Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:26-27

ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε· ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ τῷ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the son set upon your anger, nor give a place to the Devil.

Paul continues his exhortation section here. It seems, however, that it is not syntactically related to the previous sentence. In fact, the previous sentence likely concludes the previous argument; therefore, the previous sentence belongs to the former paragraph, and this new sentence begins a new paragraph. This idea is made fairly strong by the use of the conjunction, διὸ, which serves to conclude an argument. But contextually, this new sentence further extends the argument. Part of not being like the Gentiles and part of putting away the old man is to be angry and not sin. According to Paul, Christians should, if they are going to be angry, deal with their anger right away.

Paul is quoting Psalm 4:4.  In the Masoretic Text (MT), Psalm 4:4 is actually 4:5 and it reads, “Tremble but do not sin” (רִגְזוּ וְאַל־תֶּחֱטָאוּ). But the text from the Septuagint (LXX) reads precisely as it does here in Ephesians: “Be angry but do not sin” (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε). Paul is using the first part of Psalm 4:4. Why he does not utilize the rest of it (“ponder in your heart on your beds and be silent”) is not clear. Instead, he uses a different imperative. Paul instructs his readers and listeners not to let the sun set upon their anger nor give the Devil a place. Both giving the Devil a place or opportunity and letting the sun set upon one’s anger combine to form the sin that Paul is prohibiting. If one is angry, then that one must not sin in that anger. What does it mean to sin in one’s anger, and how can one avoid it? Sinning in one’s anger is to let the sun set upon that anger and thereby give the Devil an opportunity. The Devil, literally, the enemy, seeks every opportunity available to do harm. By letting one’s anger go and not immediately dealing with it, we sin. The Devil can use that time as an opportunity to attack us. By dealing with our anger immediately, we do not give the Devil an opportunity.

But this command not to sin in our anger is tied to the new life. Paul is saying, “You are part of the body, the Church, and we are all members of each other. Therefore, when you are angry with each other, do not sin; deal with your anger immediately, so that you do not allow the Devil an opportunity to attack you.” The concern seems to be for the well-being of the whole community. The community cannot survive if its members are feuding and are not dealing with each other in a mature way. Part of being in the Church is growing into maturity; part of maturity is dealing with anger.

Note that there is a textual variant here. The dative article τῷ preceding παροργισμῷ is not in several important manuscripts (Papyrus 49, A, B, and the original hand of א and 1739). It is included in other important manuscripts (D, F, and G) and a couple second or third hand copies (the second corrector of א and a corrected hand of 1739). Since the text is not dependent upon the article, i.e., the article can easily be added in or just as easily taken out, our only help is to consider the witnesses. The earliest support omits the article. However, both the original א and 1739 were corrected later to include it. This situation makes the conclusion difficult. Since the text does not require it, but because it was later added in, it seems that the corrections and later additions were utilized in an effort to get back to the text that was believed to be original. Therefore, it seems best to include the article here.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set upon your anger nor give an opportunity to the Enemy.

As Christians, we need to learn to deal with our anger and to deal with it quickly. The longer we wait, the more harm it does. The longer we wait, the more opportunity we give to the Enemy to step in and attack us. We should be concerned with our anger; it’s not a sin to be angry, but we need to be careful not to sin when we are angry. If we are going to be angry, then we need to make sure that we deal with our anger quickly. We should address it before going to sleep. If you are in a relationship, whether married or not, make it a habit never to go to sleep when you are angry with your relationship partner. Deal with the anger, and do so respectfully and responsibly. Otherwise, if you do not deal with it, you will allow the Enemy an opportunity to come in and twist truths and destroy the relationship from the inside out. But even if you are not in a relationship, Christians should be dealing with other Christians in the same respect. We are all part of the same body; we should all treat each other as such members and treat them with respect. Can a Christian be angry with another Christian? Yes, but in that anger, do not sin. Grow up, release any pride that you may have, and respectfully deal with your anger that you may have towards your fellow brother or sister in Christ. Do not let the seed of anger grow. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to each other.

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2 thoughts on “Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 4:26-27

  1. Pingback: Post and Verse Indices for Ephesians Sentence by Sentence « The Letter to the Ephesians

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