14/01/18 Ephesians 6:1-9 “Unity in the Church needs unity in the households”
Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
obey – listen to; harken to; harken to a command; be obedient to; submit to.
right – just; righteous; observing divine laws; acting according to the commands of God; approved of or acceptable of God; faultless.
obey ….. in the Lord – be obedient according to your obligation to obey God. See:
Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
“Children be obedient to your parents as you would obey the Lord, for this is acceptable to God.”
Parents in the Lord could also mean that whenever a godly parent gave a godly command, this was to be obeyed as if the child were serving God. Not all marriages were holy, though, so at times children may have had conflicts between godly and ungodly commands. But note the following:
1 Corinthians 7:14 – For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Ephesians 6:2-3 – 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
This quotes the 5th commandment with an added comment in brackets.
Exodus 20:12 – Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Deuteronomy 5:16 – Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
This is the first (the only one, in fact) of the commandments that adds a promised blessing for obedience.
Honour – honour; value; revere; venerate.
first – first in time; first in importance or influence; chief; principal; first in rank.
promise – or blessing
earth – ge (the ground; the earth; a country; territory; region)
“Honour (Value; Revere) your father and mother; which is the principal (or main) commandment with a promised blessing, that it might be well (prosperous) with you, and that you might live long on the earth (your days might be prolonged).”
It is clear though that while this promise appears to indicate a long life physically, not all obedient children do live long lives! However, a life lived in obedience to God is unlikely to result in illnesses and diseases contracted by godless living (such as drugs or alcohol), and this promise may simply be talking about living the full lifetime as planned by God without shortening it through sinful living. In other words, God has given all of us a certain measure of life, but we may, through disobedience and carelessness, cut it short. Note our appointment with death as per
Hebrews 9:27 – And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Ephesians 6:4 – And, ye fathers (or parents), provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
provoke … to wrath – parorgizo (to rouse to wrath; provoke; exasperate; anger) Stir up trouble!
nurture – paideia (the whole training and education of children; instruction for increased virtue; chastisement; chastening)
Translated as “instruction” in 2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
and “chastening” in Hebrews 12:5 – And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
bring …. up – nourish; nourish up to maturity; nurture; bring up.
“And, you fathers, do not provoke to wrath (stir up trouble or anger; exasperate) your children, but (instead) bring them up (provide them with nourishment in order to grow to maturity, notably spiritual maturity) in the nurture (training and education including chastisement so they will increase in virtue) and admonition (or exhortation) of the Lord.”
A similar phrase (different Greek though) is used in Colossians 3:21 – Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged.
Certainly chastening is permitted, which could provoke some measure of wrath from the child, yet provoking to wrath for the sake of provocation itself is not permitted.
A related word for “wrath” (parorgismos) is used in the following:
Ephesians 4:26-27 – 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.
It does appear as if the context of today’s passage is aimed at avoiding the relationship conflicts that could open the way for Christians to give way to the devil through sin, including anger. In fact, that’s where this passage is leading: into the passage on the whole armour of God which we will commence upon next time.
Ephesians 6:5 – Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Servants – doulos (slave; bondman; servant; attendant; metaphorically: one who gives himself up to another’s will; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests)
be obedient – see “obey” in Ephesians 6:1 above
masters – kurios (Lord; lord; master; supreme or sovereign one; one who has control of a person or thing; the possessor and disposer of a person or thing; title given by servants to their master; title given to God the Messiah)
Translated “the Lord” in Matthew 1:22 – Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
and as “Sir” in John 4:49 – The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
kurios is used 7 times in today’s passage: Eg “the Lord” (vs 4) and “masters” and “Master” (vs 9).
masters according to the flesh – Those who have the physical (fleshly) power of possession and disposal over their servants and slaves.
fear – phobos (fear; dread; terror; reverence)
trembling – tromos (a trembling or quaking with fear)
Philippians 2:12 – Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
singleness – singleness; simplicity; sincerity; mental honesty; free from pretence and hypocrisy.
“Servants, be obedient to (submit in order to obey) them that are your masters (lords; those who hold your lives in their hands) according to the flesh (have physical control of you); (be obedient) in fear (terror or reverence) and trembling (quaking with fear), being single-minded without hypocrisy in your hearts, (serving them) as you would serve Christ.”
The slaves’ (or hired servants’) masters only had power over their physical beings. The masters could sell, injure or even kill the body, but he had no such control (or should have no such control) over their spiritual beings. It brings to mind a similar comparison between those of the world, and the eternal judge, God.
Matthew 10:28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Ephesians 6:6 – Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
eyeservice – ophthalmodouleia (service performed [only] under the master’s eyes, for the master’s eye usually stimulates to greater diligence; his absence, on the other hand, renders sluggish) That is, only being obedient when you are being watched.
menpleasers – studying to please man; courting the favour of men.
Galatians 1:10 – For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
That is, if you are a manpleaser, then you’ll carry out eyeservice for your master. But if you are the servant of Christ, then you’ll do all things according to the will of God from your heart (that is, truly, without hypocrisy). See Colossians 3:23. Also note:
Colossians 3:22 – Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Such people will do excellent work even when no-one can see them or their work, even when no-one will ever see their work.
Ephesians 6:7 – With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
goodwill – or “kindness”
doing service – douleuo (to be a slave; serve; do service; to obey; submit to; can mean to yield to temptation or giving one’s self up to something bad) Related to doulos (servant; slave)
Whatever you do when serving man will demonstrate your service to God. If you say you’re a Christian, then act like it! (Especially when serving others.)
Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
“With good will (kindness) doing service (submitting to others) as if you were serving God, and not just men.”
Ephesians 6:8 – Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.
bond – doulos
free – eleutheros (freeborn; not a slave; not bound by an obligation; in an ethical sense: free from the yoke of Mosaic law)
1 Corinthians 7:39 – The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
Note the following where to be the servant of the Lord was to be truly free. MacArthur obviously ignored this passage when he wrote “Slave”!
1 Corinthians 7:22 – For he that is called in the Lord, [being] a servant (doulos), is the Lord’s freeman (apeleutheros): likewise also he that is called, [being] free (eleutheros), is Christ’s servant (doulos).
That is, a servant of the Lord is not a slave of the Lord, and he that is called to serve, being not a slave of the Lord, is Christ’s servant.
For whatever good work you do (in service to others), you will receive the same response (blessing?) from the Lord, regardless of whether you are bond (slave; servant) or free (freeborn; not a slave). God doesn’t repay differently just because you are a slave and another is a freeborn man. He is impartial; He judges you for what you do, not who you are. (See Ephesians 6:9 below)
Also, if you do right and are punished for it, this is acceptable with God, that a man should endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
1 Peter 2:18-21 – 18 Servants, [be] subject to [your] masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this [is] thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Ephesians 6:9 – And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
forbearing – to send back; relax; loosen; give up; omit; not uphold.
Hebrews 13:5b – for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Acts 16:26b – and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
respect of persons – respect of persons; partiality. We could call it being unfair.
“And you who are their masters (lords) do the same things to them (treat them as you would like them to treat you in that situation), forbearing (omitting) threatening, knowing that your master (Lord) also (indeed) is in heaven; neither is there any respect of persons (partiality; unfairness) with (from) Him.”
God does not treat you any differently just because you are a slave or servant. Often being a slave was simply a matter of what family or society you were born into. You do not receive a lesser inheritance from God because you happened to be a slave. Nor do you get special preferential treatment from God because you were born to a ruling family.
If you are a master (lord) of slaves (servants), think about how you would like God to treat you, for you serve God in the same way that the slave or servant serves you! Treat them not only as you would like them to treat you if the positions were reversed, but also consider how you would like God to treat you (as His slave or servant), and treat your slaves (or servants) accordingly.
And at this point in Ephesians, Paul considers that they have had sufficient instruction on how to live proper Christian lives in unity with each other in the body of Christ, the Church. Now he is ready to tackle the problem of how to overcome all the pressures they are going to face in order to live at peace with each other, Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).
We have an enemy (the devil, satan) who hates man because man has dominion over all the earth, something satan can never have. Satan, or course, knows this all too clearly, and so he strives for the next best thing: dominion over all those who have that dominion over all the earth! If he cannot have dominion, then he’ll rule those who do. If he can take control of those who do have dominion, then he can dictate what they do with their dominion. It isn’t exactly the same as having dominion, but it’s the best satan can hope for. If only he can control all mankind, then he can at least make some sort of claim to having dominion over all the earth.
However, it’s never been quite as simple as all that, as satan has found out over the centuries. While man is quick to rebel against God, he is also just as quick to rebel against anything else that tries to tell him what to do. And, there have always been those who have refused to bend the knee to satan.
1 Kings 19:18 – Yet I have left [me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
In every generation there have been faithful men and women who have not bent the knee to Baal. Such people have, by their faithfulness to God, made themselves enemies of satan. Such people prevent satan from gaining his complete supremacy over all the earth. Kings and rulers who have been inspired by satan to do his dirty work for him (read “have handed over their dominion to satan for him to use and abuse”) throughout history have tried to wipe out those pesky irritating people of God who just won’t bend the knee. Rulers such as King Herod, and, in more modern times, Hitler and Stalin, to name a few. Believers such as Shadrack etc, Daniel, Elijah, Paul, were to stand up against those who served satan, not fearing what the enemy might do; choosing instead to serve God in fear and trembling.
Hebrews 11:36-38 – 36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
In the great tribulation satan will attempt to gain the control over every person on earth at that time. If he can’t control them, he’ll get rid of them. All who oppose him will be put to death, if caught. And ultimately, at the very end of the tribulation, satan will gather his forces under the leadership of the antichrist and march against that one last stronghold of his enemy, the city of God, Jerusalem. But even then he’ll be unable to gain supremacy. Jesus the Messiah comes back to earth (the second coming) to protect and defend His people, those who have not bent the knee to Baal. But, while it has been those of the people of the Church for 2000 years or more who haven’t bent the knee to Baal, during the tribulation it’ll be those of Israel once again who refuse to bend the knee. Starting with the 144,000 sealed (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes – see Revelation 7:2-10), and the two prophets in the streets of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1-12), to those at the end who give God (and not satan) the glory after that great earthquake in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:13), satan just cannot overthrow those of God who stand their ground and refuse to hand over the victory, even when things look as bad as they could ever get.
However, satan only has to get a foothold which he will use as a foundation for building greater control of a person’s life. Satan and his demons are termed occult, that is, secret or hidden. They work most effectively when they are occult (hidden from your senses). The less you know of their activities, the more effectively they can work on taking control. So it is obvious that satan (and his demons) must put in a significant amount of effort in order to maintain that secrecy. This particularly applies to Christians who should have at least some knowledge of satan and his workings. Christians are like soldiers in the army, supposedly more effective than civilians who generally know little or nothing about warfare against the enemy. (Of course, this assumes that Christians have been properly trained to fight, and that they are willing to put their training into practice.)
But this enemy fights with stealth, sneaking up upon his prey unawares (see Galatians 2:4; Jude 4; 1 Peter 5:8), ambushing unwary Christians, attacking them before they are fully aware of what is happening. And it’s not necessarily big issues that ambush Christians; instead it is generally the little “insignificant” sins that start the rot. It’s like white ants that start chewing away a small hidden section of wood, and you just don’t know they’re there, until you push on that bit of wood and the paint cracks, and all of a sudden you have a massive gaping hole! If only we could see white ants out in the open before they could do so much destruction. (Like that road out to the clifftop carpark at Loch Ard Gorge; the sea had eaten away most of the rock underneath! But no-one knew until it was almost too late.)
Paul has written to the Ephesians trying to emphasise the need for unity in the Church, especially Jews and Gentiles, but also those other seemingly insignificant problems of lack of unity in the families of the Church. I think he’s saying that if we want unity in the Church, we have to start with ourselves and those “insignificant” sins. If we as individuals do not give place to the devil, then the Church as a whole will not give place to the devil. And that’s where we are heading toward next time.