What does Ephesians 4:20 mean?
ESV: But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
NIV: That, however, is not the way of life you learned
NASB: But you did not learn Christ in this way,
CSB: But that is not how you came to know Christ,
NLT: But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.
KJV: But ye have not so learned Christ;
Verse Commentary:
Paul quickly and strongly contrasts the sinful practices of unbelievers with what the Ephesians have been taught. Paul's instructions to the Ephesians make it clear that Christians are not meant for a life of sin and shame. The Greek words of this verse imply a strong, clear, and complete difference from one thing to another. Paul has just discussed the spiritual failures of non-believers—and all Christians are non-believers before they come to know Christ. The separation between what we were and what we are is profound, and it should be reflected in our lives.

Paul's lengthy stay in Ephesus included twelve men he led to Christ (Acts 19:1–7), three months of speaking at the synagogue (Acts 19:8), and speaking for two years in the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9–10). Everyone in the area, Jews and Greeks alike, "heard the word of the Lord" (Acts 19:10). After many people in the city burned their books of magic arts, Luke notes, "So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily" (Acts 19:20).

Paul eventually left due to persecution, leaving a sizable congregation who had been well trained in the gospel. These believers knew right from wrong, and did not learn Christ in a way which promoted sin. Paul's words here reminded them to live distinctly different lives from their surrounding society.
Verse Context:
Ephesians 4:17–32 is a valuable, highly practical explanation of how to live out a Christian life. Paul notes the difference between a life wallowing under the power of sin, as opposed to a life thriving in the power of Christ. Christians are called on to ''put away'' the things which entangle unbelievers. This includes sins such as malice, slander, commotion, and bitterness. Instead, we should demonstrate a Christ-like attitude of love and forgiveness.
Chapter Summary:
Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters, is the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Here, Paul encourages believers to live in way which honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ. At the same time, different believers are given different talents. Some are called to positions of leadership and authority. All Christians should turn away from the ''old self'' we were prior to being saved. Paul's explanation of the ''new self'' includes some basic, practical steps.
Chapter Context:
The first half of Ephesians focuses mostly on doctrine, setting up ideas related to the Christian faith. The last half, beginning in chapter 4, puts those theories into practice. Paul begins by emphasizing the ultimate unity of all Christians, regardless of individual spiritual gifts. Paul also begins to explain how knowledge of the truths should translate into action. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 feature specific, real-world applications of Christianity to daily life.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
Accessed 4/22/2024 2:59:29 PM
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