Amplified: But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: But as for sexual immorality in all its forms, and the itch to get your hands on what belongs to other people - (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But fornication and uncleanness, every kind of it, or covetousness, let it not be even named among you, just as it is befitting to saints, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and whoredom, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints;
BUT IMMORALITY: porneia de: (Eph 5:5; 4:19,20; Numbers 25:1; Deuteronomy 23:17,18; Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; Lk 12:15, Acts 15:20; Romans 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32- From Paul's divinely inspired "pattern of moral devolution" in Romans 1, notice how suppression and rejection of the knowledge of the true God naturally "devolves" into worship of false gods and how this false worship in turn is intimately associated with the practice of sexual immorality in all forms! Upshot? Knowledge of the one true and living God and growing intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit [Gal 5:16-see notes] in daily quiet times of worshipful fellowship are the BEST preventative measure (and cure) for those bound with the cords of the sin (Pr 5:22) of sexual immorality and better than any of the Christian books or programs that are flooding the marketplace! Let us return to the "ancient paths", the "highway of holiness" and as Christian men begin to experience a freedom in this area that heretofore we never even thought was possible in light of the pervasive permeation of American culture by sensuality and sexual seduction.; Ro 6:13; 1Corinthians 5:10,11; 6:9,13,18; 10:8; 2Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19, 20, 21; Colossians 3:5, 6, 7; 1Thessalonians 4:3,7; Hebrews 12:16; 13:4; 2Peter 2:10; Revelation 2:14,21; 9:21; 21:8; Revelation 22:15)
Note: All verbs in bold red indicate commands, not suggestions! Also hold mouse pointer over underlined links for pop up of Scripture which stays open and can be copied.
In his summarization of this chapter Charles Hodge writes...
But (1161) (de) is a term of contrast which conveys a very strong contrast with that which produces a fragrant aroma before God. It is probably not too far fetched to take from this contrast the implication that the following vices are a "stench" in God's nostrils rather than a fragrant aroma! Thus Paul carries the exhortation (command) to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1,2) over to a prohibition expressed in the strongest terms and which is leveled against one of the deadliest and most inveterate temptations to which Gentile Christians were (are) exposed - porneia! (As an aside, take a moment and hold your pointer over the cross references listed above in order to get a sense of the seriousness and pervasiveness of this sin throughout the ages!)
Alford on but - not transitional merely: there is a contrast brought out by the very mention of πορνεία after what has just been said
Hoehner - The self-centered vices in conduct and speech (Eph 5:3-4) are the opposite of the self-sacrificing love spoken of in Eph 5:1,2-notes. Since these vices portray selfishness and unconcern for others, a believer should not have even a hint of these sins in his life. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor).
As in most competitive sports, the best defense is usually a good offense. And similarly the best defense against porneia is a good offense! Paul had just described the "offense" in Eph 5:1-2 in which he issued two commands - be imitators, walk in love both of which we are enabled to obey by depending on the power of the indwelling Spirit (Eph 3:16note). When we are obeying these commands, we are practicing a Christ centered walk which produces a life pleasing to the Father. In other words, when we are imitating Christ (1Cor 11:1, 1Pe 2:21, 1Jn 2:6), dying to self (Mk 8:34-35), presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to God (note note), we are in effect presenting ourselves to the god of self and the idol of immorality. Jesus made it very clear that to whom we present ourselves will determine whom we serve, either Savior or self (Mt 6:24-note). We see a similar pattern in the parallel passages in Col 3:1-4 note, where Paul is calling for us to focus on the things above, on our death, burial and resurrection with Him (the Gospel in a nutshell, (Col 3:1), on the things above, not on the things on the earth (Col 3:2 note), on God's protection of our souls (Col 3:3 note) and on our future glory (Col 3:4 note), and only after we have done that does he command us to "kill' immorality (Col 3:5 note). The trap we can easily fall into is first trying to kill the sin by doing this or not doing that, and in so doing we in effect place ourselves back up under the law, from which Christ set us free. Instead, we need to focus on God, His Word, His Son, His Gospel, His Spirit, etc, and when we do that it will difficult for porneia to get a foothold in our soul. The same pattern is seen in Gal 5:16 where Paul commands the believers to walk by the (power of) Holy Spirit Who indwells each of them and when we are walking by the Spirit, we "will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Gal 5:16 note) Observe that Paul did not say we would not have the desires of the flesh! We still have the residua of the fallen flesh in our mortal bodies, but because of what Christ had done for us on the Cross and because He has sent us His Spirit to live within us and empower us to live a supernatural life, now we can fight the lusts of the flesh which continually wage war against our souls (1Pe 2:11 note, Gal 5:17 note).
Among you - ''you'' is plural. There is not to be one loose cannon on the deck. Not one guy cheating on his wife. Not one church staff member hooked on internet pornography. We are saints, holy ones of God. We have laid aside these old filthy garments and are wearing the robes of Christ's righteousness. We need to live like it, and in context love like Christ. In this verse Paul shows what love does not look like!
John Piper warns - Fornication should be eliminated from your life if you are a Christian. It should be shunned like a dangerous disease. For it is far more dangerous than AIDS. AIDS can only kill your body. Fornication can kill your soul as we will see from Eph 5:6 (cp Mt 10:28, Lk 12:4, 5). (Ephesians 5:3-6: The Enthronement of Desire)
Immorality (4202) (porneia from porneúo = commit fornication or any sexual sin) originally referred to any excessive behavior or lack of restraint, but eventually became associated with sexual excess and indulgence. Porneia originally was used especially to describe the practice of consorting with prostitutes (porneis = “prostitute”) and eventually came to mean “habitual immorality.”
Porneia as used in the Scriptures describes any illicit sexual activity outside of the divine bounds established by marriage and thus includes the ideas of unlawful sexual intercourse, unchastity and fornication. Porneia includes (but is not limited to) adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and prostitution.
There are 25 uses of porneia in the NT - Mt. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1Co. 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Th 4:3; Rev 2:21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2
There are 36 uses of porneia in the Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 38:24; Nu 14:33; 2Ki. 9:22; Is 47:10; 57:9; Jer 2:20; 3:2, 9; 13:27; Ezek 16:15, 22, 25, 33, 34, 36, 41; 23:7, 8, 11, 14, 17, 18, 19, 27, 29, 35; 43:7, 9; Ho 1:2; 2:2, 4; 4:11, 12; 5:4; 6:10; Micah 1:7; Nah 3:4
Cole writes that porneia "includes premarital sex, extramarital sex, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and the use of pornography. Any sex outside of the lifelong commitment of marriage is not rooted in love (as I defined it in our last study [Reference], “a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved”), but in lust. Outside of marriage, sex devolves into using the other person for your own gratification. (Ephesians 5:3-6 Clean Up Your Act!)
As an aside, porneia refers primarily to sins of the flesh, but those sins can never be divorced from the sins of the mind or heart, because all sin is related. Sin in one area always makes us more susceptible to sin in other areas (don't be deceived). No where does Scripture sanction the commitment of any form of extramarital sexual activity...a far cry from our modern American culture!
Our English word pornography is from porneia (illicit sexual activity) + graph (a writing). Thus pornography ("porn") is a writing (picture) related to illicit sexual activity of some variety.
Expositors Greek Testament writes that "The term porneia (fornication) is to be taken in its proper sense and is not to be restricted to any one particular form—the license practiced at heathen festivals, concubinage, marriage within prohibited degrees, or the like. The moral life of the Greco-Roman world had sunk so low that, while protests against the prevailing corruption were never entirely wanting, fornication had long come to be regarded as a matter of moral indifference, and was indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the mass, but by philosophers and men of distinction who in other respects led exemplary lives.” (The Expositor's Greek Testament) (Does this comment remind you of any modern day society?)
Christianity brought chastity, a virtue that was foreign to the Greco-Roman world. Into this world of pagan idolatry where sexual immorality was not only condoned, but regarded as normal, the Christian faith came as a purifying fire. Twentieth-century America has reverted back to the “normality of sexual immorality” and the revival fire of the Christian faith is desperately needed.
Remember the context of the society Paul was addressing. In the Greek culture of that day, prostitution and fornication were considered permissible activities. A married man in Greece cold engage in extramarital sexual intercourse as much as he wished, but this practice was forbidden for the wife! Athenaeus, a writer in the second century AD, quotes from a speech of Demosthenes,
Kenneth Wuest - The moral life of the Greco-Roman world had sunk so low that, while protests against the prevailing corruption were never entirely wanting, fornication had long come to be regarded as a matter of moral indifference, and was indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the mass, but by philosophers and men of distinction who in other respects led exemplary lives. (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)
In the book of Acts the early church condemned all sexual experimentation outside of marriage James declaring that the Gentiles who were turning to God from idols be instructive
The association of idolatry and sexual immorality as alluded to in Acts is frequently seen in many other passages of Scripture (Ex 32:4, 5, 6, 28, Nu 25:1-4, 1Cor 10:7-8, Rev 2:14, 21:8).
In Romans 1 Paul clearly links idolatry with immorality writing...
Remember that in Paul’s day the ancient pagan world in general and Corinth in particular was like much of modern day post-Christian, anti-God, relative values ruled America is today, for people were strongly intent on having their own ways and doing what was right in their own eyes (Jdg 21:25-note). And what they did that seemed "right" to them was particularly manifest in fulfilling their lust in illicit sexual activities, even under the guise of "religious worship.". Corinth in fact was so conspicuous for its practice of sexual immorality that to corinthianize meant to participate in reckless debauchery. Given this culture of rampant sexual permissiveness the body of Christ was sorely affected (pun intended). And so Paul writing to the Corinthian church declares that
Later in this same letter Paul gives his instruction to individual believers who were being tempted to play in the sewers of sexual immorality that was so prevalent. Paul's advice was crystal clear...
What Paul is saying in the preceding passage is that sexual sin not only is against God (Ge 39:9, Ps 51:4) and other persons (1Thes 4:6-note), it is also against ourselves. Part of our moral responsibility to ourselves is to be sexually pure. When Christians are immoral, the testimony of the gospel is polluted and the holy Name of God is blasphemed. Furthermore, we can know all the truth in the world, and yet by our falling into illicit sexual activity, we are showing by that activity that we despise not only God (2Sa 12:10) but also His Word (2Sa 12:14)!
Don't dabble with porneia ("pornography"), trifle with it (there is no such thing as "soft porn" - it is a lie!), argue about it, debate it, explain it and certainly don't try to rationalize it as a "spiritual challenge" to be met but as a "spiritual trap" to be escaped. Get away as fast as you can! God gives such a clear and strong command because porneia is so serious, so seductive, so corrupting and so shattering to spiritual relationships, both human and divine! So flee for your life.
An excellent well known illustration of "fleeing immorality" is found in the account of Joseph when he was tempted to sin by Potiphar’s wife Joseph addressing her advances declared
While there may be safety in numbers, sometimes there is more safety in flight! It is like the pastor who cautioned his handsome new assistant about the dangers of immorality in the ministry. The assistant said that he always did his socializing in a group setting and concluded that “there is safety in numbers.” The wise pastor replied, “Yes, that is so, but there is more safety in Exodus!”
How serious is immorality? Paul's rhetorical question indicates the consequences can be eternally serious asking...
William MacDonald commenting on the passage in first Corinthians adds that Paul "does not mean to imply that Christians can practice such sins and be lost, but rather he is saying that people who practice such sins are not Christians.: (Believer's Bible Commentary)
Paul goes on to explain that a healthy sexual relationship within the bond of marriage is one of the main (if not the main) defense against sexual immorality...
Solomon echoes this truth in Proverbs 5 calling on married men to...
Porneia is the more general term for all kinds of sexual sins and encompasses the more specific sin of adultery (moichea ) which describes sexual sin in at least one person who is married. Jesus used porneia to describe adultery in marriage, declaring
Porneia as used in this verse in the context of marriage always constituted adultery, which, by definition, is illicit sex by a married person.
In the ancient world sexual activity (physical unfaithfulness) was often connected with the idolatrous worship of false gods (spiritual unfaithfulness) (cf Nu 25:1, 2, 3, Rev 2:14-note, Rev 2:20-note).
The verb form of porneia is used by Paul to describe the immorality for which 23,000 (of the total of 24,000) Israelites were killed by a plague in one day ("Nor let us act immorally [porneuo], as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.1Cor 10:8; cf. Nu 25:9). Because the majority, if not all, of those slain were probably married, porneia clearly includes adultery.
Porneia is used most often with its lurid literal meaning but some NT uses (as well as uses in the Septuagint) utilize porneia in a figurative sense to picture idolatry or the forsaking of the true and living God to worship dead idols. Scripture describes God as married to His Church through Christ, so that any idolatry is unfaithfulness toward God and is often depicted as analogous to sexual unfaithfulness to one’s marriage partner! As alluded to earlier, this association between "spiritual adultery" and idolatry is not at all surprising in view of the fact that literal adultery was closely associated with the Gentiles, which by definition did not know God (they knew about Him but did not really know Him) and so lived in lustful passions (1Th 4:5-note). To repeat one of the best "defenses" against falling into sexual immorality is to know God.
In the OT God's relationship to Israel was pictured as that of a Husband to His wife (cf Isaiah 54:5). And so in Jeremiah we see Jehovah describe His punishment of the adulterous northern kingdom of Israel by allowing her to be defeated and exiled into Assyria (He gave "her a writ of divorce"). In spite of God's clear warning, the southern kingdom described as Israel's
Addressing Jerusalem, Jehovah declares to her that
SEX IS LIKE
Sex is a gift of God which is like a great river flowing through life which, kept within its banks, is a source of pleasure and power. However when a river overflows its banks it becomes destructive and disaster ensues. In an analogous way, the water contained within bounds and channeled through the great Hoover Dam is the source of tremendous electrical power. However, if cracks were allowed to develop in the dam and allow to grow, eventually the dam would burst. Sexual impurity, is similar to a river overflowing its banks or the cracks in a dam. It begins with just a few thoughts (that come from a few "innocent" images) and grows and festers and is fed more thoughts (images) until one day it suddenly breaks down. Sexual immorality is like that. No believer commits sexual immorality in a moment. It is a gradual erosion of the believer's core values, a continual ignoring of one's conscience and a repeated repression of the indwelling Spirit's urgings to refrain, to flee, etc. As godly men and women, we must recognize the deceitfulness of any sin (Heb 3:13) but especially the particularly pleasurable (passing Heb 11:25) sin of illicit sexual activity. When the tempting thoughts come, we must take them captive by grace and the power of the indwelling Spirit and hand them over to the Captain of the hosts, our Lord Jesus Christ. (see 2Cor 10:5-). We flee from anything, anyone or anywhere, that improper sensual suggestive images are portrayed (1Cor 6:18, cp Joseph in Ge 39:12)
Within marriage, sex is beautiful, fulfilling, creative and has protective effect against immorality (1Co 7:2, 5). Outside marriage, sex is ugly, destructive, and like fire. In a fireplace, fire is warm and comforting. Outside the hearth, fire is destructive and uncontrollable.
Solomon presented a similar fiery metaphor in asking the rhetorical questions...
As Billy Graham has observed "Satan fails to speak of the remorse, the futility, the loneliness, and the spiritual devastation which go hand in hand with immorality.
Jesus explained porneia declaring that "the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications (porneia), thefts, false witness, slanders. (Mt 15:18-19)
Jesus' point is that the basis of all sin is the heart which would include our thought life, the thoughts preceding the sinful outward act. Porneia begins in the heart (cp Mt 5:28-note; Job 31:9, cp what Job did "before" he saw a virgin, not after! Job 31:1; Pr 6:25-note; James 1:14-note- where lust comes from within, from our fallen flesh; 2Pe 2:14-note - eyes full of adultery because of a heart trained in greed causing them to covet something someone else has -- e.g., their wife!). When a person is defiled on the inside, what he does on the outside is also defiled. And so beloved, "Watch (command) over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Pr 4:23-note)
John records that in the last years just prior to our Lord's return indescribable sexual perversions will be running rampant. He writes that those who dwell upon the earth "did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality (porneia) nor of their thefts. (Rev 9:21-note)
Porneia is an all-encompassing sensual or sexual immorality, a perfect description of modern day America. Let's be honest. Most men (even Christian men!) have problems with this area that they would not even dare tell anyone! When you realize that you are complete in Christ and can now say "no" to this sin, from that point on you are responsible what kind of mess you get yourself into by not saying "Yes" to Jesus and "No" to immorality. Remember that "victory" is not so much me overcoming the problem but it's me having been overcome by Christ and it's now Christ in me who can overcome. You don't have to live the way you did when you were dead in your trespasses and sin. Your body is now dead to sin (the power of sin) and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Immorality is evidence of turning your back on God as (Ro 1:25-note; Ro 1:26, 27-note) teaches. God will judge illicit sexual sin (Heb 13:4-note) whether one in a believer or an unbeliever and Peter adds that but judgment begins at the household of God (1Pe 4:17-note) because believers are even more accountable in view of the fact that they have the power (Ro 6:11-note, Ro 8:13-note, Ga 5:24-note) to flee youthful lusts and to abstain from fleshly lusts (1Pet 2:11-note). As Paul explained to believers who thought that now that they were "covered" by grace and could sin with impunity since grace abounded where sin increased, he countered this deceptive teaching with horror
When we surrendered to Christ and took him as Lord and Saviour, not as our "fire insurance" policy!
The biblical view of immorality is summarized in (1Th 4:3-note) where Paul records that
Vine comments that Paul "puts at the beginning of the list the sins which set at defiance the primal laws of God which govern the continuation of the human race and are essential to its well-being, physical and moral...The first in this list is a specific sin; from this there is a transition to the moral general. (Vine, W. Collected Writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
William Barclay has an interesting historical note to put Paul's teaching in the proper cultural context writing that "Chastity was the one completely new virtue which Christianity brought into the world. In the ancient world sexual relationships before marriage and outside marriage were the normal and accepted practice. The sexual appetite was regarded as a thing to be gratified, not to be controlled. That is an attitude which is not unfamiliar today, although often it is supported by specious arguments. The Christian ethic insists on chastity, regarding the physical relationship between the sexes as something so precious that indiscriminate use of it in the end spoils it..... It is certainly true that the ancient world regarded sexual immorality so lightly that it was no sin at all. It was the expected thing that a man should have a mistress. In places like Corinth the great temples were staffed by hundreds of priestesses who were sacred prostitutes and whose earnings went to the upkeep of the Temple. In his speech Pro Caelio Cicero pleads: "If there is anyone who thinks that young men should be absolutely forbidden the love of courtesans, he is indeed extremely severe. I am not able to deny the principle that he states. But he is at variance not only with the licence of what our own age allows but also with the customs and concessions of our ancestors. When indeed was this not done? When did anyone ever find fault with it? When was such permission denied? When was it that that which is now lawful was not lawful?" The Greeks said that Solon was the first person to allow the introduction of prostitutes into Athens and then the building of brothels; and with the profits of the new trade a new Temple was built to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Nothing could show the Greek point of view better than the fact that they saw nothing wrong in building a temple to the gods with the proceeds of prostitution. When Paul set this stress on moral purity, he was erecting a standard which the ordinary heathen had never dreamed of. That is why he pleads with them so earnestly and lays down his laws of purity with such stringency. We must remember the kind of society from which these Christian converts had come and the kind of society with which they were encompassed. There is nothing in all history like the moral miracle which Christianity wrought. (Daily Study Bible Series)
Paul has another "vice" list in Galatians writing that "the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality (porneia), 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 shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (see notes Galatians 5:19; 20; 21).
John records a similar warning writing that
Neither Paul nor John is not saying that you won't go to heaven if you slip up and commit these sins from time to time. But they do indicate that if these sins are your lifestyle (and if there has never been a time in your life when you experienced a degree of freedom from them) then you will inherit not the kingdom of God but the lake of fire.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds this insight on Revelation 21:8...
Someone has written that immorality is like a cat’s paw. When lightly stroked, it is quite soft and pleasurable, but increased pressure brings out the claws of sin that will shred your very life.
Pastor Ray Stedman writes that
Miscellaneous related resources from John Piper:
If you know someone "wrestling" and being continually defeated by Internet Immorality (and they want to be set free) have them check Covenant Eyes and then agree to be their accountability partner. Under grace and with the Holy Spirit's enablement (Gal 5:15, Ro 8:13), I have heard a number of men give testimony of the efficacy of this tool. The difference between Covenant Eyes and other "porneia" blocking software is that Covenant Eyes logs every place you visit and keeps that record on a separate computer at their headquarters. Your site visits are scored as to likelihood that they have porneia and your accountability partner receives a periodic report. Men need accountability in this day of widespread, seemingly "anonymous" access to internet pornography. Remember though my beloved brethren in Christ
Thus although there may be so called this "secret sin" in one's thought life, these "hidden" sins are open scandal in the courts of heaven when carried out by believers! Moses warned that our sin would find us out (Nu 32:23). In Proverbs Solomon warned that the one who chooses to cover over and conceal their sin will not prosper, but the one who confesses and repents will find compassion from the Lord (Pr 28:13, 1Jn 1:9).
Listen to the words of Solomon, who clearly knew this truth but sadly did not practice it (at least in 1Ki 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and it cost him his kingdom)
Thomas Jefferson although by all accounts not a born again believer recognized the destructive nature of immorality and advised one to...
Lawrence Richards writes that...
William Jenkyn in describing immorality said that...
Henrietta Mears (author of the famous work Understanding the Bible) quipped that...
A poem on the dangers of immorality/fornication...
Vice is a monster of such terrible mien**
David Burnham (in Discoveries, Volume 3, Number 1) lists immorality as one of the major "Character Killers"
Our Daily Bread - The Bible is up-to-date on sexual matters. Long ago, God warned against adultery and fornication. In effect, He said, "Say no!" Now, in the 20th century with the awful threat of AIDS, many lawmakers, educators, and doctors are agreeing with the Almighty.
The Grand Rapids Press carried an article titled "Abstinence: The New Emphasis in Sex Education." It told of 16-year-old Will Heiss, a "peer educator" who challenges younger kids to say no to sexual activity--and they are listening.
Author and campus lecturer Josh McDowell reminded a college audience that the seventh commandment is a gracious provision by God, given for our protection. Josh told of a man who had several sexual relationships. The man later received Christ and met a wonderful woman whom he married. "She's precious," confided the man, "but in the intimacy of our marriage I'm haunted by the 'ghosts' of those previous affairs."
Abstinence until marriage is a sure safeguard. It protects the gift of sexual intimacy that is to be enjoyed within a lifelong relationship of commitment and trust. God hates sexual immorality because He has the highest good of men and women at heart. --D J De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, grant me strength from day to day--
God's commandments were not given to frustrate us but to fulfill us.
OR ANY IMPURITY: kai akatharsia pasa : (Eph 5:5; Exodus 18:21; 20:17; Joshua 7:21; 1Samuel 8:3; Psalms 10:3; 119:36; Proverbs 28:16; Jeremiah 6:13; 8:10; 22:17; Ezekiel 33:31; Micah 2:2; Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15; 16:14; Acts 20:33; 1Corinthians 6:10; Colossians 3:5; 1Timothy 3:3; 6:10; 2Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7,11; Hebrews 13:5; 1Peter 5:2; 2Peter 2:3,14)
Or any impurity - is more literally "and all impurity"! Paul demolishes the belief by some that God's standard for moral purity is relative. To the contrary God's immutable, eternal standard of righteousness is that of all moral purity. As the famous Christian pollster, George Barna, has pointed out, sadly even many professing Christians deny God's absolute standard, so that in one study in 1991 only 23% of (so called) “born again” or “evangelical” Christians expressed a strong belief in absolute truth. One wonders how they can even read the Holy Bible and not cringe with conviction and a sense of reproof regarding their false belief regarding God's standards. And that perhaps is the problem -- they don't read the Word of God (which reproves us - 2Ti 3:16-note, 2Ti 4:2-note)! The situation is naturally even worse in the general secular population where some polls show that 47% approve of homosexuality (83% of liberals, 23% of conservatives hold this view). Furthermore, among liberals, 89% approve of sex between an unmarried man and woman and sadly 33% of conservatives agree. Having a baby out of wedlock is acceptable to 83% of liberals and 33% of conservatives (The Washington Times [6/5/2007], p. A6).
As Steven Cole rightly reminds us that "God’s standards for moral purity are not up for popular vote! He designed the sexual relationship for a man and a woman in a lifelong committed marriage. When practiced within these boundaries, it is a good gift from God, not something dirty. He gave us His commandments for our good. When we violate His standards, it results in short term pleasure (that’s why we’re tempted to do it), but long term pain and problems. Keeping God’s commandments is often difficult in the short term, but deeply fulfilling in the long term. (Ephesians 5:3-6 Clean Up Your Act!)
Impurity (167) (akatharsia from a = without + kathairo = cleanse) literally describes any substance that is filthy or dirty and cold refer to refuse, to purulent (pus) around an open, infected wound or to the contents of graves, causing ceremonial impurity. In castigating the hypocritical Pharisees Jesus used this word declaring
Figuratively akatharsia refers to a state of moral impurity (especially sexual sin).
There are 10 uses of akatharsia in the NT (Mt. 23:27; Ro 1:24; 6:19; 2Co 12:21; Gal 5:19; Ep 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 2:3; 4:7) and about 42 in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) (Lev. 5:3; 7:20f; 15:3, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31; 16:16, 19; 18:19; 19:23; 20:21, 25; 22:3, 4, 5; Nu 19:13; 2Sa 11:4; 2Chr 29:5, 16; Ezra 6:21; 9:11; Pr 6:16; 24:9; Je 19:13; 32:34; La 1:9; Ezek 4:14; 7:20; 9:9; 22:10, 15; 24:11; 36:17, 25, 29; 39:24; Ho 2:10; Mic 2:10; Nah 3:6;
In Romans when men exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, etc,
In the NT akatharsia was also used in reference to unclean or demonic spirits. Akatharsia describes a filthiness of heart and mind that makes the person defiled. The unclean person sees dirt in everything. What a word picture one gets from the secular medical use where akatharsia described an infected, oozing wound. Akatharsia was also the general term often used of decaying matter, like the contents of a grave. As used in its moral or ethical sense, the word speaks more of an internal disposition. An immoral filthiness on the inside. Acts of ''immorality'' are on the outside. A "good" illustration is what transpires within the soul of one who looks at internet pornography. Do not be deceived! Do not be partakers with them! Do not participate in their unfruitful deeds of darkness!
In a parallel passage in Romans Paul declares to the Roman saints that
Finally, Paul uses akatharsia in his letter to the Thessalonians reminding them that
Why do we evangelicals try to put on these airs that we don't deal with these problems? The key is that you can overcome these types of things, because you've understood the truths about your high calling in Christ. The problem is so severe that many true believers complete in Jesus, made alive in Him, have walked away from Him and are not walking worthy of Him, having fallen back into the trap of the sins Paul lists in Colossians 3:5 (see note). And after a while you fall even further into the trap so that you think you can no longer even get out of the particular behavior! Remember: When Christ died and you believed, you identified with His death and these sins no longer have any power over you, unless you allow play with them.
While driving along a highway, we often see vultures soaring high overhead, swooping down, and then rising up again with the air currents. Every so often, a small group of them can be seen sitting right on the roadway, tearing apart and gobbling up the carcass of some unfortunate creature. One gets the impression that these ugly birds are on the lookout continually for what is loathsome and repulsive! Does that describe the desires of your heart? What kind of "food" do you prefer? Don't be like the vulture. Rather, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (see note 1 Peter 2:2). The new birth creates a new appetite and requires a new diet. Put off the old and put on the new garments of created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
O child of God, guard well your eyes
OR GREED MUST NOT EVEN BE NAMED AMONG YOU, AS IS PROPER AMONG SAINTS: e pleonexia mede onomazestho (3SPPM) en humin: (Eph 5:12; Exodus 23:13; Lk 12:15; 1Corinthians 5:1)
Not even (3366) (mede from me = not + dé = but, and) means what it says "not even" = an emphatic negative.
Phillips has a vivid paraphrase of greed as "the itch to get your hands on what belongs to other people." Interesting thought in light of the other words in this list like "immorality" (someone else's property!)
Expositor's Greek Testament - The strong negative mede gives it this force—‘Not to speak of doing such a thing, let it not be even so much as mentioned among you.’ “ Commenting on “as becometh saints (The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Or greed must not even be named among you - The same word pleonexia was used in the preceding chapter in Paul's description of the Old Man or Old Self who was described as practicing "every kind of impurity with greediness" (Eph 4:19 -note)
There is a parallel instruction by Paul in Romans 16 where he writes...
Greed (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 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. (See also Covetousness)
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.
John Eadie writes...
Pleonexia describes covetousness, a trait marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions (including another person's spouse!). 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 (and especially contentment in the supremacy of God and the experience of intimacy and fellowship with Him) replaces covetousness, the latter is impeded from giving rise to the process that culminates in commission of sins. This vitally important principle (which makes victorious Christian living not just a possibility but a reality) is seen in Galatians 5:16 (see notes) in which believers are first (don't reverse the order!) commanded to (continually) walk (live, conduct oneself) by the Spirit. Then when they submit and yield to the Spirit's authority and power over their lives including their thought life and their bodies, the promise of the second part of the verse supernaturally comes into effect and the believer is enabled to carry out or gratify the evil desires (which are still present and trying to usurp the Spirit's control of our mind and body) of the fallen, evil flesh nature (inherited from Adam - Ro 5:12)
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" (Mt 6:24 -note)
As noted in Colossians 3:5, Paul equates greed with idolatry writing...
Paul's point is that greed feeds one's lust or strong desires for more and more gratification (sex, money, possessions, etc). This greed is motivated by a desire for selfish pleasure apart from marriage, the absolute standard dictated by God. In turn, when one seeks pleasure in anything other than the Almighty God, they are practicing idolatry (having replaced God with the "idol" of sex). Sexual activity outside of the bounds of the marriage bed is always based on greed because the goal is to exploit the other person for one's personal advantage (or "needs") rather than to meet the other person's needs.
Wiersbe comments that...
Vincent notes that pleonexia is...
Regarding Paul's statement "not even be named" William Barclay offers this interesting comment...
Named (3687) (onomazo from onoma = name) means to name or call by name. The verb is in the present imperative commanding this to be their habitual practice (not to even pronounce the name). It is not even to be mentioned among you which of course means that it certainly is not to actually even be practiced.
Barnes explains that lit it not be named means "let it not exist; let there be no occasion for mentioning such a thing among you; let it be wholly unknown. This cannot mean that it is wrong to mention these vices for the purpose of rebuking them, or cautioning those in danger of committing them--for Paul himself in this manner mentions them here, and frequently elsewhere--but that they should not exist among them.
William MacDonald - It goes without saying that they should never have to be named as having been committed by believers. They should not even be discussed in any way that might lessen their sinful and shameful character. There is always the greatest danger in speaking lightly of them, making excuses for them, or even discussing them familiarly and continually. Paul accents his exhortation with the phrase, as is fitting for saints. Believers have been separated from the corruption that is in the world; now they should live in practical separation from dark passion, both in deed and word. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
The KJV Bible Commentary - These sins must be dreaded and detested. Christians are saints and are to live like saints. They are separated unto God, and therefore separated from sin. These sins are not to be mentioned, much less permitted. Such terms taint the imagination, soil the lips, and cultivate sensual lusts. Such conversation is unbecoming saints and incompatible with Christianity. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Jon Courson has a strong warning explaining that "According to Proverbs 6:32, he who is involved in fornication or adultery destroys his soul, his inner person. The world doesn’t understand this. The world thinks fornication is nothing more than two bodies coming together in a moment of ecstasy. But the Bible says it’s actually two souls being joined as one. Thus, a person who engages in fornication or lives in adultery will become only a shell of a person, as layer after layer of his inner person is stripped off with each different encounter. That’s the tragedy of sexual sin. The issue is not AIDS, sexually transmitted disease, or unwanted pregnancy. The issue is that of losing part of one’s soul. (Courson's Application Commentary)
Some like John Eadie take Paul more literally (although I think his primary intent was as discussed above)...
AS IS PROPER AMONG SAINTS: kathos prepei (3SPAI) hagiois: (Ro 16:2; Philippians 1:27; 1Timothy 2:10; Titus 2:3)
As is proper among saints - The appeal for separation from all sin such covetousness, etc, is based upon the character of the saints; not upon fear of the law. Is it difficult to cleanse ourselves? Sure it is because sin is pleasurable. At least for the moment. But the consequences NEVER are! And as God's people we need to keep a holy focus (Col 3:1, 2, 1Jn 3:2, 3), that we have a holy love for God and this love fired by the indwelling Spirit will motivate us to make those moment by moment choices which are proper among the saints.
Proper (4241) (prepo) has the basic meaning of being prominent or conspicuous and came to be used of a distinguishing characteristic. Thus a "distinguishing characteristic" of saints should be a lifestyle of love and absence of these vices so common and "beloved" to the Gentiles. This is the standard of that which is fitting to their position as those set apart from the profane things of the world and to the pure and holy things of God and His high and holy purpose for their lives. (Eph 2:10-note)
As do many other Scriptures, this verse shows the close connection between sexual sin and other forms of impurity and greed. An immoral person is inevitably greedy. Such sins are so godless that the world should never have reason even to suspect their presence in Christians.
Expositor's Greek Testament - "The position of sainthood or separation to God, in which the gospel places the Christian, is so far apart from the license of the world as to make it utterly incongruous even to speak of the inveterate sins of a corrupt heathenism.”
Saints (40) (hagios) (Click word study on hagios) are literally holy ones and refers to those who have been supernaturally set apart (sanctified by the Holy Spirit, 1Pe 1:2-note; 2Th 2:13, Ro 15:16-note, Acts 20:32, 26:18, 1Co 1:30, 6:11) for a special purpose, in our case set apart from the world (Gal 6:14), the flesh (Ro 6:6) and the devil (Col 1:13, Acts 26:18, Heb 2:14, 15-note) and unto God (Mt 5:16-note, Is 43:7, Php 2:15-note, Titus 2:14-note). Hagios is Paul's favorite description of believers and specifies our position in Christ (see discussion of in Christ & in Christ Jesus) as set apart from that which is secular, profane, and evil and dedicated to worship and service (note order - worship always precedes service) of God. We are now to live in this present evil age like what we are "re-created" (redeemed) to be (cp 2Co 7:1 - note), holy ones in character (character is what God knows we are; reputation is who other people think we are) and conduct, set apart by God to be exclusively His, dedicated to Him and manifesting holiness of heart and all conduct. As an aside, contrary to some religious teachings, the Holy Bible itself never uses the word hagios or saint to refer to a special class of believers who are a "notch above" the rest. We are all equal at the foot of His Cross! (cp 2Cor 3:5,6)
If you are a believer, you are sanctified or set apart as holy unto the Lord and are to live a holy life before unholy men so that they might see the holiness of the Lord in your holy lifestyle!
Hagios was used throughout the NT to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on.
The Gentiles understood this term because among the pagans, hagios signified separated and dedicated to the idolatrous gods and carried no idea of moral or spiritual purity. The manmade gods were as sinful and degraded as the men who made them and there simply was no need for a word that represented righteousness! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the religious ceremonies connected with its worship. The Greek temple at Corinth housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the "worship" of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful.
John Eadie - Were the apostle to say, Let despondency be banished, he might add, as becometh believers, or, Let enmity be suppressed, he might subjoin, as becometh brethren; but he pointedly says in this place, “as becometh saints.” “Saints” are not a higher class of Christians who possess a rare and transcendental morality—all genuine believers are “saints.” The inconsistency is marked and degrading between the purity and self-consecration of the Christian life and indulgence in or the naming of those sensual and selfish gratifications. “Let their memorial perish with them.” (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Wayne Barber comments on this verse reminding us that...
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Enslaved - The story is told that a friend of Augustine named Alypius was often urged by his neighbors to watch the gladiators in combat. He refused to do so because he abhorred the brutality of those barbaric contests. One day, however, he was forced into the amphitheater against his will. Determined not to witness the gory spectacle, Alypius kept his eyes tightly closed. But a piercing cry aroused his curiosity so much that he peeked just as one of the fighters received a fatal wound.
J. N. Norton says of the incident, “No sooner had Alypius discovered the bloody stream issuing from the victim’s side, than his finer sensibilities were blunted, and he joined in the shouts and exclamations of the noisy mob about him. From that moment he was a changed man—changed for the worse; not only attending such sports himself, but urging others to do likewise.” Even though Alypius had entered the arena against his will, his exposure to evil and eventual addiction suggests what can happen to the best of people when they get one small taste of lustful pleasures. Their appetite is whetted. They develop a liking for what they once abhorred. And without realizing it they become enslaved. (Original source unknown from 10000 Sermon Illustrations. Dallas: Biblical Studies Press)
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Wholesome Humor - Abraham Lincoln faced enormous pressures as president during the US Civil War. Without humor, it's doubtful he would have been able to bear the strain. When emotions ran high in cabinet meetings, he often told a funny story to break the tension. Laughing at himself kept him from becoming defensive. And a good story with a strong point sometimes won over an opponent.
The spontaneity of humor reflects the way God created man. It is both physically and emotionally beneficial. Laughter can keep a tense situation from ending in bitter words or hard feelings.
Although Jesus was a "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3), I believe He laughed often. Sometimes Jesus used humor to make a point. Imagine a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle! (Matthew 19:24).
But there's also a dark side to humor. Paul called it "coarse jesting" and said that it should have no place in the believer's life (Ephesians 5:4). It demeans, degrades, and defiles those who use it and those who hear it.
So what do we laugh at? What kinds of stories do we tell each other? Would Jesus laugh with us? I believe He would—if it were wholesome humor. —Dennis J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Give us a sense of humor, Lord,
Steven Cole (Clean Up Your Act!) has a poignant introduction to his message on this section of Ephesians...
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien [appearance]
Amplified: Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: don't even talk about such things; they are not fit subjects for Christians to talk about. The key-note of your conversation should not be nastiness or silliness or flippancy, but a sense of all that we owe to God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: and obscenity and foolish talking or ribaldry, which things have not been seemly or fitting, but rather giving of thanks, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: also filthiness, and foolish talking, or jesting, --the things not fit--but rather thanksgiving;
AND THERE MUST BE NO FILTHINESS AND SILLY TALK, OR COARSE JESTING: kai aischrotes kai morologia e eutrapelia: (Eph 4:29; Proverbs 12:23; 15:2; Ecclesiastes 10:13; Matthew 12:34, 35, 36, 37; Mark 7:22; Colossians 3:8; James 3:4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 2Peter 2:7,18; Jude 1:10,13)
And - The "vice list" continues!
Filthiness (151) (aischrotes from aischrós = indecent, indecorous, dishonorable, inappropriate conduct, ugly, shameful, base, disgraceful) describes impropriety or improper conduct whether in action or word or even thought and intent. It means indecorum of any kind. Aischrotes is an "ugly" sounding word which describes ugly, shameful conduct of any kind, specifically conduct which is contrary to a person who is inhabited by the Spirit of Christ and is called to follow after his Father in heaven.
Eadie writes that aischrotes "denotes indecency, obscenity, or wantonness; whatever, not merely in speech but in anything, is opposed to purity. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Attachment and conformity to God requires a conduct of which God is not ashamed and which could not bring shame to the person when it is brought to light. Are you as convicted as I am (remember thought, word or deed)?
Silly talk, coarse jesting - "unclean speech" often veiled in innuendo or double meaning. (just turn on your television in 2006 for one sexual innuendo after another. Guard your heart...and your ears!) Among the heathen it is considered an "art" to take a simple statement and make it dirty! Don't even laugh at it! Certainly don't watch most of the comics on television (even "regular" channels!) Note that filthiness, silly talk and coarse jesting are all in the context of immorality, so clearly they have some relationship to that sin. Filthiness is talking openly in mixed company about things that are filthy, things that are unclean, things that God says are immoral and impure.
Silly Talk (3473)(morologia from morológos = speaking foolishly in turn from morós = foolish + légo = to speak) is speech which betrays a person as foolish. Note that there is another Greek word that also shows the sins of the tongue - aischrología (148), foul speech. "Silly talk" means that you take something that is shameful and you make it appear acceptable by the humor that you put into it.
Eadie writes that morologia is "Not mere gossip or tattle, but speech wretched in itself and offensive to Christian decency and sobriety is condemned. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Cole writes that "fool is not someone who is mentally deficient, but rather someone who is morally deficient because he ignores God’s Word. In this context, Paul is referring to speech that disregards or makes light of God’s moral commandments. (Ibid)
Vincent writes that morologia is found "Only here in the New Testament. Talk which is both foolish and sinful. Compare corrupt communication, Ephesians 4:2 (see note). It is more than random or idle talk. “Words obtain a new earnestness when assumed into the ethical terminology of Christ’s school. Nor, in seeking to enter fully into the meaning of this one, ought we to leave out of sight the greater emphasis which the words fool, foolish, folly obtain in Scripture than elsewhere they have or can have” (Trench).
Barnes adds that morologia "means that kind of talk which is insipid, senseless, stupid, foolish; which is not fitted to instruct, edify, profit--the idle chit-chat which is so common in the world. The meaning is, that Christians should aim to have their conversation sensible, serious, sincere remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment," Mt 12:36.
Coarse Jesting (2160) (eutrapelia from eú = easily + trépo = to turn = well-turned, i.e. ready at repartee, jocose) literally means to turn easily and describes witticisms in a vulgar sense.
The idea is that the person "turns easily", making quick comebacks with clever words having for example double meaning. This includes facetiousness, course wittiness, ribaldry. It refers to the "turning" of one’s speech for the purpose of exciting wit or humor that ends in deceptive speech, so formed that the speaker easily contrives to wriggle out of its meaning or engagement (John Eadie). Since such persons can easily manipulate circumstances, they are apt to deteriorate into mischief–makers and clowns. Therefore, the noun form eutrápelos which can mean a witty person, is also used in a bad sense meaning a scoffer, one who sneers, or one who offers coarse jokes.
Eadie calls eutrapelia "dexterity of turning a discourse...then wit or humour; and lastly deceptive speech, so formed that the speaker easily contrives to wriggle out of its meaning or engagements...Chrysostom's amplified definition is..."the man called eutrapelia is the man who is versatile, of all complexions, the restless one, the fickle one, the man who is everything or anything."... (eutrapelia) denotes that ribaldry, studied artifice, and polite equivoque (double meaning), which are worse in many cases than open foulness of tongue...Pleasantry of every sort is not condemned by the apostle. He seems to refer to wit in connection with lewdness—double entendre. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Barber says that "coarse jesting means to be talking to somebody, usually of another sex in this context, and you have a hidden agenda. You are baiting the person with what you are saying. You have a double meaning. You are seeing if they are going to listen to you so you can move to the silly talk and then to the filthiness which leads you to the greed which says, "I want something. I want to feel good." (Ephesians 5:6-7: Don't Be Deceived)
Vincent comments that eutrapelia is found "Only here in the New Testament. From eu =well or easily, trepho = to turn. That which easily turns and adapts itself to the moods and conditions of those with whom it may be dealing at the moment. From this original sense of versatility it came to be applied to morals, as time-serving, and to speech with the accompanying notion of dissimulation. Aristotle calls it chastened insolence. The sense of the word here is polished and witty speech as the instrument of sin; refinement and versatility without the flavor of Christian grace. “Sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense.… Sometimes an affected simplicity, sometimes a presumptuous bluntness giveth it being.… Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language” (Barrow, Sermon XIV., “Against Foolish Talking and Jesting.” The whole passage is well worth reading). (Word Studies in the NT)
Morris has a pithy comment...
Wiersbe adds that here Paul "warned against sins of the tongue, which, of course, are really sins of the heart. It is not difficult to see the relationship between the sins named in Ephesians 5:3 and those in Ephesians 5:4. People who have base appetites usually cultivate a base kind of speech and humor, and often people who want to commit sexual sins, or have committed them, enjoy jesting about them. Two indications of a person’s character are what makes him laugh and what makes him weep. The saint of God sees nothing humorous in obscene language or jests. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
WHICH ARE NOT FITTING: a ouk aneken, (3SIAI): (Romans 1:28; Philemon 1:8)
It is notable that sexual purity/impurity is a frequent theme in Paul’s letters. He mentions purity or warns about immorality in Romans (Ro 1:25, 26, 27, 13:13, 14); 1Corinthians (1Co 5:1, 10, 11, 12, 13; 6:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10:6, 7, 8, 9); 2 Corinthians (2Co 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 7:1); Galatians (Gal 5:19, 20, 21); Ephesians (Eph 4:17, 18, 19, 5:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12); Colossians (Col 3:5); 1 Thessalonians (1Th 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8); 1 Timothy (1Ti 1:8, 9, 10, 3:2, 5; 5;6:13), 2 Timothy (2Ti 3:3); and Titus (Titus 1:15, 3:3). Since all of these letters are addressed to professing Christians in the church, God intends that you as a Christian be reminded of and be on guard against the sexual temptation that tempts us all.
Charles Hodge writes that "Clearly foolish talk and coarse joking are not the ways in which Christian cheerfulness should express itself, but rather thanksgiving. Religion is the source of joy and gladness, but its joy is expressed in a religious way, in thanksgiving and praise.
Cole - To be morally pure, you’ve got to commit yourself to God’s standard and fight to maintain it. To fight for purity, you must guard your thought life and restrict the kinds of media that you expose yourself to. You must be accountable in your use of the computer. Guys, you must make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1), so that you stop checking out every attractive girl who walks by. It is a battle and it won’t happen automatically. You must actively fight against it. Cut off your hand! Pluck out your eye if you need to (Mt 5:27, 28, 29, 30)! (Ibid)
Fitting (433) (aneko from aná = up, again + heko = to come) means that which is is fitting or right, what is proper or what is one's duty, with the implication of possible moral judgment involved. Aneko is used to describe actions that are due someone and thus which are suitable or proper. Here this verb is modified by "not" (ou) which indicates absolute negation.
Here are all the uses of aneko in the NT - Eph 5:4; Col. 3:18; Philemon 1:8. There are 2 uses in the Septuagint - Joshua 23:14; 1Sa 27:8
The three perversions of language described above are not to be part of the character of believers, for they are part of that old man which was cast aside when we were born again. Things which absolutely are not proper to saints!
Barnes has some good advice writing that "Christians should be grave and serious, though cheerful and pleasant. They should feel that they have great interests at stake, and that the world has too. They are redeemed--not to make sport; purchased with precious blood--for other purposes than to make men laugh. They are soon to be in heaven--and a man who has any impressive sense of that will habitually feel that he has muck else to do than to make men laugh. The true course of life is midway between moroseness and levity; sourness and lightness; harshness and jesting. Be benevolent, kind, cheerful, bland, courteous, but serious. Be solemn, thoughtful, deeply impressed with the presence of God and with eternal things, but pleasant, affable, and benignant. Think not a smile sinful; but think not levity and jesting harmless. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
BUT RATHER GIVING OF THANKS: alla mallon eucharistia: (Eph 5:19,20; 1:16; Psalms 33:1; 92:1; 107:21,22; Daniel 6:10; John 6:23; 2Corinthians 1:11; 2Corinthians 9:15; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:15, 16, 17; 1Thessalonians 3:9; 5:18; Hebrews 13:15)
Eadie wisely remarks that "For the apostolic idea of the duty of thanksgiving, the reader may compare Eph 5:20-note; Col 2:7-note, 4:2; 1Th 5:18-note. The Christian life is one of continuous reception, which should prompt to continuous praise. Were this the ruling emotion, an effectual check should be given to such sins of the tongue as are here condemned. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Giving thanks (2169) (eucharistia from eucháristos = thankful, grateful, well–pleasing) describes grateful language (striking contrast to the language saints are not to exhibit). Language and speech are good gifts of God. Rather than foolish use of these gifts or using our speech to injure others, Christians are admonished to use their speech as a means of communicating their gratitude to God for His gifts of life to us. We never have reason to use obscene language or jokes. Being righteous is much more important than being coarsely funny.
Eucharista 15x in the NT - Acts 24:3; 1Co. 14:16; 2 Co. 4:15; 9:11, 12; Eph. 5:4; Phil. 4:6; Col. 2:7; 4:2; 1Th 3:9; 1Ti 2:1; 4:3, 4; Rev. 4:9; 7:12
Christians should consider carefully the content of their talk. Thanksgiving credits God and is a proper topic for conversation. Instead of talking like the world, we are to give thanks to the Lord. Christians who have God’s Word in their hearts (Col 3:16-note) will always season their speech with salt (Col 4:6-note); for grace in the heart means grace on the lips.
These three inappropriate sins of the tongue include any speech that is obscene and degrading or foolish and dirty, as well as suggestive and immoral wit. All such are destructive of holy living and godly testimony and should be confessed, forsaken, and replaced by open expressions of thankfulness to God (cf. Col 3:8 -note).
Barnes - Thanks to God, or praises, are more becoming Christians than jesting. The idea here seems to be, that such employment would be far more appropriate to the character of Christians, than idle, trifling, and indelicate conversation. Instead, therefore, of meeting together for low wit and jesting; for singing songs, and for the vulgar discourse which often attends such "gatherings" of friends, Paul would have them come together for the purpose of praising God, and engaging in his service. Men are social in their nature; and if they do not assemble for good purposes, they will for bad ones. It is much more appropriate to the character of Christians to come together to sing praises to God, than to sing songs; to pray, than to jest; to converse of the things of redemption, than to tell anecdotes; and to devote the time to a contemplation of the world to come, than to trifles and nonsense. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Trench puts in perspective what the believer's speech is now to be like "Words obtain a new earnestness when assumed into the ethical terminology of Christ’s school. Nor, in seeking to enter fully into the meaning of this one, ought we to leave out of sight the greater emphasis which the words fool, foolish, folly obtain in Scripture than elsewhere they have or can have (Synonyms of the New Testament)