What does Ephesians 4:31 mean?
ESV: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
NIV: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
NASB: All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.
CSB: Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice.
NLT: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
KJV: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Verse Commentary:
Paul quickly rattles off six areas of sin which Christians should make a conscious effort to avoid.

First is bitterness, a defect in our attitude which can cause trouble with other people (Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness is closely related to jealousy (Romans 13:13), and to dissatisfaction (1 Timothy 6:6).

Paul's second flaw to be "put away" is wrath. The Greek term here is thymos, which implies something hot, fierce, and passionate. This could fairly be described as "rage." Anger which boils over to the point that it controls us, causing us to act wildly or carelessly, is not righteous anger, it is "wrath."

Third, Paul notes anger. Paul has recently made it clear that not all anger is a sin (Ephesians 4:26). And yet, anger is mentioned here as something to be "put away." While there is such a thing as "righteous anger," that kind of feeling is temporary, based on a specific situation, and rooted in a sense of righteousness. Jesus' clearing of the temple is the classic example (John 2:13–17). Paul's reference here is to the more worldly type of anger, which results from frustrations in life. This is the "persistent" anger which becomes a habit. Irritations and annoyances cannot always be avoided, but we can work to limit how much anger we express in our lives.

Fourth, Paul lists clamor, using the Greek word kraugē. This term implies noise, commotion, and uproar (Acts 23:9). Believers are not to be known as obnoxious, riotous, troublemaking, annoying people. This word is also translated as "quarreling," with Paul emphasizing that believers are to "put away" an argumentative attitude.

Fifth, Paul speaks against slander, which involves speaking false evils about others. The concept of slander doesn't only include lies, however. Any attempt to put others down, in an inappropriate way, is still "slander."

Sixth, Paul adds malice. In this case, he uses the word kakia, which implies evil intent. The word carries the idea of deliberate harm, or an intent to injure. This is the attitude which actively hopes to see others suffer consequences, harms, or troubles. Malice is the attitude which leads to revenge (Proverbs 20:22; Romans 12:19). Believers are not to be known for evil, but are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
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.
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