Ephesians 6:5-9 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What instruction does the apostle Paul give to Christian servants? See Ephesians 6:5a (printed below) Do you think there are any exceptions to this command?

Servants, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear in the sincerity of your heart as though you were serving Christ (Ephesians 6:5)

The commandment is that the Christian servant must obey his master. Likewise, the Christian employee is to obey his employer, his foreman, his supervisor. An exception to this command would be an order that causes you to violate God’s commandments (such as being told by your boss to lie to customers or steal a competitor’s trade secrets). What about working on the Lord’s Day? As a Christian, you should request if at all possible to have the day off as a day of worship, and, if possible, you should refuse overtime work if it is offered on the Lord’s Day.

2. What should the Christian servant’s (or, Christian employee’s) attitude be toward his master (or, employer?) See Ephesians 6:5b,7a (printed below)

Servants, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear in the sincerity of your heart as though you were serving Christ…(7) Render your service with good will, as doing it for the Lord, not for men (Ephesians 6:5,7)

The Christian employee is commanded, “Obey your earthly masters (your employers) with respect and fear.” Do not harbor an attitude of defiance, resentment or resistance; but rather, recognize that the authority your supervisor exercises over you is part of the structure of authority instituted by God. Respect and reverence that authority, recognizing its divine origin and sanction. The Christian employee is to serve his employer in the “sincerity of your heart.” That is to say, do not just go through the motions of work; rather, put your heart into your work—do the best you can, give it your all. Furthermore, the Christian employee is to serve his employer with a spirit of “good will.” Bear in mind Matthew 7:12 (“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”) and apply it to your present work situation.

3. According to Ephesians 6:5c,6b,7b (printed below), how should the Christian servant view his work? Ultimately, for whom is he working? Note, also, Colossians 3:23-24 (printed below)

Servants, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear in the sincerity of your heart as though you were serving Christ; (6) not merely for the sake of appearance as those who seek to please men, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (7) Render your service with good will, as doing it for the Lord, not for men (Ephesians 6:5-7)

Whatever you do, work with all your heart, as doing it for the Lord and not for men; (24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the compensation that is the inheritance. You are serving Christ the Master. (Colossians 3:23-24)

As a Christian employee you are to view your service to your employer as a part of your service to Christ. This full and spiritual perspective on life lifts your work out of the realm of hopeless drudgery and elevates it to the position of sacred service offered to Christ. View your present job as your assignment from Christ; now how is that going to affect the way you do your work?

4. What promise and assurance does Paul give to the Christian servant? See Ephesians 6:8 (printed below) and Colossians 3:24 (printed above under question #3)

…knowing that each one will be paid back by the Lord for whatever good he does—whether slave or free man. (Ephesians 6:8)

The Christian employee must remember that he will receive his just reward (his worthy wages and a lot more) from Christ. The Lord sees all that you do for Him, the more menial the task the greater is His appreciation, and He is faithful to reward you. As a means of incentive and encouragement, take Matthew 25:21 and always keep it before you: “His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in the joy of your lord!”

5. What instruction does the apostle give to Christian masters (or, employers?) See Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 4:1 (printed below)

And masters, treat them in the same way, and stop threatening them; knowing both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:9)

Masters, treat your servants with justice and equality, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1)

The Christian employer is exhorted to “treat them (i.e.; his employees) in the same way.” Christian employers, treat your workers with the same spirit of sincerity and devotion that God requires them to exhibit towards you (verses 5-6). The Christian employer also must remember Matthew 7:12. Furthermore, the Christian employer must remember that his present position has been assigned to him by Christ the Lord, just as Christ has seen fit to assign his employees’ position to them. You are to fulfill your role of employer to the glory of God and in service to Christ, bearing in mind that you are accountable to Christ.