Main point summary
Instead of walking in the old deceptive falsehood, our calling demands a walk of integrity, grounded in the Truth.
Now this I say and d testify in the Lord,
e that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do,
f in the futility of their minds .
They g are (1) darkened in their understanding ,
h (2) alienated from the life of God
because of the (3) ignorance that is in them,
due to i their (4) hardness of heart.
They j have (5) become callous
and k have (6) given themselves up to sensuality,
greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
But that is not the way you l learned Christ! —
assuming that m you have heard about him
and n were taught in him,
as the truth is in Jesus,
to o put off p your old self, 1
which belongs to your former manner of life
and is corrupt through q deceitful desires,
and r to be renewed in the spirit of your minds ,
and to put on s the new self,
t created after the likeness of God
in true righteousness and holiness .
Therefore, having put away [the] 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 [the cause of provocation],
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 slander be put away from you,
along with all malice [be put away from you,].
h Be kind to one another,
i forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
cf. Romans 1:18–32; Colossians 3:5–10; and Ephesians 2:1–3. Futility is the way Jews often describe connections to idols (Wis. 13-14), the exchange of the worship of the Creator for the worship of the creature Lev. 20:23; Deut. 18:9; Eccl. 1:2 lxx; Jer. 2:5; Acts 14:15; 1 Pet. 1:18; 4:3–4; 2 Pet. 2:17–19). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 114). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Cf. 2:3; 'darkened' is a perfect participle, indicating ground
Ignorant, but without excuse; unaware but culpable. They have pushed God away in stubbornness and hardness of heart Cf. Lev. 5:18; 22:14; Eccl. 3:11; Acts 3:17; 17:30
The picture in the word pōrōsis here is of a callous response that exists because the heart is impenetrable (Mark 3:5; Rom. 11:25). The verb in John 12:40 speaks of eyes blinded as a result, while 1 Timothy 4:2 speaks of a seared conscience. The opposite of this, enlightened eyes, appears in Ephesians 1:18. It is desires that are corrupted by a mind not operating as it should. The only reversal possible is to pay attention to the Spirit of God. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 115). IVP. Kindle Edition.
On the surface, there is a contrast with Romans 1:18–32, where God gives people over to this life. However, the point is that God lets them go this way. They make the choice. A divine judgment permits a self-judgment. It is a petrified heart that has no feeling or sensitivity to others. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 115). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Three key terms describe the vices this lifestyle adopts. Aselgeia refers to a lack of restraint, abandonment into licentiousness (Gal. 5:19; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:2, 13–14). The term is often sexual, but in this general context it refers to an array of choices for the self. Akatharsia refers to uncleanness, that which is vile or dirty (Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5). Pleonexia is ‘greediness’, so it is self-focused desire (5:3; Col. 3:5).32 Jesus warned against making such a choice (Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 115). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Matt. 11:29; John 6:45; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 3:2; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:7 Involves learning both in knowledge and living: learning from Christ's teachings and his life.
Like 3:2, this is a rhetorical device meant to evoke the reality stated. "Duh - You have learned Christ."
Christ is the truth! And this works out in his life and cross work and resurrection. And if we have heard about him and taught in him, this is most foundational.
Cf. Col 3:10-11; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:1-3 The old and new man/self is not the inner person, but a corporate reality of people in a community. The old man was in Adam, the new, in Christ.
ἀποτίθημι ap-ot-eeth'-ay-mee /apotíthēmi/ Verb strongs: G659 source: from ἀπό and τίθημι; I lay off or aside, renounce Inflected: ἀποθέσθαι aorist middle infinitive
ἐνδύω en-doo'-o /endýō/ Verb strongs: G1746 source: from ἐν and δύνω (in the sense of sinking into a garment); I put on, clothe Inflected: ἐνδύσασθαι aorist middle infinitive
ἀνανεόω an-an-neh-o'-o /ananeóō/ Verb strongs: G365 source: from ἀνά and a derivative of νέος; I renew Inflected: ἀνανεοῦσθαι present passive infinitive
Three infinitives are used in progression: To put off the old man To be renewed in the spirit of your minds To put on the new self This is a corporate command (see Col 3:10-11). And this is how those who learned Christ were taught (ver 21). Imperative or Indicative? The core question is whether these are to be seen as imperatival in force or indicatives. If imperatives, they would read: put off the old man, be renewed in your mind and put on the new man. If indicatives, the teaching would be: you have put off the old man, you are being renewed, you have put on the new man. With imperatives, it would be an exhortation. With indicatives, it states a fact. It is crucial to recall that this is about core teaching from the start of their faith walk, so it is not about what believers are down the road but what it is they have become in a transition.36 Also crucial is the difference in the tenses and their order. Indicatives would make more sense if the order had been: you have put off the old man (position), you have put on the new man (position), now you are being renewed in your mind (continuing status). The current order favours imperatives: put off the old man with regard to your previous behaviour (aorist pointing to a resolve), be renewed in your mind (present tense looking to a continuing response), put on the new man (another aorist of resolve). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 117). IVP. Kindle Edition. When does this take place? RSV is seriously misleading in that it renders the infinitive verbs as if they were imperatives, and thus represents Paul’s written instruction as fresh commands to his readers: Put off your old nature … and put on the new nature (verses 22, 24). But this cannot be right, for two main reasons. First, in the parallel passage in Colossians8 the verbs are aorist participles, indicating what the Colossian Christians did at the time of their conversion: ‘Seeing that you have put off the old nature … and have put on the new nature.’ Secondly, if they are commands in Ephesians 4:22, 24, then the command of verse 25 becomes a nonsense: Therefore, putting away falsehood … Surely this ‘therefore’, which builds on what has just been written, can hardly base one command upon another, as if to say: ‘Put off your old nature … and put on the new … Therefore put away falsehood’. The Colossians parallel, on the other hand, makes perfect sense, because it builds a present command on a past fact. It reads: ‘Put all these things away—anger, malice, slander (etc.)—seeing that you have put off the old nature … and have put on the new’ (3:8–10). It is because we have already put off our old nature, in that decisive act of repentance called conversion, that we can logically be commanded to put away all the practices which belong to that old and rejected life. In Ephesians 4 as in Colossians 3, therefore, the same logic is to be found. The verbs ‘put off’ and ‘put on’ are not fresh commands which the apostle is now addressing to his readers, but old ones which he gave when he was with them and of which he now reminds them. Indeed, these commands are the very ‘truth as it is in Jesus’ which they had been taught and learned. So we should repunctuate these sentences, and replace the full stop at the end of verse 21 with a colon or with the word ‘namely’, thus: ‘You did not so learn Christ!—assuming that you … were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, namely that you were to put off your old nature … and put on the new …’ Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (pp. 180-181). IVP. Kindle Edition.
The restoration of functional image-bearers who truly and authentically mirror God in Christ - in holiness and righteousness.
Note the extent to which intellect plays in behaviour —seen in the contrasts: Futile minds, darkened understanding and inward ignorance, as a result of which they had become callous, licentious and insatiably unclean. But in contrast to them the believers had ‘learned’ Christ, ‘heard’ him, been ‘taught’ in him, all according to the ‘truth’ which is in Jesus.
No preposition (about) present. This also hints at the reality of Christ speaking through those that preached the history to the Ephesians. Christ, therefore, being both the teacher and the teaching
Christ is the context and the atmosphere in which the teacher imparts the teaching.
The sum and substance of the teaching is Christ —his teaching and life
Cf. John 14:6 Jesus' human name is invoked here, not just his title.
Cf. Eph 2:11-12
Cf. Col 3:9-11 This new man/old man language is corporate and has to do with who they were 'in Adam' and 'in Christ'
cf. Zech 8:16 The Zechariah citation is appropriate here because in the pressure of exile, the call was to be faithful to each other. Their connection to each other as fellow body members is the rationale here. That rationale is deeply relational. Paul does not allow believers to think of themselves as independent agents (Rom. 12:4–5; 1 Cor. 12:14–26). Colossians 3:9 has a similar exhortation. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (pp. 119-120). IVP. Kindle Edition.
The idea of vv. 26-27 is as follows: Christians are to exercise a righteous indignation over sin in the midst of the believing community (v. 26a; note that v. 25 is restricting the discussion to those in the body of Christ). When other believers sin, such people should be gently and quickly confronted (v. 26b), for if the body of Christ does not address sin in its midst, the devil gains a foothold (v. 27). “Entirely opposite of the ‘introspective conscience’ view, this text seems to be a shorthand expression for church discipline, suggesting that there is a biblical warrant for δικαία ὀργή [dikaia orgh] (as the Greeks put it) - righteous indignation” (ExSyn 492). Matt. 5:22; 18:34; 22:7; Luke 14:21; 15:28
Cf. Lev 19:11
Acts 20:35; 1 Tim. 6:18; Titus 3:14 —cf. Gen 1:26-28
Cf. Isaiah 63:9-10; Psalm 78:40-72 Since we are sealed, our redemption is still guaranteed, despite us making an utter mockery of God. Ps 78 talks of discipline in connection to grieving God. So we are guaranteed redemption, but we cannot assume no discipline - and this discipline is for the glory of God and our good!
σαπρός sap-ros' /saprós/ Adjective strongs: G4550 source: from σήπω; rotten, useless, corrupt, putrid Matt. 12:33; 13:48
There is a variety of responses to be avoided (1 Pet. 2:1). Pikria (bitterness) refers to resentment that leaves a sour attitude or animosity towards someone (Rom. 3:14; Jas 3:14). It is a harboured resentment that prevents reconciliation. Thymos (anger) and orgē (wrath) are paired and deal with how bitterness can express itself (2 Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:8; 1 Tim. 2:8). Animosity is the fruit of these responses. Another way these emotions express themselves is as karaugē (‘clamour’) and blasphēmia (‘slander’), anger verbalized in ways that attack people (Exod. 12:30; 1 Sam. 4:6; Mark 7:22; Col. 3:8; Jas 1:19–20). Such themes fit exhortations from the Old Testament (Prov. 15:1–4; 16:32; 29:8, 11). These behaviours plus any other form of malice need to be put away. Where present imperatives have dominated this section, here we have an exhortation in the aorist, where the force is to change one’s behaviour with a resolve to get it done. It may be that the force of the shift in tense is: ‘This needs to be done now.’ Where these negative traits dominate, division and conflict reside. They do not breed the maintenance of unity. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 123). IVP. Kindle Edition.
You would expect Paul to contrast "no longer walk" with "instead now walk", but in ver 20, he says "that is not the way you have already learned Christ". There seems to be a deep sense of unnaturalness to walking as 'Gentiles' for the one who learned Christ.
WALK IN TRUTH (4:1-16) Walk as you were Taught (4:17-24) 4:17-19 In the light of walking worthily in unity for the sake of the new creation (the church), Paul insists that the Ephesians don't walk like the old creation —as the Gentiles do in futility (exchanging the glory of God for pettiness). This stemmed from: a. a darkening of understanding b. because of being away from God c. this is because of ignorance d. which in turn, is because of stubbornness of heart This results in them being futile in mind, which is also seen in their callousness and them giving themselves up to mere sensuality. What is this petty-futile-sensuality? A lust for every impurity. 4:20-21 Contrasted with the futility of the unlearned mind is the way that the Ephesians 'learned' Christ —who is the coach, content and context of the learning. Truth, teacher and training ground are all the person of Jesus. 4:22-24 What was the true learning in Christ? a. To put off the old man—described by 4:17-19, corrupted as it was through deceitful , untrue desires (ver 19) b. To be renewed in the mind constantly c. To put on the new man, the new creation made in the image of God —truly righteous and holy because of the truth in Jesus Christ and his work (ver 21) In the new creation, the filthy garment identified with Adam has been stripped, while the true uniform identified with Christ was put on. The mind was made new and is constantly renewed. 1. How does a futile mind look like? What is the opposite? If God is the opposite, then what is the opposite of futility? 2. What does our new birth have to do with our identity? What impact does the change of new birth have in our lives? How do we renew our minds constantly? 3. In what ways is "learning Christ" of less appeal to you? Are you growing in learning Christ? What are the consequences of not "learning Christ"? 4. In what sense is our walk like that of the ignorant? What keeps us from walking in integrity? 5. How passionate are we about reflecting God? What does that look like? (4:25-32) 4:25 In the light of who we are and what we were taught, Paul explains what the walk of truth looks like for the new creation in Christ —which first and most obviously is a putting off of deceit (the way of the old man) and instead, speaking truth to the neighbour, i.e. the fellow-body-member-in-Christ. This truth speaking is rooted in 2 reasons: a. Who we are in Christ (the way we were taught) b. Who were are to each other: fellow members 4:26-27 We ought to be angry, but not sin, i.e. do not let it simmer and fester toward the provocation. By thus dealing with provocation (i.e. sin in the community) in truth-love (ver 25) we ensure that no opportunity is given to the devil. 4:28 The thief, instead of stealing, should labour truthfully for a purpose —to serve others by giving of our labour as new-creation people. 4:29 Instead of filthy talk, we ought to only talk based on who we are as the new man: to benefit and build up others appropriately. 4:30 And in all of this, we are dealing with God himself —the Holy Spirit who sealed us for the day of redemption (1:13-14). To not walk in the truth of who we are as the new man is to grieve the God who redeemed and will redeem us. We are created in the image of God (ver 24) and when we fail to reflect Christ, we make a mockery of God and a mockery of our hope of redemption. 4:31-32 In summary we should put off: a. bitterness b. anger c. wrath d. quarrelling e. evil, slandering talk And we should, in relation with each other, put on : a. kindness b. compassionate c. forgiving one another All of this is rooted in the forgiveness of our sins, under the new covenant mediated by the Messiah and orchestrated by God in whom we have put on the new man. 1. Why is speaking truth so critical for a Christian? How does that integrity also tie in with anger, work and speech? 2. How do you sin in your anger? How do you plan to stop? 3. How real to you is the person of the Holy Spirit and his work? How can we be sensitive to Him and our hope? 4. How real to you is God's forgiveness in Christ? How do you plan to be constantly forgiving, tenderhearted and thus kind to others?