Ephesians Teaching Series

This beautifully constructed letter can best be understood by paying attention to its amazing structure.

18. Eph 5:15-21 Singing: the link with being filled by the Spirit

  • The seventh, and final, Walk in Ephesians has three parts to it: wisdom, understanding, and being filled by the Spirit.
  • Then there is a link to singing which is interesting and important.

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Video cover image by Cason Asher Upsplash

Please open the handout showing this passage by Clicking here,
or download the PDF of the page here.

  • Hoe many chapters in Ephesians?
  • How does it divide into 2


  • Ephesians falls into two halves
    • Part one (chs 1-3) explains the truth, tells us what reality is about
    • Part two (chs 4-6) tells us how we should live by this truth
  • Summarizing part 1 is a prayer for us to know
    1. the power of the Spirit in our inner person
    2. the love of Christ which is “beyond knowledge”
    3. the destiny of being the very dwelling place of God

Seven “Walks” in Ephesians

  • Walks 1&2 —Foundation of Identity :
  • You once walked in sin & death [2:2]
    • God’s incredible love [2:4]
  • You’re a new creation, new walk [2:10]
  • The second half of Ephesians builds on this foundation

Walk 3 —A new model for the church

  • Introduces the incredible goal Christ calls us into:
  • [4:1]walk worthy of the calling you’ve been called into:
  • [4:1] until we all attain:
    • to the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
    • to one mature adult
    • to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
  • Last week’s sermon in 7 words?
    • Live Your Identity: Walk in the Light

Walks 4,5,6,7
Live out of your new identity

  1. you must No Longer Walk... [4:17]
    • take off the old self, belonging to your former behavior [4:22]
      • be renewed by the Spirit in your mind [4:23]
    • put on the new self created after the likeness of God [4:24]
  2. Walk in Love [5:2]
  3. Walk in the Light [5:8]
  4. Walk with Wisdom and in the Spirit [5:15]

Walk with Wisdom and in the Spirit

  1. A Careful Reading of Eph 5:15-21
  2. Filled by the Spirit (continually)
  3. The Power and Blessing of Singing

1. A Careful Reading of Eph 5:15-21

  • How this section works:

5:15-6:7 Look carefully then how you walk

  1. not as unwise but as wise,
  2. making the best use of the time
  3. be filled by the Spirit:

19. speaking Click to expand

to one another
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs

19b. singing and making music Click to expand

with your heart to the Lord,

20. giving thanks Click to expand

always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
to God the Father

21. submitting to one another out of allegiance to Christ. Click to expand

  1. Wives … to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
  2. Husbands, love your wives,
  3. Children, obey your parents in the Lord
  4. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
  5. Slaves, obey your earthly masters
  6. Masters, do the same to them

Ephesians 5:15-21

  1. Βλέπετε οὖν ἀκριβῶς πῶς περιπατεῖτε, Watch carefully then how you walk:
μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι not as unwise
ἀλλ’ ὡς σοφοί, but as wise,
  1. ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
  2. διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, So do not be foolish,
ἀλλὰ συνίετε but understand
τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου. what the will of the Lord is.
  1. καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἀσωτία, and do not get drunk on wine, for that is wasteful loss,
ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, but be continually filled by the Spirit,
  1. λαλοῦντες speaking
ἑαυτοῖς to one another
[ἐν] ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες singing and making music
τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν with your hearts
τῷ κυρίῳ, to the Lord,
  1. εὐχαριστοῦντες giving thanks,
πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί, to God the Father
  1. ὑποτασσόμενοι submitting
ἀλλήλοις to one another
ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ. out of allegiance to Christ.

Translation and structure by Andrew Fountain

  • The same kind of three-part instructions that we saw in the last chapter
  • Negative / Positive / Explanation
  • Eph 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal,
    but rather let him labor,
    so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
  • Three sets of Negative / Positive / Motivation
    • Interesting that time is more important than money
  • And do not get drunk with wine...
    • The point here is waste of everything good
      • e.g. the same word as in the parable of the Lost Son—he wasted his inheritance
    • It’s not saying being drunk on beer is OK!
      • this would apply to any addictive drugs that lead to loss of control
  • Technically the words here have the Spirit as the filler.
    • It doesn’t specify what he is filling us with
    • Other places in Ephesians talk about being “filled with all the fullness of God”
    • however there are so many places in the NT where people are described as being filled with the Spirit, I don’t think you can avoid that as the main application
  • Why would he choose the this parallel of Spirit vs. Wine?
    • I don’t think that the point here is that once in the Bible they were accused of being drunk (at Pentecost)
      • Because of the description of what it looks like
      • v.15,16 not wasting everything as wine leads us into
      • v.19f living as God’s Children

Parallel with Colossians

Ephesians 5 Colossians 3 & 4

15 Watch carefully then how you walk: not as unwise but as wise,

16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders,
making the best use of the time.

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
singing and making music with your hearts to the Lord

16 …teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

20 giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father

17 …do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Translation and structure by Andrew Fountain

2. Filled by the Spirit (continually)

  • A command (continually filled)
    • followed by four descriptors of what that will look like
    • Now we might be expecting gifts to be listed here
      • Paul does in other places
    • But I think he is focussing on who we are, not what we do
      • These are all things we do, but they flow our of our core person
      • They flow out of how we relate to others and to God
        • We want to build others up, and put them first
        • We love, praise and honour God
  • It’s what it means to be a new creation
    • The old nature is self-centered
    • The New Creation is God and other-centered

3. The Power and Blessing of Singing

Practical Praise

  • You are speaking “to God” (v.19)
  • Damage done by a passive worship culture”
  • The Psalms are called “the prayers of David”
  • Damage done by a “passive worship culture”


  • …Praise to God must be vocal and wherever we can, in a public forum.
  • Allen —apples in car (p.61.63)
  • Psalm 9
  1. I will praise you O LORD, with my whole heart.
    I will tell of all your marvellous works.
  2. Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!
    Declare his deeds, among the people.

Psalm 107:21,22

  1. Oh, that people would praise the LORD for his goodness
    And for his wonderful works to mankind!
  2. Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    And declare his works with rejoicing.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 —very clear verse
  1. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people
    that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
  • How does he suggest we get filled by the Spirit?
    • e.g. child sitting by an athletics track “If I was an athlete, I could run”
  • It won’t get you the Spirit, but these things will stir up the Spirit
    • New Creation activity
    • If you want to experience the presence of God, then do them
    • God meets us as we praise him

2 Chronicles 20:22

  1. Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.

Practical Praise

  • Imagine God there, right in front of you (he is actually there!)
  • Be conscious that you are addressing him
  • Be conscious that he is listening to you!
    • (and pleased with your praise)
  • Try to stay engaged in this way (not always easy)
Last updated on 8 Oct 2023
Published on 8 Oct 2023