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Successful Living at Home and Work, Ephesians 5:22-6:9

Recommended Procedure. Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading

Idea for group leader: Ask the class for successful formulas touted by the world. Discuss their merits or demerits. Today's Bible study is successful living at home and at work. What we learn may be different from what the world tells us, but they will work because the instructions given by the Apostle Paul come ultimately from God.

Review of background and significance for this lesson: Ephesus was an immoral city that practiced sorcery and idolized a goddess named Artemis, whose image supposedly fell from heaven. Ephesus was also a mixed city of Jews and Gentiles. This created a lot of tension between the two groups in the church. Paul writes to give them a new understanding.

Summary of Ephesians 1-4: Paul writes that because of our calling to adoption as children of God, because of God's grace, because of Paul's stewardship of the message that Gentiles and Jews are on equal footing and part of the new body, the church, therefore, we should walk worthy of the calling we have received. Since we were adopted into the family of God and have all the blessings and inheritance of his sons, we should walk like it. We have received a gracious calling so we should act with grace. We need to be gracious and forgiving of one another.

By the grace of the Holy Spirit God has given gifted men to the church. Spiritual leadership gifts are meant to be used to equip, mature, and protect the body of the church from apostasy. Other spiritual gifts given to believers in the body of Christ are meant to benefit and grow the body of Christ as each one contributes his or her gift. We need each other.

As Christians we should not live as other Gentiles (pagans) live- in the futility of their minds. Futility of their minds is described as

being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. (Eph 4:18,19, NASB)

But the Ephesians believers did not learn Christ that way. The believers were to

lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in [the likeness of] God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24, NASB)

The key to laying aside the old self and putting on the new self is that we be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Our new self should be displayed in the way we talk, our attitudes, our actions, and our relationship with God and each other. Do you know Jesus, the Son of God? Has he given you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life? Do you have a right relationship with him? A right relationship with God through Jesus is essential to having a renewed mind (more...).

In our last lesson, Ephesians 5:1-21, we were challenged to imitate God as his dear children. We are to be forgiving like Christ forgave us. Keeping in mind that we are called to be part of God's family and are given equal privileges, we should be thankful, and we should act with love, grace, and tenderness. We should walk in love, walk in light, and walk in wisdom. How do we walk in love, in light, and in wisdom?

•  We should live in willing sacrificial love for each other as Christ did. In love for Christ and for each other we should get rid of our old ways of living

•  We should walk in the light - in all the goodness, and righteousness, and truth that Jesus gives us, learning what pleases the Lord and doing it.

•  We should walk in wisdom - use the opportunities the Lord gives us, read God's word daily to find out his will and do it, do not be tripped up by the trap of alcohol (or other vices) but be filled with the spirit, and live in subjection to one another to seek love and unity.

Ephesians 5:18-21 gives us the background for today's lesson. What is it?

Answer 1


According to 5:21, what is one of the signs of being filled with the Holy Spirit?

Answer 2


Ephesians 5:22-6:9 give examples as to whom and how we should live in subjection to one another. Who is to be in subjection?

Answer 3


Subjection means to willingly place yourself under the authority of someone else. This does not mean that one person is in some way of more value than another, just as a son or daughter has equal value with his mother or father. Even Jesus Christ placed himself under the authority of his Father God, though they and the Holy Spirit are equal. (Philippians 2:3-11; John 6:38)


Wives. To whom are wives to be subject? How are wives to be subject? Ephesians 5:22-24

Answer 4


Husbands. What is a husband? The word husband in the Greek language of the Bible is not related to the word husbandry, a tiller and keeper of the ground. The origin of the word means he is the man of the house, and the context of Ephesians 5:25-31 and 6:4 suggest that he is the house-band, the one who leads and holds the household together. What happens when a husband fails to fulfill his role as house-band? Why do you suppose much more is said about the husband's duties than the wife's?

Answer 5


Husbands are to be subject to the Lord (Ephesians 5:25). If they are subject to him, how should they treat their wives?

Answer 6


Read Ephesians 5:25-27. What does Ephesians 5:26 mean? Hint the meaning of the term "word" is rhema - words that are uttered. How might men apply this, by principle, in their own homes?

Answer 7


What picture or event does Paul describe or refer to in 5:27? When might Jesus present his bride to himself radiant in all her glory, not having any spot or wrinkle or any blemish? [read Revelation 19:7-8]

Answer 8


Usually, in America it is the bride that goes to the spa and salon, gets a tan, her hair and nails done, gets an elaborate wedding gown with shoes and jewelry to match. The church, the bride of Christ is prepared by Him. She is washed by Christ and his words minister to her. Likewise, the husbands are to love their wives as themselves. They are to care for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually as Christ does the church. (note: it is comforting to know that Christ cares for the church). Men, are our wives more radiant because we are caring for them in this way?

Read 5:28-31. In what way is a husband to love his wife? How is the 5:28-30 related to importance of 5:31? The principle of leave and cleave is from Genesis 2:23-24.

Answer 9


Children to parents.

How should children subject themselves to their parents? What else should children do? Ephesians 6:1-3

Answer 10


Is Ephesians 6:3 a promise or a principle? How is it then that some children die young? Read Exodus 20:12 from which it originated. How might honoring parents lead to a better and longer life?

Answer 11


Read Ephesians 6:4 What is it that often times causes children to rebel? How do fathers exasperate (the Greek word means to provoke to anger*) their children? Are fathers to be involved in their children's lives or just leave that to the mother?

Answer 12


Employees. In the culture of the first century A.D., the population of half of the Roman empire was slaves. In America we do not have that culture. However, it is profitable to apply the principles in these verses to employee-employer relationships. How should employees subject themselves to their employers? Ephesian 6:5-8. What does this look like?

Answer 13


Employers. To whom are employers subject and how should they treat their employees? Ephesians 6:9

Answer 14


Lessons to Live by: (If you are the leader, ask for members' input first)

Today's Bible memory verses:

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8, NIV)

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A1: Being filled with the Spirit

A2: One of the signs of being filled with the spirit is to be in subjection to each other.

A3: Wives, husbands, children, slaves, masters.

A4: Wives are to be subject to their own husbands. Wives are to be subject to their husbands as to the Lord [i.e., in reverence for him] and in everything. Someone has to be the leader and God designated that to the husband. Therefore, she is to respect and follow his leadership. Even if he does not follow the Lord, she should respect his leadership and follow him as long as what he asks her to do does not violate God's moral standards. She should not lie, cheat, or steal for him or do worse things.


  • Fractured families usually result from men who do not live up to their responsibilities or those who forsake their families. It takes courage, care, and tenacity to be a good husband. Men need to step up.
  • Probably more is written about the husband than the wife because he has the greater responsibility for his household.

A6: With agape love - seeking what is best for the one loved. He is to love his own wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. True agape love is self-sacrificing, not just willing to take a bullet for her, but daily sacrificing himself for her.

A7: Ephesians 5:26 means that he sanctified and cleansed her by the life giving word of the gospel, spoken by those who shared the message. Paul was one of these. Men, how can we sanctify and cleanse our wives by our words? We can encourage her spiritually by our loving words. We can also lead her in devotions and prayer.

A8: At the marriage supper of the lamb.

A9: "husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, (Ephesians 5:28-29, NIV)

As Christ's responsibility is to please God by taking care of us, the husbands responsibility is to please Christ by taking care of his wife. He is to leave the physical and emotional ties of his parents and take care of his wife (no mommas' boys). He and his wife form a new family unit when they marry. This does not mean that we are not to take care of our parents if they cannot take care of themselves, but our first responsibilities and sympathies are to our wives.

A10: Children should obey their parents in the Lord (as long as their directives do not violate God's moral standards, it pleases the Lord for children to obey their parents. It is right). Obey is the same word as submit.

Children should also honor their father and mother. Is there an age limit? What if their parent is not honorable? (Proverbs 23:22)

A11: The principle is a derivation of Exodus 20:12 . Following your parents' advice may help your life or keep you from harm. Obeying a parents's admonition to work hard, save your money, and only spend what you can afford may keep you out of the poor house and lead you to prosperity. Obeying a parent's admonition to not do drugs or to look both ways before crossing a street may lead you to a longer life.

A12: Father's are not to exasperate their children. Some reasons children rebel are when unreasonable demands are placed upon them, when they can't meet the expectations of their father, when promises are not kept, fathers are absent, or they are harsh and not loving.

Fathers are to nourish their children (this is a compound Greek word meaning to bring up [to maturity] and to nurture**). Therefore, fathers must be there for their children, encourage them, and be involved in their lives. Furthermore, they are to be spiritual leaders and train their children to love God and obey Him. Men are you involved in your kids' lives or do you just leave it up to their mothers? If you are a grandpa, do you try to involve yourself in your grand kids or at least give emotional support to your children?


  • With fear and trembling (respect and reverence), with sincerity of heart, as slaves of Christ and not just men pleasers, not only when their eyes are on you, with good will rendering service doing the will of the Lord.
  • Honesty, hard work, giving a full day's value, not messing around or standing around talking when you should be working, not using the internet for personal use during business hours. Cheerfulness, cooperative whenever possible, being a #1 worker (seeing what needs to be done and doing it cheerfully without being asked). Advancing the company and your value as an employee.

A14: Employers are to do the same thing. In other words if you want others to work, you work, too. You show up on time, you set the example for cheerfully doing the Lord's work on the job. You work honestly. You put in a full day, and you work with good will. You treat your employees fairly; you especially do not threaten your Christian employees, knowing that you share the same relationship with Christ; God will treat you as you treat them.

Lessons to Live by: (summary)

  • One of the signs of being filled with the Spirit is our subjection one to another: wives to husbands; husbands to the Lord, loving their wives as Christ loved the church, with self-sacrificing love, seeking their best interests, and leading them to a closer relationship to Christ; children obeying and honoring their parents no matter what their age may be; employees respectfully and sincerely working their best for their employer as to the Lord, and employers doing the same for their employees and the Lord.

*Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine, M.A., MacDonald Pulishing Co, Mclean, Virginia, ISBN 0-917006-03-8, pp. 910.

** Ibid, p. 800

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