The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6

Ephesians 5

Eph 5:1

BE IMITATORS OF GOD: "The standard of holiness enjoined by Jesus upon his followers is exacting. The law of Moses, a national as well as an individual code with penalties for disobedience, necessarily dealt with the outward act. The rule of life laid down by Jesus touches the motives and impulses which lead to action. Lustful thoughts, angry feelings, undisciplined speech, litigious exaction of dues, are all alike condemned. The standard of perfection is that of God himself (Mat 5-7)" (GW 192).

IMITATORS: Gr "mimetes": mimics, imitators, copiers.

"All parents know how much their children imitate them. Sometimes with young children it comes as quite a shock when our children trot out phrases, sayings or actions that exactly mirror what we say or do, and how we do it. Paul told the Ephesians -- and he also tells us -- to 'be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.'

"So in the same way that children copy our actions, we need to copy the actions of our greatest role models -- the Lord our God and his Son, Jesus Christ. We need to get to know them and be familiar enough with them to imitate them. Children can't copy something they have never seen, or never taken notice of. Children only copy what is familiar to them. We too are only able to copy what we have seen or observed. So let us follow closely the examples we are given in the scriptures. Let us become familiar with them and imitate the love we are shown, the love that has so freely been given to us, giving ourselves up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God just as Jesus did for us" (RP).

Eph 5:3

See Lesson, Homosexuality. "The moral life of the Graeco-Roman world had sunk so low, that while protests... were not entirely wanting, fornication had long since come to be regarded as a matter of moral indifference, and was indulged in without shame or scruple not only by the masses but by philosophers and men of distinction who in other respects led exemplary lives" (CEph 110).

Eph 5:6

// Col 3:5,6.

Eph 5:8

"Walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:1-4). Poss allusion to renewal and rebirth at new moon each month (cp Eph 5:14).

Eph 5:9

LIGHT: "Spirit" in KJV, but modern mss have "light".

Eph 5:11

THE FRUITLESS DEEDS OF DARKNESS: The context is one of deeds and not of "doctrine" (in the commonly-used sense). When the apostle speaks of "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness", we need have no doubt as to what he means: fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, crude jesting, and idolatry (vv 3-5). That Paul is speaking of conduct is emphasized furthermore by the three-fold "walk" of the passage (vv 2,8,15). That with which we are to have no fellowship, therefore, is the unclean way of life which belongs to the darkness of this world. If need be that we personify this "darkness", then let us not look at our brethren in a critical sense, but instead let us first examine ourselves (1Co 11:28). He whom we should be quick to "disfellowship", if anyone, on the basis of this passage, must be the "old man", who is corrupt according to his deceitful lusts (Eph 4:22), the "devil" within each of us (Eph 4:27).

Is there ever a time that such a passage should be turned against our brethren? Yes, sadly, there may be such times, when faithful brethren are forced to examine the conduct of their brethren. How shall we go about this in a Christ-like manner, being sure that we do not zealously overstep our prerogative and disfellowship those whom Christ would forgive?

"The answer is that the very plainness of these commands helps us, for Scripture passes judgment on such matters. Truly we have to apply the judgment of Scripture, and there is danger of mistake in the application. It is the will of God that such responsibility should be ours and we must discharge the duty as faithfully as we can. We must try to remember the teaching of the Word as a whole, and we must be honest in the application of specific rules. If one quotes the passage regarding unfruitful works of darkness, things done in secret 'of which it is a shame even to speak', and applies the passage to one well reported of for good works, the only real complaint against him being that he is too reluctant to be severe with offenders, surely it is evident that in such an application there is the most amazing perversity. If one in resentment of a difference of judgment as to the precise application of these commands denounces his brother as guilty of disorderly walk, repudiation of the faith, and re-crucifixion of the Lord, it is difficult to believe in such a case that there is even an attempt to find righteous judgment" (IC, "The Principles Governing Fellowship", Xd 61:297,298).

Have no fellowship with: teachers of false doctrines (2Jo 1:10); workers of false deeds (Eph 5:11); worshipers of false gods (1Co 10:20,21).

Eph 5:14

WAKE UP, O SLEEPER, RISE FROM THE DEAD, AND CHRIST WILL SHINE ON YOU: Talmud: "Rouse ye, rouse ye from your slumber; awake, awake from your sleep, you who mind vanity, for slumber most heavy has fallen upon you. Take it to heart before whom you are to give account in the judgment" (ie at the new moons) (Temple 300,301).

Eph 5:16

MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY: "Redeeming the time" (KJV). "Exagorazo" = to buy out of the marketplace: see Lesson, Redemption.

"Love, thankfulness, and knowledge of God: we never have enough. We never begin to have enough. The amount God will judge us by is the amount we could have developed in the time, opportunity, and ability He has given each one. Are we, as commanded, 'redeeming the time' -- every moment? Or are we wasting it in folly and self-pleasing? What a tragedy to appear at the judgment seat of Christ in our cute little play-suit, full of jokes and games, but with our lamps and minds dark and empty! Who dares contemplate the shame and the hopeless remorse?" (GVG).

"Time is not measured by the years we live, but by the deeds we do and the joys we give" (Helen Steiner Rice).

Eph 5:18

Cultural background of first-cent Ephesus: Worship of Dionysius (Bacchus), god of wine and revelry. Festivals of frenzied dancing, sexual overtones. "Inspiration" of wine, drugs, music.

See Lesson, Drinking. See Article, Dionysus (Eph 5/18).

DEBAUCHERY: "Asotia" = "without salvation". A life habitually given over to excess, dissolution, wantonness.

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT: Lit, "filled in ('en') spirit". How? See // in Col 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly... psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Thus Spirit = word of Christ!

Eph 5:20

ALWAYS GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER FOR EVERYTHING: "Be thankful. Be intensely thankful. Be continuously thankful -- every moment. We can never be thankful enough: we just do not have the physical and mental capacity to be as thankful as we should. No matter how bad or sad our circumstances may be, there are always grounds for more thankfulness than we are humanly able to feel or express. Being thankful has many practical values. It is wholesome. It is healthy. It is therapeutic. It refreshes and clears and invigorates the mind. It wonderfully flushes out the rubbish and the petty cares. It is an automatic antidote to much foolishness and fleshliness. No one can be thankful and lonely at the same time; or thankful and angry; or thankful and self-pitying -- not if it is true, deep, spiritual thankfulness. Thankfulness is a powerful incentive to do what is right, and to resist what is wrong. It is a major ingredient of our love for God. It is a wonderful remembrancer -- keeping the mind fixed on God and His goodness. 'Give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things' -- for the 'bad' as well as the 'good,' for all is part of a deep and wise Divine Purpose that is training us for Eternity, and leading us to Life" (GVG).

Eph 5:22

AS TO THE LORD: This ought to be read alongside v 25: it is immeasurably more difficult for the wife to submit to her husband "as to the Lord" (v 22) if he is not behaving "as Christ" (v 25). Something for husbands to remember!

Eph 5:23

THE WIFE... THE CHURCH: Examples of personification: riches (Mat 6:24); sin (Joh 8:34; Rom 5:21; 6:16); spirit (Joh 16:13); wisdom (Pro 3:13-15; 9:1); Israel (Jer 31:4,18); people of Christ (Eph 4:4,13; 5:23; Rev 19:7; 1Co 12:27; 2Co 11:2; Col 1:18,24).

HEAD... HIS BODY: "Remember putting your face above a headless frame painted to represent a muscle man, a clown, or even a bathing beauty? Many of us have had our pictures taken this way, and the photos are humorous because the head doesn't fit the body.

If we could picture Christ as the head of our local body of believers, would the world laugh at the misfit? Or would they stand in awe of a human body so closely related to a divine head?" (Dan Bernard).

Eph 5:25

Vv 25-27: Salvation: past ("gave" of v 25), present ("cleansing" of v 26), and future ("to present" of v 27).

Notice the husband is not told to exact submission, but simply to love (CEph 117). In fact, husbands must "submit" also (v 21)!

Eph 5:26

Baptism must follow knowledge, faith, and repentance.

WASHING: Cp laver of Exo 30:18.

Eph 5:33

HOWEVER: This word serves to bring us back from the spiritual to the natural.

Previous Index Next