“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints.”

“but fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness”
Literally:  “but let fornication, and all uncleanness, or greediness” Sundry sins are now forbidden which were utterly opposed to the duties just commended.

         Paul, in this and the following verses, exhorts the Ephesians to shun several sins, which were frequently practiced among the Gentiles before their conversion to Christianity, as first, fornication, and all sorts and degrees of uncleanness. This was looked upon as an indifferent action, and no sin at all, by the Pagan world.
         Next, he advises them to beware of covetousness, that is, all irregular and inordinate desires, and lusting after things forbidden in the general, and particularly all insatiable love of riches, which in trading cities, (such as Ephesus) did usually very much abound.  It is probable that the three terms used here by Paul refer to different species of the same thing. 

         FORNICATION: (Greek-porneia), The word fornication, (porneia), may refer not only fornication but may include adultery also, as it frequently does, or even ALL illicit intercourse; everything that works against the life-long union of one man and one woman within the sanctity of marriage.  

         That this was a common crime among the ancient heathen it would be easy to show, were it proper, even in relation to their wisest and most learned men.  Understand that fornication was a common vice among the heathen then as it is now, and one into which they were in special danger of falling.  In I Cor. 6:18 we are commanded to “flee fornication.” This is a solemn command of God–as explicit as any that thundered from Mount Sinai.
         None can disregard this command with impunity and none can violate it without being exposed to the awful vengeance of Almighty God. There is force and emphasis in the word “flee.”  A man should escape from it; he should not stay to reason about it, or to debate the matter, or even to contend with his desires.
         Fornication is accepted by the world as a norm of conduct.  It is a sin that is looked upon as not being very bad, if it is looked upon as sin at all.  When the gross immorality of the hour started creeping in, it was called the New Morality.  Fornication is a SIN.   Regardless of where you are or who you are,  if you are living in fornication you cannot be a child of God.  A true child of God cannot confess a sin and then persist in living in that sin and expect to have communication with God.

        There are some sins which a man can resist; some about which he can reason without danger of pollution. But this is a sin where a man is safe only when he flees.   Let a man turn away from it without reflection on it, and he is safe. Let him think, and reason, and he may be ruined. “The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it.”|
        Many a young man would be saved from poverty, want, disease, curses, tears, and hell, could these TWO WORDS–“flee fornication.”–be made to blaze before him like the writing before the astonished eyes of Belshazzar, (Dan. 5:1-31) and could they terrify him from even the momentary contemplation of the crime.

        UNCLEANNESS:  (akatharsia)The word uncleanness may refer to all abominable and unnatural lusts—homosexuality in all its forms (sodomy, lesbianism, trans-sexuality; trans-dressing, etc.) bestiality, etc. We see these named in Rom. 1:26-32.  Very common among the Greeks, homosexuality was known as the “Greek habit.”


The sins described here are those which are prevalent among unbelievers.  These are the common sins in the world today.  All of them have to do with low forms of immorality.  Paul is saying that the child of God cannot habitually engage in these.
1.      Such sins are express violations of the Divine Law (Exodus 20:14).

2.      Such sins are dishonoring to God and His holiness.
The corruption that is in the world through lust is inconsistent with the Divine nature (II Pet. 1:4)
3.      Such sins thwart the design of the Gospel of Christ.
         a.      Which is “to purify a people to Himself” (Titus 2:4).
         b.     Which is “to cleanse us from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (II Cor.6:18).
4.      Such sins grieve the Holy Spirit.
         Whose office it is to sanctify us (Eph. 4:29-30).  He will not dwell in a polluted body.
5.      Such sins dishonor the body.
         Which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:18).  They waste it as well as dishonor it (Prov. 5:11).
6.      Such sins war against the soul in every sense of the term.
         Against its life, its aspirations, its happiness (I Pet. 2:11).  They even darken the judgment and the understanding (Hosea 4:11).  No sort of sin so hardens the heart.
7.      Such sins provoke God’s anger (Col. 3:5-6; Jer. 5:7; Eph. 5:6).
         The sins of impurity are not even to be named (or talked about) among saints who are to be pure in thought, pure in heart, pure in speech, pure in life
          To avoid such sins:

          a.      Avoid all occasions that prompt to impurity.
          b.      Make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1)
          c.      Watch over our thoughts (Mal. 2:6).
          d.      Delight in God’s Word (Prov. 2:10, 16)
          e.      Continue in prayer (Psa. 119:37)
Even a slight indulgence brings about a revulsion and agony of the soul and grieving of the Holy Spirit.  If you can get into sin and not be troubled by or bothered by it, you can not be a child of God; but if there is conviction in your heart, you can rise and go to your Father as the Prodigal Son did.

       The biblical partition of mankind is uniformly twofold:  there are no neutral regions, and the line of demarcation between Christ’s children and the unbelieving world is clear-cut.  There is to be no coquetting with infractions of rule, no dalliance with:
1.      Sins of the flesh,
2.      Sins of mammon,
3.      Foolish babbling obscenity.
When you as a believer go to God to confess your sins, you don’t bundle them up and hand the bundle to God.  It is not a wholesale affair.  Rather, you spell out each sin to Him. It is possible that the three terms used here by Paul refer to different aspects of basically the same type of sin.

          COVETOUSNESS: (Grk.-pleonexia)—Literally: “greediness for more.” Every bit as debasing as sensuality.  It implies an insatiable desire for wealth and for the things which gratify appetite. It is therefore a greed which leads to many sins.

         Paul considered covetousness to be an odious and abominable vice; a vice to be regarded in the same light as the most grossest of sins, and one wholly to be abhorred by all who bore the Christian name.       

         The word “or” emphatically sets this sin by itself.  As the covetous man never has enough of wealth, so the pleasure-taker and the libertine never have enough of the gratification of sense, the appetite increasing in proportion to its indulgence. If “simple” covetousness, i.e. the love of gain, is meant here, it shows from the connection in which it stands, just how degrading it is to the soul of man, (it is linked with fornication, adultery, and all uncleanness), and how abominable it is in the eyes of God.  In other places it is ranked with idolatry, for the man who has an inordinate love of gain makes money (mammon) his god  It shows a grasping desire, and not just for money or material wealth.
1.      It may be a desire to be mentally superior to someone else.
2.      It may be coveting a home or position.
         Some people would love to be president of something.                                                          
3.      It may be a driving desire to have much money.
4.      It may be a desire for all the honors of this world.
There are ministers who would never be guilty of trying to get rich, but they surely are after position.  They want a position in their denomination or in their community.  Covetousness is a rotten sin that is in our old natures. It is significant that Paul classifies covetousness with sexual sins.      

“let it not be once named among you”
Literally:  “let it not even be named among you”– Such sins must be banished not only in deed, but in word (don’t even talk about it). Let such things not be spoken of with either approval or desire.  Many love to brag about their sexual prowess or conduct. 

That is, let it not exist at all!; Let there be no occasion for mentioning such a thing among you; let it be wholly unknown. This cannot mean that it is wrong to mention these vices for the purpose of rebuking them, or cautioning those in danger of committing them–for Paul himself in this manner mentions them here, and frequently elsewhere–but that they should not exist among them.

         “as becometh saints”
         Literally:  “even as is fitting for saints”

As befits the character of Christians, who are regarded as holy. Literally, “as becometh holy ones.” It is “unbecoming” for a saint to be sensual or covetous.

         SAINTS:  (Gr.-hagiois)–Literally:  “holy ones.”  As befits the character of Christians, who are regarded as holy.  It is “unbecoming” for a saint (holy one–hagion) to be sensual or covetous.


“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient:  but rather giving of thanks.”

          “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting”
         Literally:  “also shamefulness and foolish talking, or joking”–Here Paul advises Christians to guard against the sins of the tongue, to avoid all filthy discourse, and all foolish discourse, all scurrilous and obscene jesting, all excess in drollery, which is nothing but the foam of a frothy wit.

         Now Paul goes from “doing” sexual sins to just “talking about” them.  Notice how filthiness, foolish talking and jesting are all linked together.  We are being warned here against taking any part in the telling of or listening to “dirty jokes.”  People who engage in such buffoonery act like fools. 
        It is a sign of degeneracy when one must take part in immoral pleasantry in order to laugh.  Laughter at the expense of decency is a sin.  Many a Christian has spoiled his testimony with such low frivolity.  Before he turns to the positive side of the Christian’s deportment, Paul here names three varieties of unedifying speech that are to have no place in the Christian’s life.

1.      Filthiness: (Gr.-aischrotês)Obscenity in words or actions.
Anything base or vile in words or acts.  This term, though referring to acts as well as words, points especially to the obscenity of speech which is so disgusting to the moral sense of man.  It is proof of a corrupt heart.  This speaks of the utmost in depravity.  These are the low-down, dirty things one hears of today.  The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament.

2.      Foolish talking (Gr.-môrologia)Scurrility, buffoonery, ridicule, or what tends to expose another to contempt; the talk of fools, which is folly and sin together..  This word does not occur anywhere else in the N.T.
Talking that will have many idle words to answer for at the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36).  “Foolish talking” means to gloat or brag about sinning.
        a.      Have you not heard men or even women boast about how much they drank at a party?
        b.      Have you not heard them boast of their sexual conquests? 

This word (môrologia) means that kind of talk which is insipid, senseless, stupid, foolish; which is not fitted to instruct, edify, profit; the idle “chit-chat” which is so common in the world. The meaning is, that Christians should aim to have their conversation sensible, serious, sincere remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” (Matt. 12:36). 

3.    Jesting (Gr.-eutrapelia)-Artfully turned discourses or words that can be easily turned to other meanings; double entendres; chaste words which, from their connection (and the manner in which they are used), convey an obscene or offensive meaning.  This word occurs also nowhere else in the N.T.

      Jesting means telling dirty stories. It also means jests, puns, witty sayings, and wordplays from tricksters and deceivers of all kinds.  This does not mean good, clean humor.  Paul does not condemn the pleasantry which lends such a grace and joy to conversation, but he does mean the wit that is allied to lewdness and tending to demoralization.  Words which can easily be turned and which adapts itself to the moods and conditions of those with whom it may be dealing at the moment.  From this original sense of versatility it came to be applied to morals, as time serving, and to speech with the accompanying notion of dissimulation.  Aristotle calls it chastened insolence.  The sense of the word here is polished and witty speech as the instrument of sin; refinement and versatility without the flavor of Christian grace.  All such speech that is shameless, that would make a morally sensitive man ashamed must be exempted from the Christian’s life.

         “which are not convenient”
         Literally:  “the things not becoming”–Are not becoming. It is more becoming to Christians to engage in thanksgiving.  They do not come up to the proper standard; they are utterly improper in themselves, and highly unbecoming in those who profess Christianity.

         That is, which are not fit or proper; which do not become the character of Christians. Christians should be grave and serious, though cheerful and pleasant. Christians should feel that they have great interests at stake, and that the world has too. They are redeemed–not to make sport; purchased with precious blood–“…for ye are bought with a price” (I Cor. 6:20);  for other purposes than to make men laugh. Christians are soon to be in heaven–and a man who has any impressive sense of that will habitually feel that he has much more to do than to make men laugh.  A grateful temper, and the habit of expressing it in thanksgiving to God, form a safeguard against temptation and against improprieties of thought, word, and deed.
         Oh!  What a great and common instrument of sin is the mouth or tongue of man! The tongue of a believer is to be his glory; the tongue of a sinner is his shame; there is no member of the body that does so much service for the devil as the tongue, especially in common conversation.  It is that men let their tongues run riot, then they utter oaths and blasphemies against God, censorious, opprobrious, slanderous words against their neighbors; to prevent all which Paul exhorts.

“but rather giving of thanks”
 Literally:  “but rather thanksgiving”–

        THANKSGIVING:  (Gr.-eucharistia)With one of his “play on words,” Paul here urges replacing (eutrapelia)–“jesting”with (eucharistia)thanksgiving” to God. 

         In effect Paul is saying, “let the grace of wit be superseded by the truer grace of thanks-giving” as A.T. Robinson puts it.  This is to be the context of Christian conversation.  The devil would like to keep a Christian in bondage to him, and drag him back into the cesspools out of which he, the Christian, has been saved. This is the right use of the tongue.  This word (eucharistia) occurs also nowhere else in the N.T.  “Is any among you afflicted?  Let him pray.  Is any merry? Let him sing hymns” (James 5:13).

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

“For this ye know”
Literally:  “this for be knowing”– This you are aware of from your own knowledge, (i.e., “as you well know; beyond all doubt”).  Probably, “you know recognizing by your own experience” according to Robinson.

         Paul now makes an appeal to their own consciences. The sense seems to be: “For this ye know, learning it afresh so as to know it better.” Whatever else is doubtful, this is certain; yet it admits of an ever growing certainty.  The object of Paul’s here is to impress upon the Ephesian Christians to get them to turn from indulgence in those vices by the solemn assurance that no one who committed them could possibly be saved.

       Paul appeals to their familiarity with the principle laid down, was at all events more natural to him, and more in keeping with the destination as a motive .They had been taught this from their first hearing of the gospel.  The Gnostics taught that the sins of the flesh were irrelevant to the spiritual life, and that freedom from the Law meant liberty to continue in any kind of actions. “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound”? (Rom. 6:1).

        FOR:  (Gr.-gar).  Of this you cannot be ignorant, favored as you have been with the light of salvation.

“that no whoremonger, nor unclean person”
Literally:  “that every fornicator, or uncleans one”–That no whoremonger, nor unclean person; anyone that is guilty of fornication, adultery, incest, etc.

It is clearly understood that the unregenerate man who practices these sins has no portion in the kingdom of Christ and God.  If a professing Christian practices these sins he immediately classifies himself–as not really being saved.  No matter what his testimony may be on Sunday or what position he may have in the church, such a person is saying to the lost world that he is not a child of God.  To live in the corruption of the flesh is to place one’s self beyond the pale of a child of God.  No one of corrupt and licentious life can have been saved.

“nor covetous man who is an idolater”
Literally:  “or covetous one who is an idolater”– Covetousness, the twin-brother sin of uncleanness, Paul here denounces as idolatry.  It is idolatry because the covetous person serves Mammon instead of God; he loves his riches more than God, and places his hope in them.

         Covetousness is worshipping the creature more than the Creator; depending on vast stores of earthly substance in place of the favor and blessing of God.  The lust of greed overreaches itself; it loses all that is truly worth having; it must have this and that—lands, houses and goods—but it has not one scrap of Christ.
         Whatever becomes the chief object of our desire, so as to claim our chief fear and love, is, of course, an idol; for “ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Perhaps in this metaphorical idolatry, as in the literal, there are two distinct stages, passing, however, by invisible gradations into each other—

The resting on some visible blessing of God, as the one thing in which and for which we serve Him, and so by degrees losing Him in His own gifts;|

The absolute forgetting about God, and the setting up, as is inevitable, of some other object of worship to fill the vacant Throne

       IDOLATOR:  (Gr.-eidôlolatrês)As every man is who indulges his lusts, the idols of his own heart; and who serves his different lusts and pleasures, and gives himself up to work all uncleanness with greediness.  Such never has his fill of sin, but is ever craving and coveting more of it.  
         COVETOUS MAN:  (Gr.-pleonektês) ) iAs well as he who is immoderately desirous of worldly things: the covetous man may be called an idolater, because both the idolater and the covetous worship the same in substance–gold and silver, and other riches–or what is made or gained of them.   The covetous man admires his gold, lays it up, and will not make use of it, as if it was something sacred; and through his over love to mammon, whom he serves, he neglects the worship of God, and the good of his own soul, and puts his trust and confidence in his riches.

        The point here seems to be that the covetous, grasping man in particular, who makes a god of mammon, is much the same as the worshipper of an idol; and the “covetous man” is thus made synonymous with the “idolator”  in order to stigmatize avarice as a specifically anti-Christian vice, essentially incompatible with the spirit of self-sacrifice which is of the very being of Christianity and was inculcated so strenuously by Paul himself.
        Lightfoot says, “The covetous man sets up another object of worship besides God,” or, more truly still, instead of God. And this is so, whatever is the object of his avarice. 

       Avarice (covetousness) is the highest act of revolt (desertion) from the Creator to the creature,
        “No man can serve two masters:  for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon”  (Matt. 6:24).
        “Whose end {is} destruction whose God {is their} belly, and {whose} glory {is} in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19).
        “Love not the world, neither the things {that are } in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).

         “hath an inheritance”
         Literally:  “not have inheritance”– Such shall never enter heaven.

         Paul here speaks of those that indulge in such sins.   He calls them children of disobedience.  It conveys regularly the thought of possession by title, whether actually enjoyed or in prospect. An “inheritor” (Gr.-klêronomos) may be thus either a present occupant, or an expectant “heir,” as the context may indicate. Here the expected possession of glory is probably in view.

       “in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
         Literally:  “in the kingdom of Christ and of God”–

One article (the) is applied to both, “of Christ and God,” implying their perfect oneness, i.e., the hypostatic union, which is consistent only with the doctrine that Christ is God (compare II Thess. 1:12; I Tim. 5:21; 6:13). The phrase “the kingdom of Christ and God,” though probably it does not in strict technicality declare the identity of “Christ” and “God,” yet implies that the “kingdom of the Christ” is, as a matter of course, “the kingdom of God,” for “the Christ” is by prophetic definition “Emmanuel,” i.e., “God with us.”  Not two distinct kingdoms, but one and the same, which belongs to God by nature, to Christ as Mediator. By this phrase he intimates, that there is no coming into the kingdom of God but by Christ.

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