Building Up the Body of Christ
The book of Ephesians, written by the apostle Paul, is a guidebook and encouragement for the body of Christ. In it are essential things to know to become a holy person through Christ, in order to glorify his name. In Chapter six verses one through nine Paul writes about relationships between parents and children, and slaves and their masters. It is important to understand the meaning of this passage in order to build up the body of Christ.
Chapter six of Ephesians begins with instructions to children and their parents in the first four verses. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Verse 1) The Greek word used for children is tekna. This word is used for those who are younger, and here it is used to represent those who are still under the care of their parents. As children we are to obey our parents by listening to them and doing what they tell us. This is right because God appointed it. Our parents are our caretakers. They are the ones who feed us every meal, who tuck us in at night, who make sure we get to school on time, who take care of us when we are sick, they raise us to be children of God. We have these people for a reason; they are our Mothers and Fathers. God is our heavenly Father and over all but the next in authority are our parents. The only reason a child is not to obey their parents is if their parents are asking them to do something that does not obey the Lord. “as far as the parents commands are according to the will and word of God. For surely no child is called to obey any parent if he give unreasonable or unscriptural commands.” (Clarke)
In verse two we are told to “honor your father and mother” this verse is quoted from the original scripture in Exodus 20:12. “Honor your Father and Mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)” (Verse 2). Honoring our parents is different than obeying them. We are to do both, but when we honor our parents we respect them and look up to them. “God has made a general blessing of a good life and a long life to children who honor their parents.” (Nite, pg. 94) Verse three speaks of this blessing. “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Verse 3) This blessing is found in the fifth commandment in Deuteronomy 5:16. By learning to honor my parents I have carried on those habits towards other elders in my life. Anyone in authority in my life deserves my respect. When you give respect to others you receive it back. When I do not honor my parents it is hard for them to return feelings of respect. By learning to obey and honor my parents I am learning how to be a well-rounded person who accepts authority.
Verse four is directed towards the parents in the relationship of parent and child. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Verse 4) God is our heavenly Father and just as He disciplines us our earthly father is to as well. This instruction is to be from God’s word. This verse is addressed particularly to fathers because they are the head of the family. We are to obey our fathers, but the commands should be made in love. “When the commands of a parent are unreasonable and severe. The spirit of a child then becomes irritated, and he is ‘discouraged;’ Colossians 3:21.” (Barnes) Children learn from their parents and if they are taught in anger than that behavior is likely to be passed along to the child.
If we can grasp the meaning of these verses than our relationship between parent and child can be used to glorify God. When we follow God’s will the body of Christ is built up. These verses definitely still hold true to believers today. These are commands that should be followed in order to have healthy relationships within the church. When we do this work in our relationships at home then the church is made that much stronger.
As we keep reading in chapter six Paul then writes about the relationships between slaves and masters in verses five through nine. Starting in verse 5 it says “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;” The word slaves in verse five is referring to employees and the word master is referring to employer. In verse five when it says “according to the flesh” it simply regarding the human relation between employers and employees. “Your masters in secular things; for they have no authority over your religion, nor over your souls” (Clarke). We are to serve our bosses “with fear and trembling” because they have a power above us and they can punish us for disobedience just as God can. We are to obey God and he commands us to obey our fleshly authority, including our employers. Then the verse says “in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;” We are not to be fake or false towards God with out hearts. He deserves our whole hearts and the true feelings of them. We are to act this way towards our employers as well. We are to serve them as we would serve Christ. Verse six goes on to say that that our service is not to be as “men-pleasers”. “Not by way of eye service, as man-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” (Verse 6) When working we should be striving to fulfill the will of God. Even if that means you are waiting tables, God has a purpose for it. This also means not to act this way in order to get attention from others. We are “slaves of Christ” and our service is to be of our hearts, not the flesh. Our work is for His glory, not our own. “With cheerfulness; do not take up your service as a cross, or bear it as a burden; but take it as coming in the order of God’s providence, and a thing that is pleasing to him.” (Clarke) This is what verse seven is saying to us. “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,” (Verse 7) We are to serve only God, and no other being.
(Nite, page 96-97)
The last two verses on the relationship between slave and master are verses eight and nine.
Knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. 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. (Verse 8-9)
By knowing what God expects in the relationships between workers and their bosses we can form this relationship to what He intended it to be. Even though this translation of scripture uses the words “slave” and “master” that does not make it obsolete to us today. This simply translates over to the modern day workplace. Much like the relationship between parents and children this one between slaves and master can be used to build up the church. When we are showing that we follow all the commands that God has given us we prove that we have surrendered our lives completely to His will.
Now knowing what this scripture means we are able to apply it to our lives. If we can take these instructions and use them, the body of Christ will be built up, and therefore worshiping our God. As believers we are to not only read the word of God, but also understand and apply it to our lives
God showed me a lot through this class and I'm very thankful for having the opportunity to be studying at the seminary. So if any of you reading this happen to support the seminary and funding it's students, I want to thank you. You are doing more than you will ever know just by a simple gift.
Another thing I wanted to share was something really cool that happened on Saturday. This week we started a new meeting on Saturdays with kids from around 8 to 12. It's like Sunday school, but on Saturdays ha We met at the seminary and Tonya (the children's director) had me teach English and we had cookies and tea and then she taught a Bible lesson. Everything went well, but the coolest part was when we got the Bible lesson. Tonya gave each of the kids New Testaments in Russian and we read the lesson straight from the Bible. I sat there with a smile on my face as I listened to these 12 year old kids read God's word, they were asking if they could read next. This is God's word, our spiritual food, and these kids understood how important it is! A boy who's 12, Vaunya said he was going to go home after and read and said he wanted to read the New Testament. I was so moved just by this simple act. And what is even cooler is that Vaunya was at church this morning. He always comes on Saturdays to kids club but he has never been to church on Sunday, until today.
God is moving here, even in the 12 year olds. I am truly blessed.
Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. I hope the Lord blesses you in many ways.
My roommate Angelica and I will be taking 2 weeks off from class to focus on ministry. I'm excited to take this time to get deep into the Word and to fellowship with the Moldavites.
Much Love and God Bless, Bethany