Ephesians 5:3-14 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What exhortation does the apostle give to the Ephesian Christians, and all Christians, in verse 3 (printed below?)

But fornication, indeed, all moral impurity, or covetousness, should not even be mentioned among you, as is proper for saints. (Ephesians 5:3)

As Christians, we are to abstain from “fornication and all moral impurity.” “Fornication” refers to sexual activity practiced by unmarried persons and “moral impurity” refers to all forms of sexual deviance and perversity (note Romans 1:24,26-27). Not only are we to abstain from such acts, we are also to abstain from such conversation: such things “should not even be mentioned among you.”

2. As Christians, what should characterize our speech and conversation? See Ephesians 5:4 (printed below)

Nor should there be any indecent behavior or foolish talk or vulgarity, such things are not appropriate; but rather, let there be the giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4)

We are not to engage in coarse, vulgar humor; do not show an eagerness to hear such jokes, do not repeat them. We should let it be known that we are not interested in such “humor.” Instead of vulgarity and coarse humor, our speech should express our appreciation to God for His blessings by offering thanksgiving unto Him.

3. In addition to fornication and moral impurity, what sinful attitude does Paul mention in verse 3 (printed above under question #1?) What does this attitude have to do with the previous sins mentioned in this verse?

Ephesians 5:3 speaks of “fornication,” “moral impurity” and “covetousness.” The abuse of the sexual relationship in immorality is selfish in the sense that it is self-fulfilling, self-centered, self-gratifying, using the other person for one’s own selfish fulfillment. Contrast with the description of fornication the description of the marriage relationship given in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

4. What warning does the apostle give in verse 6 (printed below?)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6)

Verse 6 warns us not to be deceived by “empty (or, “vain,” “worthless”) words.” Because the world loves its immorality, it seeks to justify and excuse itself with the rationalization that you cannot expect men to abstain from immorality, it is just natural for them to do so. Verse 6b goes on to warn that it is because of these things that “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” There is a present, temporal form of God’s wrath and judgment against moral impurity: sexually transmitted diseases, the worst of which is AIDS, as well as emotional and psychological effects that can be devastating. There is also the future and eternal form of God’s judgment (Revelation 21:8).

5. How does the apostle describe the Christian in verse 8 (printed below) and how should this affect the way we live? See, also, Ephesians 5:11 (printed below)

Previously, you were part of the darkness, but now you belong to the light in the Lord; therefore, walk as children of light…(11) Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead rebuke them (Ephesians 5:8,11)

Verse 8 indicates that because of our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ we belong to the light. As Christians, we now have a living connection with the life of truth and purity that is found in Jesus. Therefore, we are to “walk,” or “live,” “as children of light.” By the grace of God we are to live day by day the new and pure life that we share with Jesus. Furthermore, we are not to “participate in the unfruitful works of darkness” (verse 11). Do not associate with people who are committed to immorality; do not associate with your friends when they indulge in immoral conduct (note James 4:4).