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Being Church Part 8, Ephesians 5:15-21

By APsit190, in Discipleship, Christian Life 08 August 2013 · 5,221 views

Living a Christian Life Ephesians
Its been some time that I've posted any notes on Ephesians, and thought it was about time that I put something up. I've just recently completed this part. I believe this part deals with the practical issues of everything that Paul was talking about in the previous verses of Chapter 5, and he brings things to a head in this section of Eph 5.

I trust, as you read this blog, it will bless and encourage you in your journey in Christ, and in also in your journey in your church.

Notes on Ephesians 5:15-21

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (Eph_5:15-21 NKJV).

We now come to the part if Ephesians where Paul begins to put out the practical things for us to do in living out what he has taught us. Of what he says in these verses very much deals with what can be regarded as common sense, and yet places the sense of utmost importance to them.

With what he said in these verses deals with how we are to interact with each other, and of how we can be useful to each other. I believe that what Paul said in these verses of Scripture are to show us how we can, in the practical sense, show real love to one another, and to be the friend, a pillar of strength to the one who is struggling in one way or another. And if anything this will reveal, is what God is like because this is what we are imitating.

There are several practical things that Paul showed which we are to do, and of how we are to be as a church, which are:
  • Walk circumspectly, not as fools (Eph_5:15)
  • Redeeming the time (Eph_5:16)
  • Not to be unwise, but know the what will of God is (Eph_5:17)
  • Not to get drunk, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph_5:18)
  • To encourage and edify one another through the Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs (Eph_5:19)
  • To give thanks, or to be thankful in all things to God (Eph_5:20)
  • To be submissive to one another in the fear of God (Eph_5:21)
These seven "principles," or truths, although are very practical, are also what makes our light to shine brightly. They are what stops us from having our light dimmed and/or put out. But what is even more significant, is that this is what will stop us from entering into darkness, and what will help those in darkness to come out of it.

I guess if one could put a title to this part of our study of Ephesians, it would have to be, "How To Be The Perfect Church," because if we look at the original text, we will find that this is not very far from what this means, "being the perfect church," and with that, of how we can affect the lives of outsiders around us, and actually cause people to come to Christ. But even more significantly, what this does is it strengthens those that are weaker, and helps them to overcome their weaknesses.

So, lets look at these verses of Scripture, and see what they mean, and of how we can put them into practice.

Paul, in this part of his letter to the Ephesian Church, begins by saying, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise ..." (Eph_5:15 NKJV). There are three words used here which shows what it means to be light and not to be in darkness, and of what it means to imitate God, and they are:
  • Circumspect
  • Fools
  • Wise.
The word, "circumspect," in the Greek is, "akribōs" (G199), which means, "diligently – and the idea here is, that they were to take special pains to guard against the temptations around them, and to live as they ought to" (Barnes). The word denotes having a sense of exactness, that of precise accuracy to the point of leaving no margin for error. Then from that position one is given complete confidence in what has been shown and taught is trustworthy, and thereby will be able to stay on that exact path without deviating and without compromise.

Jesus talked about entering "... in the narrow gate ..." (Mat_7:13 NKJV), because it "... is the way that leads to life ..." Mat_7:14 NKJV). It is here, I believe, that we can see the direction which Paul was coming from when he talked about being circumspect. The narrowness ("strictness" as Alford had put it) denotes the lack of room for a margin of error. And so its in that sense when Jesus spoke of entering in the "narrow gate," that by it, there is no room for walking off the path. We see in Joh_14:6, that Jesus said he is "the way, the truth, and the life," and as such, "no one comes to the Father except through" him. The margin of error is completely eliminated.

This word also implies, "take heed not only that your walk be exact, strict, but also of what sort that strictness is—not only that you have a rule, and keep to it, but that, that rule be the best one" (Alford). The result that one gets from this is having absolute certainty to the direction he/she has with his/her walk in Christ within the Body. I guess that one can coin this phrase as, "I know that I know," to the point where there are no double standards in one's life and in the life of the church.

The next word Paul used is, "Fools," and in the Greek, the word used here is, "ásophos" (G781), which literally means, "unwise, foolish" (Zodhiates), of which this word denotes mindless stupidity, sheer idiocy, of which it connotes one as "unintelligent, unable to reason logically and arrive at proper conclusions" (Zodhiates). And perhaps the biggest inference one can draw from this is that those who act and behave like fools, are ones that cannot be relied on in the Body, let alone anywhere else.

The third word Paul used is "Wise." Now, this word is a very impacting word, and is a word used to cement the way one is to walk circumspectly. It is also used in the sense of "setting the rule," that Henry Alford spoke of, when he said, "... not only that you have a rule, and keep to it, but that, that rule be the best one" (Alford's Greek New Testament, An Exegetical and Critical Commentary), when it comes to walking circumspectly as light, and that of imitating God.

The Greek word used here for "wise," in this instance, is "sophós" (G4680). In his Word Study dictionary, Spiros Zodhiates, I believe, has the best take on how this word is used. "The meaning of sophós in the NT ... differs from the classical meaning in at least two ways. First of all, the biblical concept of wisdom is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. It denotes a fear of God and an understanding of His ways. Lastly, wisdom signifies the possession of a certain adeptness or practical ability. It does not necessarily imply brilliance or scholastic training; rather, sophós indicates adroitness, the ability to apply with skill what one knows (especially religious truth)" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMD Publishers). And with that, add also what Thayer had to say, "forming the best plans and using the best means for their execution" (Thayer's Greek Definitions), and we begin to understand Alford's rule.

In conjunction with walking circumspectly in wisdom (or as wise), Paul tells us to redeem the time because we're in evil times, or that the days are evil (Eph_5:16). So, in looking at this verse, the question that comes to mind is, "What does Paul mean by redeeming the time?" This is a metaphorical expression which portrays a sense of urgency with it. Again, I believe, Spiros Zodhiates gives best explanation of what this expression means. "The same phrase is used in the Gr. version of Dan_2:8, meaning that you are gaining or protracting time. Similarly to be understood in Eph_5:16, 'because the days are evil,' or afflicting and abounding in troubles and persecutions. This sense of the expression is still more evident in Col_4:5 as "redeeming the time" by prudent and blameless conduct, gaining as much time and opportunity as possible in view of persecution and death."

The word denotes time is short because of (impending) persecution and/or tribulation. Therefore with that in mind, one is to be in the state of readiness by having one's life always right with God, that one is living within the certainty that his/her end could very much be near because of the (impending) persecution and/or tribulation, and so bearing that in mind, to take up every opportunity to make the most of every situation of doing good to one another and others.

Of what this shows, I believe that it deals with how to make the most of the way that God made us to be, and that for us to impact on the lives of those who are outside. We have seen that by being circumspect, we have an absolute certainty and confidence of knowing where we are at in Christ. We also have that absolute certainty and confidence (not derived from ourselves, but that which comes as a result of what God has done in us by the cross) of the work of the Holy Spirit in each and every member of the body, that we as light to draw in those that are lost.

As a result of walking circumspectly with wisdom, the (for a lack of a better word) fruit is having an understanding of God's will. Paul tells us, "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph_5:17). Wisdom gives understanding, and having understanding is basically "having got it."

It's interesting to note that Paul mentions a fair bit about wisdom, and, as we have seen, its not the scholastic type of wisdom that he was talking about, but rather the kind of wisdom where one is able to "... apply with skill what one knows" (Zodhiates). In other words, its the kind of wisdom which one doesn't have to be a genius or a "rocket scientist" to understand God's will and do it. So, the understanding of what God's will is, is purely based on common sense practicality. And the beaut part about it is, its not complicated. In fact its extremely simple to understand, and its simple to apply it to our lives and to live it out.

And its on that basis that Paul, in Eph_5:18-21, shows exactly where the understanding of God's will lies, and what it is that we are to do and how we are to be. You see, all of these things are what shows God's will, and what the ultimate purpose of God is for us. Now, that is a huge statement, but nevertheless, it is true because in the following verses (Eph_5:22-33) Paul begins to reveal what the ultimate purpose of God is for the church, the Body of Christ, and of how this is epitomized.

OK, getting our feet back on terra firma, and looking at the practical application of understanding what the will of God is, Paul begins by dealing with some practical issues. He first begins with not to get drunk, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph_5:18).

Before I begin, I noticed that of the things that Paul mentioned here are also about how to live out holiness and righteousness. And the thing that one can see here, is that the will of God for us is to be clothed as a new man in his holiness and righteousness. Isn't it amazing how all what Paul talked about has come full circle to this point – living out holiness and righteousness.

Now, to get back to Eph_5:18. Here, Paul tells us not to be drunk with wine (which is the same as not to get drunk), "in which is dissipation" (NKJV) I've always wondered what this word meant in the original, and when I looked it up in the Word Study Dictionary I was quite stunned and shocked to find what it actually means. The Greek word for dissipation used here in this instance is, asōtía. This word has a very strong meaning where it denotes an extreme of negative and dangerous behavior. Asōtía means, Having no hope of safety; extravagant squandering, dissoluteness, prodigality (Zodhiates). Further to that, asōtía is a dissolute, debauched profligate manner of living (ibid).

We are aware of the parable of the Prodigal Son, of what he did when he left his father (Luk_15:13). It is here we can begin to get the sense of what Paul was getting at when warning against drunkenness. The prodigal son lived to the extreme, of no care for tomorrow, no care of himself. I guess one could assume that he was like a loose cannon. I think A.T. Robertson brings out the extreme of which the prodigal son lived, and brings out the meaning of "prodigal" really well, "He went the limit of sinful excesses. It makes sense taken actively or passively (prodigus or perditus), active probably here" (Word Pictures in the New Testament). Its interesting to note that Robertson uses the Latin word, "Perditus" (from the base latin word, "Perdit, Perditi") which means destroyer; one who ruins/destroys. This would show that the prodigal son was either on a path of reckless abandonment, or on a path of self destruction.

Therefore, when looking at all of this, I believe that because of what Paul knew, especially when based on his letter to the Corinthian church, he had placed in his warning to the Ephesian church about drunkenness, and then went ahead and told them how to be as a church toward one another. I believe a way this verse of Scripture could be read as, is something like this, "Don't be a bunch of losers by getting drunk and ending up hell bent on a path of self destruction, but rather be filled with the Spirit, etc." So, I want us to take a look at the rest of these verses (Eph_5:19-21) and see how all this works out.

As a church, we all have a role, a part to play in each other's life in where we are to build one another up, to help one another to grow in the Lord. Paul tells us that by "... speaking the truth in love ..." to one another we "... grow up in all things into him who is the head – Christ ..." (Eph_4:15 NKJV). The purpose and reason of us being transparent and honest with each other is for us all to grow up and mature into Christ; for every member of the Body to be fully developed so that we (as that Body) can grow for the edification of ourselves in love (Eph_4:16). Now, we are seeing really important stuff going on here.

OK, lets go back to Eph_5:19-21. It is here we can begin to see just how this building up of one another is worked out.

Rather than getting and being drunk, we should be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then by being filled with the Holy Spirit we are to speak "... one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ..."

What happens when we do this?! I believe that is how we build one another up. I believe this is how we feed into each other's life in Christ. It is here that we, in a sense, by being conjoined, or as the CJB puts it, ".. we are intimately related to each other as parts of a body ..." (Eph_4:25 ff CJB). We also see that Scripture speaks of how "... the whole Body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies ... causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Eph_4:16 NKJV). This is what is meant by feeding into one another.
  • We feed into one another through our praise and adoration of God, which is part of our worship of Him.
  • We feed into one another by our ministering to each other through the gifts (of the Holy Spirit) and talents that God has given us.
  • We feed into one another by encouraging and blessing each other, and helping those who are vulnerable and weak so that they are strengthened in Christ.
  • We feed into one another by sharing the Word of God with each other, thus encouraging one another through the Scriptures.
  • We feed into one another by giving hope that is found in Christ.
And finally, here in Eph_5:21, we feed into one another by submitting to one another. It is by this submission to one another in the Body, is what culminates everything that Paul taught.
  • To be one in the unity of the Holy Spirit (Eph_4:3)
  • To be one in the unity of the Body (Eph_4:4)
  • To be one in our unity of what we believe (Eph_4:5)
can only work if we are submitted to one another in the fear of the Lord. But it does not stop there, for as we go through what we have thus far learned of the way God wants us to be, not just toward him, but also toward one another as a body, and as such working together as a body, can only work if we are submitted to one another in the fear of the Lord.

I have deliberately mentioned the fear of the Lord because that is that context of which Paul had based our submission to be on. This makes our submission toward one another as being directly correlational and reciprocal toward God. This means that as we are submissive toward one another, we show that we are in submission to Christ, and to God, and conversely, our submission to God is demonstrated by our submission toward one another.


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About Apsit 190's Theological Rants

Theological Rants are mostly about stuff in the Bible I believe. Its also a blog for sharing my thoughts that the Bible talks about, and how I think they can be applied to our lives.

Using the word, "Rants," is not to undermine anything the Bible says, nor is there to undermine or disparage what anyone else believes. That said, it is my soapbox, and with that to express the passion of my heart for my love of the Word of God.

What you can expect to see in this blog are thoughtful studies in the Scriptures and articles that I find interesting. So, with that, I trust you will enjoy my Theological Rants, and rant and rave with it in your comments.

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