Epistle to the Ephesians
Identity, Intimacy, and Influence
Introduction – As we continue in Ephesians chapter 5:8-20, Paul continues to exhort the Ephesian Church to consider their former lives without God, and to see the grace, mercy and new reality that we live in Christ. From the tone of the Letter to the Ephesians, we do not see corrective words like Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. But we do see the warnings that flow from the heart of a loving Apostolic father, to his spiritual children in Ephesus.
As much as it is the responsibility of spiritual fathers and mothers to love, it is their responsibility to warn and teach their spiritual children to love God and live lives that are congruent with the faith we confess in Christ. True spiritual maturity engages the journey and process of having Christ formed in each of us, and produces spiritual fruit that confirms our faith.
Paul, exhorted Timothy to do the very same things as Timothy led the Ephesian Church after Paul.
1 Timothy 4:16 – Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
a) Paul reminds the Ephesians that their former lives without Christ, was a life without light. It is interesting that Paul says directly that “you were once darkness”. Greek – darkness – skotos – the darkness of night, the darkness of being blind and the metaphor for being spiritually darkened as the result of being ignorant of God, and being under the influence of supernatural darkness.
b) “Now you are light in the Lord” – Greek – phōs – of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it, the power of understanding esp. moral and spiritual truth.
c) These verses are encouraging because we are reminded that we are new creation in Christ, and as a result, we are illuminated with His light, His thoughts and His desires for our lives. God sees His Church in high esteem; He calls us light, salt, children, bride, saints, living stones, new creation, disciples, royal priesthood and a holy nation. These titles given to us by God should empower us to live in these realities.
d) The result of living as children of the light produces the fruit of living in the light. See Galatians 5:22-25.
e) Finding out what pleases the Lord – The Greek word for “finding out” literally means to test as in testing a metal to prove it genuine, and to examine to determine authenticity. Paul, being the apostolic spiritual father to the Ephesians is inviting them to examine their lives, test their ways and align their lives with Christ. To find out what pleases the Lord implies relationship and experiential knowledge of God.
a) “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” – Proverbs 10:16 – The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
b) Notice that spiritual darkness and aligning with the devil and demonic values, do not produce the fruit of life. Paul is inviting the Ephesians and us, to pick which path we will walk.
c) Breaking the power of darkness, is to expose that darkness to the light of Christ and the reap the benefits of the illuminating light that purifies our hearts, that comes only from Him. James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
d) Notice that Paul says that to merely talk about sin is shameful, because to merely talk about sin, does not bring redemption, forgiveness and restoration that is found in the light of Christ.
e) Notice that Jesus is the only One who can take away spiritual blindness and transform our hearts to be illuminated with His light. We can see in the text, that everything that the light of Christ touches, becomes a light that reflects His light. John 8:12- Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
a) Paul quotes an ancient Christian worship song in verse 14. In fact, in Ephesians 5:19, we can see the creativity and Spirit-led worship in the apostolic Church was dynamic, spontaneous and participatory.
b) This ancient worship song followed the theme of Jesus being the Light of life, and that echoes Jesus’ words in Luke 9:60 – Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
a) The exhortation in verses 15-16, is for each one of us to recognize the power of our freedom in Christ. The power to choose determines our life path, and the power to choose and choose wisely, proves that we love Christ.
b) NKJV – redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – The NKJV interprets the Greek literally here in verse 16 and is a better translation. Greek – redeeming the time – exagorazō kairos – to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good, so that zeal and well doing are as it were the purchase money by which we make the time our own, a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for.
c) These two Greek words carry the thought that, in light of the present world that is influenced by evil (poneros – hardships, toils, annoyances, originating from sin), we can overcome these by making them sacred opportunities that find a greater reality in Jesus Christ.
a) It is best to understand the context of the culture when we exegete verses 17-18. Paul is contrasting the joy, life and bliss of the Holy Spirit, to the Roman god of wine and debauchery, Bacchus. The Ephesians, living in the shadow of the Temple of Artemis/Diana would have understood Paul’s contrast to the false freedom of the libertine god, Bacchus to the true freedom and joy of life that is given to us in the Holy Spirit. During bacchanal, the people would drink until all prohibitions were gone, and they described that as liberty. The Holy Spirit brings true liberty to the soul and true joy to the heart.
b) Being filled with the Spirit – The grammar in the Greek words, “be filled” reveals 2 important truths. 1 – The verb is in a passive tense. This teaches us that to be filled with the Holy Spirit is not a work, but something to be received. 2 – The verb is imperative, which means we should all seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is an ongoing dynamic result of making ourselves available to the Holy Spirit to influence us.
a) The result of being filled with the Spirit is the grace of Spirit-led spontaneous prophetic worship.
b) Psalms – Greek – psalmos – playing chords on an instrument
c) Hymns – Greek – hymnos – sacred songs d) Songs from the Spirit – pneumatikos – Holy Spirit inspired songs, i.e. spontaneous prophetic worship
e) Notice how the whole community produced the fruit of thanksgiving, praise and worship because of the filling of the Spirit. Also notice that the whole community engaged in worship and contributed to the worship experience.
f) We give thanks to the Father because we have experienced His goodness in the Person of Christ.