Ephesians 4:17-32

The New Life

17 Now this I say and 1testify in the Lord, 2that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, 3in the futility of their minds.
18 They 4are darkened in their understanding, 5alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to 6their hardness of heart.
19 They 7have become callous and 8have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
20 But that is not the way you 9learned Christ!--
21 assuming that 10you have heard about him and 11were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22 to 12put off 13your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through 14deceitful desires,
23 and 15to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24 and to put on 16the new self, 17created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you 18speak the truth with his neighbor, for 19we are members one of another.
26 20Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and 21give no opportunity to the devil.
28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather 22let him labor, 23doing honest work with his own hands, so 24that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
29 25Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give 26grace to those who hear.
30 And 27do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 28by whom you were sealed for the day of 29redemption.
31 30Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 31Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, 32forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:17-32 Meaning and Commentary


The apostle having in the three former chapters treated of the doctrines of grace, and explained and established them, proceeds in the three following to exhort to the duties of religion; and in this advises to a becoming conversation in general, and to brotherly concord and unity in particular; and dehorts from several vices, and encourages to the contrary virtues. And inasmuch as these Ephesians were called with an holy calling, he entreats them, if they had any regard for him as a prisoner of Christ, that they would walk worthy of it, Eph 4:1, and directs to the manner in which they should act becoming it, with all humility, patience, forbearance, and love; seeking to preserve a spiritual harmony, unity, and peace, one among another, Eph 4:2,3, for the encouragement of which, he makes use of various arguments, taken from the unity of the body, of which they were members; from their being quickened and influenced by one and the same Spirit; from having the same hope of eternal happiness, to which they were called; from their having one Lord over them, who is Christ; from their having the same like precious faith in him; from their being baptized with the same baptism in him; and from their having one, and the same God and Father, Eph 4:4-6, and from all of them having gifts, though different, for mutual usefulness; which gifts are described by the author and donor of them, Christ, Eph 4:7, which is proved Eph 4:8, out of a passage in Ps 68:18, which is explained of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, of his descent from heaven, and ascension thither; the end of which latter was to fill all things, or persons, with gifts, Eph 4:9,10, of which a particular enumeration is given, Eph 4:11, the design of which is, to fit men for the work of the ministry, and by them to convert sinners, and edify saints, Eph 4:12, which ministry is to be continued, until all the saints arrive to a perfection of spiritual knowledge, and make up one perfect man, or body of men in Christ, Eph 4:13, for the use and end of the Gospel ministry is not, that such who are converted by it should continue children, be in suspense about truth, and under the deceptions of men, Eph 4:14, but that through speaking the truth in love, they should grow up into Christ their head; from whom supplies of grace are communicated, for the increase and edification of every member of the body, Eph 4:15,16, and seeing these Ephesians to whom the apostle writes were separated in the effectual calling from the rest of the Gentiles, they ought not to walk as the others did; whose minds were vain, their understandings darkened, and their hearts blinded, hardened, and ignorant; and had no sense of things, but were given up to all manner of wickedness, Eph 4:17-19, whereas they had learned Christ, and through hearing had been taught the truth of the Gospel, as it was in him, Eph 4:20,21, wherefore it became them in their conversation, not to follow the dictates of corrupt nature, called the old man, that being full of lusts, corrupt, and deceitful, but to act becoming the renewing work of the Spirit upon their souls, and agreeably to the new principles of the grace of God created in them, in order to righteousness and holiness, Eph 4:22-24, and in particular it became them to avoid lying, and on the contrary to speak truth to one another; and that for this reason, because they were members of the same body, and of one another, Eph 4:25, and likewise to abstain from sinful anger, and not continue a wrathful disposition, Eph 4:26, nor was it advisable to yield to the suggestions, solicitations, and temptations of Satan, Eph 4:27, nor to commit theft, but on the other hand give themselves to manual labour at some commendable calling, that they might have for their own use, and others too, Eph 4:28, and it was also right to be careful not to suffer corrupt and unchaste words to come out of their mouths, but such as would be grateful and useful to others, Eph 4:29, and the rather this, and all the rest of the things mentioned, and likewise what follows, should be attended to; since by such evil lusts, words, and actions, the Holy Spirit of God is grieved, who should not, since he is the sealer of the saints unto the day of redemption, Eph 4:30. And the chapter is concluded with a dehortation from several vices of the mind and tongue, respecting wrath and revenge; and an exhortation to the contrary virtues, kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness; to which encouragement is given, by the example of God, who forgives for Christ's sake, Eph 4:31,32.

Cross References 32

  • 1. 1 Thessalonians 2:12
  • 2. ver. 22; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 3:7; 1 Peter 4:3
  • 3. Romans 1:21; 1 Peter 1:18; [Colossians 2:18; 2 Peter 2:18]
  • 4. [Romans 11:10]
  • 5. See Ephesians 2:12
  • 6. See Mark 3:5
  • 7. [Proverbs 23:35]; 1 Timothy 4:2
  • 8. [1 Kings 21:25; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28]
  • 9. See Matthew 11:29
  • 10. Ephesians 1:13
  • 11. Colossians 2:7
  • 12. Colossians 3:8; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1
  • 13. Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9
  • 14. [Hebrews 3:13]
  • 15. See Romans 12:2
  • 16. See Romans 6:4
  • 17. See Ephesians 2:10
  • 18. Zechariah 8:16; Colossians 3:9; [ver. 15]
  • 19. Romans 12:5
  • 20. [Psalms 37:8]
  • 21. See James 4:7
  • 22. Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:10
  • 23. 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:8, 11, 12
  • 24. [Proverbs 21:26]
  • 25. Ephesians 5:4; Colossians 3:8; [Matthew 12:34]
  • 26. Colossians 4:6; [Ecclesiastes 10:12]
  • 27. Isaiah 63:10; [1 Thessalonians 5:19]
  • 28. Ephesians 1:13
  • 29. See Ephesians 1:7
  • 30. Colossians 3:8, 19
  • 31. Colossians 3:12, 13; 1 Peter 3:8
  • 32. [2 Corinthians 2:7, 10]; See Matthew 6:14

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Greek man; also verse 24
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.