5:4 jesting. It seems surprising at first glance that “foolish talking” and “jesting” would be condemned as in the same category of sins as fornication and filthiness. Nevertheless, there are many Biblical warnings against “every idle word” (e.g., Matthew 12:36), and it may be significant that the only Biblical reference to “jesting” is a warning against it. There are also many such Biblical commands as: “Let your speech be alway with grace” (e.g., Colossians 4:6). It seems that the popularity of many Christian speakers today is measured by the amount of humorous anecdotes and witticisms they can inject into their messages, but one never finds this element in the sermons of Christ, the letters of Paul or anywhere in the Bible. Sin and salvation are sober, serious issues.
5:4 convenient. That is, “appropriate” or “fitting.”
5:5 idolater. Another surprising revelation is that “covetousness” is equivalent to “idolatry.” In fact, “Thou shalt not covet” is the last of God’s ten commandments (Exodus 20:17), whereas the first two are commands against idolatry (Exodus 20:3-5). Covetousness, in God’s sight, is equivalent to the worship of the creation more than the Creator (Romans 1:25), the same as the worship of other aspects of nature as personified in various gods and goddesses. The god of money and material things is Mammon, and Jesus stressed that “ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
5:8 children of light. A number of beautiful metaphors are used in the Bible to apply to those who have become “children of God” (I John 3:10) by the new birth. They are “children of the day” (I Thessalonians 5:5), “children of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38), and children of wisdom (Matthew 11:19), among others. In contrast, note also the metaphors applied to the “children of wrath” (see note on Ephesians 2:3).
5:10 acceptable. Compare Romans 12:1-2. “Proving” is “demonstrating” and “knowing.”
5:11 reprove. The Christian should not only refuse to compromise with the “unfruitful works of darkness,” but openly reprove and rebuke them.
5:14 he saith. This quotation is evidently a rather free translation and interpretation of Isaiah 60:1-3, as used and applied by the Holy Spirit.
5:16 Redeeming the time. Note also Colossians 4:5. Time is our most valuable possession and should not be squandered. Lost health can often be regained, and so can money and earthly possessions, but time wasted is gone forever. See notes on Psalm 90:10-12.
5:18 drunk with wine. The first command here could better be translated: “Do not begin to be drunk with wine.” Since even a small amount of an intoxicant has a damaging effect on the brain, this command in effect calls for total abstinence from alcohol. Proverbs 23:31 warns against even looking on the wine, lest it tempt one to drink.
5:18 filled. The connotation of “filled” here is “be being filled.” That is, the filling with the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience, like the baptism of the Spirit into the body of Christ. Instead, we are urged to be continually being filled with the Spirit—that is, controlled by the Spirit. In a way analogous to how alcohol may control a person’s thoughts and actions, the better way is to allow the Holy Spirit to have control. The word “filled” is the same as “fulfilled.”
5:19 Speaking to yourselves. Ephesians 5:19-21 illustrates what the Spirit-filled life will be. Ephesians 5:19 applies not so much to congregational singing, as to “melody in your heart.” Such a life will be fruitful (Ephesians 5:9), active (Ephesians 5:16), understanding (Ephesians 5:17), joyful (Ephesians 5:19), thankful (Ephesians 5:20), and submissive (Ephesians 5:21). It will also be bold in witnessing (Acts 4:31).
5:20 Giving thanks always. This all-inclusive command to thankfulness for everything is found frequently in the New Testament (e.g., Philippians 4:6, I Thessalonians 5:18). To obey this command would be clearly impossible apart from a strong belief in Jesus Christ as both omnipotent Creator and living Savior. But with this assurance, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), and therefore can be thankful for “all things.”
5:22 Wives, submit yourselves. The instructions concerning the proper relations between husbands and wives—the wife submitting to her husband, the husband loving his wife with deeply sacrificial love—found in Ephesians 5:22-33 should be understood as included in the exhortation to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). They follow both from the original created purpose for men and women (Ephesians 5:30-31) and the relation between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:25-27).
5:26 by the word. Sanctification and cleansing of “the church”—which certainly must include individual members—is accomplished through the Word. Note also John 17:17.
5:27 glorious church. There is no spotless church in existence today, but when Christ returns, “we shall be like Him” (I John 3:2), and shall all be in “the general assembly and church of the firstborn;” with “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23).
5:29 spiritual songs. The words “psalms” and “hymns” are transliterations from the Greek, and “songs” (Greek ode) is a generic term for songs in general, thus needing modification by “spiritual” in this context.
5:29 hated his own flesh. A modern pseudo-psychological cliche is that the troubles in modern life are due to lack of “self-love” in criminals and anti-social misfits. The Scriptural fact is, however, that no man hates himself—everyone loves himself too much. The first prophesied characteristic of the “perilous” last days is that “men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).
5:30 his bones. See Genesis 2:23. The amazing truth of the union of Christ and His church thus is tied to the historical reality of the union of Adam and Eve. Just as Adam gave himself for Eve, so that she could be given life from his opened side, so “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
5:31 father and mother. This phrase is cited from Genesis 2:24. This passage was also quoted by Christ in His teaching on the permanence of marriage (Matthew 19:5-6). Thus both Christ and Paul confirmed the historicity and vital significance of the Genesis record of the creation of man.