Ephesians 5


Christians should imitate their heavenly Father, and walk in

love, after the example of Christ, 1, 2.

They should avoid all uncleanness, impurity, covetousness, and

foolish jesting, and idolatry, because these things exclude

from the kingdom of God, 3-7.

The Ephesians were once in darkness, but being now light in the

Lord, they are exhorted to walk in that light, and bring forth

the fruits of the Spirit; and to have no fellowship with the

workers of iniquity, whose evil deeds are manifested by the

light, 8-13.

All are exhorted to awake; to walk circumspectly; to redeem the

time; and to learn what the will of the Lord is, 14-17.

The apostle gives particular directions relative to avoiding

excess of wine, 18.

To singing and giving thanks, 19, 20.

Submission to each other, 21.

To husbands that they should love their wives, as Christ loved

the Church; for by the marriage union, the union between Christ

and the Church is pointed out; and wives are exhorted to

reverence their husbands, 22-33.


Verse 1. Be ye therefore followers of God] The beginning of

this chapter is properly a continuation of the preceding, which

should have ended with the second verse of this. The word

μιμηται, which we translate followers, signifies such as

personate others, assuming their gait, mode of speech, accent,

carriage, &c.; and it is from this Greek word that we have the

word mimic. Though this term is often used in a ludicrous sense,

yet here it is to be understood in a very solemn and proper sense.

Let your whole conduct be like that of your Lord; imitate him in

all your actions, words, spirit, and inclinations; imitate him as

children do their beloved parents, and remember that you stand in

the relation of beloved children to him. It is natural for

children to imitate their parents; it is their constant aim to

learn of them, and to copy them in all things; whatever they see

the parent do, whatever they hear him speak, that they endeavour

to copy and imitate; yea, they go farther, they insensibly copy

the very tempers of their parents. If ye therefore be children of

God, show this love to your heavenly Father, and imitate all his

moral perfections, and acquire the mind that was in Jesus.

Verse 2. And walk in love] Let every act of life be dictated

by love to God and man.

As Christ-hath loved us] Laying down your lives for your

brethren if necessary; counting nothing too difficult to be done

in order to promote their eternal salvation.

Hath given himself for us] Christ hath died in our stead, and

become thereby a sacrifice for our sins.

An offering] προσφορα. An oblation, an eucharistic offering;

the same as minchah, Le 2:1, &c., which is explained to be

an offering made unto the Lord, of fine flour, with oil and

frankincense. It means, any offering by which gratitude was

expressed for temporal blessings received from the bounty of God.

A sacrifice] θυσια. A sin-offering, a victim for sin; the

same as zebach, which almost universally means that

sacrificial act in which the blood of an animal was poured out as

an atonement for sin. These terms may be justly considered as

including every kind of sacrifice, offering, and oblation made to

God on any account; and both these terms are with propriety used

here, because the apostle's design was to represent the

sufficiency of the offering made by Christ for the sin of the

world. And the passage strongly intimates, that as man is bound

to be grateful to God for the good things of this life, so he

should testify that gratitude by suitable offerings; but having

sinned against God, he has forfeited all earthly blessings as

well as those that come from heaven; and that Jesus Christ gave

himself υπερημων, in our stead and on our account, as the

gratitude-offering, προσφορα, which we owed to our MAKER, and,

without which a continuance of temporal blessings could not be

expected; and also as a sacrifice for sin, θυσια, without which we

could never approach God, and without which we must be punished

with an everlasting destruction from the presence of God and the

glory of his power. Thus we find that even our temporal blessings

come from and by Jesus Christ, as well as all our spiritual and

eternal mercies.

For a sweet-smelling savour.] ειςοσμηνευωδιας. The same as is

expressed in Ge 8:21; Le 1:9; 3:16:

reiach nichoach laihovah, "a sweet savour unto the Lord;" i.e. an

offering of his own prescription, and one with which he was well

pleased; and by accepting of which he showed that he accepted the

person who offered it. The sweet-smelling savour refers to the

burnt-offerings, the fumes of which ascended from the fire in the

act of burning; and as such odors are grateful to man, God

represents himself as pleased with them, when offered by an

upright worshipper according to his own appointment.

Verse 3. But fornication] It is probable that the three terms

used here by the apostle refer to different species of the same

thing. The word fornication, πορνεια, may imply not only

fornication but adultery also, as it frequently does; uncleanness,

ακαθαρσια may refer to all abominable and unnatural lusts-sodomy,

bestiality, &c., and covetousness, πλεονεξια, to excessive

indulgence in that which, moderately used, is lawful. As the

covetous man never has enough of wealth, so the pleasure-taker and

the libertine never have enough of the gratifications of sense,

the appetite increasing in proportion to its indulgence. If,

however, simple covetousness, i.e. the love of gain, be here

intended, it shows from the connection in which it stands, (for it

is linked with fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness,) how

degrading it is to the soul of man, and how abominable it is in

the eye of God. In other places it is ranked with idolatry, for

the man who has an inordinate love of gain makes money his god.

Let it not be once named] Let no such things ever exist among

you, for ye are called to be saints.

Verse 4. Neither filthiness] αισχροτης. Any thing base or

vile in words or acts.

Foolish talking] μωρολογια. Scurrility, buffoonery, ridicule,

or what tends to expose another to contempt.

Nor jesting] ευτραπελια. Artfully turned discourses or words,

from ευ, well or easily, and τρεπω, I turn; words that

can be easily turned to other meanings; double entendres; chaste

words which, from their connection, and the manner in which they

are used, convey an obscene or offensive meaning. It also means

jests, puns, witty sayings, and mountebank repartees of all kinds.

Which are not convenient] ουκανηκοντα. They do not come up

to the proper standard; they are utterly improper in themselves,

and highly unbecoming in those who profess Christianity.

But rather giving of thanks.] ευχαριστια. Decent and

edifying discourse or thanksgiving to God. Prayer or praise is

the most suitable language for man; and he who is of a trifling,

light disposition, is ill fitted for either. How can a man, who

has been talking foolishly or jestingly in company, go in private

to magnify God for the use of his tongue which he has abused, or

his rational faculties which he has degraded?

Verse 5. For this ye know] Ye must be convinced of the

dangerous and ruinous tendency of such a spirit and conduct, when

ye know that persons of this character can never inherit the

kingdom of God. See Clarke on Eph 5:3; and see the observations on

the Greek article at the end of this epistle. See Clarke on Eph 6:24.

Verse 6. Let no man deceive you] Suffer no man to persuade you

that any of these things are innocent, or that they are

unavoidable frailties of human nature; they are all sins and

abominations in the sight of God; those who practise them are

children of disobedience; and on account of such practices the

wrath of God-Divine punishment, must come upon them.

Verse 7. Be not ye therefore partakers with them] Do not act

as your fellow citizens do; nor suffer their philosophy, to it in

vain words, κενοιςλογοις, with empty and illusive doctrines,

to lead you astray from the path of truth.

That there was much need for such directions and cautions to the

people of Ephesus has been often remarked. It appears, from

Athenaeus, that these people were addicted to luxury, effeminacy

&c. He tells us that the famous Aspasia, who was herself of the

Socratic sect, brought a vast number of beautiful women into

Greece, and by their means filled the country with prostitutes,

καιεπληθυνεναποτωνταυτηςεταιριδωνηελλας, lib. xiii. cap.

25. Ibid. cap. 31, he observes that the Ephesians had dedicated

temples εταιρααφροδιτη, to the prostitute Venus; and again, cap.

32, he quotes from Demosthenes, in Orat. contra Neaeram: τασμεν



ενδονφυλακαφιστηνεχειν. "We have whores for our pleasure,

harlots for daily use, and wives for the procreation of legitimate

children, and for the faithful preservation of our property."

Through the whole of this 13th book of Athenaeus the reader will

see the most melancholy proofs of the most abominable practices

among the Greeks, and the high estimation in which public

prostitutes were held; the greatest lawgivers and the wisest

philosophers among the Greeks supported this system both by their

authority and example. Is it not in reference to their teaching

and laws that the apostle says: Let no man deceive you with vain


Verse 8. For ye were sometimes (ποτε, formerly) darkness]

While ye lived in darkness, ye lived in these crimes.

But now are ye light in the Lord] When ye were in heathenish

darkness ye served divers lusts and pleasures, but now ye have the

light-the wisdom and teaching which come from God; therefore walk

as children of the light-let the world see that ye are not slaves

to the flesh, but free, willing, rational servants of the Most

High; not brutish followers of devil gods.

Verse 9. For the fruit of the Spirit] Instead of Spirit,

πνευματος, ABD*EFG, the Syriac, Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala, together with several of the

fathers, read φωτος, light, which is supposed by most critics to

be the true reading, because there is no mention made of the

Spirit in any part of the context. As light, Eph 5:8, not only

means the Divine influence upon the soul, but also the Gospel,

with great propriety it may be said: The fruit of the light, i.e.

of the Gospel, is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.

Goodness, αγαθωσυνη, in the principle and disposition;

righteousness, δικαιοσυνη, the exercise of that goodness in

the whole conduct of life; truth, αληθεια, the director of

that principle, and its exercise, to the glorification of God and

the good of mankind.

Verse 10. Proving what is acceptable] By walking in the

light-under the influence of the Divine Spirit, according to the

dictates of the Gospel, ye shall be able to try, and bring to full

proof, that by which God is best pleased. Ye shall be able to

please him well in all things.

Verse 11. Have no fellowship] Have no religious connection

whatever with heathens or their worship.

Unfruitful works of darkness] Probably alluding to the

mysteries among the heathens, and the different lustrations and

rites through which the initiated went in the caves and dark

recesses where these mysteries were celebrated; all which he

denominates works of darkness, because they were destitute of true

wisdom; and unfruitful works, because they were of no use to

mankind; the initiated being obliged, on pain of death, to keep

secret what they had seen, heard, and done: hence they were called

απορρηταμυστηρια, unspeakable mysteries-things that were not to

be divulged. That the apostle may refer to magic and incantations

is also probable, for to these the Ephesians were greatly

addicted. See the proofs in Clarke's notes on "Ac 19:19".

Rather reprove them.] Bear a testimony against them; convince

them that they are wrong; confute them in their vain reasons;

reprove them for their vices, which are flagrant, while pretending

to superior illumination. All these meanings has the Greek word

ελεγχω, which we generally render to convince or reprove.

Verse 12. For it is a shame even to speak] This no doubt

refers to the Eleusinian and Bacchanalian mysteries, which were

performed in the night and darkness, and were known to be so

impure and abominable, especially the latter, that the Roman

senate banished them both from Rome and Italy. How the discovery

of these depths of Satan was made, and the whole proceedings in

that case, may be seen in Livy, Hist. lib. xxxix. cap. 8-19, where

the reader will see the force of what the apostle says here: It is

a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in

secret; the abominations being of the most stupendous kind, and of

the deepest dye.

Verse 13. But all things that are reproved] Dr. Macknight

paraphrases this verse as follows: "Now all these reprovable

actions, ελεγχομενα, which are practised in celebrating these

mysteries, are made manifest as sinful by the Gospel; and, seeing

every thing which discovers the true nature of actions is light,

the Gospel, which discovers the evil nature of the actions

performed in these mysteries, is light."

The apostle speaks against these mysteries as he speaks against

fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness; but by no means either

borrows expression or similitude from them to illustrate Divine

truths; for, as it would be a shame even to speak of those things,

surely it would be an abomination to allude to them in the

illustration of the doctrines of the Gospel.

Verse 14. Wherefore he saith] It is a matter of doubt and

controversy whence this saying is derived. Some think it taken

from Isa 26:19:

Thy dead men shall live; with my dead body shall they arise; Awake

and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, &c. Others think that it is

taken from Isa 60:1-3:

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, &c. But these passages

neither give the words nor the meaning of the apostle. Epiphanius

supposed them to be taken from an ancient prophecy of Elijah, long

since lost: Syncellus and Euthalius think they were taken from an

apocryphal work attributed to Jeremiah the prophet: others, that

they made part of a hymn then used in the Christian Church; for

that there were, in the apostle's time, hymns and spiritual songs,

as well as psalms, we learn from himself, in Eph 5:19, and from

Col 3:16. The hymn is supposed to have begun thus:-




Awake, O thou who sleepest,

And from the dead arise thou,

And Christ shall shine upon thee.

See Rosenmuller, Wolf, and others. But it seems more natural to

understand the words he saith as referring to the light, i.e. the

Gospel, mentioned Eph 5:13. And the διολεγει should be

translated, Wherefore IT saith, Awake thou, &c. that is: This is

the general, the strong, commanding voice of the Gospel in every

part-Receive instruction; leave thy sins, which are leading thee

to perdition; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will

enlighten and save thee.

As a man asleep neither knows nor does any thing that can be

called good or useful, so the Gentiles and all others, while

without the knowledge of Christianity, had not only no proper

knowledge of vice and virtue, but they had no correct notion of

the true God.

As the dead can perform no function of life, so the Gentiles and

the unconverted were incapable of performing any thing worthy

either of life or being. But though they were asleep-in a state

of complete spiritual torpor, yet they might be awoke by the voice

of the Gospel; and though dead to all goodness, and to every

function of the spiritual life, yet, as their animal life was

whole in them, and perception and reason were still left, they

were capable of hearing the Gospel, and under that influence which

always accompanies it when faithfully preached, they could discern

its excellency, and find it to be the power of God to their

salvation. And they are addressed by the apostle as possessing

this capacity; and, on their using it properly, have the promise

that Christ shall enlighten them.

Verse 15. Walk circumspectly] Our word circumspect, from the

Latin circirmspicio, signifies to look round about on all hands;

to be every way watchful, wary, and cautious, in order to avoid

danger, discern enemies before they come too nigh, and secure a

man's interest by every possible and lawful means. But the

original word ακριβως signifies correctly, accurately,

consistently, or perfectly. Be ye, who have received the truth,

careful of your conduct; walk by the rule which God has given you;

do this as well in little as in great matters; exemplify your

principles, which are holy and good, by a corresponding conduct;

do not only profess, but live the Gospel. As you embrace all its

promises, be careful also to embrace all its precepts; and behave

yourselves so, that your enemies may never be able to say that ye

are holy in your doctrines and profession, but irregular in

your lives.

Not as fools, but as wise] μηωςασοφοιαλλωςσοφοι. The

heathens affected to be called σοφοι, or wise men. Pythagoras was

perhaps the first who corrected this vanity, by assuming the title

of φιλοσοφος, a lover of wisdom; hence our term philosopher, used

now in a much prouder sense than that in which the great

Pythagoras wished it to be applied. The apostle here takes the

term σοφος, and applies it to the Christian; and, instead of it,

gives the empty Gentile philosopher the title of ασοφος, without

wisdom, fool.

Verse 16. Redeeming the time] εξαγοραζομενοιτονκαιρον.

Buying up those moments which others seem to throw away; steadily

improving every present moment, that ye may, in some measure,

regain the time ye have lost. Let time be your chief commodity;

deal in that alone; buy it all up, and use every portion of it

yourselves. Time is that on which eternity depends; in time ye

are to get a preparation for the kingdom of God; if you get not

this in time, your ruin is inevitable; therefore, buy up the time.

Some think there is an allusion here to the case of debtors,

who, by giving some valuable consideration to their creditors,

obtain farther time for paying their debts. And this appears to

be the sense in which it is used by the Septuagint, Da 2:8: επ

αληθειαςοιδαεγωοτικαιρονυμειςεξαγοραζετε. I know certainly

that ye would gain or buy time-ye wish to have the time prolonged,

that ye may seek out for some plausible explanation of the dream.

Perhaps the apostle means in general, embrace every opportunity to

glorify God, save your own souls, and do good to men.

Because the days are evil.] The present times are dangerous,

they are full of trouble and temptations, and only the watchful

and diligent have any reason to expect that they shall keep their

garments unspotted.

Verse 17. Wherefore be ye not unwise] μηγινεσθεαφρονες. Do

not become madmen. Here is a most evident allusion to the orgies

of Bacchus, in which his votaries acted like madmen; running

about, tossing their heads from shoulder to shoulder, appearing to

be in every sense completely frantic. See the whole of the

passage in Livy, to which I have referred on Eph 5:12.

But understanding what the will of the Lord is.] It is the will

of God that ye should be sober, chaste, holy, and pure. Get a

thorough understanding of this; acquaint yourselves with God's

will, that ye may know how to glorify him.

Verse 18. Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess] This is a

farther allusion to the Bacchanalian mysteries; in them his

votaries got drunk, and ran into all manner of excesses. Plato,

though he forbade drunkenness in general, yet allowed that the

people should get drunk in the solemnities of that god who

invented wine. And indeed this was their common custom; when they

had offered their sacrifices they indulged themselves in

drunkenness, and ran into all kinds of extravagance. Hence it is

probable that μεθυω, to get drunk, is derived from μετα, after,

and θυω, to sacrifice; for, having completed their sacrifices,

they indulged themselves in wine. The word ασωτια, which we

translate excess, means profligacy and debauchery of every kind;

such as are the general concomitants of drunkenness, and

especially among the votaries of Bacchus in Greece and Italy.

But be filled with the Spirit] The heathen priests pretended to

be filled with the influence of the god they worshipped; and it

was in these circumstances that they gave out their oracles. See

a remarkable instance of this quoted in the note on "Lu 9:39",

where the case of a Bacchanalian is described. The apostle

exhorts the Ephesians not to resemble these, but, instead of being

filled with wine, to be filled with the Spirit of God; in

consequence of which, instead of those discoveries of the Divine

will to which in their drunken worship the votaries of Bacchus

pretended, they should be wise indeed, and should understand what

the will of the Lord is.

Verse 19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms] We can scarcely

say what is the exact difference between these three expressions.

Psalms, ψαλμοι, may probably mean those of David.

Hymns] υμνοις. Extemporaneous effusions in praise of God,

uttered under the influence of the Divine Spirit, or a sense of

his especial goodness. See Ac 16:25.

Songs] ωιδαις. Odes; premeditated and regular poetic

compositions; but, in whatever form they were composed, we learn

that they were all πνευματικα, spiritual-tending to magnify God

and edify men.

Singing and making melody in your heart] The heart always going

with the lips. It is a shocking profanation of Divine worship to

draw nigh to God with the lips, while the heart is far from him.

It is too often the case that, in public worship, men are carried

off from the sense of the words by the sounds that are put to

them. And how few choirs of singers are there in the universe

whose hearts ever accompany them in what they call singing the

praises of God!

Verse 20. Giving thanks always] God is continually loading

you with his benefits; you deserve nothing of his kindness;

therefore give him thanks for his unmerited bounties.

God and the Father] That is: God, who is your Father, and the

Father of mercies. See the observations on the Greek article at

the end of this epistle. "Eph 6:24"

In the name of our Lord Jesus] He is the only mediator; and

through him alone can ye approach to God; and it is for his sake

only that God will hear your prayers or receive your praises.

Verse 21. Submitting-one to another] Let no man be so

tenacious of his own will or his opinion in matters indifferent,

as to disturb the peace of the Church; in all such matters give

way to each other, and let love rule.

In the fear of God.] Setting him always before your eyes, and

considering that he has commanded you to love one another, and to

bear each other's burdens; and that what you do in this or any

other commanded case, you do as unto the Lord. Instead of ενφοβω

θεου, in the fear of GOD, ενφοβωχριστου, in the fear of

CHRIST, is the reading of ABDEFG, with all others of most value;

besides the Syriac, Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate,

and Itala; Basil the Great, and Chrysostom. Neither reading makes

any difference in the sense.

Verse 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands] As

the Lord, viz. Christ, is the head or governor of the Church,

and the head of the man, so is the man the head or governor of the

woman. This is God's ordinance, and should not be transgressed.

The husband should not be a tyrant, and the wife should not be the

governor. Old Francis Quarles, in his homely rhymes, alluding to

the superstitious notion, that the crowing of a hen bodes ill luck

to the family, has said:-

"Ill thrives the hapless family that shows

A cock that's silent, and a hen that crows:

I know not which live most unnatural lives,

Obeying husbands or commanding wives."

As unto the Lord.] The word Church seems to be necessarily

understood here; that is: Act under the authority of your

husbands, as the Church acts under the authority of Christ. As

the Church submits to the Lord, so let wives submit to their


Verse 23. For the husband is the head of the wife] This is the

reason which the apostle gives for his injunctions. See above.

He is the Saviour of the body.] As Christ exercises authority

over the Church so as to save and protect it, so let the husband

exercise authority over his wife by protecting, comforting, and

providing her with every necessary and comfort of life, according

to his power.

Verse 24. In every thing.] That is, every lawful thing; for it

is not intimated that they should obey their husbands in any thing

criminal, or in any thing detrimental to the interests of their

souls. The husband may be profligate, and may wish his wife to

become such also; he may be an enemy to true religion, and use his

authority to prevent his wife from those means of grace which she

finds salutary to her soul; in none of these things should she

obey him.

Verse 25. Husbands, love your wives] Here is a grand rule,

according to which every husband is called to act: Love your wife

as Christ loved the Church. But how did Christ love the Church?

He gave himself for it-he laid down his life for it. So then

husbands should, if necessary, lay down their lives for their

wives: and there is more implied in the words than mere protection

and support; for, as Christ gave himself for the Church to save

it, so husbands should, by all means in their power, labour to

promote the salvation of their wives, and their constant

edification in righteousness. Thus we find that the authority of

the man over the woman is founded on his love to her, and this

love must be such as to lead him to risk his life for her. As the

care of the family devolves on the wife, and the children must owe

the chief direction of their minds and formation of their manners

to the mother, she has need of all the assistance and support

which her husband can give her; and, if she performs her duty

well, she deserves the utmost of his love and affection.

Verse 26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it] The Church is

represented as the spouse of Christ, as the woman is the spouse of

the man; and, to prepare this Church for himself, he washes,

cleanses, and sanctifies it. There is certainly an allusion here

to the ancient method of purifying women, who were appointed to be

consorts to kings; twelve months, it appears, were in some

instances spent in this purification: Six months with oil of

myrrh, and six months with sweet odours and with other things, for

the purifying of women. See the case of Esther, Es 2:12; see

also Ps 45:13, 14; Eze 16:7-14.

With the washing of water] Baptism, accompanied by the

purifying influences of the Holy Spirit.

By the word] The doctrine of Christ crucified, through which

baptism is administered, sin cancelled, and the soul purified from

all unrighteousness; the death of Christ giving efficacy to all.

Verse 27. That he might present it to himself] It was usual to

bring the royal bride to the king in the most sumptuous apparel;

and is there not here an allusion to Ps 45:13, 14:

The king's daughter (Pharaoh's) is all glorious within, her

clothing is of wrought gold; she shall be brought unto the king

(Solomon) in raiment of needlework? This presentation here spoken

of by the apostle will take place on the last day.

See Clarke on 2Co 11:2.

A glorious Church] Every way splendid and honourable, because

pure and holy.

Not having spot] σπιλος. No blemish on the face; no spots

upon the garment; the heart and life both holy.

Wrinkle] ρυτιδα. No mark of superannuation or decay. The

word is commonly applied to wrinkles on the face, indicative of

sickness or decrepitude.

Holy and without blemish.] In every sense holy, pure, and

perfect. Now it was for this purpose that Christ gave himself for

the Church; and for this purpose he continues the different

ordinances which he has appointed; and, particularly, the

preaching of the word-the doctrine of reconciliation through faith

in his blood. And it is in this life that all this purification

is to take place; for none shall be presented at the day of

judgment to him who has not here been sanctified, cleansed,

washed, made glorious, having neither spot, wrinkle, blemish, nor

any such thing. How vain is the pretension of multitudes to be

members of the true Church while full of spots, wrinkles,

blemishes, and MANY such things; fondly supposing that their

holiness is in their surety, because not in themselves! Reader,

lay thy hand on thy conscience and say, Dost thou believe that

this is St. Paul's meaning? See Clarke on Eph 3:14, &c.

Verse 28. As their own bodies] For the woman is, properly

speaking, a part of the man; for God made man male and female, and

the woman was taken out of his side; therefore is she flesh of his

flesh, and bone of his bone; and therefore, he that loveth his

wife loveth himself, for they two are one flesh. The apostle, in

all these verses, refers to the creation and original state of the

first human pair.

Verse 29. No man ever yet hated his own flesh] And this is a

natural reason why he should love his wife, and nourish and

cherish her.

Verse 30. We are members of his body] He has partaken of our

nature, as we have partaken of the nature of Adam. And as he is

the head of the Church and the Saviour of this body; so we, being

members of the Church, are members of his mystical body. That is,

we are united to him by one Spirit in the closest intimacy, even

similar to that which the members have with the body.

Verse 31. Shall be joined unto his wife] προσκολληθησεται. He

shall be glued or cemented to her; and, as a well-glued board

will sooner break in the whole wood than in the glued joint, so

death alone can part the husband and wife; and nothing but death

should dissolve their affection.

See Clarke's notes on Ge 2:21-24.

Verse 32. This is a great mystery] τομυστηριοντουτομεγα

εστιν. This mystery is great. Sacramentum hoc magnum est; this

sacrament is great.-VULGATE. And on the evidence of this version

the Church of Rome has made matrimony a sacrament, which, as they

use it, is no meaning of the original. By mystery, here, we may

understand a natural thing by which some spiritual matter is

signified, which signification the Spirit of God alone can give.

So, here, the creation and union of Adam and Eve, were intended,

in the design of God, to point out the union of Christ and the

Church: a union the most important that can be conceived; and

therefore the apostle calls it a great mystery. See the

observations at the end of this chapter.

Verse 33. Nevertheless] πλην. Moreover, or therefore, on

the consideration of God's design in the institution of marriage,

let every one of you love his wife as himself, because she is both

naturally and by a Divine ordinance a part of himself.

That she reverence her husband.] Let the wife ever consider the

husband as her head, and this he is, not only by nature, but also

by the ordinance of God. These are very important matters, and on

them the apostle lays great stress. See the following


THERE is one subject in the preceding verse on which I could not

enlarge sufficiently in the notes, and which I have reserved for

this place; viz. what the apostle says concerning the mystery of

marriage, which certainly has a deeper meaning than what is

generally apprehended. Dr. Macknight has some good observations

on this part of the subject, which I shall beg leave to lay before

my readers.

1. "The apostle calls the formation of Eve from Adam's body, his

marriage with her; and the intimate union established between them

by that marriage, a great mystery, because it contained an

important emblematical meaning concerning the regeneration of

believers, and their union with Christ, which hitherto had been

kept secret, but which he had discovered in the 30th verse.

Eph 5:30

For there, in allusion to what Adam said concerning Eve, 'This now

is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,' the apostle says,

concerning Christ and believers: We are bone of his bones, and

flesh of his flesh: that is, we are parts of his body, the Church.

And by this application of Adam's words concerning Eve to Christ

and to his Church, he intimates, First, That the formation of Eve

of a rib taken out of Adam's body was a figure of the regeneration

of believers by the breaking of Christ's body, mentioned

Eph 5:25. Secondly, That Adam's love to Eve, on account of her

being formed of his body, was a figure of Christ's love to

believers because they are become his body, Eph 5:30. Thirdly,

That Adam's marriage with Eve was a figure of the eternal union of

Christ with believers in heaven, mentioned Eph 5:27. For he left

his Father to be united to his Church.

2. "In giving this emblematical representation of these ancient

facts, the apostle has not exceeded the bounds of probability. In

the first age, neither the art of writing, nor any permanent

method of conveying instruction, being invented, it was necessary

to make such striking actions and events as could not easily be

forgotten emblems of the instruction meant to be perpetuated. On

this supposition, Adam, in whom the human race began, was a

natural image of Christ, in whom the human race was to be

restored; and his deep sleep, the opening of his side, and the

formation of Eve of a rib taken out of his side, were fit emblems

of Christ's death, of the opening of his side on the cross, and of

the regeneration of believers by his death. The love which Adam

expressed towards Eve, and his union with her by marriage, were

lively images of Christ's love to believers, and of his eternal

union with them in one society after their resurrection; and Eve

herself, who was formed of a rib taken from Adam's side, was a

natural image of believers, who are regenerated, both in their

body and in their mind, by the breaking of Christ's side on the

cross. Thus, the circumstances which accompanied the formation of

Eve being fit emblems of the formation of the Church, we may

suppose they were brought to pass to prefigure that great event;

and, by prefiguring it, to show that it was decreed of God from

the very beginning.

3. "The aptness, however, of these images is not the only reason

for supposing that the formation of Eve, and her marriage with

Adam in paradise, were emblems of the regeneration of believers by

the death of Christ, and of their eternal union with him in

heaven. The singular manner in which Eve was formed, and the

declaration at her marriage with Adam, 'Therefore shall a man

leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, and

they shall be one flesh,' strongly lead to that conclusion. Eve

was not formed of the dust of the earth, as all other living

things were made, (not excepting Adam himself,) but of a rib taken

from Adam's side while he was in a deep sleep. Now, for this

diversity, what reason can be assigned, if that which the apostle

hath suggested is not admitted? Farther: unless some deep

instruction were couched under the formation of Eve, what occasion

was there for Adam, at his marriage with her, to declare, 'This is

now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called

woman, because she was taken out of man: therefore shall a man

leave,' &c.? For although the taking of Eve out of Adam might be

a reason for Adam's affection towards her, it was no reason for

the affection of his posterity towards their wives, who were not

so formed. The reason of their love to their wives is their being

creatures of the same species with themselves. This Eve might

have been, though, like Adam, she had been formed of the dust of

the earth. Wherefore Adam's declaration concerning Eve being

taken out of his body, and concerning his love to her on that

account, was intended for some purpose peculiar to himself;

namely, as he was a type of Him who was to restore the human race

by the breaking of his body on the cross, and who on that account

loves them, and will unite them to himself for ever. Upon the

whole, the formation of Eve and her marriage with Adam, and his

love to and union with her because she was taken out of his side,

and the declaration that, on that account, all his posterity

should love their wives, and continue united to them through life,

(a union which does not subsist among other animals,) are events

so singular, that I do not see what account can be given of them,

unless, with the Apostle Paul, we suppose that, agreeably to the

most ancient method of instruction, God intended these things as

figurative representations of the regeneration of believers by the

death of Christ, and of his eternal union with them in heaven; and

that Adam and Eve were taught by God himself to consider them as


4. "It is no small confirmation of the apostle's emblematical

interpretation of the formation and marriage of Eve, that in

Scripture we find a variety of images and expressions founded on

that interpretation. For example, Ro 5:14, Adam is expressly

called a type of him who was to come, on which account,

1Co 15:45,

Christ is called the last Adam. Next, the catholic Church,

consisting of believers of all nations, is called the body of

Christ, and the members thereof are said to be members of his

body, of his flesh, and of his bones; in allusion to the formation

of Eve, the emblem of the Church. For, as Eve was formed of a rib

taken out of Adam's body during his deep sleep, so believers are

regenerated both in mind and body, and formed into one great

society, and united to Christ as their head and governor, by the

breaking of his body on the cross. Thirdly, to this emblematical

meaning of the formation of Eve, our Lord, I think, alluded when

he instituted his supper. For instead of appointing one symbol

only of his death, he appointed two; and, in explaining the first

of them, he expressed himself in such a manner as to show that he

had his eye on what happened to Adam when Eve was formed: This is

my body which is broken for you-for your regeneration. Fourthly,

the eternal union of the regenerated with Christ after the

resurrection is called a marriage, Re 19:7;

and the new Jerusalem, that is, the inhabitants of the new

Jerusalem, the society of the redeemed, is termed the bride, the

Lamb's wife; and the preparing of men for that happy union, by

introducing them into the Church upon earth through faith, and by

sanctifying them through the word, is called, 2Co 11:2,

A fitting them for one husband, that at the resurrection they may

be presented a chaste virgin to Christ; in allusion, I suppose, to

the presenting of Eve to Adam, in order to her marriage with him;

and to show that, in this expression, the apostle had the

figurative meaning of Eve's marriage in his mind, he mentions,

2Co 11:3, the subtlety of the devil in deceiving Eve. Finally,

the union of the Jewish Church with God, as the figure of the

catholic Church, consisting of the regenerated of all nations, is

by God himself termed a marriage, Jer 3:14; Eze 16:8-32; and

God is called the husband of that people, Isa 54:5; and their

union to him by the law of Moses is termed, The day of their

espousals, Jer 2:2."

1. A truly Christian marriage has an excellence, holiness, and

unity in it, that cannot be easily described; and let it be

observed that, while it prefigures the union of Christ with his

Church, it is one means of giving children to the Church, and

members to the mystical body of Christ. It is an ordinance of

God, and, cannot be too highly honoured; endless volumes might be

written on its utility to man: without marriage, by which every

man is assigned his own wife, and every woman her own husband,

even the multitude of spurious births which would take place would

fail to keep up the population of the earth; and natural, moral,

and political wretchedness would be the consequence of

promiscuous, fortuitous, and transitory connections. For without

that ascertainment of peculiar property which marriage gives to

every man in his wife, and to every woman in her husband, the

human progeny would be unnoticed, unclaimed, uneducated, and

totally neglected. This would continually increase the

wretchedness, and in process of time bring about the total

depopulation of the world.

2. The husband is to love his wife, the wife to obey and

venerate her husband; love and protection on the one hand,

affectionate subjection and fidelity on the other. The husband

should provide for his wife without encouraging profuseness; watch

over her conduct without giving her vexation; keep her in

subjection without making her a slave; love her without jealousy;

oblige her without flattery; honour her without making her proud;

and be hers entirely, without becoming either her footman or her

slave. In short, they have equal rights and equal claims; but

superior strength gives the man dominion, affection and subjection

entitle the woman to love and protection. Without the woman, man

is but half a human being; in union with the man, the woman finds

her safety and perfection.

In the above remarks there are many things solid and useful;

there are others which rest more on fancy than judgment.

3. Of marriage the Church of Rome has made a sacrament, and it

is one of the seven which that Church acknowledges. That it is an

ordinance of God is sufficiently evident; that he has not

made it a sacrament is not less so. Though the minister of

religion celebrates it, yet the regulation of it, in reference to

inheritance, &c., is assumed by the state. This is of great

moment, as by it many evils are prevented, and many political and

domestic advantages secured. If a man enter hastily into this

state it is at his own risk; after he has once entered it, the

seal of the legislature is imposed upon it, and with his

engagements, he cannot trifle. A consideration of this has

prevented many hasty and disproportionate alliances. Though they

might hope to trifle with the Church, they dare not do it with the


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