Ephesians 5:17
Why be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Be ye not unwise.—The word here is stronger than in Ephesians 5:15; it is properly senseless, used of “the fool” (in Luke 11:40; Luke 12:20; 1Corinthians 15:36; 2Corinthians 11:16; 2Corinthians 11:19; 2Corinthians 12:6; 2Corinthians 12:11). By it St. Paul emphasises his previous warning; then he adds the explanation that to be “wise” is to “understand what the will of the Lord is”—to know His purpose towards us and towards the world, and so to know the true purpose of our life. Hence we are told in Job 28:28, that “the fear of the Lord is wisdom,” or, more precisely, in Proverbs 9:10, that it is “the beginning of wisdom.”

5:15-21 Another remedy against sin, is care, or caution, it being impossible else to maintain purity of heart and life. Time is a talent given us by God, and it is misspent and lost when not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must double our diligence for the future. Of that time which thousands on a dying bed would gladly redeem at the price of the whole world, how little do men think, and to what trifles they daily sacrifice it! People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that stirred them more to redeem time. Be not unwise. Ignorance of our duty, and neglect of our souls, show the greatest folly. Drunkenness is a sin that never goes alone, but carries men into other evils; it is a sin very provoking to God. The drunkard holds out to his family and to the world the sad spectacle of a sinner hardened beyond what is common, and hastening to perdition. When afflicted or weary, let us not seek to raise our spirits by strong drink, which is hateful and hurtful, and only ends in making sorrows more felt. But by fervent prayer let us seek to be filled with the Spirit, and to avoid whatever may grieve our gracious Comforter. All God's people have reason to sing for joy. Though we are not always singing, we should be always giving thanks; we should never want disposition for this duty, as we never want matter for it, through the whole course of our lives. Always, even in trials and afflictions, and for all things; being satisfied of their loving intent, and good tendency. God keeps believers from sinning against him, and engages them to submit one to another in all he has commanded, to promote his glory, and to fulfil their duties to each other.Be ye not unwise - Be not fools in the employment of your time, and in your manner of life. Show true wisdom by endeavoring to understand what the will of the Lord is, and then doing it. 17. Wherefore—seeing that ye need to walk so circumspectly, choosing and using the right opportunity of good.

unwise—a different Greek word from that in Eph 5:15. Translate, "foolish," or "senseless."

understanding—not merely knowing as a matter of fact (Lu 12:47), but knowing with understanding.

the will of the Lord—as to how each opportunity is to be used. The Lord's will, ultimately, is our "sanctification" (1Th 4:3); and that "in every thing," meantime, we should "give thanks" (1Th 5:18; compare above, Eph 5:10).

Understanding, diligently considering,

what the will of the Lord is, in the understanding of which your chief wisdom consists. Wherefore be ye not unwise,.... No one would be thought to be unwise, but such are, who do not redeem time, and are ignorant of the will of the Lord; believers should not act the unwise part, neither in their talk, nor in their walk and conversation, nor in their use of time:

but understanding what the will of the Lord is; or "of God", as read the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions: there is the secret will of God, which is the rule of all his proceedings; and is unknown to men, till facts make it appear; this is always fulfilled, and sometimes by persons who have no regard to his revealed will; to this the wills of the people of God should be always resigned: and there is his revealed will, which lies partly in the Gospel; which declares it to be his will, that Christ should work out the salvation of his people, which is what he came to do; that whoever believes in him shall be saved; that all that are redeemed shall be sanctified; and that they shall persevere to the end, and be glorified; and partly in the law, in the precepts and commands of it, which contain the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God: and the understanding of it is not a mere speculative knowledge of it, but a practical one; when a man not only knows, but does the will of God, and his heart and actions agree with it; and this is to be done in faith, in virtue of grace and strength received, with a view to the glory of God, having no dependence on what is done; and to the right understanding of it, so as to act according to it, as should be, the word of God, and the illuminations, instructions, and grace of the Spirit, are necessary: the Alexandrian copy, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, read the words as an exhortation, "understand ye the will of God".

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 5:17. Διὰ τοῦτο] Because ye ought so to walk as is said in Ephesians 5:15-16, of which ye as ἄφρονες (whose walk, in fact, cannot be wise) would be incapable. Others: because the times are evil (Menochius, Zanchius, Estius, et al., including Rückert, Matthies, and de Wette). But the ὅτι αἱ ἡμ. πον. εἰσι was only a subsidiary thought subservient to the ἀγοράζ. τ. καιρ., and affords no suitable reason for the following exhortations.

μὴ γίνεσθε] not: be not, but become not.

ἄφρονες] devoid of intelligence, imprudentes, i.e. “qui mente non recte utuntur” (Tittmann, Synon. p. 143), namely, for the moral understanding of the will of Christ, as here the contrast teaches. Comp. on φρόνησις, Ephesians 1:8. The ἄσοφοι of Ephesians 5:15 is a higher notion than ἄφρονες, which latter denotes the want of practical understanding, the opposite of φρόνιμος (Plat. Gorg. p. 498 B; Xen. Mem. ii. 3. 1; comp. Romans 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:36; Luke 11:40; Luke 12:20). Every ἄφρων is also ἄσοφος, but the ἄσοφος may yet be φρόνιμος (Luke 16:8), namely, for immoral ends and means, which here the context excludes. See also the following contrast.

συνίοντες] understanding, more than γινώσκοντες. Comp. Grotius, and see on Colossians 1:9.

τὸ θέλ. τοῦ κυρ.] of Christ. Comp. Acts 21:14; 1 Corinthians 4:19.Ephesians 5:17. διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες: for this cause become not ye foolish. The διὰ τοῦτο may refer to the immediately preceding clause (Rück., De Wette, etc.), the evil of the days being a reason for avoiding folly. It is better, however, to refer it to the main idea, that of the walk, than to the subordinate. The manner of walk which they were called to pursue required the cultivation of wisdom, not of folly. The γίνεσθε, again, is not to be reduced to the sense of ἐστε. Contemplating them as in the Christian position Paul charges them not to suffer themselves to slip back again into folly—a thing inconsistent with the walk required of the Christian. ἄφρονες is a strong term = without reason, senseless, lacking moral intelligence.—ἀλλὰ συνιέντες [συνίετε] τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Κυρίου: but understanding [understand] what the will of the Lord is. The reading varies here between συνιέντες, as in TR, with [568]3[569] [570] [571] and the mass of MSS., Vulg., Syr.-P., etc.; συνιόντες, with [572]*[573], etc.; and συνίετε, with [574] [575] [576] [577]17, etc., which is adopted by LTTr WRV. For Κυροις Lachmann gives θεοῦ in the margin, but on slight authority. The Κύριος, as in Acts 21:14; 1 Corinthians 4:19, is Christ. As distinguished from γινώσκειν, συνιέναι expresses intelligent, comprehending knowledge, more than acquaintance with a thing or mere matter of fact knowledge.

[568] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[569] Codex Sangermanensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., now at St. Petersburg, formerly belonging to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its text is largely dependent upon that of D. The Latin version, e (a corrected copy of d), has been printed, but with incomplete accuracy, by Belsheim (18 5).

[570] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[571] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[572] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[573] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

[574] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[575] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[576] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[577] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.17. be ye not] Lit., become ye not; let not unwatchfulness pull you down.

understanding] Better, probably, understand.

what the will of the Lord is] “The good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God” apprehended by the disciple who is “being transformed by the renewing of his mind” (Romans 12:2, a passage much in point here). Not independent reason but the illuminated perceptions of a soul awake to God will have a true intuition into “His will,” both as to that invariable attitude of the Christian, subjection to and love of the will of God, and as to the detailed opportunities of action in that attitude.—Cp. on the Divine Will and our relation to it, Psalm 143:10; Matthew 6:10; Matthew 7:21; Mark 3:35; John 7:17; Acts 13:36; Acts 21:14; Acts 22:14; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Colossians 1:9; Colossians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 13:21; 1 John 2:17; below Ephesians 6:6. And on the example of the Lord, cp. Psalm 40:8; Luke 22:42; John 4:34; John 5:30; John 6:38.Ephesians 5:17. Συνίεντες, understanding) Amos, as we have seen, has συνιῶν: hence we may conclude that Paul had reference to that passage.—τί τὸ θέλημα[85] ΤΟῦ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ, what the will of the Lord is) not only universally, but at a certain time, place [as occasion may arise], etc.

[85] In this verse the Germ. Vers. prefers the reading Θεοῦ, which has been left by the margin of both Ed. to the pleasure of the reader.—E. B.

B (adding ἡμῶν) D(Δ) Gg Vulg., Rec. Text, and Lucif. 158, read Κυρίου. Af and several MSS. of Vulg. read Θεοῦ.—ED.Verse 17. - Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what is the will of the Lord. The "wherefore" bears on all the preceding argument: because ye are children of light; because light is so valuable and so indispensable; because your whole circumstances demand so much care and earnestness. "Unwise" is equivalent to senseless; "understanding," to both knowing and laying to heart, as in parable of sower: "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not," i.e. does not consider or ponder it, "then cometh the wicked one," etc. The will of the Lord is the great rule of the Christian life; to know and in the deeper sense understand this, is to walk wisely and to walk surely. Understanding (συνιέντες)

See on prudent, Matthew 11:25; foolish, see on Romans 3:21.

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