Saturday, 12 November 2016
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. Ephesians 6:9
Paul spent four verses of instruction on what bondservants were to do and how they were to act while under the authority of their masters. He now gives one all-encompassing verse of instruction to the masters. Further instruction is not necessary because he says, “And you, masters, do the same things to them…” In other words, masters are given all of the same instructions as the bondservants in this one thought. Anything that can be made prescriptive towards the slave is to be taken as such for them. But they are given more instruction as well. This would replace those items which were specifically intended for the slaves in relation to their masters.
For the masters, they are to give “up threatening.” In the Greek, there is an article before “threatening.” It says, tēn apeilēn, or “the threatening.” In other words, it was a customary practice of masters within the empire to threaten their slaves. Instead of, “Good morning Philemous,” they might say, “Get to work or I will beat you.” Instead of, “Bring me some yummy papaya salad Charliopolus,” they might say, “Unless you want to be whipped, you’d better bring me papaya salad right now.” Paul instructs them that they are no longer to threaten their slaves, but to understand that there is now a new economy because of their status as Christians.
And yes, this definitively shows that Christians were slave-masters. Paul never questions this, nor does he say it is an unnatural or inappropriate point in life. It was, and continued to be, a normal part of human existence. However, as Christians, these slave-masters were to know and understand that their “own Master also is in heaven.” They, in fact, became bondservants of Christ when they called upon Him. Because of this, they were to consider how they wished to be treated by their own Master, and then turn and treat their slaves in a like manner. They were to be impartial to them because “there is no partiality with Him.”
As these are prescriptions from Paul, then the slave-master who ignores them will be held accountable for his refusal to be obedient. It is no different for them to mistreat their slaves as it is for them to engage in immoral behavior. The standard is the word of God, and the standard demands adherence to what is laid down. The irony of the matter is that a disobedient slave-master will certainly stand before the Lord and receive less eternal reward than a faithful and obedient slave! Such is the fairness of Christ who looks upon the hearts of men and rewards according to His infinite wisdom.
Life application: If you are a boss, the prescriptions of this verse certainly apply to you. You have charge over subordinates, and you are to treat them kindly and fairly. In this, you will be a responsible Christian and a faithful servant to your heavenly Master.
Heavenly Father, your word instructs us to act responsibly towards those who are placed under us. In Rome, that meant their slaves. In our world today, it surely means that, as bosses and business owners, we are to be considerate of those who work under us. Help us, if we are in such a position, to be kind and gentle-hearted towards them, and yet firm in our responsibilities towards those who are above us. Help us to have peace in our work environments, knowing that we are ultimately accountable to Christ our Lord who will judge our actions fairly and impartially. Amen.