1 So be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

3 Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, 4 no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. 5 Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. 7 So do not be associated with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, 9 for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. 10 Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, 12 for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says:

"Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

15 Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, 16 making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord. 18 And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing [making music] to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

21 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.  23 For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.  24 As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her 26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, 27 that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. 33 In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.



  • As a response to God’s infinite goodness (chapters 1-3), we are to unify around the core doctrines of the faith and a holy lifestyle (chapter 4). How can we do this? Chapter 5 continues the discussion, and here Paul commands us to strive to imitate Christ (5:1-2). The life of love exemplified in chapter 4 is only possible if we are aiming to emulate Jesus Christ.
  • This means a sacrificial life (v.2). “Fragrant aroma” is an allusion to O.T. sacrifices.
  • How holy should we be (vv.3-5)?
    • Sin on our part should not even be suspected (v.3)!
    • Sexual immorality (porneia) is mentioned first.
    • Impurity—whether of motive or any other area of our lives—is improper.
    • Greed (materialism) is the third in the triad, and in the N.T. often accompanies sexual immorality. Greed is idolatry—valuing things before God (v.5).
    • Obscenity is mentioned next (v.4). Should Christians speak it? Listen to it? (What would Jesus do?)
    • Foolish talk is also out of place. (Please refer back to 4:29.)
  • Paul assures us that those who live unholy lives will not be saved (v.5).
  • He also assures us that the world will push back (vv.6-7).
    • Arguments will be advanced to encourage us to compromise our Christian convictions. (See also Colossians 2:4,8.)
    • We should have nothing to do with those who are trying to pull us away from our convictions.
  • After all, Paul reminds them, they once lived in darkness, but now are in the light (v.8ff).
    • We are to learn what pleases the God. Study the word, test its principles, seek advice, look at the life of our Lord.
    • We are to distance ourselves from sinful acts, not see how close we can get without technically “crossing the line."
    • In fact, the apostle urges us to expose the deeds of darkness. (That is bound to provoke a reaction!)
    • It is a matter of shame to discuss the disgusting things done by children of the darkness, just as it is if others view us as participating in them ourselves.
    • It is the nature of light to illuminate. In the sight of God and our fellow man, we are to live openly and cleanly. See John 3:19-21.
  • The poetic lines “Awake, O sleeper…” (v.14) are part (or all) of an ancient Christian baptismal hymn. (This is the view of most N.T. scholars.)
  • Spiritual alertness began when we entered the light, but it must continue to mark our Christian lives (v.15ff).
    • We must be vigilant against temptation and sin.
    • We are also to seek opportunities the Lord may be giving us to serve him. (Refer back to 2:10.)
    • We are to continue to grow in our knowledge of God’s will (v.17).
    • We are to be controlled by the Spirit, not by wine (v.18).
      • The physical relaxation of alcohol (and other drugs) can lead to moral relaxation.
      • Whatever fills us tends to control us. If we seek pleasure or worldly thrills, they will drive us instead of our love for God.
      • One of most direct and edifying ways to be filled with the Spirit is to share the truths of God musically with our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.19)!
      • Gratitude is another trait of a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life (v.20).
      • Yet another trait is humble submission to one another (v.21). This is also to characterize the marriage relationship (and not only wife to husband, but also husband to wife).
  • The church, much loved by her husband, is to seek holiness, illustrated by the marriage relationship (vv.22-33).
    • This means mutual submission.
    • Paul is teaching a truly kingdom-style leadership: inverted, servant leadership. In the ancient world the head is the one who must be protected at all costs (just like our own anatomical heads). He is lord over his servants. But here the direction of flow is reversed. The focus isn't on the servants / women getting into line, but on the loving provision of the head.
    • The husband must not be aloof from his wife's spiritual condition, but deeply involved in her life.
    • Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, an important verse for all Christians to know.


  • What are psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (v.19)?
    • Psalms may be canonical O.T. psalms, or other prayers (etc) set to music that conform to the general style of the biblical genre.
    • Hymns are typically addressed to God or to Christ as Lord.
    • Spiritual songs are not necessarily “spirituals.” The precise meaning of the term is illusive.
  • Verse 26 is an allusion to baptism. There are a number of other such allusions in the N.T.

Thought questions:

  • How conscientiously am I striving to emulate the life of Christ? Do I realize that insofar as I do so, I am participating in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4)?
  • Does the phrase "spiritually alert" accurately describe me?
  • What rationalizations do I use for borderline worldly behaviors?
  • If I am married, how involved am I in my spouse's spiritual life?