Admonitions From Ephesians 4
By Jonathan Mitchell

Below are some preliminary comments and observations on Paul's admonitions in Eph. 4:21-32 which have been taken from an, at present, unpublished commentary on Ephesians. A review of the entire chapter will bring to the reader's mind the context from which this last section flows. Verse 20 begins the transition into a section of admonitions:

20. But you folks did not learn the Christ in this way.

Then, with vs. 21, the encouragements and reminders begin:

21. since, in fact, at one point you heard and so listen to Him, and within Him as well as in union with Him, you were and are taught - just as Truth and Reality continuously exist within Jesus (or: in union with the One, Jesus) -

Schnackenburg concludes from the last clause of this verse that this instruction and teaching, "must also have included teaching about the person of the earthly Jesus..." (ibid p 199). Furthermore, we see that these people had "heard and so listen to Him." Here I offer two meanings of the verb along with the rendering of the aorist tense as a simple past tense as well as a simple present. This is a "fact" tense, but from the context of vs. 20 we understand Paul to be referring to what they heard and learned in the past. Because of this, they now "listen to" Him. The Concordant Literal New Testament (Concordant Publishing Concern, 1983, p 455) renders this clause, "since, surely, Him you hear." But the main thing to notice is that through the proclaiming of the Good News these folks were not just hearing the sent-forth representatives, but Christ Himself. The teaching happened "within Him, as well as in union with Him." This apocalyptic picture calls back to 2:6, above, and our being seated with Him in the heavens.

By abiding (or, dwelling) in the Vine (Jesus; Jn. 15:1ff) they continuously receive the flow of the Truth and Reality that are within Him. It is within this relationship, and being located in this new sphere of existence, that,

"The Spirit of Truth... will constantly be a Guide and will progressively lead you on the Path (or: it will continue leading the way for you) directed toward and proceeding on into all Truth and Reality (or: into the midst of every truth and genuine reality)" (Jn. 16:13).
22. to put off from yourselves [as clothing or habits] what accords to the former entangled manner of living (or: twisted up behavior): the old humanity (or: the past, worn-out person) - the one continuously in process of being corrupted (spoiled; ruined) down from and in accord with the passionate desires (the full-covering, swelling emotions) of the deceptions (or: seductive desires) -

This is another way of saying what we find in Rom. 12:2a,

"And stop constantly conforming yourselves to (or, as passive: So then, quit being repeatedly molded by, fashioned for or patterned together with) this age [with other MSS: and not to be continuously configured to this age, or not to constantly remodel yourself for this age]..."

Now in 1 Cor. 15:22, Paul explains that,

"within Adam (the first human [vs. 45]... the one having the qualities and characteristics of a soul, the soulish one [vs. 46]) all humans keep on (or: everyone continues) dying." This is the "process of being corrupted (spoiled; ruined)."

In recalling the Garden of Eden story, we see that the "spoiling" of their situation came by the deception wherein the fruit of the death-dealing tree "brought a yearning desire to [their] eyes" (Gen. 3:6). So in this verse, Paul's rhetoric skillfully crafts this description of "the old humanity" in terms of humanity's exile from the Garden (a figure and symbol of unambiguous access to fellowship with God, i.e., living in the realm of His Spirit) in order to give them a practical admonition concerning the negative results of living "the way that the nations (the multitudes; the non-Israelites; the Gentiles; the ethnic or special or pagan groups)" live their lives (vs.17, above). It had been their "former entangled manner of living (or: twisted up behavior)." He counsels them to "put [this] off from [themselves]." Because of now being indwelt by God's Spirit, they now have the freedom and ability to do this. And thus, we can,

"[Be] folks at once stripping off from yourselves (undressing yourselves from; or: go out and away from) the old humanity (the old human; = the old Adam), together with its practices" (Col. 3:9).
23. and then to be continuously renewed (or: from time to time, or, progressively made young again) by (or: in; with) the spirit (or: attitude; breath-effect) of your mind (or: from the mind which is you folks; or by the Spirit which is your [collective] mind),

This verse calls to mind Rom. 12:2b,

"be progressively transformed (transfigured; changed in form and semblance) by the renewing (or: in the renewal; for the making-back-up-new again) of your mind [with other MSS: from The Mind; of the intellect; pertaining to the faculties of perceiving and understanding; of the mindset, disposition, inner orientation and world view]..."

Take note of the function of the mind in both of these verses. There is either an ontological association between "spirit" and "mind," here, or it is speaking of our "mental attitude." Literally, it involves "the breath-effect," which in Gen. 2:7 gives humans life.

The first parenthetical rendering of the last phrase is offered as the ablative function and would indicate that the spirit and attitude that renews them comes "from the mind." And here I rendered the plural, personal pronoun "you" as an appositional function - so we get the phrase "from the mind which is you folks."

The second parenthetical rendering takes the form of the word "mind" as appositional ("which is"), reads the personal pronoun as possessive ("your"), and the dative phrase as instrumental and as referring to God ("by the Spirit which is you [collective] mind"). This reads the Greek as a corporate admonition (each community being "one body") that recognizes the Spirit as being "the mind of Christ," as we read in 1 Cor. 2:16b,

"Yet we, ourselves, are continuously holding (or: progressively having) Christ's mind (a mind which is Anointed, and which is Christ)!"

This is the "mind" that continuously renews us. This "mind" is a spirit, joined to the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17).

24. and to enter within (or: clothe yourselves with) the new humanity (or: the Person that is new and fresh in kind and quality) - the one in accord with and corresponding to God (or: the person at the Divine level) - being formed (framed, built, founded and settled from a state of disorder and wildness; created) within the Way pointed out (or: in union with fair and equitable dealings with rightwised relationships, justice, righteousness and covenant participation; centered in [His] eschatological deliverance) and reverent dedication (or: benign relationship with nature) pertaining to the Truth (or: in intrinsic alignment with reality, which is the Truth).
"This refers to incorporation into Christ himself, the new Adam, the head of a renewed humanity sharing his Spirit. It connotes the attainment of all that man (since Adam means 'man') was intended to be... (Gen. 1:27)." (Grassi, ibid p 248)

Again we can hear an echo of Paul, in Rom. 13:12b and 14a,

"clothe ourselves with the instruments (tools; weapons; implements; [some MSS: works; deeds]) of Light (or: The Light).... clothe yourselves with (or: enter within and put on) the Lord, Jesus Christ..."

And as we are instructed in Col. 3:10,

"[be] suddenly clothing yourselves with (or: entering within) the new one (the fresh one which existed only recently), the one being continuously (or: repeatedly; habitually; progressively) renewed (made back up new again, in kind and character) into full, accurate, added, intimate and experiential knowledge and insight which is down from and corresponds to the image (an exactly formed visible likeness) of its Creator (of the One framing and founding it from a state of wildness and disorder)."

Where in vs. 23, above, he speaks of "the mind," here in Col. 3:10 he speaks of knowledge and insight - realities for which the mind was "created" as a gift to us.

The new humanity - "the Person [the last Adam] that is new and fresh in kind and quality" - is "in accord with and corresponding to God." This is the fulfillment of Gen. 1:26a, the human that bears God's image and likeness. It is "the person at the Divine level." It is what 3:16, above, calls "the interior person," or, "the humanity within." 2 Cor. 5:17 terms this, "a new creation." In Gal. 6:15 we see that this is a corporate, humanity-wide situation, for there Paul instructs us that,

"For you see [some MSS add: within Christ Jesus], neither circumcision nor uncircumcision continues being anything, but rather: a new creation."

This has an ontological effect, as each of us (in our own class, or "order") becomes alive in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22), but it informs us about the characteristics of the new arrangement (covenant) in which God is dealing with humanity in a different way than He dealt with us as the first Adam, the first humanity. Christ took all humanity to the grave with Him (2 Cor. 5:14, "One Person (or: Man) died over [the situation of] all mankind {or: for the sake of all}; consequently all people died {or: accordingly, then, all humanity died}").

In the "one new humanity" (2:15, above) that is the Last Adam and the Second Humanity (the resurrected, corporate "new creation") there are no longer the dividing categories of "male/female," "slave/freeman" or "Jew/Gentile" (Gal. 3:28, prefigured in the corporate Christ which is presently the "firstfruit" of all creation - Jas.1:18; Rev. 14:4; 1 Cor. 15:23; Rom. 8:23; 11:16.

From the terms that Paul uses, we can observe that a process is involved: "being formed (framed, built, founded and settled from a state of disorder and wildness; created) within the Way pointed out..." The "Way pointed out" (the literal meaning of dikaiosune) is Jesus, "the Way, the Truth and the Life." So we are being "formed (etc.)" in Christ. We are being formed in the new covenant, in the new creation. The parenthetical expansion of "Way pointed out" gives the expanded semantic range, based upon usage of the word: "in union with fair and equitable dealings with rightwised relationships, justice, righteousness and covenant participation; centered in [His] eschatological deliverance." All of this gives multiple views of God's reign and sovereign influence (His kingdom) among humans. God's dealing with humans is "in union with fairness and equity." His kingdom brings us into "rightwised (turned-in-the-right-direction) relationships (with Him and with other people)." His act of eschatological deliverance (in which humanity is centered) displays His justice and opens all people up to "covenant participation."

This "forming" also takes place within, "reverent dedication (or: benign relationship with nature) pertaining to the Truth (or: in intrinsic alignment with reality, which is the Truth)." Here I rendered the word "hosiotes" (reverent dedication; benign relationship with nature; intrinsic alignment) in three ways that seem to cover its semantic uses. Other translations (e.g., NIV, NASB, NRSV) have opted for a gloss, such as "holiness," but there is the word hagiotes that better fits our English word "holiness," which is the idea of being "set-apart" or devoted to God. The word used here has broader applications which extend beyond what is commonly thought of as "religious." Alignment answers to the previous preposition (kata) "in accord with and corresponding to." "Intrinsic alignment" calls to the modern concept of DNA, the inbred patterning of the inner humanity, the design which conforms to reality, or, the Truth. This, of course, harks back to Gen. 1:26, again, and shows that humanity was meant to be in "benign relationship with nature." Paul's attitude of his being "a slave of Jesus Christ" (Rom. 1:1) displays a mindset of "reverent dedication" to our Lord and Master. All of this goes far beyond the usual perceptions of "personal holiness."

25. Wherefore, upon at once putting the false away (or: having at one point set the Lie off) from yourselves [as clothing or habits], be continuously speaking Truth and reality, each one with his associate (the one near him; his neighbor), because we are (we continually exist being) members [as of a body] of one another (or: limbs or body parts belonging to one another and having our source in each other).

The word "Wherefore" means that what follows is based upon what Paul had just been saying. Grassi sees in this passage from 25 through 32 a "new motivation" which is no longer based upon a law (doing what is right rather than what is wrong), but rather is founded upon care and respect for others, "and a realization of how our actions can affect them." (ibid p 348)

"Putting the false, or the Lie, away from yourselves" can speak of everything that is not the Truth - which would be everything that is not Christ (cf Jn. 14:6).

The bold rendering of the aorist participle (putting away) gives a snapshot of the life of the believer, indicating any point-in-time summary action when confronted with the false. The parenthetical alternative rendering ("having at one point set the Lie off from yourselves") sets the action in the past, looking back to their point of incorporation into the body of Christ. The false is like the shadow, as in Heb. 10:1a,

"For the Law (= Torah), holding a shadow of (having shade from) the impending good things (virtues; excellent, agreeable or useful qualities or results) - not the very image of or the same reproduced likeness from those transactions (results of executing or performing; effects of practices)..."

The false would also refer to the dualism that syncretism had imported into Judaism from Persian, Egyptian and Greek religions, as well as from other sources in pagan thought, cosmologies, philosophies and religions. This would include the pervasive Roman Imperial Cult. But more than these, it would be an echo of the serpent's lie to Eve that brought deception (1 Tim. 2:14), and would be inclusive of the human predicament from which all humanity needed deliverance. In 5:6, below, we are admonished,

"Let no one keep on deceiving (or: seducing) you by empty words (or: messages; reasons; thoughts; ideas)..." Jesus accessed the Garden of Eden story, in reference to the serpent, and said, "Whenever he/it may be speaking the lie, he/it is continuing speaking from out of his own things - because he/it is (or: continues existing being) a liar, and its father [note: either the father of the lie, or of the liar]" (Jn. 8:44c).

Then in 2 Thes. 2:10-11, Paul speaks of,

"every deception (delusion; seduction) of the injustice (wrong; thing that is not the way pointed out and which is not right) within the folks continuously or repeatedly being lost (or: by the folks progressively destroying themselves) in return for which (or: in the place of which) they do (or: did) not take unto themselves and welcomely receive the love of, and from, the truth (or: Truth's love; the Love which is Truth and Reality; or: an appreciation of and affection for reality), into the [situation for] them at some point to be suddenly delivered (restored to health and wholeness; rescued; saved; restored to the original state and condition). And so, because of this, God is continuously sending to (or: in) them an in-working (or: operation) of wandering (or: which is the source of being caused to stray; which has the character of error and deception) into the [situation for] them to believe, and to trust, the lie."

Such things are to be put away from us. This action reprises the idea of vs. 22, above, "what accords to the former entangled manner of living (or: twisted up behavior): the old humanity (or: the past, worn-out person)." We read a similar admonition in Col. 3:

8. But now, you folks as well, at once put all these things away from [you, as of clothes put off and laid away] (or: set off; = renounce or get rid of): inherent fervor (or: So at this time you yourselves in one stroke set away and get rid of all the [following]: even natural impulse, propensity, internal swelling and teeming desire; or: Yet now, you people at once lay aside all intense anger, rage and wrath), strong passion (rushing of emotions; outbursts of rage), worthlessness (poorness of quality; influence of the bad; hateful intentions), [and] from out of your mouth: blasphemy (abusive and injurious talk; slander) [and] foul-mouthed abuse (obscenity; ugly words; deformed and shameful language). Cf 1 Pet. 2:1.

In contrast to the false and the lie, we are instructed to "be continuously speaking Truth and reality." The Truth is Christ: we are to be speaking as being the body of Christ. For the Imperial Cult, the word of allegiance was, "Caesar is Lord!" The Truth is, "Jesus is Lord!" We should speak the reality of the new creation and the new covenant (or: arrangement). We should speak as being raised up and seated with Christ (2:6, above). In this second, positive admonition, Paul lifts the phrase from Zech. 8:16 (LXX), where the prophet continues,

"Within your gates [the place where the elders met together] you folks must come to a conclusion and decide (or: judge) for truth, with a result that also brings peace and makes harmony [= shalom]" (JM).

The associate, the one that is "near" us, our "neighbor," does not just refer to someone within the called-out, covenant community. It means whoever is near us - in the "world" at large, as well. This is an inclusive term that now refers to both Israel and the Gentiles (2:11-12; 19, above). The new humanity (vs. 24 and 2:15, above) makes all people "members of one another." This echoes the metaphor of a "body" in 4:12, 16, above, and 5:30, below. Clearly, the thoughts of relationship and being joined to everyone else are intimated here. Paul enlarged this metaphor in 1 Cor. 12:12-27. A different aspect of relationship and mutual membership is seen in the "family" language of 5:1, below.

26. Be habitually aroused by the internal pulse of life (or: Be constantly impulsive in reaction to your natural disposition and character; or: Continue indignant or even angry), yet be not continuously missing the target (making mistakes; sinning; failing; erring; deviating). Do not let sun be repeatedly setting upon your angry mood (exasperation; irritation; embittered anger; vexation; provocation),

The first half of this verse reaches back to Ps. 4:4a and is an exact quote of the LXX. The bold rendering acknowledges and affirms exuberance and spirit in the living of this life, then adds the caution not to let this zest for life and excitement from vitality lead one off the Path of Life.

The semantic range of the first verb is extended in the parenthetical expansion. It can refer to impulsive reactions that may stem from one "natural disposition and character," or, it can indicate being "indignant or even angry." In none of the applications or situations should we be continuously missing the target (as being a bearer of God's Image or abiding in the Vine - Christ), repeatedly "making mistakes, failing, erring, deviating or sinning." If our internal pulse of life leads us into an angry mood (etc.), we should let His Peace be the Umpire to settle the matter in our hearts (Col. 3:15) by the close of the day.

Schnackenburg suggests that this "is perhaps the incorporation of a folk saying" and notes:

"Reference can be made to the custom among the Pythagoreans mentioned by Plutarch (II 488c): If they allow themselves in their anger to abuse someone, before sunset they shake hands and leave one another with a salutation" (ibid p 207 n 4).
27. neither be constantly supplying nor giving a place or position (or: so don't go on allowing opportunity or a chance) for (or: to) the person who thrusts things through [folks or situations] (the slanderer; the adversary; the accuser; the devil; or: that which casts [harm or division] through the midst of folks).

Notice the possession of power and ability that is implied by this verse. By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit - the Sacred Breath-effect - we are able to deny a place or position (or even an opportunity or a chance) for or to the person who thrusts things through [folks or situations]." Here I have given a literal rendering of "diabolos." The parenthetical expansion gives alternate renderings, as well as the impersonal "that which casts [harm or division] through the midst of folks." This latter translation suggests a wide range of applications for this admonition. I suggest that the traditional rendering, "the devil," is misleading (although I included it because of its long association in dualistic cosmologies that stem from pagan beliefs and unsupported exegesis of the apocalyptic imagery in Isa. 14 and Ezk. 28). In 1 Tim. 3:11a we find this word applied to people,

"Women (or: Wives) [of the community], similarly, [should be] serious (dignified with majestic gravity, inspiring awe), not devils (or: adversaries; women who thrust things through folks)..."

The verbs are plural which suggest a corporate setting and, thus, this admonition could be directed to community leadership that has in view the well-being of the community as a whole. Similar community-wide admonitions are seen in Rev. 2:9, 13, 15, 20, etc.

1 Pet. 5:8 gives instruction, on a similar vein, to the covenant communities:

"Be sober (or: clear headed)! Be awake, alert and watch! Your barrier in the Way pointed out (your road hazard; your opponent at court; the one "in your face" opposing your fairness and equity), one who casts or thrusts something through the midst of folks (e.g., like a soldier casting a javelin or thrusting a sword through someone, or a person throwing an issue through the midst of a group, causing division; or: a slanderer), as a constantly roaring lion, is continuously walking about, incessantly seeking to drink something or someone down (or: searching to gulp and swallow someone down)" [comment: this path-hazard and road barrier may have been local religions, cultural or political opposition, or a spirit of contrariness]

We are also informed in Jacob (James) 4:7b,

"So stand in opposition to the [or: your] adversary (or: take a stand [as in battle] against the one trying to thrust you through [with a weapon, or a word]), and he will progressively flee (take flight) away from you!"

Another picture comes from Paul in 2 Tim. 2:25-26 where we find him speaking about,

"constantly educating (training; disciplining; instructing; correcting) those habitually setting themselves in complete opposition or who offer resistance. May not God at some time give a change of thinking to them (or: Would not God grant in them and supply for them a change of mind), [directing and leading them] into a full and accurate experiential knowledge of Truth and reality? And then they can and may sober up (or: would come back to their proper senses) from out of the adversary's snare (or: forth from out of the midst of the trap of the person who thrusts something through folks) - being folks having been [previously] captured alive under (or: by) him, into the will (intent; design; purpose) of that one (or: that person)."

Consider, here, the REMEDY for the folks who have "been [previously] captured alive under" the "snare of the adversary": education, training, instruction, correction, discipline... which would cause them to "sober up" (Were they "being continuously drunk from out of the blood of the set-apart folks and from out of the blood of the witnesses of Jesus"? - Rev. 17:6) so that they "would come back to their proper senses." The adversaries were the people "habitually setting themselves in complete opposition, offering resistance" to the Lordship of Christ and His message of goodness, ease and well-being (His gospel). The folks being opposed and resisted were the representatives of Christ; the opposition was the surrounding culture, society and religions. The snare and the potential entrapment which these offered was the traditions of the elders, the fear imposed by the Empire and family pressures from the honor/shame value system.

Such were what Paul and the other representatives of the Messiah encountered. The release (or, deliverance; rescue) from the condition of capture came by "God at some time giving a change of THINKING to them." This was a similar situation that which John the immerser encountered with the scribes and Pharisees, and then which Jesus also encountered. The common people of Israel had been ensnared by their religious leaders, and saw themselves as outcasts. They were also captured by the domineering political, social and economic Empire of Rome, and were "drunk" in thinking that they could physically overcome it. Jesus brought and proclaimed a kingdom that could not be seen, which would bring them true deliverance and true peace.

Turning, again, to 1 Tim. 3, we find admonition given for the context of the organization of the called-out community. In vss. 6-7 Paul addresses issues of personal attitudes and the community's reputation before the town or city in which the covenant group is located, and the potential that someone might end up:

"... being inflated with the fumes of conceit, she or he may fall into an effect of the adversary's judgment (the result of sifting, separation and decision made in regard to someone who thrusts or throws something through another; or: a judgment-effect from the adversary). Yet it is also necessary and binding to continuously hold (or: have) a beautiful witness and testimony (= a fine reputation) from those outside, so that s/he would not fall into reproach..."

The adversary here could be the mindset of the old humanity (the so-called Adamic nature that had become estranged from intimate relation with God) - the alienated ego. Or, the adversary could be the non-Christian religious community that was critically examining this new movement. An inflated ego would "give a place or position [for accusation]" to those who opposed the followers of Christ so that "the accuser and slanderer" could "thrust [accusations] through the midst of" the covenant community, and cause the Name of Jesus to be blasphemed (cf Rom. 2:24; Isa. 52:5; Ezk. 36:21). A defense against these adversaries is described below in 6:11-18.

The most effective way to keep from "giving a place to that which casts [harm or division] through the midst of folks" is given by Jesus in Mat. 5:44,

"Be constantly loving your enemies (urging toward reunion with, and accepting as persons standing on the same ground, those folks hostile to you; [comment: this could have applied to the Romans, as well as to personal enemies]), and be habitually praying goodness over the people continuously persecuting you (constantly thinking and speaking on behalf of the folks repeatedly pursuing you to have ease and well-being)."
28. Let the person habitually stealing no longer continue stealing, but rather let him be normally spent with labor, constantly working (performing; doing the business of) the good (the profitable; the virtuous; quality) by his own hands, to the end that he can continuously have (or: possess) [something] - [in order] to repeatedly share with the one constantly having a need.

Paul is continuing the trajectory of thought that he began in vs. 25, putting the false and the lie away from oneself. This present advice progresses directly from vs. 27: following it is an example of giving no opportunity for the person who wishes to take us down by thrusting accusations through us. It also has practical grounding in Israel's roots (Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:11; Deut. 5:19, "You will not steal;" or, Isa. 1:23, "Your chiefs are stubborn and partners of thieves..."). Jer. 7:9 puts stealing in company with murder, adultery, swearing falsely, idolatry.

But this exhortation goes beyond ceasing from stealing. The indicated goal is that he or she can continuously have, or possess, so this would suggest that the stealing was not from greed but from need. To be constantly working, performing or doing business of the good - the profitable, with quality that expresses virtue - will lead to having more than enough for oneself so that he or she can repeatedly share with folks that are constantly having need.

Witherington points out that,

"This exhortation suggests that a considerable number of the audience came from the lower echelons of society which were regularly faced with hunger and the like" (ibid p 300 n 105).

This practical encouragement calls to mind the practical, loving life that Jesus expected from His followers (e.g., Mat. 25:35-36). The message there is the same as the message here. Grassi (ibid p 348) observes, "We may note the constant emphasis that Paul places on sharing material goods with the poor (cf Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8-9; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 11:22)."

29. Do not continue allowing every rotten word (or: putrefied idea; bad quality message; unprofitable communication; unfit thought) to be proceeding (or: issuing) out of your mouth, but rather if anything [is] good (profitable; virtuous; [having] quality), [speak it] toward house-construction (building [up]; edification) which pertains to the need, to the end that it may impart (or: can give) grace and favor to those listening and hearing.

As applied to everyday communications, the first clause can easily be understood - each reader applying it to his or her own culture and context. It graphically describes poor form and shameful communication. It is the opposite of speaking words of honor and truth - words that encourage and build up the hearers, as the second half of the verse makes quite clear.

But the adjective rotten does not mean vile, wicked, nasty or even uncouth. Literally, it speaks of decaying fish or fruit no longer useful for food. It refers to something that is now "useless, of no value or unfit." But with this root idea in mind, Paul could be referring to a message (or, Word) that was once good for food or for building the house (the community). He may be referring to speaking things from the old, pre-Christ arrangement.

A synonym for rotten is the Greek "palaios" and its cognate verb in "palaioo." We find these words in the following texts:
"the old humanity (or: the past, worn-out person)" (4:22, above; cf Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9).

"At once completely clean out the old leaven, so that you folks would progressively be a fresh, new lump of dough with uniform mix-effect, just as you are free from ferment.... not in union with old leaven (or: leftover yeast)..." (1 Cor. 5:7, 8).

"In thus to be saying "new [in kind and quality]," He has made the first (or: former) "old," and that [which is] progressively growing old and obsolete (failing of age; ageing into decay), [is] near its disappearing (vanishing away)" (Heb. 8:13).

The context of this quote from Hebrews is seen in Heb. 8:6-7, just before the quote from Jer.,

"a superior (stronger and better) arrangement (covenant; settlement; disposition) which has been instituted (set by custom; legally [= by/as Torah] established) upon superior (stronger and better) promises! For if that first one was being unblamable (without ground for faultfinding; beyond criticism; satisfying), a place of a second one would not have continued to be sought (looked for)."

A word or message used for "building the [new covenant] house" that is taken from the old covenant, applying it as a structure for the new temple (Christ's body) would be to build with a rotten word - a word that no longer applies in the new arrangement. It would be building with "wood" (1 Cor. 3:12) that was once useful - in its time.

We are admonished rather to speak words and teachings that are good (profitable; virtuous; [having] quality), [with a view] toward house-construction (building [up]; edification) - words of gold, silver and precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12). The current context and situation should also be kept in mind and "fit" that which pertains to the need (mentioned in vs. 28) of the audience. They should be words that are spirit and which impart life (Jn. 6:63) and that bring Christ into the environment and situation:

"the Law was given through Moses, yet grace and truth are birthed (or: joyous favor and reality came to be) through Jesus Christ [= Messiah Yahshua]" (Jn. 1:17).

So, to impart (or: can give) grace and favor and to "build [up] the house [of God]," we are encouraged to speak Christ - words that are Spirit and Life.

30. Also, don't you folks have the habit of grieving (distressing; giving sorrow or pain to; or: = troubling) God's set-apart Spirit (or: the Holy Breath-effect which is God), within Whom (or: in union with Which) you folks were (or: are) sealed (at one point stamped with a seal; suddenly marked; imprinted; = personally authorized) into the midst of a Day associated with and arising from the liberation of a releasing-away from slavery or imprisonment (or: a Day which is emancipation pertaining to a dismissal and a loosing-away into a freeing from bondage).

Based upon the foregoing context, Grassi suggests,

"Injury to one's neighbor means a lack of respect and reverence for the Spirit who dwells in men of faith (2:22)." (ibid p 348)

In The Testament of Isaac (a 1st or 2nd century A.D. apocryphal book written in Greek by a Jewish author in Egypt, translated by W.F. Stinespring) we read in 4:40,

"But you shall take care and be alert that you do not grieve the Spirit of the LORD" (The OT Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 1, ibid p 908).

Isa. 63:10 may also be echoed in the first clause of this verse:

"Yet they rebelled and grieved His holy Spirit, [so] that He was turned to [be] their Enemy, and He Himself fought against them" (CVOT).

Actions or attitudes from that arise from the "old humanity" are the norm for estranged humans, and even failures in this area are "covered" and cleansed by His atoning Life, as we read in 1 Jn. 1:7b,

"the blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps continually and repeatedly cleansing us (or: is progressively rendering us pure) from every sin (or: from all error, failure, deviation, mistake, and from every [successive] shot that is off target [when it occurs])."

So could it be that the thing that especially grieves God's set-apart Spirit is living as though the Messiah has not come, as if the Holy Spirit has not been given (which sealed us) and the new covenant-arrangement in His blood has not been put into effect, bringing into being the new creation? The Jerusalem leadership "rebelled" against the advent of their Messiah, their Lord and King. Not recognizing the work of the cross would most likely bring the greatest sorrow and pain to the Spirit of the Lord. Bringing the old covenant into the new might just be the "rotten" word that grieves the Spirit of Christ. Also, I suggest that any limiting of the effects and extent of His grace would also bring distress, and trouble the Holy Breath-effect, which is God.

We should not miss the corporate, plural "you folks" both here and in the next verse. Next, let us consider the qualifying genitive and ablative phrase that modifies the word Day. The traditional interpretation of the second half of this verse has put this Day off into the future. However, due to the nature of this day as expressed in the above translation, I suggest that this Day is speaking of the Christ-Event which involved His death and resurrection. That was the Day that brought "the liberation of a releasing-away from slavery or imprisonment." It was "a Day which is emancipation pertaining to a dismissal and a loosing-away into a freeing from bondage," as my expanded renderings offer. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (a part of the "Day of the Lord") demonstrated the sealing which happened for all humanity, fully birthing the Second Humanity (1 Cor. 15:44-49), which is "one new humanity" (2:15, above).

In 1 Thes. 5:5, 8-9, we are informed that,

"you see, you all are (or: exist being) sons of (= associated with and having the qualities of) Light and sons of (= associated with and having qualities of) Day!.... We, on the other hand, being of Day (belonging to and having characteristics of [the] Day; having [the] Day as our source), can and should continuously be sober (clear-headed), putting on (or: clothing ourselves with; enveloping ourselves in; entering within) a breastplate (or: thorax) of faith and love (or: which is and is composed of faith and love; = have trust & love as body armor) and, as a helmet, an expectation (or: expectant hope) of deliverance (health and wholeness; rescue and salvation; restoration to our original state and condition), because God Himself did not (or: does not) place or set us into anger (inherent fervor; violent emotion; wrath; or: teeming, passionate desire), but rather, into an encompassing of deliverance (or: unto establishing a perimeter of safety; into making health and wholeness encircle [us]; into the forming of an encompassing salvation around [us]) through our Lord, Jesus Christ."

Deliverance and emancipation from slavery to sin (etc.), centered in the resurrection from the dead (with Christ) is both the referent and the reason for living as Paul admonishes in this passage.

Another point of translation is the rendering of the preposition "eis" as "into the midst of," which is the central meaning of this word, rather than translating it "for," which facilitates an interpretive pointing to the future for this Day of liberation. We have been "freed from bondage" by being placed "into Christ," with the result that we are NOW "in Christ," as Paul so often affirms.

Before moving on, let us recall that the being sealed is an echo of 1:13f, above, which is there clearly stated as being a present situation that was based upon the past Christ-Event. Schnackenburg (ibid p 210) ties this in with the Spirit's oneness within the bond of the Peace in 4:3-5, above.

31. So let every bitterness, swelling negative emotion (inherent fervor; or: natural propensity, disposition and impulse; or: wrath), enraged impulse, clamorous outcry, and blasphemy (slanderous, abusive or light-hindering speech; malignment, vilifying defamation; harm-averment) be at once lifted up and removed from you folks, together with all worthlessness (that which ought not to be; that which is of bad quality; malice; ugliness; badness; depravity)

This verse encapsulates and summarizes the situation of humanity before, and not yet existentially incorporated into, union with Christ. It provides a stark contrast to what Paul just stated about the covenant communities existing "within God's set-apart Spirit" (vs. 30). But because of

"the liberation of a releasing-away from slavery or imprisonment," these former behaviors should not exist within the called-out covenant communities - they should "be at once lifted up and removed from you folks, together with all worthlessness."

Again, we can readily see the practical, social application of this admonition. But bitterness and swelling negative emotion were being experienced by Paul and the covenant communities through the resistant Jews, as well as the Judaizers (re: keeping the Law). Paul personally experienced enraged impulse (e.g., beating; scourging; being left for dead) and clamorous outcry - as well as vilifying defamation - from those who opposed inclusion of the Gentiles, as Gentiles, as a part of "God's people." This sort of corporate, social reaction was not to be mirrored back to the Jews - or toward the Empire, for that matter.

The semantic range of worthlessness can be summarized by the all-encompassing phrase, "that which ought not to be." Anything that is not love, ought not to be. This verse is a rhetorically effective backdrop for highlighting the positive alternatives which follow in the next verses.

32. and keep on becoming kind folks (or: So progressively come to be {or: be birthed to be} useful and obliging ones) unto one another - people [who are] tenderly compassionate - folks constantly dealing graciously, extending favor among yourselves (or: forgiving yourselves), according as God also, within and in union with the Christ, was and is gracious (or: deals favorably) to and with (or: freely forgives) you folks [other MSS: us].

He now paints the bright colors of kindness, obliging usefulness, tender compassion, and gracious dealing with folks as the qualities of God that are to reflected as His image, into the world in which they live. This is a corporate image: an expression of

"eschatological deliverance into fair and equitable dealing which brings justice and right relationship in the Way pointed out (being turned in the right direction; rightwisedness; also = covenant inclusion and participation), peace (and: harmony; = shalom) and joy (or: happiness; rejoicing) within set-apart Breath-effect," i.e., God's kingdom reign and influence (Rom. 14:17).

We see here an echo of Col. 3:12-13,

"Therefore, as God's chosen, set-apart and beloved ones (or: God's sacred, loved and chosen people; or: as elect... ones from God), clothe yourselves with (or: enter within) bowels (internal organs; = the tender parts; seat of deep feelings) of compassion, kindness (adaptable usefulness), humility (the minding and disposition of things of lowness or of low station), gentleness (meekness; mildness), waiting long before rushing with emotions (even- temperedness; long-suffering; putting up with people/situations; pushing anger far away), being folks continuously holding up [things or situations] pertaining to one another (or: habitually holding yourselves up, belonging to one another; constantly putting up with one another) and incessantly giving grace to or doing a favor for (dealing graciously with and among) yourselves, if ever anyone may continue having (or: holding) a complaint toward someone. Just as the Lord [= Christ or Yahweh; some MSS: Christ; Aleph* & some Vulgate MSS read: God] also gave (or: gives) grace to and favor for you (deals graciously in, with and among you folks), thus also you folks [do the same]."

If these things are constantly reflected to the masses of mankind, how will they be able to resist the love of God?


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