John T. Willis

Monday, July 05, 2010

Well-Rounded Godly Subjection--Ephesians 5:21-6:9

THE PRIMARY HUMAN SIN PROBLEM is EGO!!! Biblically, there are three terms to describe this sin problem:
1. Pride
2. Self-Centeredness
3. Ingratitude

Paul addresses this problem HEAD-On in Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

Actually, Ephesians 5:21 SAYS IT ALL: "BE SUBJECT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ." IF Christians REALLY honor God through Jesus Christ, EVERY PERSON OF GOD, EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST be SUBJECT to everyone else. Paul discusses this major concept in more detail under three sets of two relationships. This blog attempts to follow Paul's ideas about this issue.

I. Wives and Husbands--Ephesians 5:22-33.
a. Wives are to be SUBJECT to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24.
1. The church is SUBJECT to Christ, so wives are to be SUBJECT to their husbands. There is a well-known metaphor throughout scripture: God is the husband, his people are his wife. See Hosea 1-2; Jeremiah 2-3; Ezekiel 16; and often. So, Jesus Christ is the husband, and the church is the wife. The wife should gladly be in subjection to her husband. Why should she feel or act any other way? ONLY if a woman does NOT have a loving husband might she not desire to be in subjection to him.
2. The assumption is that the husband is loving, like God and Jesus Christ. An abusing, domineering, demanding husband is not worthy of having a godly, subject wife. "Subjection" is a "well-rounded, balanced" relationship, NOT a one-sided relationship favoring the man.
b. Husbands are to be SUBJECT to their wives. Ephesians 5:25-31.
1. The husband [man] must genuinely LOVE his wife, JUST AS Jesus Christ LOVES the church. 5:25.
2. The consuming purpose of having a wife is to make her hold and present her in splendor. His desire is to "glorify" his wife--JUST AS Jesus Christ desires to cleanse his wife the church "with the washing of water by the word," so as to present her to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle of anything of the kind, so that she may be holy and without blemish. The concern of the husband is to dignify and magnify his wife. 5:26-27.
3. Human beings naturally "love" and take care of and protects their bodies. Paul says Christian husbands must think of and treat their wives as they think of and treat themselves. 5:28-30.
4. A human being is born into the world, has parents, and grows into adulthood. At a certain point, one should "leave" his parents and "be joined" to one's spouse. All of this is a "great mystery." This applies to human beings and to the church. 5:31-32.
5. As a closing bracket or parenethesis from 5:21, Paul sums up: 1. Each husband must love his wife as himself. 2. Each wife must respect her husband. 5:33. NOTE the "well-rounded, balanced" submission of the wife to the husband, AND the husband to the wife.

II. Parents and Children--Ephesians 6:1-4.
a. Children are to be SUBJECT to their parents. "Obey"--"Honor" your parents "in the Lord." This is the first commandment with a promise--in the ten commandments--see Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16. That promise is that they might be well with them and love long on the earth. CERTAINLY, this does not mean that God wants children to adopt and follow the ungodly beliefs and practices of their parents. For example, Psalm 78:7-8 specifically says: "set your hope in God" and "not be like their parents and grandparents and ancestors" if they are stubborn and rebellious. BUT, if children have good parents, they are to be SUBJECT to them "in the Lord." 6:1-3.
b. Parents are to be SUBJECT to their children. This seems strange in many cultures and societies, but biblically, parents are HUMAN, and thus must be subject to their CREATOR, the God of the universe. Parents learn much from their children. Paul specifically says that parents are to: (1) not provoke their children to anger. The parallel in Colossians 3:21 says: "Fathers [Parents], do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart." As a teacher for 55 years, I have found many students feel "cowed" or "guilty" or "wrong" because their parents have raised them up to think this way. God did not intend to have parents who would keep their parents under their wings and never be free to live their own lives under God. (2) Bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. God gave parents for a reason. Children need "discipline" under godly parents. (3) Bring them up in the instruction of the Lord. It is so easy for parents to "force" their children to follow "their" instruction. Often, parents are wrong. God is right. Good parents bring up their children in the instruction of the Lord. Daily Bible study and meditation, prayer, godly influences, uplifting friends, a healthy church all contribute to the spiritual growth of children. 6:4.

III. Masters and Slaves--Ephesians 6:5-9.
a. Slaves are to be SUBJECT to their masters. Paul says slaves are to "obey" their earthly master just as they "obey" Jesus Christ. Slaves are to obey their masters gladly from the heart. They are to serve their masters with enthusiasm. Of course, all of this assumes that the masters are godly, Christ-centered people. As in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, Onesimus is a slave of Philemon and at the same time a "beloved brother" of Philemon. God through Jesus Christ "blurs" and "evens" the sharp distinctions between people on earth. The Bible NEVER teaches that Christians are not to be slaves. But in essence, Christians cannot actually have or be slaves because of the very nature of God's relationship to people. 6:5-8.
b. Masters are to be SUBJECT to their slaves. Paul says forthrightly: "Masters, do the same to them." Subjection is a mutual, well-rounded, balanced relationship. BOTH the master AND the slaves have THE SAME MASTER in heaven: God through Jesus Christ. ALL of us have ONLY two options: Be slaves of Satan, OR be slaves of God. See Leviticus 25:42-43; Romans 6:15-19; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24. 6:9.

Once a person comprehends Paul's teaching in Ephesians 5:21-6:9, one realizes that God "breaks down every dividing wall [barrier]" (Ephesians 2:14): Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female (Galatians 3:28). God accepts ALL people to worship and serve him in his presence. God seeks old and young, rich and poor, healthy and sick, male and female--everyone, to worship and serve God in every way.

Ponder Ephesians 5:21-6:9. Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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