A Study of Colossians 3:18-25 identities God’s prescription for the family, for parents and work relationships, and our calling for vocational purpose.

A Study of Colossians 3:18-25 identifies God’s prescription for the family

V.18-20 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord

What does a healthy family look like? Paul offers a prescription that he repeats in Ephesians 6:5-9. But since we’re all sinners, there’s messiness in every family. Still, it’s God’s natural design for human procreation, development, and experiencing love, belonging, and satisfaction.

A description of today’s modern family includes many variations. But Paul centers his discussion on the original family described in the second chapter of Genesis. And he focuses on three words: Submission, love, and obedience. Rather than mandates, they are volunteered by family members.

SUBMIT: The Greek word is hupŏtassō, which means to put under, subordinate, be in subjection to, and be under obedience. Although it does not sanction complete male domination and authoritative rule. In fact, Paul describes a new sense of equality that should operate within the body of Christ in Galatians 3:28. However, husbands should take the family leadership role and on decisions where there’s not complete agreement, wives should defer to their husbands.

Submission is a regular part of discipleship for all Christ-followers.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” In Ephesians 5:21, Paul encourages mutual submission of husbands and wives. And Luke describes Jesus’ submissive relationship to his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, using the same Greek word hupŏtassō.

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. (ESV, Luke 2:51)

In other words, the perfect Son of God willingly submitted to his imperfect, human parents.

LOVE: In today’s modern culture, sexual attraction and romance are the popular feelings that drive the relationship between men and woman considering marriage. And these feeling are best represented by the Greek word, Eros. Although Eros is never used in the New Testament, its expression is addressed in New Testament teachings and clearly present in the Song of Solomon. But here, Paul uses the Greek agape, which describes God’s unconditional love for us. And the Godly love we should demonstrate to others as well. But why for marriage?

Perhaps it’s because the sexual desires and romantic passions that drive youthful relationships are not reliable for lasting marriages. Is this not what we see consistently in our sexually driven culture? Rather, it’s the profound and substantive agape love that builds a meaningful, lifetime commitment. One that doesn’t just satisfy its own desires, but seeks the other person’s welfare.

OBEDIENCE: The Greek is hupakŏuō, which means to hear under as a subordinate, listen attentively, and conform to a command or authority. Obedience both honors parents and expresses trust in them. And children who are secure in their parents’ love are more willing to accept parental decisions as made with their welfare in mind. Especially when love and concern works both ways between parents and children.

A Study of Colossians 3:18-25 identifies God’s prescription for parents and work relationships

V.21-22 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

But parental expectations for a child’s obedience can also be abused. And Paul quickly warns about carrying parental authority too far and “provoking” children, which is the Greek ĕrĕthizō. It means to stimulate to anger, and can “discourage” them, which is the Greek athumĕō. It means to be spiritless, disheartened, and dismayed. In other words, parenting requires a balance. It should exercise loving discipline and correction along with encouragement and loving support.

A Study of Colossians 3:18-25 identifies our calling for vocational purpose

V.23-25 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Although Paul speaks in the cultural context of the Roman practice of slavery, the principle he offers applies to us as well. Especially in how we approach our vocation. Because today, there is much emphasis placed on achieving a personal sense of purpose and fulfillment through our careers. And while scripture supports the idea of taking pride in and finding satisfaction in hard work, Paul suggest a higher calling. To work in a way that pleases not just an earthly boss, but our heavenly father. And that in doing so, there are also eternal rewards.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview. This blog is originally published here.

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