The workplace is a crucial setting for us to do many of the good works that God has prepared for us Eph. Through our work, we also earn sufficient resources to share with the needy, whether directly through the church or by other means. Although a theology of work is not quite the same as a theology of charity, this verse explicitly links the two.
The overall message is that the purpose of work is to do good both by what our work accomplishes directly and by what our work enables us to give to others outside of work. The second practical consideration is relationships. Our calling as Christians impacts our basic relationships, especially those in the family and the workplace. Prior to the industrial age, households were equally places of family life and places of work. Lists of this sort were common in the moral discourse of the Greco-Roman world and are represented in the New Testament see, for example, Col.
We are particularly interested in Ephesians —9, a passage that addresses the relationship between slaves and masters. Paul addresses Christians who are masters, Christians who are slaves under Christian masters, and Christians who are slaves under nonbelieving masters. This text is similar to a parallel passage in Colossians Col.
Full text of "A commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians"
To summarize briefly, Roman slavery has both similarities to and differences from paid work in the twenty-first century. With regard to the work itself, both groups have a duty to meet the expectations of those in authority over their work. Slaves cannot quit, they have limited legal rights and remedies for mistreatment, they do not receive pay or compensation for their work, and they do not negotiate working conditions. In short, the scope for abuse of power by masters over slaves is far greater than that for supervisors over workers.
We will begin by exploring this section of Ephesians as it applies to actual slaves. Then we will consider applications to the form of paid labor that dominates developed economies today. The fact that their work is for Christ will encourage them to work hard and well.
In that case, God will reward the slave Eph. It is cruel for a master to force a slave to choose between obedience to the master and obedience to Christ. If masters order slaves to do good work, then threats should not be necessary. If masters order slaves to do evil work, then their threats are like threats against Christ.
Though the earthly distinction of master and slave remains intact, their relationship has been altered with an unprecedented call to mutuality. Neither can lord it over the other, since only Christ is Lord Eph. Neither can shirk the duty of love to the other. The inner logic of Ephesians —9, as well as the broader story of Ephesians, motivates us to work for the end of slavery. Most of us, however, will not experience slavery in a personal way, either as slaves or as masters. Yet we do find ourselves in workplace relationships where someone has authority over another person.
New English Translations of Calvin’s Works.
By analogy, Ephesians —9 teaches both employers and employees to order, perform, and reward only work that could be done by or for Christ. When we are ordered to do good work, the issue is simple, though not always easy. We do it to the best of our ability, regardless of the compensation or appreciation we receive from our bosses, customers, regulators, or anyone else in authority over us. This has even caused some to question whether whistleblowing, work stoppages, and complaints to regulatory authorities are legitimate for Christian employees.
At the very least, a difference of opinion or judgment is not by itself good enough cause to disobey a valid order at work. The crucial distinction often requires finding out whose interests would be served by disobeying the order. If disobeying would protect the interests of another person or the larger community then there is a strong case for disobeying the order.
In some cases, protecting others could even jeopardize our careers or cost us our livelihoods.
Sermons On The Epistle To The Ephesians By John Calvin READ ONLINE
This is especially true in the case of workers near the bottom of the economic ladder, who may have few alternatives and no financial cushion. Do we have to resign over every one of them? Other times, workers may be ordered to do serious evils. We must acknowledge that the decisions can be complex.
When we are the ones in authority, then, we should order only work that Christ would order. We do not order others to do what in good conscience we will not do. We do not threaten those who refuse our orders out of conscience or justice.
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