Ephesians 4:17-19  

Verses 17-19
Exhortation to discontinue the process of the darkened soul and it's way of life

Verse 17 The Empty Mind
1. Therefore: picks up from verse one through three.
At verses 1-3, Paul exhorts the readers to walk in a manner worthy, or CONSISTENT WITH their calling. That is, their STATUS of salvation.
This is to be done by cultivating the SEVEN UNITY DOCTRINES of verses 3-6.
    (1) The doctrine of the universal church (one body)
    (2) The doctrines about the Holy Spirit (one Spirit)
    (3) The doctrine of salvation (hope of your calling)
    (4) The doctrines about Jesus as Lord (one Lord)
    (5) The doctrine of faith-thinking (one faith)
    (6) The doctrine of the baptism of the Spirit or positional union in Christ (one baptism)
    (7) The doctrines about God the Father - His character and plan (one God and Father)

In other words, through growth and application, the believer fulfills His salvation calling.
After discussing the provision of communication spiritual gifts to bring about the growth of the individual and the whole body, Paul focuses in on the hindrances to spiritual growth.
He begins by reminding us of the on-going battle to avoid imitation of the unbeliever.
The sin nature presents a continuous challenge to the believer. It is an on-going battle to RESIST the temptations of the sin nature and let the WORD of God and the Holy Spirit fill and guide us.
First and foremost in this challenge is to STOP living in the arrogance and selfishness of our OLD way of life.

2. This I say: legO, as a present active indicative means to state and affirm.
3. and testify: marturomai means to bear witness about or dogmatically insist on something.
4. in the Lord: This indicates the authority of the apostle as well as indicating that this is in accordance with the Divine priority.

5. that you no longer walk: peripateO as an a present active infinitive describes the subject of legO and marturomai.
The verb, walk, is peripateO, and means to have a way of life. We could paraphrase it and say “no longer LIVE.”

6. no longer: this is mAketi, and indicates a present way of life. That is, an experience that many of them are presently challenged by.

7. just as: kathOs is the adverb of similarity and imitation. The word, also, is kai, and is used to emphasize that they are presently doing something that the unbelievers are also doing.

8. the Gentiles walk: technical term to refer to anyone outside the family of God; unbelievers. This is a carryover from the Jewish culture. The Jewish nation was God's representative. The Gentiles could be saved and joined to Israel or remain separate from Israel, but only the nation of Israel was God's official ORGANIZED ambassador.
The repetition of the verb, walk, gives emphasis to the idea of total similarity and imitation.

9. There are four things in this sentence that tell us very clearly that there were many Ephesian believers living in direct imitation of the unbelievers way of life.
    A. No longer
    B. Just as
    C. Also
    D. The verb WALK occurs two times.

As long as they continue to resist the Word of God that repudiates their old life, both religiously and morally, they will be unable to grow up spiritually and fulfill the “walk worthy” exhortation of verse 1.

10. in the vanity of their mind: vanity, is mataiotAs, and means emptiness, purposelessness, futility; even the idea of vacuum. It is a word for total emptiness and neutralization of the soul which becomes a vacuum that sucks in something to fill it up. When a soul rejects divine truth, which the soul was designed to function on, it then must SEEK for something else to be a standard. But the rejection of truth has left an emptiness and ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is sucked in, with the sin nature being the arbitrator as to WHAT is retained as valuable to the soul.

11. of their mind: nous, refers to the intelligence of the soul; the thinking of the soul, the perception of the soul, the mentality of the soul. It is LOCATED in the heart, which is the CONTROLLER of the soul and the base of intellect and character.
The emptiness of their mentality or the vacuum of their mentality.
When divine viewpoint is rejected, an emptiness or VACUUM is created in the soul. It is stated at Romans 1:21, “they became empty in their thought patterns (reasonings).”
The next step stated at Romans 1:21 is that DARKNESS enters the soul.
The mind that rejects divine viewpoint becomes a vacuum that SUCKS IN any of many different evil (harmful) replacements. This is darkness viewpoint that not only darkens the soul, but also produces a SCARRING or CALLOUSNESS that affects all areas of life.
This VACUUM condition is both the initiation of darkness intrusion, and the continued function of the soul.


1. being: the present participle of eimi, indicates a status. The present participle in the nominative case is adverbial in function and modifies the present active indicative of walking.
    A. They are living a life; walking a pattern of life
    B. Their mind is functioning like a vacuum:
    C. And in that pattern of life because of the vacuum, they sucked in
        doctrines of darkness which caused the heart to become darkened.

2. darkened: This is a perfect passive participle of skotidzO.
    A. The perfect tense describes the completed results of a process that began with hardness of
         heart, which is negative volition toward God and truth.

    B. The passive voice indicates that the subject receives the results
         through the influence of concepts acting upon his soul.
    C. The participle is an adjective in function to describe the state
        of the soul while the process is going on and when it is completed.

3. in the understanding: This is the definite article plus dianoia.
    A. THE dianoia is in the heart (Lk. 1:51)
    B. The dianoia refers to the content of the heart from the standpoint
        of viewpoint and understanding.
    C. The heart receives information through the MIND, and when volition
        accepts it, it becomes UNDERSTANDING and viewpoint, which is then used
        as a guideline for evaluating life factors and for further learning.
    D. When the mind becomes a vacuum through rejection of truth, it sucks in darkness concepts,
         and these concepts affect the UNDERSTANDING and viewpoint causing it to become
    E. The darkness viewpoint is then extended to the conscience, where norms and standards are
         formed, and influences self-consciousness (your awareness and perception of self) which
         further distorts the function of volition.
    F. Romans 1:21, tells us that they “became empty (a vacuum) in their THOUGHT PATTERNS
        (dialogismos). This is the same as “the vacuum of the mind.” The dialogismos is the function
        of the mind. Paul further writes, “and their foolish heart became darkened.” This corresponds
         with “being darkened in the understanding (dianoia).”

    G. In Romans, the whole soul is in view with the word, heart (kardia).
        In Ephesians, the FUNCTION of discernment and viewpoint is in view
        with the word, dianoia, which is located IN the heart.
        H. The dianoia means understanding, discernment, insight, and is the
         place where knowledge is stored in the heart.
    I. The dianoia has a direct wiring to the volition and gives it
        insight and discernment for making decisions.
    J. When the insight and discernment is based on DARKNESS standards,
        then the volitional decisions will be according to that darkness.
    K. Volitional decisions based on darkness in the soul are mentioned
        at verse 19, “the practice of all uncleanness with greediness.”
    L. These DARKNESS volitional decisions are also mentioned at Romans 1:24-31,
        with a list of many immoral activities.

Verse 18b The Process that Leads to the Empty Mind and Darkened dianoia.

Having become alienated from the life of God: This is a perfect passive participle of apallotrioO.
It means to be separate and alienated from something.
The life of God refers to the plan of God for the human race in two stages (salvation and Christian living) and the benefits that man can experience by adjusting to God on His terms.
For the unbeliever, it is separation from SALVATION.
For the believer, it is separation from experiencing the benefits of salvation while living on earth.
    A. The perfect tense emphasizes the completed results from the fact
        that there is ignorance of Divine viewpoint.
    B. The passive voice indicates that this alienation is received when the volition rejects Divine
         viewpoint and therefore has no knowledge of God with which to offset the alienation.
    C. The participle is adverbial to describe the step PRIOR to the empty mind.
    D. The phrase, “walking in the vacuum of their mind” is the first
        thing mentioned, but is not the first factor in the process.
    E. The present participle (being) PLUS the perfect participle (darkened) in one construction is
         used to indicate the result of the vacuum.
    F. The perfect participle by itself (having become alienated) indicates the cause of the vacuum.
    G. We will see that the steps in order are:
        (1) hardness of heart (negative choice toward God and truth)
        (2) rejection of truth causes IGNORANCE
        (3) the ignorance causes alienation from TRUTH (the life of God).
        (4) this ignorance and alienation produces the vacuum
        (5) the vacuum sucks in the darkness
        (6) the darkness causes blindness and scar tissue in the soul
        (7) the blindness leads to the practice of sensuality

Because of the ignorance that is in them: The preposition dia, with the accusative case of the noun means BECAUSE OF, and indicates the CAUSE of the previously mentioned factor (alienation from the life of God).
The word for ignorance is agnoia, and in context refers to knowledge of Divine viewpoint in three categories.
    (1) gospel information so as to be saved.
    (2) divine morality information for personal and social freedom
    (3) Christian living information for maximum happiness here on earth.

Ignorance exists in them because they have chosen to reject divine viewpoint. Whether it is divine viewpoint in regard to morality or salvation, it still produces the vacuum.

Because of the hardness of of their hearts:
Dia plus the accusative case is repeated for the same meaning and to indicate the CAUSE of the previous factor (ignorance).
The word, pOrOsis, means hardness, stubbornness, and persistence in rejecting something, which in context, is God’s truth. This is negative volition. It is NOT the scarred soul. The scarred soul results from persistent negative volition and results in even greater negative volition. Hardnesss of heart begets hardness of heart.

The HEART refers to the mentality of the soul, and has several functions, which are given separate designations in the Greek.
    A. Perceived information enters the heart through the mind (nous), which is where VOLITION
         operates from. If the mind accepts the information it receives viewpoint and understanding,
         which provides insight for further volitional decisions.
    B. Once volition rejects divine viewpoint, the heart begins to harden, that is, become MORE
         STUBBORN toward the things of God.
    C. This begins the darkening process which continues until an act of positive volition interrupts
        the process and replaces it with the process of spiritual growth.
    D. The more darkness that enters into the soul, the HARDER it gets. But even so, as long as
        there is life, there is potential for recovery.
    E. While the darkness process continues, the soul becomes scarred and calloused, which results
        in a SENSUALITY life style as is described at verse 19. It is characterized by viewpoint,
         action and speech that reflects darkness and is totally contrary to divine viewpoint standards.

The process can be interrupted and begin to reverse through CONTACT with and ACCEPTANCE of divine truth.


1. who having become calloused: “who” is the qualitative relative pronoun, hostis, which refers specifically to the ones who are in the darkened status.
The verb is apalgeO as a perfect active participle, which means to BECOME unfeeling, thick-skinned, calloused, scarred.
The perfect tense, which views action as completed in past time, sees this action of becoming scarred as a completed result from an action started in the past; the darkening process.

The active voice, indicates that the subject is DOING the action. But since the verb is a passive-action verb, ACTIVELY “becoming” is actually RECEIVING the effect of callousness. Thus, the subject actively participates in the action by the negative volition that BEGAN the darkness process, and that continues to express itself negative toward the authority, viewpoint and policy of God.

The participle is descriptive of the Gentiles operating in the final stage of the process begun by negative volition.
The relation of UNFEELING and SCARRED to the soul indicates a totally abnormal function NOT conforming to the Divine viewpoint standards of the Divine Creator of the soul of man.
Darkness and callous are the same condition of the soul.
Darkness focuses on the CONTENT of the soul.
Callous focuses on the expression of the soul.
Blind in content indicates insensitive in expression.


1. have given themselves over: The verb is paradidomi, is a perfect active indicative PLUS the reflexive plural pronoun, heautos.
The verb means to deliver something over to something.
The reflexive pronoun indicates that the subject acts upon itself from it's own volition.
The perfect tense indicates completion of the way of life dictated by the scarred soul.
The active voices indicates that they act of their own volition. Even though they are influenced by the darkness of worldly and satanic doctrine, they still choose from within themselves.
The use of the indicative mood, indicates that the way of life of total opposition to Divine design is a reality for the unbeliever and a reality for the believer in Christ who imitates the unbeliever.

2. to sensuality: The noun, aselgeia, refers to a total occupation with the physical senses as controlled by the old sin nature. This is the eat, drink and be merry philosophy; the philosophy of sensuality. Ec. 8:15
It is a totally undisciplined, emotional abandonment to meeting needs of the physical senses.
This philosophy of sensuality OR kosmic (worldly) philosophy is described at 1 John 2:16 as revolving around three factors.
    (1) the lust of the flesh (the desires of FEELING)
    (2) the lust of the eyes (the desires of WANTING)
    (3) the arrogance of life (the desires of SELF-CENTEREDNESS)

3. for the practice: The preposition, eis, indicates a RESULT. Thus, resulting in the eat, drink and be merry philosophy, and the arrogance of life.
The word, practice, is ergasia, and means trade, business, working, function; a pursuit resulting in the practice of something.
The emphasis is on the overt way of life.

4. of all uncleanness: akatharsia plus pas (all) indicates that EVERY possibility is involved. It emphasizes every aspect of moral deviation from the overt or physical standpoint. Clean and unclean are physical concepts.
The word is amplified by aselgeia which precedes it, which is an occupation with the physical senses. The philosophy of sensuality results in 'unclean' activity of 'every kind' to fulfill that hunger and search.

The word that follows it, IN GREEDINESS, is pleonexzia in the locative case, which indicates, in the sphere of. The word refers to a self-seeking happiness, self-centeredness. total emotional concern for self-pleasure and self-happiness. A good translation is, “in the sphere of seeking self pleasure.”
This corresponds with “in the sphere of the lusts of their hearts” at Romans 1:24.
It embraces the three factors of 1 John 2:16, PHYSICAL FEELING, WANTING, and ARROGANCE.

5. Aselgeia is a darkness philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry,” catering to the satisfaction of both the physical and mental senses.
Akatharsia is the overt practice of that philosophy.
Pleonexzia is the mental attitude and emotional goal or drive behind it (self pleasure).

6. The basic philosophy of the darkness is promotion of Satan’s viewpoint and program, but Satan is not always directly involved.
Aselgeia is man occupied with himself.
Anything that keeps man’s eyes off of God promotes Satan’s agenda.

7. Aselgeia is self-centered, but it is a slavery that will put self into a place of bondage that is a millstone around the neck instead of a source for happiness. Isaiah 57:21, there is no peace to the wicked.

8. Aselgeia originates from the sin nature (Gal. 5:19; Mk. 7:22), but can then be cultivated and redirected by the satanic and kosmic doctrines that darken the soul.

9. The enslavement of living according to the standards of darkness becomes a permanent status for both the believer and unbeliever.
A. unbeliever: he dies in his sins. John 8:21-24
B. believer: dies the sin unto death. 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16
This is maximum divine discipline that removes the believer from
this life because of maximum failure according to God’s evaluation.

10. The divine viewpoint that offsets the philosophy of aselgeia is found in Romans 14:17. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Also an understanding of the issue of faith vs. sight gives the divine viewpoint solution. 2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1; John 20:26-31
Also knowledge of Divine provision for meeting physical needs. Mt. 6:19-34, and Hebrews 13:5-6 and 9.
But this TRUTH must be faced and ACCEPTED in order to interrupt and begin the correction process to the darkened soul.
And that is the focus of the remaining verses, “but you did not learn Christ in this way.”



Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index



©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary


Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us