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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-33



Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5 are closely connected with verse 32 of chapter 4. God's gracious character of love that delights to have us as His dear children is our example. The more we realize the reality of this, the more consistent with it will be our walk. For we are to walk in love. Nor is it a love we must manufacture or awaken in our own hearts, but the blessed result of Christ's love to us. That love has given, not only many gifts, but Himself. He delivered Himself up for us. While the gift of Himself was for us, yet His blessed offering and sacrifice was to God. The offering speaks especially of the value of the gift in God's eyes, while as a sacrifice the gift expresses the greatness of what Christ has given up for the glory of God. Both the peace offering and burnt offering character of His sacrifice are seen here. The peace offering brings us into sweet accord with God in Christ, and the burnt offering ascends to God to delight His heart of infinite love. In Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 3:16, both of these offerings are seen as sweet savor offerings -- offerings that were a sweet odor to God.

On the negative side, the believer, because he walks in love, is to avoid fornication, uncleanness and unbridled lust (v.3). In fact, these kinds of things are usually connected with what people consider love, but it is a counterfeit love, contrary to God's in marital love and sex, and is to have no place in the believer's conversation with others: it is unbecoming to saints of God. Also, filthiness, foolish talking and coarse jesting are put together here as not proper conversation for saints. Let us judge and put away such things, and rather use our tongues for giving of thanks, a most wholesome employment.

Believers know that those who are characterized by sexual immorality, uncleanness or covetousness (which is equated with idolatry) have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (v.5). A true believer does not have such character. Therefore let him be careful not to be like such people in any way. A covetous person, for instance, is one who sets his mind on wanting material things that others have, and will almost certainly use dishonest means to get what he wants. This is not the character of a believer.

People may assume that because God is love, the grace of God is indulgent toward these sinful things, but it is not so. These very things are the reason for the wrathful judgment of God failing on the children of disobedience (v.6). Will a believer allow himself to be in any way a partaker with such a class? These things are so glaring today on radio, TV and in newspapers and magazines that saints must be very careful and watchful against such contamination.WALK IN LIGHT


Love is vitally important, but love needs light to accompany it. 1st John tells us that "God is love" (ch.4:16), but also that "God is light" (ch.1:5). Before being saved we were so immersed in darkness that darkness was our very character. By being born again we are now brought into the light. Our present character is "light in the Lord," everything open and manifest (v.8). Therefore it is only proper that we walk as children of light, being simply true to our new character. Light reveals everything as it really is. Therefore it speaks of unadulterated truth which clearly shows the proper character of every believer.

Verse 9 is a parenthesis and is correctly translated "the fruit of the light" (JND). Light produces goodness, righteousness and truth. Goodness is that which actively seeks the good of others. Righteousness is the proper discharge of the duties connected with whatever relationship we may be in. Truth is transparent honesty.

In walking as children of light we prove in experience what is acceptable to the Lord. Since He has no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, neither should we. He reproves them and so should we. We are not to argue about or against them, but simply and clearly repudiate them. Even to talk about the vices practiced in secret by the ungodly is a shame. The believer has far more profitable things to engage his thoughts and conversation.

Verse 13 reads in JND's translation, "But all things having their true character exposed by the light are made manifest, for that which makes everything manifest is light." Bright sunlight shows up all the details of natural things. Likewise, the true light of God makes manifest the actual character of everything in the spiritual and moral realm. Are we willing to apply that light to our own conduct and to the conduct of popular religious schemes that are increasingly compromising the truth of Scripture?

Verse 14 is adapted by the Spirit of God from Isaiah 60:1 to the need of a believer who has become lax and has settled down indolently in a world of darkness. He is among the dead, though not himself dead, but asleep. The word of God calls upon him to awake and allow Christ to shine upon him, rather than to have his associations among those dead in sins.



The believer's walk then is to be with sober care and consideration, not as that of ungodly fools (v.15). God's love and God's light have been powerful incentives for our walk, now we are also to use God-given wisdom in walking circumspectly. Being wise is a true characteristic of a believer. "Redeeming the time" (v.16) is fully and rightly using the opportunities that each occasion may offer. Such care and concern is of great importance because the days are evil. For though a believer is not a fool, yet he may be unwise and not use his time to advantage. Let him not be this way, but understand what the will of the Lord is for him (v.17). To understand is not simply to know, but to rightly perceive what he knows. The will of the Lord is always spiritually profitable.

Verse 18 puts in sharp contrast the intoxication with things physically pleasurable and the pure, precious joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are many things with which one may become intoxicated -- the love of money, prominence, self-importance (even in a religious way), sports, excitement, etc. These things will tend to take away the sobriety of ruling our own spirits (Proverbs 25:28). But one who is filled with the Holy Spirit has his own spirit in subjection (1 Corinthians 14:32). Every true believer is always indwelt by the Spirit, but to be filled with the Spirit is to allow Him full place in every department of our lives. Let no one ever dare to claim this to be true of him, but rather let it be true. In the measure in which Christ is really our Object, such will be the measure of the filling of the Spirit at any time.

While it is clear that one may be filled with the Spirit in speaking for the Lord (Acts 13:9-11), yet it also may be true in the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual song (v.19). The word indicates a sacred song accompanied by a stringed instrument. Hymns are songs of praise addressed to God, and the word is evidently used for many of the psalms also, though not all psalms are hymns and hymns are not necessarily psalms. Spiritual songs embraces a wider field than praise, for it includes songs of spiritual experience and celebration of scriptural events and of meditation on various truths of scripture. Singing is audible, but making melody in your heart is more vital. This is surely an encouragement to those who have difficulty in carrying a tune!

Accompanying this musical melody is a spontaneous giving of thanks, in addressing God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.20). "Always for all things" reminds us that there is no time at which one is not free to address God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This constantly thankful spirit will have both a preserving and fruitful effect, and it will simplify for us the character of submission one to another in the fear of God (v.21). Thus we will recognize God as being in control rather than the will of man dominating.



Particular relationships are considered from verse 22 to chapter 6:9. Wives are first addressed, for they are to specially manifest the lovely spirit of submission, as being subject to their own husbands. In so submitting they are submitting to the Lord, which makes submission an attitude of loving obedience to Him, rather than an irksome responsibility. It is God who tells the wife to submit, not the husband, who should pay more attention to what God tells him than to what God tells his wife.

God's order in creation made the husband to be head of the wife. This does not mean he is superior to the wife, but as the head he is responsible to supply the nourishment, guidance and encouragement the wife needs. Though the wife may make suggestions and express concerns that should be considered, yet the husband is responsible to make final decisions. This reference to headship leads the apostle immediately to speak of the marvelous relationship of Christ as the Head of the Church, of which Adam and Eve's marriage is a divinely intended picture. Not only is Christ the Head of the Church, the source of its nourishment and guidance, but He is the Savior of the body. His preserving, protecting salvation is a daily need of His body, the Church, just as a husband is not only head of his wife, but her protector also.

Who would deny the Church's proper place in subjection to Christ? This submission is pictured in the wife's subjection to her own husband in everything. We should have no more difficulty in believing this than to believe that the Church should be subject to Christ. It is evident that the wife's subjection applies only insofar as it is really subjection to the Lord -- "as it is fitting in the Lord" (Colossians 3:18). If the husband demands that she disobey God, this is abnormal and she must not submit to him in this.

The wife is entitled to claim her husband as "her own" and the husband is to think of his wife as "his own." The word "own" occurs seven times in this section (JND) in connection with husbands and wives, though it is not used of the relationship between parents and children.

The simplicity of the instruction here is remarkable. There is no long list of details as to how a husband and wife should act toward one another. If the wife simply maintains a quiet spirit of subjection as to the Lord, this will result in proper conduct in the entire relationship. The husband's genuine love for his wife will form his conduct toward her in a proper way. But we must understand what love really is, for too frequently what passes for love is merely a cheap imitation of it.

Husbands are to love their own wives with no less a standard than that of Christ's love for the Church (v.25). He gave Himself for it; not merely did He give many gifts, but Himself. If one is not willing to give himself for an intended wife, he ought not to marry her. Observe that all this section emphasizes that love seeks diligently the greatest good of its object, and at personal expense.

We next see the wonderful counsels of Christ as to His Church in the past (v.25), present (v.26) and future (v.27). His gracious work today is to increasingly sanctify her (set her apart for Himself) from a world of vanity and evil, and to cleanse her from all impurity by the application of the Word of God, just as a mother would first separate her child from a pool of mud and then wash him. This work involves His patient grace with every individual believer, each in a different stage of development, but it is a work in which all are united in His heart and mind. This work is effective only as we allow the Word of God to have its corrective and sanctifying influence on us.

The Church's presentation to Himself (v.27) is seen accomplished in Revelation 19:7-9. Then she will be glorious, invested with glory (displayed excellence), without spot (no imperfection in the slightest) and without wrinkle -- no sign of aging or breakdown in health, nothing undesirable -- but holy in character and without blemish in manifestation. Wonderful culmination of His counsels concerning His Bride for whom He paid so dearly!

As Eve was of Adam's body before she became his wife, so the wife is entitled to the husband's love just as he loves his own body, for the bond of marriage makes them one. In loving her, he loves himself. Never has man hated his own flesh: the law of self-preservation is predominant in mankind. One does not willingly starve himself to death. Rather, he nourishes his body and cares for its needs. These two things nourishing and cherishing -- are not included in the Lord's counsels (vs.25-27), but are rather His ways with His Church. The care involved in cherishing is both tender and supportive.

The Lord's faithful care is emphasized in the words, "We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (v.30). Flesh speaks here of the supple, yielding character of proper humanity, while the bones are the solid framework on which the flesh is built, so stability and yieldingness are marvelously joined together. How good it is to consider such character in Christ, the blessed Son of Man as identified with His saints, and to allow its proper expression in ourselves!

Genesis 2:24 is quoted here as the original fundamental principle of marriage. Leaving his parents, the man is to be united to his wife, or "cling" to her. This involves undeviating faithfulness, devotion and love. This original principle was ignored by many in the Old Testament who took more than one wife, but Christ emphatically reaffirmed it (Matthew 19:4-8). So for those who trust Christ, there is no excuse for disobedience to this unchanging decree of God, though in a world full of marital unfaithfulness, role-reversal and divorce for almost any reason.

It may be a great mystery (not easily understandable) that husband and wife are considered before God as one flesh, but because I do not understand a matter fully, is no excuse for my disobedience to God. Faith accepts what God says and rejoices in it; indeed the more so when God says that marriage is a picture of the unalterable union between Christ and the Church. If it involves a great mystery, it not mystical, so every husband is to love his own wife as himself, and every wife is to fear her husband, not with a cringing, servile terror (1 Peter 3:5-6), but with a becoming recognition of his authority from God.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/ephesians-5.html. 1897-1910.
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