SUBMISSION IS THE RULE
Verse 18‑22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God."
There are five areas in which submission is to take place. No one is submitted Spiritually to the Lord without the proof of it in practical life. First Paul says . . .
WIVES SUBMIT TO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS
The word "wives" translates "gune" and means, "a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow." It can refer to a woman who is betrothed. Here it is certainly referring to a married woman because she is told who to submit to. The word "own" translates "idios" (Looks a lot like our word idiot!) pertaining to one's self, one's own, belonging to one's self." I can just hear some woman asking, "Do you mean Jesus commands me to submit to that idiot?!"
The word "submit" translates "hupotasso" and means, "to arrange under, to subordinate." The following explanation is also given in Strong's Dictionary in Online Bible: "A Greek military term meaning ‘to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader. In non‑military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.'" When I was in the military on two different occasions, I experienced this definition as I voluntarily submitted to the authority of anyone whose rank was higher than mine. The military is built on the system of authority. And there is a penalty exercised on those who are not willing to submit respectfully to that authority.
Paul instructs the wives in proper submission to their husbands. This is the Holy Spirit's word on this subject. It is the role of the woman from creation to be in submission to her husband. Peter gave the same kind of instructions in 1 Peter 3:1‑6: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."
Paul and Peter are by no means putting the woman down as we would call it. He is just saying that God had a purpose in mind when He created the woman and in this life, to be right with His purpose in creation, the woman must submit to the authority of her husband. This is what he means when he says, "as it is fit in the Lord." Next He says . . .
HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES
The word "husbands" translates "aner" and means, "a male or a betrothed husband." This word is also used to distinguish an adult man from a boy. The word "love" translates "agapao" and when it is used of persons it means, "to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly." This is a verb and is a present active imperative. The present tense means to continue to love them. The imperative mood is a command that expresses urgency. Stress is on the importance of the husband loving his wife dearly, thus making her task of submission to his authority a joy instead of a burden. The husband is under orders to love his wife and if he does not, he is as much out of the will of God in refusing to submit to this command as the wife would be if she refused to submit to him. Obedience to God in these areas would probably stop divorce. Then Paul says . . .
CHILDREN OBEY YOUR PARENTS IN ALL THINGS
The word "children" translates "teknon" and means, "offspring, children, a child." The word "obey" translates "hupakouo" and it means, "to listen, to harken." It is used "of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen to who it is, (the duty of a porter), to harken to a command." Children should listen to the teaching of their parents in all things. Children are an heritage of the Lord and it behooves parents to rear their children to honor and serve God. Solomon said in Proverbs 1:8: "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:" You will never get better advice than Solomon gives here.
Solomon also speaks to the son who does not listen to his parents. Proverbs 13:1 says, "A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke." The word "scorner" means "to make mouths at, to talk arrogantly to." We used to call it making a face. Have you ever made a face at someone? I didn't do it to my parent's face. But when they turned their backs!!! However, they caught me and taught me better. They taught me respect. The words "to talk arrogantly to" are speaking of what we called sassing our parents. Now you didn't get away with that at all in my home. The Human Services organization was not in existence in that day! I sassed my grandmother one time in low tones where she couldn't hear me. But my grandfather was near, and I didn't see him. The next thing I knew he had me by the nap of the neck and my boyish feet were not even touching ground, and as I dangled before his red face I saw an expression that I had never seen before. He instructed me never to do that again. And I didn't!
Paul adds, "in all things." Many questions have arisen. What if they tell
you to do something wrong? Let me say this. Most of the time that question comes up to justify disobedience. There won't be much obedience if the child is allowed to decide which commands to obey. The words "for this is well pleasing to the Lord" mean that God does take note of a child's obedient response to his parents. Have you ever looked at a person, and you said that person doesn't look happy. God is not happy when a child disobeys his parents. When a child says, "I really want to please the Lord," associate that with obedience, submission, and respect to his parents, and see if he is still as committed to pleasing the Lord? Then next Paul says . . .
FATHER'S PROVOKE NOT YOUR CHILDREN TO ANGER
The father is the head of home and the one in authority. Because of this the father is singled out. The word "provoke" translates "erethizo" and means, "to stir up, excite, stimulate, to provoke." When authority is exercised in an unreasonable manner it will stir up the child in a wrong way. The child will not be able to make sense of the use of the father's authority. The result will be anger. If the punishment is not equal to the offense, it can harm the child. Chastening is for the purpose of teaching. If the child can't see the point it frustrates and angers.
Then Paul gives the reason, "lest they be discouraged." This translates "athumeo" and means, "to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit." It is a present active subjunctive verb. The spirit of a child can be broken. There are times when a child just gives up. The subjunctive mood suggests a real possibility. They can do nothing. All decisions are made for them. They are never allowed to do anything without such strict management that they are more or less robots. The way a child interprets this is, "I am too dumb to do this on my own. My parents do not trust me so I'll just do what they say and quit trying." Paul instructs the father not to make this mistake. Then Paul says . . .
SERVANTS OBEY YOUR MASTERS
The word "servants" translates "doulos" and means "slave." This word describes the kind of person that is sold for money. It is very difficult for Christians of our day to accept that slavery was a practice in the days of the early Church. And to top it off, Jesus did not seem to condemn it. I'm not saying He endorsed it either. What I am saying is that Jesus did not come for the purpose of social reform. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. Paul instructs slaves in how to behave as Christians in relationship to their masters. They were to "obey" their masters. The word "obey" is the same word that is used to instruct children. Servants are to listen to and take heed to their masters. It is a present active imperative verb. It is a command and it is urgent that they do it. If they don't, they will be punished for their disobedience, and it will cause them to lose their testimony as Christians.
The words "according to the flesh" mean that it is talking about their duty in this world. The flesh is in contrast to their spiritual lives. Their earthly master cannot tell them what to believe as Christians. Jesus rules there. But their earthly masters are to be obeyed. The slaves are not to serve with "eyeservice, as menpleasers." It is not to be for show. It is not to be hypocritical. The words, "but in singleness of heart, fearing God," mean that their service to their earthly masters is done as unto the Lord. Their service to man is obedience to their heavenly Master. They do it because they fear God. Now this fear of God is a reverential fear. I loved my parents, but I feared them at the same time. I knew, if I disobeyed, there would be consequences. Paul wanted the servants to know that what he was telling them was the Word of God, and how they responded to this Word would be something for which they would have to give account.
I believe these instructions to servants has an application to the Christian employee. The Christian should give eight hours (or more) work for eight hours pay. We owe it to Christ our Lord to be the best employee possible as HIS servants.
May the Lord help us to submit and obey, in those areas in which He has instructed us, without complaint and with great joy as His servants.
Bro. Earl White