Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 5:1-2

Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητὰ καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. Therefore, become imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love, just as also Christ loved us and gave himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet smell.

After commanding his readers and listeners to show kindness just as God has shown kindness, Paul simply commands them to imitate God. The genitive phrase, τοῦ θεοῦ, might be confusing at first. It does not fit the regular adjectival genitival categories. But the noun, μιμηταὶ, takes a genitive substantive, requiring the subject of the imitation to be genitive. We are to mimic God. Just as children will often copy their parent, so should Christians copy God. But they are also called to walk or live in love. Christ’s love for us provides the reason for our own life of love. We are to imitate God, which also means imitating Christ. However, we are not only to copy Christ’s way of love, but also his sacrifice. In the double accusative, . . . ἑαυτὸν . . . προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν . . ., ἑαυτὸν is the object of παρέδωκεν, and προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν is the complement to ἑαυτὸν. The phrase should be translated with the use of as: “. . . he gave himself . . . as an offering and sacrifice . . .” He gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice for a sweet smell to God. We also are to offer ourselves up to God for such a pleasing aroma.

Therefore, be imitators of God like beloved children and live in love, just as also Christ loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice for a fragrant aroma to God.

Are we mimicking God? He has been merciful towards us, being gracious, compassionate, kind, and loving. Are we copying him? Are we being merciful to each other? We are called to live a life of love. Our way of life should be that of love, just as Christ loved. But Christ also gave himself up as a pleasing sacrifice to God. Are we copying him? Are we giving our lives up to God in order to please him? It is a sacrifice to give up our lives to God, but it is important and essential. We are part of the church. The church bears the responsibility of spreading the gospel. The role of the church is to reveal to the powers and authorities the divine wisdom of God. Are we taking part in spreading the gospel and revealing God’s wisdom? This task is not easy, and it demands sacrifice. But when we fulfill this sacrifice and function together as the church God called us to be, we please him. We need to respond to the call God placed on us–to live out lives of love, spread the gospel, and reveal the wisdom of God to the world. It has been said that we are the only Jesus this world is going to see. If such is the case, it is crucially important that we imitate Christ.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:32

γίνεσθε δὲ εἰς ἀλλήλους χρηστοί εὔσπλαγχνοι χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς καθὼς καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐν Χριστῷ ἐχαρίσατο ὑμῖν. But become kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving to each other, just as also God in Christ forgave you.

Instead of being angry, bitter, or vicious, Paul commands them to be kind to each other. Not only should they be kind, but they should also be tender-hearted or sympathetic, and they should also be forgiving with each other. Why? Just as God forgave them, so should they also forgive each other.

Note the textual variant here. The conjunction δὲ is not in a few manuscripts that have οὖν instead (F, G, and the original hand of D). Several manuscripts omit a conjunction altogether (Papyrus 46, B, Clement, and the original hand of 1739 to name a few). But the majority of the texts include δὲ (Papyrus 49, א, A, ψ, 33, Tertullian, and a manuscript of 1739). Since the conjunction has some of the earliest support, albeit not the earliest, and wide attestation (Western from א, Alexandrian from A, and Byzantine from F, G, and the majority text), we can legitimately consider it to be original. Additionally, this sentence stands in contrast to the previous one. The inclusion of δὲ fits the context and style. Therefore, we should consider it to be original.

But be kind to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other, just as also God forgave you in Christ.

With God’s help we can release our anger, bitterness, and viciousness, but, because of God’s work, we can also be kind to each other and sympathetic. Most of all, instead of harboring anger and bitterness, we can forgive each other. Forgiveness is possible because God forgave us. We bear a responsibility to imitate God in this sense. We are to be constructive and not destructive with each other. Anger and bitterness can easily destroy, which is why we must let them go. Instead, we ought to be kind to each other, showing sympathy, and forgiving each other. When someone hurts you, do not retaliate, but instead, be kind and understanding, but, most of all, forgive the person. Those who have been forgiven by God necessarily forgive others.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:31

πᾶσα πικρία καὶ θυμὸς καὶ ὀργὴ καὶ κραυγὴ καὶ βλασφημία ἀρθήτω ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν σὺν πάσῃ κακίᾳ. Let all bitterness and rage and anger and grievous shouting and blasphemy be taken from you with all badness.

Continuing his section on the new person, and after commanding his listeners not to hurt the Holy Spirit, Paul now commands his readers and listeners to allow things to be taken away from among them. Bitterness, rage, anger, clamor, and blasphemy are all to be taken away. The list could have been much longer, but Paul leaves it to these five facets of behavior. However, he includes a short caveat at the end: let all these things be taken away with all badness. “Badness” (κακίᾳ), bears the idea of depravity, malignity, or trouble. In this context, however, Paul is prohibiting attitudes that go against the construction of the body, which, as a result, requires that we should understand κακίᾳ specifically as a reference to malicious behavior. Paul is making a general statement at the end to allow any sort of mean spirit or vicious attitude be taken away. Such attitudes are not conducive for the body of Christ, which has been sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Let all bitterness, rage, anger, clamor, and blasphemy be taken away from you with all viciousness.

As Christians, we should strive to live in harmony with everyone, but especially with fellow believers. However, this harmony is not easily reached. Perhaps this reason is why Paul did not say, “put these things away,” but rather, “let them be taken away from you.” Some external power has to come in and take them, but the believers still are responsible for letting them go. Paul is effectively saying, “Do not hold onto bitterness, rage, anger, clamor, and blasphemy, and do not keep a vicious attitude.” We would do well to let things go. It is okay to be angry, but we should release our anger to God and not hold onto it. Nor should we hold onto bitterness, which so easily eats us up from the inside. Rage can easily destroy from the outside, as most of us already know, so it is also well to release. Clamor, bickering and shouting, yields a rather distasteful reputation, so we would do well to avoid it. Blasphemy, defamation or abusive speech, can be just as harmful and should also be avoided. To sum it all up, vicious attitudes are those that harbor bitterness, rage, anger, clamor, and blasphemy; we ought to trade a vicious attitude for a harmonious one. Again, we cannot do it on our own. We need divine intervention. Thankfully, in Christ, God has intervened and made us into a new person so that we can see a change in our attitude. Because of Christ, we can release our vicious attitudes in favor of a unified spirit.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:30

καὶ μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God in whom you were sealed on the day of ransoming.

Paul, continuing his section on the life of the new person, exhorts his readers with what seems to be a rather vague command. He says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” This verb, λυπεῖτε, may mean “to cause pain or distress,” or it could mean “to make sad.” This verb could also mean “to vex or annoy.” The command is “do not hurt the Holy Spirit of God.” Behavior matters to the Holy Spirit, which is why Paul gives this section on behavior in Ephesians, so that he can remind them how to please and not grieve the Holy Spirit.

This concern arises out from the fact that the believers have been sealed in the Holy Spirit. To be sealed (ἐσφραγίσθητε) is to be marked with approval. This approval was given on the day of ransoming, which is the day of salvation, the day that Christ died. Through Christ’s death, God ransomed us from our transgressions, and his Holy Spirit marked us with a seal of approval, declaring us to be genuinely His.

And do not hurt the Holy Spirit of God in whom you were sealed on the day of ransoming.

We ought to be careful how we live, not for the sake of living rightly, but for the sake of pleasing the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit marks us as God’s. We should live in such a way that we seek to please God, especially as a result of what he has done through Christ. He has freed us from our sins by ransoming us with Christ’s blood. Should we not live to please the one who has done this gracious work? Our aim should be to please God out of a sense of gratitude and thankfulness.