[Ephesians] - Chapter 5

Ephesians 5:1 sums up the previous section - Imitate God, not the world. Don't do as everyone else does, as you used to do, but do as God would do, as Jesus did.

Ephesians 5:3 in the NIV has been used more literally than the ESV would allow. The NIV speaks of "not be even a hint of sexual immorality" which has often been used to dis-allow things like being alone with your boyfriend / girlfriend, living with the opposite sex, etc. (The NIV say the same thing about impurity and greed, but I don't recall that being emphasized. Applying the same standard, my new car might be "a hint of greed" I guess. But I digress.)

In the ESV the same passage says "sexual immorality ... must not even be named among you". This comes across more as emphasis than command on behavior. In other words, this is so unbecoming a disciple of Jesus, we shouldn't even speak of it! The application may be similar, i.e. double dating, but the 'feel' of it is very different. It speaks to the heart, the mindset, whereas the traditional view of 'not a hint' was more focused on behavior.

Ephesians 5:5 speaks of an inheritance, or rather a lack of one for those who live in immorality, impurity or greed. Back in Ephesians 3:6 Paul talked about being heirs as well, equally for both Jews and Gentiles. What's also interesting is that Paul declares in no uncertain terms that a life characterized by sexual sin (immorality and impurity) or by greed (the ESV says 'covetous') will result in no inheritance. It seems that American Christianity rails against the sexual lifestyle, but turns a blind eye to greed & materialism. In fact, many ministries even preach that God wants you to be wealthy or successful.

What does Paul mean in verse 11 when he says to expose deeds of darkness? The easy interpretation of searching out sin and exposing it does not fit with the rest of the gospel, but I cannot think of what he may mean. Any ideas?

It's easy to get bogged down in these specifics when the point is a continuation of Paul's theme from chapter 4, that is for us to be different people, called out and separate. For us to think about who we are and what we do. He does not set out to give us rules and guidelines for every situation. Instead, he longs for the people of God to be able to live wisely, carefully, to understand God's will. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

It is in that spirit that we should read Ephesians 5:22-33. Not as commands to be carried out, but as a calling to a new level of love and respect, a new mindset for marriage. It occurs to me that these two directives, for wives to submit and for husbands to love like Jesus, are in both tension and harmony. When both are practiced, each is easier to do, when one is missing the other is profoundly more difficult. For example, if a man is not laying his life down for his wife, how difficult is it for her to submit to him? And if she fights him every step of the way, how much more difficult is it for him to love her like Jesus?

But when the man is respected, his love for the wife soars and when the wife is loved, her respect for her man soars. God's plan is good.

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