Epistle of Third Sunday in Lent

Ephesians 5:1-9

Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this, and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean or covetous person, which is a serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness: but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.


Verse 3. Covetousness.1 The Latin word is generally taken for a coveting or immoderate desire of money and riches. S. Jerom and others observe, that the Greek word in this and divers other places in the New Testament may signify any unsatiable desire, or the lusts of sensual pleasures; and on this account, S. Jerom thinks that it is here joined with fornication and uncleanness. But S. Chrys. in the last chapter, (v. 19. hom. xiii. and on this chap. v. 3.) shews that by the Greek word is understood avarice, or an immoderate desire of riches, when he tells (hom. xviii) that this sin is condemned by those words of Christ, Luke xvi. 13. You cannot serve God and mammon. Wi.

Verse 4. Nor obscenity.2 What is here meant by this word, S. Chrys. tells us at large in the moral exhortation after his 17th homily; to wit, jests with immodest suggestions or a double meaning, and raillery or buffoonery against the rules of good conversation, scarce made use of by any but by men of low condition and of a mean genius, which is not to the purpose of a Christian, who must give an account to God of all his words. Wi.

Verse 5. Nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols. It is clear enough by the Greek that the covetous man is called an idolater, whose idol in mammon; though it may be also said of other sinners, that the vices they are addicted to are their idols. Wi.

Verse 6. The apostle here puts them in mind of the general judgment, when the angel of God will, on account of their crimes of avarice, fornication, &c. fall on the children of unbelief; by which are meant the wicked. He had before assured them that the perpetrators of such crimes would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven; and now he moreover informs them, that the severest punishments will be inflicted on such wicked persons. Estius.

Verse 7. Be ye not, therefore, partakers with them: do not imitate their wickedness, or the wrath of the Almighty will likewise fall on you. Estius.

Verse 8. By darkness is here meant the state of infidelity into which they had been plunged so far as to adore stones as God, and committed without remorse the above-mentioned grievous sins. But delivered by Christ from this darkness, they have become light in the Lord, shining in faith and justice. Estius.

Verse 9. For the fruit of the light. So the Latin and divers Greek copies; not the fruit of the spirit, as we read in many Greek manuscripts; and in this Dr. Wells thought fit to change the Prot. translation. Wi.

  1. a. 5. and 22. Q. 168. a. 2.) take eutrapelia in a different sense, when it is a facetious innocent way of jesting, containing rather instructive admonitions; and so, S. Thomas tells us, it may be reckoned among the moral virtues; but then, even as Aristotle tells us, it must be without all words of immodesty and buffoonery, which is against good manners: otherwise it degenerates into scurrility.


122: The Anathamas of the Chapter of Cyril (against Nestorius)

Can. 10. The Divine Scripture says that Christ was made a high priest and apostle of our confession [Heb. 3:1] and in the odor of fragrance offered himself to God and the Father for us [Eph. 5:2]. Therefore, if anyone says that the Word of God Himself was not made our High-priest and Apostle, when He was made flesh [John 1:14] and man in our likeness, but that as it were another besides Himself specifically a man (born) of a woman, or if anyone says that He offered the oblation for Himself and not rather for us alone, for He who knew not sin would not have needed oblations, let him be anathema.

  1. V. 3 and 5. Covetousness, avaritia, pleonexia. See S. Jerom on these verses, who expounds it of an insatiable lust, as to the sins of uncleanness and impurity. p. 380. But see also S. Chrys. who, by pleonexia, (C. iv. 19.) expounds, an immoderate desire of riches: crhmatwn om. ig. p. 829. And here, hom. xvii. p. 847, w gar autw crhmatwn erwmen, kai swmatwn. And hom. xviii, on the fifth verse, he expounds the word, pleonekthV, oV estin eidwlolatrhV, qui est idolatra, of him who is, properly speaking, an avaricious man; who adores mammon, or riches, who takes pains to leave an inheritance to others, and deprives himself of it, &c. p. 853. crusw douleuonteV, ↩︎

  2. V. 4. Scurrilitas, quæ ad rem non pertinet, eutrapelia ta oukanhkonta. S. Chrys. log. ig. p. 848 and 849, describes the vice of eutrapelia in these words: enqa aicrothV, ekei h eutrapelia . . . h eutrapelia malakhn poiei yuchn, &c. . . . porrw touto cristianou, to kwmwdein . . . ei kalon to pragma, ti toiV mimoiV afietai; . . . parasitwn to pragma, mimwn, orchstwn, gunaikwn, pornwn, porrw yuchV eleuqeraV, porrw eugenouV . . . ei tiV aicroV, outoV kai eutrapeloV. Where there is filthiness, there is eutrapelia. It is this that makes the mind effeminate . . . Far be it from a Christian to play the comedian. If this were commendable, why is it left to buffoons? It is the business of flattering hangers-on, or trencher friends, of fools in a play, of debauched women, but far be it from persons of a higher rank, well born, and of good breeding. If any man be void of honour, void of shame, such a one is given to eutrapelia. A man will scarce find it worth his while to consult the Latin translation in Fronto-Ducæus, which in this and many other places is far from being exact. I know that Aristotle, (l. iv. de moribus. c. 14, p. 42. Ed. Aurel. Allobrog.) and S. Thomas, the doctor of the schools, (l. ii. Q. ↩︎

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