This is a letter written by the Apostle Paul believed to not be designed for just one congregation, but intended to be passed around to several churches in the area surrounding Ephesus. The epistle itself is in the form of a general document dealing with a particular or in this case several subjects rather than as a letter written to a specific church. For example, there are no specific exhortations or personal greetings, as with most of Paul’s letters.
Unlike other epistles written to specific churches, this epistle does not deal with specific problems in a local congregation. Instead, Paul addressed great themes that pertain to the Christian's position in Christ, as a member of the body of Christ, the church.
The central thought of the letter is that Jesus has brought to a disunited world the way to unity. This way is through faith in him and it is the Church's task to proclaim this message to all the world. And now Paul turns to the character the Christian must have if the Church is to fulfill her great task of being Christ's instrument of universal reconciliation between man and man, and man and God within the world. In this session Paul saw the life of an unbeliever as life in the dark; and the Christian life as life in the light. He didn’t say that the unbelievers are children of the dark and the Christians children of the light; he says the unbeliever is dark and the Christians are light. This includes producing the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, thereby demonstrating what is acceptable to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:6 NLT Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
Their argument ran like this. "Do you say that God's grace is the greatest thing in all the world?" "Yes." "Do you say that God's grace is wide enough to cover every sin?" "Yes." "Then let us go on sinning, for God's grace can wipe out every sin. In fact the more we sin the more chances God's grace will get to operate."
Paul talks about that in Romans too.
Romans 6:1-3, 15-18 NLT Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
Grace is not only a privilege and a gift; it was a responsibility and an obligation. It was true that God's love could and would forgive; but the very fact that God loves us lays on us the obligation to deserve that love as best we can.
The gravest disservice any man can do to a fellow man is to make him think lightly of sin.
THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT (Ephesians 5:9-14)
Ephesians 5:6-14 NLT Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Having passed from darkness to light in coming to Christ, we should also "walk as children of light"_ This includes producing the fruit of the Spirit such as goodness, righteousness and tmth, thereby demonstrating what is acceptable to the Lord. We cannot participate in the shameful works of darkness, but instead must expose them. This we do by letting Christ's light shine in us, for such light will naturally make the darkness manifest by way of contrast
Paul saw the life of an unbeliever as as life in the dark; and the Christian life as life in the light. He didn’t say that the unbelievers are children of the dark and the Christians children of the light; he says the unbeliever is dark and the Christians are light.
Here’s what he says about the light which Jesus Christ brings to men.
(i) The light produces good fruit.
The light which Christ brings makes us useful citizens of this world; it makes us men and women who never fail in duty, human or divine; it makes us strong to do that which we know is true.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
(ii) The light enables us to discriminate between that which is well-pleasing and that which is not pleasing to God.
Psalms 1:1-6 NLT Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
It is in the light of Christ that all motives and all actions must be tested. Christian's duty to expose every action, every decision, every motive to the light of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NLT Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.
(iv) Finally, Paul says: "Everything which is illuminated becomes light." What he seems to mean is that light has in itself a cleansing quality. Ultraviolet light does kill many germs and viruses. Sunlight is very important in staying healthy.
Paul finishes this passage with a quotation in poetry. Paul introduces the quotation as if everybody knew it, but no one now knows where it came from. There are certain interesting suggestions.
Almost certainly, being in poetry, it is a fragment of an early Christian hymn. It may well have been part of a baptismal hymn. In the early Church nearly all baptisms were of adults, confessing their faith as they came out of heathenism into Christianity. We sometimes sing "Take me To the Water" Perhaps these were the lines which were sung as they arose from the water, to symbolize the passage from the dark sleep of paganism to the awakened life of the Christian way.
Again, it has been suggested that these lines are part of a hymn, which was supposed to give the summons of the archangel when the last trumpet sounded over the earth. Then would be the great awakening when men rose from the sleep of death to receive the eternal life of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.
These things are speculations, but it seems certain that when we read these lines, we are reading a fragment of one of the first hymns the Christian Church ever sang.
THE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP (Ephesians 5:15-21)
Ephesians 5:15-20 NLT So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul finishes this section of his letter with an exhortation to to live like wise men. The times in which they are living are evil; they must rescue as much time as they can from the evil uses of the world.
He goes on to draw a contrast between a pagan gathering and a Christian gathering. The pagan gathering is apt to be a drinking party, while the Christian gathering is quite different.
Once A. C. Welch was preaching on this text: "Be filled with the Spirit." He began with one sudden sentence: "You've got to fill a man with something." The pagan found his happiness in filling himself with wine and with worldly pleasures; the Christian found his happiness in being filled with the Spirit.
From this passage we can gather certain facts about the Christian gatherings in the early days.
Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(i) The early Church was a singing Church. Its characteristic was psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; it had a happiness which made men sing.
Today we sing during church services although right now it's discouraged. We can all sing when we are by ourselves. Praise and worship singing is very big today. Maybe too big. It sometimes becomes a show.
(ii) The early Church was a thankful Church. The instinct was to give thanks for all things and in all places and at all times.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
That's what is supposed to happen during Praise & Worship.
(iii) The early Church was a Church where people honoured and respected each other. Paul says that the reason for this mutual honour and respect was that they saw each other not in the light of their professions or social standing but in the light of Christ; and therefore they saw the dignity of every man.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NLT So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!