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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Walking In Love Like God

God extended his forgiveness to all men through the loving gift of his Son on Calvary. Paul's reference in 4:32 to Christians forgiving as God forgives led him to encourage them to imitate, or mimic, God in all they did. Just as children like to do what mom and dad do, Christians should strive to do what their Father in heaven does (5:1; Mat_5:44-48 ).

All that the Father and Son have done for the redeemed is motivated by love. Therefore, Christians should let their lives be directed by love ( Joh_3:16 ; Rom_5:6-8 ; 1Jn_4:7-10 ). Christ's great sacrifice, which was made out of love, went up before the Father as a sweet smelling sacrifice. In fact, all sacrifices motivated by a proper spirit and offered in accord with his will are pleasing to God ( Gen_8:20-22 ). Jesus' sacrifice was all the more pleasing because it was sufficient to pay the price for sin (5:2; Heb_10:1-10 ).

Verses 3-7

Things Love Will Not Let One Do

Those whose lives are directed by love will not indulge in any uncontrolled lusts, whether sexual or monetary in nature. Paul says even talking about such thoughts tends to stimulate actions (5:3; Pro_23:7 ). Immoral actions and words have no place in a Christian's life. He should beware of suggestive stories and jokes that may use double meanings and innuendo to get a laugh. These usually center in the areas of conduct already forbidden by Paul in verse 3. Instead, a Christian should use his mouth to give thanks to the Father for all his great blessings (5:4; Php_4:6 ; Luk_17:11-19 ).

Those involved in unlawful sexual acts, unclean thoughts and actions or greedy, selfish desire for more will not have a part in heaven. Paul was convinced the Ephesian brethren were fully aware of the wrongfulness of such acts and the resulting loss of heaven as an inheritance. Notice, Paul said covetousness is idolatry, thus indicating anything that is more important in our lives than God is an idol we worship (5:5).

The things just listed brought God's wrath on people down through the ages. They were conquered by their enemies and will incur his wrath in judgment. Some tried, and are trying, to persuade the brethren they could practice such things and still go to heaven, but their words were empty. Those who disobey God will be punished (5:6). As Lipscomb says, "If they partook of their sins, they would necessarily partake of their punishments." Therefore, Paul says to avoid the practices of such false teachers (5:7).

Verses 8-11

Walking As Children of Light

The Ephesian brethren had been involved in the wicked ways of darkness before they obeyed the truth. In Christ, they were light because sin had been put away. So, Paul admonished them to live like the children of light they had become (5:8; Mat_5:14-16 ; 2Co_4:4-6 ). Light is a necessary ingredient of plant growth and fruit bearing. It is also important for a Christian to stay in the light so he can bear the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth (5:9).

Walking in the light will cause a Christian to be living proof of what is "well-pleasing" (A.S.V.) to the Lord. Such proof will result from careful prayer, study of God's word and the transformation of mind that comes from such (5:10; 1Th_5:17 ; 2Ti_2:15 ; Rom_12:1 -). Nothing good, in the spiritual realm, is grown in darkness, thus no good fruit is produced there. Those in Christ cannot be in partnership, or have anything in common, with such works but must expose them ( Joh_16:8-11 ). This can be done through preaching and living as God would have one live (5:11; 2Ti_4:15 ; 1Pe_2:11-12 ).

Verses 12-14

Attitudes of Those In the Light

In the worship of pagan gods, there were many immoral acts committed in secret places under the cover of darkness. God's children would blush even to talk about them (5:12). When the light of the gospel falls on things in darkness, they become enlightened. This had already happened to the saints of Ephesus who once lived in sin but now served God in the light. This good result should challenge us to spread the gospel light wherever we can (5:13).

In 5:14, Paul gives us the words of God, either the Father or Son, just as Old Testament prophets quoted him. The gospel light will bring back to life those who have been dead in sin ( Eph_2:1 ). God appeals for those dead in sin to arise and let the light of the Son make them light.

Verses 15-18

Walking In Wisdom

Fools hear the sound of Jesus' voice but do not do the things he says ( Mat_7:24-27 ). Even Christians must live carefully, or accurately, so as to obey the Lord's commandments and be considered wise (5:15). Therefore, Paul urged members of the church to make the most of the time they had, especially since the time in which he wrote was so full of wickedness (5:16).

The unwise, as noted previously, hear the Lord but do not obey. In contrast, Paul pleaded for the brethren to be understanding ones who hear the Lord and try to incorporate what he says into their lives (5:17; Mat_13:18-23 , especially 19 and 23; Job_28:28 ; Pro_9:10 ). Because Paul uses a linear verb, it would be more accurate to translate, "be not being drunk," or, "do not find yourself in the process of being intoxicated." Drunkenness leads to excess, or riot, which is translated "dissipation" and means a complete lack of control. Instead of being filled with intoxicating liquids, Paul would have the saints be filled with the Spirit. While alcohol is merely a temporary escape, the Spirit shows one the means of overcoming through the word (5:18).

Verses 19-20

Teaching One Another In Song

Paul directed individual Christians to teach each other through spiritual, vocal music ( Mat_26:30 ; Act_16:25 ). Hendren says, "The participle 'speaking' is plural, suggesting all sing." The word for "making melody" is psallo. It describes a plucking like one might do in playing an instrument. But no instrument inheres in the word, so one must go to the context to discover the strings to be plucked. Paul instructs them to pluck the heart strings while they sing. Every Christian must sing truthful songs from the heart to satisfy the demands of this verse (compare Joh_4:24 ). To use any other instrument to accompany our spiritual singing would violate God's command (5:19; Col_3:16 ).

A part of Christian singing should be dedicated to thanksgiving for all the wonderful blessings enjoyed. This thanks should be directed to the Father by the authority of Jesus Christ our master (5:20).

Verses 21-24

Submitting To One Another

Each follower of Christ is to place himself under the control of fellow followers. This service is to be performed for others out of reverent respect for God who caused his Son to submit to death in our behalf (5:21). In yielding to her Lord, a Christian wife will place herself under the control of her husband. This is just one application of verse 21 and is limited to service that can be performed while maintaining a proper respect for the Lord (5:22).

In every organization of two or more people, someone must be the head. God's arrangement for the family was that man should be the head ( Gen_3:16 ). This arrangement in the family foreshadowed the relationship of Christ to the church. Christ is the head of the church and she must place herself under his control. Christ came to give his life for the church, just as the husband should provide for, protect and defend his wife. Notice, church and body are used interchangeably here as Eph_1:22-23 would tell us they should be (5:23).

The church readily falls in line behind Christ like soldiers behind their commander because he has done so much for her. His great love, as shown in Calvary's sacrifice, makes him worthy of being followed. Husbands should be followed in the same way (5:24).

Verses 25-27

The Love of Husbands for Their Wives

If the husband exhibits the love talked about in 5:25, most wives would readily submit to him. The love a husband is to have is not erotic or passionate, but intellectual commitment to the best interests of his wife. Christ is the perfect example of such love in his sacrificial death on the cross for the church. Husbands are urged to imitate Christ's self-sacrificing nature in their relationship with their wives.

Christ gave his life to set the church apart from the world through the cleansing his blood provides ( Eph_1:7 ; Act_20:28 ). The means of the church reaching that blood is through the baptism of each who would be a part of that sanctified body. There is a cleansing which takes place when one is lowered into the watery grave in obedience to the word (5:26; Mar_16:15-16 ; Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 ).

Having purchased the church with his own blood, Jesus is ever working toward its perfection (4:15-16). His desire is also for her purity that she may be ready to be taken home by her bridegroom in the great day of judgment ( 2Co_11:2-3 ). The perfection of the church can only be attained through constant and faithful teaching of the truth ( Col_1:28 ; 1Pe_2:2 ). The church will not be fully ready for presentation to Christ until her members have put on immortality and stand purified before him because of having completed their walk in the light where Christ's blood kept them pure ( Rev_19:6-8 ; Rev_21:2 ; 1Co_15:5-57 ; 1Jn_1:7 ). Christ's bride will be pure and without the spot of sin (5:27).

Verses 28-33

Reasons a Man Should Love His Wife

Christ actually put the love of the church above the love of his own body when he died on Calvary. In marriage, man and woman become one, thus when the husband loves his wife, he loves himself ( Ephesians 2:28 ; Gen_2:24 ). Men generally try to take the best possible care of their own bodies and keep them from injury. They pamper themselves and should do likewise to their wives, just as the Lord bestowed tender love on the church (5:29).

As Adam could say Eve was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, Christ can say individual Christians are part of his body, flesh and bone (5:30). Husband and wife are to be faithful to one another until death separates them. The church must remain faithful unto Christ so that it can have the ultimate union with him in heaven (5:31).

The importance of the marriage relationship is highlighted by its being a foreshadow of Christ's relationship with the church. God's great concern for the salvation of man is likewise seen in the fact that it was planned so long ago and was being foreshadowed in the beginning of time (5:32). Based upon all that has now been said about the marriage union, Paul again calls for husbands to love their own wives and wives to respect their own husbands (5:33).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/ephesians-5.html. 2014.
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