Submissive Slaves

by David W. Roth

Part I

(Eph 6:5-9 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; {6} Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; {7} With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: {8} Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. {9} And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

In this passage Paul gives his final illustration of the principle of Spirit-produced submission.

(Eph 5:21 KJV) "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."

He now applies this principle of submission to the relations between slaves and masters.

How is it that we are to interpret this highly difficult and controversial passage? Is the Apostle Paul really teaching that Christian slaves are to obey their masters? Is slavery as we know it even implied in this text?

There are many well meaning Christians who side step the controversial aspect of this teaching by simply applying this passage to the employee-employer relationship. In other words they apply this passage to the modern work ethic. If you are an employee you are to give your employer an honest days word, and if you are the employer you are to treat your employees fairly and you are also to compensate them properly for their work.

Although this is certainly a biblical concept taught elsewhere in the Bible, my concern is does this concept accurately reflect what Paul has in mind when he instructed slaves to be obedient towards their masters?

If on the other hand Paul is addressing slaves as we are accustomed to viewing it, including the cruel mistreatment of others, this brings us to another difficulty - Is Paul advocating the practice of slavery?

My foremost concern is with the accuracy in which we interpreted the Scripture and not so much for the tensions that may arise from an accurate interpretation.

Many well-meaning Christians teachers never deal with controversal subject matter because they fear tension may be caused.

What about slavery? What does the Bible have to say about this controversal subject?

It is a truth of Scripture that under certain conditions God provided for the practice of slavery. Therefore, if slavery is taught in the Scriptures we need not shun away from it's teaching as though somehow this subject puts a blemish on God. We must begin with this presupposition, a proper interpretation of the subject of slavery will not mar God's holy image. Rather it will exalt His holiness and wisdom as He structures the affairs of men.

Important to this subject of slavery is that we understand that the practice of slavery under the Mosaic law in no way resembles the cruel and barbaric way in which slaves were bought and sold as cattle in our country prior to the days of the American Civil War, or the cruelty which was exhibited by the Romans against slaves.

I will be the first to acknowledge the unfair mistreatment of those who were stolen from their homeland and sold on the auction block as cattle. Our country suffered greatly because of the mistreatment of the black people, and sadly it carries on to this day when many white people think that because they are white they are somewhat superior to those of a darker skin complection, when the fact is there is nothing further from the truth.

Under Biblical law there were certain non-abusive and beneficial ways in which slavery was to be practiced. We will see that these practices were both beneficial to both the slave as well as the master. Again, we must not confuse the slave-master relationship under the Mosaic law with the slave-master relationship which disgraced our country as well as England not so many years ago.

Perhaps the most common form of slavery practiced under the Mosaic law was that of an indentured servant. For example if someone was unable to pay for a debt that they incurred he could be placed under the control of the one whom he owed the debt, working for him until the debt was satisfied.

(Lev 25:39-40 KJV) "And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: {40} But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:"

Even these circumstances were not to continue for more than six years and or until the year the year of jubilee which was to be celebrated every fifty years, at which time they were to be release from any further obligation for their debt.

(Exo 21:1-2 KJV) "Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. {2} If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing."

Not only were these indentured servants to be set free at the end of these six years, they were also to be provided with enough provisions to continue on with their life.

(Deu 15:13-15 KJV) "And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: {14} Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. {15} And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day."

When the children of Israel left Egypt they left with great wealth.

So you can see how this practice enabled someone to respectfully pay off what he rightfully owed and at the same time earn his way in life.

A second type of slavery under the Mosiac law was servitude which was punitive in character. In other words it was designed to punish a criminal or a thief. If someone was caught stealing and was unable to make restitution according to God's law he was to be sold into slavery.

(Exo 22:1-3 KJV) "If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. {2} If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. {3} If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft."

After he put in his time and the owner received full restitution according to the law, he was to be released and his punishment was satisfied.

I for one agree with those who advocate this system to be far superior to the modern prison sentence we see today which provids for little or no restitution of property or money to the victim. Nor does it restores any dignity back to the thief.

Did you know that there were no prison camps in Israel? If the crime was of a heinous or violent nature, such as murder, God's law provided the death penalty to preserve society from such a person. Now I know such views as these may seem radical to some, but I am one who believes God's pattern for maintaining righteousness, social order, and curbing evil is not outdated.

Even in the practice of servitude under the Mosaic law there was a possibility of unfair labor practices, so God gave laws to protect a servant from the mistreatment of their master.

Does the Bible address the issue of those who steal or kidnap someone and force them into slavery? Yes it does, in fact it was a capitol offense to kidnap someone and sell them into slavery.

(Exo 21:16 KJV) "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."

The Mosaic law also made provision for a slave who after his six years of servitude rather then being set free could freely chose to remain in his master's household.

(Exo 21:5-6 KJV) "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: {6} Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever."

Does this sound like mistreatment of other human beings? The fact of the matter was that there would be times when the slave enjoyed working for his master so much that he would desires to continue on in that working relationship. He may realize that he has been better off under these conditions than he was prior to this relationship and would want the relationship to continue.

So when one talks of the subject of slavery he must be careful that he not lump all forms of slavery into one lump. There is both an evil and wicked practice of slavery as well as a righteous practice of slavery as attested to in the Old Testament.

There are other examples of slavery mentioned in the Old Testament but I would like to now demonstrate that these practice were a far cry from the horrible practices of slavery under the Roman empire during the days of Paul.

This brings us to the question what type of slavery was it that was being practice by the Romans during the first century? History demonstrates that it was not patterned after the bible.

One Roman writer divided agricultural instruments into three classes - the articulate, who were slaves; the inarticulate, which were animals; and the mute, which were tools and vehicles. A slaves only distinction from an animal was his ability to speak.

The Roman statesman Cato said, "Old slaves should be thrown on the dump, and when a slave is ill do not feed him anything. It is not worth your money. Take the sick slaves and throw them away because they are nothing but inefficient tools."

Under Roman law the slave had no rights and were offered no protection.

A slave could be beaten, branded like cattle, or even killed with no consequences to the slave-owner.

It has been reported that Augustus crucified a slave who accidentally killed his pet quail.

It has been estimated that in the Roman empire at the time of the writing of Paul's letter to the Ephesians there were about sixty-million slaves, amounting to about half the Roman empire.

Therefore if one is to equate the practice of slavery under the Mosaic law with the barbarious practice of slavery of Paul's day is like comparing apples and oranges, or better yet to compare what is holy to that which is evil. There is no resemblence between the two.

This brings us to the crucial question I submitted a moment ago - Is Paul advocating the continuance of an evil practice by instructing slaves who have become Christians to obey their masters? I answer with an emphatic no!

In fact to the surprise of some, the Apostle in this passage or no other passage for that matter addresses the practice of slavery at all!

What he is here advocating is what is to be the general attitude and response of a Christian slave who finds himself in a situation where ungodly and wicked laws exist. They could not have approached their masters and said, "hey I am now a Christian therefore I am ‘free in Christ' so I will be packing my bags and be heading on my way."

The law of the land would not have allowed it.

So, how then was the Christian slave to respond to these kinds of injustices?

First of all Paul never teaches that the church is to push for social and political change. In fact, there is not a single New Testament passage which pushes for the abolishment of slavery. Why is this? Is it because God is not concerned with the mistreatment of others? Of course we know that this is certainly not true.

I believe the answer is a simple one. The reason why the New Testament does not focus on social and political reforms is because these are never the root cause of societal problems. The root problem is not with governments or societies. The root problem is the hearts and souls of men.

The primary mission of the church in the world is not social change. The church's primary mission in the world is to change the hearts of men and this is accomplished through the task of evangelism, which is the proclamation of the gospel of Christ.

The church's message is not to produce politicians and change the laws of the land. The church's message is to produce Christians by the preaching of the gospel, which convicts men of sin so that they would respond in faith to Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness.

I believe I am correct when I say that during the "Great Awaking" in both England and our country that moral decay seemed to abound.

What is interesting is that the breakout of revival in the land did not occur by preaching against the politicians and the laws of the land. Revival came as men like George Whitfield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and others brought men to see that they were sinners in the hands of an angry God, and that God provided the way of forgiveness and reconciliation through the giving of His Son Jesus Christ.

Multitudes came to Christ through this preaching and as a by-product morality and holiness increased.

It is no accident that as the gospel had it's affect within the Roman empire that slavery was eventually abolished.

The unwavering preaching of the gospel brings about changes in society. The increase of true Christians in the world will mean an increase of righteousness in the world. The opposite of this is also true. When there is a decrease of Christianity in the land there will of necessity be a decrease in morality. I believe that is one reason why our country has been on a gradual decline of morality for the last half century.

When the church fails to evangelize there will be a decline in morality.

The late Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, "My concern as a preacher of the gospel is with the souls of men, my business is to produce Christians; and the larger the number of Christians the greater will be the volume of Christian thinking."

As Christian thinking increases there will be a marked increase of godliness in every aspect of society, including the government, and the laws and so forth.

Please do not misconstrue what I am saying to mean that the Christian is not to participate as a citizen within his country to promote godly principles, this may even include Christians seeking political office and so on. However, we are never to view our civic duties as the means of bringing about moral change.

The preaching of the gospel has been and will continue to be God's method of bringing about change in society.

This brings us to the examination of our text. How is it then that the Christian is to conduct himself under these adverse circumstances? Paul's answer is quite surprising.

(Eph 6:5 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;"

Please be reminded that Paul is not condoning the evil practice of Roman slavery by these instructions. He is simply instructing Christians on how to respond under less than ideal conditions.

Dr. William Hendrickson in his very helpful commentary on the book of Ephesians had this to say about this passage, "Paul does not advocate the immediate, outright emancipation of the slaves. He took the social structure as he found it and endeavored by peaceful means to change it into it's opposite...slavery would be abolished from within, and a glorious transformed society would replace the old."

The word translated "servant" in the K.J.V. does not convey the full meaning of the word as it is seen originally in the Greek. The word "servant" is translated from the Greek word "doulos" which is better translated "slave" or "bondslave" indicating belonging to someone else.

Paul called himself a "bondslave of Jesus Christ," indicating that he belong to Jesus and that his life was to be lived according to the good pleasure of His will.

The word that Paul employs here is not simply of one who submits or serves someone else but of one who finds himeself to be a slave of someone else. This is seen by both the history of the day as well as the context itself.

(Eph 6:8 KJV) "Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

In this passage Paul makes a distiction between those who are slaves and those who are free, demonstrating that the context is referring to those who were not just house-hold servants but slaves in the strickest form of the term.

Why is it that Paul stresses the importance of these slaves, who were converted to Christianity, to remain submissive to thier masters?

I believe the reason why he stresses this point is because the natural response of these Christians would be to look upon thier bondage as completely out of harmony with their new standing in Christ. Elsewhere the scriptures teach that every Christian is one in Christ with no distinctions.

(Gal 3:28 KJV) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

However, we must not confuse the unity that we share in Christ with the differences that exist between man and women, or within God-ordained social, and political settings.

In fact, what the Apostle is presenting in Galations chapter 3 is not that no differences exist, but that thier is no difference from the viewpoint of salvation. God does not show partiality in dispensing His saving grace.

God redeems the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the short and the tall, the smart and the dumb. Whether one is Jew or Greek, man or women, bond or free, they all must come to Christ as destitute sinners in need of a Savior.

So, we have no contridiction between what Paul is teaching here to the Galations and what he is teaching to the Ephesians. Each book looks at a different aspect of truth.

The main concern for Paul in Ephesians chapter six is that these Christians would respond properly or Christ-like in a truly adverse situation. The fact that one has been born-again does not mean that his circumstances automatically change.

Were the blacks severly mistreated in our country? Absolutely. Were many black slaves converted to the gospel? Yes, but until the unjust laws of our land changed they were forced to live in oppression. Yet even in the midst of cruel mistreated many had outstanding testimonies for Christ.

It is how we as Christians respond to difficult situations that the glory and manifestation of the power of God is put on display.

Although the Apostle Peter was not addressing Christians who were slaves as in Ephesians, he none the less was addressing Christians who were severly persucuted for their faith in Christ. They were literally driven from thier homes, they lost their properties, their jobs, and many lost their lives all because they were Christains.

How did Peter encourage them in thier faith? His answer might surprise you!

(1 Pet 2:18 KJV) "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward (harsh)."

Please take note that the word "servant" here is not from the same Greek word translated "servant" in Ephesians which describes a slave or bondservant. Rather the word servant here more properly refers to a house-hold servant or someone who is under the employment of another.

Although the term servant is different, the application is the same.

(1 Pet 2:19-20 KJV) "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. {20} For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."

The great testimony of our faith as Christians is to live humbly before those who mistreat and take advantage of us.

What encouragement are we given that will help us to live like this? The answer is our assurance in the will of God.

(1 Pet 2:21 KJV) "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:"
(1 Pet 4:19 KJV) "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."

The servant of Jesus Christ places his utmost confidence in the wisdom and purposes of God for all the outworking of his life. Therefore, if called upon the Christian is to be willing to submit to all kinds of what we may consider less than ideal situations.

(Rom 8:17-18 KJV) "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. {18} For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
(2 Cor 4:7-18 KJV) "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. {8} We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. {11} For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. {12} So then death worketh in us, but life in you. {13} We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; {14} Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. {15} For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. {16} For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

How are these slaves who have been converted to Christianity to respond to the purposes of God? By submitting to their masters.

In Part II we will examine the actual text of Ephesians 6:5-9 in greater detail, also it is my desire that we look at the life of an Old Testament Christian who actually fleshed out the truth of Ephesians 6:5, namely Joseph.

Part II

(Eph 6:5-9 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; {6} Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; {7} With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: {8} Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. {9} And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

In our last study I introduced the subject of slavery and how it relates to the Christian life.

I began by looking at the Biblical view of slavery as presented in the Old Testament. We have seen that the practice of slavery under the Mosaic Covenant was not cruel, barbaric or unjust rather it was holy and righteous. Under the Mosaic law this form of slavery was both beneficial to the servant as well as the master.

On the other hand, the slavery of Paul's day was vicious, cruel, and unjust. In Paul's day those under slavery were treated as livestock or cattle with little or no value placed on the slave above that of a farm tool.

What is quite interesting in our text is that rather than Paul proclaiming for the abolishment of
slavery he instructs these slaves who have become Christians to continue under the circumstances in which they were redeemed. In other words, he instructs them to continue on as slaves.

It is his desire to teach them how they are to respond when faced with adversity and unfair treatment.

His message to them was to shine as Christians in order that the testimony of Christ would be manifested.

Herein lies a very important principle: it is often God's will to use your lot or position in life to further promote His redemptive purposes. (Sin excluded).

Having reviewed last week's lesson let's turn our attention to the text itself.

(Eph 6:5 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;"

Rather than calling upon these Christian slaves to rise up in rebellion against their masters, he instructs them to remain in a position of submission. As bond slaves they are responsible to obey those who are in authority over them.

In fact, in Paul's first letter to Timothy he instructs Christians slaves to remain in submission to Christian masters as well, and he emphasizes the importance of this by saying that not to be obedient is to blaspheme God and His word.

(1 Tim 6:1-2 KJV) "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. {2} And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort."

Having considered the Christian's duty to submit under these circumstances, we will now consider what is to be the Christian's attitude while under this type of submission.

(Eph 6:5 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;"

The first thing that we notice is that the Christian slave is to submit with "fear and trembling."

Does this mean that he is to submit because he is afraid of how his master might treat him? I think not!

The Christian is never to live in fear of those who may kill or persecute the body.

(Luke 12:4-5 KJV) "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. {5} But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."

I believe that the "fear and trembling" that Paul has in mind is the "fear and trembling" that is associated with the awesome responsibility of doing the will of God. Their submission was to be a service rendered unto God. Therefore, they must approach this service with the realization that they are serving Holy God.

We must never approach our service to God in a irreverent or carefree manner.

Every Christian is to view God's will for his life as a "stewardship." A steward was one who was responsible for the oversight of the belongings or household of another.

A Christian steward, therefore, is one who recognizes that his life belongs to God, who both created it and redeemed it, and to whom he will give an account.

(1 Cor 6:19-20 KJV) "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? {20} For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Because our life belongs to God we will give an account to God regarding how we live our lives as His servants.

(2 Cor 5:10 KJV) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

In this passage it is clear that Paul is addressing Christians. It is a falsehood to believe that as Christians there will be no accountability before God for how we live our lives as His children.

It is true that we will not be judge according to our sins, for our sin-debt has been forever canceled by the blood of Jesus Christ. But it is true that we will have to give an account for the deeds that we do as Christians. (There is no eternal punishment in view under this accounting).

The second attitude of the Christian servant is that he is to approach this obedience whole-heartedly.

(Eph 6:5 KJV) "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;"

The N.K.J.V. translates it "in sincerity of heart."

The word "sincere" is an interesting word. It is made up of two Latin words, "sine" meaning "without" and "cere" meaning "wax". By combining these two words together we get "without wax."

This meaning comes from a practice in the ancient world, where the making of pottery was an important industry. Dishonest potters would sometimes fill in small cracks or flaws in a piece of pottery with wax making the defect difficult to detect.

Often good pottery would be stamped with the words "sine" "cere", as a guarantee that is was without wax. It was a good quality seal.

Therefore, the Christian is to live in obedience towards his master in the flesh with sincerity, or without hypocrisy.

The phrase "singleness of mind" also aides us in our understanding of this command. It refers to giving something your undivided attention.

So, the Christian's obedience is to be without hypocrisy and it is to be with singleness of purpose.

(Eph 6:6 KJV) "Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;"

According to this passage the Christian is not to obey for personal advantage or to please men. Rather he is to regard his service towards his master as a service to Christ.

What is the Christian's motive for this type of submission?

(Eph 6:5-8 KJV) "...; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; {7} With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: {8} Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

The great motivation that Paul gives for living such a life of obedience is the assurance that they are doing the will of God, and in so doing God's will they will receive good by the hand of the Lord.

The Christian's motive for all his service unto the Lord is that God would be glorified by his life.

(1 Cor 10:31 KJV) "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Whatever we do as Christians we are to do it to the glory of God. Whether it is teaching a Sunday School class, or working in the nursery, or cleaning the church, everything is to be done to his glory.

The next expression that we come to in our text is, "with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men."

This refers to the attitude of the servant towards his master. It carries the idea of devotion towards another with his benefit in mind. It involves having your heart in your work.

Have you ever heard it said of someone, "that his heart is just not in it?" What do we usually mean by this phrase? We usually mean that they are getting the job done, but there is no passion or heart in the work.

Sometimes we say of certain Christians that they are just going through the motions. By that we mean they may be attending church, they may be involved in ministry, they may be reading their bibles, but something is noticeably missing. They are doing the outward things of Christianity but there is something missing. What is missing is that their heart is not in it.

What should a Christian do if he is going through the motions but his heart is not in the work?

Should he step aside and let someone else do the work? Absolutely not! What he should do is repent for serving the Lord with less than whole-hearted devotion, and then do the work with sincerity of heart.

It matters little if you teach the congregation week after week or whether you are cleaning babies bottoms in the nursery so others can hear the Word of God, you are to give your all in service for Christ.

Someone has said, "There is but one life to live; it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last."

The reason why the Christian slave could have goodwill towards his master is because he recognizes that his service to his master is a service to his true master, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and not to men.

Men are certainly in view here, but it is the Christians service to men that is ultimately viewed as service unto God. The Bible often presents our service to God being viewed by our service to others.

In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus said, "If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."

We can truly treat others with love and devotion when we recognize that such love and devotion is viewed by God as being directed towards Him.

According to verse eight we discover that such hardship for the Lord will not go unnoticed.

(Eph 6:8 KJV) "Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

The fact that God blesses the faithful in Christ is well established throughout the Scriptures.

(Psa 19:11 KJV) "Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."

The context is obedience to the word of the Lord. The Psalmist says that by obeying the word of the Lord there is great reward.

Bear with me as I read several passages which speak of God's blessings upon the faithful in Jesus Christ.

(Mat 6:4 KJV) "That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."
(Mat 6:6 KJV) "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
(Col 2:18 KJV) "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,"
(Col 3:24 KJV) "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
(1 Cor 3:11-15 KJV) "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. {12} Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
(2 Cor 5:10 KJV) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
(Rev 22:12 KJV) "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."

It is important that we understand that eternal life is given by God as an act of His sovereign grace, it is given based upon the merit of Christ, and not the merit of man.

Dr. William Hendrickson commenting on Ephesians 6:8 said, "This reward is entirely of grace, not of merit. Just as by reason of sin all men stand condemned before God, so also by reason of grace all believers, whether slave or free, receive a reward for the good they have done."

The famous Calvinistic evangelist George Whitefield said of rewards that God gives us through grace the ability to serve him and then rewards us as if we did the work. (Not a direct quote).

The main emphasis in Ephesians 6:8 is that the Christian who labors for the Lord does not labor in vain.

(1 Cor 15:58 KJV) "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

The apostle closes his instruction to these Christian slaves with a brief word of instruction to the masters.

(Eph 6:9 KJV) "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

To the surprise and even dismay of many the Apostle is addressing Christians who are at this time masters over slaves.

Just as through the preaching of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ many slaves became Christians, so to did many slave holders become Christians.

What is interesting is that Paul does not instruct these Christian masters to emancipate their slaves. Because of this, many people have been critical of Paul for not using this as an opportunity to set these slaves free.

Now I don't know all the reasons why Paul did not advocate the emancipation of these slaves. We do know that eventually through the preaching of the gospel that slavery was eventually abolished in Rome.

However, I do believe that one reason why Paul did not advocate the freedom of slaves at this time is because he was using the practice of that day to illustrate a far greater servant-master relationship, that relationship being the relationship that exists between Jesus Christ and His followers.

We are the bond slaves of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as the Christian slave is to give whole-hearted devotion to their master in the flesh, so too are we to give whole-hearted devotion to our Master, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in this object lesson he instructs Christian masters to treat their servants with kindness by looking out for their well being Because these Christian masters represent God in this servant-master relationship, it is imperative that they treat their servants properly, even as the Lord treats them.

He reminds them that they too have a Master who is in heaven to whom they will give an account.

(Eph 6:9 KJV) "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

Through all this we see the wisdom of the Holy writers of God's sacred Word as they are inspired by the Holy Spirit to use the events of life to illustrate the wonderful relationship which is to exist between God and His redeemed children.

Every illustration of submission in Paul's letter to the Ephesians illustrates the relationship between God and His people.

For the remainder of our time together I would like to consider an Old Testament Christian who perhaps more than any other "fleshed out" the truth of Ephesians 6:5-8, and he did it long before Ephesians was ever written. This man is named Joseph and the book of Genesis chapters 37-50 record the events of his life.

Through Joseph's sufferings God brings him to a place of exaltation.

I would like to draw from the events of Joseph's life to illustrate the truth that we have been studying in Ephesians chapter six.

1. Joseph, although he was one of God's children, became a slave in the pagan nation of Egypt. The events leading up to Joseph's slavery involved jealousy on the part of his brothers. It was originally decided that they would kill him, but his brother Reuben intervened and persuaded his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery rather than having him killed.

Keep in mind that all of these events began when Joseph was a young man of about seventeen years of age. (Genesis 37:1-36).

2. Those who originally purchased Joseph brought him unto Egypt where they sold him to an officer of Pharaoh by the name of Potiphar. While serving in Potiphar's house it is said that God was with Joseph and Potiphar was blessed by Joseph's presence. Potiphar was so impressed with his servant Joseph that he elevated him as overseer of his entire household. (Genesis 39:1-4).

3. In the process of time Potiphar's wife set her eyes upon Joseph and made sexual advancements towards him. Rather than yielding to the temptations of the flesh, he refuses by citing that she was another man's wife and that to accept her advancement's would be to ultimately sin against his God. He fled from her but in the process she was able to grab hold of his coat pulling it off of him.

When her husband returned home she showed him Joseph's garment and falsely accused Joseph of trying to rape her. Potiphar was so outraged that he placed Joseph into prison. (Genesis 39:5-20).

4. While in prison the prison keeper was so impressed with Joseph that he eventually placed Joseph over all the prisoners. (Genesis 39:21-23).

5. During this imprisonment two of Pharaoh's servants a butler and a baker were placed into prison and each had a dream. Joseph interprets their dreams. For the baker the interpretation was bad news, for he would soon be executed. But for the butler the news was good in that he would soon be restored back to his original place within Pharaoh's house.

Joseph requested of the butler that when he was reestablished to his position before Pharaoh that he would remember him, and speak to Pharaoh about his wrongful imprisonment.

Two years go by and Joseph has been forgotten by the butler.
(Genesis 40)

6. After this two year interval Pharaoh had a disturbing dream, and he could find no one who could give him the interpretation. At which time the butler remembered how Joseph interpreted his dream, and testified of it to Pharaoh.

Pharaoh had Joseph brought before him and shared with him the dream and God gave to Joseph the interpretation. There would be seven years of prosperity in the land followed by seven years of severe famine.

Pharaoh was so impressed with this young man's wisdom, (30 years old), that he set Joseph up as ruler in Egypt overseeing the storing and distribution of his storehouses. The only one of higher power in Egypt other than Joseph was Pharaoh himself. (Genesis 41).

The famine became so severe in the land of Canaan that Jacob sent all his sons with the exception of Benjamin to go to Egypt to buy food. (Genesis 42)

Fast forwarding to the end of the story we discover that through the servant Joseph, God spares two nations from the destruction caused by famine, Egypt and Israel.

Joseph had learned as a teenager to put his trust in the outworking of God's will for his life. He learned that even in the midst of cruelties and mistreatment that there was a God who sat on the throne of heaven who was Sovereign, even over the wicked deeds of men.

(Gen 50:20 KJV) "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

This does not mean that Joseph's brothers were not responsible for their wicked deeds. But what is important to this narrative is the fact that we can rest with absolute confidence in the outworking of God's will for our life even if that will brings with it adversities and difficulties.

I believe that when Joseph was placed over Potiphar's house hold that he had ample opportunities to escape and return home.

Even when he was eventually made ruler over the prisoners while he himself was a prisoner that he could have arranged an escape.

And it is without question that when he was exalted by Pharaoh he could have left Egypt at any time he wanted.

Why then didn't he? Because he trusted in the will of God. He believed that it was God who brought him to be in the situation that he was, and rather than fight and rebel against those he was enslaved too, he became a means of blessing to them.

(Psa 80:1 KJV) "To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth."

What a testimony of a life transformed by the power of God that he would be willing to be a slave in a foreign land so that God's redemptive purposes would be accomplished through him.

This article is a rough transcript of the original message that was preached by Pasator and teacher David W. Roth on 9/19/99, at Faith Bible Church located at 372 Nelms Lane, Va. Beach, Va. 23462. Faith Bible Church provides audio cassette of this lesson in its entirety.

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