Ephesians 5:26
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
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(26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it . . .—The true rendering is, that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it in the laver of the water in [the] Word. The reference in “the laver of the water” to baptism, is even more unquestionable than in “the laver of regeneration” of Titus 3:5. Hence we must conclude that the phrase “in the Word” is in some way connected with that sacrament. Of the two Greek words translated “word,” the one here used is that which signifies not “the word” existing as a definite thought in the mind, but “the word” as audibly spoken. It has, indeed, in the original no article, but this is probably because it had assumed so technical a sense as to resemble a proper name; and it is best connected with the phrase “having cleansed it,” thus being coordinated, not subordinated, to the “laver of the water.” Accordingly it would seem to signify all that element of baptism which is “in word”—that is, the question of faith, “the answer of a good conscience” (1Peter 3:21), and, lastly, the solemn formula of baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” If we are to single out any of these, we must surely (with Chrysostom) take the last. But it is better to embrace the whole, and so include the whole spiritual element of baptism, both the acceptance of faith on the part of man, and the grace-giving blessing of God.

To “sanctify” is here to consecrate to Himself (comp. John 17:17; John 17:19) after purification. In the same connection we have in 1Corinthians 6:11, “Ye were washed, ye were sanctified, ye were justified.” In virtue of such consecration the Church visible is “holy” in idea and in capacity—the Church invisible here (which will be the Church triumphant hereafter), holy in the actual purity which becomes a consecrated nature. Of such consecration baptism is unquestionably the means; as we see in command in Matthew 28:19, and in fact in Acts 2:38; Acts 2:41.

Ephesians 5:26-27. That he might sanctify and cleanse it — Might remove the guilt, power, and pollution of sin; with the washing of water — In baptism, as the sign of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, which can only renew, sanctify, and cleanse the soul. See 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Titus 3:5. By the word — The ordinary channel by which justifying, regenerating, and sanctifying grace is communicated; (John 15:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17;) and by which we are made perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Timothy 3:17. That he might present it to himself — That being purified, renewed, and adorned, as a bride prepared for her husband, he might place it in his own immediate presence; a glorious church — Perfectly holy, happy, and pleasing in his sight; not having spot — Of impurity from any remains of sin, or wrinkle — Of deformity from any decay, or any such thing — Any thing which could be called a defect; the perfection of the bodies of the saints, as well as that of their souls, being included in this description: but that it should be holy and without blemish — Or without blame; and he might survey it completely pure, beautiful, and resplendent, in that great day, when the whole number of the elect shall be gathered together, and the marriage of the Lamb shall be celebrated amidst the acclamations of the heavenly legions, to whose blissful world his bride shall be conducted in triumph. “How bright an idea,” says Dr. Doddridge, “does this give us of the grand plan and design of Christianity: namely, to bring all the millions of which the church consists, to such a state of perfect virtue and glory, that when the penetrating eye of Christ, its great and holy bridegroom, shall survey it, there shall not be one spot, or wrinkle, or any thing like it, in the least to impair its beauty, or offend his sight! Where is such a scheme of thought to be found in the world, but in the New Testament, and those who have been taught by it?”

5:22-33 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.That he might sanctify - The great object of the Redeemer was to purify and save the church. The meaning here is, that a husband is to manifest similar love toward his wife, and a similar desire that she should be prepared to "walk before him in white".

And cleanse it with the washing of water - In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides. In some instances this previous preparation continued for twelve months. The means of purification were various, but consisted usually in the use of costly unguents; see Esther 2:12. "Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with other things for the purifying of women;" compare Psalm 45:13-14; Ezekiel 16:7-14. As such a virgin was purified and prepared for her husband by washing and by anointing, so the church is to be prepared for Christ. It is to be made pure and holy. Outwardly there is to be the application of water - the symbol of purity; and within there is to be holiness of heart; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 11:2, where Paul says of the Corinthians, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

By the word - There has been much diversity of opinion respecting the meaning of this. Probably the sense of the expression is, that all this was to be accomplished by the instrumentality of the truth - the Word of God. By that truth they were to be sanctified John 17:17; and in accordance with that the whole work from the commencement to the close was to be accomplished. It was not by external ceremonies, and not by any miraculous power on the heart, but by the faithful application of truth to the heart.

26. sanctify—that is, consecrate her to God. Compare Joh 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] (Heb 2:11; 10:10; 13:12 see on [2371]Heb 10:10).

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 Tit 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 Re 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] (1Pe 3:21).

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 cleansing (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.

That he might sanctify; purify from its filth, and consecrate unto God: implying the whole translation of it out of a state of sin and misery into a state of grace and life, consisting in the remission of sin, and renovation of nature.

And cleanse it; or, cleansing it, importing the means whereby he works the former effect.

With the washing of water, viz. in baptism, in which the external washing represents seals, and exhibits the internal cleansing from both the guilt and defilement of sin by the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:14 Revelation 1:5.

By the word; the word of the gospel, especially the promise of free justification and sanctification by Christ, which received by faith is a means of this sanctification, and without which the external washing is ineffectual; the sign, without the word whereof it is a seal, being no sacrament.

Being defiled, both with original sin and actual transgressions; for God's elect, whom Christ loved and espoused from everlasting, fell in Adam with the rest of mankind; and, in their natural state, live in sin as others do; and so are under the guilt, and in the pollution of it, as others be: Christ gave himself for them, that he might deliver them out of this state; he gave himself a sacrifice for them, that he might expiate their sins and make atonement and satisfaction for them; he shed his blood that he might cleanse them from them; and he wrought out a righteousness that he might justify them from all their iniquities; and which being put upon them, makes them to appear pure and spotless in the sight of divine justice; for this sanctifying and cleansing does not so much refer to the inward work of sanctification of the Spirit, though that is a fruit and effect of the death of Christ, and is brought about by the following means, as to the justification of them by the blood and righteousness of Christ: which is said to be,

with the washing of water; not baptism, which is never expressed by washing; nor does it purify or cleanse from sin; nor is it the means of sanctification and regeneration, which ought to be before it; nor the grace of the Spirit, though that is often compared to water, and regeneration and sanctification are owing to it; yet the saints are not so cleansed from sin by it, as to be without spot or wrinkle; but the blood of Christ, which is the fountain to wash in, and which cleanses from all sin:

by the word; not the form of words in baptism; but either the Gospel, which brings the good news and glad tidings of peace, pardon, atonement, and justification by Christ; or the sentence of justification pronounced upon the conscience by him; see John 15:2.

{13} That he might {m} sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the {n} word,

(13) Because many men pretend the infirmities of their wives to excuse their own hardness and cruelty, the apostle wishes us to mark what manner of Church Christ received, when he joined it to himself, and how he does not reject her for all her filth, and uncleanness, but ceases not to wipe it away with his cleanness, until he wholly purifies it.

(m) Make it holy.

(n) Through the promise of free justification and sanctification in Christ, received by faith.

Ephesians 5:26. Aim, which Christ had in view in giving up Himself for the church, and therewith continued statement of the pattern of love given by Him.

ἵνα αὐτ. ἁγ. κ.τ.λ.] “in order to sanctify it, after having cleansed it through the bath of water, by means of the word.” In His sacrificial death, namely, Christ’s intention with regard to His future church had this aim, that, after having by baptism brought about for its members the forgiveness of their pre-Christian sins, He would make it partaker of Christian-moral holiness by means of the gospel. That cleansing is the negative side of that, which Christ contemplated with regard to His church in His death, and this sanctification by means of the gospel constantly influencing the baptized is the positive side; the former the antecedens, the latter the consequens; and both are caused by the atoning death, which is the causa meritoria of the forgiveness of sins brought about by means of baptism, and the contents of the gospel as the word of the cross. The sanctifying influence of the latter is the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, who works by means of the gospel (Ephesians 6:17); but the Holy Spirit is subject to Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and Christ also communicates Himself in the Spirit to men’s hearts (Romans 8:9 f.); hence it is said with justice that Christ sanctifies the church through the word (comp. also Ephesians 2:21), in which case it is self-evident to the Christian consciousness that the operative principle therein is the Spirit operating by means of the word. The Vulgate translates καθαρ. mundans, and Zanchius says: “modum exprimit, quo eam sanctificet.” So, too, Harless, who holds ἁγιάσῃ and καθαρίσας not to be different notions, but the latter to be a more precise definition of the former, which signifies purum reddere a culpa peccati. The aorist participle would not be opposed to this view, because it could express that which is coincident in point of time with ἁγιάσῃ (see on Ephesians 1:9); but it is opposed by the fact that ἐν ῥήματι cannot be joined to καθαρίσας (see below), but sanctification by the word must of necessity be something other than the cleansing by baptism, as also at 1 Corinthians 6:11 (comp. Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16), the cleansing by means of baptism (ἀπελούσασθε) precedes the sanctification (ἡγίασθητε).[275] Comp. Titus 3:5-7. Hofmann, II. 2, p. 135, would, in opposition to the simple and clear course of the representation, combine καθαρίσας κ.τ.λ. with the following ἽΝΑ ΠΑΡΑΣΤΉΣῌ, but for the invalid reason that afterwards ΤῊΝ ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑΝ is repeated, and not the mere ΑὐΤΉΝ used. As if Paul might not have used the mere ΑὐΤΉΝ even with this combination! And how often do all writers repeat the noun with emphasis (so here), or for the sake of perspicuity, instead of using the pronoun! Comp. on Ephesians 4:16.

Τῷ ΛΟΥΤΡῷ ΤΟῦ ὝΔΑΤΟς] (genitive materiae) denotes the well-known bath of water κατʼ ἐξοχήν, which is administered by baptism. We have thus here not simply an allusion to baptism (Grotius, Homberg), but a designation of the same (comp. Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11), and an allusion to the bath of the bride before the wedding day; see on Ephesians 5:27.

ἐν ῥήματι] belongs to ἉΓΙΆΣῌ (comp. John 17:17), but is not placed immediately after it, because the two verbal definitions ἉΓΙΆΣῌ and ΚΑΘΑΡΊΣΑς, and again the two instrumental definitions Τῷ ΛΟΥΤΡῷ ΤΟῦ ὝΔΑΤΟς and ἘΝ ῬΉΜΑΤΙ, are intended to stand together, whereby the structure of the discourse is arranged of set purpose conformably to the sense and with emphatic distinctness. ῬῆΜΑ is the gospel, τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως, Romans 10:8, comp. 17, Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 6:5, and here stands without an article, because it, denoting the word ΚΑΤʼ ἘΞΟΧΉΝ, could be treated like a proper noun, such as νόμος, ΧΆΡΙς, and the like. The connecting of ἘΝ ῬΉΜ. with ἉΓΙΆΣῌ is followed also by Jerome, Castalio, Calovius, Morus, Rosenmüller, Winer, p. 125 [E. T. 172], Rückert, Bisping, Bleek.[276] Others, however, join it to τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος (Luther: “by the water-bath in the word”), in which case they understand by ῥῆμα either the baptismal formula (Chrysostom: ἐν ῥήματι ποίῳ; ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος; comp. Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Ambrosiaster, Menochius, Calovius, Flatt, de Wette, and others), or the divine precept (“lavationem … nitentem divino mandato,” Storr), or the divine promise (“qua vis et usus signi explicatur,” Calvin; comp. Michaelis, Knapp, Tychsen), or “lavacro invocatione divini nominis efficaci” (Erasmus), or the gospel (Augustine, Estius, Flatt, Holzhausen, and others), or the divine power and efficacy in the word of truth, so that ἐν ῥήματι is equivalent to ἐν πνεύματι (! Olshausen). But all these explanations break down in presence of the fact, that we should need to read τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος τῷ, or τοῦ ἐν ῥήμ., since neither τὸ λουτρόν nor τὸ ὕδωρ admits of being joined into unity of idea with ἐν ῥήματι (such as αἱ ἐντολαὶ ἐν δόγμασι, Ephesians 2:15, or ἡ πίστις ἐν Χρ., or the like); as well as of the fact, that the special interpretations of ῥῆμα, except that of gospel, are purely invented. Others have combined ἐν ῥήμ. with καθαρίσας (Syriac, which inserts καί before ἐν ῥήμ.; Bengel, Baumgarten, Matthies, Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann; perhaps also Beza and Calvin; Meier is quite indistinct), in which case likewise ἐν ῥήμ. has been explained by some of the words of the institution and their promise (Baumgarten), by others of the gospel (Syriac, Bengel: “in verbo est vis mundifica, et haec exseritur per lavacrum,” comp. Matthies and Baumgarten-Crusius, as also Schenkel), while Harless translates: “by way of utterance, by way of promise,” which can refer only to the promise given with the institution; and Hofmann: with a word, which is alleged to mean: so that Me uttered His effective will, that it should become clean. But it is altogether arbitrary, since καθαρίσας already has a modal definition, to attach ἐν ῥήματι thereto in addition, and on the other hand to leave ἁγιάσῃ isolated, although ἐν ῥήμ. can very suitably as regards sense be attached to ἁγιάσῃ; further, that which cleanses, i.e. that which not merely symbolically represents the cleansing (Schenkel), but does away with the pre-Christian guilt of sin, is baptism,[277] comp. also 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, and not the ῥῆμα, whether we understand thereby the gospel or the words of the institution; lastly, the sense by “way of promise” Paul would have known how to express otherwise than in so indefinite and enigmatic a manner, such as, possibly, by κατʼ ἐπαγγελίαν, Galatians 3:29; as, indeed, also the sense understood by Hofmann could not have been more indistinctly conveyed than by the bare ἐν ῥήματι.[278] Grotius combines ἘΝ ῬΉΜΑΤΙ with ΚΑΘΑΡ., but supplies Ὡς before ἘΝ Τῷ ΛΟΥΤΡῷ: “verbo suo quasi balneo.” As if one could simply thus supply ὡς! Lastly, Koppe is quite wrong in holding that ἘΝ ῬΉΜΑΤΙ ἽΝΑ is in accordance with the Hebrew על דבר אשר nothing more than the bare ἽΝΑ. Not even the LXX. have translated thus barbarously!

[275] In Act. Thom. p. 40 f.: κατάμιξον αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν σὴν ποίμνην καθαρίσας αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ σῷ λουτρῷ κ.τ.λ., the act of the κατάμιξον κ.τ.λ., is (in opposition to Harless) conceived of as immediately subsequent to the act of the καθαρίσας κ.τ.λ. The Fathers, too, separate the cleansing and the sanctifying of the person who receives baptism. So e.g. Justin Martyr, de resurrect. in Grabe, Spicil. II. p. 189. Tertull. de resurrect. 8: “Caro abluitur, ut anima emaculetur; caro ungitur, ut anima consecretur.” Cypr. ad Donat. de gratia, p. Ephesians 3 : “Undae genitalis auxilio superioris aevi labe detersa in expiatum pectus serenum desuper se lumen infudit,” etc.

[276] Against de Wette’s objections is to be observed, (1) that, according to Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17, ῥῆμα can certainly be taken as the gospel; (2) that sanctification is wrought indeed through the Spirit, but the Spirit is mediated through the gospel, Galatians 3:5; (3) that the order of the words is not forced, but purposely chosen.

[277] This also in opposition to Theile in Winer’s Exeget. Stud. p. 187: ἐν ῥήματι is a sort of correction of τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος.

[278] What Hofmann, II. 2, p. 191, oddly enough adduces by way of elucidation: “As the husband by the word, which expresses his will to make a woman his wife, takes away from her the reproach of her virgin state (comp. Isaiah 4:1; 1 Corinthians 7:36), so has Christ done for the church,” drags in something entirely foreign to the matter, and, indeed, something very unsuitable, as though the church were thought of as παρθένος ὑπέρακμος!

Ephesians 5:26. ἵνα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσῃ: that He might sanctify it. Statement of the great object with which Christ in His love for the Church gave Himself up to death for it. An object worthy of the self-sacrifice, described in definite terms and with a solemn significance—the sanctification and cleansing of the Church with a view to its final presentation in perfect holiness at the great day. The verb ἁγιάζειν, a later form of ἁγίζειν (used, e.g., by Soph., Oed. Col., 1495; Pindar, O., iii., 34, etc.), frequent in biblical and patristic Greek, means to set apart to a sacred use, to consecrate, by external or ceremonial cleansing (Hebrews 9:13; 1 Timothy 4:5); by an expiation (1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:29); or by inward, ethical purification (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Most exegetes take ἁγιάσῃ in the third sense here, and this is favoured by the terms which follow in Ephesians 5:27. On the other hand, both in the Pauline writings and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Pfleiderer, Paulinism, Engl. transl., vol. ii., 68, etc.) the dominant application of the verb is deliverance from the guilt of sin by means of an expiation.—καθαρίσας: cleansing it. The verb καθαρίζειν, Hellenistic for καθαίρειν, has certain occasional applications in the NT (e.g., literal cleansing. Matthew 23:26; Luke 11:39; pronouncing ceremonially clean, Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9; consecrating by cleansing, Hebrews 9:22-23); but apart from these it has two main senses—that of ethical purification (2 Corinthians 7:1; Jam 4:8), and that of forgiveness, freeing from the guilt of sin (Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9). In the case of this verb, again, the prevailing idea is that of the changed, rectified relation to God. The two ideas probably are not sharply divided in the writer’s mind. They are brought together again, both as definite acts of the past, in 1 Corinthians 6:11, ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε. But the effect on standing appears to be the thing immediately in view here. In classical Greek, too, the term καθαρμός is used in the sense of a purification from guilt (e.g., Soph., O. T., 1228). The participle is taken by many as, in relation to ἁγιάσῃ, a proper past = “that he might sanctify it after cleansing it” (Mey., Alf., Ell.; RV “having cleansed it,” etc.). The purification in view is thus made something prior to the sanctifying. But καθαρίσας, as is often the case with aor. participles connected with a fin. aorist (Bernh., Synt., x. 9, p. 383), may also be of the same time as ἁγιάσῃ and express the way in which the sanctifying takes effect. The latter is the more probable view here (Syr., Vulg., Harl., Abb., etc.), especially as the aor. ἁγιάσῃ points to a single, definite act, and one predicated of the Church as a whole.—τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος: by the bath of the water. Designation of the means by which the purification takes place. The phrase is a difficult one. The word λουτρόν occurs only once again in the NT (Titus 3:5). It is used in both cases with reference to baptism (although some do not admit this), and it is so used in eccles. Greek. In classical Greek it has the occasional, secondary sense of a libation for the dead (Soph., El., 84, 434; Eurip., Phoen., 1667), but is used properly as = “bath, bathing-place (e.g., Homer’s θερμὰ λοετρά, Il., xiv., 6; λοετρὰ Ὠκεανοῖο, Il., xviii., 489, etc.); bathing (Herod., vi., 52; Xen., Cyr., vii., 5, 20); or the water for bathing or washing (Soph., Oed. Col., 1599)”. It is doubtful whether any clear instance can be found of its use as = washing. The ὕδατος is prob. the gen. materiæ, and the articles mark the λουτρόν as the well-known bath of the (baptismal) water. The Versions vary in their renderings. The Vulg. gives lavacrum, and similarly the Syr. and the Goth. The Rhem. follows the Vulg. and renders laver. But the other old English Versions have either “the washing” or “the fountain” of water. The RV gives “the washing of water” in the text, but “the laver” in the margin. But “laver,” in the sense of the vessel, does not appear to be a legitimate translation. The only legitimate rendering is “the bath of water,” i.e., the bath of the baptismal water. Many interpreters find in the phrase an allusion to the bath taken by a bride before her wedding. The subsequent imagery, and especially the παραστῆσαι, may favour that; but the fact that the Subject here who cleanses by the bath of the water is Christ, while it was not the bridegroom who administered the pre-nuptial bath to the bride, makes that doubtful.—ἐν ῥήματι: with (or through) the word. In respect both of sense and of connection this is a peculiarly difficult phrase. With respect to the latter the ἐν ῥήματι is connected by some with the ἁγιάσῃ = “sanctify it by the word,” ἐν being taken as the instrum. dat. (Winer, Rück., Bisp., Bleek, Mey., etc.; cf. Win.-Moult., p. 172). The objection to this is the remoteness of the defining phrase from the verb. On the other hand it may be the case that the order is selected with a view to bringing things together, first the two verbs and then the two defining terms (so Meyer). The analogy of John 17:17, ἁγίασον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, is also urged. Others connect it with the λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος, = “the bath of water in or by the word”. But to this there is the serious objection that the ἐν ῥήματι is anarthrous. The Greek would require either τῷ or τοῦ ἐν ῥήματι, the phrase not being one of the kind (like τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασι, chap. Ephesians 2:15 above) to make a single idea with the λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος and so dispense with the article; cf. on chap. Ephesians 1:17 above. There remains the third course—to connect it with καθαρίσας, or with the idea expressed by the clause καθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος as a whole. This on the whole is the connection freest from difficulty, and it gives a congruous idea, which may take more than one form, e.g., that the purification is effected by the ῥῆμα; that it is accompanied by it; or that it takes place in it as its element or condition. But what of the sense of the ῥήματι? How difficult it is to obtain a satisfactory meaning appears at once from the variety and the peculiarity of the interpretations proposed. Some, e.g., take it to refer to the baptismal formula, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” or “in the name of Jesus” (Chrys.); in which case, however, we should expect either καὶ ῥήματος or ἐν τῷ ῥήματι. Others give the noun the simple sense of “an utterance” and take the phrase to mean “attended or conditioned by an utterance”; with the explanation that the particular utterance in view is “the revelation of salvation embodied in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” (Moule). Haupt, again, makes it = “by means of a word,” supposing the term to be added in order to bring out the wonderfulness of the purification as seen in the fact that it is effected simply by a word, that is to say the word spoken by the person who baptises. Hofmann also gives it the sense of “with a word,” i.e. = cleansing it by the utterance of His effective will. Others make it = “by the bath resting on a word,” viz., the Divine command (Storr, Kl., etc.). If we look, however, at the use of the word ῥῆμα in the NT we find that it is applied to anything spoken—a sound produced by the voice (2 Corinthians 12:4; Hebrews 12:19); a declaration (Matthew 26:75; Mark 9:32, Luke 2:50, etc.); doctrine or instruction (Romans 10:17, if not = command); or a saying, whether in the form of a message (Romans 10:8), a command (Luke 5:5), or a promise (Luke 1:38; Luke 2:29). In Paul’s Epistles and in Hebrews, it appears to be used mostly, if not exclusively, of a word proceeding directly or indirectly from God (cf. Ell. in loc). It has indeed another sense, that of “thing,” corresponding to the Hebr. דָּבָר, “the thing spoken of,” “the thing enjoined,” etc. (e.g., Matthew 18:16; Luke 1:37; Luke 2:15; Acts 10:37; 2 Corinthians 13:1). This sense is claimed for it by some in Romans 1:8; Romans 1:13-21. But it is scarcely applicable here. Hence here it may best be taken to refer either to the word of promise, that is the Divine promise of forgiveness (Mark 16:16), or to the preached Gospel. It has also the great advantage of being in harmony with the ῥῆμα Θεοῦ in chap. Ephesians 6:17. It is true that ῥῆμα is not quite the same as λόγος, but carries with it the definite sense of the spoken word; and that, consequently, it may not be taken to designate the Gospel here in the subjective sense of divine truth, the Word of God in respect of its spiritual contents, or as a revelation of grace. But it may have the sense of that truth as proclaimed, the preached Word or Gospel. With the former sense the clause will define the purification as being in accordance with or dependent on the Divine promise, or having that promise as its ground. The latter interpretation (which is preferred by Meyer, etc.) is thought to be most in harmony with Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 6:5, and it gives a good sense however the ἐν is construed. The main objection urged against these two interpretations is the absence of the article, and the fact that where ῥῆμα has such a sense it is accompanied by some defining term, Θεοῦ (Ephesians 6:17), Χριστοῦ (Romans 10:17) or the like. To this the only reply is that the omission of the article is due to the presence of the preposition (Middleton, Gr. Artic., vi. 1; cf. Ell. in loc.), or that ῥῆμα may have become, like νόμος, χάρις, etc., so well-understood and constant a term in the sense of “the spoken word” par excellence, that it could dispense with the article (Mey.). Thus the import of the whole verse will be—“that he might set apart and consecrate the Church by cleansing it of guilt by baptism in accordance with the Divine promise” (or, “on the ground of the preached word of the Gospel”). The clause defines the καθαρισμός as one that does not take effect by means of the λουτρὸν τοῦ ὕδατος in and by itself, but by that only as administered in the power or on the ground of the preached Word. It is to be observed also that the sanctifying and the purifying are referred to Christ’s giving up of Himself, His death being that in virtue of which these things take place.

26. sanctify and cleanse it] Better, again, her. And the pronoun is slightly emphatic by position; as if to say, “It was in her interest that He did this, and so in the wife’s interest the husband should be ready for sacrifice.”

Sanctify and cleanse:”—lit., sanctify, cleansing; both the verbs being in the aorist, and being thus most naturally referred to one and same crisis, not, as R.V. seems to imply, (“sanctify, having cleansed,”) to a sanctifying process consequent on a cleansing. The Church was decisively “sanctified,” separated from the claim and dominion of sin unto God, when she was decisively “cleansed,” accepted as guiltless.

It needs remembrance that the word “to sanctify” lends itself equally, according to context, to ideas of crisis and of process. In one aspect the human being, decisively claimed and regenerated by God for Himself, is sanctified. In another aspect, in view of each successive subjective experience of renunciation of self for God, he is being sanctified.—The sanctifying crisis here in view is that of regeneration. This is put before us ideally as the regeneration of the Church. The Idea is realized historically in the regeneration of individuals, with a view to the final total.—On this individual aspect of the matter, cp. John 3:3; John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

with the washing of water] Lit., by the laver of the water. So Titus 3:5; “through the laver of regeneration,” the only other N.T. passage where the noun rendered “laver” occurs.

Here, undoubtedly, Holy Baptism is referred to. It is another and most important question, what is the precise bearing of the Rite upon regeneration; whether it is the special channel of infusion of the new life, or its federal and legal “conveyance,” the Seal upon the Covenant of it, and upon the actual grant of it. But in any case there is a connexion, divinely established, between Regeneration and Baptism. For ourselves, we hold that Baptism is a true analogue to the sacrament of Circumcision, and that its direct and essential work is that of a Divine seal. This view we believe to be (1) the view in truest harmony with the whole spirit of the Gospel, (2) the view most consonant with observed facts, (3) the view which, under wide varieties of expression, was held, in essence, by the pre-medieval Church (and not wholly forgotten even in the medieval Church), and by the great Anglican Protestant doctors of the 16th and 17th centuries. But it is to be remembered that this view leaves untouched the fact of a profound and sacred connexion between New Birth and Baptism. And it is entirely consonant with language of high reverence and honour for the Rite, language often applicable, properly, only to the related Blessing, under remembrance that the Rite derives all its greatness from the spiritual Reality to which it stands related.

by the word] Quite lit., in utterance, or in an utterance. The Gr. is rhêma, not logos. We may translate (having regard to the N. T. usage of “in,” similar cases), attended by, or conditioned by, an utterance: as if to say, not a mere laver of water, but one which is what it is only as joined to declared truth.—What is the “utterance” in question? The Gr. word (in the singular), occurs elsewhere in the Epistles, Romans 10:8; Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1, below, Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 11:3; 1 Peter 1:25 (twice). In almost every case it refers to a definite Divine utterance, whether of truth or of will. We explain it here accordingly as the utterance of that New Covenant of the Gospel of which Baptism is the seal, or, to put it more generally, the revelation of salvation embodied in “the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), or in “the Name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Baptism, in connexion with that revelation and the reception of it, is “the laver of new birth”(Titus 3:5).

Cp. the parallel 1 Peter 3:21; in which we see the same care to correct any possible inferences from the material aspect of Baptism, as if the rite itself, apart from the moral surroundings of the rite, were a saving thing.

Ephesians 5:26. Ἁγιάσῃ, might sanctify) Often holiness and glory are synonymous; wherefore here also follows, He might present it to Himself a glorious Church.—καθαρίσας, cleansing) Cleansing precedes the bestowal of glory and the formation of the nuptial tie.—ἵνα, that) The construction is, He gave Himself—cleansing (i.e. and cleansed); that [ἵνα] depends upon both [παρέδωκεν and καθαρίσας], being put twice [ἵνα ἁγιάσῃ and ἵνα παραστήσῃ Ephesians 5:26, and Ephesians 5:27] in the text. Sanctification is derived from the death or blood of Christ; comp. Hebrews 13:12 : cleansing or purification, as we shall see presently, from baptism and the word. Holiness is internal glory; glory is holiness shining forth. Why did Christ love the Church and give Himself for it?—that He might sanctify it. Why did He cleanse it?—that He might present it to Himself. The former is the new right acquired by Christ over the Church; the latter shows how He adorned His bride, as befitted such a bride of such a Husband. And the mentioning of the bath [λουτρῷ, washing] and the word is presently urged conjointly, although the word is to be referred to the term cleansing.[91] The cleansing power is in the word, and it is put forth through the bath [the washing]. Water and the bath are the vehicle: but the word is a nobler instrumental cause.—τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος ἐν ῥήματι, by the washing with water [lit. the bath of water] by the word) A remarkable testimony for baptism; Titus 3:5.—ἐν ῥήματι, in [by] the word) Baptism has the power of purifying owing to the word, John 15:3; in [by] to be construed with cleansing. אֹמֶר, ῥῆμα.

[91] ἐν ῥήματι follows καθαρίσας, not λουτρῷ.—ED.

Verse 26. - That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. The immediate object of Christ was to cleanse her, and for this end he used the Word as a purifying agent, washing her by means of it. The difference between selfish and unselfish love is seen here: a selfish lover cares for his wife in his own interest - like Samson, desires to have her simply because she pleases him, and, in his converse with her, thinks, not of her good, but of his own enjoyment; but the love of an unselfish lover constrains him to seek her good, to do nothing that will hurt her and damage her in any manner of way, but to do everything that he believes will advance her well-being, especially in the highest sense. He finds her polluted (comp. Ezekiel 16.), and his great instrument of cleansing is "the Word" (comp. John 15:3; John 17:5) - the Word in all its searching, humbling, rebuking, correcting, informing, stimulating, refreshing, consoling power. There is no express allusion to baptism, τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος is explained by ἐν ῤήματι, "the Word" being the great sanctifying medium, and baptism a figure (1 Peter 3:21). Ephesians 5:26Sanctify and cleanse (ἁγιάσῃ καθαρίσας)

Rev., might sanctify, having cleansed. The Rev. brings out the proper succession of sanctification as a consequence of cleansing: might sanctify after having cleansed.

With the washing of water (τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος)

Λουτρόν washing is properly laver. Note the article, the laver, as something well known. There is no satisfactory evidence for the meaning washing. The allusion is to baptism. Some find a reference to the bride's bath before marriage.

By the word (ἐν ῥήματι)

Rev., correctly, with the word. To be connected with having cleansed it by the laver of water: not with might sanctify, nor with the laver of water alone, as a descriptive epithet. With the word describes that which accompanies the rite and which is the peculiar element of baptismal purification. Compare John 15:3. Augustine says: "Take away the word, and what is the water but water?"

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