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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

c. Three points of view for the new walk

(Ephesians 5:1-14.)

1) Look above thyself to follow God!

(Ephesians 5:1-2.)

1Be ye [Become] therefore followers [or imitators] of God, as dear [beloved] children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us [also loved you],1 and hath given himself [gave himself up] for us2 an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour [savour of sweet smell].


Ephesians 5:1-2 a. The exhortation. Become therefore, γίνεσθε οὖν.—This connects with what precedes (Ephesians 4:32): γίνεσθε δέ, marking an inference, and at the same time an advance and a distinction, so that it is=διό (Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 2:11; Ephesians 3:3), and like διὰ τοῦτο (Ephesians 1:15), τούτου χάριν (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 3:14), indicating a new section, as it does in Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:17; Ephesians 5:15. Hence these verses are not to be joined to chap. 4 (Schenkel [Hodge]3 and others).—Followers [or imitators] of God, μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ.—Like 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1Co 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 6:12; 1 Peter 3:13. An injunction on the part of the Apostle to the churches, believers, to imitate what is good; we always find γίνεσθαι, never εἶναι, in this connection; thus the becoming so is marked. Luther, [E. V.], (be), Vulgate (estote) render incorrectly. In what sense this enormous requirement is intended is clearly indicated by the context: condonando et amando; nam sequitur amati (Bengel). [Hence the word “imitators,” though a literal rendering, suggests too much, and “followers” is sufficiently correct.—R.]

As beloved children [ὡς τέκνα�].—̔Ως, “as,” denotes the reality, τέκνα�, “beloved children,” the relation in which they are the objects of the love of God4 and through Christ His children. Theodoret: υἱοθεσίας ἠξῖώθητε, πατέρα τὸν θεὸν ὀνομάζετε, ζηλώσατε τοιγαροῦν τὴν συγγένειαν. Comp. 1Jn 4:12; 1 John 4:7-11; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36. Liberorum est, patrem moribus referre (Grotius).

Ephesians 5:2. And walk in love.—Καί, “and,” is epexegetical, in order to define the point of the imitation: περιπατεῖτε ἐν�, “walk in love,” “even as God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). ̓Εν� is God’s characteristic (Ephesians 1:4-5), our aim (Ephesians 3:17-19); the former makes the latter possible. On περιπατεῖν, see Ephesians 2:2.

Ephesians 5:2 b. Closer designation. As Christ also loved you [καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ὑμᾶς. See Textual Notes.]—“In Christ” (Ephesians 4:32) is now explained. “As Christ also” binds the Christian walk to Christ and His work. Christ has loved you, in that He became man and dwelt among men, served them, being mighty in word and deed. [While “the Apostle makes no distinction between our being the objects of God’s love, and our being the objects of the love of Christ” (Hodge), it is quite as true that καί, also, marks an advance “from the love of the Father who gave His Son, to that of the Son, the Personal manifestation of that love in our humanity” (Alford). The force of the aorists should be preserved.—R.] The ὑμᾶς marks the exhortation more strongly than if the reading were ἡμᾶς, permitting the general predicate (ἠγάπησεν) to become prominent in its independent validity, over against what follows:

And gave himself up for us.—Καί παρέδωκεν ἑαυ τόν, over against ἔδωκεν (John 3:16) denotes two things: the voluntary giving and the giving Himself up to suffering, that is, to suffering in the general sense, including the special form, death: so has He loved. To this ὑπερ ἡμῶν, “for us,” also points. [The phrase in itself may or may not imply substitution; Ellicott and most think the context points indisputably in this case to the sense: in our stead.—Comp. Romans (Ephesians 5:6), p. 164; also Galatians (Ephesians 2:20, and Doctr. Notes on Ephesians 3:6-14).—R.] The figure is taken from a conflict, in which, against the enemies thronging over a fallen one, a hero, full of noble courage and of love, protectingly contends; similar to this is the use of περί, which gives prominence to the being encircled by foes. This reference is found also in the closer definition which follows.

An offering and a sacrifice, ποοσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν—According to Kliefoth [Liturg. Abhandlungen, 4 p. 27 ff.) קרְבַך (corban) is the common name for all sacrifices and offerings, bloody and unbloody, while מִנְחָה (mincha) is principally used of the unbloody (προσφορά), זֶבַח (zebach) for the bloody offerings (θυσία). Comp. Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:5; Hebrews 10:8, where both words occur, and Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:18 with Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:26, where they are used promiscuously. Still even there τοῦ αώματος is added to προσφορά, so that in accordance with the context and usus loquendi this distinction is to be maintained, and in the given order also, because He gave Himself here as a προσφορά, and became in death a θυσία, the former being the soul of the θυσία ζῶσα (Stier).—[Alford, Eadie, Ellicott, all find in the former term a more general reference to the vicarious work of Christ, and in the latter a more special reference to His death. “The great prominent idea here is the one sacrifice, which the Son of God made of Himself in His Redeeming love, in our nature—bringing it, in Himself, near to God—offering Himself as our representative Head: whether in perfect righteousness of life, or in sacrifice, properly so called, at His death” (Alford).—R.] Accordingly it is not necessary to supply είς θανατον in thought (Harless [Hodge], Schenkel and others); the context includes more.

To God for a savour of sweet smell [τῷ θεῷ5 εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας].—This is=רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ לַיהוָֹה (Exodus 29:18, LXX.: τῷ κυρίῳ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας; comp. Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 3:16), where κυρίῳ in correspondence with the original text is placed last. Hence “to God,” which is inserted for the sake of clearness, is not to be joined to the verb (Meyer). The two substantives (both derived from ὄζω, ὀσμὴ denoting the smell in so far as it is inhaled, and εὐωδία its quality, Winer, p. 562, or its effect, pleasure) give prominence to the fact that God the Father is well-pleased in the self-sacrificing love of the Crucified One, in order to strengthen, through the reference to this, the exhortation, that we too can become well-pleasing to the Father only in self-devoting love. Philippians 4:18; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 2:15.


1. The principle and impulse of the Christian walk is love—love as it actually exists in God, who is Love in His character (1 John 4:8), and as it has been felt and enjoyed by us who are beloved (ἀγαπητοί), so that we can give more and more what we have received and ever receive again. Now in Christ this love has become our portion, hence it is forgiving, reconciling, peace-making; to show this in their walk is here required of Christians.

2. God is the original, Christ the express image of the Father, and the ensample of His people, the Christian the likeness and copy. As the imitation of God cannot be absolute, but is to be limited to loving, to forgiving love, so the imitation of Christ cannot be directed toward expiatory sufferings, but only to self-sacrificing love for our fellows, well-pleasing to God.
3. As we are able to walk in love only as beloved of God and as vouchsafed sonship with Him, so we can only, when reconciled to God through Christ, follow Him in filial and hence in fraternal devotion; in His grace we first can walk as well-pleasing to Him. The error of the Socinians and the Rationalists who see in Christ and His self-sacrifice a mere example and nothing more, is great and pernicious. See Exeg. and Doctr. Notes on Ephesians 2:16. As the Bible highly estimates the icarious sufferings of Christ, which are taught, not in the ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, but in the θυσία6 and the whole Scripture (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6), so it occurs in the entire life of human society: the child lives by the mother’s sacrifice, and he for whom no one suffers is miserable. So we too should live for others and suffer in their stead; though we cannot make atonement, we can still live and love self-sacrificingly in the strength imparted to us.


Comp. the foregoing Doctr. Notes and Hom. Notes at the close of Ephesians 5:6-14.

Starke:—Wilt thou become like God hereafter, and see Him as He is, then must thou in this life be holy, even as He is holy.—No one can rightly boast himself of sonship with God, who does not imitate Him.—Christ’s example is the proper mirror in which to see the true and natural form of love.

Rieger:—The moral instruction of the Apostles is everywhere deduced from the marrow of the gospel, nor can it be put in practice by any one who does not stand in this gospel of peace. It is the character of love, to imitate as it may the Beloved.

Heubner:—This is a powerful precept: who can satisfy its demands? We cannot become like Him, but we can strive to follow Him in holiness and love. Imitating Christ and God is the same thing.—Christ is and remains the original, but we should be copies, the more faithful, the better.

Stier:—The Father gives His children but one command: Love!

Gerlach:—The thank-offering Christ brought for us, that we too might now offer ourselves to God; the sin-offering, that we need not suffer the same punishment.


Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:2—[The better attested reading is ὑμᾶς (א.1 A. B., cursives, versions and fathers). The Rec. has ἡμᾶς (א.3 D. E. F. K. L., most cursives and versions); so Lachmann, Ellicott. See text note.—R.]

[2] Ephesians 5:2—[B., with some minor authorities, reads ὑμῶν instead of ἡμῶν, which is well supported. The connection with the last clause complicates the critical question however. Tischendorf, Alford and others accept: ὑμᾶς—ὑμῶν; Lachmann, Ellicott and most (Rec.): ἡμᾶς—ἡμῶν. If a uniformity in the person of the pronoun is indispensable, then the latter is preferable but Braune, with Meyer and others, still more correctly accepts the variation (“loved you and gave himself for us), which is lectio difficilior, accounts best for the various readings, and in detail is better supported by diplomatic authority.—R.]

[3][Both Eadie and Ellicott seem disposed to regard the verses in this light, but Alford takes them as transitional, accepting the view of οὖν suggested by Stier and here upheld by Braune.—R.]

[4][The point suggested by the adjective is obscured in the E. V.: “dear;” “as children beloved,” they should imitate God in love, see Ephesians 5:2.—R.]

[5][Alford, Ellicott and others prefer to connect τῷ θεῷ as dat. commodi. This alters the sense very little, and is favored by the position of the words, though the Old Testament allusion strongly sustains the view of Braune, which is accepted by many commentators. The connection with the verb is out of the question.—R.]

[6][Eadie remarks: “To warrant the application of the term ‘sacrifice’ to the death of Christ, it must have been something more than the natural, fitting, and graceful conclusion of a self-denied life—it must have been a violent and vicarious decease and a voluntary presentation.” See his full doctrinal note in loco. At the same time Alford is perhaps justified in terming the question, as usually discussed, an “irrelevant one here.” “It is not the death of Christ which is treated of, but the whole process of His redeeming love. His death lies in the background as one, and the chief, of the acknowledged facts of that process: but it does not give the character to what is predicated of Him.” This exegetical view does not however favor any theory of the death of Christ which denies its vicarious, propitiatory character as an atoning sacrifice.—R.]

Verses 3-5

2) Look into thyself and think of purity

(Ephesians 5:3-5)

3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once [even] 4named among you, as becometh saints; Neither7 filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor 5[or] jesting, [things] which8 are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know [of this ye are sure,9 knowing] that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who10 is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of [omit of] God.11


The exhortation; Ephesians 5:3-4.

Ephesians 5:3. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness [πορνεία δὲ καὶ πᾱσα�].—“But,” δέ, indicates the transition to another part of the exhortation (Meyer). Πορνεία cannot here, where Christians are addressed, be taken in the heathen sense; the Scriptural meaning (in both Old and New Testament) is the prominent one. Hence it refers not to the coarsest exhibition, but to what is within, to the heart. It comes first as something general and comprehensive; applying to act, word, disposition, as indeed the context combines temper and walk in one, to men among themselves and in relation to God. “And all uncleanness” gives prominence to one particular side of this, pointing to every form and mode of the same. “Or covetousness” marks the other side, which is to be clearly distinguished, hence the disjunctive ἤ12, “or,” which indicates that πᾶσα, “all,” belongs here also. The former refers to impure, unchaste, ungodly, dalliance and contact, solitary uncleanness; the latter to greedy lusting, from a distance and ungratified. This accords with Ephesians 4:19, where both substantives are found.

Let it not be even named among you, μηδὲ ὁνομαζέσθω ἐν ὑμῖν.—Comp. Ephesians 5:12; Psalms 16:4. Such a thing should not even be taken up in speech, much less be done. ̓Εν ὑμῖν=ἐν μέαῳ ὑμῶν. The prohibition is of course to be limited: sine necessitate (Bengel). It is incorrect to explain: Such a thing should not be told of them, as 1 Corinthians 5:1 (Grotius, Bengel).

As becometh saints.—Καθώς, as in Ephesians 5:2; with τρέπει ἁγίοις, we should compare ἀξίως (Ephesians 4:17) and ὁαιότης (Ephesians 4:24), with which the introduction of such things into the speech is irreconcilable. [“Were the Apostle to say, Let despondency be banished, he might add, as becometh believers, or, Let enmity be suppressed, he might subjoin, as becometh the brethren; but he pointedly says in this place, “as becometh saints” (Eadie).—R.]

Ephesians 5:4. Neither filthiness, αἰσχρότης.—This evidently includes more than αἰσχρολογία (Colossians 3:8). Although the antithesis (εὐχαριστία) points to shameful words (Luther), neither the context, which places αἰσχρότης beside μωρολογία nor the word itself require an exclusive reference to speech. Still less is it to be limited to lewd talk. Bengel refers it also to gestus, etc.

Nor foolish talking, καὶ μωρολογία.—[Textual Note1. Should ἢ be accepted here, we should substitute or for nor, as is done in the case of the next substantive.—R.] According to the New Testament conception of μωρός, “fool” (Matthew 5:22; Psalms 14:1; Psalms 53:2), this means godless discourse; it is not merely stultiloquium, insipid talk, silly babbling (Calvin, [Hodge] Meyer, Schenkel). Luther hits the meaning with: Narrentheidinge, buffoonery, which denotes what is high-flown, pompous, in loose discourse. See Juetting: Bibl. Wörterbuch p. 189. [Trench, Syn. § Eph 34: “The talk of fools, which is folly and sin together.”—R.]

Or jesting, ἢ εὐτραπελία (from εὐ and τρέπω) means strictly urbanitas, a habit of cultivated people, not without adroitness and not without frivolity. Luther: jest. Bengel aptly says: subtilior ingenio nititur; this refers to the form, the previous term to the purport. The Vulgate is incorrect: scurrilitas. [Comp. Trench, § 34. on this word. He refers to “the profligate old man” of the Miles gloriosus (Plautus), who is exactly the εὐτράπελος, and remarkably enough an Ephesian, boasting as though such wit were an Ephesian birthright. See also Barrow’s famous sermon on wit from this text (Vol. 1, Serm. 14), an extract from which is given by Eadie in loco.—R.]

Things which are not convenient, τάοὐκ�.—This gives prominence to the wider range, beyond the lewdness and the coarser forms. In spite of μὴ καθήκοντα (Romans 1:28) we found οὐκ here, because the negation has coalesced with the word in one conception. See Winer, p. 452. As a predicate we must borrow an absint (Bengel) from μὴ ὀνομαζέσθω. [This phrase is not to be limited to the last of the three substantives, but is “in apposition to the last two words, to both of which εὐχαριστία, as denoting oral expression yet implying inward feeling, forms a clear contrast.”—R.]

But rather giving of thanks, μᾶλλον δὲ εὐχαριστία—ἀνήκει, as Bengel aptly supplies out of the preceding context, remarking: linguæ abusus opponitur sanctus et tamen Iætus usus, Ephesians 5:18-19. Non conveniunt abusus et usus εὐτραπηλία et εὐχαριστία, concinna paronomasia; illa turbat animam (et quidem subtilis aliquando jocus et lepus tenerum gratiæ sensum, Iædit) hæc exhilirat.13 As “beloved children” they have ever again to thank God. The reference is not to grace of discourse (Jerome, Calvin, and others, Stier includes this with the other), nor to pudicitia (Heinsius).

Ephesians 5:5. Special motive. For this ye are sure, knowing [τοῦτο γὰρἴατε γινώσκοντες].—“For” adds a ground, in order to strengthen the exhortation as a consequence therefrom. Accordingly ἔστε [ἴστε] γινώσκοντες is to be taken as an indicative [Meyer, Eadie, Alford and others], not as imperative (Vulgate, Luther, Bengel and others). The participle indicates the mode of knowing as of their own perception (Meyer), insight. Τοῦτο, “this,” placed in advance, points to what is stated afterwards, the import of which cannot be unknown to Christians. Winer (p. 333) is therefore incorrect: What is said in Ephesians 5:3-4, ye know, since ye perceive, that, etc. [This reference of τοῦτο to what follows is doubtful to say the least. It seems quite correct to refer it, as the object of ἴστε, to what precedes, γινώσκοντες being joined with ὅτι. Braune takes no notice of the correct reading, an inadvertence which probably modifies his opinion of the construction. The combination of finite verb and participle is not to be explained as Hebraistic, since the verbs are different.—R.]

That no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man.—The concrete terms (πόρνος, ἀκάθαρτος, πλεονέλτης), here occurring instead of the abstract ones mentioned in Ephesians 5:3, must be taken in the same sense. [The literal sense is: “that every fornicator or (ἤ individualizes here) unclean man, or covetous man, who is an idolater, hath not inheritance.” The negation is transferred to the subject according to English usage.—R.]

Who is an idolater, ὅς ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης.—This relative clause not only characterizes, but also gives a reason for the fact to be stated. On this account and because “who” is limited to the last term altogether without warrant, the clause is to be applied to “every whoremonger, unclean person, covetous man.” It is not the covetous man alone who is an idolater, having this world’s goods as his god (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:10); Paul holds “belly” and “glory” also as “god” for the enemies of the cross (Philippians 3:19). The proof lacks aptness, if that be not attributed to the first two, which is predicated of the third, who is not an idolater more especially than the former. The clause is incorrectly referred to the “covetous man” alone (Meyer, Schenkel, Bleek); Colossians 3:5 does not prove this, still less can it be said that Paul’s self-denial, which unselfishly offered up all, led him to affirm this of covetousness alone, since he was just as free from lust and uncleanness. [In this wide reference of the relative clause Braune is sustained by Harless, Stier and others, but the more limited view is that of Eadie, Hodge, Alford, Ellicott and most. It is more natural and obvious, since all that can be urged in favor of the other view but proves that the reference may be thus wide, not that it is. And covetousness is more specially idolatry, the other sins are but more subtle forms of this. If ὅ be accepted as the correct reading, then the reference is necessarily confined to the last word. See Alford in loco.—R.]

Hath any inheritance, οὖκ ἔχει κληρ ονομίαν.—See Ephesians 1:11. It is not=οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν, “shall not inherit” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), nor κληρονομῆσαι οὐ δύνανται (1 Corinthians 15:50). It is the fact respecting the status; permanent, prevalent sin excludes from the kingdom of God, effects the repelling of the arrhabo, the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 1:13-14); “hath an inheritance” is not=inherits the kingdom, since the former marks the heirship, the latter the entrance of the heir. To accept a certain future relation viewed as present, will not suffice (Bengel). [See Winer, p. 249. “Has no inheritance,” can have none, this being a law of God’s moral government of the world (Eadie, Ellicott), an eternal verity of that kingdom (Alford).—R.]

In the kingdom of Christ and God, ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ Χριστοῦ καῖ Οεοῦ.—Βασιλεία means the kingdom, where God in Christ is the Ruler, and His people belong to Him, and hence to be distinguished from ἐκκλησία, to which the fornicator and such characters belong, without having part in the former. (See Doctr. Note 5.) Bengel is excellent: articulus simplex, summam unitatem indicans. The expression here depends on the fact that Christ’s and God’s kingdom is one (Ephesians 5:12), that Christ’s kingdom is also God’s kingdom; though this first appears at the end in glory (Revelation 9:15), the development advancing through the Church. Accordingly it is incorrect to explain it as meaning the kingdom of Christ, who is also God (Harless) [Hodge and many others] though Christ is termed God (Romans 9:5), or can be thus termed [against Meyer].

[Alford: “No distinction is to be made, Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ being in the closest union. Nor is any specification needed that the kingdom of Christ is also the kingdom of God, as would be made with the second article. This follows as a matter of course: and thus the words bear no legitimate rendering, except on the substratum of our Lord’s Divinity. But on the other hand we cannot safely say here that the same Person is intended by Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ, merely on account of the omission of the article. For 1) any introduction of such a predication regarding Christ would here be manifestly out of place, not belonging to the context: 2) θεός is so frequently and unaccountably anarthrous, that it is not safe to ground any such inference from its use here.” So Eadie, Ellicott and many others. The inferential proof of the Divinity of Christ thus afforded is well-nigh as strong as, certainly more defensible than, that resulting from the other view.—R.]


1. The life of the Christian, like Christian ethics, must pursue sin in its coarsest forms and manifestations even into its most secret, refined propensities; it depends upon the substance; this is to be rejected in every form. Christian culture has a sharp eye and delicate perception for evil under its elegant appearance, and a powerful will and apt word for the refusal and overcoming of the same: it can have no pleasure in elegant forms under which wickedness conceals itself.
2. What was of validity in the morals of the Persians (Herodotus I., 138): ἄσσα δέ σφι ποιέειν οὐκ ἐξεστι ταῦτα οὐδὲ λέγειν ἔξεστι, every Christian must accept as valid to this extent, that he says: What is more becoming to do or say, that thou shouldst not even think. A word often includes more evil in itself than an act, and a thought than a word; even if the evil thought be less mischievous than the act, because it is only a thought not an act. The sinful act of the non-christian is at all events as a rule less wicked than the Christian sinful word or temper; as the same is true of a neglected Christian child, over against one carefully trained, or of the same man, as different now and formerly, or on festival or fast day with its elevation and in the press of labor and the throng of the world.

3. The Christian’s position is dignity, which preserves the worthiness of the person in a pure life no less than in pure doctrine with tender conscientiousness.
4. Every sin stands connected with idolatry: it remains the same, whether thou makest a god of the goods of this world in covetousness, or of the lust of this world in pursuit of pleasure, or of thine own Ego in pride. Paul terms covetousness not the (ἡ) but a root (ἥζα) of all evil (1 Timothy 4:10). The same is true of the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

[Hodge is however perfectly correct in saying: “The analogy between this supreme love of riches, this service of mammon and idolatry, is more obvious and more distinctly recognized in Scripture than between idolatry and any other of the sins mentioned. It is well that this should be understood, that men should know that the most common of all sins is the most heinous in the sight of God; for idolatry, which consists in putting the creature in the place of God, is everywhere in His word denounced as the greatest of all sins in His sight. The fact that it is compatible with outward decorum, and with the respect of men, does not alter its nature. It is the permanent and controlling principle of an irreligious heart and life, turning the soul away from God. There is no cure for this destructive love of money, but using it for other than selfish purposes. Riches, therefore, must ruin their possessor, unless he employs them for the good of others and for the glory of God.”—R.]

5. The kingdom of Christ and of God is not precisely the church. The former marks the authority, the latter the people; that refers to the power, which orders, manages, governs, this to the grace which chooses, attracts, trains, guides and endows; the former has to do with powers, which are applied and with laws which are established and administered. Both however have one end: God’s glory and the creature’s salvation. The kingdom of God and Christ is wider and narrower than the church. It stretches itself over the time antecedent to the church, which should become the kingdom of God, and embraces all, who obey and permit themselves to be drawn by the will of the Ruler, God in Christ, so far as the same is known, in His laws given to His creatures in nature from the very creation, in their conscience and in the order about and above them. All moral natures of every kind, childlike, truth seeking souls belonging thereto (Matthew 8:12; Mark 12:34; John 18:36-37). To this belong all historical leadings of nations, all guidance to individuals, all the effects of power and wisdom, which prepare the way for the church. The kingdom is God’s as well as Christ’s (Matthew 13:41; John 18:36 f.). As before the church and for the church the kingdom is more extended. But at the same time it becomes less extended within the church. There it applies to those called as the people of God, to those who obey the call; those who resist, who are indifferent, who hold only externally to the church, even though they hold in high regard a moral life, as is done without the church as well, who undervalue or despise the faith of the Scriptures or the church, or rely on the latter and neglect the former,—all withdraw themselves from the “kingdom” within the church. The word is to be taken in this latter sense here (Ephesians 5:5). At the end of the world both come together: since that will be the fulness of time, when the Son of man shall appear in glory.


Comp. Doctr. Notes.

From the wanderings of the flesh in the insubordination of its appetites and of society in loose talk, we should take occasion, not to run away and forsake the world, but to guard ourselves, and so to strive in ourselves, that God’s pardoning love is not in vain, and sanctification is not disturbed. Neither happiness, nor pleasure, nor property is the aim and task of life, but the formation of the character, of that stamp with His image received in creation and renewed in redemption. To be covetous in what is noblest, to be impure in what is most exalted, to be disorderly in what is spiritual and heavenly is an abomination of abominations. Such a condition excludes from God and God’s kingdom, in the Church, its service and government. Take heed to that, teacher and preacher. Be mindful of it always in prayer and public service.

Starke:—In Christianity exact bounds are placed upon our words, far more so than is done by mere reason; Matthew 12:36. Hear this, ye buffoons! ye cannot boast yourselves of Christianity.—You betray by this too well the bottom of your yet unsanctified hearts.—Could we find a register of those whom God as a just Judge will exclude from heaven, the first place as a rule would be given to those who break the Seventh Commandment.

Rieger:—The world often gives its uncleanness the name of love-affairs; but the word love in the Scriptures is far too good to be applied to any such things.

Heubner:—No man has such a horror of all sins of the flesh as the Christian; his destiny, his fellowship, his Exemplar, his future inheritance, all require him to be pure.—Paul describes the Christian’s propriety in speech, distinguishing three kinds of obnoxious talk: 1. Such as offends and injures the sense of virtue, that is, impure, indecent, shameless talking; 2. Such as opposes the reason and offends the sense of truth, that is, foolish, silly, senseless, insipid talking; 3. Such as hinders religious earnestness, designed only to raise a laugh.—Every prevailing sin removes us from God. The covetous commit idolatry with their money, the lustful with their flesh. If then it be asked which is more compatible with religion, a disposition to lust or avarice, the latter seems less reconcilable. The covetous man imagines, because he perhaps restrains himself from many vices, that he is better, and covetousness as something relative is more difficult to recognize.—The kingdom of Christ is the medium and condition of the king dom of God, through Christ the kingdom of God becomes predominant. The kingdom of Christ, in so far as it is an external institution, yields to the kingdom of God.

Passavant:—The Greeks loved a fine joke, seasoned and adorned with wit and grace. But under the jest and its elegant dress, an impure and low sense was often concealed.—Look, wit is a dangerous gift, and to give it play brings discomfort and pain.

Stier:—The worst in front, the obscenities, double entendres; there are also obscenities of mammon, nastinesses arising from pride and worldliness, for which the Holy Ghost has the same aversion in His saints.

[Eadie:—Into Christ’s kingdom the fornicator and sensualist cannot come; for, unsanctified and unprepared, they are not susceptible of its spiritual enjoyments, and are filled with antipathy to its unfleshly occupations; and specially into God’s kingdom “the covetous man, who is an idolater,” cannot come, for that God is not his God, and disowning the God of the kingdom, he is self-excluded. As his treasure is not there, so neither there could his heart find satisfaction and repose.—R.]


Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:4.—[The best established reading as respects the particles is (Rec.): καί—καί—ἤ (?Song of Song of Solomon 2:0 B. D.3 K. L., most cursives and versions). א1 has ἤ instead of the second και, while ἤ is found three times in A. D.1 F., fathers (Lachmann, Meyer, Braune), and in others καί throughout.—R.]

Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:4.—[א. A. B., 3 cursives have: ἁ̓ οὐκ� (accepted by Lachmann, Alford. and others) instead of τά οὐκ� (Rec., D. F. K. L., Meyer, Ellicott, Braune and most). The latter is well supported and lectio difficilior, but neither external nor internal grounds are altogether decisive.—R.]

[9]Ver 5.—[The Rec. has ἔατε on the authority of D.3 K. L., but א. A. B. D. F. G., 30 cursives, good versions support ἴατε, which is accepted by nearly all recent editors. The emendation above conforms to the correct reading.—R.]

Ephesians 5:5; Ephesians 5:5.—[The reading ὅ is found in א. B., accepted by Lachmann and Alford. The Rec. has ὅς, which has more uncial support. In F. G. the neuter occurs with εἰδωλολατρεία, which helps to account for the change to the neuter.—R.]

Ephesians 5:5; Ephesians 5:5.—א. B. and most: Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ. We find also θεοῦ καῖ Χριστοῦ, Χριστοῦ θεοῦ, and simply Χριστοῦ. The first is not only better supported, but lectio difficilior. [The second of should be omitted to indicate the close connection implied in the omission of the article before θεοῦ.—R.]

[12][“The ἤ is not explanatory, but has its full disjunctive force, serving to distinguish πλεονεξία from more special sins of the flesh” (Ellicott). On the last noun see Ephesians 4:19. “It is greed, avarice, unconquerable love of appropriation, morbid lust of acquisition, carrying in itself a violation of almost every precept of the Decalogue” (Eadie). This original notion must not be overridden by the connection with sensual sins.—R.]

[13][Meyer and Ellicott supply γινέσθω ἐν ὑμῖν; Eadie suggests that ὀνομαζέσθω still guides the construction: “Rather let thanksgiving be named—let there be vocal expression to your grateful emotions.” Stier and Alford follow Bengal.—“There is a play perhaps on the similar sound of εὐτραπελία and εὐχαριστία, which may account for the latter not finding so complete a justification in the sense as we might expect: the connection being apparently, ‘your true cheerfulness and play of fancy will be found, not in buffoonery, but in the joy of a heart overflowing with a sense of God’s mercies.’ ”—Alford.—R.]

Verses 6-14

3) Look about thyself and be independent and benevolent!

(Ephesians 5:6-14.)

6Let no man [no one] deceive you with vain [empty] words: for because of these 7things cometh the wrath of God upon the children [sons] of disobedience. Be not ye [Become not] therefore partakers14 with them. 8For ye were sometime [once ye were] darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the Spirit [light]15 is in all goodness and righteousness and 10, 11 truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto [well-pleasing to] the Lord. And have no fellowship16 with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [even] reprove them. 12For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret [For the things done in secret by them it is a shame even to speak of].17 13But all things that are [being] reproved are made manifest by the light! for whatsoever doth make manifest [everything which is made manifest]18 is light. 14Wherefore he saith, Awake [or Up!]19 thou that [who] sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


Ephesians 5:6. The transition. Let no one deceive you with empty words, μεδεὶς ὐμᾶς�.—The precept: “let no one deceive you,” is entirely general, but limited by the context to social intercourse; there being nothing to indicate a further extension. Hence “no one” is to be applied to members of the Church and the non-christians who are, or come, near them; “deceive” including unintentional as well as intentional leading astray. Accordingly the reference is not, as in Colossians 2:8, to philosophers and Jewish errorists (Grotius), nor merely to frivolous Christians (Olshausen), or to those heathen who had remained unbelieving (Meyer). The loquacious persons spoken of are false teachers with “empty words.” This phrase means discourse wanting in truth, life and spirit; hoc genus est, species tres Ephesians 5:4. (Bengel). [Alford: “Empty—not containing the kernel of truth, of which words are but the shell—words with no underlying facts.”—R.] Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:38. Bullinger: Erant apud Ephesios homines corrupti, ut hodie apud nos plurimi sunt, qui hæc salutaria Dei præcepta cachinno excipientes obstrepunt: humanum esse, quod faciunt amatores, utile, quod fœneratores, facetum, quod jaculatores, et idcirco Deum non usque adeo graviter animadvertere in istius modi lapsus.20 Stier is not altogether incorrect in finding an ironical opposition in: ἀπατᾷν κενοῖς, exhorting thus: let them speak only in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58).

For because of these things, διὰ ταῦταγάρ, introduces a reason; “because of these things” pointing beyond the genus (“empty word”) to the species (Ephesians 5:4), just as in the parallel passage, Colossians 3:6 (δί ἅ). [The context is decisive against the reference either to the ἀπάτη of the “empty words,” or to this and the sins mentioned in Ephesians 5:4. See Ellicott and Alford.—R.]—Cometh, ἔρχεται, marks the fact as present, like “hath not” (Ephesians 5:5); it is neither=venire solet (Erasmus), nor a general asseveration without any temporal qualification (Harless), nor does it point to the future (Meyer, Schenkel, Bleek); the punishment has already begun. See Romans 1:18.

The wrath of God, ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ.—This also is not to be considered as quiescent until the final Judgment. It already comes both externally and internally as correction and punishment, upon the sons of disobedience, ἐπὶ τοὺς υἰους τῆς� (Ephesians 2:2).—This designates more strongly than ἀπειθείας those who still or again oppose God and His word within the Church. [“The active and practical side of the ἀπειθῶν (John 3:36) is here brought out. The word is a valuable middle term between unbelief and disobedience, implying their identity in a manner full of the highest instruction” (Alford).—R.]

Warning against association with wicked men; Ephesians 5:7-10.

Ephesians 5:7. Become hot therefore, μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε.—Οὖν, “therefore,” marks the specializing of the warning and that it rests on “the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” as its basis, while γίνεσθε, “become,” indicates that this state of things is not yet present, and at the same time the danger of its entrance and its quiet, unnoticed and unregarded development.21 Vulgate: Nolite effici! Bengel: Ne ira super vos veniat!

Partakers with them, συνμέτοχοι22 αὖτῶν, i.e. with the sons of disobedience. It is inappropriate to refer αὐτῶν to vices (Schenkel), and to understand συνμέτοχοι (Ephesians 3:6) of the portion of the wicked (Koppe, Stier, who includes this also). The reference to the punishment is the foundation of the warning against companionship with them.

Ephesians 5:8 presents a new reason, taken from their experience of grace, their grasp on the Lord and their task For once ye were,23 ἦτε γάρ ποτε!—That is, thanks to God, it is past! Hence ἦτε stands emphatically first; and Luther with his weiland [=to the antique “sometime” of the E. V.] aptly recalls a past condition, referring to a new life.—Darkness, σκός, abstraction pro concreto, emphasi egregia (Bengel). [They were not only living or abiding in it, but themselves actual and veritable darkness (Ellicott).—R.]

But now are ye light in the Lord, νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ.—This, without ἔστι, is quite as emphatic and brief. “Light,” as in 1 John 1:6; John 8:12, is a comprehensive designation of the Divine life and character, both ethical and intellectual in its meaning, in contrast with darkness (Ephesians 4:18; Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12-13; 1 Peter 2:9). These nominatives emphasize the being full, permeated by, and are stronger than ἐν σκότει (Romans 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:4), ἐν φωτί. [Comp. Usteri, Lehrbegr. ii. 1, 3, p. 229, on the terms φῶς and σκότος.—Hodge weakens the sense into “enlightened,” but “light” has here an active sense, which prepares the way for the subsequent exhortation, since they were not only to walk worthy of the light but be light to others (Ephesians 5:13).—R.] The added phrase, ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ, excludes the notion of having earned the present condition, marking the operation of the Lord, in order to excite thankfulness for constancy, fear of apostacy and backsliding, without the ability of helping one’s self.

Walk as children of light, ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς24 περιπατεῖτε.—The status is marked by ὡς, “as.” What ye are (“children of light”), be in deed and truth (“walk”)! Energetically added, without any conjunction, as growing out of what precedes, as its result.

Ephesians 5:9. For the fruit of the light, ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ φωτός.—This is introduced as a ground (γάρ). The children of the light are referred to the fruit of the light, in order to excite them to a corresponding walk. This fruit consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth [ἐν πάσῃ, ἀγαθωσύνῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ�]—“Fruit” is in the singular, and yet three terms follow, as in Galatians 5:22 : “the fruit of the Spirit” is followed by nine, in order to render prominent its unity in contrast with “the works of the flesh” (Ephesians 5:19 ff.) in their sundered character, their opposition to each other.

Goodness, ἀγαθωσύνη, the opposite of which is κακία, is distinguished from χρηστότης, which is mentioned in connection with it (Galatians 5:22), in this, that it refers to the depth of the disposition, χρηστότης more to the character of its manifestation; both denoting goodness however. Here are designated the character and conduct as regards possessions of every kind, which one has and knows another to stand in need of.

Righteousness, δικαιοσύνη, the opposite of which is ἀδικία, respects relations and the ordering of the same, claims which can be made, and obligations, which should be fulfilled, and is just in regard to all these, taking pains that nothing, neither the least nor the most difficult, receives detriment.

Truth, ἀλήθεια, the opposite of which is ψεῦδος, concerns the agreement of what is internal and external, of thought and word and deed, of goodness and righteousness, so that one is not served at the expense of the other, and harmony exists. The terms are not to be divided according to the three categories: inwardly, toward man, toward God (B-Crusius), or source, outwardly, inwardly (Schenkel).25 “All,” πάσῃ, denotes the extent of the manifold manifestations (Philippians 4:6 : ὅσα), it is not then=all kinds. Others explain differently, but it is generally agreed, that ἐατι or συνέστηκε should be supplied. [Comp. Winer, p. 173, against the acceptance of a Hebraism here (ἐν=Beth essentiæ, Gesenius, Lexicon, under ב, C.—R.]

Ephesians 5:10. Proving, δοκιμάζοντες.—Grammatically this participle may be the mode of the walking, Ephesians 5:9 being taken as a parenthesis. So Bengel, Harless, Meyer, Schenkel [Hodge, Eadie, Ellicott, Alford], and others. But the exhortation may also be regarded as concluded in Ephesians 5:8; nor does Ephesians 5:9 give in the main the impression of being a parenthesis, while the participle can be, according to Winer (p. 545), taken imperatively with ἐστε supplied, as occurs at least ten times in Romans 12:9-13. So Koppe, Stier, Bleek and others. [Such a construction is certainly allowable, where the context plainly requires it, but is not to be accepted when a simpler view is so obviously suggested as in this case.—R.] The former view is favored by the connection of “proving” and “walk,” since through the walk as a child of the light material and power for the proof grows and ripens. [On the word see Trench, Syn., II. § 24.—R.] Investigation and discrimination are required of the children of light; independently, not “tossed as waves and carried about—in the sleight of men” (Ephesians 4:14), they should prove, what is well-pleasing to the Lord, τί ἐστιν εὐαρετὸν τῷ κυρίῳ.—“What,” τί, defines that all things, even the most refined traits and forms, are to be proved. The question is, Is it “well-pleasing to the Lord,” i.e., to Christ, who with His Word is the objective measure. [“The Christian’s whole course is a continual proving, testing of the will of God in practice: investigating not what pleases himself, but what pleases Him” (Alford).—R.] Comp. Romans 14:23; Rom 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Warning against fellowship with evil works; Ephesians 5:11-13.

Ephesians 5:11. And have no fellowship, καὶ μὴ συνκοινωεῖτε.—“And” connects the imperative with the similar admonition, Ephesians 5:7, there “with them” is added, here “with the works,” the latter referring to fellowship with the works, the former with the persons The verb is a strengthened form26 (Philippians 4:14, Revelation 18:4), from συνκοινωνός (Romans 11:17; 1 Corinthians 9:23, Philippians 1:7; Revelation 1:9); it is a compound not usual with the Apostle, denoting however the fellowship on one side alone. Hence συν is not to be referred to the disobedient, and κοινωνεῖν to the works (Meyer).

With the unfruitful works of darkness [τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς�].—The prominent word ἔργοις, “works,” is followed by ἀ κάρποις, “unfruitful,” distinguished by the article, in contrast to: “the fruit of the light” (Ephesians 5:9).27 The expression is not without a certain mildness, like “empty words” (Ephesians 5:6), yet without being weak, simply denying the fruit, without positively referring to the corruption and condemnation (Ephesians 4:22; Romans 6:21; Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8). The expressions: “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 9:14), “wicked works” (Colossians 1:21), are similar. The added genitive: τοῦ σκότους, “of darkness,” appends the positive element (Romans 13:12); Galatians 5:19 : τῆς σαρκός.

But rather even reprove them.Non satis abstinere est (Bengel); hence μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ, “but rather even.” Leviticus 19:17. Ἐλέγχετε requires rebuke, punishment, conviction, as in John 3:20; John 16:8 The object is not expressed; but the context supplies it: αὐτά (them, i.e. the works). The mode is determined by the context, since the evil works are to be punished: through proper conduct in word and work, verbis et factis luce dignis (Bengel). Meyer and Schenkel incorrectly apply it to oral rebuke alone, against the passages in John, from which an oral conviction and punishment cannot be deduced. Comp. John 8:9. The result: conversion, improvement, is in no way indicated, hence not to be accepted (Olshausen).

[Alford, Eadie and Ellicott favor the reference to oral rebuke; certainly it seems a prominent thought, but see on the next verse. The last named author thus marks the antithesis: “Do not connive at them or pass them over unnoticed, but take aggressive measures against them; try and raise the Gentiles to your own Christian standard.” Hodge takes the verb as meaning: to convince by evidence, deducing from this statement: “The ethics as well as the theology of the Bible are founded on the principle that knowledge and holiness, ignorance and sin, are inseparable.” Hence that our duty is simply to let “the light of Divine truth shine into the darkened minds of men, and upon their evil deeds.”—R.]

Ephesians 5:12. For the things done in secret by them it is a shame even to speak of.—[See Textual Note 4]. Evidently a reason (γάρ) for what was said in ver, 11 is here introduced. Bengel correctly indicates one part of it: cur indefinite loquatur Ephesians 5:11 de operibus terebrarum, quum fructum lucis Ephesians 5:9 definite descripserit,28the other is at any rate, why he has expressed himself so briefly, generally, without qualification: ἐλέγχετε. It is incorrect to take γάρ=although (Koppe), or to insert “although” (Rueckert).—Τὰ γάρ κρυφῆ γινόμενα ὐπ̓ αὐτῶς, i. e, the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6), or “those doing the works of darkness” (Winer, p 134), can only be the works mentioned before, but more definitely characterized, in order to give a motive for the propriety of the requirement. Two elements now brought forward, constitute the characteristics of these works: κρυφῆ, “in secret,” the main point standing first, and γινόμενα the second. The former marks the works as those to which ever clings something unknown, unrecognized, that may not appear, but will remain in concealment, ashamed of itself however bold; the latter, which is not==ποιούμενα, marks their involuntary, habitual character, not isolated but peculiar, while ὑπό expresses the guilt of those who do them. Stier aptly compares with our passage the profound description of the “rebels against the light” (מֹרְדֵי־אוֹד, Job 24:13-16) and “the hidden things of darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5; John 3:20-21); accordingly it is not to be referred exclusively to sins of debauchery, orgies [Holzhausen] and the like, although these are included; nor are we to understand only heathen sins of the most objectionable character. The works of darkness are stretched in a way that is universally and continuously valid; of such works “it is a shame even to speak” (Ephesians 5:3-4). Evidently λέγειν is not merely narration, indifferent mention, but includes disapproving, rebuking mention as well. Paul requires an ἐλεγχειν without a λέγἐιν, “without one’s taking all their dirt into his mouth” (Berlb. Bible), hence through the walk in word and work, so necessary on this account. Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15.

[The main difficulty here is the question of connection. The views of Bengel and Koppe have been already suggested, and seem unsatisfactory. That of Braune (so Stier, Peile, Bloomfield, following Theophylact and Erasmus) depends on the meaning of ἐλέγχετε, and since this seems to include verbal reproof, the restriction here is at least improbable. Harless and others connect the verse with “have no fellowship,” but this identifies “works of darkness” and “things done in secret” almost too strongly, and as Ellicott suggests, gives undue prominence to the negative part of the command, while the phrase “but rather even,” as well as the subsequent context makes “reprove” the leading thought. Taking ἐλέγχετε in its proper sense, and accepting the connection of this verse with it by γαρ, two views present themselves: that of Alford and others.: “I mention not and you need not speak of these deeds—much less have any fellowship with them—your connection with them must be only that which the act of ἔλεγξις necessitates:” and that of Meyer, Ellicott, Eadie and others: “By all means reprove them, and there is the more need of it, for it is a shame even to speak of their secret sins.” This is preferable, and the reproof of the works of darkness can take place without speaking of the more disgusting forms.—R.]

Ephesians 5:13. But all things, τὰ δὲ πάντα, denotes what is described in Ephesians 5:12. [So Meyer, Ellicott and others against Rueckert and Alford), who take the phrase as of general application.—R.]—Being reproved are made manifest by the light, ἐλεγχόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανερῦται.—The light is God’s, in His Word, in our conscience, character and conduct; the Christian persons falling into the back-ground behind the “light” which works in and out from them: this must work for its own sake, the efficiency does not enter with reference to our persons. Hence ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός belongs both to ἔλεγχόμενα and φανεροῦται, as the position indicates also, since otherwise it would be repeated. In ἐλεγχόμεςα the success of the ἔλέγχετε is set forth: you do not proceed ineffectually against the works of the children of disobedience, they are rebuked, struck, could not avoid it; your light has become a punishment for them. When this takes place, they are made manifest, what is “in secret” in them, becomes plain and its scandalousness is recognized; ἐλεγχόμενα is therefore a presupposition to φανεροῦται, not an extension of the predicate, but a limitation of the subject, τὰ πάντα. The context however suggests: the reproved acts or conditions become so to the possessor: to him they are now manifest as reproved, as reproved with right, and both reproved and manifested through the light of the truth in Jesus Christ and His people.

[It seems to be an unsatisfactory way out of the difficulty respecting the connection of ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός, to join it to both the participle and the verb, and Braune is probably led to adopt it by his desire to maintain the thought of a tacit reproof. To join it with the participle (De Wette and others) is open to objection, for this gives the ἔλέγχειν a specification not in accordance with Ephesians 5:12, while, equally with Braune’s view, it makes φῶς entirely too ethical, it being properly metaphorical in both clauses. The connection with the verb is more natural, “by the light” receiving emphasis from the order in the Greek. So Meyer, Ellicott, Eadie and most recent commentators. The participle is a predication of manner or time (“being reproved,” or “when reproved”) joined to the subject. See note at the close of the verse.—R.]

For everything which is made manifest is light.—Πᾶν τὸ φανερούμενον, following φανεροῦται, is passive (Winer, p. 242); all, that is illuminated, made manifest, φῶς ὲστιν, itself gives light, has the nature and efficiency of light. This very general proposition is limited by the character of the subject (Bengel: sermo de homme ipso, Ephesians 5:14), to the persons who permit themselves to be reproved, who must permit themselves to be enlightened, in order to become manifest, shined upon and illuminated, and finally to become themselves light. Bengel: Antanaclasis; nam φανεροῦται est passivum; φανερούμενον medium, quod manifestari non refugit. With Stier we may find here a recalling of: “once ye were darkness, now are ye light” (Ephesians 5:8), in order that in thankfulness and mildness towards those in the same condition in which they formerly were, they may apply the reproving and manifesting walk. Because what is shined upon, illuminated, itself shines, walk then so, that ye shame, reprove, convince those who are busy with the works of darkness, bringing them to the light; thus ye will best help them, as ye yourselves have been helped. The first part of this verse indicates the immediate result, the second the end of the ἐλεγχθῆναι or ἐλέγχειν. Bengel: Simul hinc patet facilitas (Stier: because without speaking, hence without special knowledge of him who is to be reproved), justitia (Stier: because to the darkness the judging light is of right due), salubritas (Stier: because these can thus become light themselves) elenchi.—There is here no reference to the Gnostic light-theory of the Valentinians (Baur), since these on the contrary wrested and distorted this passage after A. D. 150. Quite as untenable and inapt are those explanations which take φανερούμενον as active and πᾶν as the object—accusative (Grotius), or apply the ἐλέγχειν only to oral rebuke (Meyer, Schenkel and others), or regard the neuter as masculine merely (Storr and others).

[The view of Meyer is on the whole most satisfactory: “But all things (all those secret sins), when they are reproved, when that ἐλέηχετε has been effected on them, are made manifest by the light, by the light of Christian truth, which is efficient in your reproving, are brought to light as to their true moral quality, unveiled and made clear to the moral consciousness; by the light, I say, they are made manifest, for—in order to prove by a general proposition, that this cannot take place except by the light—all that which is made manifest, that is brought out of its concealment and brought to light in its true character, is light, has thus ceased to have the nature of darkness and is now of the character of light. The basis of this proof is the syllogism: “Quod est in effectu (φῶς ἐστι), id debet in causa (ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτός).” This is equally simple and grammatical. It avoids the common mistake of referring the words too definitely. Commentators have run into much perplexity by not accepting occasional general propositions; comp. Galatians 3:20. Eadie, following Calvin and others, still maintains an active or middle sense, objecting to the passive that light does not always exercise this transforming influence. But this objection holds only against a too strictly ethical sense of φῶς, to which Olshausen, Stier, Hodge (and Braune) incline. Objectively taken, it is universally true: everything shone upon is light.” “Whether this tends to condemnation or otherwise, depends on the nature of the case, and the inward operation of the outwardly illuminating influence” (Alford, Ellicott). See the last named for a clear statement, and comp. Harless, Eadie, but especially Meyer in loco.—R.]

The conclusion; Ephesians 5:14.

Ephesians 5:14. Wherefore he saith [διὸ λέγει; Braune: It is said: comp. Ephesians 4:8.—R.]—“Wherefore” refers to what precedes, and in accordance with the purport of the citation, to all that is said of the walk in the light, not merely to Ephesians 5:13 (Schenkel), but to Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 5:11 also, in order to render the exhortation more complete and forcible through a citation.29 Hence λέγει is as in Ephesians 4:8. This quotation of the Apostle is not to be weakened, because no corresponding passage is found in the Old Testament, neither Isaiah 60:12 (Calvin and most) nor Isaiah 26:19 (Beza and others) nor Isaiah 52:1-2, or Isaiah 9:1; it is not supposed that he cited a saying given directly to him (Jerome) or an apocryphal passage (Morus and others). Certainly we should not accept a lapsus memoriæ, as though he wished to quote from canonical Scripture and happened on an apocryphal passage that could not be authenticated (Meyer, who compares 1 Corinthians 2:9), and quite as little a combination of the passage from Isaiah (Schenkel, who refers to Romans 9:33; Romans 11:8; Romans 11:26).30 Least of all is λέγει=φησί, they said, it is said (Bornemann). The most probable explanation is, that it is a quotation from a Christian hymn that had grown out of Isaiah 10:1-2. This is confirmed by Ephesians 5:18-19, as well as by the significance of church hymns beside the Scripture. So Theodoret with reference to 1 Corinthians 14:26; Severianus in Tischendorf (Exodus 7:0, vol. ii. p. 457). Bengel: Simul videtur in mente habuisse formulam, quæ in festo buccinarum adhiberi solita fuerat. Et fortasse illo anni tempore scripsit hanc epistolam. 1 Corinthians 5:7. Bleek in loco and Stud. und Krit. 1853, p. 331. Stier and others: A word of God is introduced as speaking to the Christian.

[There is one insuperable objection to these views of Braune, Stier, Bengel, Bornemann, as well as to those of Rhenferd (one of our Lord’s unrecorded sayings), Wesley (the general tenor of Scripture), Barnes (who sees no reason for accepting a quotation at all), and that is Paul’s use of λέγει, his formula of citation from the Old Testament; especially in conjunction with διό. If we accept a Christian hymn based on the passage in Isaiah the difficulty is not removed, but the way opened for the multiplication of difficulties. If God speaks, (as Braune implies) through a paraphrase in the form of a Christian hymn, much more does he speak, when His Apostle interprets or applies His written word. The best solution is that of Alford:“In the first place, by the introduction of ὁ Χριστός, it is manifestly a paraphrase, not an exact citation. The Apostle cites, and had a perfect right to cite, the language of prophecy: and that he is here doing so, the bare word ‘Christ’ shows us beyond dispute. I insist upon this, that it may be plainly shown to be no shift in a difficulty, no hypothesis among hypotheses—but the necessary inference from the form of the citation. This being so—of what passage of the Old Testament is this a paraphrase? I answer of Isaiah 60:1-2. There, the Church is set forth as being in a state of darkness and of death (comp. Eph 59:10), and is exhorted to awake, and become light, for that her light is come, and the glory of Jehovah has arisen upon her. Where need we go further for that of which we are in search?”—The view of Ellicott is similar: “St. Paul, speaking under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is expressing in a condensed and summary form the spiritual meaning of the passage.” He thinks the prophet’s immediate words supply in substance the first part of the quotation, while the latter part is the spiritual application of the remainder of the verse, and of the general tenor of the prophecy. Alford’s view is safe, and rests on the Lord’s own saying: “Search the Scriptures, they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).—R.]

Up! thou who sleepest, ἔγειρε ὁ καθεύδων.—[The word ἔγειρε is not the active for the middle but is the common form of rousing (Fritzsche).—R.]—This can be addressed only to the Christian (Romans 13:11-12), who at God’s call opens his eyes; the Lord has come to him, awakened him, so that he, awake and alive, looks about him. [It is more correct to regard this as addressed to those who are not yet Christians, but about to become so through the effectual call of God.—This is perhaps Braune’s view, see Doctr. Note 3.—R.] The beginning of knowledge is thus denoted. Still there is yet a struggle with sleep; the eyes close again; the light of day dazzles.—And arise from the dead, καὶ�, is the advance to rising from the couch, standing up and preparing for work. Ἀναστῆναι ἐπὶ ἔργον ἐγερθῆναι ἐξ ὕπνου. The sleeper is inactive, as one who is dead.—The promise incites: and Christ shall shine upon thee, καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ Χριστός.—The figure is that of the morning, when day breaks and man meets the sun and daylight. Christ is the light, makes the day that shines upon and enlightens us, in order that we may become light for others, as the context requires. On the forms ἀναστα and ἐπιφαύσει see Winer, pp. 76, 85.

[The question of the connection of this verse deserves some further attention. Braune apparently follows Stier, who thinks the quotation is introduced to exhort: “Become light, that ye may be able to convict others,” which accords with his view of silent reproof. But this seems to be stepping aside from the more obvious sense. Hodge takes it as a confirmation of the assertion of the preceding verse: everything made manifest is light. This is true, but scarcely a sufficient reason for its introduction. Meyer paraphrases διό thus: Because the reproof is so necessary, as I have indicated in Ephesians 5:12, and so wholesome in its effects as shown in Ephesians 5:13, therefore, etc., and then says that the call of God confirms the necessity of the reproof, and the promise: “Christ shall shine upon thee,” supports the wholesome influence of the light, under which the reproof places them. This seems preferable. So that the purpose of the Apostle is to show by a paraphrase from the Scriptures that the effect of the light is such, and that therefore Christians should reprove in order that others may become light through the illumination here promised. In general what is made manifest is light (Ephesians 5:15), but Christ’s shining makes new light in a spiritual sense. Let your light shine, so as to reprove, in the hope that Christ will shine on the convicted heart. This seems to be the view of Alford, and is approached by Erasmus and Rueckert.—R.]

What Jerome says is interesting: scio me audisse quendam de hoc loco in ecclesiam disputantem—testimonium hoc, inquit, ad Adam dicitur in loco calvariæ sepultum, ubi crucifixus est dominus,—illo ergo tempore quo crucifixus dominus super ejus pendebat sepulchrum, hæc prophetia completa est: surge, Adam, qui dormis et exsurge a mortuis et non ut legimus ἐπιφαύσει σοι Χριστός, i.e., orietur tibi Christus, sed ἐπιφαύσει, i.e., contingent to Christus, quia videlicet tactu sanguinis ipsius et corporis dependentis vivificetur atque consurgat.


1. One of the weightiest points in the formation of the Christian life is the conversation and intercourse with others, the social life. Here foresight and circumspection are necessary. Sociality is a gift and has a task, and both of these are twofold: Every one has both for himself and others. For himself, that he does not suffer detriment through the idle, flat, empty, useless character of the same. There may enter a somnolence of the awakened Christian impulse and life, of moral endeavor, of zeal in sanctification, through dissipation, gossipping, amusement and jesting, or excitement of carnal zeal, dainty, proud and high-flown character, onesidedness and injustice in opinion and conduct. For others, that he promotes their advancement, and in the interchange of sentiment and experience elevates, confirms, clarifies, rectifies, and complements them. Do not enter into more intimate intercourse with him, who cannot and will not be to you what you ought to be to him, or guard against his influence over you, taking heed if you cannot alter him, that you do not at all events conform him in his character. You should not withdraw yourself from others, but so act that you are not withdrawn from God, who has drawn you to Himself. What He has given you hold fast, so that no one deprives you of it. Do not let what He has planted in you be rooted up by the words of others. Let the fruit of His light ripen, and do not allow it to be eaten up by the worms of the world’s culture.

2. Consider the two in connection: proving what is God’s will, and reproving your neighbor. The former comes first, the latter is second. The former requires care in intercourse with God through His word, personal growth in His grace and knowledge, intimacy with Him, walking in His light, as His child. The latter, on the other hand, that you become for your neighbor a conscience outside of and beside him, as your own conscience has borne witness to yourself, or that like Sarah you speak silently in your conduct (1 Peter 3:1); very little depends on words, at least on many of them, only on apt ones, without scolding; be free and frank, true in love and lovely in truth (Ephesians 4:15). He who is not yet your brother, may and ought to become so; but you should no longer be to him what you were before Christ won you: a companion in his evil works and words.

3. In the concluding verse the grace of God is rendered strongly prominent, but in such a way as to indicate that it is in vain, if man’s own act is not also present and he does not lift himself up by applying the power brought nigh and proffered him, his own strength increasing with the use of the power from on high which he appropriates. If he when awakened does not open his eyes and wake up, if when called he does not get up from his couch, he does not reach Christ’s light or the walk in the day; this however takes place only in consequence of the initiative of Divine and imparted power.31

4. Finally it may be said, that as Paul immediately afterwards speaks of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19), so he here places on an equality with canonical Scripture the Christian hymn which grows out of God’s word. Hence the importance of church hymnology. By this too we must test every hymn and hymn-book, that nothing apocryphal or heretical throws what is Scriptural into the back-ground, but that the truly Christian element of the hymn animates, furthers and subserves the Scriptures in the congregation, in the public service and in the household. [While compelled to object to the premise here laid down for the reason stated in the additional Exeg. Notes on Ephesians 5:14, we may well approve of the influence, which is valid on other grounds than the supposed citation of a Christian hymn. See further Doctr. Notes on the next section.—R.]


Comp. the Doctr. Notes.

You should not fly from men, yet you should not become their admiring slave, nor esteem yourself less than God has esteemed you, nor forsake His truth to accept human errors. Society has her assemblies generally in the evening; how much is there spoken in the artificial life of crowded halls resounding with human voices, with spirit and wit (but generally without this), confidently and with the approval of the mass. But as you go home in the quiet night, under the twinkling light of the stars or the shining of the moon, test what you have heard: Can you still highly estimate it? Have you not oftenest felt its emptiness with inward sadness? You have often thought, I would have got more by staying at home and chatting with my wife and children or with some friend! How then if you test it by God’s word, by Christ’s life? Prove all thereby!—Let no one say to you: You must believe without examining. But do not let any say of you, that you do so.—The world may ask: what is useful? what is admirable? what is lovely? what is customary? do you only ask: what is right and well-pleasing to the Lord?—Harless very properly says: Punishment is light! But Stier is quite as correct in saying; Light is punishment!—It is good to be convinced by the light, whether it breaks forth from the walk and word of a friend or a foe. To change one’s way on account of the light is well, but when it comes from an opponent, then to do so is deserving of praise. It really amounts to nothing to accept a rebuke out of fear or gratitude, or any spirit of calculation: it is however a special gift of God, when one receives and is affected by the primitive element of the light, altogether irrespective of the man who bears the light, be he dear, influential, powerful or not. For only thus does the recipient become himself light.—Cherish a spirit of independence not merely against others for the truth, but also for others against falsehood; it is the latter that especially needs nurture.—Christ will enlighten thee here, but glorify thee hereafter, if indeed you are really an enlightened Christian and not merely a man shone upon!

Starke:—It is an old trick of Satan’s to patch up the worst vices with the form of virtue and give them a free pass in the world under a false name. Craftiness is termed prudence, extravagance generosity, vindictiveness high-spiritedness, arrogance neatness, lechery politeness, avarice economy, etc.—True Christians are not credulous, silly and unreasonable people, but lights in the Lord, on the contrary the godless are such, 1 Thessalonians 5:5.—Where goodness, righteousness and truth cannot be met with, the Spirit of God certainly does not dwell.—Love and goodness must not go so far as to make justice and truth suffer: when these virtues, united together, kiss each other, all goes right. Christian reproof is one of the most excellent obligations of love; from its omission the lack of love and fidelity may certainly be perceived.—As much wickedness is done by the godless in secret, never coming to light; so on the other hand much good is done by the pious, that might be mentioned with praise, yet is concealed out of humility. For them it suffices that God and their own hearts know of it.

Rieger:—One of the greatest vexations, and at the same time a correct judgment, respecting the world is, that she has so many people who talk to please her and adorn her filthiness. But all these vain words will not cover her from the wrath of God. Goodness is the imitator of God in His love, by means of which we avoid anger, hatred, tumult, blasphemy, avarice. Righteousness prevents stealing, the unmerciful shutting of the hand against the needy, and avarice which like a weight of lead sinks one into darkness. Truth shuns lies, shameful words and buffooneries, foul talk, vain and seductive discourse.Thus Christian prudence is attained, which never seeks to go as far as it can without sin, but after the manner of well-behaved children, is ever concerned to meet God’s approval.

Heubner:—With vain words, i.e., deceiving talk, as though these vices belonged to things indifferent. This evil, perverted moral sense begets unbelief of morally strict Christianity and thus brings down God’s wrath.—The Christian is an interested participant and yet separate and peculiar.—On the Epistle for the third Sunday in Lent; Ephesians 5:1-9. The Divine walk of the Christian. 1. Description. a) In general: Imitation of God, Ephesians 5:1; b) in particular: holy love (Ephesians 5:2) and pure, spotless life (Ephesians 5:3-4). 2. Its necessity. a. For our own salvation; for without such walk we have no part in the kingdom of God and of Christ (Ephesians 5:5); b) for the salvation of others: for only such a walk can reprove the evil, corrupt principles of the world, and make out of unbelievers, children of wrath, believers, children of grace. What would the world be without Enochs? (Ephesians 5:6). 3. Means. a) Separate yourself from the company of the ungodly, leave the path of sinners, else you cannot walk godly (Ephesians 5:7). b) Accept the light of grace, that your darkness may be enlightened (Ephesians 5:8). c) Use the light however as you receive it, beginning with God’s help to exercise your spiritual strength.—The imitation of God, to which the Christian is obligated. 1. In what it consists: a) In accepting the temper, which makes us like to Him as children to a Father (Ephesians 5:1); b) especially in love and holiness (Ephesians 5:2-4). 2. What makes this our duty: a) Our Christian calling, which should distinguish us from idolaters (Ephesians 5:5); b) our happiness, our freedom from the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:6). 3. What strengthens us thereto: a) Holding to the Church and accepting the light of the Word (Ephesians 5:7-8); b) seeking the Spirit of God.—The spirit of Christian investigation is nothing else than Christian conscientiousness, with this rule: what pleases God? What pleases man is a matter of indifference.—The Christian is in duty bound to speak earnestly and decidedly against evil; he dare not be silent, where he ought to speak, still less approve with the men-pleasing spirit of the worldly wise.—The ground of this earnestness and reproof is the shamefulness of the world’s vices.—What is made manifest through rebuke—is generally brought out of the darkness, in which shameless vice conceals itself, and placed in the light, so that it is thus evident to all as wicked. This is indeed the main matter.—All that is made manifest through reproof, so that the man is really made conscious of his sins,—is thereby overcome. This is the only path by which the Divine light rises within man in the place of darkness.—One must be roused, shaken, in order to be brought to consciousness. Out of the sleep of sin, in which he is not aware of the evil, he must be awakened, in order then to see what is in him.

Passavant:—It is indeed an unhappy thing to be a companion of sinners, in follies and vices, in which one becomes a means of annoyance, corruption and distress to another, only to be companion in his shame and pain, hereafter in the despair of the Judgment Day.

Stier:—Words awaken lust, lust bears sin, this is the irresistible and dangerous course of deceit, against the first appearance of which in words we cannot too carefully guard ourselves.—Where there is unbelief, there is also the wrath of God!—Have nothing in common with them, for you are unwilling to have this wrath in common with them!—Not reproving is equivalent to having fellowship.—Darkness can become light only by means of a shining light, and the walk in the light is of itself able to judge and transform the darkness.—Let yourself be enlightened, that you may live, and become alive that the light may ever more fully shine on you!

Genzken (Preparatory Discourse): Jesus my consolation (Ephesians 5:2), my love (Ephesians 5:1-2), my Shield (Ephesians 5:3-7) and great Reward (Ephesians 5:8-9).

On the Epistle for the third Sunday in Lent (Ephesians 5:1-9):—Kapff:—What belongs to the walk in the light? 1. Fellowship with God in Christ; 2. Laying off all ungodly doings; 3. Living according to God’s good pleasure (justification, repentance, sanctification).—Rautenberg: That is real love, which goes even unto death for the brethren. 1) It covers a multitude of sins; 2) is the fulfilment of the law; 3) is well-pleasing to God; 4) brings blessedness.—How important are the sufferings of Christ for our sanctification! The Holy Ghost works in us through them 1) powerful, sacred shame, 2) pure, self-sacrificing love.—The sacrifice of Christ a sweet-smelling savor to God—on account of the love 1) which brought it; 2) which makes room for it; 3) which is awakened by it.—Thym: The eternal love, 1) in its archetype, 2) its express image, 3) its copy.


Ephesians 5:6. It is not only among the heathen, but among the mass of men in all ages and nations, a common thing to extenuate the particular sins to which the Apostle here refers. It is urged that they have their origin in the very constitution of our nature; that they are not malignant; that they may co-exist with amiable tempers; and that they are not hurtful to others; that no one is the worse for them, if no one knows them, etc. Paul cautions his readers in every age of the Church not to be deceived by such vain words.

Ephesians 5:10. Christ is here recognized as the Lord of the conscience, whose will is to us the ultimate standard of right and wrong. It is thus that the sacred writers show that Christ was their God—not merely the God of their theology, but of their religion.

Ephesians 5:13. According to the Apostle, the relation between truth and holiness is analogous to that between light and vision. Light cannot create the eye, or give to a blind eye the power of vision; but it is essential to its exercise. Wherever it penetrates it dissipates darkness, and brings every thing to view, and causes it to produce its appropriate effect. So truth cannot regenerate, or impart the principle of spiritual life; but it is essential to all holy exercises; and wherever the truth penetrates, it dissipates the clouds of error, and brings every thing to view, so that when spiritually discerned it produces its proper effect on the soul.

Ephesians 5:14. The light which Christ sheds around Him has power to awake the sleeping dead.—R.]


Ephesians 5:7; Ephesians 5:7.—[Here as so frequently in compounds with συν in Paul’s Epistles, συνμέτοχοι is better supported than the usual and more euphonic συμ μέτοχοι. (Rec). The former is found in א. A. B.1 D.1 F. G., accepted by Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott and many recent editors.—R.]

Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 5:9.—[The reading of the Rec.: πνεύματος, is supported by D.3 K. L., most cursives and some fathers, but is how generally rejected as a gloss from Galatians 5:22, φωνός being sustained by א. A. B. D.1 F., good cursives, Syriac and other Versions, Latin fathers.—The parenthesis is to be retained, see Exeg: Notes.—R.]

Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:11.—[Συνκοινωεῖτε (א. A. B.1 D.1 F. G. L., Tischendorf, Ellicott).—R.]

Ephesians 5:12; Ephesians 5:12.—The E. V. has unnecessarily transposed the order in this verse. A literal rendering would be: “For the things which in secret come to pass by them it is shameful to speak of.”—R.]

Ephesians 5:13; Ephesians 5:13.—[These alterations are required by the views expressed in the Exeg. Notes, and may be accepted as indicating in general the opinions of recent commentators.—R.]

Ephesians 5:14; Ephesians 5:14.—The Rec. reads ἔγειραι (Lachmann], which has no uncial support. Ἔγειρε is accepted by nearly all recent editors and commentators, since it occurs in א. A. B. D. F. K. L., and other authorities.—R.]

[20][“The Apostle generally condemns all apologists for vice, whoever they might be. They would of course be most commonly found among the heathen, and to them the passage most naturally points. The palliation or tacit toleration of vice, especially sensuality, was one of the most fearful and repulsive features of heathenism; see specifically Tholuck, Influence of heathenism, Part iv. 2.”—Ellicott. Comp. the citation from Whitby and Gauthy in Eadie. The “vain words” were publicly spoken then, now they come in more concealed form, but the same lies are uttered still on the same subject and with like result, immediate and ultimate.—R.]

[21][The force of γίνεσθε is not to be explained away, Alford indeed strongly objects to it here as unnecessary and unsuitable, but he seems to entertain a prejudice against it. A German from his familiarity with the distinction between Sein and Werden in his own language is usually delicate in his perception of the same distinction in other languages.—R.]

[22][See Textual Note1 for the authority in favor of thus spelling the word.—R.]

[23][This order seems to bring out the emphasis best. Comp. Harless and Ellicott in justification of the omission of μέν here (against Rueckert).—R.]

[24][The absence of the, article with φωτός is regarded by Alford as significant: “here it is light, as light, which is spoken of.” Ellicott however thinks the omission is due to the principle of correlation: “if the governing noun is without the article, the governed will be equally so.”—R.]

[25][Meyer properly observes that these three words present the whole of Christian morality under its three aspects, the good, the right, the true. It may be added that this verbal triad, presenting the one fruit of the light is less sentimental, but more substantial than the hackneyed cluster of words: the true, the beautiful, the good. “The right” too often gives way to “the beautiful,” so called.—R.]

[26][De Wette’s rendering: “take no part in,” would require a genitive after the verb; the other is more literal, and is now accepted by Eadie, who at first followed De Wette.—R.]

[27][Comp. especially Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:22, where there is a similar contrast, on which Jerome remarks: vitia in semetipsa finiuntur et pereunt, virtutes frugibus pullulant et redundant.—R.]

[28][So Œcumenius, Baumgarten, Matthies, but the Apostle was not apt to pause thus in his rebuke of sin; comp. Romans 1:24-32; 1Co 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Timothy 1:9-10.—R.]

[29][Alford explains: “Seeing that everything that is made manifest becomes light—is shone upon by the detecting light of Christ—objectively—it only remains that the man should be shone upon inwardly by the same Christ revealed in his awakened heart. We have then in Scripture an exhortation to that effect.”—R.]

[30][The German has an obvious typographical error. It reads Johanneischen Stellen, passages from John. Schenkel really defends the view, “that the Apostle has freely combined several Scriptural passages in accordance with their sense and from memory,” suggesting Isaiah 52:1; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 60:1. This view is favored though not definitely adopted by Hodge and Eadie. Undoubtedly, the Apostle combines passages (Romans 9:33; Romans 11:8; Romans 11:26), but not so loosely. We may defend either a quotation according to the sense, or a literal combination, not both, especially in connection with the notion of free quotation from memory. Paul interpreted the Scriptures, whose words he well knew; a lapsus memoriæ was scarcely possible in his case as a man, much less as an inspired man.—R.]

[31][Eadie compares the command of Ephesians 5:14 to “that given by our Lord to the man with the withered hand—‘Stretch it forth.’ The man might have objected and said, ‘Could I obey thee in this, I would not have troubled thee. Why mock me with my infirmity, and bid me do the very thing I cannot?’ But the man did not so perplex himself; and Christ, in exciting the desire to obey, imparted the power to obey.” If every man would understand the philosophy of waking up before he gets up, what a world of sleepers we would have!—R.]

Verses 15-21

d. Exhortation to a pure walk, with careful consideration of the Christian position

(Ephesians 5:15-21)

15See then that [how] ye walk circumspectly [strictly], not as fools [unwise men], but as wise, 16Redeeming the time [Buying up the opportunity], because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not unwise [on this account do not become senseless], but understanding32 what the will of the Lord Isaiah 18:0 And be not drunk [made drunk] with wine, wherein is excess [or dissoluteness]; but be filled with [in] the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves [one another] in33 psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things unto [to] God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God [Christ].34


The exhortation; Ephesians 5:15-16. Ephesians 5:15. See then [or take heed].—Βλέπετε with ἵνα (1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 John 1:8), with the accusative (Philippians 3:2; Colossians 4:17), here as in 1 Corinthians 3:10 with πῶς. Sollicitudo etiam modum spectat (Bengel). They are enjoined to take heed, and because (οὖν) as the comprehensive quotation (Ephesians 5:14) says, they are awake, have arisen, been enlightened by Christ, to a walk such as has been spoken of (ver.Ephesians 1:0 : “beloved children,” Ephesians 5:3 : “as becometh saints,” Ephesians 5:8 : “as children of the light”). Calvin is therefore too limited: Si aliorum discutere tenebras fideles debent fulgure suo, quanto minus cæcutire debent in proprio vitæ instituto; Meyer limits it also to Eph 5:10-11.35

How ye walk strictly [πῶς�].—According to the context πῶς is to be confined precisely to the ἀκριβῶς exacte ad voluntatem divinam (Luther’s rendering: vorsichtlich [so E. V.: circumspectly] is not sufficient); marking with the indicative that it is not first to be considered how this shall be taken hold of, but that it already exists in its best feature, the walk being an actual fact (Winer, p. 282). [Alford: “Take heed not only that your walk be exact, strict, but also of what sort that strictness is—not only that you have a rule and keep to it, but that that rule be the best one.” The indicative is not used for the subjunctive or the future; comp. Ellicott in loco and Fritzschiorum Opuscula, pp. 208 f, note.—R.]

Not as unwise men, but as wise [μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι ἁλλ̓ ὡς σοφοί].—“As,” marking as in Ephesians 1:8 the actual condition, and not comparative [Vulgate: quasi, is apt), designates the subject referred to in “take heed,” “walk,” as “wise.” Hence “not as unwise” (Bengel: qui præter propter viam ambulant), which is placed first for emphasis, denotes a subjective notion, which is inadmissible and unexpected as regards Christians. Winer, pp. 442, 567. Paul means Christians, in their walk, as indeed σοφός points to practice, walk, in works and evidences corresponding to the aim (Ephesians 1:8; James 3:13), and not philosophers (Grotius), whom he ironically terms ἀσόφους.

Ephesians 5:16. Buying up the opportunity, ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν—This describes the “wise” in their walk. The phrase (Colossians 4:5) recalls Daniel 2:8 (LXX.: οἶδα ἐγὼ ὅτι καιρὸν ὑμεῖς ἐξαγοράζετε). Nebuchadnezzar says to the Chaldeans, his servants, plainly, that they only want to gain time. Here however sapienta et ἀκρίβεια præcipitur, non ignavia (Bengel). In distinction from the passage in Daniel, the article and the middle form are to be noticed. The right point of time, the appropriate time is the object of the ἐξαγοράζειν, the middle denotes that it is to be done for themselves, while the preposition ἐξ designates the complete entire character of the verb. Christians then should not allow τὸν καιρόν, to escape them, should seize the opportunity (χαιρός), though it costs them something in self-denial, after they have properly looked at it, like a skilful merchant, and then redeeming it out of the possession of sin, of slothfulness and pleasure, of the flesh and of darkness, should make it their own and use it for Christian walk. The time is then not to be taken as it is, nor is Luther correct: “adapt yourselves to the time.” Nor is it, to wait prudently and to temporize (Bengel), or merely, to use for the ἐλέγχειν (Flatt, Harless).

[In regard to this phrase, we may accept as established: 1. That καιρόν means opportunity, not time, hence that the E. V. conveys a wrong impression. 2. That all special references to those from whom the purchase is made (bad men, Bengel; the devil, Calvin), or to the price paid (all things, Chrysostom and others), are irrelevant and unwarranted. The participle is one of manner, the ἐξ is referred by Ellicott and Alford to the collecting out of, the buying up, “calling your times of good out of a land where there are few such flowers.” The exact sense then is: improve the opportunities which occur, looking out for them as a merchant, because the days are evil, and opportunities are rare; not as is often supposed: Be diligent in the use of time, because the days are few. The reference to Genesis 47:9 will not justify this twisting of the next clause.—R.]

Because the days are evil, ὄτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν—See Genesis 47:9; 2 Timothy 3:1. The days, the present period of life, the αἰὼν οὖτος, in which sin has her glory (Olshausen), are therefore “evil” on account of sin, creating hindrances and temptations, leading even to apostasy; hence not simply full of difficulties, unfavorable circumstances (Rueckert).

Ephesians 5:17. The first point of view as respects the wise: the will of God. On this account, διὰ τοῦτο, refers to Ephesians 5:15-16, not merely as [Oecumenius, Rueckert, De Wette, Olshausen] Bleek and others think, to the reason (“the days are evil”) appended to the designation of the “wise.”

Become not senseless but understanding, μὴ γίνεσθη ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνιέντες.—This can be said to those who are wise. For ἄφρον is qui mente non recte utitur (Tittmann, Syn. I., p. 143), and is joined with νήπιος in Romans 2:20. They should not become this; they are not yet so, since they are “wise.” [This is to be maintained against Alford, who as usual objects to rendering γίεσθε, become.—R.] The antithesis (“but”) is συνιέντες, “understanding” they should become discerning, and that is more than γινώσκοντες. A definite object is treated of, which in every case must be clear to the “wise,” but which can however easily remain not understood:

What the will of the Lord is, τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου, i.e., of Christ.—Non solum universo, sed certo Ioco, tempore, etc. (Bengel).36 This will reaching to what is least and most peculiar, is the object of the insight of the wise; the further he advances, the less is any thing to him merely permissible; everything becomes for him a precept and will from above. Acts 21:15.

Ephesians 5:18. The second point of view: Their own person, its inspiration. And be not made drunk with wine, καὶ μὴ μεθύακεσθε οἴνῳ.—”And” adds a second point to the first; it is not then=in particular (Meyer), as though it introduced a single vice, for which there is no occasion given by the context, since no general pleasure has been spoken of, the species of which could be named.—[The view of Meyer is accepted by most recent English and American commentators. The objection of Braune is not valid, it would seem; for the thought of pleasure does not enter in this clause either. The general notion is “not senseless, but understanding,” and the special and emphatic subordinate thought is “not being drunk,” a connection which is obvious enough. The state of drunkenness is viewed not as a sensual pleasure, but as a “senseless” condition. Comp. Hodge.—R.] The precept, after the reference to the will of God and from its position in antithesis to what follows, contains in the special a reference to the general as is allowed and required by the Scriptural view. Luke 1:15; Luke 21:34; 1Th 5:6-8; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1Pe 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8. So “the wine of the wrath “(Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 19:15). The next clause points the same way.37

Wherein is excess, ἐν ᾧ ἐστὶν�.—Ἐν ᾧ refers to the μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ;38 in this there inheres as on a ground the fact (ἐστίν), which at the same time breaks out as a consequence. Ἀσωτία, the character of an ἅσωτος (ἄσωτος from σόω, σώζω), “past redemption” (Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4), in which one’s own character is corrupted (φθείρεσθαι, Ephesians 4:22). Tittmann, Syn. Ι. p. 152 f. [Comp. Trench, § XVI. The N. T. sense: dissoluteness, profligacy, seems to have arisen from the more common meaning of ἄσωτος: one who does not know how to save, i.e., a spendthrift.—R.] Hence Luther is incorrect in rendering it merely: unordentlich Wesen. Jerome incorrectly limits it to lascivious excesses; Koppe, De Wette and others to excess at the Agapæ, which are not suggested as in 1 Corinthians 11:21; Meyer and [most] others to the vice of drunkenness.

But be filled in the Spirit [ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι].—The antithesis is strongly marked (ἀλλά) and is to be found in πληροῦσθε, which stands first, as did μεθύσκεσθε, not in οἴνῳ and πνεύματι. [Hodge (with others) overlooks this in remarking: “To the Christian, therefore, the source of strength and joy is not wine, but the blessed Spirit of God.”—R.] The imperative: Be filled! is not to be taken merely as καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ (2 Corinthians 5:20), because it can be refused (Acts 7:51) as well as requested (Luke 11:13), but because Christians in the strength of God have to be faithful and to show zeal, in order to increase and become complete; much then depends on themselves. This is an entirely different becoming full from being “drunk with wine.” The qualification: ἐν πνεύματι, and not πνεύματι, is not an antithesis to οἴνῳ), but designates in and upon what the becoming full takes place, not in flesh and blood, but in the spirit of man, his better part. It is not instrumental, which cannot be established by Eph 1:24; Philippians 4:19, as Meyer supposes, nor does it refer to the Holy Spirit (most expositors down to Bleek) or to our spirit and God’s Spirit. That we should be filled with the Holy Ghost is indicated by the context, but not by ἐν πνεύματι. [The instrumental sense of ἐν, if accepted, must not exclude the more usual meaning: “with and in the Spirit” (Eadie, Ellicott). Here also, as in Ephesians 4:23, the exact sense of πνεύματι, in view of the preposition chosen, is neither the human spirit (Braune), nor the Personal Holy Spirit, but the human spirit as acted upon by the Holy Spirit (Alford and others). Comp. Romans, p. 235.—R.] Flacius: præclara ebrietas, quæ, sobrietatem mentis operator! Comp. Psalms 36:8-10; Acts 2:15-18.

Closer definition of becoming full in spirit [or the Spirit]; Ephesians 5:19-21. a. Social Song; Ephesians 5:19 a. b. Singing in private; Ephesians 5:19 b. c. Continual thankfulness; Ephesians 5:20. d. Proper conduct in one’s position; Ephesians 5:21.

Ephesians 5:19 a. Speaking to one another, λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς.—The participle denotes the most immediate expression of this being filled in spirit by the Holy Spirit, and this result as an exercise re-acts as a means for furthering the fulness. Spiritus facit fideles Disertos (Bengel). Ἑαυτοῖς, as in Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:16, is=ἀλλήλοις. In intercourse, in social circles, they return, in every case, to this point of speaking as is here described. [The reference to both social intercourse and public assemblies is now usually accepted. The reciprocal action on their hearts rather than the antiphonal method with their lips, is implied in the reflexive pronoun.—R.] It is not then=meditantes vobiscum (Morus). The double sense: from inward impulse, with one another (Stier), is inadmissible, as well as the limitation to public assemblies for worship (Olshausen).

In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικῖς.—Luther is incorrect: by Psalms. Since ψαλμός is something historical (Luke 20:42; Luke 24:44; Acts 1:20; Acts 13:33), the word should here retain the meaning of Old Testament Psalms, which were well-known and had been accepted in the public service (Apost. Constitutions, II. 57, Ephesians 5:0 : τοὺς τοῦ Δαβὶδ ψαλλέτω ϋμνους); ὕμνος is a song of praise, according to the context (Ephesians 5:19 : “to the Lord”) and to history (Pliny in Gieseler, Kirchengeschichte, Ι. 1, p. Eph 136: Carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem), to Christ, hence more strictly Christian hymns, songs of Jesus; ὠδαὶ πνευματικαί are spiritual songs in general, productions of the Holy Ghost in the department of poetry as regards form, out of the Christian life as regards substance, distinguished from hymns as the spiritual song is distinguished from a song for the Church and congregation, by being more general as regards matter and intended more for individual needs and private use. Stier hits it very nearly with his threefold distinction: Scriptural, congregational, private. It is improper to take the first as applicable to Jewish Christians, the second to Gentile Christians, and the third as referring to an expression understood by every one alike (Harless) or the last as the genus, the first as a hymn with musical accompaniment, the other as a song of praise, improvised, when it is true that out of the head as well as out of the heart only that which is known can be used, or that the heaping of terms is due to the lively and urgent discourse (Meyer and others), since he is not speaking of the day of Pentecost or of the gift of tongues (Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:26) but of the orderly and regular course of things in the church; nor should all distinctions be rejected (Rueckert).39 “Spiritual” belongs to the undefined “songs,” not to “psalms and hymns” (Stier), which are confessedly productions of the Holy Ghost; the word means precisely this however, and not merely that Christian thoughts and feelings find expression therein (Baumgarten-Crusius). Evidently the Apostle marks that Christians should interweave such into their conversation, often passing in joyous mood into united song, not however that such only should be recited, uninterruptedly said or sung.

Ephesians 5:19 b. Singing in private. Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.—Joined as a co-ordinate clause without a connecting particle. The participle ᾅδοντες καὶ ψὰλλοντες designate what is related, singing, the former in melody, the latter in recitative; the added phrase (ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν) however marks something different, that is done alone and inwardly. [So Harless, Meyer, Olshausen, Alford, Ellicott and others. Hodge favors what was once the common view: that the clause is subordinate, defining the mode or moral quality of the preceding one. But Harless has shown that such a view is incompatible with the presence of ὑμῶν, and few grammatical commentators have since differed from him.—R.] Here the social song re-echoes, here also is its ground and source. This is even stronger: not merely when excited in the company of others, to become joyously full of the Spirit, but to be that when alone also in disposition and desire “to the Lord” (τῷ κυρίῳ). Acts 2:47; James 5:13.

Ephesians 5:20. Continual thankfulness. Giving thanks always for all things, εὐ χαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων —Thus by the side of the joy is described that circumspect sobriety and thoughtfulness, which at all times and in all things sees and feels God’s gracious hand, not merely singing, in public and private, in order to ask, but giving thanks uninterruptedly through the whole life. This is no popular, hyperbolical expression (Meyer); it is an established injunction of the Apostle (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 3:17; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Romans 12:12). Sufferings are included also (Chrysostom and others). [Hodge follows Meyer, in needlessly limiting πάντα to blessedness.—R.] It is indeed so difficult, that it is possible only for him who has God in Christ. Hence:

To God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ [ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί].—“In the name” designates the manifested, known and acknowledged Person (“of our Lord Jesus Christ”), in whom, that is: in fellowship with whom the situation in question is experienced: giving thanks (Colossians 3:17), asking (John 14:13), commanding (2 Thessalonians 3:6), being baptized (Acts 10:48), reproached (1 Peter 4:14), saved (Acts 4:12). We either bear or experience what He permits to be laid upon us or occur to us, or we act in His service, in longing after Him, or in the consciousness of His mediation (per quem omnia nobis contingunt, Bengel); it is=ἐν Χριστῷ (Ephesians 3:21); similar to διὰ Χριστοῦ (Romans 7:25). Without Him we would have no living God, whom we thanked, least of all in Him the Father. The article (τῷ) points to the God known to us, and the phrase “God and the Father” indicates that the same God is a Father for us, our God and Father. It is incorrect to refer πατρί to Christ (Harless, Meyer). [On this august title, comp. Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 1:4; it seems perfectly proper to accept a reference of a general character: the Father, our Father and the Father of our Lord, without limiting it to either or here emphasizing either.—R.]

Ephesians 5:21. Proper conduct in one’s position. Submitting yourselves one to another.—Ὑποτασσόμενοι, a co-ordinating participle [not to be taken as an imperative, Calvin and others.—R.], refers to the position, also a gift and ordinance of God, in which one should be considerate and contented as regards superiors and inferiors (ἀλλήλοις), in piety, as well as in charity, in service in each direction, but: in the fear of Christ, ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ—According to 2 Corinthians 5:11 (“the fear [not “terror,” E. V.] of the Lord”) and 1 Corinthians 10:22 (“Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?”), this means fear before Him, as the present Lord, the Head,40 marking the tender awe of the conscientious, the humble and zealous imitation, not the fear before the Judge (Harless, Meyer and others).

[Hodge connects this verse with what follows, a view which is very convenient, but not grammatically admissible, though Ephesians 5:22 ff. do carry out the thought in detail. He says his view is generally accepted, but the view of Braune is held by Knapp, Tischendorf, Rueckert, Harless, Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Eadie, in fact by every recent commentator, who gives due place to grammatical considerations, Olshausen excepted. The connection is difficult however. Ellicott finds here named a comprehensive moral duty in regard to man (after the three duties in regard to God) the exact connecting link being “thanking God for all things (for sorrows as well, submitting yourselves to Him, yea) submitting yourselves one to another.” Alford thinks the thought is suggested by Ephesians 5:18 : “that as we are otherwise to be filled, otherwise to sing and rejoice, so also we are otherwise to behave—not blustering nor letting our voices rise in selfish vaunting, as such men do—but subject to one another,” etc. So Eadie.—R.]


1. The Christian mode of life is precisely wisdom, which has first of all as a pre-supposition the possession of the truth, and is essentially the appropriation and acquisition of truth, or the capacity and readiness, clearly perceiving the truth in every case, position and event, to use it in life, by which use it is not squandered, but increased for the possessor. It is truth becoming or already made practical. It is not a knowing much, but a unity of the knowledge of the truth, a unity referred to the kingdom of God, and hence the doing of the truth; Christian morality is true wisdom, it is of a thoroughly ethical nature, although it never renounces its intellectual character. It is the common bond of truth, love, freedom and rectitude. It takes notice of all, world and nature, the heart itself and men about it, sorrow and joy, circumstances and events, rights and duties, the past and future and present, and above all, what concerns the soul, God’s word and counsel, and the course of His kingdom. It learns experience in all and gains a certain tact, which grows in clearness and confidence, so that it readily knows, what it ought to do and why, while at the same time it is willing and able to do it. Accordingly correct life and correct doctrine meet together in wisdom. Prudence is a natural gift; a child, an unsanctified man, may be prudent. It is only formal, mainly without regard to a definite object; you may be prudent in temporal, even in shameful things, as well as in Divine, eternal things; in the latter you ought to be or become so. Prudence is circumspection, insight, intelligence, discrimination, appreciation and estimation; wisdom applies it to what concerns God and the soul, to the department of practical ethics.

2. A principal trait of wisdom and Christian morality is the improvement of the time, in which it considers and effects what is eternal. Every moment of time is of value to it to be used for the eternal: it perceives the transitoriness of time, but hastens the more to use it as an opportunity, to improve it for eternity. Like a merchant, it makes traffic in time to gain in eternity. Every year, every greater or smaller portion of time, is viewed and treated with reference to the God-appointed duties, so that time appears as measured out eternity. Wisdom fears to destroy time, avoids mere pastime,41 is unwilling merely to enjoy time, regarding it rather as a season, given of God’s eternal grace, in which the power of body and soul bestowed by God, operates for the glory of His name and the soul’s own salvation, so that from this no complaint or accusation arises.—Precisely the evil days, which continue as long as sin has power, it views as the set time and urgent occasion to wholesome improvement.

3. The two main points of view for wisdom are: Understanding of the Divine Will and active circumspection of spirit. The first is the everywhere valid and objectively given foundation of the Divine will, with which nothing that will be moral, Christian, wise, dare enter into opposition. All culture which lacks an intimate, lively regard for the will of God, is without wisdom also, hence foolish, despite all knowledge and clever character. The other however is sobriety. Stier:—“Not only every passion, every merely sensuous pleasure, every dissipation leaving the heart unguarded and lost in the creature, every waste of time called pastime, even the most dutiful, sober ‘business,’ if it entirely absorbs, has in it something intoxicating; before all however is it the fanaticism of opinion, of error, which the devil will present to us in the most various mixtures, often under the most enticing appearance, out of the great intoxicating cup of the spirit of the age, ‘of the power of the air’ (Revelation 17:0).” Or one might present a gradation from the common intoxication with wine or brandy, to the “most spirited” form of a “lay-breviary.”

[The particular precept must not be overlooked in the general application. Eadie well remarks: “There is in the vice of intemperance that kind of dissoluteness which brooks no restraint, which defies all efforts to reform it, and which sinks lower and lower into hopeless and helpless ruin. There are few vices out of which there is less hope of recovery—its haunts are so numerous and its hold is so tremendous.” Especially when the craving opens the door to covetousness on the part of the dealer and manufacturer, so that the victim is poisoned as well as besotted. No wonder that such a tremendous evil has driven most philanthropists and Christians to the advocacy of forcible measures for its prevention. Still the remedy is not law, but gospel. And “the freedom of the gospel” should never become a yoke of bondage. The two apparently contradictory principles to be reconciled in Christian practice, are (Colossians 2:16): “Let no man judge you in eating or in drinking,” and (Romans 14:21): “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine,” etc.—R.]

4. As a help to sobriety the Apostle sets forth first, the use in common of Christian hymns, which should be used, though not exclusively, in public service. In this the Psalms, as Scriptural songs, with their parallelisms, probably gave rise to antiphonal singing between minister and congregation, the songs of praise (“hymns”), as ecclesiastical songs to hypophonal singing, in which the congregation repeated the last line of the stanza sung by the choir, and the spiritual songs, as Christians, to symphonal singing. The Holy Ghost, who presides in the Church, wrought beyond the word of Scripture, made art in word and tone serviceable to the Church, exercising His power in connection with public service and even in social intercourse. So then beside the use in common there must also be a solitary digging into such poetical treasures and a private application of them. Further, every gift should be constantly esteemed, recognized and used accordingly. Finally however in humility every relation of subordination ordained by God is to be regarded and maintained unimpaired; social institutions are God’s institutions.

[In regard to singing in public worship and social intercourse, Ephesians 5:19 plainly shows that other than the Old Testament Psalms were and may still be sung. There is no warrant in the word of God for the exclusion of all hymns composed since the canon of Scripture was closed. Such a view owes its origin to causes quite as much political as religious, and perhaps always more national and local than logical or theological. Still it must be said that this extreme is fostered by a proper antagonism to what is now admitted into the public and especially the social services of Christians. It were better to sing nothing else than the Psalms than to encourage the introduction into congregations of hymn-books, born, not of spiritual feeling, but of pecuniary greed. Especially is it unfortunate that the children in our Sunday Schools are taught bad taste in music, bad morals and worse doctrine by what they sing. The full effect of this mistake has not yet appeared. Comp. Colossians, p. 72.—“Christ is the centre of sacred art as well as of theology and religion. From Him music has drawn its highest inspiration. The hymns of Jesus are the Holy of holies in the temple of sacred poetry. From this sanctuary every doubt is banished; here the passions of sense, pride and unholy ambition give way to the tears of penitence, the joys of faith, the emotions of love, the aspirations of hope, the anticipations of heaven; here the dissensions of rival churches and theological schools are hushed into silence; here the hymnists of ancient, mediæval and modern times, from every section of Christendom, unite with one voice in the common adoration of a common Saviour. He is the theme of all ages, tongues, and creeds, the Divine harmony of all human discords, the solution of all the dark problems of life” (Schaff, Christ in Song, preface). To banish Christian hymns is to exclude from this Holy of holies, but to substitute for them unworthy, unspiritual, and unchristian rhymes is to profane it.—R.]

5. The principle, impulse and norm of all Christian morality, of the new, Divine life, is Jesus Christ, the Fulfiller of the Law and Divine Will; for He is “the manifestation of the willing Divinity and fulfilling humanity (Harless, Christliche Ethik, p. 362). All other motives adulterate or counterfeit the new life.


The Christian has not like a philosopher first to seek the truth; “as wise,” he possesses it and must evidence it in his walk. With the philosopher all depends upon exactness and acuteness in the tide of his thoughts, with the Christian, however, upon his care in the course of his conduct; the former works out a system, the latter a fine character; the former will grow, while his forerunner decreases, the latter will decrease, but his forerunner must grow in him.—Christian wisdom as manifested in the acceptance and application of three proverbs: 1. Time is money! 2. Time gained, all gained! 3. Good fishing in troubled waters!—He who does not become wise in hard evil days, certainly remains a fool in good days.—It is just the evil days that you should not let pass by unimproved, for in the evil days of earthly life in this valley of tears we must gain for the good days in eternal life on God’s throne.—The evil days are only the so-called bad weather so needed for the growth of the inner min and God’s plants.—There are periodicals and books of all kinds, especially novels, which are like cups full of intoxicating wine, and instead of being bread, they should be burned like the books of magic in Ephesus (Acts 19:19).—The house and household life should not be isolated from the Church and its services, especially its lovely, consolatory, precious hymns.—Thankfulness and humility are two principal emotions of a glad Christian heart: the former sees the gifts, which it has received from the Lord, the latter the duties He has appointed. Without serving love that Christian exaltation is not true, but a lie. The Christian must not ask; Who should minister to me, but: to whom should I minister?

Starke: Foresight and wisdom belong to Christianity: not the cunning of this world, but the prudence of the righteous. It is like a bee, drawing honey from good and bad examples alike.—Redeem the time then, and give good heed to the blessed hours, when the Spirit of God knocks at thy heart. Many men are laden down with so much work in their avocation, that they often do not have the proper time for eating, still less for reading God’s word, prayer, and other godly practices: it is especially necessary for these persons to forestall and even to steal time, that they may gain an occasional opportunity for spiritual exercises and collecting their heart before God; and besides this to accustom themselves to lift their heart to God in the midst of business, and to carry on the same in the fear of God.—The will of the Lord is our rule, to know and follow it is the greatest wisdom.—Wine is a good gift of God; but alas! all gifts of God are abused, and so is wine.—In one heart there may not dwell at the same time the fulness of the Spirit and the fulness of the world: God does not enter unless the creature retires thence.—Our Church has a rich treasure of spiritual songs ever increasing; it is a shame that they are so often sung without knowledge or thought,—Great benefits demand great thankfulness.—The fear of God is the bond, which should so unite all Christians together, that they submit to and serve one another.

Rieger. The evil mixture of light and darkness with which so many are pleased, and in which they seek their wisdom, will, as folly, become their shame. In a wise walk every child of the light looks chiefly to himself and the keeping of his own way.—In the adapting one’s self to the time, or redeeming the time, one looks to others also, how they are to be approached, or to be served, which is not the same in one case as in another.—Luxury in eating and drinking hinders true wisdom very much.

Heubner: One can permit himself to be robbed of much time. Amici fures temporis. Redeeming the time is opposite of whiling away the time. It is a frivolous thought, that of regarding time as an evil. There is a great difference between the worldly wise and the Christian mode of making time profitable. The former seeks to gain as great a pecuniary advantage as possible out of circumstances of time; the Christian regards the pressure and the evil of the time as a means to spiritual gain, as an exercise to faith, and hence places himself in a spiritual attitude to the time; he is for example, prepared for great sacrifices, for privations, sorrows and afflictions, which he has to bear, for difficult duties, disturbances and the like. To the worldly man that time is evil, when his pleasure is interrupted or hindered by sickness, scarcity, etc. The Christian holds that for the evil time, when virtue decreases and is made more difficult for himself, when the good have much to suffer, and the enticements to faithfulness and apostasy are great.—There is also a great inward song, when at work, on a journey or a walk, etc. Such singing imparts a quiet, glad, godly tone to the spirit. Learn good hymns by heart therefore.—The Epistle for the 20th Sunday after Trinity; Ephesians 5:15-21 : The Christian disposition—the best help in evil days. 1. It gives wisdom to understand and to use aright the evil days (Ephesians 5:15-17). 2. It gives us cheerful courage, aroused not by wild intoxication, but by God’s Spirit, fitting us for proper reflection (Ephesians 5:18-20). 3. It teaches the willingness to serve one another in the right way (Ephesians 5:21).—The duty of the Christian, to adapt himself to the time. 1. What it requires? a) Wisdom which bears unavoidable evil as of God’s sending, not murmuring, nor resisting, nor walking uncircumspectly therein, b) Wholesome use of it for the soul’s benefit. 2. Means: a) Knowledge of the Divine Will, of the purposes of Divine Providence and of our salvation, b) Religious inspiration and meditation. 3. The blessing: a) For us; all must serve for our profit, that we give God thanks: b) For others, that we serve and help them.

Passavant: It is no easy matter to set the right bounds to our joys; one drop follows another, pleasure entices to sensuality, joyousness to wantonness, forgetfulness to intoxication.—We must give thanks for every gratification even the smallest, which we enjoy from our Heavenly Father through Christ; for every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and possessions. Whoever understands this, knows how to give thanks to the great Giver for every temporal and earthly good also, even the least.

Stier: The walk of a Christian to his goal is a worthy, exact, correct walking; only thus does he find and follow his path. In continuously increasing exactness and strictness as respects our disposition and conduct, we grow out of folly into complete wisdom.—To gain the time is something other than to gain time.—To seek and to use opportunities, to make a prudent choice of the point of time, to esteem time and be busy accordingly, to use prudently and circumspectly the time with its circumstances, this is the meaning of redeeming the time.—The special public service should not and must not be something altogether sundered from the private life of the Church.—The ministry must always reach the spirit, lay the foundation anew; but the congregation comes in with its praying, responding, singing, praising.—The thankful taking and returning of God’s grace is itself true gracefulness.—The root of all apostasy and disobedience is ingratitude.

On the Epistle for the 20th Sunday after Trinity (Ephesians 5:15-21): Gesetz und Zeugniss, 1862 [a German theological periodical]: How does the wisdom of the Christian display itself in walk? 1. In a circumspect walk (strait gate, narrow is the way; the days are evil). 2. In an industrious use of the means of grace (the Lutheran Church, the triumphing one, with large capital of the Holy Ghost). 3. In humble conduct. (As the most worthy proof of reason is in sobriety, and the greatest blessedness of a correct walk is shown in a life full of thanksgiving, so in various forms of submission the most delicate tact of this life appears. Thus are added the noblest limitations of life and the purest and most considerate forbearance in all relations.—Löhe.)

Brandt: Earnest demands of the gospel in an evil time. 1. It is a time of ignorance respecting Divine things, and it calls out to us in Ephesians 5:17. Ephesians 5:2. It is a time of the dominion of disorderly lusts and propensities, and we are warned as in Ephesians 5:18. Ephesians 5:3. It is a time of ecclesiastical lukewarmness, and enforces the precept of Ephesians 5:19-20. Ephesians 5:4. A time of restless excitement, saying to us as in Ephesians 5:21.

Rautenberg. The prudence of the children of God in the evil time. 1. They secure to themselves a free hand, to seek their safety—amid all the power of the evil time; 2. An open ear for God’s will—amid all self-will of the evil time; 3. A well-prepared heart for the gift of the Holy Ghost—amid all the carnal mind of the evil time, a joyful spirit in the Lord—amid all the complaints of the evil time. Staudt: The life of the new man 1) in foresight, 2) insight, 3) penetration (Durchricht).

Pröhle: Rules of Christian practical Wisdom 1. Prudent foresight. 2. Earnest retrospect. 3. Pious insight. 4. Moderation in pleasure. 5. Practice in sacred Song of Song of Solomon 6:0. Constant thanks to God. 7. Due subordination.—Become Full of the Spirit! 1. Full of the Spirit, 2. Full.

[Eadie: Ephesians 5:15. Wisdom and not mere intelligence was to characterize them; that wisdom which preserves in rectitude, guides amidst temptations, and affords a lesson of consistency to surrounding spectators.—It is a strange infatuation to be obliged in pointing others to heaven, to point over one’s shoulder.

Ephesians 5:18. Drunkenness was indeed an epidemic in those times and lands. Plato boasts of the immense quantities of liquor which Socrates could swill uninjured; and the philosopher Xenocrates got a golden crown from Dionysius for swallowing a gallon at a draught.—It is a sensation of want—a desire to fly from himself, a craving after something which is felt to be out of reach, eager and restless thirst to enjoy, if at all possible, some happiness and enlargement of heart—that usually leads to intemperance. But the Spirit fills Christians, and gives them all the elements of cheerfulness and peace; genuine, elevation and mental freedom; superiority to all depressing influences; and refined and permanent enjoyment.

Ephesians 5:19. Mere music is but an empty sound; for compass of voice, graceful execution, and thrilling notes are a vain offering in themselves.

Ephesians 5:20. So many and so salutary are the lessons imparted by chastisement—so much mercy is mingled up in all their trials—so many proofs are experienced of God’s staying “his rough wind in the day of His east wind,” that the saints will not hang their harps on the willows, but engage in earnest and blessed minstrelsy.

Ephesians 5:21. This Christian virtue is not cringing obsequiousness; and while it stands opposed to rude and dictatorial insolence, and to that selfish preference for our opinion and position which amounts to a claim of infallibility, it is not inconsistent with that honest independence of disposition and sentiment which every rational and responsible being must exercise. It lays the foundation also, as is seen in the following context for the discharge of relative duty,—it should be seen to develop itself in all the relations of domestic life.—Schenkel: The duty of subordination in the Christian Church: 1. It rests on the recognition of natural and historical distinctions, ordained by God Himself; 2. It has its pattern in the relation of believers to Christ, which is not one of servile fear, but of moral reverence.—R.]


Ephesians 5:17; Ephesians 5:17.—The reading of the Rec. (συνιέντες) is supported by D.3 K. L., nearly all cursives, many fathers and good versions (Tischendorf, Ellicott and most); συνίοντες is found in D.l F, G., some versions (Harless, Meyer, Alford, earliest editions); the imperative: συνίετε has good support (א. A. B., 6 cursives, Chrysostom, Jerome), accepted by Lachmann and Alford (Exodus 4:0). The last appears to be a correction, the participle being lectio difficilior, so that of the two participial readings the first is to be preferred on external grounds.—R.]

Ephesians 5:19; Ephesians 5:19.—[Lachmann and Alford insert ἐν in brackets before ψαλμοῖς, but as it is found only in B., 5 cursives, some versions, and could so readily enter into an explanatory gloss, it is generally rejected.—Both editors bracket πνευματικαῖς on much the same authority, doubting it as a probable interpolation from Colossians 3:16; but it might readily be omitted in a few cases from homœteleuton (Meyer).—Ταῖς καρδιαις, instead of τῇ καρδίᾳ (Rec. א.1 B. K. L.) is found in א.3 A. D. F., but is rejected by Teschendorf, Ellicott, Alford and most, as an emendation derived from Colossians 3:16.—R.]

Ephesians 5:21; Ephesians 5:21.—[The reading of the Rec. (θεοῦ) has no uncial support; while Χριστοῦ is found in nearly all MSS., and accepted by all recent editors.—R.]

[35][Eadie follows Calvin, Hodge follows Meyer, as respects οὖν, while Alford and Ellicott take the particle as resumptive from the περιπατεῖτε in Ephesians 5:8, and what followed it there. This is preferable unless the extended view of Braune be accepted.—R.]

[36][The E. V. with its order: “what the will of the Lord is,” suggests this definite knowledge in special circumstances, hence to alter it, as some propose, to: “what is the will of the Lord,” would be not only unnecessary, but unfortunate.—R.]

[37][It is to be feared that the rising from the spiritual to the general renders too indefinite the very important precept of the Apostle. We may well hold fast to the plain literal meaning: “do not be made drunk with wine;” this is an injunction deserving all the prominence it receives, even if no general sense be appended.—R.]

[38][In which vice, in the becoming drunk (Meyer, Alford and most), not in the wine, the use of which is not forbidden (comp. 1 Timothy 5:23; Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:20-23), although our passage proves that it was intoxicating.—R.]

[39][While rigorous distinctions are not to be insisted upon, we may accept in the main the view of Braune. Ellicott: “Much curious information Will be found in the article, ‘Hymni a Christianis decantandi,’ in Deyling, Obs. No. 44, Vol. III, p. 430 sq.: for authorities, see Fabricius, Bibliogr. Antiq. XI. 13, and for specimens of the ancient ὕμνοι, ibid., Bibl. Græca, Book V. I. 24.” In the fourth volume of Tischendorf’s Monumenta Sac. Sued., some hymns are found at the close of the Psalter, but the MSS. is incomplete, leaving us with a hymn incomplete.—In the face of such testimony there can be no question that the early church was not confined to the Old Testament Psalms.—R.]

[40][“Rara phrasis, Bengel; of Him, whose members we all are, so that any displacement in the Body is a forgetfulness of the reverence due to Him “(Alford).—R.]

[41][What relaxation the body demands is certainly not forbidden by Ephesians 5:16. If any one thinks that he is better redeeming the opportunity by so overtasking his brain or his conscience either, as to die early or be laid upon a bed of sickness, or unfitted for duty by dyspepsia, melancholy or what not, he makes a great mistake. What God says so plainly in our frames is not to be overborne by seemingly pious principles; if it is, God punishes us.—R.]

Verses 22-33

4. Special Christian duties in domestic relations.

Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9.

Wives and husbands

(Ephesians 5:22-33.)

22Wives, submit yourselves42 unto [to] your own husbands, as unto [to] the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the [Because a43 husband is head of his] wife, even as Christ is the head [as Christ also is head] of the church: [,] and he is [himself 24omitting and he is]44 the Saviour of the body. Therefore, [Nevertheless]45 as the church is subject unto [to] Christ, so let the wives [also] be to their own [omit own]46 husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your47 wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself [up] for it: 26That he might sanctify [it,] and cleanse [cleansing] it with the washing [laver] of [the] water by [in] the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church [That he might himself48 present to himself the church glorious], not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; 28but that it should [might] be holy and without blemish. So [Thus] ought men [husbands also]49 to love their [own] wives as their own bodies. He that [who] loveth his [own] wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated [no one ever hated] his own flesh; but nourisheth it, even as the Lord [Christ50 also doth] the 30church: For [Because] we are members of his body, [being]51 of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his [omit his]52 father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife,53 and they [the] two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery [This mystery is a great one]: but I speak concerning [I say it in33regard to]54 Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular [Ye also severally, let each one] so love his [own] wife even [omit even] as himself; and [let] the wife see that she reverence her husband.


To Wives; Ephesians 5:22-24. a. The exhortation, Ephesians 5:22; b. The basis of it, Ephesians 5:23-24.

Ephesians 5:22. The exhortation. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, αἰ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις�.—This section with its particular duties is so closely connected to the last sentence: “submitting yourselves one to another,” with its general duties, that the form is thus abbreviated. Accordingly the verb to be supplied should be imperative, as in some of the various readings, as is required also by the arrangement of the section itself (Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:33). Bengel Inferiores priore loco ponuntur, deinde superiores 25, Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:4-5; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 3:1, quia propositio est de subjectione: et inferiores debent officium facere, qualescunque sunt superiores. Multi etiam ex inferioribus fiunt superiores: et qui bene subest, bene præest. The term ἴδιος is almost invariably joined with “husbands” in the New Testament (Titus 2:5, 17; 1Pe 3:1; 1 Peter 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:2 : τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα—τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα: 1 Corinthians 14:35). We even find ἴδιος αὐτων προφήτης (Titus 1:12) marking in addition to the “their,” that no strange (antithesis: ἴδιος) one is to be thought of. From this it follows that ὁ ἴδιος� is not simply=husband (Harless), nor ἴδιος=ἑαυτοῦ, αὐτου (Winer, p. 145). It has elsewhere its definite meaning=proprius, as Winer admits in regard to many passages, and the Apostle had in this one precept of obedience for the wife a good and sufficient reason for defining the husband with ἴδιος; this justifies the sharpening by which the command appears a natural one.55 At the same time it points to the fact, that the wife is found to the husband in another way than he to her. She has here her calling, the avocation of the husband extends further. It is also to be noticed with Bengel: Mulieres obsequi debent suis maritis, etiamsi alibi meliora viderentur consilia. See Doctr. Notes.

As to the Lord, ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ.—The singular requires according to the context a reference to Christ (Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:5-7), and “as” marks a reality; behind the husband stands the Lord Himself. Thus the obedience is characterized. The obedience is to be rendered not to the husband as man, but as “own husband” in and by whose person the Lord is honored who has established the relation, whom the husband himself must obey.56 Hence it is not the husband as lord (Thom. Aquinas, Semler and others).

The basis of the exhortation; Ephesians 5:23-24.

Ephesians 5:23. Because a husband is head of his wife [ὅτι�].—The foundation of the exhortation is introduced by ὅτι, “because.” Ἀνήρ, “husband,” without the article, designates generally every husband,57 who as such is “head” of the definite wife, chosen and won by him (τῆς γυναικός). The position of the husband is thus marked as of an organizing, managing, controlling and deciding character, which is further set forth by the comparison immediately following:

As Christ also is head of the Church.—Ὡς καὶ ὁ Χριστός places Him as parallel with the husband (Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 4:17). On “head of the Church,” see Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15. The wife and the Church are thus placed as parallels.

Himself the Saviour of the body.—This distinguishes Christ from the husband. Αὐτος emphasizes Christ: He and none other. Σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος, Saviour of the body, the Church, is He and He alone. It is thus explanatory of “Christ,” marking His peculiar dignity, and not in apposition to “head.” This is not applicable to the husband as respects the wife; for him also Christ is the Redeemer. [Alford thus expands the Apostle’s thought: “In Christ’s case the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having saved the body in the process of Redemption: so that I am not alleging Christ’s Headship as one entirely identical with that other, for He has a claim to it and office in it peculiar to Himself.” So most.—R.] It is incorrect to take this as referring to the man also, in order thereby to remind husbands that they should make their wives happy (Erasmus, Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ΙΙ. 2, p. 133, and others); that thought belongs to the other part of the exhortation (Ephesians 5:25 ff.) and would weaken the notion of σωτήρ very much. Stier is over-refined in discovering in σωτήρ—σῶμα an etymological allusion, as Philippians 3:20-21.

Ephesians 5:24. Nevertheless as the Church is subject to Christ, ἀλλά ὡς ἡ ἐκκλησία ὑποτάσσεται τᾦ Χριστῷ—Ἀλλα, “nevertheless,” in spite of the difference between Christ and the husband, the resemblance between the Church and the wife remains. Hence the particle is adversative: habet quidem id peculiare Christus, quod est, est servator ecclesiæ, nihilominus sciant mulieres, sibi maritos præesse, Christi exemplo, utcunque pari gratia non polleant (Calvin, Bengel and others).58 It is accordingly neither syllogistic=ὥστε, οὖν (Beza [E. V.] and others), nor continuative=δέ (Winer, p. 420), nor resumptive=inquam (Harless).

So let the wives also be to their husbands [οὕτως καὶ αἰ γοναῖκες τοῖς�].—The οὕτως καὶ strongly marks the analogy. The verb is to be supplied as in Ephesians 5:22. The emphasis rests on the final words: in everything, ἐν πάντι (1 Corinthians 1:5)=κατὰ πάντα (Colossians 3:20; Colossians 3:22). From such a command we are not to infer that the reference is to Christian wedlock (Harless); this must indeed also be thoroughly correct. Neither the one (1 Corinthians 7:12-17) nor the other is to be accepted. “In everything” is limited by the context to that which the husband as such commands and which the wife as such has to do, but in neither contrary to the Lord. [Hodge: “It teaches its extent, not its degree. It extends over all departments, but is limited in all,—first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God.”—R.]

To Husbands; Ephesians 5:25-31. a. The exhortation, Ephesians 5:25-28; b. The basis of it, Ephesians 5:29-31.

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, οἱ ἄνδρες, ἁγαπᾶτε τὰς γοναῖκας ἑαυτῶν. [See Textual Note6].—Thus the husbands are exhorted, but a closer definition follows: Even as Christ also loved the Church.—Καθες καὶ ὁ Χριστός places the husbands in emphatic parallelism with Him, and the wives with the Church (τὴν ἐκκλησίαν). Si omnia rhetorum argumenta in unum conjicias, non tam persuaseris conjugibus dilectionem mutuam quam hic Paulus (Bugenhagen). [Comp. the apt quotation from Theophylact in Ellicott, and the beautiful remarks of Chrysostom, cited at length by Alford in loco.—R.] Ἠγάπησεν, “loved” (John 13:34; Joh 15:12; 1 John 2:8; 1 John 3:14) is more closely defined by proof of fact.

And gave himself up for it,59 καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς (Ephesians 5:2).—Here also we should not supply in thought: unto death (Meyer), if by that is meant only the death on the cross; the reference is to the entire suffering including the last act as the extreme point. Thus the love required of the husband, a love self-devoting even unto death, gains a significant depth, while there still remains something important which is incomparable: Christ first created the Church through love, as His love made a reconciliation of the world with God, redemption from sin, and death, eternal life and salvation.

Ephesians 5:26-27. The end of the self-sacrificing love of Christ.

Ephesians 5:26. That he might sanctify it.—Ἵνα defines the end: αὐτὴν ἆγιάσῃ. There is here indicated a continued action and dealing towards and upon the Church, the result of which is expressed in Ephesians 5:27 (“that it should be holy and without blemish”); it is the positive activity, effecting the ethical form and demeanor which is well-pleasing to God. It is not merely segregare et sibi consecrare (Calvin [Eadie, but not to the exclusion of the idea of sanctification as a result.—R.] and others). The modality is set forth in the participial clause: Cleansing it.—Καθαρίσας as in Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:13. This indicates the negative activity directed against the evil which is to be removed; both, the positive and the negative, advance together and undivided. Hence it is not: after he cleansed it (Olshausen, Meyer and others),60 nor, as though it were complete in a moment: and has cleansed it (Luther). It continues: it is not a single member of the Church that is spoken of, but the totality of Christians. By what means then is the Church cleansed from sin?

With the laver of the water, τῷ λούτρῳ61 τοῦ ὕδατος.—Unquestionably this means baptism; the readers must have thus understood it (Harless); insigne testimonium de baptismo (Bengel). The article (τῷ) denotes something well known; besides ὕδατος and the connection with καθαρίσας. Comp. Tit 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:23; Acts 10:47; Acts 22:16. But the water does not give the cleansing which is spoken of, nor the bathing or washing. It is the baptism, not the bath in the water. Hence there is further added: in the word, ἐν ῥήματι, in order to designate Christian baptism as to its essence. The notion of baptism, as a means of cleansing beside the sanctifying (see Doctr. Notes 5, 6), as well as the position of this phrase require us to take both together, and the usage respecting the word ρ̀ὴμα) and the connection by means of ἐν (like Ephesians 6:2 : ἐντολὴ ἐν ἐπαγγελία) admit of this. Paul uses ῥὴμα (Ephesians 5:17; Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 12:4; comp. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:3; 1 Peter 1:25) in a similar manner. [In all cases it refers directly or indirectly towards proceeding ultimately or immediately from God (Ellicott).—R.] The conjunction of καθαρος, ὕδωρ, λόγος, John 13:10; John 15:3, is well known. “The washing of water” takes place “in word,” consists essentially therein, hence the reference to God’s Word in general, and in particular to the name of the triune God and His promise. [Alford is quite correct in referring it to “the preached word of faith (Romans 10:8), of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real cleansing (John 15:3; John 17:17) and regenerating power (1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 3:21)—so Augustine Tract. 80 in Joan. 3, vol. 3. p. 1840, Migne; where these memorable words occur, ‘Detrahe verbum, et quid est aqua nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum, etiam ipsum tanquam visibile verbum.’ ” So substantially Eadie, Ellicott, Hodge and others. Comp. Doctr. Notes.—R.]

Hence it is incorrect to take ἐν ῥήματι, ἵνα as a Hebraism=to the end thereby (Koppe and others), or as formula baptizandi (Greek. Fathers, Scholastics and others). Nor is it to be joined with καθαρίσας (Bengel, Harless, Hofmann Schriftbeweis, II. 2, p. 135, who takes it as the word Matthew 8:3; καθαρίσθητι), which would then have two means by the side of each other, or with ἁγιάσῃ (Jerome, Winer, p. 130, Meyer and others), for in that case it would of necessity have been immediately subjoined. [The connection with the participle is defended by Eadie, Alford and Ellicott (who more exactly suggests: “rather with the whole expression”). The absence of the article is strongly opposed to Braune’s view, while the participle might well have two added qualifications, one an instrumental dative and the other specifying with ἐν “the necessary accompaniment” (Ellicott). “Thus the word, preached and received, is the conditional element of purification,—the real water of spiritual baptism;—that wherein and whereby alone the efficiency of baptism is conveyed” (Alford).—R.]

Ephesians 5:27. That he might himself present to himself the Church glorious, ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὕτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν—This second ἵνα depends on ἁγισ́σῃ, the end and aim of which it introduces: “He might himself present,” etc. He and none other (αὐτός), without the co-operation of others for Himself (ἑαυτῷ)62 and not for others, the world or anything else, to His own good-pleasure presents the Church gloriously. The figure (παραστὴσαι) is taken, as in 2 Corinthians 11:2, from the adorning of a bride; hence the emphatically placed ἔνδοξον, which in 1 Corinthians 4:10 is the antithesis of ἄτιμος, is like Luke 7:25 (ἐν ιματισμᾧ) to be applied to the glorious appearance, so that the Church thus appears “worthy of the calling” (Ephesians 4:1), or “of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10), “of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12; 3 John 1:6), respondeat ideæ suæ æternæ (Bengel). The result of the ἁγιάζειν is the οξάζειν both belong together: sanctitas est gloria interior, gloria est sanctitas emicans (Bengel)63.

The second clause beginning with ἵνα is not to be placed as parallel to the first, nor is the figure of an offering to be substituted for that of adorning (Harless). But it is to be maintained, that this state of things for the Church is not attained in this life (Rudelbach), while at the same time we may say with Bengel: (id valet suo modo jam de hac vita). The vital process in the individual and in the whole is indeed that of a development from seed to harvest, is not complete atone stroke, has its stadia and phases. The consummation is really only at the conclusion (Second Advent). [So Alford, Eadie and most. Hodge has a full note on the question.—R.]

Not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ἤ ῥυτὶδα ἢ τι τοιούτων.—Thus the Apostle describes more clearly ἔνδοξον.—Σπίλος64 (2 Peter 2:13; comp. Judges 12:0), parallel to μῶμος, designates what clings to her from without, spot and stain, what is loathsome, the remains of the previous walk and conversation; ῥυτίς, wrinkle, refers to internal emotions, which fix themselves in the countenance, and disfigure the face as it grows old. Other antitheses, as those of Grotius (the former applying to carere vitiis, the latter to vegetos semper esse, to what is good) are not justified by the language. The final phrase negatives the least spot or wrinkle or even what is similar, hence in general what can disfigure. [“The terms are taken from physical beauty, health, and symmetry, to denote spiritual perfection” (Eadie).—R.]

But that it might be, ἀλλ̓ ἵνα ῇ instead of ἀλλ̓ οὖσαν, in accordance with the liveliness of the Greek, who liked the transition from the participle into the finite verb. Winer, p. 537. This ἴνα is parallel to the second one at the beginning of this verse. [Hence “might” must be substituted for “should” (E. V.), to indicate the parallelism.—R.] The final end of the sanctifying is the being holy and without blemish.65—To the “wrinkle” proceeding from within the “holy” corresponds, to the external “spot” ἄμωμος “without blemish” (Ephesians 1:4).

Ephesians 5:28. Thus, οὕτως points emphatically to what precedes, on which account Harless (with Estius: digressus nonnihil ad mysterium, nunc ad institutum redit) incorrectly excludes the definite comparison for wedded life, as though it were inappropriate, when only prudence, moderation are commanded. It is not to be referred to the following ὡς (B-Crusius). [So Alford. But Ellicott, Eadie and Hodge agree with Braune, in referring οὕτως to what precedes, i.e., “thus, in like manner as Christ,” while ὡς indicates not the measure, but a fact, “as they are,” etc.—R.]

Ought husbands to love their own wives [καί ὁι ἄνδρες ὀφέιλουσιν ἁγαπὰν τὰς ἑαυτῶν γυναῖκας.]—The comparison with Christ is now especially denoted by καί before οἱ ἄνδρες. Ὀφείλουσιν presupposes a command for this, the “new commandment” (see Ephesians 5:25), which corresponds with nature, as God has ordained it,66 and, applying to fraternal fellowship, is then certainly valid for marital fellowship, as is indicated by the next phrase which introduces a motive: as their own bodies, ὡς τὰ ἑαυτῶν σώματα.—Here ὡς is evidently a designation of a reality, corresponding to the figure, that the man is the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3). [See Eadie for a lucid statement of the correct view respecting this particle.—R.] It is not comparative (Grotius), hence not=as themselves.

The result of the view that the husband is the head of the wife, while the wife is the body of the husband, as the Church is Christ’s body is this thought: He who loveth his own wife loveth himself, ὁ�, ἑαυτον�.—Comp. Ephesians 5:33. On this general proposition what follows rests.

The basis of the exhortation; Ephesians 5:29-31.

Ephesians 5:29. For no one ever hated his own flesh, ούδεὶς γάρ ποτε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ σάρκα ἑμίσησεν.—The ground which follows is introduced by γάρ.67 In the first place a general fact is negatively expressed. “No man ever” is not limited; not even nisi scilicet a natura et a se ipso desciscat (Bengel). For all “unsparingness of the body” (Colossians 2:22) rests on self-deception. If he actually injures himself, it cannot even then be said that he “hateth his own flesh.” Paul did not choose σῶμα here, because he already had in mind the quotation (Ephesians 5:31), which refers to the institution of marriage in Paradise before the fall; there as here all that is sinful is excluded from the σάρξ, which is not of itself subject to sin. Μισεῖν is chosen, because the disposition is spoken of; it is to be understood like 1 John 3:15. Grotius aptly recalls Curtius, Eph 7: corporibus nostris, quæ utique non odimus; Seneca, ep. 14: fateor insitam esse corporis nostri caritatem; De Clem. 1, Ephesians 5:0 : Si quod adhuc collegitur, animus reipublicæ tu es, illa corpum tuum, vides, ut puto, quam necessaria clementia sit. Tibi enim parcis, quum videris alteri parcere. Comp. Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 11:17.

But nourisheth and cherisheth it [ἀλλʼ ἐκτρέφει καί θάλπει αὐτήν]—Ἀλλά naturally takes out of οὐδείς the subject ἕκαστος, each one. The first verb, the strengthened τρέφειν, refers to the growing development brought about through nourishment (Meyer); it occurs only here and in Ephesians 6:4. The second verb (only here and 1 Thessalonians 2:7) is stronger than θερμαίνειν (James 2:16) which is also more general, and denotes the warming upon and with one’s self; hence it is used of brooding, Deuteronomy 22:6 (LXX.); it is more than fovet (Vulgate), pflegt (Luther). The two expressions are distinguished by Bengel so far correctly that he remarks on the former intus, on the latter ad extra, but he is faulty in thinking of victus in connection with the former, amictus with the latter. The one refers to the strengthening food, renewing the life, the other to the protection and preservation of the life. Harless incorrectly denies any distinction, taking both as descriptive of maternal love.

Even as Christ also doth the Church [καθὼς καὶ ὁ

Χριστὸς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν].—What is of universal validity within the sphere of creation, is found also in the Redeemer as respects His Church (He nourishes and cherishes it). Stier applies it to the Lord’s Supper, which is indeed not to be excluded, thinking that after the nasci in the baptism (Ephesians 5:26) the pasci is here spoken of. It is more natural to remember how Christ calls Himself the bread of life (John 6:48; John 6:51), which “nourishes,” not in the Lord’s Supper alone, even though it takes place there in its most full and intense form, and also that He compares Himself to a hen (Matthew 23:37) that covereth with her wings, thus protecting and cherishing (θάλπει) at the same time. Grotius (nutrit eam verbo et spiritu, vestit virtutibus) is correct only in the first part of his comment. Evidently the spheres of Creation and Redemption do not fall outside each other; the former finds in the latter its restoration and consummation, the latter in the former its basis and point of connection. What is unnatural is unchristian.

Ephesians 5:30 proves the action of Christ to His Church through her intimate union with Him:

Because we are members of his body [ὅτι μὲλη ἑσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ].—“Because” connects with the foregoing thought: He nourisheth and cherisheth the Church. The Church is now the subject, which inheres in ἐσμέν. Every individual is so, as the plural indicates. The Church as a whole as also individually, the members of the Church are then “members of His body.” Here τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ is evidently=ὁ Χριστός (1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 12:27), on which account Bengel is correct in saying: corpus hic dicitur non ecclesia, quæ continentur in subjecto “sumus,” sed corpus ipsius Christi; hence this is entirely like 1 Corinthians 10:16 (Stier). The membership, which is designated by the emphatically placed μέλη, and which is conceived of as existing in the word ἕσμέν, is designed to mark Christendom and Christians as “integral parts of His body” (Meyer). A closer definition follows.

Being of his flesh and of his bones, ἐκτῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ τὼν ὀστέων αῡ̔τοῦ.—First of all the repeated preposition must be noticed, marking as it does the origin and the appertaining to. The phrase denotes the personality and corporeality of Christ, in which the Church with her members originates. The connection with and origin from Christ, from the historical, incarnate Christ, from His personal body, is designated in such a way, that we as well as the whole Church are to be regarded as His production and possession; and this is expressed with the Scripture passage, or at least with a reminiscence of the passage, which refers to the creation of the woman out of the first Adam in Paradise (Genesis 2:23 : LXX.: τοῦτο νῦν ὀστοῦν ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων μου, καὶ σὰρξ ἐκ τῆς σηρκός μου), because Christ is the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47; comp. 1 Timothy 2:13), and the Church, as well as each of its members, is a creation (1 Cor. 5:19). Comp. the parable of the Vine and the branches (John 15:1 ff). Our life in Christ proceeds in its inmost nature from holiness, is really strengthened from Him, and affects the resurrection body.

Accordingly it is inappropriate to think only of the close union of Christ with us (Koppe), or the identity of our nature with His (Latin Fathers), or only of spiritual origin (Greek Fathers, Erasmus, Calovius, Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, II., 2, p. 137, Meyer and others), or only of the death of the cross (Grotius: ex carne ejus et ossibus cruci adfixis, i.e., ex passione ejus prædicata et credita ortum habuit ecclesia; Schenkel, who refers to Ephesians 5:24), or the Lord’s Supper (Kahnis, Harless, Olshausen, Stier and others), or the glorified body (Gess: Christi Person, p. 274 ff.). Bengel, who is followed, up to a certain point, by Stier, since he also finds in the creation of the woman out of Adam a type of the creation of the Church out of Christ, must be regarded as fanciful despite the several apt remarks he makes: Moses ossa prius, Paulus carnem prius nominat; naturalem quippe structuram, de qua ille, ossa potissimum sustinent; ut in nova creatione caro Christi magis consideratur. Porro Moses plenius loquitur; Paulus omittit quæ ad propositum non æque pertinent. Non ossa et caro nostra, sed nos spiritualiter (Stier: via spiritualiter in corporationem vergente) propagamur ex humanitate Christi, carnem et ossa habente. Rueckert is altogether perverted in his notion that the Apostle himself had no definite idea in his mind; if he waives an explanation of the passage, so he must waive first of all his own explanation.

[In agreement with the view of Braune, in the main, the following statement is appended. The Apostle here asserts a state (ἐσμεν) of Christians, originating from Christ (ἐκ), analogous to the physical derivation of Eve from Adam and the consequent union subsequently between them. The direct reference to every nuptial union (Eadie) does not accord with the preposition or the immediate allusion. This is the mystical relation, implying as Hodge well contends, something more than that we derive our spiritual life from Christ, as Eve her spiritual life from Adam (Ellicott, Alford, following Meyer), since the peculiar language seems to involve more; and something else than that we are partakers of the substance of Christ’s body, as Eve was formed out of the substance of Adam’s body (Calvin, and with various modifications most strong sacramentalists), a view which tends to materialistic conceptions of the union, and, in attempting to explain one acknowledged mystery, creates confusion instead of clearness. This middle position accepts a connection with Him, “not simply and generally by a spiritual union, but in some close and derivative way, which the Apostle calls a mystery” (Eadie), leaving the matter there. As regards the secondary application to the Sacraments, which Ellicott and Wordsworth (with many German commentators) accept, it may be remarked, that these undoubtedly constitute signs and seals, and in a certain sense means of maintaining this union, but this passage, which speaks not of “body and blood,” but of “flesh and bones,” does not distinctly refer to these, so that nothing can be deduced from it in regard to the communication with Christ’s glorified, or transmuted, body in the Lord’s Supper. Comp. the full, clear and excellent discussion of Hodge, who opposes Calvin’s views most strenuously—R.]

Ephesians 5:31. Paul in this verse proceeds with the passage which follows the saying of Adam respecting the woman brought to him (Genesis 2:24, LXX.: ἔνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καἰ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοὐ καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναικα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἕσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν):

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.—The changes are inconsiderable: ἀντί instead of ἔνεκεν, πατέρα and μητέρα, according to the best authorities, without the articles and pronouns, τῃ γυναικί at least a various reading as Matthew 19:5. Notwithstanding this, it is not a quotation, since there is nothing to indicate this. He merely continues in the words of Moses, which he uses with slight variations, while the Lord introduces them (Matthew 19:5) with εἶπεν and Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 6:16, the last clause with φησίν. Further, this passage is not a part of Adam’s speech, since he could say nothing of forsaking father and mother, unless it be taken as a prediction (Stier) [Jerome: primus vates Adam]; in which case, however, he would still in the last clause have prophesied respecting himself. [Comp. Genesis, p. 209.—R.] Hence it is not strange that the Apostle passes over the intervening clause, in which Harless unnecessarily finds a difficulty.

Ἀντὶ τούτου is then, if we compare ἀνθʼ ὦν (2 Thess. 2:19; Luke 1:2; Luke 12:3; Luke 19:44), for this, that the woman is taken from the man, he will cling to her; εἰς� (Winer, p. 342). Paul unmistakably thus returns to the conjugal state, after he has finished the proof (Ephesians 5:30) for “as Christ also” (Ephesians 5:29). Hence it is not necessary with Bleek to supply after Ephesians 5:30 : we are of His flesh and bones, the following middle term: as the woman is not of the flesh and bones of the man, to which Ephesians 5:31 refers. Τούτου is not to be referred to our origin from Christ, to whom the forsaking of father and mother does not apply, the forsaking of father not in the future at least (καταλείψει), and such a reference is foreign to the purpose, the clinging to the wife, the Church, since either this did not at all exist when He was born a man, or he already clung to it in love, without the necessity of first forsaking the Father. Indeed, the future (καταλείψει) may be regarded here in this saying of Moses, analogously to the future [the ethical future] of the commandments (Romans 13:9 : οὐ μοιχεύσεις, κ. τ. λ.), as the precept corresponding to the relations as established in God’s word.

Καὶ ἓσονται οἰ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν refers to a gradual coining to pass of unity (hence εἰς with the accusative), and that, too, in the case of two different persons (οἱ δύο, ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ, Genesis 1:27), who from within becomes one in all external circumstances, non solum uti antea, respectu ortus, sed respectu novæ conjunctionis (Bengel). Hence it is not necessary to find here only a prophecy of the Second Advent of Christ, who now as Betrothed and afterwards as husband, clings to the Church (Meyer), nor in the Mosaic passage a prophetic type of Christ and His Church (Stier), nor to refer the last clause to the Lord’s Supper (Calvin, Beza, Harless, Olshausen, Kahnis).

[The main difficulty is in regard to the connection. Meyer (and many others from Chrysostom to Alford) refers “for this cause” to Ephesians 5:30, thus applying our verse to the relation of Christ and the Church. But the Apostle is recalling a passage at the basis of which lies the fact of Eve’s being taken out of Adam, and the slight alteration he makes does not show an intent to apply it differently here. Besides the whole section treats of the relation of husband and wife, and this is, therefore, to be regarded as the leading reference unless the other is distinctly marked. This principle the Apostle himself assumes in Ephesians 5:32 : “But I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” At the same time we must accept a secondary application (Ellicott) to Christ and the Church, not simply because most commentators have done so, but because the whole tenor of the passage and the interpretation of Ephesians 5:32 seem to demand it. The view of Harless, Olshausen and Hodge, that the last clause alone refers to Christ and the Church, the early part being introduced merely for the sake of that clause, seems to be an exegetical make-shift. As the Apostle had left out a part of the original passage in Genesis, he might just as readily have omitted all that was irrelevant. Still less tenable is the special application, which Olshausen makes, comparing the Lord’s Supper and conjugal cohabitation, showing that allegory may serve to foster the coarsest materialistic conceptions. Meyer’s paraphrase is as follows: “Wherefore, because we are members of Christ, of his flesh and bones, shall a man leave (i.e., Christ at the Second Advent) his father and his mother (i.e., according to the mystical sense of Paul: He will leave His seat at the right hand of God) and shall be joined to his wife (to the Church), and (and then the two) (the husband and the wife, i.e., the descended Christ and the Church) shall be one flesh.” Such a view is to be expected from this commentator, whose grammatical exactness is exceeded only by his fondness for bringing in a reference to the Second Advent, but it fails to meet with general acceptance. JeremyTaylor: “Christ descended from His Father’s bosom and contracted His divinity with flesh and blood, and married our nature, and we became a Church;” but this confuses our nature with the Church, as well as, impliedly, the Bride and the offspring. Alford is safer in regarding “the saying as applied to that, past, present, and future, which constitutes Christ’s union to His Bride the Church: His leaving the Father’s bosom, which is past—His gradual preparation of the union, which is present, His full consummation of it, which is future.” All these views may be held as partial elucidations of the matter in hand on the side of the application to Christ and the Church, which was doubtless in the Apostle’s mind, but we still insist that so detailed a passage has a primary reference to a union, where a mere man leaves his earthly father and mother, and is joined to his wife.—With all these allegorical interpretations, one thought, which inheres in the passage, as referring to the human relation, has been too much overlooked, viz., that it is the man who forsakes father and mother. It is remarkable how true this is, and how it comes out in works of fiction, in homely sayings like this: “My son is my son till he gets him a wife, but my daughter’s my daughter all her life,” in the feelings, since mothers and sisters are rarely jealous of the man, but so often of the woman, who marries into the family. Nor does social custom fail to recognize this. The basis of all is the principle set forth in Ephesians 5:28-29.—R.]

Comprehensive double conclusion; Ephesians 5:32-33.

Ephesians 5:32. This mystery is a great one, τὸμυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν.—The position of the words must be noticed. Winer (p. 163) remarks that οὐτος usually comes before the noun, and ἐκεὶνος after, and that accords with the nature of the case. Deviations have their ground in the context. Paul lays the stress here on “mystery,” the position after the noun weakens the demonstrative; it is not δεικτικῶς, does not refer to the last point alone. There is here a retrospect over the whole paragraph. Bengel is correct: mysterium appellatur non matrimonium humanum (Ephesians 5:33), sed ipsa conjunctio Christi et ecclesiæ. “Mystery” (Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:19) is a fact, which either entirely or partially transcends the understanding, as the Divine will, a decree of God, the truth in its depth, etc. Here it is the union of the man and woman in wedlock, and of Christ and His congregation in the church, which the Apostle so presents that the latter is the pattern, and the former the copy. It is irrelevant to suppose a reference to a concealed sense in the words of Moses, so that εἰρημένον, γεγραμμενον, is to be supplied (Grotius, Stier, Rueckert, Meyer and others). It is termed “great,” because Paul himself plus sensit, quam ii, ad quos scribebat, caperent; comp. Romans 11:33.

[Hodge seems inclined to refer “this mystery” to the union of Christ and the Church, in accordance with his view of Ephesians 5:31. Eadie agrees exactly with Braune, while Alford refers it to “the mystery of the spiritual union of Christ with our humanity, typified by the close conjunction of the marriage state,” alluded to in Ephesians 5:31. Ellicott applies it to the close conjunction of the married state: He adds: “Ephesians 5:29 states the exact similarity of the relationship; Ephesians 5:30 the ground of the relation in regard of Christ and the Church; Ephesians 5:31 the nature of the conjugal relation with a probable application also to Christ; Ephesians 5:32 the mystery of that conjugal relation in itself, and still more so in its typical application to Christ and His Church.” Eadie: “Ephesians 5:25-28 introduce the spiritual nuptial relation, Ephesians 5:29 affirms its reality, Ephesians 5:30 gives the deep spiritual ground or origin of it, while the quotation in Ephesians 5:31 shows the authorized source of the image, and Ephesians 5:32 its ultimate application guarding against mistake.” On “mystery,” see Ephesians 3:3—R.]

But I.—Ἐγώ is used only with emphasis (Winer, p. 144), and must have an antithesis, which the context gives; here it is (Ephesians 5:33); “you.” Δέ, but, is merely metabatic (Meyer); therefore: I, the Apostle, the unmarried one.68Say it in regard to Christ and the Church λέγω εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν].—Αέγειν εἰς marks the aim of the discourse, as Acts 2:25; Hebrews 7:14; John 8:26 (Winer, p. 370). Here λέγειν is the expression of the opinion and view of Paul, who refers the mystery to “Christ and the Church” as the archetype and prototype for Christians in the marital fellowship. The repetition of the article is emphatic, containing a caution to consider this on account of the consequence for the copy, marriage. It is incorrect to take λέγω=I apply it (Stier), or, I cite it (Meyer; Luther, too, is wrong: of Christ and the Church, and the Vulgate: in Christo et in ecclesia. On the Romanist error, which regards marriage as a Sacrament, to which the Vulgate gives occasion, see Doctr. Note 7.69

Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless ye also.—Πλήν (from πλέον) precisely: further, beyond this, that is beyond the saying on my part, καὶ ὑμεῖς. There is, therefore, no digression to be accepted, from which he now returns to the subject, Ephesians 5:28 (Bengel: quasi oblitus propositæ rei nunc ad rem revertitur; Harless, Bleek), nor is it: in order to enter no further upon this mystery (Meyer).70

Severally, let each one, οἱ καθʼ ἔνα ἕκαστος, vos singuli, each one without exception; the masculine and the context point to husbands.—So love his own wife as himself, τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως�.—Loving as one’s self is a conception, which is compared (οὕτως) with the love of Christ to the Church. [Not so love his wife as he loves himself, but: in this manner (like Christ) love his own wife as being himself; comp. Ephesians 5:28—R.]

And let the wife see that she reverence her husband.—The construction: ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φοβῆται τὸν ἄνδρα, presupposes something to be supplied: volo aut simile quid piam (Galatians 2:10; Galatians 5:13; 1Co 4:2; 1 Corinthians 7:29; 2 Corinthians 8:7). Bengel, and answers to an imperative, as indeed one precedes (Winer, pp. 295, 537). It is stronger, however, than an imperative; ἠ δὲ γυνή stands first emphatically. [See Ellicott, who accepts a nominative absolute, reaching the same conclusion as Braune. “Let the wife see,” brings out the emphasis quite well.—R.] Particula vim habet, vim temperat ellipsis morata (Bengel). Thus a special weight for house and husband is laid upon this, that she does her duty, which is summed up in φοβῆται and traced to its inmost ground in Ephesians 5:22-24. Œcumenius: ὡς τρέπει γυναῖκα φοβεῖσθαι μὴ. δουλοτρεπὼς. See Doctr. Note 1, 3, 4. Optime cohærebit concordia, si utrimque constabunt officia (Erasmus). [Eadie well remarks: “What is instinctive on either side is not enforced, but what is necessary to direct and hallow such an instinct is inculcated.”—R.]


1. The fundamental features of the moral conduct of man and wife towards each other are the principal points in this section. The Apostle refers the subject, with wholesome words and grand freedom from all casuistry, back to the main point, to its briefest expression: As regards the wife, to be subordinate to the husband (Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:24), to reverence him (Ephesians 5:33); as regards the wife, to love the husband (Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:33). The former is in force since Genesis 3:15 : “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;” it is not, however, merely a consequence of the fall and a punishment, but inheres in the position of the woman and her corresponding endowment and nature, since she was to be a help-meet for the man, that he should not be alone (Genesis 2:18). In this is at once implied that there is here meant no servile subjection, no forced, legal obedience, no loveless, joyless fear, by indicating that the man as the head of the wife, in his mind, character and activity is placed as the representative and provider for his own in circles outside that of the house, the context defines the subordination and fear to this extent, that, as soul, heart, disposition and honor of the household, she submits herself to the regulations established by the husband in virtue of his office, and in tender thought avoids disturbing, injuring or destroying his work. Above the house stands the man’s avocation, which is from God, for which God has appointed him; hence it stands higher than the house, the character and life of which should subserve his avocation in the house alone. It is therefore in substance commanded that the wife should be subject, and in tender solicitude should fear to oppose the husband, to undervalue his arrangements, to make him discontented or angry while tarrying in the house to strengthen himself for his avocation.71

The wife who refuses this subordination and considerate respect, who does not see and seek her mission in the house, in the service of her husband, becomes an offensive caricature: from discontent there is bad progress to growling, managing, seeking the mastery, scolding, and finally to “emancipation.” Thus is stripped off and destroyed, not only what is Christian, but what is germanic, even what is womanly, especially what is peculiar and individual, the special gift of the Creator. Jezebel and Herodias are examples of this kind. The true character shines in Sarah (1 Peter 3:1-6).—To the husband one command is given, and in this one three requirements: Love even unto self-sacrifice, with the consequence and purpose of sanctification (Ephesians 5:25-27), and this with such energy, purity and constancy, that more is required of the husband than of the wife. The wife should love the husband, as the Church loves Christ, in entire, exclusive, indissoluble and ministering love, and the husband should love the wife, as Christ the Church, in entire, exclusive, indissoluble and protecting love. It is more difficult to love the wife, without egotism, without tyranny and despotism, without any severity to be the master in the house in true affection, than to be subject to the man in tender respect for his dignity as husband, and his avocation as man.

2. The combination of marriage and Church (Kirche), which appears as the main thought in this section, has a twofold reference.

a. The two are to be compared with each other: As the wife should conduct herself to her husband, so should the Church to Christ; as the husband should conduct himself to the wife, so does Christ to the Church. Marriage, like the Church (Kirche), is a life-fellowship between a head and its body; the former Christ is for the Church (Gemeinde) and the man for the wife; the latter, the Church, is for Christ, and the wife for the husband. From the relation and the demeanor between Christ and the Church light falls upon the relation and demeanor of married people to each other, just as from the latter upon the former. Thus marriage and Church serve each other for the rendering clear of that which is normal in the two. But we must guard against descending in this parallelism to small and belittling particulars: such as conjoining winning the bride, baptism, and time of betrothal and the temporal period of the Church, leading home the bride and the Second Advent of the Lord as Bridegroom, sexual fellowship and unio mystica. But we may with right speak of the religion of marriage and of the marriage of religion; on this is based, too, the position in the canon of the Song of Solomon, which is a hymn of holy love. The Church should not keep at a distance what appertains to the creature, what is natural, or even turn a disapproving countenance upon it; that would be a wrinkle in the face of the Church, thus despising her Lord’s work and so growing old on one side, instead of being glorified. From the wife, who in her husband’s house is never to be regarded lightly, but must manage and mould, the Church may and ought to learn how to become at once deiformis and mundeformis.

b. The two, however, stand in such close relation to each other, that from the Church proceeds the power for the proper direction of marriage, the proper conduct of married people. The wife should belong to the Church in order to receive from Christ His gifts, that thus she may be to her husband what the Church is to Christ, and quite as much must the husband be sanctified in the Church, taken hold of by Christ and permeated by His love, in order to treat his wife, as Christ does His Church. Thus the Christian Church is the foundation for a normal marriage, as the natural life becomes in the life of regeneration that which is according to God’s will.

3. Marriage and Nature. Our section points into the sphere of creation. The man is from the beginning made for marriage (Genesis 1:26-28 : “male and female”), and in Paradise the first human pair was brought together for wedlock, were wedded pair by the grace of God, before father and mother, and children existed. Marriage is the first union in point of time. And in point of dignity as well: from it proceeds the dignity of father and mother, through it alone comes family life, the basis of all blessing in human life. As to its nature it is the fellowship of one man and one woman, in which both more and more live together (εἰς σάρκα μίαν), chiefly moral, then however sensuous vital fellowship even to sexual fellowship; it is the fellowship of the body and of the worship of God, of all worldly goods, of all intellectual gifts, and, as far as it is possible with personal reason and conscience, of spiritual gifts also; the religious side of the fellowship should predominate, the moral side operate, the sensuous side may never override and repel the others, would enter only but not be repressed.72

4. Marriage and Bible are joined together also by our section, since it refers back to the oldest Scripture, deriving thence these thoughts: God has created mankind for marriage; the desire, the initiative, is on the side of man, the being desired is the part of the woman; marriage unites only one man and one woman (Monogamy); is first of all and as to its deepest ground directed to moral fellowship of life, includes in itself sexual fellowship, is directed thus towards the establishment of the family and family life, toward the bringing up and education of children; has such an inwardness and fervor, that devoted conjugal surpasses filial love, even father’s and mother’s love, that the marriage tie is indissoluble, unless sin should rend it asunder.73 Monogamy is established from the beginning as self-evident. A Cainite, the bold and sensual Lamech, who first took two wives, Ada (=ornament) and Zillah (=shadow of the head of hair), from whom the master of fiddlers and fifers, and the master of workers in brass and iron, made the transition from monogamy to polygamy, and in the progress of civilization forsook the Divine institution (Genesis 4:19-24). The impatience of Sarah for an heir caused her to forsake her position and conduct so far as to lead Hagar to Abraham, and the selfishness of Laban made use of the love of Jacob for Rachel, so that he took Leah first, but the promised blessing came only on the child of the legitimate wife (Isaac, not Ishmael) or of the first one (Judah, not Joseph). See Harless, Ethik., § 52, p. 5, 7 ff. Hence it should not be said, that in the Old Testament marriage only gradually lifted itself to monogamy (Schenkel); on the contrary the latter was recognized as the original institution appointed by God, and the defections from it are referred to sinful tendencies, to the dominion of sin, are not approved. Christianity however has glorified marriage, establishing it firmly and securely in its nature, dignity and blessing. Redemption goes back to the natural institutions established in creation, removing the perversions and degradations introduced by sin into the heathen world and the people of Israel; what is new in Christianity is what is primeval restored. This appears especially prominent in the matter of marriage and family life, so strongly that all which is anti-christian and anti-scriptural is at the same time unnatural and inhuman, just as the impulse of anti-christian Atheism, Materialism, Satanism has led thither. Interest attaches to the view of Melancthon, who, much as he has prized his excellent betrothed, was afraid of married life, lest he might thereby be drawn too much away from his studies, and yet afterwards despite a wife suffering from hypochondria and a numerous family called the marriage state “a kind of philosophy, which required duties the most honorable and most worthy of a noble man.” [So Jeremy Taylor: “Single life makes men in one instance to be like angels, but marriage in very many things makes the chaste pair to be like Christ” (Sermon on the Marriage Ring).—R.]

5. Beside the conduct of married people to each other and the relation between Christ and His church and the husband with his wife, there is also marked, through the purpose of Christ or the aims of the church, the end of marriage, viz., the sanctification of the personality (Ephesians 5:26-27). This is a process of development, ever deepening and extending through the whole life, with two sides: internal, moral perfection, through growth and unfolding of talent and strength granted (ἁγία) and ever wider and clearer emancipation from all evil imposed and entering or clinging from without (ἄμωμος). The former is based upon the internally and correctly established relation of the person to God and His kingdom, the latter upon the conduct of the same, externally corresponding to the given noun, in all the relations of life from work to word and its source in thought and temper. Hence the sanctification of the sexual appetite can be regarded as only a single purpose, for which there is not even a point of resemblance in the parallel with the church and her Head, not as the principal task of Christian family morals (Schenkel), as if marriage were ordained as a safeguard against whoremongery or carnal excess, when this is but a single object, or rather a coincident result, even though the main matter in this work of sanctification. From the very seeking and consummating of the marriage, the morality of the fellowship not its sensuousness, the religiousness of the married pair not the sexual fellowship, should show itself to be the decisive and impelling feature. The proper sexual pleasure to be allowed by man and wife must like every other pleasure within a social relation find its norm in accordance with the moral end of marriage.

6. On the phrase respecting baptism (Ephesians 5:26) rests with full right the explanation of Luther in the smaller catechism, 4 main part, Ephesians 1:0 : Baptism is not mere water, but it is water taken in God’s command and united with God’s word. For it is a pledge of the power of the atonement efficient through awakening and growing faith, an assurance of the forgiveness of sins, a guarantee of the new relation to God, of sonship with Him (Matthew 28:19 : εἰς τὸ ὄνομα; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Hebrews 10:22) and an assurance of the power, to be received in faith, of the new life in the gift of the Holy Ghost (John 3:5; Titus 3:5); both together, Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:12. Chemnitz: Pater salvat, filius emundat, spiritus regenerat (Harless). Mundatio præcedit donationem gloriæ et nuptias (Bengel).—Thus both the mechanical view of baptism as a mere initiatory rite among the nationalists, and the Baptist sundering of sanctification and cleansing, which makes of baptism merely a seal of entire conversion, are here opposed; it stands at the commencement of sanctification, which begins with it. [The reference to baptism is undeniable, and such a reference seems to contradict at once the very low view of the ordinance which is quite prevalent among many Pedo-baptists, just as the obvious reference to the mystical union of Christ, and His Church in this section implies that the Lord’s supper is more than a mere memorial service. As a specimen of the Reformed or Calvinistic views on this subject (though Calvin himself was more of a Sacramentalist than those who moulded the Reformed confessions), the remarks of Dr. Hodge are presented: When the Scriptures speak of baptism as washing away sin, they do not teach (1) That there is any inherent virtue in baptism, or in the administrator, to produce these effects; nor (2) That these effects always attend its right administration; nor, (3) That the Spirit is so connected with baptism that it is the only channel through which He communicates the benefits of redemption. Positively he remarks: (1) Baptism is a Divine institution. (2) One of the conditions of salvation, not sine qua non, but having the necessity of precept. (3) A means of grace, that is, a channel through which the Spirit confers grace; not always, nor upon all recipients, nor is it the only channel, nor designed as the ordinary means of regeneration. (4) Infants are baptized on the faith of their parents; and their baptism secures to them all the benefits of the covenant of grace, provided they ratify that covenant by faith.—R.]

7. Here, as also in Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 1:20, the Vulgate has rendered μυστήριον sacramentum. This translation has been used to support the view of the high dignify of marriage recognized in this section, which exaggerates it to such an extent that the Roman Church, in opposition to her own doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy and the virginity of the saints, proclaims it a sacrament. Comp. Conc, Triden., Less. 24, cap. 1; Si quis dixerit, matrimonium non esse vere et proprie unum ex septem legis evangelicæ sacramentis a Christo domino institutum, sed ab hominibus in ecclesia inventum, neque gratiam conferre: anathema sit.

This church (Catech. Rom. ii., 8, 23 sqq.) accepts three gracious gifts [in this so-called sacrament]: proles, fides, fidelitas quædam und vinculum, quod nunquam dissolvi potest. As respects the matter and form the schoolmen vacillate in consequence of the novelty of the subject. Bonaventura finds the material of the sacrament in the sexual acts, others in the partners themselves, others in their consensus. To regard and treat matrimony as a Sacrament, but only for the laity, who do attain to the perfection of the saints, while celibacy is demanded of the monk and priest, that they may be able to boast of sanctity, of actual renunciation of sexual desire, was only possible, because the antithesis between heaven and the world, from which Paul proceeds in speaking of celibacy as respects his own office, age, and individuality (1 Corinthians 7:25-40), was changed into an antithesis of spirit and flesh in such a way that a false dualism was established between Divine and human, spiritual and carnal, moral and natural. This dualism the church has overcome. Very apt are the remarks of Harless (Ethik, p. 512): “Marriage is the divinely appointed ordinance and form, within which the spirit of Divine love can find on earth according to the nature of the case its most unhampered rule, and in such efficiency can best give a measure of the fulness of the Divine love; but the marriage itself does not bring or become the medium of this Spirit of pure Divine love. It is only the vessel which is prepared for this Spirit; the spirit and the power do not come from the earthly copy of the Divine fellowship of love. The Christian perceives rather, that the institution in itself does not at all protect against violation and desecration through selfishness of every kind—but that [the Spirit and the power] come from the graces of the New Testament, that these graces do not come to him by means of marriage, but through the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, repentance and faith, on which account it is impossible for him, under a misunderstanding of Ephesians 5:32 to call the Divine institution of matrimony a sacrament in the sense, in which Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are thus termed.—Still the evangelical church down to the latest times has not been free from Romish distortions, of a mystical, theosophic tendency; Gottfried Arnold held the marriage state to be incompatible with true wisdom, though he himself afterwards married; with him agreed Michael Hahn, who with his followers remained unmarried, and Pastor Culmann (Ethik, i. p. 42). Luther himself did not regard the sexual propensity and its gratification as in itself God-willed (Koestlin: Luther’s Theologie, III., p. 483). On the other hand Zinzendorf attempted to place the marital obligation under ideal points of view.—If from the Roman I Catholic side attacks are still made upon the convenience of Luther and Melancthon for their approval of the bigamy of Landgrave Philip after the example of Abraham, who had however to suffer severely on this account, it may be replied that the Catholic Church not only permitted Abbe Sieyes and Bishop Talleyrand to marry, and dissolved Napoleon’s first marriage with Josephine, but even helped him to the second marriage with the Austrian Archduchess.

8. In the 13th century the Old Testament age, and the Old Testament Scriptures were often termed the “die alte Ehe” (the old marriage). This points to a mystery of marriage, like that of the communion of Christ and His Church. The former is a mystery on its natural side from the very creation; in it creative powers for soul and body are active; a mystery on the side of redemption: in it wonderful confiding love and consecrated fidelity are manifested; on the side of sanctification: in it operate sanctifying powers for eternity.—Comp. Paul Gerhart: Voller Wunder, voller Kunst, voller Weisheit, voller Kraft, voller Hulde, Gnad’, und Gunst, etc.


Comp. the foregoing Doctr. Notes and Braune, Die heiligen 10 Gebote, pp. 147, 177.—The husband has a great advantage over his wife: he is the older, more mature part, has the choice of the wife, possesses greater power and culture for civil life, must represent his wife and household in these matters (1 Corinthians 11:7-9). So at least it should be. But he has no advantage as regards the Divine image and moral worth over her, the fellow-heir (1 Peter 3:7). Both must have patience with each other, but no wife should be ever for having the last word without yielding! She who patiently bears puts to shame the despotism of a husband. Nor should they spoil each other by a weak and false silence respecting unpleasantness; they should inure themselves in the draught of truth, should be confiding without inconsiderateness; neither dare cease to be a lover of the other. Even if the husband should be lacking in what is necessary to fill personally his position, the wife should not in boast-fulness despise the social dignity of the husband, but above and beyond him seethe Lord. Have you given your “yes,” then it must be held good to the end; even if it is hard, the difficulty does not dissolve it; life must fulfil it, death alone dissolve it.—You may be married and yet not truly wedded, may have one household and yet no matrimonial fellowship; may be with him or her one flesh, but not one heart and one soul; you live together under one roof, but may have no common foundation, may walk united on earth, but heaven is wanting to your union.—No one ought to rejoice so much in Christ and His church as the wife: she and her children have gained most by Christianity; this is a reason why women and children have and ought to have so strong an attraction to Him in the church; there is gratitude involved. Submission, ministering subordination is no misfortune, but a joy, exercising a triumphing, pacifying power.—In one sense every man must die for his wife: he must die to himself, to his sinful Ego, mortify his selfishness and egotism, not his peculiarity, which he should still exercise without self-will. The man is most apt to do this as betrothed and in the honeymoon, as if once Were enough. But this should occur throughout life: before death no one is entirely done with it.—Wo to him who chooses before he has to choose, when he knows neither why nor wherefore, or before he knows how to choose, when he does not know what it means, or who chooses arbitrarily, before he has bethought himself what his position requires or proved her whom he chooses! Wo to such, especially if they are or become ministers of the church. Sin separates from God, disturbs the union with Him, grieves the Holy Spirit. Sin does this also to the Divine institution of marriage. All separation of dispositions, all disturbances and discord of soul come from sin, and never merely from that of the other, but from your own sin also. The guilt in unhappy marriages, or even in the disturbance of otherwise happy ones, is on both sides, demands at least an examination of one’s own sins. When there is discord and even when the other is wrong, do you listen attentively to what is said against you, and then try it as a judge upon yourself.—Never forget this: what is yours does not merely belong to you, you belong to it also.

Starke:—How then can a godless man with alacrity be the head of his wife and require obedience of her, when he neither clings nor listens to Christ, his head?—Pious widows, you have lost one head, but the other Head (Jesus) death cannot take from you; He watches and. cares for you.—Is Christ the Head of the church, then the Pope cannot be it, else the church would have two heads and so be a monstrosity.—In Christ there is at once a Head and a Saviour; the two characters must unite also in a husband who should use his dominion for the blessing, never for the oppression and damage of those whom he rules.—The fellowship of believers with Jesus gives them that great dignity, noble advantage and blessed consolation.—Without love marriage is a bitter state, with love it is sweet.—The love of Christ to His church is both cause and standard of the love of husbands towards their wives.—Love and fear stand beside each other in a well-ordered marriage: the former must sweeten the latter, the latter must ever more incite the former.

Rieger:—The Apostle begins with married people, because, if things go wrong between them in the household, the trouble soon extends itself from them to the children and dependents. In each relation the Apostle begins with the weaker side.—Proper distrust of one’s self and what is doubtful in one’s natural gifts, willingness to be told what to do rather than to lead the other into temptation, is the root of this subjection.—The rule of the household is not to be put on a magisterial footing, but to be conducted by a mild and yet efficient influence, like that of the head upon the members.—What is set before the husbands: love your wives, is not easier than the being submissive. Whoever knows human nature, how loveless, changeful, easily wearied by faults, quickly angered it is, will notice how deep the foundation must be laid for a love which is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, etc.

Heubner:—Even with love and similarity of hearts there must be subordination. The household needs guidance and government. The wife should submit. The wife’s government reverses the proper order.—Nothing can frighten a Christian heart from divorce more than this thought: It is as if you separated from Jesus, Unbelief, coldness toward Jesus has terribly wasted our married life.

Passavant:—The Greeks acted more humanly, the Romans and Germans more magnanimously; elsewhere we see everywhere in the history of humanity the mothers and daughters of the nations, the weaker part, despised and oppressed by the stronger, often most cruelly degraded; and we should have, in such traits of ancient and modern heathen, and of all infidel nations and races, enough to perceive how deeply the whole human race has fallen from its original nature and destiny and what rudeness and wickedness of sin has permeated all nations and men, seeing they all have sinned.—With the appearance of the Redeemer, however, a new hour of Redemption struck also for this so misunderstood and oppressed half of the human race.—The more true, wise and manly the husband is in his cherishing of his wife, as his own body, the sooner, and if the wife is not altogether unholy in heart—the more faithfully, tenderly and sacredly will all be returned to him by the wife’s sacredly affectionate care and solicitude, and he be richly recompensed.

Stier:—The church should never demean itself as merely parallel to other circles of fellowship, for she is called to become the inmost of all.—From out of the family, the concentrated life of the household, where a filial spirit is born of wedded love and household dependents regulate themselves accordingly, the moral life of a nation also grows.—The emancipation of the strong-minded woman, that most repulsive miscreation of natural corporealness, destroys not only what is Christian but what is germanic.—Love is the only right dominion; there is then in every house a church in parvo.—The Word is the proper, continuing baptism.—The mystery of marriage is a portico to the mystery of the sanctuary; from the latter too a light streams into the former.

Schleiermacher: On the Christian conduct of marriage: 1. In marriage there is something earthly and something heavenly, which are one. There is marriage in an anxious form, when only one is satisfied, the other constrained; merely a carefully kept contract. There is marriage in a repulsive form, when the parties are accustomed to each other making as few claims as possible on each other, seeking their pleasure outside. There is a marriage in a loathsome form, when there is mutual anger and bitterness.—Ever more aroused in spirit, mollifying each other, and that in household, social life with its possessions, joys and sorrows.—2. In it there is an inequality, which loses itself in perfect equality—in perfect oneness of life.

Becher:—Look at your households, fathers and mothers, for you are priests; your congregations impose a hundredfold greater responsibility than mine. Your priesthood is from God’s own hand.—Hofmann (Ephesians 5:22-24): The marriage state the school of Christian obedience; its ground, character, measure and aim.—(Ephesians 5:25-29): The marriage state the home of love on earth—of born, free, heavenly love.


Ephesians 5:22. The obedience of the wife terminates on the Lord, and therefore is religious, because determined by religious motives and directed towards the object of religious affections. This makes the burden light and the yoke easy; for every service which the believer renders to Christ is rendered with joy and alacrity.

Ephesians 5:26-27. The church the bride of Christ. 1. The object of a peculiar and exclusive love. 2. She belongs exclusively to Christ. 3. The relation more intimate than between Him and any other order of creatures. 4. The church the special object of delight to Christ.

Ephesians 5:29. A man may have a body which does not altogether suit him. He may wish it were handsomer, healthier, stronger, or more active. Still it is his body, and he treats it as tenderly as though it were the best and loveliest man ever had. So a man may have a wife whom he could wish to be better, or more beautiful, or more agreeable; still she is his wife, and, by the constitution of nature and ordinance of God, a part of himself.

Ephesians 5:33. The sentiments which lie at the foundation of the marriage relation, which arise out of the constitution of nature, which are required by the command of God, and are essential to the happiness and well-being of the parties, are, on the part of the husband, that form of love which leads him to cherish and protect his wife as being himself, and on the part of the woman, that sense of his superiority out of which trust and obedience involuntarily flow.—R.]


Ephesians 5:22. In those days wives when converted and elevated from comparative servitude, might be tempted, in the novel consciousness of freedom, to encroach a little, as if to put to the test the extent of their recent liberty and enlargement.—The insubordination of wives has always been a fertile source of sorrow; and yet Christian ladies in early times drew forth this compliment from Libanius, the “last glory of expiring paganism”: proh, quales feminas habent Christiani!

Ephesians 5:23. There is only one head; dualism would be perpetual antagonism. Each sex is indeed imperfect by itself, and the truest unity is conjugal duality.

Ephesians 5:24. In the domestic economy, though government and obedience certainly exist, they are not felt in painful or even formal contrast; and, in fact, they are so blended in affectionate adjustment, that the line which severs them cannot be distinguished. The law of marital government is an “unwritten law.”

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands are not to be domestic tyrants; but their dominion is to be a reign of love.—The church did not crave Christ’s love: He bestowed it. It was not excited by any loveliness of aspect on the part of the church, for she was guilty and impure, unworthy of His affection. Who can doubt a love which has proved its strength and glory in such suffering and death?

Ephesians 5:27. As He originally loved her in her impurity, how deep and ardent must be His attachment now to her when He sees in her the realization of His own gracious and eternal purpose!

Ephesians 5:31-32. So close and tender is the union between Christ and His church that the language of Adam concerning Eve may be applied to it. These primitive espousals afforded imagery and language which might aptly and truly be applied to Christ and the church, which is “of His flesh and of His bones;” and the application of such language is indeed a mystery—a truth, the secret glory and facility of which are known but to those who are wedded to the Lord in a “perpetual covenant.”

Ephesians 5:33. “He rules her by authority, and she rules him by lore: she ought by all means to please him, and he must by no means displease her” (Jeremy Taylor). When this balance of power is unsettled, happiness is lost, and mutual recrimination ensues. “A masterly wife,” as Gataker says, “is as much despised and derided for taking rule over her husband as he, or yielding to it.”—R.]

[In view of the well-known fact that an immense proportion of the conversation of many women is about their husbands, their children and their servants, showing how their lives are bound up in these relations, it would be welt for them to study (and for pastors occasionally to teach in a prudent way) what the Apostle says in this part of the Epistle (Ephesians 5:22Ephesians 6:9) about their duties as wives, mothers and mistresses.—R.]


Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:22.—[The Rec, with K. L., many versions (Chrysostom, Scholz) inserts ὑποτάσσεσθε after ἀνδράσιν, while in D. E. F. G., Syriac it is placed after γυναῖκες. Lachmann accepts ὑποτασσέσθωσαν after ἀνδράσιν on the authority of N. A., 10 cursives, Vulgate, other versions, some fathers. B. omits the verb altogether, and this reading is accepted by Tischendorf. Harless, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, Ellicott and recent editors. While one uncial manuscript would not be decisive for the omission, the variations in form and position suggest an interpolation, (comp. Colossians 3:18) and when to this is added the testimony of Jerome, who asserts that there was nothing in the Greek MSS. to correspond with his subditæ sint remarking that it was less necessary in Greek than in Latin, the evidence is conclusive. Still we must supply the verb n English.—R.]

Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 5:23.—[The article is wanting in all uncial MSS., the Rec. inserts it on altogether insufficient authority. The meaning is not altered by the correct reading, yet the literal form adopted in the above emendation is on the whole preferable.—His wife is to be insisted upon, since the article is very definite here. We might render His Church, were there any other than the one Church.—R]

Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 5:23.—[The briefer reading αὐτός is accepted by nearly all recent editors on the authority of א.1 A. B. D.1 F. Καὶ αὐτός ἐστι (Rec.) is found in א.3 D. 2 3 K. L., most cursives, good versions and many fathers; but seems to be an explanatory gloss. As regards punctuation the colon of the E. V. might be retained to indicate the independence of the clause. We can render: He is Saviour of the body, or He Himself is the Saviour of the body, or Himself the Saviour of the body, but the latter which is most literal requires a substitution of a comma for the colon of the E. V.—R.]

Ephesians 5:24; Ephesians 5:24.—[A̓λλά must be thus rendered to give clearness to the sense. The Rec. reads ὥσπερ, but on insufficient authority; ὡς is well attested (א. A. D.1 F.) and generally received.—R.]

[46]Ver.24.—[The Rec. inserts ἰδίοις on the authority of A. D.3 K. L., many cursives, versions and fathers, but it is omitted in א. B. D.1 F., etc., so that the weight of external authority and the suspicion of an interpolation from Ephesians 5:22 are decisive against it. Rejected by recent editors.—R.]

Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:25.—[The Rec. inserts ἑαυτῶν, with D. K. L., most cursives; F. G. read ὑμῶν; while N.A. B., cursives and fathers have simply τὰς γυναῖκας. The briefer reading is accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott. Braune, however, follows Meyer in defending ἑαυτῶν, on the ground that ἰδίας would have been a more natural interpolation, if an explanatory gloss were added. This is plausible, but scarcely decisive.—R.]

Ephesians 5:27; Ephesians 5:27.—[Instead of αὐτήν (Rec. D.3 K.) recent editors accept the better supported and emphatic αὐτός(א. A. B. D.1 etc.).—The emphasis resting one ἔνδοξον is best presented by the order given above, though Ellicott gives: in glorious beauty.—R.]

Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:28.—[There is a doubt as to the correct order as well in regard to the reading. Καί is omitted in the Rec., א. K. L., nearly all cursives, fathers and versions (Ellicott), but found in A. B. D. F., very good versions, and generally accepted since Lachmann.—The verb ὀφείλουσιν comes first in א. B. K. L. and other authorities (Alford, Ellicott), but Lachmann Meyer, Eadie, Braune and most put it after ἄνδρες, with A. D. F., good versions, fathers. The longer, noninverted reading: καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες ὀφείλουσιν is perhaps preferable.—The inversion of the E. V. need not be altered however. Husbands is more correct here, though in the older English man meant husband also, as in Greek and German, a philological fact not without interest in the exegesis of this paragraph.—א.1 has τέκνα instead of σωματα, but it is correct.—The E. V. omits own twice, apparently for the sake of elegance, but improperly since the emphasis is thus lost.—R.]

Ephesians 5:29; Ephesians 5:29.—[The Rec. (with D.3 K. L., majority of cursives) reads: κύριος, but the authority for Χριστός is so decisive, that it is accepted by nearly all modern editors.—R.]

Ephesians 5:30; Ephesians 5:30.—[Lachmann, on the authority of א.1 A. B., good cursives, a few versions and fathers, omit ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς—ὀστέων αὐτοῦ. Alford brackets them. They are found in א.3 D. E. F. G. K. L., nearly all cursives, versions and fathers; accepted by Tischendorf (Exodus 7:0), Harless, Meyer, Eadie, Ellicott. Wordsworth. The recurrence of αὐτοῦ would readily occasion the omission, while the citation is not exact enough to suggest an interpolation from the LXX.—We must insert being, to avoid the connection: members of his flesh, which the E. V. suggests.—R.]

Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 5:32.—[The articles, τόν, τήν (so LXX Genesis 2:24), found in the Rec. א. A. D.3 K. L., most cursives, good versions, are rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott, Alford and most, on the authority of B. D.1 F., good cursives, and distinct statements of Origen and Jerome.—So αὐτοῦ after πατέρα on the same authority (א.1 in addition) and for the same reason.—R.]

Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 5:32.—[Here instead of τῆ γυναικί (LXX, א.1 A. D.1 F) the best editors accept πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ on the authority of א.3 B. D.3 K. L., nearly all cursives, Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret.—R.]

Ephesians 5:33; Ephesians 5:33.—[Lachmann and Alford bracket εἰς, but the external authority (B. K., a few cursives) against it is slight, and it might have been omitted because not understood.—R.]

[55][“The duty of submission is plainly based on that tenderness specialty, or exclusiveness of relationship which ἴδίοις implies” (Eadie). So Alford, Ellicott, following Bengel and Meyer, against De Wette, Harless, Olshausen.—R.]

[56][Ellicott: “Viewed in its simplest grammatical sense as the pronoun of the relative, the meaning would seem to be, ‘yield that obedience to your husbands which you yield to Christ.’ As, however, the immediate context and still more the general current of the passage (comp. Ephesians 5:32) represent marriage in its typical aspect, ὡς will seem far more naturally to refer to the aspect under which the obedience is to be regarded (‘quasi Christo ipsimet, cujus locum et personam viri representant,’ Corn. a Lap.), than to describe the nature of it (Eadie), or the manner (De Wette) in which it is to be tendered. Still less probable is a reference merely to the similarity between the duties of the wife to the husband and the Church to Christ, as this interpretation would clearly require ὡς ἡ έκκλ. τῷ Κυρ.: See Meyer.”—R]

[57][Or better “a husband,” as an example of the class, ὁ� would be “every husband” in each case, every one of the class (see Winer, p. 113): but the article with γυναικος means “his” in this case.—R.]

[58]This view is simple, grammatical and introduces neither a truism (Eadie), nor an unnecessary limitation (Winer). It is accepted by Alford, Ellicott, Hodge and others. Eadie supposes an ellipsis, which is very objectionable. Alford: “But what I do say is, that thus far the two Headships are to be regarded as identical, in the subjection of the body to the Head.” Nevertheless is on the whole the best rendering of ἀλλα—R.]

[59][It would be more literal and perhaps better accordant with the comparison to substitute the feminine pronoun (her, she) for “it” in Ephesians 5:26-27, but our language is very stiff in its rules for gender.—R.]

[60][Grammatically the participle may indicate either an act antecedent to or synchronous with that of the leading verb, either having cleansed or cleansing. The former is the view accepted by Ellicott, Alford, Eadie and Hodge, mainly on doctrinal or logical grounds derived from the reference to baptism which immediately follows.—R.]

[61][This word occurs only here and in Titus 3:5. It means not “washing,” but “laver,” (lavacrum, Vulgate); comp. Ellicott in loco. Dr. Hodge is scarcely justified therefore in finding an argument in favor of a particular mode of baptism in our phrase, which does not mean: a washing with water, as he implies. The allusion to the bride’s bath before marriage is accepted by Eadie, and most.—R.]

[62][More literally and correctly “to Himself,” He alone presents, He receives (Ellicott).—R.]

[63][Ellicott: “The Church glorious; the tertiary predicate ἔνδοξον (Donaldson, Gr. § 489) being placed emphatically forward and receiving its further explanation from the participial clause which follows.” The reading of the Rec., giving αὐτήν as the direct object of the verb, necessarily led to the obscuration of the force of the word, disturbing the grammatical structure by making τὴν ἐκκληαίαν the tertiary predicate.—R.]

[64][The German editors and commentators (Tischendorf and Meyer, Braune also) accent this word: σπῖλος, but Eadie, Alford and Ellicott adopt: σπίλος. The iota is short apparently, hence the latter is correct. The word belongs to later Greek.—R.]

[65][“Blameless” (Ellicott, Alford); but “without blemish” retains the etymological reference, thus according better with the figurative current of the verse.—R.]

[66][From this passage Dr. Hodge correctly infers the falsity of the Hopkinsian view that all love and all holiness is disinterested benevolence, proportioned to the capacity of its object. We do love ourselves, and our bodies, and it is not only natural, but according to Scripture so to do.—R.]

[67][The whole tenor of the argument is thus stated by Ellicott: “Men ought to love their wives as Christ loves His Church, as being in fact (I might add) their own (ἑαυτῶν) bodies; yes, I say the man who loves his wife loves himself (ἑαυτόν); for if he hated her he would hate (according to the axiom in Ephesians 5:28) his own flesh, whereas on the contrary, unless he acts against nature, he nourishes it, even as (to urge the comparison again) Christ nourishes His Church.”—R.]

[68][The reference is apparently not so much to his celibacy, as to the subjective character of the application and comparison, while the slightly adversative δέ contrasts it with any other interpretation that might have been adduced: “the mystery of this closeness of the conjugal relation is great, but I am myself speaking of it in its still deeper application, in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ellicott).—R.]

[69][Our English and American commentators do not fail to notice this blunder of the Council of Trent, but some people who speak English treat the Authorized Version with the same reverence; ministers preach from the sound of the E. V., not the sense of the Word of God. The Romanist can cover his blunder by the sanction given to the Vulgate by his church, but Protestants have no such excuse.—R.]

[70][The view of Meyer is accepted by Eadie, Hodge, Ellicott, Alford, and seems perfectly tenable. Braune’s view results from the effort to maintain a decided antithesis to “I” in “ye,” when most commentators find the antithesis to “ye also” in ‘ ‘Christ.”—R.]

[71][Hodge: “The ground of toe obligation as it exists in nature is the eminency of the husband; his superiority in those attributes which enable and entitle him to command. He is larger, stronger, bolder,—has more of those mental and moral qualities which are required in a leader. This is just as plain from his history as that iron is heavier than water. The superiority of man, in the respects mentioned, thus taught in Scripture, bounded in nature, and proved by all experience, cannot be denied or disregarded without destroying society and degrading both men and women. The superiority of the man, however, is not only consistent with the mutual dependence of the sexes, and their essential quality of nature and, in the kingdom of God, but also with the inferiority of men to women in other qualities than those which entitle to authority. The Scriptural doctrine, while it lays the foundation for order in requiring wives to obey their husbands, at the same time exalts the wife to be the companion and ministering angel to the husband.” As a proof that this is the position assigned to woman by her own mind and heart, we may cite the works of imagination written by the most brilliant of the sex. Their ideal of man, even when they write, personating the other sex, is one who demands from his nature their loving obedience. If it be said that many a woman is joined to a man, whose character does not thus demand the obedience of the superior mind, we must consider how often women accept the relation of wife, with a full knowledge of the right position, as taught by God in nature and in His word, and yet conscious that they neither can nor will occupy that position to the man who becomes their legal husband. Such are punished in this life, and the cry about “the subjection of woman” is often the wail of distress resulting from such punishment.—As regards the relation of the sexes in general, though nothing is expressly said in this section, much may be interred. No doubt great mistakes have been made in drawing such inferences, but it is perfectly obvious that a distinction between the sexes is here assumed, which distinguishes, if it does not sharply divide, the sphere of duty belonging to each respectively. “Woman’s work” is different from man’s work, though care should be taken neither arbitrarily to exclude her from certain kinds of labor, nor to deprive her of her just recompense for her work. The Church, too, should find work of a certain kind for many who are not “wives,” by constituting them “Bible-readers,” “deaconesses;” the mere office of Sunday-school teacher will not satisfy many such, since for that many are not adapted.—In regard to the question of “suffrage,” it is a fair inference from our passage, that for a wife to vote independently would be a disturbance of the relation as ordained by God; the question assumes a slightly different phase in regard to unmarried women of full age. Still even in the case of such, the passage at least lays the onus probandi on those who advocate the right. One popular argument urged in favor of “women suffrage” is that thus drunkenness could be stopped by force of law. But not only is that method of doubtful justice, legality and expediency, but the question fairly arises how many men are driven to drunkenness by the failure of their wives to heed the spirit of the Apostle’s words.—R.]

[72][Dr. Hodge remarks on the true expression of the Apostle “as their own bodies,” (Ephesians 5:28): (1) It does not refer to any material identification. (2) It implies nothing inconsistent with the separate subsistence of husband and wife as distinct persons. (3) The marriage relation is not essential to the completeness or perfection of our nature in all states of its existence. It is to cease at the resurrection. (4) It is not however merely a union of interests and feelings. In a certain sense husband and wife complement each other. (5) There is doubtless involved a oneness of life which no one can understand.—R.]

[73][Here Dr. Hodge is excellent: (1) Marriage is a union for life between one man and one woman; consequently bigamy, polygamy, and voluntary divorce are all inconsistent with its nature. (2) It must be entered into freely and cordially by the parties, i.e., with the conviction that one is suited to the other (and it may be added, to take the positions involved in the natural and scriptural view of the relation). All coercion on the part of parents is contrary to the nature of the relation; and all marriages of mere convenience are opposed to the design of the institution. (3) The State can neither make nor dissolve the marriage tie. It may enact laws regulating the mode in which it shall be solemnized and authenticated, and determine its civil effects. It may shield a wife from ill-usage from her husband, as it may remove a child from the custody of an incompetent or cruel parent. When the union is, in fact, dissolved by the operation of the Divine law, the State may ascertain and declare the fact, and free the parties from the civil obligations of the contract. It is impossible that the State should have authority to dissolve a union constituted by God, the duties and ordinances of ¦which are determined by His law. (4) According to the Scriptures, as interpreted by Protestant churches, nothing but the death of one of the parties, or adultery, or wilful desertion can dissolve the marriage contract. When either of the last-mentioned causes of dissolution is judicially ascertained, the injured party is free to contract a new marriage. The greatest social crime, next to murder, which any one can commit, is to seduce the affections of a wife from her husband, or of a husband from his wife: and one of the greatest, evils which civil authorities can inflict on society is the dissolution of the marriage contract so far as it is a civil contract (for further the civil authority cannot go), on other than Scriptural grounds.—R.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ephesians-5.html. 1857-84.
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