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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

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Verses 1-21

3. The Walk in Holiness and Righteousness

CHAPTERS 4:17-5:21

1. Not as the Gentiles walk (Ephesians 4:17-19 )

2. The putting off and putting on (Ephesians 4:20-32 )

3. Followers of God (Ephesians 5:1-2 )

4. Exhortations (Ephesians 5:3-21 )

At this point the exhortations to walk in separation begin. The “therefore” of Ephesians 4:17 refers us to the “wherefore” of Ephesians 2:11-12 . What Gentiles are in their natural condition is here once more put before us. The grace of God takes the believer out of these conditions and puts power on our side to walk “no longer as the Gentiles walk.” And how solemn is the description of what Gentiles are by nature! Nor must we overlook the fact, that beneath the thin veneer of our boasted civilization, which rejects Christ and the gospel, there is the same darkened understanding, the same alienation from God, the same blindness and the uncleanness of which these words speak.

Saved by grace these Gentiles had heard Christ and had been taught by Him. To walk according as the truth is in Jesus is the responsibility of all who know and follow Him. He is our pattern. The old man is put off and the new man is put on. We are not told to put off the old man by all kinds of endeavors and resolutions; it is already done. The old man was put away by the cross of Christ (Romans 6:6 ). This is the blessed truth which delivers from doubt and bondage. And then we receive something in Christ, the new man, the new nature. Grace unclothed us and clothed us. Grace made an end of the old man and put upon us the new man. And this new man, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness, which calls for a corresponding walk. But there is also a practical putting off and putting on. Of this we read in Ephesians 4:25-29 . In Ephesians 4:26 there is a command to be angry and sin not. There is a righteous anger which is not sinful. The Lord Jesus exhibited that (Mark 3:5 ). When truth is perverted, or that blessed and worthy name is dishonored, a righteous feeling of displeasure arises in the heart, which is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Such a feeling is not sin. But we are warned “let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” The wrath of man, if nourished, worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20 ). How easy it is to harbor feelings which are sinful, and in doing so give place to the devil. Corrupt communications are not to proceed out of the mouth of a member of the body of Christ, “but that which is good for needful building up, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Speech is always to be with grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6 ). In view of such exhortations, the practice of certain evangelists to use “slang,” vulgar and common expressions in public speech stands condemned.

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye have been sealed unto the day of redemption.” We are His temple and all must be avoided which displeases the holy guest. That He dwells in us and we are sealed by Him is the evidence of our eternal security. We are sealed by Him unto the day of redemption. We may grieve Him, but He will never leave those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. He abides with us forever. in Ephesians 4:32 we find another exhortation how the members of the body of Christ should act towards each other.

We are to be imitators of God, as dear children and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. Then there are additional exhortations about fornication, all uncleanness, or covetousness, as well as other things. It shows the possibility of a child of God falling into these things. The true believer knows that in his flesh dwelleth no good thing, and that only the power of the Holy Spirit can deliver him from the power of the flesh; therefore he walks in the Spirit. There can be no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God for such whose life is in these things. A child of God may fall and commit some of these things, but no true believer will continue to live in them.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:10 .) when our Lord was on earth He reproved the unfruitful works of darkness. His condemnation was aimed at the religious Pharisees and rationalistic Sadducees. He pronounced His solemn “woes” upon them. Walking as the children of light, therefore, means separation from evil, moral and religious, and a definite witness against it.

The exhortation in Ephesians 5:14 , to awake and arise, is not addressed to an unsaved person, but to a Christian. Many believers are in the state of spiritual sleep among the spiritually dead in the world; but the promise is given, that Christ will give light when the awakening comes. Another important exhortation is found in Ephesians 5:18 : “And be not drunken with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” “Be filled with the Spirit” does not mean another outpouring of the Holy Spirit, another Pentecost. The Holy Spirit dwells in every child of God; He is the abiding guest. He is in us to fill us, and He will do so if we walk in the Spirit. May we open our whole heart to Him and walk in obedience, abiding in Christ, occupied with Christ, exalting Christ, and we shall know what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Some of the effects of it are mentioned in the verses which follow (Ephesians 5:19-21 ). There is worship and thanksgiving. He is also the Spirit of love and grace--”submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Verses 22-33

4. Manifestation in the Family-relationship

CHAPTERS 5:22-6:4

1. Wives representative of the Church (Ephesians 5:22-24 )

2. Husbands representative of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-29 )

3. The mystery: concerning Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:30-33 )

4. Exhortations to children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4 )

The exhortations which follow concern the Christian family. The mystery concerning Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32 ) is to be manifested in the family relationship. While before we have seen the Church as the body of Christ, here in these verses we see the Church in her love-relation to Christ. He loved the Church and gave Himself for it. The union of husband and wife is used as a type of the union of Christ and the Church. Wives are mentioned first: “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” And why? For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the Church; and “He is savior of the body.” The wife is therefore to be in submission to her own husband in everything, as the Church is subject unto Christ. Thus the wife in her submission is to bear witness to the blessed relationship of Christ and the Church. She has the blessed portion of being in subjection. The question arises, What, if the husband is not a believer? Is she to submit in such a case? The Word of God gives definite instructions covering such a case, and adds a promise (See 1 Peter 3:1-2 ).

The husband is not to demand of the wife this submission, which is her place. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. He stands in the Christian family as the representative of Christ and is called to love his wife. And how did Christ love the Church? He came from heaven’s glory to be a servant. He served and is serving the Church. The husband’s love towards the wife is to be expressed in loving service in her behalf and giving unto her, as unto the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7 ). Not the wife is to serve the husband, but the husband is to serve her in love, thus manifesting in a little measure the love of Christ for the Church. Beautiful is the description of the love of Christ for the Church. It is a love in the past: “He loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” Thus there is a present love: “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” Then there is His future love: “That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” it is the love which passeth knowledge, the love which never changeth; the love which is eternal. Equally blessed is the truth contained in Ephesians 5:30-33 . We are members of His body, and of His flesh and His bones.

That we have here a reference to Adam and Eve as the types of Christ and the Church is obvious. While Adam slept God built the woman out of his side and then presented her to him. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” were Adam’s words. She was taken out of his body, shared the same life and was also Adam’s wife. Adam is the figure of Him that was to come (Romans 5:14 ). Eve is the type of the Church. We possess His life and are of Himself, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. And the Church’s destiny is to have dominion with Him over the new creation.

Children are to obey their parents in the Lord. And the fathers are not to provoke the children to wrath, “but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And how much wisdom this takes! Parents must show constantly to the children the love and patience of Christ and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Then the promise will be made good. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31 ).

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/ephesians-5.html. 1913-1922.
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