Sunday, February 26, 2012

Be Wise, and Figure It Out!

Paul continues his exhortation, moving from who the Ephesians are (children of Light) to practical elements and expectations of their behavior, both positive and negative.  As one reads this passage, one cannot help but note that the "negative behaviors" were already being expressed by many of the Ephesians, and that Paul is trying to expose, rebuke, and replace those behaviors with outward expressions more suitable of those who have been, by grace, redeemed in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Then watch how carefully you walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason, do not be foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is . 18 And "do not be drunk with wine," in which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, even to God the Father,  Green's Literal Version, 1993

 15 βλεπετε ουν ακριβως πως περιπατειτε μη ως ασοφοι αλλ ως σοφοι 16 εξαγοραζομενοι τον καιρον οτι αι ημεραι πονηραι εισιν 17 δια τουτο μη γινεσθε αφρονες αλλα συνιετε τι το θελημα του κυριου 18 και μη μεθυσκεσθε οινω εν ω εστιν ασωτια αλλα πληρουσθε εν πνευματι 19 λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω 20 ευχαριστουντες παντοτε υπερ παντων εν ονοματι του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου τω θεω και πατρι WHNU

Verse 15: Then watch how carefully you walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones  βλεπετε ουν ακριβως πως περιπατειτε μη ως ασοφοι αλλ ως σοφοι "Therefore see exactly how you walk, not as unwise (men, people), but as wise (men, people)".  The word ακριβως, an adverb, comes from a family of associated words which convey the meaning of exactness, accuracy, diligence.  This phrase is not "be careful because it is dangerous out there (it is dangerous out there, we know that)", but rather the onus is put upon the believer; it is the believer's responsibility to walk wisely, as a wise person, and not as one possessing no wisdom at all.

Verse 16: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. εξαγοραζομενοι τον καιρον οτι αι ημεραι πονηραι εισιν "redeeming the time, because the days are evil".  The verb εξαγοραζω, from which get the participle εξαγοραζομενοι used here, comes from the verb αγοραζω, which means "to buy or purchase".  Adding the preposition εκ, which is formed as εξ due to the presence of a vowel at the beginning of the verb, means "to egress, separate, remove".  Further, I find no reason to separate σοφοι from the participle εξαγοραζομενοι, as they are both in agreement with respect to gender and number.  Translated, "...'wise (men, people) who are separating out for themselves' the time, for the days are evil".  It is a quality of those who are wise, seizing the moment right now, in the evil days, and using it in a manner pleasing to the Lord (see verse 10 of this chapter).

Verse 17: For this reason, do not be foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is . δια τουτο μη γινεσθε αφρονες αλλα συνιετε τι το θελημα του κυριου  "on account of this, do not become thoughtless, but put together what is the will of the Lord"  "on account of this" -- that the days are evil, Paul exhorts the Ephesians "do not become αφρονες "unthinking, thoughtless, void of reason".  We are not to leave behind the minds we are given when we become believers, rather we are to use our minds in manner befitting those redeemed by the King of Kings.  Floating on feelings, or soaring by Spirit are not substitutes for a reasonable faith.  The verb συνιετε means "place together, figure out" -- use your brain, certainly guided by the Spirit to determine what is the will of the Lord.

Verse 18: And "do not be drunk with wine," in which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit  και μη μεθυσκεσθε οινω εν ω εστιν ασωτια αλλα πληρουσθε εν πνευματι "and do not be drunk with wine which is wantonness, but be filled in (the) Spirit".  Too many believers focus on the first half of this verse, and neglect the second half.  It is easier to judge the prohibition, than to validate the exhortation.  It is easier to see whether the letter of the Law was broken, than to ascertain that which is of the Spirit.  Which do you think concerned Paul the most: the being drunk with wine, or the lack of being filled with the Spirit?  The latter resolves the former, but the former does not insure the latter.  The use of the conjunction αλλα, meaning 'but', is one indicating strong contrast between the conjoined statements, and is liberally used by Paul throughout this and preceding verses.

Verse 19-20: speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, even to God the Father  λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω ευχαριστουντες παντοτε υπερ παντων εν ονοματι του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου τω θεω και πατρι  "speaking among yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual odes, singing and playing (instruments) in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always on behalf of all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, also to Father God"  I put these verses together since they read so continuously, and such a positive exhortation for the believer.  "Psalms (of the OT), hymns (perhaps new songs of the church), odes (prose, poetry, other types of songs)" -- these are instruments of communication among ourselves and to the Lord.  We teach one another through the words of songs today, we praise the Lord and worship Him through hymns of praise, all from our new hearts, given to us by Him.  Giving thanks always -- ALWAYS -- on behalf of all things -- ALL THINGS -- how many of us can say we do just that? Yet, Paul, who knew about suffering for Christ than the vast majority of us will ever know, knew these two keys were essential for the believer to grow and thrive.

Be wise, figure it out, give thanks always for everything...

Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you.