Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:26-27

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ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε· ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ τῷ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the son set upon your anger, nor give a place to the Devil.

Paul continues his exhortation section here. It seems, however, that it is not syntactically related to the previous sentence. In fact, the previous sentence likely concludes the previous argument; therefore, the previous sentence belongs to the former paragraph, and this new sentence begins a new paragraph. This idea is made fairly strong by the use of the conjunction, διὸ, which serves to conclude an argument. But contextually, this new sentence further extends the argument. Part of not being like the Gentiles and part of putting away the old man is to be angry and not sin. According to Paul, Christians should, if they are going to be angry, deal with their anger right away.

Paul is quoting Psalm 4:4.  In the Masoretic Text (MT), Psalm 4:4 is actually 4:5 and it reads, “Tremble but do not sin” (רִגְזוּ וְאַל־תֶּחֱטָאוּ). But the text from the Septuagint (LXX) reads precisely as it does here in Ephesians: “Be angry but do not sin” (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε). Paul is using the first part of Psalm 4:4. Why he does not utilize the rest of it (“ponder in your heart on your beds and be silent”) is not clear. Instead, he uses a different imperative. Paul instructs his readers and listeners not to let the sun set upon their anger nor give the Devil a place. Both giving the Devil a place or opportunity and letting the sun set upon one’s anger combine to form the sin that Paul is prohibiting. If one is angry, then that one must not sin in that anger. What does it mean to sin in one’s anger, and how can one avoid it? Sinning in one’s anger is to let the sun set upon that anger and thereby give the Devil an opportunity. The Devil, literally, the enemy, seeks every opportunity available to do harm. By letting one’s anger go and not immediately dealing with it, we sin. The Devil can use that time as an opportunity to attack us. By dealing with our anger immediately, we do not give the Devil an opportunity.

But this command not to sin in our anger is tied to the new life. Paul is saying, “You are part of the body, the Church, and we are all members of each other. Therefore, when you are angry with each other, do not sin; deal with your anger immediately, so that you do not allow the Devil an opportunity to attack you.” The concern seems to be for the well-being of the whole community. The community cannot survive if its members are feuding and are not dealing with each other in a mature way. Part of being in the Church is growing into maturity; part of maturity is dealing with anger.

Note that there is a textual variant here. The dative article τῷ preceding παροργισμῷ is not in several important manuscripts (Papyrus 49, A, B, and the original hand of א and 1739). It is included in other important manuscripts (D, F, and G) and a couple second or third hand copies (the second corrector of א and a corrected hand of 1739). Since the text is not dependent upon the article, i.e., the article can easily be added in or just as easily taken out, our only help is to consider the witnesses. The earliest support omits the article. However, both the original א and 1739 were corrected later to include it. This situation makes the conclusion difficult. Since the text does not require it, but because it was later added in, it seems that the corrections and later additions were utilized in an effort to get back to the text that was believed to be original. Therefore, it seems best to include the article here.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set upon your anger nor give an opportunity to the Enemy.

As Christians, we need to learn to deal with our anger and to deal with it quickly. The longer we wait, the more harm it does. The longer we wait, the more opportunity we give to the Enemy to step in and attack us. We should be concerned with our anger; it’s not a sin to be angry, but we need to be careful not to sin when we are angry. If we are going to be angry, then we need to make sure that we deal with our anger quickly. We should address it before going to sleep. If you are in a relationship, whether married or not, make it a habit never to go to sleep when you are angry with your relationship partner. Deal with the anger, and do so respectfully and responsibly. Otherwise, if you do not deal with it, you will allow the Enemy an opportunity to come in and twist truths and destroy the relationship from the inside out. But even if you are not in a relationship, Christians should be dealing with other Christians in the same respect. We are all part of the same body; we should all treat each other as such members and treat them with respect. Can a Christian be angry with another Christian? Yes, but in that anger, do not sin. Grow up, release any pride that you may have, and respectfully deal with your anger that you may have towards your fellow brother or sister in Christ. Do not let the seed of anger grow. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to each other.


Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:25

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Διὸ ἀποθέμενοι τὸ ψεῦδος λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἕκαστος μετὰ τοῦ πλησίον αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη. Therefore, putting aside falsehood, every one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are part of one another.

In this sentence, Paul concludes his previous discussion of the new person from the previous sentence. To sum up what he has been arguing regarding this new person, he exhorts his readers and listeners to speak the truth after putting away falsehood. The participle ἀποθέμενοι is temporal. It is antecedent to λαλεῖτε. After putting off falsehood, meaning, after getting rid of falsehood, every one, every person is to speak truth with his neighbor. The imperative is linked together with ἕκαστος to form what seems to be an idiomatic phrase: let each person speak. The force of this clause is still a command despite the use of the word “let” in the translation.

And who is our neighbor? A neighbor in our minds is a person that lives next-door; but this word, τοῦ πλησίον, has the idea of a fellow-human being. However, in this context, Paul has in mind fellow-Christians, as is evident with the next clause: “for,” he continues, “we are a part of one another.” In other words, Paul has in mind the Church, of which individual Christians are all members. Christians are exhorted to speak truthfully with each other, because they are all part of the same group that is supposed to be characterized by truthfulness.

Therefore, after getting rid of falsehood, let each person speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are part of one another.

Speaking the truth can be hard sometimes. If you ever find yourself in a situation where the truth would be harmful to someone else, it may come across your mind to lie. Should you? I think, since we are part of a group that is to be characterized by the truth, we should speak the truth as often as we are able. But in those moments, and they do occur, where we should refrain from speaking the truth, I think we should not lie, but refrain from speaking altogether. Will this apply to every situation life can present? Certainly not. But in general, I think it is a good practice to refrain from speaking when it might be a good idea to not tell the truth. I suppose one would, in such instances, “plead the fifth.” But in no circumstance should we be characterizing ourselves with lying. We are to be people of truth and holiness. Part of being holy is being separate; telling the truth (or pleading the fifth, which can still result in some penalties at times) instead of telling a lie is not always easy, and when we do it when it hurts, especially when it hurts, we are not only being characterized by the truth, but also by holiness, thus fulfilling the intention that God has for us.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:20-24

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Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν εἴ γε αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιδάχθητε καθώς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀποθέσθαι ὑμᾶς κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῇς ἀληθεῖας. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you heard him and were taught in him, since truth is in Jesus, you put away according to the former behavior, the old man which is destroyed according to the desires of deceit, but be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man who was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of truth.

Paul is contrasting his readers and listeners with the lifestyle of the Gentiles, which he mentioned in the previous sentence. He says, “But you did not learn Christ in this way.” In other words, they did not become Christians by giving themselves over to self-abandonment, hardness of heart, or ignorance. Paul says, ” . . . if indeed you heard him and were taught in him.” This clause is somewhat of a challenge to the listeners and hearers. Paul is making them examine themselves: if indeed you heard Christ and were taught in him, you would not be giving yourselves over to ignorance and self-abandonment, which is not what Christ taught. Paul makes the inference that the Gentiles are not living in truth, for he says, “. . . since truth is in Jesus.” To hear Jesus and to be taught in Jesus is to live in truth, because truth is in Jesus. The word καθώς usually is translated “as” or “just as,” but in some cases it can have the sense of causality (“because” or “since”). Claiming that they did not learn that it was acceptable to be in ignorance and self-abandonment, confirming that those who have heard Jesus and were taught in Jesus live in truth, since truth is in Jesus, Paul begins to instruct his readers and listeners further.

Paul instructs them “to put away you.” The infinitive, ἀποθέσθαι, seems to have the force of an imperative. Linked with the teaching of Christ, ἀποθέσθαι is likely to be an indirect discourse, but the question is, should we understand it to be an imperative or indicative? If it is indicative, then it is stating something that has happened or should happen (“you were taught . . . that you should put off the old man”). But if it is imperative, then it is simply stating the command of the teaching (“you were taught . . . to put away the old man”). Since Paul has begun instructing his readers and listeners, the context lends itself to the imperatival understanding. The second infinitive, ἀνανεοῦσθαι, is imperatival (“. . . be renewed in the spirit of your mind”). This infinitive is the first in a linked pair, being attached to a third infinitive, ἐνδύσασθαι, which is joined to the second with καὶ. The first infinitive is therefore linked with the latter two as a pair. Paul is not contrasting, but rather, he is continuing his thoughts on the teaching. The readers and listeners were taught to put away the old man, which involves refreshing their mind and putting on the new man (to put away the old man is to refresh the mind and put on the new man).

What is this old man that the readers and listeners are to put off? Paul is referencing the former way of life, the former behavior that was conducted before being taught in Christ. Paul refers to this former life as the old man. Actually, “man” is ἄνθρωπον, which should be translated as “human” or “person.” Paul says that they should put away the old man because it was being destroyed according to the desires of deceit. And they also were to renew the spirit of their mind. Since they were called to unity in faith and knowledge, Paul commands them to refresh their minds. Not only should they refresh themselves, but they should also put on the new person, the one who was created by God. God created this new person in true righteousness and holiness. The genitive phrase, τῇς ἀληθεῖας, is an attributive genitive, and given the presence of καὶ, this attributive genitive gets distributed to both of the dative nouns. God created the new person in true righteousness and true holiness.

But you did not learn Christ like this, if indeed you heard him and were taught by him, because truth is in Jesus, to put away things regarding the former way of life, the old person, the one who is being destroyed for the desires of deceit, and allow your minds to be refreshed and put on the new person who was created by God in true righteousness and holiness.

Christians have been taught in the truth. As such, they should live like it. No longer should they live in erroneous ways. They should not be corrupted by deceit. Instead, there should be a noticeable difference. Christians should not be the persons they were before they came to faith in Christ. Kind of like an electronic device that gets reset, a Christian is a person who hits the reset button and becomes redesigned or reprogrammed for further operation. It involves a noticeable difference in the way the former lifestyle was carried out as compared to the new. The new lifestyle is one that God has created, and it has righteousness and holiness in mind, not corruption or deceit. Christians should be pursuing the new life. The things that were previously sought after as unbelievers need to be set aside. Christians are to be marked with new life. Specifically, Christians are to be people of the truth. They should not allow themselves to be taken captive to falsehood. They should not allow themselves to be deceived. They should test what people say to them to see if it is right. They should search Scripture and discuss with each other the words, meanings, and implications of the sermons they hear on Sundays (or Saturdays). In this way, they can keep themselves from straying off course. In this way, they can stay true to the task, and to follow God down a path of righteousness and holiness, and not down a path of corruption or deceit.