Bible Book: Ephesus 5

Followers of God, followers of Christ. 

 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. If we have learned Christ, put on Christ, and have been created after God in righteousness and true holiness, God is right in asking from us that we, as dear children of God, are willing and eager to follow our heavenly Father. Above all love ought to be our characteristic. The pattern of Gods love we find in Christ, who gave himself, though being innocent, for the guilty. How clearly we fall short then. We usually love them we appreciate and deserve it to be loved. The love of God in Jesus Christ was for his enemies and He was willing to bring the highest sacrifice for the salvation of sinners. Our walk in love therefore ought to have the character of a sacrifice or have an element of sacrifice in it. That can be a sweetsmelling savor for God, not in order to achieve some advantage but in unselfish dedication. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let them not once be named among you, as becometh saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not befitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know: that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Here is said that the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. The verse does not say “upon the unbelievers”. True, they are obedient to the gospel as well, but someone saying that he is a believer, but living in disobedience to Gods will has reason to take verse 6 to heart. By a life in disobedience and unrighteousness he is turning away from the Saviour he confessed to believe in. 7 Be ye not therefore partakers with them. Psalm 1 declared them blessed who do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor are partakers with the sinners and the scornful. But nobody is capable by nature to live according to the will of God. Christians however have received new life, have put on Christ and are urged not to walk according to the flesh, but by the Spirit, that is, guided by the Word of God. The inclination to follow the majority is very strong. Not because we love sin, but because we do not want to be incongruous with people in general, not want to be seen as old fashioned or narrow minded, are ashamed to acknowledge that we love the Lord and want to do what He says. We say that we love Him, because He loved us first. Think! Is it reality? Do we stick to our love? Or do we disappoint Him, so that He has to look to us with eyes that express his sadness? Whose approval do we seek, of the world or of Him who paid for us with his life? 8 For ye were one time darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. We are no longer darkness and do not belong tot the darkness. In the Lord we are light. That ought to be visible in our daily walk. Works of darkness do not match with it. Walking in the light will give fruit for God and be a blessing for men. We often ask whether this or that is compatible with our being Christians, in order to know how far we can go and yet still remain within the boundaries. It is a better way to ask what is acceptable or even agreeable to the Lord, how can I give Him joy and satisfaction. He had come to do the will of his Father. Let it be our ambition as well. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them, 12 for it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. To have fellowship supposes connection with and follow other people. There is the danger for Christians who themselves abhor the works of darkness, to do in the long run contrary to their conscience by association with unbelieving people. That is why we have the admonition here not to have fellowship with works of darkness, in stead of hearing the admonition only not to do those works, and the advice to reprove them rather. Do our worldly friends not accept that? Whosoever does the works of darkness will never appreciate it that his wicked works are unmasked. A Christian needs not regret that, for friendship of people who do works of darkness never can be a blessing nor a lasting joy for a believer. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light, for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. It is the light that manifests all things. We are children of the light and God has put us into the world as lights. If we answer to that position and our responsibility, evil will be manifested when meeting us, unless we cowardly renounce our being Christians. 14 Therefore he saith: "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Because all things will be made manifest Christ says before coming in judgment awake and arise, thou that sleepest and Christ shall let his light shine over thee. How could we ever walk according to thy will and know to make the most of the time if we did not awake hearing thy word and would not seek power in that Word. Ours are evil days and the time is short. Let us accustom ourselves to thy ways, so that it will be possible to be recognized as children of God. Grant us to be full of thy Spirit that our speaking may be praise to thee, that we thank thee in all things, but most of all that we be small and humble and fear thee. (Originally it is a Dutch poem. Can someone translate it? 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. It could be that we keep a strict watch on the teaching, which is necessary, but think that with that we show enough zeal and keep a lesser strict watch on our walk. It would be unwise and lead to a foolish walk. The Lord grants us occasions to be useful for Him and his case, but we do not always pay attention. Does it not betray that our first aim is not to serve the Lord? Does it not prove that we have other priorities? 17 Therefore, be ye not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Unwise, that is without understanding, not realizing. We often do not realize sufficiently that we make our Redeemer grieve if we are careless in our conduct, walk along the borderline or over that line, often do not realize enough that a wrong conduct influences others and gives a wrong impression of the faith and the Lord in whom we believe. The will of the Lord ought to be our guideline for that will alone is good. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, We have to know and understand the will of the Lord, but if we accept that alcoholic beverages cloud our reasoning power, we have no reasoning power any more. Therefore beverages should not influence our reasoning, but the Spirit of God. We received that Spirit, but can fill our heart and reasoning with all kinds of earthly things, which leave little place for the Spirit of God. We therefore are urged on to be filled with the Spirit. Of course therefore our will must no be allowed to govern us, but the Word and the will of the Lord. To be filled with the Spirit means to give Him all berth and room and let Him speak to us by the book, the Bible, that has been his work. Like Rebecca on the way to Isaac listened to the servant of Abraham who told her all about the son, we may listen to Him the Father has sent and is living in us (the Spirit), who speaks us of the beloved Son who has been sacrificed but lives. Whosoever has been clouded by alcoholic beverage cannot think and decide normally. The Spirit does not switch off our mind and our will, but alcohol does. Then our possibility to obey consciously would be switched off as well, a wrong thing. We then can be an apathetic prey of wicked spirits. The Spirit of God makes us obedient to the Word of God and does not want us to be puppets. 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,. We ourselves are allowed to speak too and may particularly speak in the way this verse says. In our various hymns we not only speak to one another, but to God as well, and that thanksgiving ought to have an important place in it is clear. To give thanks always, seems to be difficult. When we realize however that nothing happens accidentally and God is guiding us with love, care and wisdom, we can give thanks indeed by faith. But we must not forget that where is sin, not thanksgiving, but confession must be the first thing, with prayer for help and protection against all temptation. 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Being small before God and small in our own eyes is the reverse of pride and haughtiness putting self above others. Let us learn from Him who has said that He was meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; 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. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Verses 22-33 are the passage in this epistle in which the church is depicted as the bride of Christ, like she is depicted as the bride of the Lamb in the Revelation. Some deny that. It will be difficult to convince them because they do not submit to the clear words in this passage. The instruction for the women is not only to submit to their husbands, but to do that “as unto the Lord”. As a comparison: to the servants is said in Colossians 3:23, 24 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men, 24 knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ.The same in this epistle chapter 6:5. So women submit themselves to the Lord by submitting to their husbands. Behind the husband they may see Another, Jesus their Lord. Then follow the first of man and wife on the one hand and Christ and the church on the other hand. Man and wife of course are no example for Christ and the church, but a picture of the union. It is striking that after that at once is said, that Christ is the Saviour of the body. The woman obviously is presented here as the body. In the following verses we find that again and more clearly. It is of importance in view of the wrong notion that the church is not presented as the bride or the wife of the Lamb. They pretend that the church being the body of Christ cannot be the bride at the same time. They obviously did not read carefully what the Spirit says in this chapter, for here expressly is said, that the wife is the body of the man and that the church, presented as the wife, is the body of Christ. The submission of the woman is not denied if she would refuse to obey her husband in case he would give her an order which would be sin to the Lord. Submission is not always exactly the same thing as obedience.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, This not only is an order for men to love their wifes, but to love them in a special manner, that is like Christ loved the church. It was the love that made Him give Himself to take upon Him our sins and guilt and to endure our judgment. That is no small thing! If men love their wifes in that way indeed, it will not be difficult for wifes to submit to those husbands. 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, 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. The Lord loved the church and wanted to present her to Himself as a holy bride, without blemish. Moreover He wants to have her He loved above all near Himself and make her a partaker of all glory and blessings that are his. Love cannot do otherwise than seek the best for the beloved one. The purification of sin is effected by the blood of Christ. But the permanent cleansing of the defilement we catch during our walk through the wilderness is effected by the Word of God. It is depicted by the Lords washing of the feet of his disciples. The water there is no image of baptism, but of the Word of God. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. After the example in the preceding verses here follows the admonition for the husbands to love their wifes as their own bodies. So doing they love themselves. Nobody hates his own flesh but nourishes it as the Lord the church. It is clear that the Spirit takes the view, that the church is the bride of Christ and at the same time his body, and that likewise in marriage the woman is at the same time the body of the man. 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." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. In verse 31 Genesis 2:24 is cited, what has been written after the first man, Adam, had got his wife. With those words not only is said what is the situation of man and wife, but has been told a mystery in the same time. In verse 32 the apostle reveals that mystery; it is the fact that the unity of a man with his wife is a type of the unity of Christ and his church. When creating men and in what He then said, God had Christ and the church in mind. He wanted to give in Adam a type of Christ and in Eve of the church. From eternity the unity between Christ and the church has been part of Gods counsels, even the heart of it. Adam had to be head over all on earth in order to be a type of Christ, in due course Head over al things. And Eve had not to be created the same moment and in the same way as Adam, for she had to be taken out of his side, a matter of suffering. The church has her beginning in the death of Christ and the love of his heart. So a Christian with admiration can note the wonders of Scripture, the godly Word, the Bible, of which the very first part lets guess what have been Gods thoughts with relation to Christ, the church and the end of times. It is a mystery that can only be understood if one knows what the position of the church with Christ is and what will be her place in the end (Chapter 1:10 and 22-23). 33 Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband. After the explanation in the preceding verses we have here again the conclusion for our life upon earth: Let every man follow the example of the Lord and love his wife as himself, making it an easy thing for the woman to reverence her husband. 

J. Ph. Buddingh