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Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

What are some examples of jesting? Is it a sin or is it just inconvenient?

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Ephesians 5:4 New International Version

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

The Greek original can be used positively or negatively.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 2160: εὐτραπελία
εὐτραπελία, ἐυτραπελιας, ἡ (from εὐτράπελος, from εὖ, and τρέπω to turn: easily turning; nimble-witted, witty, sharp), pleasantry, humor, facetiousness ((Hippocrates), Plato, rep. 8, p. 563a.; Diodorus 15, 6; 20, 63; Josephus, Antiquities 12, 4, 3; Plutarch, others); in a bad sense, scurrility, ribaldry, low jesting (in which there is some acuteness): Ephesians 5:4; in a milder sense, Aristotle, eth. 2, 7, 13; (ἡ εὐτραπελία πεπαιδευμενη ὕβρις ἐστιν, rhet. 2, 12, 16 (cf. Cope, in the place cited); cf. Trench, § xxxiv.; Matt. Arnold, Irish Essays etc., p. 187ff (Speech at Eton) 1882).

The word εὐ-τραπελία literally means "good-turn" to metaphorically denotes witty humor.

Let's see the context:

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. a 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

Paul's tone is rather serious here. The good-turn witty humor is appreciated by non-believers. When it is along the line of obscenity, there is no place for any of such witty humor. Paul upholds a high standard for Christians.

Is it a sin or is it just inconvenient?

For Paul, such a person is an idolater, worthy of condemnation.

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BDAG defines the noun εὐτραπελία (eutrapelia) as -

(only in a bad sense), course joking, risqué wit.

Eph 5:4 is the only place this word occurs in the NT.

Despite the classical Greeks encouraging such conversation (verging on the bawdy), Paul deems it entirely out of place. WHY? Because in such biting wit, however, clever, someone is always the victim (or butt of the joke) and this is belittled. Further, such "wit" often depends upon its somewhat salacious conduct.

As earlier sated by Paul such behavior is out of place for two significant reasons:

  • V1 - "Be imitators of God" - that is, Jesus would not do and say such things
  • V3 - "there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,"

None of this is to suggest that wholesome humor is wrong. However, it must not demean nor be risqué/salacious.

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