Ephesians 5

1 God has forgiven us and given us an example to follow. Furthermore, God is our spiritual Father since we are born again by His Spirit when we believe in the Son.

Parents act as role models for their children. When the parent and child have a loving relationship, the child often desires to be like the parent in spirit, and perhaps even in lifestyle and work. God loves us dearly, and when we love Him, we will desire to be like Him in love and goodness.

2 Love is self-sacrificing. Jesus is the epitome of such love, and we should love enough to give of ourselves to God and others.

Jesus' death on the cross was not merely an execution of a martyr. That cross became an altar for the ultimate sacrifice. Christ's voluntary offering of His body was both necessary and sufficient to bring about the forgiveness for all the sins of everyone who would believe in Him. This one sacrifice fulfilled all the sacrifices listed in the Old Testament. The transaction of forgiveness no longer involves the killing of animals or the burning of incense. Instead, it is completed in faith that Christ offered the ultimate sacrifice for us.

3 Immorality involves a number of sins -- from adultery to stealing. Impurity can involve immorality, but also applies to other things that taint our relationship with God (e.g., unsettled anger). Greed is the selfish desire for possessions or power. This deals more with attitude than methodology, because one can attain material possessions and power without immorality. However, if the possessions and power are an end in themselves for one's own benefit, then they ignore the needs of others and may forget to rely on God and obey Him. It is not proper for God's children to behave in these manners, so we should avoid them.

Nearly everything that separates us from God and each other involves selfishness and pride. Selfishness in possessions and sensual things are the opposite of love - we care more for ourselves than others. Pride is a sense of self-sufficiency apart from God and others. It is a false belief that can be used to justify one's own agenda over the commands of God. We live in a world that exalts selfishness and pride, and it takes practice to become loving people devoted to God. With Christ's help, it is possible, which again points us to imitate Him.

4 The words we speak are important. They are a reflection of what is in our hearts, and in God's eyes, we are bound by even our careless words (Mat 12:34-37). When our minds are on Christ, we will not say lewd things or tell dirty jokes. If we are thinking soundly and maturely, we will not be involved in silly, idle talk that has no purpose or meaning. Instead, Christians are to speak words of thanks and praise to God, and other things that will encourage and build up others. The world sees our conduct, but it also hears our words. We must be consistently pointing to God in everything we say and do to show the world the way to Him.
5 God is the Christian's center of worship. When we choose things or activities that interfere with our relationship with God, they become like idols. The get the attention and "worship" that God deserves.

It is clear that the Christian "code of conduct" does not apply only during church services. We are to live every minute by it. If a person consistently practices immorality and greed (i.e., showing no progress towards righteousness, and a lack of desire to do so), he is not saved, no matter how fervently he may claim to be a Christian. Worldly practices separate people from God, and will separate them from Him forever if they do not turn to Him and give up their sinful ways.

6 Some people will try to defend sinful activities and even encourage people to do them in the name of God. Christians should not be deceived because such reasoning means nothing next to the truth of God's word.

Many deceptive tactics are very subtle. For instance, some people encourage greed with the justification that as one earns more, he can give more to the church. However, the main enticement is earning money for pleasure, not to help others. Be wary of such schemes that promise a bit of good attached to practicing immorality or greed.

7 Those who are ungodly will suffer eternal punishment. When a person comes to Christ, he is no longer a son of disobedience, so he should not act like one.

If a child of God is enticed by the world and falls into sin, he is still saved, but the consequences may be severe. Christians will not suffer eternal condemnation, but we will feel pain if we separate ourselves from our Savior. In addition, we will be ashamed to have diminished the greatness of Christ's work in our lives and perhaps hindered the proclamation of the Good News because of a sinful activity.

8 Christians already know about these sinful things because we were all sinners before we knew Jesus. Now that we are saved, we must stop practicing those things that we know offend God. Sometimes it is difficult, but God will give us the power to overcome those things that hinder our relationship with Him. It is up to us to rely completely on Him.
9 Opposed to the selfish works of evil is the fruit of the Spirit. Note that good works are not actions Christians do to attain salvation, they are the result of the saved individual relying on the Holy Spirit dwelling within and giving us power. One can not produce the fruits of the Spirit without the Spirit.

Darkness is the absence of light. It only exists where there is no light. When light comes, however, it dispels darkness. Light is active, and is meant to spread and dispel darkness. "Walking in the light" includes practicing goodness, which dispels evil. It means practicing righteousness, which dispels wickedness. It means speaking truth, which dispels lies. God makes Christians "lights" in this dark world. A part of our mission here is to shine the light of God. If others respond, then God will make them lights as well.

10 What pleases God is not always obvious to the new Christian who has lived life apart from God up to the point of his salvation. There are a few different ways to find out what is acceptable to God. One is by reading the Bible. Another is by "hearing" the Holy Spirit, who will also reveal things to our mind that are not specifically written in the Bible (e.g., who to marry). Another is by following the examples set and advice given by other Christians.
11 Christians can and should have friendships with sinful people, but we must not participate in their evil deeds. Instead, we must expose them for what they are. The words here indicate that we must act and not sit idly by while ignoring the evil around us. Remember that the sinner does not always realize he is offending God (if he even believes in God). Part of witnessing about Jesus is helping people understand that sin is real and has dire consequences.
12 Christians can know or find out what sins the ungodly do by various means, but we must not become obsessed with such things. Our focus is no longer the sinful activities of the world, but God.
13 Light penetrates the darkness and exposes what is hidden there. Once people see their actions in the light of God's truth, they will see them for what they are. Then they can make an informed decision to either follow God or remain in their darkened world.
14 We do not know where this quote comes from. It may have been a saying or hymn that was derived from such verses as Isa 60:1 and Isa 26:19. The meaning of the phrase is clearly that the dead will rise and live in the light of Jesus the Messiah. In the immediate context, Paul refers to Christians being awakened from the deadness of the worldly philosophy, and being shown the truth that comes from Christ. We can no longer live as if we do not know what pleases God.
15 A person can not be wise if he has no understanding. Likewise, it is foolish to understand something beneficial and not act upon it. Christians are given understanding about the things of God. We do not learn everything all at once, but as we learn, we must apply these things to our lives. When we understand that helping the poor pleases God, we will do it. When we understand that sexual immorality displeases God, we will avoid it. True wisdom begins with knowing God, and is completed by pleasing Him.
16 Each person is only allotted so many years in this world, and none of us knows for sure when that time will be up. While we are here, God desires that we be fruitful (abounding in love, joy, peace, etc.). Being fruitful does not start "tomorrow," it is to occur during all our waking hours. We are surrounded by evil, and the world wants to separate us from God. The wise man, however, understands that the world's devices are not pleasing to God, and will not last. He will instead seek to do those things that please God and help others come to know Him.
17 A foolish person will go on living life any way that he chooses. He is not concerned about the things of God, and his life will not produce anything that God is interested in preserving. The wise person, however, earnestly seeks to do those things that will please God. One can only find what these things are through a relationship with Him. He will then make His will known through the Holy Spirit, Scripture, and godly counsel. A Christian's primary reward is the eternal life with God gained through a good relationship with Him. We produce additional fruits by doing His will, and these become additional treasures in heaven.
18 Drunkenness has no eternal significance, and instead compromises the body and mind. No problems are solved, and instead, the person may do and say things to his harm. Thus, when soberness returns, despair is intensified.

While drunkenness lowers inhibitions so that people act on the worldly desires they feel, the influence of the Spirit helps us to behave like the children of God He designed us to be. While the man "possessed" by alcohol loses control of both body and mind, the Christian filled with the Spirit is enabled to do and think whatever God desires for the purpose of building His kingdom.

19 While alcoholism leads to physical and/or mental isolation from others, the Spirit encourages us to interact with others, whether they are Christians or not.

One of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is what we say when we are with others (specifically Christians in this context). Part of our fellowship should include music dedicated to God. The words may be spoken, sung aloud, or sung in the heart. They may be based on the Scriptural songs, traditional hymns, or spontaneous prompting from the Spirit. They may be sung with instrumentation or with vocals only. Songs can be used for worship, prayer, and teaching. Such music refreshes us as we are reminded of the joy that God has given us along with many other good gifts.

20 Drunkenness intensifies a person's feelings of hopelessness which results in and exacerbates ingratitude. Their tendency is to blame self, others, and even God for their current state. Christians, however, see how much God has done for us and the unimaginable happiness we will have living in His presence forever. Despite the hardships we experience here, we are truly thankful for the hope that He has given us.

When we do anything in the name of Jesus we do so in recognition of His authority and will. When we agree with His will, are obedient to His commands, and have an attitude consistent with His character, we are assured that what we do pleases Him. This is the difference between doing something in His name and taking His name in vain. Anything we do in the name of Christ we do for the Father.

21 Part of our spiritual lives is submitting to other Christians. This is the lesson taught by Jesus when He washed the disciple's feet (John 13:5-17). Submission includes not only obedience to Church authorities (e.g., preachers, elders, etc.), but also a general attitude of servanthood towards one another. Jesus had to remind His disciples several times that those who are truly great are those who serve others the most, not those who receive the most service (Mat 20:25-28). We are all equal in Christ, so there is no one who is "too high" or "too low" to submit to others or be submitted to.

Christ has gifted us in different ways, and we have been through different experiences, so there is always something a Christian can learn from his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus also spoke about how helping other Christians was the same as helping Him (Mat 25:40). The same principle appears to apply here. When we submit to one another, we are submitting to Christ out of reverence to Him. We should be able to do this without the fear of being taken advantage of, because the fellow Christian whom we serve will also be submitting to us, and his desire to love us and help us in our relationship with Christ will prevent him from doing any harm to these relationships.

22 Jesus often used marriage to symbolize the relationship between Himself and the Church. Wives are to follow their husband's leadership just as they follow Jesus' leadership. This does not mean she can not express her opinion or contribute to the decision (after all, God designed her to be a helpmate), but she must submit to whatever the husband's final decision is.
23 All organizations have an authority structure, including the family unit. God designed the authority structure in a family such that the man and woman to lead their family, and the man to be the final decision-maker (Gen 3:16).

There is also tremendous responsibility for the husband. Christ saved the church, and the husband is to have a similar role in the family. The husband is to be the protector and "champion" of the wife and family.

24 This is a message for both the Church and wives. Everything means everything. Each decision Christians make and each action we do is to be evaluated in relationship with God's will as expressed through Christ. In the same way, the wife needs to make decisions in reference to her husband's plan for the family. Is she going against something he has already stated? If it is not specifically stated, is this what he would likely want? Am I undermining his authority? Will this help the family? These are all questions the wife can ask herself when she is making decisions. They are also questions every Christian should ask himself when presented with choices.
25 Many women object to Eph 5:22 because they feel that it is an open door allowing the husband to abuse his wife. This is not the case at all. Husbands are to treat their wives the same way Jesus treats the Church. Ultimately, this involves giving everything, even to the point of death, to ensure the wife's spiritual and physical well being. We would have few, if any, marital problems if the husband provided for all the wives physical and spiritual needs, while the wife submitted to his authority.
26 Unity comes about when there is a shared faith and common purpose. Just as we are encouraged to be united in the Church, we are also to be united within the family unit. This shared faith can only come about when the family unit knows Christ. It is the husband's responsibility to keep his family focused on God. An essential component to this is Bible study. Members should have a quiet time of their own, but there should also be family study. If the father does not make sure that his children have proper training in the truth of Scriptures, they will shape their beliefs based on other people's opinions. Many Christian men take a "hands-off" approach, hoping that their example will be enough. They are then surprised when they find that their wives and children have different beliefs. In severe cases this causes great hardship or breaks up the family. One of the husband's primary purposes is to present his wife and family to God as true believers.
27 If you are a husband, you must ask yourself if how you are running your family assists them in being holy and blameless before God. The husband can not make spiritual choices for his family members, but he can encourage and teach them to make godly choices.
28 How a man treats his wife is a reflection of what he thinks of himself. An abusive husband is discontent while a compassionate husband is happy with who he is.

In many countries, men and women get to choose their spouse. The courtship (dating) stage is an important time when the man and woman get to know each other better. The woman ought to use this time wisely. If the man proves to be abusive, selfish, or negligent during courtship, she can be assured that it will get worse during their marriage. There are thousands of abused wives that would agree it would have been better for them to not get married rather than suffer the physical and mental pain of coping with an angry or violent husband.

Similarly, the man should be looking for a woman that will respond to (and encourage) his leadership.

Both man and woman should, of course, seek a spouse that had a firm and deep commitment to Jesus. If either is not submitted to God, then they will not be obedient to the Bible. If either is not obedient to the Bible, then these verses will not be followed.

Also, these verses indicate that both people must be good listeners. The husband must listen to his wife so he can determine what her needs are. The wife must listen to her husband to know where he is leading them. During courtship, it is vital that both people make sure they are communicating effectively.

In some countries, arranged marriages are still made. In this case, it is the parent's responsibility to make sure that their daughters marry caring, unselfish Christian men while their sons marry submissive Christian women. The well being of the children for the sake of Jesus is more important than the political maneuvering that sometimes accompanies arranged marriages.

29 If your body is hungry, you feed it. If it is tired, you rest it. If it is wounded, you heal it. If it is weak, you exercise it. If it is dirty, you clean it. These are just examples of how we treat our own bodies, and can be extended to how the husband should treat his wife, both physically and spiritually.
30 Husband and wife are both members of Jesus' body if they are both Christians.
31 In Gen 2:24 God says that when a man and woman come together, they are "one flesh." They become a part of one another, although they remain physically distinct. Nonetheless, the husband must see the wife as an extension of his own body, and she should do the same for him.
32 How do two independent people become "one" in the bond of marriage? It is a mystery to us. It is also difficult for us to see at times how we are one with Christ. It is not something we can fully understand or "feel," yet it is true. So then, just as members of Christ's body do not want to defile or harm it, both husband and wife must work in their marriage to help one another and glorify God.
33 In general, husbands tend to forget what it means to love their wives. Authority without love will quickly lead to trouble. Again, in general, wives tend to resist (or resent) their husband's authority. An organization that is not unified under its leader will have problems. Thus, this verse emphasizes these two marital characteristics again.