February 07, 2021
Instructions for Christian Households
v18. Wives. NIV/KJV submit yourselves, NASB/NRSV be subject
Here wives are to voluntarily submit to show respect. The wife’s submission is never to be forced on her as the Greek verb shows the submission is to be voluntary. Nor does it require a servile attitude. The Greek word translated submit is a word borrowed from the military. It literally means “to be under in rank” and applies only to her husband within their home and marriage. Note that the Bible never commands nor recommends a general submission of women unto men.
Now about as is fitting in the Lord, it does not mean a wife should submit to her husband as if he were God himself.
Nor does it mean, the wife will submit to him as long as he does what the Lord wants where the wife has decided it is her job to decide what the Lord wants. Why is this wrong? Because it quickly degenerates into a case of, I’ll submit to my husband when I agree with him. If this is so, then what is as is fitting in the Lord about? It is about the motive of a wife’s submission as an expression of her submission to the Lord. Wives are not expected to submit because women are the “submissive type.” They are expected to voluntarily submit because it is fitting in the Lord.
One more note: this command to submit is not absolute. Two examples: When the husband asks the wife to sin, she must not submit. When the husband is involved in adultery, the wife does not need to submit to her husband being in a sinful relationship.
v19. Husbands. NIV/NRSV harsh/harshly, NASB/KJV bitter
Love here is the Greek verb agapao, it is the same verb Jesus used when He asked Peter if he loved Him in John 21. Three times Jesus asked the question, the first two using the Greek agapao, the third time using the word Peter was using the Greek phileo. What is the difference between the two words for love? Phileo is brotherly love, agapao is something else. It is used to describe the love of Father God toward His Son Jesus and it is the word used to tell husbands to love their wives. The best way to describe this love is, husbands you are to cherish and to treasure and to appreciate your wives. To make more sense out of this we need to go back to Genesis 2:18 where God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. The Hebrew word for helper is ezer H5828 (slide 2). From the slide, I believe we are to look at our wives as our treasure.
Further, we are not to be harsh or bitter with them. This implies a husband believes he has some reason to be harsh or bitter with his wife. Does Not Matter. Agapao love, loves even when there are evident problems, even when your wife is unworthy of the love. Ladies if you thought submission was tough, try agapao love. As husbands we are to do our best to imitate the kind of love Jesus has for His people – agapao love – when it comes to our wives.
v20. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. NIV/NRSV/NASB/KJV obey
The children spoken of here are minor children, not adult children. While we are to honor our parents always (Exodus 20:12), but we are to obey them in all things when we are in their house. Obey here simply means to follow the instructions of your parents and to be subject to their authority.
v21. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. NIV embitter, NASB antagonize, NRSV/KJV provoke Fathers can also mean Parents, but clearly the weight of this instruction falls upon the Fathers, who are not to embitter or provoke their children. This means not to cause your child to react in a way that suggests the acceptance of a challenge – in a bad way. Also be careful as this can result in your children becoming discouraged to the point of losing motivation, losing heart, becoming dispirited. Misbehavior may have to be punished, but we have to be careful not to break the spirits of our children.
v22-25. Slaves (employees). NIV/NRSV earthly masters, NASB human masters, KJV masters according to the flesh
Slaves and employees. Here we will talk primarily about employees as slaves are relatively rare in the world today although it does exist. Obey is the same word used for children with their parents, but here the focus is different. Obey is to follow instructions precisely. The obedience is to be total in everything in the master’s or employer’s sphere of authority. Not just when we are being watched (God is watching all the time) so here it is our attitude (slide 3) that is being addressed. Let the quality of your work be as if you are doing it for the Lord for It is the Lord Christ you are serving not your human master or employer. And v24 tells us we will receive an inheritance as a reward from the Lord. Rewards are beyond salvation as salvation cannot be earned. Be aware there is no favoritism, slave or master.
v25-4:1. Masters/employers/supervisors find v25 applies to them as well as to slaves or employees. There is no favoritism. No matter what your position you have a Master in heaven and His name is Jesus. Masters and slaves are equal before God.