Proverbs 13 & Ephesians 6

Proverbs 13

    A wise son hears his father's instruction,
        but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
    From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good,
        but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
    Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
        he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
    The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
        while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
    The righteous hates falsehood,
        but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.
    Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
        but sin overthrows the wicked.
    One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
        another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
    The ransom of a man's life is his wealth,
        but a poor man hears no threat.
    The light of the righteous rejoices,
        but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
    By insolence comes nothing but strife,
        but with those who take advice is wisdom.
    Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
        but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
    Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
        but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
    Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
        but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
    The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
        that one may turn away from the snares of death.
    Good sense wins favor,
        but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
    In everything the prudent acts with knowledge,
        but a fool flaunts his folly.
    A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
        but a faithful envoy brings healing.
    Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
        but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
    A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
        but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.
    Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
        but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
    Disaster pursues sinners,
        but the righteous are rewarded with good.
    A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
        but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.
    The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
        but it is swept away through injustice.
    Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
        but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
    The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
        but the belly of the wicked suffers want.

(Proverbs 13 ESV)

Ephesians 6

    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

    Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

    So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

    Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

(Ephesians 6 ESV)

Ephesians 6: Scholars have estimated that more than likely nearly one-third of the population in Ephesus was made up of slaves during the first century. As we might expect, slavery during this time was cruel, oppressive and often dehumanizing. Under the umbrella of his previous statement that Christians ought to submit to one another in reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5), the apostle Paul addresses how this applies to those within this harsh system of slavery. However, he addresses the foundational slave and master relationship rather than merely addressing the formal institution of slavery. 

Why does Paul proceed to point out the proper behavior for slaves and masters rather than speaking out against the institution of slavery? One of the strict criticisms that the secular world holds towards the Bible is that it seems to permit slavery. Does Paul condone slavery?

We can answer this kind of criticism with an observation. Did the legal abolition against slavery here in America transform the relationships between those who were slaves and those who owned slaves? You see, Paul provides a standard for this type of relationship that transforms the relationship between the two groups of people rather than just legally changing their status. True Christianity is focused on the heart of men and the higher fight for freedom. By addressing the heart and foundational issue, Christianity during its first few centuries slowly uprooted the formal institution and the prejudices that came with it.

Slaves were to respect their masters and serve them as if they were serving the Lord Himself. And masters were to care for their slaves and treat them as the Lord had treated them. As soon as both embraced this call to live out their faith in this way, the institution began to crumble from within itself. The Bible certainly doesn’t condone the institution of slavery; it possesses the power to radically change it from the inside out.