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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Summary of Previous Grace

13 Before the revelation of the secret administration by means of this epistle the saints among the nations were in a period of adolescence. This is fully set forth by the apostle in writing to the Corinthians ( 1Co_13:10 ). The gifts then given were for the purpose of leading them on to maturity but were to be set aside when "perfection" came. Paul's prison epistles bring maturity ( Php_3:15 ; Col_1:28 ; Col_4:12 ). The shifting changes incident to the period of growth which characterized the era from Paul's call until his imprisonment, which brought the saints among the nations from a position like proselytes to Judaism to a place entirely independent of Israel, were all intended to prepare them for this final revelation in which they become Christ's complement. We should not build upon all the doctrines of that transitional era, but only such as accord with the present grace. In Romans "to the Jew first" ( Rom_2:10 ) is now obsolete; in Corinthians the gift of prophecy and of languages ( 1Co_13:8 ) have become inoperative.

16 This is a notable comparison between the spiritual body of Christ and our physical bodies. Not only does the Head preside over the actions of the members of the body but only through it do the members receive sustenance and grow. Just as the nervous system unites the head to every individual member of the body, so each member of Christ's body is in touch with the Head, dependent on Him for food, development, and direction.



17 Notwithstanding the "practical" trend of modern science, and the increasing knowledge of the physical universe, men do not comprehend anything. They are not aware of the source or object of things, being interested only in the present profit or pleasure which can be derived from them. Their inventions and investigations have not affected the happiness of the race: they are vain. Their ignorance of God leads them to seek satisfaction and pleasure in temporary expedients which lead to misery.

22 In Christ there is a new humanity. The divisions which mar the present humanity are gone in Him and the conduct which disgraces mankind should also be "put off" like a worn out, filthy garment. The new humanity is "put on" by acting as those who no longer belong to the race of Adam but acknowledge Christ as their Head. Let us then be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Every exhortation here given depends upon our previous apprehension of His grace. Previous standards of conduct are far too low and in an entirely different key.

26 "Being indignant" may also be rendered "Be indignant" but the context is against this rendering. It certainly is not a command to be angry, for we are distinctly charged to forego anger in this very chapter ( Eph_4:31 ; Col_3:8 ). The next statement is evidently a parallel to this. In one we have indignation, in the other vexation. In both we are exhorted not to carry what may be quite right and just to an extreme which will make them injurious and sinful. It may be paraphrased: "Do not let indignation degenerate into anger: do not cherish a grudge. Do not flare up: do not let your resentment smoulder."

28 Restitution, single, double, fourfold or fivefold is the requirement of Sinai ( Exo_22:1-5 ). Now the thief is to work that he may give to those in need.

32 The key for conduct in the kingdom is righteousness : love is the true spring of all that pleases Him in this economy. The most powerful motive and perfect method to put this into practice is to charge our hearts with an overpowering apprehension of His grace toward us.

This will not fail to influence our conduct toward others.

1 God "walks in love"-He is Love. He is our Father. Just as pet children copy the actions of their parents, so we should reflect His love to all with whom we come in contact. God's glory should be the underlyIng motive of every act.

Verses 2-31

No Participation with Unbelievers

2 The sacrifice of Christ has many aspects. The opening chapters of Leviticus deal with these in detail. The sin and trespass offering seem to be entirely for man's benefit. But the first offering of all, and the most important, the ascending offering, called a "burnt" offering, seems to have been entirely for God; nothing in it was for man. So with Christ. The questions of human sin and transgression were secondary in His sacrifice. It was, first of all, His obedience to the will of God which gave His death its infinite value. His object was to please His Father. This is the true motive for service acceptable to our God.

3 Here the Spirit of God has laid a finger on the sore spots which all our advance in civilization has only served to accentuate. Physical excesses, sordid cupidity and questionable speech are but symptoms of the cankerous evil which pervades society in this day of boasted advance. As the literal Greek puts it, "more-having", or avarice, is more pronounced than ever, and does not need to hide its face, for it is disguised as a virtue. In the kingdom of God none of these will be able to take root.

8 To behave as children of light is the complement of imitating Him as beloved children, for God is Light as well as Love. In nature light is indispensable for fruit: nothing will produce without it. The same is true in spiritual things. The most flourishing saint is the one who has the most light, who knows what his Lord's will is. The most strenuous endeavor to serve God will not meet His approval if it is out of line with His revealed purpose and plans. Let us rouse ourselves from our lethargy and the darkness which surrounds us and bask in the light of


18 Excess of wine leads to drunkenness, which is not good, but an overflowing spirit is to be commended. It manifests itself in songs and thanksgiving and subjection.

19 Spiritual songs suggests the need of conforming even our songs to the truth of this present time and singing with understanding as well as the lips. Most of the destructive errors of the day are based on or supported by popular hymns.



21 As is the case with every exhortation in the second division of the epistle, the deportment of husbands and wives is founded on the doctrine previously developed in the first division. A reference to the framework will show that it is based on the truth of the joint body. Wives are to be subject because the man is head of the woman as Christ is Head of the body. Husbands cannot be exhorted to love their wives on the ground that the ecclesia occupies this relation to Christ, for the faithful in Israel, who have no part in the blessings of this epistle, are figured as the wife or bride, not of Christ (an official title), but of the Lamb. Hence the argument of Eden is introduced showing that husband and wife become one flesh. Christ and the ecclesia are one body. Hence the husband is exhorted to love his wife as his own body, for it is thus that Christ loves the ecclesia. What limitless love is involved in the statement, "No one at any time hates his own flesh"! Men have hated their wives: Jehovah divorced His unfaithful wife ( Jer_3:8-20 ). But Christ is so one with the members of His body that He cannot cast them off. Thus should a husband love his own wife, who has become one flesh with him. How exultantly precious is this close relationship to Him! What could be nearer? What could be dearer? Even evil, sinful men cannot hate their own bodies. So much the more Christ cannot but love us as He loves Himself! God grant that we may drink deeply of this delicious draught!

Verses 32-33

The Joint Body-In the Lord

32 There are three secrets in Ephesians: the secret of Christ ( Eph_1:9 ), the secret administration ( Eph_3:9 ) and the secret of marriage, here referred to. The physical fact that the marriage union makes husband and wife a physical unit is used as one premise in the argument that husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. The secret of the evangel is also referred to ( Eph_6:19 ). There is no such expression as "the bride of Christ" in Scripture. It is of principal importance that we distinguish the double relationship which we sustain to Christ and to the Lord. In Christ all physical distinctions vanish. There are no slaves and masters, even the sexes are not distinguished "in Christ" ( Gal_3:28 ). But "in the Lord" these physical distinctions are recognized and made the basis of our conduct toward one another.

Wives are subject, children are obedient, slaves are subservient "in the Lord". The key to all correct conduct lies in the recognition of our heavenly Master. The true slave seeks to please Him; the master acknowledges Him in his behavior toward his slave. Children obey their parents "in the Lord", for such is His wish. Fathers train them "in the Lord", conforming to His gracious methods.

The slave is especially encouraged by the fact that he will receive his due from his heavenly Master even though he receives nothing from his earthly one.




10 Israel's warfare is with flesh and blood on the earth. Ours is with wicked spirits in the celestial realms. We should always remember that those who oppose us are merely the intermediaries used by the spiritual forces and treat them accordingly. It is not our place to wrestle with blood and flesh but to look beyond the human instrument to the real adversary in the spirit world. Material weapons are worse than useless. Our attitude toward men should be one of purest conciliation , not strife ( Eph_6:15 ).

The Joint Allotment in Heaven

14 The spiritual armor here given covers the whole body and is for defense only. Truth will give us strength to withstand the attacks of error. Righteousness will preserve us from the wounds of wickedness. The evangel of peace, wherewith we go, will conciliate the human weapons used by the spirit powers which are directing human affairs.

16 An ancient mode of warfare was to fasten fire to arrows which would not only wound but burn. It was especially used against elephants to cause them to stampede. When the adversary sends some burning dart in the direction of the believer it is his privilege to shield himself by means of the faith which this epistle affords. This will effectually stop the arrows and quench their fire.

17 When all this has been done then we receive (not take) the helmet of salvation. And then we are entrusted with the sword of the spirit-a divine declaration. We have no offensive power at all except an explicit statement of God. The Scriptures contain many statements of men, such as the assertions of Job's friends, which are false. Hence only the declarations which proceed out of the mouth of God constitute the spirit's sword.


18 What a marvelous picture Paul presents of the ministry of conciliation! God's ambassador in a chain! Could anything show more clearly God's attitude towards mankind? Nothing is surer to provoke war than the maltreatment of an ambassador. God's ambassador goes to Rome, the greatest of earth's governments, and he gets a chain. Yet, instead of declaring war, he proclaims peace. This is the true spirit of the evangel for the present economy. It calls for conciliation notwithstanding everything which should provoke hostilities. The answer to this prayer is found in Php_1:12 .


21 Tychicus means "Fortunate", and such he was, for no fortune could compare with the riches which this epistle was to him and to those to whom he brought it.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 5". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/ephesians-5.html. 1968.
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