Amplified: For be sure of this: that no person practicing sexual vice or impurity in thought or in life, or one who is covetous [who has lustful desire for the property of others and is greedy for gain]—for he [in effect] is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
ESV: For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
NET: For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
NLT: You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For of this much you can be certain: that neither the immoral nor the dirty-minded nor the covetous man (which latter is, in effect, worshipping a false god) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for this you know absolutely and experientially, that every whoremonger or unclean person or covetous person, who is an idolator, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for this ye know, that every whoremonger, or unclean, or covetous person, who is an idolater, hath no inheritance in the reign of the Christ and God.
FOR THIS YOU KNOW WITH CERTAINTY: touto gar iste (2PRAM) ginoskontes (PAPMPN): (1Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19,21)
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.
For (gar) introduces an explanation (see discussion of the great value of disciplining yourself to paus and ponder terms of explanation). As Eadie puts it gar "states a reason, and an awful and solemn one it is."
This (3778) (touto) makes reference to an entity regarded as a part of the discourse setting, in this case the vices just mentioned.
You know with certainty - is actually two verbs, the first (eido) means absolute, positive, beyond a peradventure of a doubt, knowledge and the second (ginosko) referring to experiential knowledge. What Paul is doing is reminding these Gentiles believers that they are absolutely convinced of the truth of the solemn conclusion he is about to state, a statement that speaks of one's eternal destiny as it relates to one's behavior. He is not trying to show that one's bad behavior causes them to be lost forever but that a lifestyle of unrighteous, unholy behavior is a reflection that one was never created as a new man in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Paul wants to make sure using this unusual Greek construction of two verbs both of which speak of knowing, that his readers are absolutely sure of what he is about to write! And dear reader, you too need to be absolutely sure! Do not be deceived. If there has never been a significant behavioral change in your life (a desire for holiness, for the things of God, for His Word -- NOT perfection, but at least a change in the general direction of your life and lifestyle), then there is reason to seriously consider whether you have truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, whether you have truly been born again, whether you are indeed a new creation in Christ (cp 2Cor 5:17-note, 2Cor 13:5-note).
Wuest attempts to bring out Paul's use of two verbs...
Know (1097) (ginosko from gnosis = knowledge) conveys the basic meaning of taking in knowledge in regard to something or someone, knowledge that goes beyond the merely factual. The present tense conveys the sense of continually knowing.
Know (1492) (eido) means knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt. The perfect tense indicates that this is to be the abiding state of their knowledge. The mood of this verb is in the form of an imperative or command which is very difficult to translate into English. In sum, this verb in the perfect imperative means the truth Paul is getting ready to explain is something his readers need to be permanently absolutely, irrevocably certain about. They have come out the lifestyle he is going to describe and he does not want them to forget where that lifestyle is headed in regard to one's eternal destiny!
The Amplified Version probably conveys the sense of the imperative mood better than the NAS...
Here is my paraphrase in an attempt to translate both verbs that relate to knowing...
This truth was not to slip from their minds! They knew what Paul explains in the next section from their own direct personal experience. As Paul reminded them earlier in this letter, they had all
How were they to know with certainty that these things were wrong? Because in every man's fallen state in Adam (whether they had access to the Law or not) there is a moral compass, a God given conscience by which God has made Himself evident within them (Ro 1:19-note) and which causes all men to know that the practice of evil things is deserving of death (Ro 1:32-note, cp Ro 2:14,15-note). As believers who had been taught by Paul when he pastored the church in Ephesus, they undoubtedly also knew the truth that
Barnes adds that Paul is saying...
THAT NO IMMORAL OR IMPURE PERSON: hoti pas pornos e akathartos: (Eph 5:3; Hebrews 13:4)
That - Be alert and interrogate this strategic word when it is used as a term of purpose or result (e.g., so that, in order that, that, as a result)
No immoral - This is more literally "all immoral." Literally this reads "for this ye know, that every whoremonger, or unclean, or covetous person, who is an idolater, hath no inheritance in the reign of the Christ and God." (Young's) -- Notice that the literal Greek places the "no" before inheritance, whereas the NAS has placed it before "immoral". And by the way, the no is not the Greek negative "me" but is "ou" which speaks of absolutely negation - "absolutely NO inheritance." Beloved, this is Paul's euphemistic way (if you will) of saying these individuals are going to spend their eternity in geenna, the Lake of fire! Very likely you like me are taken aback by this statement. Why? Because we live in a 21st century world literally flooded with "porn," even in routine television advertisements, so frankly, as a believer, it is very easy to "slip up" every now and then. This is not to give any believer an excuse, for sin is still sin and that one sin that one slip up would be sufficient to warrant us spending eternity in hell. That is where the once for all, fully sufficient sacrifice of Jesus for all sins, past, present and future is good news of the Gospel. Now when we "slip up" (sin), we must be quick to confess and repent. What Paul is speaking of is those individuals who may have "professed" to believe in Christ, but they have never truly been regenerated and made new creatures in Christ. They are still "old creatures" in Adam, with a shellacking or veneer or charade of "Christ." They are deceived by their sin (Heb 3:12-13-note), and duped into believing they have a "holy" "fire insurance policy!" They are among the those to whom Jesus gave one of His most frightening warnings in Mt 7:21-23-note! So this begs the question, dear reader, if you took stock of your life, of where your eyes have gone this past week, month or year, would you describe you life as one which is generally "upward," generally pursuing God, Jesus, life in the Spirit, the Gospel, even in the midst of occasional "steps backward." If that is you, then dear reader, you are in the Kingdom and will not be "excommunicated" because you are firmly and forever in Christ, and He (alone) is your righteousness before the Father, now and throughout eternity. Yes, you may struggle with sin. Every believer does, to one degree or another, of one type of sin or another. (see Gal 5:17-note)
Immoral (4205) (pornos from pernáo = sell in turn from peráō = to pass thru, as a merchant would do, passing thru and then coming to mean to sell) (see also study of related word porneia) means a fornicator, one who is sexually immoral or who commits sexual immorality. Pornos originally meant a "male prostitute" but came to be used in the universal meaning of "fornicator" or one who engages in sexual immorality, whether a man or a woman. A pornos in secular Greece was a person who prostituted themselves for gain.
The KJV translates pornos as “whoremonger”, which describes one who consorts with whores (a lecher). One can carry on the life of a "whoremonger" in "private" on the internet's plethora of sleazy porn sites, in filthy magazines at the newsstand (or even at the checkout stand at the grocery store!), or at the movies (unfortunately even PG Rated can be contaminated with pornos). In our local cable listings in Austin, Texas (Summer, 2008) there are some 5-10 channels devoted solely to pornography (I don't subscribe to any of them by the way). America is in very serious trouble beloved. Let us pray for revival (2Chr 7:13,14, 6:37, 38, 39)
Here are the 10 uses of pornos in the NT - 1Cor 5:9, 10, 11; 6:9; Eph. 5:5-note; 1Ti 1:10; describing Esau = Heb 12:16-note; describing those who defile the marriage bed = Heb 13:4-note; describing those who will not be in heaven = Rev 21:8-note; Re 22:15-note. The NAS translates pornos as fornicators(2), immoral(2), immoral men(1), immoral people(2), immoral person(1), immoral persons(2). The KJV as noted translates pornos with the word whoremonger (5 times). Pornos is not found in the non-apocryphal Septuagint.
NIDNTT has this note on the classical Greek uses of this word group...
Vine in commenting on the use of pornos in the description of Esau in Hebrews 12:16 says that...
Wuest says pornos is "a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Jon Courson makes a strong statement declaring that "Paul says your heart tells you and your spirit confirms that if you are a whoremonger—if you are delighted by and caught up in pornography—you are not part of the kingdom. You can come to church every time we meet; you can show up every time the doors are open. But if you are involved in this stuff—if this is your idol, if this is what you’re living for—you’re not saved. (Courson, J. Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) (Bolding added)
Impure (169) (akathartos from a = without + kathaíro = cleanse from katharos = clean, pure, free from the adhesion of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts, in an ethical sense, free from corrupt desire, sin, and guilt) (See study of related word akatharsia) in a moral sense refers to that which is unclean in thought, word, and deed. It can describe a state of moral impurity, especially sexual sin and the word foul is an excellent rendering. The idea is that which morally indecent or filthy. It is not surprising that as noted below this word is repeatedly applied to filthy demonic spirits in the Gospels.
The related term akatharsia refers to filth or refuse! Akatharsia figuratively describes a filthiness of heart and mind (so it is internal) 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 akatharsia 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. Immoral filthiness is on the inside whereas the lawless acts of ''immorality'' are on the outside.
William Barclay writes that the related word akatharsia means...
The root word group (katharos, katharizo, kathairo, katharotes) from which this adjective is derived describes physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration. The word group originally meant clean in a physical sense as opposed to rhuparos which meant dirty (e.g. pure, clean water, Eur. Hippolytus 209), then clean, in the sense of free, without things which come between, as opposed to pleres or mestos, full and then ritually clean, as opposed to akathartos, unclean and in a religious sense, morally pure.
NIDNTT - The negative terms formed by the addition of alpha-privative, i.e the adj. akathartos and the noun akatharsia, refer to the whole realm of uncleanness, ranging from menstruation to moral pollution through wrongdoing (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan).
TDNT writes that in secular Greek "At its primitive stage Greek religion follows the customary pattern. At the historical stage, however, the gods are seen as friendly forces, though they must be approached with cultic purity. Rules are thus devised to ward off what is demonic and to protect the holy nature of the gods. These rules are primarily cultic but in personal religion, and especially in philosophy, a sublimation takes place which affects the cultic sphere too. Moral purity as well as ritual purity is demanded in the approach to deity. The Old Testament reflects the same general development. Uncleanness, which may be contracted in contact with birth or death (Lev 12:2, 4, 5,etc, Nu 19:11) is a positive defiling force. So is anything linked to a foreign cult. Animals formerly devoted to deities are disqualified. Hygiene, of course, plays a role (Lev 11:29, 30). Stress also falls, however, on the holiness of God, so that the concept of purity develops with special force. Purifications by washing, sacrifice, or transfer restore forfeited purity and open up access to God. As God's holiness has moral content, ritual purity symbolizes moral purity. The prophets emphasize this aspect even to the point of castigating purely ritual conceptions, though not of totally rejecting them. Some groups in later Judaism tend to the opposite extreme, but Hellenistic Judaism (cf. Philo) strongly spiritualizes the older cultic concept. The cultic rules of cleansing are upheld, but their significance is primarily symbolical; moral purity is what God requires. [F. HAUCK, III, 413-17] (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
In Scripture, akathartos pertains to that which may not come into contact with that which is holy and set apart. (Acts 10:14, 28, 11:8 - these passages refer to acting in accordance with the Levitical laws - see all the uses below in Leviticus) In the Septuagint akathartos refers almost universally to ceremonial uncleanness or to whatever (or whomever) is ritually defiled .
In 2Cor 6:17 Paul says to "touch no unclean thing" and in context refers primarily to those things that relate in some way to idolatry which defiles everything it touches and was a common practice among the pagans in Corinth and was part of the "baggage" that many if not most of the believers brought with them into the church body.
In Rev 17:4 akathartos is associated with sexual immorality or fornication.
As noted below, all of the uses of akathartos in the Gospels refer to unclean spirits or demons. In Acts 5:16 Luke describes "those afflicted with unclean spirits" who were healed (see Acts 8:7).
There are 32 uses of akathartos in the NT - Mt. 10:1; 12:43; Mk. 1:23, 26, 27; Mk 3:11, 30; 5:2, 8, 13; 6:7; 7:25; 9:25 (All uses in Gospels = unclean spirits = demons); Lk. 4:33, 36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 10:14, 28; 11:8; 1 Co. 7:14; 2 Co. 6:17; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 16:13; 17:4; 18:2. The NAS translates akathartos as impure person(1), unclean(29), unclean things(1). The KJV translates it as unclean 28, foul 2.
There are 122 uses of akathartos in the Septuagint (LXX)- Lev. 5:2; 7:19, 21; 10:10; 11:4, 5, 6, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 38, 39, 40, 43, 47; 12:2, 4, 5; 13:11, 15, 36, 45, 46, 51, 55; 14:19, 36, 40f, 44, 45, 57; 15:2, 4, 5, 6, 16, 17, 18; 17:15; 20:25; 22:5, 6; 27:11, 27; Nu 5:2; 9:6, 7, 10; 18:15; 19:7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21; Deut 12:15, 22; 14:7, 8, 10, 19; 15:22; 26:14; Jdg. 13:4, 7, 14; 2Chr 23:19; Job 15:16; Pr 3:32; 16:5; 17:15; 20:10; 21:15; Eccl 9:2; Isa 6:5; 35:8; 52:1, 11; 64:6; Lam 4:15; Ezek 4:13; 22:5, 26; 24:14; 44:23; Ho 8:13; 9:3; Amos 7:17; Zech 13:2
One thing that Paul is teaching in this section of Ephesians is that
OR COVETOUS MAN, WHO IS AN IDOLATER: e pleonektes, o estin (3SPAI) eidololatres: (Galatians 5:21; Col 3:5; 1Ti 6:10,17; Re 21:8; 22:15)
Covetous (4123) (pleonektes from pleonekteo = to be covetous in turn from pleíon = more + écho = have) describes one who is "grasping", one who wants more, one who is always eager for more and especially for what belongs to someone else. Greedy for gain. One who desires to have more than is due.
There are only 4 uses in the NT -
As he does in Colossians Paul associates greed with idolatry - Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (pleonexia), which amounts to idolatry. (Col 3:5 - note)
The Greeks defined pleonektes as “the spirit which is always reaching after more and grabbing that to which it has no right.” It is aggressive getting. It is not the miser’s spirit, for it aimed to get in order to spend, so that it could live in more luxury and greater pleasure and it cared not over whom it took advantage so long as it could get.
Morris writes that here is...
This verse says essentially the same thing Paul wrote to the Colossians
Who is an idolater? Do not think one has to bow to a piece of wood or a carved stone to be an idolater? As Eadie writes...
Idolater (1496)(eidololatres from eidolon = idol, image, a phantom or likeness [from eidos = form, appearance, literally that which is seen from eido = to see] + látris = servant, worshiper) (see study of eidololatreia) (See multiple Bile dictionary articles on idolatry) is literally an image worshipper or one who serves idols or images representative of false gods.
Idolatry is the worship of something created which is in direct opposition to the worship of the Creator Himself. Ultimately it is placing anything in the place of God, Who alone deserves the right to be number one in our focus. Originally, a physical idol helped visualize the god it represented but later people worshipped the physical object itself (Ro 1:19; 20; 21; 22; 23 see notes Ro 1:19; 20; 21; 22; 23).
Eerdman's explains idolatry - In the Old Testament, the worship of gods other than Yahweh, especially through images representing them. The New Testament extends the concept to include any ultimate confidence in something other than God, e.g., covetousness, surrender to appetites (see Eph 5:5-note; Php 3:19-note; Col 3:5-note; cf. "two masters " - Mt 6:24 -note; 1Sa 15:23). (Myers, A. C.. The Eerdmans Bible dictionary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans) (')
Morris has an interesting note on the meaning of idols writing that they "are either physical images or mental constructs with which men try to explain and control the forces and systems of nature without acknowledging the one true God as Creator and Sustainer of all things. Paganism, with its pantheism and polytheism, worshipping the various forces and systems of nature personified as Mother Earth with all her other personifications as various gods and goddesses, was rife in John's day and, through various forms of evolutionism, has always been arrayed in opposition to the true God of creation and redemption. This is more true today than ever before, and it is absolutely vital that true Christians should refrain from all forms of idolatry, whether rationalistic humanism, economic materialism, or New Age pantheism--all of which are founded on an evolutionary world view. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Unger adds that...
We need to be ever vigilant against the flesh's attraction to idols even in the area of "religion" as sadly illustrated by the trap Israel fell into with the bronze serpent episode...
Vine explains that...
As Paul explains in Colossians (see below), greed or covetousness is synonymous with idolatry because it places selfish desire above obedience to God. Note that covetousness is the root cause of all sin, because when people sin, it is basically people doing what they desire, rather than what God desires. This in turn amounts to worship of self rather than worship of God, and this is the very essence of idolatry! The great Puritan writer Stephen Charnock spared no words in describing it this way...
There are 7 uses of eidololatres in the NT (and surprisingly none in the Septuagint)--
Vincent reiterates that the
HAS AN INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND GOD: ouk echei (3SPAI) kleronomian en te basileia tou Christou kai theou:
Literally this reads "hath no inheritance in the reign of the Christ and God" (Young's) - The NAS places the no before "immoral."
Eadie comments that this man (previously described)...
Has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God - Clearly Paul is warning that those who have a lifestyle characterized by the sins just listed are lost, still dead in their sins (Eph 2:1) and on the way to the Lake of fire (Rev 20:10, 14, 15, Mt 25:41, 46) and eternal separation from God (2Th 1:9, cp Mt 22:13, Jude 1:13). The kingdom in simple terms is where Christ and God rule as King. Those lives as Paul describes have no part in the present invisible Kingdom (Lk 17:20, 21, 10:9, 10, 11, Mt 12:28, Ro 14:17) nor in the future earthly kingdom of Christ (Rev 20:4, 5, 6, Mt 25:31,34). Note carefully that Paul is not referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ (bema - 2Co 5:10, Ro 14:10) and loss of rewards (1Co 3:12, 13, 14, 15). The subject is salvation not rewards. They are professors of Christ but lack the power of Christ which would validate them as possessors of Christ. Their lifestyle of sinful conduct discloses their true character as those still in Adam and not those who are by grace through faith now in Christ. Paul is not saying of course that they cannot be saved but that the implication is clear that if the salvation is genuine they will repent of these heinous sins as a lifestyle.
J Vernon McGee minces no words declaring that...
Inheritance (2917) (kleronomia from kleros = lot + némo = hold, have in one’s power, distribute) (see study of related Kleronomos) is originally a portion which one receives by lot in a general distribution. In the NT the idea of chance attaching to the lot is eliminated. It is the portion or heritage which one receives by virtue of birth or by special gift from someone who has died (Lk 12:13). In a figurative sense, kleronomia refers to God's promised gifts as our inheritance (which is the use in Eph 5:5). (See dictionary discussion of Inheritance)
Thayer summarizes kleronomia as (1) an inheritance, property received (or to be received) by inheritance, or (2) what is given to one as a possession.
NIDNTT says that in classical Greek...
Here are the 14 uses of kleronomia in the NT - Mt 21:38; Mk 12:7; Lk 12:13; 20:14; Acts 7:5; 20:32; Gal 3:18; Eph 1:14, 18; 5:5; Col 3:24; Heb 9:15; 11:8; 1Pe 1:4.
Kleronomia is us 150 times in the Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 31:14; Ex 15:17; Nu 18:20, 23; 24:18; 26:54, 56; 27:7, 8, 9; 32:18; 34:2; 35:8; 36:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 12; Deut 2:12; 3:20; 12:9; 19:14; 32:9; 33:4; Jos 1:15; 11:23; 12:6; 13:1, 7, 14, 23, 28; 15:20; 16:5, 8, 9; 17:4; 18:7, 20, 28; 19:1, 8, 9, 10, 16, 23, 31, 39, 47; Jdg. 2:6, 9; 18:1; 20:6; 21:17, 23, 24; Ru 4:5, 6, 10; 1Sa 10:1; 26:19; 2Sa 14:16; 20:1, 19; 21:3; 1Ki 8:12, 36, 51; 12:16, 24; 21:3, 6; 2Ki 21:14; 1Chr 16:18; 21:12; 2Chr 6:27; 10:16; 20:11; 31:1; Esther 4:17; 10:3; Job 31:2; 42:15; Ps 2:8; 16:5f; 28:9; 33:12; 37:18; 47:4; 61:5; 68:9; 74:2; 78:62, 71; 79:1; 94:5, 14; 105:11; 106:5, 40; 111:6; 127:3; 135:12; 136:21, 22; Is 17:14; 19:25; 47:6; 49:8; 54:17; 58:14; 63:17; Je 2:7; 3:19; 10:16; 12:7, 8, 9, 14, 15; 16:18; 50:11; 51:19; La 5:2; Ezek 11:15; 25:4, 10; 44:28; 45:1; 46:16, 17, 18; 47:14, 22, 23; 48:28; Joel 2:17; 3:2; Mic 1:14, 15; 2:2; 7:14, 18; Zech 4:7; Mal. 1:3
Nave's Topic on Inheritance has the following Scriptural cross references
The Kingdom of Heaven or Christ and God is the sphere in which God is acknowledged as King (In hearts giving Him obedience). In this sense the Kingdom has a spiritual aspect, a present physical aspect, and a future eternal aspect (beginning with the millennium, cf Mt 25:31,34), all of course depending on the context of the passage in which basileia is found. Paul is careful to remind us that the Kingdom of Heaven/God is not in observance of ordinances, external and material, but in the deeper matters of the heart, which are spiritual and essential (Ro 14:17-note)
Paul addressed the same issue in the Corinthian church writing...
And again Paul gave a similar warning to the Galatians writing...
Wayne Barber writes that...
S Lewis Johnson explains that Paul is not talking about a single act but a lifestyle...
D Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the concept of the kingdom of Christ and God (the third "component" below corresponds to the meaning in Ephesians 5:5) noting that...
Christ (5547) (Christos from chrio = to anoint, rub with oil, consecrate to an office) is the Anointed One, the Messiah, Christos being the Greek equivalent of the transliterated Hebrew word Messiah.
The Disciple's Study Bible has a sobering note on this verse...
Wayne Barber comments on those who do not have an entrance into the kingdom of heaven noting first that the...
F B Meyer has the following devotional thoughts on our inheritance...
Amplified: Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments [for these sins], for through these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of rebellion and disobedience. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Don't let anyone fool you on this point, however plausible his argument. It is these very things which bring down the wrath of God upon the disobedient. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Let no one keep on deceiving you by means of empty words, for because of these things there comes the wrath of God upon the sons of the disobedience. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Let no one deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the sons of the disobedience,
LET NO ONE DECEIVE YOU WITH EMPTY WORDS: Medeis humas apatato (3SPAM) kenois logois: (Jeremiah 29:8,9,31; Ezekiel 13:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Micah 3:5; Matthew 24:4,24; Mark 13:5,22; Galatians 6:7,8; Colossians 2:4,8,18; 2Thessalonians 2:3,10, 11, 12; 1John 4:1) (2Kings 18:20; Jeremiah 23:14, 15, 16)
The sense of this negative command is nicely conveyed in the Amplified Version which is rendered...
Let no one deceive you - As discussed below, the idea is stop letting this happen! The implication is that it was occurring in the congregation. Wuest paraphrases it this way "Let no one keep on deceiving you."
As Eadie writes...
No one (3367) (medeis from medé = and not, also not + heís = one ) means not even one, no one = no one whoever he may be. This one might come with words such as “Well, I don’t really think it’s quite as serious as that.”
Illustrations of the danger of letting someone deceive you -
Steven Cole writes that...
Pulpit Commentary adds
No man, whether pagan or nominal Christian (Nominal = existing in name only; as, a nominal distinction or difference is a difference in name and not in reality): the pagan defending a life of pleasure as the only thing to be had with even a smack of good in it; the Christian mitigating pleasant sins, saying that the young must have an outlet for their warm feelings, that men in business must put all their soul into it, and that life must be brightened by a little mirth and jollity. As opposed to what the apostle has laid down (Eph 5:5), such words are empty, destitute of all solidity or truth. (Ephesians 5 Exposition)
MacArthur writes that...
Deceive (538) (apatao from apate = deceit, that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence) (Click in depth study of the root word apate) means to lead astray, mislead, cheat, delude, beguile, seduce into error. Apatao means to cause someone to have misleading or erroneous views concerning the truth. The chief sense in the NT is that of ethical enticement (or probably more accurately enticement to unethical thought, words, and deeds), specifically of enticing to sin.
There are only 3 uses of apatao in the NT - Eph. 5:6; 1Ti 2:14; James 1:26
It is helpful to see the English definitions of the words by which one could translate apatao...
The present imperative with a negative commands them to stop an action already in progress or forbidding of a continuation of being deceived. Wuest translates it this way "let no one keep on deceiving you". Stop letting them seduce you and lead you astray into error using big religious words that "contain" nothing of truth or reality (Contrast God's Word Dt 32:47 which is not an idle Word but in fact is your life, cp 2Ti 1:13, 4:2, 3, 4, 5) and especially in regard to arguments they use to justify continuing in a sinful, immoral lifestyle all the while being deceived into thinking they are saved! (cp Jude 1:4) This is the same old deceptive, empty lie "Hath God really said?" (Ge 3:1). Yes He has and the context makes it abundantly clear that those who practice the things just mentioned as their lifestyle are destined for eternal separation from the Kingdom and Christ and God! (Gal 5:20, 21, 1Cor 6:9, Mt 7:21, 22, 23, 26, 27 1Jn 3:4, 8) Do not be deceived, even if the one who says it has been to seminary or has a Thd after his name. It is still the age old lie that God is not serious about His commands and warnings.
The verb Apatao is used 28 times in the Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 3:13; Ex 22:16; Jdg. 14:15; 16:5; 2Sa 3:25; 1Ki. 22:20-21; 2Ki 18:32; 2Chr 18:2, 19, 20; 32:11, 15; Job 31:27; 36:16; Ps. 77:2; 78:36; Pr. 24:15; Is 36:14, 18; 37:10; Jer 4:10; 20:7, 10; 38:22; 49:8. Here is a representative use...
As noted, apatao is used only 3 times in the NT, the other two uses being...
Let's summarize the 3 NT uses of apatao which describe three instances where we can be deceived...
Wayne Barber explains the "pathogenesis" of being deceived writing that
John Piper asks...
Empty words - False excuses for sins. Words without content. "Hollow" words, words that have no inner substance or kernel of truth or reality (as God and the Bible define Truth and reality). These are "words which contain no truth, and are therefore both false and fallacious, as those will find who trust to them." (Charles Hodge) These are hollow sophistries and apologies and in this context refer especially words regarding sin. In other words these "empty words" may sound quite plausible, but they are devoid of truth and, as Marvin Vincent puts it, are "employed to palliate heathen vices”. Stop being deceived by them! If you are watching television, reading the magazines on the grocery store racks, going to the movies, listening to the top 50 on the radio, then you can be assured you are getting at least a "dose" of "empty words," for the things of God are becoming
John Gill explains these empty words suggested...
that these were not sinful (as) the apostle had condemned or that they were small sins, the frailties of human life; and that God would take no notice of them, and they might continue in them with impunity: such deceivers there were, doctrinal and practical ones, who lay in wait to deceive men with such vain pretences; and there was danger of being carried away with their error; for the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9), and is easily taken in such snares: wherefore the apostle cautions against such deceptions.
Matthew Poole (1685) comments on empty words are...
false and deceitful, which cannot secure to you the impunity they promise you, bearing you in hand, either that those things are not sins, or not so dangerous.
John Trapp comments on empty words are those spoken by deceivers...
So as to make you think there is no such danger in fornication, covetousness, etc. There wanted not such proctors (one who is employed to manage the affairs of another) for hell in the primitive times, as may be gathered out of 2Peter 2:1-3; Jdg 1:6-11. Against these he here cautions.
Jamieson comments on empty words...
(that it is natural to indulge in love), "covetousness" (that it is useful to society that men should pursue gain), and "jesting" (that it is witty and clever, and that God will not so severely punish for such things).
The prophet Isaiah's commentary on "empty words" would be something like...
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
Charles Hodge writes that...
It is not only among the heathen, but among the mass of men in all ages and nations, a common thing to extenuate the particular sins to which the apostle here refers. It is urged that they have their origin in the very constitution of our nature; that they are not malignant; that they may coexist with amiable tempers; and that they are not hurtful to others, that no one is the worse for them if no one knows them, etc. Paul, therefore, cautions his readers in every age of the church, not to be deceived by such vain words; assuring them that for these things (for fornication and covetousness), the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
A caution and a commination (threat or threatening)
I. A caution against error.
1. That we may not deceive ourselves. Frequent warnings are given against this self-flattery (1Co 6:9; 1Jn 3:7; 1Co 15:33; Gal 6:7). Men do what they can to live securely and undisturbedly in their sins, and to guard their hearts against the apprehension of all danger and punishment.
2. That we may not be deceived by others. There were false teachers in those early days, that countenanced profane and licentious Christians; some that taught fornication was an indifferent thing, or at least no such great matter, or not so dangerous.
II. A denunciation of God’s wrath
1. The evil denounced, “The wrath of God comes”; meaning by “wrath,” punishment from God, who is angry and displeased with these sins.
2. The meritorious procuring cause, “For these things,” fornication, uncleanness, and such like gross sins. God is not severe upon ordinary failings and frailties, but these sins are of another nature.
3. The persons upon whom this vengeance comes; it shall light upon “the children of disobedience.”
I. What are the vain words or pretences by which they usually harden their hearts?
1. That God will not call them to an account, or punish them for their sins. If you think He will not, it is because He hath no right, or no power, or no will to do it. You cannot say no right, because man is His creature, and therefore His subject. You cannot say no power, for our life is in His hands.
2. That God will be merciful to them; though they sin against Him, they shall notwithstanding escape well enough; that He will not be severe against His creatures. But you reflect but upon one part of God’s nature, His mercy, without His holiness and justice, and so fancy an unreasonable indulgence in God.
3. That they are Christians, and by external profession have received the faith of Christ. But the name will not save you without the power (2Ti 2:19).
4. That none is perfect, and the rarest saints have fallen into as great faults, and so are persuaded that these gross sins are but frailties and human infirmities. If David fell, why may not I? was an old excuse in Salvian’s time. Did not they smart grievously for these sins? and was not their repentance as remarkable as their fall?
5. Others say they are justified, and depend on the righteousness of Christ. You may, if you have a right to it; but “He that doeth righteousness is righteous” (1Jn 3:7). Where Christ is made righteousness, He is also made sanctification (1Co 1:30).
6. That if they be in an unjustified state for the present, they hope they shall repent at last, and then they will leave off their sins, and cry to God for mercy. But you live in fiat disobedience to God for the present, whereas the Holy Ghost saith, “Today,” etc. (Heb 3:7).
7. That they do make amends for a course of sin in one kind by abounding in other duties. But God will be obeyed in all things. These are some of the sorry fig leaves by which men hope to cover their nakedness, those sandy foundations upon which they build their hopes.
II. The reasons how it cometh to pass that such gross self-flattery can possess their minds. Though it be as plain as noonday that they that live in gross sins shall be damned, yet the most profane have good thoughts of their condition.
1. The causes lie in themselves; as--
(1) Self-love, which is very partial, and loath to think of the evil of our condition (Pr 16:2).
(2) Unbelief el God’s Word and Divine promises and threatenings. Unbelief and obstinate impenitency always go together.
(3) Non-attendance to God’s warnings, if they are not guilty of express unbelief (Mat 22:5).
(4) Non-application: “Lo! this, we have searched it; hear it, and know it for thy good” (Job 5:27), “What nor consider, nor apply, no wonder if self-love carrieth it; and in the greatest soul dangers they flatter themselves into a fool’s paradise, that they shall do well enough though they live in their sins.
2. The devil joined with our self-love, and lulls us asleep in our carnal security and abuse of grace (Gen 3:4-5).
3. He stirs up instruments, that, with the charms of false doctrine, he may hinder the sight of sin and fears of judgment, and strengthen the hands of the wicked (Jer 23:17).
Let no man deceive you.
1. It is sure you are not justified while you are yet in your sins.
2. How much God is concerned to right Himself, the honour of His providence, and the truth of His Word, against such as flatter themselves in their sins (Dt 29:19-20). It should doter us from wilful and heinous sins to think of the wrath of God that shall come upon those that live in them. First: It is a powerful motive; for God’s wrath is very terrible.
1. The intension of this wrath. It is compared to a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29). It is a fire that burns, not only to the ground or the surface of the earth, but to the lowest hell (Dt 32:22).
2. As to extension; the wrath of God comprises all those evils which are the fruit of sin, be they bodily or spiritual, in life or death, or after death.
Secondly: It is a kindly motive. That is a question whether it be so or no; therefore let us state the matter.
1. We are principally to avoid sin as sin, and as displeasing to God (Gen 39:9).
2. We must abstain from it, as it will bring down wrath and judgment upon us. So God urges this argument (Ezek 18:30).
3. The poena damni, to fear the punishment of loss, is out of question. A man cannot love God and not fear the loss of His favour.
4. The poena sensus, the punishment of sense, is necessary also to quicken men to their duty, and to guard their love, and to show that God does not make little reckoning of sin (2Co 5:11).
5. The effect which it must produce is not such a fear as drives us from God, but brings us to Him; not torment, and perplexity, and despairing anguish (1Jn 4:18), but flight and caution.
6. Punishments on others are for our warning. When God’s judgments are upon others for sin, His hand is to be observed with great reverence; as David (Ps 119:119-120). To teach us in what rank to place principles of obedience.
There are several principles by which men are acted and influenced.
1. Some are false and rotten;
As custom: “As I have done these so many years” (Zec 7:3).
Vainglory (Exclusive vanity excited by one's own performances): “To be seen of men” (Mt 6:1).
Rapine (seizing & carrying away by force): “To devour widows’ houses” (Mt 23:14).
Envy (Php 1:15-16).
2. Some are more tolerable; as the hope of temporal mercies (Hos 7:14).
3. Some are very good and sound; as when duties are done out of obedience to God, upon the urgings of an enlightened conscience, without the bent of a renewed heart; for a regenerate man obeyeth, not only as enjoined, but inclined. The principle is sound in the other, but the heart is not fitted.
4. Some are rare and excellent; as when we love God, not only for His benignity, but holiness, and eye our reward for His sake, and love the glory of God above our own happiness, and can subordinate the happy part of our eternal estate to His glory (Ro 9:3). That their condition is of all most miserable who are not only sinners, but stubborn and obstinate in their sin.
The wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
1. Who are the disobedient? It may be said of two sorts--First of all, men in their natural condition with respect to the law: “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom 8:7). And, secondly, of those that refuse the gospel: “In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel” (2Th 1:8). “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” (1Pe 4:17), viz., those that will not submit themselves to God, or be persuaded to forsake their sins. Now, as to the disobedient sinners.
1. They are slaves to sin (Titus 3:3).
2. They are of the devil’s party (Eph 2:2).
3. They are rebels to God (Job 24:13).
(Thomas Manton, D. D. - The Biblical Illustrator)
Expositor's Greek Testament comments that empty words is a general expression...
The wages of a lifestyle of sin, sexual or otherwise, brings death. And yet the Father of Lies and his children use the same empty words that deceived Eve still reverberate down the ages, Moses recording...
Empty (2756)(kenos) means vain, fruitless, without usefulness or success. It refers to things that will not succeed or that of no purpose. Kenos in the present verse describes that in which there is nothing of truth or reality (false, fallacious), thus referring to words which have no content, no inner substance or no kernel of truth. Be careful they may have a veneer of truth but their inner substance is empty and this is why they are so deceiving and so destructive!
Kenos - 16v in the NT - Mk. 12:3; Lk. 1:53; 20:10f; Acts 4:25; 1 Co. 15:10, 14, 58; 2 Co. 6:1; Gal. 2:2; Eph. 5:6; Phil. 2:16; Col. 2:8; 1 Thess. 2:1; 3:5; Jas. 2:20
The NAS renders kenos as empty (2), empty-handed(4), foolish(1), futile things(1), vain(10).
Beare calls these specious arguments (Specious = having deceptive attraction or allure. Misleadingly attractive in appearance. Having a false look of truth or genuineness). The essence of these empty words is that they are words of those persons who made light of the forgoing sins of impurity.
These words are characterized not merely by an absence of good, but also, since a vacuum does not exist in man’s moral nature, the presence of evil.
Empty is something you think is one thing, but it ends up being devoid of anything. Paul says these people who are going to deceive you are going to use words that on the outside are going to sound good but "Don’t be deceived by those hollow apologies for immorality." They say things like "As long as you prayed a prayer to receive Jesus when you were a child, it doesn't matter that you are practicing homosexuality, adultery, etc, now...you're "safe" because you have a "fire insurance" policy!" Wrong! Empty words! Deceptive words! Dangerously deceptive words! That behavior as a lifestyle does not characterize the life of genuine believers. Listen to what John writes in some of the last words of the last book of the Bible...
Many people of in our modern society have adopted an increasingly lenient and tolerant attitude toward sexual immorality. They say (i.e., they use "empty words" that are deceiving saying things like) the gratification of bodily appetites is needful and beneficial, and that their repression produces warped, inhibited personalities. They say morals are entirely a matter of the culture in which we live, and that since “pre-marital,” “extra-marital,” and “gay” sex (which God’s word condemns as fornication, adultery, and perversion) are accepted in our culture, they ought to be legalized. Surprisingly enough, some of the leading (empty word) spokesmen in favor of making sexual sins acceptable are men who hold high positions in the professing church. Thus, the laymen who always thought immorality was immoral are now being assured by prominent clergymen that such an attitude is passé. Christians should not be hoodwinked by such empty double talk.
Words (3056) (logos) means something said but not simply in the grammatical sense as explained in the following. In classical Greek logos meant “the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known,” or “the inward thought or reason itself.” Logos referred to power of mind manifested in speech, also to the reason. Logos never meant in classical Greek a word in the grammatical sense as the mere name of a thing, but rather the thing referred to, the material, not the formal part. Greek has 3 words, rhema, onoma, epos which designate a word in its grammatical sense, a function which logos does not have. Logos has the double meaning of thought and speech.
Jon Courson - Concerning uncleanness and pornography, people use vain words when they say to us, “Hey, don’t be so uptight.” The Gnostics, or, literally, “those with special knowledge” did the same thing in Paul’s day. Believing themselves to be especially knowledgeable, the Gnostics essentially said, “Matter is evil and only the spirit is pure. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what one does with his body. Man can indulge his flesh because it’s only his spirit that matters.” The heresy of Gnosticism rears its ugly head in our day in those who say, “God knows you’re a sexual creature and that you need to indulge your flesh. So go ahead.” Don’t be deceived. If you’ve been walking with the Lord, but still succumb to fleshly indulgences, you’re on shaky ground. I’m not talking about the struggle a person has with his flesh. I’m talking about a lifestyle of embracing one’s flesh. If you cater to your flesh day after week after month after year after decade, you need to take a careful look at your spiritual standing. (Courson, J. Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson )
FOR BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS THE WRATH OF GOD COMES UPON THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE: dia tauta gar erchtai (3SPMI) e orge tou theou epi tous huious tes apeitheias: (Numbers 32:13,14; Joshua 22:17,18; Psalms 78:31; Romans 1:18; Colossians 3:6) (Eph 2:2,3) (Hebrews 3:19; 1Peter 2:8)
These things - Remember to ask "What things?" (See context - Eph 5:3-5) This Greek phrase tauta is emphatic (first in the Greek sentence) and refers most naturally to the vices just listed (cp Col 3:6-note) and not so much to the empty words used to defend such aberrant behavior. And so these things refers to immorality, impurity, coveting, idolatry, all of which characterize the lifestyle of the Old Self or Old Man. In this section Paul amplifies the truth that the phrase has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God is referring to salvation, specifically those who have not entered into salvation in Christ (cp 1Th 1:9-note; 1Th 1:10-note; 1Th 5:9-note). For here he says that because of these things the wrath of God on the sons of disobedience. The wrath of God falls like the sword of Damocles on those who are not believers - their "father" is personified as "disobedience" and as the saying goes "like father, like son." (cp Eph 2:1-note, Ep 2:2-note)
Charles Hodge explains that the wrath of God is a fearful expression "because the wrath of man is the disposition to inflict evil, limited by man’s feebleness; whereas the wrath of God is the determination to punish in a being without limit either as to His presence or power. This wrath, the apostle says, comes on the children of disobedience."...The wrath of God against these sins is now manifested in His dealings with those who commit them. He withdraws from them His Spirit, and finally gives them up (paradidomi) to a reprobate mind (Ro 1:28KJV-note = an "adokimos mind"). (Ephesians 5 Commentary)
Wrath (3709) (orge from orgaô = to teem, to swell) (Click study of orge) is God's holy hatred of sin representing His essential divine antagonism against everything that is evil. Orge is derived from the idea of a swelling which eventually bursts, and applies more to an anger that proceeds from one’s settled nature.
Orge - 36 uses in the NT - Matt. 3:7; Mk. 3:5; Lk. 3:7; 21:23; Jn. 3:36; Ro 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22; 12:19; 13:4, 5; Eph. 2:3; 4:31; 5:6; Col. 3:6, 8; 1Th 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; 1Ti 2:8; Heb 3:11; 4:3; James 1:19, 20; Rev. 6:16, 17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15. Note predominance of uses in Romans and Revelation.
Paul makes a similar statement in Colossians also in a context of sexual sin writing...
John MacArthur - Orge does not refer to an explosive outburst of temper but to an inner, deep resentment that seethes and smolders, often unnoticed by others. It is therefore an anger that only the Lord and the believer know about. Therefore, it is a special danger, (for the believer because the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God) in that it can be privately harbored. (Macarthur J. James. Moody)
In Romans Paul said that...
Simply put, God's orge is God’s settled opposition to and displeasure with sin! Only the blood of Jesus propitiates (satisfies) His orge!
Comes (2064) is in the present tense which pictures the wrath of God as on its way as noted in Romans 1:18 above. This tense also pictures the wrath as so sure to come as if it had already come! Do not be deceived by God's delay! (2Pe 3:3-7, 2Pe 3:8-11)
John Gill adds that the wrath of God is seen...
Pulpit Commentary - The sophistry is swept away by an awful fact the wrath cometh, is coming, and will come too in the future life. It comes in the form of natural punishment, Nature avenging her broken laws by deadly diseases; in the form, too, of disappointment, remorse, desolation of soul; and in the form of judgments, like that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, or the sword which never departed from David's house. (The Pulpit Commentary)
As Eadie correctly observes...
Wayne Barber comments on the wrath of God writing that...
Sons of disobedience - see Thomas Manton's thoughts below
NET Bible Note explains that...
Sons (5207) (huios) refers to male offspring. Unregenerate men and women are all descendents or offspring of disobedience. In other words this expression indicates the chief characteristic of these individuals is disobedience in general. They have the character of their father, the devil.
Earlier Paul had used this same expression describing his readers before they were converted explaining that
Wuest explains that "sons" "is a Hebrew idiom in which one calls a person having a peculiar quality, or subject to a peculiar evil, a son of that quality. The unsaved are called sons of disobedience in the sense that they have the character of being disobedient. (Wuest, K: Word Studies)
Disobedience (545) (apeithes from a = without + peitho = persuade) (See studies on related words apeitheia; apeitheo) is a noun signifying literally one who refuses to believe or to be persuaded. Their life is characterized by intractable disbelief manifest by a lifestyle of continual disobedience (1Jn 3:9 = present tense = no one born of God continually practices sin). There spiritual kingdom is darkness (Acts 26:18, Col 1:13), their father is Satan (Jn 8:44) and so like father, like son. In a parallel passage in Colossians Paul writes that "For it is on account of these things (Col 3:5) that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked (as your habitual practice, not occasional "slip ups"), when you were living in them (they were your "lifestyle"!)" (Col 3:6-7-note)
Apeithes - 6v in the NT - Ro 11:30, 32; Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Heb. 4:6, 11, all rendered as disobedience by the NAS.
Disobedience reflects an attitude of willful, perverse disbelief and is manifest as an unwillingness or refusal to comply with the demands of some authority. For example, in the "sermon" that brought about his martyrdom, Stephen called the Jews that were listening to him "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit, as your fathers did, so do you (sons of disobedient fathers!). (Acts 7:51)
The picture is of a person who because of unbelief cannot be persuaded and remains obstinate and non-compliant.
In studying apeithes it is important to understand that the stem peith- (pith-, poith-) has the basic meaning of trust (cf. Latin = fido, fides; English = fidelity). Trust can refer to a statement, so that it has the meaning to put faith in, to let oneself be convinced, or to a demand, so that it gets the meaning of obey, be persuaded. The active meaning of the verb stem peith- then is to convince and persuade and is especially characteristic of Greek thought. In secular Greek it interesting to note that "Peitho" (art of persuading) was even regarded as a goddess! (see Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Apeithes pictures a stubborn, stiff-necked attitude and speaks of disbelief manifesting itself in disobedience. Apeithes is opposed to pistis or belief (trust).
TDNT says apeithes "means “unworthy of belief,” then “disobedient.”
Marvin Vincent in discussing apeitheo in John 3:36 writes that "Disbelief is regarded in its active manifestation, disobedience. The verb peitho means to persuade, to cause belief, to induce one to do something by persuading, and so runs into the meaning of to obey, properly as the result of persuasion...Obedience, however, includes faith. (Ed Note: See discussion of phrase obedience of faith in notes on Ro 1:5-note)." (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament Vol. 2, Page 1-109)
From these comments, it should not surprise you to discover that in the New Testament the Greek words translated disobey, disobedience, disobedient (apeitheo apeitheia; apeithes) do not stand in contrast with obedience but in contrast with faith!
In the present context apeithes describes the person who refuses obedience to God, resisting His Word and remaining steadfastly rebellious against God's natural laws and those which human society requires.
Paul describes a progression is from an unwillingness to use one's mental faculties in order to understand the truth about God and His glorious gospel, inevitably leading to an unwillingness to be persuaded by the truth. Men do not avoid the gospel of Christ because of insufficient facts but because of proud and unrepentant hearts. Such is the natural character of the human heart, Jeremiah recording that the
Solomon wrote that "the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives (Eccl 9:3).
Puritan writer Thomas Manton expands on the phrase sons of disobedience...
I. Who are children of disobedience?
1. Those who are not only sinners, but stubborn, obstinate, and ignorant sinners; such as are prone to all evil, and are not only indisposed, but averse from all good.
2. This good is either to be determined by the light of nature or the light of the Gospel.
(1) Wicked men are called “children of disobedience” because they rebel against the light of nature (Job 24:13).
(2) Those that have heard the gospel, and will not suffer themselves to be persuaded to embrace the blessed offers made therein, nor will they give up themselves to the obedience of Christ. Their condition is more terrible, for these are desperately sick, and refuse their remedy (1Pe 4:17-note).
3. This obstinacy and disobedience is aggravated.
(1) From the person who is disobeyed. It is not our counsel, but God’s.
(2) From the manner of the persuasion, which is by the Word and Spirit. In the Word there are the highest motives to allure, the strongest arguments to persuade, the greatest terrors to scare men out of their sins.
(3) From the plenty of offers. God hath called often and long: “He that, being often reproved, hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Pr 29:1). It is dangerous to slight frequent warnings; these are obdurate in their sins.
(4) From the concomitant dispensations of providence. When our obstinacy and resolved continuance in sin is not broken by afflictions; as Pharaoh was Pharaoh still from first to last.
4. This disobedience, the longer it is continued, the more it is increased.
II. The misery of their condition. It is either matter of sense or matter of faith; of sight, because of present judgments, or foresight, because of the threatenings of the Word.
1. It is matter of sight, as God doth inflict remarkable judgments on obstinate sinners in this life, to teach His children to beware of their sins. These judgments are either spiritual or temporal.
2. It is matter of faith and foresight. And so by this wrath of God is meant eternal destruction, which cometh upon them for their disobedience, which is a sin of the highest nature, and a chief cause of their damnation. At death they feel the sad effects of it (1Pe 3:19-20-note).
III. Why this should deter God’s people from being partakers with them. Here I shall inquire
(1) What it is to be partakers with them.
(2) Why God’s wrath should deter us from this?
1. What it is to be partakers with them.
(1) There is a principal sense, and chiefly intended here, that we should not follow their example.
(2) There is a limited sense of the phrase, “Neither be partakers of other men’s sins” (1Ti 5:22). There it signifies not committing the same sins, but being accessory to the sins of others.
2. Why the wrath of God should deter us from this.
(1) Because of the impartiality of God’s judgment.
(2) Because of the greatness of His mercy.
1. To show us that we are not to be idle spectators of God’s judgments on others, but judicious observers and improvers of them. Observe here--
(1) The use of observing God’s providences on others.
(2) The manner of it.
First, The use and benefit of observing God’s providences is great in these particulars.
1. To cure atheism (Ps 58:11).
2. To make us more cautious of sin, that we meddle not with it.
3. To humble us, and make us more earnest in deprecating the wrath of God, and suing out our pardon in Christ. We see sin does not go unpunished. Alas! if God should enter into judgment with us, who could stand? (Ps 143:2).
4. To make us thankful for our mercies and deliverances by Christ, that, when others are spectacles of His wrath, we should be monuments of His mercy and grace. Were it not for the Lord’s pardoning and healing grace, we had been in as bad a condition as the worst (Ro 11:22).
Secondly, the manner of making these observations.
This is needful to be stated, because men are apt to misapply providence, and to sit as a coroner’s inquest on the souls of their neighbors, and so rather observe things to censure others than for their own caution.
Rules concerning the observation of God’s providences towards others.
1. Certain it is that judgments on others must be observed. Providence is a comment on the Word, and therefore it is stupidity not to take notice of it. They that will not observe God’s hand shall feel it. If we will not take the warning at a distance, and by others’ smart and rebuke, there is no way left but we ourselves must be taught by experience. He that will plunge himself into a bog or quagmire, where others have miscarried before him, is doubly guilty of folly, because he neither fears the threatening, nor will take warning by their example and punishment. Observe we must (Amos 6:2).
2. This observation must be to a good end; not to censure others, that is malice; or justify ourselves above them, that is pride and self-conceit, condemned by our Lord Christ (Luke 13:2-5).
3. In making the observation we must have a care that we do not make providence speak the language of our fancies.
(T. Manton, D. D. - The Biblical Illustrator)