This section of the epistle is based on the command in Ephesian 5:18, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. Paul writes that one of the four consequences of being filled with the Spirit is that believers submit to one another, Eph 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. It is part of the mutual submission seen in the major groupings in the Christian family. We have already seen that submission referred to in the previous article in the mutual submission between husbands and wives. Now comes the next set of relationships showing the obligations that members of the Christian family have to each other.
1). Children Living in Submission to Parents. 6:1-3
i). It is the right thing to do. Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (See Note 1).
ii). Is a rewarding thing to do. Eph 6:2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), Eph 6:3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (See Note 2).
2). Fathers’ Responsibilities Towards Their Children. 6:4
i). The wrong approach. Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, (See Note 3).
ii). The right approach. but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (See Note 4).
3). Slaves’ Submission To Their Masters. 6:5-8
Why should they obey their masters? Eph 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, (See Note 5).
How should they obey? Eph 6:6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, (See Note 6).
Whom should they seek to please? Eph 6:7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, (See Note 7).
What benefit is there in obeying? Eph 6:8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
4). Masters’ Obligations To Their Slaves. 6:9
How to treat them. Eph 6:9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening,
Why? knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. (See note 8).
Note 1. “right” here is (dikaios), meaning here that it is right in the eyes of the Lord, or according to His will.
Note 2. This commandment was in the Decalogue or 10 Commandments given to Moses. (Exodus 20:12; Deut 5:16). Disobedience to parents was taken very seriously as we see in Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
Note 3. “provoke” (parorgízō) can mean to irritate or stir up to anger. Fathers had a duty not to “bait” their children or act towards them in such a way that they responded in anger.
Note 4. “discipline” is (paideia) used mainly for the training of a child and includes the concept of chastening or correction. “Instruction” is ( nouthesia) which also includes the idea of correction.
Note 5. “Sincere” is (haplótēs). This means being single-minded or faithful. Their single-mindedness in serving their masters should be the single-mindedness they would show in serving Christ Himself.
Note 6. The HCSB puts it, Eph 6:6 Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart.
Note 7. Believers should serve Christ in all they do, even when it is working for a secular boss.
Note 8. Paul saw Christian slaves and masters as brothers in Christ and both subject to their Heavenly Master. Submission to Him meant submission to each other in Him. Threatening was not appropriate for brothers in Christ.
Blog No.046. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 23rd November 2011