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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Ephesians 4:25 to Ephesians 5:2 . Precepts of the New Life.— Away then with lying, resentment, stealing, foul talk, bad temper, lust. Remember the common membership ( Ephesians 4:25). Give the devil no scope ( Ephesians 4:27). Do not grieve the Spirit ( Ephesians 4:30). Be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving— remembering the Divine forgiveness ( Ephesians 4:32). Be imitators of your heavenly Father and walk in love, remembering the love of Christ and His oblation of Himself for us.

Ephesians 4:25 . Cf. Zechariah 8:16.

Ephesians 4:26 . Cf. Psalms 4:4 (LXX), Deuteronomy 24:13; Deuteronomy 24:15.

Ephesians 4:29 . corrupt: literally “ rotten,” “ decaying.”— for edifying . . . may be: i.e. with a view to building up, as the matter may require.

Ephesians 4:30 . Cf. Ephesians 1:13, Revelation 7:2 f.

Ephesians 5:2 . Christ is here compared not with a sin offering but with a burnt offering ascending to heaven in savoury smoke ( cf. Php_4:18 ).

Verses 3-21

Ephesians 5:3-21 . The Way of Light and the Way of Darkness.— There are other sins which among God’ s people, should be literally unmentionable— fornication, uncleanness, coveting, filthiness, foolish speech, improper jesting. (The true seemliness of speech is thanksgiving.) No one who practises any of the above can inherit the Kingdom. Let no sophistries deceive you; God’ s wrath befalls the disobedient— dissociate yourselves from such things. You have passed from darkness to light and must walk accordingly. Goodness, righteousness, truth— these are the fruits of Light. You must test things, and discover what is well-pleasing to the Lord. Nay, you must not only avoid participation in the unfruitful deeds of darkness; you must show them up— for things are being done in secret which it is shameful even to mention. Things are always made manifest when they are shown up by the light: for whatever is made manifest ipso facto becomes luminous. That is the meaning of “ Sleeper, awake! Arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee!” Take careful heed, then, how you walk— wisely, and not unwisely. These are evil days— buy up every opportunity. Don’ t be foolish. Understand what the Lord’ s will is. And “ don’ t be drunken with wine”— that is prodigality; if you are full let it be in the Spirit; if you sing to one another, let your music and hymns and songs be spiritual, the expression of the song and melody going up to the Lord in your hearts, with continual thanksgivings under all circumstances in the name of Christ to God the Father. Let there be mutual subordination in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:4 . which are not befitting: read, “ in relation to unseemly things” : the words limit the prohibition of jesting.— giving of thanks: the word ( eucharistia) is connected with charis (=grace), and in antithesis to the preceding clause may here suggest a double meaning.

Ephesians 5:5 . Covetousness is really a worship of false gods and is tantamount to a return to heathenism.

Ephesians 5:7 . Read “ partakers in them,” referring back to “ these things” in Ephesians 5:6.

Ephesians 5:9 . light: the AV reading, “ Spirit,” appears in some MSS through the scribe’ s reminiscence of Galatians 5:22.

Ephesians 5:10 . proving: read “ testing.”

Ephesians 5:12 . reprove: here and in Ephesians 5:13 read “ expose them.”

Ephesians 5:13 b . The thought seems to be that darkness itself is transformed into light by the process of being made manifest.

Ephesians 5:14 . Read, “ Wherefore it saith” ; cf. Ephesians 4:8. The quotation is apparently a fragment of an early hymn.

Ephesians 5:16 . Read mg.

Ephesians 5:18 . Cf. Proverbs 23:31 (LXX).

Ephesians 5:19 . Cf. Colossians 3:16. The songs of Christians are to be spiritual songs, not vinous catches. The reference may be to singing at the Agapæ or Love-feasts of the Church ( cf. Jude 1:12).

Verses 22-23

Ephesians 5:22-23 . This principle of subordination ( Ephesians 5:21) involves in the case of wives subordination to their own husbands. The husband is to the wife as Christ is to the Church— head and saviour of the body. As the Church obeys, so should the wife; but the husband’ s love, in turn, must be as the self-devotion of Christ, who to hallow the Church, gave Himself for her, purified her with washing of water and pronunciation of formula, and Himself presented her to Himself (as Bridegroom), glorious and free from all disfigurement or wrinkle to be His holy and unblemished (Bride). Husbands then should love their wives as their own bodies; in loving their wives they are loving a part of themselves, and a man does not hate his own flesh but nourishes it and keeps it warm. That is what Christ does to the Church; we are limbs of His Body (one with His bones and flesh). That is what I (Paul) take to be the meaning of Genesis 2:24. The truth of revelation in the passage is an important one, and for my own part I interpret it with reference to Christ and to the Church; but in any case, whatever your several views of it, each of you is to love his own wife as himself, and the wife to fear her husband.

Ephesians 5:26 . Marriage in the Greek world was preceded by a “ nuptial bath,” and the ritual doubtless included also the repetition of a solemn “ formula.” The writer here intends his readers to think of the analogous ceremonial of Christian Baptism. Throughout this passage there is perhaps an implicit reference to the “ sacred marriage” of certain of the Greek “ Mysteries,” in which the deity was wedded on behalf of the community of worshippers by a maiden priestess, or in which the nuptials of god and goddess were ceremonially represented by a human priestess and priest. A Hebrew antecedent of the main idea is to be found in the conception of Israel as the betrothed of Yahweh ( Hosea 2:19).

Ephesians 5:30 . There is good MS authority for the addition of the words, “ of his flesh and of his bones,” though the sense is easier without them.

Ephesians 5:32 . this mystery: the hidden truth of which these words are a spiritual revelation.

Verses 22-33

Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9 . Subordination in the Fear of Christ.— The principle is illustrated by the relation ( a) of wives to husbands, ( b) of children to parents, ( c) of slaves to masters. The writer does not attack existing social institutions— slavery, the patria potestas, the dependent position of women. He accepts the relationships as they exist in the world he knows, and seeks to interpret them in the light of the gospel (p. 649 ). If he enforces upon wives, children, and slaves, the duty of subordination, he insists also upon the corresponding obligations of conjugal love and protection, parental nurture and admonition, kind treatment and forbearance towards slaves. All these relationships are now relationships “ in the Lord.” That of husband and wife in particular is grounded in Christ’ s relation to His Church.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ephesians 5". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/ephesians-5.html. 1919.
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