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Rules for the New Life

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.


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25. Wherefore—From the general character of "the new man," there will necessarily result the particular features which he now details.

putting awayGreek, "having put away" once for all.

lying—"falsehood": the abstract. "Speak ye truth each one with his neighbor," is quoted, slightly changed, from Zec 8:16. For "to," Paul quotes it "with," to mark our inner connection with one another, as "members one of another" [Stier]. Not merely members of one body. Union to one another in Christ, not merely the external command, instinctively leads Christians to fulfil mutual duties. One member could not injure or deceive another, without injuring himself, as all have a mutual and common interest.

26. Be ye angry, and sin not—So the Septuagint, Ps 4:4. Should circumstances arise to call for anger on your part, let it be as Christ's "anger" (Mr 3:5), without sin. Our natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their legitimate object, and when not exceeding due bounds. As in the future literal, so in the present spiritual, resurrection, no essential constituent is annihilated, but all that is a perversion of the original design is removed. Thus indignation at dishonor done to God, and wrong to man, is justifiable anger. Passion is sinful (derived from "passio," suffering: implying that amidst seeming energy, a man is really passive, the slave of his anger, instead of ruling it).

let not the sun go down upon your wrath—"wrath" is absolutely forbidden; "anger" not so, though, like poison sometimes used as medicine, it is to be used with extreme caution. The sense is not, Your anger shall not be imputed to you if you put it away before nightfall; but "let no wrath (that is, as the Greek, personal 'irritation' or 'exasperation') mingle with your 'anger,' even though, the latter be righteous, [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]. "Put it away before sunset" (when the Jewish day began), is proverbial for put it away at once before another day begin (De 24:15); also before you part with your brother for the night, perhaps never in this world to meet again. So Jona, "Let not night and anger against anyone sleep with you, but go and conciliate the other party, though he have been the first to commit the offense." Let not your "anger" at another's wickedness verge into hatred, or contempt, or revenge [Vatablus].

27. Neither give place—that is, occasion, or scope, to the devil, by continuing in "wrath." The keeping of anger through the darkness of night, is giving place to the devil, the prince of darkness (Eph 6:12).

28. Greek, "Let him that stealeth." The imperfect or past tense is, however, mainly meant, though not to the exclusion of the present. "Let the stealing person steal no more." Bandits frequented the mountains near Ephesus. Such are meant by those called "thieves" in the New Testament.

but rather—For it is not enough to cease from a sin, but the sinner must also enter on the path that is its very opposite [Chrysostom]. The thief, when repentant, should labor more than he would be called on to do, if he had never stolen.

let him labour—Theft and idleness go together.

the thing which is good—in contrast with theft, the thing which was evil in his past character.

with his hands—in contrast with his former thievish use of his hands.

that he may have to give—"that he may have wherewith to impart." He who has stolen should exercise liberality beyond the restitution of what he has taken. Christians in general should make not selfish gain their aim in honest industry, but the acquisition of the means of greater usefulness to their fellow men; and the being independent of the alms of others. So Paul himself (Ac 20:35; 2Th 3:8) acted as he taught (1Th 4:11).

29. corrupt—literally, "insipid," without "the salt of grace" (Col 4:6), so worthless and then becoming corrupt: included in "foolish talking" (Eph 5:4). Its opposite is "that which is good to edifying."

communication—language.

that which, &c.—Greek, "whatever is good."

use of edifying—literally, "for edifying of the need," that is, for edifying where it is needed. Seasonably edifying; according as the occasion and present needs of the hearers require, now censure, at another time consolation. Even words good in themselves must be introduced seasonably lest by our fault they prove injurious instead of useful. Trench explains, Not vague generalities, which would suit a thousand other cases equally well, and probably equally ill: our words should be as nails fastened in a sure place, words suiting the present time and the present person, being "for the edifying of the occasion" (Col 4:6).

ministerGreek, "give." The word spoken "gives grace to the hearers" when God uses it as His instrument for that purpose.

30. grieve not—A condescension to human modes of thought most touching. Compare "vexed His Holy Spirit" (Isa 63:10; Ps 78:40); "fretted me" (Eze 16:43: implying His tender love to us); and of hardened unbelievers, "resist the Holy Ghost" (Ac 7:51). This verse refers to believers, who grieve the Spirit by inconsistencies such as in the context are spoken of, corrupt or worthless conversation, &c.

whereby ye are sealed—rather, "wherein (or 'in whom') ye were sealed." As in Eph 1:13, believers are said to be sealed "in" Christ, so here "in the Holy Spirit," who is one with Christ, and who reveals Christ in the soul: the Greek implies that the sealing was done already once for all. It is the Father "BY" whom believers, as well as the Son Himself, were sealed (Joh 6:27). The Spirit is represented as itself the seal (Eph 1:13, for the image employed, see on Eph 1:13). Here the Spirit is the element IN which the believer is sealed, His gracious influences being the seal itself.

unto—kept safely against the day of redemption, namely, of the completion of redemption in the deliverance of the body as well as the soul from all sin and sorrow (Eph 1:14; Lu 21:28; Ro 8:23).

31. bitterness—both of spirit and of speech: opposed to "kind."

wrath—passion for a time: opposed to "tender-hearted." Whence Bengel translates for "wrath," harshness.

anger—lasting resentment: opposed to "forgiving one another."

clamour—compared by Chrysostom to a horse carrying anger for its rider: "Bridle the horse, and you dismount its rider." "Bitterness" begets "wrath"; "wrath," "anger"; "anger," "clamor"; and "clamor," the more chronic "evil-speaking," slander, insinuations, and surmises of evil. "Malice" is the secret root of all: "fires fed within, and not appearing to by-standers from without, are the most formidable" [Chrysostom].

32. (Lu 7:42; Col 3:12).

even as—God hath shown Himself "kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to you"; it is but just that you in turn shall be so to your fellow men, who have not erred against you in the degree that you have erred against God (Mt 18:33).

God for Christ's sake—rather as Greek, "God in Christ" (2Co 5:19). It is in Christ that God vouchsafes forgiveness to us. It cost God the death of His Son, as man, to forgive us. It costs us nothing to forgive our fellow man.

hath forgiven—rather as Greek, "forgave you." God has, once for all, forgiven sin in Christ, as a past historical fact.




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