Ephesians Chapter 05

Submitted by Editor on ቲዩ, 05/08/2018 - 16:49
English

THE NEW LIFE IN PRACTICE (4: 25 € 5: 5)

We have seen that the disciples of Christ € those who have "learned Christ" € have to put off the old man and to put on the new man. Paul illustrates this general principle by applying it to a number of sins. The process is described as two-fold: a putting off and a putting on. In actual practice the old man is put off by putting on the new. It is comprehensively expressed in the words, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good". It is a vain effort to try to exorcise the evil alone. Character is not a negation. The mistake was made by the generation contemporary with Christ. He spoke a parable which is very striking in this connection. There was a house occupied by an evil spirit. This spirit was ejected, but after a time returned and found the house swept and garnished, but tenantless. Whereupon he goes and gathers seven boon companions and together they enter into possession of the house. "The last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation" (Matt. 12: 45). As we consider that generation it is not difficult to see the application of the parable. They had repented at the teaching of John, but did not go forward to follow Christ, to whom John directed them. Their reformation required practical expression in obedience to Christ. Failing to do this, they fell away to a worse condition than they were in at the first; they crucified Christ. The parable is true to human life. It has been truly said that many men will say, "That's my story". The evil can be put away and kept away only by putting the good into possession and maintaining it there. Right acts must take the place of wrong acts. The principle is important, and is recognized as giving us the right way to achieve moral progress. In illustration of this we append some quotations from The Making of Character by John MacCunn, M.A., LL.D. "To seek out the instincts we deem good, and to tend them with untiring solicitude ; to watch for the instincts we deem bad, dangerous or useless; and to use the good instincts to oust the bad € this is the great part of moral education." "When we wish to subjugate an appetite, it is not enough simply to check it, however harshly. All the locks and bolts of mere repression will not suffice. Rather must we seek till we find and can foster some other desire in the presence of which the obnoxious appetite may find it hard to live. How, for example, may we best deal with congenital timidity? Impatience, derison, scorn, threatened disgrace € is it by these? Or is it rather by striving patiently to awaken a passion for some person or some cause, for love of which even the timid may stand up like a man?" "Evil appetites and passions do not yield most readily to direct assault. Passion must be evoked to cast out passion. And if once heart and mind be filled with strong positive interests, the rest will come of itself. For these wholesome incentives will, ever increasingly, occupy the soul, and, if only they be skilfully fostered will strike up alliances with one another, till the promptings we wish to get rid of will gradually be ousted from their squalid or knavish tenancy. For development and repression are not two things, but one; all genuine development already carries in it repression of much" To carry out the changes from the bad to the good requires that there should be a compelling power which springs from affection. "The expulsive power of a new affection" must also be a power that attracts and develops the right. This power is found in love to God and to His Son. As MacCunn again says: "The body will be best subjugated, not by hair-shirt or scourge or any of the like devices which too often thrust the physical life into prominence in the very effort to repress it, but by enlisting the fulness of manly strength in the service of some cause or person, which will tax it to the uttermost". The Colossians made the mistake here spoken of, calling forth from Paul the comment that such "things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body: but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2: 23). Paul points to the right way, in focussing the mind on Christ. "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth" (3:1-2). The cause and person best calculated to draw out fulness of service with the consequent ennobling of life is the gospel of God, and the central personage of the gospel message € Jesus Christ. While a wrong philosophy concerning evil led the Colossians to practise the asceticism which Paul told them was unavailing, the same philosophy led the Ephesians into a course of licence. But the remedy in each case was the same, hence the many parallels between Ephesians 4 and 5, and Colossians 3. We look at the examples which Paul gives and note also the reasons by which he enforces the lesson in some cases. He deals with six sins. (1)    Lying. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another" (verse 25). Lying ill becomes the new man, "created in righteousness and holiness of truth". To speak the truth is easy for some, but others exhibit a weakness for making false statements. Under the stress of some powerful influence or emotion truth can be perverted with out a speaker recognizing how inaccurate the words may be. It is said that in the first century "the habit of lying was congenial to the Greek, as it was to his Oriental neighbours". The remedy consists in a scrupulous care that all that is said is quite correct. The reason given for speaking truly is that "we are members one of another". All together constitute the body of Christ. In the natural body there is a wonderful co-operation between the various organs for the maintenance of the functions of life. In digestion, for example, several organs have a part to perform, varying according to the character of the food eaten. But if one organ "lied" to another as to what was required of it, disorder would immediately follow. It is as disruptive for members of a society to deceive one another as for the members of the natural body. Any organization, to exist at all, must have mutual trust and truthfulness on the part of all who belong to it. (2)    Anger. "Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil" (verses 26, 27). Since anger is enumerated among the works of the flesh to put away in verse 31, it has been thought that the plain meaning of the words in this place cannot be the right one. Relief has been sought in fresh translations, as, for example, "When angry, sin not". We might notice first that some anger is just. It is written concerning Jesus that he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This hatred, on occasion, manifested itself in righteous anger. Mark records that when the Pharisees watched Jesus whether he would heal on the sabbath day, "he looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their heart" (3: 5). Again, when the disciples rebuked those who brought the little children to Christ, "he was moved with indignation" (10: 13). One cannot think of the cleansing of the temple as being unaccompanied by a look of anger (11: 15). Of God it is written, "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psa. 7: 11). God's people are not to avenge themselves, but to give place to God's wrath (Rom. 12: 19). In the Apocalypse we read of "the wrath of the Lamb". But while anger can be a virtue, it is usually a vice. And therefore the commandments concerning anger are usually condemnatory. "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil" (Psa. 37: 8). "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (Jas. 1: 19). "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife" (Prov. 15: 18). And in Paul's words under consideration it is evident that anger can soon lead to sin if allowed to continue and to become uncontrolled. When is anger permissible? Some help comes from observing that Paul is quoting a verse from Psalm 4, and from studying the verse in its context. Psalm 3, as the historical title tells us, was written in connection with the revolt of Absalom. The word "Selah" at the end of the Psalm links it with the following. The fourth Psalm, therefore, belongs to the same incident in David's history. The Psalm and the history should be studied together. We give the Psalms with references interspersed, showing the history, and also providing evidence of the truth of both. The references are to 2 Samuel. "Lord, how are they increased (17: 1; 15: 12) that trouble me! Many are they that rise up (18: 31) against me. (2) Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God (18: 31). (3) But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me: my glory, and the lifter up of my head (contrast 15: 30). (4) I cried (15: 31) unto the Lord with my voice and he heard me out of his holy hill. (5) I laid me down and slept (17: 27-29); I awaked: for the Lord sustained me. (6) I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (15: 6, 10, 13). (7) Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. (8) Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people."PSALM 4. "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer. (2) O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? (16: 7, 8) how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? (15: 1 -9). (3) But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. (4) Stand in awe (be ye angry € R. V. margin) and sin not (16:9; 19:21): commune with your own heart upon your bed (18: 33), and be still. (5) Offer the sacrifice of righteousness (contrast 15: 7-9), and put your trust in the Lord. (6) There be many that say, Who will show us any good? (15: 4). Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us (15: 25). (7) Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. (8) I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." In the second verse of Psa. 4 David addresses the leaders opposed to him. "Ye sons of the great" {Rotherham), David somewhat ironically calls them. In verse 4 he turns to the leaders who have followed him, and advises them not to allow their anger to turn to sin. How necessary the counsel was, we may learn by studying the conduct of the sons of Zeruiah, Joab and Abishai. The latter desired to slay Shimei when he cursed David (2 Sam. 16: 9), and repeated the wish on David's return to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom. David's reply has an intimate connection with Paul's use of the Psalm. "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries (Satans) unto me?" (2 Sam. 19: 22). The anger of Abishai was not free from sin € he was a Satan to David. He was right in his anger that the Lord's anointed had been assailed by the rebels, but it was not free from personal feeling. Christ's anger was at the perversity of men who ought to have known better in their treatment of divine things. It is a remarkable coincidence that the three injunctions of Paul concerning anger have thus a correspondence in Psalm or history. "Be ye angry, and sin not", is a quotation. "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath", corresponds with the words, "Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still". Anger must not be cherished and nursed from day to day. The heart must find rest and be still with the close of day. The third item, "Neither give place to the devil", has no corresponding thought in the Psalm, but finds its counterpart in the words of David recorded in history, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be Satans unto me?" It has been said, "To be angry without sin is difficult for men, but it is a difficult duty". Anger is a destructive force, uncontrolled. "But though it is difficult, it need not be impossible that the wrath which a man feels, and under the impulse of which he expresses himself, should be, not 'the wrath of man', but a Divine resentment of evil." (3) Stealing. This illustration is a striking application of the principle of the emphasis of the opposite. "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (verse 28). Stealing we are told was a common vice among slaves. Some to-day in workshops indulg in constant petty pilfering. The habit is overcome by aiming to provide, by honest work, the means to help others in need. One who is aiming to confer good on the needy will not at the same time steal. Instead of being overcome of evil, the evil is overcome by good. (4) Bad language. "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (verses 29-30). Paul wrote to the Colossians to put away filthy communication, or shameful speaking, out of their mouth. Again he counselled them to let their speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt (3:8; 4:6). Salt is preserving; it is antiseptic. Speech seasoned with salt is like the offerings under the law with which the salt of the covenant was offered € it is fit to ascend unto God. There is talk in the world that is not merely idle, but also foul. There is also much that is on the border-line, not utterly foul in its form, but suggestive in its content. But to this reference is made in connection with another sin. Corrupt speech not only defiles the speaker, but the hearer also; it is contagious. So Paul points out that the effect upon the hearer must be a guide. Speech "such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear". Does my speech build up? might well be the test of our conversation. Are men and women better or worse for what they hear of our words? Was the remark wisely spoken, fitting the need of the particular occasion? These are the questions suggested as tests by what Paul puts before us as the antidote to unclean talk. But there is another reason for chaste conversation. Not only its effect upon men must be observed but also how God thinks of it. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Literally, the Holy Spirit is impersonal € it is power. But it is used by metonymy for God who had given it. The use of the figure suggests that God is grieved at the lack of response to His goodness shown in the exercise of the power on their behalf. The language resembles that used by Isaiah. "I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them" (63:7-10). It is a surprising thought that God so enters into the feelings of His people that He makes them His own. It is involved also in Christ's words to Paul when he was on the way to Damascus to persecute Christ's disciples: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" But if God suffers with His people it follows that when His work is lightly esteemed He is grieved. The human parent feels grief when a child utters some indecent word picked up outside the home. And Paul tells us that God is grieved when He hears His children giving expression to corrupt speech. Could there be a greater incentive than this to avoid all language that is not clean? (5) Bitter feelings. The modifying influence of the teaching of Christ has resulted in some sins being recognized throughout Christendom as sins. The training of early childhood in homes where God is honoured leads to truthfulness and honesty and the avoidance of foul speech. But whatever the training, and however small the appeal of some sins may be there are others concerning which all, at some time or another, need to exercise watchfulness. So long as human nature remains what it is, so long will the need remain for exhortation to put away one or other of the things chosen for comment by Paul. In this number we should put this fifth illustration. Earnest effort to follow Christ reveals the truth of Paul's statement that in the flesh dwells no good thing, that evil is present. A consideration of the commandments of Christ and the apostles, shows how wayward the impulses of the flesh are. Bitter feelings may arise from so many causes. The cause may be principally in ourselves, or a fault in others which affects ourselves may produce a bitter reaction. Wounded pride; constant irritation by, it may be, some small thing in itself; jealousy and envy; friction in daily life; all provoke bitterness. Some weakness in ourselves, some smallness in our nature, and the root of bitterness finds congenial soil. Resentment may arise from fancied as well as from real wrong. But whatever the source Paul uncompromisingly says: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" (verse 31). Following close in the wake of bitterness, comes wrath, the sudden burst of passionate anger; then follows the settled disposition of anger. Clamour is the loud recrimination of the embittered soul. Expression may be given to injurious evil speaking. Malice is the last of this evil fellowship, and like bitterness has many offshoots; therefore, Paul adds "all malice"; it is "an evil habit of mind" as Trench explains the word. What antiseptic can be applied to so virulent and widespread an evil? "Depart from evil, and do good" is the Psalmist's rule. The specific "good" which must be "done" when this form of evil assails us is thus defined by Paul: "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (verse 32). In the parallel passage in Colossians, the Apostle says: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (3: 12, 13). Kindness and tenderheartedness, expressed in a readiness to forgive, is a counsel easily acknowledged, but not always easily acted upon. Yet there are the greatest inducements put before us. There has been much in us to be forgiven by God, and that wholly one-sided, for we have nothing to forgive Him. The forgiveness of each other is more or less mutual. And Paul puts the forgiveness of God to us as the example and illustration of the disposition to be sought after by the learners in the school of Christ. Having introduced the example of God, Paul concludes his counsel on the sin of bitter feelings with the exhortation: "Be ye followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (5:1,2). He has said that God in Christ forgave. So, as God's children, forgive as He forgives. As members now of His family, love as Christ, the only begotten of the Father, loved. His love extended to giving himself; an act which is judged by Christ himself as the greatest act of love possible, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. And lest we should think that our smaller (how very much smaller!) acts of kindness are unnoticed by the Father, we might recall that Paul, who here describes Christ's gift of himself as "an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour", elsewhere describes the thoughtfulness of the Philippians in sending help to him by Epaphroditus by similar language: "But now I have all things and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God" (Phil. 4: 18). Thus God accepts the efforts of His children in faithful service, as He found pleasure in the supreme sacrifice of Christ. (6) Lust. The last illustration is from a sin that has defiled mankind in all ages and in all countries. So foul is it, that talking about the details of it has a harmful effect, polluting the mind as a filthy stream befouls the banks through which it flows. "But fornication, and all unclean-ness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient (or befitting): but rather giving of thanks'' (verses 3, 4). The appalling condition of open sin in Paul's day is seen from the following statement: "The moral life of the Graeco-Roman world had sunk so low that, while protests against the prevailing corruption were never entirely wanting, fornication had long come to be regarded as a matter of moral indifference, and was indulged in without shame or scruple not only by the mass, but by philosophers and men of distinction who in other respects led exemplary lives." Under such conditions Paul may well prohibit the discussion of it. He himself "names" it only to condemn it. But saints are separated from the world, and it becomes them not to let the mind dwell on the sins of the world. The mind insensibly is affected by the stream of thought passing through it, and it is desirable to have the stream as pure as possible. A mind familiarized by pictures of evil is not strongly fortified if sin should assail. "Covetousness" or greediness, in this connection, must not be limited to the insatiate grasp for wealth. It denotes the greedy pursuit of the fleshly gratification named in the context. So also the filthiness and foolish talking and jesting which are not befitting must be interpreted by the context. Filthiness describes the vulgar talk of obscene things. Foolish talking is the utterance of the fool who makes a mock of sin, and who freely indulges in unblushing speech, that disregards all sense of decency. The jesting is the more refined avoidance of the coarser form of speech, but which shows that behind the veneer of politeness there is no purer mind. Borderline talk which suggests rather than describes, the "smutty" remark, the innuendo of the more educated which reveals more wit but not more purity € these are embraced in the jesting which Paul says is not befitting the saint. Let humour be clean, and without the suggestiveness pertaining to it that so delights the natural man. Thus, and only thus, do men and women honour the household of God of which they form a part. Instead of tainted speech, Paul counsels "but rather giving of thanks". This is a wholesome corrective of both the disorders shown by the Ephesians and the Colossians. As we have before seen, from the same wrong starting point concerning the origin of evil, the Ephesians were in danger of running to licence, while the Colossians sought to overcome evil by the hair-shirt method of asceticism. "Give thanks", both are exhorted. The spirit of thankfulness guides the actions into the channels for which thanks can be given, helps in the avoidance of the course of life that produces shame, and encourages an appreciation of God's gifts. It helped the Colossians to value the good gifts bestowed for right uses and to develop the balanced life instead of the morbidly introspective and insecure attitude which they were adopting. Thankfulness to God humbles and ennobles. Therefore, "abound in thanksgiving"; "be ye thankful"; and "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Col. 2: 7; 3: 15). Giving of thanks restrained the Ephesians from doing those things which produced no sense of gratefulness in the mind, but one of shame and disgust. Paul adds a warning. He recalls to their minds what they had already acknowledged. To follow the practices of the old life would exclude them from the kingdom of God. "For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (verse 5). For the inheritance in the kingdom there must be a degree of fitness. It is true that none can obtain eternal life in his own right. But that truth should not make us lose sight of the otfier truth, that there must have been an honest endeavour to form that character which is fitted to survive. Christ and the apostles have all told us that admission to the kingdom will depend upon effort put forth to qualify for entrance. "Strive (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate" (Luke 13: 24). " Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock . . . And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand" (Matt. 7 : 24, 26). Paul says that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom. 8:9). "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6: 7, 8). And Peter tells us that if we do "these things" € on our part supplying diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love € "thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1 : 5-11). "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev. 22: 14, 15). It is a gladsome truth that God forgives. If He should mark iniquity none would stand. " But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared" (Psa. 130:14). None will more gratefully recognize than the redeemed, that it is by grace and not by works, through sins forgiven and not through perfect personal holiness, that they are gathered to Christ. But they are there with him because they first washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and then like Christ, though in differing degree, have overcome. "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne'' (Rev. 3: 21).

DARKNESS AND LIGHT (5: 6-21)

Man is reluctant to believe that God will judge him for wrong doing. From the days of Eden, when the serpent contradicted the word of God that man should die for disobedience, there has been much more comfortable thinking concerning what God would do in the future. With mistaken generosity souls are promoted to bliss with complete disregard of whether there has been thought for God's commandments during life. And many people delude themselves that if they do what they think is right, if there should be a future, they will partake in it. The saints of God should beware of this pitfall. It may be said that they know there will be a judgment, and therefore they are in no danger of self-deception. But the evidence of the epistles shows that the apostles had to meet much sophistry concerning what men may do and yet escape God's judgment. The apostle John found it necessary to write "concerning them that would seduce you", and to affirm that the children of God did not follow the ways of sin. "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him" (1 John 2: 26, 29). "And everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure . . . Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God; neither he that loveth not his brother" (3: 3-10). The apostle Paul's teaching was perverted at Corinth. He taught that "all things were lawful" in his contentions for Gentile freedom from the law of Moses. But his words were sadly misused. It would appear that the Corinthians quoted these words in a letter to Paul, and in his reply he again uses them, and, taking their construction of them, adds, "but all things are not expedient". The Corinthians further argued that God's provision of anything implied full freedom to use it. But this ignored that God had given regulations governing the use of what He has provided. Good things abused led to bondage to the habit of excess. With all things given man should glorify God. In this way Paul meets the misrepresentation (1 Cor. 6: 12-20). We need not then be surprised that at Ephesus € where there was speculation concerning the origin of evil, and whether sin was a matter of indifference or not € Paul should warn them of the dangers of sin. So after telling them that the old man had to be put off and the new man put on, and giving illustrations how this should be done, he proceeds, "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (5: 6). He wrote similarly to the Colossians: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience" (3: 5-6). Their position now was incompatible with such forms of life. Such actions belong to the darkness they had left behind. He therefore exhorts, "Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light; (for the fruit of the Spirit (R.V., of the light) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) proving what is acceptable to the Lord; and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (verses 7-12). We may notice that he says they were darkness, and not simply in darkness. As Gentiles, they were darkened in their understanding (4: 18). But now, as he wrote to the Colossians, the Father "hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1: 12, 13). Christ is the true light which shone in the darkness (John 1: 5, 9). He said "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (8: 12). Again, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness" (12:46). "While ye have the light, believe on the light, that ye may become sons of light" (verse 36). These sons of light, being taught of Christ, become themselves light. Their obligation is to walk as children of light manifesting goodness, righteousness and truth. They do not have fellowship with darkness nor its works. (In passing, we observe that light has fruit, but darkness has works € compare Gal. 5:19, 22. Instead of being a party to the sins of darkness, the duty of the saint is to convict or reprove, by word and deed. The result that may ensue from the reproof of darkness by such faithful walk is an inducement to persevere with courage. The light shining in a man makes the evil and the darkness manifest for what it is; and then in cases where there is response to the light, the darkness is itself transformed into light. Just as the Ephesians were once darkness but had become light in the Lord, so they must radiate the light that its energy might change others. "All things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light" (verse 13, R.V.). Supporting this, Paul quotes some lines of what was possibly a hymn, but which certainly have a scriptural basis. In a coming day God will call upon Zion to "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion" (Isa. 52: 1, 2). Again, when the Redeemer comes to Zion, he will say, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee" (60: 1,2). The beautiful garments are the children of the resurrection (Isa. 49: 18), and these children of Zion will have been individually prepared beforehand by an awakening from moral slumber and spiritual death, and been enlightened by Christ. With their Leader, they will give effect to a political resurrection of Zion comparable to their own personal experience. "Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, And arise from the dead, And Christ shall give thee light." "Walk as children of light", the apostle was exhorting (verse 7), when he was led aside to speak of the conflict of light and darkness. He resumes his exhortation under this frequently recurring figure of a walk in verse 15. "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.'' The disciples have to show themselves wise; wisdom follows light. It is seen in the right use of time, which can be redeemed from wrong purposes and put to good uses, and the service of righteousness. The idea is from the market. "Making your market to the full from the opportunity of this life", as Ramsay translates the corresponding thought in Colossians (4:5). "Buy up your opportunities", Weymouth gives us. As the alert shopper is ready to use every opportunity to secure the things she needs, so the believer seizes from passing time every opportunity for serving God. The price paid is the sacrifice of self-indulgence. The reason for alertness is found in the evil of the times. Conditions in the world are morally bad; watchfulness and care are needed. "Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (verse 17). A particular instance of folly is cited. "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess. "It is said that wine" was glorified as an excitement of emotion, and even of wit and intellect, in such contemporary writers as Horace, and actually confused, as in the Dionysiac, or Bacchanalian frenzy, with a divine inspiration". But Paul says that in drunkenness there is excess, or "riot", as the word is elsewhere translated. Lack of restraint, dissoluteness, ruin, follow in the wake of drunkenness. Instead of it, the Ephesians were exhorted, "Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (verses 18-21). Commentators have halted between two ideas; does "with the spirit" or more literally, "in spirit" (there is no article) refer to the Holy Spirit, or in some sense to the spirit of man? In any case it appears clear that what Paul wrote does not mean "become full of the Holy Spirit". The Spirit is the filler, and through the Spirit they become full. But with what had they then to become full? Again the parallel in Colossians helps. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord" (3:6). To be filled with the Spirit results in a mind rich in the understanding of God and His ways as revealed in His word. Instead of the excitement of wine we must have the elevation of thought that comes from the ardent love of the Word of God. The R.V. margin provides an alternative translation, with a rather different idea yet a possible one. "Be filled in spirit" € that is, instead of the bodily gratification with the unwholesome excitement of wine, they must have the spiritual exhilaration associated with the knowledge of God's will. The drunkard indulges in foolish talk and ribald mirth. The Christian governs his speech by the sentiments of praise and gladness and joy. There is melody in the heart € the harmony of a heart at rest in Christ, thankful at all times for all things. A further expression of the spiritually elevated life is to be found in the willingness to submit one to another in the fear of Christ. This does not mean that no one should guide and direct. The precept is illustrated at length by the duties of husbands and wives, fathers and children, and masters and servants. Paul does not say that masters have to be subject to servants; his rule of mutual submission must be interpreted by his own illustrations. The Christian life is one of orderliness. In all points of Paul's exhortation in this place there is a contrast with pagan life. The drunkenness, as we have seen, was in some circumstances confused with divine inspiration. Really it led to dissoluteness, ribald mirth, disorder and contention. The disciples of Christ, directed by the Word of God, and exalted thereby and finding in it all the mental satisfaction that they needed, exhibited chaste speech and orderly lives. There is a quiet submissiveness to appointed authorities, whether m personal, civic or religious associations. There is willing obedience to the powers that be (Rom. 13: 1). The younger submit to the elder (1 Peter 5:5). In apostolic times there were divinely appointed rulers in the ecclesias. "Obey them that have the rule over you", was the counsel in this connection. (Heb. 13: 17). Instead, then, of the brawling self-assertiveness of the drunkard, the distinguishing mark of the saint is orderliness and submission to authority. Paul expands the thought in the next sections of the letter. This rule of submission has a three-fold illustration in this epistle. Paul's application supplies us with his meaning. He does not mean absolutely that each one has to be subject to the other; that would be impossible. The Christian walk is an orderly one, involving that there are those who guide, and those who are led. But the arrangement is such that there is no abuse of power, but mutual benefit.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES (5: 22-33)

Paul begins with the wife's duty because she exemplifies the rule of subordination. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the ecclesia: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the ecclesia is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (verses 22-24). "As unto the Lord" provides a motive which moderates any reluctance to compliance with this command that any may feel. The duties of domestic life can be so much service to the Lord. The relationship of wife to husband is a miniature of that of the ecclesia to Christ. The husband is head as Christ is head. But Christ is more € he is what the husband cannot be; he is the saviour of his body, the ecclesia. While this is so, the example remains; the difference between Christ and the husband does not annul the duty of the wife. From the wife he passes to the husband. If the duty of the ecclesia to Christ illustrates the duty of the wife to the husband, he in turn finds his example in Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the ecclesia" (verse 25). It is noteworthy that the emphasis is placed upon the duty each has to perform, and not upon the right to be expected from the other. The husband is not told to exact submission, but to love. The application of each of them to their own duty helps the other to do his (or her) part. The reference to the example of Christ leads to the expansion of the thought of what he has done. "He gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious ecclesia, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (verses 26-27). Christ's love expressed itself in his sacrifice, through which a bride was prepared for him. The preparation consists of sanctification and cleansing. Jesus himself connected his work and the believer's sanctification when he said, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (John 17: 19). The cleansing and sanctification are but aspects of justification, as is seen in Paul's remark to the Corinthians. "Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6: 11). "The washing of water" is baptism. It is not a matter of the cleansing of the body € the putting away of the filth of the flesh, in Peter's words (1 Peter 3:21). It is a rite expesssive by its symbol of the fact of men's relation to death, and in the recognition of this God is honoured and man's true estate exhibited. But baptism, to be effectual, requires belief of the gospel on the part of the subject of it. "He that believeth (the gospel) and is baptized shall be saved." So the apostle describes it as "a washing of water with the word" (R.V.); which means in effect, with the understanding of, and confession of faith in, the word of the truth of the gospel. The presenting of the finally perfected bride to Christ is the theme of many prophecies. The marriage of the Lamb is the subject of the Song of Solomon. The Psalmist, writing of the same matter, exuberantly breaks out, "My heart overfloweth with a goodly matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer". And he goes on to describe the enthroned king with the queen in gold of Ophir by his side (Psa. 45). In a passage very closely connected with Paul's exposition of the matter, Isaiah says of the "Jerusalem which is above" and which is "the mother of us all" (as Paul explains in Gal. 4: 26, 27), "Thy Maker is thine husband; Yahweh of hosts is his name; the God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isa. 54: 5). In a sense Adam was maker and husband of Eve, and in this he was "a figure of him that was to come", but of whom it is true in greater fulness. The figures of bride and bridegroom are joined together in the words of the Lord's Anointed (Isa. 61: 1, 10); perhaps pointing us to the complete Christ-body, which consists of both bride and bridegroom. Similar thoughts can be traced out in many other passages. It is in Christ, then, that the husband finds his example. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." As the ecclesia is Christ's body, so the husband regards his wife as his body, and so regarding her, will not hate her ; "for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord die ecclesia: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Eph. 5 : 28-30). We are his bride; we are his body; and the thought of this dual relationship takes the apostle to the account in Genesis, where in the first marriage we have the parable of redemption. Adam alone was provided with a partner in the special way recorded. He was caused to sleep; his side was pierced; and by this means there was provided for him his bride. Jesus also was pierced in the side; he also slept, but in his case it was the sleep of death; and through his death there will be given to him a helper who will be at once his body and his bride. "This mystery is great" € it contains a great spiritual lesson, even of Christ and the ecclesia. "Nevertheless" concludes the apostle, and by that word bringing us back to the natural, "nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." On this section of the epistle there are some comments, profitable and altogether good, in Elpis Israel, chapter II, under the headings, "The formation of man and woman" and "The 'great mystery' of her formation out of man explained".  

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