Exhortation to brotherly love. (1,2) Cautions against several sins. (3-14) Directions to a contrary behaviour, and to relative duties. (15-21) The duties of wives and husbands are enforced by the spiritual relation between Christ and the church. (22-33)
Verses 1-2 Because God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you, therefore be ye followers of God, imitators of God. Resemble him especially in his love and pardoning goodness, as becomes those beloved by their heavenly Father. In Christ's sacrifice his love triumphs, and we are to consider it fully.
Verses 3-14 Filthy lusts must be rooted out. These sins must be dreaded and detested. Here are not only cautions against gross acts of sin, but against what some may make light of. But these things are so far from being profitable. that they pollute and poison the hearers. Our cheerfulness should show itself as becomes Christians, in what may tend to God's glory. A covetous man makes a god of his money; places that hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly good, which should be in God only. Those who allow themselves, either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they come to the kingdom of glory. When the vilest transgressors repent and believe the gospel, they become children of obedience, from whom God's wrath is turned away. Dare we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God? Sinners, like men in the dark, are going they know not whither, and doing they know not what. But the grace of God wrought a mighty change in the souls of many. Walk as children of light, as having knowledge and holiness. These works of darkness are unfruitful, whatever profit they may boast; for they end in the destruction of the impenitent sinner. There are many ways of abetting, or taking part in the sins of others; by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And if we share with others in their sins, we must expect to share in their plagues. If we do not reprove the sins of others, we have fellowship with them. A good man will be ashamed to speak of what many wicked men are not ashamed to do. We must have not only a sight and a knowledge that sin is sin, and in some measure shameful, but see it as a breach of God's holy law. After the example of prophets and apostles, we should call on those asleep and dead in sin, to awake and arise, that Christ may give them light.
Verses 15-21 Another remedy against sin, is care, or caution, it being impossible else to maintain purity of heart and life. Time is a talent given us by God, and it is misspent and lost when not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must double our diligence for the future. Of that time which thousands on a dying bed would gladly redeem at the price of the whole world, how little do men think, and to what trifles they daily sacrifice it! People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that stirred them more to redeem time. Be not unwise. Ignorance of our duty, and neglect of our souls, show the greatest folly. Drunkenness is a sin that never goes alone, but carries men into other evils; it is a sin very provoking to God. The drunkard holds out to his family and to the world the sad spectacle of a sinner hardened beyond what is common, and hastening to perdition. When afflicted or weary, let us not seek to raise our spirits by strong drink, which is hateful and hurtful, and only ends in making sorrows more felt. But by fervent prayer let us seek to be filled with the Spirit, and to avoid whatever may grieve our gracious Comforter. All God's people have reason to sing for joy. Though we are not always singing, we should be always giving thanks; we should never want disposition for this duty, as we never want matter for it, through the whole course of our lives. Always, even in trials and afflictions, and for all things; being satisfied of their loving intent, and good tendency. God keeps believers from sinning against him, and engages them to submit one to another in all he has commanded, to promote his glory, and to fulfil their duties to each other.
Verses 22-33 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.
Ephesians 5:1-33 . EXHORTATIONS TO LOVE: AND AGAINST CARNAL LUSTS AND COMMUNICATIONS. CIRCUMSPECTION IN WALK: REDEEMING THE TIME: BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT: SINGING TO THE LORD WITH THANKFULNESS: THE WIFE'S DUTY TO THE HUSBAND RESTS ON THAT OF THE CHURCH TO CHRIST.
1. therefore--seeing that "God in Christ forgave you" ( Ephesians 4:32 ).
followers--Greek, "imitators" of God, in respect to "love" ( Ephesians 5:2 ): God's essential character ( 1 John 4:16 ).
as dear children--Greek, "as children beloved"; to which Ephesians 5:2 refers, "As Christ also loved us" ( 1 John 4:19 ). "We are sons of men, when we do ill; sons of God, when we do well" [AUGUSTINE, on Psalm 52]; (compare Matthew 5:44 Matthew 5:45 Matthew 5:48 ). Sonship infers an absolute necessity of imitation, it being vain to assume the title of son without any similitude of the Father [PEARSON].
2. And--in proof that you are so.
walk in love--resuming Ephesians 4:1 , "walk worthy of the vocation."
as Christ . . . loved us--From the love of the Father he passes to the love of the Son, in whom God most endearingly manifests His love to us.
given himself for us--Greek, "given Himself up (namely, to death, Galatians 2:20 ) for us," that is, in our behalf: not here vicarious substitution, though that is indirectly implied, "in our stead." The offerer, and the offering that He offered, were one and the same ( John 15:13 , Romans 5:8 ).
offering and a sacrifice--"Offering" expresses generally His presenting Himself to the Father, as the Representative undertaking the cause of the whole of our lost race ( Psalms 40:6-8 ), including His life of obedience; though not excluding His offering of His body for us ( Hebrews 10:10 ). It is usually an unbloody offering, in the more limited sense. "Sacrifice" refers to His death for us exclusively. Christ is here, in reference to Psalms 40:6 (quoted again in Hebrews 10:5 ), represented as the antitype of all the offerings of the law, whether the unbloody or bloody, eucharistical or propitiatory.
for a sweet-smelling savour--Greek, "for an odor of a sweet smell," that is, God is well pleased with the offering on the ground of its sweetness,and so is reconciled to us ( Ephesians 1:6 Matthew 3:17 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 Hebrews 10:6-17 ). The ointment compounded of principal spices, poured upon Aaron's head, answers to the variety of the graces by which He was enabled to "offer Himself a sacrifice for a sweet-smelling savor." Another type, or prophecy by figure, was "the sweet savor" ("savor of rest," Margin) which God smelled in Noah's sacrifice ( Genesis 8:21 ). Again, as what Christ is, believers also are ( 1 John 4:17 ), and ministers are: Paul says ( 2 Corinthians 2:17 ) "we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ."
3. once named--Greek, "Let it not be even named" ( Ephesians 5:4 Ephesians 5:12 ). "Uncleanness" and "covetousness" are taken up again from Ephesians 4:19 . The two are so closely allied that the Greek for "covetousness" (pleonexia) is used sometimes in Scripture, and often in the Greek Fathers, for sins of impurity. The common principle is the longing to fill one's desire with material objects of sense, outside of God. The expression, "not be even named," applies better to impurity, than to "covetousness."
4. filthiness--obscenity in act or gesture.
foolish talking--the talk of fools, which is folly and sin together. The Greek of it, and of "filthiness," occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.
nor--rather, "or" (compare Ephesians 5:3 ).
jesting--Greek, "eutrapelia"; found nowhere else in the New Testament: implying strictly that versatility which turns about and adapts itself, without regard to principle, to the shifting circumstances of the moment, and to the varying moods of those with whom it may deal. Not scurrile buffoonery, but refined "persiflage" and "badinage," for which Ephesus was famed [PLAUTUS, A Boastful Soldier, 3.1,42-52], and which, so far from being censured, was and is thought by the world a pleasant accomplishment. In Colossians 3:8 , "filthy communication" refers to the foulness; "foolish talking," to the folly; "jesting," to the false refinement (and trifling witticism [TITTMANN]) Of discourse unseasoned with the salt of grace [TRENCH].
not convenient--"unseemly"; not such "as become saints" ( Ephesians 5:3 ).
rather giving of thanks--a happy play on sounds in Greek, "eucharistia" contrasted with "eutrapelia"; refined "jesting" and subtle humor sometimes offend the tender feelings of grace; "giving of thanks" gives that real cheerfulness of spirit to believers which the worldly try to get from "jesting" ( Ephesians 5:19 Ephesians 5:20 , 5:13 ).
5. this ye know--The oldest manuscripts read, "Of this ye are sure knowing"; or as ALFORD, "This ye know being aware."
covetous . . . idolater--( Colossians 3:5 ). The best reading may be translated, That is to say, literally, which is (in other words) an idolater. Paul himself had forsaken all for Christ ( 2 Corinthians 6:10 , 11:27 ). Covetousness is worship of the creature instead of the Creator, the highest treason against the King of kings ( 1 Samuel 15:3 , Matthew 6:24 , Philippians 3:19 , 1 John 2:15 ).
hath--The present implies the fixedness of the exclusion, grounded on the eternal verities of that kingdom [ALFORD].
of Christ and of God--rather, as one Greek article is applied to both, "of Christ and God," implying their perfect oneness, which is consistent only with the doctrine that Christ is God (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:12 , 1 Timothy 5:21 , 6:13 ).
6. vain--empty, unreal words, namely, palliations of "uncleanness," Ephesians 5:3 Ephesians 5:4 , Isaiah 5:20 (that it is natural to indulge in love), "covetousness" (that it is useful to society that men should pursue gain), and "jesting" (that it is witty and clever, and that God will not so severely punish for such things).
because of these things--uncleanness, covetousness, &c. ( Ephesians 5:3-5 ).
cometh--present, not merely "shall come." Is as sure as if already come.
children--rather, "sons of disobedience" ( Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:3 ). The children of unbelief in doctrine ( Deuteronomy 32:20 ) are "children of disobedience" in practice, and these again are "children of wrath."
7. Here fellowship with wicked workers is forbidden; in Ephesians 5:11 , with their wicked works.
8. sometimes--"once." The emphasis is on "were." Ye ought to have no fellowship with sin, which is darkness, for your state as darkness is now PAST. Stronger than "in darkness" ( Romans 2:19 ).
light--not merely "enlightened"; but light enlightening others ( Ephesians 5:13 ).
in--in union with the Lord, who is THE LIGHT.
children of light--not merely "of the light"; just as "children of disobedience" is used on the opposite side; those whose distinguishing characteristic is light. PLINY, a heathen writing to Trajan, bears unwilling testimony to the extraordinary purity of Christians' lives, contrasted with the people around them.
9. fruit of the Spirit--taken by transcribers from Galatians 5:22 . The true reading is that of the oldest manuscripts, "The fruit of THE LIGHT"; in contrast with "the unfruitful works of darkness" ( Ephesians 5:11 ). This verse is parenthetic. Walk as children of light, that is, in all good works and words, "FOR the fruit of the light is [borne] in [ALFORD; but BENGEL, 'consists in'] all goodness [opposed to 'malice,' Ephesians 4:31 ], righteousness [opposed to 'covetousness,' Ephesians 5:3 ] and truth [opposed to 'lying,' Ephesians 4:25 ]."
10. Proving--construed with "walk" ( Ephesians 5:8 , Romans 12:1 Romans 12:2 ). As we prove a coin by the eye and the ear, and by using it, so by accurate and continued study, and above all by practice and experimental trial, we may prove or test "what is acceptable unto the Lord." This is the office of "light," of which believers are "children," to manifest what each thing is, whether sightly or unsightly.
11. unfruitful works of darkness--Sins are terminated in themselves, and therefore are called "works," not "fruits" ( Galatians 5:19 Galatians 5:22 ). Their only fruit is that which is not in a true sense fruit ( Deuteronomy 32:32 ), namely, "death" ( Romans 6:21 , Galatians 6:8 ). Plants cannot bear "fruit" in the absence of light. Sin is "darkness," and its parent is the prince of darkness ( Ephesians 6:12 ). Graces, on the other hand, as flourishing in "the light," are reproductive, and abound in fruits; which, as harmoniously combining in one whole, are termed (in the singular) "the FRUIT of the Spirit" ( Ephesians 5:9 ).
rather, &c.--Translate as Greek, "rather even reprove them" (compare Matthew 5:14-16 ). Not only "have no fellowship, but even reprove them," namely, in words, and in your deeds, which, shining with "the light," virtually reprove all that is contrary to light ( Ephesians 5:13 John 3:19-21 ). "Have no fellowship," does not imply that we can avoid all intercourse ( 1 Corinthians 5:10 ), but "avoid such fellowship as will defile yourselves"; just as light, though it touch filth, is not soiled by it; nay, as light detects it, so, "even reprove sin."
12. The Greek order is, "For the things done in secret by them, it is a shame even to speak of." The "for" gives his reason for "not naming" (compare Ephesians 5:3 ) in detail the works of darkness, whereas he describes definitely ( Ephesians 5:9 ) "the fruit of the light" [BENGEL]. "Speak of," I think, is used here as "speaking of without reproving," in contrast to "even reprove them." Thus the "for" expresses this, Reprove them, for to speak of them without reproving them, is a shame ( Ephesians 5:3 ). Thus "works of darkness" answers to "things done in secret."
13. that are reproved--rather, "when they are reproved," namely, by you ( Ephesians 5:11 ).
whatsoever doth make manifest--rather, "everything that is (that is, suffers itself to be) made manifest (or 'shone upon,' namely, by your 'reproving,' Ephesians 5:11 ) is (thenceforth no longer 'darkness,' Ephesians 5:8 , but) light." The devil and the wicked will not suffer themselves to be made manifest by the light, but love darkness, though outwardly the light shines round them. Therefore, "light" has no transforming effect on them, so that they do not become light ( John 3:19 John 3:20 ). But, says the apostle, you being now light yourselves ( Ephesians 5:8 ), by bringing to light through reproof those who are in darkness, will convert them to light. Your consistent lives and faithful reproofs will be your "armor of light" ( Romans 13:12 ) in making an inroad on the kingdom of darkness.
14. Wherefore--referring to the whole foregoing argument ( Ephesians 5:8 Ephesians 5:11 Ephesians 5:13 ). Seeing that light (spiritual) dispels the pre-existing darkness, He (God) saith . . . (compare the same phrase, Ephesians 4:8 ).
Awake--The reading of all the oldest manuscripts is "Up!" or, "Rouse thee!" a phrase used in stirring men to activity. The words are a paraphrase of Isaiah 60:1 Isaiah 60:2 , not an exact quotation. The word "Christ," shows that in quoting the prophecy, he views it in the light thrown on it by its Gospel fulfilment. As Israel is called on to "awake" from its previous state of "darkness" and "death" ( Isaiah 59:10 , 60:2 ), for that her Light is come; so the Church, and each individual is similarly called to awake. Believers are called on to "awake" out of sleep; unbelievers, to "arise" from the dead (compare Matthew 25:5 , Romans 13:11 , 1 Thessalonians 5:6 , with Ephesians 2:1 ).
Christ--"the true light," "the Sun of righteousness."
give thee light--rather, as Greek, "shall shine upon thee" (so enabling thee by being "made manifest" to become, and be, by the very fact, "light," Ephesians 5:13 ; then being so "enlightened," Ephesians 1:18 , thou shalt be able, by "reproving," to enlighten others).
15. that--rather as Greek, "See how ye walk," &c. The double idea is compressed into one sentence: "See (take heed) how ye walk," and "See that ye walk circumspectly." The manner, as well as the act itself, is included. See how ye are walking, with a view to your being circumspect (literally, accurate, exact) in your walk. Compare Colossians 4:5 , "Walk in wisdom (answering to 'as wise' here) toward them that are without" (answering to "circumspectly," that is, correctly, in relation to the unbelievers around, not giving occasion of stumbling to any, but edifying all by a consistent walk).
not as fools--Greek, "not as unwise, but as wise."
16. Redeeming the time--( Colossians 4:5 ). Greek, "Buying up for yourselves the seasonable time" (whenever it occurs) of good to yourselves and to others. Buying off from the vanities of "them that are without" ( Colossians 4:5 ), and of the "unwise" (here in Ephesians), the opportune time afforded to you for the work of God. In a narrower sense, special favorable seasons for good, occasionally presenting themselves, are referred to, of which believers ought diligently to avail themselves. This constitutes true "wisdom" ( Ephesians 5:15 ). In a larger sense, the whole season from the time that one is spiritually awakened, is to be "redeemed" from vanity for God (compare 2 Corinthians 6:2 , 1 Peter 4:2-4 ). "Redeem" implies the preciousness of the opportune season, a jewel to be bought at any price. WAHL explains, "Redeeming for yourselves (that is, availing yourselves of) the opportunity (offered you of acting aright), and commanding the time as a master does his servant." TITTMANN, "Watch the time, and make it your own so as to control it; as merchants look out for opportunities, and accurately choose out the best goods; serve not the time, but command it, and it shall do what you approve." So PINDAR [Pythia, 4.509], "The time followed him as his servant, and was not as a runaway slave."
because the days are evil--The days of life in general are so exposed to evil, as to make it necessary to make the most of the seasonable opportunity so long as it lasts ( Ephesians 6:13 , Genesis 47:9 , Psalms 49:5 , Ecclesiastes 11:2 , 12:1 , John 12:35 ). Besides, there are many special evil days (in persecution, sickness, &c.). when the Christian is laid by in silence; therefore he needs the more to improve the seasonable times afforded to him ( Amos 5:13 ), which Paul perhaps alludes to.
17. Wherefore--seeing that ye need to walk so circumspectly, choosing and using the right opportunity of good.
unwise--a different Greek word from that in Ephesians 5:15 . Translate, "foolish," or "senseless."
understanding--not merely knowing as a matter of fact ( Luke 12:47 ), but knowing with understanding.
the will of the Lord--as to how each opportunity is to be used. The Lord's will, ultimately, is our "sanctification" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ); and that "in every thing," meantime, we should "give thanks" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ; compare above, Ephesians 5:10 ).
18. excess--worthless, ruinous, reckless prodigality.
wherein--not in the wine itself when used aright ( 1 Timothy 5:23 ), but in the "excess" as to it.
but be filled with the Spirit--The effect in inspiration was that the person was "filled" with an ecstatic exhilaration, like that caused by wine; hence the two are here connected (compare Acts 2:13-18 ). Hence arose the abstinence from wine of many of the prophets, for example, John the Baptist, namely, in order to keep distinct before the world the ecstasy caused by the Spirit, from that caused by wine. So also in ordinary Christians the Spirit dwells not in the mind that seeks the disturbing influences of excitement, but in the well-balanced prayerful mind. Such a one expresses his joy, not in drunken or worldly songs, but in Christian hymns of thankfulness.
19. ( Colossians 3:16 ).
to yourselves--"to one another." Hence soon arose the antiphonal or responsive chanting of which PLINY writes to Trajan: "They are wont on a fixed day to meet before daylight [to avoid persecution] and to recite a hymn among themselves by turns, to Christ, as if being God." The Spirit gives true eloquence; wine, a spurious eloquence.
psalms--generally accompanied by an instrument.
hymns--in direct praise to God (compare Acts 16:25 , 1 Corinthians 14:26 , 5:13 ).
songs--the general term for lyric pieces; "spiritual" is added to mark their being here restricted to sacred subjects, though not merely to direct praises of God, but also containing exhortations, prophecies, &c. Contrast the drunken "songs," Amos 8:10 .
making melody--Greek, "playing and singing with an instrument."
in your heart--not merely with the tongue; but the serious feeling of the heart accompanying the singing of the lips (compare 1 Corinthians 14:15 , Psalms 47:7 ). The contrast is between the heathen and the Christian practice, "Let your songs be not the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns; and their accompaniment, not the music of the lyre, but the melody of the heart" [CONYBEARE and HOWSON].
to the Lord--See PLINY'S letter quoted above: "To Christ as God."
20. thanks . . . for all things--even for adversities; also for blessings, unknown as well as known ( Colossians 3:17 , 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ).
unto God and the Father--the Fountain of every blessing in Creation, Providence, Election, and Redemption.
Lord Jesus Christ--by whom all things, even distresses, become ours ( Romans 8:35 Romans 8:37 1 Corinthians 3:20-23 ).
21. ( Philippians 2:3 , 1 Peter 5:5 .) Here he passes from our relations to God, to those which concern our fellow men.
in the fear of God--All the oldest manuscripts and authorities read, "in the fear of CHRIST." The believer passes from under the bondage of the law as a letter, to be "the servant of Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 7:22 ), which, through the instinct of love to Him, is really to be "the Lord's freeman"; for he is "under the law to Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 9:21 ; compare John 8:36 ). Christ, not the Father ( John 5:22 ), is to be our judge. Thus reverential fear of displeasing Him is the motive for discharging our relative duties as Christians ( 1 Corinthians 10:22 , 2 Corinthians 5:11 , 1 Peter 2:13 ).
22. ( Ephesians 6:9 .) The Church's relation to Christ in His everlasting purpose, is the foundation and archetype of the three greatest of earthly relations, that of husband and wife ( Ephesians 5:22-33 ), parent and child ( Ephesians 6:1-4 ), master and servant ( Ephesians 6:4-9 ). The oldest manuscripts omit "submit yourselves"; supplying it from Ephesians 5:21 , "Ye wives (submitting yourselves) unto your own husbands." "Your own" is an argument for submissiveness on the part of the wives; it is not a stranger, but your own husbands whom you are called on to submit unto (compare Genesis 3:16 , 1 Corinthians 7:2 , 14:34 , Colossians 3:18 , Titus 2:5 , 1 Peter 3:1-7 ). Those subject ought to submit themselves, of whatever kind their superiors are. "Submit" is the term used of wives: "obey," of children ( Ephesians 6:1 ), as there is a greater equality between wives and husbands, than between children and parents.
as unto the Lord--Submissiveness is rendered by the wife to the husband under the eye of Christ, and so is rendered to Christ Himself. The husband stands to the wife in the relation that the Lord does to the Church, and this is to be the ground of her submission: though that submission is inferior in kind and degree to that which she owes Christ ( Ephesians 5:24 ).
23. ( 1 Corinthians 11:3 .)
even as--Greek, "as also."
and he is--The oldest manuscripts read, "Himself (being) Saviour," omitting "and," and "is." In Christ's case, the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having SAVED the body in the process of redemption; so that (Paul implies) 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 [ALFORD]. The husband is not saviour of the wife, in which particular Christ excels; hence, "But" ( Ephesians 5:24 ) follows [BENGEL].
24. Therefore--Translate, as Greek, "But," or "Nevertheless," that is, though there be the difference of headships mentioned in Ephesians 5:23 , nevertheless, thus far they are one, namely, in the subjection or submission (the same Greek stands for "is subject," as for "submit," Ephesians 5:21 Ephesians 5:22 ) of the Church to Christ, being the prototype of that of the wife to the husband.
their own--not in most of the oldest manuscripts, and not needed by the argument.
in every thing--appertaining to a husband's legitimate authority; "in the Lord" ( Colossians 3:18 ); everything not contrary to God.
25. "Thou hast seen the measure of obedience; now hear also the measure of love. Do you wish your wife to obey you, as the Church is to obey Christ? Then have a solicitude for her as Christ had for the Church ( Ephesians 5:23 , "Himself the Saviour of the body"); and "if it be necessary to give thy life for her, or to be cut in ten thousand pieces, or to endure any other suffering whatever, do not refuse it; and if you suffer thus, not even so do you do what Christ has done; for you indeed do so being already united to her, but He did so for one that treated Him with aversion and hatred. As, therefore, He brought to His feet one that so treated Him, and that even wantonly spurned Him, by much tenderness of regard, not by threats, insults, and terror: so also do you act towards your wife, and though you see her disdainful and wantonly wayward, you will be able to bring her to your feet by much thoughtfulness for her, by love, by kindness. For no bound is more sovereign in binding than such bonds, especially in the case of husband and wife. For one may constrain a servant by fear, though not even he is so to be bound to you; for he may readily run away. But the companion of your life, the mother of your children, the basis of all your joy, you ought to bind to you, not by fear and threats, but by love and attachment" [CHRYSOSTOM].
gave himself--Greek, "gave Himself up."
for it--Translate, "for her." The relation of the Church to Christ is the ground of Christianity's having raised woman to her due place in the social scale, from which she was, and is, excluded in heathen lands.
26. sanctify--that is, consecrate her to God. Compare John 17:19 , meaning, "I devote Myself as a holy sacrifice, that My disciples also may be devoted or consecrated as holy in (through) the truth" [NEANDER] ( Hebrews 2:11 , 10:10 , 13:12
and cleanse--rather, as Greek, "cleansing," without the "and."
with the washing of water--rather as Greek, "with," or "by the laver of the water," namely, the baptismal water. So it ought to be translated in Titus 3:5 , the only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs. As the bride passed through a purifying bath before marriage, so the Church (compare Revelation 21:2 ). 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 [NEANDER] ( 1 Peter 3:21 ).
by the word--Greek, "IN the word." To be joined with "cleansing it," or "her." The "word of faith" ( Romans 10:8 Romans 10:9 Romans 10:17 ), of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real cleansing ( John 15:3 , 17:17 ) and regenerating power ( 1 Peter 1:23 , 3:21 ) [ALFORD]. So AUGUSTINE [Tract 80, in John], "Take away the word, and what is the water save water? Add the word to the element, and it becomes a sacrament, being itself as it were the visible word." The regenerating efficacy of baptism is conveyed in, and by, the divine word alone.
27. 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 , &c. Revelation 19:7 , 21:2 ).
not having spot--( 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].
28. Translate, "So ought husbands also (thus the oldest manuscripts read) to love their own wives as their own bodies."
He that loveth his wife loveth himself--So there is the same love and the same union of body between Christ and the Church ( Ephesians 5:30 Ephesians 5:32 ).
29. For--Supply, and we all love ourselves: "For no man," &c.
his own flesh--( Ephesians 5:31 , end).
nourisheth--Greek, "nourisheth it up," namely, to maturity. "Nourisheth," refers to food and internal sustenance; "cherisheth," to clothing and external fostering.
even as--Translate, "even as also."
the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read, "Christ." Exodus 21:10 prescribes three duties to the husband. The two former (food and raiment) are here alluded to in a spiritual sense, by "nourisheth and cherisheth"; the third "duty of marriage" is not added in consonance with the holy propriety of Scripture language: its antitype is, "know the Lord" ( Hosea 2:19 Hosea 2:20 ) [BENGEL].
30. For--Greek, "Because" ( 1 Corinthians 6:15 ). Christ nourisheth and cherisheth the Church as being of one flesh with Him. Translate, "Because we are members of His body (His literal body), being OF His flesh and of His bones" [ALFORD] ( Genesis 2:23 Genesis 2:24 ). The Greek expresses, "Being formed out of" or "of the substance of His flesh." Adam's deep sleep, wherein Eve was formed from out of his opened side, is an emblem of Christ's death, which was the birth of the Spouse, the Church. John 12:24 , John 19:34 John 19:35 , to which Ephesians 5:25-27 allude, as implying atonement by His blood, and sanctification by the "water," answering to that which flowed from His side (compare also John 7:38 John 7:39 , 1 Corinthians 6:11 ). As Adam gave Eve a new name, Hebrew, "Isha," "woman," formed from his own rib, Ish, "man," signifying her formation from him, so Christ, Revelation 2:17 , 3:12 . Genesis 2:21 Genesis 2:23 Genesis 2:24 puts the bones first because the reference there is to the natural structure. But Paul is referring to the flesh of Christ. It is not our bones and flesh, but "we" that are spiritually propagated (in our soul and spirit now, and in the body hereafter, regenerated) from the manhood of Christ which has flesh and bones. We are members of His glorified body ( John 6:53 ). The two oldest existing manuscripts, and Coptic or Memphitic version, omit "of His flesh and of His bones"; the words may have crept into the text through the Margin from Genesis 2:23 , Septuagint. However, IRENÆUS, 294, and the old Latin and Vulgate versions, with some good old manuscripts, have them.
31. For--The propagation of the Church from Christ, as that of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual marriage. The natural marriage, wherein "a man leaves father and mother (the oldest manuscripts omit 'his') and is joined unto his wife," is not the principal thing meant here, but the spiritual marriage represented by it, and on which it rests, whereby Christ left the Father's bosom to woo to Himself the Church out of a lost world: Ephesians 5:32 proves this: His earthly mother as such, also, He holds in secondary account as compared with His spiritual Bride ( Luke 2:48 Luke 2:49 , 8:19-21 , Luke 11:27 Luke 11:28 ). He shall again leave His Father's abode to consummate the union ( Matthew 25:1-10 , Revelation 19:7 ).
they two shall be one flesh--So the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, &c., read ( Genesis 2:24 ), instead of "they shall be one flesh." So Matthew 19:5 . In natural marriage, husband and wife combine the elements of one perfect human being: the one being incomplete without the other. So Christ, as God-man, is pleased to make the Church, the body, a necessary adjunct to Himself, the Head. He is the archetype of the Church, from whom and according to whom, as the pattern, she is formed. He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife ( Romans 6:5 , 1 Corinthians 11:3 , 15:45 ). Christ will never allow any power to sever Himself and His bride, indissolubly joined ( Matthew 19:6 , John 10:28 John 10:29 , 13:1 ).
32. Rather, "This mystery is a great one." This profound truth, beyond man's power of discovering, but now revealed, namely, of the spiritual union of Christ and the Church, represented by the marriage union, is a great one, of deep import. be discovered save by revelation of God ( Romans 11:25 , 1 Corinthians 15:51 ). The Vulgate wrongly translates, "This is a great sacrament," which is made the plea by the Romish Church (in spite of the blunder having been long ago exposed by their own commentators, CAJETAN and ESTIUS) for making marriage a sacrament; it is plain not marriage in general, but that of Christ and the Church, is what is pronounced to be a "great mystery," as the words following prove, "I [emphatic] say it in regard to Christ and to the Church" (so the Greek is best translated). "I, while I quote these words out of Scripture, use them in a higher sense" [CONYBEARE and HOWSON].
33. Nevertheless--not to pursue further the mystical meaning of marriage. Translate, as Greek, "Do ye also (as Christ does) severally each one so love," &c. The words, "severally each one," refer to them in their individual capacity, contrasted with the previous collective view of the members of the Church as the bride of Christ.