Rev Stephen Caddick Mid-week Bible Study 14 th October 2020 Ephesians ch6 v1-9
The Bible is not just fuel for theological discussion, it is filled with practical wisdom that impacts every aspect of our lives. It is not just a list of do’s and don’ts but it encourages a transformation of our hearts that impacts our relationships and society. Last week we began to look at how we do not live out the Christian life in isolation, with a brief look at Pauls teaching on husbands and wives. This week we continue to study the relational aspect of Christianity by looking at two more foundational relationships in society parents and children and servants and masters. Not only are we presented with the perfect way to treat one another, there is something about God’s very character that is represented here. God is the good and perfect father, out of His love for us He came into the world as a child. He is the kind master, and incredibly the humble s ervant. This passage can be difficult to read at times as we consider inequalities that exist in our fallen world, but there is an underlying theme of respect and love as Paul teaches on Godly relationships on earth, whilst also presenting our relationship to God.
V1-4 Children and parents, after husbands and wives this must be one the most fundamental of all relationships. Again Paul presents it as two halves of a whole, both need to fulfil God’s perfect plan to work properly. Children honour their parents, parents treat their children wisely and with love. Children are exhorted to obey their parents because it is God’s will, it is a command, but a command with a wonderful promise. Read Deuteronomy ch5 v16, this is the first command with a promise. Can we come to God, our loving Heavenly Father, as His children, confident that He knows what is best for us. Do we trust His word, and His promises? Read Jeremiah ch29 v11. Jesus taught His disciples that God is a good Father longing to give good gifts to His children read Mathew ch7 v11. Fathers are commanded not to provoke their children with harsh or unjust treatment. They are to reflect the Father Heart of God. There is a place for Godly discipline and instruction, in particular instructing them in the word of God. The Greek word used here for discipline carries with it the idea of nourishing and cherishing. Many Christians can testify that it was the upbringing and encouragement of Godly parents that had the greatest influence on them. It is not just our words but our actions and attitudes that speak the loudest.
V5-9 At this time a third of the population of a city like Ephesus would be made up of slaves. They would have been an integral part of the family, it is natural that Paul would have included them in his teaching about the family. In both Greek and Roman culture slaves had limited rights and were subject to exploitation. Paul does not condone this system. He gives practical guidance to both slaves and masters on how to live in a way that honours the Lord. Verse 9 is revolutionary, Paul tells masters that they have the same Master in Heaven and He has no favourites. This gives equality to all men. Slavery died out in this area during antiquity, due in no small part to the influence of Christianity. When it again reared its ugly head in the 1700’s Christians such as Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect were at the forefront of the fight to abolish slavery. Verse 7 calls us to do everything with enthusiasm as if we were doing it for the Lord. When life feels like a slog, maybe we have to do tasks that we don’t particularly enjoy, our attitude can be transformed if we see that we are doing these things for the Lord. Maybe we are doing things that no one notices or thanks us for but God sees and will reward our efforts. Read Colossians ch3 v17, and Philippians ch4 v13. How do these verses transform the way you are feeling about the things that you have to do this week? If you are in authority in any way, maybe at work, or in the church does your attitude to others need to come under the spotlight of these verses? Read Mark ch10 verses42-45, here Jesus teaches His disciples what true leadership and servanthood mean. Again Jesus is turning the old order upside down. Imagine for a moment how this teaching on relationships could have transformed the homes of the early Christians, would people have noticed that they were different? Now as then our lives, and our homes need to shine as beacons in a darkening world. Yes we will never be perfect, we make mistakes but our love for the Lord and for each other, should be evident in the way we relate to each other and treat one another.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew ch5 v14-16