Summary: Continuting my series in Colossians, I review the codes of conduct given here in their ancient context and then bring them into our current culture.

“Bringing the Bible home” - Colossians 3:18—4:1

By James Galbraith

First Baptist Church, Port Alberni

November 25, 2007


Col 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Col 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

Col 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

Col 3:24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance l from the Lord as a reward. m It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Col 3:25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Col 4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.


If a person becomes a Christian in a family that does not follow the Lord, it can be a very tumultuous adjustment for all…

- my story – 16 year old in non-church going home

many mistakes – arguing about prayer at table, “not working on Sunday”

many victories – leading brother/sister to the Lord, demonstrating faith to parents

And that’s just a bit of the adjustment one family made to one son becoming a Christian!

Imagine the tumult that would follow when a significant group of people, men, women and children,

leave behind their idols or their Jewish rituals and practices

and begin a life of following Christ in a culture that

allows men to control women with little accountability,

treats children as the property of their fathers

and enslaves those who cannot defend themselves against the most powerful nations!

Day to day life would never be the same!

The rituals that both pagans and Jews followed suddenly became obsolete, both idol worship and sacrifices become irrelevant in the light of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.

The social order that had grown out of the current political and religious situation was turned on it’s head.

- women were coming to faith in Christ before their husbands

- both slaves and their masters were converting to Christianity at the same time

- children who were growing up under one set of rules suddenly had two different sets (or more) pulling at them

And add to the confusion one principle which no one had even dared thing about in those days – that all people are of equal value and worth in the eyes of God –

Col. 3:11 - “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

You end up with a growing group of people that dearly needs guidance into how to make the freedom Christ brings work out in their day to day lives.

So Paul spoke words of guidance to the new Christians,

so that they could restore a sense of peace in their households.

He spoke to the three essential relationships in any household of the day:

1. Wife/Husband

2. Child/Parent

3. Slave/Master

Some guidelines to consider as we read these together:

1. These words were spoken to the culture of the day, which included the slavery of conquered people groups as a universally accepted practice.

Christians would eventually be instrumental in changing that,

but at this point in history Paul is telling Christians how to live honourably with this before trying to change it.

2. We’re not going to try and change what these words actually say – that’s altering the text!

Re-translating the Bible to make it say what you want it to say is a trick – a charade.

We must strive to learn what the Bible actually says to us , and then work to apply it to the culture we live in now.

3. These words are spoken to households, and not the larger culture.

They do not say women submit to men or children obey adults or lower classes submit to upper classes.

They are spoken to families to bring order to households that are grappling with the changes that come from beginning a new life in Christ.

1. Wife/Husband

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

This is the most important relationship in any household, for it is how the husband and wife interact that will set the tone for everyone else.

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