After laying out the groundwork for relationships in the previous verses, Paul zeroes in on the most difficult of relationships, wives and husbands, children and fathers, servants and masters.
Wives and Husbands
He speaks first to wives. To Paul order, not position, holds importance. Order creates harmony in the home, and someone needs to lead. Paul writes “wives submit to your own husbands.” A wife lets her husband lead “as is fitting in the Lord.” There is no partiality with God, under the cross there is no male nor female. In this union, Christ is the head. To the husband Paul commands, “Love your wives.” Then he further instructs, “don’t be bitter toward them.” God intends leadership to be in submission to Christ and an act of love. In this relationship the husband has the awesome responsibility of illustrating the love Christ has for His church and wives can help them shine as they do so.
Children and Fathers
Next, he speaks of children and fathers. Children are to obey, to follow the direction given by their fathers. The reason? It pleases the Lord. He cautions fathers about the discouragement that comes from provoking their children. Do not do it he writes. Fathers take on the awesome responsibility of illustrating the union of God and His children where each blossoms beneath the father’s care.
Servants and Masters
Finally, he writes to servants and masters. For us to relate it is better understood as employees and employers. Good employees follow the rules and respect their employer. They don’t do it just to impress the boss or to be well thought of. There is a deeper reason. With a sincere heart they are living out their life to please God. Everything must be done from the desire to please God, not men. “You serve the Lord Christ,” he writes. There is a reward for doing good and repayment for doing wrong. As for the employer, he must be just and fair. In heaven they have a master who is over them. This relationship demonstrates the loving master and those who would serve Him, in a mutually satisfying relationship.
A loving God is sovereign These relationships when lived with a desire to honour God, illustrate a bit of what the kingdom of heaven looks like. And so Paul teaches how to please God in each of them. After laying out the groundwork for relationships in the previous verses, he zeroes in on the most difficult of relationships, wives and husbands, children and fathers, servants and masters.