Ephesians 5



These first two verses go with ch. 4:17-32.


1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” These words are

closely connected with the preceding. In ch. 4:32 Paul had urged the example of God

in one very momentous matter (forgiveness); he now urges it in a more general sense

and on another ground. We ought to forgive men because God has forgiven us —

all admit that; but moreover, we ought to imitate our Father in His forgiveness and

in His loving spirit, because beloved children should always imitate, and will always

strive to imitate, what is good in a beloved father. Forgiving love is one of the

great glories of our Father; it has been made peculiarly attractive in our eyes,

because it has been exercised by Him towards us; every consideration, therefore,

ought to induce us to show the same spirit.  This is the only place in which we

are distinctly called to imitate God.  But the same truth is given expression to by

Christ when He says, That ye may be the sons of your Father which is in

heaven, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth

rain on the just and the unjust.......Be ye therefore perfect, even  as your

Father which is in heaven  is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:45,48)  Forgiveness

belongs to the dignity of our nature (our being partakers of the Divine nature –

II Peter 1:4) that there can be proposed to us as our end likeness to God.

It is designed that there should be a perpetual unfolding and enlarging of our

spiritual powers and excellences.  All our desires, hopes, efforts, are to be

toward this.  We are to be filled with the Divine thoughts, replenished with

the Divine energy, and warmed with Divine love.  As a child catches the

tone of his father, so are we to catch the tone of our heavenly Father.




2  Now, if God regarded with infinite delight the self-sacrifice of the only begotten

Son for the sake of His brethren, there is no way in which we can delight our Father

so much as by following in the Elder Brother’s footsteps and being ready to sacrifice

ourselves out of love to the brethren.   “And walk in love,” - Taking up anew the

exhortation of ch. 4:1. Let your ordinary life be spent in an atmosphere of love. 

Love supplies the motive power to all the right relations with our fellow man.  Drink

it in from heaven, as plants drink in the sunshine; radiate it forth from eyes and face;

let hands and feet be active in the service; let looks, words, and acts all be steeped in it –

as Christ also hath loved us,” -  The passing from the Father to the Son as

our Example is not a new departure; for the Son reveals the Father, the Son’s love

is the counterpart of the Father’s, made visible to us in the way most fitted to

impress us. Though Christ’s love, like His Father’s, is eternal, the aorist is used,

to denote that specific act of love which is immediately in view –  Jesus was an

example of love in His life, for He went about every day doing good.  (Acts 10:38) –

 and hath given Himself for us” - The Pauline phrase (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Titus

2:14;  I Timothy 2:6), simple, but very comprehensive: “Himself” — all that He was

as God, all that He became as Man, a complete self-surrender, a whole burnt

offering. “For us,” not merely on our behalf, but in our room (after verbs

of giving, dying, etc.); this, indeed, being implied in the idea immediately

following of a sacrifice, which, alike to the Jewish and pagan mind,

conveyed the idea of a life given in room of another – “an offering and a

sacrifice to God” - Offering and sacrifice are nearly synonymous, but the

first probably includes the whole earthly career of Christ incarnate — his

holy life, blessed example, gracious teaching, loving companionship, as

well as his atoning death, which last is more precisely the qusi>a, -

thoo-see’-ah;sacrifice.  The offering and sacrifice were presented to God,

to satisfy His justice, fulfill the demands of His law, and glorify His holy and

righteous government – “for a sweet-smelling savor.” Allusion to Noah’s

sacrifice of every clean beast and of every fowl — “ the Lord smelled a

sweet savor;” (Genesis 8:21) - that is, the whole transaction, not the offering

merely, but the spirit in which it was offered likewise, was grateful to God.

The whole work of Christ, and the beautiful spirit in which He offered

Himself, were grateful to the Father, and procure saving blessings for

ALL who by faith make the offering their own.  He is “Just and the Justifier

of him who believeth in Jesus” – (Romans 3:26)



The Walk Suitable to the Children of the Light (vs. 3-21)



The fearful prevalence of sensual vice at Ephesus naturally led the apostle

to dwell on it emphatically as one of the worst rags of the old man, a rag to

be wholly and forever cast away. But, indeed, there are few heathen

communities where sensual vice does not flourish when men have it in their

power to indulge in it.  (Does this mean, with our obsession with sexuality,

both natural and perverted,  that the United States of America is heathen??? 

CY -2010)  It is singular how universal sin is in connection with the irregular

and disorderly indulgence of the bodily appetites. It would seem as if God

made this a special matter of probation, for when these appetites get the upper

hand, they lead into terrible excesses, and, by bringing disease on both mind

 and body, avenge the sin to which they have impelled. First, they tempt men

to sin, and then, as if in heartless mockery, they scourge them for having sinned.

Compare Romans 1:19-32.


3  “But” - Another of the remarkable contrasts of this Epistle; the fumes of lust

 are doubly odious in contact with the sweet savor of Christ’s offering -  

“fornication and all uncleanliness (impurity), or covetousness,” – The combination

of covetousness with sins of the flesh, occurring several times in the apostle’s writings

(I Corinthians 5:11; Colossians 3:5; and here),  is rather unexpected. Pleonexi>a,

pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah; covetousness, covetous practices, greediness - means the desire

of having more, which is peculiarly true of sensual sins; but it is not coupled with

them by a kai<, but disjoined by an h}, indicating something of another class. In

the mind of the apostle, sensuality was inseparable from greed, unnatural craving

for more, dissatisfaction with what was enough; hence the neighborhood of the

two vices – “let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.”  The

practice of such sins was out of the question; but even speaking of them, as matters

of ordinary conversation, was unsuitable for saints; the very conversation of

Christians must be pure. The exhortation bears on Christians in their social

relations; had the apostle been treating of the duty of the individual, he would have

urged that such sins should never be admitted even to the thoughts or the



4  “Neither filthiness,” - aijscro>thv, ahee-skhrot’-ace; from (aijscro>v

ahee-skhros;); shamefulness, i.e. obscenity: — filthiness -implying that such

things are disgraceful, ugly, revolting, the opposite of kalo>v, kal-os; fair,

comely, attractive – “nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not

convenient (becoming):” It is proof of a corrupt heart, for “out of

the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”  (Matthew 12:34)

[consider the degradation in American Society exhibited in modern sit-coms on TV

compare them with Amos and Andy, The Honeymooners, Red Skeleton, Mayberry,

The Life of Riley, etc. – CY – 2010] This would be well understood in sensual,

frivolous Ephesus; (but apparently not in the Good Ole USA – CY – 2010) a light,

bantering, jesting kind of talk, seasoned with double entendres and obscene


reason to suppose that the apostle meant to condemn all play of humor,

which is a Divine gift, and which in moderation has its own useful place as

a means of refreshing and invigorating the spirit; it was the jesting associated

with ribaldry that drew his reproof -  “But rather giving of thanks.”

 Eujcaristi>a - yoo-khar-is-tee’-ahthankfullness - is somewhat

similar in sound to eujtrapeli>a,  -yoo-trap-el-ee’-ah; - jesting: the reason

for putting the one in opposition to the other is not very apparent; the

meaning seems to be that, in place of giving vent to lively feelings in

frivolous talk and jesting, it is better for Christians to do so by pouring

out their hearts in thanksgivings to God for all His goodness.  (Psalm 62:8)


5  “For this ye know,” - an appeal to their own consciences, made confidently,

as beyond all doubt – “that no whoremonger (fornicator), nor unclean

person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in

the kingdom” – No such person has an inheritance in the Kingdom of God

Covetousness, the twin-brother sin of uncleanness, is denounced as idolatry.

It is worshipping the creature more than the Creator, depending on vast

stores of earthly substance in place of the favor and blessing of God.

 It must receive the doom of the idolater; instead of inheriting the

kingdom, he must die the death. The doom in this verse is not

future, but present — not shall have, but hath, inheritance, etc. (comp.

ch. 1:11, 18). The lust of greed overreaches itself; it loses all that is truly

worth having; it may have this and that — lands, houses, and

goods — BUT it has not one scrap in the kingdom – “of Christ and God.”

The two are united in the closest way, as equals, implying the divinity of

Christ and his oneness with the Father in the administration of the kingdom.


It is odd to find covetousness, which is often a sin of respectability, linked

with sins of gross immorality but it too, springs from selfishness, like the

other sins mentioned.  Covetousness is the inordinate love of riches and

manifests itself in several ways.


  • In the eager anxiety to attain wealth, without respect either to

      God’s glory or our own spiritual good.


  • In a sinful acquisition of wealth by extortion or fraud. (I Kings

            21:2, 13; Proverbs 10:2; 28:8.)


  • In a reluctance to use our wealth for good ends. (I Timothy 6:17-18.)



Covetousness makes a god of our possessions and to give them the homage of

our hearts. All the essential elements of idolatry are included in this worldly

disposition. The covetous man transfers to riches the love, desire, joy, trust,

and labor which God demands for Himself. His sin is all the greater because he

knows that his god is no god.  Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of

covetousness:  for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of

the things which he possesseth.”  (Luke 12:15)  It is a solemn thought

that one of the most common sins is associated with idolatry and is very

serious in God’s sight!



The sins here described in vs. 3-5 were common among the heathen, and

received no adequate check from their moral guides. Indeed, the old pagan world

regarded them as things indifferent. They are, for the most part, sins

against ourselves, as the sins condemned in ch.4:25-31 are sins

against our neighbors. They are to be condemned on many grounds:



(Exodus 20:14.)



corruption that is in the world through lust is inconsistent with the Divine

nature (II  Peter 1:4).



which is “to purify a people to Himself” (Titus 2:14); “to cleanse us

from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (II Corinthians 7:1). Jesus

suffered in the flesh that we should die to the flesh (I Peter 4:1).


  • THEY GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT, whose office is to sanctify us

(4:29-30). That pure and holy dove will not dwell in a cage

of unclean and filthy birds.


  • THEY DISHONOUR THE BODY, which is the temple of the Holy

Ghost (I Corinthians 6:18). They waste it as well as dishonor it

“And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are

consumed” - (Proverbs 5:11); “receiving in themselves that

recompense of their error which was meet” -  (Romans 1:27).


  • THEY WAR AGAINST THE SOUL in every sense of the term —

against its life, its aspirations, its happiness (I Peter 2:11). They even

darken the judgment and the understanding (Hosea 4:11). No sort of

sin so hardens the heart.


  • THEY PROVOKE GOD’S ANGER. (Colossians 3:5-6; Jeremiah 5:7;

v.6.) “For the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.”

They subject transgressors to God’s judgment, for “whoremongers and

 adulterers God will judge” - (Hebrews 13:4). And they keep them out

of heaven (I Corinthians 6:9; ver. 5). These sins of impurity are not even

to be named among saints, who are to be pure in thought, pure in heart,

pure in speech, pure in life. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal

body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). To this

end we must:


ü      Avoid all the occasions that prompt to impurity:


Ø      idleness (Ezekiel 16:49);

Ø      evil company (Proverbs 7:7-27); and

Ø      all other sins (Proverbs 1:25).


ü      Make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1).

ü      Watch over our thoughts (Malachi 2:16).

ü      Delight in God’s Word (Proverbs 2:10, 16).

ü      Continue in prayer (Psalm 119:37). —


6  “Let no man deceive you with vain words:” - No man, whether

pagan or nominal Christian: the pagan defending a life of pleasure as the

only thing to be had with even a smack of good in it; the Christian

mitigating pleasant sins, saying that the young must have an outlet for their

warm feelings, that men in business must put all their soul into it, and that

life must be brightened by a little mirth and jollity. As opposed to what the

apostle has laid down (v. 5), such words are empty, destitute of all

solidity or truth -  “for because of these things cometh the wrath of God

 upon the children of disobedience.”  The sophistry is swept away by

an awful fact — the wrath cometh, is coming, and will come too in the

future life. It comes in the form of natural punishment, Nature avenging her

broken laws by deadly diseases; in the form, too, of disappointment,

remorse, desolation of soul; and in the form of judgments, like that which

befell the Canaanites and Sodom and Gomorrah, (Genesis 19 – I highly

recommend the Sodom and Gomorrah section at arkdiscovery.com

CY – 2010) or the sword which never departed from David’s house.

The Scripture is very plain that “the abominable, and murderers, and

whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their

part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).


But they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and

lusts.   (Galatians 5:24)


7  “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.”  If you are partakers

of their sins, you must be of their punishments too. Refuse all partnership,

therefore. Your natural instincts recoil from partnership in punishment; let

your spiritual instincts recoil from partnership in sin.


Christ was “separate from sinners” but was in society that He might win

sinners to God.  So should we be a witness to sinners and point them

to Christ.  Jesus prayed for us!  (John 17:11-15, 20-21)


Psalm 7:11 says “God is angry with the wicked every day” - Righteous

indignation against certain forms of evil is an experience of a most imperative

and holy character. We should lose our reverence for a God who did not become

angry with sinners. It was the more needful to affirm this truth at Ephesus, since

the deities of heathenism (Greek mythology) were supposed to be addicted to such

crimes as uncleanness and covetousness. Olympus was filled, by the impure

imaginations of men, with a set of men and women who were for the most part fit for

penitentiaries and state prisons. Morality received no backing from the

mythology. But the thought that a God so loving as our heavenly Father is

wrathful with the covetous and the unclean, and allows His wrath to burn

against them, is surely calculated to wean men from such sins. There seems

to have been insinuations in Paul’s time that the Divine wrath against

impurity and covetousness was mythical, just as such insinuation prevails at

present. But surely the frightful punishment which these sins entail in the

order of nature speak to the spirit of man about the reality of the Divine

wrath. Not all the ameliorations of science (or philosophy – CY – 2010) –

can bring it about that men can so sin with impunity; the unclean are cursed in

the very nature of things with a grievous curse, and the covetous suffer of necessity

in their pinched and miserly souls. God is an angry God against those who love sin,

and our only course is to forsake it. Hapless and Olshausen believe the word here

rendered “covetousness” to mean in this connection “intemperance,” the

desire, not for gold, but for fleshly gratification — the making a god of the

belly, and so an idolatry. Of course, if this sense be taken of pleonexi>a, it

agrees better with the context and makes more emphatic Paul’s appeal for

purity. Do we make as much in these days of the Divine wrath as we

should? As the love-pain of God, as one writer has called it, it is surely well

fitted to enforce morality.


8  “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord:”

Another expressive “but.” To make the contrast more emphatic, it is not

said, “ye were in darkness, but are now in light;” but, “ye were darkness

itself, and are now light itself,” and this last is explained by the usual

formula, “in the Lord.” There was a celebrated Ephesian philosopher,

Alexander, who was called “The Light;” but not from that source had the

light come. The idea of light-giving is also involved in their being light.

“Arise, shine, for thy light is come.” (Isaiah 60:1) - The phrase “ye were

sometimes darkness”  is very impressive, for it indicates a moral as well as

an intellectual darkness. A hard heart is always linked with a blinded

understanding. The two act and react upon each other, becoming

alternately cause and effect. Men do not care to retain the knowledge of

God in their thoughts, and God, in judgment, gives them over to a

reprobate mind.  (Romans 1:24,26,28) – “but now are ye light in the Lord:”

Conversion has wrought a radical change in the understanding as well as the heart.

“walk as children of light.” Another expressive image, denoting close connection

with light, as if they were actually born of it; hence their lives should be full of it.

The figure connecting darkness with sin and light with purity, common to all

languages, underlies the exhortation.


9  (“For the fruit of the Spirit – (fw~tov –- fo-toslight) is [shown] in all

goodness and righteousness and truth.”)  The exhortation is confirmed by this

statement of what is the natural result of light — goodness, the disposition that leads

to good works; righteousness, rectitude, or integrity, which is most careful

against all disorder and injustice, and renders to all their due, and especially

to God the things that are God’s; and truth, meaning a regard for truth in

every form and way — believing it, reverencing it, speaking it, acting

according to it, hoping and rejoicing in it, being sincere and honest, not

false or treacherous.


10  “Proving what is acceptable  unto the Lord.”  A general rule

applicable to the whole walk. To prove is to ascertain by test and

experiment. (I used to see things my father-in-law, Paul Cathcart, had

written with the letters TTP beside them, meaning TESTED, TRIED, and

PROVED  – CY - 2010)  Our whole walk should be directed to finding out

what things are pleasing to Christ, rejecting at once everything that is not so,

and clinging to all that is. We are not to follow the tradition of our people, and

not to take a vague view of duty; we are to prove the matter, to put it to the test.

For the supreme practical rule of the Christian’s life must be to

please Christ.


11  “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” -  The point

of this exhortation is in the adjective “unfruitful.” The works of darkness are unfruitful;

they produce no goodness, give rise to no satisfaction, to no moral results that are

“a joy forever;” or, if fruit they have, it is shame, remorse, and despair. Contrast this

with the renovating, satisfying, joy-producing, fruits of righteousness – Christians

are to stand apart from every evil work. There must be no fellowship with darkness.

The friendship of the world can only be purchased at the cost of the Father’s friendship

(James 4:4) - “but rather reprove them.”  The Christian attitude must be aggressive

toward all the forms of sin.  Do not be content with a passive attitude towards them,

but take the aggressive and expose their wickedness, whether in public or in the

domestic circle.  A testimony has to be lifted up against ways that are so shameful

and that bring down  the wrath of God.


12  “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them

in secret.”  The groves of Ephesus were notorious for the shamefulness of lust. To

speak of such deeds was not only wrong, but shameful; so extreme is the delicacy

which Christianity fosters. Too much pains cannot be taken, by parents, masters

of schools, and others, to foster this delicacy among the young — to exclude from

conversation the faintest touch of what is unbecoming.  (Nowadays, it is just

the opposite, freedom of expression includes taking the name of God in vain, foul

language in schools, pornographic dress, etc – compare what was done in secret

in Ezekiel’s day – Ezekiel 8:9-18 – like the song “No One Knows What Goes on

Behind Closed Doors – notice how God dealt with it [v. 18] – CY – 2010)   


(The Following in this color is taken from the web site lesson dealing with

Ezekiel 8:9-18 and is included here for emphasis and convenience:  CY – 2010)


                        Goings on at the God forsaken shrine.


vs. 7-10 - clandestine behavior - in secrecy


v. 11 - Seventy men/ancients of Israel who ought to

            know better - formal representatives


Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan - who was prominent

in Josiah's reform movement - meaning of his name -

"The Lord is listening"  - v. 12


"every man his censer" - each acting as priests,

offering to the pictured idols, which none but the sons

of Aaron had a right to use and which was offered to

Jehovah only!


v. 12 - boasting that God did not see them, He had

            forsaken His temple and gone elsewhere - they

            were free to do as they liked without fear.


United States Senate - cloture vote – Wednesday of this week –

stances they took toward judges.  (This being the week of June 5-12,



Old men - secret practices - private chambers.

Behind closed doors they reveled in the orgies of

a degraded society, then appeared in the streets as

sedate citizens.


On what images are they gazing?  Wickedness planned

and gloated over of a deep sin of the soul.  Ultimately, it

will come out for the imagination of the heart colors

the external conduct.   Mark 7:15,18-23


Think of the import if this was taught in school.  It used

to be and thanks to God, it still is in private and Christian



Nothing short of the new birth which only Christ can give

can save our souls.  David said in his penitence in Ps. 51:10 -

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right

spirit within me"


A man's sin is not one bit the less because his brother's sin

is greater - Sin hardens.


(v. 16b) - five & twenty men....BACKS TOWARD

            THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD -facing east -

            eastern religions today is preferred to Christianity.


(Think of the secular media's intrigue with Islam)


II Chron. 29:6


Worship of God involves purity of heart and life;

idolatry means a lower moral life!


"worshipped the sun" - one of the best gifts in the

solar system - we know philosophy gets us in hot water

and is nothing and to put science on a pedestal as all

there is in life is idolatry because it places knowledge

above obedience.


Rev. 21:22-23


v. 14 - notice the general prominence of women in the

            later idolatry of Judah


v. 17 - Making light of sin - Gethsemane and Calvary

            were necessary because God could not make

            light of sin.  The only way to deal with sin is to

            confess it and with God's help, shun it!


v. 18 - The unpitying aspect of the Divine judgments

            is again prominent.  SUCH SINS DESERVED,




            A CONSUMING FIRE!  (Hebrews 12;29)


Yet, even these sins  are not beyond cure. The light of Divine truth must be let

fall upon them, that they may be corrected. “All things that are reproved are

made manifest by the light.” There is a necessary connection in Scripture

between truth and holiness, and the truth must first be applied to the

ignorant and the wicked, that it may make way for the sanctifying agency

of the Spirit. The sun-glass of truth held in the hand of the rebuker will

concentrate the light from heaven upon the conscience of the sinner so that

he will see it full of all nameless lusts, and that very light will kindle a fire

to consume them, unless the sinner, loving darkness, should turn away

from the unwelcome light. Therefore let Christians remember the duty of

pious and prudent reproof, which may not only put sin to shame, if not to

silence, but lead the sinner from darkness to light, from the kingdom of

Satan to the kingdom of God’s dear SON.


13  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light.”

As, for instance, when our Lord reproved the hypocrisy of the Pharisees —

their practices had not seemed to the disciples very evil before, but when

Christ threw on them the pure light of truth, they were made manifest in their

true character — they appeared and they still appear, odious. A just reproof

places evil in a light that shows its true character -  “for whatsoever doth

make manifest is light.”  Literally, this is a truism; anything shone on is no

longer dark, but light. The nearest approach to this, morally, is that light has a

transforming power; when the light of the gospel shines on anything dark or evil,

it transforms it into what is light or good. This is not uniformly true; all the light of

heaven turned on hell would not make it morally light; but it is the general property

and tendency of moral light to transform. The exhortation would thus mean —

Use your light to reprove what is evil or dark, for not only will the true

character of the evil thereby be made apparent, but your light will have a

transforming power. But if this were the meaning, we should expect in the

end of the verse, not fw~v ejstin, - foce es-teen’;  is light - but fw~v ginetai>,

foce ghin’-etai; -  to denote this transformation. The rendering of A.V., giving to

fanerou>menon - fan-er-o’-omenon;  -  an active meaning (“whatsoever doth

make manifest is light”), is rejected by most grammarians, as not being consistent

with the usage of the word. The meaning which that rendering gives is this: “Light is

the element which makes all clear.” We should thus have in the latter clause a

proposition, affirming as universal what in the former clause is affirmed of one

particular case; “things reproved are made manifest by the light, for it is

only light that makes things clear.” The exhortation to reprove would thus

be confirmed by the consideration that the only way of making immoral

things appear in their proper character is to let in on them the light of the

gospel. The great practical point is that Christians ought to let in and

diffuse the light.


14  “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest,” – The person

addressed is “Thou that sleepest.” Sleep is an apt figure to describe the sinner.

He lives in an unreal world, full of dreams and fancies, quite unconscious of

the real world around him. The sinner dreams of safety and peace. He is carnally

secure (Romans 13:11; I Thessalonians 5:6). He may even walk in his sleep.

He is wholly unprotected against danger. If he knew of his danger, he

would not be asleep. He needs, therefore, to be roused - “and arise

from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”  The promise to the

sleeper -  “And Christ shall give thee light.” The light that comes from

Christ can reach even the dead: “The hour is coming, and now is, when

 the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall

live” (John 5:25)  This is evidently intended to give an additional impulse to

the Ephesians to walk as children of the light; but a difficulty arises as to the

source of the quotation. There is no difficulty with the formula, “He saith,”

which, like the same expression in ch. 4:8, is clearly to be referred to God.

But no such words occur in the Old Testament. The passage that comes

nearest to them is  Isaiah 60:1,  “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and

 the glory of the Lord hath risen  upon thee.” The simplest and best explanation

is, not that the apostle quoted from any lost book, but that he did not mean to give

the words, but only the spirit of the passage. This is evident from his introducing the

word “Christ.” It must be owned that the apostle makes a very free use of the

prophet’s words. But the fundamental idea in the prophecy is, that when the Church

gets the light of heaven, she is not to lie still, as it’ she were asleep or dead, but is to

be active, is to make use of the light, is to use it for illuminating the world.

The apostle maintains that the Ephesian Church had got the light of heaven; she,

therefore, was not to sleep or loiter, but spring forth as if from the grave, and

pour light on the world. The changes which the apostle makes on the form of

the prophecy are remarkable, and show that it was to its spirit and substance rather

than to its precise form and letter that he attached the authority of inspiration.


“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the

armor of light.”  (Romans 13:12)


15  “See then that ye walk circumspectly,” - The construction is

somewhat peculiar, combining two ideas — see that you walk strictly, but

consider well the kind of strictness. Do not walk loosely, without fixed

principles of action; but make sure that your rules are of the true kind.

Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good

rules -  “not as fools (unwise), but as wise. This rendering brings out the force

of a]sofoi -– asophoiunwise - and sofoi <- sophoiwise -  “fools” (A.V.)

is rather strong, for it is not utter folly that is reproved, but easy-mindedness,

want of earnest consideration in a matter so infinitely vital, so as to know what is

truly best.


16  “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  or, buying

up for yourselves the opportunity, the idea being that of a merchant who,

knowing the value of an article and the good use to which he can put it,

buys it up. The opportunity is the opportunity of spreading the light and

acting according to it; and the reason assigned, “because the days are evil,”

indicates that, owing to the prevalence of evil, there is much need for the

light over which the Christian has control. It may be hinted likewise that

the prevalence of evil is apt to cool the love and diminish the zeal of the

Christian; hence the need for special eagerness of spirit in the matter — he

must greedily watch for his opportunity.


Paul is consequently anxious that in evil days, such as those upon which the

Ephesians have fallen, they should be watchful and wise enough to “buy up

eagerly their opportunity,” and do the best they can for their age. This is by

holy living. There is no other way of understanding the times and fulfilling

our course in them. (Like David who “served his own generation” [Acts 13:36 ] -

CY – 2010) It will thus be seen that Paul appeals to the Ephesians,

by both the love and wrath of God, by the expediency and power of a pure

life, to walk worthy of their high calling. In this way he expects to enlist

them in the great army of united and brotherly souls who are gathering

round Jesus our King and Head. May we all respond to his appeal!


Jonathan Edwards, the famed Puritan minister preached a sermon on

The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It dated

December, 1734 and can be found at www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works2.vi.xiv.html

(also see The Preciousness of Time by Jonathan Edwards, December, 1734,

this web site – CY - 2010)


Following up his exhortations about holy living, Paul now proceeds to the

subject of understanding the Lord’s will. In doing so he comes across the

necessity which human nature feels for excitement of some kind, and,

warning the Ephesians against the low excitement of wine, he commends

the high excitement of the Spirit, with all its pleasurable manifestations. In

other words, he speaks of inspiration, but condemns the spirituous while he

commends the spiritual. We have thus suggested:



(vs. 17-18.) This is apparent from the fact that every one needs some

excitement, as it is called, to keep him moving — something to “interrupt

our quiet and ordinary state of mind with some more lively feeling, which

makes us live more consciously and in a manner quicker than we do in

common.” We all feel this. Now, this goes to show that we are not self-

contained, no matter how much we desire to be so, but need a helping hand

from without our personalities. Withhold food, and we perish. Withhold all

stimulus from us, and we go of necessity to pieces. The whole question

comes to be, therefore, where we shall get our required stimulus?



GREAT DANGER.  (v. 18.) This is an inspiration which comes through sense.

Now, all of us need a stimulus through our senses. Food is such a stimulus.

A well-digested meal makes life move faster and quicker than fasting would.

But the vinous inspiration leads to “riot” (Revised Version), and is

Inconsistent with that unity of the Church for which the gospel calls. We

should abstain from such a dangerous stimuli as wine and drugs, for its

effect has been hostile to unity of spirit (and promote physical and possible

or probable, eternal death – farmakei>a, — far-mak-i’-ah; - translated

witchcraft in Galatians 5:20 is the word from which we get “pharmacy”

and can mean “uses drugs” - CY – 2010)



EXCESS.  (vs. 18-19.) We may be filled with the Spirit, and no riot result,

Nothing which will do anything but foster the glorious unity. For, as Arnold

shows, the gospel and the inspirations from God “at once excite and soothe,”

so that the soul is kept in holy equilibrium, and the inspiration has its natural



ü      There will be harmony in social song. Poetry and music will become

tributary to unity of spirit. The Holy Ghost will permeate by His

harmonizing presence social praise.


ü      The praise offered to the Lord will be heartfelt. It will not be a form

Of praise, but the very heart going up to heaven.


ü      Thanksgiving will be mightily promoted. In the midst of manifold

mercies our God in heaven looks for constant thankfulness from us.

And, indeed, if we understand His love we shall be prompted to give

thanks “always for all things,” in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


ü      And inspiration will promote mutual subjection in the fear of Christ

 (so Revised Version and best authorities). Thus it comes to pass that

an inspired people proves a praising and united people. What harmony

the society filled with the Spirit realizes! (Think of what the United

States once was before all the Blue State-Red State mess primarily

brought about through the judicial system’s reaction in the last

fifty years to church-state issues – compare Israel in her decline

when “Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts:

half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make

him king; and half followed Omri.”  [I Kings 16:21] – CY – 2010)

It is heaven begun below. What we need, therefore, is a Pentecost.

If the Holy Spirit is pleased to fill us, then shall our discords vanish

and our hearts beat in unison. It is by inspiration that the unity of the

Church shall be secured.


17  “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of

the Lord is.”  The “wherefore” bears on all the preceding argument:

because ye are children of light; because light is so valuable and so indispensable;

because your whole circumstances demand so much care and earnestness.

“Unwise” is equivalent to senseless; “understanding,” to both knowing and

laying to heart, as in parable of sower: “When any one heareth the word of

the kingdom, and understandeth it not,” (Matthew 13:19) i.e. does not

consider or ponder it, “then cometh the wicked one,” etc. The will of the

Lord is the great rule of the Christian life; to know and in the deeper sense

understand this, is to walk wisely and to walk surely.  It is a sin against our

rational nature, against our high calling, and against the Lord, not to use

our intellectual faculties with supreme relation to the Lord’s will.

“Trust in the Lord with  all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)


18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;”  Drunkenness is suggested

because it is a work of darkness; it is the foe to vigilance and earnestness, and it

leads all who yield to it to act unwisely. It is the social aspect of drunkenness the

apostle has in view — the exhilarating influence of wine in company, giving a rush

of high spirits.  Aswti>a - as-o-tee’-ah – excess, riot;  from aswzw - asode’-zo;

 the opposite of savingness, wastefulness, dissoluteness, or the process of being

dissolved, involving perdition.  Spoken of the prodigal son, “riotous living;” the

habit which sends everything to wreck and ruin.  (Luke 15:13) –  This is a

warning against drunkenness.  Christians should beware of such an insidious



  • IT DISHONOURS THE LAW OF GOD. (Romans 13:13.)
  • IT INJURES THE SOUL. (Hosea 4:11.)

(Proverbs 23:21.)

  • IT IS THE CAUSE OF OTHER SINS. Such as swearing, strife,

licentiousness (Ibid. v. 20).


(I Corinthians 6:10.)


Therefore Christians ought to avoid it, abstaining altogether from intoxicating

drinks on the grounds of Christian expediency, and using their influence to

rescue others from its ruinous fascination - “but be filled with the Spirit.” 

Instead of resorting to wine to cheer and animate you, throw your hearts

open the Holy Spirit, so that He may come and fill them; seek the joy that

the Spirit inspires when He makes you to sit with Christ in heavenly places,

so that, instead of pouring out your joyous feelings in bacchanalian songs,

you may do so in Christian hymns.


19  “Speaking to yourselves” -   Literally, this would denote antiphonal singing,

but this is rather an artificial idea for so simple times. It seems here to denote one

person singing one hymn, then another another, and so on; and the meetings would

seem to have been for social Christian enjoyment rather than for the public worship

of God. In the Epistle to the Colossians it is, “Teaching and admonishing one

 another with psalms,” (Colossians 3:16) and this has more of the idea of public

worship; and if it be proper to express joyful feelings in the comparatively private

social gatherings of Christians, it is proper to do the same in united public worship –

“in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” - The precise meaning of these terms

is not easily seen; “psalms” we should naturally apply to the Old Testament psalms,

but the want of the article makes the meaning more general, equivalent to “songs

with the character of the psalms;” hymns, songs celebrating the praises of

the Divine Being, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; “spiritual songs” or odes

of a more general cast, meditative, historical, hortatory, or didactic. But

these must be “spiritual,” such as the Holy Spirit would lead us to use and

would use with us for our good. The two clauses correspond: “be filled

with the Spirit;” “speaking in spiritual songs.” Receive the Spirit — pour

out the Spirit; let your songs be effusions sent forth from your hearts with

the aroma of the Holy Spirit – “singing and making melody in your heart

to the Lord;” -  i.e. to the Lord Jesus. Some have argued that while a]dontev -–

adontes - denotes singing and praising God, ya>llontevpsallontes melody –

means striking the musical instrument. But ya>llwpsallo -  primarily to twitch,

twan, then to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, and hence, to sing a hymn,

sing praise; - is so frequently used in a more  general sense, that it can hardly be

restricted to this meaning here. The great thought  is that this musical service must

not be musical only, but a service of the heart, in rendering which the heart must

be in a state of worship.


20  “Giving thanks always for all things” -  this being not only a

most Christian duty, but an excellent way to keep the heart in good tone,

to keep up happy feelings — the duty not being occasional, but “always,”

and not for things prima facto agreeable only, but “for all things” (see

Job 2:10; Romans 8:28) – “unto God and the Father in the Name of our

Lord Jesus Christ;” - God the Father is the proper Object of thanksgiving,

as of prayer generally; but the thanks are to be given in the Name of Christ.

That is, through Him who has brought in the economy of grace, whereby for

wrath we get blessing, for suffering we get reward, for misery glory; whereby,

in short, the whole aspect of life is brightened, and even the greatest trials

 and sorrows turned into real blessings.


21  “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God – (en fobw

Cristo>u – “in the fear of Christ”).”  The last of the participial exhortations

depending on the general exhortation of v. 15 to walk strictly, Most commentators

connect it with the three immediately preceding participles (speaking, singing,

giving thanks), but are unable to find a link of connection. Better connect with

v. 15. Mutual subjection is part of a wise, circumspect walk, i.e. mutual

recognition of each other’s rights and of our obligations to serve them. In

some sense we are all servants, i.e. we are bound to serve others; the very

father is, in this sense, servant of his child. So in the Christian Church we

are all in a sense servants (“By love serve one another,” Galatians 5:13;

comp. Matthew 20:26-28; John 13:15-16). This view is in harmony

with the humble spirit of the gospel. Pride leads us to demand rigorously

from others what we fancy they owe to us; humility, to give to others what

Christ teaches that we owe to them. The one feeling is to be discouraged,

the other exercised and strengthened. In the verses following we have this

precept split up into its constituent filaments. The reading of R.V., “in the

fear of Christ,” has more authority than A.V., “in the fear of God.” It

brings to our mind the wonderful example of Christ in this clement of

character (comp. Luke 2:51; Hebrews 5:8). Reverential regard for

Him should inspire us with the same spirit (Philippians 2:5-8).






     The Christian Walk (15-17)


The apostle urges a circumspect, wise, and earnest life, closely conformed in

all things to the will of God, fashioned according to that idea of wisdom which

is set forth in the proverb, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

(Proverbs 9:10)  Nothing is of more value than fixed principles for guiding our life.

One settled conviction may be of inestimable value; e.g. the conviction that

nothing can come to any good in the end which is against the will of God.

Whenever greatness is achieved in any sphere of life it is through the force

of well-kept rules. Every great author, artist, statesman, has owed his success

to certain principles of action to which he has rigidly adhered. It has been

remarked that the Puritan Age was an age

of convictions; ours is an age of opinions (worst still, an age of polls  - CY – 2010)

But what we need is convictions, and pre-eminently the conviction that the only

true, safe, and blessed rule of life is to follow implicitly the will of God. We find

here rules for a careful Christian life,  (1) apart, (2) in Christian society.


  • APART.


ü      Walk circumspectly, or strictly, not carelessly.


ü      Walk wisely, taking pains to ascertain that you so walk as to gain

the great end.


ü      Redeem the time, or buy back the opportunity (see Exposition).


ü      Understand; i.e. lay to heart and follow the will of Christ.


ü      Avoid intoxication and all wild excitement and unhallowed



ü      Be filled with the Spirit, and the holy, blessed emotions which he





ü      Cultivate Christian song, and make melody in your heart to the



ü      Let thanksgiving have a special place in your exercises.


ü      Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.


As Christians have not only duties, but also joys, belonging to their individual

life, so they have both duties and joys belonging to their social life. What is

most characteristic of the social duties of Christians is mutual submission;

consideration of one another — of what is due by one to another, and still

more of the loving service which one may be able to render to the other.

What is most characteristic of their social joys is the element of thankfulness

in which they flourish; they should ever live as those, who in Christ have

received mercies beyond all calculation; and they should make abundant

use of song to give expression to such feelings and to deepen them in so doing.

This joyous element goes a long way to give brightness to the social life of

Christians; they will not miss the more carnal delights on which worldly men

set so much store, but will feel that God puts joy in their hearts, more than

in the time that their corn and wine increased.  (Psalm 4:7)



The True Antidote to Drunkenness (vs. 18-21)



There is a real contrast here exhibited between fullness of wine and fullness

of the Spirit. There is an intensity of feeling produced in both cases. “There

is one intensity of feeling produced by stimulating the senses; another, by

vivifying the spiritual life within. The one commences with impulses from

without, the other is guarded by forces from within.” The one tends to

ruin, the other tends to salvation. The Spirit-fullness “will keep the soul holy,

the body chaste, and render the Christian fit for the service of God on earth

and meet for the fruition and enjoyment of God in heaven.” The

exhilaration caused by the Spirit finds a threefold expression.




ü      The heathen festivals were remarkable for songs of drunken revelry.

The excitement of the worshippers found vent in singing. Christians

are likewise to express their exhilaration in songs. “The hearts and

spirits of good men are full of spiritual mirth and joy; they are as

merry in the Lord as sinners in their lust; it is, therefore, lawful and

laudable for them to express their mirth and give vent to their

spiritual joy by singing.”


ü      There is a happy variety in such songs adapted to the various moods of

the singers. We have the Psalms of David; we have the hymns composed

by pious men like Zacharias and Simeon; and we have the compositions,

for public assemblies, of those inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians



ü      There must be a harmony in these songs between the artistic service of

the voice and the inner melody of the heart. Otherwise the spirit and

meaning of the exercise will disappear.


ü      Singing has always been a powerful instrument of promoting the spread

of true religion (Reformation, periods of revival).


ü      The singing here enjoined was for social intercourse as well as for the

public assemblies of worship. Christians ought to exercise their gifts of

song to spiritual ends.


·        IN GIVING OF THANKS. The heart which is filled with the Spirit

brims over with thankfulness.


ü      To whom thanks are to be given. “To God, even the Father.”

To God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore our

Father in Him.


Ø      Because it is only from Him we have anything that is good

James 1:17);


Ø      because it is only by Him we are preserved from evil (Psalm 121:7);


Ø      because He only is good in Himself (Luke 18:19).


ü      How should we give thanks to Him?


Ø      By humble confession of our unworthiness (Genesis 32:10;

Ephesians 3:8);


Ø      by humble acknowledgment of His mercies (Proverbs 3:6;

Psalm 145:1-9);


Ø      by improving everything to His glory (Proverbs 3:9);


Ø      by walking before Him in all well-pleasing.


ü      What must we thank Him for? “For all things.”


Ø      For our mercies — for sparing mercy, for recovering mercy, for

                        mercies both received and expected. You cannot expect a blessing

                        in them unless you are thankful for them; and the more thankful you

                        are for mercies received the more reason is there for your expecting



Ø      For all providences — for prosperity or adversity, for health or

                        sickness. The afflictions may be mixed with mercies, and may be

                        the means of quickening our graces (Psalm 119:67).  [I would

                        like to recommend a Daily Devotional book Streams in the

                        Desert by L. B. Cowman – it is full of spiritual teaching and

                        rationale concerning the above ideas – My own copy was

                        given to me by my daughter who has lung cancer – I am

                        going through it daily for the second consecutive year – in

                        preparing this entry, I found that the book is public domain

                        and with a little research you may find a daily entry on the

                        internet – it will be well worth the effort - CY – 2010]


ü      How often must we thank Him? Always.” It must be continuous. The

                        heart must be kept in a constantly thankful frame, and not expend itself

                        at mere intervals in acts of devout thanksgiving.


ü      Through whom are our thanksgivings to be made acceptable to God?

                 “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are authorized to use this

                  Name as our warrant for expecting the acceptance of our services as well

                  as the fullest enjoyment of all spiritual mercies.


  • MUTUAL SUBMISSION. The effect of the Spirit’s full enjoyment is

            to produce a humble and loving spirit among Christian people.


ü      The duty of mutual submission. This principle, which is inconsistent with

                  a reverse egotism or a self-opinionated superiority, has great and happy

                  effects. It reduces the friction of human life, and contributes greatly to its

                  comfort and peace. It has nothing in common with the servile and

                  obsequious temper which is such a dishonor to manhood. Let us mutually

                  condescend to each other. In lowliness of mind let each esteem other

                  better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). All of you be subject one to

                  another, and be clothed with humility” (I Peter 5:5). We are not

                  isolated units in society. “The essential equality of men and their mutual

                  dependence lay the foundation for the obligation of mutual subjection.”


ü      The element or sphere in which this duty is to be maintained. “In the

                  fear of Christ.” This is not terror, but the solemn reverence with which we

                  bow to the authority of our Divine Lord. Our submission is grounded in

                  our reverence for Him, in our fear of offending Him by our airs of

                  assumption or authority, in our supreme regard for His holy will. Thus

                  Christianity lifts the commonest duties and civilities and amenities

                  of social  life into the highest sphere, by connecting them with the

                  supreme lordship of Christ over His saints.



                        Exhortation to Relative Duties (vs. 22 – ch. 6:9)


The Apostle Peter, in his First Epistle, after dwelling on the privileges of

believers, strongly urges them to have their conversation honest or fair

among the Gentiles, exemplifying, by the purity and beauty of their life, the

excellence of the principles and privileges of the gospel; and then he

branches out into three cases or relations that afford scope for this mode of

life — that of subjects to their rulers, that of servants to their masters, and

in (ch. 3:1-9) that of wives to their husbands and husbands to their wives.

Though Peter and Paul moved in different orbits, yet, from the strength of the

convictions held by them in common, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in them

both, they were led to enforce wonderfully similar applications of the great

principles of the gospel. Paul, like Peter, brings forward three relations, the

only difference being that, in place of the relation of subjects to their rulers,

he has that of children to their parents, and the corresponding duty of

parents to their children. We have the clearest proof of its being the

purpose of Christianity to purify and elevate the common relations of life.

(Mr. Spurgeon said that the sole purpose of Christianity was to “sanctify

the secular”).  Much of the visible fruit of true religion lies in its making better

subjects (citizens), better spouses, better children, better servants. Pagans were

struck with the excellence of Christian women. The mother of Chrysostom won

golden  opinions by remaining a widow from her twenty-first year. “What women

these Christians have!” was the exclamation of some. (Then why so much

anti-Christian focus on women in America?  so much anti-family bias by

the entertainment media in America?  Sounds like it is counter-productive to

me! – CY – 2010) Christian women were wonderful missionaries in the early

centuries by their devout, pure, and earnest lives; many was the pagan who,

“without the Word, was won by the conversation of the wife.”  (I Peter 3:1)

Such lives are doubly blessed — blessed in themselves, and blessed in their

influence on the world.


22  “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

 Though Christianity emancipates and elevates woman, it does not release her

from the duty of subjection (comp. I Peter 3:1-6). The relation to the husband is

intensified in order to enforce the duty:  - toi~v ijdioi~v ajndra>si: - “your own husbands,”

The “as to” denotes a parallel duty: as it is your duty to be subject to Christ, so

also to your husbands (see next verse).


23  “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the

Church:” - The woman was made for the man (Genesis 2:18; I Timothy 2:13),

showing the Divine purpose that the man should be the head and center of the

household, and that the position of the wife, as wife, should be one of subordination.

Parallel to this arrangement is the relation of Christ to the Church. In words,

at least, all admit the headship of Christ, and the subordination of the Church to Him.

The Christian household, on a much lower level, should exemplify the same

relation“and He is the savior of the body.”  Christ not only saves the Church,

but governs it; He not only redeemed it by His atoning death, but is its continuous

Preserver and Director, His life the very life of His people:  “Because I live, ye

shall live also.”  (John 14:19)  This is not said by way of contrast, but still by

way of parallel. The very savior-ship of Christ should find an analogy in

the Christian husband. The husband should be the ever-vigilant and self-denying

protector, guardian, deliverer, of his family, though his saving power can never come

near the high level of Christ’s A husband reckless of these obligations virtually

ceases to have any claim on the subjection of the wife and the family. The very

comparison of the husband to the Savior implies that, while there is a certain analogy,

there is a still greater contrast. This is implied in the first word of the following

verse. Between the lines we read this thought: “Not that the parallel between

Christ’s saving function and the husband’s extends to the highest things.”


24  “Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be

to their own husbands in everything.”  Let there be a subjection in the one

case parallel to that in the other, for such is the Divine will and purpose. Any

subjection due to the husband must be modified by what is due to God, for as

the husband may not require for himself, so the wife may not give to him,

what is God’s:  God’s will is paramount over all. Of the three wills that may

be in collision, viz. God’s, the husband’s, and the wife’s — the duty of the wife is

to take them in this order, having regard first to God’s, next to her husband’s, and

last to her own.  (This certainly goes against the grain of present American and

European culture and may explain some things.  CY – 2010)


25  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church,

and gave Himself for it (her).”  The husband’s duty to the wife is enforced by

another parallel — it ought to correspond to Christ’s love for the Church.

This parallel restores the balance; if it should seem hard for the wife to be in

subjection, the spirit of love, Christ-like love, on the part of the husband

makes the duty easy. Christ did not merely pity the Church, or merely desire

her good, but loved her; her image was stamped on His heart and her name graven

on His hands; He desired to have her for His companion, longing for a return of

her affection, for the establishment of sympathy between her and Him. And

He gave Himself for her (comp. v. 2), showing that her happiness and welfare

were dearer to Him than His own — the true test of deep, real love.


26  “That He might sanctify and cleanse it (her) with the washing of water

by the Word.”  The immediate object of Christ was to cleanse her, and for this

end He used the Word as a purifying agent, washing her by means of it. The

difference between selfish and unselfish love is seen here: a selfish lover cares

for his wife in his own interest like Samson, desires to have her simply because

she pleases him, (Judges 14:7) and, in his converse with her, thinks, not of her

good, but of his own enjoyment; but the love of an unselfish lover constrains him

to seek her good, to do nothing that will hurt her and damage her in any manner

of way, but to do everything that he believes will advance her well-being, especially

in the highest sense. He finds her polluted (comp. Ezekiel 16:1-6), and His great

instrument of cleansing is “the Word” (comp. John 15:3) — the Word in all its

searching, humbling, rebuking, correcting, informing, stimulating, refreshing, consoling

power. There is no express allusion to baptism, tw~| loutrw~| tou~ u[datov - “the

washing of water” is explained by ejn rJh>mati, - “the Word” being the great

sanctifying medium, and baptism a figure (I Peter 3:21).


27  That He might present it (her) to Himself a glorious church,” - “as His

purchased possession,” (ch. 1:14) and He and no other will receive the Church as

His bride to Himself.  The ultimate end, to which v. 26 is introductory. Christ both

gives and takes the bride; He presents her to Himself — the day of His espousals

being in the state of glory (Revelation 21:2), and all the training of this life being

designed to fit her for that condition. She becomes glorious at last through

assimilation to Himself  (II Corinthians 3:18; John 17:22) – “not having spot,

or wrinkle, or any such thing;” -  The idea is that of a body perfectly free

from blemish, typical of a soul perfectly delivered from sin — of a character

 perfected in all grace and goodness – “but that it should be holy and without

blemish.”  The same truth expressed in positive form, which in the preceding clause

is expressed in the negative. Nothing could more clearly denote perfection of

character — the full development of the character with whatever of variety may

arise from differences in natural gifts and constitution, or convey a more glorious

 idea of the destiny of redeemed humanity. To be, as it were, the bride of

Christ is a high destiny in point of condition; but it would be miserable if

character did not tally with condition; this agreement, however, is secured, for

the Church is to be holy and without blemish.  She will have neither the spots

of sin or error to mar her beauty nor the wrinkles of decay, but will be “holy and

without blemish.”  As Christ also loved the Church.”  (v. 25)  It was Christ’s

love that prompted and directed the whole process which is to have such a

glorious result.  This refers evidently to the time of our Lords second coming,

when He is to be admired in all them that believe (II Thessalonians 1:10). It

cannot refer to the Church in this world, which, even in its best states, has many a

spot and many a wrinkle.


28  So ought men (husbands) to love their wives as their own bodies.”

 A new illustration is introduced here to throw light on the bearing of the husband

to his wife, and the ou[twv - hoo’-toce;  - an adverb meaning “in this way” or

“in this manner” and seems to refer, not to what goes before, but to what follows

(comp. in v. 33). “He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”  His wife is part of

himself, so that not to love her as himself is not only a sin against law, but a sin

against nature.


29  “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and

cherisheth it, even as Christ the Church.”  (The King James Version

which is used on this web site has “the Lord” but the original has “Christ”

CY – 2010).   To hate one’s wife is as irrational as to hate one’s own flesh,

and as, on the other hand, men constantly nourish and cherish their flesh,

protecting it from hurt, seeking to heal it when hurt, and generally to promote

its welfare and comfort, so ought husbands to act towards their wives. In this

aspect of the case, too, the sharp eye of the apostle finds an analogy between

the relation of the wife to the husband and that of the Church to Christ,

expanded in the next verse.


30  “For we are members of His body [being], of His flesh, and of His bones”

(the last seven words omitted in many manuscripts and in the R.V. [ and so also

in the Greek New Testament which I have had since college days in the 1960’s –

CY – 2010]). The reference is to the original formation of woman as narrated in

Genesis 2. Her very name indicated that she was “taken from man.” (I ask of

all the Women Libs, “Was it worth it {their physical existence}?” as I used to ask

students in American History class in reference to the Black population of North

America – “Was what their ancestors went through worth the status of  Black

individuals and their opportunities of today [in re: to the status of third world Blacks

today?  Only women and Blacks can answer this question and, no doubt, there

would be varied and interesting answers.  The way I see it, the Women’s Lib reply

would be based on spiritual issues while that of race would be based on physical or

material issues – CY – 2010)  She was taken from him and given to him. So the Church

is taken from Christ and given to Him. Taken from His body, sprung from His incarnation

and His crucifixion and resurrection, the spiritual offspring of His humanity, and then given

to Him, to be His servant, nay, above a servant, His companion, friend, and confidant for

evermore. If it had not been for the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:5) the Church could

have had no existence. No bride fit for the King of heaven could have sprung from the earth.

As Eve came from the opened side of Adam, so figuratively the Church springs from the

pierced side of Jesus.


31  “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined

(cleave) unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”  Quoted in substance from

Genesis 2:24. It seems to be introduced simply to show the closeness of the relation

between man and wife; it is such as in a sense to supersede that between parent and child.

The apostle (as appears from the next verse) has in view, at the same time, the parallel

truth — the closeness of the relation between Christ and the Church; it too

in a sense supersedes the relations of nature (comp. Luke 14:26; Matthew 12:50).


32  “This is a great mystery:  but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”

The matter referred to is the typical relation between the marriage of man and wife,

and the union of Christ and the Church. It is called a mystery, and it is not said, as is

said of another mystery, referred to before (ch. 3:5), that it has been completely

explained. Some light has been thrown upon it, but that is all. It is implied

that there is something of mystery in many of the relations between things

natural and things spiritual, but that in the depth and grandeur of the subject,

the mystery connected with the marriage relation is pre-eminent — it

is “a great mystery”.  The analogy of the wind to the Holy Spirit; the

springing up of plants to the resurrection; the melancholy sounds of nature

to the prevalence of sin; and many other analogies, present vague shadows

of truth, the clear, full forms of which we cannot see. When the day breaks

and “the shadows flee away,” (Song of Solomon 2:17; 4:6) such things will appear

in a clearer light.


33  “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife

even as himself;” -  The “nevertheless” refers to the unsolved part of the

mystery: whatever may be mysterious, there is no mystery as to this, as to

the duty of each husband to love his wife even as himself: that, as already

shown, is clear from many considerations – “and the wife see that she

reverence (fear) her husband.”  Not, of course, with the slavish fear of one

terrified and trembling because of a stronger being, but with the holy respect due

to one to whom, by the will of God, she stands in a subordinate relation. 

(Compare I Corinthians 11:10 where it seems to mean that the woman should

benefit from the experience of the fallen angels who tried to usurp the authority

of God – CY – 2010)  The relation of Sarah to Abraham may again be referred

to as indicating the true ideal of the relation of the wife to the husband.



                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES (vs. 22-33)


  • THE WIFE’S DUTY. Submission to the husband as to the Lord (vs. 22-24).

      Reasons for this.


ü      The husband is the head of the wife (v. 23).

ü      There is a parallel between the husband and Christ (v. 23).

ü      Even in respect of Christ’s saving power, the parallel holds to a limited,

      though very limited, extent (v. 23).

ü      The parallel is close enough to require the subjection of the wife (v. 24).


  • THE DUTIES OF WIVES. They are all summed up in the one word —

            subjection. It is singular that the apostle does not command the wife to

            love her husband as the husband is commanded to love his wife. Her love is

            commanded elsewhere (Titus 2:4), but not here. It has been observed

            that what is instinctive is not enforced, but only what is necessary to hallow

            and direct our instincts. The husband is to be the head; yet he is not

            commanded to govern; but he is commanded to love, as the means of

            securing subjection or submission on the part of the wife. She, again, loves

            more naturally and more passionately than man; her love is no subject of

            command, it is taken for granted; and the apostle commands her to obey

            and honor her husband as the best expression of this love. Jeremy Taylor

            says, “He rules her by authority, she rules him by love; she ought by all

            means to please him, and he must by no means displease her.” Her great

            duty, then, is subjection. Let us see what it involves.


ü      It is not servitude. It is not like the obedience of servants to masters, nor

                  even like that of children to parents. It is a submission that recognizes the

                  husband’s rule as just, tender, and wise.


ü      It is a wise and loving obedience. Wives are “to be obedient to their

                 own husbands” (Titus 2:5). Sarah is quoted by another apostle as an

                 example of this obedience (I Peter 3:1-6). It was necessary to

                 emphasize this duty at a time when Christianity gave woman a new

                 position of dignity and privilege, and when there might have been a

                 temptation on the part of Christian wives who had unbelieving husbands to

                 assert an authority over them inconsistent with the original institution of

                 marriage. There is to be no dual authority in the family. The gospel

                 made them both “heirs together of the grace of life,” (Ibid. v. 7 – this

                 is one of my favorite verses – CY – 2010) as it made “both male and female

                one in Christ,” yet, even in religious or ecclesiastical matters, she was not

                to usurp authority over the man, but “to be in silence” (I Timothy 2:12).


ü      It is an obedience within limits, though the wives are enjoined to be

                  subject to their husbands “in everything,” that is, in everything within the

                  due sphere of a husband’s authority, for they are not to obey him in

                  anything contrary to God and His Law. They are to obey God rather

                  than man.


ü      It is an obedience fashioned in its conditions and spirit upon the

                  subjection of the Church to Christ. “As the Church is subject unto

                 Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (v. 24)

                 This implies that the wife’s obedience is not to be forced or feigned, but

                  springing naturally out of her affection to her husband, her dependence upon

                  him, and her recognition of the just grounds of his superiority.


ü      It implies fear, or reverence. “Let the wife see that she reverence her

                 husband” (v. 33), not despising him in her heart, as Michal despised

                 David (II Samuel 6:16), but, like Sarah, calling her husband “lord”

                 (I Peter 3:6). The chaste conversation of the wife is to be “coupled

                 with fear”  (Ibid. v. 2) to assert its own power.




ü      The husbands recognized headship in the original institution of

                  marriage. “The head of the woman is the man” (I Corinthians 11:3).

                  Her obedience, therefore, while a religious duty, has its foundation in



Ø      The man was first formed. “Adam was first formed, then Eve”

      (I Timothy 2:13).


Ø      The man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man

                        (I Corinthians 11:9).


Ø      The woman was first in transgression. “Adam was not deceived, but

       the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (I Timothy 2:14).


Ø      The woman is the “glory of the man,” but the man is the image and

                        glory of God” (I Corinthians 11:7).


ü      Her dependent position. As the “weaker vessel,” (I Peter 3:7) she needs

      protection, while he far excels her in those qualities which entitle to command.

     Yet his superiority in these respects is consistent with his inferiority to the

     woman in gentleness, patience, sympathy, love, delicacy of sentiment.


ü      The fitness of things. She is to be subject to her own husband. (v. 24)

      This expressive phrase points to the closeness, exclusiveness, and specialty

      of the relationship. It is thus a great mischief to unsex woman by denying

      or disregarding the superiority of man.


ü      The similarity of the relation to that between the Church and Christ.

                 “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own

                 husbands in everything.” (Ibid.) - As Christ is the Source of authority and

                 direction to the Church, as He exercises both with meekness and gentleness,

                 so is the husband to the wife. She is bound, therefore, to give him the

                 obedience the Church gives to Christ, limited, of course, by the nature of

                 the relation and the authority of God. She is not to identify her husband’s

                 claims with Christ, as if her Savior could supersede or weaken the just

                 authority of her husband over her. A religious wife loves and honors her

                husband all the more from the very intenseness of her love to Christ.

                Her very obedience, too, fashioned upon the obedience of the Church to

                Christ, becomes tributary to her influence over her husband. Christianity

                has lifted woman to a high place, but without unsexing her. The old pagan

                writer, Libanius, might well exclaim, “Oh what women these Christians




  • THE HUSBAND’S DUTY. To love his wife. This is enforced:


ü      By the consideration of what Christ felt and did for His Church.


Ø      He loved the Church (v. 25).

Ø      He gave Himself for her (v. 25). And the object for which He did so.


o       His immediate object (v. 26).

o       His ultimate object (v. 27).


ü      By the consideration of the closeness of the relation of the wife to the

                  husband as his own flesh. This relation is considered


Ø      naturally (vs. 28-29);

Ø      symbolically (v. 30).



  • THE DUTIES OF HUSBANDS - As the duties of wives are comprehended

      in the single duty of subjection, the duties of husbands are comprehended in the

      single duty of love. The injunction is significantly repeated three times, as if to

      indicate that it was essentially needed to correct or qualify his sense of sovereignty

      or superiority over her. Consider three points.




ü      It is peculiar in its nature, unlike the love of parent or child, friend or

                  neighbor. “He is to love his wife even as himself.”  (v. 28)


ü      It is single, exclusive, and undivided in its object; for the husband is to

                  devote to his one wife all the affection of his life. “Rejoice with the wife of

                  thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18-19). This fact is the condemnation of

                  bigamy and polygamy.


ü      It is to be considerate and tender, excluding all bitterness. “Husbands,

                 love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Colossians 3:19).

                 Husbands are “to dwell with their wives according to knowledge

                 (I Peter 3:7); that is, with a due consideration to their condition as “the

                 weaker vessel,” and with a disposition to hide or bear with their

                 weaknesses or infirmities. It is to be a love that will make it unnecessary

                 for the husband ever to command his wife. The gospel counterpart of

                “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands,” (v. 22) is not

                 “Husbands,  command our wives.” but “love your wives.”


ü      It is to be mutual. The wife’s love is presupposed, though elsewhere it is

                  expressly commanded (Titus 2:4). The husband is to love her as she

                  loves him. The rightful confidence and sympathy of married life are

                  impossible without mutual affection. All marriages of convenience or

                  self-interest are thus condemned. Love must be the basis of marriage.


ü      It is to be constant and lasting, notwithstanding all the weaknesses or

                  failings of the wife.




ü      In providing for the temporal support of a wife. The husband is to

                 nourish and cherish” his wife. He that provideth not for his own is

                  worse than an unbeliever (I Timothy 5:8).


ü      He must consult her happiness and pleasure; for “he that is married is

      to care that he may please his wife” (I Corinthians 7:33).


ü      He must protect her life, her honor, her good name; for she is “the

                  weaker vessel.” He must “give honor to the wife” (I Peter 3:7).


ü      He is to seek her spiritual welfare. He is to pray for her and with her,

                  remembering that she is an heir with him of the grace of life, “that your

                  prayers be not hindered.” (Ibid.)




ü      The original law of marriage. “For this cause shall a man leave his

                  father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the twain shall

                 become one flesh.”   (Genesis 2:24) - The union implies such an identification

                 of interest, property, and relationship to the world as to make them almost one

                 person.  (Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be said of each of our marriages, “If

                 two were ever one, then WE!”  disobedience and abuse of this law

                 help explain why there is so much heartache in the world and also

                 unriddles the powerlessness of the modern church! CY – 2010)


ü      The wife is the husbands other self. She is not only one flesh with

                   himself, but she is his very body. “No man ever yet hated his own flesh,”

                   (v. 29) except the fanatics of ascetic devotion.


ü      The help, comfort, and blessing she brings to him. She is given to him

                  as “an help meet;” (Genesis 2:18) - she is his companion. “Yet she is thy

                  companion and the wife of thy covenant” (Malachi 2:14). The heart of the

                  husband “safely trusts in her” (Proverbs 31:11).


ü      She is the weaker vessel. A spirit of chivalry ought to surround her with

                  the shield of protecting love.


ü      She is the glory of the man” (I Corinthians 11:7) — his honor and

                  ornament and delight.


ü      His union with her is typical of the blessed union that exists between

                 Christ and the Church. All the love and self-sacrifice and service which

                 Christ expended upon the Church supply the type of a husband’s duty to

                  his wife




The Church is taken from Christ and given to Christ. The relation of the husband

to his wife supersedes (in a manner) the relations of nature. The relation of

the Church to Christ does so too (v. 31). But the subject is mysterious

(v. 32). Yet one practical obligation is very clear (v. 33).  We are set in a curiously

various scheme of relations, in which the two principles of union and subjection

(husband and wife) are beautifully blended.  With children added to this God-

ordained union, religion rounds out the life of the family in a lovely completeness.





            In exhorting the Ephesians to purity and enthusiasm of life, Paul is

            naturally led to the family institution and the relations to be found there. In

            the heathen world the relations between men and women were degrading.

            As Pressense says, in his most suggestive book, ‘La Famille Chretienne,’

            “One found in the pagan family neither purity nor love. At the moment

            when Jesus Christ came, it had reached the last degree of degradation, and

            one can apply to the family itself those words of the Gospel, ‘He has come

            to seek and to save that which was lost.’” (Matthew 18:11) - In this

            passage of Ephesians we have an insight into what Christ has done for the

            family. He has made of marriage the choice symbol of His own relation to

            the Church, and so family life is lifted into a Divine and spiritual light. The

            consideration of Christ for His people regulates the consideration husband

            should show to wife; and the loyalty of Christ’s people to their Master indicates

            the loyalty the wife should show the husband. Husbands and wives thus owe to

            Christ the purification of their relations and the sanctification of the home!


Jesus left iHis home to be united to His bride, the Church. (v. 31.) It is evident that the

parallel between the son leaving father and mother that he may cleave unto his wife,

and Jesus leaving the bosom of the Father to be united to the bride, the Church, is

what is in the apostle’s mind. He says that he speaks of Christ and the Church (v. 32).

And in no more beautiful way can the self-denial of Jesus in leaving heaven be

presented. Heaven had been from all eternity the happy home of the only begotten Son.

He had lain in the Father’s bosom and enjoyed ineffable bliss. But thoughts of marriage

came, and the Father favored the Son’s idea. The morning dawned when Jesus must

leave the homestead, and go forth to win his bride. Angels may well have wondered

at the step and doubted its wisdom. But the step is taken. The home is left, and never

again can it be what it once was. It is to be tenanted in due time with a bride, the

Lamb’s wife, composed of a multitude that no man can number, (Revelation 7:9) –

happy souls, each and all in deepest unity with the Son. We do not

sufficiently appreciate the magnificent design of God in the marriage of His

only Son, or the condescension of the Son in forming such an alliance as He

has done. For no condescension in earthly marriages can more than feebly

illustrate the condescension of the Divine Son in taking a human bride.

Princes may marry paupers, but the difference between poverty and

princely wealth is as nothing compared with the difference between human

nature and what is Divine. But besides, the human nature was not pure

upon which He set his love; it was sinful, lost, ruined. Imagine a prince, out

of pure as distinguished from passionate love, singling out some poor,

abandoned woman, and arranging for her education and health and

elevation in thought and feeling, until at last he can fairly marry her and

give her share of his glories and his home; — this is but a faint image of

what Jesus the Son of God has done in selecting as a bride the ruined

human race. (Compare Hosea 3) He determined to win His bride, and so

He took sinless human nature on him, and arranged for the union of once sinful,

but through grace sanctified, human nature with Himself.


                                                In Summary


The constitution of the Church, like that of natural society, involves mutual

duties. Nothing can be complete unless each party performs his share.

While it is the woman’s part to be in subjection, it is the husband’s part

to love. The one balances the other. It is the duty of the wife to be subject

even though the husband does not love, and the duty of the husband to

love even though the wife is not subject; but how hard, difficult, almost

impossible, such duties thus become! If the husband withhold love, he is

wronging his wife, and altogether subverting the relation between them.

Let’ it ever be observed that, while God has joined husband and wife

together, He has joined the husband’s love to the wife’s subjection; what,

therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  (Oh, what

problems we have in this country and world, through rebellion such as this!

CY – 2010)




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