INTRODUCTION: Paul encouraged the Ephesian believers to keep their daily living centered on love for each other because of how much Christ loved each one of them and had given himself as a sacrifice to God for them. He encouraged them to imitate what they had learned about the ways in which the life of Christ was pleasing to God the Father. He gave specific instructions for individuals and for married couples.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - WALK IN LOVE AS CHRIST LOVED YOU

Ephesians 5 "1 Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell."

COMMENTS: Paul told the Ephesians they needed to accept the example left by Jesus and emulate the way he had walked among men. They were beloved children brought into the family of God through Christ by offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all believers. When Jesus laid down his life it was accepted by God the Father as a sweet smelling sacrificial odor. Jesus had spoken about love and his message was passed on by his apostles. John 15 "9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full. 12 This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you."


B - DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY EMPTY WORDS

Ephesians 5 "3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience."

COMMENTS: Sexual immorality, lustful impurity, and greedy desire should not in any way be characteristic among believers as this is unbecoming of saints. The talk heard from believers also should not have any crude language, obscene content, or inappropriate joking. If the saints have been set apart from the world by Jesus, should there be such things among them that would not be fitting to his character? Paul told believers that rather giving of thanks was always appropriate for saints. Christ will provide the inner strength to stay on that course. Paul had written to another group of believers while he traveled to deliver the gospel. 1 Thessalonians 4 "2 For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God."

The natural passion of sexual desire can affect even the saints, and Paul had in another letter advised believers to be very cautious to reserve it only for the relationship of marriage. 1 Corinthians 7 "1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband." He also said not all people are intended by God for marriage as he believed was his own case. 1 Corinthians 7 "7 Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to be convinced that any immoral, impure or greedy person was actually following the way of idol worship rather than of God. Such a person has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Paul warned the believers not to be deceived by empty words contrary to the truth because the wrath of God will come upon all who are disobedient to God.


C - WALK IN THE LIGHT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH

Ephesians 5 "7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them; 8 For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord; 11 and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; 12 for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of."

COMMENTS: Deceitful talk could start to draw a believer to join in with those who are being immoral or greedy. Christians should not share in any similar interests or experiences in such things, but rather personally disapprove and reject them for they are condemned practices which are shameful to talk about. Paul said believers are to have nothing to do with such things because they left that darkness behind when they became light in the Lord, and now living as children of light is the path to follow. The marks of the Christian life will be seen in goodness, righteousness, and truth which are all pleasing to the Lord.


D - REDEEM THE TIME BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL

Ephesians 5 "13 But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light. 14 Wherefore [he] saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. 15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ."

COMMENTS: When an activity condemned by God has been disapproved and rejected it should become clearly obvious to the one who has abandoned that practice that the light of truth has set them straight. Death from sin is no longer holding them back, for God has bidden them to awake from their sleep of death to live in the light of Christ. Therefore every Christian needs to be very careful about choosing wise conduct for the time they have as long as they live because we live in evil times. The believer needs to continually seek to know the will of the Lord. Because wine was a common beverage in Paul's day, he cautions the believers not to become drunk by drinking in excess which can lead to uncontrolled behavior, but to be filled with the Spirit of God. They should speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with their heart to the Lord. Always give thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Remember to subject yourselves to each other in the fear of Christ. These are signs of self control and joyful humility that Paul was advising all of the believers to develop in their character.


E - WIVES AND HUSBANDS IN CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

Ephesians 5 "22 Wives, [be in subjection] unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, [being] himself the saviour of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so [let] the wives also [be] to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious [church], not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are members of his body."

COMMENTS: Verses 20 through 30 need to be taken all together with caution not to overemphasize any portion thereof. Paul described a balance within the marriage relationship that was designed by God. Because of the fall into sin from the time of Adam and Eve, there will be wide variations as to how well this balance will be realized in each marriage. There is no doubt from this passage and others in scripture, that God has assigned to the man the responsibility for leadership in marriage. The husband and the wife need to display the fruit of the Spirit in humility and love as each one accepts their role in the marriage relationship as designed by God because believers are members of the body of Christ. The characteristics described for believers before Paul dealt with the marriage relationship also apply to the husband and the wife as they have the added responsibilities before God within their marriage.


F - PAUL WROTE OF MARRIAGE AND CHRIST WITH HIS CHURCH

Ephesians 5 "31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. 33 Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and [let] the wife [see] that she fear her husband."

COMMENTS: Paul made reference to a passage from Genesis to draw a parallel between the physical body descended through Adam and Eve, and the spiritual body that believers will receive when Christ comes to take them to heaven. The Genesis passage speaks of the way God had provided for the physical marriage relationship. Genesis 2 "23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." When believers are sealed by the Spirit we become part of the body of believers, and we await the fulfillment of the mystery Paul spoke of between Christ and his church. The figure of speech serves to provide an example within a familiar frame of reference to give some representation of something that is not completely understood. In this case it can be only spiritually discerned, and then not fully seen until it has been made complete. Other expressions in scripture speak of believers as sons of God and joint heirs with Jesus.

Christ is the bridegroom and all believers taken as a whole will be his bride when the time for the marriage has come. Paul had alluded to this in earlier verses. "26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious [church], not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Some other scriptures speak of the bridegroom and the marriage supper. John 3 "28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is made full." Matthew 9 "14 Then come to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast." Revelation 19 "7 Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright [and] pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are true words of God." Then Paul closed this segment by returning his attention to the physical realm as he reminded believing husbands and wives to individually follow his instructions within their marriage.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord Jesus, I want to make my life to have the depth of love that you demonstrated when you died on the cross to pay for the sins of all who will believe, and I praise your name that I have received that gift by grace. Thank you for giving the Apostle Paul by your Spirit the content of this chapter to the Ephesian believers. The instructions for living apply equally well to my life as a Christian. I want to avoid any deception that might involve me in sexual immorality, greed, obscene language, or off-color humor so my normal pattern will be to give you thanks that you have brought me into the light of truth. I want to have the fruit of goodness and righteousness in my life that I know you will produce in me when I yield my spirit to you. Lord, help me to personally disapprove and reject the practices of the ungodly for they are condemned by you and are shameful even to talk about. Death in the flesh is not holding me back anymore because you, Lord, have awakened me to live in the light of Christ. I want to wisely use the remainder of my life for your honor and glory as you enable me until I leave these evil times to be with you forever. Since you have blessed me with a wife, may I honor our marriage in ways that follow the relationship that you designed for a husband and wife. I look ahead to the even greater relationship your assembled church will have with you in your kingdom. Hallelujah, Amen!

Published 25 May 2015