Dec 10, 2012
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Imitating God: Walking in Love


Ephesians 5:1-2


Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.   (EPH 5:1-2 NASB)

The word therefore refers the believers at Ephesus back to what was previously. In Chapter 4:1-3, the Apostle Paul dealing with the practice of the Believers urged them to live in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing with one another in love preserving the peaceful unity of the Spirit among the family of God. 

Paul then writes in EPH 4:17—24 that they are to not imitate their old life but to put it away and put on their new life in Christ. They are a new creation and that new life is to be displayed in their practice. Paul then starts the next section with the conjunction “therefore” or “for this reason” (see EPH 4:25-32.).

 Paul having established the believer’s position in Christ as new creation or a new person (EPH 4:24). Now points to the application of this new person. The believer’s practice should reflect their new life in Christ. 

The practice that is to be laid aside which characterized the old life is lying, anger, stealing, and rotten speech which tears others down.  These sins grieves the Holy Spirit and takes the believer out of fellowship with God. They are the opposite of walking in love.   

Lying is speaking that which is not genuine or real (EPH 4:25). It is speaking falsehood. It is a characteristic of the devil (JOH 8:44), and the work of the flesh. 

The new person is to put off lying as one put off old cloths, and make it a habit to speak truth with their neighbor (other believers). Truth is to characterize the life of the new person.

The believers are to be angry (righteous anger) but not act out that anger sinfully (EPH 4:26). 

Anger in itself is not sinful.  Paul is not telling the believers at Ephesus that it is ok to sin. Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us.

We see this type of anger Deuteronomy 9:8 where Moses reminded the people of the sin of making the golden calf (Exodus 32). The people provoked God to anger through their sin of idolatry (worshipping something else instead of the true God). 

This anger which is permitted here is strong indignation and is directed towards wrong doing. Our Lord Jesus Christ in MAR 3:5 displayed this type of anger when He saw the heartiness of the heart of the religious leaders of His day. They criticize Him for healing on the Sabbath.

He also went into the temple and turned over tables because God's house had become a place where people gathered to sell their merchandise (JOH 2:13-16).

This type of anger is not sin and doesn't grieve the Holy Spirit. It is against anything that is against righteousness and the teaching of the Word of God.

This anger is against wrong doing, false teaching, legalism, unbelief, apostasy, and false religion. All these are enemies of Christ, and His word.

Some say I have a problem with anger. I will agree with them, and I'm sure my wife will agree as well. It is when their sinful behavior is exposed that they say I have a problem with anger. If I don't say nothing about their life style that is contrary to the word of God then I'm a compassionate person. 

I will admit, I do allow my irritation at the wrong doing, selfishness, partiality, rebellion, and unbelief I see so prevalent among Christians to cause me to sin at times.

This type of anger is prohibited. Believers are not to allow righteous anger to cause them to sin.

We are not to allow ourselves to be provoked to the point where we resent the person that has wronged us.

The believers are not to allow their irritation anger becomes prolonged anger and let the devil get a hold of them. They are to control their anger and not allow it to control them. 

If someone wrongs another believer it is ok to be angry at their sinful conduct but not allow that anger to consume you. Believers are to reconcile before the sun go down and do not go to sleep with irritation anger.

If the believer does allow their anger to control them for a prolonged period of time, irritation anger will eventually lead to “out- burst of anger” (EPH 4:31; GAL 5:20) with its bitterness, malice, and abusive speech which is the work of the flesh and grieves the Holy Spirit.  Forgiveness is the solution to anger.

 In v. 32 Paul gives a positive command for the believers to become kind to one another, and compassionate. Believers are to be gracious to one another as God has been gracious to them. Graciousness is the opposite of bitterness, anger, wrath, shouting, and abusive speech. 

Graciousness doesn’t use words that tears down but builds up. Paul gives the reason for believers to be gracious and forgiving. God was very gracious to us through His Son Jesus Christ now believers are demonstrates that same graciousness.  

Now in Chapter 5:1-2 Paul began with the conjunction “therefore” which as stated earlier refers the believers back to what was just stated. Paul gives the believer another positive command.

What is the command?

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children”

The word “Be” here is the present imperative of the Greek verb ginomai meaning “to become”. The present tense indicates continuous habitual action in the present.   The imperative mood is the mood of command.

Present tense indicates that the action commanded is an ongoing process. The believers are to develop continuously into imitators of God. They are to habitually do this as a way of life.

Whenever there is a command our volition is involved. We can choose to obey or disobey. If we obey we will be blessed (LUK 11:27-28; JAM 1:22; JAM 1:25).

 Believers imitating God is not the will of the Apostle Paul but the will of God. God has made them partakers of his divine nature (2PE 1:3-4) and now expects for that nature to be displayed in practice.

The word translated imitator here is the Greek mimetes where we get our English word mimic from. The Webster dictionary define mimic as “to copy or resemble closely”. In the Greek mind mimetes carry the same idea of a “copier”. 

The Apostle Paul used this word when encouraging the believers at Corinth to use him as their model (1CO 4:16; 1CO 11:1). Paul had set forth an example for them to follow. They were to copy him as their spiritual father.

Paul also used mimetes in writing to the Hebrews in 6:12. He encourage them to imitate the faith and patience of those who inherited God’s promises like Abraham (HEB 6:12-15). 

The believers needed not to get lazy in ministering to the saints but continue. God sees their work, and will reward them in His time.    They are to use Abraham’s life of faith and patience as a model for them in testing.

So we see that the word carries the idea of using someone as your role model. Who are the believers to imitate? Yes, they are to “imitate God”. Paul commands the believers at Ephesus to imitate God as beloved children.

They are to determine to copy Him as their father and do it habitually as a way of life. It should not be a one shot dedication but a life of dedication. He was gracious to them in Christ now they are to be gracious to others. 

What are believers to imitate?

“And walk in love”

Believers are to imitate God’s love demonstrated through Christ. The word translated walk here is the Greek verb peripateo meaning to live, to conduct one’s life.

it is in the present tense indicated that It should be a way of life or habit.   Peripateo refers to the sphere in which one should live, so as to be characterize by that sphere. The believers are to live in the sphere of love as a way of life. Their lives should be characterize by God’s love and graciousness.

The verb love is the Greek agape meaning to esteem or to have regard for, and interest in another without limitation to very intimate relationship. agape is unconditional, undeserved, and unmerited love in action. 

This type of love seeks:

  1. To give and not get
  2. To sacrifice and not to be selfish
  3. The highest good in the one loved.


 The believers have a new nature which wants to express itself in sacrificial love.   The believers old nature wants to basically be selfish, and declare war against all who don’t cater to our selfish desires.

The believer’s new nature which manifests love when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit builds, and restore bridges through love and proclaiming peace.  

Our old man hold grudges but the new man forgives .

Paul says Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example of esteeming and having regard for, and interest in another when he declared:

“ Just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”. (EPH 5:2)

Christ showed interest in us in coming into the world to die on the cross (PHI 2:3-11). He didn’t think of Himself. What did He think about?

  1. The Father’s will was for Him to come into the World to die (He had personal love for His father) - Obedience
  2. He loved us and wanted us to be saved, and forgiven of our sins (unconditional love for us ) - Love for others.

Christ life was Characterized by:

  • Obedience to the Father
  • Love for all mankind

This was a love that was selfless, and sacrificial. The word sacrifice describes the offering of animals from the flock in the flock which were killed at the Holy Place and potions of it was burned on the altar.

The smell of the burnt offering is figurative of the acceptableness of the offering. Christ sacrifice on the cross satisfied the righteousness and justice of God the Father. 

The father was pleased with Christ sacrifice for us. In love He offers freely from His grace forgiveness of sins to all mankind through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.

There was nothing loveable about us that motivated the Father to give His Son. He loved us even when we was His enemies, and now we are to show kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to others.

Why should believers obey the command to walk in love?

  1. Because they are born of God and is His children (GAL 3:26; 2PE 1:4)
  2. God sacrificial love for us was demonstrated through the giving of His Son and should motivate us to do the same.
  3. Because You have been commanded to do so by the one who loved you so much that He was willing to die for your salvation (JOH 13:34; JOH 15:12,17).

May we stop thinking of ourselves but the will of God, and loving one another just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.


Keithian L. Starling