Category Archives: Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5:31-33

Scripture: from verse 31

…and the two will become one flesh.

Observation:  Paul is quoting Genesis 2 here, speaking of a husband and wife coming together.  He goes on to say that this is true on two levels: it’s true of individual couples, and it also described a “profound mystery” concerning Messiah and the believers.  (There’s one of those places that God’s word is fractal: the little pictures look just like the big pictures.)

But I was thinking about one flesh.  Flesh isn’t an amorphous material.  It isn’t like clay or bread dough that can be split up and recombined without anyone noticing.  Flesh means blood vessels, and muscles and tendons and bones, and nerves and lymph nodes and glands.

So two becoming one isn’t just about emotions or sex or other easy ways of joining.  It means joining structures, so that each supports and extends the movements of the other.  It means joining circulatory systems, so that oxygen and energy and sickness and healing flow back and forth.  Even your proprioceptive sense (the sense that tells you where your body is, allowing you to do things like clap your hands with your eyes closed) and your limbic system (the part of your brain that runs emotions and memory and things) can apply to two people instead of just one.

And that’s what God wants to have with us.  Messiah’s lifeblood, flowing through our bodies.  Messiah’s power supporting our steps.  His desires becoming ours, and ours becoming His.

Yeshua wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  He wants to be one flesh with us.

Application: Become one flesh with Yeshua.  I’m not really sure how that works with Yeshua, but I know some of how it works in marriage: your spend time together and learn each other and respect and love each other.  So spend time with Yeshua and learn about Him – and be open and honest so He can learn you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for offering to be one flesh with us.  You could have offered to be our master, or our father, or our owner, and been entirely within your rights – you owe us nothing.  But you offered to be one flesh.  You offered unity.  Help me believe that.  Amen.

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Ephesians 5:26-30

Scripture: verses 29 and 30

Why, no one ever hated his own flesh!  On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community, because we are parts of His body.

Observation: The context here is that of marriage: husbands take care of their wives because the husband and wife are one flesh, so caring for her is like caring for himself.  And indeed, ignoring or mistreating one’s spouse is generally an excellent example of shooting yourself in the foot.  But what caught my eye is the assertion that no one ever hated his own body.

As a teenager, I used to shave my legs dry, when I consented to shave them at all.  No shaving cream, no soap, not even water.  And yes, I got terrible razor burn.  My memories of shaving are mostly of embarrassment – embarrassment over having leg hair, embarrassment over not having shaved, embarrassment over having to ask to have the bathroom to myself, embarrassment over the time it took.  So I snuck upstairs when people were doing other things and shaved as quickly as I could, usually with somebody else’s razor because I hadn’t admitted I needed one.  (I probably owe my sisters an apology for that one, come to think of it!)

And I’m not sure what exactly was going on in my head, but clearly something was.  Somehow I’d gotten the idea that taking care of myself was wasteful.  So I didn’t.  Not in scary dangerous ways – I never struggled with eating disorders or anything of that sort – but in little ways.

But Messiah takes care of His body.  He takes care of me.  And He wants me to take care of myself.  He made me, and I am not a waste.

Application:  You aren’t a waste either.  Your body, your emotions, your ideas – God made them and God loves them.  It’s okay to use your resources to care for yourself.

Prayer:  Messiah, thank you for caring for me.  Thank you for making me the way I am and for loving me enough to die for me.  Help me to move with confidence in your love.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:21-25

Scripture: from verse 23

…the Messiah, as head of the Messianic Community, is Himself the one who keeps the body safe.

Observation:  You may have noticed there’s some words I really like.  Rest.  Made perfect.  Light.  Safe.

I like safe.  I dealt with a lot of anxiety growing up (still do, a little) and safe was nice.  Safe meant not having to explain myself or defend myself.  Safe meant that I knew the rules, and they wouldn’t change on me or suddenly loom in my path.  (I’m still dealing with the realization, a few weeks ago, that the social guidelines I’d been taught for one particular situation were wrong and I may have badly hurt people in the past.  I don’t feel any guilt over it, as I didn’t know, it still makes me a little sad.)  Safe means I have answers, or know where to get answers, and if I ask questions people won’t look at me like I’m clueless.  (I probably am clueless, but I still don’t like that look!)  Safe means someone to take care of me and comfort me and make me tea.

And Messiah is keeping His body safe.  He protects His community.  He protects me.

Those who are paying attention will realize that this is in the middle of the whole hierarchical-marriage passage.  Personally I tend to ignore that debate, since each couple is different and different things seem to work for different couples – as long as both of them treat the other with sacrificial love, everything will be fine.

But while I don’t feel any particular onus to submit to my husband, a lot of people think that we have a hierarchical marriage.  The reason for that is that Hero and I keep each other safe.  There are a number of areas where one of us is better equipped to navigate than the other, and because we trust each other and respect each others’ strengths, we can allow each other to take the lead.  Hero’s strengths are a little more public-sphere than mine, so people think we have a hierarchical marriage.  But really we just do what’s safe.  Because it’s comfortable.

Messiah, on the other hand, has infinite knowledge and experience.  He isn’t just good at navigating odds and managing outcomes in uncertain situations – He actually knows what will happen.  He deserves our trust and respect in every area of life.  Because that’s how we stay safe.

Application:  Messiah is our safety.  Trust Him.  Doing what He says may not always be pleasant, but in the long run it is best for you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for being there to keep me safe.  Thank you for providing what I need – right down to the cup of hot tea – exactly when you know I need it.  Help me to trust that you know what you’re doing.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:16-20

Scripture: verse 17

So don’t be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.

Observation: We can’t afford to be foolish – we have little enough time and energy as it is.  We can’t waste it feeding darkness and emptiness.

During the conference I was at recently, two verses kept coming to me.  The first was Hebrews 4, which is about the need to trust God’s grace and choose to enter His rest.  The other was Psalm 90:12, which says “Teach us to number our days, that we may become wise.”  I was struggling to connect them (on the assumption that God intended them to be connected) and I think this verse is the third part of that puzzle.

Our time and our energy and our abilities are limited.  Since they are limited, we have to use them efficiently, which means allowing God to determine how they are to be used.  And His will is that we trust His grace and allow Him to shape us and teach us to love Him and love others.  He is making us fitly framed for Him and for each other, creating something beautiful.

Application: Go with the flow – the God flow, anyway.  Serve God, love others, and rest.

Prayer: Teach me to number my days, Father.  Teach me to use what you have given me wisely, and to trust you to compensate for my failures.  Thank you that you have a plan for me, that I will not be wasted or overlooked.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:11-15

Scripture: verse 11

Have nothing to do with the deeds produced by darkness, but instead expose them…

Observation:  So what, exactly, are the deeds produced by darkness?  In context, the passage before has been talking about things like immorality and greed, so those are certainly included.

But the contrast between light and darkness is an important one.  The passage has said that we are light (in the Lord, at least), that the fruits of light are righteousness and truth, and that things exposed to the light are revealed clearly.  Darkness, being the opposite, is not of the Lord, produces evil and lies, and tries to hide things and deceive people about what’s going on.

Darkness hides – and we are to expose the things that would stay hidden.  Darkness is sterile – and we are to avoid deeds that lead to meaninglessness.  Darkness deceives – and we are to insist on the truth.

Application:  As Lizzie Bennet says, keeping secrets isn’t really that helpful.  Insist on the truth.  Don’t get involved in things that try to hide, or try to make you hide.

Prayer:  Father of Light, help me see the truth.  Help me to choose to stand in your light, without hiding or disguising my flaws, because I know that you have taken care of them.  Help me to see clearly and to love others enough to see them clearly.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:6-10

Scripture: from verse 8

For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the Lord, you are light.

Observation:  This is in the context of our behavior: we are to speak words of truth and thanksgiving instead of coarseness, gossip or obscenity; and we are to imitate God and live a life of love instead of pursuing immorality or greed.  The writer is saying that our behavior needs to change because our nature has changed.

Darkness is nothing.  I’m reminded of the verse in chapter four that said that the pagan ways of thinking are sterile.  Darkness can’t accomplish anything, because it has nothing of its own.  It is simply the absence of light.

Light, on the other hand…light can do anything.  It can heat things, and cut things, and reveal truth and guide people home and make us safe.  It never stops going, and it distorts the world around it if it needs to.

Without God, we are nothing.  Empty and destitute.  With God, we can dazzle and guide and color and focus and illuminate.  With God, we will never run out of energy because He is the Source of all energy.  With God, our nature changes and we have something to offer.

Application: Light accomplishes very little until it hits something.  Even a laser sent through space isn’t visible unless it hits dust along the way.  So we need to have move in the confidence of our changed nature.  We need to be willing to bump into things.

Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for making me light.  You are the Father of Lights, and I am honored to bear part of your power.  Help me to use it as you want me to.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:1-5

Scripture: verse 3

Among you there should not even be mentioned sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or greed.

Observation:  Two things struck me here.  The first is that we’re not even supposed to discuss these things – except presumably as is needed for teaching.  We’re not supposed to be gossiping about them, or speculating about them.  Sin is not for thinking about.  The things we think about gain power, and we should not give that power to sin.

The other thing that struck me is the pairing of sexual immorality and greed.  (“Impurity” is kind of vague, so I think I’m going to leave it alone, at least for now.)  We tend to treat sex stuff as the Big Sin, as if it’s worse than the others.  But it isn’t.  Greed is equally shameful.

Possibly the link between the two is the need to be content.  C. S. Lewis speculated in Perelandra that the root of sin is the desire to have control over what happens to us – to make pleasant things happen over and over again whenever we want.

Admittedly I’m writing from a place of privilege here, as I’m not lacking in either affection or material wealth.  (Though one wonders if that’s because God has blessed me, or because I’ve chosen to be content in those areas.  Fascinating.  Some of each, maybe?)  At any rate, the point is to be grateful for what we are given – good things to think about, the love of our friends and family, and the security of God’s provision.

Application:  Dwell on God’s blessings.  It’s that simple.  Notice the things He has done for me, and dismiss discontented thoughts.  Hard to apply consistently, but I can at least make steps in the right direction.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for all the ways you’ve blessed me.  Thank you for my Hero and my girls and my family and my home.  Help me to find interest in the the things you would have me thinking about.  Amen.