5 “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” (Ephesians 6:5–8 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul now addresses the relationship of employees and their employers. Instead of the word employee, Paul begins today’s text with the noun Bondservants (δοῦλος; doulos). The word bondservant means slave. A slave is an individual who is subservient to and controlled by a slave owner.
God commands slaves, or employees, to obey their earthly masters. The word obey (ὑπακούω; hypakouo) is a present active imperative or command. God commands Christian slaves, or employees, to obey His command to obey their earthly masters. To obey means to submit to a master’s authority.
The phrase earthly master (σάρξ κύριος; sarx kyrios) is a strong one. It means a human master, owner, or ruler. Bondservants and employees are to obey their human rulers as they would their heavenly ruler.
Obedience for one’s master, or boss, is to be done with fear (φόβος; phobos) meaning respect and reverence. Obedience is also to be done with trembling (τρόμος; tromos) which literally means to quake and to quiver.
This reverential and respectful obedience is to be done with a sincere heart (ἁπλότης καρδία; haplotes kardia). This means obedience is to be derived from pure motives in the employee’s mind, emotions and will. As a believer sincerely obeys the Lord Jesus, so also are they to obey their employer.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Slaves in both Greek and Roman culture had no rights legally and were treated as commodities. There was much abuse and seldom good treatment of slaves. The Bible does not speak against slavery itself, but against its abuses (cf. Ex. 21:16, 26–27; Lev. 25:10; Deut. 23:15–16). Paul’s admonition applies equally well to all employees. The term “obey” refers to continuous, uninterrupted submission to one’s earthly master or employer. The only exception being in regard to a command that involves clear disobedience of God’s word as illustrated in Acts 4:19–20.”
Colossians 3:23-25 says, “23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
To serve one’s employer well is to serve Christ well. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!