As Paul opens in this chapter telling the Ephesians to be imitators of God, he tells them in verse 2 to “walk in love.” The verb “walk” is used to mean “to live ones life, and exhibit the characteristics of.” This fits perfectly with 1 John 4:8, which says “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Paul refers to the expectation that Christians walk in love in other passages such as Romans 14:15, and says it is what “binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14).
Paul contrasts that by urging them to stay away from sexual immorality (which covers everything outside of relations between a husband and a wife), as well as all impurity and covetousness – which is idolatry – and even filthy talk, or crude joking. Indeed, he says that such should not even be named of the people of God. A Christian’s integrity and reputation matter, and public sins dishonor the Lord. He makes it clear in verse 5 that those who are guilty of these things have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Verse 8’s “children of light” remind us of Jesus’ words in John 12:35-36.
Verses 21-33 deal with the relationship of a husband and wife – not women and men in general. Paul restates Genesis 3:16 in terms of the husband being the head of the wife, just as Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). But that does not give the husband license to be a tyrant. Rather, the husband is to love his wife as Jesus loved the church, and “gave himself up for her.” A wife should be able to count on just such love from her husband. Verse 31 quotes Genesis 2:24, as they become one flesh; and the husband should also love his wife as he loves himself.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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