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.

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