What does Ephesians 5:13 mean?
ESV: But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,
NIV: But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
NASB: But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
CSB: Everything exposed by the light is made visible,
NLT: But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them,
KJV: But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Verse Commentary:
Paul again refers to "light" to communicate a spiritual principle (Ephesians 3:9; 5:8, 9, 14). Believers are to "expose" sin, making a clear distinction between right and wrong (Ephesians 5:11). Light reveals what darkness tries to hide. The idea of "exposing" is strong in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:26; Proverbs 26:26; Lamentations 2:14; Ezekiel 28:17) and is often used in reference to going about without clothing (Exodus 20:26; Revelation 16:15). When Adam and Eve sinned, they recognized their nakedness and attempted to cover themselves (Genesis 3).

Sin, however, needs to be exposed in order to be defeated. John 3:20 offers Jesus' teaching that the person who does wicked things does not want to come into the light and be exposed. Darkness and evil share a close association in Scripture, as do light and goodness. Believers are to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). In the Lord there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).
Verse Context:
Ephesians 5:1–21 continues Paul's invaluable instructions on how Christians should live out their faith. Rather than imitating the world, or being controlled by worldly things, Christians are to be filled with the Spirit. Specific flaws such as sexual immorality, crude speech, and wasting of time are discouraged. Instead, believers ought to submit to one another out of respect for Christ, providing a powerful witness to the world.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 5 begins with an admonition to imitate Christ. In order to do so, Christians must avoid sexual immorality, vulgar language, foolishness, and other inappropriate attitudes. Paul warns that those who persist in these behaviors are not part of the kingdom of God. The passage then transitions to an explanation of mutual submission, including that between husbands and wives. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and respect them. Husbands are to love their wives in a Christ-like, sacrificial, and humble way.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 5 continues the very practical second half of the book of Ephesians. Chapter 4 encouraged Christians not to live as unbelievers do, but worthy of the gift we have been given. Chapter 5 gives even more direct application of these principles. Paul details impure attitudes and habits which Christians ought to put aside. He then details the proper approach to marriage, rooted in a Christian understanding of the gospel. This style of advice will continue through chapter 6. Paul's advice will culminate in a famous analogy about applying Christian principles to all of life, using the symbolism of a suit of armor.
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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