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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ephesians 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

Imitators of God (μιμηται του τεουmimētai tou theou). This old word from μιμεομαιmimeomai Paul boldly uses. If we are to be like God, we must imitate him.

Verse 2

An offering and a sacrifice to God (προσποραν και τυσιαν τωι τεωιprosphoran kai thusian tōi theōi). Accusative in apposition with εαυτονheauton (himself). Christ‘s death was an offering to God “in our behalf” (υπερ ημωνhuper hēmōn) not an offering to the devil (Anselm), a ransom (λυτρονlutron) as Christ himself said (Matthew 20:28), Christ‘s own view of his atoning death.

For an odour of a sweet smell (εις οσμην ευωδιαςeis osmēn euōdias). Same words in Philemon 4:18 from Leviticus 4:31 (of the expiatory offering). Paul often presents Christ‘s death as a propitiation (Romans 3:25) as in 1 John 2:2.

Verse 3

Or covetousness (η πλεονεχιαē pleonexia). In bad company surely. Debasing like sensuality.

As becometh saints (κατως πρεπει αγιοιςkathōs prepei hagiois). It is “unbecoming” for a saint to be sensual or covetous.

Verse 4

Filthiness (αισχροτηςaischrotēs). Old word from αισχροςaischros (base), here alone in N.T.

Foolish talking (μωρολογιαmōrologia). Late word from μωρολογοςmōrologos (μωροσ λογοςmōrosευτραπελιαlogos), only here in N.T.

Jesting (ευτραπελοςeutrapelia). Old word from ευ τρεπωeutrapelos (απαχ λεγομεναeuα ουκ ανηκενtrepō to turn) nimbleness of wit, quickness in making repartee (so in Plato and Plutarch), but in low sense as here ribaldry, scurrility, only here in N.T. All of these disapproved vices are τα ουκ ανηκονταhapax legomena in the N.T.

Which are not befitting (τα μη κατηκονταha ouk anēken). Same idiom (imperfect with word of propriety about the present) in Colossians 3:18. Late MSS. read ta ouk anēkonta like ta mē kathēkonta in Romans 1:28.

Verse 5

Ye know of a surety (ιστε γινωσκοντεςiste ginōskontes). The correct text has ιστεiste not εστεeste It is the same form for present indicative (second person plural) and imperative, probably indicative here, “ye know.” But why γινωσκοντεςginōskontes added? Probably, “ye know recognizing by your own experience.”

No (πασουpāṡ̇ou). Common idiom in the N.T. like the Hebrew= oudeis (Robertson, Grammar, p. 732).

Covetous man (πλεονεκτησ πλεον εχωpleonektēsclass="greek-hebrew">ο εστιν pleon echō). Old word, in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 5:10.; 1 Corinthians 6:10.

Which is (οςho estin). So Aleph B. A D K L have οhos (who), but οho is right. See note on Colossians 3:14 for this use of ειδωλολατρηςho (which thing is). On εν τηι βασιλειαι του Χριστου και τεουeidōlolatrēs (idolater) see note on 1 Corinthians 5:10.

In the Kingdom of Christ and God (Χριστου και τεουen tēi basileiāi tou Christou kai theou). Certainly the same kingdom and Paul may here mean to affirm the deity of Christ by the use of the one article with τεοςChristou kai theou But Sharp‘s rule cannot be insisted on here because theos is often definite without the article like a proper name. Paul did teach the deity of Christ and may do it here.

Verse 6

With empty words (κενοις λογοιςkenois logois). Instrumental case. Probably Paul has in mind the same Gnostic praters as in Colossians 2:4. See note on Ephesians 2:2.

Verse 7

Partakers with them (συνμετοχοι αυτωνsunmetochoi autōn). Late double compound, only here in N.T., joint (συνsun) shares with (μετοχοιmetochoi) them (αυτωνautōn). These Gnostics.

Verse 8

But now light (νυν δε πωςnun de phōs). Jesus called his disciples the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Verse 9

The fruit of light (ο καρπος του πωτοςho karpos tou phōtos). Two metaphors (fruit, light) combined. See note on Galatians 5:22 for “the fruit of the Spirit.” The late MSS. have “spirit” here in place of “light.”

Goodness (αγατοσυνηιagathosunēi). Late and rare word from αγατοςagathos See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Galatians 5:22.

Verse 10

Proving (δοκιμαζοντεςdokimazontes). Testing and so proving.

Verse 11

Have no fellowship with (μη συνκοινωνειτεmē sunKoinéōneite). No partnership with, present imperative with μηmē Followed by associative instrumental case εργοιςergois (works).

Unfruitful (ακαρποιςakarpois). Same metaphor of Ephesians 5:9 applied to darkness (σκοτοςskotos).

Reprove (ελεγχετεelegchete). Convict by turning the light on the darkness.

Verse 12

In secret (κρυπηιkruphēi). Old adverb, only here in N.T. Sin loves the dark.

Even to speak of (και λεγεινkai legein). And yet one must sometimes speak out, turn on the light, even if to do so is disgraceful (αισχρονaischron like 1 Corinthians 11:6).

Verse 13

Are made manifest by the light (υπο του πωτος πανερουταιhupo tou phōtos phaneroutai). Turn on the light. Often the preacher is the only man brave enough to turn the light on the private sins of men and women or even those of a community.

Verse 14

Wherefore he saith (διο λεγειdio legei). Apparently a free adaptation of Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 60:1. The form ανασταanasta for αναστητιanastēthi (second person singular imperative second aorist active of ανιστημιanistēmi) occurs in Acts 12:7.

Shall shine (επιπαυσειepiphausei). Future active of επιπαυσκωepiphauskō a form occurring in Job (Job 25:5; Job 31:26), a variation of επιπωσκωepiphōskō The last line suggests the possibility that we have here the fragment of an early Christian hymn like 1 Timothy 3:16.

Verse 15

Carefully (ακριβωςakribōs). Aleph B 17 put ακριβωςakribōs before πωςpōs (how) instead of πως ακριβωςpōs akribōs (how exactly ye walk) as the Textus Receptus has it. On ακριβωςakribōs (from ακριβηςakribēs) see note on Matthew 2:8 and note on Luke 1:3.

Unwise (ασοποιasophoi). Old adjective, only here in N.T.

Verse 16

Redeeming the time (εχαγοραζομενοι τον καιρονexagorazomenoi ton kairon). As in Colossians 4:5 which see.

Verse 17

Be ye not foolish (μη γινεστε απρονεςmē ginesthe aphrones). “Stop becoming foolish.”

Verse 18

Be not drunken with wine (μη μετυσκεστε οινωιmē methuskesthe oinōi). Present passive imperative of μετυσκωmethuskō old verb to intoxicate. Forbidden as a habit and to stop it also if guilty. Instrumental case οινωιoinōi

Riot (ασωτιαasōtia). Old word from ασωτοςasōtos (adverb ασωτωςasōtōs in Luke 15:13), in N.T. only here, Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4.

But be filled with the Spirit (αλλα πληρουστε εν πνευματιalla plērousthe en pneumati). In contrast to a state of intoxication with wine.

Verse 19

To the Lord (τωι Κυριωιtōi Kuriōi). The Lord Jesus. In Colossians 3:16 we have τωι τεωιtōi theōi (to God) with all these varieties of praise, another proof of the deity of Christ. See note on Colossians 3:16 for discussion.

Verse 20

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (εν ονοματι του Κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστουen onomati tou Kuriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou). Jesus had told the disciples to use his name in prayer (John 16:23.).

To God, even the Father (τωι τεωι και πατριtōi theōi kai patri). Rather, “the God and Father.”

Verse 21

Subjecting yourselves to one another (υποτασσομενοι αλληλοιςhupotassomenoi allēlois). Present middle participle of υποτασσωhupotassō old military figure to line up under (Colossians 3:18). The construction here is rather loose, coordinate with the preceding participles of praise and prayer. It is possible to start a new paragraph here and regard υποτασσομενοιhupotassomenoi as an independent participle like an imperative.

Verse 22

Be in subjection. Not in the Greek text of B and Jerome knew of no MS. with it. K L and most MSS. have υποτασσεστεhupotassesthe like Colossians 3:18, while Aleph A P have υποτασσεστωσανhupotassesthōsan (let them be subject to). But the case of ανδρασινandrasin (dative) shows that the verb is understood from Ephesians 5:21 if not written originally. ΙδιοιςIdiois (own) is genuine here, though not in Colossians 3:18.

As unto the Lord (ως τωι Κυριωιhōs tōi Kuriōi). So here instead of ως ανηκεν εν Κυριωιhōs anēken en Kuriōi of Colossians 3:18.

Verse 23

For the husband is the head of the wife (οτι ανηρ εστιν κεπαλη της γυναικοςhoti anēr estin kephalē tēs gunaikos). “For a husband is head of the (his) wife.” No article with ανηρanēr or κεπαληkephalē

As Christ also is the head of the church (ως και ο Χριστος κεπαλη της εκκλησιαςhōs kai ho Christos kephalē tēs ekklēsias). No article with κεπαληkephalē “as also Christ is head of the church.” This is the comparison, but with a tremendous difference which Paul hastens to add either in an appositional clause or as a separate sentence.

Himself the saviour of the body (αυτος σωτηρ του σωματοςautos sōtēr tou sōmatos). He means the church as the body of which Christ is head and Saviour.

Verse 24

But (αλλαalla). Perhaps, “nevertheless,” in spite of the difference just noted. Once again the verb υποτασσωhupotassō has to be supplied in the principal clause before τοις ανδρασινtois andrasin either as indicative (υποτασσονταιhupotassontai) or as imperative (υποτασσεστωσανhupotassesthōsan).

Verse 25

Even as Christ also loved the church (κατως και ο Χριστος ηγαπησεν την εκκλησιανkathōs kai ho Christos ēgapēsen tēn ekklēsian). This is the wonderful new point not in Colossians 3:19 that lifts this discussion of the husband‘s love for his wife to the highest plane.

Verse 26

That he might sanctify it (ινα αυτην αγιασηιhina autēn hagiasēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of αγιαζωhagiazō Jesus stated this as his longing and his prayer (John 17:17-19). This was the purpose of Christ‘s death (Ephesians 5:25).

Having cleansed it (καταρισαςkatharisas). First aorist active participle of καταριζωkatharizō to cleanse, either simultaneous action or antecedent.

By the washing of water (τωι λουτρωι του υδατοςtōi loutrōi tou hudatos). If λουτρονloutron only means bath or bathing-place (= λουτρονloutron), then λουτρωιloutrōi is in the locative. If it can mean bathing or washing, it is in the instrumental case. The usual meaning from Homer to the papyri is the bath or bathing-place, though some examples seem to mean bathing or washing. Salmond doubts if there are any clear instances. The only other N.T. example of λουτρονloutron is in Titus 3:5. The reference here seems to be to the baptismal bath (immersion) of water, “in the bath of water.” See note on 1 Corinthians 6:11 for the bringing together of απελουσαστεapelousasthe and ηγιαστητεhēgiasthēte Neither there nor here does Paul mean that the cleansing or sanctification took place in the bath save in a symbolic fashion as in Romans 6:4-6. Some think that Paul has also a reference to the bath of the bride before marriage. Still more difficult is the phrase “with the word” (εν ρηματιen rēmati). In John 17:17 Jesus connected “truth” with “sanctify.” That is possible here, though it may also be connected with καταρισαςkatharisas (having cleansed). Some take it to mean the baptismal formula.

Verse 27

That he might present (ινα παραστησηιhina parastēsēi). Final clause with ιναhina and first aorist active subjunctive of παριστημιparistēmi (see note on Colossians 1:22 for parallel) as in 2 Corinthians 11:2 of presenting the bride to the bridegroom. Note both αυτοςautos (himself) and εαυτωιheautōi (to himself).

Glorious (ενδοχονendoxon). Used of splendid clothing in Luke 7:25.

Spot (σπιλοςspilos). Late word, in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:13, but σπιλοωspiloō to defile in James 3:6; Judges 1:23.

Wrinkle (ρυτιδαrutida). Old word from ρυωruō to contract, only here in N.T.

But that it should be holy and without blemish (αλλ ινα ηι αγια και αμωμοςall' hina ēi hagia kai amōmos). Christ‘s goal for the church, his bride and his body, both negative purity and positive.

Verse 28

Even so ought (ουτως οπειλουσινhoutōs opheilousin). As Christ loves the church (his body). And yet some people actually say that Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 gives a degrading view of marriage. How can one say that after reading Ephesians 5:22-33 where the noblest picture of marriage ever drawn is given?

Verse 29

Nourisheth (εκτρεπειektrephei). Old compound with perfective sense of εκek (to nourish up to maturity and on). In N.T. only here and Ephesians 6:4.

Cherisheth (ταλπειthalpei). Late and rare word, once in a marriage contract in a papyrus. In N.T. only here and 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Primarily it means to warm (Latin foveo), then to foster with tender care as here.

Even as Christ also (κατως και ο Χριστοςkathōs kai ho Christos). Relative (correlative) adverb pointing back to ουτωςhoutōs at the beginning of the sentence (Ephesians 5:28) and repeating the statement in Ephesians 5:25.

Verse 30

Of his flesh and of his bones (εκ της σαρκος αυτου και εκ των οστεων αυτουek tēs sarkos autou kai ek tōn osteōn autou). These words are in the Textus Receptus (Authorized Version) supported by D G L P cursives Syriac, etc., though wanting in Aleph A B 17 Bohairic. Certainly not genuine.

Verse 31

For this cause (αντι τουτουanti toutou). “Answering to this” = ενεκεν τουτουheneken toutou of Genesis 2:24, in the sense of αντιanti seen in αντ ωνanth' hōn (Luke 12:3). This whole verse is a practical quotation and application of the language to Paul‘s argument here. In Matthew 19:5 Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24. It seems absurd to make Paul mean Christ here by αντρωποςanthrōpos (man) as some commentators do.

Verse 32

This mystery is great (το μυστηριον τουτο μεγα εστινto mustērion touto mega estin). For the word “mystery” see note on Ephesians 1:9. Clearly Paul means to say that the comparison of marriage to the union of Christ and the church is the mystery. He makes that plain by the next words.

But I speak (εγω δε λεγωegō de legō). “Now I mean.” Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 15:50.

In regard of Christ and of the church (εις Χριστον και εισ την εκκλησιανeis Christon kai ̣eiš tēn ekklēsian). “With reference to Christ and the church.” That is all that ειςeis here means.

Verse 33

Nevertheless (πληνplēn). “Howbeit,” not to dwell unduly (Abbott) on the matter of Christ and the church.

Do ye also severally love (και υμεις οι κατ ενα εκαστος αγαπατωkai humeis hoi kath' hena hekastos agapātō). An unusual idiom. The verb αγαπατωagapātō (present active imperative) agrees with εκαστοςhekastos and so is third singular instead of αγαπατεagapāte (second plural) like υμειςhumeis The use of οι κατ εναhoi kath' hena after υμειςhumeis = “ye one by one” and then εκαστοςhekastos takes up (individualizes) the “one” in partitive apposition and in the third person.

Let the wife see that she fear (η γυνη ινα ποβηταιhē gunē hina phobētai). There is no verb in the Greek for “let see” (βλεπετωblepetō). For this use of ιναhina with the subjunctive as a practical imperative without a principal verb (an elliptical imperative) see note on Mark 5:23, Matthew 20:32, 1 Corinthians 7:29, 2 Corinthians 8:7, Ephesians 4:29 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 994). “Fear” (ποβηταιphobētai present middle subjunctive) here is “reverence.”


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Ephesians 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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