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3. Rules for Holy Living

1If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. 5Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: 7wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things; 8but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: 9lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, 10and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all. 12Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 17And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. 21Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged. 22Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: 23whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; 24knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. 25For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

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Relative Duties. (a. d. 62.)

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.   19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.   20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.   21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.   22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:   23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;   24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.   25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

The apostle concludes the chapter with exhortations to relative duties, as before in the epistle to the Ephesians. The epistles which are most taken up in displaying the glory of divine grace, and magnifying the Lord Jesus, are the most particular and distinct in pressing the duties of the several relations. We must never separate the privileges and duties of the gospel religion.

I. He begins with the duties of wives and husbands (v. 18): Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Submission is the duty of wives, hypotassesthe. It is the same word which is used to express our duty to magistrates (Rom. xiii. 1, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers), and is expressed by subjection and reverence, Eph. v. 24, 33. The reason is that Adam was first formed, then Eve: and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression, 1 Tim. ii. 13, 14. He was first in the creation and last in the transgression. The head of the woman is the man; and the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man; neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man, 1 Cor. xi. 3, 8, 9. It is agreeable to the order of nature and the reason of things, as well as the appointment and will of God. But then it is submission, not to a rigorous lord or absolute tyrant, who may do his will and is without restraints, but to a husband, and to her own husband, who stands in the nearest relation, and is under strict engagements to proper duty too. And this is fit in the Lord, it is becoming the relation, and what they are bound in duty to do, as an instance of obedience to the authority and law of Christ. On the other hand, husbands must love their wives, and not be bitter against them, v. 19. They must love them with tender and faithful affection, as Christ loved the church, and as their own bodies, and even as themselves (Eph. v. 25, 28, 33), with a love peculiar to the nearest relation and the greatest comfort and blessing of life. And they must not be bitter against them, not use them unkindly, with harsh language or severe treatment, but be kind and obliging to them in all things; for the woman was made for the man, neither is the man without the woman, and the man also is by the woman, 1 Cor. xi. 9, 11, 12.

II. The duties of children and parents: Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord, v. 20. They must be willing to do all their lawful commands, and be at their direction and disposal; as those who have a natural right and are fitter to direct them than themselves. The apostle (Eph. vi. 2) requires them to honour as well as obey their parents; they must esteem them and think honourably of them, as the obedience of their lives must proceed from the esteem and opinion of their minds. And this is well-pleasing to God, or acceptable to him; for it is the first commandment with promise (Eph. vi. 2), with an explicit promise annexed to it, namely, That it shall be well with them, and they shall live long on the earth. Dutiful children are the most likely to prosper in the world and enjoy long life. And parents must be tender, as well as children obedient (v. 21): "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Let not your authority over them be exercised with rigour and severity, but with kindness and gentleness, lest you raise their passions and discourage them in their duty, and by holding the reins too tight make them fly out with greater fierceness." The bad temper and example of imprudent parents often prove a great hindrance to their children and a stumbling-block in their way; see Eph. vi. 4. And it is by the tenderness of parents, and dutifulness of children, that God ordinarily furnishes his church with a seed to serve him, and propagates religion from age to age.

III. Servants and masters: Servants, obey your masters in all things according to the flesh, v. 22. Servants must do the duty of the relation in which they stand, and obey their master's commands in all things which are consistent with their duty to God their heavenly Master. Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers—not only when their master's eye is upon them, but when they are from under their master's eye. They must be both just and diligent. In singleness of heart, fearing God—without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise, as those who fear God and stand in awe of him. Observe, The fear of God ruling in the heart will make people good in every relation. Servants who fear God will be just and faithful when they are from under their master's eye, because they know they are under the eye of God. See Gen. xx. 11, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place. Neh. v. 15, But so did not I, because of the fear of God. "And whatsoever you do, do it heartily (v. 23), with diligence, not idly and slothfully:" or, "Do it cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put you in that relation."—As to the Lord, and not as to men. It sanctifies a servant's work when it is done as unto God—with an eye to his glory and in obedience to his command, and not merely as unto men, or with regard to them only. Observe, We are really doing our duty to God when we are faithful in our duty to men. And, for servants' encouragement, let them know that a good and faithful servant is never the further from heaven for his being a servant: "Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ, v. 24. Serving your masters according to the command of Christ, you serve Christ, and he will be your paymaster: you will have a glorious reward at last. Though you are now servants, you will receive the inheritance of sons. But, on the other hand, He who does wrong will receive for the wrong which he has done," v. 25. There is a righteous God, who, if servants wrong their masters, will reckon with them for it, though they may conceal it from their master's notice. And he will be sure to punish the unjust as well as reward the faithful servant: and so if masters wrong their servants.—And there is no respect of persons with him. The righteous Judge of the earth will be impartial, and carry it with an equal hand towards the master and servant; not swayed by any regard to men's outward circumstances and condition of life. The one and the other will stand upon a level at his tribunal.

It is probable that the apostle has a particular respect, in all these instances of duty, to the case mentioned 1 Cor. vii. of relations of a different religion, as a Christian and heathen, a Jewish convert and an uncircumcised Gentile, where there was room to doubt whether they were bound to fulfil the proper duties of their several relations to such persons. And, if it hold in such cases, it is much stronger upon Christians one towards another, and where both are of the same religion. And how happy would the gospel religion make the world, if it every where prevailed; and how much would it influence every state of things and every relation of life!




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