What does Ephesians 5:8 mean?
ESV: for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
NIV: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
NASB: for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
CSB: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light —
NLT: For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
KJV: For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
NKJV: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
Verse Commentary:
Paul contrasts the past of his readers with their current status. Before knowing Christ, all human beings are in "darkness." As believers, they are instead "light in the Lord." The contrast of dark/light is as old as Genesis 1 and is commonly associated with evil versus good, exactly as Paul uses it in this context.

Based on their new status, Paul commands his readers to, "Walk as children of light." Paul uses this phrase in one other passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, where he describes Christians as "children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness." In that passage, the emphasis is on living "awake," being alert to obey the Lord. This is a theme Paul will again note in Ephesians 5:14. Paul's similar application here is to live in obedience as believers. Christians are to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1), walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), and flee from sinful actions (Ephesians 5:3–6). They should not live like unbelievers or be "partners" with them (Ephesians 5:7).
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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