Sunday, 28 May 2017
Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 4:1
These words (along with the closing verse of Chapter 3) closely match Paul’s words of Ephesians 6:9 –
“And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”
Though this thought carries over from the previous chapter, there is nothing wrong with dividing the chapters in this manner. It actually gives an additional highlight to the duties of the master in having it divided in this way. They are to be responsible in the care of their bondservants, giving “what is just and fair.”
The word “just” is an adjective which means “righteous” and “impartial.” The slaves were not to be deprived a fair hearing over matters simply because they were slaves. The word “fair” is actually a noun, and it is preceded by a definite article. It signifies “equality of treatment,” and thus it should be translated as “the equality.” It is not an equality of condition, but a brotherly equality which stems from the relationship that arises from being in Christ. Though there is an earthly slave/master relationship, there is a spiritual brotherhood which is to take precedence in the master’s conduct.
The reason for this is that the believing master knows that he also has “a Master in heaven.” Christ has treated this master of others in the most caring and compassionate manner imaginable. He has also shown him the epitome of righteous treatment. Further, He has bestowed upon him the equality par excellence, raising him to the same level as any president or king who has also been saved by Christ. This equality of the brethren is thus to be bestowed upon believing bondservants.
Life application: As noted in other verses, we have a different societal structure than ancient Rome. Instead of slaves, we have employees. But the concepts remain the same. We are to be fair to those we have charge over, particularly to fellow believers. This is because our great Master, Jesus, has shown this to us as the example to follow.
Lord God, thank You for the undeserved treatment we have received from You because of the life of Jesus which was given on our behalf. We in no way merited such grace, and yet you have lavished it upon us. Help us now to act in a like manner to those around us. May we not forget the grace of Christ in our daily relationships, but rather highlight it in all ways and at all times. Amen.