The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15-21 (Ephesians 5:15-21)

Walk circumspectly, or strictly.

The apostle goes on to urge a circumspect, wise, and earnest life, closely conformed in all things to the will of God, fashioned according to that idea of wisdom which is set forth in the proverb, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Nothing is of more value than fixed principles for guiding our life. One settled conviction may be of inestimable value; e . g . the conviction that nothing can come to any good in the end which is against the will of God. Whenever greatness is achieved in any sphere of life it is through the force of well-kept rules. Every great author, artist, statesman, has owed his success to certain principles of action to which he has rigidly adhered. It has been remarked that the puritan age was an age of convictions; ours is an age of opinions. But what we need is convictions, and pre-eminently the conviction that the only true, safe, and blessed rule of life is to follow implicitly the will of God. We find here rules for a careful Christian life,

I. APART .

1. Walk circumspectly, or strictly, not carelessly.

2. Walk wisely, taking pains to ascertain that you so walk as to gain the great end.

3. Redeem the time, or buy back the opportunity (see Exposition).

4. Understand; i.e. lay to heart and follow the will of Christ.

5. Avoid intoxication and all wild excitement and unhallowed pleasure.

6. Be filled with the Spirit, and the holy, blessed emotions which he genders.

II. IN CHRISTIAN SOCIETY .

1. Cultivate Christian song, and make melody in your heart to the Lord.

2. Let thanksgiving have a special place in your exercises.

3. Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.

As Christians have not only duties, but also joys, belonging to their individual life, so they have both duties and joys belonging to their social life. What is most characteristic of the social duties of Christians is mutual submission; consideration of one another—of what is due by one to another, and still more of the loving service which one may be able to render to the other. What is most characteristic of their social joys is the element of thankfulness in which they flourish; they should ever live as those, who in Christ have received mercies beyond all calculation; and they should make abundant use of song to give expression to such feelings and to deepen them in so doing. This joyous element goes a long way to give brightness to the social life of Christians; they will not miss the more carnal delights on which worldly men set so much store, but will feel that God puts joy in their hearts, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15-16 (Ephesians 5:15-16)

The circumspect walk.

I. ITS NECESSITY . The duty of reproof involved the necessity of circumspection in those who were bound to administer it. It may be a small thing to Christians "to be judged of man's judgment" ( 1 Corinthians 4:3 ), yet they cannot afford to disregard the force of public opinion. They ought to "have a good report of them which are without" ( 1 Timothy 3:7 ). It is evidently with reference to onlookers that the counsel of the apostle is given. "Walk m wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" ( Colossians 4:5 ). When we consider the number of our enemies, the inconstancy of our minds, the strictness of the Divine requirements, and the jealousy our Divine Master cherishes over his people, it is impossible to walk acceptably unless we walk circumspectly.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS WALK . We are to "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise."

1. We are to have knowledge of the true way ( Jeremiah 6:16 ; Matthew 7:14 ), not as the fool, who misses the path.

2. We are to follow the light that falls upon our path , not like the fool, who turns aside to darkness, only to stumble in it ( Proverbs 4:27 ).

3. We are to foresee the dangers of the way and provide against them , not like "the simple, who pass on and are punished" ( Proverbs 22:3 ).

4. We are to have the Lord for our Companion by the way , like "Enoch, who walked with God" ( Genesis 5:22 ). The fool seeks the company of the foolish.

5. We are to keep in view the end of our walk . "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" ( 1 Peter 1:9 ).

III. THE APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE TO THE PROFITABLE USE OF OPPORTUNITY . "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." There can be no wise or careful walking without a due consideration both of the value of time and of the importance of using our opportunities for doing good.

1. The nature of this redemption of time . It is not the mere effort to rescue the fleeting hours of our life from idleness, vanity, distraction, or excessive devotion to business, but an effort to lay hold of opportunities for doing good, to make the most of them, to allow no distractions of pleasure or life to stand in the way of their right employment. Jesus, in his extreme youth, was eager to be "about his Father's business" ( Luke 2:49 ). We are to do good unto all men "as we have opportunity" ( Galatians 6:10 ). We are to do good to our very enemies, after the example of that Father who "maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and the good" ( Matthew 5:45 ). We are to use our opportunities also for receiving good, giving all diligence to make our calling and our election sure ( 2 Peter 1:10 ).

2. Reasons for redeeming the time . "Because the days are evil." It is not because our days are few, though that is also a very good reason.

The reason assigned by the apostle is the evil of the days. Time must not be lost if the evil is to be quickly and effectively counteracted. The apostle does not hint the nature of the evil. Yet it is allowable to suppose that the days were evil, not in themselves, but by reason of man's wickedness and folly.

There is, therefore, all the more reason for Christians bestirring themselves in all seasons and spheres of action to counteract the evil of the days.—T.C.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:1-16 (Ephesians 5:1-16)

The love and the wrath of God enforcing morality.

Paul is still working for the unity of the Church and calling for that watchful and pure walk on the part of the Ephesians which can alone promote it. He consequently brings to bear upon them the allied motives of the love and the wrath of God. And here we may remark, in passing, that the moralities which have tried to work themselves without the aid of Divine sanctions have proved practically powerless. No "independent morality" has as yet rendered any appreciable service to the world. We still need to be overshadowed by the Divine. Paul, moreover, begins with love, and then passes on to the fact of the Divine wrath. And—

I. THE LOVE OF GOD PATERNAL AND FRATERNAL SHOULD MOVE US TO MUTUAL LOVE .

(Verses 1, 2.) The Ephesians are exhorted to follow their Divine Father as dear children. The constant love of the heavenly Father lights all the children on their way and rebukes their want of love. The first motive in this section is, therefore, paternal love a call to children of God to be loving like their Father in heaven. But the second motive is from the fraternal love of Christ, which led him out of consideration for us to "give himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell" (Revised Version). The self-sacrifice of Christ, we are here taught, was a very precious offering in the Father's sight. In the cross the Father for the first time saw perfect obedience carried up to the point and in the article of death. While in one aspect Jesus realized the Father's wrath on the cross, because the Substitute for sinners, in another aspect he was contemplated by the Father with the utmost complacency. Self-sacrifice is fully appreciated by our Father in heaven. Now, if God regarded with infinite delight the self-sacrifice of the only begotten Son for the sake of his brethren, there is no way in which we can delight our Father so much as by following in the Elder Brother's footsteps and being ready to sacrifice ourselves out of love to the brethren. What a spirit this would infuse into our Church life! Harless notices that in this passage Christ is really represented as both Priest and Victim. In the same way we may delight the mind of God in being victims and priests in our loving relations to the brethren.

II. THE WRATH OF GOD IS A REALITY TOWARDS THE COVETOUS AND UNCLEAN .

(Verses 3-7.) The idea that God will not be angry with wicked men must be dismissed from all minds, Righteous indignation against certain forms of evil is an experience of a most imperative and holy character. We should lose our reverence for a God who did not become angry with sinners. It was the more needful to affirm this truth at Ephesus, since the deities of heathenism were supposed to be addicted to such crimes as uncleanness and covetousness. Olympus was filled, by the impure imaginations of men, with a set of men and women who were for the most part fit for penitentiaries and state prisons. Morality received no backing from the mythology. But the thought that a God so loving as our heavenly Father is wrathful with the covetous and the unclean, and allows his wrath to burn against them, is surely calculated to wean men from such sins. There seems to have been insinuations in Paul's time that the Divine wrath against impurity and covetousness was mythical, just as such insinuation prevails at present. But surely the frightful punishment which these sins entail in the order of nature speak to the spirit of man about the reality of the Divine wrath. Not all the ameliorations of science can bring it about that men can so sin with impunity; the unclean are cursed in the very nature of things with a grievous curse, and the covetous suffer of necessity in their pinched and miserly souls. God is an angry God against those who love sin, and our only course is to forsake it. Hapless and Olshausen believe the word here rendered "covetousness" to mean in this connection "intemperance," the desire, not for gold, but for fleshly gratification—the making a god of the belly, and so an idolatry. Of course, if this sense be taken of πλεονεξία , it agrees better with the context and makes more emphatic Paul's appeal for purity. Do we make as much in these days of the Divine wrath as we should? As the love-pain of God, as one writer has called it, it is surely well fitted to enforce morality.

III. PAUL FURTHER SHOWS THAT THE DEEDS OF DARKNESS ARE UNFRUITFUL . (Verses 8-11.) He tells the Ephesians they were once in darkness, and did these deeds of darkness. But they have come into the light which is shed upon our path by our radiant Lord. They must walk, consequently as children of the light, remembering that the fruit of the light (so Revised Version) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. Thus they would prove what is well-pleasing unto the Lord. In so doing they would have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but would rather reprove them. Now, in arguing that the works of darkness are "unfruitful," Paul is advocating morality on the ground of expediency. He has already applied the Divine sanctions, but he does not hesitate to back these up by showing that what God wills is good. Natural law endorses the Divine precepts. But this is quite distinct from the position that the natural law can secure obedience when it stands alone. All experience disproves this. Utilitarianism is not a sufficiently broad basis for a sound morality. But the expediency of moral rectitude is an important argument in its favor. Sooner or later a man who commits deeds of darkness finds he has made a mistake.

IV. BUT IT IS A PURE LIFE WHICH WILL REALLY REPROVE THEM .

(Verses 12-14.) It is thought sometimes by superficial people that accurate descriptions of the deeds of darkness will do something to disgust people with them. But this is Satan advising man again to become wiser by eating forbidden fruit. Paul's opinion is that it is a shame to speak and therefore to think of what is done by the sinful in secret. All the prurient curiosity which feasts itself like flies on foul corruption is of the devil The true plan, therefore, is not to mention such matters. Let them be buried in oblivion, but let Christians awake from all lethargic slumber, and arise from the corruption of spiritual death, and in the light of Christ live purely. Thus shall the deeds of darkness be reproved. All that we have to do then is to carry in the light, and the darkness and its deeds will stand convicted before us. The Ephesians are to indulge in no scandalous conversation under the pretence of defeating the doers of the dark deeds; but they are to walk in the light of Christ and be pure, and lo! the sinners shall hide themselves before them.

V. TIME MAY BE REDEEMED BY HOLY LIVING .

(Verses 15, 16.) There has been some discussion as to the exact meaning of "time" in this passage. Hapless is clearly of opinion—in which, as in most matters, he is followed by his French disciple, M. Monod—that "opportunity" ( der rechte Zeitpunkt ) best expresses τὸν καιρόν . Paul is consequently anxious that in evil days, such as those upon which the Ephesians have fallen, they should be watchful and wise enough to "buy up eagerly their opportunity," and do the best they can for their age. This is by holy living. There is no other way of understanding the times and fulfilling our course in them. It will thus be seen that Paul appeals to the Ephesians, by both the love and wrath of God, by the expediency and power of a pure life, to walk worthy of their high calling. In this way he expects to enlist them in the great army of united and brotherly souls who are gathering round Jesus our King and Head. May we all respond to his appeal! £ —R.M.E.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15-21 (Ephesians 5:15-21)

Exhortation to exercise wisdom in regard to our manner of walk.

"Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise." The object to which we are to look is this—how we walk; in other words, the conduct of our life. In regard to this we are to be careful. At cross-roads there are sometimes finger-posts put up to indicate where the different roads lead to, that travelers may be at no loss. By looking carefully at these, they may save themselves much trouble and delay. So it becomes every traveler to eternity to know the road that he is taking, whether it is the narrow or the broad. There are finger-posts put up by God (in the Word) by which we may ascertain this and put ourselves right if we have to our grief taken the wrong road. But, seeing many do not make use of these finger-posts (do not look at them at all, or only carelessly, and thus exhibit great folly), the exhortation takes the negative as well as the positive form. "Not as unwise, but as wise." The word translated "carefully" may also be translated "precisely," and suggests this, that we are not only to look to the general correctness of our conduct, but to look to it down to the smallest details. It is only by thus going carefully over it in detail, with no foregone conclusion in our mind, but earnestly seeking God to search us and to discover to us what can be altered for the better, that we may be able to bring it out into some beauty of conception as a whole. There are two things in regard to which we are to exercise wisdom .

I. TIME . "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." The right management of our time is what we are particularly to look to. The exhortation is to redeem the time, that is, the time meted out to us on earth, in which to fulfill the Divine purposes. Literally, as given in the margin, we are to buy up the opportunity. The idea is that every moment has its own duty assigned to it. By doing the duty in the moment, we make a purchase of the opportunity, we turn it into a gain. We keep abreast of time; we avoid subsequent collision of duties. Whereas by not doing the duty in the moment, we contract debt, we fall behind. Instead of being the free owners of our time, we become slavish debtors to it. We are to be like merchants that seize every vantage that is going. Merchants, that travel about from place to place, do not get a vantage at every turn. They must lay their account by an amount of fruitless toil. But as heavenly merchants, we are in this enviable position, that every moment comes laden with golden opportunity. And we are to make our moments as they pass rich in all the gains of a good life.

1. Good planning . If we would redeem the time in its days, then we must anticipate them by wise economical arrangements. We must see them coming, and know how (God willing) we are to fill them up. The light that we have got from past days we are to put into some workable scheme for the days to come. To the excellence of a day-plan it is essential that we rightly proportion between the various duties of life (so that none are left out or do not get their proper place). We are to keep up the right proportion between our severer and our lighter engagements . It behooves every one to have a task, a definite task, a task that taxes his energies. And if he does not have it by necessity of procuring his daily bread, yet should he have it by necessity of steadying himself. But it is not good for the bow to be always bent, and, if we manage well, we shall find time (and find it good for the doing of our task too) to relax ourselves in social enjoyment. We are also to keep up the right proportion between our religious and our secular duties . The latter, as a general arrangement, must take up a large proportion of our time. Six to one is the proportion indicated in the command. But in every well-planned life there will be found ample time for religious duties. Every day is to begin with an acknowledgment of God. It may seem utopian to expect morning devotions of one who has to be at his work at six o'clock. And yet it only requires a little taken off sleep or off the previous evening to secure the necessary time for God. And surely that is not too much to expect of any Christian in the interest of a well-ordered life. Morning devotions alone will not make the day good. Only when these have been conscientiously engaged in there will be felt to be an obligation to make the day's work harmonize with them. The evening may be utilized for self-improvement and ministries to others. And the day is to end, as it began, with God. It is only by such planning (in the name of him who is not the author of confusion), that we can expect to be like merchants accumulating a large fortune.

2. Good planning followed up by decisiveness in execution . There is a reason given for redeeming the time: "Because the days are evil." The very earth has taken a complexion from the degeneracy of the dwellers on it. And so our days are evil, and not such as they would have been under normal conditions.

II. WINE .

1. Dissuasive from false excitement . "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot." It is evident from the language which is here employed that the wine drunk in those times was intoxicating. The apostolic advice must be regarded as even more applicable to drinks of stronger intoxicating qualities, which are manufactured now. It has its application to the intoxicating cup of the world in every form—to the intoxication of novel-reading, to the intoxication of keenness in business, to the intoxication of political excitement. This advice is not inaptly connected with the previous advice as to the right management of time. For it is when time is not properly filled up, when it is insipid, monotonous, or when it is filled up with wrong-doing, that there is the temptation to go after some form or other of earthly excitement. It cannot be said that the use of wine at all is forbidden by this precept. But there is certainly sounded in connection with it the note of alarm. There is put up beside it the red flag of danger. " Be not drunken with wine ." Drunkenness is the feverish desire, the morbid craving, for drink. The man with his noble powers becomes one huge, ever-seeking, never-satisfied appetite. It is a vice into which all classes are in danger of falling. If the idle take to drinking to relieve the tedium of existence, the overwrought take to it to make up exhausted strength. The young take to it from a love of excitement, and the aged and debilitated take to it to get new tone to their system. Men of a coarse nature take to it because they are incapable of higher pleasures, and men of fine sensibility take to it because it is a source of inspiration to the intellect. Men of social tendencies take to it because it helps good fellowship; and the saddest thing is that women take to it in private, because of a peculiarly sensitive frame and inequalities of feeling. It is a vice, then, which must be said to be of a peculiarly fascinating, dangerous nature. And let no one think that he is out of danger. Many of those who have fallen were not like failing at first. They did not take drink at all for a time, and their friends had hope in them that they would prove temperate men. And when (with other social surroundings in some cases) they began to make any use of it, they seemed to be taking it in a perfectly innocent or needful way, until the liking was formed, and they could not do without a certain and an increasing amount of drink. Now, let it be observed on what ground the apostle condemns drunkenness. It is in the line of his thought that we are to exercise wisdom as to our manner of walk. Wherein , he says, is riot . Drunkenness is a madness. There is a form of it to which this description is specially applicable, that which is known as delirium tremens . But even in its ordinary working it has a close resemblance to madness. It takes away from men the guiding power of reason, their self-possession, their self-restraint, and leads them to make such exhibitions of themselves as in their calm moments they would be ashamed of. "Riot," which is the word employed in the Revised translation, is defined by Johnson to be "wild and loose festivity."

"When his headstrong riot hath no curb,

When rage and hot blood are his counselors,

When means and lavish manners meet together."

"So senseless of expense

That he will know neither how to maintain it

Nor cease his flow of riot."

He spends on self-indulgence what, if saved, would not only increase the comfort of his home, but would do much good besides. The drunkard is prodigal of his time , and thus violates the previous precept. The golden opportunity, which he might employ for informing his mind or instructing his children, he wastes in the public-house. The drunkard is prodigal of the stuff of which his frame is made . He wastes his physical powers, takes away his clearness of head, his steadiness of hand, and his general vigor, induces disease and premature death (again violating the previous precept in throwing away years that in the paths of temperance would have been his). The drunkard is prodigal of his worth to his fellows , as the temperate man is preservative in this respect. When the Indian general saw disaster waiting on his country's arms, because, alas! in an emergency his regiments were found besotted with drink, "Call out Havelock's saints!" he exclaimed; " they are never drunk, and Havelock is always ready." The drunkard is prodigal of his better feelings . He deadens his home feelings. He does not value the society of his wife and children; he does not study their happiness; nay, he can see them want in order that he may be gratified. He deadens his spiritual sensibilities. And to his wife the most dreadful thought may be, not that she is set aside or the children neglected, but that for his idol he is casting off his God.

2. Persuasive to true excitement . "But be filled with the Spirit." The apostle does not forbid all excitement; rather for the excitement which he negatives as false would he substitute a true excitement.

(a) Singing . It is known how to take advantage of harmonious sound in encouraging men to go into battle in "the shrill trump, the spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife." It is also known how to use it as an auxiliary in the service of superstition, revelry, and vice. And God, in his infinite wisdom, has seen fit to make use of the same instrumentality. In the old Jewish temple four thousand Levites, an entire fourth division of them, were employed in connection with the service of praise. God has inspired and enabled men to write psalms and hymns for the sanctuary; and he has also enabled men to compose suitable music for them. The singing of musical words, with or without an instrumental accompaniment, has a wonderful power in stirring emotion, in waking sweet and glad memories, and even in exciting the imagination in a certain vagueness and immensity which belongs to the sounds. As in a sea-shell pressed to the ear we are said to hear the sound of the ocean from which it has come, So in the sweet strains of music may we hear a sounding as from the eternal shores.

"Thou, Lord, art the Father of music:

Sweet sounds are a whisper from thee."

In an elevated mood (as here supposed) we naturally give expression to our feelings in song. "Is any cheerful? let him sing praise."

( α ) Singing together . "Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Men, under the excitement of the Spirit, delight to sing spiritual songs (as distinguished from the songs of the drunkard). Under this come the psalms in their grand historic position. And there also come hymns, that is, songs other than the psalms, which are used in praise. We are to speak one to another by means of these. Pliny records of the early Christians that they were wont on a fixed day to meet before daylight (to avoid persecution), and to recite a hymn among themselves by turns to Christ as to God. Luther greatly advanced the cause of the Reformation by his hymns, which were sung at the firesides of the people. How we can thus breathe the spirit of confidence, of courage, of hope, into one another! Having encouraged ourselves in the Rock of our strength, we turn and thus speak to our fellow-worshippers, one to the rest, or one section to another—

"Ye people, place your confidence

In him continually;

Before him pour ye out your heart:

God is our Refuge high."

( β ) Singing with the heart . "Singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." Singing together can only occupy a small proportion of our time. But in our other engagements we may be so full of trust, so free from care, that we sing with the heart. And the song that we sing all day is set to the Name of Christ, to the work of redemption.

"There are in this low stunning tide

Of human care and crime,

With whom the melodies abide Of the everlasting chime;

Who carry music in their heart

Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,

Plying their daily task with busier feet

Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat?"

(b) Thanksgiving . "Giving thanks always for all things, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." This is another beautiful manifestation of spiritual excitement. In our higher moods we naturally turn to God in joyful gratitude. Thanksgiving (to which the drunkard must be a stranger, for he abuses his mercies), like song, is to run like a golden thread through the whole of our life. In the depths of our heart we can be always thankful, though the language of thankfulness cannot be always on our lips. We have to thank God that a joyful thrill of the Spirit can pass through our being, better than of wine. We have to thank God for innumerable mercies.

"New mercies each returning day

Hover around us while we pray;

New perils past, new sins forgiven,

New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven."

We have to thank God even for our afflictions, which are blessings in disguise; for though, in so far as they are evil, we are to be reconciled to them, yet we have to thank God for that which is good in them, viz. the merciful design, the accompanying comfort, the resulting benefit. And as we receive all only through Christ, so we are to give thanks to the Father in the Name of Christ.

(c) Subjection . "Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ." It seems strange that this should be mentioned as one of the manifestations of spiritual elevation. We can only think of it in this way. As men under the excitement of wine are apt to be self-assertive, heady, so under the excitement of the Spirit we have such a fund of joy in ourselves that we are content to fall into every position of subjection in which God would place us. The particulars of this subjection follow; it here only concerns us to note the peculiar feeling which is associated with it, viz. the fear of Christ. We know that from all the joy of his first visit as a youth to the temple, the joy of his being there about his Father's business, he could go down and be subject to his parents. And we know that, amid all the rapture of the transfiguration, he could yet think of subjection to the Father's will in his decease. As, then, we reverence Christ and fear to offend him, let us (with all that we experience of the higher excitement) be subject one to another.—R.F.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15-21 (Ephesians 5:15-21)

(2) Two worlds of one race.

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 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; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.' All these verses must be brought in under the same heading as the verses discussed in our preceding article, viz . —Two worlds of one race . These verses continue to indicate the duties pertaining to the world of Christian men. The duties, which we previously discussed, were separation , reprehension , illumination , and resuscitation ; the duties which we have now to notice are Christian consistency , holy excitement , and social worship .

I. CHRISTIAN CONSISTENCY . "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." The verses teach that walking strictly in harmony with the Christian creed implies:

1. Wisdom . "Not as fools, but as wise." A conduct inconsistent with the Christian creed we profess is exceedingly foolish.

Hypocrisy is in every way unwise .

2. Diligence . "Redeeming the time"—"Buying up opportunities." How is time to be redeemed? Not by regaining any portion of the past. The past is irrecoverably gone. Not by inoperative regrets concerning the wrong of the past. Not by mere sentimental desires that the future may be better. How then?

" Because the days are evil," says Paul. The times in which Paul wrote were corrupt; our times are corrupt. There are several things that make our times evil.

3. Inquiry . "Understanding what the will of the Lord is." God has a will concerning us, and it is our duty to endeavor to understand it, and for this purpose we must inquire into it.

II. HOLY EXCITEMENT . "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." This verse suggests several thoughts.

1. Man has an instinctive craving for excitement . The words evidently imply this. Paul assumes that his readers must have excitement, in telling them in what they should and in what they should not find it. Excitement is a necessity of our nature. The soul has a deep hunger for it.

2. Man has recourse to improper expedients for excitement . "Be not drunk with wine." Wine stimulates excitement. It quickens the pulse, it heats the blood, it fires the passions. Hence men like it. They use it, not for the sake of intoxication, but excitement. Wine-drinking is only one of many improper expedients for excitement. Drunkenness is here a type of whatever improperly stimulates the senses and enkindles the lusts.

III. SOCIAL WORSHIP . "Speaking to yourselves," etc. These verses (from the nineteenth to the twenty-first) show what is meant by being "filled with the Spirit."

1. High spiritual intercourse with man . "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Speaking to men the highest things in the highest forms of language—poetry. High feeling always runs into poetry.

2. Devout fellowship with Christ . "Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." The soul pouring out its devotions in sweet melodies in the Divine ear.

3. Thankful recognition of Divine favors . "Giving thanks always for all things unto God."

4. Godly devotion to the common weal . "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." All this is implied in being "filled with the Spirit?' And is there not sufficient excitement here? To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit's ideas; and what exciting ideas are his! With the Spirit's purposes; and what inspiring purposes are his! With the Spirit's love; and what an immensity of stirring impulses is in that love!—D.T.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15 (Ephesians 5:15)

The value of time.

I. ALL TIME IS OF HIGH VALUE . They who kill time destroy one of the best talents God has given them and rob him of a sacred trust he has lent to them.

1. Time is not our own property . We are servants and have to account to our Master for our use of his hours.

2. Great concerns have to be attended to . Not only is art long while life is short, but duty is great, the claims of service are many, and the wants of our fellow-men are numerous. In this world of toil and strife and sorrow every moment is of value for some good deed of mercy or some solid work of truth.

3. Lost time is irrecoverable . We cannot redeem the time that has been wasted. A repentant diligence may bring back the inheritance that was squandered away in extravagant folly; careful attention may bring back the wasted health; but time once gone is gone forever.

4. Time may be made of increasing value . An hour is worth more in the use of one man than a day with another man.

II. SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES ARE OF SPECIAL VALUE . St. Paul urges us to buy up "the seasons." All time is not of equal value. There are moments of peculiar preciousness. Woe to him who, through heedlessness or willful negligence, lets them slip! The moment when the rope floats by the drowning man it must be seized or he dies. Strike the iron while it is hot. Sow the seed in the spring if you would reap the harvest in the autumn.

1. Youth has its golden opportunities that belong go no other age. Young men especially should make the most of their own season.

2. Manhood has its time of vigor for work that will be beyond the strength of old age. The wise man will watch for occasions of usefulness that his word may be "in season."

III. THE TRUE VALUE OF TIME CAN ONLY BE OBTAINED AT A COST . We have to buy it up before we can make use of it.

1. We must spend thought in considering how we can best use our time and in watching for right opportunities. For want of due consideration there is a frightful lack of economy of energy and time.

2. We must sacrifice our own pleasure in giving up time that we are tempted to expend on ourselves, our amusement or our rest, to the service of God. He who only gives to God his leisure moments, when he is worn and jaded with his own selfish work, makes but a poor offering.

3. We must put out greater energy in order to make our time of more value. Few of us work on the highest subjects at full pressure. The busiest might do more good if, when they cannot as yet find time for serving Christ, they would make time.—W.F.A.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:3-21 (Ephesians 5:3-21)

THE WALK SUITABLE TO THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT .

- The Pulpit Commentary

Ephesians 5:15 (Ephesians 5:15)

Take heed then how ye walk strictly. The construction is somewhat peculiar, combining two ideas—see that you walk strictly, but consider well the kind of strictness. Do not walk loosely, without fixed principles of action; but make sure that your rules are of the true kind. Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good rules. Not as unwise, but as wise. This rendering brings out the force of ἄσοφοι and σοφυὶ : "fools" (A.V.) is rather strong, for it is not utter folly that is reproved, but easy-mindedness, want of earnest consideration in a matter so infinitely vital, so as to know what is truly best.

- The Pulpit Commentary