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Ephesians 6:1-9 (web)

Proper Role Relationships

Behaving Properly at Home and on the Job

6:1 Children,
obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
6:2 "Honor your father and mother,"
which is the first commandment with a promise:
6:3 "that it may be well with you,
and you may live long on the earth." (Deut 5:16)
6:4 You fathers,
don't provoke your children to wrath,
but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
6:5 Servants,
be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters,
with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ;
6:6 not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men-pleasers;
but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
6:7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men;
6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does,
he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is bound or free.
6:9 You masters,
do the same things to them, and give up threatening,
knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,
and there is no partiality with him.


vs 1

Xref Col 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."
Does "in the Lord" just refer to just obeying Christian parents? vs 2-3
Is this promise a guarantee to long life and prosperity?
If so, how do you explain why many devout Christians, not to mention Jesus Himself, died at a young age without material prosperity?
Paul indicates that we are to obey the 5th commandment. But this is in the Law. As Christians, aren't we free from the Law?
vs 4
How would you define a father's realm of authority over his children?
"exasperate": 3949 parorgizo {par-org-id'-zo} to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, anger
Xref: Ro 10:19 "But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you."
Xref: Col 3:21 "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
2042 erethizo {er-eth-id'-zo} to stir up, excite, stimulate, to provoke
How do fathers make their children angry? What are they angry about?
Why is the command for "training and instruction" given to fathers here, and not mothers?
What is the role of a father and how might it differ from a mother?
What kind of training and instruction have you received from your father?
vs 5
In today's society, many consider "slavery" to be the worst sin against humanity.
Why doesn't Paul take this stand? Is "slavery" sin?
What might be some modern day equivalents of slaves? (employees, graduate students, people in dept (prov 22:7))
How might one show respect?
1Ti 6:1 "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;"
Tit 2:9 "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."
1Pe 2:18 "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."
vs 6
Have you ever noticed your behavior change when your boss is around?
vs 7-8
Since even secular work is considered working for the Lord, might you consider yourself a full-time Christian worker?
However, what "good" is your secular work accomplishing?
Or is the priority not on what is done, but on the manner in which it is done?
vs 9
How would you define a master's realm of authority over his slave?
Xref: Col 4:1 "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."
Since we are all God's slaves, how would you characterize the way God has treated you as His slave?
Favoritism: One what basis are people evaluated in this society?
One what basis does God evaluate them?


Because it is right

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

A child may ask his parents, "Why should I obey you?". There may be a number of reasons why, but fundamentally because it is the right thing to do. It is characteristic of the righteous to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. And this is what children should be taught - that there is a right thing to do, and you should want to do the right thing. In fact this is quite a mature motivation. For the immature are generally motivated by anticipating what they get out of it and not because such behavior is inherently good and right in itself. God is good and righteous not because of the benefits he gets out of it, but because it's inherent in his nature to be good and to do what is right.

In Col 3:20 Paul gives an additional motivation for children, writing, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Children are to come to understand that they can exercise behaviors that please the Lord to varying degrees, and that they should desire to please the Lord. It is good and a right thing to seek to please the Lord. "So we make it our goal to please him." 2Cor 5:9

Now as for the phrase "in the Lord", it does not say "who are in the Lord", and thus is not limiting this to Christian parents. Rather I believe Paul is alluding to an idea of which I had previously covered, namely the idea that human authority only has a limited realm of authority outside of which it does not hold legitimate authority. To obey your parents "in the Lord" means that your obedience is with regards to the legitimate realm of authority the Lord has granted your parents over you, regardless of whether your parents are Christian or not; that is, obedience with regards to things which are not contrary to the Lord's will.

Live Long and Prosper

Eph 6:2,3  "Honor your father and mother"— which is the first commandment with a promise—  "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."(Deut 5:16)

Here's an additional motivation for obeying your parents; namely because generally speaking those who honor their parents are better off for it. Parents characteristically have their children's best interest in mind. Which is not to say that they will necessarily act in accordance with what their children are interested in, but rather in accordance to what is best for their children. For given that "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" Pr 22:15, it is necessary they be trained to do what is right and good. "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Pr 22:6 Children that are untrained may literally end up dead. They may get involved wiht the wrong people, get involved with crime, drugs, sexual promiscuity, or the like, and end up if not dead, end up living a miserable life with miserable eternal consequences.

The immature are generally under the foolish impression that "enjoying life" constitutes fulfilling the desires of their sinful nature. But they fail to consider the long term consquences, issues of fate, corruption to one's spirit and one's conscience, one's mind and body. And while they may experience temporal pleasure, they miss out on what life is really about, and it's not about living for pleasure. The wicked are "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2Tim 3:4 and "the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives." 1Tim 5:6

Don't be too severe

Eph 6:4  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Likewise Paul writes, "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Col 3:21 While there are fathers who take little interest in their children, those who love their children have to be careful not to be too overbearing and demanding, or just plain annoying. Children are more emotionally fragile and impressionable than adults. Mothers are more in tuned to the emotional aspects of raising children, and by nature are generally more gentle than fathers. But children tend to listen to their father more so than to their mother. So fathers keep this is mind, your children may take you more seriously than you think. A passage related to this verse, that may be instructive to us all as we are being trained as children of God is Heb 12:5-11

"'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

So fathers, discipline your children, but do not exasperate them.

Serve Your Boss Wholeheartedly

Eph 6:5-8  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

In those days, the authority that masters had over slaves was rather extensive. Today there is the employer/employee relationship which is similar, but the employer's realm of authority quite limited in comparison. Nonetheless the principles of subordination and submission apply. In the Bible, Daniel and Joseph are good examples of serving under secular authority, men who submitted wholeheartedly without compromising their convictions.

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." Col 3:22 This is to serve with sincerity of heart. A good Christian employee is to align his will, his desires and intentions with regards to his secular job, to that of his boss, seeking not for his own success, but the success of his boss, without compromising his Christian principles. He is to be trustworthy and reliable among other things.

What if your boss is inconsiderate? "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Peter 2:18 There's reward in doing so. "If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20,21

"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive."Titus 2:9,10

Today in which the concepts of subordination and submission are bad words, these attributes are nonetheless highly valued assets among employers, just as they are for men seeking a wife. Such a servant is a rare commodity today. The way you serve on the job effects how you influence others. "All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered."1Tim 6:1 In fact conversely if you serve well, that may influence others to be open and investigate what the Bible says.

And besides, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col 3:23,24

A Word to Employers

Eph 6:9 "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."

Col 4:1 "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."

The relationship between master and slave is well modeled in the Christian's relationship with God. In fact many of Jesus' parables utilize a master/slave scenario in speaking of spiritual principles. An evil task master is portrayed in the Pharoah of Egypt who did not even provide straw for the Israelites to make bricks. If employers want their employers to accomplish a task, they should make sure their employees have the necessary resources to do so. Abusive employers will have to give an account of themselves one day. With authority comes responsibility. And with responsibility comes accountability. Christian employers should not be in the habit of threatening their employees. Not to mention it's a poor business practice, and usually does little to increase productivity in the long term. In fact the best companies look out for their employees interests, financial and otherwise.

Naturally with all positions of authority come the temptations of pride and prejudice, or a sense of entitlement. Christians in authority need to keep these desires of the sinful nature in check. Practice humility. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Php 2:3,4

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Sep 03,2020