Many people hope to get an answer right away when they rush to certain verses in Ephesians 5. But they can miss the starting point of their answer in doing so. As a result, they can end up getting a wrong “answer” because it is taken out of context.
For example, chapter breaks—included centuries after the Bible was written—can be helpful to the reader. But some of them badly interrupt the thought that is being developed, such as the insertion of an unfortunate chapter break right after the key point of Ephesians 5:15 to 6:9.
Paul wrote the second half of Ephesians in six passages that each begin with two Greek words: “therefore” and “walk.” The fifth passage is found in 5:15-6:9. Watch out for any study of Ephesians 5 and 6 that does not recognize the beginning and end of this passage! Because if they miss the complete passage they very easily can misinterpret the meaning of the verses within it.
Exercise #1: Identify the structures Paul built into Ephesians 4-6.
1. In a few words, summarize each of the six “therefore walk” passages.
a. Ephesians 4:1-16
b. Ephesians 4:17-32
c. Ephesians 5:1-6
d. Ephesians 5:7-14
e. Ephesians 5:15-6:9
f. Ephesians 6:10-20
2. Show how the final point in each section leads to definitions and descriptions in the following section.
3. Summarize Paul’s pattern of fours in Ephesians 5:15-6-9.
a. 5:15-18, with the key idea in verse 18 [Be being filled with the Spirit.]
b. 5:19-21, with the key idea in verse 21 [Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.]
c. 5:22-6:9, with the key idea in verses 31-32 [Christ and the church together go beyond the relationships in Eden and make up one joint-body.]
d. 5:22-6:9 , with the two three-part sub-patterns that point to the key idea in 31-32.
4. Basing your answer on the key idea found in Ephesians 5:31-32, what was Paul seeking to convey in:
a. Ephesians 5:22?
b. Ephesians 5:31?
Exercise #2: Determine Paul’s sets of instructions in Ephesians 5:15-18
1. Name what Paul says to do and not do.
– Ephesians 5:15
– Ephesians 5:16
– Ephesians 5:17
– Ephesians 5:18
2. In what way is Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 5:18 significantly different than in the previous three verses?
Exercise #3: Construct Paul’s chiasm in Ephesians 5:19-21
1. On the chiastic arc of Ephesians 19a-21, write the verses and their key ideas:
A = 5:19a
B = 5:19b
2. In light of Colossians 3:16, how is A (Ephesians 19a) connected to A’ (Ephesians 5:21) in Paul’s chiasm?
Here are exciting links to resources for further research!
1. Join the Tru316 Project for as little as $3.16/month! (https://www.patreon.com/Tru316Project)
2. Bruce C. E. Fleming’s doctoral research on Ephesians 5-6 is summarized in Chapter 2 of his book Women and Men in the Light of Eden. Purchase it here (www.tru316.com/shop/ols/products/paperback-women-and-me-in-the-light-of-eden-by-bruce-c-e-fleming)
3. The Eden Podcast Episode on Ephesians 5:15-21. Listen here (https://tru316.com/ep-5%3A15-21-spirit-walking)
4. Think Again Workshop on Ephesians 5-6. Download and study it here (https://tru316.com/shop/ols/products/video-workshop-sesion-11-think-again-about-submission-part-1-ephesians-5-6)
5. Bruce C. E. Fleming’s Workshop video summarizing Ephesians 5:15-6:9. Watch it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsKnuhwhr5Y)