All or nothing, part 2: “Pas” or fail in Ephesians 4:30-5:21

We finished part 1 by looking at Ephesians 4:29. Let’s pick up part 2 with verse 30: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed (sphragizo) for the day of redemption. Sphragizo may occur “for security, from Satan,” or “to hide, keep in silence, keep secret,” or “to prove, confirm, or attest a thing.” It includes authentication, to “place beyond doubt” or “to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be.” We are sealed until the day of “redemption” (apolytrosis), which means, “deliverance or liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.” What a comfort that the Holy Spirit seals us until we are finally redeemed!

Verse 30 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Paul gives no rationale for this command: we are simply to “bear away” or “carry off” all (pas) these negative qualities, even if they are attached to us, even if it involves force, death or violence, to the end that they cease. Bitterness (pikria) involves “extreme wickedness” or hatred. Wrath (thymos) means “passion,” “heat,” or anger “boiling up and soon subsiding again”: the “glow, ardour, the wine of passion, inflaming wine (which either drives the drinker mad or kills him with its strength).” We saw two other related forms of anger in verse 26 (part 1). Here in verse 30 we have orge, often translated “wrath” and including “movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but especially anger” which can be “exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself.” It can be defined as “the natural disposition, temper, character.” In other words, it’s the anger that comes natural to us.

The last three qualities we must put away are clamor (krauge: usually translated “crying”), slander (blasphemia); and malice (kakia) meaning “malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure; wickedness, depravity (that is not ashamed to break laws); or evil, trouble.”

Paul ends Chapter 4 with a positive entreaty and its rationale in verse 32: “Be kind (chrestos) to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Chrestos is also translated “easy, better, goodness, good, gracious, fit, fit for use, useful.” It can mean “virtuous” or “manageable” as in “mild, pleasant (as opposed to harsh, hard, sharp, bitter)” or when referring to things: “more pleasant,” or people: “kind, benevolent.” Tender-hearted (eusplagchnos) occurs just twice in the New Testament (NT) and can mean “compassionate” or “sympathetic.” Forgiving (charizomai) stresses grace and giving, can be translated “freely given” and is the same word used in the rationale: we should forgive or give freely to others the same way or because God for Christ’s sake also has forgiven or given freely to us.

Chapter breaks are inserted methods of organization which don’t appear in the original text, and Paul starts Chapter 5 by sandwiching his command inside the rationale: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Like in part 1, love begins to take precedence. As God’s beloved (agapetos) children, we’re to imitate Him by peripateo: conducting ourselves, regulating our lives, making due use of opportunities for and passing our lives in love (agape). We’re to do this in the same way or because Christ also loved us (agapao) and delivered Himself for us to God as a “sweet-smelling” or “well pleasing” savor.

Paul launches into verse 3 with negative commands: “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Immorality (porneia) metaphorically means, “the worship of idols,” and literally means, “illicit sexual intercourse” of three types: “adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.”; “sexual intercourse with close relatives”; and “sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman.” Impurity (akatharsia as we saw in verse 19, part 1). Greed (pleonexia) means, “greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice.” We’re to steer so clear of these three vices so they’re not even (“not once” in the King James Version [KJV]) mentioned among us, which for saints (hagios: most holy thing) is only fitting (aneko). Hagios is the same word for “holy” in the Holy Spirit.

Paul continues verse 4 in the same mien: “and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” Each word in this negative trio of commands is only used once in the entire Bible. Filthiness (aischrotes) also means, “obscenity.” Silly talk (morologia) refers to foolish speech and is related to the English word “moron.” Coarse jesting (eutrapelia) can mean, “pleasantry, humour, facetiousness” or “in a bad sense: scurrility, ribaldry, low jesting.” As in the previous verse, these behaviors aren’t fitting (aneko again) for saints, but Paul presents an alternative: giving thanks (eucharistia).

Verse 5 offers a sobering incentive to avoid the unique negative trio, and maybe a reason for giving thanks, too: For this you know with certainty, that no immoral (pornos) or impure person (akathartos) or covetous man (pleonektes with a related form in verse 3 above), who is an idolater (eidololatres), has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Pornos (related to porneia also in verse 3 above) is a rather rare word, used only 10 times in the NT (mostly by Paul) and means, “a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator.” It is most often translated “fornicator” or “whoremonger” in the KJV. Akathartos (related to another form in verse 19, part 1) means, “not cleansed, unclean.” Pleonektes means “one eager to have more, especially what belongs to others; greedy of gain, covetous.” Eidololatres also expresses the idea of being covetous, and additionally means, “a worshipper of false gods, idolater” or “a covetous man as a worshipper of Mammon.”

The inheritance (kleronomia) we miss out on by being one of the people described above is “property received (or to be received) by inheritance; what is given to one as a possession; the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is to be expected after the visible return of Christ” and “the share which an individual will have in that eternal blessedness.” In verse 6 Paul warns, “Let no one deceive (apatao: cheat, beguile) you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath (orge, as in verse 30 above) of God comes upon the sons (huios: children) of disobedience (apeitheia).” Used in only 7 NT verses, apeitheia means, “obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will” and is often translated, “unbelief.” Paul concludes, “Therefore do not be partakers with them.”

It’s cause for a deep sigh of relief. Although we once were these people, Paul’s extended metaphor in verses 8-14 between darkness (skotos: also blindness) and light (phos) shows us that now the difference between us and them is like night and day. Phos has the qualities “of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it; that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly.” Paul declares in verse 8-9 that we are “Light in the Lord” and commands us to “walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all (pas) goodness and righteousness and truth).” Goodness (agathosyne) also means, “uprightness of heart and life, kindness.” Righteousness (dikaiosyne) we’ve already discussed in part 1, verse 24. Truth (aletheia) includes reality, fact, certainty and “personal excellence: that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit.”

As children of Light, the goal of our walk is “trying to learn (dokimazo) what is pleasing (“acceptable” KJV) to the Lord,” (verse 10). Dokimazo is “proving” in the KJV and means “to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.”

Verse 11 tells us not to “participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose (elegcho) them.” Elegcho means “to convict, refute, confute: generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted and by conviction to bring to the light, to expose; to find fault with, correct: by word i.e. to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove or to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation; or by deed i.e. to chasten, to punish.” The KJV captures elegcho a bit better with “reprove.” Verses 12-13 say it’s shameful even to speak of these dark, secret deeds, but through elegcho, the light makes all (pas) things visible, “for everything (pas) that becomes visible is light.” “Visible” (phaneroo) carries a sense of understanding through teaching: the light helps us fully understand (expose, avoid and punish) the deeds of darkness (skotos) because full understanding is light (phos). Verse 14 declares that the source of this light is Christ, Who shines on us when we awake from our sleep and rise from the dead.

Paul begins to sum up in verses 15-19:

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

This time (poneros) is “full of labours, annoyances, hardships;” including perils, pain and trouble both physical and spiritual. It’s “bad, of a bad nature or condition,” “diseased,” “blind,” “wicked,” a time in which we need wisdom to understand God’s will. Instead of wine leading to asotia: “an abandoned, dissolute life,” we’re to fill ourselves and each other with heartfelt, spiritual music and song directed to and from God.

In verses 20-21, Paul concludes, “always giving thanks (eucharisteo as in verse 4 above) for all things (pas) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject (hypotasso) to one another in the fear (phobos) of Christ.” Hypotasso “was a Greek military term meaning ‘to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader’. In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden’.” Phobos means, “fear, dread, terror, reverence for one’s husband.”

As Christ’s bride and God’s child, we’re to respectfully throw ourselves under Their leadership. It’s a lifetime walk of grace and march of maturity. We dare not fail; instead, we’re to be all in.

Greek translations and lexicon are from the KJV of The Blue Letter Bible
Unless specified, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB (New American Standard Bible) Copyright by The Lockman Foundation http://www.lockman.org

Photo by Oliver Sjöström from Pexels

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