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Colossians 3:18-25

18. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

18. Mulieres, subditae estote propriis maritis, quemadmodum decet in Domino.

19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

19. Viri, diligite uxores, et ne amari sitis adversus illas.

20. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

20. Filii, obedite parentibus vestris per omnia: hoc enim placet Domino.

21. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

21. Patres, ne provocetis liberos vestros, ne deiiciantur animis.

22. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

22. Servi, obedite per omnia iis, qui secundum carnem sunt domini: non exhibitis ad oculum obsequiis, tanquam hominibus placere studentes, sed in simplicitate cordis, ut qui timeatis Deum.

23. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

23. Et quicquid feceritis, ex animo facite, tanquam Domino, et non hominibus:

24. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

24. Scientes quod a Domino recipietis mercedem hereditatis, nam Domino Christo servitis.

25. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

25. Qui autem iniuste egerit, mercedem reportabit suae iniquitatis: et non est personarum acceptio. (Deuteronomy 10:17.)

 

18 Wives, be subject. Now follow particular duties, as they are called, 456456     “Les enseignemens concernans le deuoir particulier d’vn chacun;” — “Instructions relating to the particular duty of each individual.” which depend on the calling of individuals. In handling these it were superfluous to take up many words, inasmuch as I have already stated in the Epistle to the Ephesians 457457     I believe Calvin is referring to his commentary on Ephesians 5:21-6:9, — v.41 p. 317. — fj. almost everything that was necessary. Here I shall only add briefly such things as are more particularly suited to an exposition of the passage before us.

He commands wives to be subject. This is clear, but what follows is of doubtful signification — as it is fit in the Lord. For some connect it thus — “Be subject in the Lord, as it is fit.” I, however, view it rather differently, — As it is fit in the Lord, that is, according to the appointment of the Lord, so that he confirms the subjection of wives by the authority of God. He requires love on the part of husbands, and that they be not bitter, because there is a danger lest they should abuse their authority in the way of tyranny.

20 Children, obey your parents. He enjoins it upon children to obey their parents, 458458     “Leurs peres et meres;” — “Their fathers and mothers.” without any exception. But what if parents 459459     “Les peres ou les meres;” — “Fathers or mothers.” should feel disposed to constrain them to anything that is unlawful; will they in that case, too, obey without any reservation? Now it were worse than unreasonable, that the, authority of men should prevail at the expense of neglecting God. I answer, that here, too, we must understand as implied what he expresses elsewhere, (Ephesians 6:1) — in the Lord. But for what purpose does he employ a term of universality? I answer again, that it is to shew, that obedience must be rendered not merely to just commands, but also to such as are unreasonable. 460460     “C’est a dire, fascheux et rigoureux;” — “That is to say, grievous and rigorous.” For many make themselves compliant with the wishes of their parents only where the command is not grievous or inconvenient. But, on the other hand, this one thing ought to be considered by children — that whoever may be their parents, they have been allotted to them by the providence of God, who by his appointment makes children subject to their parents.

In all things, therefore, that they may not refuse anything, however difficult or disagreeable — in all things, that in things indifferent they may give deference to the station which their parents occupy — in all things, that they may not put themselves on a footing of equality with their parents, in the way of questioning and debating, or disputing, it being always understood that conscience is not to be infringed upon. 461461     “Ou entrant en dispute auec eux, comme compagnon a compagnon, ainsi qu’on dit. Toutesfois, que ce soit tant que faire se pourra sans offenser Dieu;” — “Or entering into dispute with them, as associate with associate, as they say. At the same time, let it be only in so far as it can be done without offending God.” He prohibits parents from exercising an immoderate harshness, lest their children should be so disheartened as to be incapable of receiving any honorable training; for we see, from daily experience, the advantage of a liberal education.

22 Servants, be obedient. Anything that is stated here respecting servants requires no exposition, as it has been already expounded in commenting on Ephesians 6:1, with the exception of these two expressions, — For we serve the Lord Christ; and, He that will act unjustly will receive the reward of his iniquity.

By the former statement he means, that service is done to men in such a way that Christ at the same time holds supremacy of dominion, and is the supreme master. Here, truly, is choice consolation for all that are under subjection, inasmuch as they are informed that, while they willingly serve their masters, their services are acceptable to Christ, as though they had been rendered to him. From this, also, Paul gathers, that they will receive from him a reward, but it is the reward of inheritance, by which he means that the very thing that is bestowed in reward of works is freely given to us by God, for inheritance comes from adoption.

In the second clause he again comforts servants, by saying that, if they are oppressed by the unjust cruelty of their masters, God himself will take vengeance, and will not, on the ground that they are servants, overlook the injuries inflicted upon them, inasmuch as there is no respect of persons with him. For this consideration might diminish their courage, if they imagined that God had no regard for them, or no great regard, and that their miseries gave him no concern. Besides, it often happens that servants themselves endeavor to avenge injurious and cruel treatment. He obviates, accordingly, this evil, by admonishing them to wait patiently the judgment of God.


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