Current Bible Studies
Ephesians Chapter 5,
The Suitable Behavior of Believers
Continuing the discourse on the “believer’s walk” that is to be “worthy of the calling by which he has been called,” we now turn to Ephesians Chapter 5. Here we are going to see the Pattern, Proof, and Power of our walk, that is what our daily lifestyle should be as we put on the New Man and the Christ-like nature.
Outline; Chapter 5.
In Chapter 4 we noted the first two main principles of our walk:
A. The Believer’s Walk in Unity; God’s Plan for Faithful Living in the Church to Build the Church, Eph 4:1-16.
B. The Believer’s Walk in Righteousness; God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 4:17-32.
In Chapter 5 we have two more main principles:
C. The Believer’s Walk in Love; The conclusion of God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church from Chapter 4, and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 5:1-17.
1. The Pattern for Our Walk, Walking in Love as God’s Dear Child, Eph 5:1-7.
2. The Proof and Reason for Our Walk, Walking in Light, Eph 5:8-14.
3. The Power and Provision for Our Walk, Walking in Wisdom, Eph 5:15-17.
D. The Believer’s Walk in the World; God’s Standards for Authority and Submission in the Church, Eph 5:18-6:9.
1. As to One’s Self and the Church, Be Filled with God’s Spirit, Eph 5:18-21.
2. As to One’s Home, Eph 5:22-6:4.
a. Husbands and Wives, Eph 5:22-33.
b. Parents and Children, Eph 6:1-4.
3. As to One’s Profession, Employers and Employees, Eph 6:5-9.
In fact, vs 1-20 are one of the most beautiful descriptions of the Christian life that can be found in the Bible. So these passages give us the imperative of the super-grace Life.
In addition, Ryrie notes that Chapter 5 continues a discourse on “The Practice of Believers,” that begins in Eph 4:1 and runs through to Eph 6:9.
1. In Relation to Evil, Eph 5:1-17.
2. In Relation to the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18-21.
3. In Relation to Home Life, Eph 5:22-6:4.
4. In Relation to Slaves and Masters, Eph 6:1-9.
Unger breaks this chapter down based on our spiritual walk in Christ as follows:
1. The walk as a child in God’s family, Eph 5:1-33.
2. The walk of children and servants, Eph 6:1-9.
Therefore we begin Chapter 5 with:
C. The Believer’s Walk in Love; The conclusion of God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 5:1-17.
1. The Pattern for Our Walk, Walking in Love as God’s Dear Child, Eph 5:1-7.
Eph 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
We begin with the inferential Participle, OUN that means, “therefore, then, now, etc.” This tells us that based on everything we have just noted in Chapter 4 about throwing off the Old Man and putting on the New man, is brought to conclusion by walking or living as follows. This is the result of the preceding chapter.
“Be” is the Present, Middle Deponent, Imperative of GINOMAI. This too is a command the follows and concludes all the mandates the New Man is given in order to walk worthily in righteous from Eph 4:25-32. GINOMAI means, “to be, to come into being, be made, become, etc.” In the 2nd Person Plural it is a mandate for all the Church.
The Middle Deponent voice: the super-grace believer produces the action of the verb where the results of the action have an impact on himself. The imperative mood designates a command to become a super-grace believer. This command can only be fulfilled in the status of super-grace, which is synonymous to spiritual maturity. So this is a mandate to, “keep on becoming,” which consists of a gradual process of growing spiritually from infancy to adulthood, through the intake and application of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“Imitators,” is the subject Nominative Noun, MIMETES, μιμητής that means, “imitator or follower.” It is related to the verb MIMEOMAI, “to imitate,” therefore, the noun MIMETES denotes, “one who imitates.” Interestingly, we get our English word “mimic” from this Greek term. Some believe MIMETES represents the ideal relation between a teacher and a student, or a parent and a child. As such, believers being the “children of God,” we are to imitate God as our ideal, 1 Thes 1:6; 2:14.
Imitate means, “to model oneself after the behavior or actions of another. That is to act like another person or to follow a pattern or style set by another, to resemble, to copy the appearance, mannerisms, or speech of another, or to duplicate an original as precisely as possible in speech, mannerism, or actions.” So this passage instructs the believer to be an imitator “of God,” HO THEOS in the Genitive Singular.
Then we are given the motivation for our imitation, “as beloved children,” HOS AGAPETOS TEKNON. The verbal Adjective AGAPETOS, ἀγαπητός means, “beloved or esteemed.” Just as Jesus Christ was the beloved Son of God, Mat 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35, we too are beloved children of God. In other words, we are cherished children of God, and as such we should emulate him during our lives here on earth, so that we show the world who our heavenly Father truly is. But if we live in the Old Man, we show the world who the worldly father is, 1 John 3:8-10; cf. Mat 13:38; John 8:44.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”
AGAPETOS or “Beloved” was originally a title for the Lord Jesus Christ as the object of the Father’s love, Eph 1:6; 2 Peter 1:17. But because of positional truth, it becomes a title for every member of the Royal Family of God in the Church Age. So it is also used for each one of us, 2 Cor 7:1; Heb 6:9; 2 Peter 3:1, 8, 14, 17; 1 John 3:1, 2; 4:1, 7, 11.
Therefore, if we are the children of God, and we are, then we ought to imitate our Father. This is the basis for the three admonitions in this section of Ephesians 5:
1. God is love, 1 John 4:8; therefore, “walk in love.” Eph 5:1-2.
2. God is light, 1 John 1:5; therefore, “walk as children of light,” Eph 5:3-14.
3. God is truth, 1 John 5:6; therefore, “walk in wisdom,” Eph 5:15-17. Of course, each of these “walks” is a part of Paul’s exhortation to “walk in purity.”
Mat 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This was Jesus’ appeal to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.
Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Eph 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
To be like God, and to set ourselves to resemble Him, is the sum of all duty.
Principles of Imitating God.
In general, Paul uses this word group MIMEOMAI in three senses:
1. By way of Comparison, 1 Thes 2:14.
2. Following an example, 2 Thes 3:7, 9, with a plain implication of Paul’s authority.
3. Obeying directions, i.e., the Word of God, 1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thes 1:6; Eph 5:1.
1 Thes 1:6-7, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers…”
In 1 Cor 4:12-17; 11:1; Phil 3:17; Heb 6:12, this word is used to exhort believers to be imitators of those who are already imitating the life style of our Lord.
1 Cor 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
This word is normally used of imitating people and churches, as we have noted. However, in our passage it is used of the imitation of God, which is the loftiest endeavor that could ever be placed before a person. It is another way of saying, “allow Christ to be your prototype.”
Imitation involves obeying the rules, as well as, copying the example. It is a readiness to walk faithfully in full commitment to Christ.
As children of God we are to follow God’s Fatherly will, thereby showing that we are His children. As Eph 5:2 tells us, this means to live by God’s pardoning love.
Therefore, to be an imitator of God and Jesus Christ, we have to know them first. So “imitator” gives us the sense of discipleship, i.e., of obedience to the Word and will of the Lord either directly or by way of the apostles’ teachings. And remember, imitation is the highest form of flattery, in a good sense.
In Eph 5:1 we are told to imitate God. As you know, man could never become God in the essence of His Deity because it cannot be imitated. It is blasphemous and unthinkable that a human being with an Old Sin Nature could even approximate imitating God. Furthermore, it is inscrutable as well as impossible for anyone to even come within a billion miles of the sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, eternal, life, or any of the other attributes of God. So when we are commanded to imitate God, we are not commanded to imitate the deity “of God.”
But yet God became man in the incarnate person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ our God was in hypostatic union, (100% God and 100% man at the same time). Jesus Christ came to reveal God the Father to us, Mat 11:25-27; John 17:25-26. Therefore, as we learn about Jesus Christ and His Word, which is the thinking of God, and how He lived here on earth, we can learn how to imitate the lifestyle of Jesus Christ and God. Therefore, it is the humanity of Christ that we are commanded to imitate.
As true humanity Christ was sinless and impeccable, and this we cannot imitate because we possess an Old Sin Nature and we do sin. Therefore, the imitation of Jesus Christ must be limited to His humanity and it must be limited to something we can do, not something we cannot do.
The humanity of Christ was constantly filled and sustained with the Holy Spirit and sustained by the Word of God resident within His soul. When the believer is filled with the Spirit and applies the Word of God in His soul, he becomes the imitator of Jesus Christ and thus of God.
Therefore, the principle of imitating Christ is related to a secondary command, “Be filled with the Spirit” or “Walk in the Spirit,” which we will see in Eph 5:18.
Another thing noted about the humanity of Christ, which we can emulate and imitate, is that He GAPed it to the super-grace life, according to Luke 2:40, 52.
Luke 2:40, “And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Therefore in imitating “God,” Jesus Christ, you are commanded to take in and apply the Word of God consistently and in effect to close in on the super-grace life.
And finally, believers of the Church Age are members of the Royal Family of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should bear family resemblance of nobility, as per Eph 5:1. Therefore, we are to put on the New Man, the Christ-like characteristics given to us in Chapter 4:25-32, which in essence is imitating the love of God, Rom 13:9-10, 13.
Rom 13:9-10, “For this, ” YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ” YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”
Rom 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
Eph 5:2, “And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
In this passage “imitation of God” is implicitly defined as loving others. Christ’s death, the supreme example of love, is described here with words reminiscent of OT sacrifice, Ex 29:18; Lev 2:2; cf. Phil 4:18. We will see more of this below.
“And walk in love,” is the Coordinating Conjunction KAI with The Present, Active, Imperative of PERIPATEO, with the Dative Preposition EN and Noun AGAPE for “in the sphere of love.”
Once again we have a command to do something on a customary ongoing basis. This time it is to “walk,” that is, live the spiritual life, in the sphere of God’s type of love.
This is the third time Paul uses the command to “walk” in this section of Ephesians (chapters 4-5), Eph 4:1, 17; 5:2. We will see this word also in vs. 8 and 15, as it was also used in Eph 2:2, 10. This is thus the third section in his discussion on the conduct of believers living as a New Spiritual Species in Christ. Therefore, we see generally that we, as God’s children, are to walk, live, in: Unity, Holiness, and Love. Later we will see that we are to “walk” in the light of the Lord, vs. 8, and as wise men, vs. 15.
The Present Imperative of PERIPATEO is a Customary Present and simply means, “continue to walk in the sphere of love.” In Eph 1:15 Paul noted that they already “have love for all the saints.” Now he exhorts them to continue in that love.
To “walk in love” is the fundamental factor in the Christian life. If we walk in love, we will not disobey God, or cause harm or injure men because, “he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law,” Rom 13:8.
This AGAPE love is not learned through human love, but only by learning what Divine love is as found in Scripture. The Holy Spirit teaches us AGAPE love in our hearts, Rom 5:5.
Rom 5:5, “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Paul gives us several reasons why the believer, New Man in Christ, ought to walk in love.
1. You are God’s child, vs. 1. Having been born again through faith in Christ, we are therefore one of the “partakers of the Divine nature,” 2 Peter 1:4.
2 Peter 1:4, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
And since “God is love,” it is logical that God’s children should walk in love.
When Paul encourages us to “walk in love,” he was not asking us to do something that was foreign to the Christian life, for we have received a new nature that wants to express itself in love. The old nature is basically selfish, and for this reason builds walls and declares war. But the new nature is loving and therefore builds bridges and proclaims peace.
2. You are God’s beloved child, vs. 1, “Be imitators of God as beloved children.” Imagine, as I noted above, God speaks of us the same way He spoke of Jesus Christ, “This is My beloved Son,” Mat 3:17. In fact, the Father loves us as He loves His Son, John 17:23.
John 17:23, “I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them, even as You loved Me.”
We are born into a loving relationship with the Father that ought to result in our showing love to Him by the way we live. What more could the Father do to express His love to us? Is it asking too much for us to “walk in love” to please Him?
3. We were purchased with a great price, vs. 2. As John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” But Jesus also laid down His life for His enemies, Rom 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
In addition, our love for Him is our response to His love for us, 1 John 4:19.
1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”
So we are given the example or prototype for living in the sphere of love, Jesus Christ himself, as it reads, “just as Christ also loved you,” KATHOS KAI HO CHRISTOS AGAPE HEMEIS.
“You” should actually be translated, “us,” because it is in the 1st Person Plural of EGO, not the 2nd person plural, which would be HUMEIS. Paul is including himself along with all believers as the object of Christ’s love, just as all of mankind is.
Christ’s love is defined for us in the next phrases, “and gave Himself up for us,” KAI PARADIDOMAI, that means, “to hand over or deliver up,” in the Aorist, Active, Indicative, with HEAUTOU HUPER HEMEIS. This represents Jesus voluntarily going to the Cross in fulfillment of God the Father’s plan for man’s salvation. We will see the analogy between this verse and the Levitical voluntary offerings below, as a type of Jesus’ love for us by willfully going to the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
What Jesus did for us, Christ’s love for you and I, is the supreme example of love seen graphically in sacrificing His life on behalf of the entire world, especially for those who would believe. He willingly gave Himself up as noted also in v. 25; John 10:11, 15, 17-18; Gal 1:4; Heb 9:14.
Gal 1:4, “Who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,”
Heb 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Jesus stated during the Upper Room Discourse in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
This statement was made in anticipation of His impending arrest resulting in His crucifixion. It was His greatest demonstration of the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This commandment was first given in Lev 19:18 and is quoted often in the NT, Mat 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14.
Mark 12:31, “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Cf. Lev 19:18.
The first commandment in vs. 30, is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” that comes from Deut 6:5. It is another way of saying, “be imitators of God,” and is included in the command to “walk in love.”
We first must have love for God the Father, demonstrated through the consistent intake and application of His Word, before we can have AGAPE love for our neighbors.
Like Rom 13:9f, Gal 5:14 tells us, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF”.”
Therefore, Christians can imitate God by loving others, even to the point of death if necessary, 1 John 3:16.
1 John 3:16, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Jesus laying down His life self-sacrificially for the sins of the entire world is the greatest demonstration of AGAPE love in the entire human race, and in all of eternity. To be imitators of God, we too need to live daily with the mental attitude of self-sacrificial love where our words, actions, and deeds towards others show this kind of love.
Christ’s example of Love for the believer to emulate is described with words reminiscent of OT sacrifice, Ex 29:18; Lev 2:2; cf. Phil 4:18.
Here we see that our “riches in Christ” are based on Jesus’ giving of Himself as part of His priestly service, as His work on the Cross was, “an offering and a sacrifice,” PROSHORA KAI THUSIA, “to God,” the Dative of Direction HO THEOS. “Offering and sacrifice” is a double Accusative construction that makes the first word the object and the second the complement. In other words, Jesus was the offering. His offering was a sacrifice to and for God.
This shows us that as members of the Royal Priesthood of God, 1 Peter 2:9, when we operate in AGAPE love, our Divine Good Production becomes an offering and sacrifice to and for God that is pleasing to Him.
With Jesus as our example / prototype, this also tells us that our priestly function is to; 1) help the sinner to overcome their sins, 2) not hold the sins of others as a barrier between you and them, thereby freeing yourself to help and serve them.
This offering and sacrifice is complemented by two more nouns in the phrase, “for the purpose of a fragrant aroma,” EIS OSME EUODIA. Cf. Gen 8:21; Ex 29:18, 25, 41; 2 Cor 2:14; Phil 4:18; and many times in books of Leviticus and Numbers.
In the OT, offerings that were a “soothing or fragrant aroma” to God were the burnt offerings. They were the burnt offerings that were voluntary acts of worship signifying the worshiper’s total dedication to God with the intent of pleasing Him.
OSME means, “A smell, odor, scent, fragrance.” It is in the Accusative case for the description of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is an “aroma,” that is further defined in the next word in the Genitive case. It is used in John 12:3; 2 Cor 2:14, 16; Eph 5:2; Phil 4:18.
It comes from the Verb OZO that means, “to smell, give off odor.” It signified a pleasing odor in the LXX in connection with sacrifices acceptable to God for the Hebrew word REACH that means an odor or scent, Gen 8:21; Lev 1:9, 13, 17; 2:12; Num 28:2.
The offerings that used REACH included burnt offerings, Lev 1:9, grain offerings, 2:2, peace offerings, 3:5. In addition, in Num 15:7 it was used for the drink or libation offerings that accompanied the burnt and grain offerings when they entered the Land of Canaan, which too were burnt.
Interestingly, “soothing aroma” as used in the OT related to burnt offerings that represent judgment. (See Chart on the Levitical Offerings).
In the NT, it is first used in John 12:3 regarding the anointing of Jesus’s feet by Mary.
John 12:3, “Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Mary did this in anticipation of His burial. Anointing was a custom commonly observed in connection with preparations for burial.
The type of perfume or ointment she used was called “Nard” or “spikenard;” NARDOS in the Greek. It was a much-valued perfume, Song 1:12; Song 4:13-14. It was “very precious”, i.e., very costly, Mark 14:3; John 12:3, 5. It was an aromatic oil extracted from the root of an East Indian plant, Nardostachys jatamansi, growing on the Himalaya mountains. Interestingly, it is distinguished by its having many hairy spikes shooting out from one root. It is called by the Arabs Sunbul Hindi, “the Indian spike.” So we see an analogy of Christ crucified with spikes driven through His hands and feet and the crown of thrones driven through His head, all of which were a sweet smelling aroma to God the Father, i.e., pleasing to Him.
Then we have EUODIA that means, “aroma, fragrance, or sweet smelling.” It is in the Attributive Genitive, which acts like an adjective though it is more emphatic to express the quality of Christ’s sacrifice with sharpness and distinction. This is the word for “fragrant.”
It is used in the LXX for the Hebrew Noun NICHOACH, נִיחֹחַ that means, “pleasure or soothing.” NICHOACH refers to sacrifices which were received as “soothing odors” to the Lord, Ex 29:18; Lev 1:9, 2:2 and many other passages. The first occurrence is in Gen 8:21, when the Lord smells the “soothing odor” of Noah’s sacrifices. “Because the verb NÛACH means “to rest,” “to have rest,” “to be quiet” (for example, God rested after the six days of creation [Exo. 20:11]), NÎCHŌACH likely refers to the soothing nature of the odor of the sacrifice in that it brings rest and quiet.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary.) We could also say “peace.”
NICHOACH is used for fragrant incense that was burned in the sanctuary and the various offerings that were burned in belief that their aroma would be pleasing to the Lord, i.e., He would be satisfied with the sacrifice.
In the NT EUODIA is used in 2 Cor 2:15; Eph 5:2; Phil 4:18. It is made up of EU, “well, good,” and OZO, “to smell, to give off an aroma.” Combined it means, “savor, fragrance, or aroma.” In antiquity the odor of something was regarded as indicative of its character. Thus the odor/aroma carried the essence and quality of its originator.
OSME EUODIA forms the background for the three texts in which Paul used these terms.
1. First and foremost, the fragrant offering of Christ has been made to God through the Cross. Furthermore, in reference to the Godward effects of the offering and sacrifice of Christ, which no doubt includes both His life and His death on the Cross, He has been offered on our behalf, and God has accepted it, Eph 5:2.
2. Moreover, the apostle considered the heralds of the gospel as the fragrance of the gospel, of Christ to God, 2 Cor 2:15, read vs. 14-17.
a. To some it is an aroma of death to death, (i.e., judgment).
b. To others it is of life to life, (i.e., salvation).
3. Just as the self-sacrifice of Christ for others was a savory offering to God, the gift which the congregation in Philippi had collected for Paul was a “sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God,” Phil 4:18.
Phil 4:18, “But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”
This tells us that when we become imitators of God, our priestly service and sacrifice will be 1) accepted by God, and 2) pleasing to Him, Col 1:10; Heb 11:6; 13:16. Just as Christ’s offering of Himself was a fragrance pleasing and thus acceptable to God, cf. Lev 1:17; 3:16; Isa 53:10.
Isa 53:10, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering…”
So we see the three aspects of propitiation in the believer:
The Fragrant Offering: Col 1:10, “So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Cf. 1 Thes 2:4.
The Herald received: Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
The Gift: Heb 13:16, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Christ is our example for pleasing God, Rom 15:3, “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL UPON ME”.” (Psa 69:9).
Therefore, we are to do as Rom 15:2, states, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”
“Fragrant aroma” speaks of the propitiatory nature of Jesus’ sacrifice in that God the Father accepted His sacrifice for our sins and was pleased with it because it satisfied His holiness, righteousness, and justice. In Christ we see the three aspects of propitiation:
The Fragrant Offering: 1 John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” Cf. Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 John 4:10.
The Herald: Rom 3:25, “Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.”
The Gift: 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Propitiation is one of several doctrines regarding “The Finished Work of Jesus Christ,” along with the doctrines of Redemption, Reconciliation, Justification, and Sanctification.
In fact, Redemption is Christ’s completed work directed toward Sin. Reconciliation is Christ’s completed work directed toward Man. And Propitiation is Christ’s completed work directed toward God. So propitiation is the Godward side of Christ’s completed work upon the Cross.
1. “Propitiation” is the verb HILASKOMAI, ἱλάσκομαι used in Luke 18:13, (merciful) and Heb 2:17 that means, “propitiate, conciliate, be propitiated, or expiate.” This represents the Fragrant Offering.
In the ancient world, because of the deep seed knowledge that man is a sinner, the people would try to please their god(s) so that they could enter into relationship with them. This was Satan’s false religions of all the ancient pagan gods and goddess. Yet in the Bible, we see that God took all the initiative to mend the broken relationship with man due to sin in the world and in man. This was first evident in the sacrifices God commanded of His people and in the Levitical offerings. They all pointed to what Christ would one day perform on the Cross.
Heb 2:17, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
2. The Noun for “propitiation” is used in 1 John 2:2; 4:10, and is the Greek word HILASMOS, ἱλασμός that means, “expiation, propitiation, or sin offering.” Expiation also means, “to make amends or reparation for or atone,” and propitiation means, “to conciliate or appease.” This represents the Herald.
In the ancient world “an expiation or a propitiation,” the HILASMOS, was regarded as nullifying the action which caused the rift between the deity and the individual. In its two usages in the NT, 1 John 2:2; 4:10, we see that Jesus Christ is THE “Propitiation,” for all of mankind, who has nullified the wrath of God the Father towards the sinner, especially those who believe.
3. The Adjective HILASTERION, ἱλαστήριον is used in Rom 3:25; Heb 9:5, for “propitiation” that means, “the means of expiation, or place of propitiation.” In classical Greek it refers to a gift to the gods which procures atonement. This represents the Gift.
Interestingly, in the Septuagint it is translated twenty-two times for the Hebrew word KAPPORETH that means, “The mercy seat”; i.e., the golden lid of the Ark of the Covenant, Ezek 43:14, 17, 20. It is also used that way in Heb 9:5, where it is actually translated “Mercy Seat.” The Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat was the shadow propitiation of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and sprinkle the sacrificial blood all over the Mercy Seat. Only on the Day of Atonement was the high priest permitted to enter the Holy of holies, and then only with the blood of the animal sacrifice, Lev 16:13 16. If he did not have the blood, it represented human works which are rejected by God, as noted in the parable of propitiation, Luke 18:9-14. The sprinkling of animal blood represented the spiritual death of Christ bearing our sins and the acceptance by the integrity of God of His work.
The contents of the Ark, (the urn of manna, Aarons rod that budded, and the tablets of the Law), also represented Jesus Christ bearing our sins on the Cross, 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Cor 5:21.
1 Peter 2:24, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
On top of the ark was the solid gold mercy seat, Ex 25:17 22. The two cherubs of gold represent the righteousness and justice of the integrity of God. Ex 25:22 says, “There I will meet with you.” This shows us that the integrity of God is the point of reference, the place of contact between God and man. This picture was also seen in the empty tomb of our Lord, John 20:12.
The other place in the NT where the term occurs is Rom 3:25, and it could be literally translated, “which (with reference to Christ, vs. 24), God presented, a ‘mercy seat’ through faith in His blood.” The implication is that Christ is the site, (or seat), at which atonement takes place through faith. Thus He is the propitiation of our sins. The NT declares that God demonstrates His atonement openly, in the sight of all, for the entire universe to see and believe upon.
Therefore, as demonstrated by these passages and many more, in propitiation the justice of God judged our sins in the Person of Jesus Christ and the integrity of God is satisfied with that judgment. Propitiation then frees the justice of God to immediately give anyone who believes in Christ salvation and Divine integrity; the righteousness of God. Salvation adjustment to the justice of God by faith in Christ frees Divine justice to provide blessings for the believer at salvation; both our logistical grace blessings and escrow blessings for time and eternity.
So we see that propitiation is related to various aspects of God’s character.
1. The mechanics of propitiation is related to the justice of God. Justice is satisfied, as illustrated in the burnt offering of Lev 1. The Fragrant Offering.
2. Righteousness is satisfied, as illustrated in the grain offering of Lev 2. The Herald.
3. Propitiation is related to the love of God, 1 John 4:10, “By this love exists: not because we have loved God, but because He has loved us and sent His Son a propitiation for our sins.” The love of God is motivation for propitiation. The Gift.
The resultant principle is that at the moment of salvation, the justice of the Father is satisfied, freeing the love of God to motivate the justice of God to bless the believer.
And finally, propitiation is related to unlimited atonement, 1 John 2:2, “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” Therefore, propitiation is the turning away of the wrath of God by the offering of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins, 1 John 4:10.
Next in vs. 3-5, we have several prohibitions against overt and verbal sins, using sexual immorality as the object lesson, with the back drop of the right man – right woman relationship that is Jesus Christ and His Church, Eph 5:23-32.
Eph 5:3, “But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
Continuing the “Pattern for Our Walk, Walking in Love as God’s Dear Child,” Eph 5:1-7, in vs. 3-4 we are told what not to do so that we are imitators of God and continue to walk in Love as beloved children of God where our lives are an offering and sacrifice to God that He is pleased with.
As we saw three aspects of “a fragrant aroma,” (Propitiation), in vs. 2: The Herald, 2 Cor 2:15; The Fragrant Offering, Eph 5:2; and The Gift, Phil 4:18. Now in vs.3, we are told of three things we are not to do, “as is proper among saints,” (Immorality, Impurity, and Greed), which are complete opposites of the three aspects of the fragrant aroma.
This verse begins with the Contrasting Conjunction DE, for “but,” that tells us what not to do. It is a strong contrast between the fragrant aroma of Jesus Christ and the stench of the old sin nature and the believer’s negative volition. It gives us a strong contrast between the impeccable life of Jesus Christ and the carnal and reversionistic failure of believers with a sin nature. We go from the perfection of Christ and what He has done, to the failure of the Royal Family and the various ways we have failed.
Here we have a list of three sinful attributes in this passage, plus three in vs.4, for a total of six sinful attributes of the reversionistic believer, which we will note further below. And by the way, six is the number of man! As three is the number of Divine perfection that we saw in vs. 2 above in the Herald, Offering, and Gift of the fragrant aroma that was Jesus Christ that we are to emulate.
With the contrasting Conjunction we have two other phrases to tell us that we should not be entering into the things listed here.
First we have, “Not be named among you,” which in the Greek is the negative disjunctive Particle MEDE, “not even,” with the Verb ONOMAZO, ὀνομάζω that means “name, entitle, call, or mention,” in the Present, Middle Imperative for a prohibition here, and with EN HUMEIS, “among you,” it is referring to the believers. The whole point is, do not even in your soul tempt yourself with these types of things.
The second phrase is at the end of the this passage, “as is proper among the saints,” which begins with the Conjunction KATHOS used to contrast the behavior of the New Man in Christ with that of the sinner. Then we have the Present, Active, Indicative of the verb PREPO that means, “to be fitting, becoming, or suitable.” With these we have the Dative Plural Noun HAGIOS that means, “holy, consecrated, perfect, pure, upright, worthy of God, or saint.” It is used here for the believer who is a New Man who has been set apart by God and made holy and righteous, Eph 4:24. The principle is: You have been made holy; therefore, operate in holiness in contrast to these things.
As we have seen previously, given the status the New Man has been created in, he should not go back to the old ways of doing things and live in sin, under the Old Man. That sinful lifestyle is noted in the three terms in this passage, Immorality, Impurity, and Greed. In addition, because of the illicit sexual nature of the ancient pagan religions, it was imperative that believers avoid any hint of pagan religious association. So this first list of three includes overt sins of the body that stem from having mental attitude sins from a corrupt heart or mentality of the soul.
1. Immorality, is the Noun PORNEIA, πορνεία that means, “Unchaste, prostitution, fornication, or immorality.” We noted this word back in Gal 5:19. It means normal illicit sex, sex between a man and a woman in contrast to perverted illicit sex of bestiality, lesbianism, homosexuality, pedophilia, etc. This is the anti-Herald.
Gal 5:19, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality.”
In ancient Greek this word was rarely used, but when it was, it stood first for prostitution, then later “unchasted behavior, or illicit sexual relations” of any kind. “Fornication” is a somewhat archaic but common translation. In addition, metaphorically, especially in Biblical writings, it can mean idolatry in association with the phallic cult of ancient pagan religions, cf. Acts 15:20, 29; Rev 2:21; 14:8. It represents a “cheating” on God by getting into bed with the world, i.e., Satan’s cosmic system, both religious and economic, Rev 9:21; 14:8; 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2.
In regard to sexual immorality, and closely related to adultery, this was the only legitimate reason for divorce, cf. Mat 19:9; 5:32; 15;19; Mark 7:21.
Sexual immorality was a problem in the Church at Corinth, 1 Cor 7:2; cf. 5:1; 6:13, 18, and something God warned all the churches against, Eph 5:2; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 4:3.
2. All Impurity is PAS AKATHARSIA, ἀκαθαρσία the Noun that means, “all uncleanness, ritual impurity, or immorality.” The noun also connotes the cultic impurities of the Old Testament Mosaic law. It is used in Mat 23:27; Rom 1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 2:3; 4:17. We noted this in Eph 4:19 for the word “impurity.” There, like here, it is linked with our next word, “greed or greediness.” With PAS, “for all or every,” it denotes the various kinds of uncleanness: physical, cultic, ethical, and moral. All four are in view in our passage of prohibition, and being tied with PORNEIA, the unethical and immoral aspects of sexual immorality are emphasized. We could say then this is abnormal fornication, such as homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, incest, bestiality, etc. This is the anti-Offering.
So far we have “But fornication, (normal illicit sex) and all (uncleanness) abnormal illicit sex.”
3. Or Greed, is E, ἤ the Conjunction of separation in the sense of complement. It is linked here with the Noun PLEONEXIA, πλεονεξία that means, “greediness, avarice, or covetousness.” In other word, “greediness” is its own sin, (the excess lust to accumulate possessions or wealth), but it is also linked with sexual immorality that speaks to both sex for money, i.e., prostitution, and the insatiable appetite of sexual impurity as a lust pattern of the Old Sin Nature. This is the anti-Gift.
In Eph 4:19 this was also linked to “sensuality,” which in the Greek is ASELGEIA, ἀσέλγεια that means, “licentiousness, excess wantonness, or lasciviousness.” It means excess devotion to sensual pleasures to gratify physical appetites, especially sexual appetites,” and refers to that which leads to all types of sin, (impurity or uncleanness), that goes deeper and deeper into sinful behavior because it never satisfies. Therefore, they have prostituted themselves for Satan’s cosmic system,” or “they have sold out to the world,” which also is an indication of the intensification of the Frantic Search for Happiness in reversionism. It is striving for either materialistic things or striving for the object of one’s sexual lust. It is the evil impulse leading to an evil deed, or a strong lust leading to the attempt to gratify this lust and calling it happiness.
As we noted in Chapter 4, this is part of the “Black out of the Soul,” MATIAOTES, and “Scar Tissue of the Soul” that leads to, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” Eccl 1:2, 12:8. See also the ensuing Doctrine of “Sensuality” – Sexual Immorality there.
Finally, the man ruled by PLEONEXIA considers his fellow man / women to exist solely for his own profit and pleasure. The heart that is PLEONEXIA lives for the present moment. Yet the Christian, in contrast, lives for the future and the glorification of God, not himself.
So Paul warns believers in vs. 3-7, to sever themselves completely from their former way of life. He lists only a few representative sins of people who were not walking in the sphere of the love of God. Any kind of sin is inconsistent with a life of love. God’s love does not motivate us to sin!
Eph 5:4, “And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
Here Paul lists three more sins, filthiness, silly talk, and coarse jesting that are three verbal sins that also stem from having mental attitude sins from a corrupt heart or mentality of the soul. We noted several of these words and covered all three in Eph 4:29, where the New Man is commanded to replace “corrupt talk” with edifying talk. That same theme is seen in the words, “but rather giving of thanks,” as we will note below.
It begins with the correlating Conjunction KAI, for “and.” As such, the translators of the NASB added “there must be no,” to make is clear that the command of prohibition from vs. 3, continues here.
Paul warns against various sins of the tongue, in three aspects of verbal sin, including:
1. Filthiness, is the Noun AISCHROTES, αἰσχρότης that means, “baseness, (poor or offensive terms), filthiness, indecency, wickedness,” or sometimes “dishonor.” It is only used here in Scripture. This is a rare term with various meanings such as, “filthiness, ugliness, baseness, indecency, wickedness.” From its root it also implies “shame, embarrassment, or disgrace,” due to shameful behavior. Here it implies speech that is repulsive, filthy, or obscene, we could say, “shameful talk.” It covers the gamut from swearing, to dirty words, to promiscuous sexual language, or words intended to arouse sexually. This too is an anti-Herald. It is in sharp contrast to godliness or purity of speech.
BDAG notes it means, “Behavior that flouts social and moral standards, shamefulness, obscenity,” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).
“Impropriety, a summarizing improper conduct whether in action or word or even thought and intent; indecorum of any kind; conduct which when exposed by the light makes the person ashamed of himself; ugly, shameful conduct of any kind; conduct which is contrary to a person who follows after God (only in Eph. 5:4). Attachment and conformity to God requires a conduct of which God is not ashamed and which could not bring shame to the person when it is brought to light.” (Complete Word Study Dictionary).
2. Silly Talk, is the Noun MOROLOGIA, μωρολογία that means, “Foolish talk, silly talk.” It is from MOROS, where we get our word “moron” from that means, “foolish,” and LEGO that means, “to speak.” literally it could be “empty heads.” It is that type of speech which betrays a person as foolish. It is empty or vain conversation which does not contribute to the spiritual maturity of individuals. This is the anti-Offering.
It is also only used here in Scripture. Nonbiblical writers used “silly talk” in general, such as might come from the mouth of one who is of weak intellect, or even intoxicated. So it is the “talk of fools” which is foolishness and sin together.
In addition, it often implied a willful blindness to the truth of God, cf. Psa 94:8; Mat 23:17, 19. This is also seen in our passage in the context of vs. 6, “deceptive empty words.” This is the point in 2 Tim 2:23; Titus 3:9, where the teaching of Jesus contrasts sharply with stupid controversies, i.e., speculations and subtle questions that do not relate to the truths of salvation. Therefore, false teaching is in view, but with its nature rather than its content as the main point of contention.
Psa 94:8, “Pay heed, you senseless among the people; and when will you understand, stupid ones?”
2 Tim 2:23, “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
Titus 3:9, “But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.”
3. Coarse Jesting, also includes E, ἤ the Conjunction of separation in the sense of complement. Therefore, this too is a separate sin but adds to filthy and foolish speech. “Coarse jesting” is one word in the Greek, the Noun EUTRAPELIA, εὐτραπελία that means, “Indecent or vulgar jesting, improper jokes,” that too is only used here in Scripture. It is from EU, “good”, and TREPHO, “turning,” where this term means, “quick-witted, mentally sharp, or witty.” Literally, it is the turning of one’s speech for the purpose of exciting mirth or laughter. Paul used it in a negative way, referring to indecent or off-color humor. With the continued context of vs. 3, it can also include tricky, dishonest, and flattering speech used to seduce someone; a “teaser” as they say. This is the anti-Gift.
Good, clean jokes certainly have their place, even among God’s people. But there is a difference between a joke that merely helps to lighten the atmosphere with good laughter and one that borders on that which is coarse or base.
Therefore, these are all types of verbal sins, (and overt sins, as noted in vs. 3), “which are not fitting,” HOS in the plural, OUK, “not,” ANEKO in the Imperfect, Active, Indicative that means, “which are not fitting or proper.” Used here with the Greek negative OUK, this is something bad. Without the negative it is something good, as in Col 3:18; Philemon 1:8. So this is inappropriate or improper behavior for the New Man in Christ. It stands in apposition to PREPO HAGIOS, “proper among the saints,” in vs. 3.
Therefore, the New Man is to throw off all of these overt and verbal sins, and instead operate in the New Man with “edifying speech,” as in Eph 4:29, and as here, “but rather giving of thanks,” ALLA MALLON EUCHARISTIA.
EUCHARISTIA, εὐχαριστία means, “thankfulness, gratitude, thanksgiving, etc.” It also refers to the Common Table, cf. 1 Cor 11:24. It means thankfulness toward the Lord or occupation with the person of Christ. Thankfulness toward the Lord for whatever He gives you, occupation with the person of Christ for whatever He has provided. The context here is in regards to being imitators of God. This means that our “giving of thanks” should be to God, in all of our actions and words as a Herald, Fragrant Offering, and Gift for all that He has given and done for us, especially for our right man or right woman, Eph 5:23-33. In addition, we should use our words to build up others spiritually, especially our right man or right woman, as well as in praise and glorification of God.
Eph 5:5, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
This verse could be easily misinterpreted to mean that a person who commits a single sin suddenly loses his relationship to God. The emphasis here is the same as in many other scriptural passages; that is, if a person can consistently practice sin without repentance, it is obvious the person does not know God any longer. People who can constantly practice immorality, impurity, greed, or similar sins, are giving priority to these sins rather than to God. That is probably why Paul called such a person “an idolater.” Anything that becomes more important than God Himself has become a “god” to that person. This is why we are warned not to enter into such evil. But the fact remains that believers, no matter how egregious or prolonged their sins, they will never lose their salvation, John 10:28-30. This verse uses the Old Man characteristic of the unbeliever to warn believers not to enter into these things and lose their experiential relationship with the Lord, i.e., the filling of or fellowship with the Holy Spirit, cf. Eph 5:18.
This verse begins with the explanatory Conjunction GAR and Demonstrative Pronominal Adjective HOUTOS meaning, “for this.” It sets up a principle of doctrine that the believer should be well aware of.
“You know with certainty,” is an interesting construction in the Greek. It is the Perfect, Active, Indicative of OIDA with the Present, Active, Participle of GINOSKO. They are synonymous terms for the double emphasis of absolutely knowing something. So this is an absolute principle of Doctrine that the believer knows, either inherently or learned from Scripture.
OIDA means, “know fully, understand, or recognize.” It emphasizes the perfect idea of “possessed knowledge” rather than the present aspect of “acquiring knowledge.” OIDA is actually the perfect tense of EIDO but is translated in the present tense. Yet, in our passage we have the Perfect tense of OIDA, which is ISTE. So we have a perfect-perfect, which means absolute knowing.
A distinction existed between the perfective kind of knowledge denoted by OIDA and the progressive or “acquired” knowledge represented by GINOSKO. GINOSKO emphasizes the idea of “understanding” what is known by “experiencing” something to acquire knowledge. In its basic sense, “to know or to understand” is an intellectual process. It means to see things as they truly are, being removed from opinion or speculation. This word was important to the Greeks for the acquisition of knowledge through the eye gate, i.e., “seeing is believing.”
In addition, “to know” someone also had the connotation of sexual contact, Mat 1:25; Luke 1:34. So we have a play on words here regarding the reversionistic believer who is a sexual deviant as noted in vs. 3-4.
In our passage we have both OIDA and GINOSKO that doubly or even triply emphasizes a point of Doctrine that is well known to all. What that doctrine is, is what follows.
“That” is the relative Adverb HOTI which begins the point of doctrine.
“No Immoral” is actually the Adjective PAS, “all or every,” with the subject Nominative Noun PORNOS that means, “fornicator or immoral person.” This is the masculine use of the word and originally meant a male prostitute. Some even believe this was the term for a pimp. We noted its cognate PORNEIA in vs. 3, which was in the feminine for female prostitute. Later PORNOS was also used for one who had sexual intercourse with prostitutes. But in the NT it means a fornicator, one who practices sexual immorality who is not married, or one who is habitually or frequently involved in illegitimate sexual activities. So we could translate this, “every fornicator.” This is the anti-Herald once again.
“Or impure person,” is the Conjunction of separation in the sense of complement E, ἤ. It is linked here with the Adjective AKATHARTOS, ἀκάθαρτος in the Masculine that means, “impure or unclean.” In vs. 3 we had the cognate Noun AKATHARSIA in the Feminine meaning, “uncleanness, ritual impurity, or immorality,” which speaks to the cultic impurities of the Mosaic Law. As there, here too we have various types of uncleanness: physical, cultic, ethical, and moral in view. This is the anti-Offering.
“Or covetous man,” which is E, plus the Adjective PLEONEKTES, πλεονέκτης in the Masculine that means, “One who desires more, a greedy or covetous person.” Once again, we had its cognate in vs. 3, PLEONEXIA in the Feminine that means, “greediness or covetousness.” The Adjective describes “someone who strives for material possessions,” thus it carries the sense of a person who is motivated inwardly by an inordinate desire to possess something. This desire results in committing an evil deed and produces a covetous person. And in our context, it is in regard to illicit sex. This is the anti-Gift.
Next we see what the reversionistic believer becomes who practices immoral sexuality, “who is an idolater.” It begins with the relative pronominal Adjective HOS for “who.” Then we have the verb EIMI, “to be or is” in the Present, Active, Indicative, with the nominative masculine Noun EIDOLOLATRES, εἰδωλολάτρης that means, “idolater.” It comes from the Nouns EIDOLON, “a picture, copy, or idol,” and LATRIS, “a servant, worshiper.” Idolater then is a servant or worshiper of idols that represent false gods or goddesses.
This expression does not occur prior to the Christian period in either classical or Septuagintal Greek. It appears seven times in the Greek NT, five of which are credited to Paul and two to John, 1 Cor 5:10-11; 6:9; 10:7; Eph 5:5; Rev 21:8; 22:15.
When we think of idolatry, we think of false god, pagan worship, which it is. It is placing or worshiping other gods or goddess, before the one true and only God. However, idolatry is not only worshiping in pagan temples, it can also be anything in life that we treat or place as more important than, and give more time and attention to, than God. It could be your spouse, money, sports, a job, your church or church building, houses, cars, boats, hobbies, drugs, alcohol, etc., as well as a sin that you continually chase after or habitually participate in, as Paul equated impure and covetous persons with the idolatrous. This latter type of idolatry is more prevalent today than ever before.
Doctrine of Idolatry
1. Idolatry is forbidden by the Word of God, Ex 20:3-4, 23; 23:24; Deut 4:28; 5:7; 6:14; 7:16; 8:19. In the Ten Commandments the first commandment prohibits mental or soulish idolatry, the second commandment prohibits overt idolatry.
2. Idolatry of mind precedes idolatry of practice. In other words, mental idolatry occurs before overt idolatry, Judges 2:10-13; Ezek 14:7.
3. Idolatry is spiritual adultery, an attack upon category #1 Love for God, Jer 3:8-10; Ezek 16:23-43; 23:24-30; Rev 17:1-5.
4. In a general sense, idolatry is the paying of divine honor to any created thing or the ascription of divine power to natural agencies. It may be classified as follows:
a. The worship of inanimate objects, such as stones, trees, rivers, etc.
b. The worship of animals.
c. The worship of the higher powers of nature, such as the sun, moon, stars; and the forces of nature, as air, fire, etc.
d. The worship or covetousness of any sinful act.
e. The consistent acquiescence to your emotions, the emotional revolt of the soul.
f. Hero-worship or worship of deceased ancestors including praying to them.
h. Idealism, or the worship of abstractions or mental qualities, such as justice.
i. The worship of other gods under image or symbol.
j. The worship of the image or symbol itself, (e.g., the bronze serpent, 2 King 18:4).
Each of these forms of idolatry has their peculiar immoral tendency.
Phil 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” Cf. Rom 16:18; 2 Tim 3:4.
Col 3:5, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
5. Paul describes the origin of idolatry in Rom 1:21-25. Men forsook God, and sank into ignorance and immoral corruption, vs. 28.
6. Demons function through idols and the practice of idolatry, Zech 10:2.
7. Idolatry is called the devil’s communion table, 1 Cor 10:19-21.
8. Idolatry is related to demonism in Lev 20:6. Idolatry combines demon possession or influence with various religious activities, and with various immoral activities. It was, and is, one of Satan’s greatest systems of religion. Idolatry, demonism, and immoral degeneracy are a manifestation of the unbeliever’s, or reversionistic believer’s status quo. Idolatry is a basis for every imaginable sin.
9. Since idolatry is related to the emotional revolt of the soul, it often produces psychotic conditions like the phobias, the fear psychoses of Jer 50:38.
10. Idolatry is related to sexual sins under the phallic cult, Ezek 22:3-18; 23:37-49. Consequently, idolatry has an adverse effect on both soul and body, 1 Cor 6:9.
11. The unbeliever is characterized as an Idolater, among other things, Eph 5:5; Gal 5:20; Rev 9:20; 21:8; 22:15.
12. Idolatry causes national judgement of the fifth cycle of discipline to a nation, Isa 2:8, 18-20; 21:9; 36:18-20; 37:12-19; Jer 3:6-11; 2:27-30; 7:17-20; 17:1-4; Ezek 6:4-6.
13. We are commanded to guard against and flee from all forms of idolatry, 1 Cor 10:14; 1 John 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3.
1 Peter 4:3, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”
14. The positive believer has no idols in his life and he is free to live his life in the grace of God, serving God, 1 Cor 8:4; 10:19; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 1:9.
1 Cor 8:4, “Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.”
1 Cor 10:19, “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.”
1 Thes 1:9, “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
Next we see the consequences for the one living in idolatry, “does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
In the Greek it is OUK, “does not,” ECHO, “in the future, have or hold,” KLERONOMIA, “an inheritance, possession, or portion,” EN, “in,” HO BASILEIA, “the kingdom,” HO CHRISTOS, “of Christ,” KAI, ”and”, THEOS, “God.”
Remember that idolatry and sexual immorality are sins just like any other sin, even though they may seem more egregious regarding man’s relationship with God. Nevertheless, they are sins and Jesus paid for the sins of the entire world. Therefore, if the believer enters into these things, he will not lose his salvation. He will be disciplined even to the third stage of Divine discipline, the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:30, but he will never lose his salvation, John 10:28f. This verse is using those involved in sexual immorality and idolatry as examples of what the unbeliever does. And it is the unbeliever who will not inherit the kingdom of God, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ, not because they have sinned in some way.
Therefore, unbelievers (idolaters – those who have other gods in their life and reject the one true God), will have no part in the inheritance of the Kingdom, 1 Cor 6:9. Their destiny is the Lake of Fire in the company of all unbelievers categorized as “the cowardly, false, unbelieving, sexually immoral,” and the like, Rev 21:8; cf. 22:15.
1 Cor 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
As we see from Scripture, this “Kingdom” also speaks to the royal power of God that is more than a physical, visible, tangible entity. Jesus stressed the inner, spiritual nature of the Kingdom. It belongs to the poor in spirit, and it comforts those who mourn. Those seeking mercy will find it in the kingdom of God. It is designed for the meek, for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. In the kingdom of God those who are pure in heart will see God, Mat 5:3, 10. The kingdom is marked by peace, Rom 14:17; the peaceful and peacemakers will be called God’s children.
Therefore, not only is there a literal kingdom of Christ and God, (the Millennial Reign and Heaven), but there is a spiritual nature of the kingdom that is soulish that only the believer can participate in and enjoy, just like the eternal kingdom. As such, the habitual sinner is not part of Christ’s present kingdom, Col 1:13.
Col 1:13, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”
Gal 5:21, “Envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Kingdom is made up of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, Rom 14:17.
Rom 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The unbeliever is excluded from both forms of the kingdom, and therefore cannot enter into God’s rest, with peace, joy, and happiness either in time or eternity. And even though the believer has the eternal Kingdom, if he operates habitually in sin, he misses out on the spiritual kingdom of rest, peace, joy, and happiness in time. Therefore, the Kingdom is not merely in word, it is actualized in the Spirit’s redemptive power, 1 Cor 4:20.
1 Cor 4:20, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.”
Having the Kingdom shows God is ruling in the life of the individual believer. Only by being born again can one enter this Kingdom, John 3:3-5, and it is realized in the lives of those who recognize there is nothing they have done to deserve it, Mat 5:3; 21:31.
John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.”
Mat 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Mat 21:31, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you”.”
2 Thes 1:5, “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering”
2 Peter 1:11, “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
As serious as fornication and idolatry are, there is forgiveness for them, 1 Cor 6:11. Thus Rahab was justified by her faith, Heb 11:31.
1 Cor 6:11, “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”
Vs. 6, The warning against false teachers.
Eph 5:6, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
This sentence begins with a command of prohibition / warning, and ends with the consequences of not heeding this warning.
“Let no one” is the Cardinal Pronominal Adjective MEDEIS with the Imperative mood form in the upcoming verb. It means “no one, nobody, or nothing.” It is in reference to anyone, unbeliever or believer, who teaches false doctrines, including the teaching that sexual immorality is ok and part of the worship of God. These are the pimps from vs. 5, of false doctrines and false religion.
“Deceive you,” is the Verb APATAO in the Present, Active, Imperative with HUMEIS. APATAO, ἀπατάω means, “to deceive, lead into error.” This is the deception of false teachers of false doctrines that are intended to lead you away from your relationship with God. It means to seduce, to cheat, to mislead, to seduce into error, and therefore to deceive by false teaching, and to entice. So, we could say, “See to it that no one seduces, misleads, cheats, deceives, or deludes you.”
It is used only here and 1 Tim 2:14, twice, and James 1:26.
1 Tim 2:14, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” Here deception came at the hand of the master deceiver, Satan.
James 1:26, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” Our words and actions follow what is going on in the mentality of our soul; garbage in, garbage out.
“With empty words,” is the Dative Plural of KENOS, κενός that means, “empty, worthless, vain, in vain, or ineffective,” and LOGOS for “word or speech, etc.” Combined, KENOS LOGOS literally relates to words without reality or substance, words that are empty, without content, without truth, and without power. This is in regard to the holiness, righteousness, and the spiritual life.
But in fact, empty words do have power. They have the power to deceive you, to lead you astray, and to present to you something that is attractive but sinful and detrimental to your life. The only power they have is to lead you away from your relationship with God.
Remember that as we noted above, in Paul’s day, the false religions tried to influence these Christians by saying they could indulge in these immoralities and still get to heaven. In fact, some sects of Gnosticism believed that bodily sins were inconsequential to the spiritual life, because they affected the body only, which was already corrupt, and therefore they could still advance spiritually in the mentality of the soul. As you know, this is a lie and false. What the body does is controlled by the mentality of the soul. So, if the body acts corruptly, it means that the mind is already corrupt. These deceivers had many arguments to convince ignorant Christians that they could sin repeatedly and still be right with God.
This also reminds us of the MATIAOTES of Eph 4:17, where the unbelieving Gentiles walked in the futility of their minds. That is what false doctrines is, futility, emptiness, worthlessness, etc. Cf. Col 2:8.
Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
“For because of these things,” is GAR DIA HOUTOS, which references the false doctrines of false teachers. Listening and succumbing to their false teaching is not only dangerous, it also brings the wrath of God upon those who practice this kind of lifestyle.
“The wrath of God,” HO ORGE HO THEOS. ORGRE meaning, “wrath or anger,” speaks to the punitive judgment of our Lord on the unbeliever, primarily in reference to the last judgment for the unbeliever, Rev 20:12-15, the Great White Throne of Jesus Christ. Yet, this too is a play on words, as related words like ORGAO an ORGIA were associated with pagan rituals involving passionate or sensual activities in the cultic worship. Therefore, if you want to have an ORGIA you can expect to receive God’s ORGE.
“Comes upon,” ERCHOMAI, “to come or appear” in the Futuristic Present, Middle, Indicative. This is the punitive judgment of God that will affect unbelievers who embrace the false doctrines and false religions and the Divine discipline for the believers who embrace them. They are classified as….
“The sons of disobedience.” HO HIOS HO APEITHEIA. APEITHEIA, ἀπείθεια means, “disobedience, willful unbelief, rebellion, or obstinacy.” There is an implicit deliberateness in this disobedience. It also stands as an antithesis to faith or synonymous to unbelief. As such, it should be understood as unbelief rather than disobedience, cf. Heb 3:18-19. Therefore, it is a title for the unbeliever. Paul uses it as a technical term to describe those living outside of God’s grace, Eph 2:2; 5:6; and Col 3:6 in some translations. It is the condition of those ruled by the Old Sin Nature.
Vs. 7, The Concluding Prohibition.
Eph 5:7, “Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
“Therefore” is the inferential Participle OUN that means, “then, now, therefore, so, etc.” It draws the above reasoning to a conclusion for the believer with another prohibition.
“Do not be,” is ME GINOMAI, in the Present, Middle, Imperative. We noted GINOMAI in vs. 1, that was also in the Present, Middle, Imperative. There the believer is commanded to be, become, or keep on becoming an imitator of God. In order to do that, we cannot be a “partaker” of false doctrines and false religions, or have sexual immorality, or any habitual sin in our lives. That is why we are commanded here to “not be or become partakers with them,” SUMMETOCHOS AUTOS.
SUMMETOCHOS, συμμέτοχος means, “partaker or sharer.” It is from the prefix, SUM that means, “with” and METECHO that means, “share, partake, or participate.” It is used only here and Eph 3:6, where we noted that the believing Gentiles were also “partakers” of the Kingdom of God, being part of the body of Jesus Christ. So this literally means, “Stop becoming partakers with them.”
This verse tells us that sooner or later something which is false, contrary to the teaching of the Word, is going to come into your life. If you receive it, you will be deceived by it, which will take you into reversionism.
Unfortunately, many believers are often deceived by association with unbelievers and reversionistic believers. They give you a little human viewpoint, they say something that is not true, and you buy it because of your association with them. Therefore, you are led into reversionism, not by the unbelieving pimp in the temple, but by your “dear friend” or even you “dear Christian friend,” who is all mixed up with regard to Bible doctrine and is actually losing out in the Christian life.
This happens when the reversionistic believer becomes a partner with the unbeliever, imitates the unbeliever, acts and thinks like the unbeliever, compromises with the unbeliever, (and with the devil), and has a lack of separation in the soul.
Since believers are members of the Royal Family of God they must bear the family resemblance. The family resemblance is one of nobility and royalty coming from the filling of the Spirit and the daily function of GAP, resulting in the ECS plus the entrance into the super-grace life. Therefore, we are warned to stop being partakers of, or to not be partakers of, the deception and falsehoods, especially because we have been given the truth and entered into God’s Royal Family and His Kingdom, forever.
As such, we are not to get mixed up with those who have excluded themselves from the kingdom by their unbelief and impurity, 2 Cor 6:14. It would be adultery against God if we partook of their sin and evil. If we did, we would be an anti-Herald, an anti-Offering, and an anti-Gift; therefore we would be an anti-Christ, cf. 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7. In regards to their deception and lying nature, Jesus called them “false-christs” or “pseudo-christs,” Mat 24:24; Mark 13:22.
1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
1 John 2:22, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
1 John 4:3, “And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
2 John 1:7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
As members of the Royal Family of God, our objective is advancing toward the super-grace life. This is the area of maturity, the area where we are “Occupied with Christ” and have maximum category #1 Love. This is the place where God pours His blessings upon us and we have the capacity to appreciate it. The great hindrance to this is moving into some phase of reversionism.
A believer is not sinless, but he should sin less, and less, and less! He is royalty, and it is beneath his dignity to indulge in the practices of the lost world that is outside the kingdom of God. So we are warned to not participate inside of Satan’s cosmic kingdom, and instead continue to reside inside the Kingdom of God.
We now begin our second section of Chapter 5, “The Proof and Reason for Our Walk, Walking in Light,” Eph 5:8-14.
In this section we will note that to be imitators of God we must also walk in His light. This means we must walk in fellowship with God, as will be brought out also in vs. 18. That means we must operate inside of God’s power system of His Word resident within our souls and being filled with God the Holy Spirit. When we have these two power options working in our lives we are walking in the light of God, just as we have been created as children of light.