4. The practical application of oneness, 4:1-6:9

iv] From lust to light


Paul continues with practical exhortations on Godly living - practical holiness / righteousness. In the passage before us he encourages his readers to move from darkness to light, from immorality to morality.


i] Context: See 4:1-16.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2.


iii] Structure: From lust to light,:

The conduct of the new man in Christ

Abstain from evil, v3-6:

Avoid sin, particularly sins of a sexual nature, v3-4;

Reason - the sinner has no place in the kingdom of God, v5-6.

Walk in the light and not in the darkness, v7-14:

Do not partner with darkness, v7-10;

Do not practice the deeds of darkness, v11-13;

Conclusion - Christ enlightens, v14.


iv] Interpretation:

In 4:17-24 Paul reminds his readers that they are no longer part of the world of paganism, but are now part with Christ; they are no longer alienated from God, futile in their thinking, rather, they have now found truth in Christ - they have put off that old life and put on a new one. Having reminded his readers what they are in Christ, Paul, from 4:25, sets out to encourage his readers to be what they are.

In the passage before us, 5:3-14, Paul continues with his ethical instructions. Believers can no longer indulge the sensual self, can no longer allow themselves to be carried away by the "gross sensuality and ruthless self-indulgence of paganism, or the intellectual atmosphere these vices breed in", Caird. Such behavior has no pace "in the kingdom of Christ and of God" and ultimately faces "God's wrath", v3-6.

Therefore (oun), believers must break from their pagan past, they must abandon a life shaped by moral darkness, and seek a life shaped by moral light. Life lived in darkness is sterile; a life lived in the light is fruitful and pleasing to the Lord, v7-10.

Not only should believers have nothing to do with darkness, they should expose the darkness. This exposure is most likely achieved by "their righteous lifestyle", O'Brien, ie., the light of Christ in a believer exposes the ugly reality of sin hidden in the darkness, v11-13. Yet, this light does more than just expose evil (makes visible), it transforms the evil, v14. "This disclosure of people's sins effected through believers' lives enables men and women to see the nature of their deeds. Some abandon the darkness of sin and respond to the light so that they become light themselves", O'Brien.

The object of this exposing and transforming of evil is often viewed as societal change, although it is more likely that Paul has in mind the hidden sins of the Christian community - Paul's words are primarily focused on the church community, not society at large. A pagan lifestyle has no place in a Christian community.


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:3

Live as children of the light, v3-14: i] Abstain from evil, v3-6; a) Avoid sin, particularly those sins of a sexual nature, v3-4. Having just spoken about divine love, compassion, Paul now has something to say about the denigration of love in sexual conduct and speech.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument. Paul has just encouraged his readers to walk in love, and so now he mentions the negative side of the coin - "Yet, as for fornication .... may they be not so much as mentioned among you", Cassirer.

en + dat. "among [you]" - [fornication and all impurity or greediness, let it not be named] in [you]. Here Local, expressing space, association; "among you."

mhde onomazesqw (onomazw) pres. pas. imp. "there must not be even a hint of" - let it not be named. Probably "should not even be so much as mentioned", Barclay, by way of underlining the evil rather than prohibiting discussion on such human failings. Possibly in the sense of encouraging behavior which even removes the opportunity of gossip, let alone the sin itself; "no one should ever have a reason to talk about any of you ever doing such things", TH.

akaqarsia "impurity" - impurity, uncleanness. Along with "fornication" and "greediness", nominative subject of the verb "to be named." Possibly the phrase "sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity" may well read "fornication which is impurity." As for porneia, it refers to sexual activity outside of a marriage relationship.

pleonexia "[or] of greed" - [or] greediness, covetousness. Probably alluding to sexual thought or intent.

kaqwV "because" - as [is proper]. Sometimes with a causal sense, so NIV, although usually serving as a comparison of manner; "such is the proper way for saints", Berkeley. Some commentators handle this clause as if referring to the discussion of sexual evils, rather than the doing of them. Surely the issue is sexual misconduct, whereas the issue of filthy talk is raised in v4. "This is the proper course for saints (believers) to take", Moffatt.

aJgioiV (oV) dat. "for God's holy people" - to believers, saints. Dative of interest, advantage, as NIV, although Larkin suggests a dative of reference, "with respect to the saints."


As for conversation, avoid foul language, "foolish talk" (possibly "dirty talk"), and sexual innuendoes (dirty jokes). It would be better to talk about all we owe to God.

kai "nor should there be" - and. Possibly adjunctive, "also", but better just as a connective. The NIV states the assumed mhde onomazesqw, "let it not be named."

aiscrothV (hV htoV) "obscenity" - filthy talk. As with the two nouns following, nominative subject of the assumed verb "let it not be named." All three nouns refer to sexually inappropriate talk - dirty jokes and the like. "You must having nothing to do with obscene language and stupid and frivolous talk", Barclay.

kai "-" - and [all impurity or greediness]. Probably coordinative, as NIV; "neither obscenity, nor foul talk, nor (h], "or"), course jesting." Possibly epexegetic, so Larkin; "nor obscene speech, that is, silly talk or ribald humor."

ouk anhken (anhkw) imperf. "[which] are out of place" - [which (referring to all three examples of indecent speech)] are not belonging to, fitting. The imperfect is durative expressing "very much unfitting and still going on." "All this is wrong for you", NJB.

alla "but" - but [rather]. Adversative.

eucaristia (a) "thanksgiving" - thankfulness. Again, nominative subject of the implied verb "let it be named." One would expect the opposite of grubby talk to be gracious talk. Instead of allowing our minds to work on the dirt-track we would do better to talk about "all that we owe to God", Phillips.


b) We must avoid acting like unbelievers, for unbelievers, with all their immorality, have no place in the kingdom of God, v5. Such behavior stirs up the wrath of God, v6. It is very unlikely that Paul is saying that a believer who is "immoral, impure or greedy" has no place in the kingdom. It is a sad fact, but true, we are all to some degree, and at times blatantly so, immoral, impure or greedy. We are all flawed, and it is but by the grace of God that we are able to stand acceptable in his sight. Paul's point is that as believers, we are a new person in Jesus, and as such we must strive to not live like the old person, that person who has no place in the kingdom of God and for whom divine wrath is inevitable.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the readers should not ......, v3, 4, namely, because this is the behavior of a person who has no part in the kingdom of God.

touto "of this" - this. Forward referencing to the content of the dependent statement following, namely, "that no immoral, impure ....."

ginwskonteV (ginwskw) pres. part. "[of this you can be] sure" - [you know] knowing. It is likely that the verb iste (oi\da, "to know") + the participle, forms an unusual periphrastic construction used to express a common Aramaic form, intensifying verbal aspect, as NIV. As such the verb imperative verb "to know" is treated as an indicative.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they can be sure of.

o{ neut. rel. pro. "such a man / person [is]" - [every fornicator, or impure person, or covetous person] which [is]. The antecedent of this relative pronoun is the nominative masculine nounpleonekthV, "greedy person", rather than all three persons. It is neuter, rather than masculine, since it is addressing the idea of greed rather than the greedy person, so, "with reference to the whole idea of [idolatry]", Moule.

eidwlolatrhV (hV ou) "an idolater" - an idolater. The link between covetousness and idolatry is an interesting one, cf., Col.3:5. Covetousness involves worshiping the creation as if it were the creator. In this context it is sexual covetousness - sex as the center of life. It is necessary to remind ourselves that all believers regularly sin, and all too regularly sin in the sexual department. For many, a broken marriage or relationship is the consequence, a situation compounded by the establishment of a new union. Yet, such failure does not bar us from the kingdom of heaven, for the kingdom is for redeemed people, not perfectly obedient people. None-the-less, we must avoid immorality, as best we can, for the habitual and determined flouting of God's moral guidelines is the behavior of a person who does not stand under God's grace and who has no part in the kingdom of God. The clause works well as a parenthesis, "no one who is immoral, indecent, or greedy (for greed is a form of idolatry) ..." TEV.

en + dat. "in" - [does not have an inheritance] in. Local, expressing space. A believer's inheritance is found in the domain ruled by Christ.

th/ basileia/ (a) "the kingdom" - the kingdom. The domain / dominion of God's righteous reign.

tou cristou kai qeou "of Christ and of God" - of christ and of god, The genitives are adjectival, possessive / subjective. A possible example of Granville Sharp's rule where an articular noun joined by kai to an anarthrous noun indicates that the second noun is explaining / describing the first. Such a construction would support the doctrine of the trinity, yet here the articular noun "the Christ" serves as a title, and "God" (for "God the Father") is often without an article. Paul's reference to the "kingdom of Christ and of God" is unusual, to say the least. Paul sees the kingdom in terms of rule. Christ rules for the present, and when all is subject to his rule, he will hand over his rule (the kingdom) to the Father, although, in the end, their reign entails a partnership, so "the mutual reign of Christ and the Father." None-the-less, there are quite a few variants at this point and we may be safer with "can inherit the kingdom of God", RJB.


mhdeiV ... apatatw (apataw) pres. imp. "let no one deceive" - let not deceive, mislead [you]. The negation of the present imperative may express a command to cease an ongoing action. "Stop letting people trick you."

kenoiV dat. adj. "[with] empty" - [in] foolish, empty, worthless [words]. Attributive adjective limiting the instrumental dative noun "words", "by empty words", or as NIV, expressing manner, "with empty words." Arguments that promote sexual permissiveness are "empty", they are "devoid of the truth", O'Brien.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the reader should not be deceived with / by empty words.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of [these things]. Causal. Referring to the sexual vices covered in v3-5.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "God's [wrath]" - [the wrath] of god. The genitive may be adjectival, possessive, as NIV, subjective, "God exercises wrath", or ablative, source / agent of the wrath.

ercetai (ercomai) pres. "comes" - comes. The present tense may indicate that those who ignore God face his anger, and thus his judgment, in the present. Possibly a futuristic present, "will come on", but more likely expressing judgment as part of an ongoing process of action, reaction; "it is these very things which bring down the wrath of God upon the disobedient", Phillips.

epi + gen. "on" - upon. Spacial; "upon".

thV apeiqeiaV (a) "[those who are] disobedient" - [the sons] of disobedience. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, "disobedient sons." A Semitic phrase used to refer to those who are disobedient to God's will. Paul may be referring to unbelievers, and certainly most commentators see Paul's words in this passage as drawing a distinction between believers (the children of light) and unbelievers (those in the darkness). Yet, Paul my be referring to unexposed sin within the Christian fellowship.


ii] Walk in the light and not in the darkness, v7-14. Paul draws on the image of light to further his ethical instructions. A believer is to peripateite, "walk / live / conduct oneself", in unity, holiness and love; we are to "walk" in light, live in a way that images the brightness of God's goodness rather than participate in the works of darkness. a) As children of light, do not not partner with darkness, v7-10. Again, the indicative drives the imperative. We are children of light, v8, and because we are children of light we should not live in darkness, we should not partner it, v7, rather we should bear the fruit of our living in the light, the fruit of "goodness, righteousness and truth", v9.

oun "therefore" - Introducing a logical conclusion / inferential.

summetocoi (oV) "partners" - [be not] joint partakers. Referring to someone who shares together with another; "don't have anything to do with anyone (anything?) like that", CEV.

autwn gen. "with them" - of them. The genitive is adverbial, expressing association. Probably, "with those type of things", ie., Paul is not telling us that we should not associate "with people like that", Barclay, but rather that we should not associate with / "participate in their lifestyle", Hoehner.


Paul's readers were once in darkness, lost and alone, but in Christ they are light, therefore they should live as children of the light.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul's readers should not participate in the lifestyle of those under the judgment of God, namely, because "you are all light now that you are in union with the Lord", Cassirer.

skotoV ... fwV "darkness .... light" - [you were once] darkness [but now] light. Here the imagery of darkness and light represents the life of a person lived in ignorance producing the fruit of immorality, while light represents the life of a person who, radiated by the divine Word (revelation, the knowledge of God), produce the fruit of holiness. The genitive noun fwtoV, "light", is possibly epexegetic, "children who are characterized by light (Hoehner, "descriptive"), or attributive, "enlightened children", so Best.

en kuriw/ "in the Lord" - in/with lord. Local, sphere / incorporative union; "in union with Jesus". A believer is a new person in Christ. As far as God is concerned, our old sinful self is no more, and this because we possess the righteousness of Christ. More than that, Christ's compelling love indwells us, shaping the image of Christ's righteousness within. Thus, we are "light in the Lord", and as a natural response, will tend to "live as children of light". So, Paul's exhortation is "be what we are." A child of the light will always fall short of God's perfect standards, but thankfully we stand in Jesus' perfection. "Your connection with the Lord has made you light", Barclay.

peripateite (peripatew) pres. imp. "live" - therefore walk. "Walk" in the sense of "conduct oneself." An inferential oun, "therefore", can be assumed. Its lack strengthens the imperative, so Larkin.

wJV "as" - as [children of light]. This comparative is not introducing a comparison, "like children of light", and certainly not "as if ...", but of a believers alignment with a characteristic quality, "the standard of how believers are to walk", Merkle; "their lives are to be characterized by light", O'Brien.


This verse is best taken as a parenthesis with v10 following on from v 8. Paul lists three fruits. First, "goodness", which may mean generosity, but is probably much wider in meaning. He could even mean purity. Second, "righteousness" - right doing in the fashion of God's behavior, Eph.4:2. Third, "truth" - truth of speech, Eph.4:25.

gar "for" - Here more reason than cause, explanatory.

tou fwtoV (wV wtoV) gen. "of the light" - [the fruit] of the light. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of production; "the light brings as its harvest", Barclay.

en "consists in" - is in [all goodness and righteousness and truth]. Local, expressing sphere, the sphere within which the fruit operates, although Merkle prefers reference / respect, ie., what the new life in the light is like. There is no verb in the sentence and so one must be supplied, so NIV "consists in"; "is characterized by", O'Brien.


Paul encourages his readers to work out what is "acceptable" (better than "pleasing") to God.

dokimazonteV (dokimazw) pres. part. "find out" - testing, proving / being accepted as proved, approved. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb peripateite, "walk", v8; walk as children of light .... and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord", ESV. Possibly adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the walk, "walk .... discerning", even temporal, "while endeavoring to learn", Cassirer. Of the two meanings of this verb, the sense "having evaluated the worth of" seems best here, as NIV.

euareston (oV) "[what] pleases" - [what is] acceptable, pleasing. The ethical idea of acting in a way that is pleasing to God is often used as a motivation for right living. Certainly, Paul in 2Cor.5:9 says "we make it our goal to please him", but doesn't quite define what actually pleases God. It is reasonable to assume that "goodness, righteousness and truth" is pleasing to God, for these qualities are of his nature. The problem is that when exhibited in our lives, they are always compromised and could therefore never be pleasing to God - our "righteousness is but filthy rags." The only righteousness pleasing to God is Christ's righteousness, and so the only way we can please God is to possess that righteousness "in Christ" - a righteousness which is possessed as a gift of grace appropriated through faith. Since the word is used here in the context of ethics, we are best to move to the sense "acceptable"; "the test of the approval of the Lord", Barclay; "try to discover what the Lord wants you to do", NJB.

tw/ kuriw/ (oV) "the Lord" - to the Lord. Dative of indirect object. A classification of interest, advantage, is suspect in that nothing we do is to God's advantage.


iv] As children of light, do not practice the deeds of darkness, v11-13. "Believers are not to be fellow participants with the evildoers, nor are they to become involved with their works. Rather they are to expose those works. The reason believers are not to become involved with such activity is because these works are too shameful even to mention", Hohhner. Given v12, Paul presumably has in mind the excesses of paganism, ie., he is not suggesting we become wowsers, Pharisees fussing about insect law while ignoring weightier moral issues. Given v13, Caird may be right in suggesting that the darkness is exposed by its comparison with the light - the godly behavior of the committed believers. Once let in, the light "has the miraculous power, not only to reveal, but to transform", Caird. Illuminated by the Word of God, darkness is dispelled from a community of believers. Note that the division of v13 and 14 is disputed. The more modern division, as NIV11, is to be preferred.

kai "-" - and. Coordinative.

mh sugkoinwneite (sugkoinwnew) pres. imp. "have nothing to do with" - do not participate, have no share in, part in. It is not "don't associate with corrupted people", but rather, "don't associate with the corruption." "Don't take part in", CEV.

toiV ergoiV (on) dat. "the [fruitless] deeds" - in the [unfruitful] works. Dative of direct object after a sun prefix verb, "fellow participants with."

tou skotouV (oV) gen. "of darkness" - of darkness. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, verbal, subjective, or ablative, source / origin, "the unfruitful works out of darkness", even adjectival, attributive, limiting "fruitless deeds"; "which have their home in darkness", Cassirer

mallon de kai "but rather" - rather but even. An adversative comparative construction made up of the adverb mallon, "instead", the adversative, de, "but" and the assensive kai, "even"; "but, on the contrary", NJB.

elegcete (elegcw) imp. "expose" - expose, reprove, convict. Most translators opt for the sense "expose" in the sense of "show up the deeds of darkness for what they are", rather than "convict, reprove", or "condemn", NAB. Commentators tend to agree, arguing that a believer exposes evil by the glare of their own righteous life, cf., v13-14a. It is, of course, possible to argue that deeds of darkness are "exposed" by the truth of God's Word. Is the Word of God the "light" which "enlightens"? cf., v13.

"them" - them. The object of the exposing is unstated in the Greek. Possibly referring to those who commit sin, such that a believer is to confront the perpetrator, but given the context, confronting the sin, with respect to our own lives, is more likely. We are to "expose / condemn" these "deeds of darkness." They are "fruitless" in that they have no worthwhile product. Not only must they not be done, but they must be exposed. If the exposure is beyond ourselves, then it is likely that the exposure is of evil within the church, Matt.18:15, rather than of evil within society. The prophets of Israel primarily confronted the evils of Israel rather than those of the godless nations. "Set your faces against them, those unprofitable deeds of darkness."


It is even difficult to speak of such shameful things openly.

gar "for" - for. More reason than cause; "the reason the fruitless deeds of darkness are to be avoided and why certain sins must be exposed", Merkle, so also O'Brien. The Gk. sentence made up of v12-14, rather than stating a reason for not participating in evil, outlines the reason for exposing it; "because ...."

kai "even" - [it is shameful] and = even. Here ascensive, "even", as NIV.

legein (legw) pres. inf. "to mention" - to say. The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb to-be estin, "to speak is shameful"; "one is indeed shamed even to speak", Moffatt.

ta .. ginomena (ginomai) pres. part. "what [the disobedient] do" - the things being done. The participle serves as a substantive with the placement of the article making "the things being done" emphatic by position. These things done by the disobedient in secret are probably of a sexual nature and are so are debased - they really not something any decent person wants to talk about.

uJp (uJpo) + gen. "-" - by [them]. Expressing agency.

krufh/ dat. "in secret" - in secret = secretly. Often with the preposition en + dat. so "in secret", adverbial, modal, expressing the manner the way the evil deeds are done; "secretly".


Once such deeds are illuminated by God's Word, particularly within a congregational setting, then they are seen for what they are. The light is "capable of 'showing up' everything for what it really is. It is even possible (after all, it happened with you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also", Phillips. The light of Christ's Word has the power to renew.

de "but" - but/and. Here adversative, as NIV.

ta ... elegcomena (elegcw) pres. part. "exposed" - the [all] things being convicted = exposed, illumined. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to become visible". "Exposed" is somewhat pejorative, so "illumined", NEB.

uJpo + gen. "by" - by [the light]. The preposition expresses agency here. Often, particularly in Ephesians, a prepositional phrase precedes the verb or participle it qualifies, so "by the light" qualifies "becomes visible" rather than "exposed"; "everything exposed becomes visible by the light."

faneroutai (fanerow) pres. pas. "becomes visible" - becomes known, revealed, illumined, visible. The sense of this sentence is unclear. It is often argued that a believer's practice of personal righteousness serves to expose "shameful things / shameful persons", but the psychological ramifications (pharisaism) of such an ethical imperative is troublesome. It is possible that "the works of darkness", these "shameful things", are exposed by the light of God's word. These deeds, probably of a sexual nature, are done in secret, not spoken of, and so survive in some acceptable form, but their evil is exposed when they are illumned by divine truth.

gar "for / and" - for. In earlier translations pan gar introduces v14, but it is obviously a continuation of v13. Yet, how does it contribute to v13? Many translations, as NIV, take the cause / reason line, "for", but how does v14a explain v13? TNIV takes gar as a connective, ie., as if gar here stands in for de, "and". If this is correct, then we have is two balanced statements, one negative and one positive, with gar serving as a stitching device. The sexually corrupt lifestyle, quietly operating in the background with some social acceptance, is shown up for what it really is by the light of God's word, and at the same time that lifestyle, when illumined by God's word, can be healed, renewed, reshaped in line with God's intention for human life. "Light is capable of 'showing up' everything for what it really is. It is even possible (after all, it happened with you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also", Phillips.

to faneroumenon (fanerow) pres. pas. part. "visible" - [all] the things being illumined [are light]. The participle serves as a substantive, subject of the verb to-be. The light of Christ's Word has the power to renew; it moves us from darkness to light. When our sin is exposed to the radiance of God's Word of grace, its power diminishes, its darkness fades, and we enter again the realm of light. "Everything thus illumined is light", NEB.


c) Concluding statement - in Christ there is enlightenment, v14. Believers have risen to new life in Christ, they are "illumined", and therefore they should be what they are.

The Greek form of these words is metrical, indicating a hymn source, so Barth, possibly alluding to scripture, eg., Isa.26:19, 51:17, 60:1. Leaney argues that it is part of a baptismal liturgy, possibly addressed to the catechumen, so Mitton. Moule notes a curious parallel with Acts 12:7, but it is obviously not its source. The point of the quote is that some of Paul's readers are sleeping in the unfruitful works of darkness and they need to wake up ("rise from the dead"). The statement "Christ will shine on you" seems to express approval, so Hoehner, and thus salvation, "make your face shine upon us that we may be saved", Ps.80:3, 7, 19. Possibly enlightenment may be the sense, "Christ will be a light to you", Christ will guide you. Variant "Christ will touch you", Jerome = "you will be healed from sin", reflects the difficulty that exists in interpreting the verse

dio "this is why [it is said]" - therefore [it is said]. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. The use of an impersonal inscription, rather than saying "Isaiah wrote / said", reflects the tendency not to mention the name of God; "thus says the Lord God." This, of course, assumes that it is a rough quote from Isaiah 60:1. Other suggested sources include a baptismal liturgy, or an early Christian hymn, cf., NEB.

oJ kaqeudwn (kaqeudw) pres. part. "sleeper" - [arise] the one sleeping. The participle serves as a substantive.

anasta (anisthmi) aor. imp. "rise" - rise up. Presumably the imperative has already been fulfilled in our conversion, that is, we have got up from our sleep, risen from the dead. So, the implication is that since we have now risen from the dead we are in the light and therefore we should live in the light and not retreat again into the darkness.

ek "from" - out of [the dead]. Expressing source / origin, or separation from, "away from."

soi dat. pro "[shine on] you" - [and christ will shine on] in you. Dative of direct object after the verb "shine on."


Ephesians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]