Paul’s Vice List In Ephesians 5:3-5 -- By: René A. López

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 169:674 (Apr 2012)
Article: Paul’s Vice List In Ephesians 5:3-5
Author: René A. López


Paul’s Vice List In Ephesians 5:3-5*

René A. López

* This is the final article in a six-part series, “The Pauline Vice Lists and Inheriting the Kingdom.”

René A. López is Adjunct Professor of Greek and New Testament and Spanish Biblical Studies, Criswell College, Dallas, Texas, and Pastor, Iglesia Biblica Nuestra Fe, Dallas, Texas.

Similar to the evidence presented in the study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-101 and Galatians 5:19-21,2 four questions are considered in this article in an effort to understand Paul’s purpose in citing a vice list and the phrase “inherit the kingdom of Christ and God” in Ephesians 5:3-5. Does the passage address Christians? What is the meaning of “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”? Why are there contrasts between believers and unbelievers? And did Paul warn his readers or exhort them?

Does The Passage Address Christians?

Paul addressed the recipients of Ephesians, “To the saints in Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus”3 (τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν ἐνΕφέσῳ καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν ΧριστῷΙησου, Eph 1:1).4 The letter’s recipients,

as in many of Paul’s other letters, were called ἁγίοι (plural) and “faithful in Christ.”5 These facts, coupled with the fact that Paul addressed the congregation as brothers (τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, 6:23), show that he assumed his readers were believers.

Yet the Ephesian Christians, like those in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), though called ἁγίοις (“saints,” Eph. 1:1), were not living in accord with their positions as “saints.” As Hoehner observed,

When it [ἅγιος] is used substantively, it is used of those called saints (1 Cor 1:2) who may have practiced unholy things (5:1). In fact, the saints of Ephes...

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