Church of Christ Sermons and Lessons for 2014
Slaves and Masters (Ephesians 6:5-9)
August 31, 2014
Sunday PM Sermon
Slaves and Masters
Slavery was well established by the time Paul wrote this letter to the
church at Ephesus. It’s estimated that there were 1,500,000 slaves in
Italy alone with some wealthy Romans owning upwards of 20,000 each. The
owner or master had absolute authority over his slaves, even to ending
the slave’s life. Advocating an end to slavery would have caused a
revolt. So Paul, by inspiration of God, urged Christian slaves to work
within the existing social order, at least for the time being.
Duties of Christian Slaves
Verse 5 “Obedient” means faithful in their service. Their
attitude of fear and trembling showed respect for their owners; they
were being submissive in carrying out duties and responsibilities; and
they were to be conscientious toward their master. (I
Note this is true for all kinds of masters. Recall the case of
Philemon and Onesimus. (Philemon
Philemon was a Christian slave-holder. Onesimus, one of his slaves, ran
away and came in contact with Paul who converted him to Christ. Note
that Paul sent him back to Philemon, his rightful owner, not just
as a slave, but also as a brother in Christ. Paul did not
tell Onesimus that now he didn’t have to serve Philemon. He was still
to respect him and serve him. Note
I Timothy 6:1-2.
“Sincerity of heart” is not pretending, but with sincerity. Verse 6
“Not with eye service” tells they were not to serve only when the
master was looking. They were not to be mere men pleasers trying to
catch the master’s eye. Remember God’s all-seeing eye. (Psalm
They were slaves to Christ; their real owner and master was Jehovah.
Just as they served God from the heart, they were to serve their human
masters from the heart. This was God’s will for them. (Colossians
They were to serve “heartily,” with all your might. (Ecclesiastes
Paul reminded the slaves here that by faithfully serving their masters,
they were serving God and obtaining approval from the one that
really matters. By doing so, they were “adorning” the doctrine of God.
Verse 8 Good deeds have their rewards. The reward that
matters most will come on the Day of Judgment. (Hebrews
Whether a person is a slave or free won’t matter, only whether they
faithfully served the Lord.
Duties of Christian Masters
Verse 9 Masters have an obligation before God to treat their
slaves with respect, as fellow human beings. The master has a Master in
There will be no partiality on the Day of Judgment. God will not be
concerned with one’s social status or economic standing. (Acts
Applications for Us
This is relevant to mutual obligations between employers and employees.
A Christian will do the best he can. William Barclay’s
“Every single piece of work the Christian produces must be good enough
to show to God. The problem that the world has always faced and that it
faces today is basically not economic but religious. We will never make
men good workmen by bettering conditions or heightening rewards. It is
a Christian duty to see to these things; but in themselves they will
never produce good work. Still less will we produce good work by
increasing oversight and multiplying punishments. The secret of good
workmanship is to do it for God.”
A Christian worker will always be honest; he will not steal anything,
A Christian worker is dependable; he will do an honest day’s work for
the honest day’s pay.
A Christian worker accepts responsibility for his actions; he will admit
A Christian worker will be a good influence to those in the workplace.
A Christian worker will remember that God is his ultimate Master and
that there is going to be a Day of Judgment, a time of both rewards and
How we live here on earth will determine where we spend eternity. Have
you been living for God and doing your best?
August 31, 2014