Exposition of Ephesians (05): Wear the New Creation Self (Eph. 4:17-5:16)

Date: 8/12/2018
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Take Off Paganism - (GS trans.  Ephesians 4:17–5:16 ) So this I speak and testify to you in the Lord, that you live no longer as the Pagans (Gentiles) live, in the futile speculations of their thought, 18 being blinded in their understanding, estranged from the life of God on account of the their lack of knowledge, because of the stubborn unwillingness of their heart; 19 and they, having lost all sensitivity, have abandoned themselves to perversion, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  —- Paul makes a striking appeal; he “testifies” (martyromai) to them to abandon pagan ways. “The Christian way of life is different from that of pagans” (Marshall, Eerdmans). There is a sequence of degradation (cf. Rm. 1): sinful stubborn hearts leads to a lack of knowledge and life in God, hence their blindness in their thought. “Without the knowledge of God, ultimately all is vanity, as there is no sense of purpose” (Foulkes, Tyndale). “Humanity rejected [natural] revelation and turned to self- and idol worship instead (cf. Rom. 1:18-23)” (Patzia, NIBC). This degradation leads to every kind of pagan perversion and impurity. As before, idolatry is the root sin.

Wear the New Creation Self —- 20 But you did not become a disciple of the King in this way, 21 for surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to lay aside your former way of life, your old self [in fallen Adam], corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  24 and put on the new self [in Messiah], which in the likeness of God has been created [anew] in righteousness and holiness from the truth.  25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Even if you are angry, do not sin (Ps. 4:4): never let the sun set on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil a place [in your life].  28 Thieves must stop stealing; rather let them labor and work for good with their own hands, in order to have something to share with the needy.  29 Let no rotten word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good to build up others, according to the need of the occasion, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal, ready for the day of redemption [when we shall be set free].  31 Put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and screaming and blasphemy, together with all maliciousness, 32 and be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. --- Paul uses the “put on,” clothing metaphor, calling for wearing the new creation self (Eph. 2:10). Take off paganism and put on Christ Jesus. “To be made new” [is] “restoration, since the image of God, impaired by the fall, is fully reinstated in the new creation” (Wood, EBC). The contrast is fallen humans in Adam vs renewed humans in Christ. “Just as the old person is the person under the dominion of this present age, so the new person is the person under the dominion of the new creation and its life” (Lincoln, Word). Paul applies this under the terms of five of the ten commandments: a) Ninth. The first application of this is telling the truth, based on Zech. 8:16 which “predicts that God is going to renew his people and restore their fortunes” (Wright, NTE). We are to “make truth telling a habit of life” (Anders, Holman). b) Sixth: anger is addressed, citing Ps. 4:4 which speaks of taking your anger to God in prayer, rather than outbursts of wrath. If we harbor such anger we give the devil a topos, a position/place/route/opportunity.  c) Eighth: Stop stealing and labor for the good of yourself and others. "Work has many benefits: it provides for a person’s material needs, it gives him something useful to do (something that is beneficial to himself and others), and it enables him to help others materially” (Hoehner, BKC). d) Third: Be gracious in your speech, rather than spouting words that are “corrupt (sapros), rotten, putrid, like fruit (Matt. 7:17f.), fish (Matt. 13:48)” (A.T. Robertson). Use words that edify for the occasion and “give grace” to those who hear. So don’t grieve the Spirit with whom you were sealed (Is. 63:10). “The Spirit was conveyed in a ritual of  ‘sealing’ . . . probably baptism” (Perkins, NIB). e) Sixth: Stop murdering in your heart. Put away bitterness, wrath, and anger. Show kindness, forgiving one another instead because God in Christ has forgiven you.

Lay Aside Idolatries —- 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as dearly loved children; 2 and live in love, just as the King also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offerin

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more