Bible Commentary

Ephesians 5

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[1] Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Be ye therefore followers — Imitators.

Of God — In forgiving and loving. O how much more honourable and more happy, to be an imitator of God, than of Homer, Virgil, or Alexander the Great!

Verse 3

[3] But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

But let not any impure love be even named or heard of among you - Keep at the utmost distance from it, as becometh saints.

Verse 4

[4] Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Nor foolish talking — Tittle tattle, talking of nothing, the weather, fashions, meat and drink.

Or jesting — The word properly means, wittiness, facetiousness, esteemed by the heathens an half-virtue. But how frequently even this quenches the Spirit, those who are tender of conscience know.

Which are not convenient — For a Christian; as neither increasing his faith nor holiness.

Verse 6

[6] Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Because of these things — As innocent as the heathens esteem them, and as those dealers in vain words would persuade you to think them.

Verse 8

[8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Ye were once darkness — Total blindness and ignorance.

Walk as children of light — Suitably to your present knowledge.

Verse 9

[9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

The fruit of the light — Opposite to " the unfruitful works of darkness," Ephesians 4:11.

Is in — That is, consists in.

Goodness and righteousness and truth — Opposite to the sins spoken of, Ephesians 4:25,etc.

Verse 11

[11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Reprove them — To avoid them is not enough.

Verse 12

[12] For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

In secret — As flying the light.

Verse 13

[13] But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

But all things which are reproved, are thereby dragged out into the light, and made manifest - Shown in their proper colours, by the light. For whatsoever doth make manifest is light - That is, for nothing but light, yea, light from heaven, can make anything manifest.

Verse 14

[14] Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Wherefore he — God.

Saith — In the general tenor of his word, to all who are still in darkness.

Awake thou that steepest — In ignorance of God and thyself; in stupid insensibility.

And arise from the dead — From the death of sin.

And Christ shall give thee light — Knowledge, holiness, happiness.

Verse 15

[15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Circumspectly — Exactly, with the utmost accuracy, getting to the highest pitch of every point of holiness.

Not as fools — Who think not where they are going, or do not make the best of their way.

Verse 16

[16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

With all possible care redeeming the time - Saving all you can for the best purposes; buying every possible moment out of the hands of sin and Satan; out of the hands of sloth, ease, pleasure, worldly business; the more diligently, because the present are evil days, days of the grossest ignorance, immorality, and profaneness.

Verse 17

[17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

What the will of the Lord is — In every time, place, and circumstance.

Verse 18

[18] And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Wherein is excess — That is, which leads to debauchery of every kind.

But be ye filled with the Spirit — In all his graces, who gives a more noble pleasure than wine can do.

Verse 19

[19] Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Speaking to each other — By the Spirit. In the Psalms - Of David.

And hymns — Of praise.

And spiritual songs — On any divine subject. By there being no inspired songs, peculiarly adapted to the Christian dispensation, as there were to the Jewish, it is evident that the promise of the Holy Ghost to believers, in the last days, was by his larger effusion to supply the lack of it.

Singing with your hearts — As well as your voice.

To the Lord — Jesus, who searcheth the heart.

Verse 20

[20] Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Giving thanks — At all times and places. And for all things - Prosperous or adverse, since al] work together for good. In the name of, or through, our Lord Jesus Christ - By whom we receive all good things.

Verse 22

[22] Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

In the following directions concerning relative duties, the inferiors are all along placed before the superiors, because the general proposition is concerning submission; and inferiors ought to do their duty, whatever their superiors do.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands — Unless where God forbids. Otherwise, in all indifferent things, the will of the husband is a law to the wife.

As unto the Lord — The obedience a wife pays to her husband is at the same time paid to Christ himself; he being head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church.

Verse 23

[23] 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.

The head — The governor, guide, and guardian of the wife.

And he is the Saviour of the body — The church, from all sin and misery.

Verse 24

[24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

In everything — Which is not contrary to any command of God.

Verse 25

[25] Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Even as Christ loved the church — Here is the true model of conjugal affection. With this kind of affection, with this degree of it, and to this end, should husbands love their wives.

Verse 26

[26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

That he might sanctify it through the word — The ordinary channel of all blessings.

Having cleansed it — From the guilt and power of sin.

By the washing of water — In baptism; if, with "the outward and visible sign," we receive the "inward and spiritual grace."

Verse 27

[27] 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.

That he might present it — Even in this world.

To himself — As his spouse.

A glorious church — All glorious within.

Not having spot — Of impurity from any sin.

Or wrinkle — Of deformity from any decay.

Verse 28

[28] So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

As their own bodies — That is, as themselves.

He that loveth his wife loveth himself — Which is not a sin, but an indisputable duty.

Verse 29

[29] For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

His own flesh — That is, himself.

Nourisheth and cherisheth — That is, feeds and clothes it.

Verse 30

[30] For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For we — The reason why Christ nourishes and cherishes the church is, that close connexion between them which is here expressed in the words of Moses, originally spoken concerning Eve.

Are members — Are as intimately united to Christ, in a spiritual sense, as if we were literally "flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone."

Verse 31

[31] 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.

For this cause — Because of this intimate union. Genesis 2:24.

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