Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NKJV: This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
NLT: With the Lord's authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: This is my instruction, then, which I give you from God. Do not live any longer as the Gentiles live. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: This, therefore, I am saying and solemnly declaring in the Lord, that no longer are you to be ordering your behavior as the Gentiles order their behavior in the futility of their mind, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Therefore I warn you, and I implore you in the name of the Master, no longer to live as the Gentiles in their perverseness live,
SO THIS I SAY, AND AFFIRM TOGETHER WITH THE LORD: Touto oun lego (1SPAI) kai marturomai (1SPMI) en kurio:
- 1Corinthians 1:12; 15:50; 2Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 3:17; Colossians 2:4
- Nehemiah 9:29,30; 13:15; Jeremiah 42:19; Acts 2:40; 18:5; 20:21; Galatians 5:3; 1Thessalonians 4:6)
Paul is saying in this section...
"you formerly walked according to the course of this world" (Ep 2:2-note)
" walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk" (Ep 4:17-note)
As Ruth Paxson says...
To be in Christ and not grow up into Christ makes the Christian life an anachronism, a monstrosity, a lie. The revelation of Christ in truth must result in the realization of Christ in life. Paul writes, Ye have heard and accepted "the truth as it is in Jesus"; now you must live, act and speak according to this new standard. There can be no compromising alliances, no stultifying reserves, no divided interests.
Here is Paul's forceful challenge to become what you are. It leads very naturally into his next practical exhortation: Call to Put Off The Old and to Put On The New. (Paxson, Ruth: The Wealth, the Walk and the Warfare of the Christian. 1939. Revell)
So (3767) (oun) means therefore or consequently and is a term of conclusion. We cannot escape the word therefore (so) in this letter for Paul utilizes it serves as a sign post to arrest and compel our attention. Based upon what Paul has just explained about the importance of unity and diversity, Paul will give his readers a charge which further explains what it means to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. One could also see this "therefore" as a resumption of the first three verses calling for a worthy walk (see notes Ephesians 4:1; 4:2; 4:3) Here Paul begins his appeal for a new morality, an appeal which extends to Ephesians 5:21.
J Vernon McGee - We have seen the exhibition of the new man and the inhibition of the new man. Now we come to the prohibition of the new man. There is the negative side of the believer’s life, which I think is important for us to see. There is not enough emphasis on it. We talk about “new morality” which is nothing in the world but old sin. There is a liberty in Christ, but it is not a license to sin. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Say (3004) (lego) means to speak or talk, with apparent focus upon the content of what is said.
The idea of marturomai is to bear witness with a solemn protestation, making an emphatic affirmation or a serious declaration (Acts 20:26, 26:22, Gal 5:3). To make a serious declaration on the basis of presumed personal knowledge
To affirm (state positively, assert as valid or confirmed, implying conviction based on evidence, experience or faith) something with solemnity (see NT uses below). The verb means to appeal to by something sacred. To urge as a matter of great importance and thus to affirm, insist or implore (Ep 4:17-note, 1Th 2:11-note) To be emphatic in stating an opinion or desire.
It is used in the present verse to convey a solemn declaration of the nature of an appeal to God. What follows is of vital importance for the Gentile believers to hear for they still live within the cauldron of rank paganism and it's manifold and subtle temptations are prone to rear their ugly head.
Together (1722) (en) is actually the preposition meaning "in".
With the Lord (kurios) identifies Paul with Christ and indicates he is giving the exhortation as if made by Christ Himself. Beloved, our by way of application, our Lord is clearly speaking to us who live in the midst of a society that is literally disintegrating morally and ethically. What a vital message to harken to!
By prefacing his exhortation with "I say and affirm together with the Lord" Paul is emphasizing the vital importance of what he is about to say. One feels here the tremendous burden upon Paul's heart to impress deeply upon those to whom he writes the imperative necessity of a revolutionary change in their whole manner of living. So his language corresponds with the truth he frankly and faithfully presents. By adding "together with the Lord" Paul would have his readers know that he is not stating personal conviction regarding the standard for their Christian life, but that it is the living Lord speaking through him. And so he speaks insistently, earnestly and emphatically saying in essence
"I and the Lord in me are solemnly declaring, so pay very close attention to what I am about to tell you."
As Wayne Barber says, Paul "wants them to see that Christianity is radically different from the way the world lives. These people had come out of the world. The temptation is always to go back to where we have come from. Paul says, "Oh no." He has given us a picture of what the Christian life is all about, being strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God. Now he is saying, "Don’t go back. Live differently. It is a radically different lifestyle that you have now as a believer." (Ephesians 4:17-19: A Brand New Way of Life)
The problem all believers must still contend with is what the Bible refers to as flesh (see note), that evil disposition inherited from Adam and which still resides in the mortal (physical) bodies even of believers. Peter for example is addressing believers and exhorts them "as aliens and strangers to (continually - present tense) abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war (continually - present tense) against the soul." (1Pe 2:11-note)
Clearly Peter is implying that the flesh remains a force with which every believer must daily, earnestly contend. The flesh reflects what remains of the “old man” (inherited from Adam see note Romans 5:12) and which still exists even after a person is saved. Flesh is that unredeemed part of a believer that awaits future redemption at the time of glorification (see note Romans 8:23). At that glorious time we will be completely free of not only the presence of sin but the "pleasure" of sin. Flesh is that moral and spiritual weakness and helplessness of human nature that still clings to redeemed souls. In short, the flesh of Christians is that entity that remains within us that stimulates evil desires to commit trespasses and sins. As long as we inhabit these mortal bodies, we have to contend with the flesh which gives rise to deceitful lusts or strong desires that ever tend to pull us back to the miry clay from which we were transferred by God when He took us from the kingdom of darkness and into His marvelous light, the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
THAT YOU WALK NO LONGER JUST AS THE GENTILES ALSO WALK: meketi humas peripatein (PAN) kathos kai ta ethne peripatei (3SPAI):
- 1Thessalonians 4:1,2; 1Timothy 5:21; 6:13; 2Timothy 4:1
- Ep 1:22; 2:1, 2, 3; 5:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; Romans 1:23-32; 1Corinthians 6:9, 10, 11; Galatians 5:19, 20, 21; Colossians 3:5, 6, 7, 8; 1Peter 4:3,4
D L Moody's quote would make a great title for this section...
IF I WALK WITH THE WORLD,
I CAN'T WALK WITH GOD!
You - refers to the saved Gentiles. In one sense yes they are still "Gentiles" but in the eternal sense, they belong to a new race, for they are individually each a new creation (2Cor 5:17-note) and corporately one new man (Ep 2:15-note). In a sense then, there are not "3 races", Jews, Gentiles and Christians. In chapter 1 Paul had explained what transpired to transfer them from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light writing...
In Him [Jesus], you also, after listening to the message of the truth, of the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Eph 1:13-note)
So now don't walk like you used to walk when you were pagan, idol worshipping, God haters. Don't do it! You are saved to live life on a high plane, and not in the "sewer" of godless men. Yes, you still live (temporarily) in this fallen, sin sick, morally decaying world but you have bee set free from it and are to be "lighthouses" permeating it with the light of Christ, not being drawn back into its moral mire and spiritual decay and darkness.
As Paul reminds us in Titus...
we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. (Titus 3:3-note)
Just as the Gentiles also walk - Their new position in Christ was the fulcrum of Paul's argument for a new walk, for he knew that new practice must result from a new position. So with invincible logic he proceeds to call them to an altogether different walk from that of the unsaved Gentiles among whom they still lived. In chapter 2 Paul had repeatedly reminded the Gentiles of their former manner of walking writing...
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ep 2:1,2,3-See notes Ep 2:1; 2:2; 2:3) (Comment: They were dead toward God, alive to Satan's power leading them to disobey and were enslaved to the power of the wicked lusts of their flesh. And they had no power to change! Paul is saying don't walk that way anymore. You have been freed from that vile prison. Don't go back and put those chains on. Paul in his review of their spiritual history, what he wrote in chapter 2 was "then, but he is calling for them to live in the "now" of their new life in Christ.)
Wayne Barber paraphrases what Paul is saying "I have just raised you up to the highest level of understanding that you could possibly get to. Now I am warning you. Don’t you go back and live like you used to live. When you do, sin will take you further than you ever wanted to stray, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay and cost you more than you ever dreamed you would pay." Imagine going back to live that way...It is amazing...how quickly we forget what has caused us so much pain. (Ephesians 4:17-19: A Brand New Way of Life)
As Ruth Paxson commenting on "walk no longer" writes that "These words have an authoritative tone of finality about them. "Put off" demands unconditional renunciation (Ep 4:22-note). The Christian has begun a walk on a new road in a new sphere leading to a new goal. Then he must be prepared at the very beginning with deliberate determination to make a full and final abandonment of the old life in its entirety. But a walk is taken step by step. So as one goes along the new road and recognizes soft spots in character, backslidings in conduct, danger points in companionships, discrepancies in ethics, departures in morals, and compromises in standard, there must be an immediate putting off of that old remnant of the abandoned life. Paul makes this quite clear in Chapters four and five, as he mentions definite sins still to be found in the lives of these Ephesian Christians. (Paxson, Ruth: The Wealth, the Walk and the Warfare of the Christian. 1939. Revell)
Gentiles (1484) (ethnos) in context refers to the unsaved pagan idol worshipers who were far off from God. They were no longer pagan Gentiles but a new race called "Christians", a new man who should demonstrate a clean cut cleavage from their former life of rank paganism. There was a moment in time in the past when they had crossed the boundary line from eternal death into eternal life. In that moment of spiritual rebirth something so tremendously revolutionary had taken place that the sinner had been made into a saint and thus life could never be as it was before.
Walk (4043) (peripateo from peri = about, around + pateo = walk, tread) (Click word study on peripateo) means literally to walk about here and there or to tread all around. Peripateo then came to mean, to make one’s way, to make progress, to make due use of one’s opportunities and finally (as used by Paul in Ephesians), to live, to regulate one’s life, to conduct one’s self. Most of the NT uses refer to the daily conduct of one's life or how one orders their behavior or passes their life. The present tense points to a habitual action - don't fall back into the habitual practices of those who do not know Christ as Lord.
Earlier Paul explained to the saints at Ephesus that it was in the sphere of trespasses and sins ...
in which you formerly walked (peripateo) according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (See note Ephesians 2:2)
In Colossians 3 used peripateo in a similar context, describing how the Colossians saints continually walked before Christ transformed their heart and mind "In (the sphere of immorality, etc, all things that on account of the wrath of God will come - see Col 3:5, 6-notes Col 3:5, 3:6) you also once walked (peripateo), when you were living in them." (Col 3:7-note)
In other words before the Ephesian were saved, they ordered every aspect of their behavior and regulated the totality of their lives within the sphere of trespasses and sins. Now Paul elaborates on the sphere of influence by stating that it was in the futility of their mind. Not a ray of light from God, nothing of God's righteousness or goodness, and not a single good thing in the sight of God penetrated their circle (sphere) of "conduct". All their thoughts, words, and deeds were ensphered in an atmosphere of sin and vanity. Not one of their acts ever got outside the circle of sin or uselessness.
As Wayne Barber reminds us "spirituality is a pursuit, not an arrival. The moment I stop pursuing Him (Christ), guess what I am pursuing? I am letting the flesh dictate my life. There are fleshly lusts we have to deal with. So Paul is saying, "Don’t go back and live like you used to live. Be careful. There is a tendency like a magnet which is pulling you back to live after the flesh... The Apostle Paul is warning them: "Look out. Look out. You came out of the world." Ephesus was the most wicked place you could find on the face of this earth. These young Christians had to live in the midst of all of that wickedness. He is saying, "Listen, don’t you dare go back to it. You have come out of it. Now be strengthened in the inner man by the power of God." (Ephesians 4:17-19: A Brand New Way of Life)
KJV Bible Commentary - Let the daily conduct of your lives conform with your new life in Christ. Make a clean break with your old life and stop living by the standards of behavior of the pagan people. The low standards of the world must be abandoned and repudiated, and the Christian must live ethically and morally in segregation from the world (2 Cor 6:14). The church is a colony of heaven living here on earth (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
IN THE FUTILITY OF THEIR MIND: en mataioteti tou noos auton:
- Ps 94:8, 9, 10, 11; Acts 14:15
Futility (3153) (mataiotes from mataios = vain, empty <> derived from maten = to no purpose or in vain) means emptiness, vanity, nonsense, nothingness! Thayer says mataiotes is a "purely Biblical and ecclesiastical word" which describes "what is devoid of truth and appropriateness". It defines the inability to reach a goal or achieve a purpose. Mataiotes describes the state of being without use or value, emptiness, futility, purposelessness, transitoriness. It has the quality of being empty, fruitless, nonproductive, useless. Mataiotes speaks of want of attainment with the idea of aimlessness or of leading to no object or end.
It is interesting to note that "vain things" was a Jewish name for the Gentile idols, which represented ideas and conceptions of a god that had no intrinsic value or correspondence to the real truth about the Living God.
The heathen are concerned with empty things which do not matter in the eternal scheme of things. Their mind was void of useful aims or goals (eternally speaking).
In Romans 1 we see how this futility of their mind was a consequence of their rejection of the truth about God...
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile (passive voice) in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (See note Romans 1:21) (Comment: Unbelieving Gentiles rejected the truth about God and thus failed to attain the true purpose of the mind which is to receive God’s revelation which would have led them to see there is a Creator).
McGee comments that the futility of their mind "means the empty illusion of the life that thinks there is satisfaction in sin. Oh, how many people walk that way! I feel so sorry for these young people who have been taken in by the promoters of immorality as a life style. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
MacDonald puts it this way - Their life was empty, purposeless, and fruitless. There was great activity but no progress. They chased bubbles and shadows, and neglected the great realities of life. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Matthew Poole in a commentary published in the 1680's writes that "Their minds themselves, and understandings, the highest and noblest faculties in them being conversant about things empty, transient, and unprofitable, and which deceive their expectations (are) therefore are vain, viz. their idols, their worldly enjoyment, etc.”
Vincent has an interesting note on mataiotes in (Romans 8:20) writing that "Kenos (2756) signifies empty; mataios idle, resultless. Kenos, used of persons, implies not merely the absence of good, but the presence of evil. (See Ja 2:20). The Greek proverb runs: “The empty think empty things.” Mataios expresses aimlessness. All which has not God for the true end of its being is mataios . Pindar describes the vain man as one who hunts bootless things with fruitless hopes. Plato (“Laws,” 735) of labor to no purpose. Ezek. 13:6, “prophesying vain things (mataia),” things which God will not bring to pass. Compare note Titus 3:9. In Romans 8:20 the reference is to a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends.
There are three uses of mataiotes in the NT (see the other 2 verses below) but some 46 verses (most in Ecclesiastes) in the Septuagint (LXX) (Ps 4:2; 26:4; 31:6; 38:12; 39:5; 40:4; 52:7; 62:9; 78:33; 119:37; 139:20; 144:4, 8, 11; Pr. 22:8; Eccl. 1:2, 14; 2:1, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26; 3:19; 4:4, 7-8, 16; 5:7, 10; 6:2, 4, 9, 11-12; 7:6, 15; 8:10, 14; 9:2, 9; 11:8, 10; 12:8). For example...
Ps 144:4 Man is like a mere breath (Lxx = mataiotes = nothingness, emptiness); His days are like a passing shadow.
The other 2 NT uses of mataiotes are...
Mind (3563) (nous) refers to the organ of mental perception and apprehension, of conscious life, of the consciousness preceding actions or recognizing and judging them. Nous represents the seat of understanding and intellect, the reasoning capacity or the thinking faculty. Believers have a new mind "the mind (nous) of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16) which can be renewed as they chose not to be conformed to this world's way of thinking but to be radically transformed (see expository note on Romans 12:2). The mind (nous) Paul is describing in this verse is what he refers to elsewhere as the "fleshly mind" or
Marvin Vincent calls nous "the intellectual faculty in its moral aspects as determined by the fleshly, sinful nature" (see note Colossians 2:18)
Nous is the God given faculty of perceiving and understanding and is the channel through which truth reaches the heart. Paul says that believers "have the mind of Christ." (1Cor 2:16) Although present-day believers are typically not concerned with Jewish ritual observances, the principle is still applicable. We should be more concerned about renewing our mind and focusing it on Jesus than observing a list of rules that have no biblical support.
Paul's point is that when they were unregenerate Gentiles, they could not understand spiritual truth. The way the pagan world thinks is totally foreign to they way God thinks. In fact, every person still spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins does not even have the capability to comprehend God. As Paul explained to the church at Corinth...
"a natural (unsaved, still "in Adam", not "in Christ") man does not accept (dechomai = deliberately and readily, receive kindly, they do not "put out a welcome mat"! = present tense) the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness (moria = that which is considered intellectually weak, irrational) to him, and he cannot (dunamai = present tense = have intrinsic power - natural men lack the inner, inherent ability and resources on their own to) understand (verb ginosko = know by experience) them, because they are spiritually appraised (anakrino = sift up and down and so to scrutinize, to examine accurately and carefully with exact research like in legal processes)." (1Cor 2:14-note)
In the next verse Paul explains why the unsaved man cannot comprehend the things of God.
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that "It is a description of the walk of the heathen world generally—a walk moving within the limits of intellectual and moral resultlessness, given over to things devoid of worth or reality. (Ephesians 4 Commentary S Salmond)
Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NKJV: having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
NLT: Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For they live blindfold in a world of illusion, and cut off from the life of God through ignorance and insensitiveness. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: being those who have their understanding darkened, who have been alienated from the life of God through the ignorance which is in them, through the hardening of their hearts, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: with darkened understandings, having by reason of the ignorance which is deep-seated in them and the insensibility of their moral nature, no share in the Life which God gives.
BEING DARKENED IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING: eskotomenoi (RPPMPN) te dianoia ontes:
- Ps 74:20; 115:4, 6, 7, 8; Isaiah 44:18, 19, 20; 46:5, 6, 7, 8; Acts 17:30; 26:17,18; Romans 1:21, 22, 23,28; 1Corinthians 1:21; 2Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 4:8; 1Thessalonians 4:5)
Being darkened (4656) (skotoo from skotos = darkness, gloom) (Note that Textus Receptus - KJV - has skotizo 4654) literally means to be or become dark, to cover with darkness. Figuratively, skotoo means to darken or blind the mind. It means to become unable to perceive and thus unable to understand. We see a secular use of skotoo in the following sentence “I think that the new wine has already blinded them”.
It is the passive voice which means the effect of darkening comes from outside. The perfect tense speaks of a process completed in past time having present results. Paul uses the perfect tense here to show the finished and permanent result of the blinding of the mind by the "sin virus" every person ever born has inherited from Adam (Ro 5:12). The perfect tense describes the enduring state of darkness the believers at Ephesus (most of whom were Gentiles) before they were regenerated by the Gospel of grace. They were in a sense impeded by a mental fog that blotted out the divine light. Not to mention that the god of this world had blinded their eyes as Paul explained to the saints at Corinth writing...
And even if our gospel is veiled (perfect tense and passive voice just as with the verb "darkened"), it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded (Again perfect tense and passive voice = speaking of the permanent condition unless such a one is born again) the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (Note that the Gospel is light for spiritual darkness), Who is the image of God. (2Co 4:3, 4-note)
KJV Bible Commentary phrases it this way - Their beclouded intellect and their emotions have been darkened permanently so that they are without the faculty of discernment and are unable to distinguish clearly between right and wrong. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
McGee explains that being darkened "means that the lost man has lost his perception of moral values. That is exactly what is being promoted in our day—a loss of perception of moral values (Ed: "Values clarification", "If it feels good...just do it", "You only go around once, grab for all the gusto you can", etc). (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
The only other Biblical uses of skotoo refer to the darkening of the heavenly bodies in the Revelation...
Revelation 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.
Revelation 16:10 And the fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain
NIDNTT adds this comment on the word group dealing with darkness, noting that...
In classic Greek darkness applies primarily to the state characterized by the absence of light (phos) without any special metaphysical overtones. The thought is chiefly of the effect of darkness upon man. In the dark man gropes around uncertainly (Plato, Phaedo, 99b), since his ability to see is severely limited. Thus the man who can see may become blind in the darkness, and no longer know which way to turn. Hence darkness appears as the “sphere of objective peril and of subjective anxiety” (H. Conzelmann, TDNT VII 424). Since all anxiety ultimately derives from the fear of death, the ominous character of darkness culminates in the darkness of death which no man can escape (cf. Homer, Il., 4, 461). Darkness is therefore Hades, the world of the dead, which already reaches out into our world in the mythical figures of the Eumenides, the children of Skotos and Gaia (Soph., Oedipus Coloneus, 40).
Freed from their proper, temporal sense, the words of this group can be used in a metaphorical sense to describe human ways of life and behaviour. Thus they can describe a man’s seclusion or obscurity. They can also indicate the secrecy, furtiveness or deceitfulness of his activity, the abstruseness of his speech, lack of enlightenment, insight and knowledge. “The word does not attain to high conceptual rank in philosophy. Mention of darkness serves to set off light; it has no philosophical content of its own” (TDNT VII 425f). (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Understanding (1271) (dianoia from dianoéomai = to agitate in mind in turn from dia = separation + noeo = to think over, nous = mind, intellect, thought, reason) means thinking through something, meditating, reflecting. It refers to the intellect, moral understanding or the way of thinking. It is the faculty of thinking, comprehending, and reasoning. Dianoia is the seat of perception and thinking, the faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring.
Vine - The word dianoia, “mind,” is not merely, like nous, the seat of the faculty of perception, it is the thinking faculty of reflection itself, a disposition (not a function, but a product), which may be good, e.g., He 8:10-note and He 10:16-note, or evil, as here (Col 1:21-note) and in Luke 1:51, “imagination.” (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Dianoia: the faculty or organ of perception. This is one of the nous group in its root and has a meaning very close to nous itself. It focuses on one's ability to think or perceive and thus designates the mind with which one organizes perceptions.
This is the word chosen in the Gospels where Jesus states the first and great commandment of the law: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30). But again the NT witnesses against the bent of mind of the unsaved: "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts" (Ep 4:18-note). "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior" (Col 1:21).
Two passages remind us again that only God can open the human understanding to spiritual truth. Hebrews twice quotes God's promise under the new covenant: "I will put my laws into their minds" (He 8:10-note and He 10:16-note).An inner transformation of the human personality, accomplished by a work of God, is necessary to open man's mind to the Lord. This is why Paul focuses his prayers on the minds of the Ephesian believers, that they might be "enlightened in order" that they might "know the hope to which he [had] called [them]" (Ep 1:18-note). (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency or Computer Version - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words)
TDNT writes that dianoia is the "common word for “thought” has such varied senses as (1) thought as a function, (2) the power of thought, the thinking consciousness, (3) the way of thought, (4) the result of thought, e.g., thought, idea, opinion, or judgment, (5) resolve of intention, and (6) the meaning of words or statements. The LXX uses it as an equivalent of kardia, and the usage is much the same in other Jewish works. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
NIDNTT has this to say about the use of this word group (nous = mind is the basic integer)...
(In Classic Greek usage) 1. (a) The Gk. word nous, attested since Linear B, probably goes back etymologically to the root snu (cf. Ger. schnaufen, to pant; schnuppern, to sniff). Originally it refers to the inner sense, directed at an object; then, disposition, understanding, insight, reason, mind. Along with feeling and will, understanding belongs, as the ability to think, to the inner powers of man (e.g. Parmenides, 16, 2). Plutarch (On the Education of Children 8) puts logos, word, and nous in a definite relationship to one another: the understanding rules the word, the word serves the understanding. nous is also, however, the moral attitude, disposition, which is determined by the reflection of the mind (e.g. Hdt., 7, 150; Soph., OT 600). It also means resolve and intention (e.g. Homer, Il. 9, 104 f.; Hdt., 1, 27)....
(In Septuagint usage) dianoia is also used in the LXX to translate heart. It can be used to express the idea of to oneself, in one’s heart, in one’s mind, and so comes to be used to express emotions and acts of will (Is 35:4; Ex 35:22). It can also express the whole of one’s inner life (Ge 8:21). Occasionally it renders the Heb. mahªsabôt, plots, plans (Da 11:25), and also bînâh, understanding (Da 9:22). In the apocryphal writings dianoia means spirit, mind, consciousness, disposition, especially in a moral sense. God is the guide of the dianoia (Aristeas 238). The good, moral, pure mind can be beguiled (Test.Ben. 8:2; Test.Jud. 11:1) (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Dianoia occurs 81 times in Scripture, 12 times in the NT (see below) and 69 times in the Septuagint (LXX) = Ge. 8:21; 17:17; 24:15, 45; 27:41; 34:3; 45:26; Ex. 9:21; 28:3; 35:22, 25, 26, 29, 34, 35; 36:1; Lev. 19:17; Num. 15:39; 22:18; 32:7; Deut. 4:39; 7:17; 28:28; 29:18; Jos. 5:1; 22:5; 1 Chr. 29:18; Job 1:5, 8; 9:4; 36:28; Pr. 2:10; 9:10; 13:15; Isa. 14:13; 35:4; 55:9; 57:11; 59:15; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 14:4; Dan. 9:22; 11:14, 25
Below are all the NT uses of dianoia...
Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Mark 12:30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
Luke 1:51 "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
Luke 10:27 And he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Ephesians 1:18 (note) (Only in the Textus Receptus) I pray that the eyes of your heart (NAS = Kardia) (Ep 1:18KJV = understanding = dianoia) may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 2:3 (note) Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest
Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
Colossians 1:21 (note) And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
Hebrews 8:10 (note) "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people.
Hebrews 10:16 (note) This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And upon their mind I will write them," He then says,
1 Peter 1:13 (note) Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:1 (note) This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
It's dangerous enough to walk in the physical darkness, unable to understand where you are. It is even more dangerous to walk in spiritual darkness, which is exactly what these Gentile believers (and you and I dear believing reader) did for all of their life until Christ rescued them from the darkness and into the His marvelous Light. How foolish are we when we choose to walk back into this darkness, even for a moment, now that we have been graced with so great a salvation. What is your view of salvation -- high or low? Is it just a "ticket to ride" the escalator to heaven? Or is it a gracious entree into a whole new way of walking, supernaturally, in His power, in His light and love? Let us daily surrender our will to the Spirit's sweet will and walk worthy of our high calling in Christ for the glory of our Father Who art in heaven. Amen.
Wayne Barber reminds us that...
Think about this when you think of the world. When you go to school next week, when you go to work next week, you are walking out into this. The Gentile nations, the world, has no ability on their own to understand spiritual truths because their ability to understand has been darkened. As a result, they live totally unacceptable lives. So when we go out into darkness, among people with darkened minds, we are not to allow our flesh to pull us back to the way we used to live. They are living a detestable lifestyle. They are a generation after generation after generation of people who don’t have a capacity to even understand God. There is one thing I want you to get in your mind. "Being darkened" has the idea that God darkened them, but remember this. They would not, so therefore, they could not. It is not a matter of God being a mean God, and just darkening them. No, He knows the hearts of all men and nations who have turned against Him. He knows that. It began with Adam and filtered down through the nations and because of that, they have been unwilling to bow to Him. Therefore, God has darkened their minds. In reality, it is their own unwillingness that has brought the darkness upon them. (A Brand New Way of Life - Part 1)
EXCLUDED FROM THE LIFE OF GOD BECAUSE OF THE IGNORANCE THAT IS IN THEM: apellotriomenoi (RPPMPN) tes zoes tou theou dia ten agnoian ten ousan (PAPFSA) en autois:
- Eph 2:12; Romans 8:7,8; Galatians 4:8; Colossians 1:21; 1Thessalonians 4:5; James 4:4
- Romans 1:21; 2:19; 1John 2:11)
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that "This sentence is a further description of the walk of the Gentiles and an explanation of its vanity. Their walk is what it is because of their condition of moral darkness into which they were born and in which they continued. (Ephesians 4:18 Commentary) (The point is that it is imminently fair that they are excluded from the life of God because their ignorance - their ignorance is not accidental but willful! "They are without excuse" - see why in Ro 1:18, 19-note, Ro 1:20-note)
Excluded (526) (apallotrioo [word study] from apó = marker of dissociation implying rupture of former association emphasizing separation + allotrióo = alienate) means to alienate entirely, to be estranged, which is hostility with consequent separation or divorcement. They were at a great distance from God. To alienate always implies loss of affection or interest.
Apallotrioo (like darkened in the previous clause) is in the perfect tense which indicates a past completed action with ongoing effect or results. Because of Adam's sin all his offspring are born as "little sinners" (cf Ps 51:5-note, Ro 5:12-note) alienated from God out of the womb, with this alienation persisting all their life (unless they are saved by the gospel by grace through faith). In other words the Gentile believers reading Paul's letter had previously been in an enduring state of separation, alienation and estrangement from God because of sin.
Expositors Greek Testament has "Being in a state of moral darkness, they also become alienated from the true life. (Ephesians 4:18 Commentary)
Apallotrioo was used earlier by Paul to describe the condition of the Gentiles in their unregenerate state...
"remember that you were at that time (as Gentiles, heathens, before you became believers) separate from Christ, excluded (utterly alienated - apallotrioo) from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ep 2:12-note)
Comment: An alien is one who does not “belong.” He is a stranger and foreigner, without the rights and privileges of citizenship. As far as the community of Israel was concerned, the Gentiles were on the outside, looking in.
Apallotrioo is used in the Septuagint where David explains that "The wicked are estranged (apallotrioo) from the womb. These who speak lies go astray from birth." (Ps 58:3)
David's point is that their corruption was not a development of later life but could be traced to their birth. They were alienated and estranged from birth. Their lawlessness and rebellion are inborn, so that as men begin to talk, they begin to lie! They don't have to be taught!
In Ezekiel God shows that this was not just the unsaved Gentiles condition but also applied to the unsaved Jew declaring that
"the hearts of the house of Israel...are estranged (apallotrioo) from Me through all their idols.” (Ezekiel 14:5)
Life (2222) (zoe) state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate. Life as a principle. It is the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to the Father. Paul is referring to life that is real and genuine, active and vigorous.
Zoe does not refer to the course of one's life but to life itself, as the principle which is opposed to death. In this verse zoe refers to the spiritual life conferred by God to men who are otherwise dead in their trespasses and sins. The life of God is the life that God has in Himself and that which He imparts to the believing sinner. The unregenerate Gentiles have no concept of the life that God commands, of which He approves and whereby God in the Spirit of Christ lives in believers and they in Him (Gal 2:20-note).
Because of (1223) (dia) is a marker of instrumentality by which something is accomplished. It is a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act. Dia in this context is a marker of a participant constituting the cause or reason for an event or state. The fact that the Gentiles were excluded from the life of God was because of their ignorance of God and this is because of the hardening of their hearts, their being insensitive to God and His ways.
Ignorance (52) (agnoia from agnoeo = not to know in turn from a = not + noeo = perceive, understand) means want of knowledge. The pagan world was always haunted by the unknowability of God; at best men could but grope after his mystery.
Agnoia - 4x - Acts 3:17 Acts 17:30 Eph 4:18 1 Pet 1:14
Expositor's Greek Testament notes that agnoia "is not a term merely of intellect. It denotes an ignorance of divine things, a want of knowledge that is inexcusable and involves moral blindness (Acts 3:17, 17:30, 1Pe 1:14-note). It is further defined here not simply as ‘their ignorance,’ but as an ignorance ‘being in them’—surely a phrase that is neither tautological nor without a purpose, but one that describes their ignorance in respect to its seat. Their alienation had its cause, not in something external, casual, or superficial, but in themselves,—in a culpable ignorance in their own nature or heart.” (Ephesians 4:18 Commentary)
Paul explains that this was willful ignorance in Romans as he explains the pathogenesis of mankind's rejection of God's revelation of Himself in nature. It all began with sin entering the world, this sin principle then manifesting itself in Romans 1 with a progressive decline of man's moral/ethical mind.
Romans 5:12-note Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Romans 1:21-note For even though they knew God (Man is conscious of God’s existence, power, and divine nature through His Creation, general revelation "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" - Ro 1:20-note), they did not honor (they glorified Him not as God = they did not have a proper opinion of Him. Man’s chief end is to glorify God) Him as God or give thanks (Thanklessness toward God is a proof of alienation from Him), but they became futile (worthless, meaningless, vain) in their speculations, (compare to "walk in the futility of their mind") and their foolish heart was darkened.
Comment: The problem is not that man did not know God, but that he did know Him - yet we refused to glorify Him as God. They were darkened in their understanding because they rejected God and hardened their hearts toward what He had revealed of Himself. Ignorance is not sin, but willful ignorance is. The light that God had given men in nature became darkness in them. The faculty of reason becomes impaired by its abuse. see Mt 6:23-note
Aristotle spoke of God as the supreme cause (supreme cause), by all men dreamed of and by no man known. The ancient world did not doubt that there was a God or gods but it believed that such gods as there were were quite unknowable and totally uninterested in men and the universe. In a world without Christ God was a being of mystery and power but not a God of infinite, indescribable love. The tragedy of the philosophical views like Aristotle is that there was no so-called god to whom men could reach out to for help or hope. The ancient world was filled with hopelessness, as is every person outside of Christ. (cp Ep 2:12-note)
BECAUSE OF THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEART: dia ten porosin tes kardias auton:
- Daniel 5:20; Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Romans 11:25
Because of (1223) (dia) is a marker of instrumentality by which something is accomplished It is a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act. Dia in this context is a marker of a participant constituting the cause or reason for an event or state. Remember that whenever you encounter one of these terms of explanation (like "for" or "because"), you want to stop and interrogate the text with with the 5W/H questions. In so doing you are practicing meditating on the passage, not to mention that you are carefully observing the text which will yield the most accurate interpretation of the text and in turn the most appropriate application of the text! So to pause and ponder is by no means a "waste of time", but to the contrary is a inestimably valuable way to redeem the time (cp Eph 5:16).
Hardness (4457) (porosis from poroo = to harden, petrify, render insensitive) literally describes the covering of a part with a callus or thick growth of skin (Hippocrates used it as a technical medical term).
Have you ever done hard manual labor especially the type that required you to repetitively use your hands? If you have, you probably developed a callus and you can better understand what Paul is portraying with this word. In this verse he is using porosis figuratively to describe the moral or ethical hardness, callousness, blindness or insensitivity of the hearts of the Gentiles in their former unregenerate state.
Porosis expresses the condition of moral insensibility "the deadness that supervenes when the heart has ceased to be sensible of the stimuli of the conscience" (Ellicott).
There are 3 uses of porosis in Scripture and here are the other two uses...
Mark 3:5 And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Romans 11:25 (note) For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in;
Barclay writes that...
Porosis comes from poros, which originally meant a stone that was harder than marble. It came to have certain medical uses. It was used for the chalk stone which can form in the joints and completely paralyze action. It was used of the callus that forms where a bone has been broken and re-set, a callus which is harder than the bone itself. Finally the word came to mean the loss of all power of sensation; it described something which had become so hardened, so petrified that it had no power to feel at all. That is what Paul says the heathen life is like (Eph 4:18) It has become so hardened that it has lost the power of feeling. In the Epistle to a Young Friend, Robert Burns wrote about sin:
“I waive the quantum o’ the sin,
The hazard of concealing;
But och! it hardens a’ within,
And petrifies the feeling!”
The terror of sin is its petrifying effect. The process of sin is quite discernible. No man becomes a great sinner all at once. At first he regards sin with horror. When he sins, there enters into his heart remorse and regret. But if he continues to sin there comes a time when he loses all sensation and can do the most shameful things without any feeling at all. His conscience is petrified. (Ed note: This is because all men in Adam are totally depraved and have an inherent sin nature from Adam to commit sins). (Barclay, William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
Heart (2588) (kardia [word study]) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God.
While kardia does represent the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality, in Scripture it represents much more than emotion, feelings. It also includes the thinking process and particularly the will. For example, in Proverbs we are told, “As (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4). The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.
Vine writes that kardia "came to denote man’s entire mental and moral activities, and to stand figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life, and so here signifies the seat of thought and feeling. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )
MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that "While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Matt 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23-note). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near. Crossway Books) MacArthur adds that "In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. 1986. Chicago: Moody Press)
In summary, these Gentiles were alienated from God through their culpable moral and spiritual ignorance and through the hardening of their hearts.
Ephesians 4:19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NKJV: who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
NLT: They don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: They have stifled their consciences and then surrendered themselves to sensuality, practising any form of impurity which lust can suggest. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: who, being of such a nature as to have become callous, abandoned themselves to wantonness, resulting in a performing of every uncleanness in the sphere of greediness. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Such men being past feeling have abandoned themselves to impurity, greedily indulging in every kind of profligacy.
AND THEY, HAVING BECOME CALLOUS: hoitines apelgekotes (RAPMPN):
- 1Ti 4:2
Having become callous (524) (apalgeo from apó = denoting privation + algéo = to feel pain) means to become apathetic, to cease to feel pain or grief or to be insensitive to pain. It is used metaphorically here meaning to be insensitive to honor or shame. It means to lose the ability to feel shame or embarrassment. To be so accustomed to something undesirable that one is not bothered by the implications of what one is doing. This is the word from which the English. "analgesic" is derived which is that which takes away pain.
Note that once again Paul uses the perfect tense (past completed action with ongoing effect) to describe the permanence of their condition.
Vincent writes that apalgeo "means to cease from feeling pain. Hence to be apathetic. (Ephesians 4)
Expositors Greek Testament says that apalgeo "expresses the condition, not of despair merely, but of moral insensibility, ‘the deadness that supervenes when the heart has ceased to be sensible to the stimuli of the conscience’ (Ellicott). (Ephesians 4:19-20 Commentary)
In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul paints a parallel picture of those who have fallen from the faith (not lost their salvation - they were never saved in the first place) and paid attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1Ti 4:1) and who...
by means of the hypocrisy of liars (speak lies disguised as truth, pretending to be religious, wrong doctrinally and so wrong morally - believing and behaving always travel the same road) seared in their own conscience ( scarred to the point where they can carry on their hypocritical lies with no compunctions because their consciences have been destroyed) as with a branding iron (branded with a hot iron - gives us English cauterize or sear tissues with heat) (1Ti 4:2)
The pagan, godless, God hating (Ro 1:30-note) Gentiles are past feeling, an accurate expression of the idea inherent in apalgeo. They can no longer respond to moral stimuli. Their consciences are so atrophied that sin registers no stab of pain. The lack of moral feeling and discernment means that they in turn manifest an inability to exercise proper restraint in moral and ethical matters.
What Paul is saying is that they don’t experience pain any more. Beloved, our physical bodies are in great danger when we don’t experience physical pain. You might think, "I don’t want pain". Sure pain is an uncomfortable sensation but it serves a vital function, as it warns the body that something is wrong. Pain causes us to experience caution. Picture, the tragic state of a leper who has lost the sensation of touch and pain in his hands. And because the leper cannot feel, he can burn himself producing great damage. How tragic to keep hurting himself, because he doesn’t feel pain any longer. That's what the unregenerate sinner does to himself or herself. And it is a tragic state, producing damage far greater than the physical damage inflicted by the leper. Paul says don't go back to your spiritually "leprous" state!
Now ponder these "attributes" of the unregenerate pagans for a moment. Is it any wonder that it very difficult to speak with them about the Truth about God and the Bible! But remember that this picture describes not just "them" but it was "us" before we were saved by grace through faith. We should never forget what God has saved us from. We need to continually remember where we came from, so that we maintain a high view of His miracle working gift of salvation transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to light (Acts 26:18 where "domain" = Satan's right to rule over us! Col 1:13-note = where "domain" ='s the right and might of the darkness to control us! 1Pe 2:9-note). Remembering from where God has rescued us, should keep us grateful and foster loving obedience (Jn 14:15, 21, 23), and even that obedience (Php 2:12-note) only possible by His grace and Spirit (Php 2:13-note, Ro 8:13-note). I think that is one aspect of what Jesus meant when He said "Do this in remembrance of me" (1Co 11:24, 25). The Lord's Supper can be a profitable time to ponder what it cost God to redeem us from the guttermost to the uttermost!
John reminds us that we as believers have been rescued from futile thinking and darkened understanding, writing...
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding (dianoia), in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1Jn 5:20)
J Vernon McGee writes that the Gentile's "continuance in this state of moral ineptitude brings them down to the level where they have no feeling of wrongdoing. There are a lot of folk like that today. They are apathetic. The resultant condition is to plunge further into immorality and lasciviousness. This vicious cycle leads to a desire to go even deeper into sin. If you paint the town red tonight, you have to have a bigger bucket and a bigger brush for tomorrow night. The meaning here is to covet the very depths of immorality. Men in sin are never satisfied with sin. They become abandoned to sin. This is what it means in chapter 1 of Romans that God gave them up to all uncleanness through their own lusts. You can reach the place, my friend, where you are an abandoned sinner. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
W. C. Wright explains "Moule translates it: “having got over the pain.” How expressive! When conscience is at first denied, there is a twinge of pain; there is a protest that can be heard. But if the voice is silenced, presently the voice becomes less clear and clamant; the protest is smothered; the twinge is less acute, until at last it is possible to “get over the pain.” (Ephesians)
HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES OVER TO SENSUALITY FOR THE PRACTICE OF EVERY KIND OF IMPURITY WITH GREEDINESS: heautous paredokan (3SPAI) te aselgeia eis ergasian akatharsias pases en pleonexia:
- Eph 4:17; Romans 1:24, 25, 26; 1Peter 4:3)
- Job 15:16; Isaiah 56:11; 2Pe 2:12, 13, 14,22; Jude 1:11; Rev 17:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 18:3)
Note how the downward spiral culminates in an abominable description of their warped, despicable behavior.
Given themselves over to sensuality - When they became spiritually callous, their hearts were insensitive to pain and to God, and being "past feeling", those sins governed by sensuality become easy choices to make. And so they delivered themselves over to the power and passing pleasure of lasciviousness which is always a poor choice. See the verses below from Romans 1 which describe God's giving them over to the power of their fallen nature!
Have given over (3860) (paradidomi [word study] from para = alongside, beside + didomi = give) means literally to give over. It means to give over into (one’s) power or use and involves either the handing over of a presumably guilty person for punishment by authorities or the handing over of an individual to an enemy who will presumably take undue advantage of the victim.
Paul gives the other side of the tragedy in Romans 1. Here in Ephesians 4, they had volitionally, of their free choice, given themselves over (surrendered, yielded) to unrestrained living and licentiousness. In Romans we see that it is God Who gives them over (so in a sense their giving over becomes at once their own guilty choice and at the same time a judicial act of God!)...
Therefore (because they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image) God gave them over (paradidomi) in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. (Ro 1:24-note)
For this reason God gave them over (paradidomi) to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, (Ro 1:26-note)
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over (paradidomi) to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, (Ro 1:28-note)
Vincent comments that paradidomi "is frequently used of Christ giving Himself for the world. (Ro 4:25-note; Gal 2:20-note; Eph 5:5-note, Eph 5:25-note. It indicates a complete surrender. Meyer says, “with frightful emphasis.” Where men persistently give themselves up to evil, God gives them up to its power. (Ephesians 4)
Sensuality (766) (aselgeia from aselges = licentious, brutal in turn from a = negates next word + selges = continent) originally referred to any excess or lack of restraint and came to be associated primarily with sexual excess. It is uninhibited sexual indulgence without shame and w/o concern for what others think or how affected (or infected). (Ephesians 4)
Aselgeia was used almost exclusively of especially lewd sexual immorality, of uninhibited and unabashed lasciviousness. It refers to the kind of sexual debauchery and abandonment that characterizes much of modern society and that is often flaunted almost as a badge of distinction!
The Greeks defined aselgeia as
“a disposition of soul that resents all discipline,” as “a spirit that acknowledges no restraints, dares whatsoever its caprice and wanton insolence may suggest.”
The short definitions of aselgeia are unrestrained living or shameless wantonness! The walls of Pompeii tell the story of shame and lost decency and the same sins characterize the Gentile world today via a new, even more sinister modality, the internet.
Wuest comments that "The aselgeia person is one who acknowledges no restraints, who dares whatsoever his caprice and wanton petulance may suggest. “Wantonness” is the best word to describe it. The word speaks of a complete surrender of self. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
MacArthur writes that "Aselgeia (sensuality) refers to total licentiousness, the absence of all moral restraint, especially in the area of sexual sins. One commentator says the term relates to “a disposition of the soul incapable of bearing the pain of discipline.” The idea is that of unbridled self–indulgence and undisciplined obscenity... All people initially recognize at least some standard of right and wrong and have a certain sense of shame when they act against that standard. Consequently, they usually try to hide their wrongdoing. They may continually fall back into it but still recognize it as wrong, as something they should not be doing; and conscience will not let them remain comfortable. But as they continue to overrule conscience and train themselves to do evil and to ignore guilt, they eventually reject those standards and determine to live solely by their own desires, thereby revealing an already seared conscience. Having rejected all divine guidelines and protection, they become depraved in mind and give themselves over to sensuality. Such a person cares nothing about what other people think—not to mention about what God thinks—but only about what gratifies the cravings of his own warped mind. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
Barclay writes that aselgeia "does not solely mean sexual uncleanness; it is sheer wanton insolence. As Basil defined it, “It is that attitude of the soul which has never borne and never will bear the pain of discipline.” It is the insolence that knows no restraint, that has no sense of the decencies of things, that will dare anything that wanton caprice demands, that is careless of public opinion and its own good name so long as it gets what it wants...It has been defined as “readiness for any pleasure.”...The great characteristic of aselgeia is this—the bad man usually tries to hide his sin (they have enough respect for common decency not to wish to be found out); but the man who has aselgeia in his soul does not care how much he shocks public opinion so long as he can gratify his desires...the man who is guilty of aselgeia is that he is lost to decency and to shame... he does not care who sees his sin. It is not that he arrogantly and proudly flaunts it; it is simply that he can publicly do the most shameless things, because he has ceased to care for decency at all...Sin can get such a grip of a man that he is lost to decency and shame. He is like a drug taker who first takes the drug in secret, but comes to a stage when he openly pleads for the drug on which he has become dependent. A man can become such a slave of liquor that he does not care who sees him drunk. A man can let his sexual desires so master him that he does not care who sees him satisfy them...It has been defined as “readiness for any pleasure.”...Jezebel was the classic instance of aselgeia when she built a heathen shrine in Jerusalem the Holy City. Josephus ascribed it to Jezebel when she built a temple to Baal in Jerusalem. The idea is that of a man who is so far gone in desire that he has ceased to care what people say or think... Aselgeia is the insolently selfish spirit, which is lost to honour, and which will take what it wants, where it wants, in shameless disregard of God and man. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Practice (2039) (ergasia from ergázomai = to toil, work) means to engage in some type of activity or behavior with sustained interest and thus describes a pursuit. Ergasia can mean employment, craft, profession; profit or gain, this latter describing the outcome of work.
Ergasia is used of business (see uses in Acts), giving us the horrible picture here in Ephesians 4, that these unsaved men actually made a business of every kind of moral uncleanness! It does not take much thought to imagine what kind of vile business and illicit profit was associated with every kind of impurity! It reminds one of John's statement about the final destruction of the evil world system which had made a business trafficking in "human lives" (Rev 18:13).
John MacArthur elaborates on this same idea noting that...
Ergasia (practice) can refer to a business enterprise, and that idea could apply here. The ungodly person often makes business out of every kind of impurity. A Christian leader commented some years ago that many of the books published in the United States today rival the drippings of a broken sewer. Yet pornography, prostitution, X–rated films, suggestive TV programs, and every kind of impurity form perhaps the largest industry in our country. The vast majority of it is open, unashamed, and legally protected. An article in Forbes magazine (Sept. 18, 1978, pp. 81–92) entitled “The X–Rated Economy” began by stating the obvious—pornography is no longer an illegal business. The market for pornography is not confined to perverts or other emotional cripples. To the contrary, the largest part of the market is middle class people. In an increasingly permissive society those who enjoy pornography are free to revel in it. The surprising revelation was that, according to one official estimate, the nation’s pornographers do more than four billion dollars worth of business a year—more than the combined incomes of the often supportive movie and music industries! Other estimates place the total pornographic business—including a large segment of the burgeoning home video market—at three times that much. (Ed note: And now we can add internet pornography - as Paul said in Romans 1 rejectors of the truth about God will become "inventors of evil"!) (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
Ergasia is found 6 times in the NT...
Luke 12:58 "For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, in order that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. (Comment: Ergasia in this context means to do one’s best in attempting to accomplish something).
Acts 16:16 And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortunetelling.
Acts 16:19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities,
Acts 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.
Ephesians 4:19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Ergasia is used 32 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Ge 29:27; Ex 26:1; 38:24; Lev 13:51; Num. 31:20; Ruth 2:12; 1 Chr. 6:48f; 9:13; 26:8, 29, 30; 28:13, 20; 2 Chr. 4:11; 5:1; 8:16; 15:7; 24:12; 31:21; 34:13, 17; Ps. 104:23; 107:23; Pr. 6:8; Eccl. 9:1; Isa. 1:31; 41:24; Ezek. 15:3, 4, 5, Jon 1:8)
Vincent notes that ergasia
In Acts 19:25, used of a trade. Not precisely in this sense here, yet with a shade of it. They gave themselves up as to the prosecution of a business. The preposition eis or unto is very forcible. (Ephesians 4)
Every kind (3956) (pas) means all without exception which is a striking way to describe their impurities, indicating they trafficked in moral uncleanness in the widest sense.
is a broad term referring to moral uncleanness in thought, word, and deed. It describes a state of moral impurity, especially sexual sin. The term akatharsia refers to filth or refuse.
Akatharsia describes a filthiness of heart and mind (so it is internal as compared to anomia discussed below) that makes the person defiled. The unclean person sees dirt in everything. The word akatharsia suggests especially that it defiles its participants, making them unusable for sacred purpose. While akatharsia includes sexual sin, it comes from a wider Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) usage where “unclean” could refer to anything that made a person unfit to go to the temple and appear before God. In a medical sense Hippocrates used this word to describe an infected, oozing wound with pus and crusty impurities that gather around the sore or wound. What is “impure” is filthy and repulsive, especially to God. Akatharsia was a general term often used of decaying matter, like the contents of a grave. In short akatharsia describes any excessive behavior or lack of restraint and speaks more of an internal disposition. An immoral filthiness on the inside whereas the lawless acts of ''immorality'' are on the outside.
Barton says that akatharsia refers to "Moral uncleanness. Perhaps no sexual act has taken place, but the person exhibits a crudeness or insensitivity in sexual matters that offends others and leads them to false conclusions about the other person’s character. An example today would be the excessive use of sexual humor (or what is supposed to be humor), where people make statements with a sexual double meaning." (Barton, B. B. Life application Bible commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House)
William Barclay writes that akatharsia means...
"...everything which would unfit a man to enter into God’s presence. It describes the life muddied with wallowing in the world’s ways. Kipling prayed,
“Teach us to rule ourselves always,
Controlled and cleanly night and day.”
Akatharsia is the very opposite of that clean purity...It can be used for the pus of an unclean wound, for a tree that has never been pruned, for material which has never been sifted. In its positive form (katharos, an adjective meaning pure) it is commonly used in housing contracts to describe a house that is left clean and in good condition. But its most suggestive use is that katharos is used of that ceremonial cleanness which entitles a man to approach his gods. Impurity, then, is that which makes a man unfit to come before God, the soiling of life with the things which separate us from him....Jesus used the word to describe the rottenness of decaying bodies in a tomb (Matthew 23:27). The other ten times the word is used in the New Testament it is associated with sexual sin. It refers to immoral thoughts, passions, ideas, fantasies, and every other form of sexual corruption." (W. Barclay, The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press) (Bolding added)
With greediness - describes the condition or frame of mind in which the Gentiles practiced the moral uncleanness. They were not merely indulging in moral impurity but indulging in it with a greedy desire to have more which is a graphic picture of the insatiable nature of sinful desire.
KJV Bible Commentary adds that with greediness describes "insatiable desires to have more, with no regard for the person or property of others. He gets what he wants no matter whom he hurts and no matter what methods he uses. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Greediness (4124) ( pleonexia from pleíon = more + écho = have) (Click word study on pleonexia) literally to have more. Pleonexia is a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions, especially that which is forbidden. It is a desire to have more irrespective of one's need and is always used in bad sense. It describes an insatiable selfishness. Is describes the attitude of heart in which one desires to have more than one's due.
In short, pleonexia describes an insatiable craving greed, consuming ambition and/or giving rein to the appetites and desires which are against the laws of God and man. The picture is of indulging in self-gratification with no regard for others, willing to do almost anything in an attempt to gratify their flesh.
It describes covetous, a trait marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions. Contentment is the opposite of covetousness. Attacking covetousness lays the ax to a root cause of sin because pleonexia is the root of the other sins listed in this verse. When contentment replaces covetousness, the latter cannot give rise to the process that culminates in an act of sin.
Greed is what you desire and what you desire more of becomes your ''god'' and you end up serving (latreuo) that ''god.'' In God's sight, greed is worshipping the god mammon, and "you cannot serve God and mammon" (see note Matthew 6:24)
Vincent notes that pleonexia is...
Covetousness Lit., the desire of having more. It is to be distinguished from philarguria rendered love of money, 1Tim. 6:10, and its kindred adjective, philarguros which A. V. renders covetous, Luke 16:14; 2 Timothy 3:2 (see note); properly changed by Rev. into lovers of money. The distinction is expressed by covetousness and avarice. The one is the desire of getting, the other of keeping.
Covetousness has a wider and deeper sense, as designating the sinful desire which goes out after things of time and sense of every form and kind. Hence it is defined by Paul (see note Colossians 3:5) as idolatry, the worship of another object than God, and is so often associated with fleshly sins, as 1Cor. 5:11; Ephesians 5:3 (note), 5; Col. 3:5. Lightfoot says:
“Impurity and covetousness may be said to divide between them nearly the whole domain of selfishness and vice.”
Socrates quotes an anonymous author who compares the region of the desires in the wicked to a vessel full of holes, and says that, of all the souls in Hades, these uninitiated or leaky persons are the most miserable, and that they carry water to a vessel which is full of holes in a similarly holey colander. The colander is the soul of the ignorant (Plato, “Gorgias,” 493). Compare, also, the description of covetousness and avarice by Chaucer, “Romaunt of the Rose,” 183–246. (Ephesians 4) (Bolding added)
Expositor's Greek Testament sums up this section writing that...
Uncleanness and greed or covetousness ranked as the two great heathen vices. So the Gentiles, darkened and alienated from the life of God, had become men of such a character that they gave themselves willfully over to wanton sensuality, in order that they might practice every kind of uncleanness and do that with unbridled greedy desire. (Ephesians 4:19-20 Commentary)