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The Epistle to the Ephesians (11).
pp. 137 - 140
The Divine injunctions regarding a "worthy walk", a daily practical manifestation of
the superlative Truth revealed in Ephesians 1:-3:, is continued by the Apostle Paul in
"Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as
Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for
an odour of a sweet smell" (5: 1, 2 R.V.).
As the R.V. margin points out, many ancient authorities read "us" instead of "you" at
the end of 4: 32, as they do in 5: 2. These include the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyrii
which did not become known until 1931. The pronunciation and spelling of hemeis (we)
and humeis (you) was practically identical in the first century, so one can easily
understand that a copyist could easily put one for the other. "Us", which would include
the Apostle, is most probably the correct reading.
It should hardly need to be stressed that only a believer in Christ can "imitate God".
A false gospel of works may urge the unbeliever to try to be like Jesus, but this is fatal as
a means of salvation, and quite impossible to achieve. Only the truly saved who are
quickened can spiritually walk in the Saviour's footsteps (I Pet. 2: 21), and when we
realize what this entails, it will be a lifetime's endeavour which will surely keep us fully
occupied. To "walk in love" might mean almost anything to the human mind, but we are
not left in doubt here, as it is explained practically as the way Christ loved and gave
Himself up for us. Here is a life of absolute unselfishness and self-renunciation, and this,
said the Apostle, should characterize the daily Christian walk. Anything less than this is
not "worthy" of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This offering of Christ, the giving up of Himself for us, is described in the Levitical
terms of the sweet savour offerings, for the two Greek words here ("offering" and
"sacrifice") are used in the Greek O.T. for the meal or cereal offering and the peace
offering. These were offerings which had a fragrant smell and represented not so much
sin and short coming, as a whole-hearted response in service to God which was fragrant
and well pleasing to Him. We might stop to ask ourselves, "are our lives fragrant to the
Lord? Does He get pleasure as He regards our thoughts and actions day by day?" This is
what is behind the context in Ephesians, and we may all find it very challenging. The
Philippian believers showed their practical love for the Lord and for Paul by sending him
a gift which rejoiced his heart in his Roman prison. This, he said, was "an odour of a
sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Phil. 4: 18). Would to God
that all our lives and actions were as fragrant and attractive as this.