But I’m feeling drawn to 5:14:
“Awake, O sleeper,
And rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
I like N.T. Wright’s segment division – 5:11-20 “Light and Darkness” with a focus on singing (Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters)
GRATITUDE –> We sing because we are so thankful our words are insufficient. So we add melody!
Hymns, psalms, spiritual songs…giving thanks
5:14 echoes Isaiah 60:1 and possibly 26:19
Not just sing to God (ADORATION) but one another (EDIFICATION)
1 Cor. 14 refers to singing and other aspects of worship service that are not clergy-dominated, but everyone!
Colossians 3:16 (NIV): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NIV): “16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
5:14 is not entirely or cleanly identifiable as a biblical text. (Bruce, NICNT: Ephesians, 376)
The words echo Is. 26:19, 60:1, and even Jonah 1:6
“but the echo, especially in Greek, is a distant one. The quotation is a tristich, best interpreted as a primitive baptismal hymn, in which the congregation greets the new convert as he or she emerges sacramentally from the sleep of spiritual death into the light of life.” (Bruce, 376)
ACTS 2:4, 2:13, 2:15
The believers were “filled with new wine,” their worship mistaken from drunken happiness.
“If the Spirit is the source of their fullness, then, instead of songs which celebrate the joys of Bacchus, their mouths will be filled with words which build up the lives of others and bring glory to the living and true God.” (Bruce, 380)
WHAT SONGS ARE YOU SINGING? AND WHAT ARE YOU SINGING ABOUT?
There is value in music to offer empathy in the human experience. That’s why the angst and attitude of Kurt Cobain revolutionized a generation of teenagers with a new genre of grunge rock. But do we also experience God and encourage one another through life? And if so, do we sing about it?
Rev. 4:11, Rev. 5:9, Rev. 5:13
“A life filled with such thanksgiving will find spontaneous expression in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Bruce, 381)
Yes – we sing because our gratitude, our thankfulness pours out in song.
Thankfulness/Thanksgiving is the opposite and the antidote to IDOLATRY.
If you read the section before our passage, one of the sins of darkness Paul addresses is sexual misconduct…
“Instead of the latter’s recognition of the Creator at the center of life, the idolatry of sexual lust makes some other desired object supreme.” (Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, 333)
It is fascinating and convicting to go back and read through the 10 Commandments with THANKFULNESS and IDOLATRY in mind.
Scholars lean toward agreeing that v.14 is a baptismal hymn. That is wonderful! 2 points:
1) Remember your baptism (from darkness to light, death to life) …and be thankful!
2) It’s a hymn! SING
“Now when grace fills the soul, that soul thereby rejoices and smiles and dances, for it is possessed and inspired, so that to many of the unenlightened it may seem to be drunken, crazy, and beside itself.”
Have you ever heard a drunk sing? What lack of inhibition! When we are filled with the Spirit of God and experience the gospel for ourselves we are overcome with ecstasy, overrun with thankfulness, and moved to sing! Believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit delight to sing praises because the praise is coming from that Spirit who is dwelling inside us and who has eternally been singing to and with the Father and the Son.
Not just thanks for some things but always for everything! (Eph. 5:19-20; 1 Thess. 5:18) Because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
What is at stake? IDENTITY and BEHAVIOR
“The Spirit-filled worship which the writer enjoins also contributes to the community’s sense of identity and cohesion that he is attempting to foster. The spiritual songs, the praise, and the thanksgiving all help to shape believers’ attitudes and to form the community’s ethos” and thus, their conduct. (Lincoln, 349)
J. Ellsworth Kalas shared this in a sermon in chapel during my time at Asbury Theological Seminary:
“This world of ours is filled with the dissonance of hell. God meant it to be a place where all is music and beauty. And then we messed it up, so that so much of life now is marked by off keys, by people who are too low or too sharp, by people who hit the cymbals at the wrong time, by people who are just out of tune, some dreadfully out of tune. And it ruins the glory of the music that God meant our world to know. And then God sent music into the world in His Son, Jesus Christ. Wherever He went, He invaded the dissonance of the world and brought music.” (Sermon: “I Wish I Were Older,” Asbury Seminary Chapel, Oct. 30, 2008)
This is absolutely beautiful.
Share the story from Acts 12:6-9 – Peter, asleep in prison, awakes to the dungeon lit up with an angel; his chains fall off, and he is set free (and/or Acts 16:16-33 – Paul and Silas singing in prison)
Charles Wesley, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
Have you experienced the freeing presence of God? Was your spirit long imprisoned, bound by sin, only knowing darkness and night to one day be awakened to your dungeon filled with light, your chains falling off, and feeling your heart set free? Have you risen, gone forth from that dungeon of darkness and emptiness to follow Christ? Has He done something specific for you that you can honestly be thankful about? And was that thing so good that you don’t just want to talk about it, you want to sing about it? Sing to Him? Sing to others who share the same song? I daresay He has done this for us all in one way or another. The question is whether we will wake up to see it and be moved to sing about it.
Some of you are thinking, is the application of this sermon really to go sing? Yes, go sing. With thanksgiving always and in everything, let us be a singing people in the earth, singing about Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. And come back next week, because we’re going to be doing a lot of singing. And some of you will be participating from the stage. It’s going to be marvelous. God bless you. Let’s sing.