There are times that the short version of something is very helpful. A simple, condensed summary provides the necessary information of a longer source of information.
In the military, this is called the Battle Plan. In sports, it is the Game Plan. In politics, this is the talking points. In academics, a lengthy dissertation or research article is summarized in the abstract.
These summaries provide the important points and invite us to investigate further.
In Colossians 3:18-4:1, Paul provides a summary set of instructions on the three most important relationships one ever has in life – our SPOUSES, our CHILDREN and our EMPLOYERS. This passages contains an abbreviated version of the lengthier discussion found in Ephesians 5 and 6, but the key commands are the same, and the order in which the truth is presented is also the same.
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 3:18–4:1, ESV)
In Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 we find instruction related to the three most important sets of relationships in our lives: our spouses, parents/children and our relationships with bosses and subordinates. In both Epistles, the practical outworking of Christian living is presented. We should notice the similarity in Paul’s teaching in Colossians and Ephesians, as well as Peter’s similar teaching on the same sets of relationships. The following chart demonstrates these similarities.
Three NT Texts on the Family
Wives, submit to your husbands
1 Peter 2:18-3:7
|Wives, submit||Wives, submit||3:1 Wives, submit|
|Husbands, love||Husbands, love||Husbands, understand, show honor|
|Children, obey||Children, obey|
|Parents, do not provoke||Parents, do not provoke|
|Servants, obey||Servants, obey||2:18 Servants, be subject|
|Masters, give justice||Masters stop threatening|
Imperatives for my Marriage
Wives, Submit to You Husband
Submission is not culturally bound to the first century. It originates in the relationship of the Trinity (1 Cor 11:1-3l; 1 John 4:14) the “Father sent the Son” showing that the Father has a position of authority over the Son. In John 14:26 Jesus sends the Holy Spirit demonstrating that the Son has a position of authority over the Spirit. The Son is submissive to the Father but in no way is the Son any less God than the Father. The same is true in the husband/wife relationship and the role of submission in the home. A position of authority exists that does not result in any lesser value or significance for the person who is under authority.
Submission of the wife to the husband is repeated throughout the Old and New Testament
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:11–12, ESV)
“as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3:6, ESV)
Submission is a powerful witness in our day of independence and resistance to authority
Submission is self initiated, not dictated by the husband. Husbands are not instructed to make their wives submit or to rule over their wives. The command for submission is directed at the wives, showing that submission must be willing and not imposed.
Husbands, Love your Wives
Love allows a wife to trust the leadership of her husband. Love is demonstrated by Christ’s love for us. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV) This kind of love is selfless. The verbal form of agape, or covenantal love is used here.
Imperative for Children and Parents
Children, obey your parents
Children, obedience shows your submission to God’s authority. Obedience brings peace and blessing. ““Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”” (Ephesians 6:2–3, ESV)
Fathers (parents), do not provoke your children
It is tempting to abuse authority, therefore God instructs fathers not to lead in such a way as to frustrate ones children. God’s example to us is a loving heavenly father. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;” (Luke 11:11, ESV) “For you know how, like a father with his children,” (1 Thessalonians 2:11, ESV) “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1, ESV)
Imperatives for Work
Servants (workers) obey your earthly masters
Paul is not endorsing slavery. Slavery created both challenges and opportunities for new Christians. Christianity was eventually responsible for eliminating slavery. New Testament teaching prevailed over slavery.
The command for slaves can apply to workers today “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:22–23, ESV)
“Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1, ESV)
Whenever authority exists, there is a danger or temptation for the one in authority to abuse that authority. Paul’s teaching was revolutionary.
Relationships in the Context of Colossians
This passage on relationships provides the outworking of the theological truth of CHRIST in ME.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14, ESV)
FIRST CENTURY RELIGION consisted of 2 primary responses: DO and EARN
Bring your sacrifice. Come to the Pagan Temple. Perform rituals. Fear the power of the gods. When you do these things you will earn certain favors from your god.
But this is the exact opposite of the gospel! Paul did not teach DO and EARN, but rather LOVE and RECEIVE.
Love the Lord your God
Receive God’s gift
My Closest relationships demonstrate the POWER and TRUTH of the Gospel
Philosophy draws us away from Christ
Keeping focused on Christ results in a TRANSFORMED life
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1, ESV)
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35, ESV)
My Closest Relationships provide a glimpse of the Invisible God in a Physical world
JESUS came to SHOW US the FATHER (John 14:9)
FATHERS show us how a HEAVENLY FATHER “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:11–13, ESV)
MARRIAGE shows us how CHRIST loves the CHURCH. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31–32, ESV)
SACRIFICE– “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, ESV)
My Closest Relationships are the Touch of God in a fallen world
Comfort in Suffering
Help in Trials
Encouragement from Brothers and Sisters
Godly teaching to remind us of the Truth
Exhortation to overcome temptation
Correction when we stray from the Truth
God Invites us into a relationship!
God as our FATHER
God as our FRIEND “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” (James 2:23, ESV)
Relationship that is REAL
Relationship that is PERSONAL
Relationship that is PERFECT
If you do not have a relationships with God the Father through faith in his son, place your faith in him now!