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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 5

 

 

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Verse 1

1. Be yeBecome ye, parallel with become ye (be ye) in Ephesians 4:32, where see note.

Therefore—In view of the fact that God… hath forgiven you, become followers (literally, imitators) of God by casting off all bitterness, Ephesians 4:31, with the guilelessness of dear children, who imitate their placable father in freely forgiving.


Verse 2

2. And—Not only as children forgive and forget, but even walk in love. And that no mere animal love. There are meretricious natures who appear strongly capable of blending what they esteem spiritual with sexual love. Such blending, in thought or language, is morbid, and repulsive to a sound Christianity. But Christian love is after the model of Christ, which is absolutely pure and transcendently self sacrificing.

Hath given himself— By an act of free, voluntary love. His right to so act he very explicitly declares in John 10:18. He performed this self-surrender by that right which we all have to suffer for others, undeterred even by the guilt of those who inflict the suffering, as well as by that divine right which he possessed over himself.

For us—The offering was for us; to furnish blessed results to us, parallel to those which a sacrifice under the law furnished to him in whose behalf the victim bled.

Offering… sacrifice—The former includes any presentation to God, bloody or bloodless; but it is also defined by the word sacrifice as bloody.

To God—Not given himself… to God, but for us a sacrifice to God, as the Levitical sacrifices all were.

Sweet-smelling savour—Literally, a smell of fragrance; the smell referring to the sensation, the fragrance to its agreeableness. So Genesis 8:21, at Noah’s sacrifice, “Jehovah smelled a sweet savour,” and became propitious. So Leviticus 1:9. Christ is here doubly presented: 1. In his manward relation, as an example of unsurpassable self-sacrificing love, forming and glorifying a holy Church by its inspiring power; and, 2. In his Godward relation, as a well-pleasing self-sacrifice to the divine well-pleasing. The former of these views is admitted by all classes of Christian thinkers; the latter is denied by some classes, but in vain.


Verse 3

Second ContrastSins of the Flesh, Ephesians 5:3-21.

a. Against Gentile uncleanness, remembering God’s judgment, beware, Ephesians 5:3-7.

3. But—Marking the transition to a new volume of iniquity in the anti-Church of Gentilism, to be avoided by the Church of Christianity.

Fornication—All sexual sin.

Uncleanness—All disgraceful vice or flagitiousness; vice that infringes most against the sense of decency, decorum, or honour. Hence it covers the territory between sexual vice and dishonest greed of gain, and is on its opposite sides allied to each.

Covetousness—Note on Ephesians 4:19. In both cases it should be rendered as here.

Once named—Let these vices be so far from you that the very allusion to them shall cease. It is not so much the verbal naming that is forbidden, as the behaviour and thoughts that induce their naming. The effort should be to render such vices unthought of, strange, and surprising.

Becometh saints—As befits a holy community.


Verse 4

4. Filthiness—Indecency of word or action.

Foolish talking—In which sin and folly blend.

Not convenient—Not suitable for your character or profession.

Giving of thanks—A truer mode of cheerfulness, and suitable to a body who have so much reason for gratitude as Christians.


Verse 5

5. For—A deep and solemn reason for these prohibitions.

Ye know— However ignorant and forgetful the Gentiles may be, ye know.

That no— The same triad of vile transgressors as in Ephesians 5:3 : the debauchee, the shameless, the business knave.

An idolater—Who worships the round, molten image, the dollar, as his god. Note on Matthew 6:24, and Colossians 3:5. It belongs to St. Paul’s self-sacrificing nature, as Meyer finely remarks, to condemn gain-greed as the most shameful ungodliness.

Inheritance… kingdom—Notes on Ephesians 1:10-14.

Of Christ and of God—The kingdom of eternal glory beyond the judgment day.


Verse 6

6. No man deceive you—Among the heathens, courtezans were priestesses, and prostitution was consecrated as a religious rite. The Ephesian Christians would every day encounter sophists arguing against and ridiculing the rigorism of personal chastity, and representing licentiousness as a venial matter, and even a sacred institution.

Vain words—Empty words: empty of truth and value.

For—Very dangerous it is, indeed, to be so deceived.

Wrath… disobedience—Words that remind us of Ephesians 2:2-3; and suggest that in Paul’s view the wrath is the result of actual sin.


Verse 7

7. Be—Rather, become. Note, Ephesians 4:32.


Verse 8

8. Ye were—While Gentiles.

Now are ye light—Not as illuminated, but as luminous and illuminating. So our Saviour: “Ye are the light of the world.”

Children of light—In the whole paragraph there is a blending of the double thought of moral and physical light. So our Lord: “Let your light so shine, that men may see your good works.” The children of light are those who are not only the true sons of moral illumination, but are so congenial with the actual light of day that the sun may freely shine upon all they do, and illuminate even the secrets locked within their breasts. And so, also, in the uses of both the terms light and darkness there is a blended double reference to the moral principles and the classes of men who embody the principles. Christians are light, and they are children of light; and, Ephesians 5:13, the darkness of the licentious, by having the light shine through them, becomes light.


Verses 8-17

b. Against their secret and nightly shame be children of light and day, Ephesians 5:8-17.

As the darkness of night is the element in which license and guilt find their covert, so by association of thought license and darkness are conceptually identified; while, on the contrary, truth and purity, as well as knowledge, are conceptually identified with light. These associations of thought are universal in the human mind and in human language. Zoroastrianism makes light and darkness the emblem of the two great kingdoms of good and evil in the world. St. Paul here intensifies the thought, by making light and darkness include not only the principles of good and evil, but the human embodiments of good and evil, the Church and the anti-Church.


Verse 9

9. Fruit… Spirit—A better reading substitutes light for Spirit. The graces produced by the power of the true Christian light, namely, goodness, opposed to all the sins of appetite and lust; righteousness, to all unjust and dishonest dealing to men; and truth, to all insincerity, and falseness to God or man.


Verse 10

10. Proving—That is, testing by actual and practical trial and experience.

Acceptable—By finding the witness of the divine Spirit approving our course.


Verse 11

11. Fellowship—St. Paul’s ordinary word for Christian communion; as 1 Corinthians 1:9, “fellowship of his Son;” and 1 Corinthians 10:16, “communion of his blood.” It implies a collection of participants into a common element.

Hence here, enter not into associations that share in the unfruitful works. There is, as commentators well remark, no specific allusion to the heathen “mysteries,” but the words include both them and all associations and clans of revellers in dark and hidden licentiousnesses.

Unfruitful—As affording, to say the least, no advantage.

Works of darkness—With the double allusion above mentioned; works that are morally dark, and that court the covert of literal night.

Reprove—A very significant term. First, it indicates a refutation, as in an argument; second, a detection, as of some complication or concealment; and, third, an exposure, resulting from both the refutation and the detection. Let your life, conduct, and intellectual powers be all effective in refuting the sophisms with which license justifies or ennobles itself, as well as in detecting and exposing the turpitude of the license itself.


Verse 12

12. For—To give a reason why this utter exposure should be the aim of our moral life.

Shame even to speak—To pronounce the indecent words that express their deeds sullies the purity of the mind. And this fully decides that the entire paragraph hints at almost unmentionable sins of the flesh.

In secret—In moral darkness, covered by the shades of physical darkness—a deep night darkening upon a deeper night.


Verse 13

13. But—The reverse of this dark concealment. All things, including those lurking depravities that are reproved, that is, truly detected by you, who are truly the light, are made manifest in their true enormity of character.

For whatsoever doth make manifest—More correctly, whatsoever is made manifest, is no longer a lurking obscurity, a darkness, but it becomes in truth a light. On which difficult passage we may note:—

1. Scholars are now mostly agreed that the Greek word for doth make manifest, is not active, but passive; is being made manifest. Ellicott says that it occurs in the New Testament fifty times, but never with an active meaning.

2. By the manifested things becoming light, is not meant that the men become converted, for it is not the men, but their licentious things that are the subject. Their base darknesses and seducing problems, by being detected and light-penetrated, become light.

The dark falsehood becomes luminous truth. And all the more is the previous darkness of the problem made evident and abominable.

3. Differing from our English translation, and from Alford and others, who connect by the light with manifest, we refer it to reproved. The direction is: Do you, the light, reprove them; for whatever is by the light reproved is manifest in its true character. The required end is not that it may be manifest by the light, but simply, that it may be made manifest; and to this end it is duty that they should be reproved by the light. Moreover, manifest should come immediately before for, as being the term for which the for introduces the explanation. This keeps in view the imperative reprove of Ephesians 5:11, for which Ephesians 5:12 renders the imperative reason.


Verse 14

14. Wherefore—Inasmuch as this duty of bringing the darkness to light is imperative, the following call upon those in darkness, sleep, and death, is issued.

He saith—Or, as in the margin, it saith. Clarke, after Grotius, plausibly refers the it to light, synonymous with the gospel. But, in all cases of the use of this formula of St. Paul, some reference is made to an Old Testament passage. Alford and Eadie think it a reference to Isaiah 60:1 : “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Here are the three thoughts of a condition of darkness, an arising, (according to the best interpretation,) and a consequent illumination from the Jehovah-Messiah. Another opinion, as old as Theodoret, is, that the three clauses are three lines of an early Christian hymn:

Awake, thou that sleepest,

And arise from the dead,

And Christ shall give thee light.

Both the rhythm and the poetic imagery confirm the supposition that we have here one of the earliest fragments of Christian hymnology. With great plausibility, therefore, Braune blends the two suppositions, that the words are a versified paraphrase of Isaiah’s words. This view, though unsusceptible of demonstration, removes all difficulty. There is no more improbability that St. Paul should quote a paraphrase of Isaiah from an early hymn of the Church than from the Septuagint, as he more than once does.

Awake—The concrete darkness which St. Paul’s Ephesians once were (Ephesians 5:8) is now transformed to human beings wrapt in night and darkness. They are lying in what Meyer expressively calls the sin-sleep and the sin-death. A double stratum of slumber and deadness lies upon them, the slumber denoting the indifference, and the death the moral incapability of depraved man to arouse himself into holiness and salvation. For the sin-sleep there is an awake; for the sin-death, there is an arise, a resurrection. For, with the call and in the call a power is imparted. Each dead man may revive; each sleeper may awake, if he desires and wills the bliss of life. All are alike called; and it is the free obedience of man that renders the call “effectual.”

Light—The gracious light by which they themselves may become light, and walk fearlessly in the full light of the literal day.


Verse 15

15. See—St. Paul now closes the paragraph, as he did the last, with a deduced admonition.

ThenTherefore; that is, in view of your office as light to reprove the darkness, held forth in the whole of this closing paragraph. To two things were they to see: First, that they were themselves unreprovable; and, second, that they should be ready in the reproof of prevalent sin.

Circumspectly—With strictness of rectitude, knowing that critical eyes are upon you.

FoolsThe children of disobedience, (Ephesians 5:6,) the foolish talkers, (Ephesians 5:4.)

Wise—Too thoughtful to be deceived, (Ephesians 5:6,) ever solemnly holding in view the future divine wrath upon licentiousness.


Verse 16

16. Redeeming—Literally, buying off for ourselves.

The time—The word time, here, signifies opportunity or occasion; that is, of administering moral reproof, and testifying. The sense is, at whatever cost find or seize the opportunity to check sin.

Days are evil—This is a depraved period, an evil generation, rushing in a course of licentiousness, and scouting all moral rebuke. Few are the chances, and dangerous the effort, to reprove the impetuous sinner, but at any price snatch the opportunity. John the Baptist seized the occasion to reprove Herod at the price of his head. St. Paul’s whole life was a series of costly opportunities of rebuking the men and the age.


Verse 17

17. Unwise—Heedless, not using the wits and the knowledge you have.

Understanding—By direct testing, as in Ephesians 5:10.


Verse 18

18. And—Not (as Eadie and others) marking “transition from general to particular,” but from one form of fleshly sin, sensuality, to another, inebriety, with its consequent riot.

Be not drunk—Drunkened, or made drunk with or by wine, the particular drink for the genial.

Wherein—In which. Our translation, referring the wherein to wine, and adding wherein is excess, conveys a true and striking meaning. In wine is the power to create and intensify the appetite for itself, and the consequent excess. But critics are agreed that the wherein refers not to wine, but to the being made drunk by it. Alford avails himself of this to add, “The crime is not in God’s gift, but in the abuse of it; and the very arrangement of the sentence, besides the spirit of it, implies the lawful use of it. See 1 Timothy 5:23.” The advice to Timothy indicates that “God’s gift” is bestowed as a medicine; its “abuse” is as a beverage. No one who habitually uses wine as a beverage has any assurance that he will never be drunk with it. At any rate it is no sin, in view of such danger, for any man to abstain entirely from it, and it may be a part of prudential morality earnestly to urge others to so abstain. Nor does it seem to be a very necessary duty for commentator or preacher very carefully to maintain the right to use it as a gratification of appetite. Let those who desire to indulge at the risk of downfall perform that work.

Excess—The exact parallel of the Greek word would be unsavedness, or unsavingness; and Theophylact well defines its victim as “one who does not save, but destroys both soul and body.”

Hence profligacy, self-abandonment to ruin.

Filled with the Spirit—A most striking antithesis! While Gentilism is drunk with wine let the holy Church be filled with the Spirit.

“There’s a spirit above, and a spirit below;

A spirit of joy, and a spirit of woe:

The spirit above is a Spirit Divine;

The spirit below is the spirit of wine.”


Verses 18-21

c. Against Gentile drunkenness and revelry be filled with the Holy Spirit, and joyous with holy hymns, Ephesians 5:18-21.

The anti-Church of Gentilism is filled with wine, and riotous with drunken song and clamour; St. Paul substitutes the holy Church of Christ as filled with the Holy Spirit and rapturous with psalm and hymn and melody of heart.


Verse 19

19. Speaking to yourselves—Voicing to each other. For the Greek word for speaking includes any vocal utterance. There may be allusion here to the antiphonal or responsive music, in which different parts of the choir alternated. Such was the manner of the Hebrew choral worship, and was very early adopted by the Christian Church. So the philosopher Pliny, but a little later than when Paul wrote these words, in his letter quoted in our vol. i, p. 5, says that the early Christians sang “in concert,” that is, secum invicem, in turn among themselves, “a hymn of praise to Christ as God.”

Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs—For the apostle will have a joyful Church, resounding with rich and glorious melodies. However ascetic in words, it shall be ever rejoicing in spirit. Gentilism is drunkenly obstreperous, but Christianity shall be spiritually melodious and triumphant.

Psalms—The psalm was inherited by the Christian Church from her old Hebrew ancestry. By the derivation of the word it signifies a sacred poem to be chanted in accompaniment with an instrument. But during the period of churchly inspiration, when each one had an improvised psalm, (1 Corinthians 14:26,) the psalm lost the instrument.

Hymns— The word is inherited from the pagan Church, so to speak, and signified a poem sung in honour of a god, or gods. These are among the earliest of recorded human compositions. The hymns of the Sanscrit Vedas, sung in honour of the gods who were personifications of the elements, are, some of them, probably as old as the time of Moses. Worship naturally runs its emotions into rhythm and tune, and so the apostolic Church early formed a body of hymnology.

Songs—Literally, odes, derived from aeido, to sing, as our word song is derived from sing. Hence it is any metrical composition set to tune. All the jovial strains of the Gentile revellers could be called by this term; and St. Paul therefore specializes it by the adjective spiritual. If, then, a hymn and a spiritual song had any difference, it would be that the former signified a singing directly in honour to God, while the latter sang any phase of Christian feeling or experience. Perhaps the larger share of what are at the present day called hymns, would belong to the latter class of spiritual odes. And in the primitive Church, however the above three terms differed in origin and earlier meaning, they all ran into each other and retained but little distinction of application.


Verse 20

20. Giving thanks—While the mouths of gay Gentilism are filled with mad laughter, the true Church’s heart is overflowing with thanks unto God.

Always—For there is never a moment without its blessing. The drunkard is ever awaking from his mad fits to horror and despair; but with the Christian there is no interval of, and no room for, despondency.

All things—This may mean for, or in behalf of, all the Christians of the Church. For as there is no interval in the time of blessedness, so there is no Christian exception to its universality. But there is no deduction, either, from the all things for which gratitude may glow; that is, all the circumstances in which the true Christian is placed; for all things work together for his good. And so Theophylact truly says, “For not only in our ease, but also in our griefs; and not only for our good fortunes, but for our misfortunes, and for things we know and for things we know not; for through all these are we beneficently conducted, whether we understand it or not.” Dr. Eadie, quoting Chrysostom’s appalling remark that we “should be thankful for hell itself,” justly doubts whether it is textual. Dr. Hopkins, with as bold a logic, inferred that sinners ought to be willing to be damned, and that the damned in hell ought to be thankful to God. But the apostle’s all things is circumscribed to the providences through which the Christian is called to pass. There are solemn and awful things in the universe for which God never has asked our thanks, but of which we are to think only with solemn and reverent submission.

Unto God and the Father— Different appellatives of the same Being.

In the name—By the authority. For the name affixed to a bond or a decree is the source and assurance of its authority. The name of the sultan is the token of submission to the tribes of the faithful. So the commission of the apostles was in the name of Christ; and our prayers and thanks are addressed to God in that name. Miracles were performed through that name, and believers are baptized into (for so Matthew 28:19 should be rendered) that name.

Lord Jesus ChristLord, Saviour, Messiah; for such is the import of these divine appellatives.


Verse 21

21. Submitting yourselves—Dr. Eadie thinks this “introduces a new train of thought;” but, on the contrary, it is only the finishing of the thought of the paragraph. The joyous melody of the heart which it inspires is to be sustained, and discords avoided, by mutual concession, nay, mutual submission, in honour preferring one another. Hence this submitting yourselves one to another strictly co-ordinates with, and completes, the speaking to each other in, etc., of Ephesians 5:19. In the fear of (not by the best readings God, but) Christ. Overlying and regulating our mutual joy and submission, is our loving fear of our loving and adorable Messiah.


Verse 22

22. Submit yourselves—So slight is the break from the previous to the present topic, that we are obliged to go back to Ephesians 5:21 to obtain this submit, the leading verb. For it is not found in the best copies of the text, and has undoubtedly been supplied by copyists, who perceived the blank without realizing the reason. Going back to Ephesians 5:21, we find that the mutual submission of Church members and the submission of wives, are expressed by the same word. It is the submission of joyous love under fear of Christ. Bengel truly notes, therefore, that this submit is altogether different from the obey, Ephesians 6:1, and be obedient, Ephesians 6:5, prescribed to children and servants. And that would suggest that the “obey” prescribed to the bride in the marriage service is unbiblical.

Your own husbandsYour own is emphatic, as not only yours as distinguished from other husbands, but as deeply and intensely your own.

As unto the Lord—Said in anticipation of what he is about to state, that the husband represents Christ in the family Church.


Verses 22-33

II. IN THE FAMILY AND DOMESTIC CONSTITUTIONS, Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9.

a. Wives and husbands, Ephesians 5:22-33.

St. Paul here makes transition, clear, indeed, yet so slight as scarce to be marked, from his model Church to his model family. Indeed, the two are one. The family is not only a part of the Church, but also in itself a Church, modelled ideally after the ideal Church, impregnated with Christian principle through its whole structure. Scientists may show how marriage is based in our physiological nature; jurists may show how it forms a part of the civil constitution; but it is the apostle’s part to show how it is enshrined in Christian law, and how the family is indeed both part of the holy Church and itself a holy Church. Hence, let no wives imagine that they are to be absolved by the new Christianity from their dutiful position as prescribed, not only by nature, but by God and Christ; nor let any husband imagine that he is discharged from his sacred responsibilities and ties. On the contrary, the looseness of Judaism and the profligacy of paganism are both abolished, and a new perfect sacredness is infused into the marriage constitution.


Verse 23

23. Head—He does not say Lord, as expressing Christ in his absolute capacity, but as head, representing his relative office. As the first planner and organizer, and perpetual representative of the family to the world, the husband is its naturally and divinely constituted head. By his name is the whole family rightly called. Outside the home, in which the wife is empress of a little kingdom of her own, he is held primarily responsible for the family support, reputation, and advancement. His position is justly held to be dishonoured, guiltily or unfortunately, if that responsibility be not sustained, or the wife be called to supply his place. It is equally unbecoming for her to endeavour, without necessity, either to substitute or overrule him.

Of the wife—Including her offspring, who are at once produced by herself, and herself; just as the Church’s offspring are truly herself.

Christ… Church—So that the family is a picture outlining the sacred original, and, therefore, itself sacred. Human laws may hold marriage a merely civil contract; but divine law holds it to be a divine institution. Hence, it is not the magistrate, but the minister, by whom the marriage rite should be performed, and the church should be its place; since, though not a sacrament, it is a most highly religious act. The marriage itself, however surrounded with jovial circumstances, should be performed by the minister as a most solemn religious ceremonial. He, emphatic and distinctive. Christ is not only head, but he is Saviour of the churchly body.


Verse 24

24. As the Church… so… the wives—Sexual nature, on which marriage is based, man shares not only with the wide animal world, but, strange as to the unscientific it sounds, even with the vegetable world. But this animal love, which through all nature is the divinely constituted source of natural life, in man is overlaid by a sentiment of sentimental love, which blushes at and overshadows the mere animal appetite, and appropriates with a higher congeniality, celebrated in poetry and romance, person to person in a heart-union. But overlying this is a moral love, which sanctions the two lower impulses in their purity, and forms the type of Christ’s own divine and eternal love for those united to him by faith in his redeeming blood. Hence, in the Christian conception, the marital love, in its purity, is a type of the love of Christ for his Church. But as the Church rejoices, with the highest joy, over her allegiance to Christ, so a reliant allegiance to her husband, rejoicing at being weak in herself and strong in him, is a woman’s glory.

In every thing—And the more without exception, the better for both. But the apostle is picturing the model family, in which the reciprocal duties are presupposed as being duly performed. Where the reverse is the case, then sad and necessary exceptions come in. When the husband neglects his duty, it may reasonably compel the wife to overstep her normal position. Where he enjoins a violation of the law of God, the law of God is supreme. Violence may compel withdrawal, and adultery dissolves the marriage. Yet for the true relation of mutual marriage love, where the subordinate and the superior wills are united in one permanent, harmonious train of volition, the apostle can find no type so complete as the union between Christ and his Church.


Verse 25

25. Christ… gave himself—As for the wives St. Paul read their holy duties in the type of the Church, so now, turning to husbands, he reads them a still more powerful lesson in the history and character of Christ. Like our great Exemplar, the husband consecrates and gives up himself to his wife. Hence, polygamy and adultery at once destroy marriage, the very essence of which is the consecration of person to person, by a union made possible only by a created formation of both the persons. This powerful self-consecration, as being primary with the man, St. Paul imposes expressly only upon him, though presupposing it reciprocally from her. And, as representative head, the man is identified with the family, and suffers or prospers vicariously with and for it. He suffers for its sins; being dishonoured in its dishonour, and liable to pay penalties for its offences. And not only does it suffer for his sins, but becomes honourable in his honour and wealthy by his wealth.

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Verse 26

26. Ephesians 5:26-27 each begins with a that; the former depending on gave himself, the latter on sanctify and cleanse. It is to be specially noted that at this verse Paul reverses the discourse, and from illustrating marriage by the Church, gradually glides into illustrating the Church by marriage, as he intimates in the closing words of Ephesians 5:32. This is in accordance with what we have shown, in both our Plan (page 353) and our Commentary, to be the main topic of the epistle—mainly, the genesis and nature of a glorious Church.

With the washing of water—Referring, no doubt, to baptism, in which the water is the symbolical element of the sanctifying Spirit, which is the real element.

By the word—By the gospel word, which is preached, by which baptism is effected, and which is concentrated into the final baptism formula. For, as Augustine says, “Without the word the baptismal water is mere water. Add the word to the element and it becomes a sacrament, which is the word made visible.”


Verse 27

27. Might… Church—Literally, might present himself, to himself, the Church, glorious. So, by Persian law, King Ahasuerus purified Esther, that he might present her to himself a royal bride.

Spot—Contracted from external sources.

Wrinkle—A blemish from internal decay. This Church, thus presented to himself as perfect and glorious, is the result attained through a progressive sanctification at the final reconciliation. For this was the atonement and the election through faith.


Verse 28

28. So… as—Are not correlatives. So refers to as, in Ephesians 5:25, and brings the present verse into parallelism with Ephesians 5:25-27. As his own body—Not as a man would love his own body, but as if being his own body. And as being his own body, so, in a sense, his own other self; so that in loving his wife he loveth himself.


Verse 29

29. No man—It is hardly necessary to except madmen, who do harm their own bodies, for such act from no normal motive. Nourisheth with aliment, and cherisheth with warmth and clothing.


Verse 30

30. Members of his body—Conceptually, but not literally; just as husband and wife are one flesh; not, in fact, one single material hermaphrodite body, but so imaged in fancy as thereby to illustrate literal truth more forcibly than any mere literal statement can. We are, also, members of Christ’s body, not as offspring derived from him, (as Eve from Adam,) but as one with him in love, as are man and wife.

Of his flesh, and of his bones—These words are of doubtful genuineness. They are an evident allusion to Genesis 2:23 : “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Bengel says, Moses names “bones” first and Paul “flesh;” the former so because the bones are the supports of the natural frame; but in the new creation the “flesh” of Christ is the main element. Thus far, well; but, unfortunately, he adds: “Not our bones and flesh, but we ourselves are spiritually propagated from the humanity of Christ, which has flesh and bones.” It is not of propagation or derivation that St. Paul speaks, but of conceptual identity.


Verse 31

31. For this cause—That is, (in Genesis,) on account of the created completion of a sexual pair.

Two… one fleshTwo, literally; one, conceptually. And this conceptual image of oneness, by which it is pictured that man and woman, being complements of each other, are maritally united into one person, is formed in order to place in the most loving light the unity of affection and the identity of interest by which they are identified with, and vicarious representatives of, each other.


Verse 32

32. This—The instituted fact that a man shall form marital connexions closer than blood relationship.

Is a great mystery—One of the profoundest mysteries in all nature, lying at the roots of personal life and of race existence. But great as this marital mystery may be, it is not the main topic. I really speak, that is, am speaking, concerning a still sublimer mystery, namely, Christ and the Church. See note, Ephesians 5:26.


Verse 33

33. Nevertheless—Although the marital is the subordinate mystery.

Let every one of you—Husband or wife faithfully perform the duties herein illustrated.

As himself—In accordance with this conceptual oneness.

Reverence… husband—Just as it is her husband’s duty to be worthy to be revered, it is one of “woman’s rights”—not, unhappily, always attained—to have “a husband to whom she can look up.” But an effeminate man and a masculine woman are equally abnormal and unattractive beings.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ephesians-5.html. 1874-1909.


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Saturday, November 18th, 2017
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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