February 9th 2019 – Ephesians 5:8-14

"for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”"

Ephesians 5:8-14

We get some indications and hints about this attractiveness in such phrases as Peter's, in his first epistle, where he speaks of being 'brought out of darkness into His marvellous light'. What does Peter mean to convey by these words if not that something unspeakably wonderful had happened to him in the grace of the gospel? Indeed, all the imagery that the New Testament uses about salvation conveys the same unmistakable message, whether it be that of the setting free of the prisoner, or the coming home to the Father's house from the desolation of the far country, or whatever - all alike tell of the same wonderful experience. Why then, should we as Christians be always so much on the defensive, and even apologetic, about what our faith, and our Saviour, mean to us? If the greatest thing in the world has happened to us, we surely need not be afraid to tell it forth, and to commend the Saviour Who has wrought such a transformation in our lives, so that others might also share in what we have found!

The section ends with what purports to be a quotation from Scripture, in the words 'Wherefore he saith' or 'it saith'. The commentators point out that although the substance of this verse is scriptural, its precise words do not correspond precisely to the Old Testament (but see Isaiah 9:2, 26:19, 52:1, 60:1). It is thought likely that we have here another fragment of an early Christian hymn - we often quote lines of hymns in just this way to illustrate and reinforce the points we make in sermons - probably used at Christian baptism. This much is clear: in it three metaphors for turning to God are linked - awaking from sleep, being raised from the dead, and going out of darkness into light - and these are familiar enough figures in the Pauline writings. Hendriksen maintains that Paul's aim here, and in the passage as a whole, is to show that he who has renounced the wicked ways of the world should live a life consistent with his new standing. Therefore, instead of any longer taking part in the unfruitful works of darkness, he should emerge completely from his sleep and arise and withdraw in every respect from the wicked ways of the company of the spiritually dead. The blessed result will be that Christ will shine upon him. That would seem to be the meaning of the passage.