“Order in the House!”

In the first century Roman world where the apostle Paul wrote his epistles there were well established household codes of conduct.  The main concern of the society in these secular lists of “rules” was the effective management of the household which also included domestic slaves.  The focal point of these codes was the head of the household (paterfamilias), and what he should do to maintain order in his house.

In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul included a household code for the Christian home of the first century (3:18-4:1, cp. Ephesians 5:22-6:9 & 1Peter 2:18-3:7).  In his inspired rules for the Christian household, like the secular ones, the husband/father/master is the focal point.  His wife is to submit herself to him while the children and slaves are to obey him.  What is different is his responsibility to those who are under his care.  He must love his wife, and not treat her harshly.  In no ancient household code that has been discovered is the husband enjoined to love his wife!  As father, he must not aggravate or discourage his children.  And as master, he must treat his slaves justly and fairly.

Like in the first century, we in the twenty-first century are to fulfill our roles in the Christian home as to the Lord.  Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25).  Wives are to submit to their husbands as is fitting in the Lord.  And children are to obey their parents for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Whatever we do, we should do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men!