Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 6:5 - 6:9

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 6:5 - 6:9

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The duties of servants and masters:

v. 5. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your he art, as unto Christ;

v. 6. not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the he art;

v. 7. with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men;

v. 8. knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

v. 9. And ye masters, do the same things unto them, for bearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him.

This admonition is not confined to domestic slaves and their masters, but includes all relations of subordination. Owing to the conditions of his time, of course, St. Paul addresses himself especially to the servants in bondage: Servants, obey those who, according to the flesh, are your masters. Obedience to their earthly, bodily masters was the duty of slaves. Whether Christian slaves had a heathen or a Christian master, their submission was demanded with equal force, Col_3:22-25; Col_4:1; 1Pe_2:18-25. The institution of slavery is not intrinsically wrong, the Christian abolitionist, therefore, holding his ground on the basis of social and economic reasons only. The obedience of the servants was to be rendered: With fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ. It was thus to be of such a nature as to shrink from the slightest neglect of duty; it was to be concerned strictly and entirely with the one aim of performing every service satisfactorily, whether or not a special reward would be forthcoming; it was to be performed in the consciousness that, in the final analysis, it was done to Christ. Solicitous zeal, absence of all pretense and insincerity, and the feeling of serving Christ: these factors characterize true service.

The apostle explains his meaning more fully: Not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. It may have been the custom then, as it is a common practice now, that servants seek only to gain the approval of their masters so long as they are under the eyes of the masters, and that their obedience extends only as far as the eyes of the masters reach. Christian servants and workmen, on the other hand, look upon themselves as the servants of Christ in their own station, for which reason they attempt to fulfill the will of God in the work which they are performing for their masters. They are fully aware that the omniscient eye of God sees all the hidden things, and they thus do the will of God from their heart, with all sincerity and faithfulness, doing service with good will as to the Lord and not to men. They do not consider their station in life as a burden which may be borne only with groaning, but their attitude toward their work and toward their master indicates that they wish their master well in his enterprises, and desire to render him all the assistance in their power. Thus they bring out in their whole life the conviction of their hearts that they are performing their service, their work, to the Lord Himself, and not merely to men. This attitude influences and controls their entire outlook upon life, making careless, shabby work on their part impossible and excluding the thought of boycotts and strikes, so far as they personally are concerned. And finally: Knowing that each one, if he does anything good, this he will receive of the Lord, whether slave or free. Christian servants and workmen, at the present time no longer in slavery, but all of them free, know that the Lord keeps the record of their work, and that His reward will come in time. They may not receive the recognition to which their faithful service entitles them here in time, but the Lord knows what every single one has done, in love and obedience to Him. And the day is coming when they will receive the reward of grace from the hands of their heavenly Father; they will be given credit in the values of eternity for the work done here in time.

But the masters are not excluded from the exhortation: And you masters, do the same things toward them, omitting threatening, knowing that their Lord and pours is in heaven, and respect of persons is not with Him. The same thing, the same good will, should be shown by the masters as that enjoined upon the servants, for they also have duties to their subordinates; it is a condition of mutual give and take. For one thing, the masters should not attempt to maintain discipline through the terror of threats. In singling out this one instance of bad feeling on the part of a master, St. Paul includes every form of harshness, all habitual browbeating. For after all, God above is the Master of both the servants and the human masters, and His throne is in the heaven above, and not merely on earth. Before this mighty Lord all men are alike, He shows special favor to none; He will judge the masters as well as the servants, the employers as well as the employees. If this section would only be heeded more generally in the world, there would be no difficulty between labor and capital, for all such questions as now agitate men's minds are answered here completely. Both parties considering their work as a service to Christ and God, they will exercise humility and kindness at all times.