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A Warning, Principally against the Sins of Uncleanness.
The imitation of God excludes uncleanness:
v. 1. Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children;
v. 2. 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.
v. 3. But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
v. 4. neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.
v. 5. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any in heritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
The first verses of this chapter really conclude the thought at the close of the previous chapter. Paul had there admonished the Christians to be forgiving, in remembrance of the mercy which had been shown them in Christ Jesus. He here adds: Become, therefore, imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God for a savor of sweet smell. The Christians are children of God through Christ and as such the objects of the love of God. Where the proper relation obtains, however, between a father and his children, there the children will, both unconsciously and consciously, imitate their father; they will pattern their lives after his. And so the Christians have their heavenly Father as their type and example of love. God's love toward us unworthy creatures puts us under the obligation of showing a similar love in our lives. As Luther has it: "The entire outward life of the Christians should be nothing but love. " But as God is an example of unselfish love, so also is Christ; He is, with the Father, the great motive and pattern of our love. So great was His love for us that He delivered Himself for us, in our stead, for our benefit; He became an offering, a sacrifice, for us. By offering up His own life and body on the altar of the cross He has succeeded in turning the good-pleasure of God to our account. For His sacrifice was fully acceptable to God, it rose to the nostrils of God as a sweet smell, or odor in remembrance of this love the apostle wants the Christians to exercise love toward one another; the love of Christ is to be both pattern and spur to every disciple.
With the love that is shown in the lives of the Christians should he combined holiness and purity: Fornication, however, and uncleanness, every form of it, and greediness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as it is fitting for saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not proper, but rather giving of thanks. The sins which the apostle here enumerates are such as were prevalent among the Gentiles and would therefore tend to dull the edge of sensitive consciences by the very fact of their being so common. There was fornication, the indulging in forbidden sexual intercourse, uncleanness, obscenity, nastiness of every description, all the forms of immorality indulged in by the heathen with such an air of self-evident custom. There was the sin of greed, of avarice, of covetousness, in which ail the thoughts of a man's heart are directed upon the acquisition of vain possessions, of filthy lucre. So utterly incompatible are these vices with the character of the followers of God and imitators of Christ that no Christian should in any way be associated with them, not one of them should be charged to him with even the remotest show of justice. So earnestly should believers guard their honor, their reputation in this respect that all evil talk will die for want of fuel. So pure should Christian congregations be in this regard that not even rumor will dare to lift its head; that is fitting for saints, for such as are consecrated to the Lord in their entire lives. But even the sins of impurity in their finer forms, where the fault is not so open and glaring, are not proper for a Christian congregation and should never be found in the midst of the assembly of believers. There is filthiness, indecent, shameful behavior in general; there is insipid, silly talk, loose discourse, which moves just on the boundary of the outright indecent and lewd; there is jesting, frivolity, scurrility, wittiness which is characterized by broad suggestiveness rather than by aptness. Instead of these things there should be found among the Christians giving of thanks. As beloved children of the heavenly Father they should be kept so busy in praising the goodness and mercy of God that they have absolutely no time left for such impure forms of pastime.
But lest the Christians underestimate the seriousness of the situation, the apostle adds: For this you are sure of, being aware that every adulterer and unclean person and covetous man, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. This knowledge belongs to the fundamentals of Christian teaching, that sinners of this kind, flagrant violators of the Sixth and Seventh Commandments, are excluded from the riches of God's grace by their own fault. And the miser, the covetous person, who makes money his god, is incidentally an idolater, violating also the First Commandment. They have no part, no inheritance, in the kingdom of God's grace, which is at the same time that of Christ: for God has chosen His own, His children, that they should be holy and unblamable before Him in love. Thus we have here a direct reference to the final certain damnation of all adulterers, all unclean persons, all avaricious men, if they continue in these sins to their end. Note that also in this passage Christ is placed on an absolute level with God the Father; the true, eternal Godhead belongs to Him.
The children of light avoid the works of darkness:
v. 6. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
v. 7. Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them.
v. 8. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light,
v. 9. (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,)
v. 10. proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
v. 11. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
v. 12. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
v. 13. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
v. 14. Wherefore, he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
The Ephesian Christians, like those of every city since, were in the minority in the city, a few in the midst of many heathen. Not only did they have the constant example of the Gentiles before them, but they were also continually subject to temptations. The sins which the apostle, for instance, had just mentioned as vices to be abhorred, they regarded as innocent joys and pastimes in which any one might indulge for a time in order to sow his wild oats. But the apostle warns the Ephesians, as he does the Christians of today: Let no one deceive you, seduce you, with vain words, with empty, foolish talk. The people that indulge in such talk are chiefly such as have come in contact with the Christian religion, but refused to be persuaded. Their smooth words are dangerous arguments, and the Christians must not listen to them; for because of these sins, as the apostle once more emphatically says, the wrath of God descends upon the children of unbelief. This is not only the wrath of the final Judgment, but the decree of punishment which strikes the sinners even in this world. Sons of disobedience the willful sinners are called, for disobedience is their sphere of activity, they practice it unceasingly and thus challenge the temporal punishments and the eternal damnation which comes upon them. The apostle holds up, as it were, a warning finger: Do riot, then, become partakers with them; do not allow yourselves to fall back into ways which you have forsaken through the grace of God. For these vices are not only subject to punishment, as outlined above, but they deprive of the grace of God given in regeneration. If the Christians become partakers with the unbelievers of their sins, they will become companions of them also in their damnation. Being in the midst of unbelievers, being engaged in business with them, the Christians must be doubly careful lest they be drawn into the prevalent immorality and profiteering business methods.
The apostle brings a strong argument to support his admonition: For you were formerly darkness, now, however, a light in the Lord. Darkness is the spiritual condition of the unconverted, the unbelievers; their sphere was sin, godlessness, transgression of God's holy Law. But that time, that condition, is wholly past and gone in the case of the Ephesians. As Christians they were no longer darkness (which implies more than merely being darkened), but they had now, through the power of God, become enlightened to such an extent as to make them a light in the Lord. By being converted or regenerated, the former Gentiles had not only been removed from the perdition of the world and brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, their Savior, they had not only been filled with the light of the Gospel, but they had themselves become a light in the Lord, Romans 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:4. They could now not only walk worthy of the light, but they were able to serve as a light for others, lead others into the way of sanctification. And Paul immediately enumerates some of the virtues which the Christians should show in their sphere of activity, in their walk as children of light For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth. The character of the believers as the children of light cannot but express itself in this manner, they must show the fruit of the light in their lives. Three virtues are named by the apostle as giving the soundest evidence of the Spirit of light in a person's life: goodness in all its forms, moral soundness and propriety, combined with active beneficence; righteousness, moral rectitude, which takes care that nothing and nobody receives any injury; truth, moral purity, sincerity and integrity as opposed to hypocrisy and falsehood. Thus Christian morality is described as being good, just, and true. And in thus giving expression to the light that is in them, in thus walking as the children of light, the Christians are so careful against the deception of unbelief and enmity against God that their attitude always is: Proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord. To all things, to all customs, to all forms approved by society, to everything that they come in contact with in life, the Christians apply the standard of God's holy will. For often the difference between right and wrong is not immediately obvious, and therefore the spiritual man is very careful about judging, 1 Corinthians 2:15. The Christian's aim in this life is to find out what pleases the Lord, and then to abide by His will.
If the Christians, moreover, walk as the children of light, the apostle's words will be heeded: And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but, on the other hand, rather reprove them. Light, as wrought by the Spirit, brings forth fruit, fruit which must be acknowledged as such everywhere. But the darkness, the unconverted state, the condition of unbelief, can bring forth real fruit as little as weeds are able to: the works of darkness are unfruitful, they are destructive, wicked, dead, Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 9:14; Colossians 1:21. The Christians will, therefore, have nothing in common with them, they will shun and avoid them at all times. And not satisfied with a mere attitude of refusal, they will, on their part, go forward to attack the evil in an aggressive manner, reprove them, show their sinfulness. "The idea, therefore, is that these Christians were not at liberty to deal lightly with such sins, or connive at them, or be silent about them, but had to speak out against them and hold them up to rebuke, with the view of bringing their heathen neighbors to apprehend their turpitude and forsake them."
This attitude of the Christians is demanded all the more by the fact: What is secretly done of them is indeed a shame even to speak of; yet all things, when they are reproved, are manifested by the light, for everything which is made manifest is light. The secret sins which are practiced by the children of darkness are indeed of such a nature that they can hardly be mentioned without blushing; in the time when the apostle lived, the most unnatural vices were taken as a matter of course. Yet their naming under circumstances becomes a duty, as we see in the case of the apostle in the first chapter of Romans. Thus the secrecy of the vices here referred to is the reason why they require to be reproved openly; and the very fact of their being so abominable makes it all the more incumbent to administer open rebukes instead of silently overlooking, or conniving at, their presence. All the sins and vices of the heathen, of the unbelievers, both those that are done in public and such as are done in secret, are manifested, exposed, brought to light when they are reproved by the light, that is, by the children of light, by the Christians. The direct reproof, indeed, strikes only the known sins, but the testimony of the truth in the mouth of the Christians penetrates also into the hidden depths of the human heart and convicts the sinners of secret sins and vices. In support of this course Paul refers to an axiom: Everything that is made manifest is light. Things that were hidden and secret are illuminated by being placed into the light. And thus a person that becomes conscious of his misery, of his guilt, thereby reaches the point that he, by the gracious influence of God, turns away from sin, learns to know the mercy of the Savior, and then conducts his life in accordance with God's will and becomes a light in the Lord. This will unfortunately not always be the result of the Christian's testimony against sin, since many hardened sinners refuse to heed the warning of the Law; but there will always be some that are enlightened by the Spirit of God through the Word, and this fact should serve as a stimulus to the believers to rebuke sin and try to work knowledge of sin whenever an opportunity presents itself.
The apostle concludes this section with a reference to a well-known verse: Therefore it is said, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. This quotation is not taken from Scriptures, but may have been a verse adapted from the synagogue or Christian liturgy of Paul's days, or Paul applied a common greeting of the Jewish New Year to the situation. At God's call the Christian should open his eyes and, in turn, call out to his unbelieving, godless neighbor: With your sins you are lying in spiritual sleep, death, and destruction. Therefore arise from sleep, arise from the dead; repent, be converted! If this call works the knowledge of sin, then Christ will give the knowledge of salvation. Christ is here pictured as a beautiful, shining, flashing light. The sinner, having arisen from the sleep of sin and death, is surrounded and flooded with Christ, the Sun of Salvation, and thus becomes blessed and happy in this illumination. The quotation which Paul here makes use of, therefore, comes in very relevantly to show both the need for the reproof and the good effects of such a reproof by the grace of God.
Things demanded by the correctness of the Christian walk:
v. 15. See, then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
v. 16. redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
v. 17. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
v. 18. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,
v. 19. speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your he art to the Lord;
v. 20. giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
v. 21. submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
The apostle continues his admonition to the Christians to walk as the children of light, since such behavior on their part will always serve to impress the unbelievers: Take heed, then, carefully how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise. Christians should exercise all diligence, watch over their entire life with great diligence. Every step of their way through life must be taken with deliberate carefulness, lest in, showing themselves wise in the sense of Scriptures, in using the proper means for right ends, they forget the caution demanded by the situation and thus become unwise. For this reason they should also make proper use of their time, literally, take advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. It may sometimes cost the believers something in self-denial to speak to unbelievers of God and Christ, to rebuke their evil ways, and to show them the one way of salvation, especially since the days are-evil, and therefore do not seem appropriate for such works of love. The general opposition of the world against the Gospel of Christ is a hindering factor. Opportune moments are rare and should he grasped immediately. For this cause also the Christians should not become foolish, devoid of understanding. They are wise in the knowledge of the will of God and should therefore shun everything that tends to take away the understanding which they possess. Discerning they should be; they should learn to distinguish very carefully, mark with Christian jealousy, just what at this time, in this place, under the present conditions, is the will of the Lord. This is true in general, in the entire life of the Christians, as well as in particular, in the conduct of the Christians toward their environment. Note: It is this admonition which should be heeded with far greater diligence in our day, when people that claim to be believers are accommodating themselves to the ways of the world instead of observing the boundary line with the strictness demanded by the Lord. The will of the Lord must decide in any situation, not questions of expediency.
In order that Christians may retain the sane composure necessary for their calling in this world, the following is necessary, of course: And be not inebriated with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit. People that are addicted to wine, that are given to an excess of strong drink, cannot make use of sane judgment; for intemperance results in dissoluteness, in an abandoned, debauched life, in a condition where the calm use of the enlightened reason is out of the question. Believers will rather at all times strive to be filled with the Spirit of God, in whose power they are able to walk in the light, to avoid the works of darkness, to inquire in all things for the will of God. The inspiration and enlightenment of the Spirit should govern the entire life of the Christian.
As an excellent aid toward attaining to this state and remaining in it, Paul mentions: Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. In the Old Testament Psalms, as they were used in the services of the Christians from earliest times, in the hymns or chorals which were intended for use in public services, in spiritual songs of a more general tone and nature, but quite distinct from the worldly lyrics and odes, the Christians should edify one another. Would that this admonition were heeded more by the Christians of our days, in order that the great mass of incredibly vapid and unspeakably silly ragtime and jazz pieces would disappear and remain absent from all Christian homes! For true disciples of Jesus should edify and teach one another also by means of the songs which they sing, not only in public worship, but also in their homes. Both in public hymns of praise and thanksgiving and in the jubilant exulting of the believing heart which continues without interruption, all glory should be given to the Lord for His boundless mercy and goodness. By such singing, praying, confessing, heart and mind are lifted up as on mighty wings of joy, and the spiritual life is refreshed and steadied. For surely there is reason enough: Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father. The constant mercy and goodness of God makes thanksgiving a constant duty. There is never a time when a Christian has no occasion to give thanks to God, his heavenly Father, in Jesus Christ, his Lord, with heart and hand and voice, for His fatherly care, also on the days that seem dark. And where this thanksgiving arises from the believing heart, there is joy in the Spirit, joy in the Lord, power for every good work. This relation to God will, in turn, determine the relation of the Christians toward one another: Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. The love toward God and Christ which rules in the hearts of believers naturally finds its expression in a life of service toward their neighbor. The interests of the other are considered on the same level as one's own, one believer endeavoring to prefer the other in honor, and all out of reverence for Christ, who did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. See Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13.
The Duties of Husbands and Wives as Shown by the Relation of Christ to the Church. Ephesians 5:22-33
The exhortation with its basis:
v. 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord;
v. 23. for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.
v. 24. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
v. 25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it,
v. 26. that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
v. 27. 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.
Of this entire section it has been stated that "it gives the Christian ideal of the marriage-relation, It is the loftiest conception of that relation that has ever come from human pen, and one than which no higher can be imagined. " Expanding the thought of the last admonition, the apostle writes: Wives, to your own husbands be subject as to the Lord. To their own husbands, to the men with whom they have entered into the relationship of holy wedlock, Christian wives give subjection. This they do, not unwillingly, as in the obedience of a forced submission, but by virtue of their willing consent at the time of the betrothal; for they are not subject to the husband as their lord and master, but "as to the Lord," that is, as to Christ. Just as Christian women are, by virtue of faith, in a state of submission to Christ. so the obedience which they render to their husbands is one rendered to Christ, the Christian husband being the head of the wife and typifying to her Christ, the Head of the entire Christian Church: For the husband is the head of the wife, just as also Christ is the Head of the Church, Himself being the Savior of the body. In the case of Christ it is a matter both of superiority and of headship, for He is both God and the Savior of the body; His Church, the Christians, having accepted Him by faith, they have individually and collectively become the members of His body, the communion of saints, united in one great organism. In the case of the husband not all points of comparison can be stressed. It may not be a question of superiority, but it is always very distinctly a question of headship. It is God's will that the husband be the head of the wife; the provision made at the time of creation is thus confirmed for the time of the Few Testament.
Just how far this relation will extend in the sense as here given, is stated by the apostle: Nevertheless, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also the wives to the husbands in everything. The apostle makes no concessions to modern over-emancipation, neither does he give to the husband unlimited latitude. The meaning of the apostle is this: The fact that Christ is the Savior of the Church in no way affects the fact that He is also the Head of the Church; now, though the husband is not the savior of the body, the question of obedience for all that is not affected thereby; as the Church is subject to Christ, so, too, are wives subject to their husbands. It is expressly stated that this is to be in all things, the wife thus not being given permission to make arbitrary exceptions. But it is self-evident that the headship of man is confined to the matters of this life only. So far as the sphere of Christianity is concerned, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:28.
On the part of the women it is a matter of voluntary submission in a relation to their husbands which is compared to that of the Church to Christ. Being coheirs with the men of the hope of salvation, they might be inclined to demand equality in the marital relation and life: in answer to such thoughts the headship of the husbands was emphasized. On the part of the men the danger consisted in assuming an overbearing lordship, in deeming themselves authorized to make use of severity. To them St. Paul saps: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and offered Himself up for it. The apostle wants the husbands to show their love for their wives in their actions at all times; it should be an active, willing love. The apostle does not introduce a reason for this love, since its presence is assumed on the basis of the order of creation, but he offers the highest example and comparison that could be conceived of. The chief proof of the love of Christ for the congregation consisted in this, that He offered up Himself, that He sacrificed His own life for the Church, in the interest of the Church, for the expiation of sins. The redemption was merited for the whole world, but only in the case of the believers is it actually realized; and so the vicarious work of Christ, the supreme proof of His love, is here represented as having taken place in the interest of the Church. And the result of this work, as it actually appears in the life of the believers, is: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of the water in the word. It is not only justification that the apostle speaks of here, he is referring not merely to the righteousness and perfection which was imputed to every believer at the time of His conversion, but he is speaking of the sanctification which is going on in the Church, having been begun in the believers in their baptism to be perfected on the last day. Christ consecrated His Church, set it apart for Himself. And this He did by cleansing each member of the Church by the miraculous washing of water, by the sacrament of Holy Baptism. For this water is not simple water only, as Luther very correctly writes, but the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word. The water of Baptism cleanses from the corruption of inherited sin, it has the power to regenerate, to renew heart and mind, the nature of man. See Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12; Titus 3:5.
The final object of the sanctifying done by Christ is given in the second dependent clause: That He Himself might present to Himself the Church, glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things, but that it should be holy and unblamable. Christ, as the Bridegroom, having purchased the Bride with His blood and having cleansed all believers, the members of the Church, by the water of Baptism, now presents or sets forth His Bride. The sanctification of this present time will reach its climax in the final glorification, when the Kingdom of Grace will become the Kingdom of Glory, when the Church Militant will become the Church Triumphant. "Christ presents the Church to Himself, He and no other, to Himself. He does it. He gave Himself for it. He sanctifies it. He, before the assembled universe, places by His side the Bride purchased with His blood. He presents it to Himself a glorious Church. That is glorious which excites admiration. The Church is to be an object of admiration to all intelligent beings, because of its freedom from all defects and because of its absolute perfection. It is to be conformed to the glorified humanity of the Son of God, in the presence of which the disciples on the mount became as dead men, and from the clear manifestation of which, when Christ comes the second time, the heavens and the earth are to flee away. God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son. And when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2. The figure is preserved in the description here given of the glory of the consummated Church. It is to be as a faultless bride; perfect in beauty and splendidly adorned. She is to be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, i. e. , without anything to mar her beauty, free from every indication of age, faultless and immortal. What is thus expressed figuratively is expressed literally in the last clause of the verse, that it should be holy and without blame. " (Hodge.)
Further application of the comparison:
v. 28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
v. 29. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church;
v. 30. for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
v. 31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
v. 32. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
v. 33. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
The apostle here returns to his comparison: Even so ought husbands to love their own wives as their own bodies. It is not a matter of choice, but of obligation, of duty. It is true indeed that mere human beings cannot love their spouses with the same measure of love which Christ showed in His solicitude for the Church. But every Christian husband can and should have the lave of Christ for the Church as an example before His eyes always; he should be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of his wife; he should always be ready to strengthen his wife, as the weaker vessel, in all good things. But Paul here expressly states that men have the duty of loving their wires, because a man's wife is his flesh by virtue of the marital relationship. It is thus a self-evident duty which Paul is trying to inculcate: He that loves his wife loves himself. It follows, therefore: For no one ever hated his own flesh, but every one nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also the Church. What Paul implies is that there surely is no need of reminding a man of the duty which he owes to his own flesh and blood, to his very own body. He takes the very best care of it, he covers and protects it. So the Christian husband will comport himself toward his wife in providing for her needs, both as to food and shelter, physical and moral. And here again the apostle brings out the example of Christ, whose nourishing and cherishing love toward the believers is so abundantly substantiated in Scripture and in personal experience. By way of explanation Paul here adds: For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. We Christians owe our existence, especially in spiritual matters, to Christ; by and through our conversion we became His members, we have His Spirit, His life, within us, we are connected with Him by the most intimate bonds of fellowship. As the wife in marriage becomes one flesh with her husband, so we, the members of the Church, the Bride of Christ, are united with our Bridegroom, deriving from Him our spiritual life and power at all times.
Returning now to the thought of v. 28, Paul refers to the order of God in creating the estate of holy matrimony: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. See Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5. Here the fact that the wife is one flesh with her husband is supported by Scriptural proof. That is the plan, the design, of God. Marriage having been entered upon, former relations and considerations are altered, are placed secondary to this new relation between husband and wife. The wife is thereafter the man's own body, and upon him devolves the duty which the apostle has set forth in such a convincing manner.
The apostle is now ready to draw double conclusion from the discussion. So far as the example of Christ and the Church is concerned which he has adduced, he writes: This mystery is great; I speak, however, with reference to Christ and the Church. That marriage is here not called a sacrament, as the Romish Church teaches, is shown by the very words of Paul, who declares that He is speaking of Christ and the Church, and not of the estate of holy matrimony. But that is a mystery, a secret of faith, that Paul should use the relation obtaining between Christ and the Church as a type of the relation as it should obtain in holy wedlock, as he has set it forth in the preceding verses. No one but an inspired writer could have made the comparison in that way and attached to the comparison such solemn admonitions. But Paul has now said enough of that, so he concludes: Nevertheless (not to say more of that higher union), see that you, every one of you for his own person, so love his own wife as himself; the wife, on the other hand, reverence the man. There is no evading the issue here, and no excuses are acceptable. Each and every husband is under the express obligation to love his wife, no matter whether he encounter the difficulty of a temper or of some other unpleasantness. And so far as the wife is concerned, her position requires her to be obedient to the husband in reverent fear, which, on her side, also proceeds from love and is willing to overlook human frailties. It is mutual love, mutual understanding which will solve. all the problems of married life, if both husband and wife are actuated and governed by the fear of the Lord.
The apostle warns the Ephesians against walking in the impure lusts of the Gentiles, their calling obligating them to walk as the children of light, with all circumspection; he admonishes both husbands and wives to be diligent in their duties toward each other by holding before them the comparison of Christ's love toward the Church, His Bride.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany