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Bobby Stafford Slaves and Masters  (Ephesians 6:5-9)         Ephesians 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.

Text:  Ephesians 6:5-9


I. Duties of Christian Slaves (Verses 5-8Verse 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 Peter 2:18-20)  Note this is true for all kinds of masters.  Recall the case of Philemon and Onesimus.  (Philemon 1-25) 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 139)  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 3:22-25)  They were to serve “heartily,” with all your might.  (Ecclesiastes 9:10

Verse 7  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. (Titus 2:9-10Verse 8  Good deeds have their rewards.  The reward that matters most will come on the Day of Judgment.  (Hebrews 6:10)  Whether a person is a slave or free won’t matter, only whether they faithfully served the Lord.

II. Duties of Christian Masters (Verse 9) Verse 9 Masters have an obligation before God to treat their slaves with respect, as fellow human beings.  The master has a Master in heaven.  (Colossians 4:1)  There will be no partiality on the Day of Judgment.  God will not be concerned with one’s social status or economic standing.  (Acts 10:34-35)


III. Applications for Us This is relevant to mutual obligations between employers and employees.


A. A Christian will do the best he can. William Barclay’s comments:  “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.”

B. A Christian worker will always be honest; he will not steal anything, including time.

C. A Christian worker is dependable; he will do an honest day’s work for the honest day’s pay.

D.  A Christian worker accepts responsibility for his actions; he will admit his mistakes.

E. A Christian worker will be a good influence to those in the workplace.

F. 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 punishments.


How we live here on earth will determine where we spend eternity.  Have you been living for God and doing your best? 

Bobby Stafford 

August 31, 2014

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