Meditations on Ephesians 5:19-21

Hiking in the Collegiate Peaks, Colorado

Be Filled with the Spirit


Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.


On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the first disciples, Peter declared,

Acts 2:38  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

So if the Ephesians already had the gift of the Holy Spirit since they had repented and been baptized, how can Paul tell them to “Be filled with the Spirit”? (And of course the same admonition applies to us.)

As with any good Bible study, we should begin by looking carefully at the words behind our English translation. In this case the words “be filled” correctly translates one Greek word plêrousthe (πληροῦσθε) however, Greek verbs are a little different from English verbs. Here the words “be filled” are passive which could be translated “allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” In other words, we can get in the way! We can become so focused on ourselves – we might say “so full of ourselves” – we don’t have room for the Holy Spirit!

We received the gift of the Spirit when we became Christians but many people keep the gift of the Holy Spirit in the closet of their hearts. We focus on things rather than God. It might be work or it could be a grand cause. It might be another person, or sports, or relationships, or collections – anything we are passionate about – but the point is our focus is on something other than the Holy Spirit. God is not the center of our life and so Paul declares “be filled with the Spirit!” In the next meditations, we’ll begin exploring how to do just that.


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