Ephesians 5:11
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.—To “have no fellowship” with such works is not to refuse to take part in them (for this surely might be taken for granted), but to keep no terms with them, to have no sympathy or indulgence or excuse for them. So the word is used, in Philippians 4:14, of “communicating with my affliction;” and in Revelation 18:4, of “being partakers with the sins” of Babylon. It is through such weak or cowardly indulgence, more than the actual love of evil, that sin is suffered to prevail. Hence St. Paul adds, “rather reprove them.” Our Lord Himself has declared in all such cases, “He that is not with Me is against Me.”

The unfruitful works of darkness.—St. Paul has a similar antithesis in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 6:19-22). They who are in sin “yield their members servants to iniquity unto iniquity.” Iniquity has no result but iniquity; and hence he goes on to ask, “What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed?” This weary fruitlessness is at once the sign and the penalty of sin, so that men have fancied it to be one chief element of the suffering of the lost. But they who are in Christ “yield their members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” “They have,” he says, “their fruit unto holiness” now, and “in the end the everlasting life,” which is everlasting holiness. Similarly, in Galatians 5:20-22, we have “the works of the flesh,” but “the fruit of the Spirit.” Rarely, indeed, does Scripture speak of “evil fruit” (Matthew 7:17; Matthew 12:33). Generally, “to be unfruitful” is an all-sufficient condemnation. “Every branch that beareth not fruit he taketh away” (John 15:2).

Rather reprove them.—In the word “reprove,” whether in its application to the witness of the Holy Ghost (John 16:8), or to the witness of men (as in 1Corinthians 14:24; 1Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:9-13, et al.), there is described a double function—to “convince,” if it may be, the sinner in himself; to “convict” him, if the other function fails, before men and angels. Both these functions St. Paul urges here. It is not enough to “have no fellowship with them.” To this tacit reproof open reproof in word and deed is to be added; only in such reproof it should be remembered that it would be disgraceful “even to speak” in detail of the actual “things done in secret.”

EPHESIANS

UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS

Ephesians 5:11We have seen in a former sermon that ‘the fruit,’ or outcome, ‘of the Light’ is a comprehensive perfection, consisting in all sorts and degrees of goodness and righteousness and truth. Therefore, the commandment, ‘Walk as children of the light,’ sums up all Christian morality. Is there need, then, for any additional precept? Yes; for Christian people do not live in an empty world. If there were no evil round them, and no proclivity to evil within them, it would be amply sufficient to say to them, ‘Be true to the light which you behold.’ But since both these things are, the commandment of my text is further necessary. We do not work in vacuo, and therefore friction and atmosphere have to be taken account of; and an essential part of ‘walking as children of the light’ is to know how to behave ourselves when confronted with ‘the works of darkness.’

These Ephesian Christians lived in a state of society honeycombed with hideous immorality, the centre of which was the temple, which was their city’s glory and shame. It was all but impossible for them to have nothing to do with the works of evil, unless, indeed, they went out of the world. But the difficulty of obedience does not affect the duty of obedience, nor slacken in the smallest degree the stringency of a command. This obligation lies upon us as fully as it did upon them, and the discharge of it by professing Christians would bring new life to moribund churches.

I. Let me ask you to note with me, first, the fruitlessness inherent in all the works of darkness.

You may remember that I pointed out, in a former discourse on the context, that the Apostle, here and elsewhere, draws a very significant distinction between ‘works’ and ‘fruit,’ and that distinction is put very strikingly in the words of my text. There are works which are barren. It is a grim thought that there may be abundant activity which, in the eyes of God, comes to just nothing; and that pages and pages of laborious calculations, when all summed up, have for result a great round 0. Men are busy, and hosts of them are doing what the old fairy stories tell us that evil spirits were condemned to do-spinning ropes out of sea-sand; and their life-work is nought when they come to reckon it up.

I have no time to dwell upon this thought, but I wish, just for a moment or two, to illustrate it.

All godless life is fruitless, inasmuch as it has no permanent results. Permanent results of a sort, indeed, follow everything that men do, for all our actions tend to make character, and they all have a share in fixing that which depends upon character-viz. destiny, both here and yonder. And thus the most fleeting of our deeds, which in one aspect is as transitory as the snow upon the great plains when the sun rises, leaves everlasting traces upon ourselves and upon our condition. But yet acts concerned with transitory things may have permanent fruit, or may be as transient as the things with which they are concerned. And the difference depends on the spirit in which they are done. If the roots are only in the surface-skin of soil, when that is pared off the plant goes. A life that is to be eternal must strike its roots through all the superficial humus down to the very heart of things. When its roots twine themselves round God then the deeds which blossom from them will blossom unfading for ever.

Think of men going empty-handed into another world, and saying, ‘O Lord! I made a big fortune in Manchester when I lived there, and I left it all behind me’; or, ‘I mastered a science, and one gleam of the light of eternity has antiquated it’; or, ‘I gained prizes, won my aims, and they have all dropped from my hands, and here I stand, having to say in the most tragic sense: Nothing in my hands I bring.’ And another man dies in the Lord, and his ‘works do follow’ him. It is not every vintage that bears exportation. Some wines are mellowed by crossing the ocean; some are turned into vinegar. The works of darkness are unfruitful because they are transient.

And they are unfruitful because, whilst they last, they yield no real satisfaction. The Apostle could say to another Church with a certainty as to what the answer would be, ‘What fruit had ye then’-when ye were doing them-’in the things whereof ye are now ashamed?’ And the answer is ‘None!’ Of course, it is true that men do bad things because they like them better than good. Of course, it is true that the misery of mankind is that they have no appetite in the general for the only real satisfaction. But it is also true that no man who feeds his heart and mind on anything short of God is really at rest in anything that he does or possesses. Occasional twinges of conscience, dim perceptions that after all they are walking in a vain show; glimpses of nobler possibilities, a vague unrest, an unwillingness to reflect and look the facts of their condition in the face, like men that will not take stock because they half suspect that they are insolvent-these are the conditions that attach to all godless men’s lives. There is no real fruit for their thirsty lips to feed upon. The smallest man is too large to be satisfied with anything short of Infinity, The human heart is like some narrow opening on a hill-side, so narrow that it looks as if a glassful of water would fill it. But it goes away down, down, down into the depths of the mountain, and you may pour in hogsheads and no effect is visible. God, and God alone, brings to the thirsty heart the fruit that it needs.

Another solemn thought illustrates the unfruitfulness of a godless life. There is no correspondence between what such a man does and what he is intended to do. Think of what the most degraded and sensuous wretch that shambles about the slums of a city, sodden with beer and rotten with profligacy, could be. Think of the raptures of devout contemplation and the energies of holy work which are possible for that soul, and then say-though it is an extreme case, the principle holds in less extreme cases-Are these things that men do apart from God, however shining, noble, illustrious they may be in the eyes of the world, and trumpeted forth by the mouthpieces of popular opinion, are these things worth calling fruits fit to be borne by such a tree? No more than the cankers on a rose-bush or the galls on an oak-tree are worthy of being called fruit are these works that some of you have as the only products of a life’s activity. ‘Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?’

II. And now, secondly, notice the plain Christian duty of abstinence.

‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.’ Now, the text, as it stands in our version, seems to suggest that these dark works are personified as companions whom a good man ought to avoid; and that, therefore, the bearing of the exhortation is, ‘Have nothing to do, in your own individual lives, with evil things that one man can commit.’ But I take it that, important as that injunction and prohibition is, the Apostle’s meaning is somewhat different, and that my text would perhaps be more accurately translated if another word were substituted for ‘have no fellowship with.’ The original expression seems rather to mean, ‘Do not go partners with other people in works of darkness, which it takes more than one to commit.’ Or, to put it into another language, the Apostle is regarding Christian people here as members of society, and exhorting them to a certain course of conduct in reference to plain and palpable existing evils around them. And such an exhortation to the duty of plain abstinence from things that the opinion of the world around us has no objection to, but which are contrary to the light, is addressed to all Christian people.

The need of it I do not require to illustrate at any length. But let me remind you that the devil has no more cunning way of securing a long lease of life for any evil than getting Christian people and Christian Churches to give it their sanction. What was it that kept slavery alive for centuries? Largely, that Christian men solemnly declared that it was a divine institution. What is it that has kept war alive for all these centuries? Largely, that bishops and preachers have always been ready to bless colours, and to read a Christening service over a man-of-war-and, I suppose, to ask God that an eighty-ton gun might be blessed to smash our enemies to pieces, and not to blow our sailors to bits. And what is it that preserves the crying evils of our community, the immoralities, the drunkenness, the trade dishonesty, and all the other things that I do not need to remind you of in the pulpit? Largely this, that professing Christians are mixed up with them. If only the whole body of those who profess and call themselves Christians would shake their hands clear of all complicity with such things, they could not last. Individual responsibility for collective action needs to be far more solemnly laid to heart by professing Christians than ever it has been.

Nor need I remind you, I suppose, with what fatal effects on the Gospel and the Church itself all such complicity is attended. Even the companions of wrongdoers despise, whilst they fraternise with, the professing Christian who has no higher standard than their own. What was it that made the Church victorious over the combined forces of imperial persecution, pagan superstition, and philosophic speculation? I believe that among all the causes that a well-known historian has laid down for the triumph of Christianity, what was as powerful as-I was going to say even more than-the Gospel of peace and love which the Church proclaimed was the standard of austere morality which it held up to a world rotting in its own filth. And sure I am that wherever the Church says, ‘So do not I, because of the fear of the Lord,’ it will gain a power, and will be regarded with a possibly reluctant, but a very real, respect which no easy-going coming down to the level of popular moralities will ever secure for a silver-slippered Christianity. And so, brethren, I would say to you, Do not be afraid of the old name Puritan. Ignorant people use it as a scoff. It should be a crown of glory. ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.’

But how is this to be done? Well, of course, there is only one way of abstaining, and that is, to abstain. But there are a great many different ways of abstaining. Light is not fire. And the more that Christian people feel themselves bound to stand aloof from common evils, the more are they bound to see that they do it in the spirit of the Master, which is meekness. It is always an invidious position to take up. And if we take it up with any heat and temper, with any lack of moderation, with any look of ostentation of superior righteousness, or with any trace of the Boanerges spirit which says, ‘Let us call down fire from heaven and consume them,’ our testimony will be weakened, and the world will have a right to say to us, ‘Jesus we know, and Paul we know; but who are ye?’ ‘Who made this man a judge and a divider over us?’ ‘In meekness instructing them that oppose themselves.’

III. Lastly, note the still harder Christian duty of vigorous protest.

The further duty beyond abstinence which the text enjoins is inadequately represented by our version, ‘but rather reprove them.’ For the word rendered in our version ‘reprove’ is the same which our Lord employed when He spoke of the mission of the Comforter as being to ‘convince {or convict} the world of sin.’ And it does not merely mean ‘reprove,’ but so to reprove as to produce the conviction which is the object of the reproof.

This task is laid on the shoulders of all professing Christians. A silent abstinence is not enough. No doubt, the best way, in some circumstances, to convict the darkness is to shine. Our holiness will convict sin of its ugliness. Our light will reveal the gloom. The presentation of a Christian life is the Christian man’s mightiest weapon in his conflict with the world’s evil. But that is not all. And if Christian people think that they have done all their duty, in regard to clamant and common iniquities, by simply abstaining from them and presenting a nobler example, they have yet to learn one very important chapter of their duty. A dumb Church is a dying Church, and it ought to be; for Christ has sent us here in order, amongst other things, that we may bring Christian principles to bear upon the actions of the community; and not be afraid to speak when we are called upon by conscience to do so.

Now I am not going to dwell upon this matter, but I want just to point out to you how, in the context here, there are two or three very important principles glanced at which bear upon it. And one of them is this, that one reason for speaking out is the very fact that the evils are so evil that a man is ashamed to speak about them. Did you ever notice this context, in which the Apostle, in the next verse to my text, gives the reason for his commandment to ‘reprove’ thus-’For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret’? Did you ever hear of a fantastic tenderness for morality so very sensitive that it is not at all shocked when the immoral things are done, but glows with virtuous indignation when a Christian man speaks out about them? There are plenty of people nowadays who tell us that it is ‘indelicate’ and ‘indecent’ and ‘improper,’ and I do not know how much else, for a Christian teacher or minister to say a word about certain moral scandals. But they do not say anything about the immorality and the indelicacy and the indecency of doing them. Let us have done with that hypocrisy, brethren. I am arguing for no disregard for proprieties; I want all fitting reticence observed, and I do not wish indiscriminate rebukes to be flung at foul things; but it is too much to require that, by reason of the very inky cloud of filth that they fling up like cuttlefish, they should escape censure. Let us remember Paul’s exhortation, and reprove because the things are too bad to be spoken about.

Further, note in the context the thought that the conviction of the darkness comes from the flashing upon it of the light. ‘All things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light.’ Which, being translated into other words, is this:-Be strong in your brave protest, because it only needs that the thing should be seen as it is, and called by its right name, in order to be condemned.

The Assyrians had a belief that if ever, by any chance, a demon saw himself in a mirror, he was frightened at his own ugliness and incontinently fled. And if Christian people would only hold up the mirror of Christian principle to the hosts of evil things that afflict our city and our country, they would vanish like ghosts at sunrise. They cannot stand the light, therefore let us cast the light upon them.

And do not forget the other final principle here, which is imperfectly represented by our translation. We ought to read, ‘Whatever is made manifest is light.’ Yes. In the physical world when light falls upon a thing, you see it because there is on it a surface of light. And in the moral world the intention of all this conviction is that the thing disclosed to be darkness should, in the very disclosure, cease to be dark, should forsake its nature and be transformed into light. Such transformation is not always the case. Alas! There are evil deeds on which the light falls, and it does nothing. But the purpose in all cases should be, and the issue in many will be, that the merciful conviction by the light will be followed by the conversion of darkness into light.

And so, dear brethren, I bring this text to your hearts, and lay it upon your consciences. We may not all be called upon to speak; we are all called upon to be. You can shine, and by shining show how dark the darkness is. The obligation is laid upon us all; the commandment still comes to every Christian which was given to the old prophet, ‘Declare unto My people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sin.’ A quaint old writer says that the presence of a saint ‘hinders the devil of elbow room to do his tricks.’ We can all rebuke sin by our righteousness, and by our shining reveal the darkness to itself. We do not walk as children of the light unless we keep ourselves from all connivance with works of darkness, and by all means at our disposal reprove and convict them. ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing, saith the Lord.’Ephesians 5:11-12. And have no fellowship — No society, no participation with wicked men in the unfruitful works of darkness — Works which bring no advantage, but mischief, (Romans 6:23,) and called works of darkness, because they usually proceed from ignorance, Acts 3:17; are contrary to the light of the word, John 3:20; are usually committed in the dark, 1 Thessalonians 5:7; and bring those who live and die in the commission of them to utter and eternal darkness, Matthew 25:30; but rather reprove them — Show your disapprobation of them by seasonable and suitable reproof, (Leviticus 19:17; Matthew 18:15,) and especially by the holiness of your conversation. Observe, reader, to avoid such things is not sufficient. For it is a shame even to speak of those things — Except in the way of reproof; which are done of them in secret — That is, says Dr. Whitby, “in their mysteries, which therefore were styled απορρητα μυστηρια, (mysteries not to be spoken of,) none being permitted to divulge them upon pain of death. Hence even the word μυστηριον (mystery) hath its name, say grammarians, from μυειν το στομα, to stop the mouth. The Eleusinian mysteries were performed in the night, agreeably to the deeds of darkness committed in them; so were the Bacchanalia; and they were both full of detestable iniquity; and upon that account, says Livy, “were banished out of the Roman senate and Italy.” These quotations, with many others which might be added to them, plainly prove, as Dr. Doddridge observes, that if the lower sort of mysteries among the heathens were first intended, as some have supposed, to impress the minds of the people with the belief of future rewards and punishments, and the higher sort of them to instruct persons of more reflection and penetration than the rest, in the knowledge of the true God, and the other great principles of natural religion, they were, long before the apostle’s time, greatly corrupted, and degraded to the most detestable purposes. Monsieur Saurin thinks there is a sarcasm in this verse, as if the apostle said, “The heathens call these things απορρητα, things not to be spoken of; true, they are properly so; things not too sacred, but too infamous to be mentioned.”5:3-14 Filthy lusts must be rooted out. These sins must be dreaded and detested. Here are not only cautions against gross acts of sin, but against what some may make light of. But these things are so far from being profitable. that they pollute and poison the hearers. Our cheerfulness should show itself as becomes Christians, in what may tend to God's glory. A covetous man makes a god of his money; places that hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly good, which should be in God only. Those who allow themselves, either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they come to the kingdom of glory. When the vilest transgressors repent and believe the gospel, they become children of obedience, from whom God's wrath is turned away. Dare we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God? Sinners, like men in the dark, are going they know not whither, and doing they know not what. But the grace of God wrought a mighty change in the souls of many. Walk as children of light, as having knowledge and holiness. These works of darkness are unfruitful, whatever profit they may boast; for they end in the destruction of the impenitent sinner. There are many ways of abetting, or taking part in the sins of others; by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And if we share with others in their sins, we must expect to share in their plagues. If we do not reprove the sins of others, we have fellowship with them. A good man will be ashamed to speak of what many wicked men are not ashamed to do. We must have not only a sight and a knowledge that sin is sin, and in some measure shameful, but see it as a breach of God's holy law. After the example of prophets and apostles, we should call on those asleep and dead in sin, to awake and arise, that Christ may give them light.And have no fellowship - See the sentiment here expressed fully explained in the notes on 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

The unfruitful works - The deeds of darkness that produce no "benefit" to the body or the soul. The word "unfruitful" is used here in contrast with the "fruit of the Spirit," Ephesians 5:9.

But rather reprove them - By your life, your conversation, and all your influence. This is the business of Christians. Their lives should be a standing rebuke of a sinful world, and they should be ever ready to express their disapprobation of its wickedness in every form.

11. unfruitful works of darkness—Sins are terminated in themselves, and therefore are called "works," not "fruits" (Ga 5:19, 22). Their only fruit is that which is not in a true sense fruit (De 32:32), namely, "death" (Ro 6:21; Ga 6:8). Plants cannot bear "fruit" in the absence of light. Sin is "darkness," and its parent is the prince of darkness (Eph 6:12). Graces, on the other hand, as flourishing in "the light," are reproductive, and abound in fruits; which, as harmoniously combining in one whole, are termed (in the singular) "the FRUIT of the Spirit" (Eph 5:9).

rather, &c.—Translate as Greek, "rather even reprove them" (compare Mt 5:14-16). Not only "have no fellowship, but even reprove them," namely, in words, and in your deeds, which, shining with "the light," virtually reprove all that is contrary to light (Eph 5:13; Joh 3:19-21). "Have no fellowship," does not imply that we can avoid all intercourse (1Co 5:10), but "avoid such fellowship as will defile yourselves"; just as light, though it touch filth, is not soiled by it; nay, as light detects it, so, "even reprove sin."

Have no fellowship with; not only do not practise them yourselves, but do not join with others in them, by consent, advice, assistance, or any other way whereby ye may be defiled by them.

The unfruitful; by a meiosis, for bringing forth evil fruit, destructive, pernicious, Romans 6:21 Galatians 6:8.

Works of darkness; wicked works, so called because they proceed from darkness in the mind, the ignorance of God, and men are put upon them by the devil, the prince of darkness, and because they are afraid of the light.

But rather reprove them; or convince them, viz. not only by your words, Leviticus 19:17 Matthew 18:15, but especially by your actions, which being contrary to them, will both evidence them to be, and reprove them as being, works of darkness. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,.... It is not said with the workers of darkness, or with the men of the world, who are in darkness, and are darkness itself; to have fellowship with them in a civil way, or to dwell among them, is not prohibited; it is allowed of, and countenanced by the greatest examples; and especially it is lawful and right, when there is any prospect of doing good to the souls of men; and even when natural right, relation, and necessity require it; and indeed, the contrary is impracticable: conversation with them in things sinful and superstitious should be abstained from; and when it tends to draw off the soul from Christ and his interest, and is infectious; and when weak ones are offended, and sinners are hereby hardened and confirmed in sin; and the name of God is blasphemed, and the Gospel is evil spoken of: but fellowship is not to be maintained "with the works of darkness"; which are sins, so called, because they are opposite to light; to the light of nature, to the light of the divine word, both law and Gospel, to the light of grace, to God the fountain of light, and to Christ the light of the world; and because the source and spring of them are the original darkness of the mind, and Satan the prince of darkness; and because they are generally committed in the dark; and because the effect and consequence of them is utter darkness, and blackness of darkness: and these are "unfruitful"; they are of no profit and advantage, they bring forth no fruit, unless it be guilt, fear, shame, corruption, and death; wherefore no fellowship should be had with them, by committing the same, by assisting in them, by consenting to them, by approving of them, by receiving any worldly advantage from them, and by winking and conniving at them: it is contrary to the character of saints to have fellowship with such, as the apostle says, 2 Corinthians 6:14, where he gives the mystical explanation of the law, in Deuteronomy 22:10; agreeably to which, and to the passage here, is the sense of a Jewish commentators (l) who upon it observes, that that law

"intimates that a righteous man, , "should have no fellowship" with a wicked man;''

this is to be unequally yoked, signified by the ox and the ass ploughing together:

but rather reprove them; both by words and by deeds, by an agreeable life and conversation, which last seems to be the design of the apostle here; because it is not a brother, but such who are in darkness, and live in works of darkness; yea, not sinners, but sins are to be reproved, which can be done no other way; nor are all saints proper to reprove verbally, nor are they qualified for it; but all should, and may by facts; and the light discovers darkness, by its own splendour; and this appears from the apostle's reasoning in the next words.

(l) Baal Hatturira in Deuteronomy 22.10.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather {e} reprove them.

(e) Make them open to all the world, by your good life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 5:11. Συγκοινωνεῖτε] have not fellowship with (the disobedient) in the works of darkness (comp. Ephesians 5:7; and as regards the dative, see on Php 4:14), i.e. in those works, which are wrought in consequence of spiritual darkness—of the ethical frame of mind opposed to divine truth. Comp. Romans 13:12. They are the ἔργα πονηρά (Colossians 1:21), the ἔργα τῆς σαρκός (Galatians 5:21), the νεκρὰ ἔργα (Hebrews 6:1), the ἔργα ἀσεβείας (Judges 1:15).

τοῖς ἀκάρποις] the non-fruitful ones, inasmuch, namely, as they draw no blessing after them. The perdition which they have as result (Romans 6:21; Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 4:22, al.) is conceived as negation of blessedness (comp. Ephesians 5:5). Comp. ἔργα νεκρά, Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 9:14.

μᾶλλον δὲ καί] but rather even, imo adeo. See on Galatians 4:9; Romans 8:34. Bengel well remarks: “non satis abstinere est.”

ἐλέγχετε] reprove them (these works), which is done when they are not passed over in silence and indulgently excused, but are held up with censure to the doer, and have their immorality discovered and brought home, in order to produce amendment. This chastening reproof is an oral one, since the context does not intimate anything else; not one de facto (“sancta nimirum et honesta vita,” Beza; comp. Erasmus, Cameron, Zanchius), not “dictis et factis” (Bengel; comp. Theophylact, Photius, Calovius, Holzhausen, Olshausen, and others). Comp. on John 3:20; John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:24.Ephesians 5:11. καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους: and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. TWH again prefer the form συνκοινωνεῖτε. The verb has its usual force here, and takes us back to the συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν of Ephesians 5:7. The only question is whether it governs the ἔργοις itself, or an αὐτοῖς or αὐτῶν understood. Looking to the συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν above, the συγκοινωνήσαντές μου τῇ θλίψει of Php 4:14, etc., some prefer the latter, = “have no fellowship with them in the works”. But the gen. probably would then be the proper case for the things in which the participation took place; cf. the use of συγκοινωνεῖν with τινί τινος (Dio Cass., xxxvii., 41, etc.), and συγκοινωνὸς τῆς ῥίζης, etc. (Romans 11:17). Here, therefore, as in the case of the ἁμαρτίαις in Revelation 18:4 and even the θλίψει in Php 4:14, the verb is best understood as governing the ἔργοις directly. Elsewhere we read of ἔργα πονηρά (Colossians 1:21), and νεκρὰ ἔργα (Hebrews 6:1); here of ἔργα ἄκαρπα, works which result in no gain, yield nothing pleasant or profitable, bring no blessing or reward with them; cf. the contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:22.—μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε: but rather even reprove them. This rendering of the RV is on the whole the best. AV omits the even. The other old English Versions render similarly, except Wicl., who has “but more”; Genesis , 2, which gives “but even reprove them rather”; and Bish., “but even rebuke”. The formula μᾶλλον δὲ καί, combines the ideas of the corrective (μᾶλλον), the adversative (δέ) and the ascensive (καί), and means, therefore, “but rather even,” not merely “yea, much more”. Without the καί the phrase μᾶλλον δέ has the force of a corrective climax; cf. Mey. on Romans 8:34, Galatians 4:9, and Fritz. on Romans 8:34. It was not enough, therefore, for them simply to abstain from such works; they must even reprove them. The question, however, is what is the proper sense of ἐλέγχετε here, and what is the force of the whole sentence? Some give the verb the sense of reproving, but understand the reproof in view to be both in word and in deed (Olsh.), or only in deed, i.e., the reproof conveyed by the spectacle of a pure life and consistently moral walk. Others, looking to the following τὰ γὰρ κρυφῆ γινόμενα, etc., and thinking it incongruous to speak of an oral rebuke in connection with a statement of the shame it is even to speak of the sins in question, would give the verb the sense of exposing (Abb.). But both the context and the general idea connected with ἐλέγχειν in the Pauline writings (cf., e.g., 1 Corinthians 14:24; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15) point to the notion of oral reproof. The idea, therefore, is that these Christians were not at liberty to deal lightly with such sins, or connive at them, or be silent about them, but had to speak out against them and hold them up to rebuke, with the view of bringing their heathen neighbours to apprehend their turpitude and forsake them.11. unfruitful] “For the end of these things is death” (Romans 6:21). The metaphor of fruit, which we have just had (Ephesians 5:9), is almost always used in connexions of good. See a close parallel, Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:22, “the works of the flesh”; “the fruit of the Spirit.”

darkness] Lit., the darkness, which you have left; from whose “authority” you have been “rescued” (Colossians 1:13). The metaphor here (on which see on Ephesians 4:18) suggests rather the secrecy and shame of sin than its blindness.

rather] Rather even, R. V., and so better; “rather, go the length of positive reproof.”

reprove] The verb, in classical prose, has always an argumentative reference; it is, to question, confute, disprove. And though in some N. T. passages this reference is not necessary to the sense, it is always admissible, and lies, as it were, behind the meaning of mere blame or censure. So here, the Christian is not merely to denounce evil, but by holy word and life to evince its misery and fallacy, to convict it (R. V. margin) of its true nature.Ephesians 5:11. Δὲ, καὶ) καὶ, even: it is not enough to abstain [yourself, you must also reprove others].—ἐλέγχετε, reprove) by words and deeds worthy of the light.Verse 11. - And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The point of this exhortation is in the adjective "unfruitful." The works of darkness are unfruitful; they produce no goodness, give rise to no satisfaction, to no moral results that are "a joy forever;" or, if fruit they have, it is shame, remorse, despair. Contrast this with the renovating, satisfying, joy-producing, fruits of righteousness. But rather even reprove them. Do not be content with a passive attitude towards them, but take the aggressive and expose their wickedness, whether in public or in the domestic circle. A testimony has to be lifted up against ways that are so shameful and that bring down the wrath of God. Have - fellowship (συγκοινωνεῖτε)

See on Revelation 18:4; see on Revelation 1:9.

Unfruitful works (ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις)

Compare fruit, Ephesians 5:9, and Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:22, works of the flesh, fruit of the Spirit. Works which bring no blessing with them. Compare Romans 6:21; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:21; Galatians 6:8.

Reprove (ελέγχετε)

See on John 3:20.

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