Ephesians 5:1-33 - Outline of Ephesians (Book Notes menu page)
1. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear {lit., beloved} children; (cp. Eph 1:6)
2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,
and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God
for a sweetsmelling savour.
...walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us...
Let's review the walk of the believer, as presented in Ephesians thus far.
  • 2:10 - In Christ we have become new creatures. The design or purpose, of the One who has given us new life, is that we should 'walk in good works.'
  • 4:1 - We are to "walk worthy of the calling to which we are called." We are called to unity with Christ and with the members of His body, and to maturity: to grow up into Him, to be like Him. To this end, He has given each body member spiritual gifts. He has also given, to the body, specifically gifted members, who are to guide and equip the church until it is fully mature.
         Yet, while each born again believer has received the new nature, created in Christ, to be like Christ, and to grow up into Him... we still have our old sinful natures. Therefore, Paul warns us...
  • 4:17 - "...walk not as other gentiles..." Our old fleshly nature cannot please God. It is corrupt and deceitful (4:22). We very easily slip back under its influence, and the effects are seen in the way we live, and think and speak. So, we are to put off the old and put on the new man (4:22-25).
         If we walk according to the old nature, we will grieve the Holy Spirit. If we walk according to the new nature, the mind and likeness of Christ will be seen in us (4:30-32).
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us... (v.1,2)
How did He walk in love {GK= agape, costly love, which spares no expense for the one loved}?
  1. He gave himself... to God... an offering and a sacrifice... for a sweetsmelling savour.
    The 'sweet savour offerings' (described in Lev. 1:9,13,17; 2:2) were 'burnt offerings' which were entirely consumed upon the altar. They typify Christ in His perfections, offering Himself wholly without reservation, in complete devotion to the Father's will.
       Through His obedience to the Father's will, we have been redeemed from sin, declared righteousness, and born anew as God's children. Heb 10:7,10
       Now as children of God, we are to follow in the footsteps of "the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me," to likewise give ourselves fully to the Father's will. cp. Gal 2:20; 2Cor 2:15
  2. He gave himself for us... an offering and a sacrifice...
    Christ redeemed us unto Himself, by His own blood, to be His own people. Titus 2:14
    Because He loved us, He gave Himself to purchase us as His bride, the church. v.25
       On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus comforted His disciples, with words which reflected on the Jewish marriage customs, of that day (Joh 14:1-4). The bridegroom, having secured the hand of his intended bride by paying a dowery, would return alone to his father's house. There he would prepare a place (often an addition to the father's house) for his bride. Only after everything was ready, would he return for her, and take her to his father's house, where they would be married, and where they would live together, in the place prepared. Our Lord will accomplish everything necessary to bring His bride home. On the cross, He purchased us. From heaven, He will come for us, when the time is right. It is for us to trust Him and watch expectantly for His return (Joh 14:5,6).
       Therefore, we are to walk in love, like a bride engaged to be married to the Bridegroom. Later in this chapter (Ephesians ch.5), we will see that Christ is presently preparing believers for that day. We are, engaged or betrothed to Him. We belong to Him, and He to us. While the marriage is yet future, His bride should be enthralled with Him, for the love, which He has already shown toward us, is great beyond measure. As for us, our love toward Him is (or ought to be) growing. We don't know Him very well yet. A newly born-again believer may say "I know the Lord." But in reality, he has only begun to know Him. A new born baby, who barely knows his parents and siblings, can hardly claim to know a future spouse. Someday, we will know Him as He knows us (1Cor 13:12). We look forward with eager anticipation, to that day. 1Pet 1:6-8
       Thus, the walk of love which we are to have with Him, here and now, is like that of an engaged couple anticipating marriage. They find every excuse possible to spend time with one another... taking long walks together... hand in hand... talking about everything imaginable: hopes, fears, finances, children, career, strengths, weaknesses. They talk about everything, because they want to know each other, and please one another. They hide nothing... or at least, they should not hide anything... but are open and honest with one another. In the confidence and security of their love, which 'covers the multitude of sins' (1Pet 4:8), they reveal, to each other, things that they would never mention to anyone else.
       So, in our walk with the Lord, we are to express our desire to live wholly for Him... but we need also to be completely open with Him concerning our failures and struggles with the old nature.
3. But fornication {GK=porneia, sexual sins, ie., adultery, incest, pornography},
and all uncleanness
{GK=akatharsia, impurity, immorality},
or covetousness
{GK=pleonexia, lit., 'a desire for more'; greediness, Col 3:5},
let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness
{GK=aischrotes, impurity of mind, obscenity},
nor foolish talking
{GK=morologia, the impure talk of fools},
nor jesting
{GK=eutrapelia, lit., 'easy turning'; sarcasm which makes light of sin},
which are not convenient
{fitting, appropriate}:
but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger
{GK=pornos, fornicator},
nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater,
hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words:
for because of these things cometh the wrath of God
upon the children of disobedience.
7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord:
walk as children of light:
This list of sins (in v.3-5) is not exhaustive, but representative of...
  • things which are not convenient {fitting, appropriate} for a believer.
  • things which exclude men from the kingdom of Christ and of God, though men deceive themselves to think otherwise. Joh 3:3,17-21
  • things which characterized our lives, before we met the Savior. 1Cor 6:9-11
Such sinful ways are sickening... especially when we realize that the One, who loved us and gave Himself for us, knows that we still harbor these things within our old natures. Remember, we all were "children of disobedience" (v.6). At the end of ch.1, we saw Jesus Christ, the One exalted to the highest possible place (Eph 1:20-23). It was He who came down from His glory, found us in our filth (2:1-3), exercised great grace at great cost, to raise us up to be joined to Him and seated with Him in His glory (2:4-8).
     He knows the things you struggle with, and He wants you to lay them out before Him and allow Him to cleanse each spot.
     "For ye were sometimes {formerly, in time past} darkness..." (v.8a). We were not merely living in a dark world, and under its evil influences. "Ye were darkness." "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1Joh 1:5b). But "ye were darkness" (in whom there was no light at all).
     "But now are ye light in the Lord..." He who is the Light has placed the light of His Life within us (2Cor 4:6,7). Therefore, "walk as children of the light" (1Joh 1:5-7). Those who walk in love with Him, who is the Light, and in whom is no darkness at all, will be walking in the light.
     Yet, until the Lord lifts us out of our fleshly bodies, the darkness of the old sinful nature will continue to be an influence toward ungodliness. It is impossible for us to walk in the light, apart from the cleansing power of Christ's blood, which He applies as we walk with Him, confessing our sins. 1Joh 1:7-9
7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord:
walk as children of light:
  [Verses 7-8 are repeated here, for continuity of thought.]
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is]
in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving
{discerning, demonstrating} what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather reprove [them].
12 For it is a shame even to speak
of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light:
for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
the fruit of the Spirit... goodness {3Joh 1:11}... righteousness {1Joh 3:9,10}... truth {Eph 4:15,25}...-
As the believer allows the Holy Spirit to have His way within him, his life will radically change from what it was before. Although the believer must desire these changes, to please his heavenly Father, the changes will not come by the believer's efforts at self-improvement. Fruit grows out of life. The life of God's Spirit within the believer produces fruit that is acceptable to God.
(Observe the contrast between the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit, in Gal 5:19-25.)
Your old friends may "think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (1Pet 4:3,4). But, now that you are a child of light, you are to have nothing in common (no fellowship, no communion) with the works of darkness (2Cor 6:14-18).
     Your new way of life, will reprove {expose the fault of} the works of darkness, in which you formerly lived. This is unlikely to improve your relationships with your old friends. Because, the nature of light is to expose (make manifest, v.13) what darkness hides (Joh 3:19-21). This word for 'reprove' (or, 'rebuke') is often used of verbal correction (eg., 1Tim 5:20). But here, the believer's Holy Spirit enabled lifestyle is to provide a wordless rebuke to the way of the world.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give thee light.
{lit., Christ shall shine upon thee.}
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is].
"Wherefore, he saith..."
Paul seems to be referring to Isa 60:1,2 (which looks forward to the second coming of Christ, when Israel will recognize and receive Him). But Christ has already come to those who will receive Him. He is the glory of the LORD, whose light has flooded into your being (though the world around you lies in utter darkness, cp. 1Joh 5:19).
     We have no excuse for sleeping or sleep walking. Rather, we are to be alert, and living in the light, not as we once were, dead and dark in our trespasses and sins. Rom 6:4,5,13; Col 3:1-4
     As we walk in Love and in Light with Him, He will increasingly move us into the realm of Light, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. cp. 2Cor 3:18
See that ye walk circumspectly {ie., diligently, accurately}...
  • Not as fools {GK=asophos, unskilled}...
    ...but as wise {GK=sophos, skilled, learned, prepared}. 1Cor 1:30; 2Tim 3:15-17
  • redeeming {buying up} the time...
    ...for the days are evil {GK=poneros, characterized by wickedness and malicious influences; cp. Eph 6:13}
    See Rom 13:11-14; Gal 6:9,10; Col 4:5,6.
  • not unwise {GK=aphron, senseless, without reflection}...
    ...but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Rom 12:2

Let's pause again to review...
In Ephesians, we have seen that the Christian life is a walk in a love relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • This walk is a way of life that once was completely foreign to us. But through God's grace, in providing the way of salvation, by which believers have become new creatures in Christ, He has made it possible for us to walk this path, according to His purposes (Eph 2:8-10).
  • 4:1-6 - We are to "walk worthy of the calling to which we are called." We are called to unity with Christ and with the members of His body, and to maturity: to grow up into Him, and into His likeness.
  • 4:17 - We are not to walk, as we once did, alienated from God, disobedient to His Word, dominated by our old fleshly natures, and directed by the evil spirit who governs the world system. Rather, our lives are to be in harmony with the Holy Spirit (4:30-32).
  • 5:1,2 - Our lives are to be a walk in love...
    • a love for God, like that of Christ, who gave Himself completely and without reserve, to please His Father and to do His will. So, we are to present ourselves as "living sacrifices" wholly given to Him.
    • a love for Christ, like His love for us... as He prepares us for the day when He will return, to take us to Himself in the Father's house. Until then, our relationship with Him is still growing. As we walk hand in hand, with Him, in the security of His love for us, we are to be completely open with Him, confessing and forsaking the baggage of sin and corruption that we have brought to our relationship with Him, in whom there is no darkness at all.
    • a love for all members of Christ's body... eg., Eph 4:15-16,32; Joh 13:34,35; 1Joh 4:20,21
  • 5:8 - We are to walk as children of light, for if we walk in darkness, we deceive ourselves to think that we have fellowship with Him. Our lives, lived in His righteousness, ought to be in sharp contrast to the way of the world, out of which we have been called.
  • 5:11-17 - We are to walk circumspectly, being attentive to discern and follow the way that God has designed for us, being alert to the evil influences of this fallen world and of the deceitfulness of our old fleshly nature (Jer 17:9).
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Two types of controlling 'spirits' are mentioned, in v.18. Neither is natural. Both are powerful influences.
  • Intoxication with alcohol causes men to become fools (Prov 20:1). But we are called to be wise (v.15).
    Alcohol dulls the senses. But we are called to be awake (v.14).
  • The Holy Spirit enlightens the believer's understanding of God's Word and Will...
    makes us sensitive to His warnings and leadings (1Cor 2:13-16)...
    and quickens us to live as children of God (v.9; Rom 8:9-14).
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? (v.18)
Don't confuse the "Filling with the Spirit," with the "Baptism and Sealing by the Spirit."
  • Every true believer is baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (1Cor 12:13).
    Every true believer has been permanently sealed as Christ's purchased possession (Eph 1:12-14). The Baptism and Sealing of the believer, is accomplished entirely by the Holy Spirit, at the moment when he or she trusted fully in the person and work of Christ.
  • However, the Filling of the Spirit must be continually renewed.
         The degree of filling largely depends upon the believer. It is up to us: whether we will open ourselves to "fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (v.11), or choose to fill our minds with the things of the Lord (v.18-20).
         Here (in v.18-20), the verbs are active, suggesting ongoing pursuit of that which is holy and true: "be filled... speaking... singing... giving thanks..."
         The words on our tongues, and the meditation of our hearts, should be from God's Word (contrast v.12 with Psa 19:14). Paul suggests the Psalms as material for meditation. The three Greek words, for "Psalms {GK=psalmos} and Hymns {GK=humnos} and spiritual Songs {GK=ode}" (v.19a) are the same words used by the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation of the OT) to identify the three sections of the Book of Psalms (corresponding to the Hebrew divisions: "Mizmorim, Tehillim, and Shirim").
         The Psalms are truly "spiritual songs," since the Holy Spirit is the author of scripture. The Lord Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would speak of Him (Joh 16:13-15). To the believer who spends time in the Psalms, the Holy Spirit reveals the wonderful depths of our Savior's heart.
         The outflow of our hearts should be praise (in v.19b, 'singing' is lit., 'singing praises') to the Lord. As the Holy Spirit causes us to know our Lord better, new songs will spring up within our hearts.
         The attitude of our hearts should be thanksgiving {GK=eucharisteo, acknowledging His 'good grace' toward us, v.20}. This is an expression of faith, in God who works all things together for the good of them who love Him (Rom 8:28). "Giving thanks... always for all things..." includes even the difficult events and experiences which are hard to bear (Php 4:6,7).
         Considering again the analogy with alcohol (v.18): A man who is an alcoholic is drawn to alcohol, it is never far from his mind. He has an affinity toward it. In times of distress, he readily turns to it. Yet, the degree of control which alcohol has upon him, at any given time, depends upon how much alcohol is in him. Likewise, the believer will be controlled and empowered by God's Spirit, to the extent that he turns to the Lord in every situation, to find satisfaction in His wisdom, will and Word (Col 3:16,17; Psa 19:7-14).
         When a person is under the control of the Holy Spirit, it will be evident in his walk. His life will produce fruit which could never grow from his old fleshly nature (v.9; Gal 5:19-26).
21. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
"Submitting yourselves one to another..." - Here is another verb of continuing action.
{GK=hupotasso, to arrange in order under, to yield to another's admonition or counsel}.
     This is different than obedience to a law which cannot be broken, or obedience to a ruler who has absolute authority. It is voluntary yieldedness, motivated by love. Neither love nor submission are natural to us. We naturally want our own selfish way.
     Only Christ-like love, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, can enable believers to submit to one another (Php 2:1-4). This kind of love humbly defers to the needs of others, voluntarily placing my interests and opinions beneath those of another, or putting them aside for the sake of another.
     But if we were all to act in this way, humbly deferring to each other when we have disagreements, how would we go forward? If you set aside your plan, and I set aside my plan. Our plans are canceled and we have no plan. It would be wonderful, if we both had the mind of Christ, and being sure of His will, were always in perfect agreement. But in our fleshly weakness, that is often not the case.
     While both sides need to relate to one another in love and humility, there needs to be some way of determining whose plan or opinion will be followed. Assuming that both opinions have biblical basis, priority is to be given to 'authority,' according to the order of God's designation. Examples:
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." -
God, who is the ultimate authority, has ordained lesser authorities. In the church, the Lord's 'under-shepherds' are to lead in humility, always placing the needs of God's flock before their own, and continually aware that He will hold them accountable (1Pet 5:1-5). Submission to such church leadership is beneficial. Refusal to submit to such leaders is 'unprofitable' {disadvantageous, pernicious}, since it tends to error and since God will hold you accountable for your refusal (Heb 13:17).
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife,
even as Christ is the head of the church:
and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ,
so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord..."
In this closing section of Ephesians ch.5, the relationship of Christ and the Church is compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. These are relationships built upon love.
     The marriage relationship is the continuation of "the walk in love" which began in the engagement period (v.2). But with marriage, a man and a woman take on new responsibilities toward one another. Before marriage, they were either independent, making their own decisions and providing for their own needs, or they were under the authority and care of their parents. But now, they leave father and mother, and cleave unto one another (Gen 2:24; Mat 19:5). They are no longer independent, because they have become 'one flesh.' Their personalities are blended into a new entity, with one name, one home, one bank account, one set of children... one purpose: "Each for the other, and both for the Lord" [a line from a song of that title, by John W. Peterson].
     Yet, the husband and the wife each have a mind of their own. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) But they will not always be of one mind. Therefore, to avoid confusion of direction, due to disagreement, God has established an order of authority (v.23; 1Cor 11:3): God (the Father) - Christ - the husband (the man) - the woman - the children (Eph 6:1,2).
     This does not mean that the wife is left out of the decision making process. The open, honest and loving discussion of every issue, which characterized the couple's hand-in-hand walk during their engagement, should be even more thorough, because any action taken will directly affect both of them, now that they are one.
     But in the end, the decision rests upon the husband.
     The wife may be uneasy about the course that he has chosen. But she is to submit...
  • "as unto the Lord," ie., in faithful submission to the Lord, who has placed her under her husband's leadership.
  • "in everything" - Just as we are to give thanks to the Lord for everything (v.20), even the things that are difficult to understand and hard to endure.
There is a peace in this kind of submission, for the ultimate outcome rests neither on her decision, nor on that of her husband, but on the Lord, whom she trusts and obeys.
25 Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.
He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
"Husband[s], love your [wife], even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it..."
[Let each man read this in the singular, as direct instruction from God, applied to your marriage.]
     Do you love your wife with this kind of selfless, costly, love?
     Your marriage is not about you. It is not primarily for your pleasure.
     Your marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ's love for the church. He gave Himself for her, so that she would attain unto a depth of beauty which she did not have in herself.
     Remember, how he found us: in our filth, dead in our trespasses and sins. Yet, He loved us and gave Himself for us, taking our sin upon Himself, dying our death to remove our sin far from us, and rising again to raise us, out of bondage to the ungodly powers of darkness in this fallen world, to be seated at His side in His glory.
     Men, what do you do with your wife's faults? Do you take them upon yourself to put them away, that you and she might be drawn closer together? or, do you highlight them, making them a source of division, building a barrier between you? (Ladies, what do you do with your husband's faults?)
     How patient and loving the Lord is with us! How often we displease Him! Yet, He goes about to "sanctify and cleanse" us... His desire is to sanctify us, ie., to make us holy, to set us apart as His very own. But to do that, he must cleanse {GK=katharizo, purge, purify} us. He sees every spot and wrinkle. No impurity can be hidden from Him. Praise the Lord, that He will accomplish His purpose, to perfect His bride.
     Yes, His grace toward us is unfailing. Do you ask Him to give you grace when something bothers you about your spouse? (Jam 4:5-7)
     The Word, which He has spoken, makes us clean (v.26; Joh 15:3). Therefore, our Lord asked His Father to "sanctify them [His bride] through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Joh 17:17). The cleansing, that He desires for us, deepens, as we submit to Him, allowing the Word of God to dwell in us richly (as we saw in v.18-21).
     The day is coming, when Christ will receive His bride to Himself: a glorious assembly of called out ones, robed in the beauty of His righteousness, entirely free of even the slightest blemish (Rev 19:7,8).
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.
He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh;
but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother,
and shall be joined unto his wife,
and they two shall be one flesh.
{Gen 2:24; Mat 19:4-6}
Men... If we would fulfill the role to which God has appointed us,
as husbands, under the Lord, and responsible to Him for our wives, then, like Christ, we should...
  • nourish her {GK=ektrepho, to nurture unto maturity}, translated "bring them up" in Eph 6:4.
  • cherish her {GK=thalpo, to treat with warm and tender care}, see this word in 1The 2:7.
  • be one with her - Not merely in the sexual sense. But one in a vital union of two lives, who are members of one another... 'joined' {GK=proskallao, glued together, cleaving to one another} inseparably in every aspect of life... working in harmony, as one body, under the direction of the head of the family, who is under the Head of the church.
Men... If we were to show that kind of loving leadership...
perhaps our wives would find it easier to submit to us.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself;
and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.
"This is a great mystery..."
A mystery, in scripture, is something previously unknown which has now been revealed. In Eph 3:3-6, Paul wrote of "the mystery... now revealed... that the Gentiles should be... of the same body..." with Jewish believers in Christ.
     Here, through the analogy with marriage, we come to understand the intimacy of the relationship of Christ with His body, His bride, for whom He gave Himself, that she might be joined to Him in vital union. We also see more clearly, the unity of relationship between the members of His body (4:1-3-f). This unity within the body of Christ, and of the body with its Head, is the primary subject that Paul wants us to understand (v.32).
     But, as we begin to understand love and submission, within the context of the relationship of Christ and His bride, the mystery behind problematic human marriage is also revealed.
  • Husbands: "Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself."
    (This is directed at you and me, brother... not some other guy.)
    • Love your wife...- throughout this chapter, 'love' is GK=agape, the selfless, costly love, which Christ demonstrated toward us (v.25).
    • ...even as yourself. - not as a possession or accessory, but as one flesh (v.29).
  • "the wife see that she reverence {GK=phobeo, fear} her husband." 1Pet 3:1-2,5-6
    Holy women, who feared and trusted God, lived in subjection to {GK=hupotasso, submission, voluntarily placing themselves under} their husbands.
       The order of submission, established by the Lord, is as applicable today, as in apostolic times. The weight of responsibility, in marriage, rests heavily upon husbands. cp. 1Pet 3:7

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