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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

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Verse 1

Eph 5:1

Ephesians 5:1

Be ye therefore imitators of God,—He had just given the example of God in forgiving us and urged that in like manner we should forgive one another. [This phrase is unique and striking. The word therefore implies that this imitation of God must be chiefly in his essential attribute of love. It is instructive to observe that the Lord’s startling command: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), is explained both by the context and the parallel passage, to mean, "Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). God’s mercy in forgiving us suggests a rule of conduct for us in the mutual relation of Christian fellowship. The model to be followed is seen in Jesus Christ—a divine-human personality, in which God’s exceeding kindness is manifested, while every expression seen in Christ, his person, his words, his acts, his sufferings, express really the loving-kindness of God. When, accordingly, Jesus Christ is taken as the model of that which Christians should be in their relations with one another, it is not alone as the model of that which Christians should be in their relations with one another, it is not alone as the model of a per­fect humanity, but also as a model of such a humanity, express­ing what is divine in utmost tenderness, compassion, and love.]

as beloved children;—He exhorts us to be imitators of God in his forgiveness and in his loving spirit, because beloved chil­dren should always imitate, and will always strive to imitate, what is good in a beloved father. Forgiving love being one of the great glories of our Father, it has been made peculiarly attractive in our eyes because it has been exercised by him toward us, therefore, it ought to induce us to show the same spirit.

Verse 2

Eph 5:2

Ephesians 5:2

and walk in love,—Love prompts to do good, to benefit, to deny self to help. [The imitation must take effect in the prac­tical, unmistakable form of a loving course of life.]

even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us,—He who was the Lord (John 1:1), in heaven, with God, endowed with honors and glories with the Father that surpassed all other honors and glories of the universe, saw man had brought death and ruin, temporal and eternal, upon himself, that he was helpless and hopeless in that ruin. With man in this condition, heaven lost its charm to him. He gave it all up; he came to earth, clothed him­self with human weakness and human infirmities to rescue man. Jesus Christ, imbued with the true spirit of heroism, served and suffered for man. He found more pleasure in the crown of thorns and the cross of Calvary, with the door open for man’s return to his Father’s house, than he found in heaven, with all its glories, with the door shut against man. This was heroism, this was vicarious service and suffering. Jesus is the truest, the greatest hero of the universe. Let us adore and honor him as such.

an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.—The odor of such a sacrifice was a sweet incense to God. With such he was well pleased. If we sacrifice to do good and to save others from sin, such sacrifices will be a sweet savor to the Lord—he will be pleased with those who make such sacri­fices.

Verse 3

Eph 5:3

Ephesians 5:3

But fornication,—Not only fornication, but everything of the same nature, or that leads to it, is to be avoided. Forni­cation embraces all unlawful indulgence of the lusts.

and all uncleanness,—Unnatural and perverted indulgence of the lusts as in Sodom (Genesis 19:5-8), as pictured in Romans 1:27-32.

or covetousness,—This is the unlawful desire of what be­longs to another, or such an excessive desire for it as to lead to the use of unlawful means to obtain it. Such a desire is the worship of it. The desire for it is above the desire to obey God. God is disobeyed to obtain it, hence it is idolatry, because wealth becomes the object supremely loved and sought. He who, there­fore, sacrifices duty to God, who makes gain the great object of his pursuit, is a covetous man. He cannot be a Christian, and should not, according to the apostle, be recognized as such.

let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints;—The inconsistency of all such sins with the character of saints is such as should forbid the very mention of them among Chris­tians. Instead of indulging in such conversation, their thoughts should turn to joyful words of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Verse 4

Eph 5:4

Ephesians 5:4

nor filthiness,—Obscene and degrading practices. [Not simply obscenity, but whatever is vile or disgusting in speech or conduct.]

nor foolish talking,—Such talk as is characteristic of fools. That is, frivolous and senseless.

or jesting,—Supposed to be witty repartee that ridicules modesty and throws contempt on the virtue of good men and women.

which are not befitting:—Foolish talking and jesting are not the ways in which Christian cheerfulness should express itself. [All witty speech uttered for its own sake is not fitting for a Christian whose tongue is to become consecrated to the service of Christ.]

but rather giving of thanks.—[This is the proper tone of Christian speech, and this will drive off the evil habits of which mention has just been made. The blessedness in Christ is the source of joy and gladness, but its joy is expressed in thanksgiv­ing and praise.]

Verse 5

Eph 5:5

Ephesians 5:5

For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor un­clean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.—Cannot be­come their servants. [What a doom awaits the covetous man! He, like the sensualist, is to be excluded from the kingdom of God. For unto the impenitent and unbelieving there is but one home in eternity. Hell is made up of the profane, the sensual and the vile; and its supremest horrors arise from its being the place where will be gathered all the corrupt and unholy dwellers of a fallen world; all who are so impure that they cannot be admitted into heaven.]

Verse 6

Eph 5:6

Ephesians 5:6

Let no man deceive you with empty words:—Some false teachers doubtless taught that such practices did not affect the character of a child of God. That as sin abounded, grace could much more abound. [Here it seems that the apostle had in view, not only worldly condonation of evil or low heathen morality, but to some who held that the things done in the body, being evil only in the body, could not touch the spirit.]

for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience.—Participants in such sins, in what­ever age of the world, in heathen or Christian lands, are under the wrath of God on account of them and while they thus remain can therefore have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Verse 7

Eph 5:7

Ephesians 5:7

Be not ye therefore partakers with them:—If they partook of their sins, they would necessarily partake of their punishments. They should therefore refuse all partnership with them. Their natural instinct recoiled from partnership in their punishment, so their spiritual instinct should recoil from partnership in their sin.

Verse 8

Eph 5:8

Ephesians 5:8

for ye were once darkness,—The Gentile Christians were formerly in their heathenish darkness, and practiced such abomi­nations. [They who walk in darkness are said to be themselves darkness—new sources, so to speak, of the darkness which hates and quenches the light, both to themselves and to others. The light which was in them becomes darkness.]

but are now light in the Lord:—The light which blesses men is all concentrated in Jesus Christ. As the light, he imparts new possibilities of life to those who otherwise were hopelessly dead in trespasses and sins. The light of Christ enters into the heart through faith, and produces a high and spiritual order in the life that is thus begotten and sustained, as the apostle says, by “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. . . . Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

walk as children of light—Having been taught the truth as it is in Jesus, and being in the light, they were to walk according to the teachings of this life, as children reared in the light.

Verse 9

Eph 5:9

Ephesians 5:9

(for the fruit of the light—The fruit of the light, of know­ing and doing this truth of God, is to produce a life in goodness and righteousness and truth. [The metaphor is a striking one, but literally correct, inasmuch as light is the necessary condition of that vegetative life which grows and yields fruit, while darkness is the destruction, if not of life, at any rate of fruit-bearing perfection.]

is in all goodness—[This stands first, as the most visible and obvious form of Christian excellence—that for which every one looks in a religious man, and which all admire when it is seen. Goodness is love embodied; it is the sanctification of the heart and its affections, renewed and governed by the love of God in Christ. Love, as the Christian knows it, is of God, for “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10-11). This is the faith that makes good men—the best in the world. So "the fruit of the light is in all goodness.”]

and righteousness—[The principle of righteousness includes everything in moral and spiritual worth, and is often used to denote in one word the entire fruit of God’s grace in man. Righteousness is loyalty to God’s holy and perfect law revealed through Jesus Christ; it is the love of that law in man’s innermost spirit, it is the quality of a heart one with “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2), reconciled to it as it is reconciled to God himself in Christ Jesus.]

and truth),—Truth signifies the inward reality of goodness and righteousness. Truth does not mean veracity alone, the mere truth of the lips. Truth of words requires a reality behind itself. The acted falsehood is excluded, the hinted and intended he no less than that expressly uttered. Beyond all this, it is the truth of the man that God requires—speech, action, thought, all consistent, harmonious and transparent, with the light of God’s truth shining through them. Truth is the harmony of the inward and the outward—correspondence of what the man is in himself with which he appears to be. Now, it is only children of light, only men thoroughly good and upright who can, in this strict sense, be men of truth.

Verse 10

Eph 5:10

Ephesians 5:10

proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord;—The ex­hortation given in verse 8, interrupted by the enforcement in­troduced in verse 9, is now continued and explained. Believers are required to walk as children of light examining and determin­ing from a prayerful study of the scriptures what is acceptable to the Lord. They are to regulate their conduct by a regard to what is well-pleasing to the Lord. (Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). That is the ultimate standard of judging whether anything is right or wrong, worthy or unworthy of those who have been en­lightened by the gospel. This injunction comes fitly, therefore, in connection with the foregoing earnest exhortation, as to the kind of living suitable to those who are “light in the Lord.”

Verse 11

Eph 5:11

Ephesians 5:11

and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,—Have no part, be not partakers in these works which grow up in heathen darkness. They are called unfruitful, since they bear no good fruit, no good results to him who prac­tices them or to the world, but only evil and degrading. [Those who have things in common; who are congenial; who have the same views, feelings and interests; and who therefore delight in each other’s society are said to be in fellowship. In this sense believers have fellowship with God and with each other. So we are said to have fellowship in anything in which we delight and of which we partake. To have fellowship with the works of darkness, therefore, is to delight in them and to participate in them. All such association is forbidden as inconsistent with the character of the children of light.]

but rather even reprove them;—Condemn them, testify both by precept and example that they are degrading. [When the Spirit is said to reprove men of sin (John 16:8-11), it means that he sheds such light on their sins as to reveal their true char­acter, and to produce the consequent consciousness of guilt and pollution. Paul says the effect of preaching the gospel produces conviction—which is explained by saying: “The secrets of his heart are made manifest.” (1 Corinthians 14:25-26). The duty, there­fore, here enjoined is to shed light on these works of darkness; to exhibit them in their true nature as vile and destructive. By this method they are corrected. So we see that so far as human agency in the production of sin is concerned, it is limited to the holding forth the word of life; or letting the light of divine truth shine into the darkened minds of men, and upon their evil deeds.]

Verse 12

Eph 5:12

Ephesians 5:12

for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of.—It is thought that this refers to the impure lascivious practices performed in the worship of the heathen gods. All the worshipers indulged in lewd practices as part of their worship. It was done in the secret recesses of the temple.

Verse 13

Eph 5:13

Ephesians 5:13

But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light:—All those wicked practices performed in secret, which he commanded them to reprove, are exposed in their hideousness and corruptness through the light of the gospel.

for everything that is made manifest is light.—Whatever makes manifest the wicked and evil results of these practices is light.

Verse 14

Eph 5:14

Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith,—It is not known who said this. Probably Christ. It is thought by some to be a portion of a hymn sung in that age of the church, referring to Jesus.

Awake, thou that sleepest,—This is addressed to those per­sons so sunk in their degrading practices of heathenism, both in their worship and in their social life, and are addressed as asleep. [The sleeper is one not yet a Christian, on whom the light is about to shine.]

and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.—They were dead in trespasses and sins, and in view of this ter­rible condition, the appeal was made. The call was: Awake from your lethargy, the sleep of death, and Christ shall give you light. Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25). [This does not mean that the dead must be revived before they hear the voice of the Son of God, but that his voice causes them to live. So the pas­sage before us does not mean that those asleep must arise from the dead and come to Christ for the light; but the light which Christ sheds around him through the gospel has power to awaken the sleeping dead. Thus the passage is a confirmation of what is said in verse 13, that everything made manifest by the light is light.]

Verse 15

Eph 5:15

Ephesians 5:15

Look therefore carefully how ye walk,—See that you walk strictly, but consider well the kind of strictness. Do not walk loosely without fixed principles of action; but make sure that your rules are of the true kind. Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good rules. We are to ascertain the clear line of right as revealed by the word of the Lord, and then keep to it strictly.

not as unwise, but as wise;—Not as fools who dose their eyes to the light, but to the wise who take in the full light. [This clause explains first on the negative, and then on the affirmative side of the foregoing: both the strictness of their walk and the way in which that strictness was to be shown were to reflect the spirit of wise men and not of fools. It is not folly that is reproved, but easy-mindedness, want of earnest considera­tion in a matter so infinitely vital, so as to know what is truly best, and affords a lesson of consistency to those who behold their walk.]

Verse 16

Eph 5:16

Ephesians 5:16

redeeming the time,—So use the time left as to rescue as far as possible the time already lost in the days of darkness when you lived in sin.

because the days are evil.—The times were evil tempting them bade into sin. [Evil days mean days in which evil abounds. This is parallel to the expressions, "evil and adulterous genera­tion” (Matthew 12:39), and "this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). Because sin abounds is a good reason why Christians should seize upon every opportunity to do good; and also why they should make the most of time. The same exhortation is found in these words: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.” (Colossians 4:5). In the passage before us, Paul says to walk in wis­dom “redeeming the time.” So that this right use of time, or this seizing of every opportunity for doing good, is in both places represented as the evidence and the effect of wisdom, that is, of divine truth which is the wisdom of God, which he has revealed. (1 Corinthians 2:6-13). Paul most likely had in view the special difficulties of the then present time, but his words have a perma­nent bearing on each following period with its new phases of difficulty, all related as they are to the permanent underlying difficulty, sin.]

Verse 17

Eph 5:17

Ephesians 5:17

Wherefore be ye not foolish,—He who closes his eyes and ears to the truth is unwise. [The wherefore bears on all the preceding argument—because ye are children of light; because the light is so valuable and so indispensable; because your whole circumstances demand so much care and earnestness. Foolish is equivalent to senseless.]

but understand—To understand is both to know and to lay to heart, as in the parable of the sower: “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not”—does not consider or ponder it—“then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart.” “And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:23). Then wisely seek to understand what the will of the Lord is, and then endeavor to do it.

what the will of the Lord is.—To know his purpose toward us and toward the world, and the true purpose of our life. Hence, “unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). And: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowl­edge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10). [The will of the Lord is the great rule of the Christian life; to know and in the deeper sense understand it is to walk wisely and to walk surely.]

Verse 18

Eph 5:18

Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunken with wine,—The best protection against any evil is to learn self-control and self-government. [Of all the evils that oppress and outrage and destroy mankind, there is none greater than intemperance. For proof turn to our jails, asylums, police courts, lodging-houses, newspapers, streets, and highways. It is an evil very great, very common, very real, very ruinous. It is an individual, a social, a national evil. It is an evil which produces untold misery, poverty, and wretchedness which no figures can possibly set forth. It injures the body, blunts the finer feelings of the soul, clouds the intellect, ruins the health, and unfits for daily life. It brings poverty, and blights the home. It destroys the peace of mind and destroys the prospect of heaven.]

wherein is riot,—[Recklessness—incapable of denying itself of anything, and naturally passing this want of restraint into prof­ligacy. Drunkenness is at once the cause and effect of utter recklessness. It is the effect of self-abandonment, by which the sensual and passionate elements of the nature are stimulated to frenzy, while self-controlling judgment is drugged to sleep. It is the cause of yet greater recklessness: for as their passions and appetites become jaded, they need stronger and stronger stimu­lants, till the whole nature, bodily and mental, is lost in delirium or stupor, which sinks lower and lower into helpless ruin.]

but be filled with the Spirit;—To be filled with the Spirit and to have the word of God dwelling in the heart are one and the same thing. The presence of the Spirit in his miraculous demonstrations and in his ordinary influences was received by keeping his commandment.

Verse 19

Eph 5:19

Ephesians 5:19

speaking one to another—This specifies one of the ways in which the condition of being filled with the Spirit would ex­press itself. They were to seek and promote the purity of heart by songs of praise and thanksgiving. From the beginning praise was an important part of public worship, and is designed to be to the end of the world. It is made dear that it was practiced by the Savior himself and the apostles. (Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25). It is difficult to draw the distinction between songs described as psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The difficulty arises from the fact that while each term originally denoted a distinct and separate land of sang, frequently two, or even the three distinct kinds sometimes, were combined in one song, and the terms came to be used interchangeably.

in psalms—Psalms are songs devoted to the praise of God, extolling his name, power, character, and works. The songs of David are mainly of this character, hence were called psalms.

and hymns—Hymns are songs of praise, thanksgiving, and supplication, teaching our dependence on God and his willingness to hear and bless.

and spiritual songs,—Spiritual songs are those intended to inspire and cultivate feelings of spiritual devotion and to bring the spirit of man into harmony with, and under the control of, the Spirit of God.

Some claim that psallo carries with it the idea of a mechani­cal instrumental accompaniment, but if the word in the New Testament means to sing with a mechanical instrument, it is not only allowable but obligatory to it. I give a general definition of the word: “(1) To touch, feel, stir, or move by touching, especial­ly: to pull, twitch or twang with the fingers; (2) to pull and let go again, to pull, twitch or twang with the fingers; (3) usually of the string of musical instruments, to play a musical instrument with the fingers, instead of the plectrum.” Beyond doubt it means the vibration of a string or cord that produces a sound—and refers to the music of stringed instruments. It does not originally mean a hymn sung to the music of a stringed instrument, but to the twanging or vibration of the cord that makes the music. No one who has examined the subject doubts that this is the original meaning and applies to all sounds and music made by the vibration of the cords of the instrument. As such it embraces the speaking organs of the human voice as much as the harp.

The human voice is the most complicated, delicate, and perfect musical instrument known to man. It is the perfection of the Maker’s handiwork as a musical instrument, and is capable of more musical combinations and harmonies far sweeter and more varied than any and all instruments of human make, even than those “invented by David.” All the varied sounds and all the multiplicity of intonations of the human voice are made by the tension and vibration of the vocal cords within the throat and mouth. The word psallo then would, and did from the beginning, embrace the music of the voice as well as that made by stringed instruments of man’s invention. The voice is a stringed instru­ment of God’s make. Nor is it singular that as the use of the voice was so much more common and universal than that of any other instrument, the word should come to be applied exclusively to the music made by the voice, unless it was specifically said to be by some other instrument. This is what did come to pass. Especially this was true of the use of the word among the Jews, who in their later period of disaster and sorrow dropped the use of the instrument, but continued to sing the same songs that had been sung in former days to the accompaniment of the harp and other instruments. They were still psalms when sung without the instrumental accompaniment When David admonished them to praise God with the harp, he did not trust to the word psallo to designate and declare it. For psallo then referred as well to the singing without the instrument as with it. Hence it was neces­sary to connect with psallo the instrument used to determine what instrument accompanied the singing or whether any was used save the human voice. So the word unqualified in New Testament times came to mean only to sing.

singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;—Bring the thoughts and feelings of the heart into harmony with the sentiment of the song. It is the sentiment that is sung that constitutes the worship; there is no acceptable worship in music distinct from the sentiment sung. The music of the song is only a means of impressing the sentiment sung on the hearts of both singer and hearer. What is sung must be the outgrowth of the word of God dwelling richly in the heart. It is done by speaking the word of God in song. The purpose is to praise God. No performance of an instrument can possibly grow out of the word of God in the heart; a mechanical instrument cannot speak that word either to praise God or to teach and admonish one another. The sound of the instrument drowns the words sung and hinders the teaching and admonition. The use of the in­strument hinders and destroys the essential purpose of the worship in song. It works an entire change in the song service; it sooner or later changes it from a service of praise to God into a musical and artistic entertainment that pleases and cultivates the fleshly and sensual nature. A more hurtful change could not be made in the worship than this change in its spirit and purpose. If it was a sin to change the appointments of God in the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, which were sealed by the typical blood of animals, much more is it a sin to change the ordinances and ap­pointments of the Christian dispensation, sealed by the Son of God. (Hebrews 10:28-29).

Verse 20

Eph 5:20

Ephesians 5:20

giving thanks always for all things—The giving of thanks seems to be a part of the service performed in singing. Thanksgiving for all blessings, temporal and spiritual, at all times, and in all places is proper from man to his Creator from whom he receives life, health, and all blessings. We need to sing the praises of God, to give thanks unto his name, not only that we may please God and benefit the people, but we need most of all the influence of it upon our own hearts. Speaking his praise, remembering and giving thanks for his mercies, softens and opens our hearts to a fuller appreciation of his blessings, fills them with fuller sense of gratitude to God, and fits us more and more to dwell with and enjoy him in the fullness of his blessings for­ever. We ought to continually praise the Lord, for his praise is comely to the upright

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;—All these things must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are servants and can act only in his name. Only those who come in his name can find acceptance with God. So only the servants of Christ who come to the Father in his name can be blessed, [for without Christ we would not have him as our Father to thank, still less to know him as the Father]

Verse 21

Eph 5:21

Ephesians 5:21

subjecting yourselves one to another—They were to submit to each other in the relationships they stand as defined in the following verses. [There is, however, a certain connection of idea with the preceding section also, and especially with the en­couragement of a Christian enthusiasm in the last clause. The strong and frequent emphasis laid in the New Testament on sub­jection, whether to civil powers (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17); domestic authority (Ephesians 6:1-9; Colossians 3:18-24; 1 Peter 2:18 to 1 Peter 3:7); or to those whom the Lord has placed over the church (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15), probably indicate a tendency in the first glimpse of Christian liberty, to disregard the whole­some restraints, laws of daily life. Hence the caution here, preparatory to the more detailed teaching of subjection which follows.]

in the fear of Christ.—But all submission must be in the fear of the Lord. He is to stand first in our fear, then his fear to regulate our submitting to each other in the different relations. The submission of the wife to the husband, the child to the parent, the servant to the master, when other motives fail, because the Lord requires it, is accepted by God as service to him, which he will reward.

Verse 22

Eph 5:22

Ephesians 5:22

Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands,—He begins here to specify the different classes that must submit to other classes. God first created man, then from him took woman. Man was first in the order of time, the stronger and more robust in person, God made him the head, and laid it on the wives to submit unto him in the fear of the Lord. This means submit to the husband so far as she can do it, without violating the prior and higher command to obey God. The first and highest duty is to God. [The submission is that of love, respect, and reverence, which is befitting the relation she holds to her husband. In her sphere, she is spiritually on an equality with man, but as a husband he is the natural and scripturally recognized head and leader in the family. Her submission must be in accordance with the principles of righteousness, and nothing is required of her inconsistent with her Christian character. This submission of the wife, when rightly understood and practiced, accords with her inner nature, is in harmony with her relations to God and others, and is productive of the fullest development of her character, her highest happiness and good.]

as unto the Lord.—When all other motives fail to lead the wife to obey the husband, when he is hard and harsh, fails to appreciate her kindness and love, and she is discouraged and dis­heartened, she is then to remember to submit and bear, because God commands it. She can find solace and comfort and strength to bear, because she is doing it as service to the Lord, knowing that he will reward it as service done to him.

Verse 23

Eph 5:23

Ephesians 5:23

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,—Here the headship of the husband is carried out, and illustrated by the headship of Christ over the church. The church is represented as the bride, the wife of Jesus Christ; as Christ is its head, guide, and supporter, so the husband is to the wife. The point of conflict between the authority of the husband and the authority of God cannot rise in the case of Christ and the church, as Christ cannot require things contrary to the will of God.

being himself the saviour of the body.—As Christ is the Savior of the church so the husband is the preserver and sup­porter of his wife.

Verse 24

Eph 5:24

Ephesians 5:24

But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.—The wife is to be submissive to her husband in everything, as the church is to Christ, as the Son of God. He requires nothing save what God requires. This in everything is necessarily modified as above by everything compatible with obedience to God.

Verse 25

Eph 5:25

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;—Having illustrated the duty of the wife to the husband by the church’s subjection to Christ, he refers to the love of Christ for the church to illus­trate and enforce the duty of the husband to love and cherish his wife. [The love here required of the husband is not of passion, but of the soul in its spiritual purity and from its innermost depths. It should be Christ-like, patterned after God’s love, self- forgetful, self-sacrificing, and self-devoting, even unto death.]

Verse 26

Eph 5:26

Ephesians 5:26

that he might sanctify it,—Christ died, gave himself up that he might sanctify the church and perfect it. [The sanctifica­tion of the church is the purpose of the grace of God. It was God’s purpose “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4), and the mission of Jesus Christ in the world was to that end; this was the object of his death on the cross. In his prayer for his dis­ciples, on the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus said: “Sanc­tify them in the truth: thy word is truth. . . . And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:17; John 17:19).]

having cleansed it by the washing of water—This, refers to the forgiveness of sins, according to the word of God. Com­mentators almost without exception understand “by the washing of water” to refer to baptism. This unity of sentiment is very decisive. It was the washing with water with which the Ephesian Christians were familiar, and which could not fail to occur to them as the washing intended. Besides, nothing more is here attributed to baptism than is attributed to it in many other places in the word of God. Jesus in the commission said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16); to the convicted multitude on the day of Pentecost, Peter said: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38); and Ananias said to Saul: “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16); and many other passages testify the same thing.

with the word,—Peter says: “Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth.” (1 Peter 1:23). And James says: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18). In these passages the “word of God,” or “the word of truth,” is the instrument of regeneration. God’s will is the origin of it. Paul said to the Corinthians: “For though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15). He regards the gospel in the same attitude that James and Peter represent it. The gospel is here the seed, the instrument of conversion of the Corinthians. Of the Gentiles Peter said that God “made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9). To the Thessalonians Paul said: “God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sancti­fication of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Here again the belief of the truth is the instrument of sanctification and salvation. Wheth­er, then, we call it the truth, the word, the word of God, the gospel, it is called the seed, the incorruptible seed of the new birth by which the sinner is begotten, sanctified, purified, and saved.

Verse 27

Eph 5:27

Ephesians 5:27

that he might present the church to himself a glorious church,—The church having been washed in the members being baptized into Christ, the work of Christ is to perfect it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church.

not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing;—Her glory consisted in her purity—without spot or stain upon her garments or character, as a pure and chaste woman, true to her husband. Spots indicated the indiscretions of youth, and wrinkles in the garments indicated carelessness or the decay of age, as wrinkles in the face. He was so perfecting the church that it would have neither the indiscretions of youth nor the feebleness and decay of age.

but that it should be holy and without blemish.—Christ died not only to redeem the church out of the world, but also to per­fect it after it was separated from the world. [The design of Christ’s death as here expressed is to render the church perfectly holy, but there can be no doubt as to when this end is to be attained, for in this life neither scripture nor experience affords an example; still if one should attain this blessed state, it cannot be affirmed of the whole body of believers. It is then when the righteous dead shall be raised in the likeness of the Son of God, and those who shall be alive shall be changed. (1 Thessalonians 4:15­18). When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality—it is then that the church shall be made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 19:6-8).]

Verse 28

Eph 5:28

Ephesians 5:28

Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies.—As Christ redeemed the church and loves it, so ought husbands to love their own wives. Christ loved the church better than he did his own fleshly body. He sacrificed it that he might establish the church. The church became the spiritual body which was dearer to him than the fleshly body.

He that loveth his own wife loveth himself:—So the wife becomes part of the body of the husband. The twain are one. [This is so because she is one with him, and their interests are identified; because by this, he really promotes his own welfare as much as he does when he takes care of his own body. A husband’s kindness to his wife will be more than repaid by the happiness which she imparts, and all the real solicitude which he shows to make her happy will come to far more than it costs. If a man wishes to promote his own happiness in the most effective way, he should follow the Lord’s instruction to show love and kindness to his wife.]

Verse 29

Eph 5:29

Ephesians 5:29

for no man ever hated his own flesh;—As no man ever hated his own flesh, he ought not to hate or be bitter against his wife.

but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church;—[The husband’s love for his wife should be that of the highest character, a love that shrinks at no sacrifice in order to bless and ennoble the wife of his bosom. It must be of the same kind as that which prompted Christ to give himself for the salvation of the world. The aim of the true husband should be to make the character of his wife a glorious character, with­out spot or blemish.]

Verse 30

Eph 5:30

Ephesians 5:30

because we are members of his body.—We, as members of the church, which is the body of Christ, are members or par­takers of his body. Our union with him is close and strong. He is head in the sense that from him all the strength and power comes, all the wisdom descends. He is the center to which all the members are bound, from him all the impulses and guidance flow. The members of the church should be as subject to the mind of Christ as the members of the body are subject to the will of its head. The head through the nervous organization con­veys its mandates to the members of the body, and they move at his slightest wish and obey faithfully its mandates. Christ the head of the church bears his mandates to the body through the mind. The will of Christ is contained in the New Testament. That the will may be conveyed to the body, we must take that will into the mind, learn it, study it, and have it so in the heart that it molds the mind and guides the very emotions. In this way only can we have the mind of Christ. When we learn the mind that was in Christ, we must perform it willingly, as the members of our body obey our own mind. This is the only way of receiving the mind of Christ; the only way of receiving his Spirit that we may be guided thereby. Unless we have, and are guided by the mind of Christ, we are none of his. Let it sink deep into every mind that our lack of obedience is a lack of faith or trust in God.

Verse 31

Eph 5:31

Ephesians 5:31

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife;—Because of this intimate relation and oneness between husband and wife, as between Christ and the church, as ordained in the beginning: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). The wife is the other part of himself. [The relation of parentage is one of common flesh and blood, and stands at the head of those natural relations which we do not make, but into which we are bom. The relation of marriage is the most sacred of all the ties into which we are not born, and which we do make for ourselves, in accordance with a true or supposed harmony of nature. It becomes, says the Lord, a relation not of common flesh and blood but of one flesh. Itself originally voluntary, it supersedes all natural ties. The Lord therefore says, “They are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asun­der.” (Matthew 19:6). Hence marriage is strikingly that unity with Christ—voluntarily initiated by the Lord, voluntarily accept­ed by us—which yet so supersedes all natural ties that it is said: “If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).]

and the two shall become one flesh.—When a man selects a woman to be his wife, she becomes the complement of himself—that which is needed to make the complete man, so the two are one. It takes both to make one being as originally created. This union must be indissoluble in the sight of God.

Verse 32

Eph 5:32

Ephesians 5:32

This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.—This union of the two is a great mystery, he illustrates it by Christ and the church.

Verse 33

Eph 5:33

Ephesians 5:33

Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself;—Notwithstanding he speaks of Christ and the church, let every man so love his wife as he loves him­self—make her a part of himself, in his thoughts, feelings, pur­poses, and regard her comfort and happiness as he does his own, and do for her as he does for himself.

and let the wife see that she fear her husband.—Let the wife see that she respects and honors her husband. [Reverence con­sists of love and esteem which produce a care to please, and a fear which awakens caution lest just offense be given. There should be such a mutual love and confidence that the known wish of the husband should be a law to the wife; and that the known desires of the wife should be the rule which the husband would approve.]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/ephesians-5.html.
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