These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 51 ~ Dec.14-20
Acts 27-28, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians,
1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter
All in the Family
This week we looked at seven New Testament epistles, all, except 1 Peter, written by Paul. All were written to encourage and/or instruct churches and pastors in doctrine and practices as they lived out the Christian life in the church, at home, and in the world. Four of these seven epistles specifically instruct family members on their roles in the home. Today, we’re going to take a look at God’s instructions to wives, husbands, children, and parents.
We’ll be using Colossians 3:18-21 as our outline, fleshing out each role with passages from the other epistles.
Interestingly, in each of the four passages we’ll be studying today, the roles in the home are addressed in the same order: wives, husbands, children, parents. It’s of particular interest to me that wives are always addressed first. Although Scripture doesn’t tell us why this is the case, I would speculate that this might be for two reasons. First, it follows the order of the Fall (Genesis 2). Eve fell first, then Adam, and God gave her consequences first, then Adam’s. Second, wives -then and now- normally have the most responsibility for the day to day, “in the trenches” management of the home. We have an enormous impact on the emotional and spiritual tone of our marriages and family life.
Colossians 3:18- Submit for the Lord
We are submit to our husbands because it is “fitting in the Lord.” Not because they deserve it. Not because they’re awesome (and when they’re not we don’t have to submit). Not because we want to be the perfect wife. Because it is “fitting” in God’s eyes. This is the role God has ordained for us, and it honors Him when we obey Him.
Ephesians 5:22-24, 33b- Submit for the church
We are to submit to and respect our husbands as a picture of the church’s submission to Christ. In the same way that Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a picture to Israel of God’s faithfulness to His adulterous people, our submission to our husbands should be a picture, especially to the church, of how the church is to be faithful and obedient to Christ.
1 Peter 3:1-6- Submit for our husbands
We are to be subject to our husbands to win them to godliness– to salvation if they are lost, to obedience to Christ if they are saved. Notice that this is accomplished by our example and behavior, not by nagging or talking them to death. Our “respectful and pure conduct” and our “gentle and quiet spirits” are attractive and winsome and can smooth the way for our husbands to desire to be more godly men.
Titus 2: 3-5- Submit for the world
We are to submit to our husbands “that the word of God may not be reviled.” Lost people are watching us. Will we live in obedience to God’s word and show them that it proves true? That they can trust the same Christ we trust?
Colossians 3:19- Love for your wife
Husbands are to love their wives and treat them kindly. The Greek form of the phrase “do not be harsh” means not to be bitter or resentful. Wives are imperfect, sinful people (just like husbands) and husbands are to be merciful and forgiving when their wives fall short, not hold bitterness or resentment against them.
Ephesians 5:25-33- Love for the world and the church
Husbands are to love their wives as a picture of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. Christ gave both His life and His blood for the church. When husbands daily love their wives in a self-sacrificing way, they are showing the world -and the church- Jesus.
1 Peter 3:7- Love for your own spiritual life
Husbands are to be understanding with their wives and honor them because they are brother and sister in Christ. Just as a rift between two fellow Christians can hamper their worship and church unity, sinning against his wife by failing to love her as Christ commanded will hinder a man’s relationship with the Lord.
Colossians 3:20- Obey for the Lord’s pleasure
Children are to obey their parents. In everything. They are not to be allowed to back talk or do as they please in defiance of their parents. Why? It’s so simple even a child can understand it: this pleases the Lord. When children obey their parents, they are fulfilling the role God has ordained for them.
Ephesians 6:1-3- Obey because it’s right. Obey for your well-being.
Obedience to parents is right because God says it is. It is His very first “horizontal” (our relationship with others) Commandment in the Decalogue (the first four are “vertical”- our relationship with God). It is also the first Commandment with a promise- that things will go well for those who obey it.
Colossians 3: 21- Train for their emotional well-being
Whom does Paul address in this statement? Fathers. While mothers have a huge responsibility to train their children in godliness on a daily basis, the buck stops with Dad. God has been holding dads responsible for their families since He called out, “Adam, where are you?” in the Garden. Fathers are not to rule with an iron fist, but encourage and grow their children in the ways of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4- Train for their spiritual well-being
Paul again addresses fathers. Fathers are to take seriously their responsibility for the spiritual health of their families. They are not to act or treat their children in ways that frustrate them needlessly. Fathers are to train their children in the Scriptures and discipline them biblically.
Titus 2:4- Train out of love
This is the only part of these passages where Paul specifically addresses a mother’s relationship with her children. She is simply to love them. Of course, it is not loving to let a child do as he pleases. We have already seen that God commands children to obey their parents. So a mother is to lovingly train her child in God’s word and in obedience to God and to parents.
In His wisdom and goodness, God has ordained certain roles and responsibilities for each member of the family. We show our love and honor for God when we seek to obey Him by fulfilling our roles as He empowers and enables us to do so.