Therefore He says, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Today’s verse quotes what the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” That verse looked forward to the Messiah, and Paul’s interpretation looks back to what Christ has done.
Many Bible commentators believe that Ephesians 5:14 is a line from an Easter hymn sung by the early church. They see it as an invitation—a gospel presentation. The sinner is the one who sleeps, and the invitation is to awake and arise. The Savior is Christ, who will give light.
Like Rip Van Winkle, men and women are sleeping through an age—an age of grace. When they wake up it will be too late. So Paul encourages them, as should we, to awake and arise from the dead.