Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let no man deceive you with vain words.—It seems likely that St. Paul has in view, not mere worldly condonation of evil or low heathen morality, but some anticipation of that Antinomian form of Gnosticism which held that the things done in the body, being evil only by the irresistible, inevitable gravitation of matter to evil, could not touch the soul. We know that in the Colossian Church there was an anticipation of the more ascetic Gnosticism (Colossians 2:21; comp. also 1Timothy 4:1-5). As the earlier Judaistic rigour had assumed this later form, so the earlier Antinomianism (of Romans 6:1) may probably have passed into the more systematic and speculative Antinomianism of the Gnostic type. (Comp. Philippians 3:18-19.) In this same spirit St. John, himself familiar with the life of Ephesus, writes earnestly: “Let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous” (1John 3:7). Hero the Apostle warns them that it is for these sins that “the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience,” i.e. (see Ephesians 2:2), on the heathen; and urges the Christians not to fall back, by being “partakers with them” both of their sin and their punishment, into the gross heathen darkness out of which they had been saved.Romans 1. It required, therefore, all the authority of an apostle to convince them, that however plausible were the arguments in defense of them, they certainly exposed those who practiced them to the wrath of God.
because of these things—uncleanness, covetousness, &c. (Eph 5:3-5).
cometh—present, not merely "shall come." Is as sure as if already come.
children—rather, "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2, 3). The children of unbelief in doctrine (De 32:20) are "children of disobedience" in practice, and these again are "children of wrath."Vain words; false and deceitful, which cannot secure to you the impunity they promise you, bearing you in hand, either that those things are not sins, or not so dangerous.
The wrath of God; viz. in the other world.
for because of these things; fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting:
the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience; in temporal judgments, and in eternal ruin; there have been instances of it; it is usually the case, and always if grace prevents not; this wrath comes down from above, and sometimes suddenly, with great force and power, like a mighty flood; and there is no standing up under it, and against it; and though it falls upon the children of disobedience, such as are disobedient both to law and Gospel, are unbelievers in Christ, and not persuadable by his ministers, are stubborn, obstinate, and rebellious; yet it shows how much these things are displeasing to God, and resented by him, and therefore should be avoided by his people; and the consideration of their not being appointed to this wrath, though deserving of it as others, and of their deliverance from it by Christ, should engage them the more to abstain from these sins.Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Ephesians 5:6. Let no one deceive you with empty words! In those against whom the warning is here given, Grotius sees partly heathen philosophers, partly Jews, which last “omnibus Judaizantibus, quomodocunque vixissent, partem fore dicebant in seculo altera;” Olshausen (comp. Bleek) thinks of frivolous Christians of antinomian sentiments, who would in future emerge; Meier, of teachers of Gentile tendencies. In accordance with the context (ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας, συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν, ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος) we have to understand Gentiles who have remained unbelieving, who in their intercourse with the Christians sought to palliate those Gentile vices, to give them out as matters of indifference, to represent abstaining from the same as groundless rigour, and thereby to entice back the Christians to the Gentile life. Their discourses were κένοι, inasmuch as the corresponding contents, i.e. the truth, was wanting to them. Comp. Colossians 2:8; LXX. Exodus 5:9, al.; Plat. Lach. p. 196 B; Dem. 821, 11; Hom. Od. xxii. 249, and the passages in Kypke, II. p. 299 f.; also κενολογία, empty talk, Plut. Mor. p. 1069 C; κενολογεῖν, Isaiah 8:19.
διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] for certainly very serious consequences follow these vices: on account of these vices (διὰ ταῦτα emphatically prefixed) comes (down) the wrath of God upon the disobedient, for this vicious conduct piles up the load of guilt one day to receive punishment (Romans 2:5), from which they could be liberated only by means of faith in Christ, the despising of whom leaves them to abide under the wrath of God and to encounter the judicial execution of it. To refer ταῦτα to the deceiving with empty words (Chrysostom places both explanations side by side; comp. Theophylact and Oecumenius), has against it not so much the plural—since ταῦτα often also in classical writers denotes (see Winer, p. 146 [E. T. 201]) one notion or thought (according to the aggregate of its several marks)—as rather the unsuitability of the sense in itself and to the following μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε κ.τ.λ. as well as to the parallel Colossians 3:6.
ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ] Not the punishment of the present life is meant (Calvin, Meier, and others; Matthies combines present and future), since the ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ is the opposite of the βασιλεία, Ephesians 5:5; but the wrath of God in the day of judgment, which future, as in Ephesians 5:5, is realized as present. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10.
The υἱοὶ τῆς ἀπειθ. are here those refusing faith to the gospel, and thereby disobedient to God. It is otherwise Ephesians 2:2. Comp. Romans 11:30; Romans 15:31.Ephesians 5:6. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις: let no one deceive you with vain words. A solemn warning, made the more pointed by being given without any connecting particle. κενός is “vain” in the sense of empty, without the substance of truth or reality, and so = sophistical; cf. κενολογεῖν in Isaiah 8:19. But what is the reference? Some think heathen philosophers and Jews are in view (Grot.), or Judaisers in particular (Neand.), or antinomian Christians (Olsh.), or teachers of Gentile tendencies (Meyer), or false brethren in the Churches (Abb.). But the expression is a general one, applying to all who sought by their sophistries to palliate the vices in question or make them appear to be no vices. These would be found mostly (though by no manner of necessity exclusively) among the heathen, especially among such Gentiles as heard the truth and remained unbelieving. This is most accordant with the descriptive terms which follow, viz.—υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας; μὴ … συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν; ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος. (So Mey., Ell., etc.)—διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God. The διὰ ταῦτα, which is placed emphatically first, refers of course to the sins in question; not to the “vain words,” as Chrys., e.g., strangely thought. The certainty of the Divine retribution is added as an enforcement of the previous warnings. It is given in terms of a solemn present (ἔρχεται) and in the form of “the wrath of God”—an expression which occupies a very large place both in the OT and in the NT. This ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ is not to be limited (with Ritschl.) to the judgment of the last day, or taken as synonymous with the vindicta Dei, or resolved into a figure of speech with no reality behind it, or identified simply with certain effects—the workings of conscience, the shortness and the ills of life, the penalties of the present existence, etc. It is given in Scripture, just as the love, the righteousness, the holiness of God are given, as an affectus and not merely an effectus, a quality of the perfect moral nature of God, an attitude and sensibility of the Divine Mind toward evil. It is exhibited as operating now, but also as looking to fulfil itself completely in the final adjustment. Here its future operation in the ultimate awards may be specially in view, but not that alone. Meyer puts it too narrowly when he says it is “the wrath of God in the day of judgment, which future, as in Ephesians 5:5, is realised as present”.—ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας: upon the sons of disobedience. For ἀπειθείας WH prefer ἀπειθείας. The phrase has been used already in Ephesians 2:2, and there with reference to the unregenerate. Here, again, it describes the persons in respect of their “essential and innate disobedience” (Ell.). The ἀπειθεία in view is the denial of faith, disobedience to the truth of the Gospel of God, and so to God Himself; see on Ephesians 2:2, and cf. Romans 11:30; Romans 11:32; Romans 15:31; Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:11.6. Let no man deceive you] See for similar warnings Romans 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; James 1:26.
vain] Lit., empty; alien to the solidity of the immoveable facts that the body cannot sin without sin of the spirit; that body and spirit alike are concerned in eternal retribution; that the wrath of God is no figure of speech, and that His love cannot possibly modify His holiness. “Vain words” on these matters, and therefore such cautions as this, are never obsolete. Human sin began (Genesis 3) with exactly such deceits, and they are the subtlest ingredient still in the secret of temptation.
cometh] is coming; is on its way, till in “the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5) it falls.
the wrath of God] For this awful phrase cp. John 3:36; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:5; Romans 2:8; Romans 5:9; Romans 9:22; Colossians 3:6 (parallel here); 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 6:16; Revelation 19:15; &c. And see note above on Ephesians 2:3 (“children of wrath”).
children] Lit., sons. For the Hebraism, see above on the same phrase, Ephesians 2:2.Ephesians 5:6. Κενοῖς λόγοις, with vain words) by which the anger of God is despised, and by which men strive to withdraw themselves from their duty, to consider good as nothing, and to extenuate and varnish over evil [in which moreover all things everywhere abound.—V. g.] This is the genus; there are three species at Ephesians 5:4. So the LXX., μὴ μεριμνάτωσαν ἐν λόγοις κενοῖς, Exodus 5:9.—διὰ ταῦτα, because of these things) because of fornication, etc.—ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ, the anger of God) The antithesis to the reconciliation [on God’s part to man, by His forgiving in Christ], Ephesians 5:2, ch. Ephesians 4:32.—ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας, on the children of disobedience) in reference to heathenism.Verse 6. - Let no man deceive you with empty words. No man, whether pagan or nominal Christian: the pagan defending a life of pleasure as the only thing to be had with even a smack of good in it; the Christian mitigating pleasant sins, saying that the young must have an outlet for their warm feelings, that men in business must put all their soul into it, and that life must be brightened by a little mirth and jollity. As opposed to what the apostle has laid down (ver. 5), such words are empty, destitute of all solidity or truth. For on account of these things the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. The sophistry is swept away by an awful fact - the wrath cometh, is coming, and will come too in the future life. It comes in the form of natural punishment, Nature avenging her broken laws by deadly diseases; in the form, too, of disappointment, remorse, desolation of soul; and in the form of judgments, like that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, or the sword which never departed from David's house.
Plausible, but devoid of truth, and employed to palliate heathen vices.
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