Ephesians Series #5




TEXT:    Eph.  5:21-6:9


INTRO:       The entire world is built around 3 basic human relationships:

1.    Marriage, husband-wife

2.    Parent-child

3.    Employer-employee


These 3 building blocks form the foundation of all human society!  The health and strength of a nation is determined more by these 3 institutions that it is on its military strength!  These 3 relationships are more critical than political power!  Civilization hangs on these 3 institutions, the breakdown of these would result in chaos.


Throughout history man has tinkered with all 3 ... trying to improve or change them.  When man has changed them from God's design, it has always been a change for the worse ... never for the better!  The farther away from God's design man takes these 3 great relationships, the greater the damage to human society.


When in history nations have allowed the destruction of the institution of marriage designed by God, there has always followed the fall of that nation shortly thereafter.  When mankind changed the "employer-employee" relationship to slavery, or something else, those nations suffered and families suffered dramatically.  When the institution of "Parent-child" relationship is destroyed, the society suffers in a number of great ways.  If children are allowed total freedom from discipline they become tyrants, unruly and selfish adults!  If given unjustifiable discipline they can become angry selfish adults, it takes the right mix of freedom and control ... rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior in an atmosphere of love.


Poverty results in any nation who undermines the fairness that God designed in these relationships, or who changes the nature of them from God's design.


PROP. SENT:    The Bible calls us to live out healthy relationships in the 3 basic institutions that God created for human society: Husband-wife; Parent-child; Employer-employee.  Healthy relationships produce healthy minds, body, and souls!  The one characteristic we are called to display no matter what part in those 3 relationships we are in is mutual respect & love, or Biblical submission to one another!


I.   SUBMISSION OR SELF?   Eph.  5:21


A.    Definition    Eph. 5:21a

1.    All healthy relationships require MUTUAL submission ... so the real question is: what is "SUBMISSION?"

a.    What it IS NOT!

(1.   Unquestioned obedience by one person

(2.   Slavery

(3.   Pious humility

(4.   Self-righteous obedience

(5.   A mild mannered personality that never argues

b.    What IT IS!

(1.   The basic idea in Biblical submission is that one does not live his or her life for self but for the benefit of others!

(2.   It may in fact mean to question an order at a time when it is felt to be harmful to someone!

(3.   It is actively working for the other's good ... even standing up to them if they are wrong in a way that could be harmful to others or their own life!

(4.   It is being ruled by love for the other, not being ruled by the other or over the other ... thus it displays respect and concern out of a willing heart!


ILLUS:     A boy was told by his father to sit down at the table, the boy complies but with this comment: "I am still sitting down on the inside dad!"  He may have complied with the father's wish, but this is not submission in its best sense ... it is just as much an attitude as an action! -- Source Unknown


2.    Once the correct concept of "Biblical submission" is understood it brings a whole new appreciation to the rest of this passage dealing with marriage, family, and work ... removing us from the mentality of "MASTER-SLAVE" to that of "LOVED-LOVING"

3.    This understanding then takes the "STING" out of the word "SUBMIT" and puts back into it the "LOVE" that God places in it!


B.    Dynamic!   Eph. 5:21b

1.    The dynamic behind "healthy" submission to one another comes from the realization that doing this is showing respect or reverence for Christ!

a.    Not doing it therefore shows a disregard for God's Word and Ways!

b.    Not doing it shows also a disregard for God Himself!

c.    It is also the mutual submission to one another and to God that binds us together, a bond that gets stronger as each learns from the other.  The wearing down of "self" creates a union of love that is strong enough to bind forever.


ILLUS:      Dr. Joseph Henry said that during the Second World War, two physics graduate students heard their professor say that someday a method would be devised for polishing glass that would replace steel as the flattest surface known to man.  When this was done, he said, a revolution in technology would take place.  After graduation, these two young physicists formed a partnership and set out to prove their professor's theory.  They established a laboratory and went to work.  Several years later, after a very complicated process, they had a great breakthrough.  They produced such a flat surface that it could be used to measure objects within two-millionths of an inch-a great improvement over anything previously developed.  When Dr. Henry visited their plant, one of the owners said to him, "See these two squares of glass?  They have been put through this new process, and I want to show you something."  Then he simply placed the two pieces together, handed them to Dr. Henry, and said, "Now take them apart."  After he pulled, pushed, twisted, turned and exerted all of his strength, Dr. Henry still could not budge them.  The young physicist explained, "Two surfaces are held together by a certain number of points of contact, but ordinarily there are so few they easily come apart.  The points on these two pieces of glass, however, have been ground down until they are almost completely flat surfaces.  They are held together by so many points of contact that it is almost impossible to get them apart."  If you let God rub down the rough edges in you and your spouse, nothing will be able to tear you apart. - Source Unknown


2.    Mutual submission also opens the door for equality among "brethren" (or sisters!) even when our functions are different!

a.    Husband-wife: are equals in value - different in functions

b.    Parent-child: are equals in value - different in functions

c.    Employer-employee: are equals in value - different in functions

3.    This enables us to appreciate our equality, while also appreciating our differentness in functions!

a.    Hence Paul's words, "In Christ there is neither gentile nor Jew, male nor female..."  (A value statement)

b.    Also note another statement by Paul, "Obey those who are over you..." (A function statement)

c.    We therefore may have different callings, but the same worth!  Or in other words, "We are members of one body, though different in function."  Equal but different!

d.    Different tasks ... but the same taskmaster!

4.    Now that Paul has stated this issue of equality he moves on in the rest of our text to the areas of FUNCTION, so remember this as we read, most of the following statements will concern themselves with function and not how valuable one is over the other ... those who fail to see this will distort the teachings in these next passages!


II.  SERVANT OR SLAVE?    Eph. 5:22-33


A.    Dedication    Eph. 5:22-24

1.    The call here is for a wife to dedicate herself to follow the leadership of her own husband ... not a general call for women to be under men!

a.    This does not mean unquestioned obedience remember!

b.    It is a call to respect her OWN husband and his call to lead in the family (the type of leadership he is to give is found a few verses later ... they spell out leadership that shows love and respect in return, not demanding orders!)

2.    The call is to seek out her husband's highest good ... to be committed to him by not living for self, the definition remember of "submission!"

3.    This will not be a one-way call ... as Paul makes clear in the many verses to the husband's response! (Note:  only 3 verses are written to the wife ... however, 9 verses to the husband!!)


ILLUS:      Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave. - Martin Luther (1483-1546) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).  Entry 7627.


B.    Duet!    Eph. 5:25-33

1.    Notice how well the balance is maintained if you don't stop reading after verse 24!

2.    Paul writes 3 times more verses to the men as he does to the ladies about marriage!

3.    Loving a wife like Christ loves the church will always promote equality between the partners ... there will be no harsh demands, but a selfless loving leadership of their lives together!

a.    Men who love like Christ will not find a wife who will not respect him!

b.    It is never hard to respect a man who is like Jesus!


ILLUS:      Try praising your wife even if it does frighten her at first. -- Billy Sunday (1862-1935) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).  Entry 7662.


4.    The functional call to the husband here is 3-fold:

a.    Protector - "head"

b.    Provider - "to make her holy"

c.    Partner - "he who loves his wife loves himself -- also "one flesh"

5.    The parallel concept here is CHRIST & THE CHURCH ... thus men, if you want to know how to love your wife ask yourself, "HOW DOES CHRIST LOVE HIS CHURCH?"

a.    He gave His very life for it!

b.    Sought the highest good at great personal expense!

c.    No self-interest ... only her interest at heart!

d.    Love like this given willingly ... not out of forced law!


ILLUS:      There is a story about a man and wife who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary - fifty years of married life.  Having spent most of the day with relatives and friends at a big party given in their honor, they were back home again.  They decided, before retiring, to have a little snack of tea with bread and butter.  They went into the kitchen, where the husband opened up a new loaf of bread and handed the end piece (the heel) to his wife.  Whereupon she exploded!  She said, "For fifty years you have been dumping the heel of the bread on me.  I will not take it anymore; this lack of concern for me and what I like."  On and on she went in the bitterest of terms, for offering her the heel of the bread.  The husband was absolutely astonished at her tirade.  When she had finished he said to her quietly, "But it's my favorite piece." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 332.


6.    And honestly, what wife would have a hard time "submitting" to a man who loved her like this?




A.    Diligence!    Eph. 6:1-3

1.    A simple and direct statement is made about children obeying their parents: "FOR THIS IS RIGHT!"

a.    It is a willing obedience ... respect for the position of parent!

b.    Obedience will serve as protection for the child.

c.    It will serve as a teacher for the child ... especially the need of disciplining self to consider the needs of others.

2.    There is an interesting comment here for those who will accept this call for willing obedience: "That it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" Eph. 6:3

a.    This is from the Old Testament 10 commandments.

b.    These commandments were given to the nation of Israel, so it is not primarily focused on personal longevity of life ... but that as a nation where parent-child relationships are healthy they will enjoy AS A NATION LONG LIFE IN THE LAND!  This was a promise of the nation surviving a long time in the land God was giving it, if they obeyed these commandments which included the "parent-child" respect laws.

c.    This is still true ... the longevity of a nation often hangs on the health of the home and the strength of the family unit!


ILLUS:       In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north, so they built the great Chinese wall.  It was so high they knew no one could climb over it and so thick that nothing could break it down.  They settled back to enjoy their security.  During the first 100 years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three times.  Not once did the barbaric hordes break down the wall or climb over the top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right through the gates.  The Chinese were so busy relying upon the walls of stone that they forgot to teach integrity to their children. - Source Unknown


B.    Demonstration    Eph. 6:4

1.    Here in verse 4 comes the balance to Eph. 6:1-3 ... Parental fairness!

2.    The word, "Exasperate" means, "UNJUSTIFIED PUNISHMENT."

a.    It is not saying, "don't be strict or strong" ...  it is saying, "DON'T PUNISH THE CHILD FOR THINGS HE/SHE DIDN'T DO!" and "DON'T BE TOO HARD FOR EASY THINGS ... AND DON'T BE TOO EASY ON HARD THINGS!" It means to use justifiable discipline!

b.    Either extreme is dangerous! ... Fairness is what counts!


ILLUS:      A man and his young son were climbing a mountain. They came to a place where the climbing was difficult and even dangerous.  The father stopped to consider which way he should go.  He heard the boy behind him say, "Choose the good path, Dad; I'm coming right behind you!" -- Author unknown -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 202.


c.    Sometimes love must be tough, other times tender.  Depends on the situation and the infraction ... as well as the attitude of the offender!


IV. SINCERITY OR SIN?   Eph. 6:5-9


A.    Deserving    Eph. 6:5-8

1.    Employees are called upon to serve wholeheartedly and honestly!

a.    While Paul referred to this relationship in terms of "Slaves and Masters" you will take careful note that his instructions don't look anything like the horrible slavery we are used to thinking of in recent history ... in Paul's day this was more an "employer-employee" relationship in Israel.

b.    To condemn or ignore these comments because of the "titles" in the text would be misleading.

2.    Note verse 6: Don't just look good ... be good!


ILLUS:     If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave.  If a man does more than is required of him, he is a free man. -- Chinese Proverb


a.    This may open the door in the future to share the Gospel with them!

b.    The point also seems to indicate that a bigger picture is at stake here, we are to serve as though God were our boss, for truly HE IS!

c.    Perhaps part of this is to develop good leaders in the future ... for good leaders were always first good followers!

d.    Those who can't learn to serve with a willing heart, won't lead with one either!

3.    Eph. 6:8 indicates that God is keeping track of payment, even if your boss missed a raise or two for you!

4.    The right heart will also allow for promotion without destructive pride from coming with it!


B.    Determination     Eph. 6:9

1.    Again the wonderful balance of Scripture ... Employers are to be fair also and are to treat their employees the same way they would want to be treated!

2.    Fair wages ... and fair hours ... and fair work conditions are called upon.

3.    A right attitude toward those who are under you is called for also, the same respect and concern that you are to receive you are to give!


ILLUS:     He that is master of himself will soon be master of others. -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p. 209.


4.    Ultimately we all have the same master anyways ... GOD!

5.    There is no one sidedness to this relationship, it was again respect, and fairness with Godly love that fits both sides.


CONCLUSION:    There are 3 basic building blocks to human civilization:

1.    Husband-wife;

2.    Parent-child;

3.    Employer-employee.

When mutual submission (love) exists in these 3 human societal entities and are healthy, God's blessings are there ... when man changes God's rules or redefines the roles he weakens the foundation of human society!