Mark preached at church this morning on Ephesians 5:18-33. For a passage that causes great confusion and is often miss-quoted, he gave probably the most illuminating exposition I’ve ever heard. He began by stressing the link between verses 18-21 and 22-33, which are broken up by a heading in most Bibles. When you actually pause to think about verse 21 the link is quite obvious, but I’ve never heard it mentioned in a sermon before. He then explained the concept of being filled with the Holy Spirit, drawing comparisons with a room filled with people or a wall filled with pictures. In each case it is that which fills which becomes the most obvious thing, i.e. the most obvious thing about the room is the people. A drunk, as in verse 18, is instantly recognisable through not only their behaviour but also their look, sound, even their smell. And it is their drunkenness which is their most obvious characteristic.
In talking about verses 22-33 he pointed out that 22-24 are addressed “Wives” and 25 to the end of the chapter “Husbands”. There is really no need for husbands to read the first part or vice-versa. The responsibility for fulfilling each part of this passage lies with those to whom they are addressed, and they need be of no concern to the rest of us. The most important part for us all lies in being filled with the Holy Spirit. Looking at it this way one gets rather more of an insight into just what a royal priesthood should look like.