Saturday, February 17, 2007


Ephesians 5:1

Throughout Ephesians 4 Paul has been talking about how Christians are supposed to live their lives. He has said our goal is to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the body of Christ” (4:13). He has said we “must no longer live as the Gentiles do” (4:17). He has said that we are to put off the old man and “put on the new man, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24). In 4:25-32 he listed off a number of sins and attitudes that we are to put off and new behaviors and attitudes that we are to put on. As we come to 5:1, 2 we arrive at a peak in Paul’s instruction, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” In other words, the way we are to become mature, the way we are to live no longer as the Gentiles do, the way we are to put off the old man and put on the new, and the way we are to develop all these new behaviors and attitudes is to become imitators of God and live lives of love! What does this mean and how are we supposed to do it?

The Greek word Paul uses for “imitator” is μιμητής (mimetes) and from it comes our English word “mimic.” The English word “imitator” comes from the Latin word imago, or image. In short, what Paul is saying is that we should become mimics of God until we image him, until we are like him.

It’s hard enough for us to try to imagine how we are going to be able to imitate God. It’s even hard for us to want to imitate God and choose to imitate God! But Paul has to go and put this into a command form! He commands us, “Begin being imitators of God!” By commanding us to begin being imitators of God he makes it clear that we weren’t imitators of God. Before we came to faith in Christ we were imitators of the world. The world was shaping and molding us into its own image. We imitated what we saw around us and lived just like the rest of the world. Paul has told us that we have to stop living like the world around us. So who is to become our model? God! We are to begin being imitators of God! And what is it about God that we are supposed to imitate? We are supposed to imitate God’s characteristics. And how are we supposed to do that? God is perfect and we are not. God knows everything and we don’t. God is all powerful and we are weak.

Theologians divide the attributes of God into two groups, incommunicable attributes and communicable attributes. The incommunicable attributes are those which we cannot imitate; they are characteristics which cannot ever be developed by humans. For example, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, eternity, majesty, and glory. But God has attributes which can be developed in humans: love, gentleness, kindness, truth, faithfulness, righteousness, and holiness. These are the attributes of God which Paul tells us we are to imitate.


At 6:19 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

You ask where I've been. Snowed in? As a matter of fact, yes, for a few days. But I was also up in Minneapolis for three days at the Desiring God Pastors' Conference last week. Fighting a sinus infection at the same time. Thanks for asking. It's nice to think someone actually cares where I am and what I'm doing!

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Doulos Christou said...


Great thoughts... hope you dig out soon. And by the way, there are some of us in the western suburbs of Chicago who care where you are and what you're doing, too!

I've also found that a focus on God - even His incommunicable attributes - lead us to hunger more for the growth of imitation of His communicable attributes... I'm grateful that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion as well.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...


Your thought on meditating on the incommunicable attributes of God is really important! What an excellent point! Filling our thoughts with God's majesty will in turn fill our hearts with him and then we will find ourselves with a fresh passion to pursue his likeness! Thanks!


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