What are the implications of Paul's teachings for setting ethical standards?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ethics, also known as "moral philosophy" is essentially the philosophy of setting standards for right and wrong behavior.  The apostle Paul, in his many New Testament letters to early Christian churches, presented practical and applicable advice for how to live, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is one very common passage of New Testament scripture referred to in the church because it contains various lessons and practical advice about how to live as a believer.  One theme of the entire letter is unity within the body of believers.  Paul's overall message and broken down lessons teach believers how to live peaceably with one another, with unbelievers, and with their families.  Essentially, this letter is all about how to live effectively in a community.

One specific message deals directly with communication.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. (Ephesians 4:29)

The context of these passages comes with an encouragement to the Ephesians to stop living the way the used to live.  We can infer that this is a group of people who were struggling in arguments, anger with one another, and "unwholesome" talk.  The practical implications here are that none of these things allow for effective communication and as a result, cause anger and division.  Paul is encouraging these men and women to think before they talk, be encouraging, to listen to one another, and to speak truthfully (rather than spread slanderous lies and gossip).  

Even outside of the Christian church, such advice is applicable on a secular ethical ground.  Even people who do not support the teachings of Jesus Christ can agree that honesty, being forthcoming, listening, and thinking before speaking are habits which promote more effective communication, and therefore, a more peaceful community.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial