Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:17-19

Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν οἵτινες ἀπηλγηκότες ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ εἰς εῤγασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ. Therefore, this I say and witness in the Lord that no longer you to walk just as also the Gentiles walk, in the emptiness of their mind, being darkened in thought, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart, which some are becoming apathetic giving themselves over to licentiousness for a business of every impurity in greediness.

Paul goes into a new thought at this point in Ephesians. After having stated that Christ has ascended into the heavens and given his body the gifts that it needs in order to grow, he now urges his readers and listeners to act upon their growth. Part of growing is coming to maturity. Part of maturity is putting some actions and behaviors aside while embracing others. In this case, Paul is telling them to put some things aside.

Paul uses a somewhat repetitive way of exhorting his readers and listeners to not walk in the way that the Gentiles do. He says, “Therefore, I say this and I testify in the Lord.” What he is saying is that he is calling on the Lord has his witness. In other words, the Lord backs up or affirms what Paul is saying, that they should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk. “Walk,” περιπατεῖν, is a way of saying, “live.” Paul is exhorting his readers with God’s stamp of approval to no longer live as the Gentiles do. How do the Gentiles live?

The Gentiles live in the emptiness of their mind. They are depraved. The periphrastic construction, ἐσκοτωμένοι . . . ὄντες, tells us that they are living blinded in thought. They do not see things clearly. They live alienated from life with God. They have been separated from God. Paul is saying that they should no longer live as though they have been separated from God, as though they do not see things clearly, or as though they are depraved. He notes that the Gentiles live like this because of their hardness of heart, because of the ignorance that is within them. Their lack of knowledge and their hard hearts led them to become apathetic. Their state of apathy happened in the past, but it still continues in through the present. That apathy led them to give themselves over to licentiousness. In this case, ἀσελγείᾳ, “licentiousness,” probably does not mean “promiscuity,” but rather, “abandonment of accepted social practices,” for the next words written deal with the practice of immoral business motivated out of greed.

Therefore, I say this with the Lord as my witness, you must no longer live in the same way as the Gentiles live, which is in the emptiness of their mind, they are blinded in thought and alienated from life with God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts, which some have become apathetic (and continue to be), giving themselves over to self-abandonment in every practice of unethical business in greediness.

Christians today really need to keep a careful watch in how they conduct themselves in their work. Christians are called to a higher standard, which is to not live in the way that “the Gentiles live.” We should not go on with our lives as though we are depraved. We have been enlightened by the truth of God, and we ought to live like it. We should grow up and become mature, which means that there are some things we must put aside. In our work, we should not become greedy. Nor should we pursue impure or unethical means of profit. We have been joined with God, not alienated from him, so we ought to demonstrate it with our actions. We need to be people of honesty, conducting ourselves honorably when we do business, and not seeking to extort anyone.

Here is a touchy subject that I think loosely applies: music pirating over the internet. Although this section of Ephesians is concerned about business conduct, greediness and unethical profit making, I would like to suggest that music pirating runs along the same lines as greediness and unethical acquisition of a business product. Therefore, they are not entirely unrelated, and given the modern context, Ephesians 4:19 seems to apply to our situation.

Christians really have a responsibility to pursue music, whether digital or hard versions, such as CDs, within ethical means. We cannot be greedy as we seek to acquire music. It is all too easy to go onto the internet and illegally download music for free. Illegally acquiring music like this is not good for the creators of that music as it takes business away from them. Obtaining a burned copy of a CD from a friend is still illegal too, so Christians should abstain from such practices. If we are not supposed “to live like the Gentiles live,” and the Gentiles in our day and age are utilizing computers and the internet to illegally acquire music out of greed, the lust for more, and in an unacceptable, unethical way for conducting business, in this case, forsaking the process of acquiring music a monetary transaction, then Christians should abstain from this practice. At least purchase the music for the sake of the creators, but really it ought to be done because of who we have been joined to–God. Christians have no business pirating music.

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