THE apostle Paul counseled the Christians in first-century Ephesus: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) Why was this counsel necessary? The answer to that question requires a knowledge of the conditions faced by Christians in that ancient city.
Ephesus was known for its outstanding wealth, gross immorality, rampant crime, and varied demonic activities. In addition, Christians there had to contend with philosophical beliefs regarding time. The non-Christian Greeks in Ephesus did not believe that time moved in a straight line. Greek philosophy had taught them that life was repeated in endless cycles. A person who squandered his time in one cycle of life could gain it all back in another cycle. This type of thinking could have induced Ephesian Christians to adopt a casual attitude toward Jehovah’s timetable of events, including his timetable for divine judgment. Hence, Paul’s counsel to ‘buy out the opportune time’ was appropriate.
Paul was not talking about time in just a general sense. The Greek word he used signifies an appointed time, a seasonable time for a specific purpose. Paul was counseling the first-century Christians to make wise use of the opportune period, or season of favor, they currently enjoyed, before its end would come and divine mercy and the offer of salvation would be withdrawn.—Romans 13:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11.
We are living in a similar opportune period of time. Rather than squander this never-to-be-repeated season of favor by pursuing the temporary pleasures offered by the world, Christians are wise if they use the time available to them to perform “deeds of godly devotion” and thus strengthen their relationship with the Creator, Jehovah God.—2 Peter 3:11; Psalm 73:28; Philippians 1:10.