Introduction: Let’s continue our journey on unity and
harmony. We have seen what the Bible says about it in the
church and in marriages. What about unity and harmony with
our children? What about looking at our relationships at
work – either as an employee or an employer? Paul plunges
into those relationships in Ephesians 6:1-9 so come along
and take the plunge with him!

I. Children and Parents

A. Read Ephesians 6:1-3. When Paul tells children to
obey their parents “in the Lord” is this a
limitation on obedience? (This is the same
limitation that we found in Ephesians 5:21-22
where Paul says church members should submit to
each other “out of reverence for Christ” and wives
should “submit” “as to the Lord.” All of these
earthly relationships are subject to our greater
obligation to submit to God.)

1. Paul says obedience to parents “is right.”
What does that mean? In what way is it right?
(In Ephesians 6:2-3 Paul tells us this is part
of the Ten Commandments.)

B. Compare Ephesians 6:2-3 with the commandment found
in Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16. Paul says
that this is the first “commandment with a
promise.” What is that promise? (Your life will be
longer and better.)

1. You should tell your children! How would you
explain this to them? (All of God’s
commandments are for our benefit. Parents have
already lived the life the children are
entering. Godly parents learned something from
this. Something that will prevent the children
from making needless mistakes.)

2. How does television portray parents,
especially fathers? (It portrays them as being

3. Have you heard attacks on “the patriarchy?”
How does that philosophy and the television
attacks on fathers fit into Ephesians 6:2-3?
(It is important for Christians to step back
and see how modern slogans and arguments fit
into the great controversy between good and
evil. God is our Father. As we discussed
last week, Ephesians 5 gives an important role
to fathers. These attacks are demonic not
simply because they contradict the Bible, but
because if accepted they deprive children of
the promise of the commandment.)

C. Read Ephesians 6:4. Why are only fathers warned
against angering their children? (One commentator
pointed out that the same word used here is also
used for Moses’ parents in Hebrews 11:23. Since
the family organization that we studied last week
puts the father at the top (under God) it makes
sense that he is the one most likely to generate

1. If you are a parent, do your children get
angry even over reasonable rules?

2. What do you think Paul means when he condemns
provoking children to anger? (We all know
people who do not know how to handle
authority. Needless discipline sometimes
arises from an unnecessary use of authority.)

3. Notice that Ephesians has a counterpoint to
provocation: “the discipline and instruction
of the Lord.” What is different about God’s
discipline? (Hebrews 12:6 refers to discipline
in love. God wants a consistent, loving
discipline of our children.)

D. As you contemplate Ephesians 6:3-4 do you find
“guardrails” on how parents should discipline
their children? (If parents will not discipline
their children, or the children will not submit to
discipline, then likely the government will impose
discipline on them as adults. This is inconsistent
with things “going well” and “living long.” At the
same time parents who impose harsh discipline can
create (provoke) life-long rebels against the
church and God.)

II. Employers and Employees

A. Read Ephesians 6:5. The ESV translates this
“Bondservants” and the KJV translates this
“servants.” The underlying word can refer to
either voluntary or involuntary servants. Since
you readers are either employees or employers, and
not slaves or slave masters, we will look at this
from the voluntary point of view. Are employees
like children, that they should obey their
employer “with fear and trembling?”

1. Does this explain why Paul was a self-employed

2. Notice that Paul compares the obedience of
employees to obedience to Christ. Does anyone
think that Jesus wants us to obey Him “with
fear and trembling?” (John MacArthur’s
commentary says “this is not fright, but
respect for their authority.”)

3. Why do you think that Paul brings Jesus into
the picture of being an obedient, diligent
employee? (This suggests that being a good
employee is part of our obligations to God and
our witness to the world.)

a. What does this suggest about being a
member of a labor union?

b. Do labor unions foment unhappiness and
rebellion? What kind of attitude do they
display towards employers?

B. Read Ephesians 6:6-7. This is not simple
obedience, this requires an attitude. What
attitude should employees have towards their
employer? (The attitude is that we are working for
God, not some employer which may display ungodly

1. The deeper question is whether Paul is
teaching us that respect, love, diligence, and
godliness is the goal in all of our
relationships with others, including our

C. Read Ephesians 6:8. What practical promise does
the Bible make to good employees? (God will reward
us. God will “give back” whatever you have given
to your employer.)

1. You know that I believe that God’s commands
are in large part self-enforcing. If you were
an employer, how would you treat an employee
with the attitude and diligence that Paul
prescribes? (An employee like that is very

D. Read Ephesians 6:9. What must employers do? (They
should have the same positive attitude towards
their employees.)

1. Why? (Because God will hold them accountable.)

2. Would you want to work for an employer who
treated employees as Paul says employees
should treat their employer? (The answer is
obviously, “Yes.” Consider, employers, how it
will help your business if you and your
employees treat each other with respect and

3. If you have a terrible employer, are you
required to keep working for it? (That is the
blessings of voluntary service. If you have a
terrible employer, change jobs. Work for an
employer who makes it easy to follow Paul’s
advice for employees.)

E. Why do you think Paul gives advice on how slaves
should respond to their slave masters when he is
writing to a specific non-western church? (Slavery
was a world-wide sin. Opponents of Christianity
today try to paint it as primarily a stain on
Western civilization and Christianity. The truth
is the Christian Western civilizations sought, at
great expense to themselves, to eliminate

III. The Heart of the Matter

A. What is the underlying principle Paul is
emphasizing in these all of the relationships
discussed in Ephesians 6:1-9? (He is teaching
about respect, love, and godliness in all
interpersonal relationships. When our actions are
done in reverence for Christ, it reshapes how we
treat one another.)

B. How do these teachings reflect Jesus’ message of
love and humility? (Jesus came not to be served
but to serve. These teachings encourage a similar
attitude of humble service.)

1. How would you go about explaining to your
children that obedience to you reflects your
love for them?

C. Is it reasonable and Biblical for us to
“understand our role” in society? Or is this
contrary to the view that we are part of a “royal
priesthood” (see 1 Peter 2:9) of believers? (Part
of the problem in obtaining harmony in
relationships is having the humility to understand
our role. Living by these principles not only
strengthens our personal relationships but also
serves as a testimony to the transformative power
of the Gospel in our lives.)

D. Friend, will you take seriously the relationships
Paul lays out for us in Ephesians? Will you take
the steps to make your home and your work better

IV. Next week: The Call to Stand.

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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