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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5:11

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Adultery;   Commandments;   Communion;   Darkness;   Fellowship;   Holiness;   Reproof;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Association-Separation;   Commendation-Reproof;   Concealment-Exposure;   Darkness;   Evil;   Fellowship, Divine;   Reproof;   Separation;   Works;   World, the;   The Topic Concordance - Fellowship;   Reproof;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Alliance and Society with the Enemies of God;   Communion of Saints;   Darkness;   Missionaries, All Christians Should Be as;   Reproof;   Sin;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Darkness;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Fellowship;   Government;   Justice;   Light;   Temptation;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Colossians, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Church;   Communion (1);   Self-Denial;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Darkness;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ephesians, the Epistle to the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Darkness;   Ephesians, Book of;   Works;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Marriage;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Ephesians Epistle to the;   Feasting;   Fruit;   Light and Darkness;   Pre-Eminence ;   Reproof;   Trade and Commerce;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Fellowship,;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Play;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Dark (darkness);   Unfruitful;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Communion;   Ephesians, Epistle to the;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Saul of Tarsus;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 17;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 13;  
Unselected Authors

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 11. Have no fellowship — Have no religious connection whatever with heathens or their worship.

Unfruitful works of darkness — Probably alluding to the mysteries among the heathens, and the different lustrations and rites through which the initiated went in the caves and dark recesses where these mysteries were celebrated; all which he denominates works of darkness, because they were destitute of true wisdom; and unfruitful works, because they were of no use to mankind; the initiated being obliged, on pain of death, to keep secret what they had seen, heard, and done: hence they were called απορρητα μυστηρια, unspeakable mysteries-things that were not to be divulged. That the apostle may refer to magic and incantations is also probable, for to these the Ephesians were greatly addicted. See the proofs in Clarke's notes on "Acts 19:19".

Rather reprove them. — Bear a testimony against them; convince them that they are wrong; confute them in their vain reasons; reprove them for their vices, which are flagrant, while pretending to superior illumination. All these meanings has the Greek word ελεγχω, which we generally render to convince or reprove.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

More about the new standards (5:1-20)

Just as children follow the example of their parents, so Christians must follow the example of their heavenly Father. Their love, then, will not be mere words, but will show itself by self-sacrifice, just as Christ’s love did (5:1-2).
Converted pagans had a special problem in that many of the sinful practices they once engaged in were still widespread in the society in which they lived. One way to overcome the temptation to such practices was not even to speak about them. They should certainly not joke lightheartedly about them, because people who practise such things are enemies of God’s kingdom (3-5).
Besides being careful about what they say, Christians should be careful about what they hear. They must examine what people say, whether concerning religion, morals or anything else, to see whether such people are on the side of Satan (darkness) or Christ (light). Only by careful testing will Christians know whether a thing is pleasing to God or not, whether it belongs to the light or to the darkness (6-10). If the lives of Christians are pure, they will show up the sins of others, just as light shows up dirt. Any who stir themselves from their moral laziness can be cleansed, if they allow themselves to be examined in the light of Christ (11-14).
Christians must be alert at all times. They must act wisely and display the worth of Christianity to a sinful world (15-17). In former days they might have tried to overcome depression or find enjoyment by drinking till they became drunk. Now that they are Christians, they should open their lives to God and allow God’s Spirit to control them. They will find true joy in having fellowship with other Christians, singing praises together and giving thanks to God (18-20).

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them.

Reprove ... This word means "expose," and probably should be so translated. There can be no neutrality between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. As Hendriksen said:

Sin must be exposed. One is not being nice to a wicked man by endeavoring to make him feel what a fine fellow he is. The cancerous tumor of sin must be removed. It is not really an act of love to smooth things over, as if the terrible evil of the sons of disobedience is really not so bad.[10]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And have no fellowship - See the sentiment here expressed fully explained in the notes on 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

The unfruitful works - The deeds of darkness that produce no “benefit” to the body or the soul. The word “unfruitful” is used here in contrast with the “fruit of the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:9.

But rather reprove them - By your life, your conversation, and all your influence. This is the business of Christians. Their lives should be a standing rebuke of a sinful world, and they should be ever ready to express their disapprobation of its wickedness in every form.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

11. And have no fellowship. As “the children of light” dwell amidst the darkness, or, in other words, in the midst of “a perverse and crooked generation,” (Deuteronomy 32:5,) — there is good reason for warning them to keep themselves apart from wicked actions. It is not enough that we do not, of our own accord, undertake anything wicked. We must beware of joining or assisting those who do wrong. In short, we must abstain from giving any consent, or advice, or approbation, or assistance; for in all these ways we have fellowship. And lest any one should imagine that he has done his duty, merely by not conniving, he adds, but rather reprove them. (158) Such a course is opposed to all dissimulation. Where a manifest offense is committed against God, every man will be eager to vindicate himself from any share in the guilt, but very few will guard against connivance; nearly all will practice some kind of dissimulation. But rather than the truth of God shall not remain unshaken, let a hundred worlds perish.

The word ἐλέγχειν, which is translated reprove, answers to the metaphor of darkness; for it literally signifies to drag forth to the light what was formerly unknown. As ungodly men flatter themselves in their vices, (Psalms 36:2,) and wish their crimes to be concealed, or to be reckoned virtues, Paul enjoins that they shall be reproved. He calls them unfruitful; because they not only do no good, but are absolutely hurtful.

(158) “Most expositors supply αὐτοὺς, meaning the doers of the works; and they render ἐλέγχετε, reprove, viz., by wholesome correction. This, however, is so harsh, that it is better (with Theodoret, the Pesch. Syr., Wakefield, Schleusner, Photius, and Wahl) to supply αὐτὰ, that is, ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, and to interpret ἐλέγχετε ‘bring to the light, and evince their evil nature,’ namely, by shewing in contrast the opposite virtues. This sense is required by verse 13, with which the present closely connects; and so ἐλέγχω is used both in the Scriptural and Classical writers.” — Bloomfield.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Ephesians, chapter 5.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children ( Ephesians 5:1 );

Now, the therefore immediately points you back, back to the last verse of chapter 4 where we are exhorted to be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us. Paul's topic here is God's forgiveness as our example of forgiveness. "Be ye followers of God," or follow the example that God has established for us in forgiveness.

Really the Bible does have the keys to good mental health. A very important thing for mental health is a forgiving spirit. If you are holding bitterness or animosity in your heart towards someone else, that bitterness is going to do you a lot more harm than it is them. It can just eat at you. The Bible constantly is emphasizing the importance of our forgiving and being forgiving. Just to have a forgiving spirit. When Jesus was giving to the disciples the model prayer, incorporated into that prayer was "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Asking for forgiveness, but also acknowledging the fact that I have received forgiveness or I must myself be forgiving. Forgive us and help me to be forgiving as we forgive others. There was only one petition of that prayer that Jesus emphasized at the close of the prayer, and that was the petition on forgiveness, He said, "For if you will not forgive men their trespasses against you, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses."

Jesus taught so much on forgiveness, Peter one day felt he was getting the lesson and was looking for some extra strokes. He said, "Lord, how often should I forgive a brother the same offense? Seven times?" I am certain that Peter felt that he was really growing in grace in that he could conceive of forgiving a man the same offense seven times. Imagine his chagrin when Jesus answered him, "No, Peter. Seventy times seven." Four hundred and ninety?

The Lord, I am certain, was demonstrating to Peter that forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics. Before you get to the four hundred and ninety, you would have forgotten the count. And you would just go on forgiving. It isn't a matter of mathematics; it is a matter of the spirit. God wants us to have a forgiving spirit. Yes, you have been wronged. Yes, you have a right to be angry. Yes, you have a right to be upset over this whole situation. Go ahead, eat yourself up, or forgive and be freed from that.

"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us. Be ye therefore, followers of God, as dear children." So you see how it ties to the previous verse in the previous chapter. God is the example for us in forgiveness; we are to be followers of God who has forgiven us.

And walk in love ( Ephesians 5:2 ),

Now, as we've pointed out in the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul has dealt with the spiritual blessings wherewith God has blessed us in Christ in heavenly places. Having seated us together in Christ, made us heirs together with Him. And having spent three chapters telling you all that God has done for you, and all that God has promised to do for you, and all that God is planning to do for you, having thoroughly rehearsed the resources that God has made available to you, he finally starts to talk to you about your walk. Now unfortunately, we don't follow that same example in our preaching today. But we start immediately preaching to people how they ought to walk, how they ought to act, how they ought to respond.

But the Bible doesn't do that until it lays first the foundation of God's love, God's grace, God's goodness, God's blessings, God's provisions, and now walk in love, because you have been so loved of God, so blessed of God, so taught of God to love.

Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us ( Ephesians 5:2 ),

So forgiveness, God is the example. We are to forgive as God has forgiven us. Be ye followers of God. In walking in love, Jesus is our example, who loved us,

and gave himself for us ( Ephesians 5:2 )

So that self-sacrificing love, that giving love. He has given Himself for us as

an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor ( Ephesians 5:2 ).

Now, in the beginning now to list some of the unloving things whereby men often relate to each other, it is interesting that he puts at the top of an unloving thing, fornication. We see how Satan has so deceived and distorted things, because the world equates fornication with love. In fact, they use the term "let's make love" when they are referring to the act of fornication quite often, calling it love making. But here in the scripture it is the prime example of something that is lacking in love. That is, lacking in true love. A person who in entices someone else into the act of fornication is not really considering the other person, but only considering themselves and their own desire for some kind of fulfillment, emotional, sexual or otherwise.

They are not really considering the other person that they are leading them into a damning sin. Into one of those works of the flesh which Paul tells us that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. So it is a very unloving thing to lead a person into an action that is so destructive to that person's spiritual walk in life, which is total disobedience to the commands of God. So it is not really loving and considering the other person. It is a very unloving act and it is only Satan's deception and lies that would cause a person to even think of that as an act of love. It is an act of lust. But true love is not really involved. If you really loved the person, you would be considerate of their conscience, of their feelings. You would not want to place them under that guilt that they would feel afterwards, that shame and all that they would experience as the result of the relationship.

It is interesting that Paul would place that at the top of the list of an unloving act. Walk in love. The second is

uncleanness ( Ephesians 5:3 ),

Which, of course, is a sexual uncleanness or impurity.

covetousness ( Ephesians 5:3 ),

Of course, that is at the heart of unloving actions. Self-love, covetous, but that isn't a real love or consideration for others.

let them not once be named among you ( Ephesians 5:3 ),

You are the children of God. Walk in love, not in these unloving ways.

Neither filthiness, nor [really] foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient ( Ephesians 5:4 ):

Really, he is referring here to dirty jokes. It should never, never be done by a child of God, the passing on of a dirty story, because what you are doing is planting filth in that other person's mind, filth that they will not be able to get rid of. It is tragic, but I can remember dirty jokes that were told me when I was just a little kid. That filth was planted into my mind and I cannot get rid of it. It still lingers there. Oh, I don't think on it all of the time, thank God, but you know how the dumb mind works. Every once in a while one of those dirty little ditties that I learned as a kid, some kind of a sight, sound, word will trigger a DNA molecule and it will pop that thing out of the file, flash it across my brain. And I think, "Oh God help me, that filth is still there."

But what a shame to plant filth in someone else's mind like that. Filth that they can't get rid of, permanent stains. That is not loving, not loving at all. Rather than that kind of stuff,

we should be giving thanks ( Ephesians 5:4 ),

Plant stuff in their minds that will edify, that will bless, that will be good, that will build them up.

For this you know ( Ephesians 5:5 ),

Now I hope you know it.

no whoremonger, nor unclean person [sexually impure], nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God ( Ephesians 5:5 ).

Paul says, "Now you know this." The tragedy is that a lot of people don't know that. They think that they can get by with these things. They think that somehow God will smile at these things or God will excuse these things or pass over these things. But God is a righteous judge, and everything will be called into account that is not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Let no man deceive you ( Ephesians 5:6 )

And unfortunately, so many men have deceived in these areas, but let them not

deceive you with vain words ( Ephesians 5:6 ):

As they get into their speculations and as they get into their rationale and into their philosophies,

for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience ( Ephesians 5:6 ).

In the early church they had a heresy that was known as Gnosticism. According to the Gnostic heresy, basically everything that was material was evil. The material world was not really created by God. God in the beginning sent forth emanations, and one of the emanations got so far from God that it wasn't related to God anymore, and this emanation created the material universe and thus, the whole material universe is just given over to evil. It's just evil and you can't do anything about it. Only the spiritual is pure.

Therefore, they taught that Jesus was not in a real body of flesh, He was actually a phantom, just an appearance. When He would walk along the beach, there wouldn't be any footprints. They created all of these fanciful stories to deny that Jesus had come in a body, and so that is why John, to counteract this Gnostic heresy, said, "If any man denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, he is the antichrist."

Now, going along with this teaching that the material is all evil, they said, "Inasmuch as the material is given over to evil, it doesn't matter what you do with your body because it is all wiped out anyhow. It is just all evil. It is part of the material things, which is totally evil, so it doesn't count. God doesn't really count. It is what is in your spirit that counts. So you can go ahead and commit fornication and go ahead and do all of these things. It really doesn't matter, because you see, that is all a part of the material body and God is so disassociated with the material world that anything done in the material world doesn't really count in the spiritual realm." That was the teaching of the Gnostic's, and so Paul was saying, "Don't let any man deceive you with vain words." If you get into the Gnostic heresy there was a lot of rationale and plausibilities and all. But they were deceiving people with their vain words and telling them you can do what you want in your body, it really doesn't matter. It isn't wrong because the body is material and it is all going to be done away with. It is what is spiritual that only counts with God.

Don't be partakers with them ( Ephesians 5:7 ).

Actually, he said, "Don't you realize that these are the very things that are going to bring the wrath of God on man?" These are the things for which God is going to judge the world. If you are guilty of doing these things then you will be judged with a guilty world.

You were one time in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord ( Ephesians 5:8 );

Actually, "you were one time darkness," not, "in darkness," you were darkness. Now you are not in the light, you are the light. One time your life was darkness, now your life is light if Christ is dwelling in you.

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them ( Ephesians 5:9-11 ).

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he said, "What fellowship has light with darkness?" Now think about that for a moment. Light and darkness are mutually exclusive. They cannot coexist. When you turn on a light the darkness goes. But they don't coexist. They are not one. They are separate, mutually exclusive entities. So spiritually you cannot walk in darkness and walk in light. If a man says that he has fellowship with God, who is light, and he is walking in darkness, he lies; he is not telling the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light then we do have fellowship with God as the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continually cleansing us from all sin. So again, don't be deceived. If you are walking in darkness then you cannot have fellowship with God. So have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Now, we are to take more than just a passive attitude towards darkness. When someone comes and starts to tell a dirty story and it is obvious from the look in their eye and the sinister smile that it is going to be one of the dirty ones, stop them, reprove them, don't just listen and then smile politely and chuckle. Say, "That is filthy." There are some men whose minds are like racehorses; they run best on a dirt track. Don't let them pour out their filth on you. Don't have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, reprove them, speak up, tell them that that is wrong, you don't appreciate it. That way you will keep them from coming back with more filth later.

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret ( Ephesians 5:12 ).

A lot of times they want to come along and tell you the weekend that they just had and all of their exploits and all, and it is a shame to talk about those things.

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light ( Ephesians 5:13 ).

Jesus said, "I didn't come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved. He that believeth is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, inasmuch as he has not believed on the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, light came into the world, but they would not come to the light because their deeds were evil. And if they would come into the light their deeds would be manifested" ( John 3:17-20 ). So they will not come to Christ because of their evil deeds. Christ is the light and they don't want to come into that light because it will reveal the truth about them. They love to stay in the darkness. They stay away from the light.

Wherefore he said, Awake thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light ( Ephesians 5:14 ).

To those who are sleeping in darkness, the call of the gospel. Arise from that death, that spiritual death, and Jesus Christ will give you spiritual life.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise ( Ephesians 5:15 ),

So here we are told walk in love, in verse Ephesians 5:8 , walk as children of light, and here, walk circumspectly.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil ( Ephesians 5:16 ).

How much time is wasted even by the most careful planner. In a sense, I consider all time that is not spent in spiritual development of some kind is really, in a sense, wasted time. I am not saying that I feel that a person should never do anything for just recreational purposes, I think you have to. But I think that even our recreation can be centered around a spiritual base. I think that God gave us all things to really enjoy. I think that God gave us the surf to enjoy. I believe that God gave us the mountains to enjoy, the rivers, the streams. How can you have dominion over the fish of the sea if you don't get a hook and go after them? But you know, when I am engaged in these recreational activities, when I am sitting out there waiting for a set to come, my heart is in the things of the Spirit. I look at the ocean, I look at the surf, I look at the beauty of God's creation and I am just there in fellowship with the Lord. In fact, I think that I enjoy it probably a lot more than a lot of those people because of the fact that I do have such neat times of fellowship with the Lord while I am there.

I like what Jim Elliot said concerning his going out for the wrestling team at Wheaton College when he won the national AAU championship in his weight division. He wrote home to his parents in Washington and said, "You will probably hear of certain honors that I have received recently in wrestling, the National AAU Championship, but I want you to know that it wasn't for this purpose that I went out for wrestling. My purpose in wrestling was to develop a stronger more coordinated body that I might offer to God for Him to use in whatever way He might see fit." The motive behind physical fitness. Do I want to walk down the street and have everybody say, "Wow, look at that build." Or am I seeking to give to God a more qualified instrument for Him to do His work through? Makes a big difference.

Redeeming the time, we waste so much.

Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is ( Ephesians 5:17 ).

So many people are confused as far as God's will for their lives. The purpose and the plan of God for their life. They go on just sort of continuing wasting time. Still doing their own things, never really seeking God, never really searching for the will of God for their lives. God, why did You put me here? What do You have in mind for me? What work is it, Lord, that You want me to accomplish for You? Why have You placed me on this planet? God placed each of us here with a purpose.

Paul the apostle in writing to the Philippians said, "I have not yet apprehended that for which I was apprehended by Jesus Christ." In other words, when the Lord stopped me on the road to Damascus, He had a definite plan for my life. I have not yet accomplished that for which God has planned for me. But I am on my way. I forget those things which are behind and I am pressing towards those things which are before. Reaching for, pressing towards the mark.

Now that should be the story of every one of us. Pressing towards the purpose of God and fulfillment of that purpose of God and plan of God for my life. Redeeming the time, knowing what God wants me to do and being about my Father's business.

Be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit ( Ephesians 5:18 );

And in the Greek it is present perfect tense, which would indicate a continual filling of the Spirit. "Be ye being filled," but that isn't good English grammar. But that is Greek. We don't have a present perfect tense in English as such.

Now these are two interesting things that he would couple together, and relate. Here is a man staggering down the straight, he has had too much wine, and Paul would equate that to a man being filled with the Spirit. Now they seem like opposite things.

Be not drunk with wine, where in is excess; but be filled with the Spirit ( Ephesians 5:18 );

They are closer than a person would expect on the surface. What is a person searching for who turns to wine? The man who turns to alcohol, what is he seeking? What is he searching for? There is an emptiness deep inside. I am trying to find something that will fill that void in my life. I am reaching out for something that will satisfy; I am looking, I am searching. Some people search in alcohol to find a peace, a contentment, a relaxation or whatever. What does a person experience who is filled with the Spirit? A peace, a relaxation, a contentment, a fulfillment. The one man is looking in the wrong place; he is looking in a place where he will never discover it. The other man has come to the answer, being filled with the Spirit, that void, spiritual void in my life is now complete and full and I am no longer searching and seeking after something to satisfy. I am satisfied through my relationship with God in the Spirit. Rather than being entirely separate things, there is a real tie-in behind the injunction, "be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be ye continually filled with the Spirit."

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord ( Ephesians 5:19 );

When you sing for recreation, what do you sing about? When you are just unconsciously sort of humming a tune, what is it all about? I love to observe my grandchildren, when they are not aware even that Grandpa is watching and listening. I like to watch them at play. I like to watch their inventiveness and the interest that they take in different things. Oh, how I love it as they are going around the yard, riding the tricycle or engaged in some activity and they are singing about Jesus, singing about the Lord. I think, "Oh, how beautiful, how beautiful."

That should be true of all of us. Singing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord, that it just be a part of the subconscious. I do it when I am not even aware of doing it. That will be the case if that is the kind of music you are listening to, but if you are listening to some of these other stations all of the time, who knows what you will be whistling about.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ( Ephesians 5:20 );

Giving thanks, always for all things. That's impossible to do unless I realize that all things are working together for good to those who love God. If I don't have that confidence, then I can't give thanks for all things. I can't give thanks for all things if I don't fully believe that God loves me supremely, and that God is wiser than I. So that those things that God has allowed to come into my life, He has a wise plan and purpose, motivated by love, which caused Him to allow them to come to me. Thus, I can give thanks for all things, but if I don't realize that, I can't. Because some things that happen to me on the surface look to be so adverse and so horrible that I'm prone to really cry out to God against these things. But if I know that God is in control of my life, that nothing can happen to me except the Father allow it to happen and that the Father loves me supremely so that all things that happen, happen for His purpose because He loves me, I love Him, and He has called me according to His purposes, then I can give thanks even for those things that I do not understand yet what the purpose is. That takes faith.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God ( Ephesians 5:21 ).

He has been talking about a lot of fleshly characteristics, covetousness and these other things. The characteristic of the flesh is actually selfishness or self-centeredness from which comes the covetousness and all these other things, the greed. All of it comes and stems from my self-centeredness and my selfishness. I want my way; I want people to yield to my desires. I want people to play by my rules. I want them to yield to me. But here we are told that we are to submit one to another, yielding to each other. Now, the insistence on our own way is what brings all of the strife and all of the problems.

I remember when I was a kid there used to be along the highway these Burma Shave signs. I am not going to ask you how many remember that because I wouldn't date you back to my tintype, flash powder days. I remember as a kid reading one of those signs along the road between Los Angeles and Ventura up in the area of Thousand Oaks, when Gobles Lion Farm used to be out that way and that old dirigible they were building along side of the road. The sign said, "Famous last words, of lights that shine, if he doesn't dim his, I won't dim mine." I won't yield first, I won't give in; you have got to yield to me. That is the basis of so much striving and so much fighting. How much strife could be avoided if we would just submit to one another in love; yield the point.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife ( Ephesians 5:22-23 ),

The word head meaning authority there.

even as Christ is [the authority or] the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in every thing ( Ephesians 5:23-24 ).

This is the one rule for marriage that God has given to the wife, only one. It should be simple enough for her to keep the one rule. Why would you suppose that God would make such a rule? Because God understands men. God knows that in man there is that male macho image. That somehow a man needs to feel that he is in control, that he is able, that he can handle the situation, that he is boss. I mean, that is just a part of the male ego. God, understanding the male ego and man's needs, gave to the wife the one rule by which her husband can feel that he is really the man of the house and in control and thus be very compatible and loving towards her.

So he gave the women one simple rule, which, if she would follow, would make her husband a very responsible, loving person, easy to get along with. God gave one rule to the husbands, just one. God knows we are prone to forget, so just one rule for each.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it ( Ephesians 5:25 );

Now, why would God command the husbands to love their wives so totally and supremely? Because God understands women. God understands the needs in women, and He understands that one of the greatest needs that a woman has is to feel the security that she is loved supremely by her husband. That there is no one else that can attract his eye, or attract his attention, that she is queen, and that she is loved supremely. She needs that. So God commanded the husbands to fulfill that need in the woman so that she could feel the security of her husband's love, knowing I am number one in his life.

All marital problems stem out of the disobedience of these two rules. There are only two rules for a happy marriage; one for the husband, one for the wife. But marriages get in trouble because these rules are broken, and when they are broken they begin to compound. When the husband fails to show his wife that kind of love that Christ had for the church, and she begins to feel insecure, and, "I don't know if he really loves me or not," she then feels the necessity of beginning to protect herself, because, "I don't know if he is going to protect me or not." She begins to challenge the decisions that he makes. "Are you sure you are doing the right thing?" But as she begins to challenge the decisions that he makes, that upsets him because that means he is not the boss and supreme. "You ought to know . . . " And so as she begins to challenge his decision-making processes, he begins to feel that he is being challenged and, "I must now show that I am boss by becoming tough and hard and cold and unresponsive." As he becomes tough and unresponsive, she gets all the more insecure, so she challenges him all the more. You know, "I don't know if this character really loves me or not. I don't think what he is planning to do is that smart. If we lose everything he is probably going to walk out himself, because I am not really assured that he really loves me," and so she is challenging, but this challenging has a reverse affect upon him, causing him to become cold and aloof and, "I will show you I am boss." So the marriage is torn apart.

On the other hand, as the wife is submitting unto him and to his decisions, "Honey, I will just leave that with you, you are the one that takes care of that. I am just trusting you." He gets the feeling, "Oh, this precious little doll. I don't know if I am doing right or not, but oh boy, she trusts me and all right." And he begins to feel that, "Oh, you are a sweetheart, come here, Honey." And he hugs her and, "You are just a doll, and I love you, Angel." And he feels the freedom of expressing and showing his love to her. The more he expresses and shows that love to her, the more secure she feels. She doesn't feel that she has to challenge his decisions. "That was a dumb move, we will lose everything, but I still have him and he loves me, and after all, we can get by. We have love." She feels that security of love and thus she feels the freedom of submitting to him. And because she does submit, he feels that total freedom of expressing that love that he has for her. And it just gets gooder and gooder as we are following the rules.

But you see it has a way of compounding. You start going one way, and it starts building up to drive you farther and farther apart. And so if you find yourself way out here in your marriage, you know, where every decision is challenged, "Why are you wearing that shirt this morning? Are you sure you want to wear that tie? If I was you I would wear a different pair of shoes." You know, you may even agree with what he wants to do, but still you are going to challenge it. "I think I will take you out for dinner tonight, Honey." "Oh, I don't know if I want to go for dinner or not." You challenge it, don't let him get by making a decision.

Now, somewhere someone has to give. You have to break this routine that is driving you and tearing you apart. You have got to break the routine and someone has to give in. The husband has to begin to show more love to his wife. He has to cause her to really feel secure in that love. He has got to go ahead and just express his love, let her know that there is no one else and there will never be anyone else, that she is it for life, till death do us part, and he has no intention or desire for anybody else, she is it. As she begins to feel that security, then she will be able to be freer to allow him to do those things that he feels that he ought to do or wants to do. And you can get the thing going the other direction until it becomes heaven on earth, as we are following now God's rules which takes into consideration the basic need of the husband as a man, and the basic need of the wife as a woman.

God is so smart. He has it all set out. And He puts it so simply, rather than, "Here are the fifty-five rules for a happy marriage." He knows you'd forget them. So He gives you one, but even we have difficulty with the one, don't we? We forget so readily. "She ought to know I love her, I come home for dinner, after all." You know, there is something interesting about women, of course, that is why we are attracted to them. But I really don't think that you can tell your wife enough times that you love her. If when she first opens her eyes in the morning and you look over and you see her in bed, and you say, "Oh, Darling, you are beautiful. I love you." Then as you are sitting across from her at the breakfast table and you just look into her eyes and say, "Sweetheart, I love you so much." Then as you kiss her goodbye and head off for work and you say, "I love you, Honey. See you later." Two or three times during the day you call up and she says, "Hi, what do you want?" "Oh, I just wanted to tell you, Honey, I love you, and I think you are great." Believe me, when you go to bed at night, you are going to hear the question, "Honey, do you love me?" Take a hint, fellows, they need assurance of love. Not just verbal. Love is demonstrated in its actions and love is demonstrated in its giving. Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Giving of yourself to her, showing your love in your giving yourself to her. The rules for a happy home.

Paul goes on and draws on this illustration of Christ and the church as an illustration, really, of the perfect marital kind of a relationship. He gave Himself for the church

That he might set it apart and cleans it with the washing of the water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church ( Ephesians 5:26-27 ),

You know, the wife who is smothered with love will just blossom forth so beautifully. As we blossom forth in the love of Jesus, the purpose is that He might present to Himself a glorious church,

without spot or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing; So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife [is really doing himself a favor, he] is loving himself ( Ephesians 5:27-28 ).

You are the one who is going to benefit from your showing your love to your wife.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. And for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. It is a great mystery: but I am speaking [Paul said] concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband ( Ephesians 5:30-33 ).

So relationships, submitting ourselves to one another, wives submitting to their husbands, husbands loving their wives supremely.


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

4. Walking in light 5:7-14

The resumptive inferential particle translated "Therefore" marks the beginning of a new paragraph in Paul’s thought (cf. Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:17; Ephesians 5:1; Ephesians 5:15). He related three commands concerning walking (living) in the light in these verses and added reasons and explanations to motivate and to assist his readers.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Children of light should also abstain from joining the sons of disobedience in their deeds but should rather reprove believers who do them because these deeds are unfruitful (cf. Ephesians 5:9). [Note: Hoehner, Ephesians, p. 679.] This is Paul’s third command in this section. It is the deeds of unbelievers that Christians must shun, not the unbelievers who do them. We reprove the deeds of believers who practice such evil deeds as we bring the light (Ephesians 5:9) next to them. This exposes them for what they are.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,.... It is not said with the workers of darkness, or with the men of the world, who are in darkness, and are darkness itself; to have fellowship with them in a civil way, or to dwell among them, is not prohibited; it is allowed of, and countenanced by the greatest examples; and especially it is lawful and right, when there is any prospect of doing good to the souls of men; and even when natural right, relation, and necessity require it; and indeed, the contrary is impracticable: conversation with them in things sinful and superstitious should be abstained from; and when it tends to draw off the soul from Christ and his interest, and is infectious; and when weak ones are offended, and sinners are hereby hardened and confirmed in sin; and the name of God is blasphemed, and the Gospel is evil spoken of: but fellowship is not to be maintained "with the works of darkness"; which are sins, so called, because they are opposite to light; to the light of nature, to the light of the divine word, both law and Gospel, to the light of grace, to God the fountain of light, and to Christ the light of the world; and because the source and spring of them are the original darkness of the mind, and Satan the prince of darkness; and because they are generally committed in the dark; and because the effect and consequence of them is utter darkness, and blackness of darkness: and these are "unfruitful"; they are of no profit and advantage, they bring forth no fruit, unless it be guilt, fear, shame, corruption, and death; wherefore no fellowship should be had with them, by committing the same, by assisting in them, by consenting to them, by approving of them, by receiving any worldly advantage from them, and by winking and conniving at them: it is contrary to the character of saints to have fellowship with such, as the apostle says, 2 Corinthians 6:14, where he gives the mystical explanation of the law, in Deuteronomy 22:10; agreeably to which, and to the passage here, is the sense of a Jewish commentators l who upon it observes, that that law

"intimates that a righteous man, שלא ישתתף, "should have no fellowship" with a wicked man;''

this is to be unequally yoked, signified by the ox and the ass ploughing together:

but rather reprove [them]; both by words and by deeds, by an agreeable life and conversation, which last seems to be the design of the apostle here; because it is not a brother, but such who are in darkness, and live in works of darkness; yea, not sinners, but sins are to be reproved, which can be done no other way; nor are all saints proper to reprove verbally, nor are they qualified for it; but all should, and may by facts; and the light discovers darkness, by its own splendour; and this appears from the apostle's reasoning in the next words.

l Baal Hatturira in Deut. xxii. 10.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Preservatives from Impurity; Cautions and Admonitions. A. D. 61.

      3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;   4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.   5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.   6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.   7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.   8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:   9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)   10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.   11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.   12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.   13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.   14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.   15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,   16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.   17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.   18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;   19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;   20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

      These verses contain a caution against all manner of uncleanness, with proper remedies and arguments proposed: some further cautions are added, and other duties recommended. Filthy lusts must be suppressed, in order to the supporting of holy love. Walk in love, and shun fornication and all uncleanness. Fornication is folly committed between unmarried persons. All uncleanness includes all other sorts of filthy lusts, which were too common among the Gentiles. Or covetousness, which being thus connected, and mentioned as a thing which should not be once named, some understand it, in the chaste style of the scripture, of unnatural lust; while others take it in the more common sense, for an immoderate desire of gain or an insatiable love of riches, which is spiritual adultery; for by this the soul, which was espoused to God, goes astray from him, and embraces the bosom of a stranger, and therefore carnal worldlings are called adulterers: You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Now these sins must be dreaded and detested in the highest degree: Let it not be once named among you, never in a way of approbation nor without abhorrence, as becometh saints, holy persons, who are separated from the world, and dedicated unto God. The apostle not only cautions against the gross acts of sin, but against what some may be apt to make light of, and think to be excusable. Neither filthiness (Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:4), by which may be understood all wanton and unseemly gestures and behaviour; nor foolish talking, obscene and lewd discourse, or, more generally, such vain discourse as betrays much folly and indiscretion, and is far from edifying the hearers; nor jesting. The Greek word eutrapelia is the same which Aristotle, in his Ethics, makes a virtue: pleasantness of conversation. And there is no doubt an innocent and inoffensive jesting, which we cannot suppose the apostle here forbids. Some understand him of such scurrilous and abusive reflections as tend to expose others and to make them appear ridiculous. This is bad enough: but the context seems to restrain it to such pleasantry of discourse as is filthy and obscene, which he may also design by that corrupt, or putrid and rotten, communication that he speaks of, Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 4:29. Of these things he says, They are not convenient. Indeed there is more than inconvenience, even a great deal of mischief, in them. They are so far from being profitable that they pollute and poison the hearers. But the meaning is, Those things do not become Christians, and are very unsuitable to their profession and character. Christians are allowed to be cheerful and pleasant; but they must be merry and wise. The apostle adds, But rather giving of thanks: so far let the Christian's way of mirth be from that of obscene and profane wit, that he may delight his mind, and make himself cheerful, by a grateful remembrance of God's goodness and mercy to him, and by blessing and praising him on account of these. Note, 1. We should take all occasions to render thanksgivings and praises to God for his kindness and favours to us. 2. A reflection on the grace and goodness of God to us, with a design to excite our thankfulness to him, is proper to refresh and delight the Christian's mind, and to make him cheerful. Dr. Hammond thinks that eucharistia may signify gracious, pious, religious discourse in general, by way of opposition to what the apostle condemns. Our cheerfulness, instead of breaking out into what is vain and sinful, and a profanation of God's name, should express itself as becomes Christians, and in what may tend to his glory. If men abounded more in good and pious expressions, they would not be so apt to utter ill and unbecoming words; for shall blessing and cursing, lewdness and thanksgivings, proceed out of the same mouth?

      I. To fortify us against the sins of uncleanness, c., the apostle urges several arguments, and prescribes several remedies, in what follows,

      1. He urges several arguments, As, (1.) Consider that these are sins which shut persons out of heaven: For this you know, &c., Ephesians 5:5; Ephesians 5:5. They knew it, being informed of it by the Christian religion. By a covetous man some understand a lewd lascivious libertine, who indulges himself in those vile lusts which were accounted the certain marks of a heathen and an idolater. Others understand it in the common acceptation of the word; and such a man is an idolater because there is spiritual idolatry in the love of this world. As the epicure makes a god of his belly, so the covetous man makes a god of his money, sets those affectations upon it, and places that hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly good, which should be reserved for God only. He serves mammon instead of God. Of these persons it is said that they have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God; that is, the kingdom of Christ, who is God, or the kingdom which is God's by nature, and Christ's as he is Mediator, the kingdom which Christ has purchased and which God bestows. Heaven is here described as a kingdom (as frequently elsewhere) with respect to its eminency and glory, its fulness and sufficiency, c. In this kingdom the saints and servants of God have an inheritance for it is the inheritance of the saints in light. But those who are impenitent, and allow themselves either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, are not Christians indeed, and so belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they ever come to the kingdom of glory. Let us then be excited to be on our guard against those sins which would exclude and shut us out of heaven. (2.) These sins bring the wrath of God upon those who are guilty of them: "Let no man deceive you with vain words, c., Ephesians 5:6; Ephesians 5:6. Let none flatter you, as though such things were tolerable and to be allowed of in Christians, or as though they were not very provoking and offensive unto God, or as though you might indulge yourselves in them and yet escape with impunity. These are vain words." Observe, Those who flatter themselves and others with hopes of impunity in sin do but put a cheat upon themselves and others. Thus Satan deceived our first parents with vain words when he said to them, You shall not surely die. They are vain words indeed; for those who trust to them will find themselves wretchedly imposed upon, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. By children of disobedience may be meant the Gentiles, who disbelieved, and refused to comply with, and to submit themselves to, the gospel: or, more generally, all obstinate sinners, who will not be reclaimed, but are given over to disobedience. Disobedience is the very malignity of sin. And it is by a usual Hebraism that such sinners are called children of disobedience; and such indeed they are from their childhood, going astray as soon as they are born. The wrath of God comes upon such because of their sins; sometimes in this world, but more especially in the next. And dare we make light of that which will lay us under the wrath of God? O no. Be not you therefore partakers with them,Ephesians 5:7; Ephesians 5:7. "Do not partake with them in their sins, that you may not share in their punishment." We partake with other men in their sins, not only when we live in the same sinful manner that they do, and consent and comply with their temptations and solicitations to sin, but when we encourage them in their sins, prompt them to sin, and do not prevent and hinder them, as far as it may be in our power to do so. (3.) Consider what obligations Christians are under to live at another rate than such sinners do: For you were sometimes darkness, but now, c., Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 5:8. The meaning is, "Such courses are very unsuitable to your present condition; for, whereas in your Gentile and your unregenerate state you were darkness, you have now undergone a great change." The apostle calls their former condition darkness in the abstract, to express the great darkness they were in. They lived wicked and profane lives, being destitute of the light of instruction without and of the illumination and grace of the blessed Spirit within. Note, A state of sin is a state of darkness. Sinners, like men in the dark, are going they know not whither, and doing they know not what. But the grace of God had produced a mighty change in their souls: Now are you light in the Lord, savingly enlightened by the word and the Spirit of God. Now, upon your believing in Christ, and your receiving the gospel. Walk as children of light. Children of light, according to the Hebrew dialect, are those who are in a state of light, endued with knowledge and holiness. "Now, being such, let your conversation be suitable to your condition and privileges, and accordingly live up to the obligation you are under by that knowledge and those advantages you enjoy--Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:10; Ephesians 5:10), examining and searching diligently what God has revealed to be his will, and making it appear that you approve it by conforming yourselves to it." Observe, We must not only dread and avoid that which is displeasing to God, but enquire and consider what will be acceptable to him, searching the scriptures with this view, thus keeping at the greatest distance from these sins.

      2. The apostle prescribes some remedies against them. As, (1.) If we would not be entangled by the lusts of the flesh, we must bring forth the fruits of the Spirit,Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 5:9. This is expected from the children of light, that, being illuminated, they be also sanctified by the Spirit, and thereupon bring forth his fruit, which is in all goodness, an inclination to do good and to show mercy, and righteousness, which signifies justice in our dealings. Thus they are taken more strictly; but, more generally, all religion is goodness and righteousness. And in and with these must be truth, or sincerity and uprightness of heart. (2.) We must have no fellowship with sin nor sinners, Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:11. Sinful works are works of darkness: they come from the darkness of ignorance, they seek the darkness of concealment, and they lead to the darkness of hell. These works of darkness are unfruitful works; there is nothing got by them in the long run, whatever profit is pretended by sin, it will by no means balance the loss; for it issues in the utter ruin and destruction of the impenitent sinner. We must therefore have no fellowship with these unfruitful works; as we must not practise them ourselves, so we must not countenance others in the practice of them. There are many ways of our being accessary to the sins of others, by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And, if we share with others in their sin, we must expect to share with them in their plagues. Nay, if we thus have fellowship with them, we shall be in the utmost danger of acting as they do ere long. But, rather than have fellowship with them, we must reprove them, implying that if we do not reprove the sins of others we have fellowship with them. We must prudently and in our places witness against the sins of others, and endeavour to convince them of their sinfulness, when we can do it seasonably and pertinently, in our words; but especially by the holiness of our lives, and a religious conversation. Reprove their sins by abounding in the contrary duties. One reason given is, For it is a shame even to speak of those things, c., Ephesians 5:12; Ephesians 5:12. They are so filthy and abominable that it is a shame to mention them, except in a way of reproof, much more must it be a shame to have any fellowship with them. The things which are done of them in secret. The apostle seems to speak here of the Gentile idolaters, and of their horrid mysteries, which abounded with detestable wickedness, and which none were permitted to divulge upon pain of death. Observe, A good man is ashamed to speak that which many wicked people are not ashamed to act; but, as far as their wickedness appears, it should be reproved by good men. There follows another reason for such reproof: But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light,Ephesians 5:13; Ephesians 5:13. The meaning of this passage may be this: "All those unfruitful works of darkness which you are called upon to reprove are laid open, and made to appear in their proper colours to the sinners themselves, by the light of doctrine or of God's word in your mouths, as faithful reprovers, or by that instructive light which is diffused by the holiness of your lives and by your exemplary walk." Observe, The light of God's word, and the exemplification of it in a Christian conversation, are proper means to convince sinners of their sin and wickedness. It follows, For whatsoever doth make manifest is light; that is, it is the light that discovers what was concealed before in darkness; and accordingly it becomes those who are children of light, who are light in the Lord, to discover to others their sins, and to endeavour to convince them of the evil and danger of them, thus shining as lights in the world. The apostle further urges this duty from the example of God or Christ: Wherefore he saith, c. (Ephesians 5:14; Ephesians 5:14); as if he had said, "In doing this, you will copy after the great God, who has set himself to awaken sinners from their sleep, and to raise them from the death of sin, that they might receive light from Christ." He saith. The Lord is constantly saying in his word what is more particularly expressed in Isaiah 60:1. Or, Christ, by his ministers, who preach the everlasting gospel, is continually calling upon sinners to this effect: Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead. The same thing in the main is designed by these different expressions; and they serve to remind us of the great stupidity and the wretched security of sinners, how insensible they are of their danger, and how unapt they naturally are to spiritual motions, sensations, and actions. When God calls upon them to awake, and to arise, his meaning is that they would break off their sins by repentance, and enter on a course of holy obedience, and he encourages them to essay and do their utmost that way, by that gracious promise, And Christ shall give thee light; or Christ shall enlighten thee, or shall shine upon thee. "He shall bring thee into a state of knowledge, holiness, and comfort, assisting thee with his grace, and refreshing thy mind with joy and peace here and rewarding thee with eternal glory at length." Observe, When we are endeavouring to convince sinners, and to reform them from their sins, we are imitating God and Christ in that which is their great design throughout the gospel. Some indeed understand this as a call to sinners and to saints: to sinners to repent and turn; to saints to stir up themselves to their duty. The former must arise from their spiritual death; and the latter must awake from their spiritual deadness. (3.) Another remedy against sin is circumspection, care, or caution (Ephesians 5:15; Ephesians 5:15): See then, c. This may be understood either with respect to what immediately precedes, "If you are to reprove others for their sins, and would be faithful to your duty in this particular, you must look well to yourselves, and to your own behaviour and conduct" (and, indeed, those only are fit to reprove others who walk with due circumspection and care themselves): or else we have here another remedy or rather preservative from the before-mentioned sins and this I take to be the design of the apostle, being impossible to maintain purity and holiness of heart and life without great circumspection and care. Walk circumspectly, or, as the word signifies, accurately, exactly, in the right way, in order to which we must be frequently consulting our rule, and the directions we have in the sacred oracles. Not as fools, who walk at all adventures, and who have no understanding of their duty, nor of the worth of their souls, and through neglect, supineness, and want of care, fall into sin, and destroy themselves; but as wise, as persons taught of God and endued with wisdom from above. Circumspect walking is the effect of true wisdom, but the contrary is the effect of folly. It follows, redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:16; Ephesians 5:16), literally, buying the opportunity. It is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observe and improve the seasons for merchandise and trade. It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment--one special preservative from sin. They should make the best use they can of the present seasons of grace. Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future. The reason given is because the days are evil, either by reason of the wickedness of those who dwell in them, or rather "as they are troublesome and dangerous times to you who live in them." Those were times of persecution wherein the apostle wrote this: the Christians were in jeopardy every hour. When the days are evil we have one superadded argument to redeem time, especially because we know not how soon they may be worse. People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that would stir them up to redeem time. "Wherefore," says the apostle (Ephesians 5:17; Ephesians 5:17), "because of the badness of the times, be you not unwise, ignorant of your duty and negligent about your souls, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Study, consider, and further acquaint yourselves with the will of God, as determining your duty." Observe, Ignorance of our duty, and neglect of our souls, are evidences of the greatest folly; while an acquaintance with the will of God, and a care to comply with it, bespeak the best and truest wisdom.

      II. In the Ephesians 5:18-20 the apostle warns against some other particular sins, and urges some other duties. 1. He warns against the sin of drunkenness: And be not drunk with wine,Ephesians 5:18; Ephesians 5:18. This was a sin very frequent among the heathens; and particularly on occasion of the festivals of their gods, and more especially in their Bacchanalia: then they were wont to inflame themselves with wine, and all manner of inordinate lusts were consequent upon it: and therefore the apostle adds, wherein, or in which drunkenness, is excess. The word asotia may signify luxury or dissoluteness; and it is certain that drunkenness is no friend to chastity and purity of life, but it virtually contains all manner of extravagance, and transports men into gross sensuality and vile enormities. Note, Drunkenness is a sin that seldom goes alone, but often involves men in other instances of guilt: it is a sin very provoking to God, and a great hindrance to the spiritual life. The apostle may mean all such intemperance and disorder as are opposite to the sober and prudent demeanor he intends in his advice, to redeem the time. 2. Instead of being filled with wine, he exhorts them to be filled with the Spirit. Those who are full of drink are not likely to be full of the Spirit; and therefore this duty is opposed to the former sin. The meaning of the exhortation is that men should labour for a plentiful measure of the graces of the Spirit, that would fill their souls with great joy, strength, and courage, which things sensual men expect their wine should inspire them with. We cannot be guilty of any excess in our endeavours after these: nay, we ought not to be satisfied with a little of the Spirit, but to be aspiring after measures, so as to be filled with the Spirit. Now by this means we shall come to understand what the will of the Lord is; for the Spirit of God is given as a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding. And because those who are filled with the Spirit will be carried out in acts of devotion, and all the proper expressions of it, therefore the apostle exhorts, 3. To sing unto the Lord, Ephesians 5:19; Ephesians 5:19. Drunkards are wont to sing obscene and profane songs. The heathens, in their Bacchanalia, used to sing hymns to Bacchus, whom they called the god of wine. Thus they expressed their joy; but the joy of Christians should express itself in songs of praise to their God. In these they should speak to themselves in their assemblies and meetings together, for mutual edification. By psalms may be meant David's psalms, or such composures as were fitly sung with musical instruments. By hymns may be meant such others as were confined to matter of praise, as those of Zacharias, Simeon, c. Spiritual songs may contain a greater variety of matter, doctrinal, prophetical, historical, &c. Observe here, (1.) The singing of psalms and hymns is a gospel ordinance: it is an ordinance of God, and appointed for his glory. (2.) Though Christianity is an enemy to profane mirth, yet it encourages joy and gladness, and the proper expressions of these in the professors of it. God's people have reason to rejoice, and to sing for joy. They are to sing and to make melody in their hearts not only with their voices, but with inward affection, and then their doing this will be as delightful and acceptable to God as music is to us: and it must be with a design to please him, and to promote his glory, that we do this; and then it will be done to the Lord. 4. Thanksgiving is another duty that the apostle exhorts to, Ephesians 5:20; Ephesians 5:20. We are appointed to sing psalms, c., for the expression of our thankfulness to God but, though we are not always singing, we should never want a disposition for this duty, as we never want matter for it. We must continue it throughout the whole course of our lives; and we should give thanks for all things; not only for spiritual blessings enjoyed, and eternal ones expected (for what of the former we have in hand, and for what of the other we have in hope), but for temporal mercies too; not only for our comforts, but also for our sanctified afflictions; not only for what immediately concerns ourselves, but for the instances of God's kindness and favour to others also. It is our duty in every thing to give thanks unto God and the Father, to God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in him, in whose name we are to offer up all our prayers, and praises, and spiritual services, that they may be acceptable to God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ephesians 5:11". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.