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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Instructions for Christian Households

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Instructions for Christian Households:  Colossians 3:18-21

- Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
- Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
- Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
- Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.



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

The idea of submission doesn't have anything to do with someone being smarter or better or more talented. It has to do with a God-appointed order. “Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that ‘rank’ has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability.” (Wiersbe)

“The equality of men and women before the Lord, of which Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28, has not been retracted: but neither does it mean identity of role or function.” (Wright)

Therefore, submission means you are part of a team. If the family is a team, then the husband is “captain” of the team. The wife has her place in relation to the “captain,” and the children have their place in relation to the “captain” and the wife.

“The form of the verb shows that the submission is to be voluntary. The wife’s submission is never to be forced on her by a demanding husband; it is the deference that a loving wife, conscious that her home (just as any other institution) must have a head, gladly shows.” (Vaughan)

Wives, submit to your own husbands: This defines the sphere of a wife’s submission - to her own husband. The Bible never commands nor recommends a general submission of women unto men. It is commanded only in the spheres of the home and in the church. God does not command that men have exclusive authority in the areas of politics, business, education, and so on.

As is fitting in the Lord: This is a crucial phrase. It colors everything else we understand about this passage. There have been two man “wrong” interpretations of this phrase, each favoring a certain “position.”

A. The interpretation that “favors” the husband says that as is fitting in the Lord means that a wife should submit to her husband as if he were God himself. The idea is “you submit to God in absolutely everything with question, so you must submit to your husband in the same absolute way.” This thinks that as is fitting in the Lord defines the extent of submission. But this is wrong. Simply put, in no place does the Scripture say that a person should submit to another in that way. There are limits to the submission your employer can expect of you. There are limits to the submission the government can expect of you. There are limits to the submission parents can expect of children. In no place does the Scripture teach an unqualified, without exception, submission – except to God and God alone. To violate this is to commit the sin of idolatry.

B. The interpretation that “favors” the wife says that as is fitting in the Lord means “I’ll submit to him as long as he does what the Lord wants.” And then it is the wife’s job to decide what the Lord wants. This thinks that as is fitting in the Lord defines the limit of submission. This is also wrong. It is true that there are limits to a wife’s submission, but when the wife approaches as is fitting in the Lord in this way, then it degenerates into a case of “I’ll submit to my husband when I agree with him. I’ll submit to him when he makes the right decisions and carries them out the right way. When he makes a wrong decision, he isn't in the Lord, so I shouldn't submit to him then. It isn't fitting to do so.” Simply put, that is not submission at all. Except for those who are just plan cantankerous and argumentative, everyone submits to others when they are in agreement. It is only when there is a disagreement that submission is tested.

C. As is fitting in the Lord does not define the extent of a wife’s submission. It does not define the limit of a wife’s submission. It defines the motive of a wife’s submission. It means, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands because it is a part of your duty to the Lord, because it is an expression of your submission to the Lord.” They submit simply because it is fitting in the Lord to do it. It honors God’s Word and His order of authority. It is part of their Christian duty and discipleship.

D.. “The phrase ‘in the Lord’ indicates that wifely submission is proper not only in the natural order but also in the Christian order. The whole thing, then, is lifted to a new and higher level.” (Vaughan)

 Therefore, as is fitting in the Lord means:

 For wives, submission to their husband is part of their Christian life.
When a wife doesn’t obey this word to submit to your own husband as is fitting in the Lord, she doesn’t just fall short as a wife. She falls short as a follower of Jesus Christ.
This means that the command to submit it completely out of the realm of “my nature” or “my personality.” Wives aren’t expected to submit because they are the “submissive type.” They are expected to submit because it is fitting in the Lord.
This has nothing to do with your husband’s intelligence, or giftedness, or capability. It has to do with honoring the Lord Jesus Christ.
This has nothing to do with whether or not your husband is “right” on a particular issue. It has to do with Jesus being right.
This means that a woman should take great care in how she chooses her husband. Remember, ladies: this is what God requires of you in marriage. This is His expectation of you. Instead of looking for an attractive man, instead of looking for a wealthy man, instead of looking for a romantic man, you better first look for a man you can respect.

E.  As is the case in every human relationship, the command to submit is not absolute. There are exceptions to this command for a wife to submit to her own husband.

When the husband asks the wife to sin, she must not submit.
When the husband is medically incapacitated, insane, or under the influence of mind altering substances, the wife may not submit.
When the huband is violent and physically threatening, the wife may not submit.
When the husband breaks the marriage bond by adultery, they wife does not need to subit to her husband being in an adulterous relationship.

F. “If a Stoic disciple asked why he should behave in a particular way, his teacher would no doubt tell him that it was ‘fitting’ because it was in conformity with nature. When a Christian convert asked the same question, he was told that such behavior was ‘fitting in the Lord’; members of the believing community should live thus for Christ’s sake.” (Bruce)

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

Husbands, love your wives: Paul’s words to husbands safeguards his words to wives. Though wives are to submit to their husbands, it never excuses husbands acting as tyrants over their wives. Instead, a husband must love his wife, and the ancient Greek word translated love her is agape.

A. Signficantly, this puts an obligation upon the husbands. In the ancient world – under Jewish, Greek and Roman customs, all power and privileges belonged to husbands in regard to wives, to fathers in regard to children, and to masters in regard to slaves. There were no complimentary powers or privileges on the part of wives, children, or slaves.

B. “Agapao does not denote affection or romantic attachment; it rather denotes caring love, a deliberate attitude of mind that concerns itself with the well-being of the one loved.” (Vaughan)

C. Strictly speaking, agape can’t be defined as “God’s love,” because men are said to agape sin and the world (John 3:19, 1 John 2:15). But it can be defined as a sacrificial, giving, absorbing, love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another.

It is a love that loves without changing.
It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment.
It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing.
It is love that loves even when it is rejected.
Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.

D. We can read this passage and think that Paul means, “husband, be kind to your wife.” Or “husband, be nice to your wife.” There is no doubt that for many marriages, this would be a huge improvement. But that isn’t what Paul writes about. What he really means is, “husband, continually practice self-denial for the sake of your wife.”

E. Of course, this agape love is the kind of love Jesus has for His people and this is the love husbands should imitate towards their wives (Ephesians 5:25).

F.  And do not be bitter toward them: The implication is perhaps the wife has given the husband some reason to be bitter. Paul says, “that doesn’t matter, husband.” The husband may feel perfectly justified in his harsh or unloving attitude and actions towards his wife, but he is not justified - no matter how the wife has been towards the husband.

J.Agape loves even when there are obvious and glaring deficiencies, even when the receiver is unworthy of the love.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

A. Children, obey your parents in all things: Paul has in mind children who are still in their parents’ household and under their authority. For these, they must not only honor their father and mother (as in Ephesians 6:2), but they must also obey them, and obey them in all things.

i. When a child is grown and out of their parents’ household, they are no longer under the same obligation of obedience, but the obligation to honor your father and mother remains.

B. For this is well pleasing to the Lord: This is one of the important reasons for a child’s obedience. When a child respects their paren’t authority, they are respect God’s order of authority in other areas of life.

i. This idea of an order of authority and submission to an order of authority are so important to God that they are part of His very being. The First Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Father; the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Son. Inherent in those titles is a relationship of authority and submission to authority.

ii. The Father exercises authority over the Son, and the Son submits to the Father’s authority - and this is in the very nature and being of God! Our failure to exercise Biblical authority, and our failure to submit to Biblical authority, isn’t just wrong and sad - it sins against the very nature of God. Remember 1 Samuel 15:23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.


Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

A. Fathers, do not provoke your children: Children have a responsibility to obey, but parents - here, put into one as fathers - have a responsibility to not provoke their children. Parents can provoke their children by being too harsh, too demanding, too controling, unforgiving, or just plain angry. This harshness can be expressed through words, through actions, or through non-verbal communication.

i. In most parenting problems, the parent blames the child. It is easy to do, because the problem is usually most evident in the bad behavior in the child. But Paul wisely reminds us that the bad behavior may actually be provoked by the parent. When this is the case, it doesn’t justify the bad behavior of the child, but it may explain part of its cause. It is commanded to to parents to do everything they can to not provoke their children.

ii. Provoke: “Irritate by exacting commands and perpetual faultfinding and interference for interference’ sake.” (Peake)

iii. “Parents, and specially fathers, are urged not to irritate their children by being so unreasonable in their demands that their children lose heart and come to think that it is useless trying to please their parents.” (Bruce)

iv. “The word ‘fathers’ can refer to parents of both sexes, though it may well have an eye to the importance of the father’s role, within God’s created order, in the upbringing of children.” (Wright)

B. Lest they become discouraged: Children who grow up with parents who provoke them will become discouraged. They will not feel the love and the support from their parents like the should, and they will come be believe that the whole world is against them, because they feel their parents are against them. This reminds us how important it is to season our parenting with lots of grace. Perhaps we should be as gracious, gentle, forgiving, and longsuffering with our children as God is with us.


Praise God for these instructions. Let there be Righteousness, peace and joy in the family.  Amen. 





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