“So this is what I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you should no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk, in the
of their minds. They are in darkness mentally
and alienated from the life that belongs to God
, because of the ignorance
that is in them, because of the insensitivity
of their hearts. Having gone past all moral sense
, they gave themselves over to brazen
to practice every sort of uncleanness with greediness.
” (Ephesians 4:17-19)
Or “emptiness; vanity.” According to one lexicon, the thought in this verse is that the people of the nations “walk with their
minds fixed on futile things.” Their course leads to frustration and disappointment, which is one reason why Paul urges Christians to stop
“walking just as the nations also walk.” Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, sometimes used this term to parallel the expression “a chasing
after the wind.” (Ec 1:14; 2:11) In the context of Ro 8:20, Paul describes a striving without attaining a goal or purpose.
in darkness mentally:
Paul’s remarks are not about the intelligence of unbelievers. The Bible often compares lack of understanding,
especially in a spiritual sense, to darkness. (Job 12:24, 25; Isa 5:20; 60:2; Joh 8:12; 2Co 4:6; Eph 1:17, 18; 5:8, 11; 1Pe 2:9; 1Jo 2:9-11) Those who
have not come to know Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are “in darkness mentally” because they have no guiding light or sense of direction in their
endeavors.—Joh 17:3; Ro 1:21, 28; 2Co 4:4.
the life that belongs to God:
According to one reference work, the Greek word here translated “life” means “life as a principle, life in
the absolute sense.” (There is a different Greek word for “life” that means “way of life,” or “lifestyle.” See, for example, 1Ti 2:2;
1Jo 2:16.) Thus, Paul is saying that mental and spiritual darkness has alienated, or separated, people from Jehovah, the Source of life and of the
hope of everlasting life.—Ps 36:9; Ro 1:21; Ga 6:8; Col 1:21.
Lit., “dulling.” People who are immersed in the thinking and spirit of this unrighteous world have figurative hearts that
are insensitive, or dulled. (1Co 2:12; Eph 2:2; 4:17) Thus, they have no desire to gain the knowledge of God. The Greek noun here rendered
“insensitivity” is derived from a medical term that among other things refers to skin made insensitive because of calluses. Here it is used to
describe the way the figurative heart could gradually become hardened, or unfeeling, toward God.
Having gone past all moral sense:
The expression renders a Greek word that literally means “having ceased to feel pain.” It is here used
figuratively in the sense that someone is ethically or morally insensitive. Such a person has ceased to feel any pangs of conscience or any
accountability to God.—1Ti 4:2.
Or “shameless conduct.” The Greek word a·selʹgei·a
denotes conduct that is a serious violation of God’s laws
and that reflects a brazen or boldly contemptuous attitude.
every sort of uncleanness:
The term “uncleanness” (Greek, a·ka·thar·siʹa
) is broad in meaning. Here it is used in its figurative
meaning, referring to impurity of any kind—in sexual matters, in speech, in action, and in spiritual relationships. (Compare 1Co 7:14; 2Co 6:17;
1Th 2:3.) It stresses the morally repugnant nature of the wrong conduct or condition. Paul notes that such conduct was carried out with
The Greek word ple·o·ne·xiʹa
, rendered “greediness,” denotes an insatiable desire to have more. By adding “with
greediness,” Paul shows that “uncleanness” may involve various degrees of seriousness.
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