Eph. 6:1-9,  “Paul Admonishes The Ephesians That Christian Children Obey Their Parents And Slaves Obey Their Masters


Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:


1.1.                     In our last study, we looked at verses 21-33 of chapter 5.


1.1.1.  Having taught that Christians are to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul next taught that all of us as Christians are to be subject to one another.


1.1.2.  Paul next admonished women that they were to be submissive to their husbands in all things.  We talked about what that means for women.


1.1.3.  Finally, Paul wrote that the submission of husbands is submission to Christ whose will is for them to love their wives in the same way as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.


1.1.4.  In this study, we will look at verses 1-9 of chapter 6.      We will continue seeing how that the principles of submission which Paul laid down in verse 21 of the previous chapter apply in the lives of children and their obedience to their parents as well as slaves and their being obedient to their masters.      From our last study we looked at Ephesians 5:21 and it was mentioned that all of us as Christians are called to apply the principles of submission in our lives, “21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”  We saw then that all of the principles of submission which Paul next admonished came out of the principle taught in verse 21.      It was mentioned in our last study that we had seen in our very first study of this book that the book began not with Paul, not with man, and not with the church, but with God, for Paul began by writing, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”  Everything that Paul wrote in this book is a revelation of the will of God as well as the result of God’s working.  God was the One who predestined each of us who would become Christians, and that occurred before the foundation of the world.  God chose and elected us as those who would be saved.  God determined before the foundation of the world that He would send His only begotten Son, the second person of the Trinity, One who is divine, to take the sin penalty which all of us one day would accrue against ourselves.  It was God who chose to reveal to us in New Testament times the riches of His grace which He has “lavished upon us.”  It was God who has given to every believer the “unfathomable riches of Christ.”  It was God who determined to make every sinner who is under the condemnation of death because of his innumerable sins, who then repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, to become equal heirs of all that Jesus Christ possesses.  It all began with God and if we remember that fact then it is much easier to accept His will and admonitions for our lives and place ourselves in God’s plan.      We also saw in our last study that if a person does not know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and his Savior he will not understand the importance of applying these truths to his life, nor will he be able to do so even if he wanted to apply them.  Before applying these truths to his own life, a person first has to see that the Lord Jesus Christ, though He was very God of very God, God the Son, from all eternity, He none-the-less willing submitted Himself to God the Father in order to come and be the sin-bearer for all mankind.  Jesus Christ was willing to submit Himself and suffer and die in this horrible manner, even though to do so would cause Him to go through the most excruciating agony a person has every experienced.  The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, submits Himself to both the Father and the Son, and His purpose is to glorify the Son.  Without this understanding concerning submission and the Godhead, and the plan of redemption for mankind, no person will see the importance of submitting Himself in the way that Paul describes in this study.      We saw that if a person doesn’t know the Lord, he is self-centered and selfish by nature and thus he will only submit to another if he has to do so or if there is some sort of a personal reward that will be gained by his submission.  This is why there are so many problems in marriages and families.  It is only the Christian who truly practices the principles of submission found in this study.      We looked also at the first two chapters of the book of Genesis and saw how that the principles of submission for wives to their husbands was in the mind of God from eternity and that it was also reinforced after the fall with the curse that was made by the Lord to the woman for having eaten of the forbidden fruit.  The woman (Eve) was created to be a helpmeet to her husband to help him to be the man God wanted him to be and to help him be able to do the things that God had called him to do.      We also saw that it can also be argued that the fall of Eve occurred because she usurped authority that was not hers for she should have discussed the tree and the serpent’s words before she ate of the forbidden tree, however she acted independently and as a result fell into sin.  Then, we read in Genesis 3:16 about how part of the curse that the Lord pronounced against the woman was that she would “desire” her husband, which means that women will desire to usurp their husbands’ authority, but that men for their part would tend to “rule over” or “trample down” women,  16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.””  Now, since the fall the godly principle of headship of a man over his wife has not changed, it is just that the Lord has told us that there will always be a struggle between husbands and wives concerning headship.  We saw that this passage in Genesis has been fulfilled for women today and all throughout history have tried to usurp headship, assert their rights and even sometimes be considered as superior.  Yet, at the same time in most countries of the world women have been considered by men as mere slaves or objects to be possessed and dominated.  They have been trampled upon by men.      We saw also that the motive for the woman’s submission to her husband is supposed to be that she is doing this ‘as unto the Lord.’  Women are always submissive to their husbands when they happen to agree with their husband’s decisions, however the motive for submission to husbands is not supposed to be because they happen to agree with their husband.  Likewise, women are not called upon to be submissive to their husband because they happen to be married to a man who is much more skilled in the area of leadership and making important decisions than they are.  Rather, women are to submit to their husbands only because it is the Lord who requires that wives are to be in submission to their husbands.  God tells them to do so.      Finally, we observed that submission for a woman to her husband does not mean that she is inferior to him nor that she is to obey her husband like a slave.  This is to be done simply because this is the order that the Lord has created for marriage. In our study today, we will apply the principles of submission to the relationship of children to their parents and slaves to their masters.  These same principles apply.  As we consider this topic, it might help to bring to mind some of the history of our country:      Up until sometime around the end of WWI, the attitude of parents in our country in bringing up their children was what has been called that of the Victorian Era.  Fathers during that period of time were stern and known for being extremely strict.  Children brought up during that time learned to fear their parents, especially their fathers, and punishment of children resulted in severe beatings sometimes even to the point of death.  It was understood by parents during this period of time that children were born with a sinful nature and that therefore they needed to be disciplined and punished for doing wrong so that they might learn to have their pride and self-centeredness squashed, however this type of parenting was out of balance because discipline was often done in anger and many kids felt unloved by their parents.  However, because of the lasting effects of the revivals of the eighteenth century in our country children were largely obedient and compliant towards their parents and crime was very low in our country as a result.      Then, after around the end of WWI in our country a new philosophy emerged, one that in many ways was a violent reaction to the opposite extreme against the Victorian Era and manner of parenting.  However, this movement was heavily influenced by the field of Psychology and was based upon the belief that children were not born with an evil nature but were rather inherently good.  It was believed that if a child was just loved, rarely or never disciplined, and allowed to go his own way, that he would choose to do good and right and society would be all the better for this.  This philosophy greatly influenced our school systems and whereas it had once been the case that teachers and principals would discipline children now the schools rarely or no longer disciplined children and the philosophy was that children were to be tolerated and coddled and that by treating them this way the children would then choose to do good and right.          To give you an example of how the educational system has reflected what I have stated I will talk about my own experiences.  When I had went to school as a kid we were taught a classic education of English, math, history, etc., and there were core academic areas which defined an education.  However, when my son went to school we were told by his first grade teacher that his socialization was most important and when we complained that our son was not learning to read we were told by my son’s teacher that the school didn’t really have a program to teach kids to read.  She said that though they used to teach phonics to kids to help them read that they now believed that it was just magical how one day kids began to be able to read.  After that conversation we transferred our son to another school the following year, one which was more traditional and taught phonics.  Largely because of this first school our son didn’t learn to read until 3rd grade.      We can see this same modern philosophy concerning the inherent goodness in mankind in crime and the justice system in our country today.  When a person committed a felony it used to be that you sent them to a “prison” however it eventually came to be that we now send them to “correctional facilities.”  This is the politically correct term for these facilities.  We use this name for them because we in our country now believe in the inherent goodness in mankind and so those who commit felonies we now try to rehabilitate.  Prisons used to be for the punishment of criminals and in punishing criminals it was believed that this would also be a deterrent to further crime.  However, it has come to be believed that since prisoners are inherently good that we need to remove all restrictions from them and give them all kinds of comforts and privileges in order to rehabilitate them.  Prisons also were then filled with psychiatrists and psychologists to try to help prisons through psychoanalysis and counseling.  However, let me ask you if our modern approach has reduced crime, or have the numbers of repeat offenders been reduced by doing these things?  The answer to these questions is, “No!”      The depravity of human nature has been brought home to me this past week as I have seen the reports on the news about the gangs of young men in New Orleans after the city’s catastrophic flood randomly shooting people and raping women.  When the police could have been trying to search for and rescue people trapped by the flood waters they instead have had to go back into the downtown area and simply try to stop the lootings and muggings.  Police have in many instances had to just hide from snipers.  This catastrophe  has revealed mankind’s true nature.      The philosophy of this world that men and women are inherently good is a denial of the truth of the scriptures:          Men and women are not inherently good.  The scriptures tell us that men and women are born with a sin nature that is inherited from Adam and that people are sinful from the womb, just as King David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”          I found an interesting quote from Jon MacArthur that is from the Minnesota Crime Commission that emphasizes the point I have been making about the inherent nature of mankind, “Every baby starts life as a little savage.  He is completely selfish and self-centered.  He wants what he wants when he wants it:  his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toys, his uncle’s watch, or whatever.  Deny him these and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so helpless.  He’s dirty, he has no morals, no knowledge, no developed skills.  This means that all children, not just certain children but all children, are born delinquent.  If permitted to continue in their self-centered world of infancy, given free reign to their impulsive actions to satisfy each want, every child would grow up a criminal, a thief, a killer, a rapist.”          Sin is a very serious matter.  The scriptures tell us that mankind’s sins offended God and invoked his anger and wrath and that all mankind are awaiting the judgment for their sins.  However, because God is also merciful and loving He sent His only Son from all eternity to come and die upon the cross of Calvary and pay the penalty for our sins which each of us deserve to pay.          The Lord dealt with sinful mankind separated from Himself by their sin by first placing them under a system of law.  The law was meant to lead them to a higher living under grace, however the Lord didn’t first place mankind under the system of grace.  In the same way, children when they are raised by parents need to be raised under the law of their parents, while they live under their parent’s roof.  For children to not be raised up under laws and requirements from their parents in hopes that the children will choose to do good is to expect something from them that they are not capable of performing.  Children first need to learn through the discipline that their parents provide for them in their life.  Then, when they move out on their own they can and must choose for themselves whether or not they will follow God’s ways and do His will. I want to make another point here.  It is the lack of submission of children to parents that has caused many of the problems in our country today.  The vast majority of children today are very rebellious and disrespectful to their parents, and they refuse to obey their parents.  However, in turning away from their parents they end up becoming juvenile delinquents and unless they have a change of heart often end up committing crimes and spend their lives inside of our prisons.


2.     VS 6:1  - 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. -  Paul tells the children in the Ephesian church to obey their parents


2.1.                     So, the injunction from Paul then is now the admonishment to Christian children that they are to ‘obey’ their parents.


2.2.                     Christian parents are to raise up their children in the admonition of the Lord, just as the Israelites were commanded to do with their children, which means that we are to daily teach our children of God’s ways and what it means to follow the Lord.


2.3.                     Christian parents are also to teach their children to submit.  Because children are born with a rebellious sinful nature whose tendency is to be selfish and self-centered and prideful, it is the parent’s responsibility through the disciplining of their children to break those sinful tendencies and patterns and teach their children through this to serve and be submissive to the Lord in their lives.


2.4.                     Just as a wife should view the submission she gives to her husband as submitting to his loving her and taking care of her, so should children view their submission to their parents.  Children need to view their parents as agents from God given to them for the purpose of teaching and training them to be servants of the Lord.  Children you must realize that God gave you the parents that you have because He loves you and knew that you would need these parents in order to be molded into the person that God wants you to be.


2.5.                     When Paul writes here that children are supposed to obey their parents ‘in the Lord’ this simply refers to the realm in which their obedience takes place.  It is as children are serving the Lord that they are to be obedient to their parents.


2.6.                     Children, just as it is with wives and their submission to their husbands, you are responsible to do your part in being submissive regardless of whether or not your parents are acting like they should act.  Wives often refuse to submit because they are waiting for their husband to make the first move and begin to do their God given part in the marriage in loving their wives as Christ loved the church.  Likewise, husbands often refuse to begin being the spiritual leader that they should be until their wife begins to submit and respect them as she should.  However, it is always the case that it is our responsibility to honor God and do our part regardless of whether anyone else is doing their part.  And, as was mentioned, when we begin to do our part God begins to use us in the life of our husband, wife, or parents to convict them and mold them into His image.


2.7.                     Children, just as wives are to realize in relation to their husbands, you must realize that if you will be obedient to your parents that God will use you in their lives, especially if your parents are for some reason being unreasonable in their demands for you.  The Lord will convict your parents if you will do your part and be submissive to them.


2.8.                     Parents in their disciplining of their children do not need to be harsh (In fact, their punishment should always fit the crime!).  Rather, they need to be consistent  In all cases when someone is under our authority we are to attempt to treat them in the same as the Lord has treated us.  O parent, can you imagine if the Lord treated you the way you sometimes treat your child?  O husband, can you imagine if the Lord treated you the way you sometimes treat your wife?


2.9.                     As we saw in our last study with wives, Paul is not saying that children are only supposed to obey their parents if their parents are Christians.  Paul does not qualify his teachings regarding submission in chapter 5 and 6 of this book, wives are to submit to their husbands and children to their parents.  Thus, wives are to submit to their non-Christian husbands and children are likewise to submit to their non-Christian parents.  This is true of course unless to do so would be to commit sin.  If you cannot submit to your parents wishes without disobeying God and His commandments, then you must submit to the Lord instead of your parents.  There is an instance in the early part of the book of Acts where the governing Jewish authorities in Jerusalem told the apostles that they must stop preaching in the Name of Jesus Christ.  However, for the apostles to do so would have been to disobey a command of their Lord, so we read in Acts 4:18-20 how that they committed “civil disobedience” and refused to submit themselves to these governing authorities in this circumstance, “Acts 4:18-20, “18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”


2.10.                Paul told Christian wives in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 that they were not to divorce an unbelieving husband unless the husband abandoned them, and that they were to stay with them so that they might be able to win their non-believing husbands to the Lord.  In the same way, Christian children are to submit even to non-believing parents (as long as to do so would not cause them to sin), and their grand motive in doing this should be the hopes that their non-believing parents might come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


2.11.                Children notice here that Paul writes that children are to obey and submit themselves to their parents because ‘this is right.”  It is the righteous thing to do to submit yourself to your parents and you need to realize that the Lord will be pleased with you as you obey Him and do this just as wives were admonished to submit to their husbands, “as unto the Lord.”  Your motive in submission to your parents must be that you love the Lord and want to please Him in every area of your life and therefore you are submitting to your parents.


2.12.                When we were raising our kids and they were refusing to obey us, we told them that that very attitude that they were displaying if unchecked would eventually lead them to become a criminal.  We loved the too much to allow that to happen, therefore we were going to set up rules in our household and there would be consequences for not obeying those rules.  We would tell them that if they refused to live under our rules that there was a place for kids to go who were like this and that it was a Juvenile Detention Center which is basically a jail for kids.  If they would rather go and live there we would be glad to drive them there.


2.13.                When we would discipline our kids we would try to deal with where their hearts were at.  If they had done something wrong and were defiant, then they were going to receive a good punishment.  However, if they were sorry and repentant for the thing that they had done then they would not receive as much of a punishment.  Likewise a couple of days of grounding would turn to one day, or a couple of weeks of grounding would turn to a week, if our kids eventually became broken and repentant.  This worked very well in our household.


2.14.                Children are only required to obey their parents while they are living in their parent’s house, however they should always honor their parents.  In fact, Jesus taught that the practice of the Pharisees in His day was wrong of people refusing to take care of their elderly parents financially because they had dedicated their money to the Lord.  Children are to take care of their elderly parents in the same way that those parents took care of them as children.


3.     VS 6:2-3  - 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. -  Paul tells the Ephesian church that honoring parents is a commandment that comes with a promise


3.1.                     Here we see Paul invoking one of the ten commandments in relation to how children are supposed to react and respond to their parents.  The law of Moses taught that a child is supposed to ‘honor’ his father and mother, and this is really the same thing as saying that they are supposed to “respect” them. 


3.2.                     Respect for parents is shown not only in the attitude which children have towards their parents but also by their obeying their parents commands.


3.3.                     It is interesting here that Paul writes that the command to honor fathers and mothers is the first of the laws with a promise.  This is an Old Testament promise that carries over into the New Testament. 


3.3.1.  By the way,  some teachers in the church are wrong when they teach their people that the Old Testament has no bearing in the lives of Christians in New Testament times, and when they refuse to teach from the Old Testament.  Much of the Old Testament applies either directly or indirectly to our lives as Christians and therefore we are responsible to not only study the New Testament but also the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament when the Law of Moses was given to the Israelites they were also told of the “blessing” that would come about from the Lord for obeying the law as well as the “curse” that would come about from the Lord for not obeying it.  Paul is referring to the blessing and curse here. 


3.3.2.  It is good to remember that under the Old Testament Law it was taught that disrespect and disobedience to parents was a capital crime and that parents could choose to have a son or daughter who committed such offenses to be put to death.


3.3.3.  Note that prosperity as well as a long life are part of the blessing promised to obedient and respectful children.


4.     VS 6:4  - 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. -  Paul tells fathers in the Ephesian church not to provoke their children but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord


4.1.                     There should proper be balance in a Christian’s life, and here Paul gives us some balance.  Not only are parents to discipline their children when their children disobey and disrespect them, fathers here are admonished that they must not ‘provoke’ their children to anger.  This provoking referred to is primarily the provoking through discipline that is unreasonable, unwarranted, or too harsh.


4.2.                     Though the admonishment in this case is given to ‘fathers’ this does not preclude the idea that mothers can also ‘provoke’ their children to anger.  Mothers must take this admonishment to heart in the same way that fathers do.


4.3.                     There are many ways that parents can provoke their children to anger:


4.3.1.  Parents who can never be satisfied with their children’s achievements.


4.3.2.  Parents who can punish their children too harshly.


4.3.3.  Parents who can be inconsistent in their application of discipline or make capricious decisions that do not make sense.  It must not be the case that one day a child is punished for something that they normally get away with.  Punishment must be consistent to keep from frustrating children.


4.3.4.  Parents who can only criticize their children when they do wrong and never compliment them when they do good.


4.3.5.  Parents who can make unreasonable demands upon their children.


4.3.6.  Parents who can make decisions about their children from selfish reasons not thinking of what is best for their child.


4.3.7.  Parents who can refuse to listen to their children when their children are trying to explain themselves and why they have done different things.


4.3.8.  Parents who can dominate their children and in doing so not allow their children learn to make decisions concerning their own life.  Domineering parents rear children who many times don’t ever want to marry or in some cases become homosexual in their orientation.


4.3.9.  Parents who can be critical of their children in front of others thereby humiliating them.


5.     VS 6:5-8  - 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 eyeservice, 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. -  Paul admonishes slaves that they are to submit themselves to their masters


5.1.                     In Paul’s day there were many problems that existed in society because of the relations of slaves with their masters.  Slaves were often rebellious against and would flee from their masters.  Masters were often overly harsh to their slaves beating them senseless and many times even beating them to death.


5.2.                     Paul tells slaves in the church at Ephesus that just because they had come to have faith in Christ and found freedom from their sins, this did not mean that they did not have earthly responsibilities.  They were now responsible as Christians, children of the King of Kings, to be submissive to their masters ‘according to the flesh’ and that in doing so they were to have the motivation that they were ‘doing the will of God from the heart.’


5.3.                     Paul tells the slaves here at Ephesus that they were to ‘render service as to the Lord and not to men.’  Though they were free men now that they had come to faith in Christ, slaves were now to be obedient to their earthly masters recognizing that they were pleasing the Lord by this obedience.


5.4.                     These slaves were to be sincere and not just render lip service, or what Paul refers to here as ‘eye service.’


5.5.                     The book of Philemon was written by Paul to a Christian man named Philemon at the church at Collosae.  This man had a slave named Onesimus who had come to faith in Christ after escaping from his master and fleeing to Rome.  Paul sent the letter with the slave who was now returning with a penitent heart to his master.  Paul encourages Philemon to now love this slave and accept him as a brother in the Lord.  The book is an illustration of the experience of coming to redemption through Christ.


5.6.                     Paul encourages the slaves in Ephesus that though their station in this life may be the lowest that none-the-less the Lord would reward them for every single thing that they did on a daily basis in obedience to God.  Reward in the next life does not depend upon station in this life, only obedience to God.


6.     VS 6:9  - 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 admonishes masters not to threaten their slaves


6.1.                     Paul admonishes slave owners in the Ephesian church to treat their slaves in a Christ-like way and therefore to stop ‘threatening’ them, and it is implied that they are also to stop showing all types of cruelty to their slaves.  He tells slave owners to ‘do the same tings to them,’ in other words they were to be Christ-like towards their slaves and be subject to one another.


6.2.                     Paul warns those who are masters that their slaves serve the same master in heaven as they do and that ‘there is no partiality with Him.’  The Lord will deal with a cruel master in other words.




7.1.                     .Parents lets be committed to applying Paul’s teaching to the way in which we rear our children. 


7.1.1.  Be committed to disciplining your children but do so with consistency not harshness realizing that you are teaching them the way to pattern their lives.  Through your consistency of discipline teach them to make right choices.


7.1.2.  Be committed to not provoking your children to anger but rather bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


7.1.3.  Apply the “Golden Rule” to your kids when you discipline them.  If you were a child how would you want your parents to treat and deal with you? 


7.2.                     Children lets recognize that God gave you your parents as the means He has chosen to mold your life and character to be like Christ, and He has given them to you because He loves you.  Therefore, be obedient to your parents as unto the Lord.

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