Morality in Corinthians and Ephesians

  • Created by: Erin W
  • Created on: 04-05-19 16:36


  • In Corinthians and Ephesians, "Paul stresses that Christian faith must lead to a Christian lifestyle" (McGrath).
  • Paul gives guidance to the Corinthians and Ephesians about living a Christian life, and guides them on moral issues such as marriage, lying, cheating, and unwholsome speech.
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Ephesians - Second Prayer

  • In Paul's second prayer, he stresses that Christians should "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing one another in love".
  • This is because they have all been united as one in Christ, so should therefore treat eachother and moral and religious equals.
  • Paul uses the word agape in v2, to refer to the highest form of love hat he wishes the Ephesins to show each another.
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Contrasting Gentiles

  • Paul contrasts the morally innapropriate behaviour of the Gentiles with the expected behaviour of Christians as a new creation.
  • Paul no longer thinks of Christians as Jews or pagans but as he new people of God - therefore their morality should reflect this.
  • He warns his readers not to act as Gentiles do as "they are darkned in their understanding" which leads to"sensuality... impurity... greed".
  • Instead, he urges them to put on a "new self" and act morally.
  • Stott comments how Paul can descend from intense theological debate to "the nitty-gritty of human behaviour"
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Moral Commandments

  • Paul uses the metaphor of darkness and light to teach the Ephesians morality;  "For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord".
  • For example, Paul warns that they should avoid drunkeness, greed, and obscenity.
  • For Paul, it is not enough that the Ephesians simply avoid immorality, but they also must strive to exemplify morality.
  • He teaches that light is transformative and everything that is "illuminated becomes a light".
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Corinthians - Sexual Immorality

  • Paul heard a report of a man in the congregation having an affair with his stepmother.
  • Paul said "hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed".
  • Murphy-O'Connor summarises this teaching: "If our bodies are to be raised, we must attach importance to actions perfomed in and through the body".
  • Therefore, Christians should not engage in sexual immorality.
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  • For divorce, Paul refers to Jesus' moral teaching, not his own.
  • He commands Christians not to get divorced at all: "reconcilliation, not estrangement, is the course for Christians" (Bruce).
  • If divorce does happen, then remarriage should take place as long as the divorced partner is alive.
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  • Paul heard of a group of Corinthian women not wearing veils during worship.
  • The moral issue that arose from this was that women's hair was an object of lust.
  • No veil would "arouse suspicions regarding her moral character" (Guy)
  • Paul uses the divine pattern of relationships to solve this moral issue.
  • He explains that God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of woman. 
  • This theory did not grant men superiority, but taught a wife should choose to submit to their husband "as Christ chose to submit to the Father" (Prior).
  • His overal teaching in this issue of morality is that the women should return to wearing veils to avoid distracting others during worship.
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