Ephesians 4:17-19

  1. τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ, μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν, καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν,

We again encounter a complex sentence that encompasses vv. 17-19. The language is remiscent of 2:11-13.


τοῦτο οὖν λέγω – The particle οὖν marks a summarizing turn in the discourse, based upon what immediately has been discussed. The demonstrative pronoun is a left-dislocation of the direct object, whose content is expressed in the indirect imperative that follows the verb. The main verb is a present active indicative as Paul affirms and repeats his essential exhortation (cf. 4:1).


καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ — Paul coordinates the first verb with μαρτύρομαι, a present middle form. It means to “insist upon.” The adverbial prepositional phrase indicates that he does this “in the Lord,” in association with the Messiah, if that is the referent of κυρίῳ. Note the lack of the article.


μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν – The infinitive forms the indirect imperative which is the content of Paul’s message. He insists on a complete break with their pre-Christian manner of living. The negative adverb indicates “no longer.” The subject of the infinitive ὑμᾶς is in the accusative case.


καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ — This clause of comparison contrasts the believers way of living with how the nations live. The subordinate conjunction καθώς was used at 4:4. The καί is ascensive. τὰ ἔθνη is the subject and its position prior to the verb gives it prominence. As a neuter plural it takes a 3rd person singular ending on the verb. The verb is present active indicative indicating activity that is continuing.


ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν – The adverbial prepositional phrase modifies the preceeding verb and suggests a locative sense (in this kind of space) or means (by means of…). The head noun means “futility, emptiness.” It is modified by a genitive of description, characterizing the nature of this emptiness as related to intellectual activity.

  1. ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν,

ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες – It is unusual to have two participles related to one another in this manner. Perhaps it is a type of periphrasis with ὄντες signaling this structure. The other participle is a perfect passive participle with the sense of being in a state of darkness and thus unable to see. It probably has a circumstantial sense. The nature of this seeing is defined by the dative τῇ διανοίᾳ which probably is a dative of reference. This expression parallels the final phrase in v.17. This adverbial participle modifies the verb περιπατεῖ. It is masculine plural, although the referent noun is neuter plural. The writer by this means indicates each person who constitutes τὰ ἔθνη.


ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ — A second adverbial participle similarly is perfect passive in form and circumstantial in force (note the η augment following the prepositional prefix).  Paul used this same verb and form in 2:14. It is completed by a genitive object, with the genitive enforcing the separation idea. What did Paul mean by τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ? Probably it refers to the spiritual life that God provides, with the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ being a subjective genitive.


διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς – The adverbial prepositional phrase marked by διά indicates the cause which enables this alienation to occur. The “ignorance” motif is counterposed to the previous mentions of intellect and mind. The head noun is modified by an adjectival participle which characterizes this ignorance with a locative phrase “in them.”


διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν – Probably a second, parallel adverbial prepositional phrase indicating a second cause for this alienation. Here the featured issue is “hardness of heart,” which in Israelite history characterizes Israel’s response to God in the Wilderness Wanderings. καρδίας is singular, probably functioning in a collective sense. Hardness of heart generally describes a stubbornness which refuses to heed or acknowledge God. The genitive characterizes the nature of this hardness.

  1. οἵτινες ἀπηλγηκότες ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ.

οἵτινες – This relative pronoun generally means “someone who is of the sort that….” It functions as the subject of the clause. Its antecedent is the people who constitute τὰ ἔθνη.


ἀπηλγηκότες – Another adverbial participle, modifying the following verb. It is perfect active in form. The verb ἀπαλγέω means to lose all sense of shame. The perfect participle indicates a state or condition. It may have a causal significance, explaining why they surrender themselves to sexual impropriety.


ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ — The main verb in this relative clause is παρέδωκαν which has a direct and indirect object, i.e., “they surrendered themselves to extreme immorality.”


εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης – The adverbial prepositional phrase marked by εἰς indicates the goal of this behaviour. The noun ἐργασία means activity or behaviour. The behaviour is defined by the genitive phrase. The placement of πάσης gives it a bit of emphasis, i.e., “for behaviour of uncleanness/impurity, every kind of impurity.”


ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ — This adverbial phrase may describe the manner of their activity, i.e., it is done in a greedy way. Or it may modify the main verb indicating that their surrender to immortality occurs in a greedy way.