Current Bible Studies
Ephesians Chapter 4,
Vs. 28, The New Man must Replace Stealing with Working and Giving.
Eph 4:28, “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”
Next we have the third Old Man characteristic we are to “put off,” (i.e., no longer use or participate in), which is, “stealing.” This is a sin in the category of overt sins, and violates the eighth commandment, Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19, “You shall not steal.”
Once again, we have a negative and positive aspect. The negative is the prohibition to stealing, the positive is the exhortation to work hard, be a contributor to society, and share with others.
Here we have the verb for “stealing, embezzling, or cheating,” twice, KLEPTO, κλέπτω, were we get our English term kleptomaniac, for one who habitually steals. The first is in the Present, Active, Participle for the “one who does steal from others.” The iterative Present is for repeated action over successive intervals; we could say, “from time to time,” they steal. The second use is another command in the Present, Active, Imperative with the negative MEKETI, for “steal no more, steal no longer, or steal no further.” Given the admonition to be a “giver,” METADIDOMI, we understand that believers are in view, and that believers perform criminal activity as well as unbelievers.
To steal something means, “to take without right or permission secretly in a surreptitious way.” When we take something that does not belong to us, we are committing sin, and negatively affecting the one we sinfully took from. It is another manifestation of yielding to the Adamic nature and is not part of loving your neighbor. Stealing is used as the illustration, but it could be any type of criminal activity or overt sin. Criminality is a function of arrogance and volition; it is a matter of self-fragmentation of the soul.
This is another of the three categories of immoral degeneracy: 1. Sexual sins; 2. Chemical dependence sins, (drug and alcohol addiction, etc.); 3. Criminal sins.
In this passage, we see that certain believers have fallen into or can fall into criminality as an expression of reversionism and Christian degeneracy. This is recognized in Rom 2:21, “You therefore who teach another, do you teach yourself? You who teach that a person should not steal, do you steal?”
Criminality is a part of Christian degeneracy and the circumstantial participle of KLEPTO recognizes that a certain number of believers are dishonest to the point of being criminal. All criminals are the product of their own volition. They choose to be criminals.
R.B. Thieme noted, “In a two-volume book written by Doctor Samuel Yochelson and Dr Stanton Samenow called The Criminal Personality, volume 1 chapter three there is a very lengthy discussion lasting over 100 pages on the criminal’s way of life. The chapter presents a detailed comprehensive picture of how criminals live, including how he interacts with his family, his peers, his teachers, his superiors at work and in military service.
The secret life is established early in the criminal child. Lying is a major ingredient. His accounts of what he does are vague and superficial, he is hard to pin down and with lies of omission being far more frequent than lies of commission. He may even lie when there is seemingly no point to it. For example, saying he is going to the grocery store when he knows he is going to a pool hall. What seems to matter to him is getting away with things. The criminal child sets himself apart (volition). This keeping to himself also is a self-imposed isolation; he simply does not want other members of the family to be privy to what he is doing. The family may be having fun on a picnic. The criminal child does something to spoil it. He is the one who plays with the Bar B Que fire. In playing ball he starts a fight over an umpire’s call. If he attends a family activity or school function because he is required to he wanders off and others do not know where he is. With so much lying, sneaking and concealment there is clearly a communication gap in the home of the criminal child. Usually the parents are faulted for not understanding the younger generation but he wants to keep his activities secret (Volition) so that others will not interfere with him. Indeed there is a communication breakdown but the child is the cause of the communication breakdown, not the parents.
The criminal child gets his way in one fashion or another. Sometimes it is through secrecy and slickness. Perhaps even more frequently he engages in constant battles with his parents, wearing them down until they capitulate. The youngster makes a contest out of anything no matter how minor. He looks for a victory in a dispute about whether he will clean up his room, hang up a wet towel, take out the trash or be in at a specified hour. Winning the fight overrides the significance of the issue at hand. It results in attrition of parental moral. Eventually his parents decide to ignore certain behavior. Another technique the child uses to get his way: he makes so many requests an contests so many things that the parents cannot keep track of them.
The criminal does not maintain associations with responsible people. Basically, people are to the criminal what money is in the bank to a responsible person. The criminal wants people available to draw on them, to manipulate them, even being seen in the company of a respectable person builds up the criminal.
In this particular section, what we try to show is that crime does not come to or force itself on a child. It is not the neighborhood, it is not the bad company that makes him bad. Rather a child decides very early whom he wants to be with and what kind of a life he wants to lead. He makes choices all along the way and criminal patterns are identifiable by the age of ten.”
Once again, we are commanded not to steal in Lev 19:11, “You shall not steal; nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Here we have the whole system of criminality: steal, deal falsely, lie.
Jeremiah described the apostate southern kingdom as criminal. Jer 7:9, “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, and lie under oath, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods you have not known?”
Therefore, we see that believers who are involved in criminality are in spiritual degeneracy, the peak of Christian apostasy.
All criminality is acquired through arrogance plus volition. Some of the areas of arrogance that leads to criminality include: authority arrogance, mental attitude arrogance, self-righteous arrogance, sexual arrogance, arrogance of unhappiness related to subjective preoccupation with self, psychopathic arrogance, etc. Therefore, the criminal believer lives inside the cosmic system; he is totally preoccupied with himself; he is anti-authority and ant-establishment, and always gets into immoral type Christian degeneracy. He can be a con-artist, a liar, a thief, etc.
Criminality does not distinguish between the unbeliever and the believer, because both have the “Old Man,” an old sin nature that tempts in the way of criminality. Yet, the New Man, now in possession of a regenerated Human Spirit, the righteousness of God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is to no longer “steal,” because he should be free from greed, lusts, and desires.
In the command to “steal no longer,” the Present Tense of KLEPTO is a Futuristic Present. With the Adverb of negation MEKETI, it is a command to stop criminal functions right now and going forward into the future. The Active Voice, the believer produces the action by obeying the command to stop it. This indicates that the born-again criminal can have a change of heart and action; he can become an overcomer. When the Bible says, “stop it,” God in grace provides a way to do it through spiritual growth by perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine.
Next, we have a characteristic of the New Man, “but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good.” “Labor,” is the Present, Active, Imperative of verb KOPIAO that means, “to work hard in a job, labor, become weary, fatigued, or work to the point of exhaustion.” “Let him” is not in the Greek, but inserted because of the 3rd Person Singular, and is not the best translation. Instead, this Imperative is a command to, “begin working hard.” With the preceding “but rather,” DE MALLON, it should read, “but rather he is to work hard.”
“Performing,” is the Present, Middle Deponent, Participle, of the verb ERGAZOMAI, that means, “work, be active, do accomplish, carry out, or perform.” The Futuristic Present means recovery from immoral degeneracy by now being a contributing member of society, and going forward, rather than a taker from society. The Middle Deponent is like the active voice where the recovering New Man performs that action, and this action has not only a benefit for others, but also for himself.
In all societies, working was and is highly regarded over idleness because it profits the individual and the society as a whole, whereas idleness profits on one and leads to adverse effects like stealing. That is why it says, “what is good,” AGATHOS, “good, perfect, complete, upright, kind, benevolent, useful, acceptable, wholesome, or beneficial.” For the New Man it means, “good of intrinsic value,” or Divine good production. It is good of intrinsic value, and it refers to Divine good versus human good. When every able body person works, it benefits everyone and removes temptation to steal from others.
We are created to work. Work is a gift from God. Jesus put in an honest day’s work for years as a carpenter/stone mason. Paul worked throughout his ministry so that he would not be a burden on the church, Acts 18:3; 1 Cor 9:15, 18; 1 Thes 2:9. Work was highly valued in the Old Testament, Ex 20:9.
We should not only see the goodness of work, but we should also remember the need for work. 2 Thes 3:10-12, “If anyone is not willing to work, he should not eat.” Prov 28:19 says, “The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever pursues vanity will have his fill of poverty.” If you want food, then work. Christians should help one another find honest work when a brother is in need.
It also means that rather than being a taker or consumer of others property, he can be benevolent toward others, “in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” Cf. Rom 12:13; Luke 19:1-18.
“Something to share,” is the Verb METADIDOMI, μεταδίδωμι that is a compound word from META, “with,” and DIDOMI, “give,” that means, “give over, impart, share, or bestow,” In the Present, Active, Infinitive. It is linked with “he may have,” the Present, Active, Subjunctive of ECHO that is for the potential of being able to give to others, rather than taking from them.
Working is the best practical antidote to stealing. By working, we also have the opportunity for benevolence towards those who are truly in need; ECHO in the Present, Active, Participle with the Accusative Noun CHREIA, χρεία that means, “need, necessity, lack, etc.” Therefore, the New Man works so that he can also help those in need.
Therefore, when you put on the New Man and have recovery from reversionism, you have production of Divine good in the business world.
Vs. 29, The New Man must Replace Corrupt Talk with Edifying Talk.
Eph 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Here we have the fourth Old Man characteristic we are to “put off,” (i.e., no longer use or participate in), is, “using unwholesome words.” This is another sin in the category of verbal sins, just like lying was in vs. 25.
Remember also that three of the seven worst sins that are an abomination to the Lord are sins of the tongue, Prov 6:16-19.
“Unwholesome,” is the Greek Adjective SAPROS, σαπρός that means, “corrupt, rotten, putrid, filthy, rancid, useless, or unsound.” It has the meaning of “decay.” The more general use of the word was for, “unfit for use or worthless.” It was used to describe unpleasant or offensive sounds, such as unpleasant and clanging music.
In regards to words that are unpleasant or offensive sounds, such as dissonant and clangorous music, it reminds us of 1 Cor 13:1, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
That is what it is like when “unwholesome words proceed from the mouth.” It is a bunch of noise and static that makes no sense at all. It does not help anyone, and it certainly does not help yourself as it is a sin that severs your fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
In the NT to refer to rotten fruit, Mat 7:17-18, and rotten fish, Mat 13:48-49, both are appropriate pictures of sinful speech as we have here. BDAG defines it as, “of such poor quality as to be of little or no value, bad, not good, and unwholesome to the extent of being harmful and evil.”
Corrupt talk does not nourish you; it makes you sick, and it comes from a corrupt heart. Examples include, but are not limited to, lying, abusive language, vulgar references, Eph 5:4, vicious and unkind words, coarse jesting, in appropriate jokes, gossip, and slander, vs. 31.
This is the description of “words from your mouth,” LOGOS EK STOMA, that we are commanded to not allow out or proceed forth, ME EKPOREUO, in the Present, Middle, Imperative.
So, we have a broad categorization of verbal sins that are not to proceed from our mouths. This can include, gossiping, maligning, slandering, swearing, using the Lord’s name in vain, or coarse jesting as noted in Eph 5:4.
Eph 5:4, “And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
Col 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
These verbal sins, like all sins, emanate from the Old Man, the OSN, Psa 34:13, and are sponsored or motivated by mental attitude sins, Psa 5:9.
Psa 34:13-14, “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.”
Psa 5:9, “There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.”
When believers constantly work or live with others who speak in these ways, they are often subjected to much ungodly language and conversations. However, they must not use that fact as an excuse for succumbing to what is a normal way of life for others and in turn, use that same kind of language. The New Man has been raised up to a new life, and he should function and operate in that new higher way of living. In addition, God protects the believer victimized by the sins of the tongue, Job 5:19-21. He turns cursing into blessing when you are the victim of sins of the tongue, James 3:8-9; 5:16.
Sins of the tongue are the sign of reversionism, James 4:11; 5:9, 12.The perpetuation of the sins of the tongue indicates verbal reversionism that can result in triple compound discipline, Psa 64:8; Mat 7:1-2, and even in the sin unto death, Psa 12:3. Jesus said we will give an account on the final day for every careless word we speak, Mat 12:33-36.
In addition, with the following positive exhortation for having good language and conversations that “edifies the soul of others,” we also see the negative connotation that our bad language can have on others. It is detrimental and destructive to their souls, as the following picture describes.
Our corrupt, rotten, putrid, filthy, and rancid language can be very abusive towards others, which too is not part of living in the New Man.
Next we have the characteristic of the New Man, “good speech” that has two benefits to those he speaks with, “but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
First, we are to only speak words that are “good,” AGATHOS once again, “good of intrinsic value / Divine good production,” “for edification”, OIKODOME, when “needed,” CHREIA, which we noted in vs. 28. This means when the time is right and someone needs your advice, opinion, or counsel, you are available to them and share your insight, wisdom, and discernment with them, so that they grow spiritually within their souls, (i.e., are edified), are equipped to resist sin temptation, and make good decisions in their lives.
Prov 25:11, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at its proper time, (in right circumstances).”
Therefore, the New Man speaks constructive words that are helpful and build up others, and speaks encouraging words that give grace to the hearers.
By avoiding sins of the tongue the New Man can find great happiness and add years to his life, Psa 34:12-13, as the control of the tongue or absence of the sins of the tongue, is a sign of maturity and possessing the ECS, James 3:2; as well as the sign of a super-grace believer, James 1:26; 4:11-12; Col 4:6.
As in vs. 28, the thief is no longer to steal with the potential that the needy can be assisted. Likewise, in vs. 29, those who use foul language are no longer to use that type of language and instead use language that builds up those in need. Therefore, not only should the New Man perform Divine good with his actions, he should perform Divine good with his speech as well.
The 2nd benefit here is, “that it may give grace to those who hear.” “It may give” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of DIDOMI with CHARIS for “grace.” It means to confer a blessing, whether temporal or spiritual. The ultimate source of all blessing is God himself. The channel may be human and so even the everyday conversation of Christians may become a means of grace to others. In other words, the goal is that your words provide the potential of helping others. The caveat is that they listen, AKOUO, (i.e., learn through the ear gate), in the Present, Active, Participle, to your advice, opinion, or counsel and apply it. Therefore, rather than being a “Breacher” with your words, you should be a “Teacher” with your words.
When you put on the New Man and have recovery from reversionism, you control the tongue as a sign of spiritual maturity and have much fruit / Divine good production in your life to the glory of God.