Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητὰ καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. Therefore, become imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love, just as also Christ loved us and gave himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet smell.
After commanding his readers and listeners to show kindness just as God has shown kindness, Paul simply commands them to imitate God. The genitive phrase, τοῦ θεοῦ, might be confusing at first. It does not fit the regular adjectival genitival categories. But the noun, μιμηταὶ, takes a genitive substantive, requiring the subject of the imitation to be genitive. We are to mimic God. Just as children will often copy their parent, so should Christians copy God. But they are also called to walk or live in love. Christ’s love for us provides the reason for our own life of love. We are to imitate God, which also means imitating Christ. However, we are not only to copy Christ’s way of love, but also his sacrifice. In the double accusative, . . . ἑαυτὸν . . . προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν . . ., ἑαυτὸν is the object of παρέδωκεν, and προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν is the complement to ἑαυτὸν. The phrase should be translated with the use of as: “. . . he gave himself . . . as an offering and sacrifice . . .” He gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice for a sweet smell to God. We also are to offer ourselves up to God for such a pleasing aroma.
Therefore, be imitators of God like beloved children and live in love, just as also Christ loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice for a fragrant aroma to God.
Are we mimicking God? He has been merciful towards us, being gracious, compassionate, kind, and loving. Are we copying him? Are we being merciful to each other? We are called to live a life of love. Our way of life should be that of love, just as Christ loved. But Christ also gave himself up as a pleasing sacrifice to God. Are we copying him? Are we giving our lives up to God in order to please him? It is a sacrifice to give up our lives to God, but it is important and essential. We are part of the church. The church bears the responsibility of spreading the gospel. The role of the church is to reveal to the powers and authorities the divine wisdom of God. Are we taking part in spreading the gospel and revealing God’s wisdom? This task is not easy, and it demands sacrifice. But when we fulfill this sacrifice and function together as the church God called us to be, we please him. We need to respond to the call God placed on us–to live out lives of love, spread the gospel, and reveal the wisdom of God to the world. It has been said that we are the only Jesus this world is going to see. If such is the case, it is crucially important that we imitate Christ.