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Ephesians 4:17--5:20

Context
Live in Holiness

4:17 So I say this, and insist 1  in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility 2  of their thinking. 3  4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, 4  being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. 4:19 Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 5  4:20 But you did not learn about Christ like this, 4:21 if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. 4:22 You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside 6  the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 4:23 to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 4:24 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image 7  – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth. 8 

4:25 Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, 9  for we are members of one another. 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; 10  do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. 11  4:27 Do not give the devil an opportunity. 4:28 The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. 4:29 You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, 12  that it may give grace to those who hear. 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 4:31 You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. 4:32 Instead, 13  be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. 14 

Live in Love

5:1 Therefore, be 15  imitators of God as dearly loved children 5:2 and live 16  in love, just as Christ also loved us 17  and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering 18  to God. 5:3 But 19  among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, 20  or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 21  5:4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving. 5:5 For you can be confident of this one thing: 22  that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Live in the Light

5:6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. 23  5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them, 24  5:8 for you were at one time darkness, but now you are 25  light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light – 5:9 for the fruit of the light 26  consists in 27  all goodness, righteousness, and truth – 5:10 trying to learn 28  what is pleasing to the Lord. 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather 29  expose them. 30  5:12 For the things they do 31  in secret are shameful even to mention. 5:13 But all things being exposed by the light are made evident. 5:14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: 32 

“Awake, 33  O sleeper! 34 

Rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you!” 35 

Live Wisely

5:15 Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 5:16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 5:17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise 36  by understanding 37  what the Lord’s will is. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which 38  is debauchery, 39  but be filled by the Spirit, 40  5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music 41  in 42  your hearts to the Lord, 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other 43  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 tn On the translation of μαρτύρομαι (marturomai) as “insist” see BDAG 619 s.v. 2.

2 tn On the translation of ματαιότης (mataioth") as “futility” see BDAG 621 s.v.

3 tn Or “thoughts,” “mind.”

4 tn In the Greek text this clause is actually subordinate to περιπατεῖ (peripatei) in v. 17. It was broken up in the English translation so as to avoid an unnecessarily long and cumbersome statement.

5 sn Greediness refers to an increasing desire for more and more. The point is that sinful passions and desires are never satisfied.

6 tn An alternative rendering for the infinitives in vv. 22-24 (“to lay aside… to be renewed… to put on”) is “that you have laid aside… that you are being renewed… that you have put on.” The three infinitives of vv. 22 (ἀποθέσθαι, apoqesqai), 23 (ἀνανεοῦσθαι, ananeousqai), and 24 (ἐνδύσασθαι, endusasqai), form part of an indirect discourse clause; they constitute the teaching given to the believers addressed in the letter. The problem in translation is that one cannot be absolutely certain whether they go back to indicatives in the original statement (i.e., “you have put off”) or imperatives (i.e., “put off!”). Every other occurrence of an aorist infinitive in indirect discourse in the NT goes back to an imperative, but in all of these examples the indirect discourse is introduced by a verb that implies a command. The verb διδάσκω (didaskw) in the corpus Paulinum may be used to relate the indicatives of the faith as well as the imperatives. This translation implies that the infinitives go back to imperatives, though the alternate view that they refer back to indicatives is also a plausible interpretation. For further discussion, see ExSyn 605.

7 tn Or “in God’s likeness.” Grk “according to God.” The preposition κατά used here denotes a measure of similarity or equality (BDAG 513 s.v. B.5.b.α).

8 tn Or “in righteousness and holiness which is based on truth” or “originated from truth.”

9 sn A quotation from Zech 8:16.

10 sn A quotation from Ps 4:4. Although several translations render the phrase Be angry and do not sin as “If you are angry, do not sin” such is unlikely on a grammatical, lexical, and historical level (see D. B. Wallace, “᾿Οργίζεσθε in Ephesians 4:26: Command or Condition?” CTR 3 [1989]: 352-72). 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).

11 tn The word παροργισμός (parorgismo"), typically translated “anger” in most versions is used almost exclusively of the source of anger rather than the results in Greek literature (thus, it refers to an external cause or provocation rather than an internal reaction). The notion of “cause of your anger” is both lexically and historically justified. The apparently proverbial nature of the statement (“Do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger”) finds several remarkable parallels in Pss. Sol. 8:8-9: “(8) God laid bare their sins in the full light of day; All the earth came to know the righteous judgments of God. (9) In secret places underground their iniquities (were committed) to provoke (Him) to anger” (R. H. Charles’ translation). Not only is παροργισμός used, but righteous indignation against God’s own people and the laying bare of their sins in broad daylight are also seen.

12 tn Grk “but if something good for the building up of the need.” The final genitive τῆς χρείας (th" creia") may refer to “the need of the moment” or it may refer to the need of a particular person or group of people as the next phrase “give grace to those who hear” indicates.

13 tc ‡ Although most witnesses have either δέ (de; Ì49 א A D2 Ψ 33 1739mg Ï lat) or οὖν (oun; D* F G 1175) here, a few important mss lack a conjunction (Ì46 B 0278 6 1739* 1881). If either conjunction were originally in the text, it is difficult to explain how the asyndetic construction could have arisen (although the dropping of δέ could have occurred via homoioteleuton). Further, although Hellenistic Greek rarely joined sentences without a conjunction, such does occur in the corpus Paulinum on occasion, especially to underscore a somber point. “Instead” has been supplied in the translation because of stylistic requirements, not textual basis. NA27 places δέ in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

14 tn Or “forgiving.”

15 tn Or “become.”

16 tn Grk “walk.” The NT writers often used the verb “walk” (περιπατέω, peripatew) to refer to ethical conduct (cf. Rom 8:4; Gal 5:16; Col 4:5).

17 tc A number of important witnesses have ὑμᾶς (Jumas, “you”; e.g., א* A B P 0159 81 1175 al it co as well as several fathers). Other, equally important witnesses read ἡμᾶς (Jhmas, “us”; Ì46 א2 D F G Ψ 0278 33 1739 1881 al lat sy). It is possible that ἡμᾶς was accidentally introduced via homoioarcton with the previous word (ἠγάπησεν, hgaphsen). On the other hand, ὑμᾶς may have been motivated by the preceding ὑμῖν (Jumin) in 4:32 and second person verbs in 5:1, 2. Further, the flow of argument seems to require the first person pronoun. A decision is difficult to make, but the first person pronoun has a slightly greater probability of being original.

18 tn Grk “an offering and sacrifice to God as a smell of fragrance.” The first expression, προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν (prosforan kai qusian), is probably a hendiadys and has been translated such that “sacrificial” modifies “offering.” The second expression, εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας (ei" osmhn euwdia", “as a smell of fragrance”) has been translated as “a fragrant offering”; see BDAG 728-29 s.v. ὀσμή 2. Putting these two together in a clear fashion in English yields the translation: “a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

19 tn The term “But” translates the δέ (de) in a contrastive way in light of the perfect obedience of Jesus in vv. 1-2 and the vices mentioned in v. 3.

20 tn Grk “all impurity.”

21 tn Grk “just as is fitting for saints.” The καθώς (kaqws) was rendered with “as” and the sense is causal, i.e., “for” or “because.” The negative particle “not” (“for these are not proper for the saints”) in this clause was supplied in English so as to make the sense very clear, i.e., that these vices are not befitting of those who name the name of Christ.

22 tn Grk “be knowing this.” See also 2 Pet 1:20 for a similar phrase: τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες (touto prwton ginwskonte").

23 sn The expression sons of disobedience is a Semitic idiom that means “people characterized by disobedience.” In this context it refers to “all those who are disobedient.” Cf. Eph 2:2-3.

24 tn The genitive αὐτῶν (autwn) has been translated as a genitive of association because of its use with συμμέτοχοι (summetocoi) – a verb which implies association in the σύν- (sun-) prefix.

25 tn The verb “you are” is implied in the Greek text, but is supplied in the English translation to make it clear.

26 tc Several mss (Ì46 D2 Ψ Ï) have πνεύματος (pneumatos, “Spirit”) instead of φωτός (fwtos, “light”). Although most today regard φωτός as obviously original (UBS4 gives it an “A” rating), a case could be made that πνεύματος is what the author wrote. First, although this is largely a Byzantine reading (D2 often, if not normally, assimilates to the Byzantine text), Ì46 gives the reading much greater credibility. Internally, the φωτός at the end of v. 8 could have lined up above the πνεύματος in v. 9 in a scribe’s exemplar, thus occasioning dittography. (It is interesting to note that in both Ì49 and א the two instances of φωτός line up.) However, written in a contracted form, as a nomen sacrum (pMnMs) – a practice found even in the earliest mssπνεύματος would not have been easily confused with fwtos (there being only the last letter to occasion homoioteleuton rather than the last three). Further, the external evidence for φωτός is quite compelling (Ì49 א A B D* F G P 33 81 1739 1881 2464 pc latt co); it is rather doubtful that the early and widespread witnesses all mistook πνεύματος for φωτός. In addition, πνεύματος can be readily explained as harking back to Gal 5:22 (“the fruit of the Spirit”). Thus, on balance, φωτός appears to be original, giving rise to the reading πνεύματος.

27 tn Grk “in.” The idea is that the fruit of the light is “expressed in” or “consists of.”

28 tn BDAG 255 s.v. δοκιμάζω 1 translates δοκιμάζοντες (dokimazonte") in Eph 5:10 as “try to learn.”

29 tn The Greek conjunction καὶ (kai) seems to be functioning here ascensively, (i.e., “even”), but is difficult to render in this context using good English. It may read something like: “but rather even expose them!”

30 tn Grk “rather even expose.”

31 tn The participle τὰγινόμενα (taginomena) usually refers to “things happening” or “things which are,” but with the following genitive phrase ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν (Jupautwn), which indicates agency, the idea seems to be “things being done.” This passive construction was translated as an active one to simplify the English style.

32 sn The following passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.

33 tn Grk “Rise up.”

34 tn The articular nominative participle ὁ καθεύδων (Jo kaqeudwn) is probably functioning as a nominative for vocative. Thus, it has been translated as “O sleeper.”

35 sn A composite quotation, possibly from Isa 26:19, 51:17, 52:1, and 60:1.

36 tn “become wise by understanding”; Grk “understanding.” The imperative “be wise” is apparently implied by the construction of vv. 15-21. See the following text-critical note for discussion.

37 tc ‡ The best witnesses read the imperative here (so Ì46 א A B P 0278 33 81 1739 pc). The participle is found primarily in the Western and Byzantine texttypes (D2 Ψ 1881 Ï latt [D* F G are slightly different, but support the participial reading]). But the participle is superior on internal grounds: The structure of v. 17 almost requires an imperative after ἀλλά (alla), for this gives balance to the clause: “Do not become foolish, but understand…” If the participle is original, it may be imperatival (and thus should be translated just like an imperative), but such is quite rare in the NT. More likely, there is an implied imperative as follows: “Do not become foolish, but become wise, understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Either way, the participle is the harder reading and ought therefore to be considered original. It is significant that seeing an implied imperative in this verse affords a certain symmetry to the author’s thought in vv. 15-21: There are three main sections (vv. 15-16, v. 17, vv. 18-21), each of which provides a negative injunction, followed by a positive injunction, followed by a present adverbial participle. If συνίετε (suniete) is original, this symmetry is lost. Thus, even though the external evidence for συνιέντες (sunientes) is not nearly as weighty as for the imperative, both the transcriptional and intrinsic evidence support it.

38 tn Grk “in which.”

39 tn Or “dissipation.” See BDAG 148 s.v. ἀσωτία.

40 tn Many have taken ἐν πνεύματι (en pneumati) as indicating content, i.e., one is to be filled with the Spirit. ExSyn 375 states, “There are no other examples in biblical Greek in which ἐν + the dative after πληρόω indicates content. Further, the parallel with οἴνῳ as well as the common grammatical category of means suggest that the idea intended is that believers are to be filled by means of the [Holy] Spirit. If so there seems to be an unnamed agent. The meaning of this text can only be fully appreciated in light of the πληρόω language in Ephesians. Always the term is used in connection with a member of the Trinity. Three considerations seem to be key: (1) In Eph 3:19 the ‘hinge’ prayer introducing the last half of the letter makes a request that the believers ‘be filled with all the fullness of God’ (πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ). The explicit content of πληρόω is thus God’s fullness (probably a reference to his moral attributes). (2) In 4:10 Christ is said to be the agent of filling (with v. 11 adding the specifics of his giving spiritual gifts). (3) The author then brings his argument to a crescendo in 5:18: Believers are to be filled by Christ by means of the Spirit with the content of the fullness of God.”

41 tn See BDAG 1096 s.v. ψάλλω.

42 tn Or “with.”

43 tn Grk “for all.” The form “all” can be either neuter or masculine.



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