Ephesians Bible Study ~ Week 8

This week we continued looking at what putting on the “new self” looks like according to Ephesians. While the aspects of the new self in Ephesians 4 are “horizontal” or about relating with each other (speaking the truth, letting go of anger, helping others in need, building each other up with your words, and forgiving one another), the aspects in Ephesians 5 are more “vertical” or about our relationship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

May we be greatly encouraged this week as we strive to live in the new self!

Ephesians 5:1-21

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A.      “Two Ways” form of instruction (continued)…

1.       Puts 2 ways of living in stark contrast, one positive and the other negative.

a.        Part I: 4:17-32 (discussed last week)

  • General exhortations on what not to do, why not to do it, and what to do (vv 17-24)
  • 5 exhortations on the specifics of a New Life: speak the truth, let go of anger, help others in need, build each other up with your words, let go of bitterness and forgive as thoroughly as Christ forgave you (vv 25-32)

b.       Part II: 5:1-21

  • Be imitators of God and Christ
  • Change your lifestyle and watch your walk
  • Be filled with the Spirit

B.      The Text

Parenesis (4:1-6:20) – advice or exhortation

Unity and Diversity: a call to maintain Christian unity (4:1-6) and the goals of Christian diversity (4:7-16)

A “Two Ways” form (4:17-5:21)

The Two Ways form: Part I (4:17-32)

The Two Ways form: Part II (5:1-21)

~~~~~~~~~~~

[5:1] Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. [2] And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [3] But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. [4] Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. [5] For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Exhortation#1: Be imitators of God by imitating Christ

How?
• Recognize we are His beloved children (children imitate their parents)
• Walk in love as Christ did

Why?
• Because Christ sacrificed Himself for us as a fragrant offering (recall the burnt offerings of Israel and how they were a “pleasing aroma” to God [Ex 29:18], cf Eze 20:40-44)

What must we avoid in order to imitate God and Christ?
• Sexual immorality – in Greek “porneia” meaning premarital and/or extramarital intercourse
• All impurity – in Greek “akatharsia” meaning physical and moral impurity
• Covetousness – in Greek “pleonexia” meaning greed

Why?
• Because these behaviors are not fitting among saints (we are saints! cf, 2:19)

What other behaviors should we avoid?
• Filthiness – in Greek “aischrotēs” meaning obscenity
• Foolish talk and crude joking – in Greek “mōrologia” and “eutrapelia” meaning coarse, vulgar language and degrading joking

Why?
• This language is out of place [among saints] when there should instead be thanksgiving!
• Because we know that people who behave and speak in these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God and Christ

And finally…
• Do not listen to those who lie and excuse their evil actions (ie, the “sons of disobedience”)

According to Talbert, “Various Jewish writings refer to wicked persons who excused their evil actions on the grounds that God does not judge. The author of Ephesians says, ‘Do not listen to such people. They lie!'” (Talbert, p 126)

[7] Therefore do not associate with them; [8] for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light [9] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), [10] and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. [11] Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [12] For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. [13] But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, [14] for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Exhortation #2: Do not participate in the “Gentile lifestyle”

Why?
• Because we (believers) are light in the Lord – in Greek “phōs” meaning luminous (cf, Matt 5:14, Acts 26:18)
• We must walk as children of light (ie, Christ is our power source and we are therefore luminous and glowing in the darkness of the world!)

How will we know that we are walking as children of light?
• We will bear fruit: goodness, righteousness, truth, and discernment of what is pleasing to the Lord

If we are light, how do we respond to the “darkness” in the world?
• We confront it, expose it, and make it visible by bringing it into the light
What happens then?
• Any sin that is exposed by the light can no longer remain
• The one who has committed the sin is now “light” herself, she is awakened and restored, and is reconnected to the light of Christ

[15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [18] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, [20] giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, [21] submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Exhortation #3: Look carefully at how you walk and be filled with the Spirit

Why?
• Because we must walk in wisdom and make the best use of our time because “the days are evil” (recall that the sons of disobedience are telling us lies! cf 5:6)

What does walking in wisdom look like?
Do not be foolish
BUT…
Do understand the will of the Lord
Do not drink to excess and behave improperly
BUT…
Do be filled with the Spirit

What are the results of being filled with the Spirit?
• We will sing praise to each other
• We will sing praise to the Lord
• We will give thanks to God and Christ at all times and for all things (not just the good things!)
• We will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ

C.      The Major Issues

1.       The imitation of God

a.        The view of ancient Greek, Jewish, and 1st century philosophers

  • Humans attained likeness to God by imitating His virtues
  • True worship is not only believing God but imitating Him as well

b.        New Testament examples

  • Matt 5:43-48 “…be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
  • I Cor 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
  • I Thess 1:6-7 “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…so that you became an example to all the believers…”
  • I Pet 2:21 “…Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Homework for Week 9:

Read Ephesians 5:22-6:9 and consider the following questions:

  • 5:22-6:9 provides specific examples of relationships where we can be “imitators of God” (wives and husbands; children and parents; employers and employees). How do you think becoming imitators of God and Christ can help us to fulfill these roles?
  • What do obedience and submission look like for a wife? For a child? For an employee?
  • Are you bothered by the idea of being an obedient and submissive wife/daughter/employee? Why or why not?
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