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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Ephesians 5

 

 


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Verses 1-17

Be ye followers of God as his children

Ephesians 5:1-17

Ephesians 5:1. The opening sentence gives us the theme of this chapter. As the children of God, we are to imitate and follow after him in acts of righteousness and holiness, in loving and forgiving one another, in acts of mercy and goodness and in freely distributing to the needs of others (Titus 2:7-10).

Ephesians 5:2. ‘Walk in love.’ Here is the key to all that is commanded, expected and needed for godliness and sanctification!

1. Live in love to God our Father, who has given us all things in Christ;

2. Live in love to Christ, for the love he has for us, the relationship we have with him and the things he has done for us, but chiefly

3. Live in love to one another. Our example is Christ, who loved us and give himself for us. He was both Priest and Sacrifice, giving his blood as a sacrifice to redeem us to God. This principle of love is sufficient motivation for mercy, forgiveness, kindness and all godliness! (Matthew 22:36-40; John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:23.)

Ephesians 5:3-4. Paul names several sinful practices which are unbecoming to children of God and which love for Christ and for one another should constrain them to avoid. ‘Fornication’ is committed between unmarried persons and was thought by the Gentiles not to be sinful. ‘Uncleanness’ includes adultery, incest, homosexuality and all unnatural lusts. ‘Covetousness’ is an immoderate desire after worldly, material things, but, judging from the context, it denotes continual thoughts and desires for the above lusts. Not only should believers avoid these sins, but they should avoid any thoughts or suggestions by liberal thinkers that they are not exceedingly sinful!

‘Filthiness, foolish talking’ and ‘jesting’ are sins of the mouth and tongue. It is much more becoming for a believer to be giving thanks to God and speaking of his kingdom, his mercy and his blessings than to employ his tongue in secular foolishness. To be more precise, filthiness of tongue is obscene words, blasphemy and offensive language. Foolish talking is vain, idle and unprofitable babbling, filled with exaggeration and worldliness. Jesting can become sinful when too much emphasis is given to humor, kidding and joking. Christians are happy people. They are a family of joyful friends who can share humor, experiences and pleasures; but they must carefully avoid even wholesome humor, giving themselves to more spiritual conversation which edifies and builds up the believer in faith.

Ephesians 5:5-7. ‘With reference to fornication, unclean sexual practices and greed for the material things of this world (which is really idolatry), don't be deceived by the vain words of so-called free thinkers and liberal religionists. These practices are evil, and no person who walks in this manner has any inheritance in the kingdom of God. A sinful, corrupt life brings the wrath of God upon a religious person as quickly as upon an atheist. Do not be a partaker with the evil men even though they profess to believe on Christ.’

Ephesians 5:8. ‘At one time you were in total darkness, not knowing the evil of sin, the will of God, nor his true righteousness. You gave vent to the flesh and cared not for the glory of God. You are no longer in darkness, but are enlightened by the Spirit of God. Therefore, walk as children of light, not in sin and the works of darkness, but in faith, truth and holiness.’

Ephesians 5:9. The fruit of the spirit (the kind of life produced by the presence of the Holy Spirit) is ‘goodness’ (as opposed to greed, lust and cruelty), ‘righteousness’ (as opposed to carnality, evil and worldliness) and ‘truth’ (as opposed to hypocrisy, lying and deceit). Where the Spirit of God dwells, there will be to some degree the appearance of this fruit (Galatians 5:22).

Ephesians 5:10. There are many things which are ‘acceptable to the Lord’ – the person of Christ, his righteousness, sacrifice and mediation, the persons of his people in Christ and the lives and conversation of his people when they are becoming to the gospel and according to his will (Colossians 3:20; Hebrews 13:15-16; Hebrews 13:20-21).

Ephesians 5:11. The believer will not and cannot find and enjoy social fellowship with ungodly and profane people (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Though we must work, live as neighbors and often converse with unbelievers, it is impossible for a true believer to enjoy and seek out the company of persons who know not and do not love our Lord. We reprove them not only with words but with a godly life which exposes their vain way of life, as light that drives away darkness (Hebrews 11:7).

Ephesians 5:12-13. Their secret lives of pride, lust, envy, hate and idolatry are even shameful to speak about; but as light reveals and discovers things unseen in darkness, so the sins and evil of men will be discovered and revealed by a true witness of the gospel of Christ and a godly life and attitude. All righteousness (whether by word or deed) which reveals sins is considered spiritual light.

Ephesians 5:14-17. This is written to the believer; for the children of God sometimes need to be revived, awakened and rebuked for their indifference and carelessness (Romans 13:11-14). ‘Take heed to your walk. Don't be a fool; the fashion of this world passes away. See to your calling and election; examine your faith; take inventory of your worship, prayer and devotional life; look to your attitude and daily walk.’ Wise men walk with God in a careful and diligent use of the time God has given them because these are evil days and many are led away. ‘Do not be unwise, but seek the will of the Lord!’


Verses 18-33

Obedience – authority and love

Ephesians 5:18-33

Ephesians 5:18. Drunkenness is the excessive drinking of any strong drink, and it is strongly condemned in the Scriptures. Wine is mentioned here because it was the usual liquor people drank in these Eastern countries. Excessive drinking deprives a person of reason, hurts the mind, brings disease to the body, opens the door to every sin, wastes possessions and sets a man below the beasts. ‘Be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ People with the Holy Spirit have spiritual joy and are controlled and dominated by the spirit, as wine controls and dominates the drunkard. Their walk, talk and thinking are all influenced by the spirit.

Ephesians 5:19. ‘Speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.’ When the Holy Spirit dwells within us like a well of living water and our hearts dwell on the goodness and mercy of God, the melodies and tunes with which we cheer ourselves and others are not the profane, loose and carnal songs of flesh, but are songs consisting of spirituality which gladden the heart and edify the soul (Colossians 3:16).

Ephesians 5:20. ‘Giving thanks always for all things’ (James 1:17; John 3:27). All mercies, temporal and spiritual, come from the Father through our Lord Jesus; and for these mercies in Christ we continually praise and thank God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We give thanks for electing love, redeeming grace, eternal life, Christian fellowship, food, affliction and trials and all things (Romans 8:28). Murmuring and complaining against the providence of God is a great sin.

Ephesians 5:21. ‘Submitting yourselves to one another.’ Christ is the sovereign Head of the church, the supreme authority and King of the saints; and as such he is to be feared and reverenced. He delegates authority in his name in the home, in the church and in the world. In fear of the Lord and in reverence for him and his glory, we submit ourselves to that authority – as wives to husbands, children to parents, servants to masters, members of the church to pastors and all men to civil magistrates (Romans 13:1-4).

Ephesians 5:22. ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.’ This subjection is not only in body, but in heart and spirit! Wives should think well of husbands, speak respectfully of them and to them, take care of family matters according to their husbands’ will, imitate them in that which is good and bear patiently that which is not so agreeable. ‘As unto the Lord,’ because the Lord has commanded it, because the husband is the Lord's authority in the home and because rebellion against designated spiritual authority is rebellion against the Lord.

Ephesians 5:23-24. Pertaining to redemption, in Christ there is neither male nor female, bond nor free; but Christ is all. But in the divine order governing the family of God on earth, our Lord has decreed authority and leadership which is to be obeyed and followed (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

Therefore, as the church is dependent on Christ, resigned to him, receiving from him protection, provision, comfort and happiness in a voluntary, sincere and hearty obedience (arising from a principle of love), so let the wives be subject to their husbands in things political, domestic and ecclesiastic.

Ephesians 5:25. ‘Husbands, love your wives.’ This is still and always will be the key to any relationship! Because Christ loved us, he gave himself for us; because we love Christ, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. If a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church (showing affection for her, delighting in her, seeking her contentment and happiness, concealing her faults, preferring her above his parents, neighbors or children and properly leading her in things spiritual), her submission will be a delight and joy to her.

Ephesians 5:26-27. Because of the context, this reference seems to be to the custom of the Jews in their engagements to marry. A man was engaged to be married to a woman provided she had no spots, blemishes, nor past sexual affairs, If afterwards these faults were found in her, the marriage was off. But Christ found us guilty, sinful and full of fault. He loved us and cleansed us in his own blood so that he might present us holy and without spot in that day.

Ephesians 5:28-30. Men ought to love their wives as they love themselves, for the two are actually one flesh (Genesis 2:23-25). The Lord and his church are one. This is the church of the firstborn, composed of every true believer of every generation.

Ephesians 5:31. A man does not desert nor disown his parents; but he loves, cares and shows respect for them, honoring them as long as they live. But his marriage is the establishment of a new home and a new family, which his parents are not to interfere with nor try to control. His wife is to be preferred before his parents, and she is not to be allowed to suffer at their hands, nor are they to be allowed to come between husband and wife.

Ephesians 5:32-33. The marriage union is compared to Christ's union with his church. He left his Father's house to come to earth. He loved us with infinite affection. He and his church are one. He provides for us, protects us and gives us his name for ever. We love and are in subjection to him!

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/ephesians-5.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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