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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5

 

 

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Verses 1-21

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK

At 4:1 the apostle returns to the exhortation and practical application on which he had started at 3:1. The Ephesian Christians had been called with a holy calling (vocation) and now they were to “walk worthy” of it. “Walk” occurs five times in our lesson, giving completeness to it.

WALK IN UNITY (Ephesians 4:1-16)

The unity referred to is that which has been made among Christians by the baptism of the Holy Spirit into Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6). It is not anything they are to make for themselves, or which they can make, but something they are to endeavor to “keep.” The way to keep it is expressed in Ephesians 4:2. The occasion for the exhortation is suggested in Ephesians 4:7 and following, which recall the strife in the Corinthian church about spiritual gifts, only there the stress was laid on the gifts, while here it bears on the persons who receive the gifts, or rather who themselves are gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:8-11). These apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given for “the perfecting of the saints,” their increase in the knowledge of Christ, and the latter in turn are to engage in ministering for the building up of the whole body (see the Revised Version). This is to continue till the body of Christ is complete, i.e., “till we all come.., a perfect [full grown] man” (Ephesians 4:13). This “man” does not mean any individual man, but the “Man” referred to in chapter Ephesians 2:15, the “Man” composed of the Personal Christ as the Head, and the members of the church as His body. We Christians are all to “grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Each member of the body has a part to perform in its development (Ephesians 4:16).

WALK IN PURITY (Ephesians 4:17 to Ephesians 5:2)

“Not as other Gentiles walk,” in vanity, ignorance of God, lasciviousness (Ephesians 4:17-19), falsehood, anger, theft, idleness, corrupt speech, etc. (Ephesians 4:25-31). These things are to be “put off,” or in other words, “the old man,” i.e., our old fallen and corrupt nature is to be put off at the same time that “the new man,” i.e., the new nature in Christ Jesus is to be “put on.” This means as we have seen in Galatians 5:16-25, that there should be an actual, experimental living of Christ in us, and by us, every day. But this is only to be obtained through the renewing of the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). That is, the Holy Spirit must renew us day by day with strength to accomplish it (Ephesians 3:16-19).

WALK IN LOVE (Ephesians 5:2)

This section really begins at Ephesians 4:31. Walking in love is being kind and tender hearted to one another in Christ, which graces show themselves in the absence of bitterness and wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking. Christ Himself is an example, and His work for us the motive of this love.

WALK IN LIGHT (Ephesians 5:8)

This section probably begins at Ephesians 5:3, and runs to Ephesians 5:14. The darkness which is the absence of light is shown in the sins of fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and the like, with which we are to have no fellowship, but rather to reprove (Ephesians 5:11). This very reproof is light (Ephesians 5:13).

WALK IN WISDOM (Ephesians 5:15-21)

“Not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time,” or “buying up the opportunities” as it might be rendered. The wisdom spoken of is “understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17), which can only be ours as we are “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). When we are thus filled with the Spirit, our fellowship with one another in Christ, is one of joy, gratitude, loving submission (Ephesians 5:19-21).

QUESTIONS

1. What is the title of this lesson?

2. What suggests it in the text?

3. In what five ways is the Christian’s walk outlined?

4. What is the nature of the unity in which they are to walk?

5. How may this unity be kept?

6. What gifts are here referred to?

7. For what purpose are they bestowed?

8. How long is this work to proceed?

9. What is meant by “man” in Ephesians 5:13?

10. What is meant by the “old man,” and the “new man” in Ephesians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:24?

12. What is the result of being “filled with the Spirit”?


Verses 22-24

APPLICATION TO THE HOUSEHOLD

In the last lesson Paul spoke of the Christian’s “walk” in general terms, but now applies the thought particularly to: wives and husbands (5:22-33); children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4); and servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9), summing up the whole in Ephesians 6:10-18. The epistle concludes with a brief reference to his personal affairs (Ephesians 6:19-22), and a benediction (Ephesians 6:23-24).

Speaking of the application to the three classes of the social order, it is noticeable that the apostle begins with the duties of the inferior or subjected party in each case, an arrangement not accidental, as may be judged by comparing Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1, as well as 1 Peter 2:18, and the subsequent verses. As another suggests, “one reason for this may be that the duties of submission and obedience are so incomparably important to all the interests of human life.” Furthermore all these duties are here seen in special connection with the believer’s standing in Christ.

In the instance of wives and husbands, we are not to suppose that there is anything derogatory to the former in their submission, since subordination and order are the great characteristics of God’s workmanship. Christ is equal to God and yet as the Son He is submissive to the Father. Is that derogatory to him? Of course, the reference here is to the saved woman, and one who so appreciates her standing in Christ as to feel the fitness of things resulting there from. Moreover, as the same spiritual teacher says, husbands are not directed to command but to love their wives. The right to command is implied but not enforced. The husband’s love, on the other hand, includes every attention to his wife, the reposing of his confidence in her, and the enjoyment with her of their oneness in Christ. Under these reciprocal conditions submission is likely to be a delight. Ephesians 5:30-31 of this section are quoted from Genesis 2:23-24, which suggests a beautiful type of the church as the bride as well as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:2-3).

In the instance of children and parents, observe that the former are addressed as though they were present in the church assemblies where this letter was read, and expected to give their personal attention to it, to understand it, and obey its teachings the same as their adult associates. Observe too, that they were saved children, and able to appreciate their obligation to obey their parents because with them they were “in the Lord.” One such inspired declaration as this is an all-sufficient answer to much of that newer pedagogy in our Sunday schools which leaves the supernatural almost out of account.

Children need the Word of God as much as their parents do, and if it be given to them clear and simple, the Holy Ghost is able to illuminate it to their understandings and apply it to their hearts. They who are substituting something else in its place in our Sunday schools are assuming a responsibility from which the wise may well shrink. Observe finally, in this connection, that fathers are not to be unduly severe with their children, but to temper and qualify their government as becometh them that are in the Lord.

In the instance of servants and masters, the former are to be understood as slaves, but not necessarily of an inferior race. They may have been captives taken in war, and in many respects the equal of their masters, and yet they were to be obedient, “as unto Christ.” They were in him just as their masters were, but this would not alter the relation they bore to them, for Galatians 3:28 has reference to salvation in Christ, and does not contravene the established relations of life. But there are obligations for the Christian masters also (Ephesians 6:9).

In the previous lesson we dwelt on the Christian’s walk, but now we come, in the summing up of the article, to the Christian’s warfare (5:10-18). The Scofield Bible divides these verses thus: the warrior’s power (Ephesians 6:10); the warrior’s armor (Ephesians 6:11); the warrior’s foes (Ephesians 6:12-17); and the warrior’s resource (Ephesians 6:18).

QUESTIONS

1. What three classes of the social order are named?

2. Why presumably, does the apostle begin with the duty of the subjected party first?

3. Show that there is nothing derogatory in the subjection of a wife to her husband.

4. Under what conditions is such submission likely to be a delight?

5. What inferences are to be drawn from the address to children in Galatians 6:1?

6. What caution does this suggest to Sunday School teachers?

7. Have you looked up the reference to Galatians 3:28?

8. To what does that reference refer?

9. What new idea about the Christian is suggested in the summing up of the epistle?

10. Analyze Ephesians 6:10-18.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/ephesians-5.html. 1897-1910.

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