Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 6:1-9

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. 4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ. 6 Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. 7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, 8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. 9 And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

The Original Intent

1) What does it mean to bring children up in the “training and instruction of the Lord?” (verse 4)

A mixture of Gentile and Jewish believers represented the church body at Ephesus, but Paul’s letter to the Ephesians specifically called out to believing Ephesian Gentiles. (Ephesians 2:11) Paul’s exhortation to “bring children up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (verse 4) would have been a new concept for Gentiles.

Their Jewish counterparts were familiar with God’s consistent exhortation throughout Scripture to point subsequent generations to the God of their forefathers. (Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 6:7, Deuteronomy 11:19) However, the Christian Gentiles Paul exhorted at Ephesus, were new to this concept as Ephesian Gentiles didn’t share the same heritage and daily religious experience as Jews.

Pagan idol worship at Ephesus involved the worship of Artemis and up to 50 pagan gods and goddesses; this was their familiar heritage. By comparison, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise of a new life in Him would have been refreshingly simple to men and women who repented from their sins, turned away from pagan idol worship, and turned to live in Christ.

Just as Paul exhorted Christian Ephesian fathers to train their children in the Lord, he modeled what he taught by beautifully displaying generational discipleship wherever he went. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was meant to instruct Ephesian Christians on what it looked like to practically live together in the body of Christ. Mirroring how God draws all who profess Christ as Lord and put their trust in Him into His family, Paul came alongside the believers at Ephesus, giving thanks for them, encouraging them in their new faith, and exhorting them to put away their old lives and live new in Christ.

Whether it was “sons by faith” or “sons by lineage”, training them up in the discipline of the Lord was the intended role of fathers and mothers. The structure of family was the hand-crafted mode for physical and spiritual growth.

The Everyday Application

1) What does it mean to bring children up in the “training and instruction of the Lord?” (verse 4)

A long-distance runner requires specific tools to achieve success in her running feats. She needs sturdy, high-quality shoes that sustain long, rhythmic strides on various terrain. She needs comfortable clothing that allows her to move freely and wicks away sweat as she runs. She requires mental, emotional, and physical stamina, determination, and grit to keep moving despite exhaustion.

Regardless of desire, she could not decide to become a long-distance runner one morning, tie her shoes, and run 10 miles. First, she must train her mind and body to achieve the mental and physical fortitude required to maintain long distance running. She must be disciplined, paying attention to her body’s needs and providing healthy nourishment. She must be intentional in training, beginning with running shorter distances and gradually increasing in length. She must be careful with her thought life, avoiding discouraging thoughts and breaking her goals into manageable pieces.

She will eventually achieve her desire to become a long-distance runner with time, training, and intentionality. We can apply her principles to bringing up children in the instruction of the Lord. My ideas about what is good and true may be positive, but if they are not aligned with God’s Word, every grand intention falls short. I must know what God says in order to train and instruct my children in God’s way.

If I am not consistently responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, studying God’s Word, and learning from Him, I will be ineffective. Just as our runner could not put on her shoes, declare herself a long-distance runner, and successfully complete a lengthy run without any training, I cannot expect my words and admonitions alone to effect change in the hearts of my children. Rather, I must take their hand in mine, drawing them with me as I seek after God’s heart daily. 

The Original Intent

2) Paul’s words in verses 5-8 could be interpreted as an affirmation of slavery. How do his words point to Christ?

The Ephesian Christians lived in a period when slavery took on a decidedly different meaning than our current cultural definition. Most slaves at this time were paid wages and received protection, food, and shelter from those they served. They were able to buy their freedom if desired, but many slaves willingly agreed to stay with those they served because the benefits they received were considerable.

Our term “hired help” carries a closer definition. This concept of “slavery” is what the Ephesian church would have understood by Paul’s words in verses 5-8. Regardless of the original definition, our text reveals that Paul did not comment on whether slavery was good or bad. Rather, Paul addressed the heart posture of each believing person, no matter their relational position in life.

He called those who served others to remember they belonged to Christ, and everything they did should be done as unto Christ Jesus. Paul encouraged those who served to do all things for their Lord, whether in public or private. Paul appealed to their conscience, pointing them back to Christ and exhorting them to remember no matter their position, they were serving Christ and should behave accordingly, so God’s glory would be evident.

Likewise, Paul addressed slave masters. Paul exhorted them to remember they were called to uphold Christ in every relationship, including relationships with servants. Paul admonished masters to treat those in their employ with respect and kindness, acting with the understanding that God is impartial; social status bears no weight with Him, the God of justice.

The Everyday Application

2) Paul’s words in verses 5-8 could be interpreted as an affirmation of slavery. How do his words point to Christ?

My daughter loves to sing a modern hymn Keith and Kristyn Getty penned with Skye Peterson that rings deep, biblical truth, “I belong to the Lord, oh, I am not my own. I belong to the Lord, oh, I am not my own. I will honor Him for this I know: I belong to the Lord, oh, I am not my own.” The song peals through our home in her bell-like vocals on a weekly basis, but truth be told, I need to hear it constantly.

Paul’s words in verses 5-8 lose some of their significance when we examine them apart from the rest of his exhortation in verses 1-9, not to mention the whole of Ephesians. Paul was writing to a mixed body of believers, but his specific purpose in verses 1-9 was to exhort the Ephesians to examine their behavior and relationship heart postures in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul first pointed to the close relationship between children and parents, instructing them to obey their parents in the Lord.

Next, Paul addressed the parents, calling out fathers not to stir their children to anger but to train them in God’s ways. Third, Paul addressed the relationship between slaves and masters, exhorting those who served to do their work with sincere hearts and good attitudes, working for the Lord rather than mere men. He encouraged those in positions of authority not to lord it over those under their watch but to treat them kindly.

When I find myself in a difficult relational position at work, home, or elsewhere, Paul’s words hold wisdom and guidance. I am not my own. I am, first and foremost, a servant of King Jesus. He alone is my God and Savior, and I belong to Him. Everything I say and do should flow from the Holy Spirit at work in me because I belong to Jesus.

The Original Intent

3) What does Paul mean by stating, “there is no favoritism” with God? (verse 9)

At the time of Paul’s writing, the Ephesians were accustomed to certain societal roles, specifically in the context of slave-master relationships. Paul addressed the issue of masters threatening slaves because that was a custom used by masters to coerce all the effort possible from their slaves.

Likewise, slaves were accustomed to “paying lip service” to masters by serving in appearance, but Paul knew their attitudes and heart postures toward their masters were not righteous. When Paul asserted that “there is no favoritism” with God, he reminded the Ephesians that God is no respecter of persons.

He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the only righteous and holy God. No status or title of man has any meaning to Him; all creation bows at His feet. Paul reminded the Ephesians of the big picture: regardless of whether they held a position of legal societal authority or lived under another’s authority, none of that holds any bearing in light of Who God is.

Paul encouraged his Ephesian brothers and sisters to live in light of Who God is, serving Him first no matter their role in their relationship with others.

The Everyday Application

3) What does Paul mean by stating, “there is no favoritism” with God? (verse 9)

When I pause to consider favoritism, I am swift to attempt to convince myself of my holiness. This isn’t really applicable to me. I don’t put on any airs; I’m humble. I might be as humble as they come! Oof. My very thought pattern reveals the truth immediately.

The Lord is kind to convict me and begin the work He must do to beget true humility in my selfish heart. The culture we live in is steeped in status worship. Those who “have” are counted more worthy in the eyes of the world than those who “have not.” I am constantly tempted to measure my worth and the worth of others by their education, family, home, career, children, financial situation, contributions to society…or, dare I say it, their church denomination.

The list is unending, and since sin first entered God’s good creation, it always has been. This is the way of the world. In our sinful state, we desire to assign status to ourselves and everyone around us. We naturally compare ourselves to our peers, seeking to measure where we stand. (James 2:1-13)

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul recognized this sin issue for what it was and called it out among the Ephesians for their benefit and ours. He boldly reminded the Ephesian church that she wasn’t designed for this type of status claiming, or assigning, and the same is true for us today.

The church, its members, and all of creation belong to God. Compared with His holiness, no one is good, not even one is righteous, save Jesus Christ, our risen Savior! Praise God!

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