by Mike Ratliff
4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:4 (NASB)
What is this and is it that big a deal about using “coarse jesting” in a sermon? Here is Ephesians 5:4 from the NA28 Greek text, “καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία, ἃ οὐκ ἀνῆκεν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία.” Here is my translation, “also indecency and foolish talking or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather thanksgiving.” The word I translated here as “coarse jesting” is εὐτραπελία (eutrapelia). Some Bible translations render εὐτραπελία as “jesting.” This is the only place in the New Testament where this word is used. Let us dig a bit deeper.
Eutrapelia is a fascinating word. The prefix εὖ or eu means “good” or “well.” It is the prefix to our English words such as eulogy which speaks of “good works” and “eugenics,” which are “good genes,” for example. However, when it is combined with the root τρέπω (trepõ), which mean “to turn,” eutrapelia, then means “that which easily turns.” I have always been amazed at the method of attack from the apologists for apostate ministers and their ministries that I have tried to bring to light here in this ministry to warn the brethren.
Some used blunt force attack to be sure, but then again, some others attempted to appear to come along side and not appear threatening, but then their modus operandi was to take the pointed truths, the Biblical truths, I was making using God’s Word to shine His light into the darkness of apostasy, turn them away or diffuse them by insisting on us “not being so serious” or trying to say that we were taking something that was only a side issue and making it the main issue so they attempted to make a joke of it to draw the issue to something else or they would try to make a joke of it to make it look like no one could possibly know the truth about all of this so lets just have fun, et cetera. You get the idea. It was all an attempt to deflect attention away from what was being exposed using jesting as the method of attack.
I find it tragic that some professing Christians refuse to listen to certain preaching if it isn’t entertaining enough for them. I challenge anyone to read the teachings and sermons from our Lord and the Apostles in the New Testament or the Prophets in the Old Testament and see if they attempted in any way to “break the ice” or warm up their audience with a joke or sprinkle in humor throughout their sermon in order to keep people connected. Why didn’t they do that? They understood that sin, salvation and doctrine are not funny. They are life and death issues that must be presented with reverence, sobriety and gravity. People who need humor do not love truth. People who attempt to use humor to deflect the truth either hate or fear the truth or both.
Soli Deo Gloria!