Where the world comes to study the Bible

19. Walking in the Light (Ephesians 5:7-14)

7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

Introduction

Several months ago, our blue Jetta was involved in an accident, rearranging the front end. I opted to repair the car myself. I went to a place that sold used Volkswagen parts. There were several Jettas in this small wrecking yard, with similar body styles. I was looking each car over to find the body parts which were in the best condition. Among these Jettas, I was more than delighted to find a blue one. Since its body parts were in very good condition, I bought them.

As I was completing this repair project, I was amused, and just a little proud that I had been able to obtain parts which were the same color. I didn’t even have to repaint the car! It was getting dark as I finished the car. My daughter, Jenny, and I decided to drive it to the service station and fill the fuel tank. Under the lights of that service station I realized something I had not previously known—Volkswagen has more than one dark blue. The new body parts were not the same color. The colors were similar, but not identical. In the darkness, the difference was unnoticeable, but in the light, the discrepancy was obvious.

Light has a way of exposing what darkness tends to conceal. That is precisely the truth upon which Paul bases his instruction in Ephesians 5:7-14. In chapters 4-6, Paul sets down the standards of the conduct which God requires of those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ. These high standards define the conduct which the gospel was purposed to produce (see Ephesians 2:8-10), which reflect the glory of God through the church (1:3-14), and which are pleasing to Him who saved us by His grace (5:10).

Light and darkness are prominent themes in Paul’s epistles.97 These symbols are prominent in the gospels,98 and in the teaching of our Lord.99 They are employed as well by Peter100 and John.101 The symbols of light and darkness are not new in the New Testament; they are themes which are rooted in the Old Testament, and which are drawn upon and applied in the New. In our text, Paul likens our former nature and conduct as “darkness,” contrasting our nature and conduct as Christians by likening it to “light.” Let us listen well, to grasp what it means to walk no longer as children of darkness, but to live as children of light.

Paul’s Argument

Paul’s argument is based upon a fundamental premise: Christians have undergone a dramatic transformation which is here described as having been transformed from darkness to light. In the Bible, salvation is never spoken of as a trivial matter. Those who are saved by faith in Christ are not merely improved, they are radically transformed. They have been delivered from death and given eternal life and have been saved from a life of sin to a new life which is characterized by good works (Ephesians 2:1-10). They have been delivered from slavery to sin and to Satan to become sons of the living God (see John 1:12; Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 8:1-25). Here, in our text, Paul describes the transformation which the Christian experiences in terms of the change from darkness to light. His words in our text are similar to his teaching in the Book of Colossians:

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:9-14).

This change in our condition should be accompanied by a corresponding change in our conduct. At the beginning of chapter 4, Paul exhorts each believer to walk in a way that is consistent with his calling as a Christian: “I, Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

The Christians “walk” or Christian lifestyle has been described in several different ways thus far in Ephesians 4 and 5. The Christian is to walk in unity and in community with his fellow saints (4:1-16).102 The Christian is to walk in a way that is dramatically different from his walk as an unbeliever (4:17-32). Christians are further instructed to “walk in love” (5:1-6). And now, Paul speaks of the Christian’s lifestyle as a “walk as children of light” (5:7-14). If we are to walk in a manner that is consistent with our calling, Paul instructs us, we are to live as those who are “children of light.”

It may be well here to pause for a moment, and to reflect on what Paul is telling us, for Paul’s teaching and the popular perception of Christianity differ greatly. The gospel is often presented as though faith in Jesus Christ requires no great change, and that one need but to “add” Christ to his experience, to “invite Christ into his life,” and then life will become more pleasant, but at little cost to the Christian. Jesus spoke of discipleship, and he cautioned those who would too quickly follow Him to “count the cost” (see Luke 9:23-24, 57-62; 14:25-25).

Becoming a Christian is not so much a matter of adding Christ to your life as it is abandoning your life to find true life in Christ. And when one thus trusts in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the change is not small. It is a radical transformation. It is a change from death to life, from darkness to light. Paul’s words indicate that our calling as Christians should have a radical impact on our conduct. We will never be the same again. We should never think or act the same. Our thinking and our behavior after our conversion should compare to our former “walk” as though it were night and day. Anyone who thinks of salvation differently would seem to do a disservice to the teaching of our Lord, and of the Old and New Testament writers.

While Paul has been privileged to reveal certain truths previously mysterious to the saints (Ephesians 3:1-13), his call to conduct our lives as “children of light” is not new. It is consistent with the teaching of the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments. And so he calls our attention to this citation in verse 14: “For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” As it has often been observed, this citation does not precisely match any Old Testament text. Some have therefore concluded that this must not be a citation of Scripture, but rather a reference to an early Christian hymn, or spiritual teaching known to Paul and the Ephesians. A number of the more recent commentators understand it in this way.

There are difficulties with this explanation. Not only do many of the older scholars reject it, but the way in which Paul introduces it strongly suggests to us that it is a Scriptural quotation. While several texts in Isaiah are suggested (9:2; 26:19; 52:1), the text which is most similar is found in Isaiah 60:1.

Hodge (along with other older commentators such as Calvin) concludes that this citation in verse 14 is intended by Paul to be understood as a quotation from the Old Testament. He writes,

“As this formula of quotation is never used in the New Testament except when citations are made from the Old Testament, it cannot properly be assumed that the apostle here quotes some Christian hymn, with which the believers in Ephesus were familiar, or some apocryphal book, or some inspired book no longer extant. We must understand him either as referring to many exhortations of the Old Testament Scriptures, the substance of which he condenses in the few words here used; or as giving the spirit of some one passage, though not its words. Both these methods of explanation may be sustained by appeal to similar passages.”103

Hendriksen, in his fine commentary, seems inclined to agree with Hodge when he writes, “For myself, the more I study Isa. 60:1 in the light of its own context the more I begin to see certain resemblances.”104 Hendriksen goes even further, however, by proposing a solution to the problem by suggesting that Paul may have been referring to the Isaiah text(s) and to a hymn at the same time:

It is conceivable that though Ephesians 5:14 is in the final analysis rooted in Isa. 60:1, the form in which the latter passage is here reproduced by Paul was that of lines from an early Christian hymn. The hymn, in other words, may have been based on the Isaiah passage.105

Contemporary Christians often have difficulty understanding how the writers of the New Testament employ Old Testament texts, even when it is clear which text is being quoted. The reason is that our understanding, interpretation, and application of biblical texts is often too narrow. We expect the connection between the Old Testament text and its use in the New to be both obvious and direct.

Sometimes there is a direct, obvious correspondence between the Old Testament text and its appearance in the New. Such would be the case with some of the commandments (see Romans 13:8-10). If an Old Testament prophecy, this may have been evident even before the prophecy was fulfilled (see Matthew 2:5-6). The connection with New Testament events may also not have been understood beforehand (see Matthew 2:17-18). It may come as a complete surprise:

And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “OUT OF EGYPT DID I CALL MY SON” (Matthew 2:14-15).

There are times when a New Testament writer may claim Old Testament support for his teaching, but does not actually cite a biblical text: “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34). At other times, a text is cited, but somewhat loosely, and without a precise reference to its location:

But one has testified somewhere, saying, “WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU REMEMBEREST HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU ART CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? (Hebrews 2:6).106

Not infrequently, an Old Testament text is cited in the New, but in a form that is less precise than the original text. This is sometimes due to the fact that the quotation is cited from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, frequently employed by the New Testament writers), a sometimes rather free paraphrase of the text, rather than a precise Greek equivalent of the original Hebrew text. At other times, the quotation by the New Testament author may not precisely follow any known Old Testament text. It may even be that the New Testament writer deliberately departed from the Old Testament text, for his own reasons.

Sometimes, a New Testament author may apply an Old Testament principle in a way that appears to go well beyond its original instruction. This may be due to the New Testament writer’s greater insight into the meaning and application of the Scriptures. In seeking to show how the Old Testament Law supported his teaching that those who minister the gospel should be financially supported, Paul cites this text which refers to the treatment of an ox:

I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen is, He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops (1 Corinthians 9:8-10).

I believe that there is yet another use of the Old Testament Scriptures, which both the Old and the New Testament authors often employ, which often goes over our heads, unnoticed. This is the use of symbolic terminology, which refers to previous events or to prominent biblical themes, with which the reader is expected to be familiar.

Let me seek to illustrate this from the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophets frequently referred to events which happened earlier in Israel’s history, often by the use of terms associated with those events. In the prophecy of Isaiah, for example, the theme of creation is often employed. God created the heavens and the earth. He also created the nation Israel. These events involved great miracles. The God who accomplished creation is the same God who now promises to do great things for His people. Reference to God’s previous work as the Creator gives assurance that He is able to accomplish that which is yet future. The “exodus motif” is yet another prominent theme to which the prophet Isaiah refers. In Isaiah, both the creation and the exodus are drawn upon to give the readers courage and confidence in the words which God is speaking through His prophet, Isaiah:

Do you not know? Hove you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (Isaiah 40:28).

But now, thus says the LORD, your creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD you God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place (Isaiah 43:1-3).

“I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.” Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way through the sea And a path through the mighty waters (Isaiah 43:15-16).107

Paul frequently employs the imagery of light and darkness in his preaching and in his epistles (see Acts 13:47; 26:22-23; Romans 13:11-14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; 6:14-18; 11:13-15; Colossians 1:9-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 6:13-16). When he does so, I believe that he expects us to understand his references in the light (no pun intended) of the progressive development of the light/darkness theme in Scripture. I believe that his citation in verse 14 of Ephesians chapter 5 not only draws upon the “light” imagery of Isaiah, but also of the rest of the Scriptures. Let us pause to consider the development of this prominent and powerful image through the Scriptures.

The first creative act of God recorded in Genesis chapter 1 is the creation of light:

And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:2-4).

At the beginning of this creation account, the earth was dark and in disarray (formless and void). At the end, it has light and is ordered. The progress is from darkness to light and for disorder to order. Light was created by God to separate darkness and light. Paul will later draw on this creation of light and relate it to godly living (see 2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

In the Psalms, light and darkness are used symbolically. Light becomes the symbol for salvation (27:1), life (36:9; 49:19; 56:13), righteousness (37:6), truth (43:3), the Word of God (119:105, 130),108 and God’s splendor and presence (104:2; 44:3; 89:15; 90:8). Darkness symbolizes ignorance (82:5). Of particular importance, light is symbolic of the Christ who is yet to come:

The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, do save, we beseech Thee; O LORD, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee; Thou art my God, I extol Thee. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalm 118:22-29).

Proverbs speaks of the conduct of the godly using the imagery of light, while using darkness in reference to the wicked:

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble (Proverbs 4:18-19).

It is in Isaiah, however, that the symbolism of light and darkness becomes most prominent in the Old Testament:

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord (2:5).

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness (5:20)

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to His word, it is because they have no dawn (8:20).

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them (9:2; see Matthew 4:15-16).

And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day (10:17).

“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison” (42:6-7).

“And I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone” (42:16).

“He says, ‘It is too small and thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6).109

“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God (50:10).

“Pay attention to Me, O My people; And give ear to Me, O My nation; For a law will go forth from Me, And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples” (51:4).

“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.” … And if you give yourself to the hungry, And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness, And your gloom will become like midday” (58:8, 10).

Therefore, justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness; For brightness, but we walk in gloom (59:9).

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising (60:1-3).

“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. Your sun will set no more, Neither will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be finished” (60:19-20).

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn (61:1-2).

Other prophets join with Isaiah in using the imagery of light and darkness:

It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22).

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is light for me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, And I will see His righteousness (Micah 7:7-9).

If darkness symbolized man’s sinful ignorance and actions, it was also employed by the prophets to speak of the coming day of God’s wrath. Some unbelieving Jews mistakenly looked forward to the coming of Messiah, thinking that it was a day of “light,” of divine blessing, when it was to be, for them, a day of “darkness,” of divine judgment:

Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20),110

Before we give particular attention to Isaiah 60:1-3, let us press on to the New Testament, to see how the themes of “light” and “darkness” are taken up by our Lord and by the apostles:

At the time of His coming as a child, Jesus was worshipped as the “light” that was to come:

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace, according to Thy word; 30 For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, 31 Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:25-32).

John, in words reminiscent of the first chapters of Genesis, introduced his gospel by presenting Jesus as the “light.”

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. 9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him (John 1:1-10).

Matthew also spoke of our Lord as the light. When Jesus left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, Matthew informs us that this was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah who was the light:

12 Now when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, And to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a light dawned” (Matthew 4:12-16, citing Isaiah 9:1-2).

Jesus clearly and repeatedly spoke of Himself as the “light”:

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

As the “light,” Jesus was God’s provision for salvation:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:16-21).

“I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

When our Lord died for sinners on the cross of Calvary, darkness supernaturally fell upon the earth for three hours. I believer that this “darkness” was symbolic of the divine wrath which God had poured out upon His Son, as our substitute.

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-46).

Our Lord also declared that all who believed in Him were to live as “lights,” or as “sons of light.” They were therefore to be a reflection of His light:

35 Jesus therefore said to them, “For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them (John 12:35-36).

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Little wonder that in Acts and the Epistles of the New Testament “light and darkness” are such prominent symbols. Saul’s conversion was one which resulted from our Lord’s appearance to Him in a blinding light (Acts 9:3-4, etc.). Paul understood that the gospel of our Lord was a “light,” not only for Jews, but for Gentiles as well:

“For thus the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You should bring salvation to the end of the earth’” (Acts 13:47).

“And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; 23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).

For the Apostle Paul, the imagery of light and darkness was a prominent theme:

11 And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:11-14).

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:9-14).

1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen (1 Timothy 6:13-16).

Both Peter and John spoke of “light” as well:

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10).

8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him (1 John 2:8-10).

And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it (Revelation 21:24).

3 And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; 4 and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 22:3-5).

Little wonder, then, that Paul should speak of the Christian’s conduct in terms of the contrast between light and darkness. Living as light fulfills God’s purpose for Christians, as seen throughout the Scriptures, Old and New Testament. Our overriding purpose in life is not just to preach the gospel, to win souls, or even to make disciples. Our overriding goal is to reflect God to an ungodly world, and to a heavenly host, to the glory of God. The goals of missions, evangelism, and discipleship are an outgrowth of our function as lights. We proclaim the gospel and make disciples because this is what God has done, in Christ. We do these things because they are a part of living as lights in a dark world.

What Does It Mean To Live As Lights?

Having seen that we are obligated to live as lights, we must now turn our attention to the application of Paul’s instructions. What does it mean to live as lights? Paul does not leave us without guidelines in this matter. Our text not only contains Paul’s exhortation, it provides us with instruction concerning the implementation of living as lights.

We are not left to wonder what “light” is like. Light produces certain fruit. The fruit of the light,111 Paul tells us, is goodness, righteousness, and truth.112 Goodness is the predisposition to do that which is both wholesome and helpful, what is beneficial. Righteousness encompasses all that is consistent with the holy character of God and which meets the standards set down by His Word. Truth not only excludes falsehood, but it includes only that which God’s Word defines as true, truth as God’s Word declares it.

Living as children of light is living so as to manifest goodness, righteousness, and truth, as Paul has indicated in verse 9. Living as children of light can also be described as “trying to learn”113 what is pleasing to the Lord” (verse 10).

The children of light desire to live as light. Therefore, they do not merely avoid the thinking and the deeds of darkness out of a fear of divine chastening alone, but they genuinely desire to do what is right in order to please the One who delivered them from darkness to light. Where there are negative motivations for avoiding sin, the motivation of which Paul speaks here is a positive one. The children of darkness have pleasure as their goal, too, but they live in order to please themselves, not to please God.

While it is true that living as lights is for our own best interest, this should be a secondary motive, not a primary one. We should seek to please God and others before seeking to please ourselves (see Romans 15:1). All too often I hear evangelical Christian leaders urging Christians to act in a certain way primarily because it serves their own interests best. This is not the “high road” of the Apostle Paul, nor of any other writer in the Scriptures.

The expression “trying to learn” suggests something more to us. It suggests that learning to walk as children of light is an on-going process. The commands of the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, provide us with some clear absolutes as to what we must and as to what we must not do. But these commands do not cover every choice we are called upon to make.

Let me illustrate this in terms of marriage. When we marry, we make vows which express our commitment to our mate. We are obligated to keep our vows. But in addition to the keeping of these vows, there is a process of getting to know our mate (see 1 Peter 3:7), so that we may please them (see 1 Corinthians 7:33-34). There are many books published which “instruct” men on how to “please” their wives, but I believe that a wife’s greatest pleasure comes from her husband “learning” this on his own, and doing it out of the joy which he finds in pleasing her.

So it is with pleasing God. God delights in His children learning to know Him, and then doing that which we believe gives Him pleasure. What we decided to do (or to avoid doing) may not be what another believer chooses to do, but this is a matter of personal conviction, not of keeping a command. Pleasing God is a life-long process, one that is never complete, but one in which there should be both perseverance and growth.

Paul’s teaching in our text indicates that living as children of light will have a radical impact on our relationships. We have already seen this indicated earlier in the epistle. While we Gentiles were once alienated from Israel, her covenants, and her blessings, we have now been reconciled to God in one body, the church. We who were once at odds with Israelites are not united with them inseparably. This union was not grasped by the Old Testament saint (chapter 3), but it has become clear to the church through the teaching of Paul (4:1-16).

If, in Christ, we have become one new man (2:15) and one new building (2:19-22), we also discover that in Christ we have a new relationship with unbelievers, those who are still the children of darkness (see 2:1-3; 4:17-24). As children of light we now have far greater intimacy with those who, like us, are in Christ. But we also experience a corresponding detachment from the children of darkness.

Paul describes this detachment in terms of two prohibitions. The first is expressed in verse 7: “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” The second “do not” is found in verse 11: “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”

In some of His final words to His disciples, our Lord indicated to them that their relationship with Him would bring about a corresponding animosity from those who rejected Him:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20)

Years later, Peter writes to those who are suffering persecution at the hand of unbelievers and assures them that such is the normal reaction of those in darkness, whose deeds have been exposed by the light:

For the time already past is sufficient for your to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you (1 Peter 4:3-4).

In Ephesians 5:7, Paul urges the saints to not become partakers with those who are godless because their actions are (1) improper for saints (5:3) and (2) because the wrath of God is the fate of those who live in sin (5:5-6). In verse 11 Paul presses the matter even further. Christians are to avoid participation in the “unfruitful deeds of darkness” because their task as lights is to expose the deeds of darkness.

Light reveals that which darkness conceals. Darkness conceals sin and even promotes it. Light exposes sin and thus living as children of light has the function of exposing the sins of those in darkness, which is the first and fundamental step in evangelism.

Our Lord Himself came as the “light” (John 1:1-13). Those who acknowledged their sin turned to Him for salvation, while those who preferred darkness to light rejected Him (see John 3:16-21). We, like Christ, are to live as children of light as a part of our calling to reflect and reveal Christ and to proclaim the gospel. It is the contrast in our conduct with that of the world which makes the gospel clear. It is by our contrast with the world that we fulfill our obligation as “lights”:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing any more, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

The rub comes in determining where it is that we draw the lines of separation. We are not to be partakers with those in darkness (Ephesians 5:7), nor are we to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness (5:11). Where, then, do we draw the line in terms of our relationships with the lost?

The Pharisees of our Lord’s day drew the line far too conservatively. They hypocritically drew the line at the level of association with sinners. To have any contact with sinners was thought by them to be ungodly. They were wrong, as our Lord made clear, both by His teaching and His preaching. Very early in His ministry Jesus offended the self-righteous Pharisees by His association with sinners. Jesus indicated that it was necessary to associate with sinners in order to save them:

27 And after that He went out, and noticed a tax-gatherer named Levi, sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 And he left everything behind, and rose and began to follow Him. 29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax-gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:27-32).

The Corinthian church seems to have agreed with the position of the Pharisees, but they went to an additional extreme. They, like the Pharisees of our Lord’s day, seemed to hold the conviction that they could not associate with unbelievers (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). And yet, while they were careful to shun unbelievers, they were puffed up with pride in the fact that they accepted a man who professed to be a believer, yet who lived with his father’s wife, something which even shocked the pagans (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Paul’s teaching on separation and fellowship is clear. In general terms, as “children of light” we are not to have fellowship with darkness. More specifically, we are not to shun unbelievers, nor to avoid association with them. We are to avoid intimate fellowship with them, especially as they practice what is displeasing to God. As Christians, we are not to have fellowship with those who profess to trust in Christ, but whose conduct denies Him.

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15),114

In some ways, I fear that the contemporary Christian church surpasses the error of both the Pharisees and the Corinthians. Both the Pharisees and the Corinthians drew the line somewhere, even if they drew it in the wrong place. We don’t seem to be willing or able to draw the line anywhere. Because we equate the success of a church with its size, we seem unwilling to discourage any from attending and taking part, let alone to act in discipline by putting someone out of the church.

As I read the Book of Acts, the church grew dramatically. In the context of the Book, Luke is careful to indicate that the church grew because of its faithful proclamation and practice of the Word of God (see Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-35; 6:1-7).115 Luke also indicates that the church grew as its purity was protected. Thus, as a result of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, great fear came upon the whole church and the unbelieving community, and with it came more converts:

11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things. 12 And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number (Acts 5:11-14).

The purity of the church does not hinder the proclamation of the gospel; it is an essential manifestation of the gospel. I believe that this truth underlies the words of Paul in our text. In other words, by living as children of light we not only practice the truth of the gospel, we proclaim it to an unbelieving world.

I fear that in many churches today which proclaim to be evangelical, we are not “manifesting the light” to the glory of God and to the health of the church, and to the salvation of the lost. To keep with the symbolism of light and darkness, I fear that some churches are trying to win the lost by “turning the lights down low.”

Allow me to explain. The underlying premise of the “lights down low” folks is that people won’t be attracted to a gospel which threatens their beliefs, values, and lifestyles. And so, in order to get people saved, we need to play down the negative aspects of the gospel (sin, righteousness, judgment) and slip the gospel in positively. We need to make the unbeliever comfortable with Christianity if we are to attract them to our churches. If sin and hell are unpleasant topics, then these should be set aside, at least for a time. Once people are saved, they tell us, then we can speak to them about discipleship. This sounds a whole lot like the “bait and switch” methodology of unscrupulous salesmen.

There are many difficulties with this philosophy and methodology. In the first place, it does not square with our Lord’s methods or teaching. There were many who seemed eager to follow Jesus, but He consistently warned them of the cost of discipleship. Neither does it square with the Lord’s teaching concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in evangelism, as found in the Gospel of John:

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:7-11).

If the Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment, then surely we dare not avoid these truths in dealing with unbelievers. The very subjects which Scripture identify as the foundation and starting point of the gospel are those which the “low-light gospeleers” would set aside. The truth of the matter is that the gospel, in its pure form, is not appealing. Indeed, it is repulsive, to lost men. Nevertheless, it is our task to proclaim it in the simplest and clearest terms possible, relying upon God to draw men through the ministry of His Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5).

Jesus did not come to minister to the healthy, but to those who are sick. He did not come to speak to those who were comfortable, but rather to those who mourned and were broken-hearted. He spoke words of comfort, healing, and salvation to the hurting, and He spoke words of rebuke and warning to those who were comfortable and complacent. Why should we do anything less?

As Paul’s words indicate, our task is not to ignore sin, but to expose it. This is done by living righteously, living as lights. Those whom God has chosen, He will draw to the light by His grace and through His Spirit. And those who love their sin and the darkness will seek to extinguish our light. And so it is that some of the texts which speak about light are found in close proximity to those which speak of persecution (see Matthew 5:10-16). We are not to identify with darkness, nor to withdraw entirely from it, but to live as lights in a darkened world, so that sin might be exposed by righteousness, to the glory of God, to the salvation of the lost, and to the blessing of the believer.

Conclusion

Let us conclude our lesson by seeking to sum up what Paul has said. First, the Christian’s conversion calls for a radically new lifestyle and a new relationship with the world and with unbelievers. Jesus is the light of the world, and all who name His name as believers are to walk in the light and to walk as lights, just as He did when He was physically on this earth.

Second, to walk as children of light is also to walk in love. All too many play down our obligation to walk as lights by emphasizing their intention to “walk in love.” We dare not attempt to separate these two aspects of our Christian walk. Paul has just spoken of our “walk in love” in Ephesians 5:1-6. Now, in verses 7-14, he presses on to remind us of our responsibility to “walk as light.” There is no conflict. If we do no walk as light we will not be walking in love. Love does not “support” the sinner and the expense of righteousness. Love admonishes, rebukes, and seeks to restore the sinner in the promotion and practice of righteousness. Note the close connection of “love” and “light” in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

11 And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:11-14).

To walk as children of light is the ultimate calling of the Christian. It is in so doing that we obey and please God. It is in so doing that we glorify God. It is in so doing that the gospel is proclaimed.

Walking in the light will, in all cases, glorify God. It will in some instances result in the salvation of lost souls. It will in many cases lead to persecution. And it will also put us at cross-purposes with Satan. We should expect him to seek to blind men with respect to the light of the gospel:

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Satan is not content to stop here. In his attempts to “turn out the lights” he goes so far as to disguise himself as an “angel of light,” thereby hoping to directly attack the church through deception and distortion:

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

These false lights will be evident because their fruit will not be the fruit of the light, as Paul indicates.

Paul’s emphasis is not merely upon individual compliance with our duty to “walk as lights,” but on the task of the church, collectively, to be a light. The church must take a hard line toward sin. The church must act decisively and rigorously to root sin out of the church. We are not only to seek to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), but to rigorously root sin out of the church (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).

If I understand Paul’s teaching on “light” correctly (including his citation from the Old Testament in verse 14), it is not the unbeliever that is challenged to “wake up” and to “rise from the dead,” but rather the believer. This text, as I understand it, is not primarily a salvation text, but a sanctification text. We can be lights only in a reflective way. Christ is the only true light. We shine as He shines upon us. In Isaiah chapter 60, the exhortation was for the people of Israel to “wake up” and to turn from their sin to righteousness, from darkness to the light. Elsewhere, when Paul takes up the theme of light and darkness, he is exhorting Christians to wake up:

1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).116

Only those who are in Christ can be lights. This compels me to ask you a simple question of the greatest import: “Have you seen the light?” Have you acknowledged your sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the judgment which awaits all who reject the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary? These are dark days. Those without Christ are not only darkness, subjects of the prince of darkness, but they also await the dark day of God’s coming wrath on sinners. Come to the light. Trust in Him who suffered and died for your sins, and whose righteousness can be yours by faith.

May God grant that we may not only see the light in personal salvation, but that others may see the light in us, as we live lives that are marked by goodness, righteousness, and truth, to His glory.


97 See Acts 13:47; 26:22-23; Romans 13:11-14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; 6:14-18; Colossians 1:9-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 6:13-16.

98 See Matthew 4:12-16; 26:45-46; Luke 2:25-31.

99 See Matthew 6:19-25; Luke 11:33-36; 22:53; John 3:16-21; 5:33-35; 8:12; 9:5; 11:8-13; 12:35-36, 46.

100 1 Peter 2:9-10.

101 See John 1:1-13; 1 John 1:5-10; 2:8-10; Revelation 18:22-23; 21:24; 22:3-5.

102 I acknowledge the fact that Paul does not employ the term “walk” in these verses, but it is evident that Christian unity and community is the central theme of verses 1-16. The Christian’s conduct is to live and serve in an interdependent relationship to the whole body of Christ.

103 Charles Hodge, A Commentary on Ephesians (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991 [reprint]), pp. 215-216.

104 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1967), p. 234.

105 Hendriksen, p. 235.

106 See also Hebrews 4:4.

107 See also 4:5-6; 40:26; 41:20; 45:8, 12, 18; 48:7; 51:13; 65:17-18, which are but a sampling of Isaiah’s allusions to God’s earlier actions in history.

108 Psalm 19 is particularly interesting, as God’s revelation is described as “light.” In those verses which speak of God’s revelation of Himself through His creation (verses 1-6), the sun is prominent as the light emitting source (verses 4-6). The psalmist then speaks of the revelation of God through His Word (verses 7-14). In Psalm 119, the Word is referred to as “light” (verses 105, 130). In Psalm 19:12, while the term “light” is not employed, the Word of God is spoken of as that source of illumination that reveals the psalmist’s secret and hidden sins.

109 Be sure to read the preceding context in verses 1-5.

110 See also Jeremiah 4:23; 13:16; Lamentations 3:1-2.

111 Some texts read “fruit of the Spirit” rather than “fruit of the light.” In the final analysis, we need not agonize over which reading is correct because those things which Paul identifies as “fruit of the light” in Ephesians chapter 5, are virtually the same as those which he also identifies as “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians chapter 5.

112 For “goodness” see Romans 16:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. For “righteousness” see Romans 6:21f.; Philippians 1:11; Hebrews 12:11. For “truth” see 2 Corinthians 4:2; 6:7; 7:14; Galatians 2:5, 14; 3:10; Ephesians 1:13; 4:21, 24-25; 6:14; Colossians 1:5-6.

113 The term rendered by the expression, “trying to learn” here in Ephesians 5:10 is the same as that rendered “prove” in Romans 12:2. Foulkes writes concerning this term: “The participle here dokimazontes [‘trying to learn’] is from a verb that sometimes means ‘approving’ (as in Romans xiv. 22 and I Corinthians xvi. 3), but more commonly ‘proving’ for oneself, and so here ‘choosing.’” Francis Foulkes, The Epistle of Paul to The Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), p. 146.

114 See also Matthew 18:15-17.

115 A case can also be made for the growth of the church due to the sovereign work of God, in spite of the actions of the church and its leaders. For example, consider the evangelization of Gentiles in spite of the reluctance and resistance of the Jews (see Acts 8:1-2; 10:1—11:22).

116 See also Romans 13:11-14 above.

Related Topics: Evangelism