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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-33

The old Darkness and new Light. Rules for the Married

1, 2. In close connexion with what precedes. ’It is the mark of beloved children to become imitators of a loving Father; practise the self-sacrifice of Christ, which shows how He loved us and the Father.’

3-14. Special exhortation against covetousness and impurity.

3. But] The five sins mentioned in Ephesians 4:25-32 are to be put away; these two are not even to be mentioned: ’saints’ are set apart from such subjects, being consecrated to God.

4. ’Do not get near these topics for the sake of being amusing.’ ’Thanksgiving’ is not an obvious contrast to ’jesting,’ but in Gk. there is an alliteration; not thoughtlessness, but thanksgiving. Convenient] RV’ befitting.’

5.’Those who do these things can have no inheritance in Christ’s kingdom.’

6. ’Sophists tell you that these things are “natural,” “venial,” “peccadillos.” It is just these sins which incur God’s wrath.’

7, 8. ’Do not return to your old darkness (Ephesians 4:18): ye are now light to illuminate others.’

9. Fruit of the Spirit] This comes from Galatians 5:22; ’fruit of the light’ is right here (RV).

10. ’Those who walk as children of light find out by experience what God’s will is: light is always a test.’

11. Light has ’fruit’ (Ephesians 5:9), but darkness has only ’fruitless works’: cp. Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:22. Rather reprove them] ’rather even expose them,’ as light is sure to do. ’Reprove them’ is hardly consistent with the context. In John 3:20; ’reproved’ should be ’exposed’: cp. 1 Corinthians 14:24. Things so shameful ought not to be passed over.

13. ’But all things when they are exposed by the light are made manifest; for whatsoever is made manifest is light.’ Light turns darkness into light: this had happened to his readers (Ephesians 5:8).

14. He saith] rather,’ it saith’ = ’it is said.’ The quotation is probably from a Christian hymn, based on Isaiah 60:1: cp. 1 Timothy 3:16.

15-21. ’Be most careful then in conduct. Beware of folly; in particular of drunkenness. Prefer spiritual exaltation and an orderly life, each in his own place.’

15. Then or ’therefore’ marks the return to exhortation, and walk refers back to Ephesians 5:2, Ephesians 5:8. RV is everywhere better: ’Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise.’

16. Redeeming] ’buying up for yourselves the opportunity.’

17. ’Wherefore do not show yourselves fools, but understand.’

18. Excess] RV ’riot’(as Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4), and ’riotous living’ (Luke 15:13). With the Spirit] RM ’in spirit’; ’not your bodies, but your souls should be full.’

19. The primitive Church was emphatically a Church of enthusiasm and spiritual emotion (Acts 2:43-47; Acts 8:8; Acts 16:25: cp. Colossians 3:16).

21. But everything is to ’be done decently and in order’: enthusiasm is not to lead to anarchy. St. Paul ceaselessly preaches ’submission’ or ’subjection’ to authority (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Corinthians 14:32, 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Titus 3:1).

22-33. First illustration of orderly subordination; the relation between wives and husbands.

22. As unto the Lord] with ’the fear of Christ’ (Ephesians 5:21) as their motive.

23. Once more (Ephesians 3:15) a mystical connexion between heavenly and earthly relationships is traced. The forethought of the head preserves the body: control implies obligation to protect.

24. Accepting protection implies submission.

25-33. The love of husbands to their wives corresponds to Christ’s love to His Church, for which He sacrificed Himself, to hallow it, to present it to Himself, and to keep it holy. Christ and the Church are one in body; husband and wife are one in body; hence Christ’s love for His Church is that of husband for bride. Of marriage it is wonderfully said that two become one. This is true of Christ and the Church. And as the Church responds to Christ’s love with reverential fear, so let the wife have reverential fear of her husband.

25. Government must be unselfish-for the good of the governed: cp. Ephesians 5:2.

26. Washing of water] Christian baptism, with perhaps a reference to the bride’s bath before marriage.

By the word] RV ’with the word,’ to be taken with ’the washing of water’ and meaning the baptismal formula.

27. ’That He might Himself to Himself present the Church all-glorious’: cp. 2 Corinthians 11:2, of St. Paul’s presenting the Corinthian Church to Christ.

28. RV ’Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as [being] their own bodies.’ Not ’as much as,’ or ’as if they were’: their wives are their own bodies.

29. The change from ’body’ to ’flesh’ prepares for what is coming.

30. ’Christ cherishes the Church, because its members are His.’ The words ’of His flesh and of His bones’ are an interpolation from Genesis 2:23.

32. This is a great mystery] RV ’This mystery is great.’ ’It has a deep, wide-reaching meaning; but I am employing it of Christ and the Church.’

33. Reverence] RV ’fear.’ He returns to the motive stated at the outset, ’the fear of Christ’ (Ephesians 5:21). Reverential fear, as that of the Church to her Lord, is meant. Subjection without reverence would be servile.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/ephesians-5.html. 1909.
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