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11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake!

Rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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11. unfruitful works of darkness—Sins are terminated in themselves, and therefore are called "works," not "fruits" (Ga 5:19, 22). Their only fruit is that which is not in a true sense fruit (De 32:32), namely, "death" (Ro 6:21; Ga 6:8). Plants cannot bear "fruit" in the absence of light. Sin is "darkness," and its parent is the prince of darkness (Eph 6:12). Graces, on the other hand, as flourishing in "the light," are reproductive, and abound in fruits; which, as harmoniously combining in one whole, are termed (in the singular) "the FRUIT of the Spirit" (Eph 5:9).

rather, &c.—Translate as Greek, "rather even reprove them" (compare Mt 5:14-16). Not only "have no fellowship, but even reprove them," namely, in words, and in your deeds, which, shining with "the light," virtually reprove all that is contrary to light (Eph 5:13; Joh 3:19-21). "Have no fellowship," does not imply that we can avoid all intercourse (1Co 5:10), but "avoid such fellowship as will defile yourselves"; just as light, though it touch filth, is not soiled by it; nay, as light detects it, so, "even reprove sin."

12. The Greek order is, "For the things done in secret by them, it is a shame even to speak of." The "for" gives his reason for "not naming" (compare Eph 5:3) in detail the works of darkness, whereas he describes definitely (Eph 5:9) "the fruit of the light" [Bengel]. "Speak of," I think, is used here as "speaking of without reproving," in contrast to "even reprove them." Thus the "for" expresses this, Reprove them, for to speak of them without reproving them, is a shame (Eph 5:3). Thus "works of darkness" answers to "things done in secret."

13. that are reproved—rather, "when they are reproved," namely, by you (Eph 5:11).

whatsoever doth make manifest—rather, "everything that is (that is, suffers itself to be) made manifest (or 'shone upon,' namely, by your 'reproving,' Eph 5:11) is (thenceforth no longer 'darkness,' Eph 5:8, but) light." The devil and the wicked will not suffer themselves to be made manifest by the light, but love darkness, though outwardly the light shines round them. Therefore, "light" has no transforming effect on them, so that they do not become light (Joh 3:19, 20). But, says the apostle, you being now light yourselves (Eph 5:8), by bringing to light through reproof those who are in darkness, will convert them to light. Your consistent lives and faithful reproofs will be your "armor of light" (Ro 13:12) in making an inroad on the kingdom of darkness.

14. Wherefore—referring to the whole foregoing argument (Eph 5:8, 11, 13). Seeing that light (spiritual) dispels the pre-existing darkness, He (God) saith … (compare the same phrase, Eph 4:8).

Awake—The reading of all the oldest manuscripts is "Up!" or, "Rouse thee!" a phrase used in stirring men to activity. The words are a paraphrase of Isa 60:1, 2, not an exact quotation. The word "Christ," shows that in quoting the prophecy, he views it in the light thrown on it by its Gospel fulfilment. As Israel is called on to "awake" from its previous state of "darkness" and "death" (Isa 59:10; 60:2), for that her Light is come; so the Church, and each individual is similarly called to awake. Believers are called on to "awake" out of sleep; unbelievers, to "arise" from the dead (compare Mt 25:5; Ro 13:11; 1Th 5:6, with Eph 2:1).

Christ—"the true light," "the Sun of righteousness."

give thee light—rather, as Greek, "shall shine upon thee" (so enabling thee by being "made manifest" to become, and be, by the very fact, "light," Eph 5:13; then being so "enlightened," Eph 1:18, thou shalt be able, by "reproving," to enlighten others).

15. that—rather as Greek, "See how ye walk," &c. The double idea is compressed into one sentence: "See (take heed) how ye walk," and "See that ye walk circumspectly." The manner, as well as the act itself, is included. See how ye are walking, with a view to your being circumspect (literally, accurate, exact) in your walk. Compare Col 4:5, "Walk in wisdom (answering to 'as wise' here) toward them that are without" (answering to "circumspectly," that is, correctly, in relation to the unbelievers around, not giving occasion of stumbling to any, but edifying all by a consistent walk).

not as foolsGreek, "not as unwise, but as wise."

16. Redeeming the time—(Col 4:5). Greek, "Buying up for yourselves the seasonable time" (whenever it occurs) of good to yourselves and to others. Buying off from the vanities of "them that are without" (Col 4:5), and of the "unwise" (here in Ephesians), the opportune time afforded to you for the work of God. In a narrower sense, special favorable seasons for good, occasionally presenting themselves, are referred to, of which believers ought diligently to avail themselves. This constitutes true "wisdom" (Eph 5:15). In a larger sense, the whole season from the time that one is spiritually awakened, is to be "redeemed" from vanity for God (compare 2Co 6:2; 1Pe 4:2-4). "Redeem" implies the preciousness of the opportune season, a jewel to be bought at any price. Wahl explains, "Redeeming for yourselves (that is, availing yourselves of) the opportunity (offered you of acting aright), and commanding the time as a master does his servant." Tittmann, "Watch the time, and make it your own so as to control it; as merchants look out for opportunities, and accurately choose out the best goods; serve not the time, but command it, and it shall do what you approve." So Pindar [Pythia, 4.509], "The time followed him as his servant, and was not as a runaway slave."

because the days are evil—The days of life in general are so exposed to evil, as to make it necessary to make the most of the seasonable opportunity so long as it lasts (Eph 6:13; Ge 47:9; Ps 49:5; Ec 11:2; 12:1; Joh 12:35). Besides, there are many special evil days (in persecution, sickness, &c.) when the Christian is laid by in silence; therefore he needs the more to improve the seasonable times afforded to him (Am 5:13), which Paul perhaps alludes to.

17. Wherefore—seeing that ye need to walk so circumspectly, choosing and using the right opportunity of good.

unwise—a different Greek word from that in Eph 5:15. Translate, "foolish," or "senseless."

understanding—not merely knowing as a matter of fact (Lu 12:47), but knowing with understanding.

the will of the Lord—as to how each opportunity is to be used. The Lord's will, ultimately, is our "sanctification" (1Th 4:3); and that "in every thing," meantime, we should "give thanks" (1Th 5:18; compare above, Eph 5:10).