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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, September 21, 2018

Ephesians 6:5-9 (Lesson 35)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (6:5-9)                                                             (Lesson 35)                                

Welcome to HBS.

In our study of Ephesians chapters 1-3 we’ve seen our Apostle Paul remark on the spiritual blessings each true Believer receives as a result of their faith (alone) in the gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and he introduced several church related doctrines.  Then in chapters 4-6, Paul explains how to apply these principles to our lives.  Starting at Ephesians 4:1, he calls all Believers to live (walk) differently than their unbelieving counterparts.  Initially, our walk as young Believers may best be described as a crawl (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 2:2), however, by and by, our Savior expects Believers to grow in the faith (5:5) and knowledge of the Lord, to a mature man (and woman) - 4:13-15.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:9-10).

The first step in this spiritual process begins by walking in submission to the Holy Spirit (5:18), and then in mutual submission to one another (5:21).  Our relationships with each other, especially within the family, are to be marked by humility and obedience to God’s expressed will (1:9).

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10).

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons (and daughters) of God (Romans 8:14)

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law (Galatians 5:17-18).
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Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:5-9 then let’s read through this passage together.

Slaves (Doulos), be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, (how) as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 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 (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Here Paul addresses believing slaves specifically and gives them the Lord’s directives (commands) for the workplace.  We know this is true because our Apostle Paul only writes to Believers.  The KJV Bible uses the word “servant” instead of slaves; however, in Koine Greek slaves is translated Doulos (doo’-los), Adjective, Noun Masculine, Strong’s Greek #1401, meaning:  a common bondslave, usually a male.    

In our culture people have a negative view of the word slave.  This is because they associate it with the Atlantic Slave Trade dating back to the 16th century.  This involved the abduction and transportation of people from central and western Africa against their will to the Americas, primarily, to fill the great need for cheap labor.  The people who survived the trip were sold to the highest bidder in the slave market.  This is just one more episode of “man’s inhumanity to man” in this fallen world which dates all the way back to the time Cain in jealous anger murdered his brother Abel. 

 But slavery in the first century was quite different from the American experience.  In Paul’s day Roman slaves were taken as the spoils of war, people were born into slavery, or were such because they sold themselves into slavery (these were known as "bond-servants") to pay off a debt for instance.  The latter were often well-educated (Galatians 3:24).  These slaves tutored and disciplined Jewish and Roman children in the home.    

The masters had absolute rights over their slaves, but they generally showed them respect, unlike the days of Abraham Lincoln.  They were treated with dignity; although they could beat them, it was not a usual practice.  What’s more, slaves could marry, accumulate wealth, purchase their own freedom, run a business, etc.  Cicero noted that a slave could usually be set free within seven years; in any case, under Roman law a slave would normally be set free by age 30, generally speaking.  The revolt led by Spartacus in 73 BC caused Rome to treat slaves from the western regions more harshly (similar to how black slaves were treated on most plantations).  Eastern slaves, however, enjoyed much greater freedom.

As much as two thirds of the Roman Empire was slaves (before the first century it was as high as 90%).  By the first century AD an increasingly large number of slaves were being freed—so much so that Caesar had to write laws that governed the procedure.

Does the Bible Condone Slavery?

The short answer is, “No.”  However, that didn’t stop many Christians from believing in and promoting slavery in America.  Here are a few of the common arguments made by Christians in support of this wicked practice:

Abraham, the father of faith, and all the patriarchs held slaves without God’s disapproval (Genesis 21:9-10)

The Ten Commandments mention slavery twice, showing God’s acceptance of it (Exodus 20:10, 17)

Slavery was widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and yet Jesus never spoke against it.

The Apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master (Philemon 12)

Although the Bible contains more than three-quarters of a million words, Christian slave owners borrowed these Bible texts to promote the practice of slavery in America. 

Historians have recorded there were approximately six million slaves throughout the Roman Empire at the dawn of Christianity.   So, why didn’t our Apostle Paul speak out against slavery?  Why didn’t he tell these slaves to leave their masters?  Let’s think this through.  To whom would he make this declaration… to the pagan masters?  Since pagans do not know God, why would they place themselves under God’s authority?  Paul's plea for them to do the right thing would be meaningless.  The other reason Paul left this issue untouched is he knew speaking out against the widespread and accepted practice of slavery would bring the wrath of Rome against the Body of Christ.  As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day; likewise, Paul knew ending the practice of slavery would take time.  

In Paul’s day, the word slave (Doulosbond-servant) was used with the highest dignity, namely of Believers who humbly submit to a life under Jesus Christ’s divine authority.  James, Jude, Paul, and Peter expressed this metal attitude in their writings:

Paul, a servant (Doulos) of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:2-3; Titus 1:7).

Simon Peter, a servant (Doulos) and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those having obtained a faith equally precious with ours, through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1). 

James, a servant (Doulos) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion… (James 1:1).

Jude, a servant (Doulos) of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who are called, having been loved in God the Father, and kept in Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1).

Plainly said, a servant of the Lord must imitate his master earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 3).

 So, in Paul’s day, a person entered into slavery by one of three ways, as a possession of a conquering nation, was born into it, or by volunteering to become a bond-servant.  Paul knew slavery was as wicked as idol worship and prostitution, but these vices were not going away any time soon.  So, Paul instructed Believers to walk in “obedience to their masters with fear and trembling.  Regardless of whom your employer is or what they are like, you as the employee are to respectfully submit to their orders except in issues of immorality.  The respect is important.  Our text says, “with fear and trembling.”  This is not the idea of being scared to the point of cowering before them; instead Paul speaks of giving honor and respect to those in authority.  He said do this “in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.”  Here Paul means to say without deception, i.e. give the appearance of serving faithfully while secretly planning to escape (6:5). 

Paul goes on to say, “not by way of eyeservice, as men pleasers,” which conveys the idea of only working while in sight of their master and “goofing off” when he is not around.  Instead of having that mentality, believing slaves were to consider themselves “as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (6:6).  In other words, these folks were to approach their duties with the same mindset as Jesus Christ who chose to become the Servant of all.  Please note this command is followed by the promise “…knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free” (6:8).

Paul speaks of the Bema Seat Judgment out future as he did while writing to the carnal Corinthians:  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Now, please turn with me in your Bible to Philippians 2:6.  Here Paul writes about the Incarnation, i.e. Jesus Christ, the Creator God, taking on human form, without ever ceding the attributes of deity (Matthew 1:23):

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of (what) a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

In verse 7, Paul said Jesus Christ took on the "form of a bond-slave"—a person who voluntarily submitted himself to a master in order to do his will.

but (He) emptied Himself - the word "emptied" in Koine Greek is Kenoo (ken-o’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2758, and it means: to make empty.  Figuratively speaking it means:  to abase, naturalize, to make of none effect, of no reputation.  The Lord voluntarily emptied Himself and became the Servant of all mankind and yet He was fully God (John 20:28; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8) and fully man (Romans 1:2-4; 1 John 4:2-3).

"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights.  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1).

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Were you called while a slave?  Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.  For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called (1 Corinthians7:21-24). 

So, true Believers are to have the same mental attitude as our Lord and Savior who willingly became a bond-servant (6:5). 

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:5).

The word "attitude" here is the Koine Greek word Phroneo, which means:  To think, to exercise the mind, to have an opinion or attitude.  Paul defines this exhortation in verses 3-4.   The attitude Paul is calling Believers to put on is humility:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). 

This entire chapter speaks of humility.  Here Paul calls believers to have a mind, attitude, or thinking of humility, which was the Lord’s attitude.

Humility should first be our reaction toward God acknowledging the fact He has the right to control us and our lives; He can do with you and me as He pleases, while acknowledging to ourselves we are in control of nothing… not even our next heart beat. Because His authority is Sovereign (absolute) He can give us commands without first discussing the parameters of His orders with us personally:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.   In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Biblical speaking, humility is a spirit of submitting to the Lord as master of every aspect of your life:  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves to God (1 Peter 2:13-16).

The humble individual understands they are as clay in the Potter's hands:

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

…who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it (Romans 9:20)?

Although Paul directs his commands to believing slaves, and we’re not slaves even though you may feel as though you’re being treated as one at work, the principle he’s stating is applicable to us as Believers.  If you are not satisfied with your current employer, you have the option of finding a more suitable situation elsewhere.  Slaves weren’t given this option.  In fact, the slaves of the Roman Empire were treated more cruelly than anything experienced in the Americas.  Slave owners held the power of life or death over their slaves.  Cato, a statesman and follower of Stoic philosophy advocated throwing out old slaves, as though they were trash and not feeding the ill slave because they were not worth the trouble or the expense.  He compared sick slaves to “broken tools.”      

So, Paul’s saying an employee is to walk in humble obedience at work, i.e. submissive to their employers in everything and at all times.  Whatever you are asked to do, Paul says “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, “(6:7).  But here’s the thing, there is an exception to this command.  Should your employer assign you something to do that is immoral or against God’s expressed will you are to remember God the Father is your Master.    

Since we live in a fallen (corrupt) world, there is a good chance you’ll encounter an unscrupulous employer at some point in time.  I have, so I know some of you will; it only stands to reason.  Should your boss tell you to do something you know is wrong, then certainly appeal to them, ask them if they would consider something different, but leave the matter in their hands and make sure they know you will do it whatever way they decide.  Don’t argue with them and don’t get mad.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself and don’t talk behind their back.  Don’t be disrespectful in anyway.  Simply submit and follow your employer’s instructions.  Remember, you’re to demonstrate Christ-like behavior (5:1).  It would honor the faith if the employee performed his or her task with a willing mind rather than be disobedient.   They could do more for the honor of the faith by patiently submitting to even what they felt to be wrong, than by being punished for what could be regarded as rebellion against their employer (master).

Let’s read what Paul wrote in Titus 2:9-10:

bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

The behavior of our lives is to bring glory to God by living according to His principles in every area of our life.  We are to have a singleness of mind about this, or as Paul put it at the end of verse 6:5, “in the sincerity of your heart…”  There is to be nothing false in our submission to our employers.  We are to serve them with true hearts.  

YOU WILL RECEIVE A REWARD

The true Believer works in this manner because he or she knows they will receive a reward from the Lord at the proper time (6:8).

knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

There’s a good chance you and I may not be compensated reasonably for our work by our employers, i.e. some people may not be recognized for their efforts at work.  However, according to this verse, so what?  We are looking toward and living for eternity’s reward, not what occurs in the here and now.  We must be like the elderly missionary that returned to the U.S. from Africa after many years of preaching and teaching the gospel.  On the same ship was Theodore Roosevelt who was greeted enthusiastically by a great crowd.  The missionary was quite discouraged at first as he thought about the welcome Roosevelt received for shooting game animals, while there was not one person there to welcome him home after a lifetime of working for the Lord.

But then he was reminded that all was as it should be in this world.  He had received no acclaim or reward yet but this was because he had not reached his real home in heaven.  This is the behavior and this is the mental attitudes every Believer in Christ Jesus should have.  But what about the people in charge (employers)?

MASTERS AND EMPLOYERS

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 (6:9).

Employers are to give respectful leadership and remember they too are slaves of Christ.
The believing employer should not permit his God-given authority go to his head (or feed his pride) as it does with those outside of Christ:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves (Romans 13:1-2).

Employers are to” do the same things to them, and give up threatening.”  In other words, the believing authority is to follow these same commands.  He or she is to treat their employees with love and compassion, as the Lord Jesus Christ does His Church. 

And there is no partiality with Him (6:9b) - there is no partiality (favoritism) with the Lord.  Your God-given position in life has more to do with His grace to you than anything for you to be prideful about.  All Believers have an equal standing before the Lord Jesus Christ because in Him there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female (Galatians 2:28). 

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Romans 12:4-5).

A believing employer should be the best employer there is to work for – and he or she will be if they recognize they too are slaves of Christ and run their operation according to God’s will.  A believing employee should be the best employee there is – and he or she will be if they do work as unto the Lord as His bond-servants.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved


Friday, September 14, 2018

Ephesians 6:4 (Lesson 34)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (6:4)                                                                (Lesson 34)                                

Welcome to HBS, and thank you for your faithful attendance.

This section of scripture (beginning at Ephesians 4:1 and ending with Ephesians 6:11) has several commands from the Lord to each true Believer so they can walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called.  Most recently we examined those commands concerning the God-given roles within the family that are all within the context of “walking in wisdom” (Ephesians 5:15).

Let’s also remember in the opening of this letter (epistle) Paul lists many marvelous blessings from God the Father to each true Believer in Christ Jesus.  You and I were once dead in our trespasses and sin, but now we have been made alive through Jesus Christ.  We were given a new nature when we received the Holy Spirit God’s earnest payment guaranteeing our inheritance, and furthermore, the Spirit of God dwells within us.  In case you’re not aware of what this means for each true Believer, it means the same power that raised Jesus Christ from His tomb dwells within us (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20).  One of the many benefits of the indwelt Holy Spirit is a quickened mind and the ability to discern the spiritual things of God.  Thus the true Believer has the ability to walk in Godly wisdom, and Paul is calling on all of us to do just that: “be careful how you walk (insert your name here), not as unwise, but as wise” (5:15).

The fragmented American family is a great tragedy, and I’m sure it saddens the Creator God.  Instead of following His Blueprint for a Successful Marriage, people continue to turn to the vain opinions, philosophies, and worldly wisdom of men for answers rather than to the One who designed mankind and the family.  When people reject the Creator and His design, they prove the scriptures true:

in professing to be wise they have become fools (Romans 1:22).

Where is the wise man?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this (present evil) age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20)?

…in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

It’s not enough to be aware of God’s design for saved families, you must also follow (obey) those instructions (and not just the one’s you find favor with).  This is not possible unless you are first filled with the Spirit (5:18).  Figures like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham are remembered to this very day because they walked with God.  Israel’s evil kings of the O.T. (Israel’s first king Saul being one) are remembered because they did not.  Thus, the true Believer’s walk is characterized by humbly walking in the Truth, and they maintain their worthy walk by filling their minds and hearts with the Word of God routinely (Psalm 119:10-11).  You know you’re walking with the Lord when you obey His commands:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…” (John 14:23).

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete (1 Corinthians 10:5).

…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Romans 1:5).

What Does “Led by the Spirit” Mean?

The phrase “led by the Spirit” only occurs twice in the N. T., and both instances are frequently misused today.  The first is in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  The immediate context is the Believer’s battle with the flesh through the empowerment of the Spirit.  The second occurrence is in Galatians 5:18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  Again, the immediate context is the Believer’s battle with sin.  In both instances, the larger concern is to show us how to live joyful, obedient lives that produce holiness and glorify God.

 Let’s explore this more deeply by focusing on Galatians 5:16–25.  In this passage Paul addresses two problems that plagued the Galatian church and continues to plague the church today:  legalism and immorality.  Some people in the Galatian church urged observance of parts of the Mosaic Law, and others were disregarding moral constraints.  So, our Apostle Paul gives this church (and us) a command with a promise:  Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16).  The word Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every true Believer.  The word flesh is Paul’s term to describe fallen human nature and its self-centered attitudes, desires, and behaviors.  The word walk is commonly used in Scripture to refer to one’s daily conduct.  Thus, to walk by the Spirit means to live one’s daily life by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment.  To walk in the flesh is to live a life characterized by various sins and selfish behaviors.

  Paul goes on to talk about how the flesh and the Spirit oppose and contend against each other, something every Believer can identify with.  This struggle is a part of our lifelong battle against the world, the flesh, and Satan, as the Holy Spirit works to make us progressively more like Jesus.  Sometimes people grow weary and discouraged with this constant struggle within and it may cause some to doubt their salvation, but actually it is a sign of our new life.  Walking by the Spirit is the pathway to overcoming the desires of the flesh and living a life pleasing to God.

  Practically speaking, how do we walk by the Spirit and overcome the desires of the flesh?  We must allow ourselves to be “led by the Spirit.”  The word led indicates we should continuously surrender and yield ourselves to the desires of the Spirit, whose leading is always diametrically opposed to the desires of our sinful flesh (our old self).  Our surrender to the Spirit’s leading is an act of the will, a choice you and I must make; it is saying yes to the Spirit’s leading and no to the desires of the flesh.  We always have a choice.  So, let’s be clear, as we allow the Spirit to influence, direct, and empower us, we can overcome the flesh.

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I thought it would be a good idea to pick up our Bible lesson at Ephesians 6:4 before moving on to the section:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

As we continue to look at this practical section of Ephesians, I think it is clear Paul was not instructing society in general.  He is specifically addressing the Believers in Ephesus on how husbands, wives, children, and parents are to live out their lives, bearing in mind their worthy walk is about bringing honor and glory to God, and setting an example for those people who are outside of Christ.  Paul is making the Ephesian saints (and us) aware of how Believers are to live under Jesus Christ's Lordship in the most intimate relationships of life.  

The simplicity of Paul's instructions offers clear guidance for family relationships.  Paul addresses each member of the family individually with a one word command that if followed will make a profound impact in our families, our church, and our nation.  Think this through.  How great would it be to live in an Eden-like environment?  Everyone seeking the other person’s highest good (Galatians 6:4, 10).  This won’t be realized until the Lord returns to establish His earthly kingdom, but the Bible says it will be a time of unprecedented peace for wherever Jesus Christ is, there is peace. 

The one word command from Paul to the wives is “submit;” to the husbands he said, “love,” to the children he said, “obey.”  Today we’ll review Paul’s divine directive for the fathers, “Bring them (the children) up.”

Ephesians 6:4 can be broken down into three parts.  First there is the address, "Fathers."  Second, there is the negative command, "Do not provoke your children."  Third, Paul follows with the positive command, "But bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

In this verse our Apostle Paul addresses his command to “fathers.”  But the term “fathers” does not mean only dad is responsible for raising the children.  It should not escape anyone’s attention both parents are responsible and will be held accountable to the Lord for in the context of 6:1 Paul said “children obey your parents.”  In addition, this same term for “fathers” is translated in Hebrews 11:23 as “parents” (Pater) because it refers to both of Moses’ parents. 

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents (Pater), because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict  (Hebrews 11:23).

In 6:4, it's better to accept the translation as "fathers," (Pater), because Paul has already made us aware the father is the head of the home, as Christ Jesus is the head of His church.  Fathers bear the ultimate responsibility.  He will answer to the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat Judgment.  Therefore, the father sets the tone and the direction of the home, including how the children are to be raised.  We see this same design being employed in the O.T.

“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them (the LORD’s commands) to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that (perished in the wilderness because the nation of Israel) did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God(Psalm 78:5).

So, let’s be clear, although Paul addresses this command to the “fathers,” the responsibility of parenting the children includes mom and dad.  The book of Proverbs supports this teaching:    

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck (Proverbs 1:8-9).

“My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck.  When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.  For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life,” (Proverbs 6:20-23).

The following verses shows us how the child is raised reflects on both parents:    

“A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1).

“A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him” (Proverbs 17:25).

“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.  Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.  Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you (Proverbs 23:22-25).

This book says children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who has a quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed… (Psalm 127:3-5a).  Children are a gift from God and they are to be a blessing, but if parents do not fulfill their God-given responsibilities properly, their children will not be a blessing to God, to their parents, or to anyone else.

Fathers, do not provoke your children (Teknon) to anger” – the Koine Greek word for children here is Teknon.  We looked at this word before while studying verse 6:1.  It still means “offspring;” a child is the Teknon of their parents no matter their age.  I’m in my 60’s and still the Teknon of my parents.  But remember, Paul’s speaking of those children who are under their parent’s authority here.  Once the children grow up and leave home, the authority structure changes. 

I don’t believe you need me to tell you this nation’s current mode of parenting their children isn’t working.  Either the vast majority of people are not aware of God’s Blueprint for a Successful Family or they simply choose not to put it into practice, as epitomized in this article by Denise-Marie Ordway:

Among juvenile delinquents, boys with hostile fathers commit more crime and use a larger variety of drugs and alcohol than boys with absentee fathers, a new study suggests.

The issue:  extensive research has focused on the consequences of single-mother households.  For example, an often-cited study from the University of California, San Francisco and Princeton University found that teenage boys raised by single moms are at a greater risk for incarceration.  Relatively few studies, however, have looked at how certain qualities in fathers affect children who live with their moms.

A group of scholars representing five universities decided to investigate the influence of hostile fathers and uninvolved fathers on their teenage sons’ behavior.

A study worth reading:  “The Difference Influence of Absent and Harsh Fathers on Juvenile Delinquency,” published in the Journal of Adolescence, 2018.

About the study:  the authors examined data collected through a longitudinal study of 1,216 male juvenile delinquents from the Philadelphia area as well as Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and Orange County, California.  All had been arrested on misdemeanor charges such as vandalism and theft.  Almost half the boys in the sample were Latino while 37 percent were black and 15 percent were white.

The boys were asked a series of questions about their household and relationship with the individual they considered to be their father.  They also answered questions about their criminal behavior and use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Fathers are described as “harsh” if they rated high in hostility and low in warmth.  They are characterized as absent if they are completely missing from the boy’s life or if the child did not identify a father figure.  Sons’ relationships with their dads are considered “high quality” if they rated high in warmth and low in hostility.

The key findings:
Most of the boys with harsh fathers were Latino while most with absentee fathers were black.

Boys with harsh fathers had a higher rate of delinquency than those with uninvolved dads. The sons of hostile men reported committing more crime and using a larger variety of drugs and alcohol.

Kids with harsh fathers or absentee fathers reported engaging in more offending behaviors and using more substances than kids with “high quality” relationships with their dads.

About 29 percent of youth in the sample did not have a parent with a high school diploma. About 36 percent had a parent who went to college or received some level of training after high school.

“Father absence is widely acknowledged as a key contributor to delinquency, leading to efforts to promote father involvement with youth to deter juvenile delinquency. However, not all involved fathers develop positive, high-quality relationships with their sons, and father presence in some cases can be more detrimental than father absence” (End of Article).

This article doesn’t address all the issues children are facing in America but it is an eye-opening study revealing the current child crisis due to absentee parents and overbearing fathers.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger – The Koine Greek word for anger is Parorgizo (Par-org-id’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #3949, meaning:  to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, anger.  Father’s are not to “irritate” their children causing them to become angry. 

How do fathers make their children angry?  I’m glad you asked.  Children may become angry due to excessive discipline, unreasonably harsh commands, the father’s abuse of his God-given authority, or as we read earlier in the article above by neglecting their children.  Simply said, whatever causes your child to become angry should be avoided. 

There’s a parallel passage in Colossians that says:  Fathers, do not exasperate (infuriate) your children, so that they will not lose heart (Colossians 3:21).

The word Paul uses for "exasperate" means:  to provoke or to irritate.  This same idea is expressed in Ephesians 6:4 "Don't make your children angry."  

Then Paul gives us the reason for not making them angry, "So that they will not lose heart"—"lose heart" is from the Koine Greek word Athumeo.  This is the only place in the N.T. where you’ll find this word.  It’s a compound word from "a" which means:  without and thumos, which is:  passions, desire, spirit.  It means:  to become disheartened to the point of losing motivation, to be dispirited or to be broken in spirit.  

I’m reminded of the time I bought my wife a horse for her birthday.  Beautiful animal, however it was only green-broke, i.e. not ready to be ridden.  The horse wouldn’t permit a blanket to be laid across her back, let alone a saddle with someone sitting on it.  So, I began training her based on advice from people I knew who owned horses and I read a couple of books on the subject.   I remember one person’s comment from one of these books that said, “Breaking a horse is to climb on and when you’re thrown off, get back on; repeat until the horse gets bored.”  I discarded that information because my Father-in-law had a horse too and she was mean-spirited.  I learned the hard way not to turn my back on this horse because she would bite or kick you, if given the opportunity.  What worked for my horse did not work for this animal because they were as different as night and day. 

Children are not all the same, so they should not be treated as though they are.  What works for one child, may not have the same effect on the other.  Each child has their own personality and this needs to be considered as you exercise these three tools of parenting:  patience, understanding, and above all, love. 

Cruelty is never permitted in the Believer’s household “So that they will not lose heart.”  You don’t want to break the child’s spirit.”  We might think of this as throwing cold water upon their flame for life.  It implies a parent is so cold, stern, harsh, and rigid that a child's strength is sapped, his or her drive for positive achievements gone and their hope for the future shattered.   

The Lord wants us to encourage our children.  One of the ways we accomplish this is by praising them for those things they do right.  This is positive reinforcement.  If the only thing a child receives from his parents is constant criticism, they will become discouraged.  They may become so disheartened they will quit trying to please their parents altogether and in some cases they vent their anger upon their siblings or they opt to take it to the streets bullying some unfortunate individual.   

but bring them up – Paul’s saying bring your children up actually means “to feed.”  It’s a word used in the Bible primarily of nurturing children or providing a climate of spiritual growth and development.  Thus, Paul is informing fathers they have a very important role in the raising of their children. 

How important is this command?  Let’s consider the statistics re: fragmented homes in America.  Today, almost one out of two children goes to bed each night without a biological father in the home.  Fifty percent of our children today will spend at least some time before age eighteen with only one parent.  The poverty rate for children born to mothers who finished high school, got married, and waited until they were 20 to have their first child is 8%.  The poverty rate for those who don't do those things is 79%. The average poverty rate for children of single mothers is currently 47%; it is 65% for black children.  Sixty percent of America's rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long term prison inmates grew up without fathers.  In another social study, I discovered greater than 70% of prison inmate are repeat offenders.  Do the math; what conclusions do you draw?

It is impossible to deny.  Despite the world’s message, having a biological father in the home to help protect, provide for, and raise the children in the fear of the Lord is an essential element of public health and happy, well-adjusted children.

in the discipline and instruction of the Lord - discipline is from the Koine Greek word Paideia, which means:  tutorage; education or training; by implication disciplinary correction.  Paideia is a broad term, signifying whatever parents and teachers need to do (within the parameters of scripture) to correct, cultivate, educate, and train their children in order to help them mature spiritually.  

God wants parents and their children to be like His Son and discipline is necessary to bring this about: 

…and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (Hebrews 12:5-6).

Since children have a tendency to gravitate toward the things of this world, they must be trained to obey the things of God.  To that end, the Lord uses temptation, tribulations, and trials, i.e. our pain and suffering in this life to train us up in the way we should go.  These things are to help the inner man mature.  It's the idea of learning through discipline, and it's talking about correction that may be verbal or corporal.  But here’s the thing, if you dare to apply corporal punishment today you’re likely to find yourself in “hot water” with most children's counselors, educators, psychologists, and social workers.  These folks adamantly oppose any type of corporal punishment.  They say it is an archaic practice.    

What’s more, many people today say corporal punishment is a form of physical abuse. However, by declaring this they are accusing the Lord Jesus Christ of sin.  We just looked at Hebrews 12:6 that said, "Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and He scourges"—the word "scourges" is from the Koine Greek word Mastigoo, which means: "to skin alive with a whip."   If you saw Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” you saw a depiction of Him being scourged by a Roman soldier.  Most people didn’t survive a scourging in Jesus’ day.  But from this passage we learn the Lord’s discipline can include corporal punishment, but we remember the Lord disciplines those He loves, in a loving manner:      

He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently (Proverbs 13:24).

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). 

Too many Christian parents view family counselors and psychologists as the experts when it comes to raising their children.  But the problem with that plan is, these "so-called experts" dispense a lot of anti-biblical nonsense, such as, "You need to build your child's self-esteem."  The other problem with this plan is these psychologists prescribe medications such as antidepressants, when what the child really needs is a healthy diet and good, old-fashioned biblical discipline.   Our Apostle Paul said scripture is adequate to equip us for every “good work.” 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). 

Certainly "every good work" includes the very important work of bringing up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

And so, Paul's command implies a father will lovingly encourage, exhort, and correct his children with God's Word as the standard.  This is what Paul means to say at the end of verse 6:4:  "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
It is the father’s responsibility to ensure his children learn and follow all of the Lord’s instructions.  This has been the duty of parents, but especially the fathers, throughout history.

(To be continued)

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