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Ephesians 4:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

5. Who being past feeling - Οιτινες απηλγηκοτες . The verb απαλγειν signifies,

  1. To throw off all sense of shame, and to be utterly devoid of pain, for committing unrighteous acts.
  • To be desperate, having neither hope nor desire of reformation; in a word, to be without remorse, and to be utterly regardless of conduct, character, or final blessedness.
  • Instead of απηλγηκοτες, several excellent MSS. and versions have απηλπικοτες, being without hope; that is, persons who, from their manner of life in this world, could not possibly hope for blessedness in the world to come, and who might feel it their interest to deny the resurrection of the body, and even the immortality of the soul.

    6. Have given themselves over unto lasciviousness - Lasciviousness, ασελγεια, is here personified; and the Gentiles in question are represented as having delivered themselves over to her jurisdiction. This is a trite picture of the Gentile world: uncleanness, lechery, and debauchery of every kind, flourished among them without limit or restraint. Almost all their gods and goddesses were of this character.

    7. To work all uncleanness with greediness - This is a complete finish of the most abandoned character; to do an unclean act is bad, to labor in it is worse, to labor in all uncleanness is worse still; but to do all this in every case to the utmost extent, εν πλεονεξια, with a desire exceeding time, place, opportunity, and strength, is worst of all, and leaves nothing more profligate or more abandoned to be described or imagined; just as Ovid paints the drunken Silenus, whose wantonness survives his strength and keeps alive his desires, though old age has destroyed the power of gratification: -

    Te quoque, inextinctae Silene libidinis, urunt:

    Nequitia est, quae te non sinit esse senem.

    Fast., lib. i. v. 413.

    Thee also, O Silenus, of inextinguishable lust,

    they inflame; Thou art old in every thing except in lust.

    Such was the state of the Gentiles before they were blessed with the light of the Gospel; and such is the state of those nations who have not yet received the Gospel; and such is the state of multitudes of those in Christian countries who refuse to receive the Gospel, endeavor to decry it, and to take refuge in the falsities of infidelity against the testimony of eternal truth.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Who being past feeling - Wholly hardened in sin. There is a total want of all emotion on moral subjects. This is an accurate description of the state of a sinner. He has no “feeling,” no emotion. He often gives an intellectual assent to the truth, But it is without emotion of any kind. The heart is insensible as the hard rock.

    Have given themselves over - They have done it voluntarily. In Romans 1:24, it is said that “God gave them up.” There is no inconsistency. Whatever was the agency of God in it, they preferred it; compare notes on Romans 1:21.

    Unto lasciviousness - see the notes on Romans 1:24-26.

    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
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 189

    I was directed to the following scriptures. Said the angel: “They are to instruct God's people.” 1 Timothy 2:9, 10: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Peter 3:3-5: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” 1T 189.1

    Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny. Your pride, your love to follow the fashions of the world, your vain and empty conversation, your selfishness, are all put in the scale, and the weight of evil is fearfully against you. You are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. While evil is increasing and taking deep root, it is choking the good seed which has been sown in the heart; and soon the word that was given concerning Eli's house will be spoken to the angels of God concerning you: Your sins “shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever.” Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting His sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among His professed people! Dear friends, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the True Witness: “I know thy works.” The third angel is leading up a people, step by step, higher and higher. At every step they will be tested. 1T 189.2

    The plan of systematic benevolence [See Appendix.] is pleasing to God. I was pointed back to the days of the apostles, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of His Holy Spirit, and that by the gift of prophecy He counseled His people in regard to a system of benevolence. All were to share in this work of imparting of their carnal things to those who ministered unto them in spiritual things. They were also taught that the widows and fatherless had a claim upon their charity. Pure and undefiled religion is defined, To visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, and to keep unspotted from the world. I saw that this was not merely to sympathize with them by comforting words in their affliction, but to aid them, if needy, with our substance. Young men and women to whom God has given health can obtain a great blessing by aiding the widow and the fatherless in their affliction. I saw that God requires young men to sacrifice more for the good of others. He claims more of them than they are willing to perform. If they keep themselves unspotted from the world, cease to follow its fashions, and lay by that which the lovers of pleasure spend in useless articles to gratify pride, and give it to the worthy afflicted ones, and to sustain the cause, they will have the approval of Him who says, “I know thy works.” 1T 190.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 228

    I was directed to the following scriptures. Said the angel, They are to instruct God's people. 1 Timothy 2:9, 10. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Peter 3:3-5. “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” 2SG 228.1

    Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny. Your pride, your love to follow the fashions of the world, your vain and empty conversation, your selfishness, are all put in the scale, and the weight of evil is fearfully against you. You are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. While evil is increasing and taking deep root, it is choking the good seed which has been sown in the heart, and soon the word will be spoken to the angels of God concerning you, as was given concerning Eli's house, that your sins shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting his sword in heaven to cut them down. O that every cold, lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among his professed people. Dear friends, do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” The third angel is leading up a people, step by step, higher and higher. At every step they will be tested. 2SG 229.1

    *****

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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
    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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