What does Ephesians 5:6 mean?
ESV: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
NIV: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
NASB: See that no one deceives you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
CSB: Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God's wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.
NLT: Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
KJV: Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Verse Commentary:
Speaking of unbelievers (Ephesians 5:5), Paul warns Christians not to be misled by worldly arguments. Unbelievers can trick believers into sexual immorality or foolish talk, usually by suggesting that there's no real harm in it. Believers are not immune to sexual temptation (Hebrews 4:15), but are empowered to recognize it, resist it, and replace it with godly actions (1 Corinthians 10:13). The reference to "empty words" may allude to Psalm 41:6, which speaks of the "empty words" of God's enemies.

Paul then reminds his readers of the future of those who seek to deceive them: the judgment of God. The "wrath of God" was mentioned by Jesus (John 3:36), and often by Paul (Romans 1:18; 5:9; 12:19; Colossians 3:6), as well as the apostle John (Revelation 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15). This judgment again reflects Paul's belief that those who do not imitate God are unbelievers and will experience God's wrath. Believers, in contrast, are saved from the wrath of God by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9). Again, this is not a reference to occasional sins, but to those who "walk," or make a habit of such behaviors.
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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