Main point summary
We should imitate our Father and walk in radical love in a dark world, which implies that we need to be wise and filled by the Spirit's power.
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.
But p sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness q must not even be named among you,
as is proper among saints.
Let there be r no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking,
s which are out of place,
but instead t let there be thanksgiving.
For you may be sure of this,
that u everyone who is sexually immoral or impure , or who is covetous ( v that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
w Let no one x deceive you with empty words,
for because of these things y the wrath of God comes upon z the sons of disobedience.
Therefore a do not become partners with them;
for b at one time you were c darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
d Walk as children of light
(for e the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
and f try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
g Take no part in the h unfruitful i works of darkness,
but instead j expose them.
For k it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
But when l anything is exposed by the light,
it becomes visible,
for anything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
m “Awake, O sleeper,
and n arise from the dead,
and o Christ will shine on you.”
p Look carefully then how you walk,
not as unwise
but as wise,
p making the best use of the time,
because q the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish,
but understand what r the will of the Lord is.
And s do not get drunk with wine,
for that is t debauchery,
but u be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in v psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
w giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father x in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
y submitting to one another
out of reverence for Christ.
In Eph 4:24, the idea of image bearing was tied up with being a new creation by God, and our "learning Christ". Now a ground is used —the ground of being beloved children. As the Father, so the children.
See Eph 3:14-21 Note the connection between love and being image-bearers/Christlike (filled with all the fullness of God)
Cf. Lev 9:2; Matt 5:44-48, Lk 6:36 The Matthew passage in particular contrasts the imitation with "Gentileness" (cf. Eph 4:17-24) and connects it to love.
Cf. Jn 13:34
cf. Jn 1:12; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:4-5
To love and give is a refrain in Scripture. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ To love is to give. So living a life that looks to others and meets needs is the call for the believer’s walk. The call to love reflects the exhortation of Eph 4:15–16 and is much like Colossians 3:14. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 125). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Gen. 8:21 Exod. 29:18, 25, 41 Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 2:9; 3:5 Ezek. 20:41 Rom. 12:1–2 2 Cor. 2:14–16 Phil. 4:18 1 Pet. 2:5
Our walking in love is rooted in Christ's love for us which in turn secured God's love for us (ver 1) because of his "fragrant offering" for us. Christ's offering gave God pleasure. And that was because Christ loved us. So we have God's love (ver 1), Christ's love and God's pleasure all directed at us. Therefore, we walk in love and imitate God in love.
Those set apart in true holiness and righteousness, cf. Eph 4:17-24 Those who are secure in the pleasure of God
πορνεία por-ni'-ah /porneía/ Noun strongs: G4202 source: from πορνεύω; fornication, idolatry Inflected: Πορνεία fem singular nominative
ἀκαθαρσία ak-ath-ar-see'-ah /akatharsía/ Noun strongs: G167 source: from ἀκάθαρτος; uncleanness, impurity Inflected: ἀκαθαρσία fem singular nominative
πλεονεξία pleh-on-ex-ee'-ah /pleonexía/ Noun strongs: G4124 source: from πλεονέκτης; covetousness, avarice Inflected: πλεονεξία fem singular nominative
πόρνος por'-nos /pórnos/ Noun strongs: G4205 source: from πέρνημι (to sell; a fornicator Inflected: πόρνος masc singular nominative
ἀκάθαρτος ak-ath'-ar-tos /akáthartos/ Adjective strongs: G169 source: from Α (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of καθαίρω (meaning cleansed); unclean, impure Inflected: ἀκάθαρτος masc singular nominative
πλεονέκτης pleh-on-ek'-tace /pleonéktēs/ Noun strongs: G4123 source: from πλείων and ἔχω; a covetous person Inflected: πλεονέκτης masc singular nominative
The lack of love in these lifestyles is so against that of those who are set apart that they shouldn't even be talked about among them. Eph 3:21 will simply not be possible if the church is like this. The glory of God is at stake. These vices make an utter mockery of who God is and who Christ is (Eph 4:15-16). With this term the verse moves beyond sexual selfishness to deal with all forms of avarice and coveting. The selfishness and self-indulgence of these activities and their destructiveness make them inappropriate for saints, those who have been set apart and sanctified to God. These vices are so serious that they should not even be mentioned among them. Such activity undercuts the credibility of the church. We have in this verse and the next core vices that have no place among God’s people. The details fit the earlier call not to walk as the Gentiles do (4:17). The exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7 is parallel in emphasis. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 126). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Love manifests not only in actions, but also in words. Foul language, loose mouths and smutty talk are out of place in someone walking in love. Someone walking in love will instead be grateful because of sonship, the love of Christ, the love of God and the security we have in God's pleasure toward us because of Christ's fragrant offering (Eph 4:1-2).
cf. 2 Pet 1:20
cf. Eph 1:11-14
cf. 3:6 This is not talking about having nothing to do with them as humans, but having nothing to do with their actions —"don't share what they do (ver 11)", i.e. the vices in ver 5. This partnership also includes the idea of "being deceived" (ver 6). You see how this would make sense considering that the inference has to do with action rather than association.
Again, as is the father, so is the son. Our walk is dependent on our identity. See ver 1
We are to live in such a way that our lives show the unfruitful/joyless deeds of darkness for what they are. The verb elenchō can mean ‘rebuke verbally’ or ‘expose’. The context of ‘light’ favours ‘exposure’, as light reveals (John 3:20). That may involve speaking about these deeds, but the point is broader. In fact, the next verse says it is shameful even to speak of such things, so giving excessive attention to the destructive acts is not the point. Exposure means that believers neither participate in nor condone these works. It is in the believers’ contrastive way of living, by showing a different path, that such exposure must take place. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 132). IVP. Kindle Edition.
trying δοκιμάζω dok-im-ad'-zo /dokimázō/ Verb strongs: G1381 source: from δόκιμος; I put to the test, prove, examine Inflected: δοκιμάζοντες present active participle masc plural nominative
John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; 1 John 1:5 Ps. 43:3; Isa. 9:2; 42:6; 60:1–2
Consists of/is expressed in
Gal 5:22-23; Eph 2:10, cf. Col 1:10
Cf. Rom 12:1-2
The manner of walking in the light is discernment of what pleases God. Tying it up with Rom 12:1-2, we can discern what pleases God when we are transformed by the renewal of our mind (Eph 4:23). In other words, I can walk in the light only as much as I seek God's pleasure.
brings dishonour in God's presence
cf. ver 3 In the light of who God is as light, these deeds are filth.
cf. Jn 3:20-21
Paul states a principle of divine activity. Light reveals evil so it works to bring good. It also shows things for what they are, without any obscurity. With the exposure also comes the opportunity for a change in direction (John 16:8 of the work of the Spirit; 1 Cor. 14:24–25). The language mirrors an image Jesus gave when he spoke of disciples as light (Matt. 5:14–16; cf. Phil. 2:15). Believers and their lives are seen as light that is to be a contrast to the world and that exposes by showing a different, more beneficial way to live and to relate to others (1 Pet. 2:15). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 133). IVP. Kindle Edition.
cf. Isaiah 26:19, 60:1-2
In other words, as we function as 'light', (walking in love, imitating God) we become the means for God to work to bring about resurrection life. We become the means of more light in the world —for more people to enjoy resurrection life in Christ (John 8:12)
present imperative implying continuous looking (and walking)
cf. Rom 12:1-2 Eph 5:2, 10. Note the idea of 'mind'. What is fascinating is the play of Eph 5:6 with what happened in the garden in Gen 3. In the garden, man was deceived by empty words and looked rather uncarefully at a fruit, desiring to be wise and have one's eyes opened. Paul now exhorts the church to be like the new Adam instead of the archetype. Don't be deceived, but walk as who you are —image-bearers of God
If we are in the light, we should 'look'!
The inference here points back to 5:6-14, which in turn looks back to 5:1-5. In 5:1-5, we see that our identity is grounded in whose we are —God's beloved children — and this identity is expressed in how we 'walk' as imitators of our Father and children of light (5:6-14). Considering the significance of this call and the walk that results from it, we ought to be careful about how we walk. Thus, this walk of image-bearing has to do with wisdom.
Cf. Rom 12:1-2
cf. Eph 5:3-5
cf. Gen. 47:9; Ps. 49:5; Amos 5:13; Eph. 6:13
The Fatherhood of God is a lovely environment to discuss mutual submission within a family.
cf. ver 4
our elder brother
Eph 1:23, 3:19
Walk in Love: As Beloved Children (5:1-5) 5:1-2 There is a deep God-rootedness in the two commands: We are to be imitators of God as his children, i.e. as goes the Father, so goes the son. And not just children, but loved children (cf. Eph 3:14-21) newly created in the image of God (Eph 4:24) as his reflectors As imitators of God, secured in his love, we are to walk in love as the Messiah loved us and gave himself for us inviting God's pleasure toward him (and us in him). So too we are to love and give. 5:3-4 The opposite of this God-imitating-walk-of-love is: In action: sexual immorality impurity covetousness (a.k.a. self-glorifying idolatry) In word: foul language loose mouths smutty talk Both sets of word and action are utterly incompatible with those that are truly holy (saints, cf. Eph 4:23). 5:5-6 The ground for not walking in this way is: Such people do not belong to the kingdom of God in the Messiah. They have no inheritance (Eph 1:11-14). Walking in immorality, impurity and idolatry are symptoms of not belonging to the kingdom We ought not to fall for the lie that such things are okay (cf. Eph 5:4) because these characteristics result only in one thing —the exact opposite of Eph 5:1: Instead of sons of God, these are sons of disobedience Instead of God's love, there is only God's wrath In short, our own joy is at stake in our imitating, glorifying and imaging God. Our failure to imitate and image points to our identity. 1. In what ways do you make a mockery of God's glory? 2. How encouraging is it for you to know that you are God's beloved child? How will this truth enable you to reflect God through this week? 3. How seriously do we take the warnings of Scripture to the church? Why do I think I am an exception to the warning here? 4. In what ways have you committed idolatry by your lack of love? What would you want God to change? Walk in Love: As Children of the Light (5:6-14) 5:7-8 Considering the destiny and identity of the sons of disobedience, i.e. the deserved wrath of God and their alignment to 'disobedience'— Paul exhorts the sons of light, i.e. the sons of God (ver 1), to walk radically differently because although they formerly were darkness, now they are themselves light in Christ the Lord. And so it is our identity in Christ and as sons of light that drives our walking, as it drives our imitating (ver 1 and ver 2); and this identity is the reason why we cannot partner with the sons of disobedience. 5:9-11 This walking in light is expressed in fruit-bearing —goodness, righteousness and truth— and is only possible as we try to discern what pleases God (ver 2 and Christ's pleasing sacrifice, cf. Rom 12:1-2). In other words, this walk of light should be so different and fruitful, that it illuminates the futility of the walk of darkness. 5:12-14 Although the deeds of darkness are so vile in the sight of 'Light' (so vile that they shouldn't even be spoken of), our lives of exposure become the means of transformation for others. We become the means that God uses to awaken them to life (John 8:12) and they, now being light, can enjoy the benefits of having the light of life, no longer walking in darkness. 1. What is your source of identity and security? 2. Is God's pleasure the most important thing to you? What is at stake when that is not the priority? 3. What fruit do I bear that showcases my God-centredness? 4. In what ways does your life luminous? Can you see tangible effects of God working through your life to transform the lives of others? Walk in Love: As Wise, Spirit-Empowered Children (5:15-21) 5:15-16 Paul's inference here looks back to the rest of the chapter —considering whose we are and the high calling of our walk as children of light, we ought to be careful about how we walk. Thus, this walk of image-bearing has to do with wisdom (cf. Gen 3) and a renewed mind redeeming every chance to be light by radical, God-like love in an evil age. 5:17 Thus instead of foolishness, we run after the will/pleasure of God (which is wisdom - the renewal of our mind, cf. Rom 12:1-2) and utterly controlled by power of the Spirit of God (cf. 3:16) 5:18-21 Along with pursuing the will of God, Paul encourages his readers to be totally controlled by the Spirit. The participles that follow could either be attendant circumstances (means) or results of this filling by the Spirit (I lean toward the former): heartful worship with 'one another' in song, grounded in Christ's work submission to 'one another' rooted in reverence for Christ 1. H ow much do we sense our need for Spirit empowered wisdom? 2. In what ways are we growing in regular mind-renewal, pursuing the pleasure of God? 3. How invested are you in God's community —both in singing and submission? How do you plan to intentionally plug into the local church?