on Ephesians 5 :3
But fornication - It is probable that the three terms used here by the apostle refer to different species of the same thing. The word fornication, πορνεια, may imply not only fornication but adultery also, as it frequently does; uncleanness, ακαθαρσια may refer to all abominable and unnatural lusts - sodomy, bestiality, etc., and covetousness, πλεονεξια, to excessive indulgence in that which, moderately used, is lawful. As the covetous man never has enough of wealth, so the pleasure-taker and the libertine never have enough of the gratifications of sense, the appetite increasing in proportion to its indulgence. If, however, simple covetousness, i.e. the love of gain, be here intended, it shows from the connection in which it stands, (for it is linked with fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness), how degrading it is to the soul of man, and how abominable it is in the eye of God. In other places it is ranked with idolatry, for the man who has an inordinate love of gain makes money his god.
Let it not be once named - Let no such things ever exist among you, for ye are called to be saints.
on Ephesians 5 :3
But fornication - A "common" vice among the pagan then as it is now, and one into which they were in special danger of falling; see Romans 1:29 note; 1 Corinthians 6:18 note.
And all uncleanness - Impurity of life; see the notes on Romans 1:24; compare Romans 6:19; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5.
Or covetousness - The "connection" in which this word is found is remarkable. It is associated with the lowest and most debasing vices, and this, as well as those vices, was not once to be "named" among them. What was Paul's estimate then of covetousness? He considered it as an odious and abominable vice; a vice to be regarded in the same light as the most gross sin, and as wholly to be abhorred by all who bore the Christian name see Ephesians 5:5. The covetous man, according to Paul, is to be ranked with the sensual, and with idolaters Ephesians 5:5, and with those who are entirely excluded from the kingdom of God Is this the estimate in which the vice is held now? Is it the view which professing Christians take of it? Do we not feel that there is a "great" difference between a covetous man and a man of impure and licentious life? Why is this? Because:
(1) it is so common;
(2) because it is found among those who make pretensions to refinement and even religion;
(3) because it is not so easy to define what is covetousness, as it is to define impurity of life; and,
(4) because the public conscience is seared, and the mind blinded to the low and grovelling character of the sin.
Yet, is not the view of Paul the right view? Who is a covetous man? A man who, in the pursuit of gold, neglects his soul, his intellect, and his heart. A man who, in this insatiable pursuit, is regardless of justice, truth, charity, faith, prayer, peace, comfort, usefulness, conscience; and who shall say that there is any vice more debasing or degrading than this? The time "may" come, therefore, when the covetous man will be regarded as deserving the same rank in the public estimation with the most vicious, and when to covet will be considered as much opposed to the spirit of the gospel as any of the vices here named. When that time shall come, the world's conversion will probably be not a distant event.
Let it not be once named among you - That is, let it not exist; let there be no occasion for mentioning such a thing among you; let it be wholly unknown. This cannot mean that it is wrong to "mention" these vices for the purpose of rebuking them, or cautioning those in danger of committing them - for Paul himself in this manner mentions them here, and frequently elsewhere - but that they should not "exist" among them.
As becometh saints - As befits the character of Christians, who are regarded as holy. Literally, "as becometh holy ones" - ἁγίοις hagiois.
on Ephesians 5 :3
5:3 But let not any impure love be even named or heard of among you - Keep at the utmost distance from it, as becometh saints.