The Bible teaches God has assigned a limited amount of time for us to live in this world. David wrote, “in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for my life when as yet there was not one of them” (Psa 139:16). Job said a person’s “days are determined, the number of his months is with You” (Job 14:5). And David said, “LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am” (Psa 39:4). Paul said, “God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (Act 17:26). How we use our time is a matter of personal choice.
Concerning our use of time, Paul wrote, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16). Paul starts this instruction with the Greek verb βλέπω blepo, which the NASB translates as be careful. The Greek word basically denotes perception with the eye, but here refers to one’s mental state of alertness which, according to Louw & Nida, means “to be ready to learn about future dangers or needs, with the implication of preparedness to respond appropriately, to beware of, to watch out for, to pay attention to.” The form of the verb is present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. This means our being alert is to be an ongoing action, is produced by the Christian, and is a directive to be obeyed by faith.
Specifically, we are to be mindful of how we walk in this world. The word walk translates the Greek verb περιπατέω peripateo which is a metaphor for conduct. As Christians, we are to walk, “not as unwise men but as wise.” To walk unwisely (ἄσοφος asophos) is a possibility for any Christian, otherwise the statement is superfluous. The adjective, ἄσοφος asophos, according to BDAG, refers to “one who lacks the power of proper discernment, unwise, foolish.” The fool is not necessarily one who does not reason, but reasons wrongly. He lacks God’s Word as a reference point for reality and divine viewpoint. But we are to be wise (σοφός sophos), which denotes operating from divine viewpoint. As Christians, we are to possess and operate by the revelation of God’s Word which gives us insights into realities we could never know, except that God has spoken, and His Word directs every aspect of our lives (i.e., marriage, family, friends, work, finances, etc.). When we operate by divine viewpoint, we will prioritize our lives in such a way that God is glorified, others are edified, and we are sanctified. By living this way, we are “making the most” of our time, knowing “the days are evil.” The work making translates the Greek verb ἐξαγοράζω exagorazo, which is a commercial term that denotes purchasing an item from a market. Grant Osborne states, “The verb is a commercial metaphor used for purchasing a commodity, and it implies a period of vigorous trading while there is profit to be made…Here the intention is that we will use our time wisely, making every opportunity count.” And the form of the verb is in the present tense and middle voice. The present tense implies ongoing action, and the middle voice means we exercise our volition in such a way that we participate in the action and benefit from it. And what we are to regard as a precious commodity is time, which translates the Greek word καιρός kairos, which here denotes opportunities God places in our path. The same word is used elsewhere by Paul, who wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity [καιρός kairos]” (Col 4:5). And in Galatians he wrote, “So then, while we have opportunity [καιρός kairos], let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10). And why must we be so careful about the opportunities God provides? Paul’s answer was, “because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16b). Living in a fallen world means evil is always around us, seeking to draw us away from God and the stable ground of His Word. As Christians, we are to be on the alert, because evil people and spiritual traps abound. And believers who are ignorant of God’s Word and/or not paying attention to their activities become soft-targets for Satan’s forces. Concerning the evil days, Harold Hoehner states:
The days are evil because they are controlled by the god of this age (Eph 2:2) who opposes God and his kingdom and who will try to prevent any opportunities for the declaration of God’s program and purposes. Hence, in this present evil age believers are not to waste opportunities because this would be useless and harmful to God’s kingdom and to those who are a part of it…It is interesting to notice that he is not recommending that they fear the present evil age or avoid interaction with it. Rather his exhortation is to walk wisely in the evil days by seizing every opportunity. Unrelenting warfare exists between the God of heaven and the god of this age. In essence, believers are commanded not to let the god of this age intimidate them, but to take advantage of every opportunity in this immoral environment to live a life that pleases God (cf. Gal 2:10).
As Christians, we will face ongoing worldly distractions which are designed by Satan to prevent spiritual growth and hinder our impact for God in this world. As God’s children, we have choices to make on a daily basis, sometimes moment by moment, for only we can choose to allow these distractions to stand between us and the Lord. We must be disciplined with the time and opportunities God gives us, learning His Word and living by faith so that we can advance to spiritual maturity and serve as lights in a dark world (Eph 5:8-10). Every moment is precious and we must make sure our days are not wasted on meaningless pursuits, but on learning God’s Word, living His will, and loving those whom the Lord places in our path.
Dr. Steven R. Cook
- The Gospel Explained
- The Work of the Holy Spirit
- Restoring Fellowship with God
- A Look at Grace
- Walking with God
- Enjoying the Spiritual Life
- Biblical Self-Talk
- Knowing and Doing the Will of God
- The High Calling of God’s Servant
- The Armor of God
- The Life of Faith
- The Righteous Lifestyle of the Believer
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 332.
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 144.
 Grant R. Osborne, Ephesians: Verse by Verse, Osborne New Testament Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017), 178.
 This principle is true to life, for enemy forces on the battlefield, or criminals in the city, look for soft targets they can exploit for their own agenda. Knowing the enemy is present, understanding his tactics, maintaining personal preparedness and staying alert, makes you a hard-target which mitigates injury.
 Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 694–695.