Ephesians 6:1-9, Submission to Authority

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.  4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.  9 And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."

Introduction

Paul begins this section with an address to children.  This means that children are present in the reading and preaching of God's Word.  They are included in God's covenant.  Therefore, we could draw an implication that our sermons must be understood by children--at least to some degree.

Likewise, slaves and masters are present when this epistle is read to the congregation.  Paul seeks to address all of them under the topic of submission to authority.  Paul begins with children obeying their parents, and moves to slaves obeying their masters.  As children are under the parents and slaves are under the master, obedience is required.  Yet, the parents, who are over the children, and the masters over the slaves are given admonitions and requirements of proper conduct; for they, too, are under authority--the authority of God.

Paul works within the cultural structure and seeks to change it from within--rather than from without.  He does not advocate social rebellion.  On the contrary, he advocates obedience within cultural structures but seeks to change them from within by dealing with the hearts of its members.

  1. Family obligations
    1. Children are to obey parents
      1. v. 1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
      2. Other scriptures say the same thing:
        1. General:  Prov. 1:8, "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching."
        2. Of Christ to his parents:  Luke 2:51, "And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart."
        3. What if you're not obedient?  Prov. 30:17, "The eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it."
      3. To obey your parents is to obey the Lord.
        1. To obey your parents is to obey the Lord.  This is why Paul says "in the Lord."
        2. Likewise, to disobey parents is to disobey the Lord.
        3. To obey your parents is preparation for submission to the Lord.
        4. Furthermore, the obedience that you children give to your parents must come from the heart and must be conditioned upon obedience to the Lord Jesus.
          1. Jesus went to the cross in his obedience to buy us redemption, and this is the reason that you are to be obedient . . . as unto the Lord.
        5. The Lord often deals with the heart--not just the outward person.
    2. Is there ever a time to disobey parents? Yes!
      1. Children are to disobey their parents when they ask you to do something against God.
        1. On TV I saw a video clip of a mother teaching her child how to steal from stores.
      2. Children.  You are to honor your parents.
        1. vv. 2-3, "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth."
        2. Do you want to have a long and fulfilling life?  Then listened to the wisdom of your parents.  They are here to help you and to guide you--even if you think that sometimes they don't know what they're doing or talking about.
        3. Children, you need to understand that no one loves you as much as your parents do, except for the Lord, of course.  Their love for you is exceedingly strong.
          1. Your parents will even sacrifice their lives for you if necessary, and they will protect you.
          2. Story:  I remember one time in a store when a young toddler was left in a shopping cart and was about to fall out when I reached over and grabbed the child preventing him from crashing his head to the floor.  The mother turned around and saw a strange man holding her child, and I could see the anger in her eyes as she headed towards me.  Of course, I told her what happened . . . etc.
        4. Your parents have taken care of you, washed your dirty clothes, provided a home for you to live in, given you food and care, and taken care of you when you were sick
          1. Story:  When my eldest daughter was three years old, she, my wife, and I were on a jet at 30,000 feet on our way to go for a church pastor interview.   My daughter started to get sick, and she ended up getting sick all over me . . . etc.
      3. Conclusions about Children
        1. God wants you children to obey your parents because your parents are wiser and more experienced than you and because God wants you to be raised in a godly way.
          1. If you children are rebellious in the home, you will probably be rebellious in society.
          2. If you do not learn that there are consistent rights and wrongs in the home, then you will not value the laws of society.
          3. If you learned to be disobedient and disrespectful to your parents, you will be disobedient and disrespectful in society.
            1. Often, the results of such unruly and unwise behavior leads to jail or financial problems, marital problems, and other difficulties.
        2. It is under the parents where children learn respect, honor, trustworthiness, and develop their work ethic.
        3. It is under the parents where children are supposed to be trained to become members of society.
        4. It is under the parents where children learn that there is an authority over
          them--their parents--and that this authority reflects the ultimate authority of God over us all.
        5. This is why God tells you to obey their parents.  It is because God loves you and desires your well-being.
          Children, your calling before God is obvious and necessary even though it may not always be pleasant being corrected, disciplined, and loved.

          ****  Paul does not stop with the children.  Though the children are to obey their parents in all that is godly and honorable to God, fathers are not to misuse their authority.
    3. Fathers (parents) don't provoke the children
      1. v. 4,  "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
      2. There are different ways to provoke your children to anger.
        1. You can provoke your children to anger by showing favoritism among the children by being overprotective, overcritical, neglectful, verbally abusive, or even physically abusive.
        2. We fathers must guard ourselves and constantly be praying for wisdom and guidance from the Lord so that we might not provoke our children to anger and in so doing teach them to rebel against the very authority from God that we represent.
      3. Instead, we fathers are to guard our children, protect them, nourish them; and we are held responsible by God to raise them so that they might honor the Lord Jesus in their adulthood . . . and so they might be good husbands to their wives--showing otherwise respect, love, patience, and an example of what it means to be Christ.
        1. Uncomfortable words.
      4. Fatherhood is under attack.
        1. But, fatherhood and masculinity are being attacked, and it is almost the norm to say that children can get along fine without fathers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
        2. The media does not help when it represents men: 
          1. Men are either macho studs who can look into a 200-pound machine gun and clear out an enemy stronghold or an alien empire, or they are buffoons who can't even change a light bulb properly.
          2. Illustration:  In the show Malcolm in the Middle, there is an episode, in which the  goofball dad Hal tries to get youngest son Dewey out of the lost-cat jam.  Hal bumbles his way through multiple mistakes until little Dewey turns and says, "Now can we call mom?"1
          3. In a commercial for a car, a woman is seen in the driver's seat, very much in control, and is larger than the man sitting next to her who is timidly being led along.
          4. The media generally portrays men as semi necessary nincompoops who are frequently the butt of jokes.
            1. Think of the TV shows such as "Everybody Loves Raymond" where the father is repeatedly seen making mistakes and mocked by his wife.
            2. In the show, "Home Improvement," Tim, the father, is routinely involved in incompetent blunders.
      1. But, fathers are needed.
        1. Generally speaking, fathers encourage risk-taking and competition.
        2. Fathers require their children to earn respect and to take the initiative.
        3. Fathers tend to be more goal oriented and tend to urge their children to establish goals.
        4. The way a father is in the home is how children will often perceive God who is also called Father.
          1. Their forefathers--what kind of example are you setting for your children?  Are you absent, distant, cold, and harsh?  Or, are you there for your children--always ready with open arms and encouraging to expand, being responsible, and doing what is right even when it is difficult?
      2. Single Moms
        1. If you are a single mom and for all intents and purposes, the duties at fault of the Father fall to you.

Verse 5-9:  Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; the mind 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. 9 And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."

Paul did not seek to change the social structure the rebellion and political maneuvering.  Rather, Paul taught changing society one heart at a time.

  1. Slaves responsibilities
    1. vv. 5-8 says, "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.  6 not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free."
    2. In our society we do not have slavery anymore.  But the principles of servitude are important nonetheless because they easily relate to the principal of employee and employer.
      1. In the text, slaves and masters had a social relationship on earth.  In that culture, slaves are often treated very poorly.
      2. When Paul says "according to the flesh," both the slave and a master are subject to another Master, God.  Therefore, the fear and trembling that is mentioned is not aimed at the master on earth but the one in heaven.
      3. This means that those who are employees are to work hard even when the employer is not watching.  We are in the service of God; and as Christians, we represent God in our work.
    3. It should be that all who are in employment should seek to serve God in their work; to do so is to obey God.
      1. Illustration:  It is said of Henry of Bavaria that at one time, becoming weary of court life, he determined to enter a monastery. When he presented himself to Prior Richard, the faithful monk gave him the strict rules of the order.  The king listened eagerly and enthusiastically expressed pleasure at the prospect of such complete consecration.
        Then the prior insisted that obedience, implicit and expressed was the first requisite of sainthood.  The monarch promised to follow his will in every detail.  "Then go back to your throne and do your duty in the station God assigned you," was the prior's word to him.  The king took up his scepter again, and from then until he died, his people said of him, "King Henry has learned to govern by learning to obey."
  2. Masters' responsibilities
    1. v. 9 says, And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."
      1. The Masters, in this case, the employers, are to treat their employees so as to please the Lord.
      2. God has given them charge over his people, and they will answer to the Lord for how they have treated those who are under their authority.
    2. This authority that is over the servants in the Masters, the employees and employers, is a reflection of the authority within the Godhead, the Trinity.
      1. It was the father who sent the Son.
      2. The Son came to do the will of the Father.
      3. The Son willingly subjected himself to the authority of the Father.
      4. This willing subjection led him to the cross where he died as he bore our sins.
  3. Conclusion
    1. We see that Paul directs us to understand that there is an authority in the world, namely, God.  In our service at our jobs, in our ministries, and in our families, we are to engage all of our activities as unto the Lord.
    2. Furthermore, we are to have an attitude of willing submissiveness because this submission is a reflection of the submission of Jesus to the Father.

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Other Reference Material should it come up during the preaching of the word.

  • Other Scripture:  Col. 3:20-24, "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.  21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.  22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."

  • Submitting all to God:  "A. T. Pierson gives the following illustration: Suppose you had a thousand-acre farm and someone offered to buy it. You agree to sell the land except for one acre right in the center which you want to keep for yourself.  Did you know that in some areas the law would allow you to have access to that one lone spot?  And that you would have the right to build a road across the surrounding property in order to get to it?  So it is with us as Christians if we make less than 100-percent surrender to God.  We can be sure that the devil will take advantage of any inroad to reach that uncommitted area of our lives."

  • Slave Given Freedom:  The famous Oriental philosopher, Lokman, while a slave, being presented by his master with a bitter melon, immediately ate it all.  "How was it possible," said his master, "for you to eat so nauseous a fruit?"  Lokman replied, "I have received so many favours from you, it is no wonder I should, for once in my life, eat a bitter melon from your hand."  This generous answer of the slave struck the master so forcibly that he immediately gave him his liberty.

  • 1. http://archives.his.com/smartmarriages/2001-June/msg00025.html

 

 

 

 
 
CARM ison