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Ephesians 5 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Ephesians 5 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

"Hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."
The bloody death of Jesus smelled good to God.
So if someone dies while trying to rescue another, we find that funny or unjust? Most people would call such a person a hero and praise his actions. So in a natural sense we could call the actions of such a person sweet smelling.
The reference of the sweet smell is taken from the Old Testament where the burning of sacrifices is called a sweet smell, see for example Ex. 29:18. The smell is called sweet, because God has a pleasure in the sacrifice of Jesus: he approves of it.
Calvin comments:

Besides, we may infer from Paul’s words, that, unless we love one another, none of our duties will be acceptable in the sight of God. If the reconciliation of men, effected by Christ, was a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savor, we, too, shall be “unto God a sweet savor,” (2 Cor. 2:15,) when this holy perfume is spread over us.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

"But ... covetousness, let it not be once named among you."
Is it OK to covet?
In the previous chapter the author of the SAB already asked if it was OK to lie and to steal, now he asks if it is OK to covet... But see 1 Cor. 12:31.

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Jesters and foolish talkers won't be going to heaven. (Guess where they'll be going.)
Jesters and foolish talkers can be saved as well. But this text is not about them, but about those who follow Christ: they should refrain from things which are not convenient:

disagreeable to the will of God, and unsuitable to the characters of the saints, and are very unbecoming them to practise

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

(5:5-7) No "unclean person" or "idolater" will inherit the kingdom of God. (They'll all be going to hell.) Don't associate with them.
The author of the SAB is right: no unclean person will enter heaven, but unclean persons can be cleansed from their sins because of the sacrifice of Christ.

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

"The wrath of God"
Those who refuse to obey will face the wrath of God.
God created heaven and earth, he is our creator and Lord. No earthly power takes disobedience lightly, let alone the judge of heaven and earth.

7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

(Jehovah's Witnesses) "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."
To JWs, everything outside of the Watchtower Organization is controlled by Satan. This is one of the verses that the the Governing Body uses to condemn all holidays, civic activities, and association with nonJWs.
The works of darkness are defined in the previous verses (verse 3-5). And as this verse says, do have no fellowship with the works of darkness. This verse is not about the workers of darkness. Not everyone who is not a Christian is a worker of darkness, although he or she might walk in the dark.
But that the Jehovah's Witness themselves are controlled by Satan we know because they deny Christ and what they have prophesied, has not come to pass, see Deut. 18:21-22.

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

No, see 1 Cor. 3:18.

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

"Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess."
Is it OK to drink alcohol?

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

(5:22-24) "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife."
Wives must submit to their husbands "in every thing" as though they were Christ. "For the husband is the head of the wife."
What the Bible says about women's rights
Should women have the same rights as men?
This verse is not about women in general, but about wives. And surely a marriage where either wife or husband try to dominate one another wouldn't be a good one. And a marriage where no one takes decisions, would be as a ship without a rudder. It is the duty of the husband to be responsible for the decisions.
But see also below, verse 25, where the husband has to give his life for his wife if necessary.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

"So ought men to love their wives."
It's a package deal. The author of the SAB cannot just take this single verse and reject the rest. It won't work and he won't be able to point to a single lasting marriage where the other elements Paul mentions in this chapter are not present.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Husbands are told to love your wife as yourself. Wives are to make sure that they "reverence" their husband. Does this mean that a man can have only one wife?
Is Polygamy OK?
It sure does. Polygamy is not OK. See the other verses where the author of the SAB reads something different. And despite his thumbs up, he will be advocating polygamy in due time: it's all about diversity you see, and individual choice. As I write this, 2008, it seems likely that the laws against polygamy won't last long.