Paul opens the section with an admonition to “walk” in love. He uses “walk” 6 times in this epistle to denote the manner of life needed to be lived by the believer. (See Note 1 below). A new spiritual birth necessitated a new walk or a whole new manner of life.
1). WALKING IN LOVE AS AN IMITATION OF GOD’S LOVE. 5:1-2
What it involved. Living in the family likeness of Father and Son.
- As God’s children they were to imitate their Heavenly Father in His love. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children
- They were to love in the same self-giving, sacrificial way that Christ loved. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
What it didn’t involve. No more living as they once did.
- The Old Life. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness (5:3)
- Contrast. The New Life. (these sins) must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
- The Old Life. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, (5:4)
- Contrast. The New Life. (these sins) which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
2). THE DANGER FOR THOSE LIVING THE OLD LIFE. 5:5
- They miss out on God’s inheritance. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (5:5)
- They will suffer the wrath of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
3). THE RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THOSE LIVING THE NEW LIFE. 5:6-16
Walking in the light rather than in the former darkness. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
Walking in the light to expose the darkness. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Walking carefully and wisely so as to not waste time. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
4). LIVING BY GOD’S WILL. SUBMISSION TO GOD AND TO ONE ANOTHER IN HIM. 5:17-21
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Understanding the will of God involves:-
- Not being under the influence of wine. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery,
- Being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. but be filled with the Spirit (Note 2)
- Four results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Note 3)
i. addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
ii. singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart
iii. giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
iv. submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Note 1. In 2:10, it is to walk in the good works God has prepared for His people. In 4:1 the readers were encouraged to remember their calling and to walk worthily of that calling. In 4:17 it was a reminder that they should no longer walk in the way of the Gentiles. In 5:2 it is to walk in love and also in 5:8 they were to walk as children of light. Finally in 5:15 they were to be careful to walk as wise rather than as unwise people.)
(Note 2. The parsing of the verb “be filled” is present imperative passive. That means literally “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.” It is not a once for all experience. We can’t fill ourselves. God Himself must keep on filling us with His Spirit. But it needs an openness on our part for Him to do so. Being under the influence of wine means we fail to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Submitting ourselves to God is a prerequisite for being filled with His Spirit.)
(Note 3. The ESV translation correctly translates these verses. There is one main verb in the section from verse 17 to 21 which is “be filled” in verse 18. What follows is a series of participles as we see in the translation above, that is, addressing … singing … giving thanks … submitting. These give the sense of the results of being filled with the Spirit. Thus verse 21 does not begin another sentence as we see in many versions. Rather it has the fourth participle, “submitting to one another”. In the next section we will see how Paul spells out what that mutual submission in the body of Christ should look like for all for the major relationships of that time.)
Blog No.044. Jim Holbeck. Posted on 12th November 2011.