Scripture: Ephesians 4:17-24
As people who have received spiritual blessings from God (1:3-14), we are called to live our lives worthy of his calling (4:1). As members of the Church, we learn to maintain unity so all believers may be rooted in the truth, speak truth in love, and continue to grow toward Christ (4:1-16). As individual believers, we learn to conduct our life according to the teaching of God, and the first step toward such maturity is our willingness to change.
Put off the old self (v. 4:22)
The old way of living is based on thinking/mind without God, hardening of hearts, and following ones’ own desire or lust (vv. 18-19, also 2:1-3). While not everyone indulged in every kind of impurity even before they knew God, and v. 19 could be describing a specific situation of the city of Ephesus, following one’s own desire is indeed a common characteristic for people without God. We are urged to leave that kind of life behind us.
Be made new in the attitude of minds (v. 4:23).
If the old way is described as following the emptiness of mind (v. 17),1 the new person is reminded to be made new in the attitude of minds (v. 4:34).2 We are also taught to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). The Scripture emphasizes a change of mind, and change of mind comes with true knowledge of Christ and of his teaching.
Put on the new self (v. 4:24).
Earlier we have been told that we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (v. 2:10). Now we are reminded again that this new man is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24). While chapter 2 stresses that our salvation is completely God’s work, chapter 4 stresses that we, the saved people, should do good works. Then starting from v. 4:25 till the end of the book, we have explanation of how we should live our live. Again and again we are urged “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (v. 4:1).
In v. 4:21, Paul says “if indeed3 you heard about Christ and were taught in him.” The sentence structure and idea here is if indeed you heard about Christ and were taught in him to put off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of minds, and to put on the new man,4 then live it out!
May the urging of Paul and word of God still speak to us today!
Before we continue with the rest of the book of Ephesians, which deals with our daily living, it might be good for us to look at the structure of the whole book. The book of Ephesians can be divided into 2 major sections. The division can be summarized in the chart shown below:
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned
21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
(Ephesians 4:17-24 TNIV)
- TNIV translated it as “thinking.” ↩
- Both v. 17 and v. 34 use the same word for mind, νοῦς. ↩
- TNIV does not translate the “if indeed” (εἴ γε). ↩
- Chinese Union translation has a different difficulty in translating the Greek infinitives in vv. 22-24; thus it misses the sense of “If indeed you were taught… to put off your old self… to be made new… and to put on the new self….” ↩