Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Eph 5:1-33. Exhortations to Love: And against Carnal Lusts and Communications. Circumspection in Walk: Redeeming the Time: Being Filled with the Spirit: Singing to the Lord with Thankfulness: The Wife's Duty to the Husband Rests on that of the Church to Christ.
1. therefore—seeing that "God in Christ forgave you" (Eph 4:32).
followers—Greek, "imitators" of God, in respect to "love" (Eph 5:2): God's essential character (1Jo 4:16).
as dear children—Greek, "as children beloved"; to which Eph 5:2 refers, "As Christ also loved us" (1Jo 4:19). "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].
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.
2. And—in proof that you are so.
walk in love—resuming Eph 4:1, "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 death, Ga 2:20) 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 same (Joh 15:13; Ro 5:8).
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 (Ps 40:6-8), including His life of obedience; though not excluding His offering of His body for us (Heb 10:10). 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 Ps 40:6 (quoted again in Heb 10:5), 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 (Eph 1:6; Mt 3:17; 2Co 5:18, 19; Heb 10:6-17). 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 (Ge 8:21). Again, as what Christ is, believers also are (1Jo 4:17), and ministers are: Paul says (2Co 2:17) "we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ."
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
3. once named—Greek, "Let it not be even named" (Eph 5:4, 12). "Uncleanness" and "covetousness" are taken up again from Eph 4:19. 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."
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
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 Eph 5:3).
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 Col 3:8, "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 [Trench].
not convenient—"unseemly"; not such "as become saints" (Eph 5:3).
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; Jas 5:13).
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
5. this ye know—The oldest manuscripts read, "Of this ye are sure knowing"; or as Alford, "This ye know being aware."
covetous … idolater—(Col 3:5). 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 (1Sa 15:3; Mt 6:24; Php 3:19; 1Jo 2:15).
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 2Th 1:12; 1Ti 5:21; 6:13).
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
6. vain—empty, unreal words, namely, palliations of "uncleanness," Eph 5:3, 4; Isa 5:20 (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 things).
because of these things—uncleanness, covetousness, &c. (Eph 5:3-5).
cometh—present, not merely "shall come." Is as sure as if already come.
children—rather, "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2, 3). The children of unbelief in doctrine (De 32:20) are "children of disobedience" in practice, and these again are "children of wrath."
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
7. Here fellowship with wicked workers is forbidden; in Eph 5:11, with their wicked works.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
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" (Ro 2:19).
light—not merely "enlightened"; but light enlightening others (Eph 5:13).
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.
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
9. fruit of the Spirit—taken by transcribers from Ga 5:22. The true reading is that of the oldest manuscripts, "The fruit of THE LIGHT"; in contrast with "the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph 5:11). 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,' Eph 4:31], righteousness [opposed to 'covetousness,' Eph 5:3] and truth [opposed to 'lying,' Eph 4:25]."
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
10. Proving—construed with "walk" (Eph 5:8; 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 unsightly.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
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 (De 32:32), namely, "death" (Ro 6:21; Ga 6:8). Plants cannot bear "fruit" in the absence of light. Sin is "darkness," and its parent is the prince of darkness (Eph 6:12). 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" (Eph 5:9).
rather, &c.—Translate as Greek, "rather even reprove them" (compare Mt 5:14-16). 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 (Eph 5:13; Joh 3:19-21). "Have no fellowship," does not imply that we can avoid all intercourse (1Co 5:10), 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."
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
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 Eph 5:3) in detail the works of darkness, whereas he describes definitely (Eph 5:9) "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 shame (Eph 5:3). Thus "works of darkness" answers to "things done in secret."
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
13. that are reproved—rather, "when they are reproved," namely, by you (Eph 5:11).
whatsoever doth make manifest—rather, "everything that is (that is, suffers itself to be) made manifest (or 'shone upon,' namely, by your 'reproving,' Eph 5:11) is (thenceforth no longer 'darkness,' Eph 5:8, 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 (Eph 5:8), 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" (Ro 13:12) in making an inroad on the kingdom of darkness.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
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, Eph 4:8).
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 paraphrase of 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 (compare Mt 25:5; Ro 13:11; 1Th 5:6, 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 fact, "light," Eph 5:13; then being so "enlightened," Eph 1:18, thou shalt be able, by "reproving," to enlighten others).
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
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 Col 4:5, "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."
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
16. Redeeming the time—(Col 4:5). 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" (Col 4:5), 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" (Eph 5:15). In a larger sense, the whole season from the time that one is spiritually awakened, is to be "redeemed" from vanity for God (compare 2Co 6:2; 1Pe 4:2-4). "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 (Eph 6:13; Ge 47:9; Ps 49:5; Ec 11:2; 12:1; Joh 12:35). 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 (Am 5:13), which Paul perhaps alludes to.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
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 Eph 5:15. Translate, "foolish," or "senseless."
understanding—not merely knowing as a matter of fact (Lu 12:47), but knowing with understanding.
the will of the Lord—as to how each opportunity is to be used. The Lord's will, ultimately, is our "sanctification" (1Th 4:3); and that "in every thing," meantime, we should "give thanks" (1Th 5:18; compare above, Eph 5:10).
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
18. excess—worthless, ruinous, reckless prodigality.
wherein—not in the wine itself when used aright (1Ti 5:23), but in the "excess" as to it.
but be filled with the Spirit—The effect in inspiration was that the person was "filled" with an ecstatic exhilaration, like that caused by wine; hence the two are here connected (compare Ac 2:13-18). Hence arose the abstinence from wine of many of the prophets, for example, John the Baptist, namely, in order to keep distinct before the world the ecstasy caused by the Spirit, from that caused by wine. So also in ordinary Christians the Spirit dwells not in the mind that seeks the disturbing influences of excitement, but in the well-balanced prayerful mind. Such a one expresses his joy, not in drunken or worldly songs, but in Christian hymns of thankfulness.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
19. (Col 3:16).
to yourselves—"to one another." Hence soon arose the antiphonal or responsive chanting of which Pliny writes to Trajan: "They are wont on a fixed day to meet before daylight [to avoid persecution] and to recite a hymn among themselves by turns, to Christ, as if being God." The Spirit gives true eloquence; wine, a spurious eloquence.
psalms—generally accompanied by an instrument.
hymns—in direct praise to God (compare Ac 16:25; 1Co 14:26; Jas 5:13).
songs—the general term for lyric pieces; "spiritual" is added to mark their being here restricted to sacred subjects, though not merely to direct praises of God, but also containing exhortations, prophecies, &c. Contrast the drunken "songs," Am 8:10.
making melody—Greek, "playing and singing with an instrument."
in your heart—not merely with the tongue; but the serious feeling of the heart accompanying the singing of the lips (compare 1Co 14:15; Ps 47:7). The contrast is between the heathen and the Christian practice, "Let your songs be not the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns; and their accompaniment, not the music of the lyre, but the melody of the heart" [Conybeare and Howson].
to the Lord—See Pliny's letter quoted above: "To Christ as God."
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
20. thanks … for all things—even for adversities; also for blessings, unknown as well as known (Col 3:17; 1Th 5:18).
unto God and the Father—the Fountain of every blessing in Creation, Providence, Election, and Redemption.
Lord Jesus Christ—by whom all things, even distresses, become ours (Ro 8:35, 37; 1Co 3:20-23).
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
21. (Php 2:3; 1Pe 5:5.) Here he passes from our relations to God, to those which concern our fellow men.
in the fear of God—All the oldest manuscripts and authorities read, "in the fear of Christ." The believer passes from under the bondage of the law as a letter, to be "the servant of Christ" (1Co 7:22), which, through the instinct of love to Him, is really to be "the Lord's freeman"; for he is "under the law to Christ" (1Co 9:21; compare Joh 8:36). Christ, not the Father (Joh 5:22), is to be our judge. Thus reverential fear of displeasing Him is the motive for discharging our relative duties as Christians (1Co 10:22; 2Co 5:11; 1Pe 2:13).
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
22. (Eph 6:9.) The Church's relation to Christ in His everlasting purpose, is the foundation and archetype of the three greatest of earthly relations, that of husband and wife (Eph 5:22-33), parent and child (Eph 6:1-4), master and servant (Eph 6:4-9). The oldest manuscripts omit "submit yourselves"; supplying it from Eph 5:21, "Ye wives (submitting yourselves) unto your own husbands." "Your own" is an argument for submissiveness on the part of the wives; it is not a stranger, but your own husbands whom you are called on to submit unto (compare Ge 3:16; 1Co 7:2; 14:34; Col 3:18; Tit 2:5; 1Pe 3:1-7). Those subject ought to submit themselves, of whatever kind their superiors are. "Submit" is the term used of wives: "obey," of children (Eph 6:1), as there is a greater equality between wives and husbands, than between children and parents.
as unto the Lord—Submissiveness is rendered by the wife to the husband under the eye of Christ, and so is rendered to Christ Himself. The husband stands to the wife in the relation that the Lord does to the Church, and this is to be the ground of her submission: though that submission is inferior in kind and degree to that which she owes Christ (Eph 5:24).
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.
23. (1Co 11:3.)
even as—Greek, "as also."
and he is—The oldest manuscripts read, "Himself (being) Saviour," omitting "and," and "is." In Christ's case, the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having SAVED the body in the process of redemption; so that (Paul implies) I am not alleging Christ's Headship as one entirely identical with that other, for He has a claim to it, and office in it, peculiar to Himself [Alford]. The husband is not saviour of the wife, in which particular Christ excels; hence, "But" (Eph 5:24) follows [Bengel].
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
24. Therefore—Translate, as Greek, "But," or "Nevertheless," that is, though there be the difference of headships mentioned in Eph 5:23, nevertheless, thus far they are one, namely, in the subjection or submission (the same Greek stands for "is subject," as for "submit," Eph 5:21, 22) of the Church to Christ, being the prototype of that of the wife to the husband.
their own—not in most of the oldest manuscripts, and not needed by the argument.
in every thing—appertaining to a husband's legitimate authority; "in the Lord" (Col 3:18); everything not contrary to God.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
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 (Eph 5:23, "Himself the Saviour of the body"); and "if it be necessary to give thy life for her, or to be cut in ten thousand pieces, or to endure any other suffering whatever, do not refuse it; and if you suffer thus, not even so do you do what Christ has done; for you indeed do so being already united to her, but He did so for one that treated Him with aversion and hatred. As, therefore, He brought to His feet one that so treated Him, and that even wantonly spurned Him, by much tenderness of regard, not by threats, insults, and terror: so also do you act towards your wife, and though you see her disdainful and wantonly wayward, you will be able to bring her to your feet by much thoughtfulness for her, by love, by kindness. For no bound is more sovereign in binding than such bonds, especially in the case of husband and wife. For one may constrain a servant by fear, though not even he is so to be bound to you; for he may readily run away. But the companion of your life, the mother of your children, the basis of all your joy, you ought to bind to you, not by fear and threats, but by love and attachment" [Chrysostom].
gave himself—Greek, "gave Himself up."
for it—Translate, "for her." The relation of the Church to Christ is the ground of Christianity's having raised woman to her due place in the social scale, from which she was, and is, excluded in heathen lands.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
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 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 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.
27. he—The oldest manuscripts and authorities read, "That He might Himself present unto Himself the Church glorious," namely, as a bride (2Co 11:2). Holiness and glory are inseparable. "Cleansing" is the necessary preliminary to both. Holiness is glory internal; glory is holiness shining forth outwardly. The laver of baptism is the vehicle, but the word is the nobler and true instrument of the cleansing [Bengel]. It is Christ that prepares the Church with the necessary ornaments of grace, for presentation to Himself, as the Bridegroom at His coming again (Mt 25:1, &c.; Re 19:7; 21:2).
not having spot—(So 4:7). The visible Church now contains clean and unclean together, like Noah's ark; like the wedding room which contained some that had, and others that had not, the wedding garment (Mt 22:10-14; compare 2Ti 2:20); or as the good and bad fish are taken in the same net because it cannot discern the bad from the good, the fishermen being unable to know what kind of fish the nets have taken under the waves. Still the Church is termed "holy" in the creed, in reference to her ideal and ultimate destination. When the Bridegroom comes, the bride shall be presented to Him wholly without spot, the evil being cut off from the body for ever (Mt 13:47-50). Not that there are two churches, one with bad and good intermingled, another in which there are good alone; but one and the same Church in relation to different times, now with good and evil together, hereafter with good alone [Pearson].
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
28. Translate, "So ought husbands also (thus the oldest manuscripts read) to love their own (compare Note, see on Eph 5:22) 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).
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
29. For—Supply, and we all love ourselves: "For no man," &c.
his own flesh—(Eph 5:31, end).
nourisheth—Greek, "nourisheth it up," namely, to maturity. "Nourisheth," refers to food and internal sustenance; "cherisheth," to clothing and external fostering.
even as—Translate, "even as also."
the Lord—The oldest manuscripts read, "Christ." Ex 21:10 prescribes three duties to the husband. The two former (food and raiment) are here alluded to in a spiritual sense, by "nourisheth and cherisheth"; the third "duty of marriage" is not added in consonance with the holy propriety of Scripture language: its antitype is, "know the Lord" (Ho 2:19, 20) [Bengel].
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
30. For—Greek, "Because" (1Co 6:15). Christ nourisheth and cherisheth the Church as being of one flesh with Him. Translate, "Because we are members of His body (His literal body), being OF His flesh and of His bones" [Alford] (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, to which Eph 5:25-27 allude, as implying atonement by His blood, and sanctification by the "water," answering to that which flowed from His side (compare also Joh 7:38, 39; 1Co 6:11). As Adam gave Eve a new name, Hebrew, "Isha," "woman," formed from his own rib, Ish, "man," signifying her formation from him, so Christ, 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 (Joh 6:53). The two oldest existing manuscripts, and Coptic or Memphitic version, omit "of His flesh and of His bones"; the words may have crept into the text through the Margin from Ge 2:23, Septuagint. However, Irenæus, 294, and the old Latin and Vulgate versions, with some good old manuscripts, have them.
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.
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: Eph 5:32 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 (Mt 25:1-10; Re 19:7).
they two shall be one flesh—So the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, &c., read (Ge 2:24), instead of "they shall be one flesh." So Mt 19:5. In natural marriage, husband and wife combine the elements of one perfect human being: the one being incomplete without the other. So Christ, as God-man, is pleased to make the Church, the body, a necessary adjunct to Himself, the Head. He is the archetype of the Church, from whom and according to whom, as the pattern, she is formed. He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife (Ro 6:5; 1Co 11:3; 15:45). Christ will never allow any power to sever Himself and His bride, indissolubly joined (Mt 19:6; Joh 10:28, 29; 13:1).
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
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 Eph 5:30. So "mystery" is used of a divine truth not to be discovered save by revelation of God (Ro 11:25; 1Co 15:51). The Vulgate wrongly translates, "This is a great sacrament," which is made the plea by the Romish Church (in spite of the blunder having been long ago exposed by their own commentators, Cajetan and Estius) for making marriage a sacrament; it is plain not marriage in general, but that of Christ and the Church, is what is pronounced to be a "great mystery," as the words following prove, "I [emphatic] say it in regard to Christ and to the Church" (so the Greek is best translated). "I, while I quote these words out of Scripture, use them in a higher sense" [Conybeare and Howson].
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
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.