Commentary on Ephesians, 5:3,4


Ephesians 5:3,4

“3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as befitting of Saints;”

After a detailed discussion about sexual immorality, we now turn our attention to the rest of verse 3.

“uncleanness” (Gr. akatharsia – 167)

Impurity, filthiness, moral defilement, profligate living.

This no doubt includes sexual immorality, but probably has the thought-life primarily in view, which results in other areas of shameful conduct that is contrary to who we are in Christ, such as: impure thoughts, pornography, watching sex-oriented movies and tv shows, dirty jokes, wild living, indecent acts…..in general, a filthy mind-set that reveals itself in the way we live and speak.

“covetousness”  (Gr. pleonexia – 4124)

Greedy desire for more and more. Refers to a worldly, materialistic mindset….a mind that is set on the attainment of the things of this world.

“let it not even be named among you, as befitting of Saints;”

These types of things are not fitting or appropriate for the people of God. These things should never characterize someone who professes Christ as Lord and Savior. Furthermore, Christians as a whole should never be looked upon by the world as being characterized by such things. In other words, this should not be what we’re known for. Our way of thinking and the way we live should be in stark contrast to the rest of the world.

“Saints”  (holy ones)

“4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.” 

“filthiness”  (Gr. aischrotes – 151)

Shameful behavior. Similar in meaning to “uncleanness” in verse three. Paul may have looked upon uncleanness as relating more to our thought-life, and filthiness as the acts or outworking of that thought-life.

“foolish talking” (Gr. morologia – 3473)

Senseless, stupid, silly talk, empty or worthless conversation, non-edifying speech, idle chit-chat, etc. Refers to the type of speech that is characterized by those of the world, who have a worldly orientation or mind-set, void of those things that are representative of Christ or the Christian way of thinking. The speech of the Christian should always be representative of those who “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Our speech should not be the speech of fools, but of those who are wise.

“jesting”  (Gr. eutrapelia – 2160)

Vulgar wit. I think most of us know people who are good at this. My best friend in high school was known for his quick, vulgar wit. It’s probably the first thing that everyone thinks of when his name comes up. It’s fine to be witty, but not when it’s characterized by vulgarity.

“not befitting” (Gr. aneko – 433)

Improper. Again, our speech (and conduct) is to be proper as those who belong to, and represent Christ. As children of God, we should be becoming more and more like our Father in the way we speak and in the way we behave.

“but rather giving of thanks”

If we are focused on giving thanks and praise to God for all that we have in Christ, and for all that we have to look forward to in eternity, there won’t be any reason or room to speak inappropriately. Our tongue is to be used to benefit others and to bring glory to God. 

We need to carefully guard everything that comes out of our mouths, for we will one day give an account for “every idle word ” that we speak (Matt 12:36). If we keep that in mind, it will serve as a guide for what we say.