“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul issues forth his third therefore since he began the application section in Ephesians 4:1. Be reminded that the word therefore indicates a conclusion.
God has justified sinners by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 1-3). Therefore, believers in Christ are to walk and live in a manner worthy of God’s calling unto justification (Ephesians 4:1). Believers in Christ are to no longer live like the unconverted (Ephesians 4:17).
Believers in Christ are also to be imitators of God. An imitator (μιμητής; mimetes) is a person who does what others do. In this particular context, the person believers are to imitate is solely none other than God.
We are to imitate God because we are His beloved children. Beloved (ἀγαπητός; agapetos) means to be the object of God’s self-sacrificial love of the will (Ephesians 2:1-10). Beloved is another word for grace. It is on the basis of God’s gracious love that believers are His offspring. He is our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9).
It is because we are God’s children by grace that we are to live lifestyles of grace. Believers are commanded to walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) or behave in love (ἀγάπη; agape). Paul sets forth the character of this type of love life in I Corinthians 13:1-8.
We live in love as Jesus Christ loved (ἀγαπάω; agapao) us when we were spiritually dead sinners (Ephesians 2:1-3). The phrase gave himself up for us (παραδίδωμι; paradidomi) refers to Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross on behalf of sinners (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-10; I Peter 2:24-25).
Christ’s substitutionary atonement is compared to a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. A fragrant offering (προσφορά; prosphora) is a sacrifice and presentation to God (Acts 21:26; 24:17; Rom. 15:16; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:5, 8, 10, 14, 18). A sacrifice (θυσία; thysia) is another word for an offering to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 13:1; Acts 7:41; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 10:18; Eph. 5:2; Php. 4:18; Heb. 5:1; 9:26; 10:1; 13:15, 16; 1 Peter 2:5). This is what our lives are to be unto the Lord.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Christ’s offering of himself for fallen man pleased and glorified his heavenly Father, because it demonstrated in the most complete and perfect way God’s sovereign, perfect, unconditional, and divine kind of love. Leviticus describes five offerings commanded by God for Israel. The first three were: 1) the burnt offering (Lev. 1:1–17), depicting Christ’s perfection; 2) the grain offering (Lev. 2:1–16), depicting Christ’s total devotion to God in giving his life to please the Father; and 3) the peace offering (Lev. 3:1–17), depicting his peacemaking between God and man. All three of these were a “pleasing aroma to the LORD” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 2:2, 9, 12; 3:5, 16). The other two offerings, the sin offering (Lev. 4:1–5:13) and the guilt, or trespass, offering (Lev. 5:14–6:7), were repulsive to God because, though they depicted Christ, they depicted him as bearing sin (cf. Matt. 27:46). In the end, when redemption was accomplished, the whole work pleased God completely.”
May each of us strive today to please the Lord as children of God. This is our great privilege because of our gracious position. With great privilege comes great responsibility.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!