Ephesians 5
Pulpit Commentary
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Verse 1. - Be ye therefore imitators of God, as children beloved. These words are closely connected with the preceding. In Ephesians 4:32 he had urged the example of God in one very momentous matter; he now urges it in a more general sense and on another ground. We ought to forgive men because God has forgiven us - all admit that; but moreover, we ought to imitate our Father in his forgiveness and in his loving spirit, be-because beloved children should always imitate, and will always strive to imitate, what is good in a beloved father. Forgiving love is one of the great glories of our Father; it has been made peculiarly attractive in our eyes, because it has been exercised by him towards us; every consideration, therefore, ought to induce us to show the same spirit.
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.
Verse 2. - And walk in love. Taking up anew the exhortation of Ephesians 4:1. Let your ordinary life be spent in an atmosphere of love. Drink it in from heaven, as plants drink in the sunshine; radiate it forth from eyes and face; let hands and feet be active in the service; let looks, words, and acts all be steeped in it. Even as Christ also loved us. The passing from the Father to the Son as our Example is not a new departure; for the Son reveals the Father, the Son's love is the counterpart of the Father's, made visible to us in the way most fitted to impress us. Though Christ's love, like his Father's, is eternal, the aorist is used, to denote that specific act of love which is immediately in view. And gave himself for us. The Pauline phrase (Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:6), simple, but very comprehensive: "himself" - all that he was as God, all that he became as Man, a complete self-surrender, a whole burnt offering. "For us," not merely on our behalf, but in our room (after verbs of giving, dying, etc.); this, indeed, being implied in the idea immediately following of a sacrifice, which, alike to the Jewish and pagan mind, conveyed the idea of a life given in room of another. An offering and a sacrifice to God. Offering and sacrifice are nearly synonymous, but the first probably includes the whole earthly career of Christ incarnate - his holy life, blessed example, gracious teaching, loving companionship, as well as his atoning death, which last is more precisely the θυσία, sacrifice. The offering and sacrifice were presented to God, to satisfy his justice, fulfill the demands of his law, and glorify his holy and righteous government. For a sweet-smelling savor. Allusion to Noah's sacrifice of every clean beast and of every fowl - " the Lord smelled a sweet savor;" that is, the whole transaction, not the offering merely, but the spirit in which it was offered likewise, was grateful to God. The whole work of Christ, and the beautiful spirit in which he offered himself, were grateful to the Father, and procure saving blessings for all who by faith make the offering their own.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Verses 3-21. - THE WALK SUITABLE TO THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT. Verse 3. - But. Another of the remarkable contrasts of this Epistle; the fumes of lust are doubly odious in contact with the sweet savor of Christ's offering. Fornication and all impurity, or covetousness. The combination of covetousness with sins of the flesh, occurring several times in the apostle's writings (1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5), is rather unexpected. Πλεονεξία, covetousness, means the desire of having more, which is peculiarly true of sensual sins; but it is not coupled with them by a καὶ, but disjoined by an η}, indicating something of another class. In the mind of the apostle, sensuality was inseparable from greed, unnatural craving for more, dissatisfaction with what was enough; hence the neighborhood of the two vices. Let it not be even named among you, as becometh saints. The practice of such sins was out of the question; but even speaking of them, as matters of ordinary conversation, was unsuitable for saints; the very conversation of Christians must be pure. The exhortation bears on Christians in their social relations; had the apostle been treating of the duty of the individual, he would have urged that such sins should never be admitted even to the thoughts or the imagination.
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Verse 4. - And filthiness; αἰσχρότης, implying that such things are disgraceful, ugly, revolting, the opposite of καλός, fair, comely, attractive. And foolish talking or jesting, which are not becoming. This would be well understood in sensual, frivolous Ephesus; a light, bantering, jesting kind of talk, seasoned with double entendres and obscene allusions, very pernicious in its moral effect. There is no reason to suppose that the apostle meant to condemn all play of humor, which is a Divine gift, and which in moderation has its own useful place as a means of refreshing and invigorating the spirit; it was the jesting associated with ribaldry that drew his reproof. But rather giving of thanks. Αὐχαριστία is somewhat similar in sound to εὐτραπελία, jesting: the reason for putting the one in opposition to the other is not very apparent; the meaning seems to be that, in place of giving vent to lively feelings in frivolous talk and jesting, it is better for Christians to do so by pouring out their hearts in thanksgivings to God for all his goodness.
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.
Verse 5. - For this ye know well; an appeal to their own consciences, made confidently, as beyond all doubt. That no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom. Covetousness, the twin-brother sin of uncleanness, is denounced as idolatry. It is worshipping the creature more than the Creator, depending on vast stores of earthly substance in place of the favor and blessing of God. It must receive the doom of the idolater; instead of inheriting the kingdom, he must die the death. The doom in this verse is not future, but present - not shall have, but hath, inheritance, etc. (comp. Ephesians 1:11, 18). The lust of greed overreaches itself; it loses all that is truly worth having; it may have this and that - lands, houses, and goods - but it has not one scrap in the kingdom. Of Christ and God. The two are united in the closest way, as equals, implying the divinity of Christ and his oneness with the Father in the administration of the kingdom.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Verse 6. - Let no man deceive you with empty words. No man, whether pagan or nominal Christian: the pagan defending a life of pleasure as the only thing to be had with even a smack of good in it; the Christian mitigating pleasant sins, saying that the young must have an outlet for their warm feelings, that men in business must put all their soul into it, and that life must be brightened by a little mirth and jollity. As opposed to what the apostle has laid down (ver. 5), such words are empty, destitute of all solidity or truth. For on account of these things the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. The sophistry is swept away by an awful fact - the wrath cometh, is coming, and will come too in the future life. It comes in the form of natural punishment, Nature avenging her broken laws by deadly diseases; in the form, too, of disappointment, remorse, desolation of soul; and in the form of judgments, like that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, or the sword which never departed from David's house.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Verse 7. - Be not ye therefore partakers with them. If you are partakers of their sins, you must be of their punishments too. Refuse all partnership, therefore. Your natural instincts recoil from partnership in punishment; let your spiritual instincts recoil from partnership in sin.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Verse 8. - For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Another expressive "but." To make the contrast more emphatic, it is not said, "ye were in darkness, but are now in light;" but, "ye were darkness itself, and are now light itself," and this last is explained by the usual formula, "in the Lord." There was a celebrated Ephesian philosopher, Alexander, who was called "The Light;" but not from that source had the light come. The idea of light-giving is also involved in their being light. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come." Walk as children of light. Another expressive image, denoting close connection with light, as if they were actually born of it; hence their lives should be full of it. The figure connecting darkness with sin and light with purity, common to all languages, underlies the exhortation.
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Verse 9. - For the fruit of light is [shown] in all goodness and righteousness and truth. The exhortation is confirmed by this statement of what is the natural result of light - goodness, the disposition that leads to good works; righteousness, rectitude, or integrity, which is most careful against all disorder and injustice, and renders to all their due, and especially to God the things that are God's; and truth, meaning a regard for truth in every form and way - believing it, reverencing it, speaking it, acting according to it, hoping and rejoicing in it, being sincere and honest, not false or treacherous.
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
Verse 10. - Proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord. A general rule applicable to the whole walk. To prove is to ascertain by test and experiment. Our whole walk should be directed to finding out what things are pleasing to Christ, rejecting at once everything that is not so, and clinging to all that is. We are not to follow the tradition of our people, and not to take a vague view of duty; we are to prove the matter, to put it to the test. For the supreme practical rule of the Christian's life must be to please Christ.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Verse 11. - And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The point of this exhortation is in the adjective "unfruitful." The works of darkness are unfruitful; they produce no goodness, give rise to no satisfaction, to no moral results that are "a joy forever;" or, if fruit they have, it is shame, remorse, despair. Contrast this with the renovating, satisfying, joy-producing, fruits of righteousness. But rather even reprove them. Do not be content with a passive attitude towards them, but take the aggressive and expose their wickedness, whether in public or in the domestic circle. A testimony has to be lifted up against ways that are so shameful and that bring down the wrath of God.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
Verse 12. - For the things that are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. The groves of Ephesus were notorious for the shamefulness of lust. To speak of such deeds was not only wrong, but shameful; so extreme is the delicacy which Christianity fosters. Too much pains cannot be taken, by parents, masters of schools, and others, to foster this delicacy among the young - to exclude from conversation the faintest touch of what is unbecoming.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Verse 13. - But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light. As, for instance, when our Lord reproved the hypocrisy of the Pharisees - their practices had not seemed to the disciples very evil before, but when Christ threw on them the pure light of truth, they were made manifest in their true character - they appeared and they still appear, odious. A just reproof places evil in a light that shows its true character. For everything which is made manifest is light. Literally, this is a truism; anything shone on is no longer dark, but light. The nearest approach to this, morally, is that light has a transforming power; when the light of the gospel shines on anything dark or evil, it transforms it into what is light or good. This is not uniformly true; all the light of heaven turned on hell would not make it morally light; but it is the general property and tendency of moral light to transform. The exhortation would thus mean - Use your light to reprove what is evil or dark, for not only will the true character of the evil thereby be made apparent, but your light will have a transforming power. But if this were the meaning, we should expect in the end of the verse, not φῶς ἐστι, but φῶς γινεταί, to denote this transformation. The rendering of A.V., giving to φανερούμενον an active meaning ("whatsoever doth make manifest is light"), is rejected by most grammarians, as not being consistent with the usage of the word. The meaning which that rendering gives is this: "Light is the element which makes all clear." We should thus have in the latter clause a proposition, affirming as universal what in the former clause is affirmed of one particular case; "things reproved are made manifest by the light, for it is only light that makes things clear." The exhortation to reprove would thus be confirmed by the consideration that the only way of making immoral things appear in their proper character is to let in on them the light of the gospel. The great practical point is that Christians ought to let in and diffuse the light.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Verse 14. - Therefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. This is evidently intended to give an additional impulse to the Ephesians to walk as children of the light; but a difficulty arises as to the source of the quotation. There is no difficulty with the formula, "he saith," which, like the same expression in Ephesians 4:8, is clearly to be referred to God. But no such words occur in the Old Testament. The passage that comes nearest to them is Isaiah 60:1," Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee." The simplest and best explanation is, not that the apostle quoted from any lost book, but flint he did not mean to give the words, but only the spirit of the passage. This is evident from his introducing the word "Christ." It must be owned that the apostle makes a very free use of the prophet's words. But the fundamental idea in the prophecy is, that when the Church gets the light of heaven, she is not to lie still, as it' she were asleep or dead, but is to be active, is to make use of the light, is to use it for illuminating the world. The apostle maintains that the Ephesian Church had got the light of heaven; she, therefore, was not to sleep or loiter, but spring forth as if from the grave, and pour light on the world. The changes which the apostle makes on the form of the prophecy are remarkable, and show that it was to its spirit and substance rather than to its precise form and letter that he attached the authority of inspiration.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Verse 15. - Take heed then how ye walk strictly. The construction is somewhat peculiar, combining two ideas - see that you walk strictly, but consider well the kind of strictness. Do not walk loosely, without fixed principles of action; but make sure that your rules are of the true kind. Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good rules. Not as unwise, but as wise. This rendering brings out the force of ἄσοφοι and σοφυὶ: "fools" (A.V.) is rather strong, for it is not utter folly that is reproved, but easy-mindedness, want of earnest consideration in a matter so infinitely vital, so as to know what is truly best.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Verse 16. - Redeeming the time, because the days are evil; or, buying up for yourselves the opportunity, the idea being that of a merchant who, knowing the value of an article and the good use to which he can put it, buys it up. The opportunity is the opportunity of spreading the light and acting according to it; and the reason assigned, "because the days are evil," indicates that, owing to the prevalence of evil, there is much need for the light over which the Christian has control. It may be hinted likewise that the prevalence of evil is apt to cool the love and diminish the zeal of the Christian; hence the need for special eagerness of spirit in the matter - he must greedily watch for his opportunity.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Verse 17. - Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what is the will of the Lord. The "wherefore" bears on all the preceding argument: because ye are children of light; because light is so valuable and so indispensable; because your whole circumstances demand so much care and earnestness. "Unwise" is equivalent to senseless; "understanding," to both knowing and laying to heart, as in parable of sower: "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not," i.e. does not consider or ponder it, "then cometh the wicked one," etc. The will of the Lord is the great rule of the Christian life; to know and in the deeper sense understand this, is to walk wisely and to walk surely.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Verse 18. - And be not intoxicated with wine, wherein is dissoluteness. Drunkenness is suggested because it is a work of darkness; it is the foe to vigilance and earnestness, and it leads all who yield to it to act unwisely. It is the social aspect of drunkenness the apostle has in view - the exhilarating influence of wine in company, giving a rush of high spirits. Ασωτία, from α and σωζω, the opposite of savingness, wastefulness, dissoluteness, or the process of being dissolved, involving perdition. Spoken of the prodigal son, "riotous living;" the habit which sends everything to wreck and ruin. But be filled with the Spirit. Instead of resorting to wine to cheer and animate you, throw your hearts open the Holy Spirit, so that he may come and fill them; seek the joy that the Spirit inspires when he makes you to sit with Christ in heavenly places, so that, instead of pouring out your joyous feelings in bacchanalian songs, you may do so in Christian hymns.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Verse 19. - Speaking to one another. Literally, this would denote antiphonal singing, but this is rather an artificial idea for so simple times. It seems here to denote one person singing one hymn, then another another, and so on; and the meetings would seem to have been for social Christian enjoyment rather than for the public worship of God. In the Epistle to the Colossians it is, "Teaching and admonishing one another with psalms," and this has more of the idea of public worship; and if it be proper to express joyful feelings in the comparatively private social gatherings of Christians, it is proper to do the same in united public worship. In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The precise meaning of these terms is not easily seen; "psalms" we should naturally apply to the Old Testament psalms, but the want of the article makes the meaning more general, equivalent to "songs with the character of the psalms;" hymns, songs celebrating the praises of the Divine Being, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; "spiritual songs" or odes of a more general cast, meditative, historical, hortatory, or didactic. But these must be "spiritual," such as the Holy Spirit would lead us to use and would use with us for our good. The two clauses correspond: "be filled with the Spirit;" "speaking in spiritual songs." Receive the Spirit - pour out the Spirit; let your songs be effusions sent forth from your hearts with the aroma of the Holy Spirit. Singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; i.e. to the Lord Jesus. Some have argued that while ἄδοντες denotes singing, ψάλλοντες means striking the musical instrument. But ψάλλω is so frequently used in a more general sense, that it can hardly be restricted to this meaning here. The great thought is that this musical service must not be musical only, but a service of the heart, in rendering which the heart must be in a state of worship.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Verse 20. - Giving thanks always for all things; this being not only a most Christian duty, but an excellent way to keep the heart in good tone, to keep up happy feelings - the duty not being occasional, but "always," and not for things prima facto agreeable only, but "for all things" (see Job 2:10; Romans 8:28). In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. God the Father is the proper Object of thanksgiving, as of prayer generally; but the thanks are to be given in the Name of Christ. That is, through him who has brought in the economy of grace, whereby for wrath we get blessing, for suffering we get reward, for misery glory; whereby, in short, the whole aspect of life is brightened, and even the greatest trials and sorrows turned into real blessings.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Verse 21. - Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. The last of the participial exhortations depending on the general exhortation of ver. 15 to walk strictly, Most commentators connect it with the three immediately preceding participles (speaking, singing, giving thanks), but are unable to find a link of connection. Better connect with ver. 15. Mutual subjection is part of a wise, circumspect walk, i.e. mutual recognition of each other's rights and of our obligations to serve them. In some sense we are all servants, i.e. we are bound to serve others; the very father is, in this sense, servant of his child. So in the Christian Church we are all in a sense servants ("By love serve one another," Galatians 5:15; comp. Matthew 20:26-28; John 13:15, 16). This view is in harmony with the humble spirit of the gospel. Pride leads us to demand rigorously from others what we fancy they owe to us; humility, to give to others what Christ teaches that we owe to them. The one feeling is to be discouraged, the other exercised and strengthened. In the verses following we have this precept split up into its constituent filaments. The reading of R.V., "in the fear of Christ," has more authority than A.V., "in the fear of God." It brings to our mind the wonderful example of Christ in this clement of character (comp. Luke 2:51; Hebrews 5:8). Reverential regard for him should inspire us with the same spirit (Philippians 2:5-8).
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Verse 22.-Ephesians 6:9. - EXHORTATION TO RELATIVE DUTIES. Verse 22. - Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Though Christiani
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.
Verse 23. - For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the Head of the Church. The woman was made for the man (Genesis 2:18; 1 Timothy 2:13), showing the Divine purpose that the man should be the head and center of the household, and that the position of the wife, as wife, should be one of subordination. Parallel to this arrangement is the relation of Christ to the Church. In words, at least, all admit the headship of Christ, and the subordination of the Church to him. The Christian household, on a much lower level, should exemplify the same relation. Being himself savior of the body. This is not said by way of contrast, but still by way of parallel. The very saviorship of Christ should find an analogy in the Christian husband. The husband should be the ever-vigilant and self-denying protector, guardian, deliverer, of his family, though his saving power can never come near the high level of Christ's A husband reckless of these obligations virtually ceases to have any claim on the subjection of the wife and the family. The very comparison of the husband to the Savior implies that, while there is a certain analogy, there is a still greater contrast. This is implied in the first word of the following verse. Between the lines we read this thought: "Not that the parallel between Christ's saving function and the husband's extends to the highest things."
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Verse 24. - But [it exists so far as to enforce this exhortation] as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything. Let there be a subjection in the one case parallel to that in the other, for such is the Divine will and purpose. Any subjection due to the husband must be modified by what is due to God, for as the husband may not require for himself, so the wife may not give to him, what is God's: God's will is paramount over all. Of the three wills that may be in collision, viz. God's, the husband's, and the wife's - the duty of the wife is to take them in this order, having regard first to God's, next to her husband's, and last to her own.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Verse 25. - Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for her. The husband's duty to the wife is enforced by another parallel - it ought to correspond to Christ's love for the Church. This parallel restores the balance; if it should seem hard for the wife to be in subjection, the spirit of love, Christ-like love, on the part of the husband makes the duty easy. Christ did not merely pity the Church, or merely desire her good, but loved her; her image was stamped on his heart and her name graven on his hands; he desired to have her for his companion, longing for a return of her affection, for the establishment of sympathy between her and him. And he gave himself for her (comp. ver. 2), showing that her happiness and welfare were dearer to him than his own - the true test of deep, real love.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
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).
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.
Verse 27. - That he might present to himself the Church glorious. The ultimate end, to which ver. 26 is introductory. Christ both gives and takes the bride; he presents her to himself - the day of his espousals being in the state of glory (Revelation 21:2), and all the training of this life being designed to fit her for that condition. She becomes glorious at last through assimilation to himself (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17:22). Not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The idea is that of a body perfectly free from blemish, typical of a soul perfectly delivered from sin - of a character perfected in all grace and goodness. But that it should be holy and without blemish. The same truth expressed in positive form, which in the preceding clause is expressed in the negative. Nothing could more clearly denote perfection of character - the full development of the character with whatever of variety may arise from differences in natural gifts and constitution, or convey a more glorious idea of the destiny of redeemed humanity. To be, as it were, the bride of Christ is a high destiny in point of condition; but it would be miserable if character did not tally with condition; this agreement, however, is secured, for the Church is to be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Verse 28. - Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. A new illustration is introduced here to throw light on the bearing of the husband to his wife, and the οὕτως seems to refer, not to what goes before, but to what follows (comp. in ver. 33). He that loveth his own wife loveth himself. His wife is part of himself, so that not to love her as himself is not only a sin against law, but a sin against nature.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Verse 29. - For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the Church. To hate one's wife is as irrational as to hate one's own flesh, and as, on the other hand, men constantly nourish and cherish their flesh, protecting it from hurt, seeking to heal it when hurt, and generally to promote its welfare and comfort, so ought husbands to act towards their wives. In this aspect of the case, too, the sharp eye of the apostle finds an analogy between the relation of the wife to the husband and that of the Church to Christ, expanded in the next verso.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Verse 30. - For we are members of his body [being], of his flesh, and of his bones (the last seven words omitted in many manuscripts and in the R.V.). The reference is to the original formation of woman as narrated in Genesis 2. Her very name indicated that she was "taken from man." She was taken from him and given to him. So the Church is taken from Christ and given to him. Taken from his body, sprung from his incarnation and his crucifixion and resurrection, the spiritual offspring of his humanity, and then given to him, to be his servant, nay, above a servant, his companion, friend, and confidant for evermore. If it had not been for the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:5) the Church could have had no existence. No bride fit for the King of heaven could have sprung from the earth. As Eve came from the opened side of Adam, so figuratively the Church springs from the pierced side of Jesus.
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.
Verse 31. - For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall come to be one flesh. Quoted in substance from Genesis 2:24. It seems to be introduced simply to show the closeness of the relation between man and wife; it is such as in a sense to supersede that between parent and child. The apostle (as appears from the next verse) has in view, at the same time, the parallel truth - the closeness of the relation between Christ and the Church; it too in a sense supersedes the relations of nature (comp. Luke 14:26; Matthew 12:50).
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Verse 32. - This mystery is a great one; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the Church. The matter referred to is the typical relation between the marriage of man and wife, and the union of Christ and the Church. It is called a mystery, and it is not said, as is said of another mystery, referred to before (Ephesians 3:5), that it has been completely explained. Some light has been thrown upon it, but that is all. It is implied that there is something of mystery in many of the relations between things natural and things spiritual, but that in the depth and grandeur of the subject, the mystery connected with the marriage relation is pre-eminent - it is "a great mystery" The analogy of the wind to the Holy Spirit; the springing up of plants to the resurrection; the melancholy sounds of nature to the prevalence of sin; and many other analogies, present vague shadows of truth, the clear, full forms of which we cannot see. When the day breaks and "the shadows flee away," such things will appear in a clearer light.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Verse 33. - Nevertheless let each of you severally so love his own wife even as himself. The "nevertheless" refers to the unsolved part of the mystery: whatever may be mysterious, there is no mystery as to this, as to the duty of each husband to love his wife even as himself: that, as already shown, is clear from many considerations. And let the wife see that she fear her husband. Not, of course, with the slavish fear of one terrified and trembling because of a stronger being, but with the holy respect due to one to whom, by the will of God, she stands in a subordinate relation. The relation of Sarah to Abraham may again be referred to as indicating the true ideal of the relation of the wife to the husband.

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