Be Subject (Ephesians series)

. 6 min read

Subject: Reverence for Christ
      Being in Christ, 7                                            Eph
05 21-06 09
Feb 2019, Christ Mountain Top
the Psalm, Psalm 123
2 Kings 5, Naaman subjects himself
Ephesians 5.21 – 6.9
Review, transition:
in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace
and fullness in Christ, all in all
and Made Alive in Christ: Grace through Faith
in Christ: Near and Far
Love and Glory in Christ: Abundantly Far
week, turned the corner with
Be One: The Unity of the Spirit
      Be Subject: Reverence for Christ
      Be Strong: Armor of God
got problems with this passage and its theme, “Be Subject”. Two kinds of problems:
Cultural/social distance and issues around authority
      Slaves and masters are made parallel,
structurally in the text, to the relationship of children and fathers, wives
and husbands. I don’t know about you, but that makes me uncomfortable. I am not
Robin’s master. I am not Jesse and Caleb’s master.
      Man I met, who was studying to become a
pastor, “I need a woman who submits.” He meant by that “a woman who does
whatever I tell her” and he believed he had biblical warrant for his abuse of
power. He was tall, physically imposing, walked with a cane, and always seemed
angry. She interacted very little, always kept her head down, and said almost
nothing. I was a sheltered college student, but I wondered if he was ever
violent with her and I knew for a fact that I did NOT want him or anyone like
him for my pastor.
      Neighbor shoveling snow that will melt in a day

with the cultural/social stuff is necessary to appreciate the focus of this passage,
but it takes some work. Let’s dive in:
Slaves and masters:
Remember last week, mention of the separation of the Methodist Episcopal Church
in 1844 over slavery? The last straw was a southern bishop who acquired slaves
through marriage. That is, the woman he married was a slave owner by
inheritance. You can see how disciples of Jesus at that time could have pointed
to this text to say, “See, it can’t be that bad. God tells slaves to be
time bomb hidden in the text”
Ephesians 6:7-9  Render service
with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women,  8 knowing that whatever good we
do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or
free.  9 And, masters, do the
same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the
same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
      Don’t work for your master, but for the
Lord (reclaim power of choice)
      Both slave and free are equal before God
in reward
      Both slave and free have God as Master,
and God doesn’t care where you are in the pecking order
14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands
or falls.
Paul urging him to set his slave free because now they both follow Jesus
Children and fathers:
Exodus 20:12  Honor your father
and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your
God is giving you.
      “I brought you into this world; I can take
you out of it.”
Leviticus 20:9  All who curse
father or mother shall be put to death;
time bomb hidden in the text”
Ephesians 6:4  fathers, do not
provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord.
      If the only way you exercise your
authority as a parent provokes your child to anger, you’re doing it wrong
      The discipline we offer as parents is not
our own discipline (the fruit of our frustration) but the discipline of God. Never
discipline your children when you are angry.
Wives and husbands:
Sexist humor, “The boss” “The Warden”
time bomb hidden in the text”
Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love
your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 5:28  In the same way,
husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies.
Ephesians 5:33  Each of you,
however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her
seems to start as absolute submission to the authority of a man is turned into
a call to men to love their wives the very way Christ loves (giving up his
life), to love their wives as their own bodies (which certainly means that we
avoid doing harm), and to a woman to respect her man.
women in leadership:
      Apostles, Ro 16.7
      Prophets, Ac 21.9, Jdg 4.4
      National/political leadership, Jdg 4.4
      Teachers, Ac 18.26
3:28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there
is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
crucial interpretive key for the
social and cultural matters, and for the entire text, is the heading:
Ephesians 5:21  Be subject to one
another out of reverence for Christ.
      Mutual submission is assumed in EVERY
relationship, “to one another.” This is a radical equality at the heart of the
      Being subject to one another is the way
our obedience to Jesus is mediated today. That is, the way we obey Jesus, the
way we subject ourselves to Jesus, is through others.
      Blaise Pascal, Memorial, “Total submission
to Jesus Christ and to my director.” This is a radical submission at the heart
of the gospel.
#1: Equality and submission
at the heart of the gospel.
Implication #2: Leading and
the Jesus way.
      In our leadership, whether as bosses,
parents, spouses, we are called to lead the way Jesus leads.
our serving, we are called to serve the way Jesus serves.
      Whether being in authority or being
subject, Jesus is the model
10:45  For the Son of Man came not to be
served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
13:14-15  So if I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have set you an example, that you
also should do as I have done to you.
authority is an authority to serve, not the whims of another but the true welfare
of another. And I choose this because Jesus chose me. In the priority order,
I’m not first, but second.
Paying for the kids to go to college
Folding the laundry
Shoveling snow
Go where I am sent
submit to the evaluation of our staff
authority is an authority to serve, not the whims of another but the true
welfare of another. And I choose this because Jesus chose me. In the priority
order, I’m not first, but second.
Implication #3: Lover and Beloved
Ephesians 5:25-27  Christ loved the church and gave himself up
for her,  26 in order to make
her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,  27 so as to present the church to
himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind– yes,
so that she may be holy and without blemish.
      Hymn: Finish then thy new creation, pure
and spotless let us be
      The way we are transformed and made new is
by the love of God. Being loved, and loving, is what animates this unique call
of Paul to “Be Subject.” When we think only in terms of authority, hierarchy,
headship, power, submission, we miss what Paul calls “this great mystery”
(Ephesians 5:32) of Christ and the Church as the germ of transformation and
social change for the world. It’s all about LOVE.