Useful Bible Studies > Colossians Commentary > chapter 4

Advice for Christian employers

Colossians 4:1

The masters of slaves were powerful men, who had complete authority over their workers’ lives. When they (the masters) became Christians, Paul urged them not to use their authority in a cruel manner. Now, they needed to understand that God had given them the responsibility to look after their workers. That is a very serious matter. Even as the slaves were responsible to them, so they (the masters) were responsible to God.

Paul said that, as employers, they should provide for all their workers in a right and equal way. By ‘equal’, he did not mean that all the workers should receive the same wages. Nor did he mean that workers should receive the same pay as their masters. Rather, Paul believed that God had made some people more wealthy than other people. God had given them that wealth, not merely to benefit themselves, but so that they could provide for poorer people (See 2 Corinthians 8:13-15, where Paul uses the same word for ‘equal’ twice.) So Paul meant that the masters should consider their workers not as slaves, but as brothers and sisters in the same family (Philemon 16).

It is clearly right to pay a worker the wages that he deserves for his work. However, the Christian employer has a duty to do much more than that. So, perhaps he can provide for his workers when they are unable to work because of illness. He may need to make arrangements to look after them when they are weak, old or ill. There may even be circumstances where he invites his workers to live with him in his own home. Christians should be ready to do these things for a brother or sister – so, they should be willing to do the same things for their workers, too.

Next part: Prayer: the duty of every Christian (Colossians 4:2)


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