Useful Bible Studies > Ephesians Commentary > chapter 5
Paul’s subject in Ephesians 5:21 to 6:9 is relationships between wives and husbands, children and fathers, and slaves and masters.
In many societies today, we read the three sections as if they are separate subjects. However, at the time of Paul, these subjects were not separate. The many poor families then could not of course afford to have slaves; but in other homes, the man would live with his wife (or wives), children and slaves. So, the same man was both husband and father and master.
That man often controlled his wife, children and slaves by acts of great cruelty. So, it was fear, and not love, that caused them to obey him.
In Ephesus, very many people had become Christians (Acts 19:1-26). Paul wanted them to establish a new and better kind of relationships in their homes. That did not depend entirely upon the man who was master of the house. Even if that man was not a Christian, his wife, children and slaves could still achieve much by their right attitudes.
If however, the man was now a Christian, their home could be a truly Christian home. In such a home, it is an attitude of love that makes the relationship between the husband and wife strong. We could say that love connects or unites them; that is the description in Genesis 2:24, which Paul will soon repeat (5:31). It is as if two people have become one. They no longer have selfish attitudes and selfish desires. Instead, they care about each other as much as they care about themselves. They work for the benefit of each other, and for everyone in their home. In fact, their love does not even end there. Instead they use their home and their relationship to show kindness to many other people too (Mark 12:31; Hebrews 13:2).
Next part: How husbands should show love to their wives (Ephesians 5:29-30)
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© 2019, Keith Simons.