Practicing Supreme Loyalty to Christ

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(Ephesians 6:1-9)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 11

Practicing Supreme Loyalty to Christ

(Ephesians 6:1-9)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Let’s continue our journey on unity and harmony. We have seen what the Bible says about it in the church and in marriages. What about unity and harmony with our children? What about looking at our relationships at work - either as an employee or an employer? Paul plunges into those relationships in Ephesians 6:1-9 so come along and take the plunge with him!

  1. Children and Parents
    1. Read Ephesians 6:1-3. When Paul tells children to obey their parents “in the Lord” is this a limitation on obedience? (This is the same limitation that we found in Ephesians 5:21-22 where Paul says church members should submit to each other “out of reverence for Christ” and wives should “submit” “as to the Lord.” All of these earthly relationships are subject to our greater obligation to submit to God.)
      1. Paul says obedience to parents “is right.” What does that mean? In what way is it right? (In Ephesians 6:2-3 Paul tells us this is part of the Ten Commandments.)
    2. Compare Ephesians 6:2-3 with the commandment found in Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16. Paul says that this is the first “commandment with a promise.” What is that promise? (Your life will be longer and better.)
      1. You should tell your children! How would you explain this to them? (All of God’s commandments are for our benefit. Parents have already lived the life the children are entering. Godly parents learned something from this. Something that will prevent the children from making needless mistakes.)
      2. How does television portray parents, especially fathers? (It portrays them as being foolish.)
      3. Have you heard attacks on “the patriarchy?” How does that philosophy and the television attacks on fathers fit into Ephesians 6:2-3? (It is important for Christians to step back and see how modern slogans and arguments fit into the great controversy between good and evil. God is our Father. As we discussed last week, Ephesians 5 gives an important role to fathers. These attacks are demonic not simply because they contradict the Bible, but because if accepted they deprive children of the promise of the commandment.)
    3. Read Ephesians 6:4. Why are only fathers warned against angering their children? (One commentator pointed out that the same word used here is also used for Moses’ parents in Hebrews 11:23. Since the family organization that we studied last week puts the father at the top (under God) it makes sense that he is the one most likely to generate anger.)
      1. If you are a parent, do your children get angry even over reasonable rules?
      2. What do you think Paul means when he condemns provoking children to anger? (We all know people who do not know how to handle authority. Needless discipline sometimes arises from an unnecessary use of authority.)
      3. Notice that Ephesians has a counterpoint to provocation: “the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” What is different about God’s discipline? (Hebrews 12:6 refers to discipline in love. God wants a consistent, loving discipline of our children.)
    4. As you contemplate Ephesians 6:3-4 do you find “guardrails” on how parents should discipline their children? (If parents will not discipline their children, or the children will not submit to discipline, then likely the government will impose discipline on them as adults. This is inconsistent with things “going well” and “living long.” At the same time parents who impose harsh discipline can create (provoke) life-long rebels against the church and God.)
  2. Employers and Employees
    1. Read Ephesians 6:5. The ESV translates this “Bondservants” and the KJV translates this “servants.” The underlying word can refer to either voluntary or involuntary servants. Since you readers are either employees or employers, and not slaves or slave masters, we will look at this from the voluntary point of view. Are employees like children, that they should obey their employer “with fear and trembling?”
      1. Does this explain why Paul was a self-employed tentmaker?
      2. Notice that Paul compares the obedience of employees to obedience to Christ. Does anyone think that Jesus wants us to obey Him “with fear and trembling?” (John MacArthur’s commentary says “this is not fright, but respect for their authority.”)
      3. Why do you think that Paul brings Jesus into the picture of being an obedient, diligent employee? (This suggests that being a good employee is part of our obligations to God and our witness to the world.)
        1. What does this suggest about being a member of a labor union?
        2. Do labor unions foment unhappiness and rebellion? What kind of attitude do they display towards employers?
    2. Read Ephesians 6:6-7. This is not simple obedience, this requires an attitude. What attitude should employees have towards their employer? (The attitude is that we are working for God, not some employer which may display ungodly characteristics.)
      1. The deeper question is whether Paul is teaching us that respect, love, diligence, and godliness is the goal in all of our relationships with others, including our employer?
    3. Read Ephesians 6:8. What practical promise does the Bible make to good employees? (God will reward us. God will “give back” whatever you have given to your employer.)
      1. You know that I believe that God’s commands are in large part self-enforcing. If you were an employer, how would you treat an employee with the attitude and diligence that Paul prescribes? (An employee like that is very valuable.)
    4. Read Ephesians 6:9. What must employers do? (They should have the same positive attitude towards their employees.)
      1. Why? (Because God will hold them accountable.)
      2. Would you want to work for an employer who treated employees as Paul says employees should treat their employer? (The answer is obviously, “Yes.” Consider, employers, how it will help your business if you and your employees treat each other with respect and love?)
      3. If you have a terrible employer, are you required to keep working for it? (That is the blessings of voluntary service. If you have a terrible employer, change jobs. Work for an employer who makes it easy to follow Paul’s advice for employees.)
    5. Why do you think Paul gives advice on how slaves should respond to their slave masters when he is writing to a specific non-western church? (Slavery was a world-wide sin. Opponents of Christianity today try to paint it as primarily a stain on Western civilization and Christianity. The truth is the Christian Western civilizations sought, at great expense to themselves, to eliminate slavery.)
  3. The Heart of the Matter
    1. What is the underlying principle Paul is emphasizing in these all of the relationships discussed in Ephesians 6:1-9? (He is teaching about respect, love, and godliness in all interpersonal relationships. When our actions are done in reverence for Christ, it reshapes how we treat one another.)
    2. How do these teachings reflect Jesus' message of love and humility? (Jesus came not to be served but to serve. These teachings encourage a similar attitude of humble service.)
      1. How would you go about explaining to your children that obedience to you reflects your love for them?
    3. Is it reasonable and Biblical for us to “understand our role” in society? Or is this contrary to the view that we are part of a “royal priesthood” (see 1 Peter 2:9) of believers? (Part of the problem in obtaining harmony in relationships is having the humility to understand our role. Living by these principles not only strengthens our personal relationships but also serves as a testimony to the transformative power of the Gospel in our lives.)
    4. Friend, will you take seriously the relationships Paul lays out for us in Ephesians? Will you take the steps to make your home and your work better places?
  4. Next week: The Call to Stand.