|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:17-24 The apostle charged the Ephesians in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that having professed the gospel, they should not be as the unconverted Gentiles, who walked in vain fancies and carnal affections. Do not men, on every side, walk in the vanity of their minds? Must not we then urge the distinction between real and nominal Christians? They were void of all saving knowledge; they sat in darkness, and loved it rather than light. They had a dislike and hatred to a life of holiness, which is not only the way of life God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which has some likeness to God himself in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. The truth of Christ appears in its beauty and power, when it appears as in Jesus. The corrupt nature is called a man; like the human body, it is of divers parts, supporting and strengthening one another. Sinful desires are deceitful lusts; they promise men happiness, but render them more miserable; and bring them to destruction, if not subdued and mortified. These therefore must be put off, as an old garment, a filthy garment; they must be subdued and mortified. But it is not enough to shake off corrupt principles; we must have gracious ones. By the new man, is meant the new nature, the new creature, directed by a new principle, even regenerating grace, enabling a man to lead a new life of righteousness and holiness. This is created, or brought forth by God's almighty power.
Verse 19. - Who being past feeling. Without sense of shame, without conscience, without fear of God or regard for man, without any perception of the dignity of human nature, the glory of the Divine image, or the degradation of sin. Have given themselves over to lasciviousness to work all uncleanness (fourth point of difference). This is the climax - heathenism in its worst and fullest development, yet by no means rare. The sensuality of the heathen was and is something dreadful. Many of them gave themselves to it as a business, worked at it as at a trade or employment (see Uhlmann's 'Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism,' etc.). Details, such as even the walls of Pompeii furnish, are unfit for the public eye. With greediness, Πλεονεξία means the desire of having more, and has reference to the insatiable character of sensual sins. Sometimes it is translated (A.V.) "covetousness," as Ephesians 5:3.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Who being past feeling,.... Their consciences being cauterized or seared as with a red hot iron, which is the consequence of judicial hardness; so that they have lost all sense of sin, and do not feel the load of its guilt upon them, and are without any concern about it; but on the contrary commit it with pleasure, boast of it and glory in it, plead for it and defend it publicly, and openly declare it, and stand in no fear of a future judgment, which they ridicule and despise: the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and the Claromontane exemplar read, who "despairing": of mercy and salvation, saying there is no hope, and therefore grow hardened and desperate in sin;
have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness; by "lasciviousness" is meant all manner of lusts, and a wanton and unbridled course of sinning; and their giving themselves over unto it denotes their voluntariness in sinning, the power of sin over them, they being willing slaves unto it, and their continuance in it; and this they do in order
to work all uncleanness; to commit every unclean lust, to live in a continued commission of uncleanness of every sort; and that
with greediness; being like a covetous man, never satisfied with sinning, but always craving more sinful lusts and pleasures.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. past feeling—senseless, shameless, hopeless; the ultimate result of a long process of "hardening," or habit of sin (Eph 4:18). "Being past hope," or despairing, is the reading of the Vulgate; though not so well supported as English Version reading, "past feeling," which includes the absence of hope (Jer 2:25; 18:12).
given themselves over—In Ro 1:24 it is, "God gave them up to uncleanness." Their giving themselves to it was punished in kind, God giving them up to it by withdrawing His preventing grace; their sin thus was made their punishment. They gave themselves up of their own accord to the slavery of their lust, to do all its pleasure, as captives who have ceased to strive with the foe. God gave them up to it, but not against their will; for they give themselves up to it [Zanchius].
lasciviousness—"wantonness" [Alford]. So it is translated in Ro 13:13; 2Pe 2:18. It does not necessarily include lasciviousness; but it means intemperate, reckless readiness for it, and for every self-indulgence. "The first beginnings of unchastity" [Grotius]. "Lawless insolence, and wanton caprice" [Trench].
to work all uncleanness—The Greek implies, "with a deliberate view to the working (as if it were their work or business, not a mere accidental fall into sin) of uncleanness of every kind."
with greediness—Greek, "in greediness." Uncleanness and greediness of gain often go hand in hand (Eph 5:3, 5; Col 3:5); though "greediness" here includes all kinds of self-seeking.
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