Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

Ephesians 5

Verses 1-99

5:1γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ. “Become therefore imitators of God.” γίνεσθε resumes the γίνεσθε of 4:32. The words of that verse, “forgiving … as God forgave you,” show that the imitation inculcated is in respect of this particular virtue, and the οὗν, therefore, connects this verse with that immediately preceding, not with the whole foregoing subject. Imitators of God! The idea is a grand and ennobling one; and our Lord Himself sets it before us, and in the same aspect, when He says, “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” namely, in that “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48). So that we also should love our enemies.


The forgiveness inculcated is obviously free forgiveness, as in the passage just cited and in the Lord’s Prayer. That this is here placed on the ground of imitation of God’s forgiveness is a decisive proof that St. Paul did not view the Atonement in the light of payment of a debt or endurance of a penalty demanded by Divine justice. The most unforgiving of men, if not actually vindictive, might say, I am quite ready to forgive on the same terms on which you say that God forgives, viz. that the debt be fully paid, the offence fully atoned for. Chrysostom has a fine comment on this “forgiving one another.” There is a great difference, he says, between God’s forgiveness and ours, “for, if thou forgivest, the other will in turn forgive thee; but to God thou hast forgiven nought. And thou to thy fellow-servant, but God to His servant, and His enemy, and him that hateth Him. And He did not for give simply without peril, but with the peril of His Son. For that He might forgive thee He sacrificed the Son,— τὸν Υἱὸν ἔθυσε, — but thou, although often seeing forgiveness to be without peril or expense, dost not exercise it.”

ὡς τέκνα

καθὼς καὶχριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. Compare John 13:34, “as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” καὶ παρέδωκεν expresses wherein this love was shown. So ver. 25, “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it”; Galatians 2:20, “loved me, and gave Himself for me.” The verb requires no supplement, such εἰς θάνατον or τῷ Θεῷ see Romans 8:32; Galatians 2:20, and ver. 25. ὑπέρ “on behalf of.”

προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ Θεῷ. τῷ Θεῷ is best connected with these words for the reason just mentioned; not with the following, since this would suppose the words placed emphatically before εἰς ὀσμήν, as if to exclude the idea of human pleasure, which is out of the question. προσφορά and θυσία are sometimes said to specify respectively an unbloody and a bloody offering; but such a distinction cannot be maintained either in classical or biblical Greek. The idea of “sacrifice” in θύω is not derived from that of slaying, but of “smoking,” “burning incense.” This was, according to Aristarchus, the meaning of the verb in Homer; cf. Latin “fumus,” “subfio,” which are from the same root. For biblical usage see Genesis 4:3; Numbers 7:49, Numbers 7:73, etc. The alleged sense would be especially out of harmony with the figurative use of θυσία in St. Paul, θυσία ζῶσα, Romans 12:1; cf. Philippians 2:17, Philippians 4:18. Ellicott supposes that προσφορά is used as the more general term, relating, not to the death only, but to the life of obedience of our blessed Lord, His θυσία ζῶσα; while θυσία refers more particularly to His atoning death. The words appear, however, to be borrowed from Psalms 40:6 (quoted Hebrews 10:5), where they are used simply as together including all kinds of ceremonial offering.


εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. “For a sweet-smelling savour.” The figure was founded originally on the heathen idea that the smell of the burnt sacrifice did literally ascend to the gods, who thereby participated with the worshipper in the sacred feast. So in Homer often; see especially Il. xxiv. 69, 70, οὐ γάρ μοί ποτε βωμὸς ἐδεύετο δαιτὸς εἴσης, Λοιβῆς τε κνίσης τε· τὸ γὰρ λάχομεν γέρας ἡμεῖς. It is appropriate only to a burnt-offering.

That St. Paul here speaks of Christ as a sacrifice cannot, of course, be denied. But does he do so by way of stating the nature or manner of the atonement? Surely not. There is not one word to hint at the relation of this sacrifice to God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, God in Christ forgiving us, and Christ showing His love by His offering of Himself, are put forward as exactly parallel examples; indeed, in view of the parallel in Col.,ὀ Κύριος ἐχαρίσατο, we might say as one and the same. It is this single aspect of Christ’s sacrifice as a supreme exhibition of love on the part both of the Father and of the Son that is here presented. Indeed, in Romans 8:32 the very same word παρέδωκε is used of the Father that is here used of the Son. And if we cannot argue as if the apostle were here stating the essential nature of the atonement, still less are we justified in assuming that he had in his mind the “substitutionary” view of sacrifice. Whatever the original idea of sacrifice may have been (and certainly the substitutionary view is not the only one possible), neither psalmists nor apostles seem to have had this idea present to their minds whenever they spoke of sacrifice. The psalmist speaks of sacrificing thanksgiving and praise (Psalms 50:14); St. Paul, of his offering of the Gentiles (Romans 15:16). In Romans 12:1, already quoted, he calls on his readers to present their bodies as a sacrifice. In Philippians 2:17 he represents himself as offering their faith as a sacrifice; and in the same Ephesians 4:18, he calls their present to him a sacrifice, an odour of a sweet savour. With the exception of 1 Corinthians 10:18 (“they that eat of the sacrifices”), these are the only passages beside the present in which he uses the words. This gives little support to the notion that we are to interpret his words here as if we were dealing with a treatise on scientific theology.


Chrysostorn certainly does not err in this way. He observes: ὁρᾷς τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐχθρῶν παθεῖν, ὅτι ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας ἐστί, καὶ θυσία εὐπροσδεκτός κἂν

μηδὲ ὀνομαζέσθω. Herodotus says of the Persians: ἅσσα δέ σφι ποιέειν οὐκ ἔξεστι, ταῦτα οὐδὲ λέγειν ἔξεστι (i. 138). But St. Paul’s precept refers to particular classes of sin only. Compare ver. 12. of οἱ γὰρ λόγοι τῶν πραγμάτων εἰσὶν ὁδοί Chrys. Bengel suggests for ὀνομ. “mentioned as committed,” “ut facta”; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1. But, besides that ὀνομ can hardly mean this,μηδέ, “not even,” is decisive against it.


4. καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογίαεὐτραπελία.

The MSS. and Vss. vary between καί and ἤ in the first and second places.

AD* G,It, Vulg., Sah. have ἤ … ἤ

אa B Dc K, Boh., Eth. have teal καίκαί.

א* P, Syr-Harcl., Arm. have Καί … ἤ.

Lachmann writes ἤ … ἤ, Tischendorf, RV. καί … ἤ, WH. καίκαί.

αἰσχρότης is not merely “foolish talking,” which would be αἰσχρολογία, but “shameful conduct.” Plato has (of Rhadamanthus inspecting the souls of the dead):

ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία. Clement of Alex. understands εὐχ. here of “gracious speech”; and so Jerome (but with a “foisitan”): “juxta quam grati save gratiosi et salsi apud homines appellamur,” —an opinion followed by Calvin, Hammond, and many others, “gracious, pious, religious discourse in general,” Hammond; who points to the ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖͅ Colossians 4:6. In Proverbs 11:16 we have γυνὴ εὐχαριστόͅ, “a gracious, pious woman.” The adjective is sometimes so used in classical authors: εὐχαριστότατοι λόγοι, Xen. Cyr. ii. 2. 1. This would suit the context very well; but as it only against St. Paul’s use of the word elsewhere, but, moreover, there is no example of the substantive in this sense, it would be too bold to adopt it. We have to understand a suitable verb from ὀνομαζέσθω, both for this and the preceding substantives. The sense is not: “let not foolish speech be mentioned but thanksgiving,” but: “let there not be,” etc. Bengel understands


5. τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες. ἴστε is the reading of א A B D* G P, It Vulg., Goth., Sah., Boh., Arm., Chrys.

ἔστε, that of Dc K L, Theodoret, Theoph. Internal as well as external evidence favours the former. ἔστε γιν. would be a feeble periphrasis for οἴδατε or γινώσκετε, since there is no hint here of an emphasis on the present tense.

The combination of the two verbs is not to be explained by reference to the Hebrew idiom, which combines a finite verb with the infinitive absolute (imitated in Greek by the participle with the finite verb), since the verbs here are different. Xenophon’s ὁρῶν καὶ

With the reading ὅς some commentators (Harless, Braune, etc.) refer the relative to all three antecedents; but this is not so natural as the reference to πλεονέκτης, which also corresponds with Colossians 3:5, πλεονεξίαν, ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρεία, although there also Harless regards ἥτις as by attraction for ἅτινα, as Ephesians 3:13. With the reading ὅ, the latter reference must, of course, be adopted. On the designation of πλ. as idolatry, see above on 4:19. The passages from Rabbinical writers, quoted by Schöttgen and Wetstein, do not throw much light on the matter. They represent all kinds of wickedness and vice as idolatry; pride, anger, refusal to give alms. If πλεονεξία is simply “covetousness,” the question is, why should this, any more than fornication and impurity, be singled out to be called idolatry? Meyer says that πορνεία and


If we give πλεονεξία and πλεονέκτης the wider sense advocated on 4:19, there is no difficulty.

οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν. As κληρονομία does not necessarily imply actual possession, but the title to possession, it is not necessary to say that the present is used to express the certainty of future possession.

ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ. Many expositors (Bengel, Harless, etc.) argue from the absence of the article before Θεοῦ that the words mean “the kingdom of Him who is Christ and God.” But Θεός is one of the words that do not require an article; comp. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:10, βασιλείαν Θεοῦ: also ib. 15:50 and Galatians 5:21. See also Galatians 1:1, διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ πατρός: Romans 15:8, ὑπὲρ


6. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς

8. ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος. μέν is quite properly absent. To quote Fritzsche: “Recte ibi non ponitur, ubi aut non sequitur membrum oppsitum, aut scriptores oppositionem addere nondum constituerant, aut loquentes alterius membri oppositionem quacunque de causâ lectoribus non indixerunt” (Romans 10:19, vol. ii. p. 423).

ἦτε. The emphasis is on the time past; cf. “Troja fuit, fuimus Troes.” σκότος. Stronger than “were in darkness.” They were not only in darkness; darkness was also in them. So νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν Κυρίῳ. The whole nature of light was to belong to them as formerly the whole nature of darkness; they were not only in the light, but penetrated by it, so that they themselves became “the light of the world,” Matthew 5:14.


ἐν Κυρίῳ, “in fellowship with the Lord.”

ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς περιπατεῖτε. With τέκνα φωτός cf. υἱοὶ Luke 16:8), that “it is light as light that is spoken of.” But the absence of the article is in accordance with the settled rule stated by Apollonius, that (subject to certain qualifications) nouns in regimen must have the article prefixed to both or to neither (see Middleton, On the Greek Article, iii. 1, 7; 3, 6).


9. ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ φωτός. The walk to which I exhort you is that which becomes children of the light, for etc.

The Rec. Text. has πνεύματος for φωτός, with Dc K L, Syr-Pesh, Chrys. and most cursives.

φωτός is the reading of א A B D* G P 672, It, Vulg., Goth., Boh., Arm., Origen, Jerome.

It might be thought possible that φωτός had come in from recollection of the same word just preceding, but the figure of “light” governs the whole passage, and ἔργα ἄκαρπα σκότους, ver. 10, corresponds to καρπὸς φωτός here. Καρπὸς πνεύματος undoubtedly came in from the parallel, Galatians 5:22, where the contrast is with ἔργα σαρκός, ver. 19; cf. 17, 18. The variation is an important one for the estimate of the character of the authorities that support the two readings respectively.

ἐν πάσRomans 16:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. The use of it in the Sept. gives us little help. In Eccles., where it occurs several times, it is used for “enjoyment.” In Nehemiah 9:25, Nehemiah 9:35, it is used of the goodness of God. In Psalms 3:3 (li. Sept.) it is “good “in general as opposed to “evil”; and so in 38(37):20. In St. Paul it would seem to mean “goodness” in the special sense of benevolence; and thus the threefold enumeration here would correspond to that in the Gospels: “justice, mercy, and truth,” and to Butler’s “justice, truth, and regard to common good” (comp. Romans 5:7).


As a metaphor the expression “fruit of the light” cannot be called “strictly correct,” as if it referred to the necessity of light for the production of fruit, etc. The words “children of light” convey no intimation of such a figure.

10. δοκιμάζοντες τί ἐστιν εὐάρεστον τῷ Κυρίῳ. Compare Romans 12:2, εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ, τὸ

Putting to the proof, partly by thought and partly by experience. Stier and some others take the words imperatively, supplying ἐστε, as Romans 12:9-13 and vv. 19, 20; but here between two imperatives this is less natural.


11. καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοις ἔργοις

This appears to be the meaning of the verb in John 3:20, οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. Compare in the following verse, ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα. Compare also 1 Corinthians 14:22, ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντωντὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ φανερὰ γίνεται. The occurrence of κρυφῆ here in the immediate context suggests that this meaning was present to the apostle’s mind. Adopting it, we obtain as the interpretation : Have no participation with the works of darkness, nay, rather expose them, for the things they do secretly it is a shame even to mention; but all these things when exposed by the light are made manifest in their true character. Then follows the reason, not for 13a, but for the whole exhortation. This ἐλέγχειν is not useless, for it leads to φανεροῦσθαι, and so turns σκότος into φῶς. This is Soden’s interpretation. A remarkable parallel is John 3:20, just quoted. There also ἔργα are the object, ἔργα whose nature is σκότος (ver. 19); and it is the φῶς which effects ἐλέγχειν, ver. 20, and φανεροῦν, ver. 21.


13. τὰ δὲ παντα ἐλεγχόμενα ἡπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανεροῦται· πᾶν γὰρ τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστι. The difficulty in tracing the connexion continues to be felt here. Meyer interprets: But everything ( = those secret sins) when it is reproved is made manifest by the light; that is, by the light of Christian truth which operates in your reproof, it is brought to the light of day in its true moral character; I say, by the light, for—to prove that it can only be by the light—whatever is made manifest is light; it has ceased to have the nature of darkness. Assuming, namely, “quod est in effectu (φῶς ἐστι) id debet esse in causa (ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός).” This is adopted by Ellicott. But it is open to serious objection: first, ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός is not emphatic; on the contrary, its position is as unemphatic as possible; secondly, ἐλεγχόμενα is on this view not only superfluous but disturbing; thirdly, the assumption that what is in the effect must be in the cause, is much too recondite a principle to be silently assumed in such a discourse as this; and, lastly, this treats φανερούμενον as if it were πεφανερωμένον. Meyer, in fact, endeavours to obtain, by the help of a hidden metaphysical assumption, the same sense which Eadie and others obtain by taking φανερούμενον as middle (=AV.).

Ellicott adds, “whatever is illumined is light.” But φανερόω does not mean “to illumine,” but to make φανερός. It occurs nearly fifty times in the N.T. and never = φωτίζειν. True, it is allied to φῶς, but not closely, for its nearest connexion is with the stem of φαίνω, viz. φάν, which is already far from φῶς. Again, when it is said by Alford (in reply to Eadie’s objection that the transformation does not always take place) that, “objectively taken, it is universally true: everything shone upon is Light” (whether this tends to condemnation or not depending on whether the transformation takes place or not), this surely is just what is not true. A dark object shone upon does not become lux (the English word is ambiguous). He adds that the key text is John 3:20, but in order to fit this in he interprets “brought into light” as “made light.”


Bengel, followed by Stier, takes φανερούμενον as middle, “quod manifestari non refugit; confer mox, ἔγειραι καὶ

We seem almost driven (with Eadie, after Beza, Calvin, Grotius, etc.) to take φανερούμενον as middle, in this sense, “whatever makes manifest is light.” The examples, indeed, of φανεροῦς θαι as middle, adduced by Eadie, are not quite to the point, viz. such as ἐφανερώθη in Mark 16:12, where the medial sense is much more marked than in the present passage. Bleek thinks it necessary to suppose an active sense here, but he proposes to read φανεροῦν τό. Oltramare interprets: “All the things done in secret, when reproved, are brought into open day by the light [which is salutary], for whatever is so brought out is light.”

14. Διὸ λέγει. “Wherefore it is said.” It is generally held that this formula introduces a quotation from canonical Scripture. Here the difficulty arises that this is not a quotation from canonical Scripture. Jerome admits this, saying, “omnes editiones veterum scripturarum ipsaque Hebraeorum volumina eventilans nunquam hoc scriptum reperi.” He therefore suggests that it is from an apocryphal writing; not that the apostle accepted such a writing as authoritative, but that he quoted it as he has quoted Aratus, etc. He, at the same time, mentions others who supposed the words to be spoken by the apostle himself under inspiration. Many moderns, however, think that the original text is Isaiah 10:1, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the lord is risen upon thee,” the words being, it is said, quoted, not verbally, but in essence. It would be more correct to say that the resemblance is verbal rather than in essence; for the differences are important. The very word ὁ Χριστός is fatal to the idea of a quotation. Alford, indeed, says that it is a necessary inference from the form of the citation (viz. ὁ Χρ.) that St. Paul is citing the language of prophecy in the light of the fulfilment of prophecy, which obviously assumes the point in question. It is said, moreover, that no surprise can be felt at finding Christ substituted for the Lord (Jehovah) of the O.T., and the true Israel for Jerusalem. True: if the question were of the application of words from the O.T., as in 1 Peter 3:15, or of interpretation added to the quotation, as in Romans 11:6-8. Moreover, the words here are not addressed to the Church (ὁ καθεύδων), they seem rather addressed either to recent converts or to those who do not yet believe. And, further, there is nothing in Isaiah about awaking from sleep or arising from the dead (though Alford asserts the contrary); nor is the idea, “shall give thee light,” at all the same as Isaiah’s, “the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.”

Hence other commentators find it necessary to suppose a reference to other passages either separately or combined with this, viz. Isaiah 9:2, Isaiah 26:19, Isaiah 52:1. Such conjectures, in fact, refute themselves; for when the words of a prophet are so completely changed, we can no longer speak of a quotation, and λέγει would be quite out of place. Nor can we overlook the fact that the point of the connexion seems to lie in the word ἐπιφαύσει.


Others have adopted Jerome’s suggestion as to an apocryphal source, some even going so far as to suggest the actual name of the book, Epiphanius naming the Prophecy of Elijah; George Syncellus, a book of Jeremiah; the margin of Codex G, the Book of Enoch. It is hardly sufficient to allege against this view that λέγει always introduces a quotation from canonical Scripture. But ὁ Χριστός is inconsistent with the idea of an O.T. apocryphon, and apart from that the whole expression has a Christian stamp.

Meyer endeavours to reconcile the assertion that λέγει introduces a citation from canonical Scripture with the fact that this is not such a citation, by the supposition that by a lapse of memory the apostle cites an apocryphon as if it were canonical. But was St. Paul’s knowledge of the Scriptures so imperfect that he did not know, for example, that the promised deliverer is never in the O.T. distinctly called ὁ Χριστός?

Others conjecture that it may be a saying of Christ Himself that is quoted. The use of Χριστός in the third person is not inconsistent with this; nor, again, the fact that St. Paul does not elsewhere quote the sayings of Christ. Why might he not do it once? But it is impossible to supply ὁ Χριστός or Ἰησοῦς as a subject without something to suggest it. It is too forced to meet this by taking φῶς as the subject.

The difficulties disappear when we recognise that λέγει need not be taken to mean ὁ Θεὸς λέγει,—an assertion which has been shown in 4:8 to be untenable. It means “it says,” or “it is said,” and the quotation may probably be from some liturgical formula or hymn,—a supposition with which its rhythmical character agrees very well. That the words were suggested originally by Isaiah 60:1 may be admitted. Theodoret mentions this opinion: τινὲς δὲ τῶν ἑρμηνευτῶν ἔφασαν πνευματικῆς χάριτος 1 Corinthians 14:26. He seems to have taken this from Severianus (Cramer, vi. 197), who concludes: δῆλον οὗν ὃτι ἐν ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν πνευματικῶν ψαλμῶν ἤτοι προσευχῶν ἔκειτο τοῦτοἐμνημόνευσεν (compare also Origen in the Catena, ib.). Stier adopts a similar view, but endeavours to save the supposed limitation of the use of λέγει by saying that in the Church the Spirit speaks. As there are in the Church prophets and prophetic speakers and poets, so there are liturgical expressions and hymns which are holy words. Comparing vv. 18, 19, Colossians 3:16, it may be said that the apostle is here giving us an example of this self-admonition by new spiritual songs.

The view that the words are from a liturgical source is adopted by Barry, Ewald, Braune, v. Soden, the last-mentioned suggesting (after some older writers) that they may have been used in the reception after baptism. Compare 1 Timothy 3:16, which is not improbably supposed to have a similar source.

ἔγειρε is the reading of a decisive preponderance of authorities, א A B D G K L P, apparently all uncials, ἔγειραι being found only in cursives. In the other places where the word occurs (Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:9, Mark 2:11, Mark 2:3:3, Mark 2:5:41; Luke 5:23; John 5:8), ἔγειρε is likewise supported by preponderant authority, a third variation ἐγείρον occurring in some places. Fritzsche on Mark 2:9 has ably defended the propriety of ἔγειρε, which is not to be understood either as active for middle or as if σεαυτόν were understood, but as a “formula excitandi,” “Up !” like ἄγε, ἔπειγε (Eurip. Orest. 789). So in Eurip. Iph. Aul. 624, ἔγειρʼ

ἀνάστα for Acts 12:7. This short form is also found in Theocritus and Menander. Compare κατάβα, Mark 15:30 (in some MSS. including A C), and Revelation 4:1.


καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοιΧριστός. ἐπιφαύσει from ἐπιφαύσκω, which is found several times in Job (Sept.); D* d e and MSS. mentioned by Chrysostom and by Jerome read ἐπιψαύσεις τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Jerome (quoted by Tisch.) relates that he heard some one disputing in the church, in order to please the people with something new, saying that this was said with reference to Adam, who was buried on Calvary, and that when the Lord on the Cross hung above his grave, the prophecy was fulfilled, “Rise Adam, who sleepest, and rise from the dead and Christ shall touch thee, ἐπιψαύσει,” i.e. that by the touch of Christ’s body and blood he should be brought to life. This story probably indicates how this reading arose.

15—21. General exhortation to regulate their conduct with wisdom, to make their market of the opportunity, and, avoiding riotous indulgence, to express their joy and thankfulness in spiritual songs

15. βλέπετε οὖν Exo_2, πῶς is similarly om.


οὖν is resumptive, “to return to our exhortation.” Some, however, regard this as an inference from what immediately precedes, viz. “since ye are enlightened by Christ” (Ewald, Braune); but as the substance of the exhortation is clearly the same as in vv. 8-10, it is unnecessary to look on this as an inference from ver. 14. Harless follows Calvin, who says: “Si aliorum discutere tenebras fideles debent fulgore suo, quanto minus caecutire debent in proprio vitae instituto?” But this would seem to require an emphatic αὐτοί.

On Acts 26:5, κατὰ τὴν 1 Corinthians 3:2, ἕκαστος βλεπέτω πῶς ἐποικοδομεῖ. Most commentators expound the other reading. Fritzsche’s view of this has been generally adopted (Opuscula, p. 209 n.), viz. that


μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι, explaining πῶς, and so dependent, like it, on βλέπετε, hence the subjective negation (Winer, § 55. 1). Then ωεριπατοῦντες need not be supplied.

16. ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν. “Seizing the opportunity,” “making your market to the full from the opportunity of this life” (Ramsay, St. Paul as Traveller, etc., p. 149). The same expression is used in Colossians 4:5 with special reference to conduct towards those outside the Church, ἐν σοφίᾳ περιπατεῖτε πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω. τὸν κ. ἐξαγ. Lit. “buying up for yourselves,” ἐξ being intensive, and corresponding to our “up.” καιρὸν ὑμεῖς Daniel 2:8, but in a different sense, viz. “wish to gain time.” More parallel as to sense is κερδαντέον τὸ παρόν, Antonin. vi. 26. ἐξαγοράζω, in the sense “buy up,” is found in Polyb. ii. 42. 2, ἐξηγόρασε παρʼ αὐτῶν τά τε μονόξυλα πλοῖα πάντα, κ.τ.λ. In Mart. Polyc. 2 it has the wholly different sense: “buy off,” διὰ μιᾶς ὥρας τὴν αἰώνιον κόλασιν ἐξαγοραζόμενοι. Chrysostom says the expression is obscure, and he illustrates it by the case of robbers entering a rich man’s house to kill him, and when he gives much to purchase his life, we say that he ἐξηγόρασεν ἑαυτόν. So, he proceeds, “thou hast a great house, and true faith; they come on thee to take all; give whatever one asks, only save τὸ κεφάλαιον, that is τὴν πίστιν.” This completely ignores τὸν καιρόν. Oecum. is more to the point: ὁ κ. οὔκ ἐστιν ἡμῖν βέβαιος


ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. So that it is the more necessary τὸν καιρὸν ἐξαγ. The moments for sowing on receptive soil in such evil days being few, seize them when they offer themselves. πονηραί is “morally evil,” not “distressful” (Beza, Hammond, etc.),—an idea foreign to the context, which contrasts the walk of the Christians with that of the heathen.

17. διὰ τοῦτο. Viz. because it is necessary to walk

18. καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ. καί marks a transition from the general to the particular, as in εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ, Mark 16:7; πᾶσαἸουδαία χώρα, καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται, Mark 1:5. Fritzsche, in the latter place, remarks that καί in these instances is not = “imprimis,” but “scriptores rem singularem jam comprehensam communiori propterea insuper adjiciunt copulae adjumento, quod illam tanquam gravem impensius inculcatam volunt lectori.”


It is out of the question to suppose any reference here to such abuses as are mentioned in 1 Cor. 11., which would have called for a more explicit censure.

ἐνἐστιν Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4; and the adverb Luke 15:13, where see note. The Vulg. renders by “luxuria, luxuriose,” words which in later Latin acquired the sense of profligate living. In mediæval Latin “luxuria” = “lasciviousness.” But the meaning in the N.T. is clearly “dissoluteness.” The remark of Clem. Alex., τὸ ἄσωστον τῆς μέθης διὰ τῆς

ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι. The antithesis is not directly between οἶνος and πνεῦμα, as the order of the words shows, but between the two states. Meyer remarks that the imperative passive is explained by the possibility of resistance; but what other form could be employed? The signification is middle, for they must co-operate. The present tense cannot very well be expressed in the English rendering; “be filled” is after all better than “become filled,” which would suggest that the filling had yet to begin. ἐν πνεύματι is usually understood of the Holy Spirit, ἐν being instrumental (Meyer), or both instrumental and expressing the content of the filling (Ellicott, Macpherson, al.). But the use of ἐν with πληρόω to express the content with which a thing is filled would be quite unexampled. Philippians 4:19 is not parallel (Ellicott admits it to be doubtful); still less Colossians 2:10, Colossians 4:12 (where, moreover, the true reading is πεπληροφορημένοι). Plutarch’s ἐπεπλήρωτο ἐν μακαριότητι (Plac. Phil. i. 7. 9) is not parallel; the words there (which are used of the Deity) mean “is complete in blessedness,” the alternative being “something is wanting to Him.” Meyer, indeed, says that as St. Paul uses genitive, dative, and accusative in (Colossians 1:9) with πληρόω, we cannot be surprised at his using ἐν,—a singular argument. The genitive and dative are both classical; the accusative in Colossians 1:9 is not accusative of material. But such variety in no way justifies the use of ἐν, the meaning of which is wholly unsuitable to the idea “filled with.” The nearest approach to this would be the instrumental sense (adopted by Meyer, al., in i. 23). Where the material is only regarded as the means of making full, it may conceivably be spoken of as an instrument; but this would require the agent to be expressed, and, besides, would be quite inappropriate to the Holy Spirit. For these reasons the rendering mentioned in the margin RV. (Braune’s also) is not to be hastily rejected. “Be filled in spirit,” not in your carnal part, but in your spiritual. Alford attempts to combine both ideas, “let this be the region in, and the ingredient with which you are filled,” πνεῦμα being the Christian’s “own spirit dwelt in and informed by the Holy Spirit of God.” This seems an impossible combination, or rather confusion of two distinct ideas. Macpherson, in order to secure a contrast between the “stimulation of much wine and the stimulation of a large measure of the Spirit,” represents the apostle as saying, “conduct yourselves like those that are possessed, but see to it that the influence constraining you is that of the Holy Spirit.” It is hardly too much to say that this is a reductio ad absurdum of the supposed antithesis. There is nothing about excitement, nor does St. Paul anywhere sanction such conduct.

19. λαλοῦντες ἐαυτοῖς On ἑαυτοῖς = Colossians 3:16.

ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς = Colossians 3:16, except that the copulas are there wanting. The distinction between these words is not quite agreed upon. ψαλμός from ψάλλειν, primarily the plucking of the strings, is used by classical authors to mean the sound of the harp, and hence any strain of music. The Schol. on Aristoph. Aves, 218, says: ψαλμὸς κυρίως, ὁ τῆς κιθάρας ἦχος. Cyrilli Lex. and Basil on Psa_29. define it: λόλος μουσικός, ὅταν εὐρύθμως κατὰ τοὺς ἁρμονικοὺς λόγους πρὸς τὸ ὄργανον κρούεται. And to the same effect Greg. Nyss. It occurs frequently in the Sept., not always of sacred music, e.g. 1 Samuel 16:18 of young David, εἰδότα τὸν ψαλμόν, i.e. playing on the harp.


ὕμνος is properly a song of praise of some god or hero. Arrian says: ὕμνοι μὲν ἐς τοὺς θεοὺς ποιοῦνται, ἔπαινοι δὲ ἐς

ᾠδή, from Exodus 15:1; Deuteronomy 31:19-22; Judges 5:1, Judges 5:12, etc.).

πνευματικαῖς is omitted by B d e, and bracketed by Lachmann. Not only is it attested by superabundant authority, but it seems essential as a further definition of the preceding word or words. Probably it is to be taken (as by Hofmann and Soden) with all three. ἐν is prefixed to ψαλμοῖς in B P 17 672, Vulg., Jerome, and admitted to the margin by WH. After πνευμ. A adds ἐν χάριτι, clearly from Colossians 3:16.


ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ.

Rec. has ἐν before τῇ Κ., with K L most MSS., Syr-Harcl., Arm., while Lachm. reads ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις, with אc A D G P, It, Vulg., Boh., Syr-Pesh, Harcl. mg. But א* B have the singular without ἐν, and so Origen. In Colossians 3:16 all MSS. have ἐν, and most MSS. and Vss. the plural, Dc K L reading the singular.


Chrysostom interprets ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ as meaning “heartily or sincerely”; μετὰ συνέσεως προσέχοντες, i.e. from the heart, not merely with the mouth. But this would be ἐκ τῇς καρδίας without ὑμῶν.

20. εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων. “Even,” says Chrysostom, “if it be disease or poverty. It is nothing great or wonderful if when prosperous you give thanks. What is sought is that when in affliction you do so. Nay, why speak of afflictions here? we must thank God for hell,” explaining that we who attend are much benefited by the fear of hell, which is placed as a bridle upon us: a profoundly selfish view, to which he was no doubt led only by the wish to give the fullest meaning to πάντων. Jerome is more sober: “Christianorum virtus est, etiam in his quae adversa putantur, referre gratias creatori.” But St. Paul is not specially referring to adversity; on the contrary, the context shows that what he had particularly in his mind was occasion of rejoicing. Theodoret, however, takes πάντων as masc., that we must thank God for others who have received Divine blessing. But there is nothing in the context to favour this.

ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. When I speak of doing something in the name of another, this may mean either that I do it as representing him, that is, by his authority, or if the action is entirely my own, that I place its significance only in its reference to him. When an apostle commands in the name of Christ, this is in the former sense; when I pray or give thanks in the same name, it is as His disciple and dependent on Him.

τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρί, see 1:3. There is no need to refer πατρί here to Christ; the article rather leads to the sense, “God, who is also the Father,” namely, of us.

21. ὑποτασσόμενοι

“Submitting yourselves.” The connexion of this with the preceding seems rather loose. Ellicott says: “the first three [clauses] name three duties, more or less specially in regard to God, the last a comprehensive moral duty in regard to man, ” suggested by the thought of the humble and loving spirit which is the principle of εὐχαριστία. This does not meet the difficulty of the connexion. Alford refers back to μὴ μεθύσκ., “not blustering, but being subject,” and Eadie is inclined to the same view; but this is forced, and requires us to interpolate something which is not indicated by anything in the text. Much the same may be said of Findlay’s view. He illustrates by reference to the confusion in the Church meetings in the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 14:26-34), “when he urges the Asian Christians to seek the full inspiration of the Spirit, and to give free utterance in song to the impulses of their new life, he adds this word of caution.” This supplies too much, and besides, ὑποτασσόμενοι would be an unsuitable word to express such readiness to give way in the matter of prophesying as St. Paul directs in 1 Cor. Bloomfield, taking a similar view, supposes that what is insisted on is subordination to a leading authority. This preserves the sense of ὑποτ., but not of

In considering the connexion it must be borne in mind that ὑποτάσσεσθε in the next verse is in all probability not genuine, so that the verb has to be supplied from ὑποτασσόμενοι. There is therefore no break between vv. 21 and 22. Further, the whole following section, which is not a mere digression, depends on the thought expressed in this clause of which it is a development. To suppose a direct connexion with πληροῦσθε ἐν πν. does not yield a suitable sense. The connexion with the preceding context is, in fact, only in form, that with what follows is in substance. From 4:32 we have a series of precepts expressed in imperatives and participles depending on γίνεσθε, περιπατεῖτε; δοκιμάζοντες, ἐξαγοραζόμενοι, λαλοῦντες. Ver. 18 interrupts the series by a direct imperative, as in vv. 3 ff., 12 ff. St. Paul elsewhere (Romans 12:9) carries on in participles a series of precepts begun in a different construction, 1 Peter 2:18, 1 Peter 3:1. Meyer admits that it is no objection to this that in what follows we have only the ὑπόταξις of the wives, while the ὑπακοή of the children and servants in ch. 6. cannot be connected with ὑποτασς.; for in classical writers also, after the prefixing of such absolute nominatives which refer collectively to the whole, often the discourse passes over to one part only. But he thinks that in that case αἱ γυναῖκες would necessarily have a special verb correlative with ὑποτ. It is not easy to see the force of this.


22-33. Special injunctions to husbands and wives. Wives to be subject to their husbands, husbands to love their wives. This relationship is illustrated by that of Christ and the Church. As Christ is the Head of the Church, which is subject to Christ, so the husband is the head of the wife, who is to be subject to the husband; and Christ’s love for the Church is to be the pattern of the man’s love for his wife. The analogy, indeed, is not Perfect, for Christ is not only the Head of the Church which is His body, but is also the Saviour of it; but this does not affect the purpose of the comparison here.

22. αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις

ἰδίοις is more than a mere possessive, yet does not imply an antithesis to “other men”; it seems rather to emphasise the relationship, as in the passage quoted from Stobaeus by Harless (Floril. p. 22): Θεανῶπυθαγορικὴ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεῖσα τί πρῶτον εἴη γυναικι τὸ τῷ ἰδίῳ, ἔφη, Colossians 3:18.


ὡς τῷ Κυρίῳ, not “as to their lord,” which would have been expressed in the plural, but “as to the Lord Christ,” “as” not meaning in the same manner as, but expressing the view they are to take of their submission; compare 6, 7. “subjectio quae abuxore praestatur viro simul praestatur ipsi Domino, Christo,” Bengel. So Chrysostom: ὅταν ὑπείκῃς τῷ

ὡς καί, “as also.” Compare 1 Corinthians 11:3, παντὸς


Χριστὸς κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλησίας αὐτὸς σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος.

Rec. has καὶ αὐτός ἐστι ς., with אcDbc K L P most MSS., Syr. (both), Arm. But the shorter reading is that of א * A B D* G, Vulg. The added words are an obvious gloss. Boh. has ἐστι without καί, and Aeth. καί without ἐστι.

The apostle having compared the headship of the husband to that of Christ, could not fail to think how imperfect the analogy was; he therefore emphatically calls attention to the point of difference; as if he would say: “A man is the head of his wife, even as Christ also is head of the Church, although there is a vast difference, since He is Himself the Saviour of the body, of which He is the head; but notwithstanding this difference,” etc. Calvin already proposed this view: “Habet quidem id peculiare Christus, quod est servator ecclesiae; nihilominus sciant mulieres, sibi maritos praeesse, Christi exemplo, utcunque pari gratia non polleant.” So Bengel concisely: “Vir autem non est servator uxoris; in eo Christus excellit; hint sed sequitur.” Chrys., Theoph. and Oecum., however, interpret this clause as equally applicable to the husband. καὶ γὰρκεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος σωτηρία ἐστίν, Chrys. and more fully Theoph.: ὥσπερ καὶΧριστὸς τῆς ἐκκλησίας ὢν κεφαλή, προνοεῖται αὐτῆς καὶ σώζει· οὕτω τοίνυν καὶ ὁἀνήρ, σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, τουτέστι τῆς γυναικός. πῶς οὖν οὐκ ὀφείλει ὑποτάσσεσθαι τῇ κεφαλῇ τὸ σῶμα, τῇ προνοουμένκαὶ σωζούσῃ. So Hammond and many others. But αὐτός cannot refer to any subject but that which immediately precedes, viz. ὁ Χριστίς. Moreover, to use σῶμα without some qualification for the wife would be unintelligible; nor is σωτήρ ever used in the N.T. except of Christ or God.

24. Luke 7:7; John 7:49; Romans 3:31, Romans 3:8:37; 1 Corinthians 6:8, 1 Corinthians 9:12. The fact that in most of these cases we might not incorrectly render “Nay,” or “Nay, on the contrary,” shows how unlike the present passage they are. Nor are 2 Corinthians 8:7, 2 Corinthians 8:13:4; 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:16, or the other passages which he cites, at all parallel; and the negative to which he supposes


ἐν παντί. It is presupposed that the authority of the husband is in accordance with their relation as corresponding to that of Christ to the Church. “ὡς εὐσεβεσι νομοθετῶν προστέθεικε τὸ ἐν πάντι,” Theodoret.

ὤσπερ of the Rec. is the reading of Dc K L and most MSS.; but ὡς, א A D* G P 17 672 etc. (B omits.)

ἰδίοις is prefixed to

26. ἵνα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσκαθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος ἐν ῥήματι. The immediate purpose of ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν, ver. 25. ἁγιάοῃ is clearly not to be limited to “consecration”; it includes the actual sanctification or infusion of holiness. It is the positive side, καθαρίσας expressing the negative, the purification from her former sins. But as the remoter object is ἵνα παραστήσῃ, the ceremonial idea of ἁγιάζειν appears to be the prominent one here. Logically, καθαρίζειν precedes ἁγιάζειν, chronologically they are coincident; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11,


τῷ τ.ὕ. “By the bath of water,” distinctly referring to baptism, and probably with an allusion in λουτεῷ to the usual bath of the bride before the marriage; the figure in the immediate context being that of marriage.

ἐν ῥήματι. The first question is as to the connexion. By Augustine the phrase is supposed to qualify τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδ., “accedit verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum.”

But as the combination is strange, and neither τὸ λουτρόν nor τὸ ὕδωρ can form with ἐν ῥήματι a single notion (like ἡ πίστις ἐν Χρ.), this would require the article to be repeated. The interpretation, “the bath resting on a command” (Storr, Peile, Klöpper), would require ἐν ῥ. Χριστοῦ. Meyer, following Jerome, connects the words with ἁγιάσῃ, “having purified with the bath of water, may sanctify her by the word.” The order of the words is strongly against this, and, besides, we should expect some addition to καθαπ., which should suggest the spiritual signification of “purifying with water.”

It is therefore best connected with καθαρίσας. But as to the meaning? Alford, Eadie, Ellicott, Meyer take ῥῆμα to mean the gospel or preached word taught preliminary to baptism. ῥῆμα is, no doubt, used in this sense (not in Acts 10:37 but) Romans 10:17, ῥῆμα Χριστοῦ; but there it is defined by Χριστοῦ, as in ver. 8 by τῆς πίστεως; indeed, ῥῆμα is there used, not because of any special appropriateness, but for the sake of the quotation. Elsewhere we have ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, Ephesians 6:17. It is far, indeed, from being correct to say that “the gospel” is “the usual meaning of the Greek term,” as Eadie states, referring, in addition to the passages mentioned above, to Hebrews 6:5 (where the words are Θεοῦ ῥῆμα): Acts 10:44, τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα: 11:14, λαλήσει ῥήματα πρός σε. In these last two places it is obvious that ῥήματα means simply “words” or “sayings,” as in Acts 26:25, where St. Paul says of his speech before Festus, Acts 2:14, ἐνωτίσασθε τὰ ῥήματά μου. Needless to say that ῥῆμα is used of single sayings very frequently. There may be even πονηρὸν ῥῆμα or Luke 1:65). That the word is most frequently used, not to signify a Divine or sacred saying, but where the connexion implies such a saying, is simply a result of the fact that there was little occasion (in the Epp. none) to refer to other ῥήματα. There is no example of ῥῆμα by itself meaning “the gospel” or anything like this. Had it the article here, indeed, there would be good reason for maintaining this interpretation.


The Greek commentators understand ῥῆμα of the formula of baptism. ποίῳ says Chrysostom, ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ γἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος. It is true, as Estius remarks, that if this were the sense we should expect καὶ ῥήματος; and Harless adds that these definite words could hardly be referred to except with the article, τῷ ῥήνατι. But although “of water and ῥῆμα” might, perhaps, have been expected, ἐν is quite admissible; compare ἐν ἐπαγγελίᾳ, 6:2. The objections from the absence of the article, and from the fact that ῥῆμα has not elsewhere this meaning, fall to the ground when we consider that it is not alleged or supposed that ῥῆμα of itself means the formula of baptism; it retains its indefinite meaning, and it is only the connexion with the reference to baptism in the preceding words that defines what ῥῆμα is intended. So Soden. Moule renders, “attended by, or conditioned by, an utterance,” which would agree well with this interpretation. He explains it as “the revelation of salvation embodied in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.” Macpherson denies the reference to baptism, and thinks it more natural to speak of the cleansing as effected by the bathing (“washing,” AV.) rather than in the bath, especially as “of water” is added. “The reference is most probably to the bath of the bride before marriage.” Yes, such a reference there is; but what is it which the reader is expected to compare with the bridal bath? As there is no particle of comparison, the words imply that there is a λοῦτρον ὕδατος, which is compared to the bath. And surely baptism could not fail to be suggested by these words to the original readers. As to λουτρόν, besides the meaning “water for bathing,” it has the two senses of the English “bath,” viz. the place for bathing and the action; but it does not mean “washing.”

27. ἵνα παραστήσαὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ, κ.τ.λ. The remoter object of παρέδωκεν depending on ἁγιάσῃ, etc. The verb is used, as in 2 Corinthians 11:2, of the presentation of the bride to the bridegroom, παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. The interpretation, “present as an offering” (Harless), is opposed to the context as well as inconsistent with ἑαυτῷ. αὐτός is the correct reading, and emphasises the fact that it is Christ who, as He gave Himself to sanctify the Church, also presents her to Himself. This presentation is not complete in this life, yet Bengel correctly says: “id valet suo modo jam de hac vita.”


αὐτὸς is the reading of א A B D* G L, Vulg., Syr-Harcl., etc. The Rec. has αὐτήν, with Dc K most MSS., Syr-Pesh, Chrys. The latter is the reading which would most readily occur to the copyist; no copyist would be likely to depart from it if he had it before him, but αὐτός has a peculiar emphasis.

ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. The tertiary predicate ἔνδοξον is placed with emphasis before its substantive. Not “a glorious Church,” but “the Church, glorious,” “that He might present the Church to Himself, glorious.”

μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον. σπίλος, which also occurs 2 Peter 2:13, is a word of later Greek (Plutarch, etc.) for κηλίς; ἄσπιλος occurs four times in N.T.


ἀλλʼ ἵνα ᾖ. Changed structure, as if ἵνα μὴ ἔχῃ had preceded; compare ver. 33.

28. οὕτως is connected by Estius and Alford with ὡς following: “So … as.” This is not forbidden by grammatical considerations; for in spite of Hermann’s rule, that the force of οὕτως is “ut eo confirmentur praecedentia,” it is used with reference to what follows, introduced by ὡς or ὥσπερ, both in classical writers and in N.T. Compare τοὺς οὕτως ἐπισταμένονς εἰπεῖν ὡς οὐδεὶς ἂν ἄλλος δύναιτο (Isocr. ap. Rost and Palm. ἔστιν γὰρ οὕτως ὥσπερ οὗτος ἐννέπει, Soph. Trach. 475, is not a good instance, for οὕτως may very well be referred to what precedes). And in N.T. 1 Corinthians 3:15, οὕτω δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός: cf. 4:1. But in such cases οὕτως has some emphasis on it, and apart from that it yields a better sense here to take οὕτως as referring to the preceding statement of Christ’s love for the Church. “Even so ought husbands …” If καί is read before of οἱ ἄνδρες, as Treg., WH. and RV., the latter view is alone possible.


The position of Ὀφειλουσιν varies in the MSS. אb K L 17 and most have it before οἱ ἄνδρες, A D G P after. The latter group add καί before οἱ ἄνδρες, and of the former group B 17. As the position of the verb would hardly be a reason for inserting καί, it may be presumed to be genuine.

ὡς τὰ ἑαυτῶν σώματα. The sense just ascertained for οὕτως determines this to mean “as being their own bodies”; and this agrees perfectly with what follows: “he that loveth his own wife loveth himself.” Moreover, although we speak of a man’s love for himself, we do not speak of him as loving his body or having an “affection” for it (Alford); and to compare a man’s love for his wife to his love (?) for his “body,” would be to suggest a degrading view of the wife, as, indeed, Grotius does, saying: “sicut corpus instrumentum animi, ita uxor instrumentum viri ad res domesticos, ad quaerendos liberos.” Plutarch comes nearer to the apostle’s view: κρατεῖν δεῖ τὸν ἄνδρα τῆς γυναικός, οὐχ ὡς δεσπότην κτήματος,

31. Luke 12:3.

καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος, κ.τ.λ. A quotation from Genesis 2:24, which might have been introduced by “as it is written”; but with words so familiar this was needless.


Most commentators interpret this verse of Christ, either primarily or secondarily. So Jerome: “primus vates Adam hoc de Christo et ecclesia prophetavit; quod reliquerit Dominus noster atque Salvator patrem suum Deum et matrem suam coelestem Jerusalem.” So many moderns, including Alford, Ellicott, Meyer, the last mentioned, however, referring the words to the Second Coming, the tense being future. Ellicott thinks this is pressing the tense unnecessarily, whereas it may have the ethical force of the future, for which he refers to Winer, § 40. 6, whose examples are wholly irrelevant to Ellicott’s purpose. If the passage is interpreted of Christ it refers to a definite fact, and the future must have its future sense. Understood of Christ, the expressions ἄνθρωπος for Christ, and “leave his father and mother,” for “leave His seat in heaven,” are so strange and so unlike anything else in St. Paul, that without an express intimation by the writer it is highly unreasonable so to interpret them. Can we imagine St. Paul writing, “Christ will leave His father and His mother and will cleave to His wife, the Church”? We might not be surprised at such an expression in a mystical writer of the Middle Ages, but we should certainly not recognise it as Pauline. It is, if possible, less likely that he should say the same thing, using ἄνθρωπος instead of Χριστός, and expect his readers to understand him. If the future is given its proper meaning, the expression “leaving His seat at the right hand of God” is inappropriate.

On the other hand, the whole passage treats of the duty of husbands, the reference to Christ and the Church being introduced only incidentally for the purpose of enforcing the practical lesson. It was, indeed, almost inevitable that where St. Paul was so full on the duty of the husband, he should refer to these words in Genesis in their proper original meaning. This meaning being so exactly adapted to enforce the practical precept, to take them otherwise, and to suppose that they are introduced allegorically, is to break the connexion, not to improve it.

There are some differences of reading. The articles before πατέρα and μητέρα are absent in B D* G, and are omitted by Lachm. and Treg., and bracketed by WH. Tischendorf omitted them in his 7th ed., but restored them in the 8th in consequence of the added evidence of א. αὐτοῦ is added after πατέρα in אc A Dc K L P, Syr-Pesh, Boh., from LXX; not in, א* B D* G 17, Vulg., Arm., αὐτοῦ is added after μητέρα in P 47, Vss.

For πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα which is in אc B D c K L, Orig., τῇ γυναικί is read by א* A D * G. The readings in the Sept. also vary.

32. τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν, ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω εἰς χριστόν καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν.

The second εἰς is om. by B K and some other authorities.

We must first determine the meaning of μυστήριον and of μέγα. On the former word see on 1:9. It does not mean “a mysterious thing or saying,” “a saying of which the meaning is hidden or unfathomable.” As Sanday and Headlam observe (Romans 11:25), with St. Paul it is a mystery revealed. Again, as to μέγα, the English versions—not only the incorrect AV., “this is a great mystery,” but the grammatically correct RV., “this mystery is great“—convey the idea that what is said is, that the mysteriousness is great, or, that the mystery is in a high degree a mystery. This is not only inconsistent with the meaning of μυστήριον, assuming, as it does, that “hiddenness” is the whole of its meaning (for to speak of a thing as in a high degree a revealed secret would be unintelligible), but it assigns to μέγα a meaning which does not belong to it. In English we may speak of great facility, great folly, simplicity, (πολλὴ μωρία, εὐηθεία); great ignorance (πολλὴ ἄγνοια); great perplexity (πολλὴ


What, then, is the μυστήριον of which St. Paul thus speaks? Some suppose it to be this statement about marriage, which to the heathen would be new. But this requires us to take λέγω in the sense “I interpret,” or the like, which it does not admit. It is better to understand it as referring to the comparison of marriage with union of Christ with the Church. The latter clause, then, expressly points out that the former does not refer to marriage in itself, and λέγω has the same which it frequently has in St. Paul, “I mean.”

V. Soden takes τοῦτο to refer to what follows: “this secret, i.e. that which I am about to say as the secret sense of this sentence, is great, but I say it in reference to Christ and the Church,” comparing 1 Corinthians 15:51, μυστήριον ὑμῖν λέγω. This would be very elliptical.


Hatch translates: “this symbol (sc. of the joining of husband and wife into one flesh) is a great one. I interpret it as referring to Christ and to the Church” (Essays, p. 61).

The rendering of the Vulgate is: “Sacramentum hoc magnum est; ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia.” There are several other places in which μυστήριον is rendered “sacramentum,” viz. Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 1:3:3, Ephesians 1:9; Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 1:20.


It was, however, no doubt, the rendering in this passage which led to marriage being entitled a sacrament. In an encyclical of 1832 (quoted by Eadie) occurs the statement, “Marriage is, according to St. Paul’s expression, a great sacrament in Christ and in the Church.” But the greatest scholars of the Church of Rome have rejected this view of the present passage. Cardinal Caietan says: “Non habes ex hoc loco, prudens lector, a Paulo conjugium esse sacramentum. Non enim dixit esse sacramentum, sed mysterium.” And to the same effect Estius. Erasmus also says: “Neque nego matrimonium esse sacramentum, sed an ex hoc loco doceri possit proprie dici sacramentum quemadmodum baptismus dicitur, excuti volo.” As to the question whether marriage is properly to be reckoned a sacrament or not, this is very much a matter of definition. If sacrament is defined as in the Catechism of the Churches of England and Ireland and by other Reformed Churches, it is not, for it was not instituted by Christ. Even if we take Augustine’s definition, “a visible sign of an invisible grace,” there would be a difficulty. But if every rite or ceremony which either is, or includes in it, a sign of something spiritual, is to be called a sacrament, then marriage is well entitled to the name, especially in view of the apostle’s exposition here. But to draw any inference of this kind from the present passage is doubly fallacious, for this is not the meaning of μυστήριον; and, secondly, St. Paul expressly states that it is not to marriage that he applies the term, but to his teaching about Christ and the Church; or, according to the interpretation first mentioned, to the meaning of the verse from Genesis.

33. πλὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς οἱ καθʼ ἕνα ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/ephesians-5.html. 1896-1924.