While I usually link to the NASB because it is the most literal "word-for-word" translation, sometimes I parallel it with a paraphrase like The Message. This chapter was particularly nice to listen to as I prepared my tea this morning. Enjoy!
Walk in Love (5:1-2)
This is Paul's third "walk" exhortation. It follows his admonition to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving toward one another, and the way we do that is by imitating God because we are His children and because Christ gave us a perfect example of love by laying down His life for us (John 15:13) and for His enemies (Romans 5:10). His sacrifice was a sweet aroma like the Old Testament sacrifices were a "soothing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9, 3, 17; 2:9). This means that Christ's sacrifice was acceptable and pleasing to God and satisfied the demands of the holy Law.
Walk in Light (5:3-14)
God is light, and there is no darkness in Him, but there are deeds of darkness that children of light can have no part in because we have been "called out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9), become partakers "of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12), and been delivered "from the power of darkness" and translated "into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Colossians 1:13)!
Paul mentions sins of deed (sexual immorality, impurity, and greed) and sins of speech (filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting). We are not to participate in them and even to expose them to the light!
The only phrase difficult to understand is "coarse jesting." It comes from a compound Greek word that is literally translated "well-turned." My favorite definition gives insight into the word in the context of the culture of Ephesus, but I had to define a couple of words in the definition! I put them in brackets:
jesting—Greek, “eutrapelia”; found nowhere else in the New Testament: implying strictly that versatility which turns about and adapts itself, without regard to principle, to the shifting circumstances of the moment, and to the varying moods of those with whom it may deal. Not scurrile buffoonery, but refined “persiflage” [frivolous bantering talk: light raillery [good humored teasing] and “badinage,” [playful banter] for which Ephesus was famed [Plautus, A Boastful Soldier, 3.1,42–52], and which, so far from being censured, was and is thought by the world a pleasant accomplishment. In Col 3:8, “filthy communication” refers to the foulness; “foolish talking,” to the folly; “jesting,” to the false refinement (and trifling witticism [Tittmann]) Of discourse unseasoned with the salt of grace [Trench].
(A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments: Volume 2, Eph 5:4, p. 353)The quote in Ephesians 5:14 is believed to be from a hymn well-known to the Ephesian based on Isaiah 29:19; 51:17; 52:1; 60:1; and Malachi 4:2 (see also Romans 13:11-13 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10). It means "wake up and realize the dangerous condition into which some of them had been slipping" (The Life Application Bible, p.2139). They needed to come out of the darkness of their sleepwalking and wake up to the light of Christ!
Walk Wisely (5:15-17)
We need to tread carefully while on this earth, not carelessly and without guidance or thinking things through before we act. This relates back to the quote in Ephesians 5:14. We are not to "sleep walk" through life but be intentional and make the most of every single day.
Warren Wiersbe uses a great analogy:
Someone said, "When the pilot does not know what port he is heading for, no wind is the right wind" . . . Our English word opportunity comes from the Latin and means "toward the port." It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of the opportunities God gives us.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Ephesians 5:16a, p. 47)REFLECTION
Once I started writing, I realized that I needed to break Ephesians 5 up. There is so much in this chapter to chew on and apply to our lives. I do not want you to miss the importance of it by skimming over it. So, soak deeply!
One of the "socially acceptable" sins of the modern day church is "Christian kidding" and "good-humored teasing" (see the definition for "jesting" above). Because I do a lot of counseling, I see the devastating effect of this practice. Just last week, I spoke with a young girl who had an interaction with her father that really stung. She bravely called him up to talk it through, and he apologized for his insensitivity, but she said that her father defended himself by saying, "Oh that is just the way 'guys' are. They banter back and forth, and there is nothing wrong with that."
I think there is.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been around people who find this is the only way for them to communicate. My husband was at a couples night with many people from our old church a few years ago and had to leave the kitchen because "coarse jesting"(see the definition above) was out of control among the guys. He felt trapped in the kitchen with guys trying to twist his words, teasing him about it. He got out of there quickly and just felt sick afterwards. This was the common mode in my old fellowship. While we are no longer involved in ministry situations with them, we do interact with many of them socially, and the jesting seems so foreign to us now that we are in a fellowship where edifying speech is more the norm! In a smaller, more infrequent dose, we can see it for what it is and just pray for them without being too emotional scarred in the process!
How can we walk in love?
By watching what God does and doing what He does!
How do we watch Him?
By IMMERSING ourselves in the Word of God, observing His character and ways, and watching how Jesus walked on this earth and doing what He did.
Warren Wiersbe agrees and writes about how it changes us in the area of our tongue:
Christians who have God’s Word in their hearts (Col. 3:16) will always season their speech with salt (Col. 4:6); for grace in the heart means grace on the lips.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Eph 5:4, p. 45)AMEN!
How do we do what He did?
By making daily "I will" statements from the Word of God and making them in the context of a small group of believers who will hold you accountable on a daily basis! This is "obedience-based discipleship" that results in lasting transformation.
So, get some exercise by applying what you learned in this chapter to your daily life. Who is going to hold you accountable?
Walk on brothers and sisters!!!
Lord, may our walk and words be in constant imitation of You. Amen.