Ephesians 4:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ephesians 4:17, NIV: So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

Ephesians 4:17, ESV: Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

Ephesians 4:17, KJV: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Ephesians 4:17, NASB: So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds,

Ephesians 4:17, NLT: With the Lord's authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.

Ephesians 4:17, CSB: Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts.

What does Ephesians 4:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In Ephesians 4:1–16, Paul focused on Christians living lives worthy of our calling by God. Now Paul transitions to a new section in verses 17–32. He contrasts the new life believers have in Christ, as opposed to the "old life" of the world. Paul's introduction notes how directly and seriously he intends these instructions to be taken. The reference to speaking "in the Lord" makes his words stand out.

Paul instructs the Ephesians not to share in the kind of immoral lifestyle which non-believers follow. The Ephesian Christians were mostly Gentiles, in the sense of being non-Jewish: they were not descendants of Israel. Symbolically, "the Gentiles" mentioned in this context are those people who are separated from God. They are the unsaved. As saved believers, the Ephesians were once "spiritual" Gentiles, but no longer. Paul's point here is that believers cannot continue to live as unbelievers and expect to please God.

Unbelievers have a very different mindset from those who are saved by Christ. Paul describes that approach as "futile." Ultimately, the goals of unbelievers have no point or purpose. In contrast, believers live with a clear purpose: to glorify God through making disciples. This includes personal spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13), serving others (Ephesians 4:12), evangelism, and worship. These activities are not designed only for individuals but for the church as a family.

The ancient mindset was more collective than individualistic as in Western cultures today. Most activities were centered around families and groups, including spiritual growth.