Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favourites.
Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven.
Some parts of today’s passage are almost identical to Ephesians 5:21-6:9. This should come as no surprise, as Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians at the same time and sent them together with the same postman, Tychicus. (See Ephesians 6:21-22 and Colossians 4:7-9.)
We saw yesterday that Paul said that as members of one body God had called the Colossians to live in peace. Here he spells out in detail what that means in the household. Bullying, aggravating, abusing, rebelling, and disobeying are not the way for people to live in peace together.
One of the members of the church in Colossae was a wealthy man named Philemon. As most wealthy people did in those days, he had a slave living with him. This slave had run away and somehow encountered Paul who had led him to Christ. This slave was called Onesimus. We read in Colossians 4:9 that Tychicus the postman also had a companion, the very same Onesimus.
Paul was actually sending Onesimus, this runaway slave who was now a Christian, back to his Christian master in Colossae together with this letter. You can read about it in the Bible in Paul’s short letter to Philemon. This helps us to understand another reason why the letter to the Colossians was necessary. The wordsRemember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13)were words that Philemon needed to hear.
When we read about slavery in this letter it does not mean that the Bible supports slavery or that we should keep slaves today. What we are seeing is that Paul is subverting the contemporary ideas of power and status. He is encouraging the building of a community where forgiven people forgive others, live at peace with their household and show the rest of the Roman Empire a radical new way of living.
As we come to the end of our series on the supremacy of Christ, let’s remember that believing that Christ is supreme is not just an academic theory. Paul wanted the Colossians to believe that Christ is supreme so that they would be strengthened with his power, experience his forgiveness and then live at peace with each other.
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. (Colossians 1:23 New Living Translation)
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