Ephesians 5:26 MEANING

Ephesians 5:26
(26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it . . .--The true rendering is, that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it in the laver of the water in [the] Word. The reference in "the laver of the water" to baptism, is even more unquestionable than in "the laver of regeneration" of Titus 3:5. Hence we must conclude that the phrase "in the Word" is in some way connected with that sacrament. Of the two Greek words translated "word," the one here used is that which signifies not "the word" existing as a definite thought in the mind, but "the word" as audibly spoken. It has, indeed, in the original no article, but this is probably because it had assumed so technical a sense as to resemble a proper name; and it is best connected with the phrase "having cleansed it," thus being coordinated, not subordinated, to the "laver of the water." Accordingly it would seem to signify all that element of baptism which is "in word"--that is, the question of faith, "the answer of a good conscience" (1 Peter 3:21), and, lastly, the solemn formula of baptism "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." If we are to single out any of these, we must surely (with Chrysostom) take the last. But it is better to embrace the whole, and so include the whole spiritual element of baptism, both the acceptance of faith on the part of man, and the grace-giving blessing of God.

To "sanctify" is here to consecrate to Himself (comp. John 17:17; John 17:19) after purification. In the same connection we have in 1 Corinthians 6:11, "Ye were washed, ye were sanctified, ye were justified." In virtue of such consecration the Church visible is "holy" in idea and in capacity--the Church invisible here (which will be the Church triumphant hereafter), holy in the actual purity which becomes a consecrated nature. Of such consecration baptism is unquestionably the means; as we see in command in Matthew 28:19, and in fact in Acts 2:38; Acts 2:41.

Verse 26. - That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. The immediate object of Christ was to cleanse her, and for this end he used the Word as a purifying agent, washing her by means of it. The difference between selfish and unselfish love is seen here: a selfish lover cares for his wife in his own interest - like Samson, desires to have her simply because she pleases him, and, in his converse with her, thinks, not of her good, but of his own enjoyment; but the love of an unselfish lover constrains him to seek her good, to do nothing that will hurt her and damage her in any manner of way, but to do everything that he believes will advance her well-being, especially in the highest sense. He finds her polluted (comp. Ezekiel 16.), and his great instrument of cleansing is "the Word" (comp. John 15:3; John 17:5) - the Word in all its searching, humbling, rebuking, correcting, informing, stimulating, refreshing, consoling power. There is no express allusion to baptism, τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος is explained by ἐν ῤήματι, "the Word" being the great sanctifying medium, and baptism a figure (1 Peter 3:21).

5:22-33 The duty of wives is, submission to their husbands in the Lord, which includes honouring and obeying them, from a principle of love to them. The duty of husbands is to love their wives. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter. The words of Adam, mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage; but they have also a hidden sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church. It was a kind of type, as having resemblance. There will be failures and defects on both sides, in the present state of human nature, yet this does not alter the relation. All the duties of marriage are included in unity and love. And while we adore and rejoice in the condescending love of Christ, let husbands and wives learn hence their duties to each other. Thus the worst evils would be prevented, and many painful effects would be avoided.Being defiled, both with original sin and actual transgressions; for God's elect, whom Christ loved and espoused from everlasting, fell in Adam with the rest of mankind; and, in their natural state, live in sin as others do; and so are under the guilt, and in the pollution of it, as others be: Christ gave himself for them, that he might deliver them out of this state; he gave himself a sacrifice for them, that he might expiate their sins and make atonement and satisfaction for them; he shed his blood that he might cleanse them from them; and he wrought out a righteousness that he might justify them from all their iniquities; and which being put upon them, makes them to appear pure and spotless in the sight of divine justice; for this sanctifying and cleansing does not so much refer to the inward work of sanctification of the Spirit, though that is a fruit and effect of the death of Christ, and is brought about by the following means, as to the justification of them by the blood and righteousness of Christ: which is said to be,

with the washing of water; not baptism, which is never expressed by washing; nor does it purify or cleanse from sin; nor is it the means of sanctification and regeneration, which ought to be before it; nor the grace of the Spirit, though that is often compared to water, and regeneration and sanctification are owing to it; yet the saints are not so cleansed from sin by it, as to be without spot or wrinkle; but the blood of Christ, which is the fountain to wash in, and which cleanses from all sin:

by the word; not the form of words in baptism; but either the Gospel, which brings the good news and glad tidings of peace, pardon, atonement, and justification by Christ; or the sentence of justification pronounced upon the conscience by him; see John 15:2.

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