Brief Notes on Ephesians Chapter 4:17 - Chapter 5

Ephesians 4:17‑5:33  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
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The doctrine of this epistle closes with chapter 4:16. From that point to chapter 6:9, we get practical instructions. From chapter 6:9 to the end, we get conflict.
In Ephesians 5 and 6 we get not only the church, but saints individually. We do not lose our personality. And so it is with gifts: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints.” The first business of gifts was with each individually.
So when we come to practical details, we are also addressed individually. We are told to put away lying, as being members one of another. “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Anger may be as holy a feeling as any other, but do not retain it so as to let it degenerate into nature. Then, resist the devil, and “let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor... that he may have to give to him that needeth.” This is very beautiful. Ceasing from stealing, he is to become a workman for others. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth... and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” Our works are looked at and our words and now our tempers.
Then, “Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I am to measure myself by God.
Chapter 5
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Suppose I was a good neighbor just to keep my conscience a little easy. Would that be meeting the demands of this passage? “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us”: that makes kindness, Christian kindness. I take the Lord Jesus as my great prototype. I am to walk in love, because Christ has loved me and given Himself for me.
You know that your renewed conscience would never be satisfied merely by doing what is right. You must have the springs of action purified. Uncleanness does not become saints. But am I to lay it aside because it is uncleanness? No, but because it does not become saints.
The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, as in the benevolent virtues righteousness, as in integrity and honesty, and all connected with truth. We find these two in the world, but not connected with truth. These things are given to make us practically like Christ. As an old writer says, “Christ Himself is the ground of all laws to a Christian.” He would have us sober, truthful and honest.
Now are you light, and what quality of light? Light “in the Lord.” “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” But are you merely an emptied, stripped thing? No; you have put on the new man. As the old man would have made plunder out of what belonged to another, so now you are to work for him whom before you would have plundered.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.” I am to have an understanding, not of the philosophy of schools, but of the will of the Lord. The Spirit keeps you in company with Christ. He puts Christ upon you. The old man might get drunk with wine, but the new man has the Spirit to fill himself with. If the old man is to be mortified, the new man is to be cultivated.
This filling of the Spirit expresses itself “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” This is a vessel filled with the Spirit. Once filled with wine, now it is bubbling up in melody to the Lord.
Now he addresses husbands and wives. There, I need not say, how deeply we are in company with Christ. Now Christ is called “head” in three aspects. In chapter 1 He is Head over all things to the church. In chapter 4 it is as being Head of influence, dispensing virtue to members. Here in chapter 5 we see Him in another aspect, as the Head of authority. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.”
Then, the Lord becomes the “new sanction” for children’s obedience to their parents. Under Moses, it was a legal thing.
So with fathers. A father ought to delight in serving his child. At every hour he should be watching that the nurture and admonition of the Lord are ministered to his child. He should minister Christ to him.
As to servants, it is beautiful: They are to be obedient. It matters not the character of their master. They are to be doing service “as unto the Lord.”
Then as to masters do not be guilty of threatening. The lordly ways of masters and mistresses are hateful. How does your Master in heaven treat you?
Here the practical part ends, but I ask, Does it not dignify you? You are in company up there with Jesus, even while carrying on these practical duties. It is the same Jesus who is enfolding, embracing and enriching you in every step of the journey, and that for His own eternity.
J. G. Bellett