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Sabbath School Lessons on Ephesians
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 11: Christian Relationships *
Introduction: Would you like to succeed in life and love? Christians
have many advantages in life. One of the most important advantage is
the Bible's practical teaching on increasing our emotional
intelligence. Our lesson this week, if taken seriously, will give us
an emotional "I.Q." boost for dealing with our job, our marriage, our
children and our friends. Let's plunge right in!
- Mutual Submission
- Read Ephesians 5:21. What does it mean to "submit" to
other Christians? (Wuest's Word Studies tells us this has
a military meaning: as in lining up the troops for battle.
The troops would submit to the organization.)
- How would mutual submission logically work? In a
military you have individuals of different rank.
Would those of higher rank have to submit to those of
lower rank? How could generals submit to privates?
Officers to enlisted men? (Mutual submission is like
nothing I have ever heard of in connection with a
military. Paul is giving us a new concept.)
- What would "reverence for Jesus" have to do with
submitting to one another? (Since I am having trouble
getting my mind around the idea of "mutual
submission," this must mean that our mutual Master
causes us to have a special deference for one
- If Jesus is the basis for mutual submission, what
would that suggest about the nature of the
submission? (First, it would mean that we are only
speaking of submission that is within the proper code
of conduct for Christians. Second, it seems that
absolute, mutual submission would never allow for any
type of organization. Therefore, it must mean
submission within the order of authority created by
God. Paul continues to explain God's order of
authority, so let's continue.)
- Husband and Wife
- Read Ephesians 5:22-24. What does it mean for a wife to
"submit" to her husband? (It would at least have the same
restrictions that we found in Ephesians 5:21 - that it
would be within the proper conduct code for Christians.)
- Think again about Ephesians 5:21. Should a husband
submit to his wife? Is his wife the only person to
whom he should not submit?
- Since Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one
another, isn't an instruction to wives to submit to
their husbands redundant? (We concluded that the
verses following Ephesians 5:21 were an explanation
of the difficult idea of absolute mutual submission.
Thus, Ephesians 5:22 must have some additional
- Paul tells us that the submission of wives to
husbands is like the submission of the church to
Jesus. In what way does the church submit to Jesus?
(It submits to His loving direction and His example
- Is this instruction about wives submitting limited to
the culture in which Paul lived? (Paul says nothing
about the culture. All of his benchmarks, all of his
references are to Jesus and His relationship to the
church. This is a timeless point of reference.)
- Read Ephesians 5:25-27. In what way did Jesus give Himself
up for the church? (Jesus entire life on earth was an
example of self-denial. He had virtually no possessions.
He even gave up His life for others.)
- Are husbands to love their wives in this same self-denying way? (Yes.)
- What is the goal of the obligation of the husband to
deny himself for his wife? (To help her to be holy.)
- How would that work? (Read Romans 12:20-21. This
is a theme of Christianity. By giving up our
self for others, we win them to Jesus. A husband
who gives up himself for his wife, wins her to
- Read Ephesians 5:28. This is one of my favorite texts in
the entire Bible. If you want to have a good marriage, pay
attention to this instruction: "He who loves his wife,
loves himself." Much of what Paul writes is complex. This
instruction is not.
- Read Ephesians 5:29-30. Men, do you love your wife as much
as you love yourself? Do you care for her as well as you
care for yourself?
- After looking at these instructions to husbands and wives,
can you imagine a situation in which a husband demands
that his wife submit to him? (The instruction for wives to
submit is there. But, husbands are instructed to give up
themselves for their wives, to love their wife as much as
they love themself. This attitude on the part of the
husband is what causes a wife to willingly submit.
Verbally beating your wife with the instruction to submit
is hardly effective. Submission to the husband's self-denial is like no submission the world understands.)
- Read Ephesians 5:31-33. What does it mean for a man to
leave his father and mother?
- Should a married man live with his parents when he is
- Should a married man spend more time talking to his
parents than his wife?
- Should a married man take his disputes with his wife
to his parents? Should a wife take disputes with her
husband to her parents? Is this consistent with the
directive that they become "united?" (When one spouse
goes to his/her parents to get them to agree against
the other spouse, then a resolution of the problem is
almost impossible. The spouse with the support of the
parents has no reason to compromise. The spouse who
stands alone will become angry and frustrated. The
best thing for those "united" in marriage is to work
out problems between the two of them or with an
unbiased professional. Biased family members make
- Have you heard wives get together and say
uncomplimentary things about their husbands? Is this
consistent with the instruction to respect your
- Have you heard husbands say uncomplimentary things
about their wives? Is this consistent with the
instruction to love your wife?
- Parents and Children
- Read Ephesians 6:1-3. What logical link can you see
between a long and pleasant life and honoring your
parents? (If you were hiking a trail, you would take
instruction from someone who had hiked the trail before.
That is just common sense. Parents have been down the path
of life. They might not have taken the best route, but
they likely know the best route. Godly parents have the
added benefit of having the insight of the Creator of
Life. Following the instructions of godly parents improves
the quality and length of life.)
- Read Ephesians 6:4. Paul contrasts frustrating your child
with bringing him up in the training and instruction of
the Lord. Explain how those are opposites? (Parents
sometimes get confused between their rules and God's
rules. Deuteronomy 4:2 tells us not to add or subtract
from God's commands. Making up your own annoying rules (as
the Jewish leaders did in Jesus' time) or failing to
impose God's rules (as the Jewish leaders did before the
Babylonian captivity) are both wrong. Erring on either
side will frustrate your children.)
- Employers and Employees
- Read Ephesians 6:5-7. Is this advice applicable to
- Should the nature of your employer change how you
work? (No. You are to work as if you were working for
- When is God observing your work? (All the time.)
- How much of the time should you be a diligent
- What role should labor unions play in this
relationship? (Would you strike against God? Would
you bully Him and demand your rights?)
- Read Ephesians 6:8. Who, ultimately, pays us for our work?
(God will give us the ultimate reward for our work.)
- Read Ephesians 6:9. What obligation do employers have
towards their employees? What does Paul mean when he says
"treat your slaves in the same way?" (I think he is
referring back to employees working as if they were
working for God. Employers should make godly decisions in
the treatment of employees. They should not abuse
- Would this obligation extend to supervisors? Are they
also required by God not to threaten those within
- What should an employee do who has an unjust
employer, but who understands that he should work for
his employer as if he were working for God? (Unlike
slaves, we can change employers. If we have a God-honoring employer, that makes our work that much
- Friend, do you regret relationship decisions you have made
in the past? The way to avoid regrets, the way to improve
your emotional intelligence is to follow God's advice.
Will you commit to do that today?
- Next week: The Christian Warfare.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.