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Ephesians 4:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Walk not as other Gentiles walk - Ye are called to holiness by the Gospel, the other Gentiles have no such calling; walk not as they walk. In this and the two following verses the apostle gives a most awful account of the conduct of the heathens who were without the knowledge of the true God. I shall note the particulars.

1. They walked in the vanity of their mind, εν ματαιοτητι του νοος αὑτων· In the foolishness of their mind; want of genuine wisdom is that to which the apostle refers, and it was through this that the Gentiles became addicted to every species of idolatry; and they fondly imagined that they could obtain help from gods which were the work of their own hands! Here their foolishness was manifested.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord - I bear witness in the name of the Lord Jesus, or ministering by his authority. The object of this is, to exhort them to walk worthy of their high calling, and to adorn the doctrine of the Saviour. With this view, he reminds them of what they were before they were converted, and of the manner in which the pagan around them lived.

That ye henceforth walk not - That you do not henceforth live - the Christian life being often in the Scriptures compared to a journey.

As other Gentiles walk - This shows that probably the mass of converts in the church at Ephesus were from among the pagan, and Paul regarded them as Gentile converts. Or it may be that he here addressed himself more particularly to that portion of the church, as especially needing his admonition and care.

In the vanity of their mind - In the way of folly, or in mental folly. What he means by this he specifies in the following verses. The word “vanity” in the Scriptures means more than mere “emptiness.” It denotes moral wrong, being applied usually to those who worshipped vain idols, and then those who were alienated from the “true” God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle charged the Ephesians in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that having professed the gospel, they should not be as the unconverted Gentiles, who walked in vain fancies and carnal affections. Do not men, on every side, walk in the vanity of their minds? Must not we then urge the distinction between real and nominal Christians? They were void of all saving knowledge; they sat in darkness, and loved it rather than light. They had a dislike and hatred to a life of holiness, which is not only the way of life God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which has some likeness to God himself in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. The truth of Christ appears in its beauty and power, when it appears as in Jesus. The corrupt nature is called a man; like the human body, it is of divers parts, supporting and strengthening one another. Sinful desires are deceitful lusts; they promise men happiness, but render them more miserable; and bring them to destruction, if not subdued and mortified. These therefore must be put off, as an old garment, a filthy garment; they must be subdued and mortified. But it is not enough to shake off corrupt principles; we must have gracious ones. By the new man, is meant the new nature, the new creature, directed by a new principle, even regenerating grace, enabling a man to lead a new life of righteousness and holiness. This is created, or brought forth by God's almighty power.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 470

The apostle's desire for those to whom he addressed his letters of counsel and admonition was that they should “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine;” but that they should all come into “the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” He entreated those who were followers of Jesus in heathen communities not to walk “as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God ... because of the blindness of their heart,” but “circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.” Ephesians 4:14, 13, 17, 18; 5:15, 16. He encouraged the believers to look forward to the time when Christ, who “loved the church, and gave Himself for it,” would “present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”—a church “holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25, 27. AA 470.1

These messages, written with a power not of man but of God, contain lessons which should be studied by all and which may with profit be often repeated. In them practical godliness is outlined, principles are laid down that should be followed in every church, and the way that leads to life eternal is made plain. AA 470.2

In his letter to “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse,” written while he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul makes mention of his joy over their steadfastness in the faith, tidings of which had been brought him by Epaphras, who, the apostle wrote, “declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause,” he continued, “we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” AA 471.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 171

God requires more of His followers than many realize. If we would not build our hopes of heaven upon a false foundation we must accept the Bible as it reads and believe that the Lord means what He says. He requires nothing of us that He will not give us grace to perform. We shall have no excuse to offer in the day of God if we fail to reach the standard set before us in His word. 5T 171.1

We are admonished by the apostle: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” Paul would have us distinguish between the pure, unselfish love which is prompted by the spirit of Christ, and the unmeaning, deceitful pretense with which the world abounds. This base counterfeit has misled many souls. It would blot out the distinction between right and wrong, by agreeing with the transgressor instead of faithfully showing him his errors. Such a course never springs from real friendship. The spirit by which it is prompted dwells only in the carnal heart. While the Christian will be ever kind, compassionate, and forgiving, he can feel no harmony with sin. He will abhor evil and cling to that which is good, at the sacrifice of association or friendship with the ungodly. The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner. 5T 171.2

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” The apostle admonishes his brethren, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that after having professed the gospel they should not conduct themselves as did the Gentiles, but should show by their daily deportment that they had been truly converted. 5T 171.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1117-8

9-11. See EGW on Romans 16:25. 6BC 1117.1

12. See EGW on Hebrews 4:15, 16. 6BC 1117.2

15. See EGW on Genesis 1:26. 6BC 1117.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 154.2

The Lord has not qualified any one of us to bear the burden of the work alone. He has associated together men of different minds, that they may counsel with and assist one another. In this way the deficiency in the experience and the abilities of one is supplied by the experience and the abilities of another. We should all study carefully the instruction given in Corinthians and Ephesians regarding our relation to one another as members of the body of Christ. TDG 154.2

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