Ephesians 6:1-9 (Children, Slaves and Masters)

Eph 6:1-4     Note: in Eph 6:1, “right” is the word that is usually translated righteous; what does this verse teach us about the way children practice righteousness?  Note on the practice of righteousness: Just as Jesus could not have been righteous without being subject to the Father, neither can husbands be righteous if they are not subject to Jesus, nor wives if they are not subject to their husbands, nor children if they are not subject to their parents.  What is the significance of “in the Lord”?  Does it mean that if our parents are not in the Lord we need not obey them?  See Luke 2:51, Rom 13:1-5, Acts 4:18-20, Mark 7:9-13.  Note:  The words “in the Lord” are absent from several early manuscripts and quotations of this verse by some of the early church fathers (but present in others).  What is the two-fold promise Paul mentions as accompanying the 5th commandment?  As parents, what are we to teach our children so that it may be well with them and they may live long, happy and productive lives? See Ps 34:11-14.  What does Eph 6:4 teach us about whose ultimate responsibility it is to bring children up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (KJV)?  What is “nurture” and why is it important in raising children?  See also Heb 12:5-11.  Note: KJV “nurture and admonition” = NASB “discipline and instruction”; the Greek word translated by the KJV “nurture” is most often translated as some form of “chastening”, and the word translated as “admonition” or “instruction” has to do with a warning (see 1 Cor 10:11 and Tit 3:10 for the only other NT occurrences).  Why is it important that such discipline and instruction be “of the Lord”; i.e., what is the danger if it is not?  What special command does Paul therefore give fathers in regard to raising their children?  See also Col 3:21.  Note: “provoke” means “rouse to anger” or “make resentful”.  Note also: the only other occurrence of the Greek word for “bring up” is found in Eph 5:29 for “nourish”, in reference to how a husband is to love his wife as his own body; again, if a husband is not in submission to the authority responsible for his own care, is it possible for him to responsibly care for those entrusted to his care?

Eph 6:5-9     Slavery is mentioned throughout the Bible as a common social institution, and was widely accepted throughout history since before the time of Joseph until fairly recently.  It was practiced by the Greeks, Romans, European nations, here in America, and is still found in some parts of the world even today.  Does the Bible in passages like this one (see also Col 3:22-4:1) condone slavery as permissible, as many churches prior to the civil war—even evangelical ones—believed?  (Note:  They argued in a manner similar to the way many do today in regard to divorce, that given the fallen state of mankind it was a necessary means of managing human affairs even though contrary to God’s best.  Some today argue that criminals ought rather to be reduced to servitude than imprisoned for their crimes, as a means of making restitution to their victims.)  Does the Bible promote slavery as desirable?  See 1 Cor 7:21, Philem 1:8-17.  Would slavery be as non-existent as it is today were it not for the ameliorating influence of Christian principles?  **See note below.  As the world increasingly rejects the influence of Christian morality, is it possible it will see a return of the slavery that has permeated almost all of human history?  What spiritual truths does the social institution of slavery teach us?  See Ex 13:3,14, 20:2, John 8:31-36, 1 Cor 7:22-23.  Since slavery is no longer practiced per se, to what are we to apply Paul’s words today?  Note: In many instances throughout history master-slave relationships differed little from the employer-employee relationships of today.  In what 10 ways does Paul describe in Eph 6:5-7 how Christians are to be obedient to their earthly masters?  See also Col 3:22-23.  Why should such describe our obedience to whatever authority we are under, whether children to their parents, wives to their husbands, or people in general to the government?  See Eph 6:8, Col 3:24.  What is the underlying principle to which Paul alludes three times in these verses that necessitates that our obedience to those who are in authority over us be sincere and from the heart?  See also Eph 5:22, Col 3:24b.  What important principle requires that those in positions of authority exercise it justly and with mercy and grace?  See Eph 6:9, Col 4:1.

** “People from every corner of the globe look across the seas and envy America.  They want what we have, but fail to understand what produced it – even homegrown Americans fail to understand what has given them such privilege.  They want the fruits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while, at the same time, hating its principles and practicing the religion that produced poverty and bondage in the land from which they fled.  But it is these things that are protected and advocated, while biblical Christianity and the tranquility, justice and morality that it produces are under attack from within and without.  The fruit cannot long remain when the root is destroyed. The benefits of the Gospel that our forefathers advocated cannot long be enjoyed if the foundations are abolished.”

Dick York, Shield of Faith Mission International, Jan/Feb 2005 Update

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