Last revised: 5/26/15
Col. 3:18-4:1
Eph. 5:22-6:9
1 Peter 2:18-3:6
18Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 


22Wives, be subject to you husbands, as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. 3:1Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; 4 rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight. 5It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. 6Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.
 19Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly  


 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so 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. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband 3:6Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the woman as the weaker sex [or, vessel], since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life -- so that nothing may hinder your prayers.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. 


6:1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother" -- this is the first commandment with a promise: 3 "so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
21Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. 
4and, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 
 22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. 25for the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality. 5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. 
2:18-25 18Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 
    22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 
    23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
4:1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.  5 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.


  1. The Haustafeln was a frequent topic of discussion in the ancient world both inside and outside of Christian circles.

  2. The discussions on this subject centered around the family relationships to the dominating male in the household (husband/father/master).

  3. Three sets of relationships comprised the usual Haustafeln discussions: wives/husbands; children/fathers; slaves/masters.

  4. The Roman tradition of potria potestas gave virtual power of life and death into the hand of the dominating male over other members of the household.

  5. Marriagable ages differed dramatically from modern American custom. The female was 'ready' for marriage shortly after reaching puberty in her beginning teen years, while Jewish society did not consider the male an adult (that is, marriageable) until his thirtieth birthday. Although Roman society had somewhat different views about the male, most males were married off in both Roman and Jewish societies in their early thirtys. Thus, typically a 15 to 20 year age difference existed between husband and wife. Under normal circumstances a newly married couple would be a wife about 13 yrs old and her husband in his early 30s.

  6. Marriages were arranged by the parents or guardians. The couple typically played little or no role at all in choosing their mate.

  7. Marriage, especially in the Jewish tradition, was a contractual agreement between two clans or families much more than an commitment between two individuals. Normally, a written marriage contract was agreed upon and signed by the fathers of the couple sometimes while the couple were only small children or infants.

  8. Thus, disolving a marriage was viewed as a serious breach of faith between the two families, more than between the two individuals. Most marriage contracts contained provisions outlining the legal obligations to each family in the event of divorce.

  9. Roman society was an extremely violent oriented culture and viewed the use of violence by the dominating male to other family members as entirely normal and legitimate. The concepts of 'child abuse' and 'spousal abuse' were unknown in this ancient society.

  10. A critical interpretative starting point for understanding the New Testament is to begin with a reading of the Greco-Roman discussions of these relationships. Then the revolutionary nature of the New Testament, Paul in particular, in opposing the contemporary inferior status of the wife and the abuse of children and slaves becomes very clear. The New Testament initiates a radical 'left-wing' revolution with its emphasis upon equality as well as compassionate mutual concern and obligation in the face of the traditionalist, conservative cultural view of male domination in both Roman and Jewish society.


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