Ephesians 6:1-9 Obedience and Submission

To live a life pleasing to God, we must pay attention, each of us, to our conscience as well as God’s leading in our lives. But with those two principles firmly in mind, are you submissive to those in authority and fellow Christians?

6:1  Children, be obeying 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  so that it may be well with you and you will exist long on the earth.

6:4 And fathers, stop provoking your children to anger, but nourish them with training and counsel (or warnings) of the Lord.

6:5  Slaves, submit to those who are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ,

 6:6  not according to eye-service, as a man-pleaser, but as slaves of Christ, continually doing the will of God from the soul,

To be an eye-pleaser, that is do what your boss wants when he is looking and to slack off when he is not looking is to play the hypocrite. It implies in essence that you don’t think God sees or that He cares.

6:7  with good service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one might do, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

This is a reassuring verse. In essence it declares that any good thing we do will be repaid to us by the Lord. That includes doing your job well, even though stricktly-speaking it might not be viewed as “Christian service.”

Actually, there is no division for the Christian between secular and “Christian.” It is all Christian, all spiritual, every part of life.

6:9  And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threats, knowing that both their Master (literally: Lord) and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

“No partiality” has to do with status, a person’s looks, (literally: face) or external circumstances. That word partiality is an interesting one; it is a combination of words tht mean “receive” and “face.”  In the Old Testament the idea in this compound Greek word was expressed in one translation by “God looketh not on the face.”  In other words, to “receive the face” means to be impressed by looks or externals, for example, more that a person’s character. Are you impressed with celebrity? God is not impressed by many of this things we tend to admire.

Summary: These verses are practical, covering day to day behavior, and straight-forward, that is require little elaboration.

But there are a few additional take-aways that can be seen within them.

God takes authority seriously.

We can see this in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey those who rule over you and be submissive…” And also in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-22. And that includes Christian leaders, civil authorities, parents and bosses at work. God does not like rebellion. So if you become involved in a rebellion or are considering it, proceed with care. Be sure your motives are right before the Lord.

Some authorities, sometimes, are not to be obeyed.

This does not mean that you must give all authorities carte blanche, that is automatically do whatever they tell you even if it violates your conscience. An obvious example: those Nazis who obeyed their leaders and participated in the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. Putting it mildly, I don’t think they pleased God in so doing. A few decades back those who obeyed the US President and participated in the Watergate incident were held accountable because they disobeyed the law.

So “obedience” and “submission” in these verses mean as a general rule. It does not include doing what you are convinced is wrong.

These words can also teach us that we are not a law unto ourselves, a little king or and queen who answers to no one. True, each of us as a believer in the Lord Jesus has authority. But that authority needs to be accompanied with humility, and that includes the submission that results in respect for others, no matter what their IQ or education or relative wealth accumulated or looks. Even an unbeliever is an image of the God who made him.

May we constantly be on the alert against the ever-present tendency to put our ego first and instead humbly listen to what others have to say.

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