These small group studies of Ephesians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Ephesians 5:1-14 Bible Study Guide – Commentary and Discussion Questions


I. Follow Christ’s example of love (1-2)
II. Stay far away from all immorality and impurity (3-6)
III. Be children of light, not of darkness (7-14)

I. Follow Christ’s example of love (1-2)

Discussion Questions

• How can we imitate God?
• What aspects of God should we imitate?
• Why?
• How can we walk in love?
• What standard should we try to reach?
• Why is Jesus love the ultimate example?
• Why is Jesus’ sacrifice called a fragrant aroma?
• Who was it fragrant to?
• Why?


Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Peter 1:15-16 – But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Colossians 3:12-14 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Matthew 25:35-36 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Be imitators of God – A lot of people have idols, heroes they look up to that they want to be just like. They want to talk like they talk; they want to look like they look; they want to have similar hair styles, similar fashions, similar personalities. But the problem with most of these idols, is that they are spiritually corrupt. Ask a lot of people who their idols are and they will say sports stars like Wilt Chamberlain (serial adulterer), singers like Michael Jackson (sexual pervert), actors like Tom Cruise (scientologist), or politicians like Bill Clinton (also adulterer). I am not writing this to disparage these people. All of us are in the same boat. If someone held a magnifying glass up to our lives, our sins too would be evident for all. The problem is not in the specific person people idolize, but in idolizing anyone!

People either have incredibly low standards or they ignore the moral character and focus on outward looks or success.

As believers, we should be imitators of God. He is the one we should look up to and try to emulate. Why? Quite simply because He is perfect. He is the standard in holiness, love, kindness, righteousness, mercy, justice, etc. We shouldn’t model our lives after morally bankrupt superstars or we will follow the same dark road they do.

We should model our lives after Christ, who lived a perfect life in this world and showed us how to respond to all kinds of problems and temptations. If we have heroes, they should be Christian heroes who modeled Christ in their own lives. We should respect them for their character, not for their looks or success. Paul also said to follow him as he followed the Lord. Don’t set people up on a pedestal, but we can learn from them so that we can better imitate the Lord ourselves in our lives.

2. Walk in love –

Ephesians 5:2 Bible Verse

While we are to imitate many of God’s characteristics, love is the central one for the believer. It is mentioned over and over again because it is so important. Again, walk, is a day to day lifestyle. Love is something we need to live out day to day in both small and big situations. While we need to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, a lot of times love can be shown in even the smallest gestures.

It is not something we can ever take a break from or ever finish. We need to show love whether we are tired, overworked, sick, under pressure, on vacation, at the office, home, on the road, working, or playing. To do that we need to be alert and give 24/7 effort. Love could be cleaning out the toilet, taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, filing the report at work that no one else wants to, going to the store, making the bed, listening, speaking a kind word, comforting the discouraged, making a phone call to our parents, asking about someone’s life, visiting an orphanage, visiting the sick in the hospital or spending quality time with our family.

3. How high is our standard? Our standard is Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice, His own life. Their are no restrictions on how much we are to love others. There is no time limitation. It doesn’t apply to only people we know or only our friends or family. It is applied to strangers, enemies, bosses and employees. It doesn’t matter if they deserve it. We didn’t deserve Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us and the people around us probably don’t deserve our love either, but Christ still did it and we are to do the same. We need to love others whole heartedly, completely, and all the time.

4. Jesus’ sacrifice was pleasing to God – It was a fragrant aroma, like some of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. It pleased God because it demonstrated His perfect plan and His perfect love and justice, because it brought sinners to Himself, because it showed Christ’s perfect submission, and because it defeated Satan. Christ’s obedience and love pleased God and if we love others by sacrificing ourselves for them, this also pleases God, which is what verse 10 tells us we are to do

II. Stay far away from all immorality and impurity (3-6)

Discussion Questions

• What does it mean that immorality, impurity, and greed must not be named among us?
• Does this mean we should keep our mouth shut about it?
• What is silly talk?
• Can you give any examples?
• What is course jesting?
• Why are these kinds of talk not fitting?
• What do these instructions tell us about our speech?
• With what kind of speech should we replace this wicked speech? Giving of thanks to whom?
• What warning does Paul give in verses 5-6?
• Does this mean that believers will be perfect? If not, then what does it mean?
• How should we, as professing believers, take this warning?
• What would you say to someone who tells you not to worry about it because you have prayed the salvation pray and cannot lose your salvation?


Proverbs 12:23 – The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

Matthew 12:34-37 – You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

Ephesians 5:19-20 – Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Revelation 21:27 – Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

1 John 3:7-8 – Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. These things must not be named among us – It means they must not occur, that we must not give unbelievers any chance to point to Christians and say that we are doing those kinds of things. When professing Christians scandalously have an affair and get divorced, it is improper and tarnishes the name of the church. It allows unbelievers to accuse us.

We must stay far away from any compromising situations so that those who wish to accuse us can find nothing and will have nothing bad to say.

Billy Graham knew this principle. He knew that if he was involved with a scandal it would give all of Christ’s enemies ammunition to attack the church. So he set several standards. First, he would not meet with a lady one on one. Second, he had a team of people go into his hotel room and check it out first. He was concerned that enemies of Christ may plant a lady, perhaps immodestly dressed, who would jump out and have a photo snapped. Such a photo and story, even if untrue, could do great damage to his ministry. So he made sure to never be caught in any compromising situation.

Christians as a body should be above reproach and stay far away from the wickedness listed in verse 3. They are putrid and evil and we should recognize them as such.

2. No filthiness – Evil, dirty, and wicked things. These things are specifically applied to speech here. No filthy speech. This could include things like cursing, bad jokes, and any kind of dirty talk (the kinds of things that parents used to wash their kids mouths with soap for). Although this kind of talking is extremely common in the world and viewed as humorous or sometimes even masculine, there must be no hint of it in the church.

I guess you probably don’t have issue with this when you are are around believers, but what about when you are around your worldly friends? Do you stay there and listen to it? Do you laugh at it?

3. Silly talk – Talk that is nonsensical and has no value. Could include things like speculation about things that can never happen, excessive joking (tends to happen more with guys), flirtatious or wishful talk (tends to happen more with girls). “Do you think so and so likes so and so? Don’t you think so and so is handsome? So and so looked at me and I think he likes me.” Such talk is silly and has no value.

God created us with a sense of humor and joking can be positive and healthy. But it can also cross a line and become destructive. When does it pass the line of harmless fun and enter silly talk? Should we not joke at all? How can we discern between healthy joking and silly talk?

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