In the first half of this epistle, Paul lavished praise on the Father, Son, and Spirit for the grace that has been given and the church that has been created. This lays the groundwork for his encouragement, in today’s reading, to live according to those gifts: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Listen to the practical instruction that is threaded throughout chapter 4, as Paul, “speaking the truth in love,” encourages the Ephesians to “grow up in every way into Him who is the head – into Christ.”
I want to draw your attention to the “Therefore…” clause in the middle of chapter 5: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
The instructions that follow regarding submitting to one another – instructions to wives, husbands, children, and slaves –exemplify the spirit of what came immediately before. In other words, they do not occur as abstractions, but as a unified presentation of “understand[ing] what the will of the Lord is.” “Do not be foolish… understand what the will of the Lord is… do not get drunk… but be filled with the Spirit… addressing one another in psalms… singing and making melody… giving thanks always… submitting to one another.”
When we were reading Romans, I encouraged you to pay attention to Paul’s logical sequence. Words such as “then,” “therefore” and “for” introduce an idea that is dependent on the previous one. Further, when you come across a passage that seems to have a singular instruction, look around to see if it is an example of a larger idea. Paying attention to the context, especially through these epistles, is critical to accurately exploring the meaning of these passages.
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Ephesians 4 through 6. Now let’s read it!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.