brethren? () How does this Christian treat their spouse? (5:22-33). What type of relationship does this Christian have with their parents and children? (6:1-4) What is this person like at work? How do they treat their boss or employees? (6:5-9)

I like what Stott said above. What he has seen, I have seen. People who vocally profess to be a Christian, who act and sound really religious and yet people who have left their mates for no scriptural cause, people who have no control over their children, people who have no desire to save their lost parents and people who never seem to be able to get along with any group of Christians. The view of marriage that Paul will present in this section was at odds with the culture that surrounded these Christians. Barclay observes:

“The Jews had a low view of women. In his morning prayer there was a sentence in which a Jewish man gave thanks that God had not make him ‘a Gentile, a slave or a woman’. The situation was worse in the Greek world. Prostitution was an essential part of Greek life. Demosthenes had laid it down as the accepted rule of life: ‘We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately’. The Greek expected his wife to run his home, to care for his legitimate children, but he found his pleasure and his companionship elsewhere. At the time of Paul, Roman family life was wrecked. Seneca writes that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married” (pp. 168-171).

Please note that Paul "roots" his teaching about male and female roles and responsibilities, not in culture, but in creation (; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). Jesus did the same thing (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-9). Thus these verses apply to all times and all cultures.


Verse 2

Ephesians 5:2 “and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell”

“And”: Imitating God must take the form of practical demonstrations of love for Him and others in our daily lives. “Walk in love”: “Practice living in love” (Wms). “Present indicative or imperative tense used here indicates a continual walk as if to say, ‘be walking’” (Caldwell p. 228). “Even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us”: This defines the type of "love" that we are to "walk" in, clearly "love" is not merely an emotion or feeling. The love that we are to continually live by and demonstrate is unselfish, sacrificial, always in the best spiritual interest of others and obedient to the will of God (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The love that Jesus lived by was obedient to the will of God (Hebrews 5:8-9). It did not look for the easy way out, rather it obeyed God, despite the cost. It put others before it (Philippians 2:3-8), likewise, this is the type of love we are to live by (John 13:34-35; John 14:15; 1 John 2:5; 2 John 1:6). The previous context defines what walking in love looks like, it involves speaking the truth, controlling our anger, giving to others, speaking words which edify, and being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. This section also defines what is not the loving thing to do, such as lying, blowing our top, tearing people down with our speech, being bitter, having malice in our hearts and being involved in fornication (5:3). "Even as": The love that Christians are expected to practice is a love that is much purer and higher than the "love" proclaimed in the world (Matthew 5:44-48; 1 John 3:16). “Gave Himself up for us”: True love is voluntary, sacrificial, completely unselfish and will obey God, regardless of the personal cost involved. “A sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell”: “And God was pleased, for Christ"s love for you was like a sweet perfume to Him” (Tay). “For”: “Expresses design, that it might become, or result” (Vincent p. 398).

The above expression applies to those sacrifices that please God (Philippians 4:18). “Here there is the voluntariness of Christ"s sacrifice, and it was this that made it such a sweet odor” (Lenski p. 593). “This complete submission and obedience were well pleasing to the Father” (Erdman p. 107). We find various "sacrifices" mentioned in the Scriptures that did not please God (Genesis 4:5; Leviticus 10:1-2; 1 Samuel 15:21; 1 Samuel 15:23; Malachi 1:6-10). Thus we conclude that the type of "sacrifice" which God is pleased with is full obedience to the will of God, despite the personal cost, an unselfishness and self-sacrifice for the spiritual good of others. Completely voluntarily and springing from a heart that loves God above all else (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Psalms 51:17). God still expects the "best quality" of sacrifice or service from His people (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5” "to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God”). God is not morally obligated to accept just anything that we offer. In fact, God has often warned us that He will reject all worship that does not conform to His will (James 4:3; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 Corinthians 11:28-29).

“Love, then is to be the rule of the Christian life. It is to be a love which puts aside all bitterness and malice, a love which forgives and forgets. Yet it is also to be no weak sentiment which tolerates wrong or confines itself to empty words of sympathy” (Erdman p. 107). “Paul turns from self-sacrifice to its very opposite, self indulgence, from genuine love to that perversion of it called lust” (Stott p. 191). “It is not accidental that Paul writes about the supreme sweetness of the odor of Christ"s sacrifice when he purposes to warn against filthiness on our part. The love of God brought forth such a pure, sweet sacrifice for us on his part. Can we, who were made God"s beloved children by this sacrifice on our part return a life that is reeking and stinking with vile odor?” (Lenski p. 595).


Verse 3

Ephesians 5:3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints”

“But”: A sharp contrast, the following can never be considered as acts of love. “Fornication”: This word includes all unlawful sexual relationships, including such things as sexual relations prior to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-2), incest (1 Corinthians 5:1-13); prostitution (1 Corinthians 6:16-18); and adultery (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9). “Porneia is prostitution, and porne is a prostitute. Essentially porneia is the love which is bought and sold--which is not love at all. The great and basic error of this is that the person with whom such love is gratified is not really considered as a person at all, but as a thing. He or she is a mere instrument through which the demands of lust and passion are satisfied. Porneia describes the relationship in which one of the parties can be purchased as a thing is purchased, and discarded, as a thing is discarded and where there is neither union of, nor respect for, personality” (Flesh and Spirit p. 24). This means that in all sexual relationships outside of marriage someone is being “used”, and such relationships, no manner how much the world might protest, are not examples of genuine love. “The fornication and uncleanness which Paul severely prohibits were commonly regarded as matter of indifference. They were practiced and countenanced in all circles without scruple and without shame” (Erdman p. 108).

“It is certainly true that the ancient world regarded sexual immorality so lightly that it was not sin at all. It was the expected thing that a man should have a mistress. In his speech Pro Caelio Cicero pleads: ‘If there is anyone who thinks that young men should be absolutely forbidden the love of courtesans, he is indeed extremely severe, he is at variance not only with the license of what our own age allows but also with the customs and concessions of our ancestors. When indeed was this not done? When did anyone ever find fault with it? When was such permission denied? When was it that that which is now lawful was not lawful?"” (Barclay pp. 161-162). Therefore when the apostles condemned fornication they were not accommodating themselves to the political correctness of the times in which they lived, but rather they were appealing to an eternal standard of right. We need to be careful that we do not buy into the myth that remaining sexually pure prior to marriage is an impossible task. The cultural leaders who argue that teaching young people abstinence is a naive and worthless exercise are neither enlightened nor are they on the cutting edge, rather such people are simply making the same argument than heathen politicians made 2000 years ago.

“All uncleanness”: “Every kind of impurity” (TCNT). “Anything that makes a person unfit to come before the presence of God” (Boles p. 297). “Covetousness”: This includes greed, fraud and extortion. “Ruthless greed” (NEB). “Surely because they (fornication, uncleanness) are an especially degrading form of it, namely the coveting of somebody else"s body for selfish gratification” (Stott pp. 191-192). Covetousness is often associated with immorality (1 Corinthians 5:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Colossians 3:5). “The covetous man forgets his soul in favor of his desires. He satisfies or gratifies himself at the expense of others. The fornicator never gets enough gratification of his lust like other covetous men never get enough things” (Caldwell p. 231). “Unrestrained sexual greed whereby a person assumes that others exist for his or her own gratification” (Boles p. 297). This simply confirms our contention that fornication has absolutely nothing to do with love and is nothing more than extreme selfishness. “Let”: An expression including human choice in the matter. “It not even be named among you”: “The thought is, of course, not that these vices are not even to be mentioned among Christians, for Paul himself does that right here, and we must warn against them as he does (5:11)” (Lenski p. 596). “Does not imply a mealy-mouthed refusal to call a spade a spade, it means rather that such unholy things should not be acceptable subjects of conversation among people whom God has called to be holy” (Bruce p. 370). “Such vices are to be so far removed from us that even an intimation or a suspicion of their presence among us should not occur” (Lenski p. 596).

“The follower of Christ does not speak of them with pleasure. More importantly, he does not ever leave any impression that he practices, approves or condones such actions. Such sins are especially not named among children of God in the sense that they are guilty of them” (Caldwell p. 232). In some modern denominations, such sins are not only practiced, but they are even defended! How are we to reconcile this passage with those religious bodies that openly defend the practicing homosexual, fornicator or adulterer?

“As becometh saints”: “As is proper among saints” (NASV). “As befits Christ"s people” (TCNT), which is another way of saying that such things are "unworthy" of the Christian life (). Despite the fact that such sins were prevalent in the culture then surrounding these Christians, God expected them to live differently. An "immoral world" or "bad environment" never can be used as an excuse for my own moral failures. “This was a high and holy standard to demand, for immorality was rife in Asia. And since the Greek goddess Artemis, Diana of the Ephesians, was regarded as a fertility goddess, sexual orgies were regularly associated with her worship” (Stott p. 192).


Verse 4

Ephesians 5:4 “nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks”

“Nor”: “Goes beyond immorality to vulgarity” (Stott p. 192). These are to be included in those things that are unfit for Christians and which are not even to be named among us. “Filthiness”: Shamefulness, obscenity. “Nastiness” (Lenski p. 596). “Dirty, indecent, and obscene language” (Boles p. 298). God knows that such a thing as "obscenity" exists. Some people try to confuse the issue and they attempt to argue that "obscenity" is in the eye of the beholder. Such is the language of ignorance. If "obscenity" is such a vague category that defies all attempts to nail down what really is obscene, then why does everyone use the same basic words when they desire to "cuss” and “swear"? I mean, why is the language of obscenity so easy to find and identify? And why it is so easy to point out the person who is using it? The same point applies to obscenity in print or pictures. How is it that people who want obscenity know exactly where to buy it and the people dealing in this "vague” and supposedly “undefinable” realm, know exactly what to stock? “Foolish talking”: “Impious, silly, godless speech without forethought and wisdom” (Caldwell p. 232). “Is the talk of a fool, the man who does not know God (Psalms 14:1)” (Boles p. 298). “Jesting”: “Suggestive jesting” (Wms). “Coarse jokes” (Tay). “Witty talk that is corrupted by a smutty intention, a nasty insinuation which raises a laugh at the expense of someone"s good name” (Boles p. 298). Someone has said that the cheapest form of "wit" is that which depends upon a four-letter word or dirty joke to get a laugh. God is not against laughter (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and in fact God has a very good sense of humor, see Matthew 7:1-5. But God is against the "humor of this world", where getting the laugh or the admiration of men, has become more important than moral purity and truth. Thus we need to avoid “bathroom humor” and see that we keep private things private.

“Which are not befitting”: “Which things are beneath you” (Rhm). “They are wholly out of place among you” (TCNT). Compare with . “But rather”: God always gives us something better to do. God always gives the Christian a better alternative than the world can offer. God always offers a superior product. “Giving of thanks”: “But a sense of all that we owe to God” (Phi). “Whereas sexual impurity and covetousness express self-centered acquisitiveness, thanksgiving is the exact opposite, and so the antidote required; it is the recognition of God"s generosity. All God"s gifts, including sex, are subjects for thanksgiving, rather than for joking. To joke about them is bound to degrade them; to thank God for them is the way to preserve their worth as the blessings of a loving Creator” (Stott pp. 192-193). “Believers have received so many blessings from God, in grace as well as in nature, that thanksgiving should be a dominant note in their speech as well as in their thought” (Bruce p. 371). The necessary inference is when people are engaged in using obscenity, that such is proof that they are ungrateful. It is easy to lose sight of how bad sin is and to make light of it when one forgets all that God has done.


Verse 5

Ephesians 5:5 “For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”

“For this ye know”: The Ephesians had already heard these truths before (Galatians 5:19-21). “Of a surety”: “With certainty” (NASV). “You know very well” (Bruce p. 371). “Paul insists that he is telling his readers nothing new” (Erdman p. 109). “Moreover, the fact that sinners such as Paul names do not belong to the kingdom belongs to the ABC of Christianity; every beginner knows that” (Lenski p. 598). “In other words, there is no doubt or question about the whereabouts ‘in the after-a-while’ of those who engage in those six items” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 182). God will not change His mind, and such sins will not be ignored. “That no”: It does not matter who you are, Christian, non-Christian, rich or poor. If you engage in these sins and refuse to repent you will not make it to heaven. Time and culture do not change the evil of such sins and neither do situations justify them. At the end of time they will still be wrong (Revelation 21:8; Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). “Who is an idolater”: “While all three types of men may be included, it is especially the greedy person who is identified as an idolater (cf. Colossians 3:5). Barclay has observed, ‘A man sets up an idol and worships it because he desires to get something out of God. To put it bluntly, he believes that by his sacrifices and his gifts and his worship, he can persuade, or even bribe, God into giving him what he desires’” (Boles p. 299). “Hath any inheritance”: “Any share” (Wey). “These vices are not merely improper (v. 3) for God"s people; those who practice them have no share in God"s kingdom!” (Boles p. 299).

Since Paul is speaking to Christians, it is clear that a Christian could engage in these things, and thus one can fall away. In addition, if a Christian engages in such things they need to be withdrawn from (1 Corinthians 5:9), which means they do not even have a share in God’s kingdom here, not to mention God’s heavenly kingdom. “In the kingdom”: The present and heavenly kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21). “Of Christ and God”: Jesus and the Father. Since the Kingdom is viewed as belonging to both Christ and the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24; Colossians 1:13), then Father and Son are equal in nature, which means Jesus is also Divine. The Church is also referred to as the "Church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2) and the "Churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16).


Verse 6

Ephesians 5:6 “Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience”

“Let”: One has the choice to prevent this from happening, which infers that one does not have to end up deceived. Therefore, the Bible is understandable and God"s instructions are so clear that one can avoid believing false doctrine (Hebrews 5:14). “No man”: No matter what their "qualifications" are. God"s word takes precedence over the opinions of learned and educated men. “Deceive you”: “Do not let anyone fool you on this point” (Phi). “There are always those who find excuses for sin. They are saying today that strict morality is puritanical, and is the mere relic of outgrown standards of life” (Erdman p. 109). Such people will always exist (2 Peter 2:1-3; 18 ff) in the church. Even in the first century some professed Christians tried to pervert "grace" into nothing more than a license for the Christian to sin (Romans 6:1; Jude 1:4). “With empty words”: “Empty promises” (Knox). “Groundless arguments” (Wms). “Shallow arguments” (NEB). “However plausible his argument” (Phi).

God is telling us that He does not care how "plausible" their arguments sound, all arguments that try to justify these things are completely void of truth. In the First Century the Church was faced with people who argued grace allows us to live anyway we want. What you do in your body, has no effect on your soul (Gnosticism). All Jews will be saved, no matter what they believe or how they live. Some claimed that such things were simply matters of moral indifference, and since society condones them, they are okay. Some 2000 years later we have no lack of "empty words" in our own generation: “Nature requires these vices, that they are innocent pleasures, at worst pardonable weaknesses” (Lenski p. 602). “God is too kind to condemn-- and that everybody will get to heaven in the end, irrespective of their behaviour” (Stott p. 197).

“For”: Even some professed Christians may be fooled by some of these empty arguments, but they are still wrong. “Of these things”: Yes, these very things just mentioned. “Cometh the wrath of God”: Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

Jesus is coming again and He will punish the disobedient (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Those who continue to engage in these sins will face God"s wrath, in fact such wrath presently rests upon their heads (John 3:36). “God"s wrath comes (present tense), and is on a collision course with those who insist on their wicked lifestyle” (Boles p. 300). Carefully note: The physical consequences of fornication do not satisfy or remove the wrath of God. Some people naively think, “Since that person made this life such a "living hell" for themselves, they have suffered enough for their sins and God does not need to punish them”. The physical consequences for sin can never make up for the eternal consequences. Yes, God will eternally punish the unrepentant individual who died of AIDS, or the alcoholic, drug addict, or prostitute.

“Upon the sons of disobedience”: “Sons of obstinacy” (Rhm), or people characterized by disobedience. “Those who defy God deserve to face His wrath” (Boles p. 300). “The active and practical side of the state of the unbeliever” (Alford p. 1240). This simply means that if one is defiant to God"s will, then one will end up lost, no matter what one actually professed to be (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-23). The world has all sorts of euphemisms for disobedient people, like “individualists”, but none of these trendy names brings one any closer to God or any fear then from His wrath.


Verse 7

Ephesians 5:7 “Be not ye therefore partakers with them”

“Be”: “Lit., become not. It is a warning against lapsing into old vices” (Vincent p. 399). “Partakers with them”: With them in these sins. “The Greek word refers to participation, not just association. For if we share in their practices, as Lot was warned in Sodom, we run the risk of sharing in their doom” (Stott p. 198). “To share in the sins of the world will also be to share in its punishments” (Boles p. 301). This means that we cannot assist or support people while they are in rebellion.


Verse 8

Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light”

“For”: God has already given us one very important and motivational reason why we should abstain from such things, eternal condemnation. Here is another incentive, all such sins are part of a life lived in darkness and ignorance. “Ye were once darkness”: See Acts 26:18. “Paul saw the heathen life as life in the dark” (Barclay p. 164). “The light and darkness imagery shows the uncompromising nature of Paul"s ethical demands. There appears to be no room for shady gray areas” (Boles p. 301). Practicing sin without feeling guilty is not evidence that a person is open minded or is enlightened, rather it is proof that one is filled with darkness. “But are now light in the Lord”: Which means that one cannot be "in the light" without being "in the Lord". Thus, faith and baptism stand between one and being "light in the Lord" (Galatians 3:26-27). “Walk as children of light”: “Live and act as sons of Light” (Wey). “Live as men native to the light” (Knox). “Live like men who are at home in daylight” (NEB).

“Walking as children of light is the same as ‘walking in love’ (); "walking worthily" (4:1); "walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4); and ‘walking by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16). Thus, walking as children of ;ight means that we must live by the light of God"s word (Psalms 119:105). "You are light", Paul says, "now live like it’” (Boles p. 301). Compare with 1 John 1:5-7; 1 John 2:8-11). Thus we have the obligation to live in such a manner that others in sin "see the light" (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15). “Their behaviour must conform to their new identity. They must radiate the light they are” (Stott p. 199). “Let no-one say that doctrine does not matter! Good conduct arises out of good doctrine. It is only when we have grasped clearly who we are in Christ, that the desire will grow within us to live a life that is worthy of our calling and fitting to our character as God"s new society” (Stott p. 194). We walk as children of light, when we pattern our moral and ethical behaviour after the God who is Light (1 John 1:5; Ephesians 5:1-2).

The practical results of walking in the light


Verse 9

Ephesians 5:9 “(for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth)”

“For the fruit of the light”: “The outcome of life in the Light” (TCNT). “The light produces in men quite the opposite of sins like these” (Phi). “For where light is, there all goodness springs up, all justice and truth” (NEB). Every lifestyle choice has certain logical results (Romans 6:16; Romans 6:21). Walking in darkness produces "dependable" evil results (James 3:16; Ephesians 4:31; Ephesians 5:3; Galatians 5:19-20). Walking in the light produces dependable good results (Galatians 5:22-23). “The fruit”: “Is a collective noun and summarizes all that walking means” (Lenski p. 605). “Is in all”: Consists in every form of. “Goodness”: “A certain generosity of spirit” (Barclay p. 164). “Kindness, goodness in action” (Erdman p. 111). “Righteousness”: “Doing what is right and just in relation to both God and humanity” (Boles p. 302). “Giving men and to God that which is their due” (Barclay p. 164). “And truth”: “The opposite of falsehood and hypocrisy and signifies honesty and sincerity” (Erdman p. 111). “That which is reliable as fact. It is the very opposite of error and deceit. It does not arise out of ignorance or blindness or prejudice” (Caldwell p. 239). “Moral reality as opposed to all lying perversion, shame, deception, and pretense” (Lenski p. 606). “Everything that is wholesome and good and true” (Phi). The fruit of the light is the exact opposite from results of the life lived in darkness. The faithful Christian lives by truth, the sinner lives in deception and is not entirely honest about the life that he or she is living. The Christian faces reality head on, the sinner seeks to hide from it. The Christian is "just" with his fellow man, the sinner manipulates his or her neighbor. The Christian is kind and generous, the sinner is filled with self-interest.


Verse 10

Ephesians 5:10 “proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord”

“Proving”: “Always trying to find out what is pleasing to the Lord” (TCNT).

While the life in sin is spent trying to find those things that please self, walking in the light means always seeking to please God in all situations (2 Corinthians 5:9). "Proving" what pleases the Lord involves more than "finding out" what pleases God. It also involves accepting and fully supporting what God says pleases Him (1 Samuel 15:23). It is being in complete agreement with His view of everything (Romans 3:4). The Christian who is walking in the light is eager to test everything by the light of God"s word (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). There are no cultural "sacred cows" for the person bent on pleasing God. “The one point of all moral investigation is, does it please God?” (Vincent p. 399). “The light metaphor speaks vividly of Christian openness and transparency, of living joyfully in the presence of Christ, with nothing to hide or fear” (Stott p. 200). Because "deceivers" (5:6) exist, the Christian always will need to "examine" everything carefully (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 John 4:1). This verse implies that not everything that is, "claimed" to be pleasing to the Lord, actually in fact is. “It is the Christian"s duty to expose every action, every decision, every motive to the light of Christ” (Barclay p. 165). The Christian is also the person who has put God"s will to the test, that is he has tested it in his own life (Romans 12:2). “He is not deceived by men who would try to convince him otherwise (v. 6) but he has tested the right and found it to be right” (Caldwell p. 240). Of all people, the Christian should be able to say with confidence to the world, “I have tried God"s will, I have applied it to my life, and it works! I am sold on this way of living and you cannot convince me otherwise”. In the context we have already been told what pleases the Lord, complete obedience to the will of God, regardless of the personal cost (5:1-2).


Verse 11

Ephesians 5:11 “and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them”

“And have no fellowship with”: “Take no part in” (TCNT). “Steer clear” (Phi) (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1). “Fellowship”: To share the company with, to participate, to be a partaker of. From this verse we learn something about fellowship. Fellowship is participation. Hence I only have fellowship in the local congregation if I am participating. If I am not supporting the local work with my time, effort, financial prosperity, and physical and mental presence, then I really do not have fellowship. Failing to meet with Christians is serious business (Hebrews 10:25-26). “This would includes the idea that we are not to encourage, approve, or endorse such works” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 188) (Romans 1:32; 2 John 1:9-11). We are to live in the world (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 5:10), and we are to live in the midst of sinners, but we are not to participate in that which is evil. In trying to influence our neighbors for good, in attempting to save their souls, we can never endorse whatever sins they might be practicing. We cannot reason that we can engage in sin with a friend, if such activity will give us a chance to talk to them about the gospel.

“Unfruitful works of darkness”: “Which no good can come” (TCNT). Compare Romans 6:21; Galatians 6:8. “The vices of the pagan world cannot accomplish anything good; they are sterile, futile, and worthless” (Boles p. 302). “Unproductive of any spiritual good or benefit to either God or man. Unable to produce any blessing to any man” (Caldwell p. 241). “Works which result in no gain, yield nothing pleasant or profitable, bring no blessing or reward with them” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 357).

Such things do have results, but those results are not productive, rather such activities might produce temporary pleasure (Hebrews 11:25), but they also leave the individual with shame, heartache, pain, bitterness, and anger (Titus 3:3). This is a very important statement, because one of the "deceitful" arguments (5:6) that is advanced to defend certain sins, is that such sins are signs of enlightenment and personal growth. The common argument that is used to defend premarital sex, is that such enables the couple contemplating marriage to "make sure" they are right for each other. We are told, “isn"t it better to find out if your are right for each other before marriage than make the mistake of marrying someone you aren"t really compatible with?” Do not be deceived by such swallow arguments. God says, “nothing good or productive is ever accomplished by sin!” This verse condemns all arguments which try to argue that engaging in a certain sin actually has "improved" someone. God is clear, real personal growth and maturity does not happen when you are walking in darkness. Often someone will argue “shouldn"t we try something, before we condemn it?” That is, “don"t knock it unless you have tried it”. Well, God has saved us a lot of pain and heartache. God is telling us that we do not need to adopt such a "trial and error" philosophy. Up front He has already revealed that nothing productive is found in those things that He has condemned, and we do not have to waste our time or bring condemnation upon ourselves and others in the process of finding out for ourselves.

“But rather”: “But withdrawal is not enough. This is the ideal of monks and of nuns. The light is not to be placed under a bushel, the salt is to bite into the world"s corruption, this, too must be done. The obligation of administering reproof is not to be reluctantly added to that of avoiding fellowship but to be added with zest” (Lenski p. 608). “Such works must not be condoned or excused, but exposed for what they are” (Bruce p. 375). “It is not enough for them silently to abstain” (Erdman p. 111). “Reprove them”: To admonish, convict, rebuke and expose. “Expose their foulness” (Con). “But show them up for what they are” (NEB).

This means that some "judging" is necessary and the Bible gives us sufficient information and ammunition to show people the wrongness of such activities (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Standing opposed to sin and speaking out is the obligation of every Christian and not just preachers (2 Timothy 4:2) and elders (Titus 1:9-11). God has always required such of His people (Leviticus 19:17-18; Mark 6:17-18; Matthew 18:15). We cannot shy away from this task because such sins deserve to be exposed. The myths perpetuated by the deceivers need to be unmasked, for those who buy into such myths will end up lost! The world will not expose such things. We cannot depend upon the media and "investigative" reporters to reveal the truth about such sins. If people will not come to the light, then we need to bring the light to them. (John 3:20) If we refuse to "convict" people of their sins, then we are frustrating and standing in the way of the Holy Spirit"s mission (John 16:8). It is not enough to expose the sin, we must also point the person in the way to repentance and salvation (Acts 2:38). It is useless to expose sin if we do not at the same time tell the sinner that they can quit the sin and be saved. Give them the right information concerning what is necessary to receive forgiveness (Mark 16:16).


Verse 12

Ephesians 5:12 “for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of”

“For”: A further reason why such things need to be exposed. “The things which are done by them”: That is, the deeds of darkness. “In secret”: Sin needs to be exposed because too many sins have become surrounded by a glamorous mystic.

“The best cure for sins is to get things out into the open. Sin that looks attractive in the darkness often looks foolish in the light of day” (Boles p. 303). “The secrecy of the works in question is the reason why they require to be openly reproved” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 358). Many sins lose their glamour when they are exposed to the light of God"s word. What once might have looked like "love" is now seen as "lust" and extreme selfishness. What might have passed for "manliness" is now seen to be "cowardice", and what was once called "adult", is now seen to be very "immature". “The best way to rid the world of any evil is to drag it into the light” (Barclay p. 165). “It is a shame even to speak of”: Such sins are disgraceful and they are an embarrassment to the human race (; Romans 6:21). Yet, Paul has just commanded us that we need to expose them for what they are (5:11).

Thus when we speak against sin, we cannot glorify it, make light of it or simply excuse it. We must speak of it as a disgraceful act, one that degrades mankind and offends God. “Paul exposed this shamefulness at length in Romans 1:18-32. Was he thereby guilty of doing a shameful thing? Since when it is a shameful thing for a Christian to reprove dirty works? The idea that Paul here says is that it makes us blush to mention these things” (Lenski p. 609). To expose sin we do not have to go into all the "details" concerning how such a sin is practiced. “Why do men hide such things? They thereby admit that such works are a disgrace to themselves. Alas, men are not ashamed before God who sees in secret (Matthew 6:4); but they are ashamed before men when their deeds are exposed to the sight of men” (Lenski p. 609). Hence this last phrase in the verse is actually teaching, “It might be an unpleasant task, but you still must speak out”. Exposing evil is not an activity that one would relish, but rather it should always be a necessarily but unpleasant task.


Verse 13

Ephesians 5:13 “But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light”

“Are made manifest by the light”: Exposed for what they really are. “All such actions, when exposed, have their true character made manifest by the Light” (TCNT). “For light is capable of showing up everything for what it really is” (Phi). “Darkness hides the ugly realities of evil; the light makes them visible. Then evil is seen for what it is without any possibility of concealment or subterfuge” (Stott p. 200). Therefore the only way we really know the true moral worth or worthlessness of anything is to expose it to the light of God"s word. Which means that the Bible is the final standard for determining "good" and "evil" (Hebrews 5:14). Thus, human wisdom, education, opinion, counseling, psychology, and science must all bow to the Bible when it comes to determining if an activity or attitude is good or evil. All sciences are simply trying to play catch up with God.

“For everything that is made manifest is light”: "It is possible (after all, it happened with you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also." (Phi). “Exposure sounds negative, showing people up for what they are, judgmental, condemning. And it is that. But the light which exposes has positive evangelistic power also. For it may bring people, as they see the ugliness of evil, to conviction of their sin” (Stott pp. 200-201). Thus to bring people to the light, first of all they must be convicted of their own sins and see their need for coming to Christ. For a man to be saved, he first must be convinced that he is lost. Exposure of sin is designed to bring a person to salvation. Paul also may be saying that sin cannot be exposed any further than when the light of God"s word is focused upon it.


Verse 14

Ephesians 5:14 “Wherefore he saith, ‘Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee’”

“Wherefore”: “Because of the reproving just enjoined upon the Ephesians a reproving call to the sinner to rise up from his condition of spiritual death” (Lenski p. 611). “He saith”: “Paul introduces the quotation as if everybody knew it” (Barclay p. 165). Many Old Testament passages echo this sentiment (Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 52:1). “Awake, thou that sleepest”: “Responsibility rests with those in darkness to do two things: awake and arise” (Caldwell p. 244). The sinner is expected to "wake up". Calvinism, which teaches that the sinner is so depraved that he cannot even respond to the gospel message without the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, happens to contradict this admonition. Someone once said that the gospel message, which God designed to lead man to salvation is perfectly adapted to the level of understanding found in the sinner (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15). “Arise from the dead”: This begins at baptism (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). While some writers apply this verse as an exhortation to the Ephesians to wake out of spiritual apathy (compare Romans 13:11-14), and take a strong stand against sin. The word "dead" points my mind in the direction of the non-Christian. Of course, Paul might be saying, “truly arise from the dead”, that is your are not really living the "new life" unless you are exposing the evil that surrounds you. Embracing the new life in Christian means being 100% committed to this life and 100% opposed to the old life. No middle ground position is possible. You are either in darkness or you are in the light.

“And Christ shall shine upon thee”: “The Christ shall give thee light” (TCNT). “Christ promises to enlighten those who awake and arise” (Caldwell p. 245). “Christ will shine upon thee with the light of His truth and bring thee out of the pagan darkness of ignorance and immorality” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 360) (John 8:31-32; John 12:46). “Conversion is nothing less than awaking out of sleep, arising from death and being brought out of darkness into the light of Christ. No wonder we are summoned to live a new life in consequence!” (Stott p. 201).

”Paul"s next little paragraph is based upon two assumptions, first that Christians are wise people, not fools--and secondly that Christian wisdom is practical wisdom, for it teaches us how to behave” (Stott p. 201). “In his series of pagan vices and Christian virtues, the last contrast drawn by the apostle is between reckless folly of the pagan world and the spiritual fervor which should characterize the followers of Christ” (Erdman p. 113). “The Christian walk is not the aimless, casual lifestyle of the pagans; it has purpose and direction” (Boles p. 305). “They form a small minority, and because of their distinctive ways their lives will be scrutinized by others: the reputation of the gospel is bound up with their public behavior. Hence the need for care and wisdom, lest the Christian cause should be inadvertently jeopardized by thoughtless speech or action on the part of Christians” (Bruce p. 378).


Verse 15

Ephesians 5:15 “Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise”

“Look therefore”: “The present tense means to ‘watch and keep on watching’ in an accurate, careful way” (Boles p. 305). “Carefully”: Circumspectly and diligently. “Take great care, then, how you live” (TCNT). “Circumspectly involves ‘looking around on all sides’” (Caldwell p. 246). “Everything worth doing requires care. We all take trouble over the things which seem to us to matter. So Christians must take trouble over our Christian life. We must treat it as the serious thing it is” (Stott pp. 201-202). Each individual Christian is required to examine their own life. The responsibility for me remaining faithful, lies in my own hands (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Corinthians 1:1-24 Corinthians11:28).

“Each individual must verify his own conversion: first by continued study of the word of God, and second by observant, perspective, considered self-examination. We ought to discern our own true spiritual condition” (Caldwell p. 246). This demands that such a verification is possible, which infers that the word of God presents a clear standard of faithfulness, and people can be honest enough to see if they presently measure up.

“Not as unwise but as wise”: “Do not act thoughtlessly, but like sensible men” (Gspd). “Like sensible men, not like simpletons” (NEB). The Pulpit Commentary made a good observation when it says, “See that you walk strictly, but consider well the kind of strictness. Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good rules” (p. 210). Walking in wisdom means that you remain just as "conservative" as God is and no more (Colossians 2:20-23). “Wisdom is more than simple knowledge. It is understanding how to use what we know” (Caldwell p. 246). “Wisdom is the ability to see things (their true worth) as God sees them, and act accordingly” (Boles p. 306). God expects Christians to be discerning and wise (Matthew 10:16). Gullible and naive Christians only hurt God"s cause. “What, therefore, are the marks of wise people who take trouble over their Christian discipleship?” (Stott p. 202).


Verse 16

Ephesians 5:16 “redeeming the time, because the days are evil”

“Redeeming”: To ransom, rescue from loss, buy up. “Buying up opportunities” (Alf). “Making the most of every opportunity” (TCNT). “Make the best use of your time” (Phi). “Opportunities must be exploited while they last” (Bruce p. 379). “Certainly wise people know that time is a precious commodity. None of us can stretch time. But wise people use it to the fullest possible advantage. For once it has passed, even the wisest people cannot recover it. Somebody once advertised as follows: ‘LOST, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward offered, for they are gone for ever’” (Stott p. 202). Procrastination is not the mark of walking wisely. Foolish people naively convince themselves, “Well there will be other times.” In contrast, wisdom is demonstrated by the prompt and discerning zeal to make every opportunity our own. “We say use the opportunity; Paul says buy it out, purchase all that it offers. That means: pay the necessary price in effort and exertion” (Lenski p. 614). One either "uses" opportunities or he "squanders" them, and opportunity is given to all (Galatians 6:10; Matthew 25:14-15; Colossians 4:5). “Because the days are evil”: “For these are evil days” (TCNT). “Despite all the difficulties of these days” (Phi) “This does not mean merely that the times are full of trouble and difficulty, but rather that they are morally corrupt. The obstacles in the way of Christian service are therefore great, and the opportunities of turning men to light are few, so there is an evident necessity for seizing upon every occasion which may appear” (Erdman p. 115). Often professed believers will use the excuse "evil so prevalent" in the world as the reason why they cannot serve God faithfully. “We should not develop a negative attitude; that is, the days are so evil there isn"t much I can do about it” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 197). The necessary inference is that opportunities to do good and even convert people are present even when the world is filled with evil! (Acts 18:10). What some people see as a "reason why they can"t", Paul sees has an incentive why we must. Christians must be willing to wrestle all the opportunities they can away from this evil world. Caldwell reminds us, “After reading secular history and having examined the writings of Peter, John, and Paul, I conclude that our times are no less dangerous to Christians. Every admonition of Scripture is of equal force and urgency today. The call for wisdom to deal with life during evil days is as vital and current now as it was in the first century” (p. 245).


Verse 17

Ephesians 5:17 “Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”

‘Wherefore”: Because we are surrounded by evil. “Be ye not foolish”: “Do not grow thoughtless” (TCNT). ‘You cannot afford to be reckless” (Knox). “Stop, becoming foolish” (Robertson p. 544). “Converts from paganism must not allow themselves to slip back into senseless folly. They must have a clear discernment of their Master"s will” (Erdman p. 115). “Wicked days are full of temptation that would make us foolish” (Lenski p. 616). The language of freewill. It also indicates that Christians can live foolish lives, if they so choose. “But”: Being foolish in one"s thinking or conduct is inexcusable, because God has provided everything necessary to avoid such. “Understanding”: Comprehend. “What the will of the Lord is”: “Wisdom is to be found in God"s will and nowhere else. Nothing is more important in life than to discover and do the will of God” (Stott pp. 202-203). Doing God"s will is not accomplished by irrational impulses, neither is God"s will discovered by mere emotions or gut feelings (Proverbs 16:25). The term "understanding" infers that the will of the Lord is understandable. Study is required (2 Timothy 2:15). The human mind can properly interpret and understand what God has revealed in the Scriptures (Ephesians 3:3-5; Luke 10:25-26). (4) The same logic and reasoning abilities that one would use in understanding anything, must be equally applied to understand the will of the Lord (Acts 17:11). The will of the Lord cannot be divorced from the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:37; John 8:31-32; John 12:48). “He understands that the will of the Lord is found only in the Scriptures and he never allows anyone to tell him that God"s will is something other than what God has said that it is. Only God"s truth is able to keep us from being foolish” (Caldwell p. 250) (Psalms 119:9).


Verse 18

Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit”

“Be not drunken with wine”: “Be not getting drunk” (Rhm). “Stop getting drunk on wine” (Wms). “Drunken”: Vine says that "Methusko" means, “to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the progress of the state expressed in ‘Methuo’, drunk, to become intoxicated” (p. 341). The same word is used in Luke 12:45. Not only is the Christian to avoid drunkenness but we are told not even to begin such a process. The stages leading up to drunkenness are also spoken against (1 Peter 4:3). For a good examination concerning the subject of Social Drinking, see The Bible, The Saint & The Liquor Industry by Jim McGuiggan. In the context, getting drunk or engaging in activity that naturally leads to drunkenness is one of the most foolish ways to waste opportunities. “The ungodly world exemplifies its foolishness by soaking the brain with intoxicants and by dulling and drugging the mind. Wine was and is, of course, a common escape mechanism for even the men and women who lead society” (Caldwell p. 250). The bankruptcy of the world"s way of doing things is evidenced by its heavy use of artificial intoxicants to bring about joy and happiness. Depending upon such things as alcohol to help one have a good time is proof positive that one"s view of life, personal convictions and attitude has failed to provide one with real happiness. Please note that "drunkenness" not only includes the state of being passed-out, face down in the gutter and vomiting but the word "drunkenness" simply means "intoxicated". At the point you are intoxicated, you have committed the sin of drunkenness.

“Wherein is riot”: “For that is dissipation” (NASV). “Getting drunk on wine leads to debauchery (1 Peter 4:3-4)” (Boles p. 307). “Take up any book on pharmacology and look up alcohol, and you will find, always, that it is classified among the depressants. It is not a stimulant. Further, it depresses first and foremost the highest centers of all in the brain. They control everything that gives a man self-control, wisdom, understanding, discrimination, judgment, balance, the power to access everything; in other words everything that makes a man behave at his very best and highest. People who are drunk give way to wild, dissolute and uncontrolled actions. They behave like animals, indeed worse than animals. The results of being filled with the Spirit are totally different. If excessive alcohol dehumanizes, turning a human being into a beast, the fullness of the Spirit makes us more human” (Stott pp. 204-205). “But”: God always has a better way. “Be filled with the Spirit”: Instead of being under the influence of some artificial drug, be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is a command to every Christian. Paul is not discussing something that is mystical or only available to some elite class of Christians. We already know that every Christian in the first century did not receive a miraculous manifestation of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:28-30). Therefore, this is not a command to be baptized in the Spirit or to manifest a miraculous gift, such as speaking in tongues. Compare this statement to Colossians 3:16, and we find that being "filled with the Spirit" means that one is allowing the word of Christ to richly dwell within them, that is, one is allowing themselves to be influenced by the teachings revealed by the Holy Spirit. This infers that if the Word of God does not stimulate, motivate or incite one on, then something is wrong. Notice the language "be filled". We have control over this. Paul is not discussing some type of "supernatural takeover". We have the choice whether the instruction given by the Holy Spirit (3:3-5) will influence us or not.

If we believed that the people in the Pentecostal Movement where really "filled with the Holy Spirit", then we would have to conclude that being filled with the Spirit means that one loses control, yet Paul argues that one of the major results of being influenced by the Spirit is "self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). Stott makes a good point when he says, “it is a serious mistake to suppose that to be filled with the Spirit, is a kind of spiritual inebriation in which we lose control of ourselves. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit we do not lose control; we gain it” (p. 204).


Verse 19

Ephesians 5:19 “speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord”

“Speaking one to another”: “The imperative be filled is followed by a series of four participle expressions which illustrate what it means to be full of the Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is not lived in isolation, but in community with God"s saints” (Boles p. 308). The songs that we sing in praise to God are also intended to teach, admonish and encourage other Christians (Colossians 3:16). This demands intelligent communication. The New Testament Church sang when they assembled (1 Corinthians 14:15; 26). So I have a hard time following the reasoning of those who claim that this passage does not have any reference to the public worship of the church. I personally think that some try to remove this passage from the public worship, because when it comes to the "music" offered to God during the worship services they participate in, it looks nothing like what is taught in Ephesians 5:19. Since every Christian is commanded to be filled with the Spirit (5:18), abstain from drunkenness (5:18), manifest gratitude (5:20) and serve others (5:21), it is only logical that every Christian is commanded to "sing". This means that if a Christian does not feel like singing or is embarrassed to sing, it simply means that they are not being influenced by the teachings of the Holy Spirit. What would you say about the Christian who doesn"t feel like expressing their gratitude to God? (5:20)

“Psalm and hymns and spiritual songs”: “Bruce has suggested that ‘psalms’ were drawn from the Old Testament Psalter, ‘hymns’ were written compositions of the early church” (Boles p. 308). “Spiritual songs”: Could include songs inspired by the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit revealed whole sermons and prayers (Acts 4:8; Ephesians 3:14-19), it should not be surprising that He also might have revealed some inspired songs for the early church. "Spiritual songs" places a limit on the type of songs that we can sing when praising God. The songs that we sing must be Scripturally sound in their content. They must be in harmony with Divine truth. We do not have the right to sing songs which teach false doctrine or songs which are void of spiritual truth. The melody is not the important thing. The unwise (5:15) are stirred by what the song sounds like. The wise man says that the most beautiful melody is useless without real spiritual truth in the words of the song.

“Singing”: This defines precisely what we are to do with such songs, we are to sing them. “Making Melody”: Lenski makes the common argument in favor of instrumental music from the Greek work rendered "making melody". He says it “means to let a string twang and thus to play a lyre or a harp and then to play any instrument as an accompaniment to the voice. Thus the two are here combined: ‘singing and playing"” (p. 620). Yet this popular interpretation creates a number of problems. Why did not the experts in the Greek language, who translated the various versions of the Bible (KJV, NASV, ASV and so on) pick up on this, if such is the obvious meaning of the word? The Lexicons fail to support such a claim. In fact, they inform us that the word rendered "make melody" had been evolving long before it was used in this verse: Thayer gives the following definitions, “To pluck off, pull out, to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang, to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument, to play on a stringed instrument, to play the harp, to sing to the music of the harp, in the N.T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song” (p. 675). Every major translation of the Bible demonstrates that the "experts" agreed with Thayer"s last comment, that by the time of the first century it was commonly understood that this word simply applied to singing.

The Greek speaking members of the first century church did not believe that this word commanded or even allowed instrumental accompaniment in the worship of God in song. “Almost universally the encyclopedic references attribute the introduction of mechanical instruments into the worship of churches to Pope Vitalian I between the years 660 and 670 A.D” (Caldwell p. 256). Why did Christians or even professed Christians resist the use of instrumental music in worship? The church had the funds to purchase them (1 Timothy 6:17). The Old Testament had commanded their use (Psalms 150:3-6).

“It is crucially important to observe that although instrumental music of various types was readily available in contemporary society, no passage shows that the churches mentioned in the New Testament ever used instrumental music in worship. Did they not understand the true meaning of the Old Testament, particularly Psalms? Did they not understand the meaning of various words, such as psallo so often discussed pro and con in contemporary debates? Did they not know the mind of God? Most certainly, on all these questions and much more. Yet, there is not even a hint of the use of instrumental music in the worship of these churches. These facts of New Testament history stand as a stone barricade against any attempted justification of the use of instrumental music in worship today. If present appeals to the Old Testament, psallo legitimately warrant such use, why did the apostles and brethren in the first century not so understand and incorporate instrumental music into the worship of these churches? Such facts are not lightly to be dismissed or forgotten”. [Note: _ The Spiritual Sword. "History of Instrumental Music", William Woodson. pp. 17-18. Volume 24, January 1993.]

Others have wisely noted, “If psallo necessarily implies mechanical instruments, since all are to sing to one another, should not all play as well? Can I fulfill my responsibility as set forth in the word by allowing another in the assembly to play for me and all the others?” (Caldwell p. 258). Opposition to instrumental music in worship is not a weird position. "Martin Luther said, "The organ in the worship is the ensign of Baal". John Calvin said, "Musical instruments in celebrating praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law". John Wesley said, "I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels provided they are neither heard nor seen"" (Caldwell p. 257). Coffman makes a good point when he observes, “There is nothing strange or unusual about some Christians rejecting mechanical music in Christian worship. The entire Protestant world maintains exactly the same religious position with reference to use of the Rosary of the Virgin Mary, the sign of the cross, the burning of sacred incense, the sprinkling of holy water, the sacrifice of the mass, prayers for souls in purgatory, the lighting of holy candles and a hundred other innovative additions to Christianity. The identically same arguments which support the non-use of such devices as those here cited are valid when applied to the use of mechanical instruments of music in God"s worship. To many devout souls, it appears mandatory to reject all innovations (Matthew 15:9). No one has never denied that the use of mechanical instruments in worship was unknown to the New Testament age and that the first historical appearance of them in Christian worship came during the eighth century” (pp. 206-207).

One of the common arguments used in the attempt to justify instrumental music in the worship is the mention of harps in heaven (Revelation 14:2), but this argument overlooks the obvious, that is, heaven is a spiritual realm, where material things do not exist (1 Corinthians 15:50). In addition, it proves too much, because Jesus told us that marriage does not exist in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Caldwell makes a good point when he says, “To argue that what is accepted or rejected there is accepted or rejected in the church proves more than our friends will accept. Shall we conclude that since there is no marriage in heaven, we in the church are not authorized to marry?” (p. 255).

“With your heart”: Many have pointed out that the words psallo (making melody) and psalmos (psalms) come from the same root word psao. Which means to rub, wipe, to handle or touch. An instrument was never inherent in either word. In fact, in the Old Testament the instrument had to be supplied in the context (Psalms 98:5; Psalms 71:22; Psalms 33:2; Psalms 144:9; Psalms 149:3). In Ephesians 5:19, God supplies the instrument to be plucked, that is, the human heart. “Paul"s purpose here is to encourage his readers to sing enthusiastically and with inward conviction, to one another and to the Lord” (Boles p. 309). “To the Lord”: “In your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). These verses remind us "that in the church, from the earliest days, praise has been offered alike to God and to Christ (Revelation 5:13)” (Bruce p. 381). Thus, one more passage that affirms that Jesus is Deity, because only Deity can be the rightful object of man"s worship (Matthew 4:10). Thus our singing can never be allowed to deteriorate into mere entertainment for human ears and pleasure. Again, we see that motive and attitude is essential for proper worship. Worship without the proper motive of love for God is rejected (Matthew 6:1-8; Matthew 16:1-28; Matthew 17:1-27; Matthew 18:1-35; 1 Corinthians 11:27-28; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).


Verse 20

Ephesians 5:20 “giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”

“Giving thanks”: This is a common appeal in Paul"s letters (Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is another result of being influenced by the Holy Spirit. “Grumbling was one of the besetting sins of the people of Israel; they were always ‘murmuring’ against the Lord and against Moses. But the Spirit-filled believer is full not of complaining, but of thanksgiving” (Stott p. 207). Remember Paul is in prison, and has been in custody for a couple of years when this letter is written. “Always” “Continue giving thanks” (Wms). “Give thanks every day” (NEB). This infers there is something to be thankful about, all the time. “God has given so much and we have deserved so little. We too often concentrate on our wants and difficulties rather than on our blessings. Too many think they deserve more than they have” (Caldwell p. 259). The "material" for the above songs are never lacking, because there is so much for which we can praise God. In addition, it is easier to sing when your heart is filled with gratitude. “For all things”: Even hardship can be profitable and useful for the faithful Christian (Psalms 119:71; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4; Philippians 1:12-18; Romans 8:28). “God"s children learn not to argue with Him when suffering, but to trust Him, and indeed to thank Him for His loving providence by which He can turn even evil to good purposes” (Stott p. 207).

We should note that we do not thank God when people sin nor when bad things happen to people, because we are taught to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), and to rebuke evil (Ephesians 5:11). So this thanksgiving is not a superficial "praise God" type of gratitude, rather it is a deep and intelligent gratitude. We thank God that He has made provision for the forgiveness of the above sin and that He provides comfort and help to the suffering.

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”: This is the recognition that Jesus Christ is the only means of access to the Father (). That all spiritual blessings come via that access (1:3), and that without the sacrifice of Jesus, we would have very little for which to be thankful. “Therefore, the privilege to speak with the Father in prayer comes by the authority granted by His Son. To pray ‘in Jesus" name’ is not a ritualistic formula, but the basis by which we have access and the reason for which we can be thankful” (Boles p. 309). “To God, even the Father”: Notice how all three members of the Godhead are in this context. Being influenced by the Spirit (5:18) moves one to praise the Father for allowing His Son to die for our sins.


Verse 21

Ephesians 5:21 “subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ”

“Subjecting”: “As you stand in awe of Christ, submit to each other"s rights” (Knox). “Sometimes a person who claims to be filled with the Spirit becomes aggressive, self-assertive and brash” (Stott p. 208). “Christians should not be self-assertive, each insisting on getting his or her own way (Philippians 2:3-8)” (Bruce p. 382). Now we are really getting down to the nitty-gritty. Saying "Amen" or "Praise God" is one thing, but being influenced by the Holy Spirit, means that you are humble, gentle, patient, and you place the needs of your brethren, ahead of your own. We are submitting to our brethren when we take the first step towards clearing up a disagreement (Matthew 5:23-24), try to help them out of a sin (Galatians 6:1-2; Matthew 18:15), assist those who are trying to get something done (1 Corinthians 16:16). cooperate with the elders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), and make the effort to encourage another Christian (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

“In the fear of Christ”: “Out of reverence for Christ" (Knox). We are demonstrating "respect" for Christ when we place ourselves at the service of other Christians, for this is the type of life that Jesus Himself lived (Luke 19:10; Matthew 20:26-28). When we become "servants", we are in essence saying, “I place a high value on the type of life that Jesus lived.” Hence, if we refuse to "serve" and insist on our "rights" and our own way, it means that we view with contempt the example that Jesus set. ”The slaves have no right to set up a pecking order among themselves. All authority belongs to Christ, and He alone has the right to designate any position of leadership or command” (Boles p. 310). Caldwell rightly observes that Christians are willing to respond to another"s desires or needs because, “Christians are not selfish, self-asserting, demanding independence from pride or arrogance, or insistent upon authoritative control of others” (p. 263). “Pride leads us to demand rigorously from others what we fancy they owe to us; humility, to give to others what Christ teaches that we owe to them” (P.P. Comm. p. 211).


Verse 22

Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”

“The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians is rightly regarded as the most profound of his writings but he employs the main portion of his epistle with the plainest exhortations for daily life. It is true, however, that he enforces the simplest duties by reference to the most sublime motives. Paul insisted upon the sanctity of family life. He regarded the family, and not the individual, as the unit of society. The individualist and the socialist are the sworn enemies of the family. The former considers marriage as a contract between two parties, to be ended at any time by mutual agreement. The latter regards the state as supreme in its authority over all individuals, and as the rightful custodian of all children. Paul treats marriage as an inseparable union between a husband and wife, so sacred, so blessed, as to be a fit symbol of the relation between Christ and his church” (Erdman pp. 118-120).

In other words, Paul never becomes so "theological" that he ceases to be practical. Truth, to be of any use, must result in some very practical application. We cannot divorce this section from the rest of the book. If God has done so much to bring about unity in the church, then such unity must also be seen in the family. Stott rightly points out, “For the divine family ceases to be a credible concept if it is not itself subdivided into human families which display God"s love. What is the point of peace in the church is there is no peace in the home?"" (p. 213). Which means if you cannot apply Christianity in your relationship with the person whom you claim to love the most (your mate), then you are failing at being a Christian. “Too much so-called ‘holiness teaching’ emphasizes a personal relationship to Jesus Christ without any attempt to indicate its consequences in terms of relationships with the people we live and work with. In contrast to such holiness-in-a-vacuum, which magnifies experiences and minimizes ethics, the apostles spelled out Christian duty in the concrete situations of everyday life and work” (Stott p. 214). Which means that a great test of one"s spirituality is determined by how does this Christian get along with their brethren? () How does this Christian treat their spouse? (5:22-33). What type of relationship does this Christian have with their parents and children? (6:1-4) What is this person like at work? How do they treat their boss or employees? (6:5-9)

I like what Stott said above. What he has seen, I have seen. People who vocally profess to be a Christian, who act and sound really religious and yet people who have left their mates for no scriptural cause, people who have no control over their children, people who have no desire to save their lost parents and people who never seem to be able to get along with any group of Christians. The view of marriage that Paul will present in this section was at odds with the culture that surrounded these Christians. Barclay observes:

“The Jews had a low view of women. In his morning prayer there was a sentence in which a Jewish man gave thanks that God had not make him ‘a Gentile, a slave or a woman’. The situation was worse in the Greek world. Prostitution was an essential part of Greek life. Demosthenes had laid it down as the accepted rule of life: ‘We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately’. The Greek expected his wife to run his home, to care for his legitimate children, but he found his pleasure and his companionship elsewhere. At the time of Paul, Roman family life was wrecked. Seneca writes that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married” (pp. 168-171).

Please note that Paul "roots" his teaching about male and female roles and responsibilities, not in culture, but in creation (; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). Jesus did the same thing (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-9). Thus these verses apply to all times and all cultures.

“Be in subjection”: The word "subjection" is not found in the Greek text of , rather it is assumed from 5:21. Thus 5:22 completes the thought of 5:21. Therefore Paul is saying that being filled with the Spirit is practically demonstrated by being submissive to the needs of others, for example "Wives be in subjection unto your own husbands". This verse should not catch people by surprise, because the Christian woman (and man) is already in "subjection" to other relationships: Civil government (Romans 13:1-6). The elders (Hebrews 13:17). The needs of other Christians (5:21). This is only one aspect of their subjection. “Now the very notion of submission to authority is out of fashion today. It is totally at variance with contemporary attitudes of permissiveness and freedom. Almost nothing is calculated to arouse more angry protests than talk of ‘subjection’” (Stott p. 215). The refusal to "be submissive" to authority is not an "enlightened" idea. Submission to authority is not popular today, not because people are so "enlightened", but rather because many people are so selfish. Everyone wants their own will to come first, and very few people are willing to sacrifice or forego their own rights in order to help another person. Feminism did not morally elevate women it just made them as selfish as their male chauvinist counter-parts. Both state that children are a low priority, both state that personal self-fulfillment is the most important thing, that money and a career take precedence over all family obligations, and both agree that staying at home with the children is not as valuable as a real job.

The Christian always knew that "subjection" never meant inferiority, rather it simply means to line up under. In reality, those who can be submissive are demonstrating great character (). It takes a very mature person to place the needs of others, ahead of his or her own (Philippians 2:3-5). In fact, it takes a person who has taken on the character of Jesus Christ.

“As unto the Lord”: “The implication rather is that Christian wives" submission to their husbands is one aspect of their obedience to the Lord” (Bruce p. 384). Boles reminds us, “It is a duty the wife owes because her Lord deserves it, even if her husband does not” (pp. 311-312). What a wonderful point. Civil government has not "earned" the moral right to be obeyed, neither are elders morally superiority to the members, and neither is the husband better than his wife. Yet that"s not the point. Some wives have the attitude, “Well, I"ll submit to him when he has earned it”. Yet such a woman is so easily forgetting that other Christians have helped her out and have submitted to her needs, even though she is far from earning nor does she deserve such assistance. The Lord deserves the obedience. Submit to your husband, because that is what the Lord wants. Submit to your husband, because Jesus was a servant of others (Matthew 20:28). Submit to your husband, even if he is an unbeliever, because such unselfishness demonstrates how credible the Christian religion is (1 Peter 3:1-6). Of course it is always taken for granted that such submission does not involve submitting to your husband, if the results of such submission will cause you to sin (Acts 5:29) or disobey the will of God. Stott reminds us that women owe their dignity to Jesus Christ: “On the contrary, to whom do women, children and workers chiefly owe their liberation? Is it not to Jesus Christ? It is Jesus Christ who treated women with courtesy and honor in an age in which they were despised. It is Jesus Christ who said, ‘Let the children come to me’ in a period of history in which unwanted babies were consigned to the local rubbish dump (as they are today to the hospital incinerator)” (p. 216).

When the husband will be addressed, he will be reminded that "headship" does not mean tyranny. The authority that he has cannot be used selfishly or arrogantly. “Too many wives (and husbands) are unhappy in their homes because they did not realize the responsibilities of marriage when they entered it” (Caldwell p. 267).


Verse 23

Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church, being Himself the saviour of the body”

“For”: The reason why such submission is commanded. “Head”: Compare with 1 Corinthians 11:3. What true headship means and involves will be defined in the following verses, especially 5:25,28-29. “Christ also is the head of the church”:

Thus to ridicule male leadership is to ridicule Jesus Christ. Paul links male leadership in the home with Jesus" headship over the church. Thus the church that rejects male headship in the home is the same church that has just rejected Jesus as it"s own head. “Also”: “In the same way that” (Phi). “Some have argued that this word head means only source, but the lexical evidence and Paul"s own usage in are conclusive in support of the meaning leader or ruling authority. In Ephesians 1:22 Paul says that God ‘subjected all things under Christ"s feet and that Christ was appointed to be head over all things’. Now, in the context of chapter five, Paul clearly intends to use these key words in the same sense” (Boles p. 312). Thus the argument that says that the husband is only the source of his wife, must concede that Christ is only the source of the Church, but that He has absolutely no authority over the church. “Being Himself the savior of the body”: “Which is His body that He saves” (Beck). While Christ is the potential Savior of all men (since all can repent, 2 Peter 3:9), in reality Christ will only save those who are in "the body", the church (1:22-23). Thus one must be a member of the church to be saved. The church is not an optional relationship (Acts 20:28). The idea that one can be a Christian or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, without being in the Church is false. How can you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you are not in "the body" that He will save? If you re not in the body, then Christ is not your personal Savior. “When Jesus accepted the responsibility of being head over His body, the church, it meant He had to be willing to serve as savior and protector--to rescue the church from danger” (Boles p. 313).

At this point I would like to respond to that segment of our society that feels that the biblical doctrine of "female subjection" is to blame for wife abuse. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Look at these passages, consider carefully what is demanded of the husband. Does Christianity give any encouragement or even any "hint" of endorsement for the husband who beats his wife? In reality, the real causes for abused women are found in society. Our society teaches no absolute truths, then how can beating one"s wife be absolutely wrong? Our society has legalized abortion. If my wife can kill our child, then why is it wrong when I beat her? Our society teaches situation ethics, that it"s alright to kill someone, if you are under tremendous pressure, if they have abused you, if they are standing in the way of your happiness (abortion). Then why doesn"t the stress the husband is under, allow him to take out his frustration upon his wife? Contrary to the ignorant claims of society, when all is said and done, it will be found that marriage was predominately a safe haven for women, and that far more women were abused and beaten, not by their own husbands, but in relationships that the world had substituted for marriage, such as living together.


Verse 24

Ephesians 5:24 “But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything”

“But as”: “Paul is thinking of a voluntary, free, joyful and thankful partnership, as the analogy of the relationship of the church to Christ shows. Whenever the husband"s headship mirrors the headship of Christ, then the wife"s submission to the protection and provision of his love, far from detracting from her womanhood, will positively enrich it” (Stott p. 226). “The church”: Carefully note that God compares the married woman to the church His Son died for (Acts 20:28). Now, how can anyone honestly claim that the Bible is degrading to women? “Is subject to Christ”: Christ is the sole head of the church (1:22-23). One of the characteristics of the church that belongs to Christ is that such a church is in subjection of the will of Jesus. Thus the church that doesn"t obey the teachings of Jesus, is the church that does not belong to Christ, and is the church that Jesus will not save (Revelation chapters 2-3). “So let”: God wants this submission to be voluntary. The wife who resentfully allows her husband to lead, is still in the wrong. “Subject themselves or let them subject themselves” (Lenski p. 628). The true church gratefully places itself under Christ and in His care. In like manner, God desires that wives joyfully place themselves in subjection to their own husbands. Hence there is nothing "demeaning" about such subjection, rather it is a statement of spiritual maturity, growth, and an attitude that pleases God. I like what Stott said, “Jesus Christ demonstrates rather than loses His dignity by His subordination to the Father. When a person is voluntarily amenable to another, gives way to him, and places himself at his service, he shows greater dignity and freedom than an individual who cannot bear to be a helper and partner to anyone but himself” (p. 233).

Nothing in the text says that the husband is to put his wife in subjection. "Forced subjection" does not count. Such is just as unscriptural as outright rebellion. This is something that the married woman must do of her own freewill. Unfortunately, some professed Christians balk at the word "obey" in the marriage vows. Such demonstrates that such people are not yet ready to get married.

“In everything”: “Entirely submissive” (Wey). Of course, it is always taken for granted that "everything" does not include sinful or unscriptural things (Acts 5:29). But in practical terms this means that after receiving input from his wife, the man is expected by God to make those final decisions, and what is in the best interest of his family, concerning everything from finances, where they will worship, when they will move, and what house they will buy. “In our times not a few Christian wives and husbands also have tried to modify Paul"s words because it is claimed that this view is no longer up-to-date and befitting our advanced age” (Lenski p. 629). If the church is expected to be in subjection to Christ in everything, then professed Christians do not have a right to "vote" on which "doctrines" they will accept. Christ makes the rules, we do not (1 Corinthians 14:37).


Verse 25

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it”

“Love”: The love demanded of the husband by God is the highest form of love ever known to man (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). “Even as”: “Self-surrender so complete that it can be compared with the redeeming grace of Christ” (Erdman p. 121). “And gave Himself up for it”: Stott says, “Does the requirement of submission sound hard to a wife? I think what is required of her husband is harder. This is not that he love her with the romantic, sentimental and even aggressive passion which frequently passes for genuine love today; instead, he is to love her with the love of Christ” (p. 234).

This is not a love based on self-interest because that type of love will always fail. This is the love that can love the hard to love or the unlovable (Romans 5:6-8). “This divine kind of love is not motivated by self-interest or the attractiveness of the one loved, but by a sincere interest in that person"s well being” (Boles p. 314). This love is intelligent, purposeful, self-sacrificing, loyal and noble. “Someone then asks, ‘Why doesn"t Paul say that wives should love their husbands like that?’ Paul did say that. He said it when he instructed them to be in subjection to their husbands. Her obedience, freely and willingly given, is the greatest evidence of her love for him. The woman who will not submit to her husband loves neither him nor the Lord” (Caldwell p. 271). Stott points out that "submission" and "love" are two aspects of the very same thing, namely that selfless self-giving which is the foundation of an enduring and growing marriage (p. 235). Headship is only for the mature. Being the "head" means placing the welfare and interests of one"s wife ahead of your own. "Headship" involves being unselfish. Alford reminded husbands, “Do you wish your wife to obey you, as the church obeys Christ? Then take care for her, as Christ did for the church” (p. 1243).

The purifying love


Verse 26

Ephesians 5:26 “that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word”

“Sanctify”: To make holy. “To make her holy and clean” (Tay). “Before the bride was presented to the bridegroom she received a cleansing bath and was then dressed in her bridal array” (Bruce p. 387). The death of Christ upon the cross enabled people to be sanctified, that is set apart from their sins. The way or means to reach the benefits of Christ"s death, is now stated, “the washing of water with the word”. “Cleansed”: To purify. “By”: How the sanctification is obtained. How people can be cleansed of their sins, or how one can be a member of the body of Christ. “The washing of water with the word”: When we compare this statement to others, we find that the word of God, which produces faith in the heart and moves people to accept the command to be baptized, is how people are cleansed of their sins and how people enter into the body of Christ. Consider the following chart:

Word Washing of Water Cleansed

Gospel Baptism Saved Mark 16:16

Born of Spirit Born of Water Kingdom of God John 3:5

By one Spirit Baptized Into one body 1 Corinthians 12:13

Renewing Holy Spirit Washing of Regeneration Saved Titus 3:5

Appeal to God Baptism Saved 1 Peter #:21


Verse 27

Ephesians 5:27 “that He might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”

“Present the church to Himself”:Since the church today does have spots and wrinkles, this presentation probably refers to the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 21:2; 1 Corinthians 15:24). “To Himself”: “Making her stand by His side” (Lenski p. 635). “A glorious church”: “In stainless glory” (Con). “In all her beauty” (TCNT). “As a splendid bride” (Wms). Paul now will explain what the expression a "glorious church" means. “Not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”: “Or blemish of any kind” (TCNT). This is the goal for the church. This is what the apostles constantly worked at (2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 1:28). All instruction is aimed at enabling Christians to be morally pure individuals that glorify God (Ephesians 4:25 ff; 2 Corinthians 7:1). The true church must always be striving to present the moral standard that God endorses (1 Peter 1:14-15; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15; James 4:7-10). These verses infer that God will not tolerate any defilement in the heavenly kingdom (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:6). Unrepented of sin or false doctrine will defile us (2 John 1:9-11; Galatians 1:6-9). Note what is "glorious" to God, a morally and doctrinally pure church is glorious in the sight of God. “Holy and without blemish”: Ephesians 1:4. “What bride does not take the greatest care to avoid ‘spots and wrinkles or any such thing’ upon her wedding gown? So the Christian is to be excited about seeing the Lord come. He is to avoid all moral or spiritual stain and defect (1 John 3:1-3). So the church is terrified by the idea of appearing before Christ as immoral, indecent, immodest, hypocritical, full of hate, or unforgiving” (Caldwell p. 273).


Verse 28

Ephesians 5:28 “Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself”

“Even so”: This is another aspect of what being the "head" is all about. When I look back on verses 26-27, I find a love that is pure and refining. Various authors make some excellent points concerning what headship involves in those verses: “The church"s head is the church"s bridegroom. He does not crush the church. Rather He sacrificed Himself to serve her, in order that she might become everything He longs for her to be. Just so a husband should never use His headship to crush or stifle His wife, or frustrate her from being herself. His love for her will lead Him to an exactly opposite path. He will give himself for her, in order that she may develop her full potential under God” (Stott p. 229). “The husbands love for his wife ought to have a purifying quality. He should never ask anything of her that would degrade or harm her person. He helps her to maintain a clean and healthy mind. Any love which drags a person down is a phony love. Any love which coarsens instead of refining a person"s character is a poor display of affection. True love will always bless, beautify, and enrich the spirit of another” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship pp. 204-205). In practical terms this all means that being the "head" means providing spiritual leadership, and helping my wife become a better Christian. Making sure that my wife has time to learn and grow. Creating a heathy home environment in which such growth can take place. This demands that being the "head" means that you need to be spiritually strong yourself. As the husband, you cannot afford to be inconsistent and unfaithful. Herein lies a warning to the single ladies. When you are dating a man and you find yourself getting spiritually weaker as the result of that relationship that should be a warning sign to back out of the relationship, and an especially a clear indication that you should not marry them.

“Ought”: Marrying a woman automatically places upon one a great moral obligation. Do not marry, until you are prepared to love your mate as follows. Note: That the word "ought" means to "owe". When you marry a woman, you "owe" her the following. “As their own bodies”: “As if they were their own bodies” (TCNT). “To love does not mean to admire and adore, but to care about its needs. Just as a man naturally pays attention to the needs of his body, so should he pay attention to the needs of his wife” (Boles p. 317). “But we all know from everyday experience how we love ourselves. Hence the practical usefulness of the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) that we should treat others as we would ourselves like to be treated. For we know this instinctively. It is after all the way we treat ourselves” (Stott pp. 229-230). “He that loveth his own wife loveth himself”: “Is really loving himself” (TCNT). Hence a man is without excuse for not loving his wife properly, for every man already knows basically how to express love.

What this means is that one gives people that same allowances that one rightfully give oneself. Loving ones wife means that you place her "needs" as a high priority. This verse offers a very insightful view into human relationships, by treating others right, you are ensuring your own well-being and happiness.


Verse 29

Ephesians 5:29 “For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church”

“Ever hated his own flesh”: “His own person” (Gspd). “That it is natural to love oneself is evident from the way in which most people care for themselves, and especially for their bodies” (Bruce p. 391). The fact that some people have abused themselves or even have committed suicide, demonstrates how "weird" and pathetic such tendencies really are. To God "suicide" and other forms of self-inflicted pain and abuse to one"s body is to live by a standard that even the unbeliever rejects as "immoral". “Nourisheth”: To cherish, rear up to maturity. “May point to the careful, continued nourishing from one stage to another, nourishing up to maturity” (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 371). “Cherisheth”: To warm, foster. “Primarily it means to warm then to foster with tender care” (Robertson p. 546). “To care for originally meant to keep warm and comfortable” (Boles p. 318). “He keeps it fed and warmed” (Knox). “To hate one"s wife is as irrational as to hate one"s own flesh” (P.P. Comm. p. 212). “Just as a man instinctively does these things for his body, so must he be concerned for every aspect of his wife"s well-being: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual” (Boles p. 318). God commands that husbands be sensitive to the needs of their wife. Caldwell reminds us husbands, “We do not give ourselves just enough to supply the barest necessities. We do not simply want to get by. Neither are we to provide our own wives with just enough happiness, love, consideration, emotional support, and spiritual and psychological help to get her by. Nourish means plentiful supply” (p. 279).

In practical terms this mean one must communicate with ones wife to she what she needs. One must learn to appreciate what she values, such things as intimacy and communication. One must learn to appreciate how one wife thinks (1 Peter 3:7). One must emotionally support her when she gets depressed or discouraged. One must make her feel safe and secure, which means that all interest in other women is forbidden, no flirting is allowed. One must do your best to make her feel financially secure.

“Even as Christ also the church”: On the present Christ continues to care for His bride, and the reason that Christ continues to care for the church?


Verse 30

Ephesians 5:30 “because we are members of his body”

The point being, if Christ takes such care of us, because we are members of his body (the church), then the husband must take care of his wife, for the married couple compose "one flesh", that is, one body.


Verse 31

Ephesians 5:31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”

“For this cause”: Quotation from Genesis 2:24. “The edict of God from the beginning has been that a man will ‘leave’ his parents, making a break from his childhood home to establish a new one. Although the bond between a son and his parents is strong (Exodus 20:12), the institution of marriage is stronger. The man will then be united (to glue together) to his wife” (Boles p. 319). Thus the order established at Creation still stands. Culture and time does not change God"s view of the marriage relationship (Matthew 19:4-9). “Leave”: “Not only must those being married recognize these truths, but parents must understand them as well. Parents must not imperil the marriages of their children by coming between husbands and wives. They must allow their children to leave and cleave. They must never call for a division of loyalty in the heart or actions of their children” (Caldwell pp. 281-282). “Cleave”: To glue to (Matthew 19:5-6). “There is no use ‘leaving’ unless we"re willing to spend a lifetime ‘cleaving’. No one should be closer to you than your marriage partner. It is a committed love, one that has decided to remain faithful” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 208). “And the two”: The marriage relationship is rooted in the fact that God created the human race with two genders, men and women, males and females (Matthew 19:4-5). “For this purpose God created the two sexes. It was for the sake of marriage not for harlotry and fornication (1 Corinthians 6:16)” (Lenski p. 642). Thus a homosexual joining can never be called a "marriage". “One flesh”: “A single body” (NEB). “Man and wife become ‘one flesh’ in sexual union (1 Corinthians 6:16), in total self-disclosure, self-giving and self-commitment. The intimacy of ‘one flesh’, however, goes far beyond the physical union, encompassing the blending together of every facet of the two lives. The sharing of bodies is accompanied by the sharing of minds, spirits, hopes, needs, aspirations” (Boles p. 319).

“Marriage is not simply an agreement to go steady in bed. The blending of two lives makes adultery unnecessary and unthinkable. The two are at peace with one another and satisfied completely in the total surrender of each other"s bodies and lives to the other” (Caldwell p. 282). “Yet God intends sexual intercourse not only to be a union of bodies, but to symbolize and express a union of personalities” (Stott p. 230). Thus we realize that physical intimacy outside of marriage is bound to be a cheap counterfeit. We must warn our young people that what the world offers is only a cheap substitute for the real thing. God is not against pleasure, but He offers pleasure with rich meaning. God intended that the physical intimacy between a husband and wife was to be the result or the celebration of the mental, emotional and spiritual oneness that they already share.


Verse 32

Ephesians 5:32 “This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church”

“This mystery is great”: “In this there is a profound truth” (TCNT). Apparently this expression applies to the Scripture just quoted (Genesis 2:24). “Through the Spirit"s revelation, Paul is able to see and reveal a hidden purpose in the institution of the marriage relationship. God ordained the relationship as a preview of the fellowship to be shared by Christ and the church” (Boles p. 320). “That marriage is a type of Christ"s relation to His church is a truth of profound importance. All Christians should understand and remember that marriage is hallowed by the fact that it is a symbol of the union of Christ with His church, and should regulate their conduct in accordance with their knowledge of a truth so sublime” (Erdman pp. 123-124). This is no longer a mystery. Paul is not saying, “There is something really profound here, but I won"t go into it”. The "mystery" is not how men and women become "one flesh", for this chapter teaches how such an intimate and close relationship is possible (5:22-29). We also learn the "value" that God places on the church. “But”: “But I am speaking of something deeper still” (Phi). “I give it as a picture of” (Nor). My purpose is to direct your minds to the relationship between Christ and the church.

Certain applications need to be made, when we realize that Christians are "married" to Christ. If the church is the bride of Christ, then the church and the individual Christians which compose it must put God first, and place all relationships behind their relationship to Christ (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26).


Verse 33

Ephesians 5:33 “Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband”

“Nevertheless”: “In practice what I have said amounts to this” (Phi). Even though the primary application is between Christ and the church, these truths still apply to the marriage relationship. This means that when God uses the marriage relationship to illustrate or help us understand something about another relationship (Romans 7:1-4), the illustration used is still valid and true for marriage. “Severally”: “Individually” (Mon). “No husband is exempt from this rule” (Erdman p. 124). “Even as himself”: “The giving of oneself to anybody is a recognition of the worth of the other self. For if I give myself up, it can only be because I value the other person so highly that I want to sacrifice myself for his or her self. Now to lose oneself that the other may find his or her self--that is the essence of the gospel of Christ” (Stott p. 236). “Fear”: “The wife be careful to respect” (TCNT). “Must see to it that she deeply respects her husband” (Tay). “Bruce notes that Sarah showed her husband reverence by calling him ‘my lord’ (1 Peter 3:6), but she did not live in fear of him: her record was marked by laughter and pleasure rather than terror (Genesis 18:12; Genesis 21:6)” (Boles p. 320).

“We have seen that the love he has in mind for the husband sacrifices and serves with a view to enabling his wife to become what God intends her to be. So the ‘submission’ and ‘respect’ he asks of the wife express her response to his love and her desire that he too will become what God intends him to be in his leadership” (Stott p. 231). Or, in other words you encourage your husband to "lead" by allowing him to lead, by supporting his efforts, and by offering helpful suggestions with the proper attitude. Finally, Stott reminds us, “In marriage there is the pain of adjustment, as the old independent ‘I’ gives way to the new interdependent ‘we’. There is also the pain of vulnerability as closeness to one another leads to self-exposure, self-exposure to mutual knowledge, and knowledge to the risk of rejection. So husbands and wives should not expect to discover harmony without conflict; they have to work at building a relationship of love, respect and truth” (Stott p. 236).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ephesians-5.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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