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6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them. 8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.


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6. Let no man deceive you. There have always been ungodly dogs, 156156     “Mastins.” “Mastiffs.” by whom the threatenings of the prophets were made the subject of merriment and ridicule. We find such characters in our own day. In all ages, indeed, Satan raises up sorcerers of this description, who endeavor by unholy scoffs to escape the Divine judgment, and who actually exercise a kind of fascination over consciences not sufficiently established in the fear of God. “This is a trivial fault. Fornication is viewed by God as a light matter. Under the law of grace God is not so cruel. He has not formed us so as to be our own executioners. The frailty of nature excuses us.” These and similar expressions are often used by the scoffers. Paul, on the contrary, exclaims that we must guard against that sophistry by which consciences are ensnared to their ruin.

For because of these things cometh the wrath of God. If we consider the present tense to be here used, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, for the future, these words are a threatening of the last judgment. But I agree with those who take the word cometh in an indefinite sense, — the word of God usually cometh, — as reminding them of the ordinary judgments of God which were executed before their own eyes. And certainly, if we were not blind and slothful, there are sufficiently numerous examples by which God testifies that he is the just avenger of such crimes, — examples of the pouring out of divine indignation, privately against individuals, and publicly against cities, and kings, and nations.

Upon the children of disobedience, — upon unbelievers or rebels. This expression must not be overlooked. Paul is now addressing believers, and his object is not so much to present alarming views of their own danger, as to rouse them to behold reflected in wicked men, as in mirrors, the dreadful judgments of God. God does not make himself an object of terror to his children, that they may avoid him, but does all that can be done in a fatherly manner, to draw them to himself. They ought to learn this lesson, not to involve themselves in a dangerous fellowship with the ungodly, whose ruin is thus foreseen.

8. For ye were once darkness. The precepts which immediately follow derive greater weight from the motives with which they are mingled. Having spoken of unbelievers, and warned the Ephesians not to become partakers of their crimes and their destruction, he argues still further, that they ought to differ widely from the life and conduct of those men. At the same time, in order to guard them against ingratitude to God, he refreshes their remembrance of their own past life. “You ought,” he says, “to be very different persons from what you formerly were; for out of darkness God hath made you light.” Darkness is the name here given to the whole nature of man before regeneration; for, where the brightness of God does not shine, there is nothing but fearful darkness. Light, again, is the name given to those who are enlightened by the Spirit of God; for immediately afterwards in the same sense, he calls them children of light, and draws the inference, that they ought to walk in light, because by the mercy of God they had been rescued from darkness. Observe here, we are said to be light in the Lord, because, while we are out of Christ, all is under the dominion of Satan, whom we know to be the Prince of darkness.

9. For the fruit of the light. 157157     The English version reads, The fruit of the Spirit; Calvin’s, The fruit of light. Without attempting, in a brief note, to balance the various readings, it may be proper to mention, that, instead of πνεύματος, (of the Spirit,) many Greek manuscripts have θωτὸς, (of the light,) and the latter reading has been adopted by Griesbach. — Ed This parenthesis is introduced, to point out the road in which the children of light ought to walk. A complete description is not given, but a few parts of a holy and pious life are introduced by way of example. To give them a general view of duty, their attention is again directed to the will of God. Whoever desires to live in a proper and safe manner, let him resolve to obey God, and to take his will as the rule. To regulate life entirely by his command is, as he says in another Epistle, a reasonable service, (Romans 12:1,) or, as another inspired man expresses it, To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22.) I wonder how the word Spirit (πνεὐματος) has crept into many Greek manuscripts, as the other reading is more consistent, — the fruit of the light Paul’s meaning indeed is not affected; for in either case it will be this, that believers must walk in the light, because they are “children of the light.” This is done, when they do not live according to their own will, but devote themselves entirely to obedience to God, — when they undertake nothing but by his command. Besides, such obedience is testified by its fruits, such as goodness, righteousness, and truth.




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