Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Note 34 at Eph 5:20: Giving thanks and praise are very closely related. It is impossible to really praise the Lord without being thankful for all that God has done and will do. If we remove thankfulness from our spiritual songs (see note 32 at Eph 5:19), then it is easy to descend into depressing songs that glorify our problems instead of praising the Lord. This scripture is not encouraging us to sing "Christian blues."
Note 35 at Eph 5:20: This is one of those verses that has been used to teach that everything that happens to us, especially bad things, come from God. Otherwise, why would Paul instruct us to give thanks to God for them? That is not what this verse is saying.
Paul expected the Ephesians to understand that they were not to praise God for evil in their lives. That would void many other teachings in which they were already established (see note 7 at Ro 8:28). It is appropriate to praise God always and in every situation, but not for every situation.
In this very verse, Paul said we are to give thanks "unto God and the Father." Does that mean our heavenly Father is someone other than God? Was he talking about two different personalities? Certainly not! The wording is a little awkward, but nobody uses this verse to teach that there is a God and a Father. Clear teaching elsewhere in Scripture forbids rational people from coming to those conclusions.
We often say words that, if dissected and analyzed too literally, would give the wrong impression. For instance, in an effort to justify our actions, most of us have said, "Everyone is doing it." Do we really mean that every single person in the world has done what we are talking about? Certainly not! And anyone who would try to base an argument against us on that reasoning would be considered foolish. It is understood by everyone that this is not a literal statement (see note 6 at Mr 1:5).
In Paul's wildest imaginations, he probably never anticipated people believing that rape, murder, and a multitude of other problems are all blessings from God for which we are supposed to give thanks, and he therefore saw no need to make his statement any clearer.
Once again, the epistle to the Colossians is a twin letter to this one written to the Ephesians (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Ephesians). In Col 3:16, Paul said the same thing that he said in Eph 5:19. Then, he followed in Col 3:17 by expressing the same thought that is made here in Eph 5:20. In Colossians, it is very clear that he was just encouraging thanksgiving to God and not teaching that every terrible thing that happens in our lives is the will of God. That is the point he also made here in Eph 5:20.
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