James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.Ephesians 5:22-6:24
APPLICATION TO THE HOUSEHOLD
In the last lesson Paul spoke of the Christian’s “walk” in general terms, but now applies the thought particularly to: wives and husbands (5:22-33); children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4); and servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9), summing up the whole in Ephesians 6:10-18. The epistle concludes with a brief reference to his personal affairs (Ephesians 6:19-22), and a benediction (Ephesians 6:23-24).
Speaking of the application to the three classes of the social order, it is noticeable that the apostle begins with the duties of the inferior or subjected party in each case, an arrangement not accidental, as may be judged by comparing Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1, as well as 1 Peter 2:18, and the subsequent verses. As another suggests, “one reason for this may be that the duties of submission and obedience are so incomparably important to all the interests of human life.” Furthermore all these duties are here seen in special connection with the believer’s standing in Christ.
In the instance of wives and husbands, we are not to suppose that there is anything derogatory to the former in their submission, since subordination and order are the great characteristics of God’s workmanship. Christ is equal to God and yet as the Son He is submissive to the Father. Is that derogatory to him? Of course, the reference here is to the saved woman, and one who so appreciates her standing in Christ as to feel the fitness of things resulting there from. Moreover, as the same spiritual teacher says, husbands are not directed to command but to love their wives. The right to command is implied but not enforced. The husband’s love, on the other hand, includes every attention to his wife, the reposing of his confidence in her, and the enjoyment with her of their oneness in Christ. Under these reciprocal conditions submission is likely to be a delight. Ephesians 5:30-31 of this section are quoted from Genesis 2:23-24, which suggests a beautiful type of the church as the bride as well as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:2-3).
In the instance of children and parents, observe that the former are addressed as though they were present in the church assemblies where this letter was read, and expected to give their personal attention to it, to understand it, and obey its teachings the same as their adult associates. Observe too, that they were saved children, and able to appreciate their obligation to obey their parents because with them they were “in the Lord.” One such inspired declaration as this is an all-sufficient answer to much of that newer pedagogy in our Sunday schools which leaves the supernatural almost out of account.
Children need the Word of God as much as their parents do, and if it be given to them clear and simple, the Holy Ghost is able to illuminate it to their understandings and apply it to their hearts. They who are substituting something else in its place in our Sunday schools are assuming a responsibility from which the wise may well shrink. Observe finally, in this connection, that fathers are not to be unduly severe with their children, but to temper and qualify their government as becometh them that are in the Lord.
In the instance of servants and masters, the former are to be understood as slaves, but not necessarily of an inferior race. They may have been captives taken in war, and in many respects the equal of their masters, and yet they were to be obedient, “as unto Christ.” They were in him just as their masters were, but this would not alter the relation they bore to them, for Galatians 3:28 has reference to salvation in Christ, and does not contravene the established relations of life. But there are obligations for the Christian masters also (Ephesians 6:9).
In the previous lesson we dwelt on the Christian’s walk, but now we come, in the summing up of the article, to the Christian’s warfare (5:10-18). The Scofield Bible divides these verses thus: the warrior’s power (Ephesians 6:10); the warrior’s armor (Ephesians 6:11); the warrior’s foes (Ephesians 6:12-17); and the warrior’s resource (Ephesians 6:18).
1. What three classes of the social order are named?
2. Why presumably, does the apostle begin with the duty of the subjected party first?
3. Show that there is nothing derogatory in the subjection of a wife to her husband.
4. Under what conditions is such submission likely to be a delight?
5. What inferences are to be drawn from the address to children in Galatians 6:1?
6. What caution does this suggest to Sunday School teachers?
7. Have you looked up the reference to Galatians 3:28?
8. To what does that reference refer?
9. What new idea about the Christian is suggested in the summing up of the epistle?
10. Analyze Ephesians 6:10-18.