The Trinity in Ephesians 5
In our continuing consideration of the doctrine of the Trinity, in the six chapters of Ephesians, we now look at chapter five. The fifth chapter is a continuation of the Apostle Paul’s explanation of the Christian life, from chapter four.
Because the Spirit-filled believer in Jesus has a new identity, a new self, he should be an imitator of his heavenly Father God (5:1). Jesus Christ is the perfect example of this imitation, seeing how he always did what was pleasing to His Father. Exemplifying true love, Jesus sacrificed his own life for the benefit of “us,” His bride, the church (5:2). The ungodly in word and deed have no place in the eternal kingdom of Christ and God (5:3–5). That kingdom is present, today, wherever the Holy Spirit is manifesting righteousness, peace , and joy (Rom 14:17).
Whereas the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of the sons of disobedience (5:6; c/f Rom 1:18), the children of Light are walking in love (5:2), and light (5:8), as wise men (5:15), being filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18).
The apostle Paul emphasizes the biblical imagery of light, not just in a private walk with God, in the way of God; but it is an enlightened sojourn, visible to others. Christ not only shines on His light bearers (5:14), but He has shone in our hearts, by giving us his Spirit (2 Cor 4:6), who gives us the knowledge of Christ. Knowing Christ and living Christ is what shines.
The key Trinitarian passage in chapter five is found in verses 18–20. It begins with the prohibition to being drunk. Instead, the Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. Having already noted the problem of grieving the Spirit, it is clear that the Christian life ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, etc.
Before we turn to some popular book about the 7 ways to get more of the Holy Spirit, let us stay in the text.
In verse 19, Paul directed the Ephesians to speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs — making melody with your heart to the Lord. Paul and Silas exemplified this while in prison at Philippi (Acts 16). Singing, especially singing the Scriptures has a powerful effect on one’s walk.
Songs of faith strengthen faith. Faith acknowledges the Lord in everything, and it humbly produces thanksgiving in all things (5:20). The Spirit is also inclined toward the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we pray and praise by the power of the Spirit, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, “to God even the Father (5:21).” Here is the Trinity displayed in three consecutive verses (18–20) in Ephesians 5.
Paul then shifts his focus and ours to Christ and the church. For better understanding, the apostle draws the analogy of a marriage between a husband and a wife (5:22). Seeing how Christ loves the church, we learn of the husband’s willingness to sacrifice in order to love and bless his wife. He gives up his own self-interests, in order to put his wife’s interests ahead of his own. How could she not respect a guy like that (5:33)?
Knowing that our new ambition is to try and learn what is pleasing to the Lord (5:10; c/f 2 Cor 5:9), we see that giving away our lives is gain to us. It is accompanied by contentment, which is like a rare jewel in a world of chaos, selfishness, competition, and conflict.
God’s will for His church is sanctification (5:26; 1 Thess 4:3), for which He chose her (2 Thess 2:13) like a husband chooses his bride. He washes her with His blood for justification, then, he continually keeps her clean, by the washing of water with the Word (5:26). Christ nourishes and cherishes His church, His beloved betrothed, being prepared for glory (Rom 9:23).
The perfect love between the Persons of the Triune Godhead also incorporates God’s elect through their union with Christ. The Father of our Lord Jesus has chosen to become our Father, giving us to His Son for espousing. The consummation of the ages will be the marriage supper of the Lamb and His bride made ready. The whole family will be there: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, along with all the saints from across history and from around the world.
Just the thought of Christ’s glorious return for His bride is enough to make one sing in the Spirit, give thanks in Christ’s name, and honor God the Father to the praise of His glory and grace.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 19, 2022