INTRODUCTION: Paul equates the church to being obedient children, husbands, and wives.
I. Scripture Reading
Ephesians 5, New English Translation (NET Bible)
Live in Love
1 Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children 2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving. 5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Live in the Light
6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them, 8 for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light— 9 for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. 13 But all things being exposed by the light are made evident. 14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says:
“Awake, O sleeper!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you!”
15 Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Exhortations to Households
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church—he himself being the savior of the body. 24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
II. Outline. Ref: The Outline Bible, Dr. Harold L. Wilmington
A. In the first twenty-one verses of this chapter, Paul relates the church to being obedient children.
1. He spells out twelve rules for the Father’s household.
2. Rules of the Father’s household are positive and negative.
a. Follow Christ in love (vs 1-2).
b. Avoid all immorality (vs 3).
c. Refrain from obscene language (vs 4-5).
d. Don’t allow for others to deceive you (vs 6-7).
e. Walk in the light (vs 8, 9, 11, 14).
f. Seek God’s will…and…do it (vs 10, 17).
g. Use every opportunity for doing good (vs 15-16).
h. Don’t get drunk on wine (vs 18a).
i. Do…be…filled wit the Spirit (vs18b).
j. Use music…to encourage each other…and…to worship God (vs 19).
k. Be thankful for all things (vs 20).
l. Submit to one another (vs 21).
B. In the remaining twelve verses of this chapter, Paul addresses the roles of husbands and wives to each other.
1. He spells out the things that husbands and wives are “to do,” to follow God’s instructions for marriage.
a. Wives are to submit to their husbands, as the church submits to Christ (vs 22-24).
b. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
(1) Christ died for the church (vs 25).
(2) Christ lives to make the church holy and clean (vs 26).
(3) Christ will someday present the church to Himself as a glorious church without stain or wrinkle (vs 27).
2. Husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies (vs 28-33).
III. Selected Commentary. Ref: Reformation Study Bible, DR. R. C. Sproul
A. Verses 3-4.
proper . . . out of place. To trivialize the sexual relationship (“crude joking”), or on the other hand to idolize it, is out of step with our identity as “saints.” As those called out of the human race (1:4–6) to bear God’s restored image (4:24), we can accept God’s gifts, including sexuality, with thanksgiving, and restore them to their proper use (Prov. 5:18, 19; 1 Tim. 4:1–5; Heb. 13:4). (My note. Consider how the “saints”of God show a great lack of brotherly and sisterly respect for each other with such inappropriate ways of relating to each other. The church has become a place of “improper familiarity” among the sexes. The “saints” are those who have been born again.)
B. Verse 6.
Although the day of reckoning may be denied with “empty words” (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3, 4), God’s judgment will make a final separation between “the sons of disobedience” (2:2; cf. 5:5) and God’s beloved children (1:4, 5; 5:1). (My note. Consider the words, “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” A sinful lifestyle may indicate that a person who claims to have been “born again” may not actually have been born again. We can also say that a believer, who is living an unbeliever’s lifestyle, may have the present life judgement of God that will cause such a sinful person to “live in his or her sins” everyday of this life until such a lifestyle has been corrected. However, it is important for us to know that the sins that we commit, even though they can be forgiven, will have affects that have real life consequences, and will affect the lives of others for the rest of their lives. Many people have adopted such a mindset of, “no boundaries, no consequences, no regrets.” May I add the sins of homosexuality, same sex marriage, and abortion to this list of sins that may be forgiven but will have consequences that will affect others in ways that will never go away. Consider the affects that aids has on homosexual men in greatly reducing their normal and expected life spans. Are Christians going to continue to vote for candidates for political offices who support such abominable lifestyles? Let me add this idea. If we elect officials who are faithful to God’s Holy Word, they will also be faithful to the people who elect them to office. The three sins that I addressed are ones that governments of the world are forcing on their nations to not only accept, but also to embrace as being normal to society.)
C. Verse 8.
one time . . . but now. See 2:11, 13. Paul wants believers to do more than abstain from the things that bring God’s wrath. They should live as “children of light” (cf. Col. 1:13 note). A result of the believers’ union with Christ is that He who is “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5) has made them also “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). (My note. Believers were once unbelievers, until they were born again. Once we have been born again, we must life lifestyles that show others that we have been born again.)
D. Verse 9. “for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”
My note 1. In 1 John 1:5 we read, “… God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Darkness, as it relates to people, refers to those who have not been born again”…per John 1:5-8…
My note 2. If we say that we have been born again, and are no longer darkness, and dwell in Christ, then we should have lifestyles that show that we are truly light, and not darkness.
E. Verse 13.
it becomes visible. Paul assumes that certain sins are so shameful that bringing them to light will shame some non-believers into repentance. The Christians’ presence alone may expose sins through contrast or they may openly denounce them. Paul quotes what may be an early Christian hymn reminiscent of a number of Old Testament passages (e.g., Is. 60:1) and calling upon the spiritually dead to rise up and receive the light of Christ (cf. 2:1–10).
F. Verse 18.
1. drunk with wine. This is more than a prohibition of simple drunkenness. Paul probably refers to an orgiastic form of worship such as was practiced by the cult of Dionysus (Bacchus), the god of wine. Worship of Dionysus involved drunken states in which the god was thought to enter the bodies of worshipers, inspiring prophecy and frenzied dancing and music. Such worship is “debauchery.”
2. be filled with the Spirit. While the sealing of the Spirit (1:13, 14; 4:30) is a once-for-all initiation into the Christian life, the filling of the Spirit applies to all the Christian life. This filling is not only repeatable, but is to be sought again and again. In the parallel passage in Colossians, Paul tells Christians to let the “peace of Christ” govern their hearts and to allow the “word of Christ” to dwell in them richly (Col. 3:15, 16). The one who is filled with the Spirit is filled with Christ and His word (John 14:16, 26; 16:12–15; 17:17).
G. Verse 19.
1. one another . . . to the Lord. Worship is offered to God alone. At the same time, in corporate worship there is a human audience as well since people worship together and address each other for their mutual benefit (1 Cor. 14; Heb. 10:24).
2. psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. See “Music in the Church” at Col. 3:16.
H. Verse 22.
submit. A Christian wife is called to grateful acceptance of her husband’s care and leadership. See theological note “The Christian Family” on the next page. as to the Lord. See v. 24.
I. Verse 23.
1. head of the wife . . . head of the church. In other passages on Christ’s headship in this letter, Paul speaks of the way Christ governs the universe and the church (1:22), and serves as the source of the body’s health and growth to maturity (4:14–16).
2. his body. That is, the church as His body—Christ Himself indwells the church (vv. 28–30).
3. Savior. It is especially in His role as Savior that Christ serves as the husband’s model (vv. 25–27 and notes).
J. Verse 24.
as the church . . . so also wives. The church’s subjection to Christ is a revealed and heavenly order, not a natural order. Christ’s disciples were His friends, not just His servants, and He died for them (John 15:12–15; cf. Luke 22:25–27).
K. Verse 25.
1. Husbands, love. The emphasis in the passage is not the husband’s authority to govern, but his responsibility to love.
2. as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Nowhere in the New Testament is Christ’s self-sacrificing love applied more directly to a specific relationship as a pattern to be emulated (cf. v. 2).
L. Verses 26-27.
Paul outlines in these verses the entire process to which Christ has committed Himself in His relationship with the church: He has washed her from sin and is preparing her for a glorious destiny with Himself (see text note, v. 27). Husbands are called in like manner to adapt their lives to their wives’ needs, and to provide for their growth and development.
M. Verses 28-32.
A person’s union with his or her own body is intimate and permanent, and marriage creates a similar union (Gen. 2:24). Christ has joined the church to Himself through the bonds of the covenant He fulfilled, and this intimate union forms an analogy for Christian marriage (see 2:6 and note).
N. Verse 33. “Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”(My note. Husbands and wives should always remember, and cherish, their wedding vows: “to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; til death do us part.” Maybe you should repeat them now.)
IV. Closing Thoughts. Ref: What Does Every Bible Chapter Say? John Hunt.
A. Main Themes.
1. Encouragement for mutual love and charity (vs 1,2).
2. Caution against sinful lifestyles, with remedies to protect against such (vs 3-20).
3. Awareness of responsibilities of husbands and wives (vs 17-32).
B. Main Keys.
1. Verse. 11. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
2. Phrase. Verse 14. “wake up.”
3. Theme. Challenging evil; husbands and wives.
4. Thought. We who have been born again are God’s dearly loved children.
5. Thing to look out for. Paul states what it mans to live as children of light.
6. Bible Cross Reference. Verse 2. See Exodus 29:18.
7. By Way Of Explanation. Verse 8. “darkness ….. light.” Paul frequently uses such contrasts in his letters. Believers in Christ are to be full of light because God is light.
V. What Is Systematic Theology?
A. Definition. Systematic theology is an orderly, coherent study of the principal doctrines of the Christian faith.
B. Source. Dr. R.C. Sproul, “Everyone’s A Theologian,” page 4.
VI. Worship And Praise.
Consider the Presence of God in our lives. Consider the worshipful attitude that can be obtained as we listen to the music of worship and praise that is led by Terry Mac Almon.
Even So Come Lord Jesus Come
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