Main point summary
Purposefully put away those behaviours which reflect your Gentile culture (see Ephesians 4:17) and replace them by virtues which reflect the Father, Son and Spirit. Above all imitate God's revelation of his character in Christ, by manifesting his example of self-giving love.
Therefore, having put away falsehood,
let each one of you u speak the truth with his neighbor,
for v we are members one of another.
w Be angry
and do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and x give no opportunity to the devil.
Let the thief no longer steal,
but rather y let him labor,
z doing honest work with his own hands,
so a that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
b Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up,
as fits the occasion,
that it may give c grace to those who hear.
And d do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
e by whom you were sealed for the day of f redemption.
g Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
h Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
i forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
j Therefore be imitators of God,
as beloved children.
And k walk in love,
l as Christ loved us
and m gave himself up for us,
a n fragrant o offering and sacrifice to God.
Within Ephesians Chapters 1-3 Paul has set forth how God has been at work in history to bring about his purposes for all humanity (Jew and Gentile alike) and for the whole created order. Above all his demonstration of the glorious riches of his grace shown to a fallen world is centred on Christ's redeeming work on the cross. At the heart of God's plans and purposes is the creation of a new community, the Church, comprised of all those made new in Christ, which will be in the vanguard of God's new creation. In Ephesians Chapters 4-6 Paul now focuses on the need for God's people to live in the light of what Christ has done for them and in the light of whom they now are in Christ. In 4:1 Paul calls on his readers to 'live a life worthy of the calling' they have received. After a section dealing with the issues of unity and gifts in the Church (4:1-16), Paul then sets out instructions for Christian living. In 4:17-24 he begins by painting a stark contrast between the thinking of non-believers and that required of Christians. In 4:25-5:2 Paul focuses on a number of behaviours which characterise Gentile culture; he argues that believers must 'put off' and avoid such vices and replace them by behaviours which are consistent with Christian profession. In particular he focuses on the need to replace lying with truth telling (v25), inappropriate anger with appropriate and controlled anger (v26-27), stealing with useful work (v28) and defiling speech with helpful talk (v29-30). In verses 31-32, in more general terms, he speaks of the need to 'get rid' of destructive behaviour and to be characterised by attitudes which will edify the Christian community. Paul gives a number of specific reasons to buttress his argument in this passage (e.g. the need to build up others (v29), the need to help the poor (v28), the need to avoid giving the devil an opportunity to attack (v27)), but above all he grounds his exhortation in the character of the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit. This reaches it climax in 4:32-5:2 where believers are called upon to imitate God's love revealed in Christ. To walk in Christ's footsteps is the key to the behaviour Paul enjoins in this passage.