The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
September 9, 2012


1) Ephesians 5:4-7 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 5:4-7
by Tom Edwards

As we continue in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he declares in Ephesians 5:4, "and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks."

James Strong defines the Greek word for "filthiness," which in the New Testament is used only here, as "shamefulness, that is, obscenity."  And, as we can see in the passage itself, obscenity is being focused upon, as in not only the "coarse jesting," but also in the "silly talk."

For what does Paul mean by "silly talk"?  In many other translations, it is rendered as "foolish talk."  It has been defined as "buffoonery" (Strong); and a buffoon is not only "a person who amuses others by jokes, pranks, etc.," but also "2. a person given to coarse or offensive joking."  According to Vincent Word Studies, the Greek word for "silly talk" means "Talk which is both foolish and sinful."

Just as jesting today can involve either clean joking or obscene, the same was also true with this Greek word in Ephesians 5:4, which Thayer defines as "1) pleasantry, humour, facetiousness  2) in a bad sense  2a) scurrility, ribaldry, low jesting."  But in our passage under consideration, it is rendered as "coarse jesting" (with both words from the same Greek word "eutrapelia").  It is also translated in some other Bible versions as "filthy words" (CEV), "crude joking" (ESV), "language...which is vulgar" (GNB), "obscene jokes" (GW), and "totally inappropriate" (ISV).  

The kind of talk Paul has in mind, for all of this which we are to abstain from, can be seen in the phrase, "which are not fitting."  The KJV translates this as "which are not convenient," but that probably conveys a lighter meaning to us than originally intended.  It is rendered in some other versions as "which are not right" (BBE), "which are not proper" (EMTV), "which are out of place" (NIV, ESV), and "which are not appropriate" (HNV).  So it is not merely talking about something that isn't convenient to say at the time; but, rather, of something that is not right or proper.  

The little verb "are" also helps us in understanding this verse.  It shows that that which is not fitting is pertaining to not just the "coarse jesting," but also to the "filthiness" and "silly talk."

Instead of giving ourselves to this wrong kind of speech, Paul exhorts the Christians to give thanks. He also instructed the Colossians toward this in Colossians 3:15: "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

Thankfulness should be an attitude that easily whelms up in our hearts -- and sometimes like a natural, spontaneous reaction for so many blessings of life.  But maybe, at other times, we need to first take the time to reflect on that which we have to be thankful for -- so that we can prompt ourselves for the giving of thanks.  1 Chronicles 16:34 shows us a good reason for doing this: "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting."  Why give thanks?  Because God is good -- and good in the fullest sense!  There can be no greater truth than that God is the God that He is -- and that for all eternity, without diminishing to even the slightest degree.  His wisdom; His power; His omnipresence; His love; His desire to forgive, to save, and to eternally bless should cause us to be in awe of His unfathomable greatness.  For though He has revealed much of Himself through the creation and especially through His word, His greatness still far extends beyond our comprehension, which can be likened to the knowledge we have of the heavenly bodies that fill the space around us.  Yes, we can be impressed with what is seen by just the naked eye.  But how much of all that is out there can we really perceive -- and even with our most advanced telescopes and technologies?  Is it not like trying to imagine infinity, in which we soon find ourselves having to discontinue our contemplation of it?  For it goes beyond what we can fully comprehend.  There is no greater goodness in all reality, nor in any imagination of man, than the goodness of God Himself!   So we truly can thank and praise the Lord for being who He is -- an eternal Being who far excels in every good thing, and to a state of perfection that is beyond all that we can fully realize!

David  certainly had the right approach toward showing his gratitude toward God.  He states in Psalm 9:1: "...I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart...."  And one of the things David was thankful for was his very existence, as he expresses in Psalm 139:14: "I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well."

Failing to give thanks to the Lord is one of the signs of drifting away from Him.  Consider, for example, Romans 1:21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

Is there ever a time when we should not give thanks?  To the Thessalonians, Paul instructs in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  

To give thanks "in everything" does not mean that we give thanks for even the bad things that happen -- for  love "does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6).  But we can still give thanks even IN SPITE of unrighteous things that are going on or when encountering adversities.  For instance, when the washing machine breaks down, let us strive to rise above that by giving thanks unto the Lord for His goodness and for being a God who will never break down or have need of repair.  We can also view all our misfortunes in life as situations the Lord can use to help make us a better person and more Christ-like, if we will keep our faith in Him and conduct ourselves properly through those times of difficulties.  As James instructs: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (Jms. 1:2-4).  So we can be thankful in spite of adversity!

Psalm 22:3 makes an interesting statement: "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel."  God doesn't need us to hold Him up.  But when we sincerely praise the Lord, isn't that a way that we humble ourselves before Him and tacitly acknowledge His supreme greatness over us?  That through our praises, we see (with the eyes of faith) the Lord ruling on His throne over us.  And this, of course, can also be done in song, as Psalm 92:1 declares: "...It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High."

Paul then says in Ephesians 5:5, "For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."

We know that just one sin can keep a person out of heaven, but sometimes the Bible will specify or emphasize certain sins that will.  Here Paul shows that the immoral, impure, or covetous will not have an inheritance in God's kingdom; and he specifies some others in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."  Consider also Galatians 5:19-21: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."  This might also remind you of Revelation 21:8: "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

In Ephesians 5:6, Paul continues by saying, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."

Some of the deceptive "empty words" in our time are the same as those that had been in Paul's day.  For instance, "the more we sin, the more God's grace will cover us" (and that even without the need for repenting).  This has been called "Once in grace always in grace" or "once saved always saved."  But if one could never fall away from the faith, so as to be lost, why would there even be a warning to not let anyone deceive you?  In addition, Paul not only warns of this in Ephesians 5:6, but also shows why we need to be concerned: because God's wrath will befall those who become marred with sin -- and this is so, whether they were deceived or knew better.  

We can also point out that not all false teaching is easy to detect by every Christian, and some false teachers can sound pretty convincing.  For note what Paul says in Colossians 2:4: "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument."   Also, in 2 Corinthians 11:13,15, where Paul speaks of Satan who "disguises himself as an angel of light"; and his servants disguising themselves "as servants of righteousness."  Therefore, it is essential to know God's word to not be led astray by these. 

The "these things" of Ephesians 5:6 is referring back to those sinful things we noted in the previous verses: the immorality, any impurity, or greed, along with speech that is filthy and not fit.  So those false teachers who would deceive the believers with empty words, by contradicting what Paul said about immorality, impurity, and these other sins, is specifically what is being referred to in this passage.  

The "sons of disobedience" (Eph. 5:6) are simply those whose lives are characterized with being disobedient.  Paul had spoken of these earlier in Ephesians 2:2, where he shows them to be under the evil influence of the spirit of the "prince of the power of the air."  In other words, they were under Satan's influence.  

In view of these empty deceivers, notice what Paul then exhorts the brethren to do in Ephesians 5:7-10: "Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."

The New Testament sets forth several things in which the Christians have become partakers of and need to continue in by maintaining that relationship.  For example, Gentiles have become "fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6). In Philippians 1:7, Paul speaks of the Philippians as being "partakers of grace" with him.  In addressing the saints, the Hebrew writer shows that they are "partakers of a holy calling" (Heb. 3:1).  And in Hebrews 3:14 that "we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end."  Peter also shows in 2 Peter 1:3,4, that it is through the knowledge of God's word that we become "partakers of the divine nature...."  But here in Ephesians 5:7, Paul speaks of that which we should not be partakers -- and that is these false teachers who corrupt the word of God.  For, as Ephesians 5:8 indicates, being a partaker with these would mean that the Christian has left the light for the darkness, has left the way of truth for the way of error, has left the way of righteousness for the way of unrighteousness.  

Also, as we shall see in Ephesians 5:11, what we are to do with regard to the false teachers is to "expose them."  And would that not also be out of a concern for their souls, as well as the souls that they might possibly lead astray?

So let us take heed to Paul's instruction in Ephesians 5:4-7 to not be given to jesting and talk that would be improper or vulgar; but, instead, be given to much thanksgiving.  Nor let us be partakers of false teachers -- specifically those who would teach contrary to the gospel's prohibition on immorality, impurity, and greed; but, rather, let us continue to walk in the light so that are inheritance will be awaiting us in heaven's glory.  For that is the way of the Lord, and the only way that leads to heaven above. 


News & Notes

Rory Babin has recently been diagnosed with diverticulosis.  He had been in the hospital, due to some internal bleeding; and though he did not require a transfusion, the loss of blood had caused him to pass out 3 times.  He is now doing better from that, but is having to make some adjustments in his diet so as not to aggravate his condition.  Let those of us who are Christians be praying that Rory can be healed from this, even though diverticulosis is normally incurable.  For God wants His people to pray "...at all times...and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1); and with God, "all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).   

Let us also continue to remember in prayer the following:

Pam MacDonald who has been having serious back trouble; Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's sister-in-law) who has throat cancer, fluid buildup, and is receiving hospice care; Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) who was admitted to ICU last March and has been in a step-down unit ever since; Jean Calloway, who has been having a foot problem; Shirley Young, who experiences fibromyalgia every day; and Cheryl Crews, who is now undergoing therapy for some of her physical ailments.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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