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Ephesians 5:18-32

Context
5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which 1  is debauchery, 2  but be filled by the Spirit, 3  5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music 4  in 5  your hearts to the Lord, 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other 6  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 7 

Exhortations to Households

5:22 8 Wives, submit 9  to your husbands as to the Lord, 5:23 because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. 5:24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 5:25 Husbands, love your 10  wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 5:26 to sanctify her by cleansing her 11  with the washing of the water by the word, 5:27 so that he 12  may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 13  5:28 In the same way 14  husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 5:29 For no one has ever hated his own body 15  but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 5:30 for we are members of his body. 16  5:31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become 17  one flesh. 18  5:32 This mystery is great – but I am actually 19  speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

1 tn Grk “in which.”

2 tn Or “dissipation.” See BDAG 148 s.v. ἀσωτία.

3 tn Many have taken ἐν πνεύματι (en pneumati) as indicating content, i.e., one is to be filled with the Spirit. ExSyn 375 states, “There are no other examples in biblical Greek in which ἐν + the dative after πληρόω indicates content. Further, the parallel with οἴνῳ as well as the common grammatical category of means suggest that the idea intended is that believers are to be filled by means of the [Holy] Spirit. If so there seems to be an unnamed agent. The meaning of this text can only be fully appreciated in light of the πληρόω language in Ephesians. Always the term is used in connection with a member of the Trinity. Three considerations seem to be key: (1) In Eph 3:19 the ‘hinge’ prayer introducing the last half of the letter makes a request that the believers ‘be filled with all the fullness of God’ (πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ). The explicit content of πληρόω is thus God’s fullness (probably a reference to his moral attributes). (2) In 4:10 Christ is said to be the agent of filling (with v. 11 adding the specifics of his giving spiritual gifts). (3) The author then brings his argument to a crescendo in 5:18: Believers are to be filled by Christ by means of the Spirit with the content of the fullness of God.”

4 tn See BDAG 1096 s.v. ψάλλω.

5 tn Or “with.”

6 tn Grk “for all.” The form “all” can be either neuter or masculine.

7 sn Eph 5:19-21. In Eph 5:18 the author gives the command to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit. In 5:19-21 there follows five participles: (1) speaking; (2) singing; (3) making music; (4) giving thanks; (5) submitting. These participles have been variously interpreted, but perhaps the two most likely interpretations are (1) the participles indicate the means by which one is filled by the Spirit; (2) the participles indicate the result of being filled by the Spirit. The fact that the participles are present tense and follow the command (i.e., “be filled”) would tend to support both of these options. But it seems out of Paul’s character to reduce the filling of the Spirit to a formula of some kind. To the extent that this is true, it is unlikely then that the author is here stating the means for being filled by the Spirit. Because it is in keeping with Pauline theology and has good grammatical support, it is better to take the participles as indicating certain results of being filled by the Spirit. See ExSyn 639.

8 tn Many scholars regard Eph 5:21 as the verse which introduces this section, rather than 5:22. This is due in part to the lack of a main verb in this verse (see tc note which follows). This connection is not likely, however, because it requires the participle ὑποτασσόμενοι (Jupotassomenoi, “submitting”) in 5:21 to act as the main verb of the section, and this participle more likely is linked to the command “be filled by the Spirit” in 5:18 as a participle of result (see sn above). In any case, 5:21 does form a strong link between 5:18-21 and what follows, so the paragraph division which has been placed between 5:21 and 22 should not be viewed as a complete break in the author’s thought.

9 tc The witnesses for the shorter reading (in which the verb “submit” is only implied) are minimal (Ì46 B Cl Hiermss), but significant and early. The rest of the witnesses add one of two verb forms as required by the sense of the passage (picking up the verb from v. 21). Several of these witnesses have ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (Jupotassesqwsan), the third person imperative (so א A I P Ψ 0278 33 81 1175 1739 1881 al lat co), while other witnesses, especially the later Byzantine cursives, read ὑποτάσσεσθε (Jupotassesqe), the second person imperative (D F G Ï sy). The text virtually begs for one of these two verb forms, but the often cryptic style of Paul’s letters argues for the shorter reading. The chronology of development seems to have been no verb – third person imperative – second person imperative. It is not insignificant that early lectionaries began a new day’s reading with v. 22; these most likely caused copyists to add the verb at this juncture.

10 tn The Greek article has been translated as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

11 tn The direct object “her” is implied, but not found in the Greek text. It has been supplied in the English translation to clarify the sense of the passage.

12 tn The use of the pronoun αὐτός (autos) is intensive and focuses attention on Christ as the one who has made the church glorious.

13 tn Grk “but in order that it may be holy and blameless.”

14 tn Grk “So also.”

15 tn Grk “flesh.”

16 tc Most Western witnesses, as well as the majority of Byzantine mss and a few others (א2 D F G Ψ 0278 0285vid Ï lat), add the following words to the end of the verse: ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων αὐτοῦ (ek th" sarko" autou kai ek twn ostewn autou, “of his body and of his bones”). This is a (slightly modified) quotation from Gen 2:23a (LXX). The Alexandrian text is solidly behind the shorter reading (Ì46 א* A B 048 33 81 1739* 1881 pc). Although it is possible that an early scribe’s eye skipped over the final αὐτοῦ, there is a much greater likelihood that a scribe added the Genesis quotation in order to fill out and make explicit the author’s incomplete reference to Gen 2:23. Further, on intrinsic grounds, it seems unlikely that the author would refer to the physical nature of creation when speaking of the “body of Christ” which is spiritual or mystical. Hence, as is often the case with OT quotations, the scribal clarification missed the point the author was making; the shorter reading stands as original.

17 tn Grk “the two shall be as one flesh.”

18 sn A quotation from Gen 2:24.

19 tn The term “actually” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied in the English translation to bring out the heightened sense of the statement.



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