Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 5:5

τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες, ὅτι πᾶς πόρνος ἢ ἀκάθαρτος ἢ πλεονέκτης, ὅ ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης, οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ. For this you know knowing, that any fornicator or unclean man or greedy man, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Continuing his section on imitating God, Paul clarifies why the readers and listeners should not participate in sexual immorality, general immorality, or greediness. Paul emphatically says, “For you must know this.” There is a pair of synonyms here. First is the imperative form of οἶδα, ἴστε, you know, and second is the participle form of γινώσκω, γινώσκοντες. The participle is functioning as a redundant or pleonastic participle. It adds emphasis: “you must know.” But what were his readers supposed to know?

Paul says that not a single fornicator, unclean man, or greedy man has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. These three kinds of men are to be understood in the same sense as in verse 3. The fornicator is the sexually immoral person; the unclean man is the immoral person. But here Paul notes that the greedy man is an idolater. The sexually immoral, the generally immoral, and the greedy men do not have an inheritance in the kingdom of God. Paul writes that they do not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Whereas the gospels reference the kingdom of God, Paul uses the kingdom of Christ and God, because Christ now sits at God’s right hand and God has subjected everything under Christ’s feet (Ephesians 1:22) and is therefore in charge of the kingdom.

For you must know this, that not a single sexually immoral, generally immoral, or greedy man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Is Paul saying that anyone who commits fornication once loses salvation? The emphasis here is not on keeping one’s salvation. The force of the argument rests in the following statement: have a lifestyle that is not associated with these vices. Paul is not saying that if you sin by committing fornication once in your life that you forfeit your salvation. Paul is saying, “Live a lifestyle that is not associated with fornication, immorality, or greed.” And why is Paul arguing for such a lifestyle? Because of the simple truth that sexually immoral, generally immoral, and greedy men do not have an inheritance in the kingdom. Paul is saying that because the church is marked out as a new person that has been created for good works and has been marked with the Spirit for the day of redemption, it ought to live a lifestyle that represents such a saved condition. We need to be associated with the new person God has created, not with the old person that exists and persists in the world. If you have committed adultery, stop indulging it, repent, seek forgiveness, and relentlessly pursue your spouse. Break the habit. Live a lifestyle that is honoring to God. If you have a habit of gambling and wasting money, seek counseling, get help, repent, and tenaciously work so that you can share. Break the habit. Live in such a way that your life will not resemble those who are not saved. Paul’s point is simple: our lives ought to reflect that we are no longer part of the world, but rather, of the church. Are you living in such a way that we would be able to identify you as a believer, or would it be hard to distinguish between you and someone from the world? Live to be identified among the saints, for the proof is in the pudding.

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