Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
FILLED WITH THE
SINGING TO THE
DUTY TO THE
RESTS ON THAT OF THE
1. therefore--seeing that "God in Christ forgave you"
followers--Greek, "imitators" of God, in respect to "love"
God's essential character
as dear children--Greek, "as children beloved"; to
refers, "As Christ also loved us"
"We are sons of men, when we do ill; sons of God, when we do well"
[AUGUSTINE, on Psalm 52]; (compare
Mt 5:44, 45, 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
"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
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
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
including His life of obedience; though not excluding His
offering of His body for us
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
(quoted again in
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
2Co 5:18, 19;
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
Again, as what Christ is, believers also are
and ministers are: Paul says
"we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ."
3. once named--Greek, "Let it not be even named"
(Eph 5:4, 12).
"Uncleanness" and "covetousness" are taken up again from
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
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
"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
not convenient--"unseemly"; not such "as become saints"
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"
(Eph 5:19, 20;
5. this ye know--The oldest manuscripts read, "Of this ye are sure
knowing"; or as ALFORD, "This ye know being aware."
covetous . . . idolater--
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
(2Co 6:10; 11:27).
Covetousness is worship of the creature instead of the Creator, the
highest treason against the King of kings
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
1Ti 5:21; 6:13).
6. vain--empty, unreal words, namely, palliations of "uncleanness,"
Eph 5:3, 4;
(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
because of these things--uncleanness, covetousness, &c.
cometh--present, not merely "shall come." Is as sure as if already
children--rather, "sons of disobedience"
(Eph 2:2, 3).
The children of unbelief in doctrine
are "children of disobedience" in practice, and these again are
"children of wrath."
7. Here fellowship with wicked workers is forbidden; in
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"
light--not merely "enlightened"; but light enlightening others
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
The true reading is that of the oldest manuscripts, "The fruit of THE LIGHT"; in contrast with "the unfruitful works of
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,'
righteousness [opposed to 'covetousness,'
and truth [opposed to 'lying,'
10. Proving--construed with "walk"
Ro 12:1, 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
11. unfruitful works of darkness--Sins are terminated in themselves,
and therefore are called "works," not "fruits"
(Ga 5:19, 22).
Their only fruit is that which is not in a true sense fruit
Plants cannot bear "fruit" in the absence of light. Sin is "darkness,"
and its parent is the prince of darkness
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"
rather, &c.--Translate as Greek, "rather even
reprove them" (compare
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
"Have no fellowship," does not imply that we can avoid all intercourse
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
in detail the works of darkness, whereas he describes definitely
"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
Thus "works of darkness" answers to "things done in
13. that are reproved--rather, "when they are reproved," namely, by
whatsoever doth make manifest--rather, "everything that is (that is,
suffers itself to be) made manifest
(or 'shone upon,' namely, by your 'reproving,'
is (thenceforth no longer 'darkness,'
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
(Joh 3:19, 20).
But, says the apostle, you being now light yourselves
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"
in making an inroad on the kingdom of darkness.
14. Wherefore--referring to the whole foregoing argument
(Eph 5:8, 11, 13).
Seeing that light (spiritual) dispels the pre-existing darkness, He
(God) saith . . . (compare the same phrase,
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
Isa 60:1, 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"
(Isa 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
with Eph 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
then being so "enlightened,"
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
"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--
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"
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"
In a larger sense, the whole season from the time that one is
spiritually awakened, is to be "redeemed" from vanity for God
"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
Ec 11:2; 12:1;
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
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
Translate, "foolish," or "senseless."
understanding--not merely knowing as a matter of fact
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"
and that "in every thing," meantime, we should "give thanks"
18. excess--worthless, ruinous, reckless prodigality.
wherein--not in the wine itself when used aright
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
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.
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
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,"
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
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
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
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
(Ro 8:35, 37;
Here he passes from our relations to God, to those which concern our
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"
which, through the instinct of love to Him, is really to be "the Lord's
freeman"; for he is "under the law to Christ"
Christ, not the Father
is to be our judge. Thus reverential fear of displeasing Him is the
motive for discharging our relative duties as Christians
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
parent and child
master and servant
The oldest manuscripts omit "submit yourselves"; supplying it from
"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
1Co 7:2; 14:34;
Those subject ought to submit themselves, of whatever kind their
superiors are. "Submit" is the term used of wives: "obey," of
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
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"
24. Therefore--Translate, as Greek, "But," or "Nevertheless,"
that is, though there be the difference of headships mentioned in
nevertheless, thus far they are one, namely, in the subjection
or submission (the same Greek stands for "is subject," as
Eph 5:21, 22)
of the Church to Christ, being the prototype of that of the wife to the
their own--not in most of the oldest manuscripts, and not needed by
in every thing--appertaining to a husband's legitimate authority; "in
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
"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
meaning, "I devote Myself as a holy sacrifice, that My
disciples also may be devoted or consecrated as holy in (through) the
(Heb 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
the only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs. As the
bride passed through a purifying bath before marriage, so the Church
He speaks of baptism according to its high ideal and
design, as if the inward grace accompanied the outward rite;
hence he asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in a believing
appropriation of the divine truths it symbolizes, and says that Christ,
by baptism, has purified the Church [NEANDER]
by the word--Greek, "IN the word." To be joined with "cleansing
it," or "her." The "word of faith"
(Ro 10:8, 9, 17),
of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real
(Joh 15:3; 17:17)
and regenerating power
(1Pe 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
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
&c.; Re 19:7; 21:2).
not having spot--
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
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
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 (compare Note, see on
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
(Eph 5:30, 32).
29. For--Supply, and we all love ourselves: "For no man," &c.
his own flesh--
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."
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
(Ho 2:19, 20)
30. For--Greek, "Because"
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"
(Ge 2:23, 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.
Joh 12:24; 19:34, 35,
allude, as implying atonement by His blood, and sanctification
by the "water," answering to that which flowed from His side (compare
Joh 7:38, 39;
As Adam gave Eve a new name, Hebrew, "Isha," "woman,"
formed from his own rib, Ish, "man," signifying her formation
from him, so Christ,
Re 2:17; 3:12.
Ge 2:21, 23, 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
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
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:
proves this: His earthly mother as such, also, He holds in
secondary account as compared with His spiritual Bride
(Lu 2:48, 49; 8:19-21; 11:27, 28).
He shall again leave His Father's abode to consummate the union
they two shall be one flesh--So the Samaritan Pentateuch, the
Septuagint, &c., read
instead of "they shall be one flesh." So
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
1Co 11:3; 15:45).
Christ will never allow any power to sever Himself and His bride,
Joh 10:28, 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. See on
So "mystery" is used of a divine truth not to be discovered save by
revelation of God
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.