That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
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Cyprian of Carthage
Moreover, too, the Apostle Paul, more openly and clearly still manifesting this same thing, writes to the Ephesians, and says, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water."
Here we take “the church” to mean every believer and everyone who has received baptism. The believer is brought to faith by the washing in water and the invocation of the Word. But how is this applied to a husband’s conduct toward his wife? This is not entirely clear. One possible view is that the mystery of baptism is being rehearsed in this metaphor. On the other hand, if we refer this to the endurance of the husband, which entails his giving himself for the wife and bearing and suffering all that is hers, even sharing in all that she endures, she is being cleansed with water and the Word—that is, she is being purified in the Lord’s sight when he renders her pure and by his endurance makes her ready to be sanctified by washing and the Word. –.
Cleansing it by the laver of water, in the word of life. By this washing is generally understood the sacrament of baptism; and by the word of life, not the word of the gospel preached, but the words or form used in the administration of baptism, according to Christ's institution: but this is not so certain. (Witham)
So then she was unclean! So then she had blemishes, so then she was unsightly, so then she was worthless! Whatsoever kind of wife you shall take, yet shall you never take such a bride as the Church, when Christ took her, nor one so far removed from you as the Church was from Christ. And yet for all that, He did not abhor her, nor loathe her for her surpassing deformity. Would you hear her deformity described? Hear what Paul says, For you were once darkness. Ephesians 5:8 Did you see the blackness of her hue? What blacker than darkness? But look again at her boldness, living, says he, in malice and envy. Titus 3:3 Look again at her impurity; disobedient, foolish. But what am I saying? She was both foolish, and of an evil tongue; and yet notwithstanding, though so many were her blemishes, yet did He give Himself up for her in her deformity, as for one in the bloom of youth, as for one dearly beloved, as for one of wonderful beauty. And it was in admiration of this that Paul said, For sca...