Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 15. It will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday August 19, 2018. It is important because it tells of the need for divine wisdom to avoid the pitfalls of evil ways.
Keeping in line with the way I have been presenting Paul’s Epistles, in the literal translations from the Bible Hub interlinear page (Ephesians 5), following this lead-in is that translation. The translation above is fairly representative of the message this selection presents, but (as usual) it misses the point that makes it clear each Christian must be reborn as Jesus Christ. Without that occurrence happening to each individual first, Paul’s words here are much easier said than done. [Notice, again, the presence of capitalization as being meaningful, not simply because a new series of statements [sentences] have begun.]
15 “Take heed therefore carefully how you walk ,” The word “peripateite” translates as “you walk,” but is used ethically to infer “you conduct your life.”
“not as unwise ,” The word “asophoi” translates as “unwise,” but also means “foolish or unskilled.” It is used to imply rejecting God’s guidance (His Will).
“but as wise ,” The word “sophos” means, “wise, learned, cultivated, skilled, clever.” This means to be “wise men,” where those who visited Jesus as a newborn were not smart enough to figure out where to go, what to find, and what to do on their own. They were led to Jesus by God’s guidance.
“because the days evil are .” The word “ponērai” means “evil, bad, malicious, wicked, slothful.” The meaning of “days” (“hēmerai” as “one’s time”) is more about the “years” or the “times,” being generally “always.” In another view, the light of truth (“days” versus nights) will attract those who are “evil” to one, because of the “lust of the times.” This requires one be able to shine light on that darkness.
17 “because of this ,” The word “touto” (“this”) refers back to the state of evil that is always present, seen from the light of day. There is a cause (“because”) and effect challenge created that must be expected.
“not be foolish ,” One must not be “senseless” (from “aphrones”) to this evil presence, as one will be played the fool by the influences of Satan if not in possession of perspective and insight.
“but understand what the will of the Lord [is] .” The exception to foolishness comes from “perceiving” (from “syniete”) evil when it approaches, which is the will of the Lord for all His Apostles-Saints. This insight of “understanding” comes from the Christ Mind.
18 “and not to be drunk with wine ,” The word “methyskesthe” means “become intoxicated,” where “intoxication” means, “overpowering exhilaration or excitement of the mind or emotions.” This is then a warning against the “poisoning” of evil, which possession of God’s Holy Spirit will protect one from.
“in which is debauchery .” The word “asōtia” means not to fall for “wantonness, profligacy, or wastefulness,” where “debauchery” means falling into a state that one cannot be saved from. It means, “spiritual wastefulness due to excessive behavior and the dire consequences it brings.” [HELPS Word-studies]
“instead be filled with [the] Spirit ,” The capitalization of “Pneumati” means the Holy Spirit, which is elevated above the spirit of a soul. This “Spirit” is the protection of God and the true source of wisdom and insight.
19 “speaking to each other [in] psalms ,” As this follows a statement to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, the least impact is “speaking to each other,” as the primary importance is God’s Holy Spirit speaking to them, those who are “themselves” (from “heautois” meaning “themselves” ) in touch with God’s Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that causes all Apostles and Saints to praise God in songs (“psalms”). Certainly all Apostles and Saints will join in with each other by singing the same songs of praise.
“and hymns ,” The word “hymnois” is much like “psalmois,” as both mean “songs of praise.” A “hymn,” however, is more specifically a “sacred son of praise,” one that “gives honor, praise, or thanksgiving.” In antiquity, a “hymn” was sung in celebration of a pagan god, hero, or conqueror. [HELPS Word-studies] The hero of all Apostles and Saints is Jesus Christ, whose entrance into a sinner means the defeat of Satan and his influences of evil.
“and songs spiritual ;” The word “ōdais” means “odes,” which are defined as: “A lyric poem of some length, usually of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanzaic structure.” [American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language] This word is used in the New Testament to denote: “spontaneous, impromptu (unrehearsed) melodies of praise – not merely sung about (for) God but to God from a Spirit-filled heart.” [HELPS Word-studies] These songs are thus “spiritual,” stimulated automatically by the intense joy and happiness one feels from the Holy Spirit.
“singing and making melody in the heart of you to the Lord ;” This repeats the intent and purpose of “odes spiritual” and the source of one’s need to sing praises to the LORD. It is most important to see the use of the word “kardia” as the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “leb,” meaning “the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center.” Because “singing and making melody” (“adontes kai psallontes“) are more acts of the emotional center leading the brain, for the the emotions of music to be heartfelt, this is a statement about God’s presence in one’s heart moving one to sing.
20 “giving thanks at all times ,” The praises one sings are of thanks for having been saved by God. This is not simply a time rescued here and there, as being filled with the Holy Spirit means eternal salvation, where the word “pantote” means “ever.”
“for all things ,” There is nothing that comes into the lives of Apostles-Saints that is not to be praised as a benefit of God’s presence.
“in [the] name the Lord of us ,” God’s presence within an Apostle-Saint comes with a name that one must identify as.
“Jesus Christ .” That name is Jesus Christ. One takes on that name as all Apostles-Saints must be reborn with the Holy Spirit of God’s presence in His Son, bringing with it the Christ Mind.
As an Epistle selection for the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to the LORD should be underway – one should be singing praises to the LORD – the message here follows the theme of the Old Testament selections that apply to wisdom. The wisdom and understanding of which Paul wrote is different than that requested by Solomon, as it requires one sacrifice self-ego for the Christ Mind.
Paul began this series of segments by saying, “Take heed.” Before one can walk in the ways of Jesus Christ, as a true Christian, one must be led by God, via His Christ Mind. One must become a “wise man” (regardless of human gender) by being reborn as the Son of God, allowing one’s flesh to become the body of the resurrected Jesus Christ. Anything short of that total commitment to serve the LORD will leave one foolish, overcome by the evil influences of the days.
The only way one can understand the will of the Lord is to stop giving credit to one’s Big Brain. The Big Brain represents the drunken state of self-glorification. Through ego, one wastes the advantages of spirituality. One sings praises to God for what one has achieved, acting as if God rewards the selfish with wealth and power. Wealth and power are payments that cease when one’s life on earth ends; and human beings are mortals that are born to die. Material rewards leave nothing in the spiritual realm to reap.
A minister of the LORD knows the voice within which is a thrill to behold. One sings constant songs of praise to God, when little can be detected of material gain surrounding oneself. One’s life song, where an evil end was averted by sacrifice of self for the love of God is sung to others, like a recovering alcoholic sings praises to God for salvation. One’s salvation came by submitting oneself to God and facing all the trials of commitment, so one can be reborn as Jesus Christ. One cannot claim to be Jesus Christ, but the glory of that presence is known and it leads one to testify to God’s greatness, so others can come to find the same reward.
Text copyright by Robert Tippett