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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5:27

that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  3. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  4. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  5. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  6. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  7. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  8. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  9. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  10. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  11. Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament
  12. Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
  13. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  14. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  15. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  16. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  17. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  18. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  19. Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament
  20. F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
  21. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  22. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
  23. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  24. William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
  25. William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
  26. Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
  27. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  28. Geneva Study Bible
  29. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
  30. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
  31. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  32. Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians
  33. Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  34. Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
  35. Hamilton Smith's Writings
  36. The Bible Study New Testament
  37. Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
  38. Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
  39. Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
  40. John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible
  41. Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible
  42. John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians
  43. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  44. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  45. Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books
  46. Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books
  47. Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books
  48. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  49. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  50. Kingcomments on the Whole Bible
  51. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  52. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  53. L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
  54. Wells of Living Water Commentary
  55. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
  56. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
  57. Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible
  58. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
  59. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
  60. Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  61. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
  62. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  63. People's New Testament
  64. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  65. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
  66. Sermon Bible Commentary
  67. Sermon Bible Commentary
  68. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  69. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  70. Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books
  71. Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books
  72. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  73. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  74. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  75. The Biblical Illustrator
  76. The Biblical Illustrator
  77. The Biblical Illustrator
  78. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
  79. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  80. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  81. The Pulpit Commentaries
  82. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  83. Vincent's Word Studies
  84. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  85. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  86. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Blemish;   Church;   Husband;   Jesus, the Christ;   Sanctification;   Types;   Scofield Reference Index - Bride;   Thompson Chain Reference - Beauty, Spiritual;   Beauty-Disfigurement;   Giving;   Innocence-Guilt;   Life;   Spiritual;   Spotless;   Unblemished;   The Topic Concordance - Body;   Marriage;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Atonement, the;   Christ Is God;   Church, the;   Excellency and Glory of the Church, the;   Holiness;   Husbands;   Sanctification;   Types of Christ;   Union with Christ;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Marriage;   Solomon's Song;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Chastisement;   Church;   Ethics;   Holiness;   Husband;   Love;   Marriage;   Paul;   Wife;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Blameless;   Body of Christ;   Church, the;   Family Life and Relations;   Glorification;   Head, Headship;   Marriage;   New Jerusalem;   Overseer;   Paul the Apostle;   Sanctification;   Union with Christ;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Calvinists;   Church;   Justification;   Perfection;   Righteousness;   Self-Denial;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Blemish;   Church;   Marriage;   Solomon, Song of;   Wife;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Adam (1);   Adultery;   Canticles;   ;   Church;   Divorce;   Eve;   Marriage;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blemish;   Body of Christ;   Church;   Ephesians, Book of;   Family;   Head;   Innocence, Innocency;   Marriage;   Paul;   Sanctification;   Sex, Biblical Teaching on;   Song of Solomon;   Woman;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Christianity;   Church;   Ephesians, Epistle to;   Holiness;   Hope;   Marriage;   Peter, First Epistle of;   Predestination;   Woman;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Adultery ;   Character;   Church (2);   Commandment;   Ephesians Epistle to the;   Face;   Marriage;   Marriage (I.);   Mediation Mediator;   Parousia;   Sanctification;   Virgin Virginity;   Woman;   Worldliness;   King James Dictionary - Spot;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Church;   Husband;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Body;   Church;   Glorious;   Holiness;   Lamech;   Marriage;   Play;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Spot;   Wrinkle;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Blemish;   Church;   Church Government;   Ephesians, Epistle to the;   Essenes, the;   Love;   Pauline Theology;   Purity;   Song of Songs;   Spot;   Wrinkle;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Marriage;   Saul of Tarsus;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for August 21;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

That he might present it to himself - It was usual to bring the royal bride to the king in the most sumptuous apparel; and is there not here an allusion to Psalm 45:13, Psalm 45:14; : The king's daughter (Pharaoh's) is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold; she shall be brought unto the king (Solomon) in raiment of needlework? This presentation here spoken of by the apostle will take place on the last day. See the note on 2 Corinthians 11:2.

A glorious Church - Every way splendid and honorable, because pure and holy.

Not having spot - Σπιλος· No blemish on the face; no spots upon the garment; the heart and life both holy.

Wrinkle - Ῥυτιδα· No mark of superannuation or decay. The word is commonly applied to wrinkles on the face, indicative of sickness or decrepitude.

Holy and without blemish - In every sense holy, pure, and perfect. Now it was for this purpose that Christ gave himself for the Church; and for this purpose he continues the different ordinances which he has appointed; and, particularly, the preaching of the word - the doctrine of reconciliation through faith in his blood. And it is in this life that all this purification is to take place; for none shall be presented at the day of judgment to him who has not here been sanctified, cleansed, washed, made glorious, having neither spot, wrinkle, blemish, nor any such thing. How vain is the pretension of multitudes to be members of the true Church while full of spots, wrinkles, blemishes, and Many such things; fondly supposing that their holiness is in their surety, because not in themselves! Reader, lay thy hand on thy conscience and say, Dost thou believe that this is St. Paul's meaning? See the notes on Ephesians 3:14, etc.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

That he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The absolute perfection of the church is prophesied here; but the manner of achieving this is left out of sight. It is revealed by Paul in Colossians 1:28. See comment under that verse. Also see article on "Perfection of Christians," under Ephesians 1:4.

Copyright Statement
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 5:27". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That he may present it to himself - In the last day, when he shall receive the church as his spouse to heaven; Revelation 21:9. Perhaps the word “prepare” would better express the sense here than “present” - that he may prepare it for himself as a holy church. Tyndale renders it, “to make it unto himself.”

A glorious church - A church full of honor, splendor, beauty. The idea of “shining,” or of being “bright,” would convey the sense here. Probably there is still here an allusion to a bride “adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2; compare Psalm 45:9-14); and the ideal is, that the church will be worthy of the love of the bridegroom, to whom it will then be presented.

Not having spot - Not having a stain, a defect, or any impurity - still retaining the allusion to a bride, and to the care taken to remove every blemish.

Or wrinkle - In the vigor and beauty of youth like a bride in whom there is no wrinkle of age.

Or any such thing - Nothing to deform, disfigure, or offend. To this beautiful illustration of the final glory of the church, the apostle was led by the mention of the relation of the husband and the wife. It shows:

(1) The tendency of the thoughts of Paul. He delighted to allow the associations in his mind, no matter what the subject was, to draw him along to the Redeemer.

(2) the passage here shows us what the church will yet be. There will be a period in its history when there shall not be any imperfection; when there shall be neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing. In heaven all will be pure. On earth we are preparing for that world of purity; and it cannot be denied that here there is much that is imperfect and impure. But in that future world, where the church shall be presented to Christ, clothed in the robes of salvation, there shall not be one unholy member; one deceiver or hypocrite; one covetous or avaricious man; one that shall pain the hearts of the friends of purity by an unholy life. And in all the million that shall be gathered there out of every land, and people, and tongue, and age, there shall be no envy, malice, backbiting, pride, vanity, worldliness; there shall be no annoying and vexing conflict in the heart with evil passions, “nor any such thing.” How different from the church as it now is; and how we should pant for that blessed world!

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

present. Greek. paristemi. See Romans 12:1.

it. The texts read Greek. autos = Himself.

glorious. Greek. endoxos. Elsewhere, Luke 7:25; Luke 13:17. 1 Corinthians 4:10.

spot = blemish. Greek. spilos; only here and 2 Peter 2:13

wrinkle. Only here.

should = may.

without blemish = faultless. Greek. amomos. See Ephesians 1:4.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

27.That he might present it to himself. He declares what is the design of baptism and of our being washed. It is, that we may live in a holy and unblamable manner before God. We are washed by Christ, not that we may return to our pollution, but that we may retain through our life the purity which we have once received. This is described in metaphorical language appropriate to his argument.

Not having spot or wrinkle. As the beauty of the wife produces love in the husband, so Christ adorns the Church his bride with holiness as a proof of his regard. This metaphor contains an allusion to marriage; but he afterwards lays aside the figure, and says plainly, that Christ has reconciled the church, that it might be holy and without blemish. The true beauty of the church consists in this conjugal chastity, that is, in holiness and purity.

The word present ( παραστήσὟ) implies that the church ought to be holy, not only in the view of men, but in the eyes of the Lord; for Paul says, that he might present it to himself, not that he might shew it to others, though the fruits of that hidden purity become afterwards evident in outward works. Pelagians were wont to quote this passage in order to prove the perfection of righteousness in this life, but have been successfully answered by Augustine. Paul does not state what has been done, but for what purpose Christ has cleansed his church. Now, when a thing is said to be done that another may afterwards follow, it is idle to conclude that this latter thing, which ought to follow, has been already done. We do not deny that the holiness of the church is already begun; but, so long as there is daily progress, there cannot be perfection.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro: Greatest Love Story Ever Told
    1. You are either...married, want to be, or don’t ever want to be.
      1. Avoid clicking off “doesn’t apply to me”. Avoid hoping your spouse is listening.
      2. Remember, It’s ultimately about Christ & His Church.
      3. Please give me grace, I can’t say everything about marriage in 45 minutes.
    2. Please also note, as I will be talking about gender roles in a marriage, I need to bring up the topic of gender confusion today. But my desire is to deal with it biblically & sensitively, as many of our youth & many w/in the church are also confused by it today.
    3. Also note what is before & following this passage? I believe this is the key to a great marriage. The habitual filling with Spirit (5:18). The continual bombardment of spiritual warfare (6:11,12).
      1. PRAY:
    4. This is the longest & most detailed scripture on marriage in all the bible…
      1. But, I confidently believe, 1st & foremost, it is not about an earthly marriage that ties in a heavenly marriage; but instead, it’s about a heavenly marriage that ties in earthly marriage. [read vs.32]
        1. (32) The meaning of human marriage is based on another greater marriage designed by God in heaven before creation, namely, the marriage of Christ to the church. - The mystery not revealed fully in the OT was that the one-flesh union of human marriage is a picture of the one-flesh union of Christ and his church. Piper
      2. So, I am going to come at it from the heavenly meaning 1st, so as to really understand the earthly.
  2. HEAVENLY MARRIAGE Christ & The Church
    1. What Does It Mean to Be the Wife of Christ?
    2. If we want to know what it means to be the church and to live like the church - then we need to learn from this passage what it means to be the wife of Christ. What does it mean to have Christ as our husband? [4 things that it means for us to be the wife of Christ]
      1. Christ Loved Us Before We Were Attractive (25-27)
        1. It means first that Christ loved us before we were attractive. Unlike how we choose wives. So, Christ did not choose His wife the way we do.
        2. He did not look for an attractive woman or an intelligent woman or a even a faithful woman. He chose an unlikely woman, and then He set out to make her attractive and wise and faithful at the cost of His own life.
        3. We already read, we were not chosen because He could see we were holy; He chose us because he planned to make us holy.
          1. Before we could look pretty, or sound wise, or be faithful, the electing love of God chose us and the regenerating love of God raised us from the dead.
        4. So, Christ Loved Us Before We Were Attractive.
      2. Christ Gave Himself for the Church (25)
        1. Christ did not win his wife the way men do today. He paid a dowry for her. And the dowry was His life.
        2. And it was a self-sacrificing love that died for us while we were helpless and sinful and ungodly, even enemies. [as Rom.5:8 says, God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners]
          1. In other words, He did not simply die for an unworthy woman or for a reluctant woman, but for a woman who found him repulsive.
        3. So, Christ Loved Us Before We Were Attractive. And, Christ Gave Himself for the Church.
      3. Christ Loved the Church Uniquely (28,29)
        1. In Jesus’ dying he had the church especially in view. It was for her - uniquely for her, especially for her, peculiarly for her - that he died.
          1. God means for my wife Kelly to experience and to enjoy and to be strengthened and secured by a love coming from me, her husband, that is peculiar to her, and different from the general Christian love I may have for any other woman in the world.
            1. It is a great sadness when a wife only knows herself loved with the love that her husband has for every woman.
        2. The powerful saving, cleansing, sanctifying, beautifying effects of the cross were directed to a fiancée who not only was unattractive in herself, but who found Christ Himself repulsive and did not have any intention of marrying him.
        3. So, Christ Loved Us Before We Were Attractive. Christ Gave Himself for the Church. And, Christ Loved the Church Uniquely.
      4. Christ Cleansed the Church from the Guilt of Sin (25,26)
        1. Being the wife of Christ means being cleansed by Him from the guilt of sin.
        2. Yes, it is a highly unflattering picture that He must bathe us in order to marry us.
          1. We were unattractive not beautiful; we were enemies not friends; and we were dirty with the guilt & moral filth of sin all over us & inside of us.
        3. The water of baptism is a representation of that spiritual washing.
          1. Notice that the cleansing from sin in vs.26 comes from the self-sacrifice of Christ in vs.25. So it is with baptism.
          2. It represents a dying with Christ as we are buried with him in water.
          3. It represents being cleansed by Christ through that very death in water.
            1. So immersion in water provides a perfect symbolic combination of dying with Christ and being cleansed by Christ.
            2. John combines them in 1Jn.1:7, The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
          4. Baptism represents a burial and a bath; because the burial is the bath.
      5. Let me give you one of the most graphic biblical pictures of God's marriage to his people Israel. Ezekiel's Picture of God's Marriage to His People.
      6. I think we can see in it a picture of both the heavenly marriage & the earthly marriage. read Ez.16:1-14.
        1. Vs.4 This description of caring for a newborn in eastern culture is one of the most complete statements in Scripture. Upon birth, the child’s umbilical cord was cut & the midwife salted the child’s skin for antiseptic purposes. The child was washed, rubbed with oil, & wrapped in cloths for 7 days. The process repeated for 40 days.
        2. Vs.5 Thrown into an open field – Prob a ref to their sufferings in Egypt. She was in wretched shape when He called her & saved her.
      7. That is what it means to be the wife of God or the wife of Christ. Cast out, bloody, dirty, as good as dead. And then the Son of God walks by. Stops. Looks at this disgusting, filthy, aborted thing as good as dead and covered with blood, and says, "At last! My wife. My beloved. My chosen one. Live!"
        1. And he comes again when she is grown and covers her nakedness and washes away her filth and makes a marriage covenant with her...and then beautifies her and prepares to present her to Himself in glory.
      8. So, Christ Loved Us Before We Were Attractive. Christ Gave Himself for the Church. Christ Loved the Church Uniquely. And, Christ Cleansed the Church from the Guilt of Sin.
  3. EARTHLY MARRIAGE Husbands & Wives
    1. ​​​​​​​Wives, Submit to a Dead Man. Husbands, Love a Blemished Bride [wives get 3 vs, husbands get 8]
    2. Marriage is the doing of God & the display of God. [God Himself officiated the 1st Wedding]
    3. 2 Distortions of marriage: tyranny by the husband & the usurping of authority of the wife
      1. The opposite is equally bad. Errors of passivity or laziness on the husbands part. Becoming entirely passive (doormat) on the wife’s part.
      2. Wayne Grudem, Husbands, therefore, should aim for loving, considerate, thoughtful leadership in their families. Wives should aim for active, intelligent, joyful submission to their husbands’ authority.
    4. Submit – to line up one’s self under. Submission has the sense of voluntary yielding in love.
      1. Used in a military sense of soldiers submitting to their superior. Used in Jesus subjecting Himself to His earthly parents. Used in persons to civil authorities. Used in one Christian to another.
    5. For a wife to submit to her husband is to play out the Jesus role in her marriage.
      1. It is an expression of a God-ordained role.
        1. We see why in 1 Tim.2:13,14 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. [from Gen.3:16/women’s curse...and he shall rule over you]
        2. The husband is the God-appointed leader of the home…and he is held accountable for that role. Also we remember this is servant leadership, which means being the head...he is responsible to go 1st, to die-to-self 1st, to repent 1st, to love unconditionally 1st, w/o waiting for, or insisting on, his wife’s submitting 1st
          1. Husbands…we are dead men. And dead men don’t whine. Dead men don’t live selfishly. Dead men don’t live uncaringly. And Dead men take up their cross daily and follow Jesus.
        3. It’s interesting though, the principle is clear on the husband being a servant-leader, but the Bible gives almost no details about how that is expressed in concrete behavior. [bible doesn’t give us a list of things men & women must & must not do. eg. Women working outside the home. Men doing the finances. Men not washing clothes, doing dishes, or changing poopy diapers] Because? The Bible was written for all centuries & for all cultures.
      2. Note it’s inferred: She’s not holy & clean. She’s not glorious. She’s not spot/ wrinkle free. Both Jesus’ bride & man’s bride.
        1. Yet note also, 2 things:
          1. The bridal bath was when a Jewish bride enters the mikvah (ritual bath) in order to be purified prior to the marriage ceremony. The cleansing here is unlike baptism as it is perpetual and is from the Word.
          2. Song of Solomon 4:7You are altogether fair, my love, there is no blemish in you
            1. ​​​​​​​Experientially, she is constantly needing washed in the Word. Positionally see her as blemish free. [serious problem if you only see & point out your wife’s only means you aren’t doing your job]
    6. In marriage we enter the Great Dance of the universe as we submit to our own distinct, divinely ordained gender roles.
      1. We understand headship and submission correctly as we look at Jesus as the perfect model of both.
    7. Every human culture has found a way to interpret male headship in a way that has marginalized and oppressed women.
    8. Whatever you identify egalitarian (equal), a feminist, a traditionalist, a complementarian, the difference between men and women become an unavoidable issue in every marriage.
      1. Everyone comes into marriage with their idea of roles. These are gathered from our parents, current cultural norms, observing friends marriages, and fictional reading, TV, and movies.
    9. The first mention of gender in the Bible, is in the first chapter of the bible, and also is the first mention of humanity itself. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen.1:27
      1. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law this last Monday that provides people with the ability to request a new birth certificate with a 3rd option (M&F), now there is a nonbinary category. It is the first state to offer such an option. [non-binary = bi-gender, tri, pan, 3rd, fluid]
      2. Our gender is at the heart of our nature. Every cell of our bodies is stamped XX or XY.
    10. Created equal? Yes! Equal in the image of God, equally blessed, equal in personhood, equal in importance, equal in value. But distinct/different in our roles.
    11. We have a beautiful complementary union. Adam alone, not good.
      1. Eve came from Adam’s rib and he was given the responsibility of naming her.
        1. Both of these elements r the basis for the NT statements about a husband’s headship
      2. Gen.2:18 It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.
        1. ​​​​​​​Helper = ezer. Not merely assisting someone. Ezer is almost always used in the Bible to describe God himself. Or military help such as reinforcements, w/o which a battle would be lost. So it means to make up what is lacking in him with your strength. Woman was made to be a strong helper. Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, ch.6
        2. Comparable/neged (suitable) - lit. like opposite him. Like 2 pieces of the puzzle that fit together because they’re not exactly alike nor randomly different.
          1. Marriage is a full embrace of the other sex.
        3. Often in homosexual relationships it’s conveyed, how much easier it is than dealing with someone of a different sex. This might be true.
          1. A person of one’s own sex is not as likely to have as much otherness to embrace. But God’s plan for married couples involves embracing the otherness to make us unified.
            1. Even at the atomic level, all the universe is held together by the attraction of positive and negative forces.
            2. Christ embraced the ultimate Other...sinful humanity, and brought us into a new unity with Himself.
    12. Book Recommendation: I would like to recommend my favorite Marriage Book by Timothy & Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage [Kathy wrote ch.6 on submission]
    13. 7 Ways to Destroy Your Marriage. Then 7 Ways to Save It (Perry Noble, former pastor, New Spring Church)
    14. Here are 7 ways to absolutely destroy your marriage that always works.
      1. ​​​​​​​Refuse To Communicate [Talk about the person and not to them because doing so will be awkward]
      2. Refuse To Listen [Interrupt your spouse during conflict to immediately correct them]
      3. Always Assume The Absolute Worse About Your Spouse [Always carry your thought to its fullest illogical conclusion. Don’t EVER ask for an explanation or clarification as more open communication will lead to a stronger marriage]
      4. Make Sure The Goal Is To Win The Argument Rather Than Actually Settle The Dispute [you must allow pride to dominate your thought life, thus unleashing a barrage of accusations that actually have nothing to do with your original argument/discussion] Win at all costs, even if it means saying things that hurt and wound deeply.
      5. You Must View Your Spouse As Your Enemy, NOT Your Friend [view everything as a manipulative game. Make it a goal to compete with them and not actually complete them]
      6. Focus As Much As Possible On Their Inadequacies & Shortcomings [You’ve GOT to talk about how much they are “not meeting your needs” and how they need to “step up and do better” as often as possible]
      7. Do NOT Have Fun Together [You each need your own set of friends. Don’t have mutual friends. Don’t have date nights. Don’t do anything fun as a family]
    15. 7 ways to Save your Marriage
      1. ​​​​​​​Stop fighting IN it and start fighting For it.
      2. Stop asking God to fix your spouse and ask Him to fix you.
      3. Ask For Help. You’re NOT the 1st married couple that has ever struggled, you WON’T be the last. The problem is that (especially in church), we are so obsessed with what people may say or think that we allow our relationships to implode. We can’t allow our desire to appear happy distort the reality that we need help.
      4. Ask the Lord to allow you to see your spouse through His Eyes.
      5. Choose right now that you are always going to believe the best about your spouse. Love always assumes the best about a person (1 Cor.13)
      6. Stop seeing your spouse as your servant, But rather your opportunity to serve
      7. Do whatever it takes to make your marriage work.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Ephesians, chapter5.

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 chapter4where 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.


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

The old Darkness and new Light. Rules for the Married

1, 2. In close connexion with what precedes. 'It is the mark of beloved children to become imitators of a loving Father; practise the self-sacrifice of Christ, which shows how He loved us and the Father.'

3-14. Special exhortation against covetousness and impurity.

3. But] The five sins mentioned in Ephesians 4:25-32 are to be put away; these two are not even to be mentioned: 'saints' are set apart from such subjects, being consecrated to God.

4. 'Do not get near these topics for the sake of being amusing.' 'Thanksgiving' is not an obvious contrast to 'jesting,' but in Gk. there is an alliteration; not thoughtlessness, but thanksgiving. Convenient] RV' befitting.'

5.'Those who do these things can have no inheritance in Christ's kingdom.'

6. 'Sophists tell you that these things are “natural,” “venial,” “peccadillos.” It is just these sins which incur God's wrath.'

7, 8. 'Do not return to your old darkness (Ephesians 4:18): ye are now light to illuminate others.'

9. Fruit of the Spirit] This comes from Galatians 5:22; 'fruit of the light' is right here (RV).

10. 'Those who walk as children of light find out by experience what God's will is: light is always a test.'

11. Light has 'fruit' (Ephesians 5:9), but darkness has only 'fruitless works': cp. Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:22. Rather reprove them] 'rather even expose them,' as light is sure to do. 'Reprove them' is hardly consistent with the context. In John 3:20; 'reproved' should be 'exposed': cp. 1 Corinthians 14:24. Things so shameful ought not to be passed over.

13. 'But all things when they are exposed by the light are made manifest; for whatsoever is made manifest is light.' Light turns darkness into light: this had happened to his readers (Ephesians 5:8).

14. He saith] rather,' it saith' = 'it is said.' The quotation is probably from a Christian hymn, based on Isaiah 60:1 : cp. 1 Timothy 3:16.

15-21. 'Be most careful then in conduct. Beware of folly; in particular of drunkenness. Prefer spiritual exaltation and an orderly life, each in his own place.'

15. Then or 'therefore' marks the return to exhortation, and walk refers back to Ephesians 5:2, Ephesians 5:8. RV is everywhere better: 'Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise.'

16. Redeeming] 'buying up for yourselves the opportunity.'

17. 'Wherefore do not show yourselves fools, but understand.'

18. Excess] RV 'riot'(as Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4), and 'riotous living' (Luke 15:13). With the Spirit] RM 'in spirit'; 'not your bodies, but your souls should be full.'

19. The primitive Church was emphatically a Church of enthusiasm and spiritual emotion (Acts 2:43-47; Acts 8:8; Acts 16:25 : cp. Colossians 3:16).

21. But everything is to 'be done decently and in order': enthusiasm is not to lead to anarchy. St. Paul ceaselessly preaches 'submission' or 'subjection' to authority (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Corinthians 14:32, 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Titus 3:1).

22-33. First illustration of orderly subordination; the relation between wives and husbands.

22. As unto the Lord] with 'the fear of Christ' (Ephesians 5:21) as their motive.

23. Once more (Ephesians 3:15) a mystical connexion between heavenly and earthly relationships is traced. The forethought of the head preserves the body: control implies obligation to protect.

24. Accepting protection implies submission.

25-33. The love of husbands to their wives corresponds to Christ's love to His Church, for which He sacrificed Himself, to hallow it, to present it to Himself, and to keep it holy. Christ and the Church are one in body; husband and wife are one in body; hence Christ's love for His Church is that of husband for bride. Of marriage it is wonderfully said that two become one. This is true of Christ and the Church. And as the Church responds to Christ's love with reverential fear, so let the wife have reverential fear of her husband.

25. Government must be unselfish-for the good of the governed: cp. Ephesians 5:2.

26. Washing of water] Christian baptism, with perhaps a reference to the bride's bath before marriage.

By the word] RV 'with the word,' to be taken with 'the washing of water' and meaning the baptismal formula.

27. 'That He might Himself to Himself present the Church all-glorious': cp. 2 Corinthians 11:2, of St. Paul's presenting the Corinthian Church to Christ.

28. RV 'Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as [being] their own bodies.' Not 'as much as,' or 'as if they were': their wives are their own bodies.

29. The change from 'body' to 'flesh' prepares for what is coming.

30. 'Christ cherishes the Church, because its members are His.' The words 'of His flesh and of His bones' are an interpolation from Genesis 2:23.

32. This is a great mystery] RV 'This mystery is great.' 'It has a deep, wide-reaching meaning; but I am employing it of Christ and the Church.'

33. Reverence] RV 'fear.' He returns to the motive stated at the outset, 'the fear of Christ' (Ephesians 5:21). Reverential fear, as that of the Church to her Lord, is meant. Subjection without reverence would be servile.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The duty of husbands5:25-33

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

What was Jesus Christ"s ultimate purpose in giving Himself for the church ( Ephesians 5:25)? It was to present her to Himself in all her glory finally, namely, without any blemishes, effects of sin (wrinkles), or anything that would diminish her glory. Positively God will eventually present the church to His Son as exclusively His and spotless (cf. Ephesians 1:4). This will happen at the Rapture when all Christians will experience full sanctification (i.e, glorification) and will join our Lord forever (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:2).

"Spots are caused by defilement on the outside, while wrinkles are caused by decay on the inside." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:51.]

"Christ"s labor of love on behalf of the Church is threefold: past, present, and future: (1) for love He gave Himself to redeem the Church ( Ephesians 5:25); (2) in love He is sanctifying the Church ( Ephesians 5:26); and (3) for the reward of His sacrifice and labor of love He will present the Church to Himself in flawless perfection, "one pearl of great price" ( Ephesians 5:27; Matthew 13:46)." [Note: The New Scofield . . ., p1277.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Ephesians Chapter 5

Moreover, let us remark here, and it is an important feature in this picture of the fruits of grace and of the new man, that when the grace and love, which come down from God, act in man, they always go up again to God in devotedness. Walk, he says, in love, even as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. We see it in Christ. He is this love which comes down in grace, but this grace, acting in man, makes Him devote Himself to God, although it is on behalf of others. So it is in us; it is the touchstone of the Christian heart’s activity.

The apostle then speaks plainly as to sin, in order that no one may deceive himself; nor be occupied with deep truths, using them intellectually, to the neglect of ordinary morality-one of the signs of heresy, properly so called. He has connected the profoundest doctrines in his teaching with daily practice. If Christ be glorified, the Head of the assembly, He is the model of the new man, the last Adam; the assembly being one with Him on high, and the habitation of God on earth by the Spirit, with whom every Christian is sealed. Every Christian, if indeed he has learned the truth as it is in Jesus, has learned that it consists in having put off the old man, and having put on the new man, created after God in righteousness and holiness (of which Christ is the model, according to the counsels of God in glory); and he is to grow up unto the measure of the stature of Christ, who is the Head, and not grieve the Holy Spirit wherewith he is sealed. The fullest revelation of grace does not weaken the immutable truth that God had a character proper to Himself; it unfolds that character to us by means of the most precious revelations of the gospel, and of the closest relationships with God, which were formed by these revelations: but this character could not alter, nor could the kingdom of God allow of, any characters contrary to it. The wrath of God therefore against evil, and against those who commit it, is plainly set forth.

Now we were that which is contrary to His character, we were darkness; not only in the dark, but darkness in our nature, the opposite of God who is light. Not one ray of that which He is was found in our will, our desires, our understanding. We were morally destitute of it. There was the corruptness of the first Adam, but no share in any feature of the divine character. We are now partakers of the divine nature, we have the same desires, we know what it is that He loves, and we love what He loves, we enjoy that which He enjoys, we are light (poor and weak indeed, yet such by nature) in the Lord-looked at as in Christ. They are the fruits of light (24) that are developed in the Christian; he is to avoid all association with the unfruitful works of darkness.

But, in speaking of motives, the apostle returns to the great subjects that pre-occupied him, and he returns to them, not only that we should put on the character set forth by that of which he speaks, but that we should realise all its extent, that we should experience all its force. He had told us that the truth in Christ was the having put on the new man, in contrast with the old man, and that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Now he exhorts those that sleep to awake, and Christ should be their light. Light makes all things manifest; but he who sleeps, although not dead, does not profit by it. For hearing, seeing, and all mental reception and communication, he is in the state of a dead man. Alas, how apt this sleep is to overtake us! But in awaking, it was not that they should see the light dimly, but Christ Himself should be the light of the soul; they should have all the full revelation of that which is well-pleasing to God, that which He loves; they should have divine wisdom in Christ; they should be able to profit by opportunities, should find them, being thus enlightened, in the difficulties of a world governed by the enemy, and should act according to spiritual understanding in every case that presented itself. Further, if they were not to lose their senses through means of excitement used in the world, they were to be filled with the Spirit, that is, that He should take such possession of our affections, our thoughts, our understanding, that He should be their only source according to His proper and mighty energy to the exclusion of all else. Thus, full of joy, we should praise, we should sing for joy; and we should give thanks for all that might happen, because a God of love is the true source of all. We should be full of joy in the spiritual realisation of the objects of faith, and the heart continuing to be filled with the Spirit and sustained by this grace, the experience of the hand of God in everything here below will give rise only to thanksgiving. It comes from His hand whom we trust and whose love we know. But giving thanks in all things is a test of the state of the soul; because the consciousness that all things are from God’s hand, full trust in His love, and deadness as to any will of our own, must exist in order to give thanks in everything-a single eye which delights in His will.

In entering into the details of relationships and particular duties, the apostle cannot give up the subject that is so dear to him. The command which he addresses to wives, that they are to submit themselves to their husbands, immediately suggests the relationship between Christ and the assembly, not now as a subject for knowledge, but to unfold His affection and tender care. We have seen that the apostle, having established the great principles displayed in the revelation of our relationship with God-our vocation-then deduces their practical consequences with regard to the life and conduct of Christians: they were to walk as having put on the new man, to have Christ for their light, not to grieve the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit. Now all this, while the fruit of grace, was either knowledge or practical responsibility.

But here the subject is viewed in another aspect. It is the grace that acts in Christ Himself, His affections, His guardian care, His devotedness to the assembly. Nothing can be more precious, more tender, more intimate. He loved the assembly-that is the source of all. And there are three steps in the work of this love. He gave Himself for it, He washes it, He presents it all glorious to Himself. This is not precisely the sovereign election of the individual by God; but the affection that displays itself in the relationship which Christ maintains with the assembly.(25) See also the extent of the gift, and how marvellous the ground of confidence that it contains. He gives Himself; it is not only His life, true as that is, but Himself.(26)

All that Christ was has been given, and given by Himself; it is the entire devotedness and giving of Himself. And now all that is in Him-His grace, His righteousness, His acceptance with the Father, the excellent glory of His Person, His wisdom, the energy of divine love that can give itself-all is consecrated to the welfare of the assembly. There are no qualities, no excellencies in Christ, which are not ours in their exercise consequent on the gift of Himself. He has already given them, and consecrated them to the blessing of the assembly which He has given Himself to have. Not only are they given, but He has given them; His love has accomplished it . We know well that it is on the cross that this giving of Himself was accomplished, it is there that the consecration of Himself to the good of the assembly was complete. But here that glorious work is not exactly viewed on the side of its atoning and redeeming efficacy, but on that of the devotedness and love to the assembly which Christ manifested in it. Now we can always reckon upon this love which was perfectly displayed in it. It is not altered. Jesus-blessed and praised be His name for it!-is for me according to the energy of His love in all that He is, in all circumstances and for ever, and in the activity of that love according to which He gave Himself. He loved the assembly and gave Himself for it. This is the source of all our blessings, as members of the assembly.

But this love of Christ is inexhaustible and unchangeable. It effects the blessing of its cherished object, by preparing it for a happiness of which His heart is alike the measure and the source, (27) to happiness of perfect purity, the excellence of which He knows in heaven-purity suited to the presence of God, and to her who should be in that presence for ever, the bride of the Lamb-purity which renders it capable of enjoying perfect love and glory; even as that love tends to purify the soul by making itself known to it, and attracting it, divesting it of self, and filling it with God as the centre of blessing and joy.

It is important to remark that Christ does not here sanctify the assembly to make it His own, but makes it His own to sanctify it. It is first His, then He suits it to Himself. Christ, who loves the church as being His own, and who has already made it His own by giving Himself for it, and who chooses to have it such as His heart desires, occupies Himself with it, when He has won it, to render it such. He gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it by the washing of water by the word. Here we find that moral effect produced by the care of Christ, the object which He proposes to Himself in His work accomplished in time, and the means He uses to attain it. He appropriates the assembly morally, sets it morally apart for Himself, when He has made it His; for He can only desire holy things-holy according to the knowledge He has of purity-by virtue of His eternal and natural abode in heaven. He then puts the assembly in connection with heaven, from whence He is, and into which He will introduce it. He gave Himself in order to sanctify it. For this purpose He uses the word, which is the divine expression of the mind of God, of heavenly order and holiness, of truth itself (that is to say, of the true relation of all things with God; and that according to His love in Christ), and which consequently judges all that deviates from it as to purity or love.

He forms the assembly for His bride, a help-meet for Him, in which all is according to the glory and the love of God, by the revelation (through the word, which comes from thence) of these things as they exist in heaven. Now Christ Himself is the full expression of these things, the image of the invisible God. Thus, in communicating them to the assembly, He prepares it for Himself. When speaking therefore in this sense of His own testimony, He says, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.”

But it is this which the word is, as we have received it from Jesus; and more especially as speaking from heaven, with the character of the new commandment, the darkness passing away, and the true light now shining; and consequently, the thing being true, not only in Him, but in us. The ministry of chapter 1 is occupied with this, forming the hearts of the saints on earth in fellowship with the Head from which the grace and the light descended. In this manner then Christ sanctifies the assembly for which He gave Himself. He has formed it for heavenly things by the communication of heavenly things, of which He is Himself the fulness and the glory. But this word finds the assembly mixed up with things that are contrary to this heavenly purity and love. Alas! its affections-as to the old man at least-mixed up with these earthly things, which are contrary to the will of God and to His nature. Thus in sanctifying the assembly He must needs cleanse it. This is therefore the work of the love of Christ during the present time, but for the eternal and essential happiness of the assembly.

He sanctifies the assembly, but He does it by the word, communicating heavenly things-all that belongs to the nature, to the majesty, and to the glory of God-in love, but at the same time applying them to judge everything in her present affections, which is at variance with that which He communicates. Precious work of love, which not only loves us but labours to make us fit to enjoy that love; fit to be with Christ Himself in the Father’s house!

How deeply is He interested in us! He not only accomplished the glorious work of our redemption by giving Himself for us, but He acts continually with perfect love and patience to make us such as He would have us to be in His own presence-fit for the heavenly places and heavenly things.

What a character this shews to belong also to the word, and what grace in His use of it! It is the communication of divine things according to their own perfection, and now as God Himself is in the light. It is the revelation of God Himself, as we know Him in a glorified Christ, in a perfect love to form us also according to that perfection for the enjoyment of Him; and yet it is addressed to us, yea is suited in its very nature to us down here (compare John 1:4) to impart these things to us by bringing in light amid the darkness, thus necessarily judging all that is in the darkness, but in order to purify us in love.

Observe, also, the order in which this work of Christ is presented to us, beginning with love. He loved the assembly; this, as we have already said, is the source of all. All that follows is the result of that love and cannot gainsay it. The perfect proof of it is then stated: He gave Himself for the assembly. He could not give more. It was to the glory of the Father, no doubt, but it was for the assembly. Had he reserved anything, the love in giving Himself would not have been perfect, not absolute; it would not have been a devotedness that left nothing for the awakened heart to desire. It would not have been Christ, for He could not but be perfect. We know love and perfection in knowing Him. But He has won the heart of the assembly by giving Himself for it. He has won her thus. She is His according to that love. Yea; it is there that we have learnt what love is. Hereby know we love in that He gave Himself for us. All was for the glory of the Father: without that it wouldnot have been perfection; and the revelation of the heavenly things would not have taken place, for that depended on the Father’s being perfectly glorified. In this the things to be revealed were manifested and verified, so to speak, in spite of evil; but all is entirely for us.

If we have learnt to know love, we have learnt to know Jesus, such as He is for us; and He is wholly for us.

Thus the entire work of cleansing and of sanctification is the result of perfect love. It is not the means of obtaining the love, or of being its object. It is indeed the means of enabling us to enjoy it; but it is the love itself which, in its exercise, works this sanctification. Christ wins the assembly first. He then in His perfect love makes it such as He would have it to be-a truth that is precious to us in every way, and first, in order to free the soul from all servile fear, to give sanctification its true character of grace and its true extent here. It is joy of heart to know that Christ Himself will make us all He desires us to be.

We have considered two effects of the love of Christ for the assembly. The first was the gift of Himself, which in a certain sense comprises the whole; it is love perfect in itself. He gave Himself. The second is the moral formation of the object of His love, that it may be with Him; according, we may add, to the perfections of God Himself, for that indeed is what the word is-the expression of the nature, the ways, and the thoughts of God.

There is yet a third effect of this love of Christ’s which completes it. He presents it to Himself a glorious assembly without spot or wrinkle. If He gave Himself for the assembly, it was in order to have it with Him; but if He would have it with Him, He must render it fit to be in His glorious presence; and He has sanctified it by cleansing it according to the revelation of God Himself, and the heavenly things of which He is in Himself the centre in glory. The Holy Ghost has taken the things of Christ, and has revealed them to the assembly; and all that the Father has is Christ’s. Thus perfected according to the perfection of heaven, He presents it to Himself a glorious assembly. Morally, the work was done; the elements of heavenly glory had been communicated to her who was to stand in that glory, had entered into her moral being, and thus formed her to participate in it. The power of the Lord is needed to make her participate in it in fact, to make her glorious, to destroy every trace of her earthly abode, save the excellent fruit that results from it. He presents her glorious to Himself-this is the result of all. He took her for Himself, He presents her to Himself, the fruit and the proof of His perfect love; and for her it is the perfect enjoyment of that same love. But there is yet more. That sentence discloses to us all the import of this admirable display of grace. The Spirit carries us back to the case of Adam and Eve, in which God, having formed Eve, presents her to Adam all complete according to His own divine thoughts and at the same time suited to be the delight of Adam, as a help-meet adapted to his nature and condition. Now Christ is God. He has formed the assembly, but with this additional right over her heart that He has given Himself for her; but He is also the last Adam in glory; and He presents her glorified to Himself, such as He had formed her for himself. What a sphere for the development of spiritual affections is this revelation! What infinite grace is that which has given place for such an exercise of these affections!

We cannot fail to notice the connection between the cleansing and the glory, that is, that the cleansing is according to the glory and by it; and that the glory is the completeness of, and completely answers to, the cleansing. For the cleansing is by the word, which reveals the whole glory and mind of God. Presented in glory she has neither spot not wrinkle; she is holy and unblamable. This is a most important truth, and recurs elsewhere. Compare 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Philippians 3:11 to the end. So in 1 Thessalonians 3:13. What is complete in glory there, is wrought into the soul now by the Spirit operating with the word.

This then is the purpose, the mind of the Lord, with regard to the assembly, and this the sanctifying work which prepares her for Himself and for heaven. But these are not all the effects of His love. He watches tenderly over her during all the time of her sojourn here below.

The apostle, who did not lose sight of the thesis which gave rise to this digression that is so instructive to us, says that the husband ought to love his wife as his own body-that it was loving himself. He was naturally led to this by the allusion to Genesis; but he immediately returns to the subject that occupies him. No one, he says, ever hated his own flesh; he nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the assembly. This is the precious aspect, during time, of Christ’s love, which the apostle here presents. Not only has Christ a heavenly aim, but His love performs the work which, so to speak, is natural to it. He tenderly cares for the assembly here below; He nourishes it, He cherishes it. The wants, the weaknesses, the difficulties, the anxieties of the assembly are only opportunities to Christ for the exercise of His love. The assembly needs to be nourished, as do our bodies; and He nourishes her. She is the object of His tender affections; He cherishes her. If the end is heaven, the assembly is not left desolate here. She learns His love where her heart needs it. She will enjoy it fully when need has passed away for ever. Moreover it is precious to know that Christ cares for the assembly, as a man cares for his own flesh. For we are members of His own body. We are of His flesh, and of His bones. Eve is here alluded to. We are, as it were, a part of Himself, having our existence and our being from Him, as Eve from Adam. He can say, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Our position is, on the one hand, to be members of His body; on the other hand, we have our existence as Christians from Him. Therefore it is that a man is to leave his natural relations, in order to be united to his wife. It is a great mystery. Now it was just this that Christ did as man, in a certain sense, divinely. Nevertheless every one ought thus to love his own wife, and the wife to reverence her husband.

There remain yet certain relationships in life, with which the doctrine of the Spirit of God is connected: those of children and parents, of fathers and children, and of servants and master. It is interesting to see the children of believers introduced as objects of the Holy Spirit’s care, and even slaves (for servants were such), raised by Christianity to a position which the circumstances of their social degradation could not affect.

All the children of Christians are viewed as subjects of the exhortations in the Lord, which belong to those who are within, who are no longer in this world, of which Satan is the prince. Sweet and precious comfort to the parent, that he may look upon them as having a right to this position, and a part in those tender cares which the Holy Ghost lavishes on all who are in the house of God! The apostle marks the importance which God attached, under the law, to this duty. It is the first command with which He linked a promise. Ephesians 5:3 is only the quotation of that which he alludes to in Ephesians 5:2.

The exhortation to fathers is also remarkable-that they should not provoke their children; that their hearts should be turned towards them; that they should not repel them, nor destroy that influence which is the strongest guard against the evil of the world. God forms the heart of children around this happy centre: the father should watch over this. But there is more. The Christian father (for it is always those within to whom he speaks) ought to recognise the position in which, as we have seen, the children are placed, and to bring them up under the yoke of Christ in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. Christian position is to be the measure and the form of the influences which the father exercises, and of the education which he gives his children. He treats them as brought up for the Lord, and as the Lord would bring them up.

It will be remarked, that in the two relationships we are considering, as well as in that of wives with their husbands, it is on the side from which submission is due that the exhortations begin. This is the genius of Christianity in our evil world, in which man’s will is the source of all the evil, expressing his departure from God to whom all submission is due. The principle of submission and of obedience is the healing principle of humanity: only God must be brought into it, in order that the will of man be not the guide after all. But the principle that governs the heart of man in good, is always and everywhere obedience. I may have to say that God must be obeyed rather than man; but to depart from obedience is to enter into sin. A man may have, as a father, to command and direct; but he does it ill if he do it not in obedience to God and to His word. This was the essence of the life of Christ: “I come to do thy will, O my God.” Accordingly the apostle begins his exhortations with regard to relationships by giving the general precept: “Submit yourselves one to another.” This renders order easy, even when the order of institutions and of authority may fail. Submission, moral obedience, can never in principle be wanting to the true Christian. It is the starting-point of his whole life. He is sanctified unto the obedience of Christ (1 Peter 1:2).

In the case which has led to these remarks, it is striking to see how this principle elevates the slave in his condition: he obeys by an inward divine principle, as though it were Christ Himself whom he obeyed. However wicked his master may be, he obeys as if he obeyed Christ Himself. Three times the apostle repeats this principle of obedience to Christ or the service of Christ, adding, “doing the will of God from the heart.” What a difference this made in the poor slave’s condition! Moreover, whether bond or free, each should receive his reward from the Lord. The master himself had the same Master in heaven, with whom there is no respect of persons. Still it is to masters that he says this, not to the slave; for Christianity is delicate in its propriety, and never falsifies its principles. The master was also to treat the slave with perfect equity-even as he expected it from the slave-and was not to threaten.

It is beautiful to see the way in which divine doctrine enters into the details of life, and throws the fragrance of its perfection into every duty and every relationship; how it acknowledges existing things, as far as they can be owned and directed by its principles, but exalts and enhances the value of everything according to the perfection of those principles; by touching not the relationships but the man’s heart who walks in them; taking the moral side, and that of submission, in love and in the exercise of authority which the divine doctrine can regulate, bringing in the grace which governs the use of the authority of God.

Footnotes for Ephesians Chapter 5

24: We should read “fruit of the light,” not “fruit of the Spirit.”

25: It is well to notice here this character of love-love in an established relationship. The word of God is more exact than is generally thought in its expressions; because the expression has its origin in the thing itself. It is not said that Christ loved the world-He has no relationship with the world as it is. It is said that God so loved the world; this is what He is towards it in His own goodness. It is not said that God loved the assembly. The proper relationship of the assembly as such is with Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom. The Father loves us, we are His dear children. God, in this character, loves us. Thus Jehovah loves Israel. On the other hand, all the tenderness and faithfulness that belong to the relationship in which Christ stands are our portion in Him, as well as all that the name of Father means on its side also.

26: It is specially the devotedness of His love; He gives and gives Himself.

27: When I say (here and above) that the love of Christ is its source, it is not as if the love of the Father and the counsels of God had not their place in it. I speak of the blessing applied and carried out in the relationship presented in this passage; and this relationship exists with Christ. Nevertheless it is the same divine love.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Darby, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament". 1857-67.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Ephesians 5:27 “that He might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”

“Present the church to Himself”:Since the church today does have spots and wrinkles, this presentation probably refers to the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 21:2; 1 Corinthians 15:24). “To Himself”: “Making her stand by His side” (Lenski p. 635). “A glorious church”: “In stainless glory” (Con). “In all her beauty” (TCNT). “As a splendid bride” (Wms). Paul now will explain what the expression a "glorious church" means. “Not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”: “Or blemish of any kind” (TCNT). This is the goal for the church. This is what the apostles constantly worked at (2 Corinthians 11:2; Colossians 1:28). All instruction is aimed at enabling Christians to be morally pure individuals that glorify God (Ephesians 4:25 ff; 2 Corinthians 7:1). The true church must always be striving to present the moral standard that God endorses (1 Peter 1:14-15; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15; James 4:7-10). These verses infer that God will not tolerate any defilement in the heavenly kingdom (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:6). Unrepented of sin or false doctrine will defile us (2 John 1:9-11; Galatians 1:6-9). Note what is "glorious" to God, a morally and doctrinally pure church is glorious in the sight of God. “Holy and without blemish”: Ephesians 1:4. “What bride does not take the greatest care to avoid ‘spots and wrinkles or any such thing’ upon her wedding gown? So the Christian is to be excited about seeing the Lord come. He is to avoid all moral or spiritual stain and defect (1 John 3:1-3). So the church is terrified by the idea of appearing before Christ as immoral, indecent, immodest, hypocritical, full of hate, or unforgiving” (Caldwell p. 273).

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4 a.) In . St. Paul passes from warning against special sins to consider the three great relations of life, first considered as “subjections,” and so illustrating the general precept of submission in Ephesians 5:21, but ultimately viewed in their reciprocity of mutual obligations and rights. First, accordingly, he dwells on the relation of marriage, declaring it to be hallowed as a type of the unity of Christ with His Church, and hence drawing the inference of the duty of free obedience in the wife, and of self-sacrificing love in the husband. This passage may be held to contain the complete and normal doctrine of the New Testament on this great question, written at a time when Christianity had already begun to exalt and purify the nuptial tie; and it is instructive to compare it with 1 Corinthians 7, written for “the present distress,” glancing not obscurely at marriage with unbelievers, and adapted to the condition of a proverbially profligate society, as yet scarcely raised above the low heathen ideas of marriage.

(22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.—The same exhortation is found in Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-6; and besides these formal exhortations there is distinct and emphatic declaration of the “subjection of women” in 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 11:7-9; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Probably the sense of that fundamental equality in Christ, in which (see Galatians 3:28) “there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female,” while it was rightly accepted as showing that there is no spiritual inferiority in woman—such as Oriental theory asserted, and even Greek and corrupt Roman practice implied—was perverted to the denial of the greater natural weakness of woman, from which subordination comes, and to the foolish and reckless disregard of all social conventions. St. Paul, as usual, brings out the simple truth of principle, sanctioning whatever is fundamental and natural in woman’s subordination, and leaving the artificial enactments of law or custom to grow by degrees into accordance with it. The principle of subordination is permanent; the special regulations of it in the world or in the Church must vary as circumstances change.

As unto the Lord.—These words are explained by the next verse. In Colossians 3:18 we have the less emphatic phrase, “as it is fitting in the Lord.”

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(25-27) In these verses we trace, under the nuptial metaphor, a clear description of the three great stages in salvation—justification in His “giving Himself for us, sanctification in the “cleansing by water in the Word,” glorification in the final “presentation” to Christ in glory. The metaphor is certainly preserved in the last two clauses, which correspond to the bath of purification of the bride, and the festal presentation of her (usually by the friend of the bridegroom, John 3:29), in all her beauty and adornment, to her husband at his own home; perhaps even in the first also, for the husband used to give a dowry, which was held in the rude simplicity of ancient times to purchase his wife, and here that which Christ gives is the unspeakable price of His own Self. Throughout, in accordance with the whole tenor of the Epistle, it is the Church as a whole, not the individual soul, which is “the Spouse of Christ.”

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(27) That he might present it to himself.—The original is more emphatic—that He might Himself present it to Himself. This presentation belonged usually to the “paranymph,” or “friend of the bridegroom, to whom St. John Baptist compares himself in John 3:29 (where see Note); St. Paul himself assumes that office in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I have espoused (or rather, betrothed) you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Here, however, all is of Christ. He, as Paranymph, comes down to seek and to save His Bride; He, as Bridegroom, receives her in His heavenly home.

A glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle . . .—Properly, (that He might present) the Church as glorious, not having a spot (i.e., a stain on its purity), or a wrinkle (i.e., a defect in its beauty and freshness of life); but that it may be holy (not merely consecrated to holiness) and without blemish (as He is without blemish). On these last words see Note on Ephesians 1:4. They are most commonly sacrificial, corresponding (see Colossians 1:22) to the sacrificial use of the word “present.” Here, however, they are seen clearly to have reference to the nuptial metaphor by what goes before.

In all this we have a picture which properly belongs to the Church in glory, and which is fully drawn out under the same metaphor as ; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9-10; for only in it can the description be fully realised. In capacity and promise it belongs to the whole Church militant; in reality, but in imperfection, to the Church invisible on earth; in absolute perfection to the Church triumphant in heaven.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

The Lessons of Childliness

Ephesians 5:1

It is the great mark of the Gospel that its deepest truths are presented to us in forms taken from our daily life. The cleansing water and the simple meal are made sacraments—revelations—of Divine mysteries. The ties of family are the chosen emblems of our heavenly fellowship. One of these relations is set before us in the words which I have taken for my text. We all are as children in His household, heirs, indeed of a glorious inheritance, but yet children and then nearest Him when we realise most fully our childly duties at His feet. Let us then dwell on three lessons of childliness.

I. The Lesson of Dependence.—A child never forgets his dependence. He sees before him the image of a noble future, but he makes no haste to escape from the bonds of grateful service For Hebrews, too, has a service to render. Effort, vigour, patience, are included in all action, and the child"s reward is that his work is like his father"s work, or in harmony with it. And this is a just description of our position with regard to our heavenly Father.

II. The Lesson of Trustfulness.—A child has no doubts, no misgivings. It is enough that his father has spoken. He examines not the message but the credentials of the bearer. There is something sublime in such a faith, which in later years is wholly unattainable. But all human powers fall below the claims which it makes. It can be satisfied only in its spiritual aspect There, indeed, the childly heart will find no rude disappointment The Christian will not yet see all, but all which he sees will strengthen his trust.

III. For the lessons of dependence and trustfulness are completed in The Lesson of Partial Knowledge. The Christian professes that he knows in part. At present his Father knoweth all things, and when that which is in part is done away, then will he know even as he is known.

—Bishop Westcott, Village Sermons, p101.

References.—V:1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No1725. F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Reading (2Series), p45. Bishop Westcott, Village Sermons, p101. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p270.

To the Dear Children

Ephesians 5:1-2

The text calls on all of us, as God"s dear children, to try to follow, not our own pleasures and our own tastes, but to walk in the footsteps of Christ our Saviour. And we cannot do this without some care, and pains, and watchfulness over ourselves. I. What are the faults, the temptations, to which you feel yourselves most liable? (1) There Isaiah, first of all, selfishness, the caring much, or the caring only for your own comfort and pleasure, and the caring not in the least, or very little for that of others. (2) Again, there is meanness; the readiness to tell an untruth, a lie, plain and direct, in order to gain something for which you wish. (3) Boastfulness. It is not the attempt to get everything for yourself, but it is the constant making yourself, not other persons, or other things—but yourself, and yourself only, the subject of all your thoughts and words. (4) Faults of temper. (5) Fits of sullenness.

II. Let me add one or two words on two different kinds of unselfishness. "Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous," says St. Peter. (1) Let me take the last first Remember that by politeness or courtesy we mean nothing more than the showing in our outward manners, and often in little things, that we think of others, not merely of ourselves. It is not a very hard task if you go to the root of the matter—strive to be glad to make those around you happy, and you will soon learn the welcome secret of true politeness, true courtesy, and find in it no sham piece of artificial polish, but a means of making yourself near and dear, not only to others, but to your Saviour and your God. (2) And lastly, be pitiful. Never, never, let your after memory, when you grow up, be stained with recollections of cruelty. Learn to find a joy and pleasure in kindness and tenderheartedness, in making others happy, in obeying the royal law that bids us do to others as we would have them do to us.

—G. G. Bradley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXI. p20.

References.—V:1, 2.—J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons, p18. Marcus Dods, Christ and Prayer of Manasseh, p25. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ix. p45. V:1-7.—Ibid. vol. xii. p131. V:1-14.—E. J. Kennedy, Old Theology Restated, p128. V:2.—C. S. Home, The Soul"s Awakening, p83. A. Tucker, Preacher"s Magazine, vol. xvii. p176. W. H. Evans, Sermons for the Church"s Year, p287. W. J. Brock, Sermons, p225. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p230. V:4.—A. Ainger, Sermons Preached in the Temple Church, p296. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p63. V:6.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p23.

Darkness and Light

Ephesians 5:8

I. This word "darkness" is not indicative of mere dim or transient fog or inconvenient grading of light; it is a deeper, severer, ghastlier word. "Ye were sometimes darkness," not dark, but darkness itself, sevenfold night, yea, more than night ever was; for surely every night must have somewhere and somehow its relieving star. It was not so with you in your former state; you were living darkness, without ray or glint or beam of light, as far away from light as it is possible to be. That is a wonderful conception of human nature and of human condition before the Father of lights. You were not merely broken lights, scattered beams, that it was impossible to put together; there was no beam in you, you had never been illumined, you had never been warmed, you had never even heard of the summer of holiness; ye were simply incarnate, embodied darkness. Who could call us out of that state? What matchmaker could strike a little flash that would drive away such gloom? Where the darkness is so dense God Himself must handle the occasion, or there is nothing for it but fatal night. Sometimes we have said of a great singer, he is not musical, he is music; that is to say, he is not a merely mechanical player, a man who has got into his memory what is written in a book, but the music is in him, a well of water springing up into everlasting melody. Song of Solomon, reversing the picture, the Gentiles were not dark, they were darkness; un-penetrated, and but for the Divine mercy, impenetrable clouds. Occasionally we say of a Prayer of Manasseh, He is not eloquent, he is eloquence, embodied, incarnate, breathing, walking, living eloquence; he has not learned something by rote, he has not recited something of which his memory is in charge, but the holy gift is moving in him like a spirit, a genius, a heavenly choir. Reverse the picture, and you have the Apostle"s idea: Ye were not dark, you were darkness, the thing itself, sevenfold night; no imagination could conceive the intensity of the darkness of your condition.

II. Then the contrastive "but"—"but now... light"; not partial light, not a grey light, not a mere hint of light, but as truly as you were once darkness, so truly are you now light. "Walk as children of light." The miracle is as great on the one side as on the other. Chaos was not partial chaos; chaos was not a mere mood or transient phase of disorder; it was utter confusion, without date, without measure, without figure, a tumultuousness and disorderliness not to be spoken of in words in any adequate sense or with any adequate fitness. Chaos is not partly order and partly confusion; the old chaos on which the Holy Spirit brooded was utter chaos, shapelessness, amorphousness, that which could not be ruled into order by any skill created; but now, since the beginning, chaos has given place to order, proportion, music, perspective, and all the apocalypse and summer of colour. That is the difference. Chaos has no history. People want to know when the creation began. They can never know it. All depends upon what you mean by creation. The thing upon which creation operated may be calculable, but the thing out of which creation took its materials may lie back, so to say, in the memory of God alone. Transfer the figure to the Christian life, and then you have first the darkness, utter dense darkness, on which moon and star never shone, not to speak of dawning light and wakening morning. Then you have light, glory, midday, points of extreme. Unless we recognise the extremity of the points we shall lose the whole movement of the miracle. Let us keep our memories well refreshed with the fact that once we were darkness; let us pity those who are in darkness still. Do not imagine for a moment that the man on the street can come into the sanctuary of God and partake of it and be as one of the called saints of heaven all in a moment. He cannot; nor can he hear the Gospel, much less understand it. He is darkness. A great mystery of movement must take place in his soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. We want again Genesis first chapter and first few verses; we want especially the Spirit brooding over the infinite night, the infinite disorder, with a view to having brought out of it proportion and harmony and rest.

—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p220.

Reference.—V:8.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p277.

The Fruition of Fuller Life

Ephesians 5:9

Abundant fruit-bearing, whether it appear in character or in service, depends on the quickening of spiritual life. Everything else is subordinate to this, although much else is to be desired. It may not seem to outsiders that success in religious work depends on this. They may attribute it to social or intellectual influences, but in so far as success is spiritual (and that alone abides) its source is not in us. Spiritual power only passes through us from above to enrich the world. We believe that spiritual life in the soul of man depends on the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, who both initiates and intensifies it. Our enjoyment of it simply depends on our fulfilling the condition laid down by the risen Christ. "If any man open the door, we will come in to him."

I. We are often reminded in Scripture that fruit is expected of us. I will point out a few specimens of those fruits we too seldom see in the debilitated Christian life with which we are sadly familiar. (1) Zeal for the salvation of souls has become with some professing Christians an unmeaning phrase, or at least an unpopular one, although sinners never needed more than now a Saviour from sin, from self, from pessimism, and from hell here and hereafter. Let us never forget that the world will test us by the presence or absence of this Divine fire. (2) Amid the fruitage of a fuller Christian life will be found that love which our Lord makes much of, and of which some of His followers think so little.

II. It remains that we should notice certain conditions on which fuller spiritual life depends. (1) Like all other life, it requires nourishment, and this we are to take, not with fitful infrequency, but constantly, as those who have been taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread". (2) Atmosphere is as important as nourishment. Children require fresh air as well as food. Even the strongest man becomes depressed and his vitality lowered if he remains long in a vitiated atmosphere; but he becomes exhilarated, shaking off gloom and brooding, when he strides onward in the bracing air of a sunny hillside. And that is the idea suggested to my mind by the declaration of the Psalmist about the happy "people who know the joyful sound, they shall walk all day in the light of Thy countenance".

—A. Rowland, The Burdens of Life, p157.

The Fruit of the Light

Ephesians 5:9

I. The Light which is Fruitful.—The light of which my text speaks is not natural to men, but is the result of the entrance into their darkness of a new element. Now I do not suppose that we should be entitled to say that Paul here is formally anticipating the deep teaching of the Apostle John that Jesus Christ is "the Light of men," and especially of Christian men. He is here asserting that the only way by which any man can cease to be in the doleful depths of his nature, darkness in its saddest sense, is by opening his heart through faith, that into it may rush, as the light ever does where an opening—be it only a single tiny cranny—is made, the light which is Christ, and without Whom is darkness.

II. The Fruitfulness of this Indwelling Light.—Fruit is generally used in Scripture in a good sense. It conveys the notion of something which is the natural outcome of a vital power. And so when we talk about the light being fruitful, we are setting in a striking image the great Christian thought that if you want to get right conduct you must have renewed character.

III. The Specific Fruits which the Apostle here Dwells Upon.—They consist, says Hebrews, in all goodness and righteousness and truth. Now all these three types of excellence are apt to be separated. For the first of them—amiability, kindliness, gentleness—is apt to become too soft, to lose its grip of righteousness. Righteousness, on the other hand, is apt to become stern, and needs the softening of goodness to make it human and attractive. Truth needs kindliness and righteousness, and they need truth. He desires that each of us should try to make our own a fully developed, all-round perfection—all goodness and righteousness and truth. We should seek to appropriate types of excellence to which we are least inclined, as well as those which are most in harmony with our natural dispositions.

—A. Maclaren, Christ"s Musts, p239.

References.—V:9.—R. C. Lewis, Sermons by Welshmen, p296. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p279. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p286.

Pleasing Christ

Ephesians 5:10

What pleases Christ is the Christian"s highest duty.

I. The only attitude which corresponds to our relations to Christ. How remarkable it is that this Apostle should go on the assumption that our conduct affects Him, that it is possible for us to please or displease Jesus Christ now. That loving Lord, not merely by the omniscience of His Divinity but by the perpetual knowledge and sympathy of His perfect manhood is not only cognisant of but is affected by the conduct of His professed followers here on earth. Then, surely, the only thing that corresponds to such a relationship as at present subsists between the Christian soul and the Lord is that we should take as our supreme and continual aim that "whether present or absent, we should be well-pleasing to Him".

II. We have here the all-sufficient guide for practical life. What is it that pleases Jesus Christ? His own likeness. And what is the likeness to Jesus Christ which it is thus our supreme obligation and our truest wisdom and perfection to bear? Well, we can put it all into two words—self-suppression and continual consciousness of obedience to the Divine will—crucify self and commune with God. But not only does this guide prove its sufficiency by reason of its comprehensiveness, but also because there is no difficulty in ascertaining what at each moment it prescribes. If a man wants to know Christ"s will, and takes the way of knowing it which Christ has appointed, he shall not be left in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

III. We have here an all-powerful motive for Christian life. No motive which can be brought to bear upon men is stronger when there are loving hearts concerned than this simple one, "Do it to please me". And that is what Jesus Christ really says. So we have the secret of blessedness in these words. For self-submission and suppression are blessedness.

—A. Maclaren, Christ"s Musts, p249.

References.—V:10.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p295. V:11.—Ibid. p303. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No2401. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p205. V:11-21.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p313. V:13, 14.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii. p163.

Sleepers, Wake (for Advent Sunday)

Ephesians 5:14

No eye but a man"s own can gaze, almost as the eye of God, on the unveiled human heart. But when men"s eyes are opened, and they have been brought to look fairly and fully on themselves; when they have entered that awful solitude in which the soul is alone with God; when they have been brought to connect their own personality with the shame and guilt of sin; when the voluble spirit of excuse is at last dumb—what follows? I know no word which will describe the result of self-revelation so briefly as "awakenment". The ordinary moral and spiritual condition of most men, in their common life, can only be pictured by the metaphor of sleep. There are many degrees and forms of this spiritual sleep. There is that of human feebleness, that venial imperfection to which our Lord referred when He said, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak". Then deeper and worse is the sleep of those who, though not guilty of flagrant sin, are yet absorbed in the worldly life; given up to its dissipations and trivialities; losing, for the sake of living, all that constitutes a true life. But deepest and deadliest of all is the slumber of those who have sold themselves to do evil; who work all uncleanness with greediness; who have abandoned themselves to a life of falsehood, or avarice, or drink, or sensualism, or crime. Yet so common is this sleep, in one or other of its forms, that the Scriptures are constantly striving to arouse men from its fatal torpor.

This sleep, in any of its forms, cannot and will not last for ever. In vain men may fold their hands; in vain they may cry, "A little more sleep, a little more slumber"—they must be awakened. Either in this world or the next must come the awakenment which results from seeing ourselves as we are. Thus, then, to each one of us—either by our own repentance or with penal retribution, either here or in the world hereafter—awakenment will come.

I. It conies in different ways. "There are those to whom it comes in storms and tempests; others it has summoned in hours of revelry and idle vanity; others have heard its "still small voice" in leisure and placid contentment; and others during seasons of sorrow and affliction, to whom tears have been the softening showers which caused the seed of heaven to take root, and spring up in the human heart." But when it comes penally, and in the way of catastrophe, it is then an awful moment.

(1) Awakenment has its awfulness even for the best of men. "Behold," cried David, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (see ). And Peter: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful Prayer of Manasseh, O Lord". And Paul: "Wretched man that I Amos, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And Augustine: "Liberate me from a bad man—myself!" And so many others. Such are the confessions of the holiest; yet so ignorant is the world of the depth of the true soul"s contrition when it sees its own sinfulness, that it has interpreted these confessions as a proof of unusual personal vileness, and not the self-reproach of souls who longed only to be pure as He is pure.

(2) But if awakenment has its awfulness for the holiest and best, what must it be to the man who, in spite of the self- Revelation, still loves, and refuses to forsake, his sins? It is a tremendous moment which first reveals to a man that Hebrews, too, is hitherto a lost soul. What must be the feelings of a man who for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years has been outwardly honest and moral, but who, suddenly held by the accelerating impulse of sins secretly cherished, forced to own to the bond to which he has set his own seal, commits a crime, and is forced to sit down amid the ruins of his own life? The man who first deviates from rectitude takes a first step toward a precipice; and he soon finds that to stand still is impossible, that to retreat would be ruin, and that to advance is destruction.

II. How terrible the awakenment when nothing of the sin is left but the ruin it has wrought; when the man realises that the beautiful life God gave him has been lost and wasted; that he has been an utter and inexcusable fool; that it had been better for him that he had not been born—in that moment the man must know what Christ meant by the "outer darkness," the "worm that dieth not," and the "fire that is not quenched". And yet it is a most blessed thing for any man if that awakenment—so he neglect it not—comes during life; yea, even if it comes in the very hour of death. But remember how much more often death ends not in contrition, therefore not in repentance, but in dull torpor or hard defiance.

III. Has not Christ died for us?—died to save us and all mankind? He offers us peace here and beyond the grave; and not to us only, but to all who believe in His name. All that we have to do is to trust Him; to seek Him now—now—in the accepted time; to love one another; to work for Him; to obey His laws; to spread His kingdom. If, happily for us, the awakenment from the dream of sin have come, not in terror and as with the thunder-clap, but through "still small voices," let us seek to make those voices heard by others. And let us, while there is yet time, pray: "God be merciful to me a sinner"; "That it may please Thee to have mercy upon all men; we beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord".

—F. W. Farrar, Sermons in America.

Christ the Light-giver

Ephesians 5:14

The progress of thought in later times has resulted in our becoming more alive to the seriousness and difficulty of questions concerning our very existence and destiny. In all ages there have been some who have asked these questions anxiously, and at times indeed they have convulsed the world. But now (more than ever) we are sent straight to nature and to fact, and we are told to be real; to think of what our words mean; and these questions of the whence and whither of mankind are felt by us more than by our forefathers to be formidable ones. Eyes have been opened to see the wonders and the mysteries of the most familiar things of life: the triple mystery of certain inexplicable facts; the mystery of sin, of pain, of will. Whence and why do I come into life? What is to become of me? What am I on the way to? These questions cany with them to those in the street, and by the domestic hearth, happiness or distress, hope or darkness, life or death. And one thing further has been brought home to our consciousness, and that Isaiah, that Nature by itself cannot give the answer. Nature does indeed speak of God, of duty, of immortality. "The heavens declare the glory of God." Conscience cannot escape from Right and Wrong. The human soul in the face of death believes that it is not to die. But though Nature does teach us of God and hope, of justice, purity, and prayer, its answers to our questions are dark and imperfect. The gainsayer declares that it is silent; the doubter that it is ambiguous. It hardly helps man to understand himself.

I. Whence come we? Where are we? Whither are we going? Who can help asking? It is impossible to measure the hopelessness of such an answer as science only gives us. Have we indeed nothing besides? Ah, yes! Encompassed in mystery as we are, little as we know of the infinite, yet that dreadful sense of not knowing what we are, and why we are, of being fatherless, uncared for, has passed away from the world. "The dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death; and to guide our feet into the way of peace." But whatever we know or. do not know, we know this—that One has come, as no one ever came to the world before, Who came to make quite certain questions on which men have been in the deepest perplexity; Who came to tell us whence and why we are, and what we have before us in the after-time. He came to tell us, once for all, that we are not orphans and castaways; He came to tell us of our Father in heaven, even God. We know that He is come, we know that He died, we know that He is risen from the dead. Some one among the sons of men has conquered death; and we know that this tremendous event has changed, not only the course, but the aspects of the world and human life. Neither are, nor can be, what they were before it—what they would be without it. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." He has come, and He has spoken. He has given light by His victory over the grave, and in that light all that He was, and said, and promised stands before us in the illumination of a Divine unveiling: "God manifest in the flesh". "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

II. The answer, as far as it goes, is as clear, as real, as the question. It is given in terms of which we can measure the meaning and the force For we know what death Isaiah, and we know what must be meant by "One being alive from the dead". We ask—what Nature cannot tell us—from whose hands we came? One from the dead tells us that we come from, and are ever in, our Father"s hand. We grope in darkness among the tremendous problems of moral evil. One from the dead has come, and tells us that sin indeed is a reality; that He died for the sin of men, and that its forgiveness and cure are in His hands. We ask, What is death? He is come from the grave itself, and He tells us, and shows us in His own Person, that death is but an incident, an appearance; that there is life beyond it—life with its purpose fulfilled; life and righteousness; life and immortality. We stand silent when the sufferers ask us why they suffer. What is the meaning, or justice, or use of those tremendous dispensations of agony which seem to visit without distinction the innocent and guilty—the misery of the helpless child, the pangs of the brute creation? Pain and its phenomena are ultimate facts, insoluble as they are awful. But this we know, that He Who was the conqueror of death and the Redeemer of His creatures drank together with them the cup of pain.

III. And we know more. We know that He is come, and has conversed with men. We know that He has promised, though He went away, yet still to be with us in our course through the storms and pains of life. "Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." We have Him Who once appeared among us; who was dead, and is alive for evermore. We have Him, the King and Master of all living men, to our comfort and blessing and guidance, if we will. He is here unseen, watching us, judging us. He is here, though they know it not, to the proud and insolent; He is here, to the humble and meek.

References.—V:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No716. Basil Wilberforce, Sanctification by the Truth, p25. T. J. Madden, Tombs or Temples? p69. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p289. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons, p143. T. Rhondda Williams, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p189. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p126. J. Keble, Sermons for Easter to Ascension Day, p87. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p351. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p318. V:14, 15.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. vi. p396.

Not As Fools, But As Wise

Ephesians 5:15

I. "Not as fools, but as wise." St Paul appeals to us as reasonable creatures; he appeals to our common sense—to what must be clear to our mind and judgment as soon as we give the subject serious thought.

Judge for yourselves, he seems to say; the things which you know and believe of yourself and the world around you must make a difference to your way of living. A fool is he who will take no count of his circumstances. Consider your real circumstances; think of what you have learned to believe without any kind of doubt of what this life Isaiah, what it was given you for, and what is to come after it. Think of the part God has taken in it to help and save you; what Christ has done, given, and promised; and then, consider how "wise men" ought to shape their lives. But—

II. Suppose it had been different. Suppose, for a moment, that all we know and believe had never been; that we had never heard of God; that we found ourselves here on earth, not knowing how we came, why we were living, or what we were meant for; and that all we knew of life were that there it was. Or suppose that we had only heard of God, our Maker and Ruler, by dim and uncertain report, as the heathen may, but that He had never had any dealings with us, and that we knew not where to find Him, or what He was. Imagine this to be our state—passing through life without the faintest notion of what life Isaiah, where it comes from, and whither it goes; having no light to guide us but what we could get for ourselves; no help out of this world, no comfort, no refuge, no prospects, nothing but the dark, unknown, hopeless grave. Suppose this were the condition of things in which we were living. Then there would be no prayer, for there would be no God to pray to, or to hope in. There would be no faith, no love of God, no obedience. There might be a certain sense of right and wrong, but there would be nothing to support right and condemn wrong. We should be in the world as forlorn outcasts, knowing their own bitterness, pain, heartache, and death—all the evils of the world—and knowing, too, all the evils of the world and of our own hearts, but without anyone above to look up to; without redemption, without remedy, without hope.

III. And now consider what Isaiah, in fact, the case with us. We cannot imagine, without difficulty, what we have been supposing. Even the very heathen dimly see the awful Power and Godhead amid their foul idolatries.

Not we only, but the whole world, knows God. The heathen know something of Him; forgetful Jews know more; but we Christians have a knowledge which leaves all this behind. We know that God has been with men, spoken to them, made them know something of His mind. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Everlasting Son of the Father, the Maker, the Light and Life of men. We believe that He took upon Him to deliver Prayer of Manasseh, and that, for this purpose, He did not abhor the Virgin"s womb. We believe more—that He died for our sins, that He overcame the sharpness of death, and did open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. We believe that He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father, and that He shall come to be our Judge. And we believe that we now have in Him One who hears all prayers, heals all wrongs, and can bind up every broken heart. Men may now appeal to a love which has made God"s world look new. "We therefore pray Thee help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood." Look where we will, our eyes ever encounter something which reminds us of the cross of Christ.

IV. Put these two pictures side by side: life as we supposed it without knowing anything of God, or our origin or destiny; and, on the other side, life in which man throws himself on the love of God, as His servant, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Then "walk not as fools, but as wise". St Paul appeals to us as men of common sense. Would any man of sense, who knew and believed the facts last stated, think of living as if all that we knew were depicted in the first picture? And yet it is one of the commonest sights of our experience to see men living a life which they would live just as well if they were absolutely without God in the world. Many still live as those who, in their ignorance, said: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die". Are not St. Paul"s words the words of truth and soberness when he calls us "not as fools, but as wise"—knowing and believing what we do—not to live as if we knew it not; as if we had nothing but this life and this world before us, but to live as Christian men and women ought to live—doing the will and fulfilling the purposes of the God with Whom they have so much to do?

References.—V:15.—Bishop Westcott, Disciplined Life, No. ix. V:15, 16.—C. M. Betts, Eight Sermons, p19. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons, p259. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Ephesians, p327.

Watch—Yourselves, Your Opportunities

Ephesians 5:15-17

These are admonitions addressed to Christian people by an inspired Apostle; not only to Christian people as individuals, but to Christian people organised into communities. The passage might be compressed into two lines:—

Look diligently to yourselves,

...and your opportunities.

I. Yourselves first. There are two kinds of temper to be steadfastly guarded against The temper of levity, which turns everything into a jest. And the other temper to be guarded against is sleepy self-satisfaction. (1) A Christian man needs to make constant and fresh effort to remember who he is and Whose he is. That He is the property of Christ—redeemed by the agony of the Son of God. (2) And then he is to realise clearly and sharply where he is. Do not let us make any mistake on this point; he is in an unfriendly world, a world, that, to say the least of it, cares nothing for the things which most interest him. (3) The Christian man must remember that the world is hostile to God. (4) We are not only in an unfriendly world; we are in a world that is to be won to God, and won by us. (5) We are not only surrounded by an unfriendly world—we are still more closely surrounded by an unfavourable spiritual atmosphere; by invisible agents whose aim is to weaken and destroy the finest fruits of the spiritual life.

II. We need to look carefully to our work. There is no reason why there should be any folly in Christian work. Enthusiasm does not mean irrationalism. (1) "Understand," the Apostle says; use that faculty, and understand what the will of the Lord is. (2) And having understood it, we are to do it, and to do it promptly. That is the meaning of the phrase, "Buying up the opportunity". The psychological moment comes, and you must Acts, or it goes, and carries the opportunity with it. Every department, of life abounds in illustrations of the importance of this precept—of the fatality of neglecting it. Why does the Apostle speak about buying up the opportunity? Because the embracing of it means cost. You yourself were not redeemed without sacrifice. You will never carry out the will of God without cost to yourself.

—Charles Brown, Light and Life, p91.

References.—V:15-17.—A. P. Stanley, Sermons on Special Occasions, p118. V:15-33.—E. J. Kennedy, Old Theology Restated, p140. V:16.—Bishop Westcott, Village Sermons, p314. Archbishop Maclagan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p248. W. Baird, The Hallowing of our Common Life, p6. R. Appleton, The Pulpit, vol. i. p31. J. S. Bartlett, Sermons, p172. J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. i. p115. S. Cox, Expositions, p1. W. J. Brock, Sermons, p335. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2Series), vol. i. p50. H. Bonner, Sermons and Lectures, p206. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons (2Series), p176. V:17.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii. p190.

The Plenitude of the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18

What is meant by the Plenitude of the Spirit?

I. The phrase occurs in a command or exhortation; the Apostle makes use of the imperative mood. We are bidden to do, or to be—a demand is made upon us. Yet the verb is passive in form, and it is natural to object that the process described is God"s work, not ours. That august Breath of God blows when and where He lists; we can neither originate nor control Divine influence The "baptism of the Spirit," the "outpouring of the Spirit," the "descent of the Spirit," do not denote action on our part, but the reception of an essentially Divine gift. When we read of the Primitive Church that they were "all filled with the Holy Ghost," or that Stephen or Barnabas was "full of the Holy Ghost," the impression conveyed is one of supernatural power resting on these men. Self-inspiration is absurd. To issue a command that men should acquire what God alone can confer might seem to imply either a blunder or a blasphemy.

II. The injunction "be filled" means that we may, we can, and therefore we ought to play our part "Ye must be born again" implies that we can be so born, and then a glorious possibility of privilege becomes a sacred duty. The relation between the Divine and the human is not that of an alien supernatural power energising passive clay into fresh life. That is a heathenish notion of inspiration which would regard the Holy Spirit as a magical, external power which must be invoked in the fashion of the prophets of Baal, who cut themselves with knives to procure the boon of supernatural fire from heaven. The Spirit is here, waiting—oh, how He waits! He is unspeakably near to every heart of man—longing, wooing, drawing, striving, filling each soul as far as He can whenever there is room to receive Him, quickening when the faintest movement of response makes it possible for Him to infuse new life; or as a favouring wind to fill the sails of the soul still further, and carry the frail vessel on its forward, homeward way.

But that is not precisely the thought of the text. It is addressed not to mankind at large, but to the Church. It refers not to the vague indefinable Divine Spirit of the Pantheist or the Mystic, but to the Spirit of Christ The Spirit who is known, loved, understood, and obeyed; the Spirit who originated the new life in the heart of every member, and made each man who is in Christ a new creation; the Spirit who operates in us every moment, though in scanty measure because of our meagre faith and lukewarm love; the Spirit who at every moment—at this moment—waits, longing to raise, inspire, purify, and empower us as He has never done before.

We are directed to find our fulness in Him, and in Him alone. That does not mean the cessation of effort till a Higher Power shall quicken us. Nor does it mean a feverish and anxious occupation in good works and religious ordinances, as if we could kindle loftier affection by sedulous attention to detailed duties. It means that we are to go back to the Fountain-head at once, and always with a directness and immediacy that takes no denial; that every Church and every member is to be in his own place an organ of a Higher Will, intelligently and earnestly co-operating with a Power which informs and sustains and animates the whole. The work that was done at first was not done by us, but by a Higher Power in us and through us; decline begins when men forget this and concentrate attention upon their own efforts. Renewal implies a requickening from the primal source—the love of God in Christ poured abroad in the heart of the Holy Spirit given unto us.

III. The heart that would be Spirit-filled must first be empty. Empty, that Isaiah, of everything that would prevent the Spirit from doing His characteristic work. For there is no necessary antagonism between the operation of the Spirit of God and a thousand varied aims for which the Church legitimately strives, a thousand interests in the world which she seeks to promote. Distinguish between a true and a false spirituality. Not by withdrawing the leaven from the mass of meal can the lump be leavened, but by the potency of a ferment mighty enough to quicken the whole. Still it is clear that the Holy Spirit of God cannot fill as He would an already full vessel, and there simply is not room enough for the Spirit to work in some churches that are calling loudly for His presence, in many hearts that are praying earnestly for His indwelling. Apart from subtle forms of sin, with which we are not now concerned, the pathways of the soul may be blocked, the Divine channel may be obstructed, the soil of the heart choked with a tangle of thorns and weeds, and thus not the entrance, but the plenary work of the Spirit be effectually hindered.

—W. T. Davison, The Indwelling Spirit, p235.

The Spirit-filled Life

Ephesians 5:18

The Spirit dwells in the believer, and the believer lives in the Spirit. The Spirit finds in the believer His home, medium, and means; and the believer finds in the Spirit his sphere and element. Every need of spiritual life and Christian service is supplied in the fulness of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is every believer"s birthright, but there are many Esaus. Fleshly desires hinder the work of the Spirit, and the inheritance is bartered for the things of earth. Jesus Christ is the supreme example of the spirit-filled life. To Him the Spirit was given without measure. His life was lived in abiding surrender to the will of the Spirit. He is the ideal and pattern of the life made possible to all by the coming of the Spirit. The leading features of the Spirit"s work in Him are marked by special mention of the Spirit as directly connected with them, and in the study of them we may find the distinctive marks of the Spirit-filled life.

I. The Spirit-filled life is a life of conquest over temptation. Being full of the Spirit does not bring immunity from temptation but exposure to it. I Jesus was tempted like as we are. it follows we shall be tempted as He was. Every man"s Pentecost is the signal for Satan to gird himself. Temptation comes to the spiritual man in its intensest and most subtle forms. (1) The first temptation in the Spirit-filled life is the temptation of bread. The temptation is to use the gift of God for self-gratification. Satan urges the use of the power for selfish ends: to make it a means of getting bread. (2) The second temptation deals at the root with the same question as the first. It is still self, only at the other extreme. The first appeal was to give self the first care, the second to give it no care at all. (3) The third temptation is also a question of adjustment. The Spirit is given for ministering, and to the Spirit-called and Spirit-filled worker there comes the problem of the relative positions of the human and the Divine, the natural and the spiritual, in the work of God. In his zeal there is urged upon him the use of carnal weapons for spiritual ends.

II. The Spirit-filled life is a life of service. The preparation, the call, and the equipment for Christian service is of the Holy Ghost. Our need is not more churches and better appliances, but a universal baptism of the Spirit of God.

III. The Spirit-filled life is full of joy. We cannot be gladsome by resolution. Joy is a fruit, the natural product of an inner life. How does the fulness of the Spirit open a fountain of joy? The Spirit makes men glad with the consciousness of God, and a Godlike enthusiasm for out-flowing. There is no life like the life filled with the Spirit.

—S. Chadwick, Humanity and God, p227.

The Enthusiasm of the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18

I. The enthusiasm of the Spirit takes a man out of himself. A man hampered by circumstances is like a bird in a cage. He continually strikes against the cruel iron bars; he frets with impatience at his stern limitations, and he wants to escape somewhere. Well, he can escape into the forgetfulness of sleep, or the madness of intoxication, but it is the wrong way of dodging his limitations. The right way is to seek refuge in God. There is an escape from self, there is an actual transfiguration of a man"s personality. There is such a thing as being lifted up out of the drudgery and routine of life. There is such a thing as being possessed by a power nobler than ourselves, and it is to be filled with the Spirit.

II. The enthusiasm of the Spirit, instead of destroying a man"s personality, ennobles it and builds it up. Wine makes me forget my troubles, but it dissolves my character, makes my personality fall into pieces, spoils and mars and destroys my manhood. But when the Spirit of God comes, He simply finds my nobler self, and causes it to blossom and to fructify. You can be your worst self by being filled with the Spirit of greed and selfishness and wine, but you can only be your higher self, the self that you are intended to be, by being filled with the Spirit of God.

III. The enthusiasm of the Spirit produces harmony and order and joy. One of its manifestations is to speak to each other in psalms and hymns, and "making melody in our hearts". This is in striking contrast to the intoxication that comes from wine, which agitates and upsets the life, and engenders wretchedness and misery. We are possessed of a great number of faculties, and each faculty under proper stimulation yields joy and pleasure. But the joys resulting from the exercise of the lower faculties are more tumultuous and transient and less satisfying and wholesome, while the joys that ring forth from what is noblest in our nature are calm and deep and permanent.

IV. The enthusiasm of the Spirit leads a man to a right relationship with his fellowmen, "subjecting yourself one to another in the fear of God". False excitement leads into the exaggeration of a man"s self-importance. But the Spirit of God leads to service and self-denial, to patience and humility, to the obliteration of self, and the appreciation and helpfulness of others. The Holy Ghost is ethical and social. Whatever the Pentecost means, it means a baptism of humility and love.

—T. Phillips, Baptist Times and Freemen, vol. LIV. p447.

Ephesians 5:18

After being drunk at Corrichatachin, Boswell rose next morning and "went into Dr. Johnson"s room, and taking up Mrs. McKinnon"s Prayer-book, I opened it at the twentieth Sunday after Trinity, in the Epistle for which I read, "and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess". Some would have taken this as a Divine interposition.

Ephesians 5:18

"The energy natural to the English race degenerates to savage brutality," wrote Cobden, in one of his letters, "under the influence of habitual drunkenness; and one of the worst effects of intemperate habits is to destroy that self-respect which lies at the bottom of all virtuous ambition."

References.—V:18.—W. F. Adeney, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p59. J. Binney, King"s Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p218. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No2111. Bishop Winnington-Ingram, A Mission of the Spirit, p111. Expositor (6th Series), vol. viii. p57. V:18, 19.—J. Arnold, The Interpretation of Scripture, p228. E. H. Bickersteth, Thoughts in Past Years, p137. V:19.—E. Griffith-Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p387. R. Moffat Gautrey, ibid. vol. lxxviii. p294. R. W. Hiley, A Year"s Sermons, vol. ii. p202. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii, p27. Ibid. vol. iii. p402. V:19, 20.—F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p63.

The Thankful Life

Ephesians 5:19-22

I. Live the thankful life. Let us have no more groaning and complaining, but let us have music and psalm and hymn and spiritual Song of Solomon, an inward and outward melody. The Church has forgotten all its exhortations to thankfulness and to music; it has made for itself a series of threnodies very depressing and soul-enslaving, services and tests of discipline and standards of heartless and often hypocritical solemnity. The Apostle says, Let us have no more of this; there is a sunny side even to Christian faith; there are whole days, long bright summer days, in which it becomes us to sing one to another in psalm and hymn and spiritual song and to match the summer with a human melody. Let a cheerful life be added to the evidences of the truth of the Christian religion. Paul was never ashamed of his overflowings of joy; he mingled the cup of life so dexterously and with so sweet and sacred a cunning that no man ever drank such a cup as Paul drank; he said, Yea, we glory in tribulations also. Nothing could repress him or depress him; his religion forced its way through fog and smoke and storm and pain and loss; he took tribulation with a strong man"s hand, and added it to his wealth. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Always hear the music that is in everything. There is fire in ice; there is music in silence, there is music in the radiance of the face.

II. If we have had our psalm and hymn and spiritual Song of Solomon, what then, thou great disciplinarian of the Church? I will tell you, says Paul; after the song must come the discipline. You will find all along the Christian line that song and discipline alternate; they seem to balance one another; in that, as in the record of Genesis, the evening balances the morning, and the evening and the morning are the whole day. Discipline succeeds melody: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." We shall miss the whole point of this if we take it out of its connection and make a jest of it. There are no jests in the Bible. The buffoon can find them on the altar, almost on the Cross, but the wise man finds no such blots. Observe the atmosphere in which the Apostle is now writing; take note of the atmosphere which he has created around these Gentile converts. Do not place the Ephesian converts on a level with Christian and experienced nations. When the temperature is at the highest, when joy is at the zenith, when all the summer fruits are growing and all the summer birds are singing, he says, Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God. And in that atmosphere it is easy to do so; in any other atmosphere it is impossible That is the exposition. Where the atmosphere is right there will be no difficulty. "Submitting yourselves one to another." That is the key of all that follows. The submission is never to be on one side only; and where there is submission on both sides there is no humiliation, there is sympathy, there is union, there is a mysterious kin.

III. You cannot lay down little rules upon any matters of personal or household discipline. What then can we do? The Apostle has already told us—"Be filled with the Spirit". To rule without ruling, to lead without leading, to drive without cracking the whip, to be a man without being a fool; that is only possible when we are filled with the Spirit, when we are breathing the vital atmosphere, when we are one with Christ.

—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p242.

The Royal Debt

Ephesians 5:20

I. The Spirit of Thankfulness ought to be the temper of our whole life—"giving thanks always for all things". (1) God merits our thanks, if such an expression may be allowed. Our very being is His wondrous gift. The things which gladden and go to the enrichment and perfecting of life are His gifts. And as He is the supreme giver, so is He the source of all our blessing. (2) God expects our thanks. We cannot believe that the living God is indifferent to the Spirit in which His boons are accepted. Our nature teaches us better. He whom we worship is not the great machinist, chemist, or artist—such a being might be insensible to gratitude; but we give thanks "to God, even the Father," and it is impossible to think that love and gratitude have no place in our relation to Him.

II. This spirit of thankfulness is possible only in the grace and power of Jesus Christ. The name of Christ is that general and holy element, as it were, in which everything is to be received, to be enjoined, to be done, and to be suffered. The Spirit of the natural man is the spirit of criticism and depreciation. Dowered with treasures of light and darkness, inheriting a large and wealthy place, the language of discontent is our native speech. Let us see, then, how in the Christian life these infinite repinings are changed into praise. (1) The truth and grace of Jesus Christ make thankfulness possible by convincing us of our true position before God. Ingratitude, in the main, arises out of infinite and inveterate conceit. Satisfied that we are worthy of the greatest of God"s gifts, we really appreciate none. Here the truth of the Gospel effects a fundamental change; it convinces us that we are sinners, without merit and rights; and in doing this, gives a new standpoint whence we view the whole field of life. (2) Christ makes thankfulness possible through restoring in us the spiritual faculty by which we discern the greatness and sweetness of all things. Genius shows itself and its transcendence by discerning the grandeur, romance, and joy of all things great or small. The Spirit of Christ creates in us a faculty of spiritual appreciation corresponding to genius in the mental realm. (3) Christ makes the habit of thankfulness possible by assuring us that the painful things of life serve equally with the brightest. The "all things" must not be limited to agreeable things. "Forget not all His benefits." We cannot recall all the treasures of the deep along whose shore we have travelled; but we can keep a few pearly shells which retain the echoes of the vast music of the ocean of the eternal love

—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p20.

Ephesians 5:20

If we had to name any one thing which seems unaccountably to have fallen out of most men"s practical religion altogether, it would be the duty of thanksgiving. It is not easy to exaggerate the common neglect of this duty. There is little enough of prayer; but there is still less of thanksgiving.... Alas! it is not hard to find the reason of this. Our own interests drive us obviously to prayer; but it is love alone which leads to thanksgiving.

—Faber, All for Jesus, pp208, 209.

References.—V:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No1094. G. A. Sowter, Sowing and Reaping, p96.

The Glory of Submission

Ephesians 5:21

These words set before us the spirit of unselfish devotion in which as Christians we are directed to regard the relations of life. And if we consider the words attentively, I believe that we shall find in them one of the very central rules of Christian action. Here if anywhere the contrast between the promptings of our natural spirit and the teaching of our Lord is sharp and decisive. The impulse of benevolence leads to noble acts of devotion; but that devotion which the Holy Spirit teaches is ever present in all the commonest details of our life, converting all into one great sacrifice to God. And it is in this that we have the full account of that submission of which St. Paul speaks.

I. It is a sacrifice of ourselves. Submission in the Christian sense is an act of strength and not of weakness; a victory and not a defeat; a victory over self, felt and realised. This is the first characteristic of that submission to one another by which we must each endeavour to fulfil St. Paul"s words. It is not the easy, thoughtless, indifferent acquiescence of a mind which is alike incapable of resolution and resistance; but the calm, steady, deliberate denial of his own wishes by one who knows well the value of that which he forgoes, and knowing still forgoes it.

II. It is also a sacrifice for others—not for one only, but for all among whom God"s providence may place us. As Christians we are simply told to submit one to another; and thus we have opened to us a boundless field for the trial of our faith. Every act of our daily business may furnish us with a test whereby we may know whether we are indeed serving God.

III. Thus we come to the third work of Christian submission; it is in the fear of God. This fear is at once the motive and the limit of our submission. Our submission is a sacrifice for Christ, and offered in the fear of Christ. There can be no submission where His honour is endangered; and then only is submission true when His will is its final object. At last submission will be crowned by sovereignty.

—Bishop Westcott, Village Sermons, p304.

References.—V:21.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p235. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p107, 118, 123, 134, 140,145. V:22, 23.—A. Brown, British Congregationalist, 16th August, 1906, p57. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p292. V:22-25.—C. S. Home, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p121. V:22-33, B. J. Snell, The All-Enfolding Love, p65. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p123. V:23.—E. T. J. Marriner, Sermons Preached at Lyme Regis, p123. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p281. V:25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No2488. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p423. V:25-27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No628. V:27.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p302. V:28.—F. B. Cowl, Preacher"s Magazine, vol. xvii. p239.

The Nourished and Cherished Church

Ephesians 5:29

Nothing in St. Paul"s conception of the wonderful Church of Christ is more startling than his undoubting faith in the work she was to do, and in the tender, unslumbering love that would for ever guard her. The great Gospel is itself the great paradox, and we need not wonder that it is surrounded by companion paradoxes. Few can be more astonishing than these: the apparent abandonment, which is nevertheless a constant tending of the Church, and the apparent overcoming by world-powers which is nevertheless a victory.

I. As to the first, let us remember that the saints have never misdoubted Christ and His promises, nor the interest of the Church in these, however they may have misdoubted their own. Alexander Peden is represented by a poet as taking counsel with God whether he should be able to keep true—

So I sought the Lord when we met

At the black Moffat Water to get

Just a blink of light on the way,

And to know whether I should play

The man in the dark times yet.

But He said, "Content you now,

You shall be where I think best;"

"Yea, Lord," I said, "but Thou

Knowest I never did bow

To Baal with the rest,

Nor take the black false test;"

But He said, "Content you now".

But even Peden, the gloomiest of all the great witnesses, never feared that the Lord would forsake His Church. "There shall be brave days such as the Church of Scotland never saw the like; but I shall not see them, though you may." "Lord, I die in faith," said another, "that Thou wilt not leave Scotland, but that Thou wilt make the blood of Thy witnesses the seed of Thy Church, and return again and be glorious in Thine own land." Warriston recorded his "sure hope that the Church would be visited and freed". In his last moments James Guthrie, too, foresaw the good of God"s chosen, the gladness of His nation, the glory of His inheritance. In the very height of their extremity these men never questioned the present nourishing, cherishing love of Christ to His Church and the glory that was to be. If persecution sifted the Church, it was well, for her great danger had ever been that of becoming a bit of the world under another name. An eminent preacher has said, "I do not myself feel any regret at the departure of monied people. In some places there is such a dependence on a little oligarchy of wealthy people that there seems no alternative for the Lord of the Churches but to send the rich away." That is pure New Testament doctrine.

II. The strength of the Church appears in her persecution as clearly as her faithfulness. When the shock strikes the slumbering land, men discover that they have to reckon with a power which the world did not originate and cannot subdue. In the darkest and weariest hour of overthrow and pain the Church has wings folded at her side. They will unfold, and then she is free. The strength of the Church is altogether supernatural, and she is mighty just as she knows it All the Church"s trial is that the word may be fulfilled, "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation". And then the world knows her, and seeks her for what she is. The world has long since discovered that in the natural there is no redemption. No fibre of its heart is stirred by Gospels which cannot promise deliverance from the prison-house of law. When we touch the illimitable world—unknown, and yet well known—when we tear up our calculations, when we forget the circumstances that are so dead against us, when we regard no more the chains that bind the weakening limbs, the hour of release is at hand. The Church of Christ rises girt for her task, and the world perceives that she is not so weak as she seemed to be. No, nor yet so poor.

—W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten-Minute Sermons, p283.

Aspects of the Mystical Union

Ephesians 5:30

The depth and intimacy of the mystical union between our Lord and His believers are nowhere more boldly expressed than in the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians, "We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones".

Let us see how this great and ruling truth helps us to confront the problems of life.

I. Consider its relation to the social work of the Church. Many of us remember the time when a very sharp line was drawn between the spiritual and the secular, and the spiritual was exalted. The preacher"s business was to work for the salvation of souls. The Church was a building for the worship of God and the preaching of the Gospel. It was occupied two or three times a week, and for the rest quite useless. Philanthropy was held to be distinct from Christianity. It was inspired by Christianity, no doubt, and was good in itself, but it was not allowed to invade the sphere of the Church"s true activity. As for recreation, it was thought outside the Church"s mission, and was even regarded in some quarters as hostile to the spiritual energies of the faithful. By and by there came menaces and reproaches from the leaders of the working people. Worse than that, we became aware of the fact that the people were drifting away from organised Christianity. Many of us well remember that we were irritated by these challenges. We had been brought up to believe that our business was to bring souls to Christ, and that if we could do that, other problems would gradually solve themselves. We forgot that the Church once made it her special business to care for the poor, and that when this became the function of the State, a true and precious link was broken. Now we perceive that the Christ, Who is Incarnate and Supreme, is united to the bodies and the souls of His people, and we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. So we perceive that His work of redemption has gone wider than we thought, and that it extends to the bodies as well as to the souls of men. What is done merely for the body is a step towards salvation. Looking round his great congregation one Sunday night, Mr. Spurgeon spoke of the extremities to which some were reduced. "Some of you," he said, "are hungry, and do not know where to turn for a morsel of bread. Has it even come to this?" Whoever fed the hungry, worked towards the Christian salvation. All social work takes a new colour and a happy radiance when it is done in the thought of the union—in the remembrance that Christ died for the body as well as for the soul, and that He means to have with Him the whole Prayer of Manasseh, body and soul, in the House not made with hands.

II. It is the thought of the mystical union that helps us to understand the resurrection of the body. When we realise that Christ took for our sakes the body as the temple of the Holy Ghost, we know that the body cannot really die. Christ did not take our flesh as a garment to be laid aside. He took it as part of Himself. We have been taught the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the flesh. St. Paul asserted the continuity of the body, and he denied explicitly the literal resurrection of the flesh. In his view, the body is united to Christ as well as the soul. There is an interdependence between the two in Him even when they are separated by death. Body and soul remain in union with Christ, and, in a day to be, body and soul will be united to make the one man in Christ Jesus before the throne of the Incarnate God. St. Paul teaches us that the body which shall be, is not the body that is. Nevertheless, it is not a new creation, but, in some sense known to God, a resurrection of the body in which we are at present. The body which we shall wear in glory is as truly the same body as we are wearing now, as the body we are wearing now is the same body with which we were born. These risen bodies will be like the body of the risen Lord. Changes unthinkable will have passed over them, but they will be the same. When He smote the gates of brass and snapped the bars of iron in sunder, and returned to His disciples from the dead, they did not know Him at first, but after a little time they knew Him. It was as when friends part and go out into foreign lands, and come back after years of toil and separation, and do not know those whose faces they had gazed on from the beginning. But by and by something—a tone of voice, a look of love—brings recognition, and gradually the past is traced in the present. So death comes and separates the body from the soul for a time, but neither from Christ, and we look forward by faith to the ending of separations. A great citizen of Birmingham used to comfort himself very much with this Greek word, σαλπίσει, "the trumpet shall sound". Yes, the trumpet shall sound. All the New Testament is meaningless unless it teaches the coming of a day of days, when the old order shall end, and the new everlasting order begin.

—W. Robertson Nicoll, The Lamp of Sacrifice, p261.

References.—V:30.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No1153, and vol. xxxviii. No2244. V:32.—H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p177.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Ephesians 5:22-33. A paragraph which, in dealing with the duties of wives and husbands as seen in the new light of Christian truth, gives the Christian ideal of the marriage-relation. It is the loftiest conception of that relation that has ever come from human pen, and one than which no higher can be imagined.



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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Ephesians 5:27. [ ] : that He might Himself present to Himself the Church, glorious. Statement of the remote, ultimate object with which Christ “gave Himself up” to death; as the immediate object, which has that final purpose in view, is expressed by the . For of the TR, supported by [648]3[649], most cursives, Syr.-P., etc., the reading is to be substituted on the authority of [650] [651] [652] [653]*[654] [655], Syr.-Harc, Vulg., etc. It is Christ Himself who is to present the Church, and it is to Himself He is to present it. He is at once the Agent and the End or Object of the presentation. The is not to be taken here to mean the presenting of the Church as an offering. It is true that the verb is so used in Romans 12:1; but the case is different here, in respect both of the ruling idea of the paragraph and of the introduction of . It would be incongruous with Paul’s teaching to speak of Christ as presenting an offering to Himself. The idea, as the context suggests, is that of the bridegroom presenting or setting forth the bride; cf.2 Corinthians 11:2. The anarthrous is a case of tertiary predicate (cf. Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 473). The rendering, therefore, is not “present a glorious Church,” but “present the Church, glorious,” i.e., in the aspect, or character of gloriousness. The presentation in view, which is given here as the final object of Christ’s surrendering of Himself to death, and is exhibited (by use of the aor.) as a single def. act, cannot be anything done in the world that now is (as is supposed by Beng., Harl., Hofm., etc.), but must be referred (with Aug., Jer., Rück., De Wette, Bleek, Mey., Ell., Alf. and most) to the future consummation, the event of the Parousia.— : not having spot. Explanation of what is implied on the negative side in the . The neg. is in place, as the clause refers to the purpose in the mind of Christ. The word = spot, moral blemish, takes the place of the Attic in later Greek writers (Dionys., Harl., Plut., Lucian, Joseph., etc.). It occurs only once again in the NT (2 Peter 2:13). The “ ” being short in composition ( ), WH, Ell., Alf., etc., accentuate it ; Lach., Tisch., Lipsius, Mey., etc., retain .— : or wrinkle. The word occurs only this once in the NT, and is not found in the Apocrypha or in the LXX, but is not infrequent in profane Greek, whether classical (Aristoph., Plato, etc.), or late (Diod., Plut., Lucian, etc.). Attempts have been made (by Aug., Grot., etc.) to establish a distinction between and here, but without success.— ; or any such thing. The article gives this the force of anything belonging to the class of such things as deform and defile.— : but that it should be holy and unblamable. The regular construction would have taken some such form as , etc. It is changed here, perhaps with a view to variety, as if the paragraph had begun with . Such oratio variata was common in Greek, and there are numerous examples of it in the NT generally (e.g., Mark 12:38; John 8:53; Acts 20:34; Acts 22:17; 1 Peter 2:7), and especially in the Pauline writings (Romans 1:12; Romans 4:12; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 7:13; 1 Corinthians 14:1; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Philippians 2:22). See Jelf, Greek Gram., § 909; Win.-Moult., p. 722; Buttm., Gram, of N. T. Greek, p. 241. On see under Ephesians 1:4 above.

[648] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[649] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[650] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[651] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[652] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[653] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[654] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis ( ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

[655] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.



Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

One of the great institutions of God for keeping alive in this world and securing to men the benefits of the knowledge and worship of himself, is that of the family; and the feelings and conduct of the wife towards her husband, and the husband towards his wife, may make it a nursery for and foretaste of heaven, or a preparation for and an emblem of hell.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

THE CLOSING WORDS of chapter 4 enforce upon us the obligation to kindness and forgiveness which rests upon all saints, inasmuch as we have been forgiven of God for Christ’s sake. The opening words of chapter 5 carry this thought a step further and a step higher. Not only have we been forgiven but we have been introduced into the Divine family. We are children of God and beloved by Him. Hence as dear children we are to be followers, or imitators, of God.

The imitation enjoined is not artificial but natural. Here are children playing in the market-place. They hold an imaginary court. This little maiden, arrayed in cheap finery, is impersonating a queen. She imitates queenly manners as best she can, but it is all very crude and artificial. There however is a small lad, minutely observing his father. Presently friends are smiling at him and observing how very like his father he is. His imitation is largely unconscious and wholly natural, for he is the son of his father, possessing his life and nature. Now it is as children of God that we are called upon to be imitators of God.

We are to walk in love. This is not natural to us as the children of Adam, but it is natural to us as born of God, for God is love. Walking in love is thus simply the manifesting in practice of the Divine nature. Hence it adds, “as Christ also hath loved us,” since in Christ the Divine nature was seen in all its fulness and perfection. In His case moreover love led to action. He gave Himself for us in sacrifice to God. In this of course He stands alone, though we are to love even as He loved. He was the true burnt offering, the Antitype of Leviticus 1:1-17.

Now love of the true and divine sort is altogether exclusive of the evils that spring from the flesh. Hence these things are to have no place amongst saints, indeed they are not to be even named among them. Things like those specified in verse Ephesians 5:3 appeal to instincts deeply rooted in man’s fallen nature, and we do well not only to avoid the things but also the contamination that is induced by thinking about them. We cannot talk about them without thinking of them, even if we condemn them in our talking. Therefore let us not talk about them. Nor let us allow our talk to descend to the level of foolishness or jesting. A Christian is neither a fool nor a jester, so let us not appear either in our conversation. Thanksgiving is what becomes the lips of those who are forgiven and become children of God.

The firm and decisive way in which the Apostle draws the line in verses Ephesians 5:5-6 is very remarkable. The kingdom of Christ and of God is characterized by holiness. The unholy are outside that kingdom and subject to the wrath of God. There was to be no mistake about this, for evidently then as now there were those who wished to blur this sharp distinction and to excuse unholiness. Other scriptures indicate that one who is a true believer may fall into any of these sins, but no true believer is characterized by any of them. No one characterized by such sins is to be regarded as a true Christian whatever they may say or profess.

The true believer’s attitude towards such is to be regulated by this. Whatever be their profession they have no part in the kingdom of God, and therefore we who have an inheritance in the kingdom can have no part with them. This is what verse Ephesians 5:7 so plainly states. Notice too that the last word of that verse is them. We are not only to avoid the sins, but also to avoid all participation with the sinners. The persons as well as the evils are to be avoided. The difference between us and them is as great and distinct as that between light and darkness.

Once we were darkness ourselves. In this fact lies our danger, for as a consequence of it there is that in us which answers to the appeal of the darkness. Therefore the less we have to do with the darkness the better— whether as regards the practices of darkness, or as regards the people who themselves are darkness and consequently practice it. We who believe are light in the Lord and as a result intolerant of darkness; for as it is in nature so it is in grace. Light and darkness cannot exist together. If light comes in darkness vanishes. Light and darkness mutually exclude each other.

Being light in the Lord we are to walk as children of light. We are to be in practice what we are in actual reality. Let us carefully note this for it is a feature of the exhortations of the Gospel. The Law demanded of men that they should be what they were not. The Gospel exhorts believers to be what they are. Yet the fact that we are so exhorted shows that a contrary principle is in existence. It infers that the flesh with its tendencies is still within the believer. As the flesh is held in check and quiescent, what we really are as God’s workmanship shines out.

Verse Ephesians 5:9 explains what will shine out, for the correct reading is not, “the fruit of the Spirit,” but, “the fruit of the light.” Three words sum up that fruit—goodness, righteousness, truth. The opposites—evil, iniquity, unreality—should be entirely shut out of our lives. Walking thus as children of light we prove what is pleasing to God: prove, that is, not by a process of reasoning, but by experience of a practical sort. We put things to the test, and thus learn experimentally for ourselves.

The believer’s life therefore may be summed up as bringing forth the fruits of the light, since he is a child of the light, while maintaining complete separation from the unfruitful works of darkness, for he is no longer of the darkness. Indeed he is to go even further and reprove them. This word, reprove, occurs again you will notice in verse 13. The meaning of it is not exactly, admonish or rebuke, but rather, expose. It is to expose, as by light, the true character of the works in question. If a believer shines out in his true character, his whole life will have that effect, just as in supreme measure his Master’s did. Nevertheless of course there may be many occasions when words of rebuke are needful.

The passage we are considering puts a very solemn responsibility upon us. It is just here that friction and trouble with the world begin. People do not usually object to the kindly side of Christianity: gracious words and gracious actions meet with their approval. The trouble begins when holiness is maintained. And holiness, as these verses show, demands no fellowship with evil—neither the evil-doers (v. Ephesians 5:7), nor their works (v. Ephesians 5:11). When a believer walks the separated path which is here enjoined, and manifests himself as a child of light, then he must expect storms. It was thus in superlative degree with our Lord and Master. “God is Love” has always been a far more popular text than “God is light.”

The peculiar quality of light is that it makes manifest all things that come under its rays. The truth of things becomes plain, and hence the one who does truth naturally welcomes the light, whilst he who does evil hates the light and avoids it. God is light in Himself; believers are only “light in the Lord,” just as the moon is only light to us, in as far as its face is in the light of the sun. Therefore it is that we, like the moon, must abide in the light of our great Luminary, Christ Himself. This is very plainly indicated in verse 14.

This verse is not a quotation from the Old Testament, though it is probably an allusion to Isaiah 60:1. We very easily fall victims to spiritual sleepiness, since the influences of the world are so soporific. Then we become like men sleeping amongst those dead in trespasses and sins. We are the living and they are the dead, and there should normally be the sharpest distinction between us. If we sleep amongst the dead we all appear very much alike. The call is to awake and arise that we may be in the sunshine of the Christ. Then it is that we are clear of all fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness and, being luminous ourselves, the fruit of the light is manifested in us.

Our walk and behaviour then is to be marked by wisdom—the wisdom that seizes every opportunity of serving the Lord on the one hand, and of gaining an understanding of His will and pleasure on the other. The very essence of good service is, not merely that we accomplish work, but that what we do is according to the will of the One, whom we serve. The fact is that for this, as for all else enjoined upon us here, we need to be filled with the Spirit.

Each of us, who have believed the Gospel of our salvation, has received the gift of the Holy Spirit, as we saw when considering Ephesians 1:1-23. It is another thing however to be filled with the Spirit, and the responsibility as to it is left with us. We are exhorted to be filled, which plainly infers that we are not filled—at all events at the moment when the exhortation is given.

The Spirit-filled believer is the subject of an extraordinary uplift. He is carried clean outside himself, centred in Christ, and enabled for the service of God in a power which is more than human. The man who is drunk with wine is carried outside himself in a way that is wholly evil. By the Spirit of God we may be carried outside ourselves in a way that is wholly good.

We get instances of the disciples being filled with the Spirit in Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 7:55; Acts 13:9. These references lead us to think that the filling with the Spirit was an experience of rather an exceptional nature even in the earliest apostolic time. Still it is most evidently set before us in our chapter as something to be desired and aimed at by every Christian.

It is not only an obligation but also a very wonderful privilege. To be filled with One who is a divine Person, can that be a negligible thing? It means that He has a complete control. If we take the exhortation to heart we shall naturally ask—How may I be filled? What have I to do in order that I may be?

That is no small question. We may at least say this; that it is ours to remove out of the way all that hinders. The Spirit of God is holy. Moreover, He is sensitive. We may easily grieve Him, even by things that we allow without a bad conscience. Correspondingly we may easily be preoccupied with things that we consider quite harmless, and yet being pre-occupied there is not the room for Him to occupy us. A good many “harmless” things will have to go out of my life and yours too, if we are to be filled with the Spirit.

The fruits of being filled with the Spirit follow in verses Ephesians 5:19-21. The heart is filled with gladness which finds a spiritual outlet in song. There is a glad acceptance of all things—even adverse circumstances—with thanks-giving to the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and as to our relations with one another the spirit of yieldingness and submission, whilst always maintaining the fear of God. Our submission to one another must not be at the expense of true subjection to Him.

All these detailed exhortations, which have continued from Ephesians 4:17, have been applicable to all believers. Now we have the special exhortations, and with verse Ephesians 5:22 the apostle turns to the wives. To them the exhortation is comprised in the one word, Submit. This flows naturally out of the general exhortation to submission in verse 21. The difficulty about submission is that it entails the non-assertion of one’s own will. But clearly enough in the economy of things, divinely established, for this world, the subject place is allotted to the wife. Her place is typical of the position in which the church stands to Christ. Just as Christ is “Head of the church,” all authority and directing ability and power being vested in Him, so the husband is “head of the wife.”

Alas! in practice through the centuries, the church (as a professing body) has got far away from its true position. The church “is subject unto Christ,” according to the Divine plan: it has been very insubject in its actual behaviour. It has acted for itself, and legislated as though it were the Head and not the body. Hence the confusion in church circles, so manifest on every hand. When the wife, even the Christian wife, sets aside the authority of her own husband, trouble ensues in a similar way.

The wife may however urge that she has a very awkward and incompetent husband! Too often indeed so it is. But the remedy for that is not the overturning of the Divine order. The church certainly has no such excuse, for it has an absolutely perfect Head; who is not only Head to the body but Saviour also.

Because the human husband, even the believing one, is frequently very imperfect, and always somewhat imperfect, an even lengthier exhortation is addressed to him. In one word his duty is love. It is easy to see that if the husband yields to his wife the love which is her due, she will not have much difficulty in yielding to him the submission which is his due. Obviously the greater responsibility is placed upon the shoulders of the husband. He is to love, and she is to submit; but the initiative rests with him.

When we turn from the responsibility resting upon the husband, which is the type, to the antitype, which as ever is seen in Christ, we find ourselves in the presence of perfection. The initiative indeed was with Him, and He has taken it in a most wonderful way. He not only loved the church but gave Himself for it. Moreover He has undertaken its practical sanctification and cleansing, and ultimately He will present it to Himself in glory in a perfection which is absolutely suitable to Himself.

The giving of Himself for the church took place in the past: it involved His death and resurrection. The sanctifying and purifying, of which verse Ephesians 5:26 speaks, is proceeding in the present by means of the Word. The cleansing here spoken of is by water, be it noted, not by blood. The distinction is an important one. The Blood indeed cleanses, as 1 John 1:7 declares but that is in a judicial sense. The Blood absolves us from guilt, and thus cleanses us in the eyes of the great Judge of all. The water of the Word cleanses us morally; that is, in heart and in character, and consequently in all our ways. This present washing of the church by the Word is taking place of course in the hearts and lives of the saints, of whom the church is composed.

The presentation of the perfected church will take place in the future glory. It will be Christ’s own gift to Himself! It will be all His own workmanship; for He loved, He gave Himself, He sanctified, He cleansed, and, as verse Ephesians 5:29 adds, He nourished, He cherished, and finally He presented to Himself.

A most wonderful work, and a most wonderful triumph, surely! Let us keep this aspect of things well in view, especially when cast down by present difficulties in the church, and painfully conscious of its sorrowful plight.

Now all these facts as to Christ and the church are to shed their light upon the relations between the Christian husband and wife. The marriage relationship is consequently set forth in the highest possible light; in a light altogether unknown to believers of Old Testament days, which accounts for the fact that many of them freely practised things which are wholly disallowed for us today. We are to walk in this light, and consequently the Christian husband is to love his wife as he loves himself— no mean standard that!—and the wife to reverence her husband.

Briefly observe three further points. First, this mystery concerns Christ and the church Not a church; no thought here of a local church, nor of any number of local assemblies. It is the church, one glorious body, and the church not viewed as a professing body, but rather as that elect body which is the fruit of Divine workmanship.

Second, the thought of the body comes in here; for we, who constitute the church, are spoken of as “members of His body.” Yet the main thought of the passage is that of the wife, for the church’s place is set forth as the pattern for Christian wives. We point this out because sometimes the fact of the church being the body of Christ is emphasized in order to maintain that it therefore cannot be in the place of the bride or wife. The fact is, as this passage indicates, that the church holds both positions.

This is made yet more plain by the third thing we point out. God’s original creation of Adam and Eve was ordered in view of Christ and the church, as verses Ephesians 5:28-32 show. Now Eve was Adam’s wife, but she was also his body, being built up from one of his ribs. Adam’s rib has no doubt provoked a good deal of sarcastic merriment amongst unbelieving modernists, who call themselves Christians. Yet here the fact concerning it clearly underlies the argument. It is nearly always thus. There is a new Testament allusion to the ridiculed Old Testament story. You cannot scrap the one without scrapping the other, if you add mental honesty and integrity to your modernism. We whole-heartedly accept both.

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Ephesians 5:22-33

The Apostle has been urging us to be filled with the Spirit, and now proceeds to show how Spirit-filled people should act in their homes. He has been exhorting to praise and joyfulness, and now urges that our lives, as well as our lips, should be attuned to music.

What a lofty ideal of wedded love is here! Chrysostom says: “Wouldest thou that thy wife obey thee as the Church doth Christ? Have care for her, then, as Christ for the Church.” Our earthly relationships are similitudes and emblems of sacred realities, and the more we can import into the time sphere the inspiration and virtue of the eternal, the more transcendental and beautiful will they become. The Lord has taught us the utter renunciation of love. Men of the world reckon how much love they can get; the children of eternity how much they can give; but such giving always means getting back with compound interest. Notice those phrases about nourishing and cherishing. O wounded member of Christ’s body, He suffers in thee, nourishes, cherishes, and will heal!

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

All that the apostle had been saying was emphasized by the statement of their relationship to God as he called them to be "imitators of God." Again he urged them to put off the old and put on the new. In the old are things of darkness. Believers are to walk as children of the light. That light is found in Christ, "Christ shall shine upon thee."

In the final movement the apostle makes a contrast between false excitement and true enthusiasm, between being "drunken with wine" and being "filled with the Spirit." The whole teaching here is emphasized by the words, 'Walk worthily of the calling." In order to do this, we find two principal injunctions: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God (4:30), and "Be filled with the Spirit" (5:18).

Dealing with the Christian household the apostle first revealed the divine conception of the sacredness of the marriage relation. The ideal is presented as conformity to the pattern of the relationship existing between Christ and His Church. The wife yields her complete allegiance to an absolutely self-sacrificing love. Therefore, in his relationship the husband is mastered by a self-emptying devotion. Thus the heads of the household are called on to bear such relation to each other as is worthy of the high calling of the Church, made possible by the glorious union existing between her and her Lord.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

That he might present it to himself a glorious church,.... There is a presentation of the church by Christ to his Father at his death, when he gathered the elect together in one, brought them nigh, and reconciled them to God, and presented them to holy, unblamable, and unreproveable in his sight; and now in heaven, where he represents their persons, appears and makes intercession for them; and at the last day, when he will deliver the whole number of them complete and perfect, in consequence of his suretyship engagements: but this is a presentation of them to himself; and is either in this life, when they are brought to him in raiment of needlework, clothed with his righteousness, and washed in his blood, and he beholds them all fair, and without spot; or at the first resurrection, and during the thousand years' reign; as well as in the ultimate glory, when the open marriage of the Lamb will be come, when his bride will be arrayed with line linen, clean and white; and have the glory of God upon her, and appear in glory with Christ, and will be a glorious church indeed:

not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; the bodies of the saints will be like to Christ's glorious body, and will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father; and in their souls they will be completely conformed to the image of Christ, and enjoy uninterrupted communion with him, and have perfect knowledge of him; they will be always in his presence, and he will take unspeakable delight and complacency in them, which his presentation of them to himself is expressive of; the church will then be free from all spots and blemishes; from all hypocrites and formal professors; and all heresies and heretics; from all declensions and infirmities, and from all sin and iniquity: the allusion seems to be to the customs and practices of the Jews, in their espousals: if a man espoused a woman on condition that she had no spots in her, and afterwards spots were found in her, she was not espoused; for spots or blemishes, as in priests, so in women, render them unfit; as the one for service, so the other for marriage; and they reckon up eight several spots or blemishes, for which they may be rejectedF17Misn. Cetubot, c. 7. sect. 7,8. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. : but Christ's church has no spots or blemishes, nor anything like them; and will never be rejected by him, but will be always pleasing in his sight:

but that it should be holy and without blemish; as it is, being justified by his righteousness, washed in his blood, and sanctified by his Spirit.

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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 5:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament



21-24. Here the apostle gives the beautiful and instructive similitude of the matrimonial alliance, unifying husband and wife, and thus vividly illustrating the mysterious unity of our Lord and his bride.

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William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

27. That he may present to himself a glorious Church, having neither spot nor wrinkle nor any of such things, but she may be holy and blameless.

“‘Tis a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, washed in the blood of the Lamb!” What a contrast this plain, simple, and unmistakable statement of the Holy Ghost affirming so positively and lucidly the purity of God’s Church, with the materialistic, skeptical, worldly, proud, pompous, money-loving ecclesiasticisms of the present day, not only utterly ignorant of the sweet and simple experience of heart-purity and the indwelling Comforter, but even waging an exterminating war in pulpit and pews against the very religion revealed throughout the New Testament as the blessed and happy experience of God’s children!

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The Love of Husbands for Their Wives

If the husband exhibits the love talked about in, most wives would readily submit to him. The love a husband is to have is not erotic or passionate, but intellectual commitment to the best interests of his wife. Christ is the perfect example of such love in his sacrificial death on the cross for the church. Husbands are urged to imitate Christ"s self-sacrificing nature in their relationship with their wives.

Christ gave his life to set the church apart from the world through the cleansing his blood provides (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 20:28). The means of the church reaching that blood is through the baptism of each who would be a part of that sanctified body. There is a cleansing which takes place when one is lowered into the watery grave in obedience to the word (5:26; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).

Having purchased the church with his own blood, Jesus is ever working toward its perfection (). His desire is also for her purity that she may be ready to be taken home by her bridegroom in the great day of judgment (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). The perfection of the church can only be attained through constant and faithful teaching of the truth (Colossians 1:28; 1 Peter 2:2). The church will not be fully ready for presentation to Christ until her members have put on immortality and stand purified before him because of having completed their walk in the light where Christ"s blood kept them pure (Revelation 19:6-8; Revelation 21:2; 1 Corinthians 15:5-57; 1 John 1:7). Christ"s bride will be pure and without the spot of sin (5:27).

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Submission in Marriage - Ephesians 5:21 tells us to be in submission in our relationships to others. The passage in Ephesians 5:22-33 focuses on the issue of submission in the marriage relationship.

When God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, it was so that God's purpose and plan for His creation might be fulfilled. Thus, the institution of marriage and procreation plays a central role in God's divine plan for all things. The passage in regarding the husband and wife is placed within the context of the theme of Ephesians, which theme is God's eternal plan for mankind. Thus, as we will see in the passage on parents and children in Ephesians 6:1-4, Paul speaks of the one key element in this relationship that will help an individual to fulfil his personal divine calling in life. For children, it is obedience to parents and for fathers it is proper training of a child. However, in marriage, the emphasis is different. The submission of a wife brings her under the protective care and nourishment of the husband so that she can support him to fulfil his destiny. The husband is to love his wife in a way that causes her to be all that God created her to be. Thus, in order for a person who is married to fulfil his individual calling in life, he or she must order their lives within the divine rule and guidelines of the marriage institution. Although Paul will state that a single individual has a much easier time in fulfilling his divine calling ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-40), he also understood that celibacy was not God's original plan for mankind. When a married couple follows the rules of love and submission in marriage, they will place themselves on the road to succeeding in God's divine plan for each one of their lives. A wife's ability to submit to her husband will determine her ability to walk in submission to the Lord. The husband's ability to honour his wife will determine his ability to honour the Lord in his daily walk. If either one or both fail to do Song of Solomon, it will hinder the journey of both of them ( 1 Timothy 2:8, 1 Peter 3:7).

1 Timothy 2:8, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

1 Peter 3:7, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

Within any normal marriage, the wife continually longs for her husband's love, while the husband most earnestly desires his wife's respect. Thus, within this passage on marriage ( ) the wife is told to honor her husband by submitting to him, and the husband is told to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. This type of response requires believers to daily crucify their flesh in order to fulfill this biblical command. For example, when a wife is not loved, she responds by not showing respect unto her husband; and when a husband is not honored, he responds by not show love towards his wife. Thus, the themes of love and respect are woven within the fabric of this passage of Scripture.

The Analogy of Christ and the Church - describes Jesus' office and ministry to the New Testament Church as a type of marriage. Some explanation is needed to understand why Paul uses the analogy of Christ and the Church when discussing the institution of marriage. He gave Himself in behalf of the Church to justify it before God the Father ( Ephesians 5:25), and takes it through the process of sanctification as the Church embraces the Word and walks in it. In our sanctification, Jesus Christ sits as our Great High priest before the Father to intercede for us, while the Holy Spirit indwells every believer to guide him into the truth of God's Word. His goal is to take the Church as His "bride" and be eternally wed to it in eternal glory ( Ephesians 5:26). Thus, this passage of Scripture deals with man's redemption: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Paul uses this relationship as an example to the husband of how to love his wife.

Just as Christ Jesus is the head of the Church, so does the husband serve the role as head over the wife. The role of the husband is a divine role created by God to serve a divine purpose. This analogy reveals that the institution of the family is embedded within God the Father's overall plan of redemption as laid forth in the first three chapters of Ephesians. Paul puts this divine order into a single statement in 1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Arthur Patzia explains how this analogy also helps the readers understand their intimate relationship with Christ as their loving head, caring for their every need as a member of the body of Christ; thus, this analogy has a domestic application as well as a doctrinal, ecclesiastical one. He explains that the husband's role of authority is shaped by the role of Christ as head of the Church. 153]

153] Arthur G. Patzia, Ephesians,, Colossians,, Philemon, in Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 267.

Illustration - As a husband guiding my family in the mission field, I often sense the anointing when opening the Scriptures with them, or when discussing issues and offering counsel. The role of the father come with a special anointing that God gives each man in order to fulfill this God-given task of leading the family into His plan for their lives.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22Comments - Although the social customs of the first century Greco-Roman world required the woman to submit to the husband, Paul now gives the Christian wife a divine reason for submission; thus, Paul says "as unto the Lord" as a way of expressing this divine purpose. 154]

154] Arthur G. Patzia, Ephesians,, Colossians,, Philemon, in Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 268.

Now, if I were writing this epistle as an American born in a culture where marriage was consummated by two people who mutually loved each other, I would begin this passage by saying, "Wives, love your husbands." However, Paul does not ask once in this passage for the wives to love their husbands. Why would this be so? One reason might be the fact that in the first century culture of the Ephesians, as in many cultures today, the fathers choose the husband for their daughter. A wedding was not consummated out of love, but out of a mutual arrangement by a father and a daughter"s obedience to a father. The wife was to learn to love her husband.

Illustration- Perhaps Uriah and Bathsheba were newly married and therefore, she had not yet developed a deep love for her husband. Therefore, her heart was not as torn apart as a person who had lost one who was dearly loved.

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Ephesians 5:23Comments - In Ephesians 5:23 Paul compares the role of the husband as head of the wife (and his home) to the divine order of Christ over the Church. Paul adds the comment that Christ Jesus is also the Saviour of the body of Christ, that Isaiah, the Church. The term "Saviour" is a redemptive word, signifying Jesus' role in bringing believers into eternal rest in Heaven. The husband, therefore, is compelled to guide his wife and family along this redemptive journey of salvation as he follows Christ his head ( 1 Corinthians 11:3). The husband is to guide his family in a place of "salvation," or deliverance, from the works of sin, sickness, and poverty, and into the abundance of the spiritual blessings Christ both in this life and eternal life ( Ephesians 1:3). In order to do this, the husband must be able to receive a word from God, obey it, and prosper as a result. His ability to be led by the Lord demonstrates to the wife that he has a divine role her head, and not just a carnal role that supresses and controls the wife. When a wife sees the blessings and prosperity that a husband can bring to the family, she becomes a willing follower. Otherwise, she does it begrudgingly.

1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:"

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:24Comments - In Ephesians 5:24 Paul addresses the wives with a divine charge to be entirely submitted to their husbands in every respect, giving them the reason for this command, which is their ultimate submission to Christ Jesus. Thus, the wife is to submit unto the husband as unto the Lord, which becomes an act of divine service and devotion to Jesus.

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

Ephesians 5:25 — "Husbands, love your wives" - Comments - In Ephesians 5:25 Paul brings a divine balance to the husband's role as head over the wife. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, making the ultimate sacrifice of giving himself for his wife and children. Love is a self-sacrificing word. It tells the husband to willingly submit and meet the needs of a wife. The husband is to lay down his life for his wife, so that she will be able to fulfil her divine purpose in God's plan for her life, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for us so that we will fulfil our divine purpose.

In one sense, both husband and wife are to submit to one another. The husband, as a leader, submits to the Lord by loving his wife. The wife, so as one who obeys her husband, does so by submitting to a husband's leadership. Jack Hayford says the Lord taught him as a pastor that "the greatest way to love and serve Christ's Bride, the Church, was to learn first to love his own bride." 155]

155] Tamara Campbell, A Marriage Made for Ministry [on-line]; accessed 14March 2009; available from; Internet.

Ephesians 5:25 — "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" - Comments - Christ Jesus loved the Church before the Church was sanctified. He loved us while we were unloveable and yet in our sins and gave Himself for us. 156] He gave Himself for the Church so that it could be sanctified and fulfill its destiny. He gave Himself on Calvary so that each child of God could obtain his final destiny through the process of sanctification, as described in Ephesians 5:26-27. In the same manner, the husband is to love his wife and guiding her into the fulfilment of her God-given destiny. Thus, Paul says, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies." ( Ephesians 5:28) The wife should have a sense of fulfilment in her life just as the husband when he fulfils his goals.

156] Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London: Macmillan and Co, 1906), 84.

Scripture References- Note:

John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26Comments - Ephesians 5:26 refers to the process of sanctification that every believer must go through after the salvation experience in order to be presented as a child of God without spot or wrinkle.

The Greek text reads, "that he might sanctify her after having cleansed (her)." The Greek word καθαρί ζω (to cleanse) is an aorist active participle that refers to a past event that has already been completed. In addition, the English translation "with the washing of water" literally reads in the Greek text, "with a water-kind of washing." We must keep in mind that Paul is writing to the Ephesians from a heavenly perspective, so he describes our salvation from a divine standpoint, as if he were standing in heaven and looking down upon earth describing the salvation experience. The Old Testament priest washed himself in the brass laver prior to entering the door of the Tabernacle, which serves as a type and figure of the daily cleansing of the Word of God in the life of the believer. Thus, the word ὕ δωρ (water) is used figuratively to describe the inward cleansing that one outwardly testifies about through public water baptism. In Titus 3:5, Paul describes the salvation experience with a similar statement, saying, "by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Paul describes the salvation experience again when writing to the believers at Corinth, saying, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." ( 1 Corinthians 6:11) Ezekiel offers similar, figurative language when he says, "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil." ( Ezekiel 16:9) The water is figurative of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. B. H. Carroll notes that under the old covenant, the water of purification was sprinkled for cleansing ( Psalm 51:7, Ezekiel 36:25).

Psalm 51:7, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

Ezekiel 36:25, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you."

Moses sprinkled the people and the Tabernacle and its articles with blood from the altar using a bunch of hyssop ( , Leviticus 8:30, Psalm 51:7, Ezekiel 36:25). 157]

157] B. H. Carroll, Colossians,, Ephesians, and Hebrews, in An Interpretation of the English Bible (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1917), 166.

Paul appropriately uses the term "washing" in a figurative sense to describe one's salvation experience in Ephesians 5:26. Modern western cultures enjoy an abundance of clean water for drinking, for bathing, for washing the hands, body, and other household items. However, in primitive cultures, hygiene is poorly understood and clean water is not abundant. Something we practice so regularly and take for granted each day is seldom done in primitive cultures simply because of an insufficient supply of pure water. Such cultures experience disease with understanding its causes.

B. F. Westcott and others understands the phrase "by the word" to mean that we were initially saved and cleansed from our sins through our word of confession of faith in Jesus Christ. 158] In contrast, Andrew Lincoln and others believes this phrase refers to the sacramental confession made by the one doing the baptismal ceremony upon the candidate. 159] The interpretation of a confession of faith is warranted by the use of the Greek word ῥ ῆ μα, which describes the spoken words of one's mouth, rather than the use of the Greek word λό γος, which has a broad scope of meanings, in particular to the written Word of God. However, Andrew Lincoln cites the phrase " ὅ ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ" in Ephesians 6:17 as justification for interpreting this to mean the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

158] Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London: Macmillan and Co, 1906), 84.

159] Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 42, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), notes on Ephesians 5:26.

The Greek word ῥῆμα is clearly linked to καθαρί ζω (to cleanse). However, if ῥῆμα is linked at all to the word ἁ γιά ζω (to sanctify) by any sense of meaning, which view is held by the minority, then the phrase "by the word" can refer both to the cleansing and sanctification of the believer. The process of sanctification takes place by daily feeding upon God's Word. Children of God fail to understand the need of the daily washing of the soul of man by the Word of God. The Word is neglected because its value is not understood. As a result, many problems result in the life of the believer because of the lack of appropriating the Word of God, problems that could have been avoided.

Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27Comments - In his two epistles to the church of Corinthian, Paul deals with the practical problems of this church by exposing their problems and ugliness in order to bring them through the process of sanctification. In contrast, the epistle of Ephesians presents a glorious church, endowed with the heavenly blessings of God, ready to overcome all of the fiery darts of the enemy.

Paul makes a similar analogy of the Church as the bride of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." John the apostle describes the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:5-9

, "And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

This glorious uniting of the Church with Christ is mentioned by Jesus Christ in the Parable of the Ten Virgins ( ).

In contrast to the spotless Church, Peter represents the unrighteous as being "spots and blemishes" ( 2 Peter 2:13).

2 Peter 2:13, "And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;"

Comments - The Three Phases of the Sanctification of the Church - Ephesians 5:26-27 consists of three purpose clauses beginning with ἵνα. Westcott describes the sequences of these clauses as three phases of our sanctification. Christ is to lead the Church into the process of sanctification, present her to Himself as a glorious Church, and bring her into a place of continuous holiness. 160] Westcott uses these three phases to draws the three-fold image of a bride preparing for her wedding, being presented to her bridegroom, and abiding in his continual fellowship.

160] Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London: Macmillan and Co, 1906), 84.

Ephesians 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Ephesians 5:28Comments - In Ephesians 5:28 Paul begins to explain the concept that the husband and the wife form one complete body, providing a reason for the husband to love his wife. B. F. Westcott notes that Paul did not say that men ought to love their wives in the same way that they loved their own bodies; for Paul would then be making a distinction between the two bodies. 161] Instead, Paul tells the husband to love his wife because she is a part of himself; they are one flesh as he will soon say in Ephesians 5:31. Just as the Church makes up the body of Christ, so does a man and a woman make one body. Therefore, when the husband loves his wife, he is loving one aspect of himself. However, Andrew Lincoln understands Paul to be telling the man to love his wife the way he loves his own body. He believes this phrase is framed by the Old Testament commandment, "but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. ( Leviticus 19:18) He bases this view on equating this phrase to Paul's closing statement to the husband to "love his wife even as himself." ( Ephesians 5:33) He says the phrase "as their own bodies" is equivalent to "as himself." 162]

161] Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London: Macmillan and Co, 1906), 85.

162] Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 42, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), notes on Ephesians 5:28.

Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Ephesians 5:29 — "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh" - Comments - Arthur Patzia suggests Paul uses the word σά ρξ (flesh) in Ephesians 5:29 rather than σῶ μα (body) as in the preceding verse because he is anticipating the Old Testament use of σά ρξ in his citation of Genesis 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." 163]

163] Arthur G. Patzia, Ephesians,, Colossians,, Philemon, in Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 272.

"but nourisheth and cherisheth it" - Comments- These words tell us how men are to love their wives. They are to nourish and cherish her. One pastor, who was also a marriage counsellor, said that the Lord told him that his job was to help his wife to become what God created her to be. He was not to abuse her nor put her down, but he was to build her up so that she might reach her full potential. In this way, the wife can fulfil God"s purpose and plan for her life. This pastor went on to say that many husbands will stand before the throne of God one day and give an account of how they handled one of the most precious gifts that God gave the husband, his wife.

"even as the Lord the church" - Comments- Even the Lord Jesus Christ nourishes and cherishes His own body, the Church.

Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Ephesians 5:30 — "For we are members of his body" - Comments- Every believer is a member of the Church, which is the body of Christ. Paul has made an earlier reference in Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:4-16 to this analogy. He expounds upon this truth in other epistles (see Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Colossians 1:18; Colossians 3:15).

"of his flesh, and of his bones" - Comments - Albert Barnes suggests this phrase reflects Genesis 2:23, "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 164] The fact that the following verse ( Ephesians 5:31) is a quote from Genesis 2:24 further supports this view. Barnes believes this phrase reflects the intimacy of marriage. It certainly reflects the absolute unity that God intended within the institution of marriage. The UBS3 treats the phrase "of his flesh, and of his bones" as a later addition to the text.

164] Albert Barnes, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Epistles of Paul to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians (New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1855), 126.

Ephesians 5:30Comments - As the natural man nourishes and cherishes his own physical body ( Ephesians 5:29), so does Christ love and cherish His own body, which is the Church.

A. B. Simpson comments on Ephesians 5:30 saying, "These words recognize a union between our body and the risen body of the Lord Jesus Christ, which gives us the right to claim for our mortal frame all the vital energy of His perfect life. His body is ours. His life is ours, and it is all sufficient." 165] This divine empowering within our mortal bodies has been given to us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:11).

165] A. B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing (New York: Christian Alliance Publication Co, 1890) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from; Internet, chapter 1, section 12.

Romans 8:11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Ephesians 5:31Comments - Ephesians 5:31 is a quote from Genesis 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:32 — "This is a great mystery" - Comments - Paul uses the Greek word μυστή ριον six times in the epistle of Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 5:32; Ephesians 6:19). This Greek word is frequently used in Classical Greek literature; however, it is seldom found in the LXX, being used eight times in book of Daniel ( Daniel 2:18-19; Daniel 2:27-30; Daniel 2:47; Ephesians 4:9) and twelve times in the apocryphal literature ( Judith,, Tobit,, 2 Maccabees,, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach). In the New Testament, μυστή ριον is used three times in the Gospels in the parallel passage when Jesus teaches on the Parable of the Sower ( Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, Luke 8:10). In this statement recorded by the three Evangelists, Jesus explains that the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are revealed to His disciples, but hidden from the multitudes. Paul uses μυστή ριον nineteen times in his epistles (1Cor 6], Eph 6], Col 4], 2Thess 1], 1Tim 2]). John uses it four times in the book of Revelation ( Revelation 1:20; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7).

Within the context of the New Testament, the "mystery" of the Gospel generally refers to divine revelation which has until now been hidden from mankind; but it has now been revealed at the revelation of Christ Jesus. God's divine plan of redemption for mankind through His Son Jesus Christ was a mystery hidden within the Old Testament Scriptures, but has now been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the New Testament writings. In Ephesians 5:32 Paul uses μυστή ριον to refer to one aspect of God's plan of redemption, which is the spiritual relationship between Christ and His Church.

"but I speak concerning Christ and the church" - Comments - Paul cites Genesis 2:24 in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 when explaining the relationship of one flesh when a man commits fornication with a harlot. Just as Paul further explains in this passage that the believer who is united with Jesus Christ becomes one spirit, so does Paul follow with a similar statement in Ephesians 5:32, explaining how a man and a woman uniting in marriage serves as an analogy of the unity between a believer and Christ, for both become one flesh, that Isaiah, one spirit.

, "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith Hebrews, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."

Ephesians 5:33 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 5:33Comments - What a man most desires from a woman is not her love, but rather her respect towards him as the head of the home, which can be defined in a practical way as her obedience to him ( 1 Peter 3:6). He understands a woman's love when she shows him respect by listening to him, contributing to his success and yielding to his leadership. In contrast, a woman mostly desires the tender love from her husband, always assuring her of his single devotion to her, which can be defined in a practical way as his honour towards her as equally important ( 1 Peter 3:7). This honour is shown in a practical manner as he recognizes her needs and takes care of her. Emerson Eggerichs, a Christian marriage counsellor and conference teacher, searched for years looking for the missing element in a marriage relationship. He had heard in his counselling sessions many wives crying out for their husbands to love them. However, the husbands were slow to admit their need for respect from their wife. He calls this two-fold expression in marriage the "Love and Respect Connection," and he explains that without it, a couple lives in the "Crazy Cycle" of constantly hurting one another. Regarding Ephesians 5:33 he says:

"A husband is to obey the commandment to love even if his wife does not obey the commandment to respect, and a wife is to obey the commandment to love…A husband is even called to love a disrespectful wife, and a wife is called to respect an unloving husband…When a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife. (Perhaps the command to love was given to him precisely for this reason!) When a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. (Perhaps the command to respect was given to her precisely for this reason!)" 166]

166] Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, c 2004), 16.

Illustration - Eggerichs illustrates the application of a woman respecting her husband by referring to . Perhaps the most powerful tool that a believing woman can use to win her husband to Christ is to show him "unconditional respect." 167] This passage of Scripture goes on to say that Sarah called Abraham "lord" ( 1 Peter 3:6), as a sign of respect and obedience towards her husband. Peter then turns to the husband and tells him to honour his wife ( 1 Peter 3:7), which reflects the need to give his wife the love she craves.

167] Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, c 2004), 18.

, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear."

Illustration - A man's desire for respect from his wife is clearly illustrated in the story of King Ahasuerus' rejection of Queen Vashti ( ). The opening story of the book of Esther is about a man's desire for respect from his wife. During a royal banquet, the king asked the queen to present herself before his peers in order to boast of her beauty. Because she refused, perhaps to avoid feeling humiliated before a group of vulgar, drunken, lustful men, the king rejected her as his queen. There is no love or romance involved in this decision. The king's decision was driven strictly by his desire for respect from a wife. Had the king loved the queen, he would have considered her feelings and emotions behind her decision. In contrast, God commands the husband to love his wife, a practice that encourages the wife to respect her husband ( Ephesians 5:33). She had great honor and respect in hosting the wives of the nation's leaders. Now, she was compelled to be displayed before a group of vulgar men who would look at her with envy and lust. Instead of obeying the king, the queen disrespected her husband because he disrespected her.

Illustration - Menchu told me last night that she admired me for the first time in our fifteen-year marriage (6 April 2011). She could have told me that she loves me a hundred times; but it would not carry as much weight as one statement of admiration and honor. Her admiration tells me that as a Prayer of Manasseh, I am fulfilling my divine destiny and she is willing to go with me on the journey. However, if she tells me she loves me, tomorrow she can become upset with me. Love toward a husband vacillates, but honur endures.

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Geneva Study Bible

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, o not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

(o) The Church as it is considered in itself, will not be without wrinkle, before it come to the mark it aims at: for while it is in this life, it runs in a race. But if it is considered in Christ, it is clean and without wrinkle.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

22–33.] Mutual duties of wives and husbands arising from the relation between Christ and the Church.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

27.] that (further purpose of ἑαυτ. παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς) He might Himself present to Himself (as a bride, see reff. 2 Cor.: not as a sacrifice (Harl.), which is quite against the context. The expression sets forth that the preparation of the Church for her bridal with Christ is exclusively by His own agency) the church glorious (the prefixed adjective is emphatic, which we lose in translation), not having spot (a late word— τοῦτο φυλάττου, λέγε δὲ κηλίς—Phryn. Lobeck 28, where see note. It is found in Dion. Hal., Plut., Lucian, &c. The proper accentuation seems to be as in text, not σπῖλος. In Anthol. vi. 252, we have ἄσπιλον, ἀῤῥυτίδωτον, beginning a hexameter) or wrinkle ( ῥυτίς, ἡ συγκεκλυσμένη σάρξ, Etym. Mag.: from ( ) ρύω, see Palm and Rost, Lex. A classical word, see reff.), or any of such things, but that she may be holy (perfect in holiness) and blameless (see on both, note, ch. Ephesians 1:4). The presentation here spoken of is clearly, in its full sense, that future one at the Lord’s coming, so often treated under the image of a marriage (Matthew 22:1 ff; Matthew 25:1 ff.; Revelation 19:7 ff; Revelation 21:2 al. fr.), not any progress of sanctification here below, as Harl., Beng., al., maintain (and Calv., commonly quoted on the other side: for he says on παραστήσῃ, ‘finem baptismi et ablutionis nostræ declarat: ut sancte et inculpate Deo vivamus’): however the progress towards this state of spotlessness in this life may sometimes be spoken of in its fulness and completion, or with reference to its proper qualities, not here found in their purity. Schöttgen quotes a rabbinical comment on Song of Solomon 1:5 :—‘Judæi de synagoga intelligunt, et sic explicant: nigra sum in hoc sæculo, sed decora in sæcuIo futuro.’

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George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Not having spot or wrinkle. St. Augustine and others expound it of the glorious Church of Christ, in heaven: others even of the Church of Christ in this world, as to its doctrines, sacraments, and disciplines, or practices approved by the Catholic Church. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

As the apostle unites with his design of teaching the duties arising from the conjugal relation, the purpose to illustrate the nature of the union between Christ and his church, these verses relate to the latter point and not to the former. They set forth the design of Christ's death. Its remote design was to gain the church for himself as an object of delight. Its proximate design was to prepare it for that high destiny. These ideas are presented figuratively. The church is regarded as the bride of Christ. This is designed to teach —

1. That it is an object of a peculiar and exclusive love. As the love which a bridegroom has for his bride is such as he has for no one else; so the love which Christ has for his church is such as he has for no other order of creatures in the universe, however exalted.

2. As the bride belongs exclusively to her husband, so the church belongs exclusively to Christ. It sustains a relation to him which it sustains to no other being, and in which no other being participates.

3. This relation is not only peculiar and exclusive, but the union between Christ and his church is more intimate than any which subsists between him and any other order of creatures. We are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones.

4. The church is the special object of delight to Christ. It is said of Zion, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee," Isaiah 62:5. He is to present it to himself as his own peculiar joy. Such being the high destiny of the church, the proximate end of Christ's death was to purify, adorn, and render it glorious, that it might be prepared to sit with him on his throne. She is to be a bride adorned for her husband.

These are not imaginations, nor exaggerations, nor empty figures; but simple, scriptural, sanctifying, and saving truths. And what is true of the church collectively, is true of its members severally. Each is the object of Christ's peculiar love. Each sustains to him this peculiar, exclusive, and intimate relation. Each is the object in which he thus delights, and each is to be made perfectly holy, without spot, and glorious.

Though the general sense of this passage is thus plain, there is no little difficulty attending the interpretation of its details. Christ, it is said, gave himself for the church, ἵνα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσῃ, which Calvin renders, Ut segregaret eam sibi, that he might separate it for himself; which, he says, is done by the remission of sin, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Though the verb ἁγιάζειν has this sense, yet as in Paul's writings it is commonly used to express cleansing from pollution, and as this sense best suits the context, it is generally preferred. The design of Christ's death was to make his people holy. It accomplishes this end by reconciling them to God, and by securing for them the gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus in Galatians 3:13, Galatians 3:14, it is said, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

With regard to the next clause, καθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος, having cleansed (or cleansing) it with the washing of water, we must inquire —

1. What is intended by λουτρὸν τοῦ ὕδατος.

2. What is meant by καθαρίσας; and

3. In what relation this clause stands to the preceding. Does "the washing of water" here mean baptism, or a washing which is analogous to a washing with water? The latter interpretation is admissible.

The apostle may mean nothing more than a spiritual frustration. In Ezekiel 16:9, speaking of Israel, God said, "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil." And in Ezekiel 36:25, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean." Also in Hebrews 10:22, it is said, "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." In all these cases washing with water is a figurative expression for spiritual purification. Commentators, however, almost without exception understand the expression in the text to refer to baptism. The great majority of them, with Calvin and other of the Reformers, do not even discuss the question, or seem to admit any other interpretation to be possible. The same view is taken by all the modern exegetical writers. This unanimity of opinion is itself almost decisive. Nothing short of a stringent necessity can justify any one in setting forth an interpretation opposed to this common consent of Christians. No such necessity here exists. Baptism is a washing with water. It was the washing with water with which Paul's readers as Christians were familiar, and which could not fail to occur to them as the washing intended. Besides, nothing more is here attributed to baptism than is attributed to it in many other passages of the word of God. Compare particularly Acts 22:16, "Arise, be baptized, and wash away thy sins, ἀπόλουσαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου." There can be little doubt, therefore, that by "the washing with water," the apostle meant baptism.

As to the meaning of the participle καθαρίσας there is more doubt. The verb signifies to cleanse either literally, ceremonially, or figuratively. As the Scriptures speak of a twofold purification from sin, one from guilt by expiation, the other from pollution by the Spirit, and as καθαρίζειν is used in reference to both, the question is, which is here intended. Does the apostle speak of pardon, or of sanctification as effected by this washing with water? The word expresses sacrificial purification. Hebrews 9:22, Hebrews 9:23. 1 John 1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." Hebrews 9:14; Compare Hebrews 1:3, "Having by himself made purification of our sin." In favor of taking it in this sense here, is the fact that baptism is elsewhere connected with the remission of sin; as in Acts 22:16, and Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." The meaning of the word, however, depends upon its relation to the preceding clause. καθαρίσας may be connected with ἁγιάσῃ, and taken in the same tense with it. It then expresses the mode in which Christ cleanses his church. ‘He gave himself for it that he might cleanse it, purifying it by the washing of water.'‹21› In this case, if ἁγιάσῃ expresses moral purification or sanctification, so must καθαρίσας. But if this participle be taken in the past tense, according to its form, then it must express something which precedes sanctification. The meaning would then be, ‘Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it, having purified it by the washing with water.' In this case καθαρίσας must refer to expiation or sacrificial purification, i.e. to washing away of guilt. The context is in favor of this view, and so is the analogy of Scripture. The Bible always represents remission of sin or the removal of guilt as preceding sanctification. We are pardoned and reconciled to God, in order that we may be made holy. Christ, therefore, having by his blood cleansed his church from guilt, sanctifies or renders it holy. In either view we are said to be cleansed (whether from guilt or from pollution) by baptism.

What does this mean? How does baptism in either of these senses wash away sin? The Protestant and scriptural answer to this question is, that baptism cleanses from sin just as the word does. We are said to be saved by the truth, to be begotten by the truth, to be sanctified by the truth. This does not mean —

1. That there is any inherent, much less magic, power in the word of God as heard or read to produce these effects.

2. Nor that the word always and everywhere, when rightly presented, thus sanctifies and saves, so that all who hear are partakers of these benefits.

3. Nor does it mean that the Spirit of God is so tied to the word as never to operate savingly on the heart except in connection with it. For infants may be subjects of regeneration, though incapable of receiving the truth.

In like manner when the Scriptures speak of baptism as washing away sin, Acts 22:16; or as uniting us to Christ, Galatians 3:27; or as making Christ's death our death, Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12; or as saving us, 1 Peter 3:21; they do not teach —

1. That there is any inherent virtue in baptism, or in the administrator, to produce these effects; nor

2. That these effects always attend its right administration; nor

3. That the Spirit is so connected with baptism that it is the only channel through which he communicates the benefits of redemption, so that all the unbaptized perish.

These three propositions, all of which Romanism and Ritualism affirm, are contrary to the express declarations of Scripture and to universal experience. Multitudes of the baptized are unholy; many of the unbaptized are sanctified and saved.

How then is it true that baptism washes away sin, unites us to Christ, and secures salvation? The answer again is, that this is true of baptism in the same sense that it is true of the word. God is pleased to connect the benefits of redemption with the believing reception of the truth. And he is pleased to connect these same benefits with the believing reception of baptism. That is, as the Spirit works with and by the truth, so he works with and by baptism, in communicating the blessings of the covenant of grace. Therefore, as we are said to be saved by the word, with equal propriety we are said to be saved by baptism; though baptism without faith is as of little effect as is the word of God to unbelievers. The scriptural doctrine concerning baptism, according to the Reformed churches is —

1. That it is a divine institution.

2. That it is one of the conditions of salvation. "Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved," Mark 16:16. It has, however, the necessity of precept, not the necessity of a means sine qua non. It is in this respect analogous to confession. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," Romans 10:10. And also to circumcision. God said, "The uncircumcised male child — should be cut off from his people," Genesis 17:14. Yet children dying before the eighth day were surely not cut off from heaven. And the apostle teaches circumcision," Romans 3:26.

3. Baptism is a means of grace, that is, a channel through which the Spirit confers grace; not always, not upon all recipients, nor is it the only channel, nor is it designed as the ordinary means of regeneration. Faith and repentance are the gifts of the Spirit and fruits of regeneration, and yet they are required as conditions of baptism. Consequently the Scriptures contemplate regeneration as preceding baptism. But if faith, to which all the benefits of redemption are promised, precedes baptism, how can those benefits be said to be conferred; in any case, through baptism? Just as a father may give an estate to his son, and afterwards convey it to him formally by a deed. Besides, the benefits of redemption, the remission of sin, the gift of the Spirit, and the merits of the Redeemer, are not conveyed to the soul once for all. They are reconveyed and appropriated on every new act of faith, and on every new believing reception of the sacraments. The sinner coming to baptism in the exercise of repentance and faith, takes God the Father to be his Father; God the Son, to be his Savior; and God the Holy Ghost to be His Sanctifier, and his word to be the rule of his faith and practice. The administrator then, in the name and by the authority of God, washes him with water as a sign of the cleansing from sin by the blood of Christ, and of sanctification by the Holy Spirit; and as a seal to God's promise to grant him those blessings on the condition of the repentance and faith thus publicly avowed. Whatever he may have experienced or enjoyed before, this is the public conveyance to him of the benefits of the covenant, and his inauguration into the number of the redeemed. If he is sincere in his part of the service, baptism really applies to him the blessings of which it is the symbol.

4. Infants are baptized on the faith of their parents. And their baptism secures to them all the benefits of the covenant of grace, provided they ratify that covenant by faith; just as circumcision secured the benefits of the theocracy, provided those circumcised in infancy kept the law. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration, that is, the doctrine that inward spiritual renovation always attends baptism rightly administered to the unresisting, and that regeneration is never effected without it, is contrary to Scripture, subversive of evangelical religion, and opposed to universal experience. It is, moreover, utterly irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Reformed churches. For that doctrine teaches that all the regenerated are saved. "Whom God calls them he also glorifies," Romans 8:30. It is, however, plain from Scripture, and in accordance with the faith of the universal church, that multitudes of the baptized perish. The baptized, therefore, as such, are not the regenerated.

The foregoing remarks are intended to show in what sense the Reformed understand this and similar declarations of Scripture. Christ purifies his church by baptism. That is the initiatory rite; which signifies, seals, and applies to believers all the benefits of the Redeemer's death. The apostle is speaking of the church, the body and bride of Christ, and of the effect of baptism on those who constitute that church, not of its effect on those who are not included in the covenant and are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.‹22›

There is one other remark suggested by this passage. The turning point in the discussion between Baptists and Paedobaptists, so far as the mode of baptism is concerned, is, whether it is in its essential nature an immersion, or a washing. If the former, then there is but one mode in which it can be administered. If the latter, it may be administered in any mode by which washing can be effected, either by sprinkling, effusion, or immersion. In the passage before us, it is said to be a "washing with water."

The principal exegetical difficulty in this verse is the explanation of the words ἐν ῥήματι, by the word. ῥῆμα is used not only for any particular dictum, whether command, promise, or prophecy, but also for the word of God collectively, and that either with or without the article; Romans 10:8, Romans 10:17; Ephesians 6:17. These words may be connected, as is commonly done, with the preceding clause, ‘washing of water.' The idea then is that this washing with water is connected with the word. It is not an ordinary ablution, but one connected with the word of God. This is considered a description of baptism, which is by that connection distinguished from all other washings. By the word may then be understood either, the formula of baptism, or the promise of remission of sins and regeneration of which baptism is the sign and seal, and which is the special object of faith to the recipient of the sacrament. Luther's translation is, "Durch das Wasserbad im Wort;" according to the saying of Augustine, which he often quotes, accedit verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum. To this interpretation it is objected,

1. That if ῥῆμα be made to mean anything more than the word of God in general, whether the command to baptize, or the promise, or the formula of baptism, it must have the article. It should be, with the word. But the article is wanting in the Greek.

2. The obscurity of the expression, "washing of water with the word," or, "baptism with the word."

3. That in order to justify the connection in question, the passage should read, τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος τῶ or τοῦ ἐν ῥήματι.

Had Paul thus written there would, indeed, be no question as to the connection intended, but the exceptions to the rule requiring the connecting article in such cases, are very numerous in Paul's writings. Still its absence is certainly in favor of seeking another construction, if such can be found. Others connect the words ἐν ῥήματι with καθαρίσας, and make them explanatory of the preceding clause, ‘Having purified it by the washing of water, i.e. having purified it by the word.' But this is certainly unnatural, first because καθαρίσας has in τῷ λουτρῷ, κτλ., its limitation; and secondly, because the phrase "washing with water," needs no explanation. The third method of explanation is to connect the words with ἁγιάσῃ, ‘Christ cleansed his church, by the word, having purified it with the washing of water.' The sense is thus good. In John 17:17, our Lord prays, "Sanctify them by thy truth;" and everywhere in Scripture the word of God is represented as the great means of sanctification. This interpretation is adopted by many of the best expositors, as Rückert, Meyer, and Winer. The position of the words, however, is so decidedly in favor of the first mentioned explanation, that it has commanded the assent of the great body of interpreters.

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Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Ephesians 5:27. Aim of the ἁγιάσῃ ἐν ῥήματι, and so final aim of the ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς, to be realized at the Parousia. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 11:2. παραστήσῃ is already rightly referred to the time of the consummatio saeculi by Augustine, Jerome, Primasius, Thomas, Beza, Estius, Calovius, and others, including Flatt, Rückert, de Wette, Schenkel, Bleek; while the Greek Fathers, Lyra, Cajetanus, Bucer, Wolf, Bengel, and others, including Harless and Hofmann, p. 136, think of an act of Christ in the αἰὼν οὗτος, and many others do not at all declare their views with regard to the time. But if ἵνα παραστ. κ. τ. λ. is not to apply to the time of the Parousia, it must either be taken as the design of the καθαρίσας (Bengel), or as a parallel to ἵνα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσῃ (Harless). The former is not admissible, because ἐν ῥήματι, which itself belongs to ἁγιάσῃ (see on Ephesians 5:26), stands between; nor yet is the latter, because ἁγιάσῃ does not denote the same thing with καθαρίσας (see on Ephesians 5:26), but the making holy through the word; and this making holy cannot from its nature be parallel to the momentary act of presenting of the church as a glorious and spotless one, but can only be antecedent, so that this presentation must be the final result of the sanctifying which has already taken place through the word.

παραστήσῃ] might set forth, present, coram sisteret, namely, as His bride. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:2. The view of Harless, that the church is conceived of not as bride, but as spotless offering (on παραστ. comp. Romans 12:1), is opposed to the context, and incorrect also on account of ἑαυτῷ, by which, in fact, there would result the conception that Christ presents the offering to Himself. No, the union of Christ with His church at the Parousia, in order to confer upon it Messianic blessedness, is conceived of by Paul (as also by Christ Himself, Matthew 25:1 ff., comp. Revelation 19:7 ff.; see also John 3:29) under the figure of the bringing home of a bride, wherein Christ appears as the bridegroom and sets forth the bride, i.e. His church, as a spotless virgin (the bodily purity is a representa of the ethical) before Himself, after He has already in the αἰὼν οὗτος cleansed it by the bath of baptism (i.e. blotted out the pre-Christian guilt of the church) and sanctified it through His word. To deny the reference of καθαρίσας κ. τ. λ. and of Ephesians 5:27 to the circumstances of a wedding, and particularly the allusion to the bath to be taken by the bride before the wedding-day (Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, and others), is an over-refinement of taste at variance with the context.(279)

The presentation in our passage was referred by Kahnis (Abendm. p. 144) to the Lord’s Supper, an application which is warranted neither by the context nor by the analogy of 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Matthew 25

αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ] so that what takes place is not therefore as in the case of the bringing home of actual brides by others, but Christ Himself, as He gave Himself to sanctify it, etc., presents the church as bride to Himself at His Parousia, and indeed as ἔνδοξον, in glorious beauty (Luke 7:25; Isaiah 22:18, al.), which is with emphasis placed before τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, and subsequently receives by means of ΄ὴ ἔχουσαν κ. τ. λ. a detached, more precise negative definition specially to be brought into prominence. With regard to αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ, comp. 2 Corinthians 1:9; Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 11; Thucyd. vi. 40. 3; Krüger, § 51. 2. 12.

σπῖλον] maculam, comp. 2 Peter 2:13, a word of the later age of Greek, instead of the Attic κηλίς. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 28. In the figure is meant a corporeal blemish, but in the reality a moral defilement. The same is the case with ῥυτίδα, rugam, which occurs only here in the N.T., but often in the classical writers, not in the LXX. or Apocrypha. Special distinctions as to what is intended by the two figures are arbitrary. So e.g. Estius (after Augustine): σπῖλ. signifies deformitas operis, and ῥυτ. duplicitas intentionis; Grotius: the former applies to the carere vitiis, the latter to the vegetos semper esse for good (because wrinkles are characteristic of age).

τι τῶν τοιούτων which belongs to the category of such things, of that which disfigures, like spots and wrinkles.

ἀλλʼ ἵνα κ. τ. λ.] change of the construction, instead of ἀλλʼ οὖσαν κ. τ. λ., as if ἵνα ΄ὴ ἔχῃ κ. τ. λ. had been said before. Versatility of the Greek mode of thought and expression. See, in general, Matthiae, p. 1527 f.; Winer, p. 509 [E. T. 722]; Buttmann, neutest. Gr. p. 208 [E. T. 241].

ἁγία] the thing signified in place of the figure, which would be more congruously expressed by ἁγνή (2 Corinthians 11:2).

ἄ΄ω΄ος] Ephesians 1:4. Comp. Song of Solomon 4:7. Grotius, at variance with the context, holds that Paul had in the case of both expressions thought of: “quales victimae esse debebant in V. T.”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

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

Obedience – authority and love

Ephesians 5:18-33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.

Hamilton Smith's Writings


The Believer"s Walk as a Child of God

( )

(V:1). In this portion of the Epistle believers are viewed, not only as owning that there is one God, but as being in relationship with God as His children. The whole passage exhorts us to walk as becometh children. The "therefore" of the first verse connects this portion with the last verse of the preceding chapter. God has acted towards us in kindness and grace, and now it becomes us to act towards one another as God has acted towards us. We are therefore exhorted to be imitators of God "as dear children". We are not to seek to imitate God in order to become children, but because we are children. Walking as "dear" children implies a walk governed by affection. A servant may walk rightly in legal obedience, but it becomes a child to walk in loving obedience. We are not servants but sons.

We cannot and are not asked to imitate God in His omnipotence and omniscience, but we are exhorted to act morally like Him. Such a walk will be characterised by love, light and wisdom; and in all these things we can be imitators of God. The apostle, in the verses that follow, develops the walk in accord with these beautiful moral traits. First, he speaks of walking in love in contrast with a world marked by lust (verses1-7). Secondly, he exhorts us to "walk as children of light" in contrast with those who live in darkness (verses8-14). Finally, he exhorts us to "walk carefully, not as unwise but as wise" (verses15-20).

(V:2). Firstly, as children, we are exhorted to walk in love. At once Christ is set before us as the great example of this love. In Him we see the devotedness of love that gave Himself for others, and this devotedness goes up to God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice. Such love goes far beyond the demands of the law which requires that a man love his neighbour as himself. Christ did more, for He gave Himself to God for us. It is this love we are asked to imitate, a love that would lead us to sacrifice ourselves for our brethren. Such love will in its little measure, even as with the infinite love of Christ, go up as a sweet savour to God. The love that led the Philippian assembly to meet the necessities of the apostle was to God "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God" ( ).

(V:3). The love that is devoted to the good of others would shut out unholiness that gratifies the flesh at the expense of others, and the covetousness that seeks one"s own gain. Our walk is to be as becometh saints. The standard of our morality is not simply the walk that becomes a decent Prayer of Manasseh, but that which is becoming to saints. When it is a question of expressing love it is "as dear children"; when it is refusing lust it is "as becometh saints".

(V:4). Moreover, the passing merriment that the world finds in filthiness, indecent talking and buffoonery is unbecoming in the saint. The quiet, deep joy of praise, not the laughter of the fool, becometh saints ( Ecclesiastes 7:6).

(V:5). Those who are characterised by uncleanness, covetousness and idolatry will not only miss the blessings of the coming kingdom of Christ and of God, but being disobedient to the Gospel will come under the wrath of God. In contrast with this present evil world, the kingdom of God will be a scene in which love prevails, and from which lust is excluded. That which will be true of the coming kingdom should mark the family of God today.

(V:6). We are warned not to be deceived with vain words. Evidently, then, men with their philosophy and science will excuse lust and seek to throw a glamour of poetry and romance over sin in order to give it an attractive appearance. Nevertheless, because of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. "The sons of disobedience" are those who have heard the truth, but have rejected it. In a special way the Jews in Paul"s day were, as a class, the sons of disobedience, but it is fast becoming true of Christendom. Men will, however, be judged for their wicked deeds, though the crowning sin will be disobedience to the Gospel.

(V:7). With such we are to have no fellowship. The children of God and the children of disobedience can have nothing in common.

(Vv8-10). Secondly, once we were darkness, now we are light in the Lord. It is not simply that we were in the dark, as being ignorant of God, but we were characterised by a nature that is darkness, for it found its pleasure in everything that is contrary to God. Now we are partakers of the divine nature, and that nature is marked by love and light. Therefore the apostle can say, not only that we are light, but that we are light in the Lord. Having come under the sway of the Lord, we have come into the light of what is suited to Him. We shall love what He loves.

Being light in the Lord we are to walk as children of light, a walk that will show itself in "all goodness and righteousness and truth", for these things are the fruit of light. Thus walking we shall prove in our circumstances what is acceptable unto the Lord, and be a reproof to the unfruitful works of darkness. One has said, "A child while observing his father learns what is pleasing to him, and knows what he would like in the circumstances that transpire." It is in this way we prove "what is agreeable to the Lord".

(Vv11-13). Already we have been warned against having fellowship with evil workers. Now we are warned against fellowship with the works of darkness; we should rather reprove them. To speak of the things that the flesh can do in secret is shame. The light of Christ reproves the evil that it exposes. In Christendom people cannot publicly commit gross sins that are openly committed in heathendom. The light in Christians is too strong. Alas! as the light declines sins again become more public and open.

(V:14). The unbeliever is dead to God. The true believer, if not heeding these exhortations, may fall into a condition of sleep in which he is like a dead man. In such a condition he will not profit by the light from Christ. The exhortation to such an one Isaiah, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It has been well said, "It is Christ Himself who is the source, the expression, and the measure of light for the soul that is awake."

(Vv15-17). Thirdly, we are exhorted to walk wisely. Learning from the first fourteen verses that the true measure for a right walk is God"s nature of light and love, we are to profit by this teaching, and "walk carefully, not as unwise but as wise." In an evil world the Christian will need Wisdom of Solomon, but this wisdom is in regard to what is good. Song of Solomon, in another Epistle, the apostle can write, "Be wise as to that which is good, and simple as to evil" ( Romans 16:19). Our wisdom will be seen in redeeming the time, and understanding what the will of the Lord is. The days are evil, and if the devil could have his way there never would be a time or opportunity for that which is pleasing to the Lord. To do good we shall, as it were, have to seize the occasion from the enemy. If understanding the will of the Lord, we shall often find that an evil day can be turned into an occasion for doing good. Nehemiah, by prayer and fasting, learnt the will of the Lord concerning His people, so that when the opportunity came, in the presence of king Artaxerxes, he seized the occasion ( Nehemiah 1:4; Nehemiah 2:1-5). It is possible to have a great knowledge of evil and yet be ignorant of the will of the Lord, and thus still be "unwise".

(Vv18-21). Divinely-given wisdom will lead to sobriety in contrast with the excitement of nature. The world may work up some passing excitement leading to excesses of evil, but the Christian has a source of joy within, the Holy Spirit. Having the Spirit we are exhorted to be filled with the Spirit. If the Spirit were ungrieved, and allowed to control our thoughts and affections, the result would be a company of people entirely apart from the world and its excitements, that rejoiced together in a life of which the world has no knowledge, and in which it can find no pleasure. This life finds its expression in praise that flows from hearts that delight in the Lord. It is a life that discerns the love and goodness of God in "all things", however trying the circumstances may be. It therefore gives thanks at all times for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this, as in all else for the Christian, Christ is our perfect example, for, when rejected by Israel in spite of all His mighty works, "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" ( Matthew 11:25).

Moreover, if filled with the Spirit, we should be marked by that spirit of lowliness and meekness that would lead us to submit to one another in the fear of Christ, in contrast with the self-importance of the flesh that asserts itself and its liberty to act without reference to the consciences of others.

Thus the believer filled with the Spirit will be marked: firstly, by a spirit of praise to the Lord; secondly, by submission with thanksgiving to all that the Father allows; thirdly, by submission to the other in the fear of Christ.


The Believer"s Walk in Connection with Natural Relations

( Ephesians 5:22 -, Ephesians 6:9)

In this portion of the Epistle we are exhorted as to the conduct that becomes Christians in connection with earthly relationships. The apostle first speaks of the most intimate of relationships, wives and husbands ( ), then of children and parents ( Ephesians 6:1-4), and finally of servants and masters ( Ephesians 7:5-9).

As individuals we own Christ as Lord, and the responsibilities of every relationship are to be carried out in the fear of the Lord. The wife is to be subject to her own husband "as unto the Lord" (v22); children are to obey their parents "in the Lord" ( Ephesians 6:1); fathers are to train their children in the "admonition of the Lord" ( Ephesians 6:4); servants are to do "service as to the Lord" ( Ephesians 6:7); and masters are to remember that they have a Master in heaven.

(1) Wives and husbands

(Vv22-25). Christian wives are exhorted to submit to their husbands in everything and Christian husbands are exhorted to love their wives. Special exhortations always have in view the particular quality in which the individual addressed is likely to fail. The woman is liable to break down in submission, and is therefore reminded that the husband is the head of the wife, and that her place is to be subject. The man is more prone than the woman to fail in affection; therefore husbands are exhorted to love their wives.

In order to emphasise the subjection of the wife and the affection of the husband, the apostle turns aside to speak of Christ and the church, and we learn the great truth that earthly relationships were formed after the pattern of heavenly relationships. When God first established the relationship of man and wife, it was after the pattern of that which then existed only in His counsels, Christ and the church. Thus, on the one hand, the relationship of Adam and Eve to each other, as husband and wife, becomes the first figure in Scripture of Christ and the church; and, on the other, Christ and the church are used to illustrate the true attitude of husbands and wives to each other. The wife is to be subject to her husband as the head, even as Christ is the Head of the church, and is the Saviour of these mortal bodies. Again, if the husband is exhorted to love his wife, it is after the pattern of Christ and the church, for he is to love "even as Christ also loved the church."

It may be thought that the standard set is very high, and that the statements that wives are to be subject to their husbands in everything, and that husbands are to love their wives even as Christ loved the church, are very strong; but what wife would mind being subject to a husband that loved her even as Christ loved the church, and what husband would cease to love a wife who was always subject as the church should be to Christ?

The apostle"s heart is so full of Christ and the church that he takes occasion by these practical exhortations to bring before us a very vivid summary of the eternal relations of Christ and His church, to which we do well to take heed.

He reminds us that "Christ is the Head of the church"; that "Christ also loved the church"; and that Christ nourisheth and cherisheth the church. He is the Head to guide, He has the heart to love, and the hand to provide for her every need. Amidst all the difficulties we have to face, our unfailing resource is found in looking to Christ our Head for wisdom and guidance. In all our sorrows, and the failure of human love, we can count on the unchanging love of Christ that passeth knowledge; and in all our needs we can count upon His care and provision.

Moreover, the love of Christ is brought before us in a threefold way. There is that which His love has done in the past, what it is doing in the present, and what it will yet do in the future. In the past Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Not only did He give up a kingly crown, kingdom glories and earthly ease to tread a path of humiliation and sorrow, but at last He gave Himself. More He could not give.

He not only died for us in the past; He is living for us in the present. Today He is sanctifying and cleansing the church with the washing of water by the word. He is daily occupied with us, separating us from this evil world and practically cleansing us from the flesh. This blessed work is carried on by the application of the word to our thoughts and words and ways.

Let us remember that He did not first make the church worthy to be loved, then love it and give Himself for it. He loved it as it was, then gave Himself for it, and now works to make it suitable to Himself. God acted very blessedly on the same principle in regard to Israel. Jehovah could say to Israel, "I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood … thou wast naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness … and entered into a covenant with thee … I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck … and a beautiful crown upon thine head … thou wast exceeding beautiful … thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee" ( ). Israel"s time of need was God"s time of love. So Christ loved the church in all its deep need, and gave Himself for it; then, having possessed it, He cleanses it and makes it suitable to Himself. We are not satisfied if someone we love is not to our liking, and Christ will never be satisfied until the church is perfectly suited to Him.

(V:27). In the future, in His love, He will present the church to Himself "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." The present sanctification of verse26 is connected with the presentation in glory of verse27: that Isaiah, the condition in which we shall be presented to Christ in glory, "holy and blameless", is the measure of our sanctification even now. While here we shall not attain to the standard of glory, but there is no other standard. Moreover, the condition in glory is not only the standard of our sanctification, but, as perfectly set forth in Christ, it is the power of our sanctification.

"The word", discovering to us what we are and occupying us with Christ in glory, is the power for cleansing. The word and the sanctifying effect of Christ in glory are brought together by the Lord in His prayer, "Sanctify them by the truth: Thy word is truth", and the Lord adds, "I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified by truth." The Lord set Himself apart in the glory as an object for His people on earth, and as we are occupied with Him we are changed into His likeness from glory to glory.

Alas! Christendom has entirely failed to walk in the light of these great truths concerning Christ and the church. In practice it has ceased to give Christ His place as Head, and consequently has failed in subjection to Him. Therefore we need hardly be surprised at the failure to maintain the relationships of life, formed after the pattern of Christ and the church, leading, on the part of the woman, to a widespread revolt against subjection to the Prayer of Manasseh, and, on the part of the Prayer of Manasseh, to unfaithfulness and lack of love for the woman. The ruin of Christendom, the scattering of believers that has split Christendom into innumerable sects, can all be traced to two evils : professing Christians have abandoned the place of subjection to Christ that belongs to the assembly and have usurped the place of authority belonging to the Head.

The beginning of these evils was found in the assembly at Corinth. There the Christians set up leaders in the place of Christ, and then formed themselves into parties in subjection to their chosen leaders. The evil which had its beginning at Corinth is fully developed in Christendom, where clericalism has practically set aside the Headship of Christ, and independence has taken the place of subjection to Christ.

(Vv28, 29). Having presented so blessedly the truth of Christ and the church, the apostle returns to his practical exhortations. Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies, for so truly are they one that the husband can look at his wife as himself. As such, the man will delight to nourish his wife, meeting her every need, and cherish her as one that is very precious. Again the apostle presents Christ, and His care for the church, as the perfect pattern for the husband"s care for his wife. Not only has Christ died for us in the past, and is dealing with us in the present in view of eternity, but as we pass along our way, He watches over and cares for us, treating us as Himself. Because "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones", He could say to Saul of Tarsus, in the days when he was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the saints, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" One has truly said, "A man"s flesh is himself, and Christ takes care of Himself in taking care of the church." Again, "Christ never fails, and there cannot be a want in Christ"s church without there being an answer to it in Christ"s heart."

(Vv31, 32). The man that loveth his wife loveth himself and he is to leave other relationships to be joined to his wife. The apostle quotes from Genesis, but he expressly states that this is a great mystery which has in view Christ and the church. Christ, as Prayer of Manasseh, left all relations with Israel according to the flesh in order to secure His church.

(V:33). Nevertheless, says the apostle, while seeking to enter into these eternal truths of the great mystery of Christ and the church, let each husband see that he loves his wife as himself, and let the wife rightly fear her husband.

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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". 1832.

The Bible Study New Testament

27. In order to present. “Christ makes the church clean, so that at the Day of Judgment he may present her to himself as a bride who is pure and holy! Compare Revelation 19:7-9and notes.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

The Christian Family (Ephesians 5:22-33)

It is a remarkable thing that in the letter to the Ephesians Paul begins with the highest heights of divine revelation, then in the closing portion he seems to descend to what we might consider very commonplace. He opens his letter with that which thrills our souls-our predestination according to the riches of God’s grace to a place that angels have never known. He writes of our lofty position as accepted in the Beloved, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Then he applies this wonderful body of truth to the behavior of a Christian family. It is a poor testimony to talk high truth while living on a low level in the home. I am afraid there are those who can repeat very glibly the statements of the first half of the Epistle to the Ephesians and delight in the wonderful privileges of the people of God, but fail wretchedly when it comes to living the practical truth of the last half of this Epistle in their daily lives.

You will notice how closely verse Ephesians 5:22 is linked with verse Ephesians 5:21 : “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This is a principle of Christian living that applies to believers in every relationship of life, and now that the apostle turns to consider the Christian family he shows that it applies there. Did you ever stop to think what a wonderful institution the Christian family is? In reading a letter from a missionary in a heathen land I was struck by a paragraph that read something like this:

How we wish that some Christian people could come and live among us, even if not to engage in missionary work. There are different ways by which one might make his living among this semi-civilized people. For instance, we might have a Christian dentist and his wife, or a Christian worker in leather-a shoemaker or harnessmaker-with his wife and family. It would mean a great deal to us to have a harmonious family join us here, for we can conceive of nothing that could so commend Christianity to our people as just to see a Christian family living according to the New Testament: a Christian husband loving and honoring his wife, a Christian wife living in sweet and beautiful subjection and loyalty in her home, Christian children who really delight in obedience to their parents, parents who love their children and seek to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This would be so utterly different from anything our people have ever known.

In many heathen lands one cannot find families that function according to Biblical principles. It is the knowledge of Christ that produces the Christian home, and how jealously we should guard this blessed and delightful institution.

After admonishing his readers to submit “one to another in the fear of God,” the apostle immediately applies that principle to the relationship of the husband to the wife: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” The words, “submit yourselves” in verse Ephesians 5:22 are not found in the best manuscripts. Let us read verses Ephesians 5:21-22 as they are in the Greek: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God, wives unto your own husbands.” He is not calling on the wife to take the place of a slave- she often takes that place in pagan lands-but he is calling for mutual loyalty, mutual respect, mutual submission. Pass over the intervening words to verse Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” That is how the husbands submit themselves to the wives, so it is a mutual thing. That which makes the Christian home what it ought to be is this mutual loyalty, the one to the other-the wife to the husband, the husband to the wife. This is a marvelous principle when you think of it.

For example, we see a young woman who has had her own way to a large extent; she has made her own way through the world. Or she may have come from a home where she has been carefully nurtured and cared for. One day she meets a man and her heart is moved to love him. She says, “I could go to the ends of the world for him. I could keep house for him, care for our children, and submit to him.” Or we see an independent bachelor who has made his own way in the world. He has supported himself and could do what he would with his money and time. But one day he meets a woman and is moved to love her. He says, “I could work to support her even if it means I would have to change my life for her. I want to share my life with her.” That is the Christian ideal. When the Spirit of God dwells in each heart, the relationship becomes a beautiful picture of the mutual relation of Christ and the church

The same experience takes place in the spiritual world. We see a person living his life utterly independent of God. Then one day he is brought face to face with Christ, and his heart says, “For His sake I resign my own way; I give Him control of my life; I trust myself to Him. I am willing for His name’s sake to go and do whatever He would have me do.” Christ on His part laid down His life to purchase the one He loves, and now delights to lavish blessings on this one whom He has made His own. We will never fully understand this relationship until we get to Heaven. He has designed that every Christian home should exemplify this very thing.

Do our homes harmonize with this beautiful picture that the apostle brings before us here? Let us examine each verse somewhat carefully. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God, Wives…unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Remember, that the apostle was giving these directions to Christian families. This is marriage not only in the flesh but in the Lord. What a sad thing for the Christian ever to contemplate marriage apart from submission to the Lord. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” is an admonition that applies here as well as to many other relationships of life.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Our Lord as the head of the church provides and cares for all of its needs. So the Christian husband is not to lord his position over his wife in a harsh and arbitrary way, but to exemplify the gracious care of the Lord Jesus Christ as the savior of the body. And so the Christian husband takes on the responsibility to support his wife and his family. He is ready to work hard that they may be kept in a measure of comfort and ease. Because of this, as the church is submissive to Christ so should the wife be to her own husband.

On the part of the husband we read in verse Ephesians 5:25 : “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” A young fellow who had recently become married came to me in distress one day and said, “Brother Ironside, I want your help. I am in an awful state. I am drifting into idolatry.”

“What is the trouble?” I asked.

“Well, I am afraid that I am putting my wife on too high a pedestal. I am afraid I love her too much, and I am displeasing the Lord.”

“Are you indeed?” I asked. “Do you love her more than Christ loved the church?”

“I don’t think I do.”

“Well, that is the limit, for we read, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ You cannot love more than that. That is a self-denying love, a love that makes one willing even to lay down his life for another.”

We are reminded of the striking story about the wife of one of Cyrus’s generals who was charged with treachery against the king. She was called before him and after trial condemned to die. Her husband, who did not realize what had taken place, was apprised of it and came hurrying in. When he heard the sentence condemning his wife to death, he threw himself prostrate before the king and said, “O Sire, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place!” Cyrus was so touched that he said, “Love like this must not be spoiled by death,” and he gave them back to each other and let the wife go free. As they walked happily away the husband said, “Did you notice how kindly the king looked upon us when he gave you a free pardon?” “I had no eyes for the king,” she said; “I saw only the man who was willing to die for me.” That sacrificial love is the picture that we have in Ephesians. That should characterize the Christian husband-willing to give even his life for the blessing of his dear ones.

The apostle can scarcely speak about marriage without being reminded of the One who has won his own heart, and he must tell us more about Him. This blessed Husband, this glorious Head of the church, this ideal for every Christian husband, gave up His own precious life for the bride of His heart, the church, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Some imagine that this is a reference to baptism, a kind of sacramental washing. But I understand these words to mean that when He has found us in our sins and uncleanness, unfit for association with Him, He applied the water of the Word of His truth to us and we were sanctified by the truth. We were made fit to enter into communion with Him, the holy One. If my hand becomes dirty, I wash it in water and the dirt disappears. So when my conscience, my heart, my life were all defiled, the Lord by the Holy Spirit applied the truth of His Word to me. I was regenerated by the washing of water, and thus made clean in His sight, and so fitted for union and communion with Him.

The full regeneration will be seen in glory when He will present His bride to Himself, a glorious church not having spot caused by sin, or wrinkle caused by age. In Revelation 21:2 we read, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” This is the glorious picture of the church as it will be throughout all the ages to come-“not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” There are some of my brethren who in their hyper-dispensational teaching read this chapter and deny that the church is the bride of the Lamb. They tell us that Israel is the bride. But in Ephesians Paul said the Bridegroom is our Lord; the church, His redeemed spouse, and the two are linked together for eternity. He then applied this principle to our lives again, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” The two have become one, and therefore the man who would treat his wife unkindly is as one who would destroy or injure his own flesh. We may also reverse the analogy. We have heard of wives who are so vixenish in their tempers that they cause even good and devoted husbands terrible anguish. Both are one flesh, and need to learn that, “No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” For so intimate is our union with Him that “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

If some insist that the church is the body but not the bride, the argument that the apostle used contradicts them. The church is both the body and the bride even as a man’s wife is both his body and his bride. And so the apostle quoted from the book of Genesis: “For this cause [because of this union] shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” What a marvelous union it is when two are brought together through divine grace, the Lord having first united their hearts to Himself and then to each other, and so they set up a Christian home.

Is your home such as the apostle is here depicting, where husband and wife walk together in mutual love and submission, and where Christ is honored? If not, it would be well to ask why it is not. Perhaps you would find that the true root of the trouble is in the neglect of family devotions. In 1 Peter 3:7 we read, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [your wives] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Notice the words, “that your prayers be not hindered.” When a Christian home is the way it should be, prayer like fragrant incense will rise unhindered to God the Father from that family altar. But where the home is not as it should be, where husband and wife are not submissive to God and one another, where there is not that delightful relationship, then prayer immediately is hindered. The family altar is the thermometer that shows what conditions are in the home. What a blessing when husband and wife can happily kneel together and bring their varied problems to the Lord, or together lift their hearts to Him when things are going well. But when there is reserve on the part of either one or the other, you may know there is a storm in the offing, or something has already taken place hindering their fellowship and communion.

If in your home time is not given for the family altar, see to it that not another day goes by until husband and wife read the Word together and kneel together in the presence of God, commending one another and the children to the Lord. You will find it will make a great difference, and day by day anything that would hinder prayer can be judged at the family altar.

In closing this section of Ephesians chapter 5, the apostle said, “This is a great mystery.” He has spoken again and again of mysteries in this Epistle. In chapter Ephesians 1:9 he said, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will.” In chapter Ephesians 3:3-5 he said, “By revelation he made known unto me the mystery…Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” And in this chapter he wrote, “This is a great mystery.” Here he was speaking of the mutual relationship of husband and wife. This relationship exemplifies the very mystery that he has been speaking of in the previous chapters: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” There you have the mystery made clear: Christ as the husband, the church as the wife; Christ as the head, the church as the body. This is the marvelous mystery that was not made known in other ages, but has now been fully revealed in the pages of the New Testament.

Of course we understand that the word mystery as used here never means something hard to comprehend. It is not mystery in the sense of being something mysterious and difficult to understand. It is rather a sacred secret that the human mind never would have figured out without divine revelation. In the Old Testament times nobody thought of this wonderful truth, the mystery of Christ and the church, but it was revealed first to the apostle Paul and then to others of the New Testament company. It is the great truth that you and I are called on to confess and acknowledge in this dispensation of the grace of God.

We are not to be so carried away by the symbolic truth behind the marriage relation that we forget the obvious truth of the relationship between husband and wife. So the apostle drops again from the mystery itself to the commonplace things of life and says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” There is to be mutual love, respect, and loyalty. The wife, while respecting her husband, is to serve in her particular capacity to make the Christian home what it ought to be. The husband, while loving his wife, is to take the responsibility of providing for the family as the acknowledged head of that home. Both are to act in the fear of God. It is Christian homes all over the city, all over the nation, that will strengthen the gospel that is preached from the pulpit. People must see the truths of Scripture lived out in life, and realize the power of Christ to bind two hearts together in such a way that they can exhibit the mutual relationship of Christ and the church.





Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Ephesians 5:27. ἵνα παραστήσῃ, that He might present) This holds good, in its own way, already of the present life; comp. ch. Ephesians 4:13.— ἑαυτῷ, to Himself) as to a Husband betrothed.— ἔνδοξον, a glorious Church) We should derive [draw] our estimate of sanctification from the love of Christ: what bride despises the ornaments offered by her husband?— τὴν) that [the: emphatically] Church which answers to His own eternal idea.— σπῖλον) a spot, from any wicked disposition whatever.— ῥυτίδα) wrinkle, from old age [senile debility and decay].— ἵνα ) that she may be.— ἄμωμος, without blemish) Song of Solomon 4:7.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament


Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord. Because man is head of the woman, as also Christ is Head of the Church. He is Saviour of the Body. Nevertheless, as the Church submits to Christ, so also the wives to the husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, as also Christ loved the Church and gave up Himself on its behalf that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the bath of water, with the word, that He may Himself present to Himself the Church glorious not having spot or wrinkle or any of the suchlike things, but that it may be holy and blameless. So ought the men to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it as also Christ does the Church. Because we are members of His Body. “For this cause, a man will leave father and mother and will be joined to his wife; and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24.) This mystery is great. But I speak in regard to Christ and in regard to the Church. Nevertheless, also ye severally, let each one thus love his own wife, as himself; and the wife that she fear the husband.

The implied general exhortation at the end of § 11, submitting yourselves one to another, is now specialised in reference to the three most conspicuous relations of social life; in § 12 to wives and husbands, in § 13 to children and parents, in § 14 to slaves and masters. The same three relations are discussed in the same order in Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1. But the discussion here is much more full and valuable; especially that of the first pair, which is developed under the influence of the dominant thought of this Epistle.

Ephesians 5:22-24. The wives to their own husbands: similar injunction to Colossians 3:18. Their own husbands: noting a peculiar and intimate relation. The words in italics, be subject are supplied from the close of the foregoing sentence.

As to the Lord: slightly different from as is fitting in the Lord in Colossians 3:18. The wife must recognise that her position of subordination is ordained by Christ and that in bowing to her husband she does but submit to her Master in heaven. Thus the Gospel lays upon her a new obligation. But, as we shall see, by laying upon the husband a like obligation it gives to the wife new rights.

Because man is etc.: a fact containing a reason for the foregoing injunction.

Head of the woman: as in 1 Corinthians 11:3, a close parallel. The head and body are vitally united, and share the same nature. But the one is placed above the other to direct its action. Paul asserts that this is the relation of man to the woman. To this metaphor is added another similar metaphor which still further expounds the subjection of the woman to the man: as also Christ is Head of the Church. Same favourite metaphor in Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16. Its frequency is explained by the ideal aspect of the Church which is the dominant thought of this Epistle.

He is Saviour of the Body: an important assertion thrown in, which practically limits the foregoing comparison. From the head of the woman the Head of the Church differs in that HE (very emphatic) is Saviour of the Body. This completes the foregoing metaphor by calling the Church the Body of Christ; and makes conspicuous a difference between the metaphors by an assertion about Christ and the Church quite inapplicable to the relation of man and woman. The Body of which Christ is Head, He has Himself rescued from bondage and death.

Nevertheless etc.; reasserts, in spite of the difference just mentioned, the primary injunction of Ephesians 5:22.

In everything: a subjection universal within the limit fixed by its aim, viz. as to the Lord. She must do nothing even in obedience to the husband which she cannot do for Christ.

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love the wives: word for word as in Colossians 3:19.

According as also etc.: ground of this exhortation. If the woman’s relation to the man resembles that of the Church to Christ, the love with which Christ loved the Church must be a model of man’s love to his wife. This comparison is the more natural in Greek because the word Church is feminine.

And gave-up Himself on its (or her) behalf: historic manifestation and proof of this pattern love.

Gave-up on-behalf of: same words in Ephesians 5:2; Galatians 2:20. It is Christ’s self-surrender to death.

In this verse and in John 3:16 we have two aspects, each supplementing the other, of the love which prompted the death of Christ. Since the purpose of salvation embraced the world, and since God brings to bear on every man an influence which unless resisted will lead him to salvation, Christ said to Nicodemus, in a general statement about the Gospel, that God so loved the world that He gave etc. But the eternal love of God foresaw all who would accept the Gospel and be finally saved. Consequently, this foreseen result of the gift of Christ may be spoken of as the aim of His self-surrender, and therefore as the object of the love which prompted it. Each of the saved can say He loved me and gave up Himself for me. And the lost will know that their destruction was due, not to a limitation of God’s love, but to their own rejection of His offered mercy.

Ephesians 5:26-27. A digression expounding the moral aim of Christ’s self-surrender. Cp. Titus 2:14. It is very appropriate in this exposition of Christian morality.

May-sanctify it: subjective holiness, i.e. the actual and unreserved devotion and loyalty of the Church to Christ. For this is clearly implied in the words following. So the word holy in Ephesians 5:27. This is here represented as an aim of the death of Christ. And rightly so: for without it there can be no full blessedness. And an intelligent purpose includes all means necessary to the end in view. In 1 Corinthians 1:2, the same word denotes the objective holiness of all the people of God, i.e. His claim that they live only for Him. In this sense even the carnal Corinthian Christians were already sanctified. Wherever sanctification means more than this, viz. the actual devotion which God claims, it is represented, not as attained, but as a divine purpose. So 1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 17:17; cp. 1 Corinthians 7:34; 2 Corinthians 7:1. Since loyalty to God is ever the work of the Holy Spirit, since the gift of the Spirit implies pardon of sin, and since Christ died in order to harmonize the justification of believers with the justice of God and thus make it possible, Paul here asserts that ‘Christ… gave up Himself in order that He may sanctify’ the Church. See a close and important parallel in 2 Corinthians 5:15, where we are taught that Christ died in order that we may live a life of devotion to Him.

Having-cleansed it by the bath of water: a necessary preliminary to the actual devotion to God which Christ purposes to work in His people. For all impurity is opposed to unreserved devotion to God, and must therefore be removed before subjective holiness can be realised. So Romans 6:11, dead to sin, but living for God. Similarly, in symbolic ritual, the priests in the Temple washed themselves at the brazen laver before they approached the altar: Exodus 30:18-21.

Cleanse: same word in 2 Corinthians 7:1; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9; Acts 15:9; important parallels. It denotes removal of the stain which mars the moral beauty of sinners.

Bath: same word in Titus 3:5, bath of the new birth; and Sirach xxxi. 30, one who is baptized from a dead body and again touches it, what has he been profited by his bath? in reference to ceremonial purification. It denotes, as does the English word bath, both the act of washing and the vessel in which we wash. In view of these two other passages and of Acts 22:16, we can hardly doubt that Paul refers here to Baptism. And such reference presents no difficulty. As commanded by Christ, Baptism was binding on all who had not received it and who sought deliverance from the stain of sin; and was therefore in this sense a condition and instrument of spiritual purification. This does not imply any magical efficacy in the outward rite, but only its divine obligation in all ordinary cases. In Paul’s day, the peril frequently involved in outwardly confessing Christ made this obligation a most serious element in the way of salvation. Hence the language of these three passages.

This reference to Baptism was probably suggested by the metaphor in Ephesians 5:27. Paul silently reminds his readers that Baptism, which to many of them had been so perilous, was but the bride’s bath on the eve of marriage, in their case a necessary precursor of the joy of eternal union with the great King.

With the word: joined most naturally to that He may sanctify it. For the intervening words give a complete sense, and describe a necessary preliminary to the sanctification which Christ designs. Having noted this preliminary, Paul adds the instrument of sanctification, viz. the word of the Gospel, God’s chosen instrument of salvation. Cp. John 17:17, sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth. Same word, in the singular number as here, and referring to the Gospel, in Ephesians 6:17; Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:5; 1 Peter 1:25. In eternity the Son of God purposed to draw men, by a spoken word, viz. the Gospel, to bow to God with unreserved and joyous devotion. Similarly, by a ‘word of God’ the world was made: Hebrews 11:3.

Ephesians 5:27. Further and ultimate aim of the purpose described in Ephesians 5:26. It is clothed in a not unfrequent metaphor: 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:9; John 3:29; Matthew 25:1.

Present: same word in Colossians 1:22; Colossians 1:28; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19; Romans 12:1; and, in the same connection as here, 2 Corinthians 11:2.

Himself to Himself: emphatic assertion that the Giver and Receiver are the same. For the Bride has been rescued and purified by the self-surrender of the Bridegroom.

Glorious: clothed in splendour exciting universal admiration; cp. Revelation 21:11, having the glory of God. Christ designs the Church to be glorious, and as such to be His own for ever.

Spot: any blemish.

Wrinkle: a mark of decay. Maintaining his metaphor, Paul describes moral imperfections as bodily blemishes.

But that it may be etc.; completes the description of the glorious Church.

Holy: subjectively: for, objectively, as claimed by God, Paul’s readers were (Ephesians 1:1) already holy. This word keeps before us the subjective sanctification of Ephesians 5:26. Instead of having spot or wrinkle, Christ designs the Church to be holy and blameless: same words together in the same connection in Ephesians 1:4. They are added in the form of a purpose in order to throw emphasis on the holiness and blamelessness of the Church as specially designed by Christ.

Notice that present to Himself corresponds to sanctify and holy: for that is holy which is devoted to God. Not having spot or wrinkle corresponds, as a negative element implied in holiness, to cleanse and blameless.

Ephesians 5:28 a. Application of the foregoing metaphor to the matter in hand, viz. the duty of husbands to love their wives.

In this way: according as Christ loved the Church.

As their own bodies: i.e. looking upon their wives as being their own flesh and blood. These words link together two closely related metaphors, viz. the Church as the Body (Ephesians 5:23) and as the Bride (Ephesians 5:27) of Christ; and brings them to bear, thus linked together, upon the relation of husband and wife.

Verse. 28-30. These verses develop an argument lying in as their own bodies. Husband and wife have one interest. Therefore, affection towards the wife brings proportionate gain to the husband. In this sense, he that loves his own wife, loves himself. This argument, Ephesians 5:29 further supports. Paul asserted in Ephesians 5:25 that a man’s relation to his wife is like that of Christ to the Church. And he has frequently taught that the Church is the Body of Christ. If so, Christ’s love to the Church is like a man’s love to his own body. This latter love Paul declares to be universal, and further describes.

His own flesh: his body, in view of its material constitution, which has special needs and demands special care.

Nourishes: finds the food needful for its health and development.

Cherishes: 1 Thessalonians 2:8 : keeps warm, as a hen her chickens. Every one feeds his own body and protects it from cold. And as every one acts towards his own body so Christ acts towards the Church. This treatment of us by Christ is illustrated by a restatement of the fact that we are members of His Body.

Ephesians 5:31-32. The words of Genesis 2:24 (almost word for word from the LXX.) taken up by Paul and woven into his argument about the relation of Christ to the Church as a pattern to husbands and wives. Same quotation in Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8. Adam asserts that because woman is derived from man the relation of husband and wife is the closest of human relationships. By appropriating these words, Paul brings them to bear on the argument before him. And they prove clearly that (Ephesians 5:28) to love one’s wife is to love oneself. For they assert that husband and wife are one flesh. This plain reference of the quotation makes it needless to seek in it an assertion about Christ. And certainly the Son of Mary did not leave His mother in order to be united to the Church.

Because of this: because woman was taken out of man, as stated in Genesis 2:23. It is a part of the quotation. We therefore need not assume a special reference to Ephesians 5:30.

A man will leave: whenever in all generations a man marries.

The two shall become one flesh: the chief point in the quotation. So close is the marriage relation that it seems in some sense to suspend the distinction of personality. Now, whatever is done to one part of a living body affects the whole. Consequently, kindness to one’s wife is kindness to oneself.

This quotation casts light upon the assertion in Ephesians 5:23 that man is head of the woman. The head and body are one flesh, so closely and vitally united that injury or benefit done to one is done to the other. Yet the head directs and the body obeys. All this is true both of man and woman and of Christ and the Church. Of each of these relationships the human body is a metaphor. Even Christ and the Church are one flesh: for both are human. But Christ directs; and the Church obeys. The human body is thus a pattern of two important relations, viz. of husband and wife and of Christ and the Church. It is therefore a link uniting these relations, and making each a pattern of the other. This double metaphor is not found elsewhere. And it greatly strengthens the obligations here enforced. The wife is bound to obey her husband, as the Church, of which she is a member, obeys Christ. The husband is bound to love his wife, as Christ loved the Church. To fail in this is, as this quotation proves, to act as a man would who did not care for his own body. We have thus a double motive for marital love, the example of Christ and the instinct of self-preservation.

Ephesians 5:32. This mystery: (same word in Romans 11:25 :) the marriage relation described in the foregoing quotation. See note under 1 Corinthians 3:4. Under the marriage relation lies secret teaching known only to those taught by God.

But I speak: Paul’s own use here of this quotation as distinguished from the hidden truth underlying marriage.

With reference to Christ and with reference to the Church: these represented as distinct objects of thought. While quoting Genesis, Paul is thinking not so much of man and woman as of Christ and the Church. In other words, under the specific matter in hand lie broader truths. Even marriage, so important in itself, receives greater importance from being a visible setting forth of the relation of Christ to the Church.

It is needless to discuss here whether marriage is a sacrament: for this would involve a definition of the term. Certainly, marriage cannot be put on a level with the two rites ordained by Christ for all His servants. But Paul’s teaching here implies clearly its unchangeable sacredness. And this felt sacredness has ever found expression in acts of worship accompanying the marriage ceremony. Callous must they be who can enter the solemn obligations of wedlock without recognising its divine sanction and sacred duties.

Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless: or, more fully, ‘I say nothing except this one thing.’ It breaks off the discourse to insist on the one thing needful.

Ye severally: transition from a mystery touching Christ and the Church to readers of this Epistle, taken one by one.

Thus love: i.e. in the manner, and for the reasons, just expounded.

As himself: as their own bodies in Ephesians 5:28. And the wife must remember that the husband has been set over her by Christ, and that therefore insubordination to him is disobedience to Christ. An obligation so solemn may well evoke her fear. So careful is Paul to balance the duty of the husband by that of the wife.

REVIEW. At the close of § 11 Paul bids his readers to submit one to another. He then discusses in order three very special kinds of submission. Of these, the first and noblest and most significant is that of the wife to her husband. The Apostle bids her render to him a reverence similar to that which she pays to her Master in heaven; and supports this by asserting a similarity between the marriage relation and that of the Church to Christ. This similarity he describes by comparing each of these relations to that of the head and members of a human body; but points out the limits of his comparison by reminding us that the Head of the Church is also its Saviour. He concludes his injunction to the wife by urging her to take as her pattern the submission of the Church to Christ.

If Paul speaks first of the duties of the wife, he finds it needful to linger longer over those of the husband. Just as the wife must look on the Church’s submission to Christ as a pattern of her own submission to her husband, so the husband is bound to take Christ’s love to the Church, manifested in His death, as a pattern for his own love to his wife. Paul then leaves for a moment the duty of husbands to describe, in language borrowed from the metaphor he is here using, the purpose of Christ is self-sacrifice for the Church, viz. to present to Himself the Church as His loyal and spotless bride. The purity needed in the bride of Christ recalls the baptismal water through which these Asiatic Christians had passed, and which was designed to be the entrance into a spotless life. Going back to the subject specially in hand, Paul bids husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the Church, to love them even as they love their own bodies. These last words introduce another motive for love to the wife, a motive which is at once more fully developed. To love one’s wife, is to love himself: and all are careful to feed and protect their own bodies. Since we are members of the Body of Christ, this care for our own body has a divine counterpart in Christ’s kindness to the Church. The double analogy involved in this argument, viz. that the human body consisting of head and members has one counterpart in the relation of husband and wife and another spiritual counterpart in the relation of Christ to the Church, Paul supports by a quotation from Genesis which asserts that husband and wife are one flesh as though parts of one living body. He adds that in this quotation he is referring to Christ and the Church. He thus finds in the Bible strong support for his second motive for love to the wife, viz. that in loving her the husband is loving himself. The Apostle concludes by repeating, and placing side by side, the mutual duties of husband and wife.

This section is throughout characteristic of Paul. As in his earlier Epistles the duties of to-day are enforced by reference to broad and abiding principles. Thus, as ever with him, little details of common life are raised into dignity. And these details are made an occasion of expounding broad principles, which thus receive important practical illustration. The O.T. quotation finds for the relation of the Church to Christ an important and most instructive counterpart in the original constitution of our race. We notice also, as before, Paul’s fairness. While defending the rights of the weaker, he does not forget the obligations involved in those rights.

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Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Joseph Beet's Commentary. 1877-90.

John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible

John Brown


A. The last few teachings in Ephesians we have concentrated on Christian behavior.

1. Last week, we specifically dealt with the behavior of a Godly wife as it related to her husband.

2. And in tonight"s study we will take a look at the husband"s role and his Godly behavior towards her.


A. Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

1. Let"s just take a look at the first part Husbands, love your wives, to help us better understand the rest of Chapter5.

a) (NKJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

2And though I have [the] [gift] [of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the] [poor], and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4Love suffers long [and] is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether [there] [are] prophecies, they will fail; whether [there] [are] tongues, they will cease; whether [there] [is] knowledge, it will vanish away.

b) We"re going to take a look at this a little closer, but basically guys, what this is saying is that if you don"t love your wives the way the Lord has prescribed (Biblically), you don"t amount to much!!!

(1) That"s what that word "nothing" means in verse2.

(2) It doesn"t matter if you have the gift of tongues and interpretation, the gift of prophecy, word of knowledge, and faith to move mountains, it still adds up to a big zero.

c) Song of Solomon, how do you know if you are loving your wife the way the Lord prescribes?

(1) Are you kind to her even when it hurts?

(2) Are you envious of her talent or gifts, or just plain smarts?

(3) Do you consider yourself smarter or better than her in any way?

(4) Are you rude to her?

(5) Can she count on the fact that you will do without in order to put her first?

(6) Does she have to walk on "eggshells" around you or is she comfortable being herself.

(7) Does it make you happy when she fails or is embarrassed by something or someone?

(8) Are you patient with her?

(9) Do you make every effort for her succeed in every area of her life?

(a) Now we can go on to the rest of Ephesians 5

2. Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

a) The rest of the verse gives us the highest and best example of love and that is Jesus.

(1) Notice the depth of His commitment to His bride!

B. (NKJV) . . . . Christ . . . . gave Himself for her,

26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

1. Please understand that the church was (and is not now) holy and without blemish!

a) Yet the Lord made a "path" by which He could view His bride is such a way.

b) Unlike most of us husbands who look for reasons to pick our wives apart, Jesus looked for a way to see His bride "without blemish!"

c) A Christian husband should love his wife so much that he is willing to give his own life for her!

(1) John 15:13 (NKJV) "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one"s life for his friends.

C. (NKJV) So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord [does] the church.

1. Please notice that the Apostle Paul says that husbands are supposed to love their "own" wives!

a) For many husbands, (and wives), it s easier to look at someone else"s spouse and think, "Boy I wish my husband or wife was like them."

b) The remedy for that is to love your spouse more that you love yourself!!

(1) Paul validates that self-love by reminding us that we go to great lengths to make sure that "we" are comfortable, loved and well cared for!

(2) Here"s what Paul is getting at:in Christ, you are your wife and she is you. You are one where He is concerned!

D. (NKJV) For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

1. The reference here is out of Genesis 2:23 and it is used to validate Paul"s statement that a husband and wife are one flesh just like the church is made one flesh through the cross!

a) When we accept Him as Savior, we become His beautiful bride, and consequently one flesh with Him!

(1) Something that was once "ugly" and "unacceptable" because of sin, is transformed by His righteousness, into something beautiful!!

E. Ephesians 5:32 (NKJV) This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church33Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife [see] that she respects [her] husband.

1. A "mystery" by Biblical definition, is something that has not yet been revealed.

a) (NKJV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a Prayer of Manasseh, I put away childish things.

12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

b) I am convinced that we husbands understand these verses very little!

(1) This great "mystery" of Christ and the church and how it relates to us as husbands is a lifetime undertaking!

(2) But this much we do know, men it is time to put away childish things.


A. If we have been treating our wives with anything or in any way that is less than what the Lord wants, we need to repent, and find out how to do a better job being a Godly husband.

B. Next week we will see how proper Christian behavior affects how we raise our children, and what kind of employer, and employees we are!

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Brown, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

"That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27

We do not now see what the Church one day will be, and what she ever was in the eyes of Jesus. He could look through all this time-state, through all the sins and sorrows of this intermediate period, and fix his eye upon the bridal day, the day when before assembled angels, in the courts of heaven, in the realms of eternal bliss, he should present her to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy, and without blemish.

O what a day will that be, when the Son of God shall openly wed his espoused bride; when there shall be heard in heaven, "as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia—for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him—for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready" ( Revelation 19:7). How cleansed, how sanctified, how washed, how clothed must the Church be in that day when the very eyes of omniscience, which can read the slightest departure, even a wrinkle, from infinite purity, will find in her neither spot nor blemish, so that God himself in all the blaze of his holiness may say of the Church, "I have viewed her with an omniscient eye; I have looked at every member of the mystical body of my dear Son; I have examined each with all the eyes of Godhead; but there is no spot, there is no wrinkle, no blemish in any one of them; all are complete in him; all stand accepted in the Beloved."

But you may ask, and this is an inquiry well worth pressing upon your conscience, "How am I to know that I shall stand at that day without spot or wrinkle?" To answer that inquiry, what do you know, I ask, of the cleansing, sanctifying influences of regenerating grace, of the word of truth laying hold of your conscience, of the word of power coming into your heart, of the blood of Christ being applied, and the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit? If not now, yet before you are called away from these lower scenes, you are blessed with a living faith in the Son of God, with the application of his love and blood to your conscience, when time ends with you, it will open to you a glorious eternity, and forever delivered from all your present sins and sorrows, fears and anxieties, you will be presented at the great day among that glorious Church, which has neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing.

But if you live and die without any saving interest in these heavenly blessings, would I be faithful to my commission and to my conscience, if I were to say it will be all well with you?—that you have only on your deathbed to send for a minister to pray by your bedside, give you the sacrament, and speak a few comfortable words, and it will be all right with your soul? Would I be faithful to my commission to encourage such a delusion as this, a delusion by which thousands are continually deceived? I dare not do it. Yes, I would lift up my voice and cry aloud, "There is no salvation past, present, or future, but what flows through the precious blood of the Lamb, and is made experimentally known to the soul by the power of the Holy Spirit."

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

(Ephesians 5:27.) ῞ινα παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν—“in order that He might present, Himself to Himself, the church glorious.” αὐτός, supported by the authority of A, B, D1, F, G, L, and many versions and Fathers, is decidedly to be preferred to the αὐτήν of the Textus Receptus. This verse declares the ultimate purpose of the love and death of Him who is “both Ransom and Redeemer voluntary.” Harless errs in regarding the two clauses beginning with ἵνα as co-ordinate. The allusion is still to a nuptial ceremony, and to the presentation of the bride to her husband- αὐτὸς- ἑαυτῷ. The august Bridegroom does not present His spouse to Himself till He can look upon her with complacency. Harless affirms that the presentation described is that of a sacrifice on the altar, because the epithets employed by the apostle are occasionally applied to victims and offerings; but such a view is in conflict with the entire language and imagery on to the end of the chapter. Nay, there is a peculiar beauty in applying sacrificial terms to the fair and immaculate bride, as she is fit, even according to legal prescription, to be presented to her Lord. So Meyer remarks ἑαυτῷ would be out of place in the theory of Harless-Jesus presenting an oblation to Himself! The word παραστήσῃ occurs with a similar meaning in 2 Corinthians 11:2—“that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” αὐτὸς- ἑαυτῷ-He and none other presents the bride, and HE and none other receives her to HIMSELF. No inferior agency is permitted; a proof in itself, as well as His death, of His love to the church. ῎ενδοξον—“glorious;” the epithet being a tertiary predicate and emphatic in position. Donaldson, § 489. The same idea occurs in Revelation 19:7-8. The term refers original ly to external appearance-the combined effect of person and dress. The illustrious epithet is explained by the succeeding clauses-first negative-

μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον, ἢ ῥυτίδα, ἤ τι τῶν τοιούτων—“having neither spot, or wrinkle, or any one of such things.” σπῖλος, which ought to be spelled with a simple accent- σπίλος ( ἄσπιλος forming a dactyle), is a stain or blemish, and is one of the words of the later Greeks. 2 Peter 2:13. λέγε δὲ κηλίς, as the older Attic term, says Phrynicus (p. 28). ῾πυτίς is a wrinkle or fold on the face, indicative of age or disease. Dioscorides, 1:39; Passow, sub voce. Not only are spots and wrinkles excluded, but every similar blemish. The terms are taken from physical beauty, health, and symmetry, to denote spiritual perfection. Song of Solomon 4:7. The attempts made by some critics, such as Anselm, Estius, and Grotius, to distinguish nicely and formally between the virtues or graces described in these terms respectively, are needless. Thus Augustine takes the first term to mean deformitas operis, and the second duplicitas intentionis, and the last inclusive phrase to comprehend reliquiae peccatorum ut pravae inclinationis, motus involuntarii et multiplicis ignorantiae. Not only negatively but positively-

ἀλλ᾿ ἵνα ᾖ ἁγία καὶ ἄμωμος—“but that she should be holy and without blemish.” One might have expected ἀλλ᾿ οὖσαν, but it is as if ἵνα μὴ ἔχῃ σπίλον had stood in the previous clause. The syntax is thus changed, no uncommon occurrence in Greek composition, as may be seen in John 8:53; Romans 12:1-2. On the oratio variata, compare Winer, § 63, 2, 1. The syntactic change here, with the repetition of ἵνα, gives special prominence to the idea which has been expressed, first negatively, but now in this clause with positive affirmation. The meaning of ἁγία has been given already under Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:4; and of ἄμωμος under Ephesians 1:4, and needs not be repeated here. Such, then, is to be the ultimate perfection and destiny of the church. In her spotless purity the love of Christ finds its extreme and glorious design realized. That love which led Him to die, in order to bestow pardon and to secure holiness, is not contented till its object be robed in unsullied and unchanging purity.

But when is this perfection to be for the first time possessed, and when does this presentation take place? We have already said that the presentation is not contemporary with the consecration, but is posterior to it, and does not finally and formally take place on earth. The “church” we understand in its full significance, as the whole company of the redeemed, personified and represented as a spiritual Spouse. The presentation belongs therefore to the period of the second coming, when the human species shall have completed its cycle of existence on earth; and every one whom the Saviour's all-seeing eye beheld as belonging to His church, and whom, therefore, He loved and died for, and cleansed, has shared in the final redemption. (The reader may turn to what is said upon the phrase—“redemption of the purchased possession,” Ephesians 1:14.) Augustine and Jerome among the Fathers, Primasius, Bernard, and Thomas Aquinas among scholastic divines, along with Estius, Calvin, and Beza, hold to this view as to the epoch of the presentation, in antagonism with Cajetan, Bucer, Wolf, Bengel, and Harless, who regard the glorification of the church as a species of present operation. The loose language of the Greek commentators seems to intimate that they held the same hypothesis. Augustine flagellates the Donatists and Pelagians, who believed in the present sinlessness of the church; for truly such a state can only be such a comparative perfection as John Wesley describes when he says, “Christian perfection does not imply an exemption from ignorance or mistakes, infirmities or temptations.” The church as it now is, and as it has always been, has many spots and wrinkles upon it. But perfection is secured by a process of continuous and successful operation, and shall be ultimately enjoyed. “The bride, the Lamb's wife,” hath for centuries been making herself ready, and at length Christ, as He looks upon His church, will pr onounce her perfect without tinge of sin or trace of any corruption; she will appear “holy and without blemish” in His view whose “eyes are a flame of fire.” As He originally loved her in her impurity, how deep and ardent must be His attachment now to her when He sees in her the realization of His own gracious and eternal purpose! The nuptial union is at length consummated amidst the pealing halleluiahs of triumph and congratulation. So fervent, self-sacrificing, and successful is Christ's love to His church; and now He rejoices over her with joy, and His toil and death being amply compensated, “He will rest in His love.”

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

he — The oldest manuscripts and authorities read, “That He might Himself present unto Himself the Church glorious,” namely, as a bride (2 Corinthians 11:2). Holiness and glory are inseparable. “Cleansing” is the necessary preliminary to both. Holiness is glory internal; glory is holiness shining forth outwardly. The laver of baptism is the vehicle, but the word is the nobler and true instrument of the cleansing [Bengel]. It is Christ that prepares the Church with the necessary ornaments of grace, for presentation to Himself, as the Bridegroom at His coming again (Matthew 25:1, etc.; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2).

not having spot — (Song of Solomon 4:7). The visible Church now contains clean and unclean together, like Noah‘s ark; like the wedding room which contained some that had, and others that had not, the wedding garment (Matthew 22:10-14; compare 2 Timothy 2:20); or as the good and bad fish are taken in the same net because it cannot discern the bad from the good, the fishermen being unable to know what kind of fish the nets have taken under the waves. Still the Church is termed “holy” in the creed, in reference to her ideal and ultimate destination. When the Bridegroom comes, the bride shall be presented to Him wholly without spot, the evil being cut off from the body for ever (Matthew 13:47-50). Not that there are two churches, one with bad and good intermingled, another in which there are good alone; but one and the same Church in relation to different times, now with good and evil together, hereafter with good alone [Pearson].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

He, ['Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read autos (Greek #846) for auteen (Greek #846)] - 'that He might Himself present unto Himself the Church glorious' (the article marks the subject, and its absence the predicate [ endoxon (Greek #1741) teen (Greek #3588) ekkleesian (Greek #1577)]); namely, as a bride (2 Corinthians 11:2). He alone presents her: not paranymphs or attendants: He alone receives her. Holiness and glory are inseparable. 'Cleansing' is the preliminary to both. Holiness is glory internal; glory is holiness shining out. It is Christ that prepares the Church with the ornaments of grace, for presentation to Himself at His coming again as Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1, etc.; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2).

Not having spot (Song of Solomon 4:7). The visible Church contains clean and unclean together, like Noah's ark; like the wedding room which contained some that had, and others that had not, the wedding garment (Matthew 22:10-14 : cf. 2 Timothy 2:20); or as the good and bad fish are in the same net, because the fishermen are unable to know what kind of fish the nets have taken under the waves. Still, the Church is "holy" in her ideal and destination. When the Bridegroom comes, she shall be presented to Him without spot, the evil being cut off from the body forever (Matthew 13:47-50). Not that there are two churches, but one and the same Church in relation to different times-now with good and evil together; hereafter with good alone (Pearson).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books

Now, then, let's come again to the woman.

Ephesians 5:22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.

Ephesians 5:24. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Go down to verse33.

Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular (you husbands) so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

And I repeat it, when you husbands take your place of loving your wife as yourself with a love that is willing to sacrifice for the love and joy and blessing of the wife, it will be very easy for the wife to take her place of submission of reverencing her husband.

Now the illustration given to us, as I say, is the relationship between Christ and the church. How much did Christ love the church? He loved the church so much that He was willing to lay down His life for the church. Husbands are to lay down their lives, if need be, for their wives because they love them. It was in love that the Lord Jesus gave Himself for us—

Ephesians 5:27. That He might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

I tell you, my friend, it's an amazing thing. This question of relationship is a tremendous thing. In fact, I again come back to what I said in the preceding lesson. The prayers of God's people are oftentimes hindered because either one or the other does not take his/her place before God and before each other.

I'm emphasizing this fact because the great illustration given to us is with respect to Christ and His love for the church.

The love of Christ for the church was revealed in sacrifice. He has given everything, all that He had for the church, the church that He loves. His past work is mentioned in verse25. He gave Himself for the church that He might remove the barriers that were between the church and God.

He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. And He appeared once in the end of the age to put away sins ( Hebrews 9:26). Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world ( John 1:29). This man by one sacrifice for sins forever sat down at the right hand of God ( Hebrews 10:12). This is what He did in the past. His love was evidenced by sacrifice.

Now, our Lord's present work,

Ephesians 5:26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word.

This is His present ministry. He wants to keep us clean. And how does He do it? By His Word. As you have it in John 15:3 when He said, "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you;" and in 1 John 1:1-10, verse9, through chapter2, verse2, "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;" and in Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost (perfectly) that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." He cleanses the church by the washing of water by the Word. That's what you have in the119th Psalm, you remember, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Word" ( Psalm 119:9).

Bibliographical Information
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books

Now, let me repeat it. The husband has the place of responsibility, that's the headship. That doesn't mean servitude. That doesn't mean he is the boss. Neither one is the boss. And the woman is not chattel. They're one. And wife has been given the place of honor because she is the weaker vessel. May I repeat it, it is very easy for the wife to submit to her husband if the husband obeys verse25, which Isaiah,

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it.

Ephesians 5:26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

Now the illustration given to us is in chapter5 reading from . The illustration of relationship. Christ's love for the church is revealed in His sacrifice for her.

You remember in the preceding chapter I said that my love for God is revealed by obedience. And my love for other people is revealed by sacrifice. When we take this into the church, into the family of God, we say, "That's right." Now, let's take it into the family between husband and wife.

Just as Jesus Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it that He might cleanse the church and sanctify the church and might present to Himself a glorious church. . . .

Ephesians 5:28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Ephesians 5:29. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord loved the church:

Ephesians 5:30. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Ephesians 5:31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Ephesians 5:32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

You see, there is more said about the husband than there is about the wife. Listen, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church." How did Christ manifest His love for the church? By giving his life for the church. So how is a husband to manifest his love for his wife? By sacrifice, by giving his life for his wife.

Now, you've got no argument with me. This is what it says, for the purpose that Christ might bring the church to Himself, a holy church having neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing (v27). So the husband loves the wife and you remember that no man ever yet hates his own flesh.

A man doesn't hate himself. And he's to love his wife even as he loves himself. And his love for his wife is so keen, so real that he's willing to leave his father and his mother and be joined to her. I'm talking about the husband. I sometimes think the husband needs instruction more than the wife because we've got sort of a distorted idea about this.

It says here that this is a great mystery (v32). It is! Here is a man who has been raised by a father and a mother who have spent all their love and sometimes all their money on that fellow and made him a real man. One day he sees a girl, falls in love with her, and he's willing, perfectly willing, to leave his father and mother who raised him, who wept over him, nursed him and everything else, to leave them because of his love for his wife. You see, now, having gotten his wife, having been married to this girl, he must love her as himself. And that love is going to be evidenced by sacrifice for her.

Bibliographical Information
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books

And then you have His future work, His future joy in verse27.

Ephesians 5:27. That he might present it (the church) to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Here is his future joy. He's going to present the church to Himself a spotless church, a holy church. This is the future. In the book of Jude 1:24, you remember, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and honor and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever." In Colossians 1:22, God not only reconciles us, but He's going to present us "holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight."

You see, you have the past work of Christ because He loved us, He died for us and removed the barrier of sin. His present work, because of His love for us, is revealed in that He is our Representative, our Intercessor, our Advocate. And He keeps us clean by the Word of God. And if He did all this because He loves us. How then should we love each other? How then should we love each other? We are to love each other even as Christ loved the church.

I come back again to this statement that I made at the beginning of chapter5. We manifest our love for God by obedience to His Word, and we manifest our love for each other by sacrifice.

Mr. or Mrs. Whoever-You-Are, if you really love each other, if your love for each other is genuine, you'll be willing to sacrifice for the joy and the blessing of each other. There's no joy in being a boss. There's no joy in being an autocrat. There's no joy in lording it over other people by saying "This is my position!" I've seen men and women driven from their mate over this!

Marriage is a combination. It is a union, a union—the husband having his place, the wife having her place. And look at the joy for your children. Instead of seeing father and mother at odds with each other and scrapping and not talking to each other, here they have blessed communion together, blessed joy and love. And it radiates through the children. The kids begin to love each other. I'm talking about a practical thing. The Word of God is practical. And again, may I say, God wants you to be happy. He wants you to be filled with joy and He has laid down instructions for how our families can be happy, joyous families.

Oh, my friends, may the Lord make these things very precious and very clear to you. And in these coming days in your house, in your family, may you husbands take your place and you wives take your place; and, my, what a combination of love this will bring. Remember we manifest our love for God by obedience to His Word. We manifest our love for each other by sacrifice even as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.

Now may the Lord wonderfully bless you. I just pray that God will make your family, your home, one of the sweetest homes in the neighborhood because of the love you have not only for the Lord, but the love you have for each other.

Remember, love, genuine love, is always willing to sacrifice.

Now may the Lord make the Word very precious to your heart. Read it and reread it and reread it, and get your mind filled with the text.

And the Lord wonderfully bless you now for His name's sake.

Bibliographical Information
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ephesians 5:1-2. Be ye followers of God as dear children, for children are expected to walk in their father’s steps. He sends us rain and fruitful seasons, he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good; and if we act otherwise, men will not acknowledge us for the sons of God. In all good offices the Saviour forgot himself, and went about continually doing good. Nay more; he gave himself for us, an eucharistal oblation and sacrifice, a sweet savour of unexampled love. What can words add more?

Ephesians 5:3-6. But uncleanness or covetousness, let it not be named among you. These cautions are repeated from 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, and Galatians 5:19, where comments occur. For these things, he adds, the wrath of God comes down on the children of disobedience. They perish by disease, infamy, and a miserable death. How deplorable must have been the state of the heathen world, that St. Paul deemed it requisite to give such strong cautions to believers, in the great cities of Corinth and Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:12. It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. St. Paul often alludes to the deliverance which the gospel had wrought for the heathen. Those only have adequate ideas of the secret crimes connected with idolatry, who have read Livy’s Account of the Bacchanalian Orgies, and Augustine’s City of God, and other books of the fathers against the gentiles. The bloody worship of Moloch, and the beastly uncleanness attendant on the worship of Priapus, which is thought to he the same with Baal-peor, are too abominable for description. He is feigned to be the son of Bacchus and Venus. Suffice to say, that the figure of this idol, and the dress of the priests, and virgins, and matrons, who served at his altar, and the airs which varlets sung were such as inflamed the people to the perpetration of those crimes in the adjoining groves, which St. Paul comprises under the word acatharsia, all uncleanness, of every species of unnatural lust: Ephesians 5:3. Truly except the Lord had left us a remnant, we had been as Sodom, or like unto Gomorrah. See the City of God, book 2. chap. 4.

Ephesians 5:14. Awake, thou that sleepest. Some apply this exhortation to rouse the church from a state of slumber, as in Isaiah 60:1. Romans 13:11. But the adjection, arise from the dead, extends the address to a slumbering world. The wicked are dead to God, dead to piety, dead in trespasses and sins. They sleep, they slumber, and the fleeting vanities of this world vanish as the morning dreams. Sinners sleep on the verge of hell; their awakening in the hour of visitation is tremendous and terrific. Clouds of guilt, the curses of Sinai, the flames ascending from the abyss, and the aspects of a vindictive God, are terrors insupportable. Sinners have but a moment to look to Calvary, and fly for refuge to the living temple. Isaiah 28:16.

Ephesians 5:16. Redeeming the time. εξαγοραζομενοι τον καιρον. The words import, that we should buy up and improve the time as men do in a market, which if once lost may never return. The reason assigned is, because the days are evil. Our enemies are all active, we must be alert in the war, and laborious in the harvest days. It is prudent to lay down in a morning a plan of the duties of the day, that we may first give ourselves to the Lord, and then our hands to labour.

Ephesians 5:19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. The wicked, exhilarated with wine, indulge in songs which utter the infamy of the heart, and pollute the ear; but the saints have angels’ songs. Pliny testifies, that christians in his time sung hymns to Christ as God. Christo ut Deo hymnos canunt. David, and the prophet Elisha, from their youth were proficients in sacred song. Jerome composed hymns; and the hymns and psalms of St. Hilary are said to have been sung all over France. Buchanan has delighted all the Latin church with a metrical version of the Psalms. Chrysostom says, God has given those psalms and hymns of praise to raise the souls of men above the troubles of life. Singing revives every pious affection of the heart, and contributes to health and cheerfulness. But alas, our modern composers of sacred music, men now living, have ruined public worship by jig tunes, many of them taken from the army and the stage. They forget that temples require time, they forget God, they forget themselves, to impose silence on the church.

Ephesians 5:22-24. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands. A christian female must be instructed in all the duties of her station. She must not be a brawler, running about for pleasure, contracting debts, and grieving her husband with her tongue. It becomes her to be adorned with every virtue, to render her lovely in the eyes of her husband, and honourable in the station she occupies. The eulogy of such a virtuous woman has been made by Lemuel, and painted with brilliancy of character. Proverbs 31:10; Proverbs 31:31.

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love your wives. The model of conjugal affection is that of Christ, loving the church, and giving himself for it; indicating that the husband should love his wife as his own life, and in every view as one with him. He should support her in all duties, comfort her in all infirmities, and be her pillar of support in all the walks of life. His oath at the altar is obligatory; and her love, if possible, should more than repay his affection. The drunkard and the profligate must not here be classed with husbands, but with culprits: he cannot rank even with the wild beasts, who always carry their prey to their lair.


After a scale of moral precepts, wise, pure, and brilliant, the apostle concentrates all their glory in the love of Christ to the church, and in all the graces which his love confers. The prophet, by an allegory rich in figures, regards the Hebrew church as descended, not from Abraham and Sarah, but morally of the line of the Amorite, and of the Hittite; exposed in infancy, unwashed and in a state of nudity. Ezekiel 16. The Lord, as the best of beings, passed by, and had pity upon her. He adopted her as a daughter, he decorated her as a princess, betrothed her in righteousness as a bride, and placed a diadem upon her head.

Christ in like manner has loved the church, redeemed her by his blood, and sanctified her with the washing of water by the word; expressions which harmonize with all the glory of justifying and sanctifying grace. Having thus redeemed and cleansed her in the fountain of life, he has also consecrated and crowned her for himself. The king’s daughter is all glorious within, not having spot or wrinkle, or any defilement. Her clothing is embroidered gold. He did all this, that she might live in his presence, holy and without blame before him in love, and finally be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

Here, oh husbands, is your model of behaviour towards your wives, that your love may command a just return of the same behaviour towards you. But this is the mystery, the great mystery of godliness, and not merely natural affection, of which Paul speaks. It is designed to augment the spiritual glory of the believer that he so wrote, and to enlarge the communion of the saints with the Saviour. May our eyes be opened to behold in all things the grand design of our Lord’s redeeming love.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ver. 27. That he might present] As Isaac did his Rebecca, adorned with his jewels. See Ezekiel 16:14. Tales nos amat Deus, quales futuri sumus ipsius done, non quales sumus nostro merito, saith an ancient Council.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Christ and the Church

Eph 5:26. Christ gave Himself for the church. That expression of His love is followed twice by the word "that", with which both Eph 5:26 and Eph 5:27 begins. This word refers to the reason why He did that. As it has been made clear earlier, His dedication goes further than the cross. Even though He is now in heaven, He dedicates Himself fully by taking care of His church, His wife.

Christ has first made the church His possession; now He is busy in His perfect love to shape her the way He wants her to be. He wants to shape her that way in order to enable her to be with Him in due time. Therefore it is necessary that she is being sanctified and cleansed.

By sanctification she is being fully focused on Him: the church is there for Him. He cannot approve that she would develop any love for or even an interest in something that is not in connection with Him. He wants to focus all her love on Himself and the place where He is, in the heavenly places. He wants to have her interest for what she will be in connection to Him to eternity. He always wants to impress His bride with her being connected to Him, Who is now already in glory.

The result of that will be that she is being sanctified, which means, to be set apart from the world in order to be totally for Him and Him alone. So there is nothing more present in the hearts than only interest and admiration for the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Besides sanctification the church needs also to be cleansed. She is still in the world and that automatically causes contamination. That contamination is cleansed by "the washing of water by the word". By reading the Bible, the Word of God, you get cleansed; you get rid of the dirt that you've been polluted with through your life in the world.

Here it is not about sins you've done. It is about things you cannot help happening. For example you hear filthy language or cursing. That is what is polluting you. It can get stuck in your head. By washing yourself with the Word – by reading the Bible – you become clean again. You're not able to enjoy fellowship with the Lord Jesus without this cleansing. In John 13 the Lord Jesus also speaks about it in this way (Jn 13:1-10). Therefore it is necessary to read the Word of God every day.

Eph 5:27. This verse also starts with "that", after which we see a second reason of His dedication. Here Paul points to the final result of the dedication of the Lord Jesus and His sanctifying and cleansing work. In due time, He wants to present the church to Himself without her having even a slight spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But this is still about a negative feature. In fact, He wants to have her before Himself in all the glory, which He Himself had bestowed on her (cf. Eze 16:14). She will be clothed with His glory (Rev 21:9-10).

The church will be there "having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing". Then there will be nothing anymore that will remind her of pollution or decay, from which we cannot escape on earth. No, she then will be perfectly holy, entirely focused on Him, Who gave Himself for her. She then will also be perfect without blame through His perfectly cleansing work and she will never again suffer any spot.

This is how He will present the church – not before His Father, but – before Himself. She will then totally satisfy the desires of His heart. The moment this is fulfilled, the church will be complete. He will come to meet His own and take them with Him. First He will raise the dead and after that He will transform us who are alive. Together we shall meet the Lord in the air. There our encounter will take place and nobody else will be present. What a great moment that will be for the Lord Jesus!

Eph 5:28. Here Paul repeats his remark of Eph 5:25, but now this is actually founded with a very clear and lofty basis. When husband and wife behave like that in their marriage, it will make their marriage a source of an immense and increasing happiness. Should they suffer difficulties, then they will see in the model of Christ that love will find a way. They will see that difficulties are often a means to strengthen love. With this view of Christ there are no hopeless cases.

And another argument is added. The love of the husband for his wife is as natural as the love for himself. His wife is not a functional object within his environment and furthermore separate from him. On the contrary, his wife forms a unity with him.

Eph 5:29. Paul is explaining that by continuing to paint the picture of the body. It is just as natural for a husband that he nourishes and nurtures his wife as he does that to his own body. Just as husbands make sure that their body is being nourished and kept warm (which means 'nurtured'), in that way they are to make sure that their wives have enough food and feel pleasant.

This we can also apply spiritually. It is important that the husband nourishes himself spiritually, but no less important is it that he also knows the needs of his wife in this respect and provides for it. The same goes for giving warmth, nurturing. She experiences that especially when she feels secure with her husband, when he really spends time with her and really focuses his attention on her, when he makes her feel that she is 'special' to him. Christ also treats His church in this way.

Eph 5:30. Then Paul, almost unnoticeably, replaces the one picture of the church: that of a wife, by another picture: that of a body. Actually he uses both pictures interchangeably. With the wife it is about love, with the body it is about unity. The church is also the body of Christ. The members are the believers individually, but yet they form His body together. As members of Christ's body we individually experience something of His tender care.

Eph 5:31. The unity between a husband and a wife in marriage is not an invention of Paul. The first pages of the Bible mention it. Paul refers to Genesis 2 (Gen 2:24). There we see that God has introduced marriage and that it originates from before the fall of man. From that quotation it appears that through a marriage a unity is accomplished, which
1. is new (indicated by "leave his father and mother"),
2. is irreversible (indicated by "be joined to his wife") and
3. is total (indicated by "become one flesh").

Eph 5:32. In this verse the more profound meaning of marriage is given: in marriage God has given a picture of Christ and the church. Formerly that was a mystery, unknown to men. But now Paul makes, directed by God's Spirit, this mystery known. In case he had not have done that, how would we have known of a perfect unity between Christ and the church and of the perfect love Christ has for His church? Also this truth has been from eternity hidden in God.

The relationship between Christ and the church is called "great". What is related to this, is not limited to one nation and only the earth, but extends from eternity to eternity and comprises heaven and earth. Besides, there is another mystery that is called 'great'. That you find in 1 Timothy 3 (1Tim 3:16).

Eph 5:33. After unfolding this Divine secret, Paul returns to the practice. He wishes that the heavenly reality is reflected in every marriage on earth.

There comes a closing address to the husband, who is being addressed very personally in "each individual among you". In this closing address is being repeated what is said in the Eph 5:25-27 about 'loving' and in the Eph 5:28-29 about 'as himself'. The closing address to the wives implies that they should honor their husbands by giving them the place that God has given them.

Now read Ephesians 5:26-33 again.

Reflection: Which pictures does Paul use for the relationship between husband and wife? What are the characteristics of those pictures?

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ephesians 5:27". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Duties of Husbands and Wives as Shown by the Relation of Christ to the Church. Eph_5:22-33

The exhortation with its basis:

v. 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord;

v. 23. for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.

v. 24. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

v. 25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it,

v. 26. that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

v. 27. that he might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Of this entire section it has been stated that "it gives the Christian ideal of the marriage-relation, It is the loftiest conception of that relation that has ever come from human pen, and one than which no higher can be imagined. " Expanding the thought of the last admonition, the apostle writes: Wives, to your own husbands be subject as to the Lord. To their own husbands, to the men with whom they have entered into the relationship of holy wedlock, Christian wives give subjection. This they do, not unwillingly, as in the obedience of a forced submission, but by virtue of their willing consent at the time of the betrothal; for they are not subject to the husband as their lord and master, but "as to the Lord," that is, as to Christ. Just as Christian women are, by virtue of faith, in a state of submission to Christ. so the obedience which they render to their husbands is one rendered to Christ, the Christian husband being the head of the wife and typifying to her Christ, the Head of the entire Christian Church: For the husband is the head of the wife, just as also Christ is the Head of the Church, Himself being the Savior of the body. In the case of Christ it is a matter both of superiority and of headship, for He is both God and the Savior of the body; His Church, the Christians, having accepted Him by faith, they have individually and collectively become the members of His body, the communion of saints, united in one great organism. In the case of the husband not all points of comparison can be stressed. It may not be a question of superiority, but it is always very distinctly a question of headship. It is God's will that the husband be the head of the wife; the provision made at the time of creation is thus confirmed for the time of the Few Testament.

Just how far this relation will extend in the sense as here given, is stated by the apostle: Nevertheless, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also the wives to the husbands in everything. The apostle makes no concessions to modern over-emancipation, neither does he give to the husband unlimited latitude. The meaning of the apostle is this: The fact that Christ is the Savior of the Church in no way affects the fact that He is also the Head of the Church; now, though the husband is not the savior of the body, the question of obedience for all that is not affected thereby; as the Church is subject to Christ, so, too, are wives subject to their husbands. It is expressly stated that this is to be in all things, the wife thus not being given permission to make arbitrary exceptions. But it is self-evident that the headship of man is confined to the matters of this life only. So far as the sphere of Christianity is concerned, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal_3:28.

On the part of the women it is a matter of voluntary submission in a relation to their husbands which is compared to that of the Church to Christ. Being coheirs with the men of the hope of salvation, they might be inclined to demand equality in the marital relation and life: in answer to such thoughts the headship of the husbands was emphasized. On the part of the men the danger consisted in assuming an overbearing lordship, in deeming themselves authorized to make use of severity. To them St. Paul saps: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and offered Himself up for it. The apostle wants the husbands to show their love for their wives in their actions at all times; it should be an active, willing love. The apostle does not introduce a reason for this love, since its presence is assumed on the basis of the order of creation, but he offers the highest example and comparison that could be conceived of. The chief proof of the love of Christ for the congregation consisted in this, that He offered up Himself, that He sacrificed His own life for the Church, in the interest of the Church, for the expiation of sins. The redemption was merited for the whole world, but only in the case of the believers is it actually realized; and so the vicarious work of Christ, the supreme proof of His love, is here represented as having taken place in the interest of the Church. And the result of this work, as it actually appears in the life of the believers, is: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of the water in the word. It is not only justification that the apostle speaks of here, he is referring not merely to the righteousness and perfection which was imputed to every believer at the time of His conversion, but he is speaking of the sanctification which is going on in the Church, having been begun in the believers in their baptism to be perfected on the last day. Christ consecrated His Church, set it apart for Himself. And this He did by cleansing each member of the Church by the miraculous washing of water, by the sacrament of Holy Baptism. For this water is not simple water only, as Luther very correctly writes, but the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word. The water of Baptism cleanses from the corruption of inherited sin, it has the power to regenerate, to renew heart and mind, the nature of man. See Rom_6:3; Col_2:12; Tit_3:5.

The final object of the sanctifying done by Christ is given in the second dependent clause: That He Himself might present to Himself the Church, glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things, but that it should be holy and unblamable. Christ, as the Bridegroom, having purchased the Bride with His blood and having cleansed all believers, the members of the Church, by the water of Baptism, now presents or sets forth His Bride. The sanctification of this present time will reach its climax in the final glorification, when the Kingdom of Grace will become the Kingdom of Glory, when the Church Militant will become the Church Triumphant. "Christ presents the Church to Himself, He and no other, to Himself. He does it. He gave Himself for it. He sanctifies it. He, before the assembled universe, places by His side the Bride purchased with His blood. He presents it to Himself a glorious Church. That is glorious which excites admiration. The Church is to be an object of admiration to all intelligent beings, because of its freedom from all defects and because of its absolute perfection. It is to be conformed to the glorified humanity of the Son of God, in the presence of which the disciples on the mount became as dead men, and from the clear manifestation of which, when Christ comes the second time, the heavens and the earth are to flee away. God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son. And when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1Jn_3:2. The figure is preserved in the description here given of the glory of the consummated Church. It is to be as a faultless bride; perfect in beauty and splendidly adorned. She is to be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, i. e., without anything to mar her beauty, free from every indication of age, faultless and immortal. What is thus expressed figuratively is expressed literally in the last clause of the verse, that it should be holy and without blame. " (Hodge.)

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             4. Special Christian duties in domestic relations.

Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9.

Wives and husbands

( Ephesians 5:22-33.)

22Wives, submit yourselves[FN42] unto [to] your own husbands, as unto [to] the Lord 23 For the husband is the head of the [Because a[FN43] husband is head of his] wife, even as Christ is the head [as Christ also is head] of the church: [,] and he is [himself24omitting and he is][FN44] the Saviour of the body. Therefore, [Nevertheless][FN45] as the church is subject unto [to] Christ, so let the wives [also] be to their own [omit own][FN46] husbands in every thing 25 Husbands, love your[FN47] wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself [up] for it: 26That he might sanctify [it,] and cleanse [cleansing] it with the washing [laver] of [the] water by [in] the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church [That he might himself[FN48] present to himself the church glorious], not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; 28but that it should [might] be holy and without blemish. So [Thus] ought men [husbands also][FN49] to love their [own] wives as their own bodies. He that [who] loveth his [own] wife loveth himself 29 For no man ever yet hated [no one ever hated] his own flesh; but nourisheth it, even as the Lord [Christ[FN50] also doth] the 30 church: For [Because] we are members of his body, [being][FN51] of his flesh, and of his bones 31 For this cause shall a man leave his [omit his][FN52] father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife,[FN53] and they [the] two shall be one flesh 32 This is a great mystery [This mystery is a great one]: but I speak concerning [I say it in 33 regard to][FN54] Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular [Ye also severally, let each one] so love his [own] wife even [omit even] as himself; and [let] the wife see that she reverence her husband.


To Wives; Ephesians 5:22-24. a. The exhortation, Ephesians 5:22; b. The basis of it, Ephesians 5:23-24.

Ephesians 5:22. The exhortation. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, αἰ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν.—This section with its particular duties is so closely connected to the last sentence: “submitting yourselves one to another,” with its general duties, that the form is thus abbreviated. Accordingly the verb to be supplied should be imperative, as in some of the various readings, as is required also by the arrangement of the section itself ( Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:33). Bengel Inferiores priore loco ponuntur, deinde superiores 25, Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:4-5; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 3:1, quia propositio est de subjectione: et inferiores debent officium facere, qualescunque sunt superiores. Multi etiam ex inferioribus fiunt superiores: et qui bene subest, bene præest. The term ἴδιος is almost invariably joined with “husbands” in the New Testament ( Titus 2:5, 17; 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:2 : τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα—τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα: 1 Corinthians 14:35). We even find ἴδιος αὐτων προφήτης ( Titus 1:12) marking in addition to the “their,” that no strange (antithesis: ἴδιος) one is to be thought of. From this it follows that ἴδιος ἀνήρ is not simply=husband (Harless), nor ἴδιος=ἑαυτοῦ, αὐτου (Winer, p145). It has elsewhere its definite meaning=proprius, as Winer admits in regard to many passages, and the Apostle had in this one precept of obedience for the wife a good and sufficient reason for defining the husband with ἴδιος; this justifies the sharpening by which the command appears a natural one.[FN55] At the same time it points to the fact, that the wife is found to the husband in another way than he to her. She has here her calling, the avocation of the husband extends further. It is also to be noticed with Bengel: Mulieres obsequi debent suis maritis, etiamsi alibi meliora viderentur consilia. See Doctr. Notes.

As to the Lord, ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ.—The singular requires according to the context a reference to Christ ( Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:5-7), and “as” marks a reality; behind the husband stands the Lord Himself. Thus the obedience is characterized. The obedience is to be rendered not to the husband as Prayer of Manasseh, but as “own husband” in and by whose person the Lord is honored who has established the relation, whom the husband himself must obey.[FN56] Hence it is not the husband as lord (Thom. Aquinas, Semler and others).

The basis of the exhortation; Ephesians 5:23-24.

Ephesians 5:23. Because a husband is head of his wife [ὅτι ἀνήρ ἐστι κεφαλὴ τῆς γυναικός].—The foundation of the exhortation is introduced by ὅτι, “because.” Ἀνήρ, “husband,” without the article, designates generally every husband,[FN57] who as such is “head” of the definite wife, chosen and won by him (τῆς γυναικός). The position of the husband is thus marked as of an organizing, managing, controlling and deciding character, which is further set forth by the comparison immediately following:

As Christ also is head of the Church.—Ὡς καὶ Χριστός places Him as parallel with the husband ( Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 4:17). On “head of the Church,” see Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:15. The wife and the Church are thus placed as parallels.

Himself the Saviour of the body.—This distinguishes Christ from the husband. Αὐτος emphasizes Christ: He and none other. Σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος, Saviour of the body, the Church, is He and He alone. It is thus explanatory of “Christ,” marking His peculiar dignity, and not in apposition to “head.” This is not applicable to the husband as respects the wife; for him also Christ is the Redeemer. [Alford thus expands the Apostle’s thought: “In Christ’s case the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having saved the body in the process of Redemption: so that I am not alleging Christ’s Headship as one entirely identical with that other, for He has a claim to it and office in it peculiar to Himself.” So most.—R.] It is incorrect to take this as referring to the man also, in order thereby to remind husbands that they should make their wives happy (Erasmus, Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ΙΙ. 2, p133, and others); that thought belongs to the other part of the exhortation ( Ephesians 5:25 ff.) and would weaken the notion of σωτήρ very much. Stier is over-refined in discovering in σωτήρ—σῶμα an etymological allusion, as Philippians 3:20-21.

Ephesians 5:24. Nevertheless as the Church is subject to Christ, ἀλλά ὡς ἐκκλησία ὑποτάσσεται τᾦ Χριστῷ—Ἀλλα, “nevertheless,” in spite of the difference between Christ and the husband, the resemblance between the Church and the wife remains. Hence the particle is adversative: habet quidem id peculiare Christus, quod Esther, est servator ecclesiæ, nihilominus sciant mulieres, sibi maritos præesse, Christi exemplo, utcunque pari gratia non polleant (Calvin, Bengel and others).[FN58] It is accordingly neither syllogistic=ὥστε, οὖν (Beza [E. V.] and others), nor continuative=δέ (Winer, p420), nor resumptive=inquam (Harless).

So let the wives also be to their husbands [οὕτως καὶ αἰ γοναῖκες τοῖς ἀνδράσις].—The οὕτως καὶ strongly marks the analogy. The verb is to be supplied as in Ephesians 5:22. The emphasis rests on the final words: in everything, ἐν πάντι ( 1 Corinthians 1:5)=κατὰ πάντα ( Colossians 3:20; Colossians 3:22). From such a command we are not to infer that the reference is to Christian wedlock (Harless); this must indeed also be thoroughly correct. Neither the one ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-17) nor the other is to be accepted. “In everything” is limited by the context to that which the husband as such commands and which the wife as such has to do, but in neither contrary to the Lord. [Hodge: “It teaches its extent, not its degree. It extends over all departments, but is limited in all,—first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God.”—R.]

To Husbands; Ephesians 5:25-31. a. The exhortation, Ephesians 5:25-28; b. The basis of it, Ephesians 5:29-31.

[See Textual Note6].—Thus the husbands are exhorted, but a closer definition follows: Even as Christ also loved the Church.—Καθες καὶ Χριστός places the husbands in emphatic parallelism with Him, and the wives with the Church (τὴν ἐκκλησίαν). Si omnia rhetorum argumenta in unum conjicias, non tam persuaseris conjugibus dilectionem mutuam quam hic Paulus (Bugenhagen). [Comp. the apt quotation from Theophylact in Ellicott, and the beautiful remarks of Chrysostom, cited at length by Alford in loco.—R.] Ἠγάπησεν, “loved” ( John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 2:8; 1 John 3:14) is more closely defined by proof of fact.

And gave himself up for it,[FN59] καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς ( Ephesians 5:2).—Here also we should not supply in thought: unto death (Meyer), if by that is meant only the death on the cross; the reference is to the entire suffering including the last act as the extreme point. Thus the love required of the husband, a love self-devoting even unto death, gains a significant depth, while there still remains something important which is incomparable: Christ first created the Church through love, as His love made a reconciliation of the world with God, redemption from sin, and death, eternal life and salvation.

Ephesians 5:26-27. The end of the self-sacrificing love of Christ.

Ephesians 5:26. That he might sanctify it.—Ἵνα defines the end: αὐτὴν ἆγιάσῃ. There is here indicated a continued action and dealing towards and upon the Church, the result of which is expressed in Ephesians 5:27 (“that it should be holy and without blemish”); it is the positive activity, effecting the ethical form and demeanor which is well-pleasing to God. It is not merely segregare et sibi consecrare (Calvin [Eadie, but not to the exclusion of the idea of sanctification as a result.—R.] and others). The modality is set forth in the participial clause: Cleansing it.—Καθαρίσας as in Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:13. This indicates the negative activity directed against the evil which is to be removed; both, the positive and the negative, advance together and undivided. Hence it is not: after he cleansed it (Olshausen, Meyer and others),[FN60] nor, as though it were complete in a moment: and has cleansed it (Luther). It continues: it is not a single member of the Church that is spoken of, but the totality of Christians. By what means then is the Church cleansed from sin?

With the laver of the water, τῷ λούτρῳ[FN61] τοῦ ὕδατος.—Unquestionably this means baptism; the readers must have thus understood it (Harless); insigne testimonium de baptismo (Bengel). The article (τῷ) denotes something well known; besides ὕδατος and the connection with καθαρίσας. Comp. Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:23; Acts 10:47; Acts 22:16. But the water does not give the cleansing which is spoken of, nor the bathing or washing. It is the baptism, not the bath in the water. Hence there is further added: in the word, ἐν ῥήματι, in order to designate Christian baptism as to its essence. The notion of baptism, as a means of cleansing beside the sanctifying (see Doctr. Notes 5, 6), as well as the position of this phrase require us to take both together, and the usage respecting the word ρ̀ὴμα) and the connection by means of ἐν (like Ephesians 6:2 : ἐντολὴ ἐν ἐπαγγελία) admit of this. Paul uses ῥὴμα ( Ephesians 5:17; Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 12:4; comp. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:3; 1 Peter 1:25) in a similar manner. [In all cases it refers directly or indirectly towards proceeding ultimately or immediately from God (Ellicott).—R.] The conjunction of καθαρος, ὕδωρ, λόγος, John 13:10; John 15:3, is well known. “The washing of water” takes place “in word,” consists essentially therein, hence the reference to God’s Word in general, and in particular to the name of the triune God and His promise. [Alford is quite correct in referring it to “the preached word of faith ( Romans 10:8), of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real cleansing ( John 15:3; John 17:17) and regenerating power ( 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 3:21)—so Augustine Tract. 80 in Joan3, vol3. p1840, Migne; where these memorable words occur, ‘Detrahe verbum, et quid est aqua nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum, etiam ipsum tanquam visibile verbum.’ ” So substantially Eadie, Ellicott, Hodge and others. Comp. Doctr. Notes.—R.]

Hence it is incorrect to take ἐν ῥήματι, ἵνα as a Hebraism=to the end thereby (Koppe and others), or as formula baptizandi (Greek. Fathers, Scholastics and others). Nor is it to be joined with καθαρίσας (Bengel, Harless, Hofmann Schriftbeweis, II:2, p135, who takes it as the word Matthew 8:3; καθαρίσθητι), which would then have two means by the side of each other, or with ἁγιάσῃ (Jerome, Winer, p130, Meyer and others), for in that case it would of necessity have been immediately subjoined. [The connection with the participle is defended by Eadie, Alford and Ellicott (who more exactly suggests: “rather with the whole expression”). The absence of the article is strongly opposed to Braune’s view, while the participle might well have two added qualifications, one an instrumental dative and the other specifying with ἐν “the necessary accompaniment” (Ellicott). “Thus the word, preached and received, is the conditional element of purification,—the real water of spiritual baptism;—that wherein and whereby alone the efficiency of baptism is conveyed” (Alford).—R.]

Ephesians 5:27. That he might himself present to himself the Church glorious, ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὕτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν—This second ἵνα depends on ἁγισ́σῃ, the end and aim of which it introduces: “He might himself present,” etc. He and none other (αὐτός), without the co-operation of others for Himself (ἑαυτῷ)[FN62] and not for others, the world or anything else, to His own good-pleasure presents the Church gloriously. The figure (παραστὴσαι) is taken, as in 2 Corinthians 11:2, from the adorning of a bride; hence the emphatically placed ἔνδοξον, which in 1 Corinthians 4:10 is the antithesis of ἄτιμος, is like Luke 7:25 (ἐν ιματισμᾧ) to be applied to the glorious appearance, so that the Church thus appears “worthy of the calling” ( Ephesians 4:1), or “of the Lord” ( Colossians 1:10), “of God” ( 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 3 John 1:6), respondeat ideæ suæ æternæ (Bengel). The result of the ἁγιάζειν is the οξάζειν both belong together: sanctitas est gloria interior, gloria est sanctitas emicans (Bengel)[FN63].

The second clause beginning with ἵνα is not to be placed as parallel to the first, nor is the figure of an offering to be substituted for that of adorning (Harless). But it is to be maintained, that this state of things for the Church is not attained in this life (Rudelbach), while at the same time we may say with Bengel: (id valet suo modo jam de hac vita). The vital process in the individual and in the whole is indeed that of a development from seed to harvest, is not complete atone stroke, has its stadia and phases. The consummation is really only at the conclusion (Second Advent). [So Alford, Eadie and most. Hodge has a full note on the question.—R.]

Not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ῥυτὶδα τι τοιούτων.—Thus the Apostle describes more clearly ἔνδοξον.—Σπίλος[FN64] ( 2 Peter 2:13; comp. Judges 12), parallel to μῶμος, designates what clings to her from without, spot and stain, what is loathsome, the remains of the previous walk and conversation; ῥυτίς, wrinkle, refers to internal emotions, which fix themselves in the countenance, and disfigure the face as it grows old. Other antitheses, as those of Grotius (the former applying to carere vitiis, the latter to vegetos semper esse, to what is good) are not justified by the language. The final phrase negatives the least spot or wrinkle or even what is similar, hence in general what can disfigure. [“The terms are taken from physical beauty, health, and symmetry, to denote spiritual perfection” (Eadie).—R.]

But that it might be, ἀλλ̓ ἵνα instead of ἀλλ̓ οὖσαν, in accordance with the liveliness of the Greek, who liked the transition from the participle into the finite verb. Winer, p537. This ἴνα is parallel to the second one at the beginning of this verse. [Hence “might” must be substituted for “should” (E. V.), to indicate the parallelism.—R.] The final end of the sanctifying is the being holy and without blemish.[FN65]—To the “wrinkle” proceeding from within the “holy” corresponds, to the external “spot” ἄμωμος “without blemish” ( Ephesians 1:4).

Ephesians 5:28. Thus, οὕτως points emphatically to what precedes, on which account Harless (with Estius: digressus nonnihil ad mysterium, nunc ad institutum redit) incorrectly excludes the definite comparison for wedded life, as though it were inappropriate, when only prudence, moderation are commanded. It is not to be referred to the following ὡς (B-Crusius). [So Alford. But Ellicott, Eadie and Hodge agree with Braune, in referring οὕτως to what precedes, i.e., “thus, in like manner as Christ,” while ὡς indicates not the measure, but a fact, “as they are,” etc.—R.]

Ought husbands to love their own wives [καί ὁι ἄνδρες ὀφέιλουσιν ἁγαπὰν τὰς ἑαυτῶν γυναῖκας.]—The comparison with Christ is now especially denoted by καί before οἱ ἄνδρες. Ὀφείλουσιν presupposes a command for this, the “new commandment” (see Ephesians 5:25), which corresponds with nature, as God has ordained it,[FN66] and, applying to fraternal fellowship, is then certainly valid for marital fellowship, as is indicated by the next phrase which introduces a motive: as their own bodies, ὡς τὰ ἑαυτῶν σώματα.—Here ὡς is evidently a designation of a reality, corresponding to the figure, that the man is the head of the wife ( Ephesians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3). [See Eadie for a lucid statement of the correct view respecting this particle.—R.] It is not comparative (Grotius), hence not=as themselves.

The result of the view that the husband is the head of the wife, while the wife is the body of the husband, as the Church is Christ’s body is this thought: He who loveth his own wife loveth himself, ἀγαπῶν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα, ἑαυτον ἀγαπᾷ.—Comp. Ephesians 5:33. On this general proposition what follows rests.

The basis of the exhortation; Ephesians 5:29-31.

Ephesians 5:29. For no one ever hated his own flesh, ούδεὶς γάρ ποτε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ σάρκα ἑμίσησεν.—The ground which follows is introduced by γάρ.[FN67] In the first place a general fact is negatively expressed. “No man ever” is not limited; not even nisi scilicet a natura et a se ipso desciscat (Bengel). For all “unsparingness of the body” ( Colossians 2:22) rests on self-deception. If he actually injures himself, it cannot even then be said that he “hateth his own flesh.” Paul did not choose σῶμα here, because he already had in mind the quotation ( Ephesians 5:31), which refers to the institution of marriage in Paradise before the fall; there as here all that is sinful is excluded from the σάρξ, which is not of itself subject to sin. Μισεῖν is chosen, because the disposition is spoken of; it is to be understood like 1 John 3:15. Grotius aptly recalls Curtius, Ephesians 7: corporibus nostris, quæ utique non odimus; Seneca, ep. 14: fateor insitam esse corporis nostri caritatem; De Clem. 1, Ephesians 5 : Si quod adhuc collegitur, animus reipublicæ tu Esther, illa corpum tuum, vides, ut puto, quam necessaria clementia sit. Tibi enim parcis, quum videris alteri parcere. Comp. Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 11:17.

But nourisheth and cherisheth it [ἀλλʼ ἐκτρέφει καί θάλπει αὐτήν]—Ἀλλά naturally takes out of οὐδείς the subject ἕκαστος, each one. The first verb, the strengthened τρέφειν, refers to the growing development brought about through nourishment (Meyer); it occurs only here and in Ephesians 6:4. The second verb (only here and 1 Thessalonians 2:7) is stronger than θερμαίνειν ( James 2:16) which is also more general, and denotes the warming upon and with one’s self; hence it is used of brooding, Deuteronomy 22:6 (LXX.); it is more than fovet (Vulgate), pflegt (Luther). The two expressions are distinguished by Bengel so far correctly that he remarks on the former intus, on the latter ad extra, but he is faulty in thinking of victus in connection with the former, amictus with the latter. The one refers to the strengthening food, renewing the life, the other to the protection and preservation of the life. Harless incorrectly denies any distinction, taking both as descriptive of maternal love.

Even as Christ also doth the Church [καθὼς καὶ

Χριστὸς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν].—What is of universal validity within the sphere of creation, is found also in the Redeemer as respects His Church (He nourishes and cherishes it). Stier applies it to the Lord’s Supper, which is indeed not to be excluded, thinking that after the nasci in the baptism ( Ephesians 5:26) the pasci is here spoken of. It is more natural to remember how Christ calls Himself the bread of life ( John 6:48; John 6:51), which “nourishes,” not in the Lord’s Supper alone, even though it takes place there in its most full and intense form, and also that He compares Himself to a hen ( Matthew 23:37) that covereth with her wings, thus protecting and cherishing (θάλπει) at the same time. Grotius (nutrit eam verbo et spiritu, vestit virtutibus) is correct only in the first part of his comment. Evidently the spheres of Creation and Redemption do not fall outside each other; the former finds in the latter its restoration and consummation, the latter in the former its basis and point of connection. What is unnatural is unchristian.

Ephesians 5:30 proves the action of Christ to His Church through her intimate union with Him:

Because we are members of his body [ὅτι μὲλη ἑσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ].—“Because” connects with the foregoing thought: He nourisheth and cherisheth the Church. The Church is now the subject, which inheres in ἐσμέν. Every individual is Song of Solomon, as the plural indicates. The Church as a whole as also individually, the members of the Church are then “members of His body.” Here τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ is evidently= Χριστός ( 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 12:27), on which account Bengel is correct in saying: corpus hic dicitur non ecclesia, quæ continentur in subjecto “sumus,” sed corpus ipsius Christi; hence this is entirely like 1 Corinthians 10:16 (Stier). The membership, which is designated by the emphatically placed μέλη, and which is conceived of as existing in the word ἕσμέν, is designed to mark Christendom and Christians as “integral parts of His body” (Meyer). A closer definition follows.

Being of his flesh and of his bones, ἐκτῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ τὼν ὀστέων αῡ̔τοῦ.—First of all the repeated preposition must be noticed, marking as it does the origin and the appertaining to. The phrase denotes the personality and corporeality of Christ, in which the Church with her members originates. The connection with and origin from Christ, from the historical, incarnate Christ, from His personal body, is designated in such a way, that we as well as the whole Church are to be regarded as His production and possession; and this is expressed with the Scripture passage, or at least with a reminiscence of the passage, which refers to the creation of the woman out of the first Adam in Paradise ( Genesis 2:23 : LXX.: τοῦτο νῦν ὀστοῦν ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων μου, καὶ σὰρξ ἐκ τῆς σηρκός μου), because Christ is the second Adam ( 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47; comp. 1 Timothy 2:13), and the Church, as well as each of its members, is a creation ( 1 Corinthians 5:19). Comp. the parable of the Vine and the branches ( John 15:1 ff). Our life in Christ proceeds in its inmost nature from holiness, is really strengthened from Him, and affects the resurrection body.

Accordingly it is inappropriate to think only of the close union of Christ with us (Koppe), or the identity of our nature with His (Latin Fathers), or only of spiritual origin (Greek Fathers, Erasmus, Calovius, Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, II, 2, p137, Meyer and others), or only of the death of the cross (Grotius: ex carne ejus et ossibus cruci adfixis, i.e, ex passione ejus prædicata et credita ortum habuit ecclesia; Schenkel, who refers to Ephesians 5:24), or the Lord’s Supper (Kahnis, Harless, Olshausen, Stier and others), or the glorified body (Gess: Christi Person, p 274 ff.). Bengel, who is followed, up to a certain point, by Stier, since he also finds in the creation of the woman out of Adam a type of the creation of the Church out of Christ, must be regarded as fanciful despite the several apt remarks he makes: Moses ossa prius, Paulus carnem prius nominat; naturalem quippe structuram, de qua ille, ossa potissimum sustinent; ut in nova creatione caro Christi magis consideratur. Porro Moses plenius loquitur; Paulus omittit quæ ad propositum non æque pertinent. Non ossa et caro nostra, sed nos spiritualiter (Stier: via spiritualiter in corporationem vergente) propagamur ex humanitate Christi, carnem et ossa habente. Rueckert is altogether perverted in his notion that the Apostle himself had no definite idea in his mind; if he waives an explanation of the passage, so he must waive first of all his own explanation.

[In agreement with the view of Braune, in the main, the following statement is appended. The Apostle here asserts a state (ἐσμεν) of Christians, originating from Christ (ἐκ), analogous to the physical derivation of Eve from Adam and the consequent union subsequently between them. The direct reference to every nuptial union (Eadie) does not accord with the preposition or the immediate allusion. This is the mystical relation, implying as Hodge well contends, something more than that we derive our spiritual life from Christ, as Eve her spiritual life from Adam (Ellicott, Alford, following Meyer), since the peculiar language seems to involve more; and something else than that we are partakers of the substance of Christ’s body, as Eve was formed out of the substance of Adam’s body (Calvin, and with various modifications most strong sacramentalists), a view which tends to materialistic conceptions of the union, and, in attempting to explain one acknowledged mystery, creates confusion instead of clearness. This middle position accepts a connection with Him, “not simply and generally by a spiritual union, but in some close and derivative way, which the Apostle calls a mystery” (Eadie), leaving the matter there. As regards the secondary application to the Sacraments, which Ellicott and Wordsworth (with many German commentators) accept, it may be remarked, that these undoubtedly constitute signs and seals, and in a certain sense means of maintaining this union, but this passage, which speaks not of “body and blood,” but of “flesh and bones,” does not distinctly refer to these, so that nothing can be deduced from it in regard to the communication with Christ’s glorified, or transmuted, body in the Lord’s Supper. Comp. the full, clear and excellent discussion of Hodge, who opposes Calvin’s views most strenuously—R.]

Ephesians 5:31. Paul in this verse proceeds with the passage which follows the saying of Adam respecting the woman brought to him ( Genesis 2:24, LXX.: ἔνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καἰ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοὐ καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναικα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἕσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν):

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.—The changes are inconsiderable: ἀντί instead of ἔνεκεν, πατέρα and μητέρα, according to the best authorities, without the articles and pronouns, τῃ γυναικί at least a various reading as Matthew 19:5. Notwithstanding this, it is not a quotation, since there is nothing to indicate this. He merely continues in the words of Moses, which he uses with slight variations, while the Lord introduces them ( Matthew 19:5) with εἶπεν and Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 6:16, the last clause with φησίν. Further, this passage is not a part of Adam’s speech, since he could say nothing of forsaking father and mother, unless it be taken as a prediction (Stier) [Jerome: primus vates Adam]; in which case, however, he would still in the last clause have prophesied respecting himself. [Comp. Genesis, p209.—R.] Hence it is not strange that the Apostle passes over the intervening clause, in which Harless unnecessarily finds a difficulty.

Ἀντὶ τούτου is then, if we compare ἀνθʼ ὦν ( 2 Thessalonians 2:19; Luke 1:2; Luke 12:3; Luke 19:44), for this, that the woman is taken from the Prayer of Manasseh, he will cling to her; εἰς ἀμοιβήν (Winer, p342). Paul unmistakably thus returns to the conjugal state, after he has finished the proof ( Ephesians 5:30) for “as Christ also” ( Ephesians 5:29). Hence it is not necessary with Bleek to supply after Ephesians 5:30 : we are of His flesh and bones, the following middle term: as the woman is not of the flesh and bones of the Prayer of Manasseh, to which Ephesians 5:31 refers. Τούτου is not to be referred to our origin from Christ, to whom the forsaking of father and mother does not apply, the forsaking of father not in the future at least (καταλείψει), and such a reference is foreign to the purpose, the clinging to the wife, the Church, since either this did not at all exist when He was born a Prayer of Manasseh, or he already clung to it in love, without the necessity of first forsaking the Father. Indeed, the future (καταλείψει) may be regarded here in this saying of Moses, analogously to the future [the ethical future] of the commandments ( Romans 13:9 : οὐ μοιχεύσεις, κ. τ. λ.), as the precept corresponding to the relations as established in God’s word.

Καὶ ἓσονται οἰ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν refers to a gradual coining to pass of unity (hence εἰς with the accusative), and that, too, in the case of two different persons (οἱ δύο, ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ, Genesis 1:27), who from within becomes one in all external circumstances, non solum uti antea, respectu ortus, sed respectu novæ conjunctionis (Bengel). Hence it is not necessary to find here only a prophecy of the Second Advent of Christ, who now as Betrothed and afterwards as husband, clings to the Church (Meyer), nor in the Mosaic passage a prophetic type of Christ and His Church (Stier), nor to refer the last clause to the Lord’s Supper (Calvin, Beza, Harless, Olshausen, Kahnis).

[The main difficulty is in regard to the connection. Meyer (and many others from Chrysostom to Alford) refers “for this cause” to Ephesians 5:30, thus applying our verse to the relation of Christ and the Church. But the Apostle is recalling a passage at the basis of which lies the fact of Eve’s being taken out of Adam, and the slight alteration he makes does not show an intent to apply it differently here. Besides the whole section treats of the relation of husband and wife, and this Isaiah, therefore, to be regarded as the leading reference unless the other is distinctly marked. This principle the Apostle himself assumes in Ephesians 5:32 : “But I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” At the same time we must accept a secondary application (Ellicott) to Christ and the Church, not simply because most commentators have done Song of Solomon, but because the whole tenor of the passage and the interpretation of Ephesians 5:32 seem to demand it. The view of Harless, Olshausen and Hodge, that the last clause alone refers to Christ and the Church, the early part being introduced merely for the sake of that clause, seems to be an exegetical make-shift. As the Apostle had left out a part of the original passage in Genesis, he might just as readily have omitted all that was irrelevant. Still less tenable is the special application, which Olshausen makes, comparing the Lord’s Supper and conjugal cohabitation, showing that allegory may serve to foster the coarsest materialistic conceptions. Meyer’s paraphrase is as follows: “Wherefore, because we are members of Christ, of his flesh and bones, shall a man leave (i.e., Christ at the Second Advent) his father and his mother (i.e., according to the mystical sense of Paul: He will leave His seat at the right hand of God) and shall be joined to his wife (to the Church), and (and then the two) (the husband and the wife, i.e., the descended Christ and the Church) shall be one flesh.” Such a view is to be expected from this commentator, whose grammatical exactness is exceeded only by his fondness for bringing in a reference to the Second Advent, but it fails to meet with general acceptance. JeremyTaylor: “Christ descended from His Father’s bosom and contracted His divinity with flesh and blood, and married our nature, and we became a Church;” but this confuses our nature with the Church, as well as, impliedly, the Bride and the offspring. Alford is safer in regarding “the saying as applied to that, past, present, and future, which constitutes Christ’s union to His Bride the Church: His leaving the Father’s bosom, which is past—His gradual preparation of the union, which is present, His full consummation of it, which is future.” All these views may be held as partial elucidations of the matter in hand on the side of the application to Christ and the Church, which was doubtless in the Apostle’s mind, but we still insist that so detailed a passage has a primary reference to a union, where a mere man leaves his earthly father and mother, and is joined to his wife.—With all these allegorical interpretations, one thought, which inheres in the passage, as referring to the human relation, has been too much overlooked, viz., that it is the man who forsakes father and mother. It is remarkable how true this Isaiah, and how it comes out in works of fiction, in homely sayings like this: “My son is my son till he gets him a wife, but my daughter’s my daughter all her life,” in the feelings, since mothers and sisters are rarely jealous of the Prayer of Manasseh, but so often of the woman, who marries into the family. Nor does social custom fail to recognize this. The basis of all is the principle set forth in Ephesians 5:28-29.—R.]

Comprehensive double conclusion; Ephesians 5:32-33.

Ephesians 5:32. This mystery is a great one, τὸμυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν.—The position of the words must be noticed. Winer (p163) remarks that οὐτος usually comes before the noun, and ἐκεὶνος after, and that accords with the nature of the case. Deviations have their ground in the context. Paul lays the stress here on “mystery,” the position after the noun weakens the demonstrative; it is not δεικτικῶς, does not refer to the last point alone. There is here a retrospect over the whole paragraph. Bengel is correct: mysterium appellatur non matrimonium humanum ( Ephesians 5:33), sed ipsa conjunctio Christi et ecclesiæ. “Mystery” ( Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:19) is a fact, which either entirely or partially transcends the understanding, as the Divine will, a decree of God, the truth in its depth, etc. Here it is the union of the man and woman in wedlock, and of Christ and His congregation in the church, which the Apostle so presents that the latter is the pattern, and the former the copy. It is irrelevant to suppose a reference to a concealed sense in the words of Moses, so that εἰρημένον, γεγραμμενον, is to be supplied (Grotius, Stier, Rueckert, Meyer and others). It is termed “great,” because Paul himself plus sensit, quam ii, ad quos scribebat, caperent; comp. Romans 11:33.

[Hodge seems inclined to refer “this mystery” to the union of Christ and the Church, in accordance with his view of Ephesians 5:31. Eadie agrees exactly with Braune, while Alford refers it to “the mystery of the spiritual union of Christ with our humanity, typified by the close conjunction of the marriage state,” alluded to in Ephesians 5:31. Ellicott applies it to the close conjunction of the married state: He adds: “ Ephesians 5:29 states the exact similarity of the relationship; Ephesians 5:30 the ground of the relation in regard of Christ and the Church; Ephesians 5:31 the nature of the conjugal relation with a probable application also to Christ; Ephesians 5:32 the mystery of that conjugal relation in itself, and still more so in its typical application to Christ and His Church.” Eadie: “ Ephesians 5:25-28 introduce the spiritual nuptial relation, Ephesians 5:29 affirms its reality, Ephesians 5:30 gives the deep spiritual ground or origin of it, while the quotation in Ephesians 5:31 shows the authorized source of the image, and Ephesians 5:32 its ultimate application guarding against mistake.” On “mystery,” see Ephesians 3:3—R.]

But I.—Ἐγώ is used only with emphasis (Winer, p144), and must have an antithesis, which the context gives; here it is ( Ephesians 5:33); “you.” Δέ, but, is merely metabatic (Meyer); therefore: I, the Apostle, the unmarried one.[FN68]Say it in regard to Christ and the Church λέγω εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν].—Αέγειν εἰς marks the aim of the discourse, as Acts 2:25; Hebrews 7:14; John 8:26 (Winer, p370). Here λέγειν is the expression of the opinion and view of Paul, who refers the mystery to “Christ and the Church” as the archetype and prototype for Christians in the marital fellowship. The repetition of the article is emphatic, containing a caution to consider this on account of the consequence for the copy, marriage. It is incorrect to take λέγω=I apply it (Stier), or, I cite it (Meyer; Luther, too, is wrong: of Christ and the Church, and the Vulgate: in Christo et in ecclesia. On the Romanist error, which regards marriage as a Sacrament, to which the Vulgate gives occasion, see Doctr. Note 7.[FN69]

Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless ye also.—Πλήν (from πλέον) precisely: further, beyond this, that is beyond the saying on my part, καὶ ὑμεῖς. There Isaiah, therefore, no digression to be accepted, from which he now returns to the subject, Ephesians 5:28 (Bengel: quasi oblitus propositæ rei nunc ad rem revertitur; Harless, Bleek), nor is it: in order to enter no further upon this mystery (Meyer).[FN70]

Severally, let each one, οἱ καθʼ ἔνα ἕκαστος, vos singuli, each one without exception; the masculine and the context point to husbands.—So love his own wife as himself, τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως ἀγαπάτω ὡς ἑαυτόν.—Loving as one’s self is a conception, which is compared (οὕτως) with the love of Christ to the Church. [Not so love his wife as he loves himself, but: in this manner (like Christ) love his own wife as being himself; comp. Ephesians 5:28—R.]

And let the wife see that she reverence her husband.—The construction: δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φοβῆται τὸν ἄνδρα, presupposes something to be supplied: volo aut simile quid piam ( Galatians 2:10; Galatians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 7:29; 2 Corinthians 8:7). Bengel, and answers to an imperative, as indeed one precedes (Winer, pp295, 537). It is stronger, however, than an imperative; δὲ γυνή stands first emphatically. [See Ellicott, who accepts a nominative absolute, reaching the same conclusion as Braune. “Let the wife see,” brings out the emphasis quite well.—R.] Particula vim habet, vim temperat ellipsis morata (Bengel). Thus a special weight for house and husband is laid upon this, that she does her duty, which is summed up in φοβῆται and traced to its inmost ground in Ephesians 5:22-24. Œcumenius: ὡς τρέπει γυναῖκα φοβεῖσθαι μὴ. δουλοτρεπὼς. See Doctr. Note 1, 3, 4. Optime cohærebit concordia, si utrimque constabunt officia (Erasmus). [Eadie well remarks: “What is instinctive on either side is not enforced, but what is necessary to direct and hallow such an instinct is inculcated.”—R.]


1. The fundamental features of the moral conduct of man and wife towards each other are the principal points in this section. The Apostle refers the subject, with wholesome words and grand freedom from all casuistry, back to the main point, to its briefest expression: As regards the wife, to be subordinate to the husband ( Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:24), to reverence him ( Ephesians 5:33); as regards the wife, to love the husband ( Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:33). The former is in force since Genesis 3:15 : “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;” it is not, however, merely a consequence of the fall and a punishment, but inheres in the position of the woman and her corresponding endowment and nature, since she was to be a help-meet for the Prayer of Manasseh, that he should not be alone ( Genesis 2:18). In this is at once implied that there is here meant no servile subjection, no forced, legal obedience, no loveless, joyless fear, by indicating that the man as the head of the wife, in his mind, character and activity is placed as the representative and provider for his own in circles outside that of the house, the context defines the subordination and fear to this extent, that, as soul, heart, disposition and honor of the household, she submits herself to the regulations established by the husband in virtue of his office, and in tender thought avoids disturbing, injuring or destroying his work. Above the house stands the man’s avocation, which is from God, for which God has appointed him; hence it stands higher than the house, the character and life of which should subserve his avocation in the house alone. It is therefore in substance commanded that the wife should be subject, and in tender solicitude should fear to oppose the husband, to undervalue his arrangements, to make him discontented or angry while tarrying in the house to strengthen himself for his avocation.[FN71]

The wife who refuses this subordination and considerate respect, who does not see and seek her mission in the house, in the service of her husband, becomes an offensive caricature: from discontent there is bad progress to growling, managing, seeking the mastery, scolding, and finally to “emancipation.” Thus is stripped off and destroyed, not only what is Christian, but what is germanic, even what is womanly, especially what is peculiar and individual, the special gift of the Creator. Jezebel and Herodias are examples of this kind. The true character shines in Sarah ( 1 Peter 3:1-6).—To the husband one command is given, and in this one three requirements: Love even unto self-sacrifice, with the consequence and purpose of sanctification ( Ephesians 5:25-27), and this with such energy, purity and constancy, that more is required of the husband than of the wife. The wife should love the husband, as the Church loves Christ, in entire, exclusive, indissoluble and ministering love, and the husband should love the wife, as Christ the Church, in entire, exclusive, indissoluble and protecting love. It is more difficult to love the wife, without egotism, without tyranny and despotism, without any severity to be the master in the house in true affection, than to be subject to the man in tender respect for his dignity as husband, and his avocation as man.

2. The combination of marriage and Church (Kirche), which appears as the main thought in this section, has a twofold reference.

a. The two are to be compared with each other: As the wife should conduct herself to her husband, so should the Church to Christ; as the husband should conduct himself to the wife, so does Christ to the Church. Marriage, like the Church (Kirche), is a life-fellowship between a head and its body; the former Christ is for the Church (Gemeinde) and the man for the wife; the latter, the Church, is for Christ, and the wife for the husband. From the relation and the demeanor between Christ and the Church light falls upon the relation and demeanor of married people to each other, just as from the latter upon the former. Thus marriage and Church serve each other for the rendering clear of that which is normal in the two. But we must guard against descending in this parallelism to small and belittling particulars: such as conjoining winning the bride, baptism, and time of betrothal and the temporal period of the Church, leading home the bride and the Second Advent of the Lord as Bridegroom, sexual fellowship and unio mystica. But we may with right speak of the religion of marriage and of the marriage of religion; on this is based, too, the position in the canon of the Song of Solomon, which is a hymn of holy love. The Church should not keep at a distance what appertains to the creature, what is natural, or even turn a disapproving countenance upon it; that would be a wrinkle in the face of the Church, thus despising her Lord’s work and so growing old on one side, instead of being glorified. From the wife, who in her husband’s house is never to be regarded lightly, but must manage and mould, the Church may and ought to learn how to become at once deiformis and mundeformis.

b. The two, however, stand in such close relation to each other, that from the Church proceeds the power for the proper direction of marriage, the proper conduct of married people. The wife should belong to the Church in order to receive from Christ His gifts, that thus she may be to her husband what the Church is to Christ, and quite as much must the husband be sanctified in the Church, taken hold of by Christ and permeated by His love, in order to treat his wife, as Christ does His Church. Thus the Christian Church is the foundation for a normal marriage, as the natural life becomes in the life of regeneration that which is according to God’s will.

3. Marriage and Nature. Our section points into the sphere of creation. The man is from the beginning made for marriage ( Genesis 1:26-28 : “male and female”), and in Paradise the first human pair was brought together for wedlock, were wedded pair by the grace of God, before father and mother, and children existed. Marriage is the first union in point of time. And in point of dignity as well: from it proceeds the dignity of father and mother, through it alone comes family life, the basis of all blessing in human life. As to its nature it is the fellowship of one man and one woman, in which both more and more live together (εἰς σάρκα μίαν), chiefly moral, then however sensuous vital fellowship even to sexual fellowship; it is the fellowship of the body and of the worship of God, of all worldly goods, of all intellectual gifts, and, as far as it is possible with personal reason and conscience, of spiritual gifts also; the religious side of the fellowship should predominate, the moral side operate, the sensuous side may never override and repel the others, would enter only but not be repressed.[FN72]

4. Marriage and Bible are joined together also by our section, since it refers back to the oldest Scripture, deriving thence these thoughts: God has created mankind for marriage; the desire, the initiative, is on the side of Prayer of Manasseh, the being desired is the part of the woman; marriage unites only one man and one woman (Monogamy); is first of all and as to its deepest ground directed to moral fellowship of life, includes in itself sexual fellowship, is directed thus towards the establishment of the family and family life, toward the bringing up and education of children; has such an inwardness and fervor, that devoted conjugal surpasses filial love, even father’s and mother’s love, that the marriage tie is indissoluble, unless sin should rend it asunder.[FN73] Monogamy is established from the beginning as self-evident. A Cainite, the bold and sensual Lamech, who first took two wives, Ada (=ornament) and Zillah (=shadow of the head of hair), from whom the master of fiddlers and fifers, and the master of workers in brass and iron, made the transition from monogamy to polygamy, and in the progress of civilization forsook the Divine institution ( Genesis 4:19-24). The impatience of Sarah for an heir caused her to forsake her position and conduct so far as to lead Hagar to Abraham, and the selfishness of Laban made use of the love of Jacob for Rachel, so that he took Leah first, but the promised blessing came only on the child of the legitimate wife (Isaac, not Ishmael) or of the first one (Judah, not Joseph). See Harless, Ethik., § 52, p5, 7 ff. Hence it should not be said, that in the Old Testament marriage only gradually lifted itself to monogamy (Schenkel); on the contrary the latter was recognized as the original institution appointed by God, and the defections from it are referred to sinful tendencies, to the dominion of sin, are not approved. Christianity however has glorified marriage, establishing it firmly and securely in its nature, dignity and blessing. Redemption goes back to the natural institutions established in creation, removing the perversions and degradations introduced by sin into the heathen world and the people of Israel; what is new in Christianity is what is primeval restored. This appears especially prominent in the matter of marriage and family life, so strongly that all which is anti-christian and anti-scriptural is at the same time unnatural and inhuman, just as the impulse of anti-christian Atheism, Materialism, Satanism has led thither. Interest attaches to the view of Melancthon, who, much as he has prized his excellent betrothed, was afraid of married life, lest he might thereby be drawn too much away from his studies, and yet afterwards despite a wife suffering from hypochondria and a numerous family called the marriage state “a kind of philosophy, which required duties the most honorable and most worthy of a noble man.” [So Jeremy Taylor: “Single life makes men in one instance to be like angels, but marriage in very many things makes the chaste pair to be like Christ” (Sermon on the Marriage Ring).—R.]

5. Beside the conduct of married people to each other and the relation between Christ and His church and the husband with his wife, there is also marked, through the purpose of Christ or the aims of the church, the end of marriage, viz, the sanctification of the personality ( Ephesians 5:26-27). This is a process of development, ever deepening and extending through the whole life, with two sides: internal, moral perfection, through growth and unfolding of talent and strength granted (ἁγία) and ever wider and clearer emancipation from all evil imposed and entering or clinging from without (ἄμωμος). The former is based upon the internally and correctly established relation of the person to God and His kingdom, the latter upon the conduct of the same, externally corresponding to the given noun, in all the relations of life from work to word and its source in thought and temper. Hence the sanctification of the sexual appetite can be regarded as only a single purpose, for which there is not even a point of resemblance in the parallel with the church and her Head, not as the principal task of Christian family morals (Schenkel), as if marriage were ordained as a safeguard against whoremongery or carnal excess, when this is but a single object, or rather a coincident result, even though the main matter in this work of sanctification. From the very seeking and consummating of the marriage, the morality of the fellowship not its sensuousness, the religiousness of the married pair not the sexual fellowship, should show itself to be the decisive and impelling feature. The proper sexual pleasure to be allowed by man and wife must like every other pleasure within a social relation find its norm in accordance with the moral end of marriage.

6. On the phrase respecting baptism ( Ephesians 5:26) rests with full right the explanation of Luther in the smaller catechism, 4main part, Ephesians 1 : Baptism is not mere water, but it is water taken in God’s command and united with God’s word. For it is a pledge of the power of the atonement efficient through awakening and growing faith, an assurance of the forgiveness of sins, a guarantee of the new relation to God, of sonship with Him ( Matthew 28:19 : εἰς τὸ ὄνομα; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Hebrews 10:22) and an assurance of the power, to be received in faith, of the new life in the gift of the Holy Ghost ( John 3:5; Titus 3:5); both together, Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:12. Chemnitz: Pater salvat, filius emundat, spiritus regenerat (Harless). Mundatio præcedit donationem gloriæ et nuptias (Bengel).—Thus both the mechanical view of baptism as a mere initiatory rite among the nationalists, and the Baptist sundering of sanctification and cleansing, which makes of baptism merely a seal of entire conversion, are here opposed; it stands at the commencement of sanctification, which begins with it. [The reference to baptism is undeniable, and such a reference seems to contradict at once the very low view of the ordinance which is quite prevalent among many Pedo-baptists, just as the obvious reference to the mystical union of Christ, and His Church in this section implies that the Lord’s supper is more than a mere memorial service. As a specimen of the Reformed or Calvinistic views on this subject (though Calvin himself was more of a Sacramentalist than those who moulded the Reformed confessions), the remarks of Dr. Hodge are presented: When the Scriptures speak of baptism as washing away sin, they do not teach (1) That there is any inherent virtue in baptism, or in the administrator, to produce these effects; nor (2) That these effects always attend its right administration; nor, (3) That the Spirit is so connected with baptism that it is the only channel through which He communicates the benefits of redemption. Positively he remarks: (1) Baptism is a Divine institution. (2) One of the conditions of salvation, not sine qua non, but having the necessity of precept. (3) A means of grace, that Isaiah, a channel through which the Spirit confers grace; not always, nor upon all recipients, nor is it the only channel, nor designed as the ordinary means of regeneration. (4) Infants are baptized on the faith of their parents; and their baptism secures to them all the benefits of the covenant of grace, provided they ratify that covenant by faith.—R.]

7. Here, as also in Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 1:20, the Vulgate has rendered μυστήριον sacramentum. This translation has been used to support the view of the high dignify of marriage recognized in this section, which exaggerates it to such an extent that the Roman Church, in opposition to her own doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy and the virginity of the saints, proclaims it a sacrament. Comp. Conc, Triden, Less. 24, cap1; Si quis dixerit, matrimonium non esse vere et proprie unum ex septem legis evangelicæ sacramentis a Christo domino institutum, sed ab hominibus in ecclesia inventum, neque gratiam conferre: anathema sit.

This church (Catech. Rom. ii, 8, 23sqq.) accepts three gracious gifts [in this Song of Solomon -called sacrament]: proles, fides, fidelitas quædam und vinculum, quod nunquam dissolvi potest. As respects the matter and form the schoolmen vacillate in consequence of the novelty of the subject. Bonaventura finds the material of the sacrament in the sexual Acts, others in the partners themselves, others in their consensus. To regard and treat matrimony as a Sacrament, but only for the laity, who do attain to the perfection of the saints, while celibacy is demanded of the monk and priest, that they may be able to boast of sanctity, of actual renunciation of sexual desire, was only possible, because the antithesis between heaven and the world, from which Paul proceeds in speaking of celibacy as respects his own office, age, and individuality ( 1 Corinthians 7:25-40), was changed into an antithesis of spirit and flesh in such a way that a false dualism was established between Divine and human, spiritual and carnal, moral and natural. This dualism the church has overcome. Very apt are the remarks of Harless (Ethik, p512): “Marriage is the divinely appointed ordinance and form, within which the spirit of Divine love can find on earth according to the nature of the case its most unhampered rule, and in such efficiency can best give a measure of the fulness of the Divine love; but the marriage itself does not bring or become the medium of this Spirit of pure Divine love. It is only the vessel which is prepared for this Spirit; the spirit and the power do not come from the earthly copy of the Divine fellowship of love. The Christian perceives rather, that the institution in itself does not at all protect against violation and desecration through selfishness of every kind—but that [the Spirit and the power] come from the graces of the New Testament, that these graces do not come to him by means of marriage, but through the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, repentance and faith, on which account it is impossible for him, under a misunderstanding of Ephesians 5:32 to call the Divine institution of matrimony a sacrament in the sense, in which Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are thus termed.—Still the evangelical church down to the latest times has not been free from Romish distortions, of a mystical, theosophic tendency; Gottfried Arnold held the marriage state to be incompatible with true Wisdom of Solomon, though he himself afterwards married; with him agreed Michael Hahn, who with his followers remained unmarried, and Pastor Culmann (Ethik, i. p42). Luther himself did not regard the sexual propensity and its gratification as in itself God-willed (Koestlin: Luther’s Theologie, III, p483). On the other hand Zinzendorf attempted to place the marital obligation under ideal points of view.—If from the Roman I Catholic side attacks are still made upon the convenience of Luther and Melancthon for their approval of the bigamy of Landgrave Philip after the example of Abraham, who had however to suffer severely on this account, it may be replied that the Catholic Church not only permitted Abbe Sieyes and Bishop Talleyrand to marry, and dissolved Napoleon’s first marriage with Josephine, but even helped him to the second marriage with the Austrian Archduchess.

8. In the 13 th century the Old Testament age, and the Old Testament Scriptures were often termed the “die alte Ehe” (the old marriage). This points to a mystery of marriage, like that of the communion of Christ and His Church. The former is a mystery on its natural side from the very creation; in it creative powers for soul and body are active; a mystery on the side of redemption: in it wonderful confiding love and consecrated fidelity are manifested; on the side of sanctification: in it operate sanctifying powers for eternity.—Comp. Paul Gerhart: Voller Wunder, voller Kunst, voller Weisheit, voller Kraft, voller Hulde, Gnad’, und Gunst, etc.


Comp. the foregoing Doctr. Notes and Braune, Die heiligen 10 Gebote, pp147, 177.—The husband has a great advantage over his wife: he is the older, more mature part, has the choice of the wife, possesses greater power and culture for civil life, must represent his wife and household in these matters ( 1 Corinthians 11:7-9). So at least it should be. But he has no advantage as regards the Divine image and moral worth over her, the fellow-heir ( 1 Peter 3:7). Both must have patience with each other, but no wife should be ever for having the last word without yielding! She who patiently bears puts to shame the despotism of a husband. Nor should they spoil each other by a weak and false silence respecting unpleasantness; they should inure themselves in the draught of truth, should be confiding without inconsiderateness; neither dare cease to be a lover of the other. Even if the husband should be lacking in what is necessary to fill personally his position, the wife should not in boast-fulness despise the social dignity of the husband, but above and beyond him seethe Lord. Have you given your “yes,” then it must be held good to the end; even if it is hard, the difficulty does not dissolve it; life must fulfil it, death alone dissolve it.—You may be married and yet not truly wedded, may have one household and yet no matrimonial fellowship; may be with him or her one flesh, but not one heart and one soul; you live together under one roof, but may have no common foundation, may walk united on earth, but heaven is wanting to your union.—No one ought to rejoice so much in Christ and His church as the wife: she and her children have gained most by Christianity; this is a reason why women and children have and ought to have so strong an attraction to Him in the church; there is gratitude involved. Submission, ministering subordination is no misfortune, but a joy, exercising a triumphing, pacifying power.—In one sense every man must die for his wife: he must die to himself, to his sinful Ego, mortify his selfishness and egotism, not his peculiarity, which he should still exercise without self-will. The man is most apt to do this as betrothed and in the honeymoon, as if once Were enough. But this should occur throughout life: before death no one is entirely done with it.—Wo to him who chooses before he has to choose, when he knows neither why nor wherefore, or before he knows how to choose, when he does not know what it means, or who chooses arbitrarily, before he has bethought himself what his position requires or proved her whom he chooses! Wo to such, especially if they are or become ministers of the church. Sin separates from God, disturbs the union with Him, grieves the Holy Spirit. Sin does this also to the Divine institution of marriage. All separation of dispositions, all disturbances and discord of soul come from sin, and never merely from that of the other, but from your own sin also. The guilt in unhappy marriages, or even in the disturbance of otherwise happy ones, is on both sides, demands at least an examination of one’s own sins. When there is discord and even when the other is wrong, do you listen attentively to what is said against you, and then try it as a judge upon yourself.—Never forget this: what is yours does not merely belong to you, you belong to it also.

Starke:—How then can a godless man with alacrity be the head of his wife and require obedience of her, when he neither clings nor listens to Christ, his head?—Pious widows, you have lost one head, but the other Head (Jesus) death cannot take from you; He watches and. cares for you.—Is Christ the Head of the church, then the Pope cannot be it, else the church would have two heads and so be a monstrosity.—In Christ there is at once a Head and a Saviour; the two characters must unite also in a husband who should use his dominion for the blessing, never for the oppression and damage of those whom he rules.—The fellowship of believers with Jesus gives them that great dignity, noble advantage and blessed consolation.—Without love marriage is a bitter state, with love it is sweet.—The love of Christ to His church is both cause and standard of the love of husbands towards their wives.—Love and fear stand beside each other in a well-ordered marriage: the former must sweeten the latter, the latter must ever more incite the former.

Rieger:—The Apostle begins with married people, because, if things go wrong between them in the household, the trouble soon extends itself from them to the children and dependents. In each relation the Apostle begins with the weaker side.—Proper distrust of one’s self and what is doubtful in one’s natural gifts, willingness to be told what to do rather than to lead the other into temptation, is the root of this subjection.—The rule of the household is not to be put on a magisterial footing, but to be conducted by a mild and yet efficient influence, like that of the head upon the members.—What is set before the husbands: love your wives, is not easier than the being submissive. Whoever knows human nature, how loveless, changeful, easily wearied by faults, quickly angered it Isaiah, will notice how deep the foundation must be laid for a love which is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, etc.

Heubner:—Even with love and similarity of hearts there must be subordination. The household needs guidance and government. The wife should submit. The wife’s government reverses the proper order.—Nothing can frighten a Christian heart from divorce more than this thought: It is as if you separated from Jesus, Unbelief, coldness toward Jesus has terribly wasted our married life.

Passavant:—The Greeks acted more humanly, the Romans and Germans more magnanimously; elsewhere we see everywhere in the history of humanity the mothers and daughters of the nations, the weaker part, despised and oppressed by the stronger, often most cruelly degraded; and we should have, in such traits of ancient and modern heathen, and of all infidel nations and races, enough to perceive how deeply the whole human race has fallen from its original nature and destiny and what rudeness and wickedness of sin has permeated all nations and men, seeing they all have sinned.—With the appearance of the Redeemer, however, a new hour of Redemption struck also for this so misunderstood and oppressed half of the human race.—The more true, wise and manly the husband is in his cherishing of his wife, as his own body, the sooner, and if the wife is not altogether unholy in heart—the more faithfully, tenderly and sacredly will all be returned to him by the wife’s sacredly affectionate care and solicitude, and he be richly recompensed.

Stier:—The church should never demean itself as merely parallel to other circles of fellowship, for she is called to become the inmost of all.—From out of the family, the concentrated life of the household, where a filial spirit is born of wedded love and household dependents regulate themselves accordingly, the moral life of a nation also grows.—The emancipation of the strong-minded woman, that most repulsive miscreation of natural corporealness, destroys not only what is Christian but what is germanic.—Love is the only right dominion; there is then in every house a church in parvo.—The Word is the proper, continuing baptism.—The mystery of marriage is a portico to the mystery of the sanctuary; from the latter too a light streams into the former.

Schleiermacher: On the Christian conduct of marriage: 1. In marriage there is something earthly and something heavenly, which are one. There is marriage in an anxious form, when only one is satisfied, the other constrained; merely a carefully kept contract. There is marriage in a repulsive form, when the parties are accustomed to each other making as few claims as possible on each other, seeking their pleasure outside. There is a marriage in a loathsome form, when there is mutual anger and bitterness.—Ever more aroused in spirit, mollifying each other, and that in household, social life with its possessions, joys and sorrows.—2. In it there is an inequality, which loses itself in perfect equality—in perfect oneness of life.

Becher:—Look at your households, fathers and mothers, for you are priests; your congregations impose a hundredfold greater responsibility than mine. Your priesthood is from God’s own hand.—Hofmann ( Ephesians 5:22-24): The marriage state the school of Christian obedience; its ground, character, measure and aim.—( Ephesians 5:25-29): The marriage state the home of love on earth—of born, free, heavenly love.


Ephesians 5:22. The obedience of the wife terminates on the Lord, and therefore is religious, because determined by religious motives and directed towards the object of religious affections. This makes the burden light and the yoke easy; for every service which the believer renders to Christ is rendered with joy and alacrity.

Ephesians 5:26-27. The church the bride of Christ1. The object of a peculiar and exclusive love2. She belongs exclusively to Christ3. The relation more intimate than between Him and any other order of creatures4. The church the special object of delight to Christ.

Ephesians 5:29. A man may have a body which does not altogether suit him. He may wish it were handsomer, healthier, stronger, or more active. Still it is his body, and he treats it as tenderly as though it were the best and loveliest man ever had. So a man may have a wife whom he could wish to be better, or more beautiful, or more agreeable; still she is his wife, and, by the constitution of nature and ordinance of God, a part of himself.

Ephesians 5:33. The sentiments which lie at the foundation of the marriage relation, which arise out of the constitution of nature, which are required by the command of God, and are essential to the happiness and well-being of the parties, are, on the part of the husband, that form of love which leads him to cherish and protect his wife as being himself, and on the part of the woman, that sense of his superiority out of which trust and obedience involuntarily flow.—R.]


Ephesians 5:22. In those days wives when converted and elevated from comparative servitude, might be tempted, in the novel consciousness of freedom, to encroach a little, as if to put to the test the extent of their recent liberty and enlargement.—The insubordination of wives has always been a fertile source of sorrow; and yet Christian ladies in early times drew forth this compliment from Libanius, the “last glory of expiring paganism”: proh, quales feminas habent Christiani!

Ephesians 5:23. There is only one head; dualism would be perpetual antagonism. Each sex is indeed imperfect by itself, and the truest unity is conjugal duality.

Ephesians 5:24. In the domestic economy, though government and obedience certainly exist, they are not felt in painful or even formal contrast; and, in fact, they are so blended in affectionate adjustment, that the line which severs them cannot be distinguished. The law of marital government is an “unwritten law.”

Ephesians 5:25. Husbands are not to be domestic tyrants; but their dominion is to be a reign of love.—The church did not crave Christ’s love: He bestowed it. It was not excited by any loveliness of aspect on the part of the church, for she was guilty and impure, unworthy of His affection. Who can doubt a love which has proved its strength and glory in such suffering and death?

Ephesians 5:27. As He originally loved her in her impurity, how deep and ardent must be His attachment now to her when He sees in her the realization of His own gracious and eternal purpose!

Ephesians 5:31-32. So close and tender is the union between Christ and His church that the language of Adam concerning Eve may be applied to it. These primitive espousals afforded imagery and language which might aptly and truly be applied to Christ and the church, which is “of His flesh and of His bones;” and the application of such language is indeed a mystery—a truth, the secret glory and facility of which are known but to those who are wedded to the Lord in a “perpetual covenant.”

Ephesians 5:33. “He rules her by authority, and she rules him by lore: she ought by all means to please him, and he must by no means displease her” (Jeremy Taylor). When this balance of power is unsettled, happiness is lost, and mutual recrimination ensues. “A masterly wife,” as Gataker says, “is as much despised and derided for taking rule over her husband as Hebrews, or yielding to it.”—R.]

[In view of the well-known fact that an immense proportion of the conversation of many women is about their husbands, their children and their servants, showing how their lives are bound up in these relations, it would be welt for them to study (and for pastors occasionally to teach in a prudent way) what the Apostle says in this part of the Epistle ( Ephesians 5:22Ephesians 6:9) about their duties as wives, mothers and mistresses.—R.]


FN#42 - Ephesians 5:22.—[The Rec, with K. L, many versions (Chrysostom, Scholz) inserts ὑποτάσσεσθε after ἀνδράσιν, while in D. E. F. G, Syriac it is placed after γυναῖκες. Lachmann accepts ὑποτασσέσθωσαν after ἀνδράσιν on the authority of N. A, 10 cursives, Vulgate, other versions, some fathers. B. omits the verb altogether, and this reading is accepted by Tischendorf. Harless, Meyer, De Wette, Alford, Ellicott and recent editors. While one uncial manuscript would not be decisive for the omission, the variations in form and position suggest an interpolation, (comp. Colossians 3:18) and when to this is added the testimony of Jerome, who asserts that there was nothing in the Greek MSS. to correspond with his subditæ sint remarking that it was less necessary in Greek than in Latin, the evidence is conclusive. Still we must supply the verb n English.—R.]

FN#43 - Ephesians 5:23.—[The article is wanting in all uncial MSS, the Rec. inserts it on altogether insufficient authority. The meaning is not altered by the correct reading, yet the literal form adopted in the above emendation is on the whole preferable.—His wife is to be insisted upon, since the article is very definite here. We might render His Church, were there any other than the one Church.—R]

FN#44 - Ephesians 5:23.—[The briefer reading αὐτός is accepted by nearly all recent editors on the authority of א.1 A. B. D1 F. Καὶ αὐτός ἐστι (Rec.) is found in א.3 D23 K. L, most cursives, good versions and many fathers; but seems to be an explanatory gloss. As regards punctuation the colon of the E. V. might be retained to indicate the independence of the clause. We can render: He is Saviour of the body, or He Himself is the Saviour of the body, or Himself the Saviour of the body, but the latter which is most literal requires a substitution of a comma for the colon of the E. V.—R.]

FN#45 - Ephesians 5:24.—[A̓λλά must be thus rendered to give clearness to the sense. The Rec. reads ὥσπερ, but on insufficient authority; ὡς is well attested (א. A. D1 F.) and generally received.—R.]

FN#46 - Ver24—[The Rec. inserts ἰδίοις on the authority of A. D3 K. L, many cursives, versions and fathers, but it is omitted in א. B. D1 F, etc., so that the weight of external authority and the suspicion of an interpolation from Ephesians 5:22 are decisive against it. Rejected by recent editors.—R.]

FN#47 - Ephesians 5:25.—[The Rec. inserts ἑαυτῶν, with D. K. L, most cursives; F. G. read ὑμῶν; while N.A. B, cursives and fathers have simply τὰς γυναῖκας. The briefer reading is accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott. Braune, however, follows Meyer in defending ἑαυτῶν, on the ground that ἰδίας would have been a more natural interpolation, if an explanatory gloss were added. This is plausible, but scarcely decisive.—R.]

FN#48 - Ephesians 5:27.—[Instead of αὐτήν (Rec. D3 K.) recent editors accept the better supported and emphatic αὐτός(א. A. B. D1 etc.).—The emphasis resting one ἔνδοξον is best presented by the order given above, though Ellicott gives: in glorious beauty.—R.]

FN#49 - Ephesians 5:28.—[There is a doubt as to the correct order as well in regard to the reading. Καί is omitted in the Rec., א. K. L, nearly all cursives, fathers and versions (Ellicott), but found in A. B. D. F, very good versions, and generally accepted since Lachmann.—The verb ὀφείλουσιν comes first in א. B. K. L. and other authorities (Alford, Ellicott), but Lachmann Meyer, Eadie, Braune and most put it after ἄνδρες, with A. D. F, good versions, fathers. The longer, noninverted reading: καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες ὀφείλουσιν is perhaps preferable.—The inversion of the E. V. need not be altered however. Husbands is more correct here, though in the older English man meant husband also, as in Greek and German, a philological fact not without interest in the exegesis of this paragraph.—א.1has τέκνα instead of σωματα, but it is correct.—The E. V. omits own twice, apparently for the sake of elegance, but improperly since the emphasis is thus lost.—R.]

FN#50 - Ephesians 5:29.—[The Rec. (with D3 K. L, majority of cursives) reads: κύριος, but the authority for Χριστός is so decisive, that it is accepted by nearly all modern editors.—R.]

FN#51 - Ephesians 5:30.—[Lachmann, on the authority of א.1 A. B, good cursives, a few versions and fathers, omit ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς—ὀστέων αὐτοῦ. Alford brackets them. They are found in א.3 D. E. F. G. K. L, nearly all cursives, versions and fathers; accepted by Tischendorf (ed7), Harless, Meyer, Eadie, Ellicott. Wordsworth. The recurrence of αὐτοῦ would readily occasion the omission, while the citation is not exact enough to suggest an interpolation from the LXX.—We must insert being, to avoid the connection: members of his flesh, which the E. V. suggests.—R.]

FN#52 - Ephesians 5:32.—[The articles, τόν, τήν (so LXX Genesis 2:24), found in the Rec. א. A. D3 K. L, most cursives, good versions, are rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott, Alford and most, on the authority of B. D1 F, good cursives, and distinct statements of Origen and Jerome.—So αὐτοῦ after πατέρα on the same authority (א.1in addition) and for the same reason.—R.]

FN#53 - Ephesians 5:32.—[Here instead of τῆ γυναικί (LXX, א.1 A. D1 F) the best editors accept πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ on the authority of א.3 B. D3 K. L, nearly all cursives, Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret.—R.]

FN#54 - Ephesians 5:33.—[Lachmann and Alford bracket εἰς, but the external authority (B. K, a few cursives) against it is slight, and it might have been omitted because not understood.—R.]

FN#55 - “The duty of submission is plainly based on that tenderness specialty, or exclusiveness of relationship which ἴδίοις implies” (Eadie). So Alford, Ellicott, following Bengel and Meyer, against De Wette, Harless, Olshausen.—R.]

FN#56 - Ellicott: “Viewed in its simplest grammatical sense as the pronoun of the relative, the meaning would seem to be, ‘yield that obedience to your husbands which you yield to Christ.’ As, however, the immediate context and still more the general current of the passage (comp. Ephesians 5:32) represent marriage in its typical aspect, ὡς will seem far more naturally to refer to the aspect under which the obedience is to be regarded (‘quasi Christo ipsimet, cujus locum et personam viri representant,’ Corn. a Lap.), than to describe the nature of it (Eadie), or the manner (De Wette) in which it is to be tendered. Still less probable is a reference merely to the similarity between the duties of the wife to the husband and the Church to Christ, as this interpretation would clearly require ὡς έκκλ. τῷ Κυρ.: See Meyer.”—R]

FN#57 - Or better “a husband,” as an example of the class, ἀνήρ would be “every husband” in each case, every one of the class (see Winer, p113): but the article with γυναικος means “his” in this case.—R.]

FN#58 - This view is simple, grammatical and introduces neither a truism (Eadie), nor an unnecessary limitation (Winer). It is accepted by Alford, Ellicott, Hodge and others. Eadie supposes an ellipsis, which is very objectionable. Alford: “But what I do say Isaiah, that thus far the two Headships are to be regarded as identical, in the subjection of the body to the Head.” Nevertheless is on the whole the best rendering of ἀλλα—R.]

FN#59 - It would be more literal and perhaps better accordant with the comparison to substitute the feminine pronoun (her, she) for “it” in Ephesians 5:26-27, but our language is very stiff in its rules for gender.—R.]

FN#60 - Grammatically the participle may indicate either an act antecedent to or synchronous with that of the leading verb, either having cleansed or cleansing. The former is the view accepted by Ellicott, Alford, Eadie and Hodge, mainly on doctrinal or logical grounds derived from the reference to baptism which immediately follows.—R.]

FN#61 - This word occurs only here and in Titus 3:5. It means not “washing,” but “laver,” (lavacrum, Vulgate); comp. Ellicott in loco. Dr. Hodge is scarcely justified therefore in finding an argument in favor of a particular mode of baptism in our phrase, which does not mean: a washing with water, as he implies. The allusion to the bride’s bath before marriage is accepted by Eadie, and most.—R.]

FN#62 - More literally and correctly “to Himself,” He alone presents, He receives (Ellicott).—R.]

FN#63 - Ellicott: “The Church glorious; the tertiary predicate ἔνδοξον (Donaldson, Gr. § 489) being placed emphatically forward and receiving its further explanation from the participial clause which follows.” The reading of the Rec., giving αὐτήν as the direct object of the verb, necessarily led to the obscuration of the force of the word, disturbing the grammatical structure by making τὴν ἐκκληαίαν the tertiary predicate.—R.]

FN#64 - The German editors and commentators (Tischendorf and Meyer, Braune also) accent this word: σπῖλος, but Eadie, Alford and Ellicott adopt: σπίλος. The iota is short apparently, hence the latter is correct. The word belongs to later Greek.—R.]

FN#65 - “Blameless” (Ellicott, Alford); but “without blemish” retains the etymological reference, thus according better with the figurative current of the verse.—R.]

FN#66 - From this passage Dr. Hodge correctly infers the falsity of the Hopkinsian view that all love and all holiness is disinterested benevolence, proportioned to the capacity of its object. We do love ourselves, and our bodies, and it is not only natural, but according to Scripture so to do.—R.]

FN#67 - The whole tenor of the argument is thus stated by Ellicott: “Men ought to love their wives as Christ loves His Church, as being in fact (I might add) their own (ἑαυτῶν) bodies; yes, I say the man who loves his wife loves himself (ἑαυτόν); for if he hated her he would hate (according to the axiom in Ephesians 5:28) his own flesh, whereas on the contrary, unless he acts against nature, he nourishes it, even as (to urge the comparison again) Christ nourishes His Church.”—R.]

FN#68 - The reference is apparently not so much to his celibacy, as to the subjective character of the application and comparison, while the slightly adversative δέ contrasts it with any other interpretation that might have been adduced: “the mystery of this closeness of the conjugal relation is great, but I am myself speaking of it in its still deeper application, in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ellicott).—R.]

FN#69 - Our English and American commentators do not fail to notice this blunder of the Council of Trent, but some people who speak English treat the Authorized Version with the same reverence; ministers preach from the sound of the E. V, not the sense of the Word of God. The Romanist can cover his blunder by the sanction given to the Vulgate by his church, but Protestants have no such excuse.—R.]

FN#70 - The view of Meyer is accepted by Eadie, Hodge, Ellicott, Alford, and seems perfectly tenable. Braune’s view results from the effort to maintain a decided antithesis to “I” in “ye,” when most commentators find the antithesis to “ye also” in ‘ ‘Christ.”—R.]

FN#71 - Hodge: “The ground of toe obligation as it exists in nature is the eminency of the husband; his superiority in those attributes which enable and entitle him to command. He is larger, stronger, bolder,—has more of those mental and moral qualities which are required in a leader. This is just as plain from his history as that iron is heavier than water. The superiority of Prayer of Manasseh, in the respects mentioned, thus taught in Scripture, bounded in nature, and proved by all experience, cannot be denied or disregarded without destroying society and degrading both men and women. The superiority of the Prayer of Manasseh, however, is not only consistent with the mutual dependence of the sexes, and their essential quality of nature and, in the kingdom of God, but also with the inferiority of men to women in other qualities than those which entitle to authority. The Scriptural doctrine, while it lays the foundation for order in requiring wives to obey their husbands, at the same time exalts the wife to be the companion and ministering angel to the husband.” As a proof that this is the position assigned to woman by her own mind and heart, we may cite the works of imagination written by the most brilliant of the sex. Their ideal of man, even when they write, personating the other sex, is one who demands from his nature their loving obedience. If it be said that many a woman is joined to a Prayer of Manasseh, whose character does not thus demand the obedience of the superior mind, we must consider how often women accept the relation of wife, with a full knowledge of the right position, as taught by God in nature and in His word, and yet conscious that they neither can nor will occupy that position to the man who becomes their legal husband. Such are punished in this life, and the cry about “the subjection of woman” is often the wail of distress resulting from such punishment.—As regards the relation of the sexes in general, though nothing is expressly said in this section, much may be interred. No doubt great mistakes have been made in drawing such inferences, but it is perfectly obvious that a distinction between the sexes is here assumed, which distinguishes, if it does not sharply divide, the sphere of duty belonging to each respectively. “Woman’s work” is different from man’s work, though care should be taken neither arbitrarily to exclude her from certain kinds of labor, nor to deprive her of her just recompense for her work. The Church, too, should find work of a certain kind for many who are not “wives,” by constituting them “Bible-readers,” “deaconesses;” the mere office of Sunday-school teacher will not satisfy many such, since for that many are not adapted.—In regard to the question of “suffrage,” it is a fair inference from our passage, that for a wife to vote independently would be a disturbance of the relation as ordained by God; the question assumes a slightly different phase in regard to unmarried women of full age. Still even in the case of such, the passage at least lays the onus probandi on those who advocate the right. One popular argument urged in favor of “women suffrage” is that thus drunkenness could be stopped by force of law. But not only is that method of doubtful justice, legality and expediency, but the question fairly arises how many men are driven to drunkenness by the failure of their wives to heed the spirit of the Apostle’s words.—R.]

FN#72 - Dr. Hodge remarks on the true expression of the Apostle “as their own bodies,” ( Ephesians 5:28): (1) It does not refer to any material identification. (2) It implies nothing inconsistent with the separate subsistence of husband and wife as distinct persons. (3) The marriage relation is not essential to the completeness or perfection of our nature in all states of its existence. It is to cease at the resurrection. (4) It is not however merely a union of interests and feelings. In a certain sense husband and wife complement each other. (5) There is doubtless involved a oneness of life which no one can understand.—R.]

FN#73 - Here Dr. Hodge is excellent: (1) Marriage is a union for life between one man and one woman; consequently bigamy, polygamy, and voluntary divorce are all inconsistent with its nature. (2) It must be entered into freely and cordially by the parties, i.e., with the conviction that one is suited to the other (and it may be added, to take the positions involved in the natural and scriptural view of the relation). All coercion on the part of parents is contrary to the nature of the relation; and all marriages of mere convenience are opposed to the design of the institution. (3) The State can neither make nor dissolve the marriage tie. It may enact laws regulating the mode in which it shall be solemnized and authenticated, and determine its civil effects. It may shield a wife from ill-usage from her husband, as it may remove a child from the custody of an incompetent or cruel parent. When the union Isaiah, in fact, dissolved by the operation of the Divine law, the State may ascertain and declare the fact, and free the parties from the civil obligations of the contract. It is impossible that the State should have authority to dissolve a union constituted by God, the duties and ordinances of ¦which are determined by His law. (4) According to the Scriptures, as interpreted by Protestant churches, nothing but the death of one of the parties, or adultery, or wilful desertion can dissolve the marriage contract. When either of the last-mentioned causes of dissolution is judicially ascertained, the injured party is free to contract a new marriage. The greatest social crime, next to murder, which any one can commit, is to seduce the affections of a wife from her husband, or of a husband from his wife: and one of the greatest, evils which civil authorities can inflict on society is the dissolution of the marriage contract so far as it is a civil contract (for further the civil authority cannot go), on other than Scriptural grounds.—R.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible



Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5 are closely connected with verse 32 of chapter 4. God's gracious character of love that delights to have us as His dear children is our example. The more we realize the reality of this, the more consistent with it will be our walk. For we are to walk in love. Nor is it a love we must manufacture or awaken in our own hearts, but the blessed result of Christ's love to us. That love has given, not only many gifts, but Himself. He delivered Himself up for us. While the gift of Himself was for us, yet His blessed offering and sacrifice was to God. The offering speaks especially of the value of the gift in God's eyes, while as a sacrifice the gift expresses the greatness of what Christ has given up for the glory of God. Both the peace offering and burnt offering character of His sacrifice are seen here. The peace offering brings us into sweet accord with God in Christ, and the burnt offering ascends to God to delight His heart of infinite love. In Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 3:5; Leviticus 3:16, both of these offerings are seen as sweet savor offerings -- offerings that were a sweet odor to God.

On the negative side, the believer, because he walks in love, is to avoid fornication, uncleanness and unbridled lust (v.3). In fact, these kinds of things are usually connected with what people consider love, but it is a counterfeit love, contrary to God's in marital love and sex, and is to have no place in the believer's conversation with others: it is unbecoming to saints of God. Also, filthiness, foolish talking and coarse jesting are put together here as not proper conversation for saints. Let us judge and put away such things, and rather use our tongues for giving of thanks, a most wholesome employment.

Believers know that those who are characterized by sexual immorality, uncleanness or covetousness (which is equated with idolatry) have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (v.5). A true believer does not have such character. Therefore let him be careful not to be like such people in any way. A covetous person, for instance, is one who sets his mind on wanting material things that others have, and will almost certainly use dishonest means to get what he wants. This is not the character of a believer.

People may assume that because God is love, the grace of God is indulgent toward these sinful things, but it is not so. These very things are the reason for the wrathful judgment of God failing on the children of disobedience (v.6). Will a believer allow himself to be in any way a partaker with such a class? These things are so glaring today on radio, TV and in newspapers and magazines that saints must be very careful and watchful against such contamination.WALK IN LIGHT


Love is vitally important, but love needs light to accompany it. 1st John tells us that "God is love" (ch.4:16), but also that "God is light" (ch.1:5). Before being saved we were so immersed in darkness that darkness was our very character. By being born again we are now brought into the light. Our present character is "light in the Lord," everything open and manifest (v.8). Therefore it is only proper that we walk as children of light, being simply true to our new character. Light reveals everything as it really is. Therefore it speaks of unadulterated truth which clearly shows the proper character of every believer.

Verse 9 is a parenthesis and is correctly translated "the fruit of the light" (JND). Light produces goodness, righteousness and truth. Goodness is that which actively seeks the good of others. Righteousness is the proper discharge of the duties connected with whatever relationship we may be in. Truth is transparent honesty.

In walking as children of light we prove in experience what is acceptable to the Lord. Since He has no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, neither should we. He reproves them and so should we. We are not to argue about or against them, but simply and clearly repudiate them. Even to talk about the vices practiced in secret by the ungodly is a shame. The believer has far more profitable things to engage his thoughts and conversation.

Verse 13 reads in JND's translation, "But all things having their true character exposed by the light are made manifest, for that which makes everything manifest is light." Bright sunlight shows up all the details of natural things. Likewise, the true light of God makes manifest the actual character of everything in the spiritual and moral realm. Are we willing to apply that light to our own conduct and to the conduct of popular religious schemes that are increasingly compromising the truth of Scripture?

Verse 14 is adapted by the Spirit of God from Isaiah 60:1 to the need of a believer who has become lax and has settled down indolently in a world of darkness. He is among the dead, though not himself dead, but asleep. The word of God calls upon him to awake and allow Christ to shine upon him, rather than to have his associations among those dead in sins.



The believer's walk then is to be with sober care and consideration, not as that of ungodly fools (v.15). God's love and God's light have been powerful incentives for our walk, now we are also to use God-given wisdom in walking circumspectly. Being wise is a true characteristic of a believer. "Redeeming the time" (v.16) is fully and rightly using the opportunities that each occasion may offer. Such care and concern is of great importance because the days are evil. For though a believer is not a fool, yet he may be unwise and not use his time to advantage. Let him not be this way, but understand what the will of the Lord is for him (v.17). To understand is not simply to know, but to rightly perceive what he knows. The will of the Lord is always spiritually profitable.

Verse 18 puts in sharp contrast the intoxication with things physically pleasurable and the pure, precious joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit. There are many things with which one may become intoxicated -- the love of money, prominence, self-importance (even in a religious way), sports, excitement, etc. These things will tend to take away the sobriety of ruling our own spirits (Proverbs 25:28). But one who is filled with the Holy Spirit has his own spirit in subjection (1 Corinthians 14:32). Every true believer is always indwelt by the Spirit, but to be filled with the Spirit is to allow Him full place in every department of our lives. Let no one ever dare to claim this to be true of him, but rather let it be true. In the measure in which Christ is really our Object, such will be the measure of the filling of the Spirit at any time.

While it is clear that one may be filled with the Spirit in speaking for the Lord (Acts 13:9-11), yet it also may be true in the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual song (v.19). The word indicates a sacred song accompanied by a stringed instrument. Hymns are songs of praise addressed to God, and the word is evidently used for many of the psalms also, though not all psalms are hymns and hymns are not necessarily psalms. Spiritual songs embraces a wider field than praise, for it includes songs of spiritual experience and celebration of scriptural events and of meditation on various truths of scripture. Singing is audible, but making melody in your heart is more vital. This is surely an encouragement to those who have difficulty in carrying a tune!

Accompanying this musical melody is a spontaneous giving of thanks, in addressing God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.20). "Always for all things" reminds us that there is no time at which one is not free to address God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This constantly thankful spirit will have both a preserving and fruitful effect, and it will simplify for us the character of submission one to another in the fear of God (v.21). Thus we will recognize God as being in control rather than the will of man dominating.



Particular relationships are considered from verse 22 to chapter 6:9. Wives are first addressed, for they are to specially manifest the lovely spirit of submission, as being subject to their own husbands. In so submitting they are submitting to the Lord, which makes submission an attitude of loving obedience to Him, rather than an irksome responsibility. It is God who tells the wife to submit, not the husband, who should pay more attention to what God tells him than to what God tells his wife.

God's order in creation made the husband to be head of the wife. This does not mean he is superior to the wife, but as the head he is responsible to supply the nourishment, guidance and encouragement the wife needs. Though the wife may make suggestions and express concerns that should be considered, yet the husband is responsible to make final decisions. This reference to headship leads the apostle immediately to speak of the marvelous relationship of Christ as the Head of the Church, of which Adam and Eve's marriage is a divinely intended picture. Not only is Christ the Head of the Church, the source of its nourishment and guidance, but He is the Savior of the body. His preserving, protecting salvation is a daily need of His body, the Church, just as a husband is not only head of his wife, but her protector also.

Who would deny the Church's proper place in subjection to Christ? This submission is pictured in the wife's subjection to her own husband in everything. We should have no more difficulty in believing this than to believe that the Church should be subject to Christ. It is evident that the wife's subjection applies only insofar as it is really subjection to the Lord -- "as it is fitting in the Lord" (Colossians 3:18). If the husband demands that she disobey God, this is abnormal and she must not submit to him in this.

The wife is entitled to claim her husband as "her own" and the husband is to think of his wife as "his own." The word "own" occurs seven times in this section (JND) in connection with husbands and wives, though it is not used of the relationship between parents and children.

The simplicity of the instruction here is remarkable. There is no long list of details as to how a husband and wife should act toward one another. If the wife simply maintains a quiet spirit of subjection as to the Lord, this will result in proper conduct in the entire relationship. The husband's genuine love for his wife will form his conduct toward her in a proper way. But we must understand what love really is, for too frequently what passes for love is merely a cheap imitation of it.

Husbands are to love their own wives with no less a standard than that of Christ's love for the Church (v.25). He gave Himself for it; not merely did He give many gifts, but Himself. If one is not willing to give himself for an intended wife, he ought not to marry her. Observe that all this section emphasizes that love seeks diligently the greatest good of its object, and at personal expense.

We next see the wonderful counsels of Christ as to His Church in the past (v.25), present (v.26) and future (v.27). His gracious work today is to increasingly sanctify her (set her apart for Himself) from a world of vanity and evil, and to cleanse her from all impurity by the application of the Word of God, just as a mother would first separate her child from a pool of mud and then wash him. This work involves His patient grace with every individual believer, each in a different stage of development, but it is a work in which all are united in His heart and mind. This work is effective only as we allow the Word of God to have its corrective and sanctifying influence on us.

The Church's presentation to Himself (v.27) is seen accomplished in Revelation 19:7-9. Then she will be glorious, invested with glory (displayed excellence), without spot (no imperfection in the slightest) and without wrinkle -- no sign of aging or breakdown in health, nothing undesirable -- but holy in character and without blemish in manifestation. Wonderful culmination of His counsels concerning His Bride for whom He paid so dearly!

As Eve was of Adam's body before she became his wife, so the wife is entitled to the husband's love just as he loves his own body, for the bond of marriage makes them one. In loving her, he loves himself. Never has man hated his own flesh: the law of self-preservation is predominant in mankind. One does not willingly starve himself to death. Rather, he nourishes his body and cares for its needs. These two things nourishing and cherishing -- are not included in the Lord's counsels (vs.25-27), but are rather His ways with His Church. The care involved in cherishing is both tender and supportive.

The Lord's faithful care is emphasized in the words, "We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (v.30). Flesh speaks here of the supple, yielding character of proper humanity, while the bones are the solid framework on which the flesh is built, so stability and yieldingness are marvelously joined together. How good it is to consider such character in Christ, the blessed Son of Man as identified with His saints, and to allow its proper expression in ourselves!

Genesis 2:24 is quoted here as the original fundamental principle of marriage. Leaving his parents, the man is to be united to his wife, or "cling" to her. This involves undeviating faithfulness, devotion and love. This original principle was ignored by many in the Old Testament who took more than one wife, but Christ emphatically reaffirmed it (Matthew 19:4-8). So for those who trust Christ, there is no excuse for disobedience to this unchanging decree of God, though in a world full of marital unfaithfulness, role-reversal and divorce for almost any reason.

It may be a great mystery (not easily understandable) that husband and wife are considered before God as one flesh, but because I do not understand a matter fully, is no excuse for my disobedience to God. Faith accepts what God says and rejoices in it; indeed the more so when God says that marriage is a picture of the unalterable union between Christ and the Church. If it involves a great mystery, it not mystical, so every husband is to love his own wife as himself, and every wife is to fear her husband, not with a cringing, servile terror (1 Peter 3:5-6), but with a becoming recognition of his authority from God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Followers of God

Ephesians 5:1-33


The opening verse of today's chapter has a clear and clarion call to the children of God. It is something that we may not sidetrack or push aside. We need to face it clearly, positively, and without reservation. Two things are definitely before us.

1. Are we willing to be followers of God? We put it with a question mark because we want you to consider it thoughtfully, and fully, then make your decision.

(1) Some things which are entailed in following Christ. If we would follow Christ we must put Him above everything, and everyone else. He cannot take the second place. You all remember how the Lord Jesus said, If any man will come after Me, let him leave his father and mother, etc.

There is no possibility of giving even those dearest and nearest to us preference over Christ. There was a certain man, who said, "I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." The Lord Jesus immediately put it up squarely to him, because the young man added, "But let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house." He was immediately rebuked by the Master, as Christ said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

There was another to whom Christ said, "Follow me." This one said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Unto him Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."

If we would become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be willing to endure hardships, and to go with Him outside the camp bearing His reproach. To one who had said "I will follow thee whithersoever Thou goest," the Lord immediately replied, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head."

If we would follow Christ there is something that goes still deeper, perhaps, when giving Christ supremacy over father and mother, and over deprivations and sacrifices. Christ plainly stated to one that if he would follow Him, he must hate his own life also. To become followers of God, we must do as the apostle Paul did, give those cherished ambitions which would accrue to our own glory. The apostle Paul said, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss, for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."

Are we willing to say what Paul said in order that we may become followers of God? We grant that there are many things which would be gain by following Christ, but the gain lies in the realm of the spiritual. The losses lie in the realm of the temporals.

(2) Some things which are achieved by following Christ. There is a little verse in Revelation fourteen where it speaks of one hundred and forty-four thousand who were undefiled. Then it says, "These are they which follow the Lamb, whithersoever He goeth." We take it, therefore, that those who are following Him outside the camp, hearing His shame and stigma and reproach, will follow Him over in glory.

In other words those who suffer with Him, will also reign with Him. If we bear the Cross, we will wear the crown. Thus, to become the follower of God means not merely giving up this, or that; it means not merely, "In the world ye shall have tribulation"; it also means that we shall be recognized in the glory, we shall have God's "well done," and we shall rule and reign with Him.

2. Are we willing to walk in love? This is the statement which opens verse two. It is a tremendous word. "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor."

At first thought, anybody would want to say, "Of course I'm willing to walk in love, because I love Him." You cry out, "How could I help but love the One who loved me?" Yes, we know this, but our verse says we are to walk in love, as Christ loved us. Then, it tells us that He gave Himself upon the Cross to die for us.

The call is plain and simple. To walk in love means to follow Christ, if needs be, even unto death. The apostle Paul did not hesitate to do, this. He said, "I am now ready to be offered." Everything in his life proved this, his great climactic statement. He could truly say, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ." The stigmas and the scars he gladly took for Christ. Are we ready to walk in love that love which leads to glory by the way of the Cross? Are we ready to go with Him into the throes of His poverty? Are we willing to go with Him through the buffetings, the spitings, and the strifes?


1. God's picture of the unregenerate. Our Lord never gave a rosy picture of sinners in their sins, nor of the sins of the sinners. When we think of "Pilgrim's Progress" we think of bypaths with beautiful swards of green, flower-covered and perfumed. Into such paths the travelers toward the heavenly city were invited. Before them the heavenly road appeared so rugged, so rough, and so steep, that it seemed far better to travel to the left or to the right.

That is the way that the devil delights in picturing the paths of the world. He even dared, in showing them to Christ, to portray the glories of earth's kingdoms. When God talks of these things however, He talks in plain positive language. What the world might call "Vanity Fair," with everything that attracts the flesh, and the carnal mind, God calls, "Fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness." Then He goes on in verse four, and calls it "filthiness, and foolish talking, and jesting." It is these things that the followers of God must avoid.

Has not the Lord said that none of these, the unclean, the covetous, and the idolater have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God? How then, can those who follow God, walk in them?

Has God not said, "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience"? We, therefore, who follow God, dare not walk in earth's bypaths which lead to destruction.

2. God's call to the saints. This call is given in verse seven, "Be not ye therefore partakers with them." The language is plain and positive. It is just another way of saying, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." When we think of thousands, in our churches, living as the world lives, doing what the world does, we cannot but speak of them as, "Disobedient children." They are dear to the heart of God, but they have not yet learned what it is to be followers of God. Dare we take the body of Christ, and make it the companion of a harlot? God says unto us, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."


1. What we were. The opening statement of verse eight reads, "For ye were sometimes darkness." It does not say that we were walking in the darkness, but we were darkness. We had partaken of the nature of our environment. We dwelt in darkness and we became darkened in our mind. We were darkness, because in us there was no light; he who followed our footsteps, walked in the ways of death.

2. What we are. The same verse says, "But now are ye light in the Lord." When we became saved we passed from darkness into light, from death into life. This is somewhat similar to the second chapter of Ephesians. A sixfold description is given of what we were in the days of our darkness and sin. Then we read, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, * * hath quickened us together with Christ, * * hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places." That is the meaning of being the light in the Lord.

3. How we should walk.

(1) Positively speaking, we should walk in the Spirit; for, "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth; proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." That is the way the children of the light should walk. They should always do the things that please Him. Goodness, and righteousness, and truth, should clothe them. The more we study the Word of God, the more do we realize the great privileges and possibilities of the Christian life. We fear that many have never known the good things that are ours in Christ Jesus.

(2) Negatively speaking, we should "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." Let us not weaken God's statement. Verse eleven says positively and plainly, "Have no fellowship." In other words there is no halfway ground. Our separation must be clean, and distinct, and once and for all. Having come out of the world, and its darkness, how can we have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. God has said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." Verse twelve tells us that it is even a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. What right do we have to talk about the works of darkness? Those works are unfruitful and altogether foreign to the fruit of the Spirit.


1. The things which are approved of God are those which are made manifest by the light. They are the things that inhabit the light, that dwell in the light, that enjoy the light. If you would go out into your yard on a summer day and lift up a board, you would find that the bugs that inhabit the darkness would run in all directions when the light shines in.

The things which inhabit darkness; in other words, the works of darkness, are distinct and opposite to the things that inhabit life; that is, the things that are the works of light. Did you ever go into a home and as you approached you heard a scuffling within, and you well knew that they were hiding away their cards and several other articles all of which are the works of darkness.

You were a child of the light, and they didn't want you to see that they walked in the shadows. Perhaps they had often boastfully said, "We are the children of the light." But the epistle of John said, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." But, "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth."

You know, as well as I, that God is light, "And in Him is no darkness at all." Therefore we ask, what fellowship hath light with darkness? If you answer there is no fellowship, then we reply, "Let us leave the paths of darkness, and walk in the light."

2. Some special admonitions to those who walk in light.

(1) Verse fourteen gives the first admonition." Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Those that sleep, sleep in the night, and therefore God wants us to wake up. Whenever we think of death we think of darkness and of gloom. Therefore, our Lord says, "Arise from the dead." In I Thessalonians five, we read; "For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunk in the night." But let us, who are of the day, be sober." If we are the children of the light, we are not of the night nor of the darkness.

(2) Verse fifteen gives the second admonition. It reads thus, "See then that ye. walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time." The word circumspectly means that we should walk looking around us, permitting" no evil to overtake us. As children of the day we should not walk as fools but as wise. There is no time for us to waste. The daytime is time for work, for service, and for labor. Let us therefore redeem the time. We must do this as wise, not as unwise; but understanding what the will of the Lord is.


1. A striking analogy. Verse eighteen reads like this: "And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." You remember how, at Pentecost, the people cried out, "These men are full of new wine." Peter immediately replied out, "These are are not drunken * * but this is that which is spoken by the Prophet Joel; * * I will pour out in those days of my Spirit." There is, evidently, an analogy, therefore, between being drunk with wine, and being filled with the Spirit. When intoxicated the whole being is dominated by the wine; when filled with the Spirit, the whole being is dominated from above.

2. A distinction between having the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit. All believers are indwelt by the Holy Guest; that is by the Spirit of God. It is written, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."

Again, it is written, "And because ye are sons, God hath, sent forth the Spirit of His son into your hearts."

It is, however, one thing to have the Spirit in the throne room, that is in the heart; and, it is an entirely different thing to have the Spirit on the throne. We believe that the filling of the Spirit, is a very definite thing, not true in the lives of the majority of believers. God would not say to the saints, "Be filled with the Spirit," if all saints were already filled.

3. The results of being filled with the Spirit. Of course, as the book of Galatians records, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Ephesians, however, in verses nineteen and twenty, speaks of but one thing joy. Here's the way the verse reads: "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

The Spirit-filled life is a songful life. It does not mean that all the Spirit-filled will become proficient in singing, so far as tone qualities are concerned, for the singing is not half so much with the voice, as with the heart. Verse twenty suggests that the Spirit-filled life is always giving thanks, and giving thanks in all things, unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


1. Wives should submit themselves unto their own husbands, as unto the Lord. The next verse gives the reason for this commanded submission. "For the husband is the head of the wife." It is for this cause that the wife should be subject unto her husband in everything. We know in the twentieth century these divine instructions are not accepted. However, they are commanded from above.

Do not think for a moment that wives are supposed to submit themselves unto ungodly husbands; for wives are not supposed to have ungodly husbands. God says, "It is permitted unto a woman to marry only in the Lord." When a woman has a husband who is in the Lord, she will find no difficulty in this commanded submission.

2. The church should submit itself unto Christ. We spoke a moment ago of an analogy between being drunk with wine, and being drunk with the Spirit. We now have an analogy between wives being in subjection to their husbands, and the church being in subjection to Christ.

It is folly to argue that the lot of a wife is difficult and hard, and that when she gets married she debases herself by taking upon her a yoke of obedience to her husband. Has any one ever imagined that the church is debased by taking upon itself obedience to its head, even to Christ?

The Lord said very positively: "Take My yoke upon you." He added, however, most assuringly, "For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." When a woman is in subjection to her husband as a slave is in subjection to a tyrannical master, that is one thing; however, when a woman is in subjection to her husband, as the church is unto Christ, that is another thing. Christ, the head of the church, is also its Saviour, as well as its Lord.

In the book of Revelation, the Lord said unto the church at Ephesus, "Thou hast left thy first love." What Christ wanted of the Ephesian church was love; love more than service, love more than anything else; and that is what the husband wants of his wife. Not merely her obedience, or her service; he wants her love.


1. The love of the husband for his wife should be on equality with the love of Christ for the church. Verse twenty-five says, "Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." When a husband, therefore, truly loves his wife, he is willing to give all that he is, and all that he has for her. The church is Christ's "pearl of great price," and for that pearl He sold all He had, to buy it. So is the wife the husband's pearl of great price, and he bought her, not with silver and gold, but at the price of giving her his own being, his all.

2. The marriage bond includes the presentation of the bride to the bridegroom. That is a glorious day when two hearts, who know God and love one another, take their vows. It is the man who first approaches the altar, and then the bride comes up the aisle and is presented to the bridegroom by her father, or some one else in lieu of the father. The Lord in our chapter, uses this beautiful scene, as suggestive of the hour when the church, having been sanctified and cleansed, by the washing of water by the Word, shall be presented unto Him as a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

3. Even so ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies. We realize, through the study of the word of God, that a man who loveth his wife loveth himself. This is true, "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh." The wife is his own flesh, therefore he should nourish and cherish her, even as the Lord nourishes and cherishes the church.

It is wonderful how God used, early in His ministry, a marriage at Cana of Galilee as the place where He wrought His first miracle. It is wonderful to us indeed, that God uses the marriage bond, as an emblem of Himself and His church. All of this puts around the marriage altar a hallo of glory, of purity, and of love. There is nothing in the marriage bonds, upon which to jest; it is something which should be entered, under the guiding touch of the Holy Spirit Himself.

Having gone thus far in this study; the sublimity of God's command to the wife to submit herself unto her own husband, radiates with Shekinah glory. The words of Ephesians 5:24, are written to Christian women, and to Christian men. The marriage vow between two saints, is infinitely higher and holier than that between those who marry after the flesh.


1. A journey into the garden of Eden. To us, one of the marvels of Scripture is found in the verses we now consider. It is necessary to go into the garden of Eden to correctly judge their values. After God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, we remember that He put him to sleep, opened his side, and from his side he took a rib, and with the rib He made a woman.

Then, God took the woman, and presented her unto the man. When Adam beheld the woman he said, "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." Then Adam continued and said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." Let us now return to our verses in Ephesians. We read, "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." The quotation we note is almost exact with the words spoken by Adam.

2. A journey to the Cross. It was upon the Cross, that Christ was put to sleep in a substitutionary death. His side, too, was opened, and His bride was formed. This bride, the church is also His body, His flesh, and His bone. If you say this is a great mystery, we say it is Christ and the church. It was Christ and the church, in the garden of Eden; it is Christ and the church, in every Christian marriage. All is typical.

3. The divine call for separation. Ephesians 5:31 gives us this call. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife." Is it too much to ask a wife to leave all others, to go with her husband? Is it too much to ask her to leave her father, her mother, her home, to go with her husband, to establish a new home? Too much? Never! This is the only road to happiness and peace and prosperity in married life.

Is it too much for Christ to ask His bride to-be to leave father, and mother, and sister, and brother, and houses, and land, and everything else to follow after Him? It is the only thing that He can ask. There is a little verse in James where it says, "Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" The verse means that the Holy Spirit desires to have us holy for Himself, and that is the reason why we are asked to leave all, and become followers of God as dear children.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Living Water".

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Duties of Husbands and Wives. A. D. 61.

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Here the apostle begins his exhortation to the discharge of relative duties. As a general foundation for these duties, he lays down that rule Ephesians 5:21. There is a mutual submission that Christians owe one to another, condescending to bear one another's burdens: not advancing themselves above others, nor domineering over one another and giving laws to one another. Paul was an example of this truly Christian temper, for he became all things to all men. We must be of a yielding and of a submissive spirit, and ready to all the duties of the respective places and stations that God has allotted to us in the world. In the fear of God, that is, so far as is consistent with the fear of God, for his sake, and out of conscience towards him, and that hereby we may give proof that we truly fear him. Where there is this mutual condescension and submission, the duties of all relations will be the better performed. From Ephesians 5:22 to the end he speaks of the duties of husbands and wives and he speaks of these in a Christian manner, setting the church as an example of the wife's subjection, and Christ as an example of love in husbands.

I. The duty prescribed to wives is submission to their husbands in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22), which submission includes the honouring and obeying of them, and that from a principle of love to them. They must do this in compliance with God's authority, who has commanded it, which is doing it as unto the Lord or it may be understood by way of similitude and likeness, so that the sense may be, "as, being devoted to God, you submit yourselves unto him." From the former sense we may learn that by a conscientious discharge of the duties we owe to our fellow-creatures we obey and please God himself and, from the latter, that God not only requires and insists on those duties which immediately respect himself, but such as respect our neighbours too. The apostle assigns the reason of this submission from wives: For the husband is the head of the wife, Ephesians 5:23. The metaphor is taken from the head in the natural body, which, being the seat of reason, of wisdom, and of knowledge, and the fountain of sense and motion, is more excellent than the rest of the body. God has given the man the pre-eminence and a right to direct and govern by creation, and in that original law of the relation, Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Whatever there is of uneasiness in this, it is an effect of sin coming into the world. Generally, too, the man has (what he ought to have) a superiority in wisdom and knowledge. He is therefore the head, even as Christ is the head of the church. There is a resemblance of Christ's authority over the church in that superiority and headship which God has appointed to the husband. The apostle adds, and he is the Saviour of the body. Christ's authority is exercised over the church for the saving of her from evil, and the supplying of her with every thing good for her. In like manner should the husband be employed for the protection and comfort of his spouse and therefore she should the more cheerfully submit herself unto him. So it follows, Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ (Ephesians 5:24), with cheerfulness, with fidelity, with humility, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing--in every thing to which their authority justly extends itself, in every thing lawful and consistent with duty to God.

II. The duty of husbands (on the other hand), is to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) for without this they would abuse their superiority and headship, and, wherever this prevails as it ought to do, it will infer the other duties of the relation, it being a special and peculiar affection that is required in her behalf. The love of Christ to the church is proposed as an example of this, which love of his is a sincere, a pure, an ardent, and constant affection, and that notwithstanding the imperfections and failures that she is guilty of. The greatness of his love to the church appeared in his giving himself unto the death for it. Observe, As the church's subjection to Christ is proposed as an exemplar to wives, so the love of Christ to his church is proposed as a pattern to husbands and while such exemplars are offered to both, and so much is required of each, neither has reason to complain of the divine injunctions. The love which God requires from the husband in behalf of his wife will make amends for the subjection which he demands from her to her husband and the prescribed subjection of the wife will be an abundant return for that love of the husband which God has made her due. The apostle, having mentioned Christ's love to the church, enlarges upon it, assigning the reason why he gave himself for it, namely, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next: That he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26)-- that he might endue all his members with a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin. The instrumental means whereby this is affected are the instituted sacraments, particularly the washing of baptism and the preaching and reception of the gospel. And that he might present it to himself, &c., Ephesians 5:27. Dr. Lightfoot thinks the apostle alludes here to the Jews' extraordinary carefulness in their washings for purification. They were careful that there should be no wrinkle to keep the flesh from the water, and no spot nor dirt which was not thoroughly washed. Others understand him as alluding to a garment come newly out of the fuller's hand, purged from spots, stretched from wrinkles, the former newly contracted, the latter by long time and custom. That he might present it to himself--that he might perfectly unite it to himself in the great day, a glorious church, perfect in knowledge and in holiness, not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, nothing of deformity or defilement remaining, but being entirely amiable and pleasing in his eye, holy and without blemish, free from the least remains of sin. The church in general, and particular believers, will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. From Ephesians 5:26-27 together we may take notice that the glorifying of the church is intended in the sanctifying of it: and that those, and those only, who are sanctified now, will be glorified hereafter.--So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies, &c., Ephesians 5:28. The wife being made one with her husband (not in a natural, but in a civil and in a relative sense), this is an argument why he should love her with as cordial and as ardent an affection as that which he loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, Ephesians 5:29-- (no man in his right senses ever hated himself, however deformed, or whatever his imperfections might be) so far from it that he nourishes and cherishes it he uses himself with a great deal of care and tenderness, and is industrious to supply himself with every thing convenient or good for him, with food and clothing, &c. Even as the Lord the church: that is, as the Lord nourishes and cherishes the church, which he furnishes with all things that he sees needful or good for her, with whatever conduces to her everlasting happiness and welfare. The apostle adds, For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones, Ephesians 5:30. He assigns this as a reason why Christ nourishes and cherishes his church--because all who belong to it are members of his body, that is, of his mystical body. Or, we are members out of his body: all the grace and glory which the church has are from Christ, as Eve was taken out of the man. But, as one observes, it being the manner of the sacred writings to express a complex body by the enumeration of its several parts, as the heaven and earth for the world, evening and morning for the natural day, so here, by body, flesh, and bones, we are to understand himself, the meaning of the verse being that we are members of Christ.--For this cause (because they are one, as Christ and his church are one) shall a man leave his father and mother the apostle refers to the words of Adam, when Eve was given to him for a meet help, Genesis 2:24. We are not to understand by this that a man's obligation to other relations is cancelled upon his marriage, but only that this relation is to be preferred to all others, there being a nearer union between these two than between any others, that the man must rather leave any of those than his wife.--And they two shall be one flesh, that is, by virtue of the matrimonial bond. This is a great mystery, Ephesians 5:32. Those words of Adam, just mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage but they have also a hidden mystical sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church, of which the conjugal union between Adam and the mother of us all was a type: though not instituted or appointed by God to signify this, yet it was a kind of natural type, as having a resemblance to it: I speak concerning Christ and the church.

After this, the apostle concludes this part of his discourse with a brief summary of the duty of husbands and wives, Ephesians 5:33. "Nevertheless (though there be such a secret mystical sense, yet the plain literal sense concerns you) let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, with such a sincere, peculiar, singular, and prevailing affection as that is which he bears to himself. And the wife see that she reverence her husband." Reverence consists of love and esteem, which produce a care to please, and of fear, which awakens a caution lest just offence be given. That the wife thus reverence her husband is the will of God and the law of the relation.

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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 5:27". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The duty of wives is, submission to their husbands in the Lord, which includes honouring and obeying them, from a principle of love to them. The duty of husbands is to love their wives. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter. The words of Adam, mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage; but they have also a hidden sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church. It was a kind of type, as having resemblance. There will be failures and defects on both sides, in the present state of human nature, yet this does not alter the relation. All the duties of marriage are included in unity and love. And while we adore and rejoice in the condescending love of Christ, let husbands and wives learn hence their duties to each other. Thus the worst evils would be prevented, and many painful effects would be avoided.

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. "Concise Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That he might present it to himself; hereafter in heaven; that the whole church of the elect may be present with him, 2 Corinthians 5:6,8 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

A glorious church; perfect in knowledge and holiness, shining with a heavenly glory, and fully conformed to himself, 1 John 3:2.

Not having spot; spot of sin, in allusion to spots in garments.

Or wrinkle; any relic of old Adam, in allusion to wrinkles in the body, which are signs of old age, and imply deformity.

Or any such thing, viz. which is contrary to the beauty of the church, and might make her unpleasing to Christ her Husband.

Without blemish; without any fault to be found in her. He seems to allude to the sacrifices, which were to be without blemish, Leviticus 1:3: see Song of Solomon 4:7.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Husbands and Wives Are A Pattern of Christ and His Church (5:22-33).

In this passage there is a constant movement from the husband wife relationship to that of Christ and His church. In one sense it is the former which is the main theme, for both opening and closing verses refer to it. But Paul’s illustrative application of the idea to the Christ-church relationship leads him on to an expansion of that relationship as he exults in the wonder and glory of it, so that it too becomes a main thought. However, the church is never spoken of as His wife (or His bride) and there is no direct application of the idea. The application is rather of His Headship and His care and nourishment of His church as being similar to that required of a good husband.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for it, that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.’

Although Paul is strictly supposed to be talking about the husband/wife relationship he takes the opportunity of his analogy to bring home some theological lessons, and these soon take over. Here Christ is described as loving the church as the husband should love his wife. There is not strictly a bridegroom analogy. What bridegroom dies for his bride before marrying her? And what bridegroom washes his bride in preparation for the wedding and provides her beauty treatment? He would soon be sent packing! Christ is shown here to be even more than a husband (and certainly more than a bridegroom). He is Saviour, husband, attendant, ladies’ maid, beauty expert and everything. He is depicted as the Carer and Nourisher supreme. Contrast this with Revelation 19:7 where the bride makes herself ready! There the thought was of the works of righteousness which result from the Saviour’s saving work. So to His people He is not just the bridegroom, He is all in all, and here we see the Godward side of His working.

‘As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the washing of water with the word.’ Here He is acting as ‘Saviour of the body’ (Ephesians 5:23). His motive is love, and the price paid is Himself. ‘He gave Himself up’ for His people (see Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 8:3 and often). The result is then His continued saving activity as He first washes them with the washing of water with the word (compare 1 Corinthians 1:17-18) and then sanctifies them.

‘He gave Himself up for it.’ Voluntarily humbling Himself (Philippians 2:5-8), and suffering death on their behalf. Always, as with Israel when salvation is spoken of, it is ‘the true church’ that is in mind, that which is made up of all those who are truly responsive to Christ.

‘That He might sanctify it.’ The verb is aorist representing something done once for all. His people are ‘set apart’ as His own once and for all, as ‘holy’ to God and to Himself (each as they respond), and then go through the process of being made perfect before Him.

‘Having cleansed it with the washing of water with the word.’ It is not baptism that washes, but the application of the word, the preaching of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18) (baptism symbolises the life-giving rains from Heaven, representing the Holy Spirit, rather than washing). Compare ‘of His own will He brought us into life by the word of truth’ (James 1:18). This is quite clear here. Reference to ‘the word’ refers overwhelmingly to the preached word. Had baptism been in mind he would have said so.

Note. It is a mistake to equate washing with baptism. It is true that the idea of the new birth is related to washing, ‘the washing of new birth (regeneration)’, in Titus 3:5, but even there it is not directly connected to baptism. The idea there is of spiritual renewal as being like the ‘washing’ of rain that regenerates the earth. Indeed Peter specifically warns us not to relate baptism to washing. He says that ‘it is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh’ (1 Peter 3:21) precisely because some were seeing it in that way. Rather, he says, it is ‘the appeal of a good conscience towards God (a baptism of repentance and faith) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ’. In other words the emphasis in baptism is on new life.

This is possibly also what Ananias meant in Acts 22:16, although he does relate washing there indirectly to baptism. But he uses ’apolouo which is used only once in LXX, and that of washing in the snow (Job 9:30) (thus what comes directly from the heavens) as opposed to louo which is used for ritual washing. Thus even here he does not relate baptism to ritual washing. Apart from this possible reference baptism is never spoken of in terms of ‘washing’ in the New Testament. That is mainly a later idea. Baptism rather represents the coming of the Holy Spirit like rain from heaven, producing grain and fruit and good trees, and new life out of death, and providing spiritual water to drink.

End of note.

However, there are no grounds for referring to baptismal formulae here in Ephesians. That is a mere invention of fertile (and sacerdotal) minds. Of course those who always see any mention of water as referring directly to baptism will see baptism here but that is not sound exegesis. The washing here refers to the purifying activity of the word of God.

‘That He might present the church to Himself, a glorious one, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing.’ Having washed, cleansed and sanctified His people He will remove every blemish so that He can receive His church as fit to bring before God. Every spot or wrinkle or blemish will be done away (see Ephesians 1:4 where this was promised as part of His plan). Through His sacrifice on the cross we will be presented ‘holy, and without blemish and unreproveable before Him’ (Colossians 1:22 compare Jude 1:24).

This is often interpreted as signifying that He presents herself to Him as His bride, but this is nowhere clearly suggested and the comparison is more of a husband to a wife all the way through. A bridegroom is not noted for having nourished and cared for his bride until after the wedding. Even then the comparison is indirect. The church is never spoken of in this passage as His wife or His bride. The emphasis is rather on His Headship, and on the loving relationship revealed by His expressed care and concern, and the great efforts He makes for the well-being of His church, the same care and concern that a husband should have for his wife (in general, not in detail).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

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

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Eph . Submit yourselves.—Same word as in previous verse; neither here nor there does it involve any loss of self-respect. The wife's tribute to her husband's worth is submission—the grace of childhood to both parents equally is obedience.

Eph . Christ is the head of the Church.—Defending her at His own peril ("If ye seek Me, let these go their way"); serving her in utmost forgetfulness of self ("I am amongst you as he that serveth"); "Giving Himself up for her."

Eph . Husbands, love your wives.—This will prevent the submission of the wife from ever becoming degrading—as submission to a tyrant must be.

Eph . That He might sanctify and cleanse.—There is no "and" between "sanctify" and "cleanse" in what St. Paul wrote. "Sanctify it, having cleansed it" (R.V.). "I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified" (Joh 17:19).

Eph . Spot or wrinkle.—"Spot," a visible blemish, used in the plural, figuratively, in 2Pe 2:13, of men who disfigure Christian assemblies. "Wrinkle"—"a wrinkled bride" is an incongruity, just as the mourning which produces wrinkles is out of place in the bride-chamber (Mat 9:15).

Eph . As their own bodies.—Not "as they love their own bodies" merely, but "as being their own." See Eph 5:31, "one flesh."

Eph . For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife.—We must regard these words, not as a continuation of Adam's in Gen 2:23, but as the words of the narrator, who regards what our first father said as a mystical hint of the origin of marriage.

Eph . This is a great mystery.—The meaning of which is known only to the initiated. Something having a significance beyond what appears on the surface. But I speak.—The "I" is emphatic: "I give my interpretation." My chief interest in this mystery is as it relates to Christ and to the Church.

Eph . Nevertheless.—"I pursue the matter no further"; and though this mystical turn is given to the words, still in actual life let the husband love (Eph 5:25) and the wife show reverence (Eph 5:22). Let all the married among you apply the mystery to their own case, so that the husband may love the wife and the wife fear the husband.


Duties of Wives and Husbands.

I. The duty of the wife is submission to her husband.—"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands."

1. A submission defined by religious obligation.—"As unto the Lord" (Eph ). This submission implies no inferiority. Husband and wife are equal before God, and each is separately responsible to Him. The husband cannot love and serve God for the wife, nor the wife for the husband; each stands related to Him as a distinct personality, with distinct duties and responsibilities for each. God has the first claim upon them both, and their relation and duties to each other must be in harmony with that supreme claim. The submission demanded is not the subjection of an inferior to a superior, but the voluntary, sympathetic obedience that can be gracefully and appropriately rendered only by an equal to an equal. "It is here that Christianity, in contrast with paganism and notably with Mahometanism, raises the weaker sex to honour. In soul and destiny it declares the woman to be man, endowed with all rights and powers inherent in humanity. It is one of the glories of our faith that it has enfranchised our sisters, and raises them in spiritual calling to the full level of their brothers and husbands."

2. A submission recognising the headship of the husband.—

(1) Analogous to the headship of Christ to His Church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church" (Eph ).

(2) Unlike that headship inasmuch as Christ is not only the head but also the Saviour of the Church. "And He is the Saviour of the body" (Eph ). As the Saviour His headship is unrivalled and must be acknowledged by every member alike. The wife must not think too much of her husband: there is One who is superior to him, and who must be all in all to them both.

3. A submission after the pattern of that of the Church to Christ.—"As the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Eph ; cf. Eph 5:33). Religion sanctifies all relationships and makes duty a joy. As the wife obeys Christ in spiritual things, so she will obey her husband in all things righteous. Mary, wife of Prince William of Orange and the heir-apparent to the English throne, was asked what her husband the prince should be if she became queen. She called in her husband and promised him he should always bear rule; and asked only that he would obey the command, "Husbands, love your wives," as she should do that, "Wives, be obedient to your husbands in all things."

II. The duty of the husband is to love his wife.—

1. A love that seeks to promote the highest spiritual interests of the wife (Eph ). It must be a Christ-like, self-sacrificing, all-devoted love. It is greatly within the power of the husband to help or hinder the spiritual life of the wife. The man is apt to become so self-absorbed and forgetful that he needs reminding of his duty to love and cherish the one who should be dearer to him than any other. Assured of the reality and unselfishness of her husband's love, there is no sacrifice she will hesitate to make, nor will she spare any effort to attain the Christ-likeness of character to which he may wish to lead her. "One with Christ. This is the ideal Christian state. We have a faint reflection of this in that which should be the ideal condition of husband and wife. They are no longer twain but one flesh. They are to be as nearly as possible one person. Their thoughts, their interests, their hopes, their aims are one. Marriage was given that it might be a representation of the spiritual union between Christ and His Church. The union of each separate soul with Christ is a fragment of His union with the whole Church, and must partake of the same character. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him."

2. A love arising from the intimacy and sacredness of the marriage bond (Eph ).—Marriage is a union for life between one man and one woman; consequently bigamy, polygamy, and voluntary divorce are all inconsistent with its nature. It must be entered into freely and cordially by the parties, with the conviction that one is suited to the other, and to take the positions involved in the natural and scriptural view of the relation. "Marriage," said Jeremy Taylor, "is a school and exercise of virtue. Here is the proper sense of piety and patience, of the duty of parents, and the charity of relatives; here kindness is spread abroad and love is united and made firm as a centre. Marriage is the nursery of heaven, hath in it the labours of love and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society and the union of hands and hearts. Like the useful bee, marriage builds a house, unites into societies and republics, exercises many virtues, promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God has designed the present constitution of the world."

3. A love strengthened by the observance of mutual duties (Eph ).—Love manifested begets love, and strengthens with exercise. The loving reverence of the wife follows on the frank and genuine love of the husband. This was an epitaph in a churchyard inscribed by a husband after sixty years of married life "She always made home happy." The Christian conception of love and marriage began a new era in the world, and has exalted woman to her true place.


1. Marriage is not to be lightly entered into.

2. Is dignified as a symbol of the union between Christ and His Church. 3. Binds the contracting parties to fidelity in observing the most sacred vows.


Eph . Wives and Husbands.

I. There are duties which are common to both the correlates.—The husband and wife are in some respects equals. As they are one and have one common interest they ought to act with an undivided concern for the happiness of the family. They are alike bound to mutual fidelity and a chaste conversation. They are under equal obligations to study each other's peace and comfort.

II. There are some duties particularly incumbent on the wife.—These the apostle expresses by the terms submission, reverence, obedience, and subjection. Since the Church is subject to Christ, the woman ought to be subject to her husband, who, by Christ's authority, is constituted her head. A family should resemble a Church in union, peace, and subordination. The honour and interest of religion require that wives, by a cheerful subordination, co-operate with their husbands in all the important concerns of the household, and in the nurture, education, and government of the dependent members.

III. There are duties particularly incumbent on the husband towards his wife.—These the apostle expresses by the word "love," which here stands opposed to sharpness and severity. One argument for this love is the example of Christ in His love and devotion to the Church. Another reason is, the intimacy of the relationship—"Whoso loveth his wife loveth himself." Where the spirit of religion reigns in both, the union will be easy and their joint government in the family have efficacy. The maintenance of family religion depends on nothing more than the union of the heads. For how can they unite in prayers and praises who unite in nothing else.—Lathrop.

Eph . Christ and His Bride.

I. Christ's love to the Church (Eph ). We must value and joyfully assert our individual part in the redeeming love of the Son of God; but we must equally admit the sovereign rights of the Church in the Redeemer's passion. There is in some an absorption in the work of grace within their own hearts, an individualistic salvation-seeking that like all selfishness defeats its end, for it narrows and impoverishes the inner life thus sedulously cherished. The Church does not exist simply for the benefit of individual souls; it is an eternal institution, with an affiance to Christ, a calling and destiny of its own; within that universal sphere our personal destiny holds its particular place. The Christ is worthy and she must be made worthy. From eternity He set His love upon her; on the cross He won her back from her infidelity at the price of His blood. Through the ages He has been wooing her to Himself, and schooling her in wise and manifold ways that she may be fit for her heavenly calling. Through what cleansing fires, through what baptisms, even of blood, she has still to pass ere the consummation is reached, He only knows who loved her and gave Himself for her. He will spare to His Church nothing, either of bounty or of trial, that her perfection needs.

II. Christ's authority over the Church (Eph ).—The Church is no democracy, any more than she is an aristocracy or a sacerdotal absolutism: she is a Christocracy. The people are not rulers in the house of God; they are the ruled, laity and ministers alike. We acknowledge this in theory; but our language and spirit would oftentimes be other than they are, if we were penetrated with the sense of the continual presence and majesty of the Lord Jesus in our assemblies. The Church's protection from human tyranny, from schemes of ambition, from the intrusion of political methods and designs, lies in her sense of the splendour and reality of Christ's dominion and of her own eternal life in Him.

III. The mystery of the Church's origin in Christ (Eph ).—God chose us in Christ before the world's foundation. We were created in the Son of God's love antecedently to our redemption by Him. Christ recovers through the cross that which pertains inherently to Him, which belonged to Him by nature, and is as a part of Himself. The derivation of Eve from the body of Adam, as that is affirmed in the mysterious words of Genesis, is analogous to the derivation of the Church from Christ. The latter relationship existed in its ideal, and as conceived in the purpose of God, prior to the appearance of the human race. In St. Paul's theory, the origin of the woman in man, which forms the basis of marriage in Scripture, looked farther back to the origin of humanity in Christ Himself. In some mystical but real sense marriage is a reunion, the reincorporation of what had been sundered. Seeking his other self, the complement of his nature, the man breaks the ties of birth and founds a new home. So the inspired author of the passage in Genesis (Eph 2:21-22) explains the origin of marriage, and the instinct which draws the bridegroom to his bride. But our apostle sees within this declaration a deeper truth, kept secret from the foundation of the world. When he speaks of this great mystery, he means thereby not marriage itself, but the saying of Adam about it. This text was a standing problem to the Jewish interpreters. "But for my part," says the apostle, "I refer it to Christ and to the Church." St. Paul, who has so often before drawn the parallel between Adam and Christ, by the light of this analogy perceives a new and rich meaning in the old dark sentence. It helps him to see how believers in Christ, forming collectively His body, are not only grafted into Him, but were derived from Him and formed in the very mould of His nature. In our union through grace and faith with Christ crucified we realise again the original design of our being. Christ has purchased by His blood no new or foreign bride, but her who was His from eternity—the child who had wandered from the Father's house, the betrothed who had left her Lord and spouse.—Findlay.

Eph . The Christian Law of Marriage—

I. Demands self-sacrificing love.

II. Recognises the sacredness of the union between the contracting parties.

III. Is ennobled in being a type of the union between Christ and the Church.

IV. Involves mutual fidelity on the part of both husband and wife.

Eph . Christ's Love for the Church.

I. Christ's love of His Church.—It was—

1. Ancient.

2. Self-moved.

3. Active.

4. Effective.

II. Christ's sacrifice of Himself as an exhibition of His love.—

1. Himself. His life. What a life!

2. As a sacrifice. The essence of it is vicarious suffering.

3. To all the suffering which justice demanded.

III. Christ's more immediate object in what He has done.—

1. Sanctification. As essential as pardon.

2. By the agency of the Holy Spirit. Signified by the washing of water.

3. Through the instrumentality of the word.

IV. Christ's ultimate aim.—

1. To present His Church to Himself. A nuptial figure.

2. Free from all imperfections.

3. Adorned with all excellencies.

(1) Our obligations to Christ.

(2) The real value of holiness.

(3) The high destiny of believers.—G. Brooks.

The Future Glory of the Church.

I. The future state of the Church.—In describing the future condition of the Church, the apostle has evidently in his mind two previous states: her original state when lying dead in trespasses and sins, and her subsequent earthly state when separated from the mass of the ungodly and partially redeemed. We have the people of Christ before us in three distinct points of view:—

1. As wholly defiled.—Speaking of "sanctifying and cleansing" the Church intimates her complete defilement.

2. As in some measure cleansed.—Though sanctified and cleansed, we read of spots still left on the Church.

3. As altogether pure.—Faultless in God's presence and estimation.

II. The causes to which this state is to be ascribed.—

1. The love of Christ.

2. Love revealed in sacrifice as another step towards final purity.

3. The work of the Holy Spirit (Eph ).

4. The word of God (Eph ). A right understanding of its testimony and a heartfelt belief in its truth.

III. The great end for which all these means of holiness are brought into operation.—"That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church" (Eph ). The likeness of God will be put on her, the image of God shine in her; that attribute of divinity—holiness—which is the perfection of divinity will be her crown.—C. Bradley.

The Divine Ideal of the Church.

I. We have an array of stupendous facts concerning the Church.—

1. The divine prevision. Before the eternal Son of God could give Himself for the Church, He must have had it in His mind.

2. The Redeemer's actual love for the Church. 3. The Redeemer's amazing self-sacrifice on behalf of the Church. 4. That the Redeemer has a very definite purpose concerning His Church.

II. The distinguishing marks or signs of the members of the Church.—They are personal and experimental.

1. The casting out of natural impurities. Improvement is not enough. Nothing but a thorough re-creation can effect what is required.

2. The instrument of this change is the truth.

3. This change, this introduction into the Church, is a thing complete in itself, becomes historical, and ought never to need repeating.

4. The way is open for the appearance of the other personal and experimental sign—sanctification (Eph ).

5. Christ's idea of the Church given in these verses is not abstract, impracticable, and untrue to the possibilities of ordinary human nature.

III. Here we catch a glimpse of the future and eternal glory of the Church.—How stupendous an event it will be when, at the consummation of all things, the whole Church will be presented to the Lord Jesus! What can secure Church membership? Neither early training, nor baptism, nor the holding of, an orthodox creed, nor association with a religious and devout assembly, nor the filling of ecclesiastical office, nor even intelligent approach to the table of the Lord. Such things are means to an end. That end is true membership in the Church of Christ. And that membership is attained and secured by divine renewal of the heart, and by that conformity to the mind of Christ which is expressive of the new life. The true unity of the Church of Christ is that spiritual oneness which has its expression in identity of Christian life.—W. Hudson.

Eph . A Noble Self-sacrifice.—Caius Gracchus, who was the idol of the Roman people, having carried his regard for the lower orders so far as to draw upon himself the resentment of the nobility, an open rupture ensued; and the two extremities of Rome resembled two camps—Opimius the consul on one side, and Gracchus and his friend Fulvius on the other. A battle ensued in which the consul, meeting with more vigorous resistance than he expected, proclaimed an amnesty for all those who should lay down their arms, and at the same time promised to pay for the heads of Gracchus and Fulvius their weight in gold. This proclamation had the desired effect. The populace deserted their leaders, Fulvius was taken and beheaded, and Gracchus, at the advice of his two friends, Licinius Crassus and Pomponius, determined to flee the city, and reached the bridge Sublicius, where his enemies, who pursued him close, would have overtaken and seized him if his two friends had not opposed their fury; but they saw the danger he was in and determined to save his life at the expense of their own. They defended the bridge against all the consular troops till Gracchus was out of their reach; but at length, being overpowered by numbers, and covered with wounds, they both expired on the bridge they had so valiantly defended.—Biblical Treasury.

Eph . Members of the Body of Christ.

I. The doctrine.—The apostle is speaking of believers only; of believers as believing; of all believers. His language implies:—

1. Union.—Real, intimate, indissoluble.

2. Dependence.—Of the members on the heart. Of the members on the head.

3. Sympathy.—Sincere, entire, uninterrupted. Value of human sympathy. Its rarity. Its necessary imperfection. The superiority of Christ's.

II. The duty.—

1. Love. A special affection arising out of a special relation.

2. Reverence.—There should be no unholy familiarity.

3. Obedience.—Responsive to His will as a part of Himself.—G. Brooks.

Eph . The Sanctity of Home Life.—The Christian home is the corner-stone of modern civilisation—the best fruit Christianity has yielded the earth. The Anglo-Saxon home is the crowning glory of the race. Contrast it with French home life, or the miserable home life in Utah! National self-preservation demands a vigorous uprooting of Mormon polygamy and Western divorce lawlessness. That which is punished as a crime in the best and purest Christian lands must be punished as a crime wherever it is found. Garfield kissing his mother and his wife at his Inauguration was a sweet revelation of holy family life.—Homiletic Monthly.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (33) Nevertheless let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

I comprise all that is here said into one view, for it leads but to one and the same subject: and the sweetest of all subjects it forms; namely, Christ's marriage with his Church. We cannot be sufficiently thankful to God the Holy Ghost for it, as it so fully explains the soul-comforting subject, and throws such a beautiful light over many parts of Scripture which refer to the same.

Who should have thought, but from what God the Holy Ghost hath said here, that the institution of the marriage in Eden, between our first Parents, was a shadow of an union, long before formed in substance, between Christ and his Church ? But Paul so saith. This is a great mystery, (saith he,) but I speak concerning Christ, and his Church! Who would have conceived, that when at the creation of the first woman, the Lord said it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him an help meet for him; Genesis 2:18. and the Lord formed the woman from one of his ribs: that this had a much higher, and a far more early allusion, to the God-man Christ Jesus; concerning whom, it was not good, for the promotion of Jehovah's designs in the glory of Christ, that he should be alone, but that a Church should be raised up for him, and taken from himself; which might be his Spouse, his Partner, in all communicable grace here, and glory hereafter? Who would have seen Christ in that Scripture, when Adam, beholding his wife, called her bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; Genesis 2:23. had not God the Holy Ghost un folded its spiritual meaning, when here he tells us, that we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones? Precious Jesus! it was thou, and not Adam, for he had no father of the earth to leave, which didst leave thy heavenly Father, to cleave to thy wife, the Church; and thy Church is now one flesh with thee, in thy human nature, forever. Genesis 2:24.

Paul might well call this a mystery, yea, a great mystery, for all the shadows of it sink to nothing, in comparison of the substance. And, indeed, all the affections, and relations of life, between man and man, are less than nothing, when we look to our relationship in Christ. I would beg the Reader's indulgence yet a little further, to consider one or two points more, of this great mystery, and seek the teaching of the Lord, that we may have a right understanding on a subject so truly beautiful and interesting.

And here let us take up the matter from the beginning. It appears then, from several parts of the Holy Scripture, that the marriage of Christ and his Church, took place from everlasting. For there can be no period, either in time, or in eternity, to which a date can be fixed, so as to say, that then it began. When Christ was set up, as the Head, and Husband of his Church, the Church must have been set up with him. For there could not have been an head, without a body: neither an husband without a wife. For, on the supposition that Christ, as Christ, that is, God and man in one Person, might have been before all others; yet not in his relative characters. He could not have been the everlasting Father, before he had children neither the Head, without a body: neither the Husband, without a wife. So that Christ and his Church, as Husband, and wife, are from everlasting together. And to this agrees all the Scriptures. Jesus, under the character of wisdom saith, that he was set up from everlasting. And that then his delights were with the sons of men. Proverbs 8:23; Pro_8:31. He saith also himself, as the Husband of his people: I will betroth thee unto me forever. Hosea 2:19. And, the Prophet agrees to the same, when he saith to the Church: For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name: and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called. Isaiah 54:5.

Secondly. It appears equally, plain from the Scriptures of truth, that God, when he chose the Church in Christ, before the foundation of the world, chose her to be holy and without blame before him in love. Ephesians 1:4. Hence it must follow, that when the Church was presented to Christ, she was as the King's daughter all glorious within. Psalms 45:13. And, though she hath since fallen into poverty and wretchedness by sin; yet, when Christ married her, she was holy, and without blame before him in love. And such she is again when washed from her sins, in his blood. And such will she be, as this Chapter states, when Jesus comes to present her to himself, at the last day, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but to be holy, and without blemish. Oh! who shall conceive the glories of that day, when Jesus shall bring home his church; and when all the members, being fully prepared, in body, soul and spirit, for the everlasting enjoyment of her Lord in glory, s hall enter with him, into the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and be forever with the Lord!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

People's New Testament

Husbands, love your wives. We have here not only the duty, but the measure of the duty.

As Christ loved the church. Loved so well as to be willing to give all things, even life, for her welfare. The union of husband and wife were here described is ideally perfect. The tenderest love on one side, and loving obedience on the other.

That he might sanctify it. The great love of Christ for the church, his bride, is shown as an example to Christian husbands. Christ gave himself for the church. His object was to {sanctify it,} make it holy. In order to do this it was needful to cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. All commentators of repute in all bodies refer this to baptism. All in the church pass through the waters of baptism. But the washing of the water would be of no avail without the {word}. The power is in the word of the Lord which offers the gospel and commands baptism.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church. A church cleansed from sin; a bride without a blemish.

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ephesians 5:26-27. That he might sanctify and cleanse it — Might remove the guilt, power, and pollution of sin; with the washing of water — In baptism, as the sign of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, which can only renew, sanctify, and cleanse the soul. See 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Titus 3:5. By the word — The ordinary channel by which justifying, regenerating, and sanctifying grace is communicated; (John 15:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17;) and by which we are made perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Timothy 3:17. That he might present it to himself — That being purified, renewed, and adorned, as a bride prepared for her husband, he might place it in his own immediate presence; a glorious church — Perfectly holy, happy, and pleasing in his sight; not having spot — Of impurity from any remains of sin, or wrinkle — Of deformity from any decay, or any such thing — Any thing which could be called a defect; the perfection of the bodies of the saints, as well as that of their souls, being included in this description: but that it should be holy and without blemish — Or without blame; and he might survey it completely pure, beautiful, and resplendent, in that great day, when the whole number of the elect shall be gathered together, and the marriage of the Lamb shall be celebrated amidst the acclamations of the heavenly legions, to whose blissful world his bride shall be conducted in triumph. “How bright an idea,” says Dr. Doddridge, “does this give us of the grand plan and design of Christianity: namely, to bring all the millions of which the church consists, to such a state of perfect virtue and glory, that when the penetrating eye of Christ, its great and holy bridegroom, shall survey it, there shall not be one spot, or wrinkle, or any thing like it, in the least to impair its beauty, or offend his sight! Where is such a scheme of thought to be found in the world, but in the New Testament, and those who have been taught by it?”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

That he might present (ινα παραστησηιhina parastēsēi). Final clause with ιναhina and first aorist active subjunctive of παριστημιparistēmi (see note on Colossians 1:22 for parallel) as in 2 Corinthians 11:2 of presenting the bride to the bridegroom. Note both αυτοςautos (himself) and εαυτωιheautōi (to himself).

Glorious (ενδοχονendoxon). Used of splendid clothing in Luke 7:25.

Spot (σπιλοςspilos). Late word, in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:13, but σπιλοωspiloō to defile in James 3:6; Judges 1:23.

Wrinkle (ρυτιδαrutida). Old word from ρυωruō to contract, only here in N.T.

But that it should be holy and without blemish (αλλ ινα ηι αγια και αμωμοςall' hina ēi hagia kai amōmos). Christ‘s goal for the church, his bride and his body, both negative purity and positive.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5:22-31

On Marriage.

I. Consider how the earthly and the heavenly views of Christian marriage which the Apostle presents to us are thoroughly one, and cannot be separated. It was an old delusion that the Christian who wished to give himself up to the influences of the Spirit, to obtain the salvation of his soul, and to win even in this life something higher than its transitory things, could do no better than to withdraw himself as far as possible from this world and to flee at once from its pleasures and its business, its sufferings and its cares. From this delusion arose a long-continued and mistaken idea of looking on the holy state of matrimony. How very far is this delusion from being sanctioned by the Apostle's words. For when he points to the connection between Christ and the Church, is that union in any sense identified with a morbid contemplative life? Must it not have cost the Lord toil to take captive all these thousands? It is only in common, social life that men's happiness and well-being have room to grow, and only by a judicious division of work that each becomes distinctly conscious of his own powers; and so also it is only through this Divine arrangement that we find out what special gifts the Spirit of God has created in each family, and both husband and wife, earnestly working together at their everyday duty, at once find out what is their own work and enjoy their work in the vineyard of the Lord.

II. While there is in these two sides of marriage a great apparent dissimilarity, it is needful that we be convinced that even this dissimilarity resolves itself into the most perfect likeness. Look, first, at the dissimilarity. When the Apostle says husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, we know that this is a love which not only permits, but requires, love in return, seeing how constantly we are exhorted to love Him who has so greatly loved us; but we know also that it is, from another point of view, a love that is raised far above all reciprocal love, seeing that the Church cannot in any way repay Christ, her Redeemer, and can do nothing for Him, but only go on receiving from Him a more and more complete redemption. Now if, in the same way, the wife can do nothing for her husband, but be always receiving from him, then the wife is in a bad case as regards the husband, and the woman is always at a disadvantage. But let us remember that it is impossible for a comparison between Christ and men to apply at every point; and of course the relation of wife to her husband cannot in every particular present a parallel to that of the Church to Christ. Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify her; the husband is to take this self-sacrificing love as his example, gladly returning from his wider circle in the busy world to the quiet of his fireside, there to share with the wife of his heart all that is purifying or elevating in what he has met or done or felt. And thus in their life together will be more and more fully realised that which is only promised to the Church in her relation to Christ in the distant future, that we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is, as the wife, without leaving her quiet, modest sphere, becomes ever more like her husband, because she both understands and influences him in all his ways and actions.

F. Schleiermacher, Selected Sermons, p. 130.

References: Ephesians 5:22-31.—W. E. Colles, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 99. Ephesians 5:23.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 265. Ephesians 5:25.—G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons to English Congregations in India, p. 44; H. P. Hughes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxv., p. 266.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Sermon Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5:25-27

I. The love of Christ. None of us, it is truly said, is a stranger to this master emotion of the human soul. Flowing through the earth like streams amid desert sands, shining in life's darkest nights like stars in a wintry sky, throwing its bright bow over every cloud of fortune, this world owes to love more than to anything else what blessedness it enjoys. Life without it would not be worth the having; and without it, though we had a house, and that house a palace, we could not have a home. In human love we see much to admire, but in that of God there is a something that eludes our grasp when we endeavour to fathom it, and which baffles our conception as we try to find it out. God only knows the love of God.

II. The practicalness of Christ's love. He not only loved the Church, but He gave Himself for her. It is an easy thing to make great profession of affection; it is quite another thing to carry out and prove our profession. Christ was not only a Preacher, but a Sacrifice.

III. The sublime design of His love: "That He might sanctify and cleanse His Church with the washing of water by the word, and that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church." Christ loved the world before ever there was a Church in it, and determined, out of the very ruins of the Fall, to build up for Himself a temple worthy of being inhabited by Himself. He saw the resplendent future to which she was heir by His grace, and so He loved the Church. (1) The Divine Spirit is the efficient cause of this cleansing, but the word or the Gospel is the instrumental cause; the Spirit accomplishes His work of cleansing by means of the truth. (2) That He might present her to Himself a glorious Church—glorious in her position, immunities, and honour, not having a spot, for the redeemed shall be without fault before the throne. No wrinkle of decay shall mar her countenance, or blemish of sin.

J. W. Atkinson, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 976.

References: Ephesians 5:25-27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 628; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 80; W. Landels, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 376; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 13; Sermons on the Catechism, pp. 184, 197; J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 101. Ephesians 5:27.—Parker, Cavendish Pulpit, p. 95. Ephesians 5:30.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx., No. 1153; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 101. Ephesians 5:31.—W. Braden, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 353.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1. Christian Duties of Wives and Husbands.

All the relative duties discussed in this portion of the Epistle are based upon the fact of a common relation to Christ: the exhortations are all ‘in the Lord.’ But the fundamental social relation, namely, that between husband and wife, has a yet deeper basis, in the mystical relation between Christ and His Church. Hence the exhortation to wives (Ephesians 5:22) is at once grounded upon the duty of the Church to Christ (Ephesians 5:23-24); while on the other hand the exhortation to husbands (Ephesians 5:25 a) is at once enforced by the example of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-31). As this side of the matter has always required the greater emphasis, the Apostle enlarges upon it, by introducing not only the self-sacrificing love of Christ for His Church (Ephesians 5:25 b), but the end of that love (Ephesians 5:26-27). The duty of husbands thus to love their wives is further enforced from the unity of the marriage relation resembling that of Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:29-30), as appears from the first reference to marriage in the Old Testament (Ephesians 5:31). In Ephesians 5:32 the Apostle speaks of the whole matter as a mystery, especially in its higher application, but repeats the exhortation to both classes (Ephesians 5:33).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Ephesians 5:27. That he might himself present to himself. A slight change of reading gives this sense. This is the purpose of the sanctification (Ephesians 5:24), but also of the giving up of Himself (Ephesians 5:25). ‘Present,’ as a bride, not as an offering, is presented. But ‘Christ permits neither attendants nor handmaids to present the Bride’ He alone presents, He receives’ (Ellicott), as He has prepared her for the bridal presentation (Ephesians 5:24). That this is to take place at the Second Ad-vent is generally admitted, especially since that event is so frequently referred to as a marriage.

The church glorious. ‘A glorious church’ is inexact. ‘The Church’ (His Church) is to be presented as ‘glorious,’ this word being in emphatic position, and explained by what follows.

Not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The figures taken from the perfection of physical beauty express what is stated without a figure in the next clause.

That it might be holy and without blemish. The thought is still explanatory of ‘glorious,’ notwithstanding the change of construction; ‘might’ marks the purpose better than ‘should.’ ‘Holy and without blemish,’ as in chap. Ephesians 1:4, refer to the positive and negative sides of moral purity. Clearly enough the Church is not yet ready to be thus presented; but the Bridegroom is preparing her for it. Precisely this thought furnishes a strong motive for the duty under discussion.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books


1. In verse nineteen we are told to speak to one another. I have noticed from time to time that the Roman church has things within its tradition/practices that are really based in Scripture. This is one of those items. The antiphonal chants that were so popular in years gone by were the application of this phrase.

I suspect that we have missed out on some of the greatness of the worship that we could have had by rejecting, out of hand, all of the Roman system. I suspect that the Roman Catholic gains much more from their worship service than many Protestants. The design of the cathedrals was in part to draw ones attention to God, something we tend to miss in our church structures.

They also treat their meeting place with God as a meeting place with God rather than a gym for the kids to run and scream in. Yes, it is just a building, but it is also where we are supposed to meet God as a congregation.

When I was growing up in a "Christian" church the one important item I remember is that when I entered the sanctuary my mouth was shut and you could feel the quiet. Not many of us can find a quiet place before the Lord anymore in our society. I find that no matter how secluded I find myself there is always some distraction or person wanting attention.

May we as believers seek to find ways to corporately meet with God without drawing attention away from Him to ourselves.

2. Verse twenty mentions giving thanks for all things. This often is related to all that God does, and then we list some of those things, but one must wonder if we shouldn"t be thankful for those things which we have no knowledge of - the things God and His angels do for us when we are totally unaware.

Years ago we were supposed to leave for a visit of our parents over Christmas. I left work, got into the car and it would not run. It would start but then immediately die. I found if I pumped the gas it would run so off I went on the twenty mile drive home. I stopped at a gas station and they changed the fuel filter and it seemed to work so off I went but within blocks I was back to pumping like mad to keep the car moving down the road. When I arrived home I was very frustrated, we were running late and still had a very long trip ahead of us.

I tore into the car and pulled the carburetor top off. I looked into the bowl and found a piece of rag floating near the bottom. I pulled it out, reassembled the carb and started the car - it ran fine so we loaded the kids and off to the grandparents we went.

As we neared the exit from one interstate to another we were shocked to see a gas tanker truck overturned and in blazes. My first thought was, what if the car hadn"t given trouble? Would we have been in that flaming mess? Then I started to think of all the things that had happened. We had owned the car a couple of years and had never had any trouble with it. Why that evening would that piece of rag that had been floating around for months, decide to plug up the fuel line to the engine?

My conclusion was that God had been at work that evening, not only to maybe save our lives, but to make me a little more patient as well as help me realize that He is busy behind the scenes of my life. There are myriads of things going on that we never know about and we should certainly be thankful to the Lord for these unknowns as well as the knowns.

3. Do you get the idea that all of us, no matter what our age or what our position is to submit to someone. The child to the parent, the wife to the husband, the husband to God. It is what is called in the Armed Forces, chain of command.

The chain of command in the service is very important. All are required to adhere strictly to that chain of command. The lowly seaman answers to the third class petty, officer and he to the second class petty officer and he to the first class petty officer and on up the ranks to the top officer in the command. Then that officer is under officers in the higher up command.

The structure is there to serve a purpose. The top dog, or in this case the president of the United States, does not need to know that Seaman Derickson needs to go to sick bay for two aspirins, but the man over him does need to know where he is.

We as human beings need to know the structure that is over us so that we can relate properly to those above us. The child needs to know what is required of him in the family as does the wife. The husband in turn must answer to God for what has gone on in that family that has been raised under his headship.

We need to know that this sort of structure is probably going to be with us in every area of life for most of our lives. There are times when teachers are over us, there are times when police are over us, there are times when bosses are over us, and most importantly, all the time God is over us.

We must learn to respond properly to any and all of these situations in a proper manner so that we can honor Christ in our lives.

4. Barnes mentions of the eighteenth verse where Paul contrasts drunkeness with worship, "It is not improbable that in this verse there is an allusion to the orgies of Bacchus, or to the festivals celebrated in honour of that heathen god. He was "the god of wine," and, during those festivals, men and women regarded it as an acceptable act of worship to become intoxicated, and with wild songs and cries to run through streets, and fields, and vineyards. To these things the apostle opposes psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, as much more appropriate modes of devotion, and would have the Christian worship stand out in strong contrast with the wild and dissolute habits of the heathen. Plato says, that while those abominable ceremonies in the worship of Bacchus continued, it was difficult to find in all Attica a single sober man."

I could recount many occasions in my younger life that would illustrate the drunken stupor one can attain when drinking to excess. These accounts would not be pretty coming from one that was supposed to be a Christian. I will not tell of these times, except to say that there was utterly no mindful control after a certain point in the drinking. It was no longer my mind that was in control, but the alcohol that was calling the shots - pun intended.

This is not the type of actions that the believer is to be involved in. We, on the other hand, are to be controlled by the Spirit, but we are also to be ministering to one another. This is totally difficult when one is drunk. Usually, the drunk is being helped along by others that can assist him along in his stupor.

The obvious differences between these two states of man are that one is out of control the other is in control. The one is controlled by his drink; the other is controlled by his God. The one is tearing himself down; the other is building others up. Rather obvious where we should be in life.

The obvious application of this text is what we call worship today. I watched a Spanish charismatic song time on television recently. They had the usual song leader belting out the song while his backup was flailing their hands in the air and adding to the volume. It was of note that the leaders on the platform did not know the words to the song, and they were just standing around talking to one another.

I fathom not the significance of this near chaos. What are we attempting to do in our worship services? People put a lot of time into these times of song and pictures and big screens and projectors, but are we really bringing the man and woman in the pew to a point where their thoughts are on the Lord and how wonderful He is? Are we really worshiping in this church situation?

I suggest that we spend our time, not on setting up projectors, pictures, videos, and noise but that we spend our time planning our entire worship service around one central thought that will move the worshiper along from start to finish to think of their God and contemplate what He has done for them in their lives.

I"m not saying that this can"t be done with contemporary music, but I seldom see it being done in the churches. Most are bringing attention to the equipment, the process and the people involved in setting it up. As to those that do the singin, I guess it just seems all that hair swingin, rear wiggling, and thigh slappin is drawin tention tu de performer not the creator.

One last comment on current modes of worship. Drunkenness leads to lack of inhibitions, control and normal action of the person. Sound like some modern worship? The Spirit does not lead to drunkenness, nor to chaos. Those that worship in all shades of shedding themselves of self control are giving over to what they deem spiritual, and most would agree, it just depends on the source of that "spiritualness" whether it be the Spirit or Satan.

5. The early verse mentions us singing etc. Maybe some principles would be of interest. Barnes makes note that the Psalms are to be used, because they were in Biblical times, however I think they should be limited to the same principles as other music.

These principles relate to both the Psalms and other music you might want to use.

a. Draws attention to God rather than our own body - to beat, lyrics, and feeling.

b. Is clearly doctrinally correct for this dispensation. I have mentioned the congregation belting out the words to a Psalm that relates in no way to this dispensation.

c. Lyrics that center on God and His Word and the resulting work of God in our lives.

d. Brings one"s thoughts to God rather than dinner, dancing, and the like.

e. Purposeful. Something that will keep the worshipers attention on the subject of the mornings worship.

f. Appropriate to the purpose at hand. Just because you like the world"s music it is not necessary to bring it into the church. Barnes makes the point that because the world"s music is often related to the things of the world, and pagan music was related to idolatry, that Christian music should of necessity be different from that realm of paganism. Christian music should not be patterned after the world"s music to draw people in; it should be patterned after God and spiritual things.

We have churches attempting to reach the world with the world"s things. We have people using Harry Potter books to draw people in; some are using "Mature" rated video games to draw people into churches so they can witness to them. Not only is it wrong to be using "Mature" games, but in the old days they called that sort of thing bushwhackin - drawing in with something pleasant to hit them over the head to rob them. Churches have no intention of robbing, but certainly they are using worldly items for inappropriate purposes - that of tricking people in so they can be witnessed to.

g. Music that is acceptable to most of the congregation. We have pastors pushing contemporary music onto congregations that feel it is wrong. The "pastor, being the superior intellect, knows what is best for the church syndrome" in action.

A friend in a church in the Midwest told me that the pastor and deacons put together a music policy and set up the usual trappings for contemporary music and started it without even announcing it to the congregation, much less asking for congregational input. There were a number of upset members that asked for a meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting was composed of the pastor telling them the policy was in and that if they didn"t like it leaving was the option.

Splitting a church to get your own way doesn"t seem like the Christian thing to do, yet there seems to be that mind set in our country right now. Contemporary music is named quite appropriately, Contemp-t, for all that disagree with it; contempt seems to be the response to opposition. Rather impressive if you think of it in light of all the love and unity that the contemporary music talks about.

6. In verse twenty we are told to give thanks for all things. Some commentaries include in "all things" "all men" which is quite fitting. All men, not just the ones you agree with. It crossed my mind if the pastor and deacons mentioned just previously had prayed for those that were in disagreement - honestly prayed for them - and vice versa, if something couldn"t have been worked out rather than running the founding members of the church off like so many unwanted sheep.

"All men" includes those you disagree with, those you dislike, and those you might despise. If we are praying for them the disagreement may not have such a sharp edge and you might begin to like them rather than hate them.

If you seek God honestly for someone, there is little room for negative feelings, but if you dwell on the negative feelings that you have, further negativity is sure to come along.

This thought of prayer for all men is reiterated in 1 Timothy 2:1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;" Not much clearer can the case be made.

I have been considering all the bumper stickers and magnet signs I see on cars in our fair city. They constantly are asking for God to bless America or the USA. I would like to make a sticker that would state, "God HAS blessed America but now we are kicking Him out of our classrooms, our court rooms, our public lives and our personal lives - GO FIGURE!"

As we pray for mankind, we will realize more and more just how much man has to be thankful for - God has blessed man in spite of all of his sin and failings - God is more than bountiful to man and He should surely be thanked for it.

7. I would like to include a lengthy quote from Barnes that might choke some in the women"s movement so be forewarned and do not read if you don"t like to swallow - if this were a film it might be rated Sexist. I include it to give the women of our time something to consider and contemplate.

"While Christianity designed to elevate the character of the wife, and to make her a fit companion of an intelligent and pious husband, it did not intend to destroy all subordination and authority. Man, by the fact that he was first created; that the woman was taken from him; that he is better qualified for ruling than she is, is evidently designed to be at the head of the little community that constitutes a family. In many other things woman may be his equal; in loveliness, and grace, and beauty, and tenderness, and gentleness, she is far his superior; but these are not the qualities adapted for government. Their place is in another sphere; and there, man should be as cautious about invading her prerogative, or abridging her liberty, as she should be about invading the prerogative that belongs to him. In every family there should be a head--some one who is to be looked up to as the counselor and the ruler; someone to whom all should be subordinate. God has given that prerogative to man; and no family prospers where that arrangement is violated. Within proper metes and limits, therefore, it is the duty of the wife to obey, or to submit herself to her husband. Those limits are such as the following:

"1. In domestic arrangements, the husband is to be regarded as the head of the family; and he has a right to direct as to the style of living, the expenses of the family, the clothing, etc.

"2. In regard to the laws which are to regulate the family, he is the head. It is his to say what is to be done; in what way the children are to employ themselves, and to give directions in regard to their education, etc.

"3. In business matters, the wife is to submit to the husband. She may counsel with him, if he chooses; but the affairs of business and property are under his control, and must be left at his disposal.

"4. In everything, except that which relates to conscience and religion, he has authority. But there his authority ceases. He has no right to require her to commit an act of dishonesty, to connive at wrong-doing, to visit a place of amusement which her conscience tells her is wrong, nor has he a right to interfere with the proper discharge of her religious duties. He has no right to forbid her to go to church at the proper and usual time, or to make a profession of religion when she pleases. He has no right to forbid her endeavouring to exercise a religious influence over her children, or to endeavour to lead them to God. She is bound to obey God, rather than any man, and when even a husband interferes in such cases, and attempts to control her, he steps beyond his proper bounds, and invades the prerogative of God, and his authority ceases to be binding. It ought to be said, however, that in order to justify her acting independently in such a case, the following things are proper:

"(1.) It should be really a case of conscience--a case where the Lord has plainly required her to do what she proposes to do--and not a mere matter of whim, fancy, or caprice.

"(2.) When a husband makes opposition to the course which a wife wishes to pursue in religious duties, it should lead her to re-examine the matter, to pray much over it, and to see whether she cannot, with a good conscience, comply with his wishes.

"(3.) If she is convinced that she is right, she should still endeavour to see whether it is not possible to win him to her views, and to persuade him to accord with her, see 1 Peter 3:1. It is possible that, if she does right, he may be persuaded to do right also.

"(4.) If she is constrained, however, to differ from him, it should be with mildness and gentleness. There should be no reproach, and no contention. She should simply state her reasons, and leave the event to God.

"(5.) She should, after this, be a better wife, and put forth more and more effort to make her husband and family happy. She should show that the effect of her religion has been to make her love her husband and children more; to make her more and more attentive to her domestic duties, and more and more kind in affliction. By a life of pure religion, she should aim to secure what she could not by her entreaties--his consent that she should live as she thinks she ought to, and walk to heaven in the path in which she believes that her Lord calls her. While, however, it is to be conceded that the husband has authority over the wife, and a right to command in all cases that do not pertain to the conscience, it should be remarked,

"(1.) that his command should be reasonable and proper.

"(2.) He has no right to require anything wrong, or contrary to the will of God.

"(3.) WHERE COMMANDS BEGIN in this relation, HAPPINESS USUALLY ENDS and the moment a husband requires a wife to do anything, it is usually a signal of departing or departed affection and peace. When there are proper feelings in both parties in this relation, there will be no occasion either to command or to obey. There should be such mutual love and confidence, that the known wish of the husband should be a law to the wife; and that the known desires of the wife should be the rule which he would approve. A perfect government is that where the known wish of the lawgiver is a sufficient rule to the subject. Such is the government of heaven; and a family on earth should approximate as nearly as possible to that.

"As unto the Lord. As you would to the Lord, because the Lord requires it, and has given to the husband this authority."

8. I would like to set some examples relating to the wife fearing or honoring the husband. These are for the most part derived from Barnes Notes.

a. Barnes suggests that she should never MAKE him command her or reprimand her. If she knows his wish she should never do anything against that wish unless for Biblical/conscience sake. If she knows that he does not want the family involved with cards, she should never use cards unknown to him or known to him. She should respect the wishes.

If he desires that the family have a certain discipline policy toward the children then that is the policy she should follow.

If there is a desired music/television viewing standard then it should be met whether he is there or not.

She should never choose to challenge these things before the family, and only with respect of giving an opinion in private.

For the wife to force the husband to command or reprimand will cause serious disharmony to the relationship and home.

b. The Biblical marriage relationship should set the standard for the world, yet the church has allowed the world"s standard to become the example for the church. When I was growing up my folks had a woman that they coffeed with now and then. She was a divorcee and they were taking a chance with their social standing in the community by associating with her. She was nearly an outcast of society in Mid Nebraska in the fifties.

My how the standards have shifted. The world started divorcing and remarrying and the church wanted the same so off they went to follow the world. This is not the Biblical example that Paul desires.

c. The woman"s relationship to her husband is the Biblical standard. Avoid that standard and substitute your own and you will not have the blessing of God. Ramifications will certainly come to those that set aside God"s standard.

d. Barnes makes the following point and I will just quote him so that those that find it aggravating can attach him rather than the messenger. "Wives should manifest such a character as to be worthy of love. They owe this to their husbands. They demand the confidence and affection of man; and they should show that they are worthy of that confidence and affection. It is not possible to love that which is unlovely, nor to force affection where it is undeserved; and, as a wife expects that a husband will love her more than he does any other earthly being, it is but right that she should evince such a spirit as shall make that proper. A wife may easily alienate the affections of her partner in life. If she is irritable and fault-finding; if none of his ways please her; if she takes no interest in his plans, and in what he does; if she forsakes her home when she should be there, and seeks happiness abroad; or, if at home, she never greets him with a smile; if she is wasteful of his earnings, and extravagant in her habits, it will be impossible to prevent the effects of such a course of life on his mind. And when a wife perceives the slightest evidence of alienated affection in her husband, she should inquire at once whether she has not given occasion for it, and exhibited such a spirit as tended inevitably to produce such a result."

I will close this point with a counter point that Barnes does not suggest. There is a great responsibility upon the husband as well to not become the dictator that seems to lurk within the hearts of all of us. He must first set the Biblical Christ like example and then He can expect the proper responses of the wife. NOW, this is not to say that the wife does not have to do her part if he doesn"t do his. It is the wife"s responsibility to do right. It is the husband"s responsibility to do right. As both do right the harmony of the home will increase.

A wife doing what is right might well bring an erring husband to doing right when he naturally responds to her Christ like being and behavior.

9. Wiersbe makes the proper point that when we are saved and baptized into the body of Christ we become part of the body, while when we are filled with the Spirit we give our body to Him. This is why the charismatic errs in their definition of the baptism of the Spirit - they relate the baptism as the Spirit coming over and controlling the body and they also call this the being full of the spirit. The two are different things - one occurring only at salvation to make us part of the church and the other as an ongoing action of the Spirit"s control so that we act like we are part of the church.

Constable points out that the being filled is a present tense, something we are to be doing all the time, but that it is a passive thing thus we just allow it to occur and He will do the rest.

Now, if this be true, then perfection of the saints is quite easy and should be fairly common. The only way that the filling relationship can change is for us to take control or allow sin to break that control. Our mind and our desires are the only thing between us and a perfect spiritual life. That is simplistic, but that is the teaching of the Word of God.

Those that suggest there is a struggle between two natures hide the simplicity of God"s plan for our lives. Those that suggest this struggle cause so much misery and guilt in people"s lives. When they sin they, because of this teaching of a struggle, see their failure as just that - total failure in the spiritual life, when in fact it was only a rotten choice of the mind. They see their failure and failing to struggle and fight to the win as the fact that they have totally failed and lost the battle only to have to face the same struggle and fight again later that day when they fall into sin again.

Not a battle, not a fight, not a struggle, but a decision of the mind to say, "Okay, Lord, I"m taking over, you aren"t doing it right - I"ll handle this." First, this is sin, second it is against God"s will and in the final analysis it is about as arrogant an act as man can be involved in. ALMIGHTY GOD IS CONTROLLING YOUR LIFE AND YOU TAKE CONTROL - is that not arrogant? Is that not plain foolish? Yet, we all do it way to often in our own lives.

10. The idea of a submissive wife is always a problem to women. I think we have covered it fairly well thus far except for one point that I would like to mention. Most women that work are in submissive relationships to others at work and they get along fine with those over them - their superiors by power, by authority, and by corporate command, yet when they get home they so often fail to merely submit to their husband who is given his position from the highest authority, that has the most power of any in the universe, and the one that has the ability to command.

Why can a woman submit to corporate authority so easily and yet go home and raise cane with the one she supposedly loves, the one that she has supposedly committed her life to and the one that almighty God has given the most appropriate of relationships to - so many women fail in the lesser of the relationship areas of life - why? First of all it is a personal choice to reject the husband as her head, second it is a personal choice to continue rejecting him as head, and thirdly it is a personal choice to reject God"s best for her life as well as for her marriage.

Some possible principles - since I am not a wife, the wives of America will have to evaluate the validity of these suggestions.

a. When you get home, take a deep breath, realize that you are a believer, that you are married, that you love this man, that you are to be in a place of submission and make a conscious decision to maintain that role as part of your ongoing spiritual life before God.

b. Work on your marriage relationship. Continue with your husband as you began - it isn"t just his responsibility to maintain the romance, to maintain the respect, to maintain the loving environment. Show your love, your commitment, and your joy by keeping a proper house, by keeping a proper attitude, and by keeping yourself spiritual.

Now, men, there is a lot of information here for you as well so continue reading - this is a mutual relationship not a one sided one.

c. Know your husband and work towards his satisfaction, know where he is spiritually, where he is emotionally and minister to him as you can.

d. If you have had a bad day at work, see to it that you don"t give your husband a bad evening to get back at the corporation - it won"t work, you will just alienate your husband. Realize that your tension is from work and not from your husband. Hopefully he will listen to your frustration and be a solace rather than a reactor to your poor responses to him.

e. Be a Christian wife, not a corporate meany.

f. Constable suggests that the wife should attempt to complete her husband. The two are to merge their lives into one. He likens it to the three legged race where the couple has their legs tied together and they must function as one to win the race. She should attempt to complete her husband so that they might finish their walk with God on a sound footing rather than two people trying to go their own way while one of their legs is tied to one of their mates.

He suggests that the word support is a good synonym for submit. I would not go that far and am not sure this sort of redefinition isn"t why we have some problems in the church. True, supporting the husband is part of submission, but support has no concept of submission, thus should not be seen as a synonym.

This seems to me to be a watering down of the concept of submit. It is a military term signifying the placing of oneself under the authority of the commander. This is not the idea of supporting. It is a voluntary submission to another"s authority, while that act will result in the support of the commander by the soldier, but the submission is an act of the will prior to the support.

11. Constable suggests that part of submission is not nagging. He describes nagging as being nibbled to death by a duck. He also suggests that part of submission to the husband is an "attitude of entrusting oneself to God."

I would like to consider this for a moment. Isn"t this the key to all submission? We can submit to any authority if we realize that submission is actually submission to the will of God in your life. The wife must first be in a proper relationship to the Lord, and then the submission to the husband will not only be easier but it will feel much more appropriate. She will know that she is in the place that God wants her to be rather than in a foreign area of conflict while not submitted.

This principle works whether you are a wife, or a husband that submits to his employer, or a child that submits to the parent. All submission relates to our proper relationship to God - find your submission to Him and then all other submissions will seem natural - well maybe not natural, but they will seem easier to follow. Not sure anyone really finds submission "natural" though that should be our goal in life - to handle all relationships in a Godly manner.

12. There are those that would have the equality of spouses within the marriage. The wife has equal rights would be the thought of the matter. To this teaching one must wonder how the teachers then discuss the comparison to the church and its head Christ. Are the members equal to the head, not so, heaven forbid.

Submission of the wife has nothing to do with standing before God, it only sets an organizational model within the family that will allow for smooth administration of the family and it also sets the spiritually needed headship of the man over the woman.

Before God both the man and woman are equal in value and in all ways that might exist, yet in the family there is the distinction that God has drawn between the two.

The important item to remember within the relationship is that each has a responsibility before God and that each will be held accountable for that responsibility, not the responsibility of the other.

Example: If the wife seeks to usurp the authority of the man and succeeds and runs a very well ordered family all her days, will she be rewarded for her efforts - that is God"s decision, but I would doubt it. Will she be held responsible for not submitting? Very definitely. It is the wife"s choice to make. It is likewise the husband"s choice to make whether he is going to assume the leadership role given him or not.

Constable relates an interesting and true point that women might appreciate, while men might wince at the point. Eve ate of the fruit first, but you will note that God went to the man to find out what the couple had done. This is the outworking of that principle which Paul is trying to get across here.

If the family goes incorrectly, the husband will stand in front of God for it, not the wife. This should give the woman a little easier thought on the area of submission. If she is submissive she will have no time before the Lord concerning the family result, however if she assumes the role of head she may well answer as head.

13. Now then, I won"t belabor the point but in the American context of "What is a family?" we have those that tell us two males or two females are just as much a family as one male and one female. Biblically we can clearly say this is not true. Paul speaks of one of each in this passage and nothing else.

This principle of wife submit, and husband be the head is impossible in the homosexual relationship which is not a family in the Biblical context. Not in the social context of the world either I might add. If they want to do what they do, if they want to have all the rights of the married - that is their business, but calling themselves a family is Biblically incorrect and in my mind in light of social history, ignorant. They may want to redefine the concept of family, but they cannot say that they are equal to the historical/Biblical family, they are quite different.

14. I might suggest that anyone wandering about whether the wife can work outside the home, the answer in my mind is yes. The yes is somewhat qualified in that she still is to submit to her husband, this is not negotiable. The last chapter of Proverbs is clear on the subject of a woman working outside the home - it is a Biblical concept, but she is also clearly the keeper at home as well (Proverbs 31:10 ff).

15. As to the husbands love for his wife, Constable points out that this is the self-sacrificing love not the brotherly love that some might think. It is a love that is deep, and committed, and total. It is love that will move the husband to give his all for his wife. Constable also makes a very profound statement that bears repeating. "Love requires an attitude of unconditional acceptance of an imperfect person not based on her performance but on her intrinsic worth as God"s gift to her husband."

Often the husband evaluates the wife on her imperfections as well as her performance in the home, yet the evaluation should be related to her love and submission to him. This acceptance does not, however, remove his responsibility to assist in perfecting her spiritually by teaching her, suggesting lifestyle changes etc. to the wife so that she comes more to conformity with the Word of God.

16. One last comment relating to the marriage and the comparison to Christ and His church. If the marriage relationship is easily broken by marriage, then also the church can easily divorce Christ - not so, how can the body divorce the head and continue to exist? Impossible. The whole thought of Christian divorce is so ludicrous that it is appalling.

Those within the church that feel divorce is okay must really struggle or must really turn a blind eye to this passage and all of its implications.

The marriage is not only an act, a commitment and a union, but it is the joining of two into one - that is the final process - one, not two and definitely not two separate from the other. This "one" is the same as the concept of Christ being the head of the body, the church - it is one total being, with Christ as the head. How ignorant to say the husband and wife that are one can be separated and continue on as if nothing happened - the body cannot exist without the head.

The idea of divorce is so far from the concept of marriage that one must wonder how anyone could make that jump. Kind of like the "Bible Diet Bar" I heard about this weekend. How do you relate the Bible with a diet bar - the two are so different, so separate, such opposing concepts, that one must wonder what kind of brain could relate the two together to make a buck. The buck is the key rather than logic.

17. We have mentioned divorce a time or two, and I would like to further make the point. We need to read two verses together.

Genesis 2:24"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Matthew 19:4-10 "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry."

Note carefully the disciple"s reaction to the "BIBLICAL" concept of divorce - it"s better not to get married! They knew this thing called marriage was for life! They knew that you had better be ready for the full brunt of that truth before getting married.

Copyright Statement
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books".

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The church is to be all of the following things, because it is the desire of Christ. He died on the cross that the church might exist in this condition. I shudder to consider whether the church really exists in this condition today, for I fear it does not - probably in some churches and in some countries, but I doubt many in America would measure to this standard.

"Sanctified" is the process by which something is made into something else - holy. It is a related word to the word normally translated saint. He wants us holy, and He has done the work on the cross so that we can become holy and He wants to make the church holy.

A man I know that is a pastor found that his son and the son"s fianc顨ad made some very poor adult decisions and had sinned. The pastor counseled them and they went before the church to confess their sin. What a testimony to others that might have been contemplating that same sin. This church"s leaders seek to hold people accountable and to help maintain the church purity.

"Cleansed" relates to the action of cleaning something. Washing the dishes would come under this classification, or in our case cleaning up our lives - making them clean.

The young couple mentioned above took this step before the Lord, by confessing and seeking forgiveness.

Now we have a point that gives some a little difficulty. Washing to many automatically relates to baptism, thus we see that baptism washes away our sin - NOT. Let"s look at this a little closer.

"Washed by water by the word" is specifically tied to the Word, not the water. The word translated "word" means the content of something said. It is that message, that information conveyed by the spoken word. It is an understandable message.

Young translates this verse as follows: " that he might sanctify it, having cleansed [it] with the bathing of the water in the saying," This follows other translations and indicates that the water is in the saying or in the words, thus indicating the saying is doing the action, and the water is the medium within the word that the word uses.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown declare that the outward rite of baptism cleanses the church. "He speaks of baptism according to its high ideal and design, as if the inward grace accompanied the outward rite; hence he asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in a believing appropriation of the divine truths it symbolizes, and says that Christ, by baptism, has purified the Church

Now, I would suggest another alternative theory. Baptism is the ordinance that brings the person into the church in most churches. If you are baptized, you are automatically members of that church. Baptism was such in the book of Acts as well. The two were closely related.

Could this passage not relate to the fact that by baptism the church is purified? Note that the context is the church, not the individual, thus the requirement of baptism for church membership automatically purifies the church - not that unsaved don"t get in unaware - but generally speaking if a church requires believer baptism, the church will naturally be pure.

"To be presented" to Himself. This is a one time event not an ongoing process of people being purified by the waters of baptism, but rather a one time presentation that He has or will make to Himself. The two choices would be at the cross/resurrection when He took possession of the Old Testament saints and set into motion the church, or at some future date yet to be revealed when all is done and the church is completed.

There is no indication as to the time of this event in the text, but I would suggest that it is yet future because the church is yet to be completed. It would seem most logical that the church would be complete at the presentation.

"Glorious" or something that is full of glory, something Christ can be proud of throughout all eternity.

"Without spot" is the goal, pure, no sin, nothing sullied, or clean as a whistle.

"Without wrinkle" is an old term that Paul used, he did not have the knowledge that we have, of wrinkle free materials - wash and wear, if you like the term. The church is to be without any of these moral hindrances, it is to be pure and ready for service without any encumbrance from the world.

"Without any such thing" or nothing is to be keeping us from what God wants us to be as an assembly or as an individual. Sin detracts from all that we can be, we ought to seek to avoid sin at every opportunity, or if we stumble we should seek immediate forgiveness so that the sin holds us back from the work of the Lord.

"Holy" is related to the word translated saints. Pure people of God.

"Without blemish" is very similar to holy in that both indicate without sin, or holy. The difference however is that holy relates to our acts or lack thereof, while "without blemish" is speaking of how others view us. We are to be without blame, without fault or with no blemish.

Barnes takes a slightly different tack after he uses the common thought of the husband giving his all for the wife and her physical enjoyment, and relates the whole to the salvation of the wife. I might point out that the unequally yoked concept would negate his thoughts, but if a husband finds his wife to be lost then Barnes note is appropriate.

"And gave himself for it. Gave himself to die to redeem it. The meaning here is, that husbands are to imitate the Redeemer in this respect. As he gave himself to suffer on the cross to save the church, so we are to be willing to deny ourselves and to bear toil and trial, that we may promote the happiness of the wife. It is the duty of the husband to toil for her support; to provide for her wants; to deny himself of rest and ease, if necessary, in order to attend on her in sickness; to go before her in danger; to defend her if she is in peril; and to be ready to die to save her. Why should he not be? If they are shipwrecked, and there is a single plank on which safety can be secured, should he not be willing to place her on that, and see her safe at all hazards to himself? But there may be more implied in this than that a man is to toil, and even to lay down his life for the welfare of his wife. Christ laid down his life to save the church; and a husband should feel that it should be one great object of his life to promote the salvation of his wife. He is bound so to live as not to interfere with her salvation, but so as to promote it in every way possible. He is to furnish her all the facilities that she may need, to enable her to attend on the worship of God; and to throw no obstacles in her way. He is to set her the example; to counsel her if she needs counsel; and to make the path of salvation as easy for her as possible. If a husband has the spirit and self-denial of the Saviour, he will regard no sacrifice too great if he may promote the salvation of his family."

See also Ephesians 1:4"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" and Colossians 1:22"In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"

Paul isn"t done with the husbands yet for he continues.

Copyright Statement
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books".

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Ephesians 5:21-33. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall he joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak 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.

AMONGST those who are attached to the peculiarities of the Gospel, it is often a subject of regret, that the great mass of nominal Christians are not acquainted with its principles. But I am inclined to think, that there is nearly the same occasion for regret, that many who profess, and actually have attained, somewhat of vital godliness, are but very imperfectly instructed in its duties. The sublimer parts of morality are really almost as little known as the deeper mysteries of our holy religion. Take, for instance, the conduct enjoined in the fourteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans: I doubt whether there be many who would have written such a piece of casuistry: and few, I fear, would have approved of it when written, if it had not come forth with the authority of a divine revelation. What a paradox would it appear to the generality, if I were to tell them, that the very same act, under different circumstances, might be an acceptable service and a damning sin; and the whole difference consisting in its being done in the presence of one who approved of it, or of one who doubted its lawfulness! Yet such is the Apostle’s determination respecting the practice of things indifferent in themselves; and which become bounden duties, or fatal sins, according to the views which they have who do them. I could, if there were time, illustrate the sublimity of the Christian code, in reference to all our most acknowledged duties: but I shall confine myself to the subject more appropriate to the present occasion [Note: An extemporaneous Address at the Marriage of a Friend.]. St. Paul, in this passage, places the duties of man and wife in a light peculiarly simple and beautiful. He comprehends both under one single term: “Wives, submit: Husbands, love.” Thus far we are prepared to approve of his requisitions; the duties respectively belonging to the two parties being generally acknowledged. But, if I should proceed to place these requisitions in their true light, and insist upon them in their full extent, I am not sure that I should not excite, amongst the less-instructed part of us at least, a measure of surprise. Yet I am not afraid, but that, if in the former part of my observations I should appear to bear somewhat hard upon the female sex, I shall, before I close the subject, find a perfect acquiescence on their part, when they shall see what provision God has made for their happiness in wedded life. But I shall be careful to speak nothing myself: I shall only bring before you what the Apostle has spoken: and if his demands appear to be too severe, I shall shelter myself under his wing; being well assured that you will all yield to his authority, without gainsaying.

You must have observed, that in all the passages of Scripture where the relative duties are insisted on, those of the inferior are always stated first. Nor is this without reason: for they are all enjoined by God: and, however difficult they may appear, especially where the superior neglects to perform the duties assigned to him, they must all be observed from a regard to the authority of that God who has imposed them; nor must any one imagine, that his duties are a whit the less incumbent on him because the superior neglects his. Power, in whomsoever it is vested, is God’s: and the person bearing it, so far as it is truly committed to him, is God’s representative and vicegerent. And I conceive, that this is the reason of that order, which, from being uniformly observed in the Scriptures, we may well suppose to have been wittingly and wisely fixed.

The submission of the wife to her husband must be entire, cheerful, uniform, “as unto the Lord,” because the husband is as truly the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church. And I hope I shall not appear to speak too strongly, if I say, that there is no other limit to her submission to her earthly lord, than to her heavenly; unless he require any thing that is contrary to the will of God: for then she must yield to that authority which is paramount, and obey God rather than man. I certainly feel, that, in speaking thus, I may appear to require too much of the wife, and to place her almost on the footing of a slave. But you yourselves shall judge. Tell me what is the meaning of those words, “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in every thing?” I confess to you that this appears somewhat harsh; and I should not have dared to utter it myself. But I am not at liberty to soften it, or to introduce into God’s word any qualifying expressions, to lower the standard he has given us. You yourselves see the comparison which is instituted by God himself, and the extent of the requisition that is made. Had the comparison been omitted, we might possibly have thought that the expression, “every thing,” was, what is confessedly common in the Scriptures, an universal term put for a general; and that, consequently, it did admit of some modifications and exceptions. But who will so construe the obedience which the Church owes to Christ? If, then, we cannot so limit the requisition in the one case, neither can we in the other: and, consequently, in our statement of the duties of a wife, we must take the ground which is laid in Scripture, and set forth the will of God as it is plainly declared in the inspired volume.

But, though so much is required of the wife, that I could not have ventured to state it in any terms but those of Scripture itself, I must candidly acknowledge that I account it a rich mercy to the wife that her duty is thus highly stated and plainly declared. For it must of necessity happen, in a married state, that some differences of opinion should occasionally arise, and a contrariety of inclination also occur, in reference to some points: and if God had not determined beforehand whose judgment should preponderate, and whose will should stand, there might be collisions, which might painfully interrupt domestic harmony. But God, having required unqualified submission on the part of the wife, has cut off all occasion for discord; I may almost say, all possibility of it, where the wife understands her duty, and is ready to perform it. Of course, a modest statement, both of her sentiments and wishes, may be given: but where her husband cannot by these means be persuaded, she has no alternative left: obedience is the course which God has ordained for her; and she should pay it cheerfully, “as unto the Lord.”

If this appear, as I fear it will, “an hard saying,” I am happy to say, that that impression will soon be removed, by stating, in the next place, the duties of the husband. “Husbands, love your wives.” And what difficulty is there in obeying the commands of love, or in submitting to its dictates?

But here we observe, in relation to him, the counterpart of the comparison which has been before made in relation to the wife. Is the wife to submit to her husband as unreservedly as the Church submits to Christ? Know ye, that the husband is to love his wife as truly and tenderly, yea, and, as far as it is possible, to the very same extent too, “as Christ has loved the Church.” Let us contemplate this a little; and we shall subscribe heartily to all that has been before spoken. Consider how the Lord Jesus Christ has loved the Church. She was altogether alienated from him, and incapable of adding to his happiness; yet did he disrobe himself of all the glory and blessedness of heaven, yea, and assume our nature, and “bear our sins in his own body on the tree,” on purpose to bring his Church into a full and everlasting participation of his kingdom and glory. And now that he has done this, he imposes no one command on her but what conduces to her happiness: and if in any thing he thwart her inclinations, he does it for her good; consulting, in every thing, not his own sovereign will, but her present and eternal welfare. Now, let us suppose a husband to act on this principle: let us suppose him ready to exercise self-denial, to the utmost possible extent, for the good of his wife: let us suppose him so to pant after her happiness, as to be willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, in order to promote it: let us suppose him never to propose any thing to her, but for her good; and never, in any instance, to thwart her, but with a view to her truest happiness: methinks she would never complain of the extent of her duty to him; it would be all easy, all delightful. Let it be remembered, then, that this is the husband’s duty to his wife. But as, in the former case, I confined myself to the very words of Scripture, so will I do in this; lest I appear to over-state the duty on the husband’s part. “Husbands, love your wives; even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such tiling, but that it should be holy, and without blemish.” Let there be such tender, affectionate, self-denying exertions on the husband’s part, to promote the welfare and happiness of his wife; and what returns will not she readily make to him? Verily, submission to his will, will be not so much her duty as her delight.

As for the other comparison contained in this passage, namely, of the man loving his wife as his own flesh, I forbear to make any observations upon it, wishing to detain you as short a time as possible.

There is one thing only that I will add, which will be applicable to us all. Hitherto I have dwelt chiefly on those points which the occasion has suggested: but let us not forget, that the whole Church of Christ is his bride; and that the duty of a wife towards her husband, as set forth in this passage, may serve to shew us, in some measure, our duty towards our heavenly Lord. Does a wife leave her father and mother, and cleave to her husband? so must we forsake all that is dear to us in this world, to cleave unto Christ: for he has expressly warned us, that “if, in coming to him, we forsake not all that we have, we cannot be his disciples.” We must also fulfil his will in every thing, without hesitation and without reserve. Obedience to him must be our delight: and if, for a moment, a wish arise in our minds that is contrary to his will, we must sacrifice it instantly; and say, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Thus, whilst “the mystery concerning Christ and his Church” is mystically fulfilled in our dear friends who are about to be joined together in the bonds of matrimony, it will be literally and spiritually fulfilled in us.

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Ephesians 5:25-27. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

THE morality of the Gospel, though not more extensive than that of the law, is yet more clearly revealed, and exhibited in a more endearing light. Its obligations are not set forth amidst denunciations of wrath, as those of the law were upon Mount Sinai; but models of perfection are set before us, and we are invited by considerations of love and gratitude to make them the objects of our imitation. Not only our duty to God, but even our relative duties are set before us in this manner. St. Paul, instructing wives in their duty to their husbands, tells them, that the Church’s obedience to Christ is the fittest pattern of their obedience to them. Then instructing husbands how to conduct themselves toward their wives, he proposes to them Christ’s love to his Church as the model for their love to their wives. It is in this connexion that the words of our text are introduced. But the Apostle can never touch upon so glorious a topic as the love of Christ, without expatiating upon it, and being transported, as it were, to a forgetfulness of his proper argument. The view which he here gives us of it, is deserving of peculiar attention. It will lead us to consider,

I. The demonstrations which Christ has given us of his love—

He loved his Church from before the foundation of the world: and he has displayed his love to it in a manner that must fill both men and angels with everlasting astonishment. Every member of it was dearer to him than his own happiness; more desirable to him, if we may so speak, than his own glory. He loved us to such a degree, that for our sakes he gave up the happiness which he enjoyed in his Father’s bosom, and the glory which he possessed upon his Father’s throne: he gave himself for us, that he might be,

1. A surety for our persons—

[The debt which we owed to divine justice could never be discharged by mortal man: nor was there any superior being able or willing to take upon himself our awful responsibility. Our case was desperate, as much so as that of the fallen angels. But the Son of God, of his own infinitely rich grace and mercy, was pleased to undertake for us [Note: 1 Timothy 2:6.]. What Paul said to Philemon respecting Onesimus, he said to his Father respecting us; “What do they owe thee? put it all to my account: I will repay thee. Whatever shall be necessary to ransom them from the hands of incensed justice, let it be exacted of me: I will be answerable for it; I will pay it, to the uttermost farthing [Note: Philemon, ver. 18, 19.].”]

2. A sacrifice for our sins—

[It was not by corruptible things, as silver and gold, that we could be redeemed. Satisfaction must be made for all our violations of God’s holy law. Death was the desert of man; and death must be endured by the Son of God himself, if he should put himself in the place of sinful man. This was fully known to our adorable Saviour; and yet he would not shrink from the conditions. He had set his heart upon his chosen people, and he was prepared to pay the price, even though it were his own life. Accordingly he took our nature for the express purpose of offering it up a sacrifice for sin. In that nature he made a full atonement for all our transgressions, and satisfied the utmost demands of law and justice. In short, he so gave himself to be an offering and sacrifice to God, that God smelled a sweet savour, and became instantly reconciled to his offending creatures [Note: Romans 5:8.].

What manner of love was this! Who can ever explore “its heights and depths, its length and breadth?” Well may “God commend his love to us” by this particular instance [Note: ver. 2.]; for it is, and ever must be, without a parallel: it as far exceeds our conceptions as it does our deserts.]

To assign any adequate reasons for such love is impossible: but the riches of it will appear in a striking point of view, if we consider,

II. The ends for which it has been so demonstrated—

The design of Jesus in the whole of his mediatory work has been, to bring back our fallen race to the enjoyment of all that they had lost by sin. He gave himself for us, that we might enjoy,

1. A restoration to his image—

[It was not merely a salvation from misery that Christ came to impart, but a salvation from sin, which is the cause of misery. He came to set us apart for God as a holy and peculiar people; and to cleanse us not only in “the laver of regeneration in baptism, but by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The washing of water in baptism was only the external sign of that spiritual grace which it is the delight of his soul to bestow. “He will sprinkle clean water upon us, and cleanse us from all our filthiness, and from all our idols [Note: Ezekiel 36:25-26.].” Without this spiritual renovation, all his other mercies would be in vain. Man could not be happy, if he were not first made holy.

The instrument by which this grace is conveyed to the soul, is the word of God. The word, both written and preached, is that whereby we are begotten of him [Note: James 1:18.]; by which also, as newborn babes, we are nourished [Note: 1 Peter 2:2.]; and by which the whole work of sanctification is carried on [Note: John 15:3.]. The Holy Spirit indeed is the agent, who renders the word effectual: but the Gospel is “the rod of his strength,” and it is by that he renovates and saves the world.]

2. A participation of his glory—

[When sinners are in a measure cleansed with the washing of water by the word, the ministers who have been instrumental to that change, “espouse them to one husband, and present them as a chaste virgin to Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:2. Psalms 45:13-14.].” And while the work of sanctification is advancing in them, they are like those virgins who were destined for the embrace of eastern monarchs, who were purified during several months for that end, till they were judged meet for the dignity to which they were to be exalted [Note: Esther 2:12.]. The time for their complete honour and felicity is the day of judgment; when the Bridegroom himself shall come to take them home to himself, and to fix them in the mansions prepared for them. Then they will be “without spot or wrinkle; they will be perfectly holy and without blemish.” They will be “presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy [Note: Jude. ver. 24.].” What “a glorious Church” will they then be! Here their glory is obscured by spots and blemishes: but there they will not have “any such thing:” they will be “pure as God is pure,” and “perfect as God is perfect.”

If any thing can account for the stupendous efforts of Christ’s love, it must be this. This is an end worthy of the Supreme Being. This will be such a display of his power and grace as will for ever fill all heaven with wonder and admiration.]

Suffer ye now “a word of exhortation,” grounded on the foregoing subject—

1. Desire holiness—

[This is what the Lord Jesus Christ has desired for you. To obtain this for you, he divested himself of all his glory, and endured the accursed death of the cross. He desired this for you, because it was the only medium through which you could arrive at happiness, and because it could not fail of rendering you completely happy. Ah! do not despise it. Do not turn away from it, as inimical to your welfare. Do not consider it as a mere system of restraints, a burthen that is intolerable. It is in truth the perfection of your nature, and the completest liberty: it is a liberty from the thraldom of corruption, and from the tyranny of Satan. Desire it therefore, even as Christ has desired it for you; and never think any sacrifice too great for the attainment of it.]

2. Use the means of attaining it—

[The word is the means which God in every age has made use of for the recovery of fallen man. By that he converted thousands in the primitive ages of the Church: and by that he is still carrying on his work in the souls of men. Let the Scriptures then be searched by you, not to gratify curiosity merely, or to exercise a critical acumen, but to obtain the knowledge of God’s will, and an increasing conformity to his image. Read the sacred volume as a book that is to make you holy. When you hear the word preached to you, hear it with a desire to get a deeper discovery of your sins, and a more perfect victory over them. Whether you read, or hear, or meditate, or pray, let it be with an immediate view to grow in holiness and a meetness for glory.]

3. Look forward to the perfection of holiness as the consummation and completion of all your wishes—

[Higher than this you cannot look; and lower you ought not. This was the ultimate design of all that Christ undertook for you, and of all that he did and suffered for you. Do but consider how happy you will be when not a spot or blemish can be found in you, even by God himself; when you shall be perfectly like your God; and when you shall enjoy the most intimate and endearing fellowship with your Lord, without any alloy, or intermission, or end. Do not rest in any thing short of this. Suffer not any of the pleasures of time and sense to rob you of it. Surely the very prospect of such glory is enough to kindle in your souls the devoutest rapture, and to stimulate you to incessant activity in your Christian course. Yield yourselves now unfeignedly to the Lord [Note: Romans 12:1.], and he will, in the last day, present you to himself, and acknowledge you as his for evermore.]

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Ephesians 5:1. Be ye therefore followers of God,

Or, imitators of God,-

Ephesians 5:1. As dear children;

Children are naturally imitators. They are usually inclined to imitate their father; this is, therefore, a most comely and appropriate precept: “Be ye therefore imitators of God, as dear children.”

Ephesians 5:2. And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

What a path to walk in! “Walk in love.” What a well-paved way it is! “As Christ also hath loved us.” What a blessed Person for us to follow in that divinely royal road! It would have been hard for us to tread this way of love, if it had not been that his blessed feet marked out the track for us. We are to love as Christ also hath loved us and the question which will often solve difficulties is this, “What would Jesus Christ do in my case? What he would have done, that we may do: “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” And if we want to know how far that love may be carried, we need not be afraid of going too far in self-denial; we may even make a sacrifice of ourselves for love of God and men, for here is our model: “As Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”

Ephesians 5:3. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

So far from ever falling under the power of these evils, do not even name them; count them sins unmentionable to holy cars. In what a position do we find “covetousness” placed, side by side with “fornication end all uncleanness”! In the Epistle to the Colossians, covetousness is called “idolatry”, as if the Holy Spirit thought so ill of this sin that line could never put it in worse company than it deserved to be in. Yet I fear it is a very common sin even amongst some who call themselves saints. God deliver us altogether from its sway, and help us to hate the very name of it!

Ephesians 5:4. Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient but rather giving of thanks.

All sorts of evil, frivolous, fruitless talk should be condemned by the Christian. He should feel that he lives at a nobler rate, he lives to purpose; he lives to bear fruit; and that which has no fruit about it, and out of which no good can come, is not for him. “But rather giving of thanks.” Oh, for more of this giving of thanks! It should perfume the labours of the day, it should sweeten the rest of the night, this giving of thanks. We are always receiving blessings; let us never cease to give God thanks for them. If we never leave off thanking until we are beyond the need of blessing, we shall go on praising the Lord as long as we live here, and continue to do so throughout eternity.

Ephesians 5:5. 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.

What a sweeping sentence! This is indeed a sword with two edges. Many will flinch before it; and yet, though they flinch, they will not escape, for Paul speaks neither more nor less than the truth when he declares that “no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Ephesians 5:6. Let no man deceive you with vain words for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

These are the very things God hates. If, therefore, they are in you, God cannot look upon you with the love that he feels towards his children. “These things” he cannot endure, and “because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”

Ephesians 5:8. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness,

Then, “these things” suited you.

Ephesians 5:8. But now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light;

Get clean away from these dark things; travel no more in the thick gloom of these abominations. God help you to walk in the light as he is in the light!

Ephesians 5:9-10. (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

We ought to pray that our whole life may be “acceptable unto the Lord.” We are ourselves “accepted in the Beloved; “ and, that being the case, it should be our great desire that every thought and word and deed, ay, every breathing of our life, should be “acceptable unto the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:11-12. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

It was so with the old heathen world in which Paul lived; he could not write or speak of those abominable vices, which defiled the age. But is London any better than Ephesus? Surely, old Corinth, which became a sink of sin, was not a worse Sodom than this great modern Babylon. There is great cause to say of the wicked even to this day, “It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

Ephesians 5:13. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light;

Then drag them to the light! There will be a great howling when these dogs of darkness have the light let in upon them, but it has to be done.

Ephesians 5:13-15. For whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, Not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another. Never present to God one duty stained with the blood of another duty. “See then that ye walk circumspectly,”-

Ephesians 5:15-16. Not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time,

Buying up the hours; they are of such value that you cannot pay too high a price for them.

Ephesians 5:16-18. Because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

If you want excitement, seek this highest, holiest, happiest form of exhilaration, the divine exhilaration which the Holy Spirit alone can give you: “Be filled with the Spirit.”

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

We should have thought that Paul would have said, “singing and making melody with your voice to the Lord;” but the apostle, guided by the Holy Ghost, overlooks the sound, which is the mere body of the praise, and looks to the heart, which is the living soul of the praise: “Making melody in your heart to the Lord,” for the Lord careth not merely for sounds, though they be the sweetest that ever came from the lip of man or angel; he looks at the heart. God is a Spirit, and he looks spiritually at our spiritual praises; therefore, let us make melody in our heart to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:20-21. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

That principle of maintaining your rights, standing up for your dignity, and so on, is not according to the mind of the Spirit. It is his will that you should rather yield your rights, and, for the sake of peace, and the profit of your brethren, give up what you might naturally claim as properly belonging to you: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Ephesians 5:22-30. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ’s is the head of the church and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church; for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,

What a wonderful expression! To think that we, poor creatures that we are, should be thus joined to Christ by a marriage union, nay, by a vital union,-is indeed amazing. Oh, the depths of the love of Christ, that such an expression as this should be possible!

Ephesians 5:31-32. For this cause shalt a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

There is the mystery, that he should leave his Father, and quit the home above, and become one flesh with his elect, going with them, and for their sakes, through poverty, and pain, and shame, and death. This is a marvel and a mystery indeed.

Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Thus the Spirit of God follows us to our homes, and teaches us how to live to the glory of God. May he help us so to do, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Copyright Statement
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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:27". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ephesians 5:27". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ephesians 5:27". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church.

The love of Jesus for His Church

I. The chosen Church, the object of the Saviour’s love.

1. Observe what this Church was by nature. Sinful.

2. Nay, more, this Church of Christ is made up of persons who are actually defiled by their own transgressions.

3. The kind of love which Jesus bestows on His Church is that of a husband.

II. The work which love seeks to accomplish in its gracious designs. Since the Church is not fit for Christ by nature, He resolved to make her so by grace. When the text says, “He gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it,” is there not allusion here to the double cure of sin? But what is the outward instrumentality which Christ uses? The text says, “With the washing of water by the Word.” The Word of God has a cleansing influence.

III. The loved one as she is perfected. “Glorious.” What must a glorious Church be? There is one lamp; well, that is very bright, very pleasing: you like to have it in your room; but think of all London illuminated to the very top of the cross of St. Paul’s, and what an idea you then have of brightness. Now, one glorified Christian is a lamp. Think, then, of all heaven, with its domes of glory lit up with ten thousand times ten thousand companies of blood-bought spirits, whom Jesus Christ has taken up--a glorious Church! One flower is very sweet. I smell its perfume. But I walk into some vast conservatories, into some gentleman’s garden, acres in extent, and there are beds of flowers, the blue, and scarlet, and yellow. I see the verbena, the calceolaria, and the geranium and many others, all in order, and in ranks. Oh, how glorious is this! Those undulating lawns, those well-trimmed hedges, those trees so daintily kept, all growing in such luxuriance. One flower is sweet, but a garden! a garden! who can tell how sweet this is! So, one glorified saint is one of God’s flowers, but a glorious Church is Christ’s garden. A drop of water may be very precious to a thirsty tongue, but a river full of it! Children are pleased, when for the first time in their lives they sail across some little lake, but how surprised they are when they come to the deep and rolling sea, which seems without shore or bottom. Well, so pleased am I at the very thought of the glorious Church. But do observe what is said of her. She is to be “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” “Without spot”--that is much; but you see spots can be taken off. The face is washed, and the spot comes out. The garment is thoroughly cleansed, and there are some chemicals and acids applied, and the spots can be got out.

IV. And lastly, the loved one is to be presented. It is said, He is “to present her to Himself.” Every day Christ presents His people to His Father in His intercession. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ’s love for the Church

I. In stating and defining this love, I will take notice--

1. Of the general nature of it.

2. The degree.

3. The effects.

First: The general nature of love is the delectation and complacency of the heart in the party loved, from whence followeth a desire of their good, and a seeking and promoting of it to the uttermost of our power. So the husband must love the wife, that his heart may cleave to her, and take delight in her; as it is said: “The young man had a delight in Jacob’s daughter” (Genesis 34:19).

Secondly: The degree.

1. There is a common love which belongeth to believers of either sex, as brothers and sisters in Christ (John 13:34).

2. It is alone, which in some respects exceedeth that we owe to our parents and other near relations (Genesis 2:24).

3. It carrieth it higher yet. They ought to “love their wives as their own bodies; for he that loveth his wife, loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

4. As Christ loved the Church. The husband for his pattern of conjugal love is referred to Christ, partly for the degree of his love, and partly for the kind of it.

Thirdly: The effects of it.

1. Delight in her presence and company; not suffering himself to be separated from her for any long time, unless it be for necessary cause. Those that find more pleasure in converse abroad than at home certainly do not heartily love one another, though no filthy and prohibited act should ensue from this liberty which they take.

2. The second act or effect of love is, to direct and instruct in all things that belong to this life and a better, for therefore he is called “a head”; and the office of the head is to guide the body.

3. In providing all things necessary for them that conduce to health, food, and raiment, and that according to the decency and decorum of their estate; for herein they imitate the care and providence of Christ, who hath provided all things for His spouse; food for their souls, garments of salvation to cover their nakedness, healing grace to cure their distempers. So must the husband do for his wife.

4. In a care to preserve and defend her. As Abraham of Sarah (Genesis 20:1-18).

II. Let us now see by what reasons this is enforced.

1. The order of the creation. We pleaded that before for the woman’s submission, that she was made out of man, after man, and for man. We plead the same argument now for the husband’s duty of love to her; for the apostle urgeth this in the same chapter (1 Corinthians 11:11-12).

2. It is a relation of love, instituted by God for that very end and purpose.

3. Reason will tell us how much the husband is bound to love her that hath in a manner forsaken all the world, father, and mother, and all her relations, to cleave to her husband, and to share with him in all conditions until death, although she were free before the contract. Surely common gratitude will suggest that a recompense of true affection is due to her for this; otherwise men are unthankful, unholy, and without natural affection, which is the worst character can be given to them.

4. The interest and comfort of the married estate will also persuade it. While love is kept up, all things go on sweetly; but as soon as love faileth, presently everything is out of order and out of joint; for when once they begin to disaffect the persons of each other, all matrimonial duties are stabbed at the heart.

Use 1. To reprove that which is contrary to this love, bitterness and harshness of carriage: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter to them” (Colossians 3:19). The gall was taken out of the sacrifices offered to Juno, as Plutarch witnesseth. This is seen--

1. Partly in a froward disposition, when men are offended for light causes or small provocations, and, like fine glasses, broken as soon as touched.

2. In sharp words and contumelious language, which leaveth such a grudge and such averseness in the mind as is not easily forgiven. Certainly such bitter speeches must needs destroy all love and breed an unquiet life.

3. Churlish deeds also show this bitterness.

Use 2. To persuade to this love.

1. Choose one that is amiable. Prevention is better than cure.

2. Marry not till you be sure you can love entirely.

3. Love not as bare husbands, but as Christians.

4. Avoid giving offence.

5. Exercise patience.

Make conscience of your duty, and God will give you strength. Secondly: Now I come to Christ’s love; in which we have--

There are solemn notions by which Christ’s death is set forth--a ransom and a sacrifice.

(a) A ransom: “And gave His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

(b) As a sacrifice, a mediatorial sacrifice: “When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10; Ephesians 5:2). Great love it was, if we consider--

1. The giver, Jesus Christ, God over all, blessed forever, to whom nothing can accrue from us: “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). When He foresaw what it would cost, and what He should give, He said, “It is enough.”

2. The gift--He gave Himself: “We are not redeemed with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Son of God” (1 Peter 1:18).

3. “For us,” whom He after calleth into a Church (Romans 5:6-8). Oh, let us be blessing God for this love, and show our thankfulness both in word and deed.

The glory of the Church

I. Christ’s love for His Church. Love which has in it no element of evil is always a very beautiful, tender, and impressive thing. Whether it is the love of the babe for her doll, or the love of the older children for the babe, or the blessed love of the mother for all her children, it is still the same exquisite, joy-giving sentiment. It is a rose of the same loveliness and fragrance whether it bloom amid the splendours of royal gardens or in the cottager’s door yard; it is the nightingale which sings in the night the same song for prince and peasant. Who can read without increased tenderness in his heart the story of the mother who, overtaken by a terrible storm in the Alps, sat down at last in the snow, bared her own tender bosom to the storm, and wrapped her cloak carefully around her babe? The storm raged on, and the poor mother, stripped of her heavy outer garments, died; but the babe was found alive, and greeted its deliverer with a smile. There are deeds of power which elicit more boisterous applause, but there are none which more invoke what is holiest in our nature than these exhibitions of conspicuous love. But, conspicuous and beautiful as these examples are, we feel when we read this text, and others to the same effect, that Christ’s love for His Church is something transcendent--something unparalleled. We sometimes think the night is glorious, and so it is, with the moon shining in her full splendour; but when the sun rises the moon fades away into the intenser light. So does the love of Christ outshine all other love. The text makes concerning this love but this simple record, He loved the Church, “and gave Himself for it.” The record is brief, but it is enough; we know from it that the love was infinite. The Alpine mother did much, and suffered much for bet babe; but there was a little possibility, and, therefore, a little hope, that some good monk would come that way and save both her and her babe alive; and even had she formally resolved on death for the infant’s sake, it would have been but a finite sacrifice. The father did much for his boy when he dashed into the burning house to rescue him; but that was frenzy, the transient ecstasy of love, and it was for his own boy, not for a stranger, much less an enemy. But Christ’s love for His Church was a deliberate plan, not entered upon in an hour of frenzy, but in calm counsel in the eternal sunshine of heaven, and it was executed through slow-going years of persecution, that the very men who lacerated Him with whips, and thorns, and nails, might be washed in the blood they shed, and come thereby to the “fellowship of the firstborn.”

II. The character of the Church which Christ thus loved. The Church is described in the text by the general word “glorious”: and more particularly by the terms “cleanse and sanctify it with the washing of water by the Word”; and “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth has a glorious character.

1. She has a glorious origin--is a child of heaven. She “was not born of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Her Father is a Spirit, and this child has, in this respect, her Father’s character. Her beauty is not material, like the beauty of a flower; it is spiritual, like the beauty of the archangels. Her power is not material, like that of the mountain oak, which, though it defies the tempests of a century, wanes at last from decay; her power is of God, and is like God, not in extent, but in kind: it is spiritual power, and defies all time and change.

2. She has a glorious history. Sometimes it has been a history of persecution, and sometimes of victory; and it is difficult to tell which virtue is most conspicuous, her fidelity in persecution or her meekness in triumph.

3. Now at length the Church is glorious in power--in the power which comes of wealth; in the power which comes of learning and literature; in the power which comes of numbers, and of numbers organized; in the power which comes of many edifices and splendid architecture; in the power which comes of elegance, and wealth, and refinement in private life. God grant that this power may not decay through disuse, nor make itself a curse by being perverted I

4. The Church is glorious in her universal adaptations.

III. The destiny of this glorious and much loved Church. My text says, “That He might present it to Himself.” The figure used is evidently that of an oriental wedding. The bridegroom has a friend, called a paranymph, whose duty it is to find him a bride, to secure an introduction, to prepare for the nuptials, and to be in close attendance on the wedding night. St. Paul evidently has in his mind the figure of a marriage. But Christ is to be His own paranymph, “that He might present it to Himself.” This is a favourite figure with Christ and His disciples. He is the Bridegroom and the Church the bride. Just when the nuptials are to be celebrated we do not know, but the entrance of this glorious Church upon her glorious destiny as the Lamb’s wife is to be an event before which all other nuptials shall be as the glimmer of a candle in the light of a midsummer sun. John had a glimpse of the sublime scene in his wondrous vision on Patmos; and as the angel opened out this scene of unparalleled magnificence, this destiny of infinite sweep and indescribable glory, it was more than the spirit of the enraptured seer could endure. He perhaps saw himself in that Church; he, one day a poor fisherman on the shore of Tiberias, now an exile from his native land, he should be there; the shout of the archangel and the trump of God should salute his ear: the rider of “the white horse,” the Man of the nameless name, with eyes “like a flame of fire” and “vesture dipped in blood,” should come even to him; he should be at His wondrous marriage supper. It was more than he could endure. He fell adoring at the angel’s feet; the visions had so intensified the glory of the angel himself that John thought it had been God. But the angel said, “See thou do it not. Worship God.” This, then, is to be the glorious destiny of this glorious Church--she shall become the bride of the Lamb. The purest thing on earth shall marry the King of kings and Lord of lords. The bride shall live with her Husband, and be under His protection forever. (J. H. Bayliss.)

Christ’s love to His Church

I. The fact. “Christ loved the Church.” I would begin by remarking that the Church of God--the reality of a true Church--is a thing quite unknown to the world. The world talks about Churches, the glory of a Church, and the beauty of a Church; but it does not know what a Church is; it has no true perception of what a Church of Christ is. If there be any gleaming of light upon the point, so far as it sees it, it dislikes it, hates it, despises it. We fully acknowledge that the Church of Christ is just like its Author; it has “no form nor comeliness” in the eyes of the world, and “no beauty that men should desire it”; and so, like Himself, it is “despised and rejected of men.” It has no outward splendour; it has no earthly glory; it has nothing in it, wherefore men should gaze, look at it, bow before it. But who can describe, notwithstanding, its true glory, and the love that Jesus has to it? He loved it in all eternity. Language seems altogether to fail in describing the love that Jesus has to His Church. It seems exhausted. Does an eagle “bear her brood upon her wings”?--not only to teach them, and not only to nourish them, but to protect them, so that the arrow that toucheth them must touch her, and come through her, before they can be destroyed. This is the figure that sets forth His love to His Church. Does a father “pity his child,” when others can hardly bear with him, “remembering that he is but dust”? It is the very figure that sets forth the love of Jesus to His Church.

II. The proof He has given of His love. He “gave Himself for it.”

1. Who it was that gave Himself. No mean person, no ordinary individual, no common being; but the Son of God.

2. What it was that He gave. It was not His mere tears, nor groans, nor sighs: though the Lord Jesus was “a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He gave Himself--His whole self. He gave His Deity, He gave His humanity; He gave the whole of His Person as God-Man; all that was in man to suffer, and all that was in God to merit. And this He gave freely.

3. And now observe, for what it was that He gave Himself. We find it in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians--He “gave Himself for our sins.” Two or three remarks, and I close. Here is a door of unutterable consolation opened to us, in the midst of a world of desolation. I see the blessed Jesus giving the most unspeakable proofs of His love. But another door opens: it is the door of solemn inquiry. If the Church of God is so dear to Him, what do you and I for the Church of God? (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

Christ’s love to the Church

I. The love of Christ to His Church. “Christ loved the Church.” What else than love could have selected, pardoned, purified, and redeemed the Church? What other feeling could have stooped to such guilt, and raised it to such glory? As a Divine love to a creature so far beneath Him, what matchless condescension there is in it! It is a love of the sinner, but it attempts no compromise with his sin. “Christ loved the Church,” and He walked in that Church in the radiance of love. Thoughts of love nestled in His heart; words of love lingered on His lips; deeds of love flew from His arm; and His steps left behind them the impress of love. It threw its soft halo over His cradle at Bethlehem, and it fringed with its mellow splendours the gloom of the cloud under which He expired on Calvary. It gave edge to His reproofs, and pathos to His invitations. It was the magnet that guided Him in all His wanderings. It bound Him to the cross and held Him there, and not the iron nail that pierced His hands and His feet. It thrilled in His bosom, and glistened in His eye. Yes: “Christ … love,” said the dying philosopher, “Jesus Christ--love--the same thing.”

II. The sacrifice as the expression and result of love. In the stead of the Church He died, to deliver her from death, the sentence which so righteously lay upon her.

III. The nearer purpose of his love and death. That death not only affects our state, but also tells upon our character. He died to sanctify the Church. Not only does He originate the change, but He sustains it; for He “abides” within us. What He commences, He still fosters and perfects.

IV. The ultimate end and result. With what delight and satisfaction will we not now contemplate the ulterior purpose of these preliminary arrangements--“That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” How noble such a destiny--perfect restoration and felicity. The nuptial figure is still continued, and the allusion is to the presentation of the bride to her husband. That presentation does not take place till he can look upon her with complacency. (J. Eadie, D. D.)

Christ’s love for the Church, and our duty as members of it

What a broad scope of thought is embraced in these few words! The Church militant, labouring, suffering, upon earth? the Church cleansed, purified, glorified, in heaven! The apostle, at a single glance, seemed to see it all. And--

I. First, I remark, that we should love the Church.

II. Again: We should not only love the Church but labour for it. The word itself suggests the idea of unceasing effort and self-sacrifice. But it is not enough to love the Church and to labour in its behalf, we must likewise be willing--

III. To suffer for it. There is no great difficulty in avoiding unpleasant differences with the world, if we do nothing to thwart and oppose it.

IV. Once more. Every true child of God should be willing, if need be, to fight for the Church. (J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Christ’s love for the Church

I. The Church’s polluted condition without Christ.

II. Christ’s love to the Church.

1. The antiquity of it (Jeremiah 31:3).

2. An active and operative love (Galatians 1:4).

3. A real and sincere love (Hosea 2:4).

4. An entire and undivided love (John 17:26).

5. A lasting and constant love (John 13:1).

III. The evidences of this love.

1. He established and perfected the Church before God (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

2. By bringing her into a state of union with His person (1 Corinthians 6:15).

3. He thoroughly justifies her by His blood and His righteousness:

4. He animates her by the grace of His Holy Spirit.

5. His love constrainedly operates in her heart.

6. He does it by the instrumentality of His word.

7. The administrations of His appointed ministers.

8. In remarkable providences, at some times.

9. By painful afflictions at others.

10. But especially by His Spirit, in, and by all things.

IV. The effects of this wondrous love.

1. Glorious from its nature and worth (Malachi 3:17).

2. Glorious from the estimation in which God holds her (Deuteronomy 32:9).

3. Glorious from her connection (John 17:22-23).

4. Glorious, because she is free from spot, wrinkle, and the slightest mark of blemish.

This appears from--

1. The wisdom which directs--Christ.

2. The righteousness which justifies--Christ’s.

3. The perfection of her sanctification--Christ.

4. By her complete and eternal exemption from every charge of all her enemies, even by Christ.


1. How completely this demolishes all ideas of human merit.

2. And secures to Jesus Christ all the glory of our salvation. (T. B. Baker.)

Marriage and the heavenly Bridegroom

Adhering to the arrangement of topics in the text, we will speak first of the wife’s duty of obedience and then of the husband’s duty of love.

I. “Order is heaven’s first law.” Every portion of the universe knows its own place, and fulfils its proper function. There can be no happiness amongst mankind without due subordination. A state of society is impossible without this. So the apostle says, “Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” On the knowledge of each one’s true place and the rendering by each of what is due to others, the welfare both of nations and families depends. St. Paul, after laying down the general principle of mutual submission, illustrates and enforces it in the case of wives. They are to “submit themselves to their own husbands as unto the Lord.” This submission is based on the fact that God has made man the head of the woman. Whatever may be said--and much may be said justly of woman’s rights--this fact of the man’s headship remains, and ever will; established both by nature and revelation, by God’s works and God’s Word. There are features in which w