Faithlife Sermons

Masters and Slaves

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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1) What similarities do you see between vv. 1-4 and vv. 5-9?
Pattern of obedience and honorVery similar to the construction of children and parents is servants to masters aVery similar to the construction of fathers to children is masters to servants. Threatening and provoking
2) What conclusions can we draw from these similarities?
We are all stewards of our relationships. Husbands, Wives, Children, Parents, Fathers, Servants, and Masters are all called to reflect the Lord in their position. In His kindness the Lord has exemplified every one of these positions and been the precursor for each of us to follow. He is a Father, Husband, Son, Master, Servant, etc...We must ____ like the Lord ____.We must seek the Lord in order to ____.
Servants and the Issue of Slavery:
Doulos (Greek), terms which are often rendered “slave.” These terms, however, actually cover a range of relationships that require a range of renderings—either “slave,” “bondservant,” or “servant”—depending on the context. Further, the word “slave” currently carries associations with the often brutal and dehumanizing institution of slavery in nineteenth-century America. For this reason, the ESV translation of the words ‘ebed and doulos has been undertaken with particular attention to their meaning in each specific context. Thus in Old Testament times, one might enter slavery either voluntarily (e.g., to escape poverty or to pay off a debt) or involuntarily (e.g., by birth, by being captured in battle, or by judicial sentence). Protection for all in servitude in ancient Israel was provided by the Mosaic Law. In New Testament times, a doulos is often best described as a “bondservant”—that is, as someone bound to serve his master for a specific (usually lengthy) period of time, but also as someone who might nevertheless own property, achieve social advancement, and even be released or purchase his freedom. The ESV usage thus seeks to express the nuance of meaning in each context. Where absolute ownership by a master is in view (as in ), “slave” is used; where a more limited form of servitude is in view, “bondservant“ is used (as in ); where the context indicates a wide range of freedom (as in ), “servant“ is preferred. Footnotes are generally provided to identify the Hebrew or Greek and the range of meaning that these terms may carry in each case.The Slave Bible, as it would become known, is a missionary book. It was originally published in London in 1807 on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of enslaved Africans toiling in Britain’s lucrative Caribbean colonies. They used the Slave Bible to teach enslaved Africans how to read while at the same time introducing them to the Christian faith. Unlike other missionary Bibles, however, the Slave Bible contained only “select parts” of the biblical text. Its publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire.Likely 1/3 of Ephesus at this time was in the bondservant class if you will. So when Paul approached the topic of servitude – he was not so much approving its practice as he was instructing those to live in ways that exemplified Christ in their current cultural moment. We must also look for ways to exemplify our savior in areas of submission, service, and obedience. It would be natural for Christian bondservants to despise their earthly masters in the name of their heavenly one; however, fulfilling one’s earthly obligations is, in fact, service to the Lord (cf. )
3) Where in our cultural construct would you apply the Servant/Master instruction of this passage?
Much of what is being communicated has to do with behavior in a work environment. Employee/employer relationship. Faithfulness in a servant is seen in standing up for the honour of his master. When he hears him spoken against, he vindicates him. As the master is careful of the servant’s body, so the servant should be careful of the master’s name. When the master is unjustly reproached the servant cannot be excused if he be possessed with a dumb devil. [4] Faithfulness is, when a servant is true to his word. He dares not tell a lie, but will speak the truth, though it be against himself. A lie doubles the sin. ‘He that telleth lies, shall not tarry in my sight.’ . A liar is near akin to the devil. . And who would let any of the devil’s kindred live with him? The lie that Gehazi told his master Elisha, entailed leprosy on Gehazi and his seed for ever. . In a faithful servant, the tongue is the true index of the heart. [5] Faithfulness is, when a servant is against impropriation. He dares not convert his master’s goods to his own use. ‘Not purloining.’ . What a servant filches from his master, is damnable gain. He who enriches himself by stealing from his master, stuffs his pillow with thorns, on which his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die.
Watson, Thomas. The Ten Commandments (p. 109). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
A lot of notes in Watson on Master/Servant relationships (pp110ish)
4) What would you say is the main idea of vv. 5-9?
The heart in our handling of people is importantIn the leadership you show, you image ChristIn the work you perform, you image ChristGod is not only concerned with your verbal testimony for him, but also in your active testimony. Don't be the person who tries to share Christ but is lazy at work. Don't be dishonest about your time and then expect people to honor the integrity of your relationship with the Lord. Don't complain and then expect your coworkers to crave the joy you have in the Lord. You work for God and you must bring him as your master to work every day as you submit to earthly masters.That servant who is not true to his master, will never be true to God or his own soul.
"But the doctrine is the same, and it is the doctrine, the fundamental doctrine of Protestant morality, from which the whole system of Christian ethics unfolds. It is the great doctrine of ‘vocation’, the doctrine to wit, that the best service we can offer to God is just to do our duty—our plain, homely duty, whatever that may chance to be. The Middle Ages did not think so: they cut a cleft between the religious and the secular life, and counselled him who wished to be religious to turn his back on what they called ‘the world’, that is to say, not the wickedness that is in the world—‘the world, the flesh and the devil’, as we say—but the work-a-day world, that congeries of occupations which forms the daily task of men and women who perform their duty to themselves and their fellowmen. Protestantism put an end to all that. As Professor Doumergue eloquently puts it.
Then Luther came, and, with still more consistency, Calvin, proclaiming the great idea of ‘vocation’, an idea and a word which are found in the languages of all the Protestant peoples—Beruf, Calling, Vocation—and which are lacking in the languages of the peoples of antiquity and of mediaeval culture. ‘Vocation’—it is the call of God, addressed to every man, whoever he may be, to lay upon him a particular work, no matter what. And the calls, and therefore also the called, stand on a complete equality with one another. The burgomaster is God’s burgomaster; the physician is God’s physician; the merchant is God’s merchant; the labourer is God’s labourer. Every vocation, liberal, as we call it, or manual, the humblest and the vilest in appearance as truly as the noblest and the most glorious, is of divine righ(t)."
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God is master to all of his people regardless of position and that brings us back to a place of understanding, obedience, and surrender.
As we have talked through these points tonight, what has been convicting and instructive to you?
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