The Epistle to the Ephesians
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. 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” (5:15-21).
Avoiding Dangerous Tendencies The Lord’s people are to walk “circumspectly,” avoiding ways that bring reproach upon the testimony of God. They are to “look on all sides; looking around.” Or give “attention to all the facts and circumstances of a case, and to the natural or probable consequences of a measure, with a view to a correct course of conduct, or to avoid unfavorable results” (Webster). There are none upon earth who ought to be wiser than the people of God, for God has made Christ to be “wisdom” to them, and He is always available, teaching them the way in which they should go. Consequently they will buy up “the opportunities” in an evil day, this being one of the simplest exercises of prudence, idleness being a menace in which “Satan finds mischief for idle hands to do.” Such will have understanding, like the children of Issacher, that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chr. 12:32). Understanding and obedience are to go together.
Debauchery. Drunkeness is debauchery. Nevertheless, we read that on account of his infirmity Timothy was to drink “no longer only water, but use a little wine on account of thy stomach and thy frequent illnesses” (1 Tim. 5:23. N. T.) But this would not be debauchery, which deprives its victims of their senses as responsible and intelligent creatures of God. It is written: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish” (Pro. 31:6), a wise and necessary provision in some circumstances. The present writer witnessed how it saved the life of a man who had been rescued from what appeared to be death from drowning. Using it, however, as so many do, in attempting to bring joy leads to an excitement that develops into debauchery. Even Noah was overcome by this appetite, although God had vested the government of the earth in him (Gen. 9:1-7). But he failed to govern himself. Hence we learn in the New Testament epistles that the Apostle had to dwell bluntly upon the matter and, writing to converts from idolatry in which this evil was prevalent, warned even the “aged women” in the Cretian assemblies against being given to “much wine” (Tit. 2:3).
Filled With The Spirit. In contrast with the excitement sometimes named gladness, the result of being filled with the Spirit is that Christ becomes paramount in the life and His praises will ascend. Thus the Apostle can say: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Were the Spirit not grieved by self indulgence on our part, much praise would ascend to Him who is worthy. The expression “speaking to yourselves” means that in a mutual way we would be “speaking to each other” in our glad utterances to the Lord. For heavenly anthems ascending to the Lord also speak to us., they are instructive; by them we may be found “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16). There would be in this way a wholesome atmosphere expressed in readiness to give “thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” a tone of things that would exclude petty viewpoints that darken the life. We regret to say that this is sometimes lacking. Quite recently we heard the expression of a Christian who had attended some of the meetings. His remark was: “I think these are very earnest people, but I don’t see much joy among them!” This ought not to be.
In this letter the Apostle shows that if the Ephesians were in right and happy relations with God, in the nature of things they would be right with each other, they would be found “submitting … one to another in the fear of God.”
Pattern For The Married State
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 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, 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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: for we are members of His Body, 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. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (5:22-33).
Submission unto Husbands. Having spoken of the mutual submission which is so necessary in the Church circle, the Apostle, continuing the subject, takes it up in another way, in another circle, that of the home. In speaking, however, on submission to husbands, it is hardly necessary to affirm that in so doing it does not put the woman in a position of inferiority, the Scripture description elsewhere of her as the completeness, as the glory, of the man, excluding such a thought. There cannot, however, be two heads in a home, that would signify division, while the divine thought is unity. Therefore the recognition of husband-headship is necessary if there is to be well-being in the married state, the submission involved being “as unto the Lord,” whom we know as the Head of the Church which is His body; thus He is “the Saviour of the body,” which is dependent upon the Head for direction. Similarly, husband-headship is for blessing, the head directing in such a way that there is practical salvation from what is hurtful in a lawless world. The Scripture we are considering, however, treats of the subject in a brief way, confining it to its simple proper setting, and does not deal with possible details of failure which might intrude on either side of the question. The guidance necessary when such issues may arise are to be found in other parts of Scripture.
Love of Husbands for Wives. It has often been observed that in these passages the Bible instructions as to conduct are addressed directly to the parties concerned. The wives are not addressed respecting the conduct of their husbands, nor are the husbands addressed respecting the conduct of their wives, but each one is told how to function properly in her own or in his own position. Hence the word to husbands is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” Thus in the measure in which husbands realize the love of Christ for the Church, will they learn how they ought to love their wives, and this will prove to be of saving effectiveness from what is harmful. Christ’s saviourship of the “body” takes the form of sanctifying and cleansing it “with the washing of water by the Word,” its cleansing and refreshment being affected by His skilful and gentle application of the Word. Thus it will be evident to us that the husband as a saviour is on the side of the wife as the result of his learning his own lessons in the school of Christ.
The end our Lord has in view in His saviourship of the Church is that He “might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot (of defilement) or wrinkle (of age) or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (blame). Perhaps at this point it may be well to note that having built the rib He had taken out of man, into a woman, God “brought her to the man.” She was the result of divine skill, and as such was presented to the man. But when we come to consider the Antitype, we learn that Christ Himself sought and secured for Himself the Church, fashioning it according to His affectionate desire and wisdom, in order that “He might present it to Himself” a glorious Church. Thus will He satisfy the love that led Him to “give Himself” for the object of His desire. As a “merchant man, seeking godly pearls” (Matt. 13:45), as a merchant who can appraise values in his line of business, so Christ in the purpose of His love foresaw the Church as she will be in the day of presentation. On that glad day, there will not be a trace of the flesh seen in her; all will be new creation; all will be in the power of the Spirit; all will be reflective of Christ.
Closest of Human Relationships. Still adhering to his subject, the Apostle reflects: — “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: for we are members of His body.” A further statement is connected with this one, namely: “We are of His flesh, and of His bones” (N.T.). As united by the Spirit to Christ in glory we are members of His body. But the further statement is an illusion to what took place with Eve; she came out of Adam, she was “of his flesh and of his bones,” she was his bride. Similarly has the Church derived her spiritual being from Christ.