Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:2 - 5:2

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:2 - 5:2

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Eph_5:2. Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.

TO restore us to the Divine image is one great end of all that the Lord Jesus Christ has done and suffered for us. There are indeed perfections in the Deity which are incommunicable to any creature; but his moral perfections admit of imitation and resemblance: and therefore we are exhorted to “be followers, or imitators, of God, as dear children [Note: ver. 1.].” But in the person of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jehovah is brought nearer to us, so that we may trace his very steps, and learn to follow him in every disposition of the mind, and every action of the life. Hence in the passage before us, whilst we are particularly informed of the manner in which he has displayed his love to man, we are exhorted to “walk in love, as he has loved us.”

In our further elucidation of these words, we shall be led to speak of the Lord Jesus Christ in a twofold view;

I.       As a sacrifice to God—

It was not merely as a martyr that Jesus died, but as a sacrifice for sin. This appears,

1.       From all the sacrifices of the Mosaic law—

[For what end were these instituted, but to prefigure him? These beyond a doubt were offerings for sin, the victims dying in the place of the offerer, and making an atonement for him by their blood: and if the Lord Jesus Christ did not correspond with them in this particular, and actually fulfil what those prefigured, they were all instituted in vain, and were shadows without any substance at all.]

2.       From the declarations of the prophets—

[The prophet thus plainly speaks of Christ as dying for the sins of men; “He made his soul an offering for sin:” “He bare the sins of many:” “On him were laid the iniquity of us all [Note: Isa_53:6; Isa_53:10; Isa_53:12.].” What is the import of these testimonies, if Christ did not offer himself a sacrifice for sin?]

3.       From the testimony of John the Baptist—

[It was in reference to the lambs that were offered every morning and evening for the sins of all Israel, that the Baptist spake, when he pointed out the Lord Jesus as “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.” If Christ were not a sacrifice for sin, this testimony was not founded in truth.]

4.       From the declarations of Christ himself—

[He constantly affirmed, that “he came to give his life a ransom for many:” that his blood should be shed for the remission of sins; and that by being “lifted up upon the cross, he would draw all men. unto him.”]

5.       From the united testimony of all the Apostles—

[All with one voice represent him as redeeming us to God by his blood, and offering himself as “a propitiation, not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” In a word, the whole tenour of the sacred writings proves, that “he bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” and “died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”]

But in all this he was further designed,

II.      As an example to us—

In the circumstance before noticed, we cannot resemble him; for “no man can redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him.” Nevertheless in the love which instigated him to this we may resemble him. Our love, like his, should be,

1.       Disinterested—

[It is not possible for us to add any thing to him: we cannot make him more happy or more glorious by any thing that we can do: “our goodness extendeth not to him;” “nor can we by any means profit him:” yet did he in this astonishing manner display his love to us. Thus in the exercise of our love we should not consider whether the objects of it will ever be able to make us any suitable return: we should shew love in every possible way, without so much as desiring any return from man, or even desiring that our exercise of it should be known; yea, even though we knew that it would only be requited with evil. We should love our very enemies; and, “instead of being overcome of evil, should strive incessantly to overcome their evil with good.”]

2.       Generous—

[What unsearchable riches has he purchased even for his bitterest enemies? He would not that any one of them should fall short of the glory of heaven. True it is, that we cannot thus enrich the objects of our love: yet we should do all we can towards it, by providing for them not only the things needful for the body, but, above all, the things that may promote the welfare of the soul. Here the poor may be on a par with those who are able to give out of their abundance: for if they are constrained to say, “Silver and gold have I none,” they may add, “but such as I have, give I unto thee;” and then may proceed to speak to them of the Saviour, through whom they may obtain all the blessings of salvation. Thus, “though poor, we may make many rich.”]

3.       Self-denying—

[Our blessed Lord “emptied himself of all the glory of heaven,” and endured all the wrath of an offended God; and became a curse himself, in order to deliver us from the curse which our iniquities had deserved. And shall we decline exercising our love, because it may be attended with some pain or difficulty on our part? No: we should not hesitate even to lay down life itself, if by so doing we may promote the eternal welfare of our brethren [Note: 1Jn_3:16.].]

4.       Constant—

[“Whom our Lord loved, he loved to the end.” There were many occasions whereon his immediate disciples displeased him: but he did not therefore “withdraw his mercy from them, or shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure.” There are occasions also whereon we shall be called to exercise forbearance and forgiveness one towards another; and we ought to meet those occasions with love proportioned to them. We should strive with all our might to “follow peace with all men,” and to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”]


1.       Be thankful to Christ for all the wonders of his love—

[Think how unworthy you were of all his love: for, it was “when you were yet enemies, that he died for you,” Think too what must have been your state to all eternity, if He had not so “undertaken for you:” his sufferings under the hidings of his Father’s fare, and under the strokes of Divine justice, shew what miseries awaited you in hell for ever, if He had not become your substitute and surety to discharge your debt. O! never for a moment lose sight of the obligations you owe to him for that “love of his, which passeth knowledge.”]

2.       Present yourselves as living sacrifices to him—

[This may be done; and it is the very end for which such astonishing mercies have been vouchsafed to you [Note: Rom_12:1.]. Consider all that you arc, and all that you have, as his: and let it all be devoted henceforth to the glory of his name.]

3.       Endeavour to resemble him more and more—

[Whatever attainments you may have made, you must still be aspiring after higher degrees of love [Note: 1Th_4:9-10.]. Look at him then, not only as the ground of your hopes, but as the pattern for your imitation. Trace him in all the labours of his love: trace him from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven: trace him in all that he either did or suffered: and study to resemble him in the whole of his spirit and deportment. In all his labours “God smelled a sweet savour;” even as he had done in those offerings and sacrifices by which Christ had been shadowed forth [Note: Gen_8:21. Lev_1:9.]: and though your labours of love can never resemble his, as making an atonement for sin, they shall, like his, come up for a memorial before God, and be accepted as well-pleasing in his sight [Note: Heb_6:10; Heb_13:16.].]