Ephesians 5
Vincent's Word Studies
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Be ye (γίνεσθε)

Become, as Ephesians 4:32.

Followers (μιμηταὶ)

Rev, correctly, imitators.

Dear (ἀγαπητά)

Rev., beloved. As those to whom Christ has shown love

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Walk in love

As imitators of God who is love.

Loved us (ἡμᾶς)

The correct reading is ὑμᾶς you.

Gave (παρέδωκεν)

To death Compare Romans 4:25, where the same verb was delivered is followed by was raised. See also Romans 8:32; Galatians 2:20.

Offering - sacrifice (προσφορὰν - θυσίαν)

Offering, general, including the life as well as the death of Christ: sacrifice, special: on the cross. Properly, a slain offering.

A sweet smelling savor (ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας)

Rev., correctly, odor of a sweet smell. See on 2 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 2:16. The Septuagint, in Leviticus 1:9, uses this phrase to render the Hebrew, a savor of quietness. For (εἰς) expresses design, that it might become, or result: so that it became.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Or covetousness

Or sets this sin emphatically by itself.

Let it

It refers to each of the sins.

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Filthiness (αἰσχρότης)


Foolish talking (μωρολογία)

Only here in the New Testament. Talk which is both foolish and sinful. Compare corrupt communication, Ephesians 4:29. It is more than random or idle talk. "Words obtain a new earnestness when assumed into the ethical terminology of Christ's school. Nor, in seeking to enter fully into the meaning of this one, ought we to leave out of sight the greater emphasis which the words fool, foolish, folly obtain in Scripture than elsewhere they have or can have" (Trench).

Jesting (εὐτραπελία)

Only here in the New Testament. From εὐ well or easily, πρέπω to turn. That which easily turns and adapts itself to the moods and conditions of those with whom it may be dealing at the moment. From this original sense of versatility it came to be applied to morals, as timeserving, and to speech with the accompanying notion of dissimulation. Aristotle calls it chastened insolence. The sense of the word here is polished and witty speech as the instrument of sin; refinement and versatility without the flavor of Christian grace. "Sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense.... Sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness giveth it being.... Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language" (Barrow, Sermon xiv., "Against Foolish Talking and Jesting." The whole passage is well worth reading).

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.
Ye know (ἴστε γινώσκοντες)

The A.V. fails to give the whole force of the expression, which is, ye know recognizing. Rev., ye know of a surety.


Compare Colossians 3:5, and see on 1 Corinthians 5:10.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Plausible, but devoid of truth, and employed to palliate heathen vices.

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Be not (γίνεσθε)

Lit., become not. It is a warning against lapsing into old vices.

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Ye were

Emphatic, and according with become of Ephesians 5:7. Ye were darkness, but now are ye light. Do not become darkness again.

Darkness (σκότος)

See on John 1:5.

Light (φῶς)

Light itself; not a lamp. Children of light. See Matthew 5:16.

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Is in

Consists in. The verse is parenthetical.

Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Connect with walk. Walk, proving by your walk. Proving, see on 1 Peter 1:7.

Acceptable (εὐάρεστον)

Rev., better and more literally, well-pleasing. The one point of all moral investigation is, does it please God?

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Have - fellowship (συγκοινωνεῖτε)

See on Revelation 18:4; see on Revelation 1:9.

Unfruitful works (ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις)

Compare fruit, Ephesians 5:9, and Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:22, works of the flesh, fruit of the Spirit. Works which bring no blessing with them. Compare Romans 6:21; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:21; Galatians 6:8.

Reprove (ελέγχετε)

See on John 3:20.

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
All things (τὰ πάντα)

More literally, they all, or all of them; the secret sins just mentioned.

That are reproved (ἐλεγχόμενα)

Lit., being reproved. Rev., when they are reproved. Reproved is to be taken in the same literal sense as in Ephesians 5:11, and not metaphorically in the sense of being demonstrated by light, or brought to light, which is almost synonymous with are made manifest.

By the light

Connect with are made manifest, not with are reproved.

Whatsoever doth make manifest is light (πᾶν τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστίν)

Wrong. The A.V. renders doth make manifest, as in the middle voice, but the verb is in the passive voice. It occurs nearly fifty times in the New Testament, and never as middle. Hence Rev., correctly, everything that is made manifest.

Is light

A general proposition, going to show that manifestation can come only through light. Whatever is revealed in its true essence by light is of the nature of light. It no longer belongs to the category of darkness. Manifestation is a law of good and evil alike. That which is of the truth seeks the light and cometh to the light. That which is evil avoids the light, and loves darkness better than light, but none the less is brought to the light and appears in its own light. See John 3:20, John 3:21. This truth is embodied in another form in the parable of the Tares. Growth is manifestation. By suffering the tares to grow, their difference from the wheat, which at first is not apparent, is fully revealed.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
He saith

God. This use of the personal pronoun is frequent in Paul's writings. See Galatians 3:16; Ephesians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16.

Awake. etc.

The quotation is probably a combination and free rendering of Isaiah 60:1; Isaiah 26:19. For similar combinations see on Romans 3:10; see on Romans 9:33. By some the words are regarded as the fragment of a hymn.

Shall give thee light

Rev., correctly, shall shine upon thee.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
See that ye walk circumspectly (βλέπετε πῶς ἀκριβῶς περιπατεῖτε)

Lit., look how exactly ye walk. The best texts place τῶς how after ἀκριβῶς exactly. So Rev., look carefully how ye walk. Circumspectly is better rendered carefully. It means exactly, accurately, from ἄκρος the farthest point. See on inquired diligently, Matthew 2:6; and compare Luke 1:3 (note); Acts 18:25 (note).

Not as unwise, but as wise

Explanatory of carefully.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Redeeming the time (ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιπόν)

See on Colossians 4:5.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Understanding (συνιέντες)

See on prudent, Matthew 11:25; foolish, see on Romans 3:21.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Be not drunk (μὴ μεθύσκεσθε)

See on John 2:10.


In drunkenness, not in wine.

Excess (ἀσωτία)

Rev., riot. Lit., unsavingness. See on riotous living, Luke 15:13.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Speaking to yourselves (λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς)

Rev., one to another.

The A.V. is literally correct, but is open to the misinterpretation each one communing with himself. The meaning is as in Colossians 3:13, and Rev. is better.


See on 1 Corinthians 14:15.

Hymns - spiritual songs

See on Colossians 3:16.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Your own (ἰδίοις)

The peculiar personal relationship is emphasized as the ground of the duty.

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.
He is the savior of the body

In this particular the comparison between the husband as the head of the wife, and Christ as the head of the Church, does not hold. Hence Rev., properly, renders for and He is, being Himself; Himself separating the clause from what was previously said. The comparison lies in the fact of headship alone. The husband's love and protection cannot be called salvation, in which respect Christ's headship is peculiar to Himself.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Therefore (ἀλλὰ)

Rev, correctly, but. Offsetting the relation of savior. The comparison does not hold in respect of salvation, but it does hold in respect of subjection.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Sanctify and cleanse (ἁγιάσῃ καθαρίσας)

Rev., might sanctify, having cleansed. The Rev. brings out the proper succession of sanctification as a consequence of cleansing: might sanctify after having cleansed.

With the washing of water (τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος)

Λουτρόν washing is properly laver. Note the article, the laver, as something well known. There is no satisfactory evidence for the meaning washing. The allusion is to baptism. Some find a reference to the bride's bath before marriage.

By the word (ἐν ῥήματι)

Rev., correctly, with the word. To be connected with having cleansed it by the laver of water: not with might sanctify, nor with the laver of water alone, as a descriptive epithet. With the word describes that which accompanies the rite and which is the peculiar element of baptismal purification. Compare John 15:3. Augustine says: "Take away the word, and what is the water but water?"

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.
He might present it to Himself (παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ)

As a bride. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:2. Notice the two pronouns in conjunction, He, to Himself. Christ Himself presents the bride.

Spot (σπίλον)

Only here and 2 Peter 2:13; The kindred verb σπιλόω to defile, occurs James 3:6; Jde 1:23.

Wrinkle (ῥυτίδα)

Only here in the New Testament.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

As Christ loved the Church.

As their own bodies (ὡς)

As being: since they are.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Instead of body, with reference to Genesis 2:23.

Cherisheth (θάλπει)

Only here and 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Originally, to warm.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Omit of His flesh and of His bones.
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.
Shall be joined (προσκολληθήσεται)

Only here; and Mark 10:7. See on Luke 15:15. The compound verb denotes most intimate union.

Shall be one flesh (ἔσονται εἰς σάρκα μίαν)

The A.V. overlooks the force of εἰς unto. Lit., shall be unto one flesh. Rev., shall become.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
A great mystery

Great is predicative, not attributive. Rev., correctly, this mystery is great. The reference in this mystery is to the preceding statement of the conjugal relation of the Church with Christ, typified by the human marriage relation.

Concerning Christ and the Church

Rev., in regard of (εἰς). Not calling your attention to the mere human relationship, but to the mysterious relation between Christ and His Church, of which that is a mere semblance.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Not to dwell longer on the mystical aspect of the subject.

Even as himself

Not as much as he loves himself, but as being his very self.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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