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.
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.