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Verse 5. Walk in wisdom. That is, conduct upright and honest. Deal with them on the strictest principles of integrity, so that they may not have occasion to reproach the religion which you profess.

Toward them that are without. Without the pale of the church, or who, are not professing Christians. See Barnes "1 Co 5:12".

They were surrounded by heathens, as Christians now are by men of the world. The injunction is one that requires us to act with prudence and propriety (en sofia) towards them; and there is, perhaps, not a more important direction in the New Testament than this. Among the reasons for this are the following:

(1.) Men of the world judge of religion, not from the profession, but from the life of its friends.

(2.) They judge of religion, not from preaching, or from books, or from the conduct of its Founder and his apostles, but from what they see in the daily walk and conversation of the members of the church.

(3.) They understand the nature of religion so well as to know when its friends are or are not consistent with their profession.

(4.) They set a much higher value on honesty and integrity than they do on the doctrines and duties of religion; and if the professed friends of religion are destitute of the principle of truth and honesty, they think they have nothing of any value. They may be very devout on the Sabbath; very regular at prayer-meetings; very strict, in the observance of rites and ceremonies—but all these are of little worth in the estimation of the world, unless attended with an upright life.

(5.) No professing Christian can possibly do good to others who does not live an upright life. If you have cheated a man out of never so small a sum, it is vain that you talk to him about the salvation of his soul; if you have failed to pay him a debt when it was due, or to finish a piece of work when you promised it, or to tell him the exact truth in conversation, it is vain for you to endeavour to induce him to be a Christian. He will feel, if he does not say— and he might very properly say—that he wants no religion which will not make a man honest.

(6.) No man will attempt to do much good to others whose own life is not upright. He will be sensible of the inconsistency, and will feel that he cannot do it with any sense of propriety; and the honour of religion, therefore, and the salvation of our fellow-men, demand that, in all our intercourse with others, we should lead lives of the strictest integrity.

Redeeming the time. See Barnes "Eph 5:16".


{e} "wisdom" Ps 90:12; Eph 5:15,16

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