Thielman, Frank. Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
Chapter 9, “A Reminder of How to Live as New Human Beings (4:17-5:2)” pp. 291-324.
Thielman points out the pattern of Ephesians as starting an idea, digressing, and returning to it. This happens again at Ephesians 4:17 where Paul returns to the theme of practical matters begun prior to chapter 4 verse 4 (Thielman 2010, 291). The practical instruction pertains to daily living, for which Paul uses the metaphor of being clothed (Ibid.). There follow seven exhortations for change, from lying in 4:25 to imitation of Christ in 5:2 (Ibid., 292).
First, in 4:17-24 the Ephesians walk as new people (Ibid., 294). Paul uses language which emphasizes his moral authority and prohibits a particular lifestyle he defines as “Gentile” (Ibid., 296) The issue is an internal one - trusting in their own ability or wisdom, without the knowledge of God (Ibid., 297). At its root, Christian faith is a transformative lifestyle, conforming the Ephesians into the image of Christ (Ibid., 300-301). This they do by putting off a series of works and putting on Christian virtues. The metaphor of clothing may be strengthened by that of baptism (Ibid., 303). This behavioral change is rooted in a renewed mind (Ibid., 305).
From Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Paul encourages the Ephesians to live “as human beings newly created in God’s image” (Ibid., 309). Here there is a progression of specific behaviors (Ibid., 310). The Ephesians were to avoid falsehood (Ibid., 311), deal appropriately with anger (Ibid., 313), not steal (Ibid., 315), to speak appropriately (Ibid., 316), and then to guard against specific angry reactions (Ibid., 318).
Thielman views Ephesians 5:1-2 as a summation of the various exhortations beginning at 4:17 (Ibid., 320). God’s people, re-created in Christ, imitate Jesus.