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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Since you are. “Do not imitate the viciously immoral character of the heathen gods! You are God’s dear children and you must try to imitate his perfect character, especially his forgiving love!”

Verse 2


Controlled by love. “The greatest expression of God’s love is his act in Christ to set us free! Christ himself loved us and voluntarily gave his life for us (John 10:17-18)! Christ is our sin-offering, to change us from enemies to friends of God! This is the example of love which your life should imitate!”

Verse 3


God’s people. “As God’s holy people, sin is no longer a possible option for you (1 John 3:9)!The Gentiles did not count these things as sin, but these were some of the deadliest temptations to which the Gentile Christians were exposed. They still are!!! See notes on Galatians 5:19-20.

Verse 4


For you to use. “Even the way you talk must show you belong to God!” Obscene. Deeply offensive to morality or decency. Foolish. Frivolous and senseless. But it may have the sense of malicious gossip (see note on Matthew 12:36). Dirty words. The coarse joking that makes fun of modesty and despises goodness. Give thanks to God. This is the antidote to the attitude that uses obscene, foolish, or dirty words, If you spend your life giving thanks to God, you will avoid these sins which are out of place in the life of God’s child.

Verse 5


You may be sure of this. “The message of the Good News teaches you that no man, even a Christian, who is immoral, indecent, or greedy (Ephesians 5:3) will ever receive a share in the Kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23)!Idol worship. The greedy man makes money his idol.

Verse 6


Do not let. “Do not let a legislator, a philosopher, a teacher, or a preacher deceive you with foolish words and convince you that these things we say to prohibit immorality, indecency, greed, and evil words are only ritual rules which originate from the Law of Moses! God’s wrath is coming on the world for these very things!!!” Compare Romans 1:18; Jude 1:15-16.

Verse 7


So. “Do not share in their crimes, or you will share in their punishment!” Compare 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14 and notes.

Verse 8


Used to be. “When you were heathens, you used to live in darkness, even though you knew secrets ‘and mysteries. But now you have become the Lord’s people and are in the light of truth! This places an obligation on you to make your life style holy!” In the Dead Sea Scrolls, light and darkness are locked in struggle during this entire age. The Good News shows that the crisis was reached when Christ came into the world (John 1:5); and that the darkness is passing away, and the real light is already shining (1 John 2:8). The darkness has already lost! See John 12:31 and note.

Verse 9


That brings a rich harvest. The pagan mystery religions stressed ecstatic experience as a fruit or harvest of their version of light. Paul makes it plain that the true harvest which light brings is a transformed life style! Compare Colossians 1:10; Galatians 5:22-23.

Verse 10


What pleases the Lord. “Your life is a living sacrifice in praise to God! So you must learn what the Lord expects from you!”

Verse 11


Have nothing to do. “Have no part in the worthless things that people do in secret, things that belong to the darkness! Bring everything out into the light of truth and expose evil for what it is!”

Verse 12


Even to talk. Those initiated into the mystery religions were not allowed to reveal the secrets and mysteries. Paul is saying that this certainly is best, since they are really too horrible to even talk about!

Verse 13


Then their true nature. “The light of the Good News clearly shows up the true nature of things. If the light, so called, of the mystery religions was true, it would show up their sins for what they really are!”

Verse 14


Becomes light. The TEV gives the literal translation, the NIV the meaning. Alford understands this: “The light of your Christian life, which will be by your reproof (censure) shed upon these deeds of darkness, will bring them out of the category of darkness into light.” That is why. Some think this quotation is from an early Christian baptismal hymn. This kind of language was associated with baptism very quickly (compare Hebrews 6:4). Baptism was viewed as the climax of being raised from the dead (spiritually) into the light of Christ (Colossians 2:12).

Verse 15


To how you live. “Wise men see the ethical side of truth and pay close attention to their life style. Ignorant men do not, and let themselves be swept away by the forces of evil.”

Verse 16


Make good use. “The days we live in are so morally corrupt, that you must seize every opportunity you get to do good!” Compare Colossians 4:5-6; 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

Verse 17


But try to find out. A Christian has a new mind and a different set of goals. He or she will carefully evaluate each situation in the light of Christ, to find out what the Lord wants done. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:13-15.

Verse 18


Do not get drunk. “Do not get drunk with wine as the heathens do in their orgies! This will only ruin you, as it gives the Devil a chance to lead you into all kinds of sins!” Be filled with the Spirit. Compare John 7:37-39. The wild rites of music, dancing, and wine used by the mystery religions will ruin those who participate. Paul shows the contrast of being filled with the Spirit, which builds up and incites to holy living!

Verse 19


Speak to one another. “Instead of singing lewd songs as the heathens do in the worship of their gods, you, in your praise to God and your times of jubilation, must speak in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Psalm. The Septuagint gave this meaning of: singing praise to God. Hymn. A general song of praise. Spiritual songs. Any song with a spiritual theme. It may be that the Holy Spirit himself was the source of many of these songs (1 Corinthians 14:26). Lipscomb says: “Singing is’ one means of getting the word of Christ into the hearts of the hearers. By speaking in songs they are to teach and admonish one another, by bringing the thoughts and feelings of the heart into harmony with the sentiment [meaning] of the songs.” Sing hymns and psalms. A literal translation might be: hymning and psalming in your heart to the Lord. The TEV gives the meaning. [Some see in this the vocal music of the synagogue and early church.] See notes on Colossians 3:16.

Verse 20


Always give thanks. Thanksgiving is a form of praise and is to always be the attitude of the Christian, no matter what the external circumstances might be!!! In the name. Compare Colossians 3:17 and note.

Verse 21


Submit yourselves. This is the general rule of Christian community. Reverence for Christ is both a motive, and points to the example which Christ himself set for us. Members of the body of Christ have to submit themselves to the life of the body as a whole, and to the direction of the head, who is Christ Jesus! Compare John 17:20-21.

Verse 22


Wives. This submitting does not imply any inferiority, but rather a mutual sharing. This attitude on the part of the wife grows out of her reverence for Christ.

Verse 23


Has authority. Note Paul says the Christ-church relationship sets the standard for the husband-wife relationship. Wives must submit to the authority of the husbands; husbands must love the wives. The Savior. In this Paul stresses the difference to strengthen the truth of what he is teaching. See next verse.

Verse 24


In the same way. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “Christ indeed is Savior of the body, and that the husband is not; nevertheless the question of obedience is not affected thereby; for all that, as the Church is subject to Christ, so too are wives to be subject to their husbands.” Johnson says: “The relation of the wife to the husband is like that of the church to Christ, a close, tender relation, in which there is no bondage [slavery], but freedom, because the service is that of the heart.” Compare 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 and notes.

Verse 25


Love your wives. This modifies the relationship. The word here for love is AGAPE. If the wife’s duty is submission, the husband’s is love – a love like Christ’s! This gives Paul an opportunity to point to the great love which Christ had, and in particular, the loving act of the Cross!!! Compare Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 2:4-5; Romans 5:8.

Verse 26


He did this. This points to the goal of Christ’s self-sacrificing love. To dedicate the church. The idea is to make holy, to set apart for holy use. By his word. The promise attached to baptism (1 Peter 3:21) is like a marriage vow. The washing in water would have no meaning without the authority of his word (see notes on Acts 2:38). After making it clean. The aorist verb form points to the act of baptism by which believers are united with Christ, rather than to continuous Christian growth. Wesley says: “In baptism; if, with ‘the outward and visible sign,’ we receive the ‘inward and spiritual grace.’” Compare Titus 3:5 and note.

Verse 27


In order to present. “Christ makes the church clean, so that at the Day of Judgment he may present her to himself as a bride who is pure and holy! Compare Revelation 19:7-9 and notes.

Verse 28


Men ought to love their wives. Paul intends to stress the close relationship between Christ and his church. In marriage, the husband and wife become one (Matthew 19:5). This love is more than a duty, it is a natural thing!!!

Verse 29


No one ever hates. “No one in his right mind would hate his own body! Instead he feeds it generously and takes very good care of it, and this is just how Christ treats his church!!! And of course this is how a husband should take care of his wife.”

Verse 30


For we are members. Adam used this language about Eve: “She is bone out of my bones and flesh out of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23 Zamenhof). We are in fact parts of that body of which Christ is the head!!!

Verse 31


As the scripture says. Genesis 2:24. This quotation points to a separation from others, and to a permanent union! It also implies that Christ left his home with the Father for the sake of his spiritual Bride!

Verse 32


A great truth revealed. To Paul, a mystery is something once hidden but now revealed. The TEV gives the correct meaning. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “The truth of which I have spoken, the relation of husband and wife as one flesh, is a revelation of profound importance; but let me explain that, in speaking of it as I have done, my meaning is to direct your minds to that higher relation between Christ and His Church, in its likeness to which lies its deepest significance.”

Verse 33


But it also. “This has very practical meaning for you also.” Every husband. “Every husband must love his wife as he loves his own body!” Every wife. “Every wife must respect her husband because of her reverence for Christ!” [There may be special meaning in the fact that Paul tells the husband to love, and the wife to respect. ]

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/ephesians-5.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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