Paul has been telling us how, as a result of what God has done for us, we should now live our lives. And one of the dominating images that he has used has been the action of walking. “Walk worthy. . .”(4:1) “No longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles
walk. . .” (4:17). And now he tells us how we should walk. We should walk in love (5:2), light (5:8), and wisdom (5:15).
Walk in Love v. 1-7
Children imitate their parents. Walking faithfully is a matter of remembering who your Father is. Are you a child of God (5:1) or a child of the enemy (5:6). There are two ways of living contrasted here – a life of giving yourself away (5:2, cf. Gal. 2:20) or a life of resenting what others haven’t given you (5:3). Christ has modeled for us self-emptying love that God has for us. This is the sweet aroma of Christ (5:2), which we become when we give ourselves away to others (2 Cor. 2:15).
Walk in Light v. 8-14
The judgment given in the last section, that no fornicator, unclean person, or covetous man will inherit the kingdom of God, comes across as pretty extreme. But now we see that this is a judgment that includes forgiveness (5:8, cf. 1 Cor. 6:11). Paul reminds the Ephesians once more that they have passed from death to life (5:14), but adds to this the image of “light.” Christians must walk in the light (cf. 1 John 1:5-10).
And light will expose the things done in darkness (5:11). This does not mean we are called to “darkness sting operations” (although we are called to confront sin – Mat. 18:15, Gal. 6:1). Light does not run from darkness, rather darkness flees from light. By being light in the world, the darkness of the world is expose or made manifest.
Walk in Wisdom v. 15-21
Again, Paul gives us two ways of living. There is a dissolute lifestyle, characterized by drunkenness, foolishness, and dissipation (5:17-18). There is a trajectory to this life. It begins with foolishness, that is giving in to not thinking about the result that your actions are causing or cultivating the habit of giving up half way through the math problem. It gives way to dissipation, that is wasting away all that you have. And it ends with a self- centered aloneness.
On the other side, we see Paul describing a pursuit of wisdom, which corresponds in a certain way to drunkenness (cf. Acts 2:13). But it is an intoxication that leads to wisdom (instead of foolishness), to a wiser use of all things (instead of dissipation), and to a deep union with your fellow saints (instead of the self-centered aloneness).