“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Explanation and Commentary of Ephesians 5:11
Paul begins his letters with the indicative truth about who Jesus is and what he has done. This is particularly true of the book of Ephesians, which contains some of the most beautiful language in its description of the gospel. The second part of each letter, including this one, contains those imperatives which flow from the truth of the gospel. This means that after telling us what God has done, Paul tells us how we should respond. Within the imperative section of Ephesians, Paul begins to warn against “the fruitless deeds of darkness.” What some of these deeds are is indicated in verses 3-6; sexual immorality, foolish talk, dishonesty, impurity, greed, coarse joking, and disobedience. Paul says to have “nothing to do with them.”
The Christian is saved by faith in Christ, by the grace of God. We are saved because of what he has done, not by our own works. But this does not mean that Jesus or the New Testament writers did not want us to be concerned with our works. James said that faith without works is dead (Ja 2:26). In our effort to grow into the likeness of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, because of what Jesus has done for us, we will be concerned for the fruitful deeds of light, rather than the “fruitless deeds of darkness.”
To “expose them” means to see them for what they are. The most productive way to expose the deeds of darkness is through the confession of sins. The Bible says to confess our sins (Ja 5:16). It can also mean to confront and rebuke brothers and sisters in the church when they are willfully sinning. This is a means of grace for the church, as we can find all sorts of ways to keep our sins in the darkness. Exposure to the light will bring healing and transformation.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ephesians 5:11
#1 “Have nothing to do…”
It is an affront to the God who took on our sins and paid for them for us to trample grace by continuing in sin. The Christian should not even get close to performing these deeds.
#2 “…with the fruitless deeds of darkness,”
Good deeds are fruitful and produce good. The deeds of darkness, lying, foolish or coarse talk, sexual immorality, greed, etc, are fruitless, or they bear the fruit of evil.
#3 “…but rather, expose them.”
Rather than engaging in sin, we should be bringing the truth to bear on our sin and even the sin of others. This does not mean to be ungracious and judgmental, but honest about what God wants and how he calls us to conduct ourselves in light of his salvation. Confession for our own sin and rebuke for others is how to bring them into the light. The confrontation of others should be done lovingly.
Bible Study on Ephesians 5:11
Expert Overview of Ephesians
Biblical Translations of Ephesians 5:11
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.