“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Paul often starts a thought, then digresses, then returns to his orig-inal thought. The therefore of verse 15 is resumptive; it returns to the thought of a worthy walk emphasized in verse 8. This is the seventh time that Paul has referred to the walk of the Ephesian believers. Ephesians 2:2 speaks of their pre-salvation walk and 2:10, 17; 5:2, 8, 15 speaks of their post-salvation walk.
The verb be is literally see to it. This implies they may have become forgetful of the imperative of Christian conduct. The adverb careful (akribwß = akribos) means to pay close attention to detail. How is a word that requires careful choice. We should be alert, precise, and discriminatory in the way we walk. Who is the wise man and who is the unwise man? Verse 17 pro-vides the answer—the wise man knows the will of God; the unwise man does not. The wise man is truth oriented; the unwise man is ignorance oriented.
Verse 16 points to a specific area of walking wisely—the judi-cious use of one’s time. The word time (kairoß = kairos) refers to an epoch, or critical moment, and thus opportunity. Making the most is literally buying up. We are to make the most of every opportunity like a good merchant or businessman does. We must remember that time is a daily treasure that attracts many robbers. The words the days are evil tell why careful attention to one’s walk is so important. One watches each step very carefully when walking a path covered with ice, whereas a straight and level path would not require such care. In days when the path we must walk is full of the debris of sin, we must tread with care and diligence.
Persistence With Regard to God’s Will 5:17
Persistence With Regard to God’s Will 5:17
“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
The word foolish (afrwn = aphron) is stronger than unwise in verse 15. It refers to stupid and totally senseless action. The word understand (sunihmi = suniami) means to give the mind to something with a view to getting hold of it. Our idiom “get it together” expresses the meaning of the verb quite well.
Control With Regard to God’s Spirit 5:18-20
Control With Regard to God’s Spirit 5:18-20
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiri-tual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
DISSIPATION FORBIDDEN 5:18A
The grammatical structure of these five verses is very important. They open with two contrasting com-mands, the second of which (be filled) is explained by five participles.
The opening command is a quotation of the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 23:31. The climate of Greece caused the ground to produce the fruit of the vine prolifically. Drinking of wine was not only a social custom but was closely linked to the heathen festivals. If historical accounts are accurate, Alexander the Great hastened his death by the use of alcohol.
The danger of drunkenness lies not so much in drinking itself, but in what it produces. Paul calls it dissipation (aswtia = asotia), used in classical Greek for the squandering of both money and physical appetites. The adverbial form is found in Luke 15:13 and describes the activity of the prodigal son as loose living.
FILLING COMMANDED 5:18B
One might expect that Paul’s prohi-bition of drunkenness would be followed by an exhortation to abstinence. But this is not the case; the exhortation is instead to be filled with the Spirit. Christians are to know a “Christian drunken-ness,” that is, the filling of the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit provides a genuine exhilaration that others seek from alco-hol.
While the prohibition concerning drunkenness stands by itself, it also clarifies what is meant by being filled with the Holy Spirit. One who is drunk is controlled by something other than himself— namely, alcohol. The same idea is involved in filling: One is con-trolled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Filling is not a matter of quantity but of control, a concept that can be established by noting its uses in the book of Acts. The contrast between the two commands is between wrong animation and right animation. The words with wine stand in contrast to with the Spirit. Both verbs are present tense, indicating habitual action. Paul is not speaking of a charismatic experience; he is commanding an ongoing condition.
The Greek text does not tell us whether Paul is referring to the human spirit or the Holy Spirit. It is not unusual for Paul to speak of the human spirit as the instrument of the Holy Spirit. The same ambiguity is found in Ephesians 2:22, 3:5, and 6:18. Is Paul telling us where to be filled or with whom to be filled? When one consid-ers the numerous references to the filling of the Spirit, it seems best to capitalize the noun Spirit making it a reference to the person of the Holy Spirit.
The significance of the verb be filled (plhrow = plaroo) is critical for a sound doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The imperative mood makes it clear that filling is expected of all believers, and the pre-sent tense forbids a once-for-all experience, specifying instead a continuous replenishment—“keep on being filled.” The passive voice means this is not a manufactured experience but a gracious gift of God available to all.
RESULTS ASSURED 5:19-21
The Control of the Holy Spirit is Manifested by Speaking—Five par-ticiples follow with each describing the results of the filling of the Holy Spirit. In each of the expressions, the control of the Holy Spirit is manifested in some type of praise.
It is interesting that both here and on the day of Pentecost the thing affected by the Holy Spirit was the tongue. This is not to imply that the speaking referred to here has anything to do with tongues, but it was the organ of speech that was touched in each context. This harmonizes nicely with James words, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” The word speaking (lalew = laleo) is not con-fined to words spoken in normal conversation but incorporates all kinds of utterances, such as those that are lyrics of a song. Its gen-eral meaning is using the voice, in whatever manner. Under the relaxing influence of wine, the tongue is loosened; likewise, under the control of the Holy Spirit the tongue is loosened to offer praise to Him to Whom it is due. The speech is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the vine.
The words speaking to one another probably correspond with the words of Colossians 3:16, teaching and admonishing one another. Psalms suggests the Davidic psalter; hymns center on praise and worship, whereas spiritual songs refer to meaningful lyrics in a broader sense. A hymn is distinguished from a song in that hymns focus on the character or work of God. Hymns are not the expres-sion of how we feel about God; they are statements recognizing and exalting His person. A song may speak of how we love Him; a hymn speaks of how He loves us. The participle making melody (yallw = psallo) originally referred to plucking the strings of a lyre. In our usage it means to sing to the accompaniment of a harp or similar instrument. It is the word from which psalm is devel-oped.
The words to the Lord show that these songs of praise do not need to be heard by men. They may thus be private and personal or public and corporate. The issue is to whom, not before whom. Jerome makes an interesting comment on this verse. He says, “Let young men hear this: let those hear it who have the office of singing in the church, that they sing not with their voice, but with their heart, to the Lord; not like tragedians physically preparing their throat and mouth, that they may sing after the fashion of the theatre in the church. He that has but an ill
voice, if he has good works, is a sweet singer before God.”
voice, if he has good works, is a sweet singer before God.”
The Control of the Spirit is Manifested by Giving Thanks 5:20—How can one give thanks for all things when all things include unpleas-ant things? It is easy to thank God for the pleasant things of life, but it is another matter to thank Him in the midst of suffering. And yet, when men are controlled by the Spirit, this is not only possible but normal. The Spirit controlled believer knows “Behind a frown-ing providence, He hides a smiling face.” So many are His bless-ings brought by adversity that the Spirit controlled believer is not prone to hang his harp on the willows but rather strikes up a con-cert of praise. Remember those Spirit motivated apostles who, while in prison with their feet in stocks, were heard at midnight praying and singing hymns of praise to God? This counsel to give thanks in all things could well be understood to be the advice of those who expect perfection if we did not have the living example of Paul who practiced it himself.
The Control of the Spirit is Manifested by Being Subject 5:21—Paul now introduces a concept that permeates the entire household of husband and wife, parents and children, slaves and masters— mutual deference, dependence, and service—in short, submission. Success in the home comes only when our own insistence on personal rights is surrendered for those of others. Submission to one another is placed on the highest footing: mutual submission of all to the headship of Christ.
The word submit (upotassw = hupotasso) is found about twenty-three times in Paul’s writings. In each case it denotes sub-ordination to those who are worthy of respect because of personal virtue or position held. Without submission, anarchy prevails, whether in the family, the church, or the state. And why does the Christian render such submission? The answer is easy: out of respect (fear) of Christ.
Specific Duties of Personal Conduct 5:22-6:9
Specific Duties of Personal Conduct 5:22-6:9
The Duties of Husband and Wife 5:22-33
AS PERTAINS TO THE WIFE 5:22-24
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the hus-band is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
The Responsibility of Submission 5:22—these words about the submission of the wife to her husband must be viewed from the correct perspective. Christianity elevated the wife; it did not relegate her to a place of subservience.When a woman became a believer, her status was raised from the comparative servitude she once knew as a citizen of the Greek-Roman world to the new freedom of Christianity. Pagan civilization put women behind the plow—Christianity has always freed women.
The relationship of the Christian husband and wife, children and the parents, the slave and the master, Christian and govern-ment, and Christian to Christian is always triangular. The triangle involves the two human entities and God. Motivation and direc-tion always come from God. It is the inclusion of God that makes Christianity unique and distinguishes it from the moral standards of the gentile world. Codes of domestic behavior are found in Colossians 3:18-4:1, I Timothy 3:4, 12, 5:14, 6:1-2, Titus 2:1-10, I Peter 2:13-3:7. We could represent this graphically as follows.
The words be subject are in italics, meaning there is no counterpart to them in the Greek text. Literally, we have “Wives, to your husbands ” It is correct to insert the words be subject because of their appearance in verse 21. Verse 21 spoke of the subjection to be found among all Christians, and now Paul focuses on a particular aspect of that submission to be found in marriage.
The words to your own husbands show that Paul is emphasizing to whom submission should be given. The verse is speaking of a woman’s responsibility to her husband. Paul is not implying that women are inferior to men nor that all women should be subject to all men.
What do the words as to the Lord mean? They do not mean that a woman should give her husband the same deference she gives to the Lord. They do mean submission to one’s husband is the duty owed to the Lord.
The Basis of Submission 5:23-24—The word as shows the hus-band-wife relationship is based on an analogy. Christ is to the church what the husband is to the wife. I Corinthians 11:3 reveals God’s hierarchy. God is over Christ and Christ is over man and man is over woman. It is important to remember that hierarchy does not mean superiority of nature or character. The point is this: God has order in everything He does. Believers should have the highest view of marriage. It is the earthly illustration of the rela-tionship that exists between Christ and His church. Marriage is defined in the most sublime terms. It it compared to the marriage of the Lamb to His bride!
The word subject (upotassw = hupotasso) was a military term meaning to line up in order. The issue is orderliness, not superiority. Two ideas are stressed in the analogy. Christ is head and savior of the church (direction and deliverance); so the husband is head and savior of the woman (direction and deliverance). The word savior is never used in the New Testament of any other than Christ or God. The responsibility of the husband, however, is analogous to that of Deity, though certainly to a much lesser degree.
AS PERTAINS TO THE HUSBAND 5:25-31
AS PERTAINS TO THE HUSBAND 5:25-31
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.”
As the duty of the wife is submission, so the duty of the husband is love that answers to the love of Christ exhibited in the giving of Himself for us. If Paul places the duty of the wife on such a high level, the obligations of the husband are no lower. There are five major aspects of this love.
His Love is to be Realistic 5:25a—Verse 25 leads us into the con-cept of reciprocal relationship; each owes something to the other. In the Greek-Roman society it was recognized that wives had duties to their husbands, but it was not recognized that husbands had duties to their wives. In assigning responsibility to the hus-band, Christianity was introducing a revolutionary approach to marriage. The single word submit summarized the duty of the wife; one single word summarizes the duty of the husband, love.
The husband’s love is rooted in his response to the love of Christ for us. No husband who is a stranger to the cross of Christ can truly love his wife. He has no motivation higher than her own merits, and the union of the two is only mundane; it is devoid of the highest divine blessing. Christ reminded the disciples of His love repeatedly as seen in John 13:34, 15:9, 12. Christ loved the church, not because it was lovable, but in order to make it such. So the husband is to love his wife with the same noble purpose.
His Love is to be Sacrificial 5:25b—It is extremely important to understand that the primary thrust of this passage pertains to Christ and His church. Understanding of the husband-wife relationship is born of a knowledge of Christ and the church. The doc-trine of the church is the foundation upon which the Christian view of marriage is based. The primary reference of the pronoun her is the church; the secondary reference of her is to the Christian wife.
The analogy of the husband’s love for the wife is strengthened in that the word church is feminine gender. These words of Paul show us that Christian doctrine is the foundation of Christian con-duct. Were it not for the church, the wife would have no pattern to follow in obeying the command to submit in verse 22. In a day so oriented to Christian counseling and psychology, one should bear in mind an important fact: Biblical teaching concerning marriage is not psychologically based; it is doctrinally based! It is a sad commentary that a believer with a marriage problem will often consult a psychologist before a Bible teacher. Psychology, even Christian, can assault the sufficiency of the word of God.
His Love is to be Purposeful 5:26-27—In these two verses Paul digresses from the subject of marriage in order to dwell on the pur-pose of Christ for the church. This is doubtless triggered by the word church in verse 25. Christ’s purpose for the church is stated three times in these verses (see the word that in English or the Greek ina clause.)
His Love is to be Unreserved 5:28-30—The word so signals Paul’s return to his analogy between Christ and the church and the hus-band and the wife. Christ does not love the church as though it were His body; He loves the church because it is His body. The husband’s love is derived from the oneness of marriage. The one-ness is so strong that to love her is to love himself.This stands in strong contrast to the way a wife was treated in a pagan society wherein she was regarded as a piece of property only. The words no one ever hated his own flesh mean it is as unnatural not to love one’s own wife as it is to hate oneself. The word nour-ishes means to supply nutriment (food), and cherishes means to supply warmth. When Paul speaks of husbands loving their wives as their own bodies, does he mean as they love their own bodies or does he mean as being their own bodies? The latter seems better because the church is truly the body of Christ.
To speak of a man loving his wife as his own body is a signifi-cant concept. Altruism is the unselfish concern for others and is the opposite of egoism. From a biblical standpoint, however, a husband’s love for his wife is not altruism for she is to be regarded as an extension of himself. Since this is the case, a man who does not love his wife does as much damage to himself as he does to her.
The statement no one ever hated his own flesh is the death knell of ascetic practice. Severe treatment of the body is condemned by the New Testament as unnatural and has no place in Christianity (Colossians 2:23). Christians are never called upon to walk upon a bed of nails as a means of gaining control of one’s life. Paul’s self-discipline of I Corinthians 9:27 falls into an entirely different category.
Paul bases his appeal to the husband on the same principle as his appeal to the wife. Wives are to obey their husbands as the church obeys Christ. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. In each case, a relationship to the Lord is assumed. Without this, the exhortations are without meaning.
His Love is to be Exclusive 5:31—This is the most foundational statement found anywhere in Scripture concerning God’s plan for marriage. Adam regarded Eve as “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” The marriage tie takes precedence over every other rela-tionship and for this reason is to be regarded as inviolable. The verb shall cleave (proskollaw = proskollao) literally means to be glued to but is used figuratively in the New Testament to mean to be faithfully devoted to. Polygamy, divorce, and adultery have no place in New Testament Christianity. Marriage is not the extension of an old home but the establishment of a new one with its own separate and independent existence.
Jesus quotes this verse from Genesis 2:24 in Mark 10:7-9. He uses it to teach that marriage is a lifelong union. He does so by adding to the words from Genesis His own interpretation of its meaning saying, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” The permanency of marriage parallels the perma-nency of the believer’s relationship to Christ. Lifelong marriage teaches the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. Need we argue that there is no divorce of the believer from the body of Christ?
AS PERTAINS TO THE MYSTERY 5:32-33
“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 32Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”
The word great does not point to intensity but to magnitude. It has been paraphrased “it is of far-reaching importance” and “has many implications.” It is a mystery in the sense of being wonderful truth hidden in Christ and not revealed until Christ came to die for, sanctify, and glorify His bride, the church. Verse 33 summarizes the whole matter. Paul’s readers may not understand all that is involved in the mystery, but the essential truth Paul is trying to convey is found in this verse.
The Duties of Children and Parents 6:1-4
THE CHILDREN 6:1-3
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise). 3that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”
Commanded 6:1-2—First, the children are addressed directly. These words are not a message to be delivered by parents to the children; the noun children assumes they were present and listening when this letter was read. Paul does not speak about the children but to the children. This assumes the children were interested in hearing what Paul was saying. Paul offered the children the same thing, in the same form, that he offered their parents—the word of God. Nehemiah 8:1-3 makes the criteria for listening to God’s word ability to understand, not age. It is important to note that Paul lifts the common relationships in life to celestial heights. Christ and the church is the heavenly relationship that becomes the pattern for the husband-wife relationship, and now it becomes the pattern for the child-parent relationship.
Second, the children are addressed doctrinally. The words this is right assume the children have been taught moral absolutes. They were aware their conduct could please or displease God (Colossians 3:20). It is important to remember in our day that our children will not learn moral absolutes from school, television, or any other part of their environment except home. Third, the children are addressed scripturally. The words are taken from Exodus 20:12. The word honor covers more than obedi-ence; it refers to the respect given to those who are placed over us by God.
The word obey (upakouw = hupakouo) is literally to listen from under. It incorporates obedience and more—taking advice. Isaac’s willingness to be sacrificed is a model for this kind of submission (Genesis 22). Parents includes both husband and wife, but verse 4 turns to Fathers. Once the headship of the husband is understood, the reason for this arrangement is clear. He does not act in place of the wife, but she is represented by him as the family head.
What do the words in the Lord mean? Paul has a Christian home in view as he writes these words. A Christian home knows no conflict of loyalties among any of its members. There is no family problem that is beyond cure when each member is submissive to the Lordship of Christ.
One thing cannot be said too often or too forcefully. Christian parents should teach their children never to marry an unbeliever. There are two compelling reasons for this. First, if one does not marry a believer, one does not have a Christian home. Second, we are taught that as Christians God is our heavenly Father. A young lady should remember that the man she marries will be her chil-dren’s image of God. To marry an unbeliever robs one’s unborn children of a Christian mother or father.
In what sense does verse 2 contain the first commandment with promise? Paul probably has more in mind than chronological sequence when he speaks of first commandment with promise. The idea of priority is prominent. Disobedience in children is a symp-tom of a disintegrated society (Romans 1:30, II Timothy 3:2). Paul’s teaching in these two verses is based on spiritual relationship, moral perception, and scriptural teaching.
Promised 6:3—In what way does obedience to parents con-tribute to long life on earth? Is it not possible that heeding parents good advice will prevent one from engaging in some of the excess-es that shorten life? For example, what parent has not discouraged using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, all known to be life shortening?
THE FATHERS 6:4
“And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Here is another revolutionary concept concerning the family. In the Greek-Roman world, the father’s authority was held to be absolute; but here we are taught that the feelings of the children are to be considered. Colossians 3:21 warns of the results of unrea-sonable demands—the child loses heart. If children must obey, then parents must deserve that obedience. Psalm 127:3 tells us children are a heritage of the Lord. Training them, therefore, should be done out of a sense of responsibility to the Lord.
On the Negative Side of Things 6:4a—Provoke…to anger is one word in Greek (parorgizw = parorgizo) and means to provoke by being overexacting.
On the Positive Side of Things 6:4b—The word bring them up (ektrefw = ektrepho) means to nourish the body. In a wider sense it refers to providing total education. Parents may not be the direct instrument of their children’s total education, but they are fully responsible for it. As a practical matter, three rules must be remembered in parenting.
The word instruction (nouqesia = nouthesia) is literally to place in one’s mind. In usage it refers to correction by word of mouth. Reproof is implied, but so is encouragement.
• Let a Child Know What is Expected.• Let a Child Know Why this is Expected.• Let a Child Know the Consequences of Disobedience, and Always Follow Through!
The Duties of Slaves and Masters 6:5-9
THE SLAVE 6:5-8
“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”
That which is learned in childhood prepares us for success or failure in adult life. The requirement for the servant is the same as for the child. Those who successfully meet the requirements of childhood also meet the requirements of later life.
What is the biblical perspective on the social conditions of the Roman Empire, particularly with regard to the subject of slavery? The word of God does not state its approval of slavery, nor does is suggest, or even imply, the revolt of slaves. The New Testament clearly teaches servants to be good workers and continue in sub-mission to their masters
Why does the New Testament do this? Being a slave was no dis-advantage in living for the Lord, and living for the Lord is all that counts. If the believer’s life honors Him in every respect, then all is well. How does the New Testament teach this? It shows that a master can be served as unto the Lord. God’s word did not free the slaves who were believers; it rather gave them new motives for being good slaves.
One’s job on earth, whatever it may be, is related to the tempo-ral order of things, but how it is performed has eternal impact. Servants had masters according to the flesh, which shows how truly limited their slavery really was. The quality of their work and ulti-mate reward comes, not from their masters, but from the Lord (6:8). The fear and trembling refers to the deep desire to be a good ser-vant. There is nothing wrong with anxiety to do a job well. The effort must be sincere and not performed by way of eyeservice. This is a single Greek word (ofqalmodoulia = ophthalmodoulia) that conveys several ideas. First, it denotes the performance of a job only when the master is looking. Second, it may also refer to doing a job in order to gain the master’s attention. Either of these two ideas shows we are serving man, not God, and are unacceptable motives for service. Notice that Paul teaches that doing our job well is identical to doing the will of God. Final and full compensation comes, not from the master, but from the Lord. Eternal reward is unrelated to earthly compensation, but the quality of work put forth on earth has direct bearing on that eternal reward. The earthly employer of the believer is only the agent through which the Lord Himself is served. Full-time Christian service is for everyone, and to regard a job as secular is sinful. The service of a believer as a check-out clerk in a grocery store is as holy and God-honoring as the missionary to a foreign land.
THE MASTER 6:9
“And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”
The early church did not have many people of great promi-nence nor many slave owners (I Corinthians 1:26-29). However, there were some, and it is noteworthy that Paul did not exhort them to release their slaves. They were rather instructed in right treatment of them. Paul wrote a personal letter to Philemon at Colossae about receiving back Onesimus, his fugitive slave.
The master is to practice what has often been called “the golden rule”—“do the same things to them (as you would have done to yourself).” They are to give orders as ones who are themselves under a master. The slave and the master are equal on one major point: both diligently seek to do the will of God. Cruelty was the watchword of many masters, and the slaves had no legal recourse. Christian masters should stand in complete contrast by treating their slaves kindly and fairly. Anything incon-sistent with their heavenly Father should be rejected. Both slave and master must know that there is no partiality with God. The word (proswpolhmyia = prosopolampsia) is literally to receive face or looking upon the face of someone to determine how they are to be treated. Both slaves and masters are precious to the Lord and their treatment of one another should reflect this.