Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 5:1 - 5:5

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 5:1 - 5:5

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

A Warning, Principally against the Sins of Uncleanness.

The imitation of God excludes uncleanness:

v. 1. Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children;

v. 2. and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet- smelling savor.

v. 3. But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

v. 4. neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.

v. 5. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any in heritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

The first verses of this chapter really conclude the thought at the close of the previous chapter. Paul had there admonished the Christians to be forgiving, in remembrance of the mercy which had been shown them in Christ Jesus. He here adds: Become, therefore, imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God for a savor of sweet smell. The Christians are children of God through Christ and as such the objects of the love of God. Where the proper relation obtains, however, between a father and his children, there the children will, both unconsciously and consciously, imitate their father; they will pattern their lives after his. And so the Christians have their heavenly Father as their type and example of love. God's love toward us unworthy creatures puts us under the obligation of showing a similar love in our lives. As Luther has it: "The entire outward life of the Christians should be nothing but love. " But as God is an example of unselfish love, so also is Christ; He is, with the Father, the great motive and pattern of our love. So great was His love for us that He delivered Himself for us, in our stead, for our benefit; He became an offering, a sacrifice, for us. By offering up His own life and body on the altar of the cross He has succeeded in turning the good-pleasure of God to our account. For His sacrifice was fully acceptable to God, it rose to the nostrils of God as a sweet smell, or odor in remembrance of this love the apostle wants the Christians to exercise love toward one another; the love of Christ is to be both pattern and spur to every disciple.

With the love that is shown in the lives of the Christians should he combined holiness and purity: Fornication, however, and uncleanness, every form of it, and greediness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as it is fitting for saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not proper, but rather giving of thanks. The sins which the apostle here enumerates are such as were prevalent among the Gentiles and would therefore tend to dull the edge of sensitive consciences by the very fact of their being so common. There was fornication, the indulging in forbidden sexual intercourse, uncleanness, obscenity, nastiness of every description, all the forms of immorality indulged in by the heathen with such an air of self-evident custom. There was the sin of greed, of avarice, of covetousness, in which ail the thoughts of a man's heart are directed upon the acquisition of vain possessions, of filthy lucre. So utterly incompatible are these vices with the character of the followers of God and imitators of Christ that no Christian should in any way be associated with them, not one of them should be charged to him with even the remotest show of justice. So earnestly should believers guard their honor, their reputation in this respect that all evil talk will die for want of fuel. So pure should Christian congregations be in this regard that not even rumor will dare to lift its head; that is fitting for saints, for such as are consecrated to the Lord in their entire lives. But even the sins of impurity in their finer forms, where the fault is not so open and glaring, are not proper for a Christian congregation and should never be found in the midst of the assembly of believers. There is filthiness, indecent, shameful behavior in general; there is insipid, silly talk, loose discourse, which moves just on the boundary of the outright indecent and lewd; there is jesting, frivolity, scurrility, wittiness which is characterized by broad suggestiveness rather than by aptness. Instead of these things there should be found among the Christians giving of thanks. As beloved children of the heavenly Father they should be kept so busy in praising the goodness and mercy of God that they have absolutely no time left for such impure forms of pastime.

But lest the Christians underestimate the seriousness of the situation, the apostle adds: For this you are sure of, being aware that every adulterer and unclean person and covetous man, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. This knowledge belongs to the fundamentals of Christian teaching, that sinners of this kind, flagrant violators of the Sixth and Seventh Commandments, are excluded from the riches of God's grace by their own fault. And the miser, the covetous person, who makes money his god, is incidentally an idolater, violating also the First Commandment. They have no part, no inheritance, in the kingdom of God's grace, which is at the same time that of Christ: for God has chosen His own, His children, that they should be holy and unblamable before Him in love. Thus we have here a direct reference to the final certain damnation of all adulterers, all unclean persons, all avaricious men, if they continue in these sins to their end. Note that also in this passage Christ is placed on an absolute level with God the Father; the true, eternal Godhead belongs to Him.