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Guidelines for Practicing Good Morality and Loving Your Neighbor – Ephesians 4:25-32

Jul 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul provides guidelines of good practical morality, moving from good practice to reality and applying Christ’s teachings on the art of good neighbourhood. He gives six practices that Christians ought to adopt to achieve one of Christ’s greatest commandments which commands Christians to love their neighbour as much as they love themselves to inherit the Kingdom of God as promised by Jesus. Ephesians had been recently converted to Christianity and still held on to old habits[1] that were considered evil according to Christ’s teachings and were confused about the application of Jesus” teachings. Therefore, Paul writes to them advising on what is required of them about their neighbours, stating clearly the desirable actions they should strive to achieve and the undesirable practices they should avoid as Christians.


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Paul gave the six practices in Ephesians 4:25-32 advocate for the unconditional love manifested in selfless actions, habits and practices. The six practices he provides aim at building a strong united Christian community that exists in harmony, assisting one another to thrive in God’s ways and eventually achieve the goal of after life on earth which is to live happily ever after in God’s Kingdom and not to burn in eternal fire. In addition, they do eco Christ teachings on suitable Christian values, virtues[2] and the Ten Commandments given to the Israelites to live by[3]. Paul does acknowledge that applying Jesus” teaching is difficult in practice due to the imperfect nature of human beings. Therefore, he tells Ephesians to be honest with one another, overcome anger, those able to work hard to earn a living respectably for themselves and the needy, focus on building one another through encouragement, develop desirable attitudes towards one another, strive hard not to judge or discriminate anyone and to be kind to one another forgiving just as God forgave us through His son Jesus.

In Ephesians 4: 25, Paul calls upon Christians to be honest with one another by avoiding any form of falsehood. Speaking the truth dates back to the Old Testament when the Hebrews were advised to be truthful to one another and judge with truth, so there be peace at their gates[4]. This shows Paul’s determination to build a firm peaceful Christian community founded on the truth and not pretext facilitated by lies. Paul condemned the pretext as well as selfish motives that had defined most of Ephesians relationships before being converted to Christianity and advised them to seek the light by stemming such habits justifying that we are all members of one another about the fact that as Christians we are part of Christ’s body[5]. All Christians are one family in Christ and for the family to stay intact in peace and harmony, they ought to be trusted to strengthen fellowship as it is built on trust and trust is built on truth. However, deceptions overlook fellowship weakening it and eventually leading to its collapse. Therefore, Christians should prioritize honesty for the sake of peace, love and unity for the benefit of everyone and the church, as adopting honesty is a sign of emulating Christ’s love[6], as described by Kylene.

In Ephesians 4: 26, Paul tells Christians to control their rage as being angry is not a sin but letting wrath overrule them to the extent of carrying out evil deeds is inexcusable[7], as illustrated by Ernest. Paul considers the different emotions that are prone to human beings and identifies anger as destructive to Christians if not appropriately dealt with. For instance, anger could make one kill and hence would have gone against the fifth commandment that only gives God the mandate to end the life of a human being, and the repercussions would be severe. He advises them to ensure that they do not let the sun set while still angry, implying that they should make haste in settling their differences by forgiving before anger get the best of them and lead them to sin to sleep peacefully and not allow the devil to exploit their weakest moment to cause destructions[8]. The devil is said to manifest itself most when a person is angry and controls an individual, making them get involved in regrettable actions later. Therefore, Paul calls upon Christians to learn to control their temper and act wisely and righteously when angry to preserve suitable Christian values and their safety as well as that of others which is an act of love[9].

In addition, Paul emphasizes the seventh commandment given to the Israelites in the Old Testament, which commands Christians not to take what does not belong to them without permission[10]. In Ephesians 4:28, Paul tells Ephesians, “anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work doing something useful with their hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” This verse does remind Christians that God had given them the ability and capability to earn a decent living and thus ought to view work from a positive perspective, unlike in the days when they viewed work as a burden. He did caution them against succumbing to easier evil ways of earning a living like stealing, which does include corruption. Instead, he advised them to use the ability given to them wisely for their benefit and the less fortunate in society, such as the physically and mentally challenged.[11] They are being told to put their laziness aside and join hands in building the community and assisting the disadvantaged. This is because; such acts as stealing would deny them a chance at eternal life in God’s kingdom, and as Christians, that should be their goal. Besides, it is unethical to take away someone’s sweat when you are gifted with the ability to get your own, as it goes against Christ’s command to love one another.

Furthermore, the verse focus on denouncing the awful old ways and embracing the good in Christ since it advocates that Christians should make good use of their time and abilities for the sake of God, others and the disadvantaged in society, promoting the art of giving while discouraging Christians from being the recipient[12]. Paul based this verse on the outcome of Christ’s ministries. For instance, ‘beggars become givers, ‘the haves’ assists the ‘have-nots’, and thieves become philanthropists after redemption, implying that people can change for the better and do something noble and productive with their lives.

Words are powerful tools that can either build or destroy[13] depending on their nature since they strongly impact an individual’s emotions. Therefore, Paul in Ephesians 4:28 calls upon Christians to watch the words that come from their mouths. Christians are told to encourage others to build one another in Christ by pointing out the positive attributes honestly, and the negative attributes politely without demoralizing an individual’s feelings. This ensures that Christians bring out the best in one another for the effective growth of the Christian community and the church so that they all make it to the next life and for success. Foul language has been known to kill an individual’s spirit; thus, killing without putting a knife in someone’s throat is a sin. Besides, foul language does create a rift in the church, thus destroying unity and the church as a whole. Therefore, vulgar language should be avoided by all means; instead, suitable language that cultivates good Christian relations [14] should be adopted because they would look out for each other just as required by Christ.

Paul, in Ephesian 4: 30, warns Christians against upsetting the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides all Christians from the day of salvation until their redemption day when Christ resurrects their bodies to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is God since God manifests Himself in the Holy Trinity[15]; therefore, any evil action may distress the Holy Spirit resulting in His departure, yet without him, we are nothing. The Holy Spirit assists Christians in transforming their old ways into Spirit ways and stays in them, guiding and leading them in the right direction. Therefore, Christians ought to be concerned about the impact of their actions on the Holy Spirit taking care not to cause any pain which can be achieved by shying away from all forms of sins[16] as recommended by Terry. In addition, Paul reminds Christians that adopting new ways guided by the Holy Spirit is essential for the community on earth and in heaven; thus ought to strive to maintain a good relationship with God and in heaven.

Human beings are imperfect by nature and, thus, are liable to error.[17] Therefore, as much as Paul does not encourage Christians to use that as an excuse for being evil to one another, he advocates for forgiveness. Christians are encouraged to forgive one another as many times as possible, no matter the circumstance just as God forgives us. Ephesians 4:31-32 do echo the teaching of Christ that one should forgive seventy-seven times. The ones in the wrong are not exempted from being remorseful and sorry for their actions. He tells the Ephesians to be kind assisting one another in terms of needs without expecting pay just out of sheer compassion and noble heart[18]. In terms of trouble, they should put their differences aside and work together for the good of everyone, for the sake of peace and unity. They are commissioned to treat one another with compassion even when bitter and advised to avoid all kinds of malice and exhibit selflessness in times of need.[19] This would help maintain peace, help Christians live in harmony, and work towards being good Christians.

In conclusion, Paul identifies selfishness as part of human nature that drives all evil actions ranging from dishonesty, stealing, use of mean language, cruelty, and sin. Paul warns Christians to shy away from any action that would jeopardize their relationship with one another and, thus, with Christ ruing their chances of inhering God’s Kingdom. Paul advises Ephesians to shade off their old evil ways and fully embrace the new God’s society by ensuring that they apply the teachings of Jesus Christ appropriately to walk in the light all the days of their lives especially focusing on actions that fulfil Christ’s greatest commandments that commissioned to love God and their neighbours as they love themselves. He tells them to be true to one another no matter the circumstance and overcome anger as it allows the devil to take control of their lives, leading them to sin and work hard for themselves and the needy to avoid temptations like stealing. In addition, Paul advises Christians to encourage one another by ensuring the words they utter have a positive impact and avoid any action that may sadden the Holy Spirit. Lastly, they are commissioned to be kind to one another, forgiving even when bitter. That way, Paul believed Christians would grow wise to maturity in Christ together with love.


Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Best, Ernest. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians. Edinburgh: T &T Clark, 1998.

Bruce F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951.

Kensey, Brian. The Bride’s Pearl: A Commentary on Ephesians. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1993.

Longman, Tremper, and David E. Garland. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids Mich: Zondervan, 2006.

Muck, Terry. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1995.

Smith J.A. Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1890.

Snodgrass, Klyne. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1996.

  1. J. A Smith, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication), 112
  2. Ibid, 215
  3. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 67
  4. Ibid, 124
  5. Ibid, 176
  6. Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1996), 97
  7. Ernest, Best, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians (Edinburgh: T &T Clark, 1998), 256
  8. Ibid, 234
  9. Ibid, 176
  10. Ibid, 167
  11. Ibid, 113
  12. Ibid 135
  13. Tremper, Longman, and E David. Garland, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids Mich: Zondervan, 2006), 213
  14. Ibid, 124
  15. Ibid, 119
  16. Terry, Muck, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1995), 123
  17. F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 213
  18. Ibid,312
  19. Brian, Kensey, The Bride’s Pearl: A Commentary on Ephesians (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1993), 78
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