Ephesians 5:21

There are three points in this exhortation to thanksgiving that arrest our attention, viz. the time, the objects, and the method.

I. THE TIME FOR THANKSGIVING. There is a time for everything. When, therefore, is thanksgiving seasonable? Always. As we should pray without ceasing by living in constant communication with God, so a spirit of gratitude should pervade our whole life and express itself by the brightness and color that it gives to every action (Psalm 34:1). If the context limits the application of St. Paul's words to public worship (ver. 17), the breadth of their incidence is still very significant. Every Christian assembly should be joyous with praise, in every prayer supplication should be mingled with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). There are times when this is difficult, e.g. in trouble and in moods of spiritual depression. But the difficulty would be diminished if we thought less of our own feelings and more of the gifts and deeds of God's goodness. Modern religion is too subjective, and therefore it fluctuates with our varying phases of experience. Thanksgiving should call us out of ourselves to contemplate and praise God. Under the darkest cloud a thankful heart will ace innumerable causes of gratitude. But let our thanksgiving be honest. If we do not feel grateful, do not let us try to force the expression of gratitude.


1. Personal blessings. While we thank God for common gifts to all mankind, our gratitude would be warmer and more genuine if we reflected on the special proofs of his goodness in our own lives.

2. Fresh blessings. If thanksgiving is to be perpetual it must constantly find new food for gratitude. This, of all parts of worship, should not be a mere repetition of old, worn thoughts. Our ideas on this point are too narrowed by conventionality. If we are careful to say grace before meat, why should we not be equally ready to thank God for a good book, a cheerful visit, or a refreshing walk?

3. Things that we cannot see to be blessings. Gratitude for troubles is difficult to realize. It is only possible through faith. But if we believe that God is blessing us in them we should thank him as one would thank a surgeon for even amputating a limb to save his patient's life.


1. It should be offered to God our Father. It is a direct speaking to God. As he is the Father of mercies, his fatherhood should be the attribute that is most in our thoughts when we praise him. We are not rendering adulation to a distant monarch who claims it as the condition of sparing our lives; we are expressing our love and genuine devotion to our Father. There should, therefore, be no cringing abjectness in our worship. It should be cheerful and confident.

2. The thanksgiving is to be given in the Name of Christ; i.e.

(1) in recognition that God's blessings come to us through Christ; and

(2) as receiving and appreciating them in the spirit of Christ. - W.F.A.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
I. In the first place, observe the NECESSITY of the precept. Pride is the great besetting sin of our fallen nature. In our unregenerate state it rules, reigns, and tyrannises; and in our regenerate state, it still harasses, entangles, and tempts us in all we do. Some are proud of their learning, and some of their ignorance. Some are proud of their intellect, and some of their stupidity. Behold then, the necessity of the precept. What is it leads men, beloved, to that insubordination as to ranks in society, that is so very manifest in the present day? What is it leads men to pull down their superiors? What makes men behave so unsuitably to their equals? What makes men look down so on their inferiors? It is the pride of our hearts.

II. But observe, secondly, there is not only a necessity for this precept, but there is an especial SUITABLENESS in it. These are addressed as servants of Christ. What a Master! Why, His whole life was one submission; it was subjection to the work and will of God. Observe, even in His intercession, in His exaltation at the right hand of God, it is according to the will of God. And let me remark this one thing more; not only was our Lord one exhibition of subjection to God His Father, but He was subject unto His parents. More than that, He was subject in a sense to His very disciples. Look into that twenty-second chapter of Luke's Gospel. Oh! blessed truth! may we have grace to learn it out! "There was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."

III. Now see the EXTENT of the precept. Many seem to say that it means submission to the "powers that be" — those in authority, them that have the rule. But that is not the meaning of this passage; and I cannot see any reason to think so for one moment. It takes it in, certainly; it necessarily includes submission to those who are above us; to him who is our superior in age, our superior in position in the Church, our superior in gifts, or our superior in grace. It takes in submission from the wife to the husband; from the children to the parent; and from the servant to the master. But it includes more; for it includes the duty of submission on every part. It is mutual; it is universal; it not only belongs to one party, but it belongs to all; so that each one of God's children shall feel the solemn obligation there is for subjection to those around him. What! does this break in on the different ranks of men? By no means. Does this bring the world into confusion? Masters still remain masters; servants still remain servants. Still, the command — "be subject to the powers that be," "give honour to him to whom honour is due," is a precept for us to obey. Here, then, we have to consider the respectful and affectionate bearing ordered and enjoined by this portion of God's Word to all, without distinction; to those our superiors, to those our equals, and to those who we think beneath us. But observe, why is it added, "in the fear of God"? Is not this a motive? Is not self-consideration enough to give us a motive? This man has many infirmities, manifest infirmities; but how little do I know how much grace he receives from the Lord, hour by hour. Perhaps I should take my place at his feet, instead of placing him at my feet. How little do I know how soon he may have to bear my infirmities? How soon may he have to take up my burden! My dear hearers, yet the great motive here is, submitting "in the fear of God." All these things are motives; yet this motive is especially remarked — "in the fear of God" — as under His eye; remembering, "Thou God seest me."

(J.H. Evans, M.A.)

In the words observe —

1. The connection or dependence; for the construction is continued from that clause, "Be filled with the Spirit, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." The construction is the same. The Spirit's influence is necessary for the duties of our relations, as well as the duties of worship.

2. The substance of the duty — "Submitting yourselves one to another." The exhortation is to mutual submission, keeping the order set by God.

3. The manner of performance — "In the fear of God"; that is, so as they would approve themselves to God, who is the author of all order in every community and society of mankind; and to Him we must give an account as our proper Judge (1 Peter 1:17).That mutual condescension to one another in the duties of our places and relations doth very much become those who are filled with the Spirit.

I. I shall inquire wherein this mutual condescension doth consist? I answer — It may be considered with respect to ecclesiastical, or civil, or economical power.

1. With respect to ecclesiastical power, which must be determined by the nature of that community for which it serveth.

2. There is political or civil power, principally greatness and authority in the civil state. This is the Lord's ordinance, and must be submitted to for God's sake (1 Peter 2:13, 14).

3. There is economical power; that of the husband, parent, master. There are duties which belong to these relations. Well, then, this submission is by discharging the duties we owe to each relation. But why is this called submission?(1) Because superiors have a debt of duty upon them, as well as inferiors, which in some cases is hard to perform. This submission on the superior's part lieth in the faithful and loving discharge of their duty to the meanest within their charge. The husband is to cherish the wife in all conditions, sick and well; masters to stoop to do good to the meanest of their servants, and not rule them according to passion and will; they have souls to save or lose as well as the best of the family, and therefore they are to take care of all of them, that they may serve the Lord, they and all their household; their outward condition doth no way hinder our duty to them.(2) Because this duty calleth upon us for the meanest services for the common good; as when a magistrate defendeth the poor against the mighty, and disdaineth not to appear for his meanest subjects (Job 31:34).(3) With all patience to bear their infirmities.(4) As to equals, there is a submitting ourselves one to another (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3). We are better acquainted with ourselves than others, we want some perfection and accomplishment God bath given to them. We ought to speak of our own gills with modesty, of theirs with charity; to be severe at home, without a jealous inquiry.(5) We are to speak to one another by way of instruction and reproof (Colossians 3:16; Leviticus 19:17), Now it is a submission to take it well.

II. The graces which are necessary for this, to submit ourselves one to another. It is required that we be filled with the spirit. But I answer —

1. Love, which is the cement of human society; for where love reigneth, there will be mutual service and submission (Galatians 5:13).

2. Humility, which is opposite to fastidiousness, disdain, and contempt (1 Peter 5:5).

3. "The fear of God," that is in the text. Now this "in the fear of God" —(1) Noteth the impulsive cause, that obedience to this precept floweth from this cause. It is done in conscience to His command, and then it is acceptable to God.(2) The fear of God is the rule and measure of this submission. As it influenceth, so it limiteth it (Acts 5:29).(3) The fear of God is necessary, and a great help to this duty. (a) Partly to tame that natural fierceness that is in the heart of man, that we may not refuse the yoke; as Nabal was "such a son of Belial, that a man could not speak to him" (1 Samuel 25:17).

2. To check our pride, that we may not be ashamed to serve our neighbour in love.

3. To bridle and curb excess of power.

III. I am now to prove that this is an unquestionable duty.

1. It is required in Scripture (Galatians 5:13).

2. I prove it by example. I shall first produce the example of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:3, 5).

3. Now I shall give you the reasons of this duty.

1. To prevent contempt. Human nature is incapable of bearing it. Whatsoever rank we are in, we should not despise others, but acknowledge the gifts of God in them.

2. Because there are none living whom God alloweth only to live to themselves. We are all bound to promote the common good.

3. Submitting ourselves to one another is required for a supply of mutual necessities. We lack something that the meanest have; if they have strength for labour, others have wisdom and conduct for government. There must be a contemperation; if some are fitted to serve, those that have wealth should bless God that He hath put them into such an able condition to hire their service; if some have wisdom to contrive, others have elocution to recommend a good design; both must serve one another in love.

4. Because of equality; the equity of this mutual submission is built upon a double equality.

1. The actual equality of all men by nature.

2. The possible equality in the course of God's providence.

1. To show how much the Christian religion befriendeth human societies; for we owe duties one to another in our several stations. It is neither injurious to princes nor subjects, but it commandeth everyone to do good according to his calling.

2. Where the fear of God is rooted in the heart of any, it will make him tender and careful of his duty to man, and from a right principle and motive, and in a right manner, and to a right end.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

When a Scottish chieftain desired to summon his clan, upon any emergency, he slew a goat, and making a cress of any light wood, seared its extremities in the fire, and extinguished them in the blood of the animal. This was called the "Fiery Cross," or the "Cross of Shame," because disobedience to what the symbol implied inferred infamy. It was delivered to a swift and trusty messenger, who ran full speed with it to the next hamlet, where he presented it to the principal person, with a single word, implying the place of rendezvous. He who received the symbol was bound to send it forward, with equal despatch, to the next village; and thus it passed with incredible celerity through all the district which owed allegiance to the chief. At sight of the Fiery Cross every man capable of bearing arms was obliged instantly to repair to the place of rendezvous. He who failed to appear suffered the extremities of fire and sword, as indicated by the bloody and burnt marks upon this warlike signal.

(Sir Walter Scott.)

Christians, Ephesians, Paul
Christ, Fear, Letting, Reverence, Ruled, Subject, Subjecting, Submit, Submitting, Yourselves
1. After general exhortations to love;
3. to flee sexual immorality;
4. and all uncleanness;
7. not to converse with the wicked;
15. to walk carefully;
18. and to be filled with the Spirit;
22. he descends to the particular duties, how wives ought to obey their husbands;
25. and husbands ought to love their wives,
32. even as Christ does his church.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ephesians 5:21

     8210   commitment, to God's people
     8223   dedication
     8336   reverence, and obedience
     8337   reverence, and behaviour
     8356   unselfishness
     8475   self-denial

Ephesians 5:20-21

     5763   attitudes, positive to God

Ephesians 5:21-24

     5700   headship
     5765   attitudes, to people

Ephesians 5:21-25

     8471   respect, for human beings

Ephesians 5:21-33

     5959   submission

January 1. "Redeeming the Time" (Eph. v. 16).
"Redeeming the time" (Eph. v. 16). Two little words are found in the Greek version here. They are translated "ton kairon" in the revised version, "Buying up for yourselves the opportunity." The two words ton kairon mean, literally, the opportunity. They do not refer to time in general, but to a special point of time, a juncture, a crisis, a moment full of possibilities and quickly passing by, which we must seize and make the best of before it has passed away. It is intimated that there are not
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

June 27. "Be Filled with the Spirit" (Eph. v. 18).
"Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. v. 18). Some of the effects of being filled with the Spirit are: 1. Holiness of heart and life. This is not the perfection of the human nature, but the holiness of the divine nature dwelling within. 2. Fulness of joy so that the heart is constantly radiant. This does not depend on circumstances, but fills the spirit with holy laughter in the midst of the most trying surroundings. 3. Fulness of wisdom, light and knowledge, causing us to see things as He sees them.
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

April 22. "Christ is the Head" (Eph. v. 23).
"Christ is the head" (Eph. v. 23). Often we want people to pray for us and help us, but always defeat our object when we look too much to them and lean upon them. The true secret of union is for both to look upon God, and in the act of looking past themselves to Him they are unconsciously united. The sailor was right when he saw the little boy fall overboard and waited a minute before he plunged to his rescue. When the distracted mother asked him in agony why he had waited so long, he sensibly replied:
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Third Sunday in Lent
Text: Ephesians 5, 1-9. 1 Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity the Careful Walk of the Christian.
Text: Ephesians 5, 15-21. 15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk [See then that ye walk circumspectly], not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

God's Imitators
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children'--Eph. v. 1. The Revised Version gives a more literal and more energetic rendering of this verse by reading, 'Be ye, therefore, imitators of God, as beloved children.' It is the only place in the Bible where that bold word 'imitate' is applied to the Christian relation to God. But, though the expression is unique, the idea underlies the whole teaching of the New Testament on the subject of Christian character and conduct. To be like God, and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Pleasing Christ
'Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.'--Eph. v. 10. These words are closely connected with those which precede them in the 8th verse--'Walk as children of light.' They further explain the mode by which that commandment is to be fulfilled. They who, as children of light, mindful of their obligations and penetrated by its brightness, seek to conform their active life to the light to which they belong, are to do so by making experiment of, or investigating and determining, what is 'acceptable
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Unfruitful Works of Darkness
'And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.'--Eph. v. 11. We have seen in a former sermon that 'the fruit,' or outcome, 'of the Light' is a comprehensive perfection, consisting in all sorts and degrees of goodness and righteousness and truth. Therefore, the commandment, 'Walk as children of the light,' sums up all Christian morality. Is there need, then, for any additional precept? Yes; for Christian people do not live in an empty world. If there were
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Sleepers at Noonday
'Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,'--Eph. v. 14. This is the close of a short digression about 'light.' The 'wherefore' at the beginning of my text seems to refer to the whole of the verses that deal with that subject. It is as if the Apostle had said, 'I have been telling you about light and its blessed effects. Now I tell you how you may win it for yours. The condition on which it is to be received by men is that they awake
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

What Children of Light Should Be
'Walk as children of light.'--Eph. v. 8. It was our Lord who coined this great name for His disciples. Paul's use of it is probably a reminiscence of the Master's, and so is a hint of the existence of the same teachings as we now find in the existing Gospels, long before their day. Jesus Christ said, 'Believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light'; and Paul gives substantially the same account of the way by which a man becomes a Son of the Light when he says, in the words preceding
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Fruit of the Light
'The fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.'--Eph. v. 9 (R.V.). This is one of the cases in which the Revised Version has done service by giving currency to an unmistakably accurate and improved reading. That which stands in our Authorised Version, 'the fruit of the Spirit' seems to have been a correction made by some one who took offence at the violent metaphor, as he conceived it, that 'light' should bear 'fruit' and desired to tinker the text so as to bring it into
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Paul's Reasons for Temperance
'And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16. Redeeming the time, because the days
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Redeeming the Time
'See, then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.'--Eph. v. 15, 16. Some of us have, in all probability, very little more 'time' to 'redeem.' Some of us have, in all probability, the prospect of many years yet to live. For both classes my text presents the best motto for another year. The most frivolous among us, I suppose, have some thoughts when we step across the conventional boundary that seems to separate the unbroken sequence
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

On Marriage.
TEXT: EPH. v. 22-31. IN completing lately the annual round of our Christian holy-days, I expressed to you the wish that the holy emotions which our hearts experience at such seasons might not pass away with them; but that the impressions then made might accompany us during the other half of the year, so that without any extraordinary festival incitement we might constantly retain a more lively sense of communion with the Redeemer, and a fuller enjoyment of what the eternal Father has done through
Friedrich Schleiermacher—Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher

The Light of God
Preached for the Chelsea National Schools.] Ephesians v. 13. All things which are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever is made manifest is light. This is a noble text, a royal text; one of those texts which forbid us to clip and cramp Scripture to suit any narrow notions of our own; which open before us boundless vistas of God's love, of human knowledge, of the future of mankind. There are many such texts, many more than we fancy; but this is one which is especially valuable
Charles Kingsley—Sermons for the Times

Against Foolish Talking and Jesting.
"Nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient."-- Ephes. v.4. Moral and political aphorisms are seldom couched in such terms that they should be taken as they sound precisely, or according to the widest extent of signification; but do commonly need exposition, and admit exception: otherwise frequently they would not only clash with reason and experience, but interfere, thwart, and supplant one another. The best masters of such wisdom are wont to interdict things, apt by unseasonable
Isaac Barrow—Sermons on Evil-Speaking, by Isaac Barrow

Sensual and Spiritual Excitement.
Preached August 4, 1850. SENSUAL AND SPIRITUAL EXCITEMENT. "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."--Ephesians v. 17, 18. There is evidently a connection between the different branches of this sentence--for ideas cannot be properly contrasted which have not some connection--but what that connection is, is not at first sight clear. It almost appears like a profane and irreverent juxtaposition
Frederick W. Robertson—Sermons Preached at Brighton

Members of Christ
"For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."--Ephesians 5:30. YESTERDAY, when I had the painful task of speaking at the funeral of our dear friend, Mr. William Olney, I took the text which I am going to take again now. I am using it again because I did not then really preach from it at all, but simply reminded you of a favorite expression of his, which I heard from his lips many times in prayer. He very frequently spoke of our being one with Christ in "living, loving, lasting
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Living, Loving, Lasting Union
With new portraits of Pastor C. H. Spurgeon and Mr. William Olney "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones--Ephesians 5:30. BEFORE the funeral, at Norwood Cemetery, of the late Mr. William Olney, senior deacon of the church at the metropolitan Tabernacle, a service was held in the Tabernacle. The building was crowded with sympathizing friends, who came to testify the affection they bore to the beloved deacon who had been so suddenly called from their midst. The senior Pastor
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Wary Walking.
(Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.) EPHESIANS v. 15. "See then that ye walk circumspectly." Some people tell us that salvation is the easiest thing in the world. We have only to feel that we believe in Jesus Christ, and all is done. Now neither Jesus Christ Himself, nor the Apostles whom He sent to teach, tell us anything of the kind. On the contrary, our Saviour, whilst He dwells on the fulness and freedom of salvation, offered to all without money, and without price, tells us that many are called,
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

Tenth Day. Love to the Brethren.
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us."--Eph. v. 2. "Jesus," says a writer, "came from heaven on the wings of love." It was the element in which he moved and walked. He sought to baptize the world afresh with it. When we find Him teaching us by love to vanquish an enemy, we need not wonder at the tenderness of His appeals to the brethren to "love one another." Like a fond father impressing his children, how the Divine Teacher lingers over the lesson, "This is My commandment!" If
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

"For to be Carnally Minded is Death; but to be Spiritually Minded is Life and Peace. "
Rom. viii. 6.--"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." It is true, this time is short, and so short that scarce can similitudes or comparisons be had to shadow it out unto us. It is a dream, a moment, a vapour, a flood, a flower, and whatsoever can be more fading or perishing; and therefore it is not in itself very considerable, yet in another respect it is of all things the most precious, and worthy of the deepest attention and most serious consideration;
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"If So be that the Spirit of God Dwell in You. Now if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is None of His. "
Rom. viii. 9.--"If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." There is a great marriage spoken of, Eph. v. that hath a great mystery in it, which the apostle propoundeth as the sample and archetype of all marriages or rather as the substance, of which all conjunctions and relations among the creatures are but the shadows. It is that marriage between Christ and his church, for which, it would appear, this world was builded, to be
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"The Truth. " Some Generals Proposed.
That what we are to speak to for the clearing and improving this noble piece of truth, that Christ is the Truth, may be the more clearly understood and edifying, we shall first take notice of some generals, and then show particularly how or in what respects Christ is called the Truth; and finally speak to some cases wherein we are to make use of Christ as the Truth. As to the first. There are four general things here to be noticed. 1. This supposeth what our case by nature is, and what we are all
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

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