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Efesus 5:11-17

5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather 1  expose them. 2  5:12 For the things they do 3  in secret are shameful even to mention. 5:13 But all things being exposed by the light are made evident. 5:14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: 4 

“Awake, 5  O sleeper! 6 

Rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you!” 7 

Live Wisely

5:15 Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 5:16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 5:17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise 8  by understanding 9  what the Lord’s will is.

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[5:11]  1 tn The Greek conjunction καὶ (kai) seems to be functioning here ascensively, (i.e., “even”), but is difficult to render in this context using good English. It may read something like: “but rather even expose them!”

[5:11]  2 tn Grk “rather even expose.”

[5:12]  3 tn The participle τὰγινόμενα (taginomena) usually refers to “things happening” or “things which are,” but with the following genitive phrase ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν (Jupautwn), which indicates agency, the idea seems to be “things being done.” This passive construction was translated as an active one to simplify the English style.

[5:14]  4 sn The following passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.

[5:14]  5 tn Grk “Rise up.”

[5:14]  6 tn The articular nominative participle ὁ καθεύδων (Jo kaqeudwn) is probably functioning as a nominative for vocative. Thus, it has been translated as “O sleeper.”

[5:14]  7 sn A composite quotation, possibly from Isa 26:19, 51:17, 52:1, and 60:1.

[5:17]  8 tn “become wise by understanding”; Grk “understanding.” The imperative “be wise” is apparently implied by the construction of vv. 15-21. See the following text-critical note for discussion.

[5:17]  9 tc ‡ The best witnesses read the imperative here (so Ì46 א A B P 0278 33 81 1739 pc). The participle is found primarily in the Western and Byzantine texttypes (D2 Ψ 1881 Ï latt [D* F G are slightly different, but support the participial reading]). But the participle is superior on internal grounds: The structure of v. 17 almost requires an imperative after ἀλλά (alla), for this gives balance to the clause: “Do not become foolish, but understand…” If the participle is original, it may be imperatival (and thus should be translated just like an imperative), but such is quite rare in the NT. More likely, there is an implied imperative as follows: “Do not become foolish, but become wise, understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Either way, the participle is the harder reading and ought therefore to be considered original. It is significant that seeing an implied imperative in this verse affords a certain symmetry to the author’s thought in vv. 15-21: There are three main sections (vv. 15-16, v. 17, vv. 18-21), each of which provides a negative injunction, followed by a positive injunction, followed by a present adverbial participle. If συνίετε (suniete) is original, this symmetry is lost. Thus, even though the external evidence for συνιέντες (sunientes) is not nearly as weighty as for the imperative, both the transcriptional and intrinsic evidence support it.

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