Last updated on November 18th, 2019
What’s the meaning of Ephesians 4:1? Let’s find out. Ephesians 4:1 states “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,“
I wanted to build off of my last post “Christianity is bigger than you and me“. One thing I emphasized was the focus of our faith being us continually rising to the standard of moral character. I would encourage you to read all of Ephesians chapter 4. But I’m going to focus on the closing verses of this chapter as a step forward today. This will help us understand the meaning of Ephesians 4:1.
Ephesians 4:25-32 states, “25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil [s]an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with [t]one who has need. 29 Let no [u]unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [v]according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [w]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [x]you.”
Ephesians 4:25-32 Commentary
There’s a lot of interesting things to break down in this passage. For context, the prior verse discussed putting on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Let’s tie that with the first part of the verse in this passage we’re looking at. The truth we’re instructed to speak with our neighbors could be as it relates to being righteous and holy as Christians. Perhaps pointing out the falsehoods we need to be laying aside.
Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m trying to tie the words together to help me understand the meaning of Ephesians 4:1. This is what I do when I read scripture. Let’s keeping walking up these steps.
Anger without sinning
Now the next verse is interesting about being angry. It says be angry, yet do not sin. Immediately after that it states, “do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity”. So the sin to be avoided with anger seems to be not allowing our anger to remain with us at the end of the day. And thus not give the devil an opportunity. You might be asking right now, what opportunity?
Well you notice how the very next verses are talking about not stealing and not speaking unwholesome words? Could it be that in remaining angry we give the devil opportunity? We’re being more open to committing acts of sin because of our anger. Think about it, how many murders have occurred in this world because of people staying angry? I know that’s an extreme example, but it’s probably quite a lot. How many bad things have we said to others because we allowed ourselves to stay angry? You think about these things and you really see there’s an importance here for us not to hold on to anger long.
And thus we must choose not to give the devil an opportunity in him winning by us sinning. Instead we choose to do things for the good of one another. We labor and perform good with our hands to be able to have means not just for ourselves, but to share with those who have need. It kind of goes back to Acts 2 where the first Christians were sharing with one another as anyone needed (Acts 2:45). It’s fascinating this is the contrast made from stealing things, when you would think that contrast would just be “don’t steal from someone, just work hard and buy things for yourself”. But in that verse it’s emphasizing sharing from laboring as the contrast of stealing.
We move to verse 29, the contrast of unwholesome talk coming out of our mouths appears to be only saying words good for edification. Now this is intriguing to think about. We could all subjectively debate what is unwholesome talk if we were all just choosing to read our own meaning into the text. But if we’re basing it in connection with the rest of the words on the page, is it possible that anything said that does not edify someone but tears them down is unwholesome talk? In other words, could it be the intent behind our words that is what determines if it’s unwholesome according to this verse? Something to think about.
Not greiving the Holy Spirit
What Verse 30 states is probably one of my favorite parts of this whole passage. Just to re-state it so you don’t have to look back, “30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [w]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” So why is this my favorite part? It puts more meaning behind striving to do what these verses are encouraging us to do. When you don’t do these things you make the Holy Spirit sad, and basically you’re making God sad.
I want you to picture someone you’re close to. Your mother, your father, your significant other or a close friend of yours. Picture them looking at you with their eyes watering, tears strolling down their cheeks, all because you did something that caused them sadness. Maybe you might have a memory in your mind of a day you did that. Well that’s exactly what you’re doing to the Holy Spirit, which thus you’re doing to God. I don’t put that image in your head to guilt you, but just to show you from what this verse is stating how important it is to God we’re striving to live up to these standards.
It’s the perfect climax that leads to the closing of this passage. Let go of the bitterness, the wrath, the anger, the clamor, slander, and the malice. These strong negative emotions you have for whatever situation, circumstance, or person… just let it go, because it saddens God.
Ephesians 4:1 Meaning
The meaning of Ephesians 4:1 is laid out for us throughout the chapter. We’re given all these different ways we walk in a manner that’s worthy of the calling. As Christians we all want to make God happy. Let us choose to do so by being kind to each other, tender-hearted, and forgiving to each other… just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.
Peace to you all in Christ.