How to Build Community Ephesians 4:25–5:2 (Handout)

How to Build Community
Ephesians 4:25–5:2

Ephesians 4:25–5:2 (NIV) 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Living Out the New Identity in the Community of Believers

  1. Four Vices to Take Off and Four Virtues to Appropriate (4:25–30)
  2. Lying–truthfulness (4:25)
  3. Uncontrolled anger–controlled anger (4:26–27)
  4. Stealing–hard work (4:28)
  5. Filthy talk–edifying talk (4:29–30)
  6. More Vices to Remove and More Virtues to Cultivate (4:31–32)
  7. Eliminating a bitter heart that leads to abusive talk (4:31)
  8. Cultivating a tender heart that leads to forgiveness (4:32)
  9. Love as the Ultimate Virtue (5:1–2)
  10. Love as imitating God (5:1–2a)
  11. Christ’s self-sacrifice as the prime example of love (5:2b-c)

(Outline by Arnold)

Summary: Because God has created the church to be a community of believers growing together to maturity, the development of social virtues is of paramount importance. Therefore, Paul exhorts believers to rid themselves of vices that are detrimental to community life and to cultivate virtues that build up the community. The most important and summarizing virtue is love—defined by the Father’s love in giving his Son and by Christ’s love in sacrificing himself..– Clint Arnold

Zechariah 8:16 (NIV) 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts;

Psalm 4:4–5 (NIV) 4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.

Psalm 119:53 (NIV) 53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.

Paul presents “the devil” as a powerful being that needs to be resisted (6:11). He is the same entity that Paul referred to earlier as “the ruler of the realm of the air, the spirit who is now powerfully working in the sons of disobedience” (2:2)… By allowing anger to fester and grow, believers can surrender space to a demonic intruder. – Arnold

I have no doubt that Paul was warning us to beware lest Satan should take possession of our minds, like an enemy-occupied fortress, and do whatever he pleases. – John Calvin

Do Not Steal: Paul goes beyond the straightforward command of the [10 Commandments] to prescribe an alternative lifestyle. He wants them to work hard. The word he chooses for work carries with it the sense of laboring to the point of weariness or exhaustion. This probably does not JUST mean that they make good products (that people in the community can use), but rather that they are “doing something good,” that is, that they are engaged in meaningful labor. This corresponds, in part, with the fact that Christians are called to do good works (2:10; see also Gal 6:10).