In this final part of Ephesians 4 we find that God, through Paul, gave instructions designed to help believers to “love our neighbours as ourselves.” He reminds his readers that “we are members of one another” in the body of Christ! He also gives a number of prohibitive commandments to encourage them not to hurt other people. It contains some positive affirmations and commands showing how true Christian love can be expressed.
One can notice in the passage an emphasis on the need for correct speech towards others. It also warns about the damaging effects of out of control emotions. The passage concludes with an encouragement to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving towards others. [Like God is to us.]
[A more detailed study at the end of the article will more meaning to different parts of the passage and give an added depth to our understanding of the grace of God towards His creatures.]
THE PASSAGE FROM EPHESIANS 4:25-32
[ESV] “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
A SIMPLE PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 4:25-32
“Dear Lord, You have told us to be real in all our relationships with our fellow believers. We thank You that You give us the grace to overcome the temptations of the devil so that we can have victory over anger, covetousness and laziness. Help me to make a positive contribution to my fellow believers in what I do for them and in what I say to them and about them. Enable me by Your Spirit to be able to say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, with the right motivation, in order to edify them and build them up spiritually.
I thank You that You have sealed me with Your Holy Spirit for eternity and I pray that by Your Holy Spirit’s power I may put aside all negative emotions and negative speech. Empower me by Your Spirit to show forth kindness and tender heartedness whilst forgiving all others in the same way that Christ has forgiven me. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN”
A QUICK OVERALL VIEW OF EPHESIANS 4:25-32
1]. Be in control of your speaking. Eph 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.
2]. Be in control of your emotions. Eph 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
3]. Be in control of yourself. Don’t let Satan control you! Eph 4:27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
4]. Be a giver, not a taker in relationships. Eph 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
5]. Be one who builds up other people, not one who destroys them. Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
6]. Be open to the Holy Spirit. Don’t grieve Him. Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
7]. Be willing to remove all negativity [in attitudes, words and actions] from your life. Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
8]. Be kind and forgiving, like God Himself. Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
A MORE DETAILED STUDY OF EPHESIANS 4:25-32
Eph 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.”
We have an obligation to one another to speak the truth to them, because we belong to the same body of Christ. It is assumed that we should put away falsehood [from pseudos; ψεῦδος] and should make it a habit to [keep on] speaking the truth with one another. [“Speak” is a present imperative verb denoting continuous or habitual activity.] Jesus spoke in very strong language of the danger of lying and falsehood as He accused His hearers of being of the devil and following him, ”You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jn 8:44. As verse 27 in this Eph 4 passage infers ,one can open the door to the devil by engaging in lying and falsehood.
Eph 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”
The word for “be angry” is [orgizō; ὀργίζω] and can mean to provoke to anger or be provoked. One translation puts it, “In your anger do not sin.” It is probably true to say that that everyone gets angry or get angered at times, but they don’t have to give way to it. Instead of dwelling on the situation in which they are angry or angered, people can take their time reflecting on it, hopefully getting it into perspective and dealing with it in a positive way before sleep sets in.
Eph 4:27 “and give no opportunity to the devil”
Literally it reads, “give no place to the devil.” ‘Opportunity’ here is [topov; τόπον] meaning simply a place or a space. One is to allow no space for any interference or influence from the devil who is wanting to take advantage of one’s uncontrolled emotions. We see in this passage that speaking falsehood [telling lies] and losing control of one’s anger is making a space for the devil to bring undesirable influences to bear on a person.
Eph 4:28 “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
Believers are to be givers not takers! They are to make positive contributions to those in genuine need and not simply be on the take for themselves.
Eph 4:29 ”Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Watching the mouth gate. The word for “corrupting” [sapros; σαπρός] can mean rotten or decaying or worthless. By contrast, speech is mean to be good or beneficial [agathos ἀγαθός] as well as good for building up [oikodomē; οἰκοδομή] where this latter word means strengthening or edifying. As I noted above, it means giving the right word, to the right person, at the right time, from the right motivation, for the purpose of bringing God’s grace to those who hear it.
Eph 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The Holy Spirit is a person who indwells every believer and seals every believer with His presence. ‘Sealed’ is from [sphragizō; σφραγίζω] denoting the process of sealing by the Holy Spirit as a mark of ownership and permanence. The Holy Spirit as a person is able to be grieved. Grieved by inappropriate words, timings and motivations which may be contrary to the Spirit. The Spirit is grieved when apparently ‘right’ words are said but where the motivation behind them is to flatter, deceive or manipulate the conversation for one’s own personal advantage.
Eph 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Negative emotions such as bitterness, wrath and anger give rise to negative speech such as clamour, slander and malice. They all have to be lifted up [the meaning of the verb airō; αἴρω], put away or removed. Paul recognised the danger of bitterness and what it could lead to in terms of words and actions. The writer of Psalm 73 had already written about bitterness, [Psa 73:21 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” Psalm 73:21-22. Bitterness destroys people’s sense of right and wrong. It twists their perception of reality. The sense of instability and explosiveness of bitterness can be seen in a modern adaption of the Greek NT word [pikria; πικρία]. As a former Government Industrial Chemist I came across a chemical called “picric acid.” It was known both for its “bitter” taste and especially its very high instability and its explosive nature [having been used as an explosive before the First World War.] A person deliberately harbouring bitterness can become emotionally unstable and often explosive in nature just like the acid itself.
Eph 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The positive steps to take.
- ‘Be kind’ is from [chrēstos; χρηστός] meaning easy, good and gracious. It is used of God Himself in being kind “for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” Lk 6:35 and in Romans 2:4, “not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” 1Peter 2:3 declares, “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” God is good, and we are meant to draw upon His goodness as we ask Him to fill us with the presence of His Holy Spirit.
- “Tender hearted’ [eusplagchnos; εὔσπλαγχνος] from [eu; εὖ] meaning good or well and [splagchnon; σπλάγχνον] meaning bowels, compassion or deepest feelings. It is the healthy emotion coming from one’s inmost being as one is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- “Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” The word for “forgive” here is a very interesting word with a very deep concept behind it. The usual word for forgive is [aphiēmi; ἀφίημι ] meaning to loose or to free from. However the word here in verse 32 is [charizomai; χαρίζομαι based on charis; χάρις = grace] which has the meaning to act in grace towards someone, to bestow an unearned or an undeserved gift. God acted that way in forgiving us, so we are to act in the same way in forgiving our fellow humans. We gift them with something [our forgiveness] they could never deserve or earn.
That brings us then to the end of Chapter 4 of Ephesians. We have the text above, followed by a prayer based on that text. Then a brief overview of the passage before we engaged on some deeper truths found in the passage. I hope the above material may be helpful.
Blog No.331. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 25th November 2019.