Ephesians v.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 3. Covetousness.[1] The Latin word is generally taken for a coveting or immoderate desire of money and riches. St. Jerome and others observe, that the Greek word in this and divers other places in the New Testament may signify any unsatiable desire, or the lusts of sensual pleasures; and on this account, St. Jerome thinks that it is here joined with fornication and uncleanness. But St. Chrysostom in the last chapter, (ver. 19. hom. xiii. and on this chap. ver. 3.) shews that by the Greek word is understood avarice, or an immoderate desire of riches, when he tells (hom. xviii) that this sin is condemned by those words of Christ, Luke xvi. 13. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Witham)

Ver. 4. Nor obscenity.[2] What is here meant by this word, St. Chrysostom tells us at large in the moral exhortation after his 17th homily; to wit, jests with immodest suggestions or a double meaning, and raillery or buffoonery against the rules of good conversation, scarce made use of by any but by men of low condition and of a mean genius, which is not to the purpose of a Christian, who must give an account to God of all his words. (Witham)

Ver. 5. Nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols. It is clear enough by the Greek that the covetous man is called an idolater, whose idol in mammon; though it may be also said of other sinners, that the vices they are addicted to are their idols. (Witham)

Ver. 6. The apostle here puts them in mind of the general judgment, when the angel of God will, on account of their crimes of avarice, fornication, &c. fall on the children of unbelief; by which are meant the wicked. He had before assured them that the perpetrators of such crimes would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven; and now he moreover informs them, that the severest punishments will be inflicted on such wicked persons. (Estius)

Ver. 7. Be ye not, therefore, partakers with them: do not imitate their wickedness, or the wrath of the Almighty will likewise fall on you. (Estius)

Ver. 8. By darkness is here meant the state of infidelity into which they had been plunged so far as to adore stones as God, and committed without remorse the above-mentioned grievous sins. But delivered by Christ from this darkness, they have become light in the Lord, shining in faith and justice. (Estius)

Ver. 9. For the fruit of the light. So the Latin and divers Greek copies; not the fruit of the spirit, as we read in many Greek manuscripts; and in this Dr. Wells thought fit to change the Protestant translation. (Witham)

Ver. 10. With solicitude seek out what things are pleasing to God, and carefully perform them. (Estius)

Ver. 11. You are light, they are darkness; do you, therefore, shew by the light of your good works how base and detestable their works of darkness are. (Estius)

Ver. 14. Rise, thou that sleepest. The sense may be taken from Isaias lx. 1. St. Jerome thinks they may be cited from some work not canonical. (Witham)

Ver. 23. For the husband is the head of the wife. Though St. Paul here speaks of a man, who is a husband, we may rather translate man than husband, being the same sentence and same words as 1 Corinthians xi. 3. where even the Protestant translation has, that the man is head of the woman. — He (Christ) is the saviour of his mystical body, the Church: though some expound it, that the husband is to save and take care of his wife, who is as it were his body. (Witham)

Ver. 24. As the church is subject to Christ. The Church then, according to St. Paul, is ever obedient to Christ: and can never fall from him, but remain faithful to him, unspotted and unchanged to the end of the world. (Challoner)

Ver. 26. Cleansing it by the laver [3] of water, in the word of life. By this washing is generally understood the sacrament of baptism; and by the word of life, not the word of the gospel preached, but the words or form used in the administration of baptism, according to Christ’s institution: but this is not so certain. (Witham)

Ver. 27. Not having spot or wrinkle. St. Augustine and others expound it of the glorious Church of Christ, in heaven: others even of the Church of Christ in this world, as to its doctrine, sacraments, and discipline, or practices approved by the Catholic Church. (Witham)

Ver. 28-31. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. St. Paul would have this a love like that which a man hath for himself, or for his own flesh, when they are now joined in wedlock, and are become as it were one flesh and one person, as to a civil life and society. See Matthew xix. 5. The wife is to be considered as a part of the husband, as a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. The words are to be taken with an allusion to what Adam said, (Genesis ii. 23.) This is now bone of my bones, &c. And so, according to the apostle, speaking figuratively, the Church, which is the spouse of Christ, is framed as it were of his bones and of his flesh sacrificed on the cross. (Witham)

Ver. 32. This….sacrament, (or mystery)….in Christ, and in the Church. This sacrament, in construction, must be referred to what immediately went before, i.e. to the conjunction of marriage betwixt man and wife; and this is called a great sacrament, or mystery, as representing the union or spiritual nuptials of Christ with his spouse, the Church. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 3 and 5. Covetousness, avaritia, pleonexia. See St. Jerome on these verses, who expounds it of an insatiable lust, as to the sins of uncleanness and impurity. (p. 380.) But see also St. Chrysostom who, by pleonexia, (Chap. iv. 19.) expounds, an immoderate desire of riches: chrematon om. ig. (p. 829.) And here, hom. xvii. p. 847, o gar auto chrematon eromen, kai somaton. And hom. xviii, on the fifth verse, he expounds the word, pleonektes, os estin eidololatres, qui est idolatra, of him who is, properly speaking, an avaricious man; who adores mammon, or riches, who takes pains to leave an inheritance to others, and deprives himself of it, &c. (p. 853.) chruso douleuontes, 851.

[2] Ver. 4. Scurrilitas, quć ad rem non pertinet, eutrapelia ta oukanekonta. St. Chrysostom, log. ig. p. 848 and 849, describes the vice of eutrapelia in these words: entha aichrotes, ekei e eutrapelia….e eutrapelia malaken poiei psuchen, &c. …porro touto christianou, to komodein….ei kalon to pragma, ti tois mimois aphietai; …parasiton to pragma, mimon, orcheston, gunaikon, pornon, porro psuches eleutheras, porro eugenous….ei tis aichros, outos kai eutrapelos. Where there is filthiness, there is eutrapelia. It is this that makes the mind effeminate….Far be it from a Christian to play the comedian. If this were commendable, why is it left to buffoons? It is the business of flattering hangers-on, or trencher friends, of fools in a play, of debauched women, but far be it from persons of a higher rank, well born, and of good breeding. If any man be void of honour, void of shame, such a one is given to eutrapelia. A man will scarce find it worth his while to consult the Latin translation in Fronto-Ducćus, which in this and many other places is far from being exact. I know that Aristotle, (lib. iv. de moribus. chap. 14, p. 42. Ed. Aurel. Allobrog.) and St. Thomas Aquinas, the doctor of the schools, (lib. ii. Q. 60. a. 5. and 22.; Q. 168. a. 2.) take eutrapelia in a different sense, when it is a facetious innocent way of jesting, containing rather instructive admonitions; and so, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, it may be reckoned among the moral virtues; but then, even as Aristotle tells us, it must be without all words of immodesty and buffoonery, which is against good manners: otherwise it degenerates into scurrility.

[3] Ver. 26. Lavacro aquć in verbo vitć, to loutro tou udatos en remati loutron, be taken for a bath of water, or the water itself. See Titus iii. 5. Vitć is now wanting in the Greek. See Estius. St. Chrysostom, by the word, understands the form of baptism in the name of the Father, &c. (Hom. xx.)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Exhortations to a virtuous life. The mutual duties of man and wife, by the example of Christ, and of the Church.

1 Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as most dear children:

2 *And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odour of sweetness.

3 *But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as it becometh saints:

4 Nor obscenity, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For know ye this, and understand, that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God.

6 *Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief.

7 Be ye not, therefore, partakers with them.

8 For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk ye as children of the light:

9 For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth:

10 Proving what is acceptable to God:

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

12 For the things that are done by them in secret, it is shameful even to mention.

13 But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light: for all that is made manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith: Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee.

15 See, therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: *not as unwise,

16 But as wise: redeeming the time, for the days are evil.

17 *Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury, but be ye filled with the holy Spirit,

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing, and making melody in your hearts to the Lord,

20 Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father:

21 Being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.

22 *Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord:

23 *For the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things.

25 *Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it,

26 That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

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

29 For no man ever hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 *For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother: and shall adhere to his wife, **and they shall be two in one flesh.

32 This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ, and in the church.

33 Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband.____________________


2: John xiii. 34. and xv. 12.; 1 John iv. 21.

3: Colossians iii. 5.

6: Matthew xxiv. 4.; Mark xiii. 5.; Luke xxi. 8.; 2 Thessalonians ii. 3.

15: Colossians iv. 5.

17: Romans xii. 2.; 1 Thessalonians iv. 3.

22: Genesis iii. 16.; Colossians iii. 18.; 1 Peter iii. 1.

23: 1 Corinthians xi. 3.

25: Colossians iii. 19.

31: Genesis ii. 24.; Matthew xix. 5.; Mark x. 7. — ** 1 Corinthians vi. 16.