Useful Bible Studies > Ephesians Commentary > chapter 6
At the time of Paul, slaves were common and the government gave them no rights whatever. If a slave did not obey his master, the master would punish the slave cruelly; he might even kill the slave.
Many slaves became Christians in the first Christian churches. Their relationship with Christ did not usually free them from their masters. However, Christ gave them true freedom in their spirits (1 Corinthians 7:22). God accepted them as his own children, to receive the full rights of sons in his family (Romans 8:14-19). In their relationship with Christ, there was no difference between them and the other Christians (Colossians 3:11).
Every Christian has many difficulties to deal with during their lives on earth. They all need to depend on Christ for the skill, strength and help that they need in these troubles (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). That was especially true for the Christian slaves, whose lives were often so hard.
God does sometimes give slaves an opportunity to be free from their masters (Exodus 3:7-10; 1 Corinthians 7:21; Philemon 16). However, when he does not, Christian slaves must learn to serve God in their present circumstances. So, Paul considered it important to teach the slaves how they could do that. He told them to obey and to respect their masters, as if the slaves were carrying out this work for Christ. He urged them to behave in a serious manner, as people who are carrying out important work. He encouraged them to be honest and sincere in their attitudes, as Christians should always be.
Next part: Correct attitudes towards employers and masters (Ephesians 6:6-7)
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© 2019, Keith Simons.