Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:30 - 5:30

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:30 - 5:30

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Eph_5:30. We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

THAT the eternal Son of God assumed our nature, and lived and died for the salvation of men, is doubtless the fundamental truth on which we are to build our hopes. But we shall have a very partial view of that truth, if we consider it merely in reference to our acceptance with God. The Apostles state it as the strongest of all motives to obedience, and as the pattern which, as far as circumstances will admit of it, we are bound to imitate. To go no further than the context; St. Paul is stating the duties of husbands and wives: and, having observed that wives are to be as obedient to their husbands, in all lawful things, as the Church is to Christ, he shews, that husbands are not, however, at liberty to act the tyrant; but that they should at all times be influenced by love, and consult the good and happiness of their wives, as much as Christ himself does of the Church, to whom he stands in a similar relation [Note: ver. 22–30.].

The words before us are, in this view, deserving of the deepest attention; since they not only unfold a most mysterious and important truth, but tend in the highest degree to meliorate our tempers, and to diffuse universal happiness. Let us consider then,

I.       The union which subsists between Christ and his Church—

There is a personal union which Christ has with our nature, by means of his incarnation [Note: Joh_1:14.], and which was necessary for the executing of the great work which he had undertaken [Note: Heb_2:11; Heb_2:14; Heb_2:16.]. But in this the whole human race participate, without any distinction. The union which Christ has with the Church is distinct from that, and is,

1.       Legal—

[There is, among men, an union between a debtor and his surety; insomuch that, if a debt be not discharged, the surety is as much answerable for it as if he had contracted it himself: and if, on the contrary, it be discharged by the surety, the creditor has no further claim on him that contracted it. Thus it is with respect to Christ and his Church. He is the surety of the new covenant [Note: Heb_7:22.]: having undertaken for us, he was charged with our debt; “it was exacted of him, and he was made answerable [Note: Isa_53:7. Bishop Lowth’s version.].” Having paid the debt, his payment is put to our account; “By his obedience we are made righteous [Note: Rom_5:19.].” In a word, “He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we (who had no righteousness) might be made the righteousness of God in him [Note: 2Co_5:21.].”]

2.       Spiritual—

[Very much is spoken in Scripture respecting the spiritual union which subsists between Christ and his people. To mark that they stand by him alone, it is compared to a foundation and the superstructure [Note: Eph_2:20-22.]. To shew that he is the one source of vital influence to them all, it is illustrated by a root and the branches [Note: Joh_15:5.]. To intimate that one Spirit pervades both him and them [Note: 1Co_6:17.], it is set forth under the image of a body; he being the Head, and they the members [Note: Eph_4:15-16.]. To convey some idea of the tender endearments with which it is accompanied, it is shadowed forth by a marriage union. This is the representation given in the text. He is our husband [Note: Isa_54:5.]; and we are his bride [Note: Rev_21:9.]: and, as Adam said of Eve when she was brought to him, “She is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones [Note: Gen_2:23.],” so may we say respecting the Lord Jesus Christ, “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

Whatever beauty there is in all the other figures, methinks there is a peculiar propriety in that which is now under our consideration, because it marks that volition, yea, and those means also, whereby the union is effected. The Lord Jesus Christ displays before our eyes his excellency and glory, his suitableness and sufficiency; and, by the constraining influence of his love, inclines us to leave all that has hitherto been esteemed by us, in order to connect ourselves with him, and enjoy his presence [Note: Psa_45:10-11. Mar_10:29-30.]. We accept that gracious proposal, “Thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee [Note: Hos_3:3.].” and being thus engaged by a solemn covenant, we surrender up ourselves to him, whether it be for better or for worse in this world, determining through grace to “be faithful unto him, even until death.”]

We prosecute the idea of a marriage union no further at present, because it will be more fully opened, while we shew,

II.      The blessings resulting from it—

It is needless to expatiate upon the comforts and benefits of that relation among men: but we cannot be too minute in specifying the blessings that result from an union with Christ. The chief of them will come under our review, while we observe, that,

1.       He has communion with us in all our trials—

[One who understands the duties of a husband, and labours faithfully to discharge them, is ever ready to sympathize with his partner in her afflictions of whatever kind, and solicitous to the utmost to relieve them. What is done to her, whether it be good or evil, he considers it as done to himself. Thus it is with our blessed Lord. Are we tempted? — — — a consciousness of his relation to us calls forth his sympathy, and engages his utmost exertions on our behalf [Note: Heb_2:17-18; Heb_4:15.] — — — Are we persecuted? He feels in his inmost soul the dagger that pierces us [Note: Zec_2:8. Act_9:4.] — — — Do we labour under distresses of any kind? “In all our afflictions he is afflicted [Note: Isa_63:9.];” and every attempt made to mitigate our trouble, he accepts, as if he himself were personally relieved [Note: Mat_25:35-40.] — — —]

2.       We have communion with him in all his benefits—

[A woman, from whatever rank she be taken, is no sooner united in the marriage-bond, than she is exalted to a participation of all the honours and possessions of her husband. Thus it is with the Church when united unto Christ. Is he possessed of a perfect righteousness, commensurate with the highest demands of law and justice? They who are joined to him by faith, are partakers of it all, and may boldly call him, “The Lord our Righteousness [Note: Jer_23:6.].” However sinful they may have been in former times, “in him shall they be justified, and in him may they glory [Note: Isa_45:24-25.]” — — — Has he within himself an inexhaustible fountain of grace [Note: Col_1:19.]? They may receive it out of his fulness [Note: Joh_1:16.]: and having had a measure of it communicated to them, they may go to him for more [Note: Jam_4:6.]: yea, whatever supplies they may need, they shall have sufficient for them [Note: 2Co_12:9.]; sufficient to mortify every sin [Note: Rom_6:14.], to fulfil every duty [Note: Php_4:13.], to triumph over every enemy [Note: Rom_8:37.] — — — Is he enthroned on high, the heir and Lord of all things [Note: Heb_1:2.]? Let not his people think that even these things are too great for them: for they shall have a throne like unto his throne [Note: Rev_3:21.], a kingdom like unto his kingdom [Note: Luk_22:29.], a glory like unto his glory [Note: Joh_17:22.] — — —]


1.       Those who have reason to believe that they are “married to Christ [Note: Jer_3:14. Isa_62:5.]”—

[If we congratulate our friends when they are settled in life with a fair prospect of happiness, shall we not much more congratulate you; you, who by your connexion with Christ are become children of the living God [Note: Joh_1:12.]? What earthly advancement can be compared with this? Who among the children of men is so wise to discern, so tender to regard, so able to relieve, your every want? We hope that you know your union with him. It is certainly your privilege to know it, and to rejoice in it [Note: Joh_14:20.]. “Rejoice then in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice [Note: Php_4:4.]” — — — But together with your privileges, remember also the duties which this high relation bringeth with it. Would you be unfaithful to him, or grieve him in any thing? God forbid. Remember the fervent attachment [Note: Tit_2:4.], the humble reverence [Note: Eph_5:33.], the unreserved submission [Note: Eph_5:22; Eph_5:24. 1Pe_3:1; 1Pe_3:5-6.], which a dutiful wife feels towards her husband: and let these feelings be transferred in the highest possible degree to your august “Head [Note: Eph_5:23. 1Co_11:3.]” and be exercised towards him without any intermission or alloy [Note: If this were preached on the occasion of a Marriage, it would be proper to shew to the parties present, that their cheerful performance of their relative duties is indispensable, as an evidence of their union to Christ.]. — — —]

2.       Those who have no evidence that such an union has been formed—

[They who have felt no need of an union with Christ, will be ready to say, like Ezekiel’s hearers, “Ah! Lord God, doth he not speak parables [Note: Eze_20:49.]?” But indeed “we speak forth the words of truth and soberness [Note: Act_26:25.].” You hope to bring forth fruit to God in some other way than by an union with Christ: but you may as well expect a branch to be fruitful, when separated from the vine [Note: Joh_15:4-5.]. The image in the text is applied by St. Paul in reference to this very thing: he tells us, that “we must be married unto Christ, that we may bring forth fruit unto God [Note: Rom_7:4.].” Moreover, if you be not united to Christ in this world, you will in vain hope for an union with him in the world to come. This is the time wherein you are to be betrothed to him. Seek then to know him: seek to become an object of his regard: seek to be united to him as intimately as he is to his Heavenly Father [Note: Joh_17:21; Joh_6:56-57.]. Be not contented with seeking, but strive; strive to obtain an interest in his favour; nor cease from your labour till you can say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his [Note: Son_2:16.].” Then shall you have the most delightful fellowship with him [Note: 1Jn_1:3.]: you shall have such manifestations of his regard, as the world can neither know nor receive [Note: Joh_14:21-22. ib. ver. 17.]: and, when all earthly connexions shall cease, your happiness shall be consummated in the everlasting fruition of his love [Note: 1Th_4:17.].]