Photo Ephesians is Exciting - Part 6: Eph 5:3-7
Notes on Ephesians 5:3-7
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (Eph_5:3-7 NKJV).
Continuing with imitating God and the way we are to walk, Paul begins to show what is not acceptable to God in the body, and in doing that, he also begins to show what is not acceptable to us in the Body, and that of what it means to imitate God, of what is involved in being imitators of God.
The way that Paul does this is by the way he makes his point. In Eph_5:2 he said for us to walk in love in the same way that Christ has loved us and has given himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice. There are two things about Christ giving himself as a sacrifice, which are:
- He was without blemish. In other words, he as the gift which was presented as a sacrifice could not have anything on him that reflected any kind of sin.
- He was without spot, which is basically the same as not having anything on him that reflected any kind of sin, but it also means that he could not have something that would have brought reproach and blame.
- Fornication (which includes adultery and all other sexual sins)
- Reviling (blasphemy)
- Drunkenness and etc.
To show the seriousness of what he is saying, Paul adds in a huge caveat, "... let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Eph_5:3 b NKJV). This is not the first time Paul had made statements such as this. And this certainly isn't the first time he added caveats (warnings) to things he said (cf. Eph_5:7; 1Co_5:11; 2Co_6:14-18; 1Ti_5:20).
As we look at this its important to realize that Paul wasn't talking about those who are outside of the body, he was talking about us, THE MEMBERS of the body, "... not to keep company with anyone named a brother ..." (1Co_5:11 NKJV) who acts in such a way. Then to whack it in the guts just so to drive home the point, Paul calls that brother (Christian) "evil" (1Co_5:13 ff), and essentially tells us not to have anything to do with that person and to get rid of him. Its called "excommunication."
The point in all of this, is in what Paul said at the end of Eph_5:3, "... let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (NKJV). This is where its really at! And I think that Albert Barnes captured the Apostle Paul's sentiments really well when he said, "... as befits the character of Christians, who are regarded as holy. Literally, 'as becometh holy ones'" (Barnes Notes on the Bible).
All of what Paul was speaking about in these verses of Scripture was not about morality for the sake of morality, but that of living out holy lives. And there is a world of difference between the two. Anyone can live a moral life, but that doesn't make them holy. What makes a person seen as holy is when when he/she is separated from all that is sin and by living it out. Therefore when a person who is a member of the body sins, and continues in that sin, and we, as a church don't do anything about it and allow it to continue, will affect every member in that body. The history of the Corinthian Church is a great example of this. And perhaps this warning, which Paul gave to the Corinthian church, would behove us to consider the consequences of doing just that: "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1Co_3:17 NKJV).
In what Paul was saying about three areas of sin; fornication, covetousness, and uncleanness, where they are not to be a part of us; this also extends to to the way we speak to each other. In Eph_5:4, Paul tells us, "... neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting ..." (NKJV). The emphasis lies in that we are saints "holy ones" (Barnes), and as such they are not fitting.
This word, fitting, in the NKJV, is used only twice in Ephesians (both in Eph 5), and over all 10 times in the NT, and so its not a word that is commonly used here. Looking at what this word means, in Eph_5:3, the Greek word used is prépō (G4241), which means, "To be eminent, distinguished, to excel. In the NT usually in the impersonal form prépei, it means becoming, proper" (Complete Word Study Dictionary. AMG Publishers).
In Eph_5:4, the Greek used here is anékō (G433), which means, "To come up, come to, reach to, pertain, belong to. As an impersonal verb, anékei: it belongs, it is fit, proper, becoming (Col_3:18). What is fit, becoming (Eph_5:4; Phm_1:8)" (Word Study Dictionary, AMG Publishers). Here in this verse, the word seems to denote a measure, a standard, or a level of what is acceptable or not acceptable in the Body, and as such, is either acceptable or not acceptable to God. But as where in Eph_5:3 the word, prépō, seems to denote the position that one is in or has been placed in (conferred on), that there is the expectation that the way one acts is to reflect that position.
The extent that Paul went to has huge implications.When looking at the extent which he went to, shows just how important we, as a body, are to God, and how important the condition we are to be in as a body, is to God. Moreover, because the body (the church), which we are, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, even further impacts on the importance to maintaining its condition in righteousness and holiness. And therefore, if the way we act and speak does not reflect the image of God's divine character in true righteousness and holiness, they become part of those implications.
In regards to this, Paul tells us, "For this you know [there is no pleading of ignorance here. You can't say you didn't know], that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph_5:5 NKJV). Ok, Having read that, now you can go, "Whoa! This is really going OTT and really totally over sharing. This is going - just - way - too - far."
Well, all I can say about that is, "Time to get real about God, then." Because here is a reality check of about the way God actually sees sin, and of it not to be a part of us. This is how it really is when it comes to deliberately turning to sin. You see, the point is that because of the price that God paid for us through Jesus Christ, that of having reconciled us to himself through Christ's blood; then having gone to the extent of renewing us, forgiving us, and etc., then for someone to go deliberately back to that old way, is nothing more than the highest form of insulting the Holy Spirit which has bestowed God's grace on us. This is nothing more than the epitome of blaspheming the Holy Spirit of grace.
The reality is that God is holy, and as such, God does not accept nor tolerates sin in his presence. Moreover, because we are imitating God, we imitate his holiness and righteousness, and therefore neither can we accept nor tolerate deliberate sin in our midst. Whether one sins by going back to his/her old ways, or sins against a brother or a sister in Christ, it doesn't matter. The size and the nature of that sin is also unimportant. The fact is we cannot afford to allow that person remain in our midst because he/she has become an affront to God, and is an affront to us. Its for this reason where Paul tells us, "Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Eph_5:7 NKJV).
In what Paul is bringing out is that there is to be a complete cutting off, a total separation from all that is ungodly, that there is to be nothing which reflects sin amongst us (cf. 2Co_6:17-18; Isa_52:11). This is perhaps one of the biggest Biblical points we actually struggle with in some of our churches, and I believe the reason for it is that we basically do not correlate with what has been done to everyone of us by God with God. In other words, we actually don't see one another, as reality, or realistically, belonging to God; we actually don't see, as reality, or realistically one another as holy, as in having been separated and consecrated to God, where one is truly sacred to God. The attitude being portrayed is more like "this is pie in the sky" sort of a thing instead of what is here and now. And its at that very point why we have divisions and schisms in the church.
We have the belief that one "has to be realistic" in our dealings with one another to the extent we either metaphorically or literally throw our arms in the air and say, "Well, what can I do about it?! We can't force him, and that its up to him," when it comes to dealing with wrongdoing toward one another in the body. We have developed an attitude of (and may as well just say it), "oh well, ce sera, sera." But that is not the way God wants us to be, and we really need to learn that every member in the body is to be treated with utmost dignity and respect to the point of where we, in reality, esteem the other better than ourselves (Php_2:3) just purely on the basis of the correlation that is between God and us.
And so here, its in this context that until the person who does wrong, repents and is willing get right with God, and is willing to put things right with those he has wronged in the body, then he/she cannot be a part of us. But as soon as that person repents and has put things right with God, and is willing to put things right with those members he/she has wronged, we forgive that person, and have him reconciled back to us, and to those that he/she may have wronged.