Opening Prayer

Ever-present God, you walk with me through good times and bad. Your footsteps are my guide. Your hands are my support. I thank you Lord.

Read COLOSSIANS 3:18 – 4:1

Instructions for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.


  1. Colossians 3:21 Or Parents

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Thank you, Lord, for the family relationships in which you have placed me. Grant me love and humility in my dealings with those close to me.

Think Further

I remember the surprise when a wedding couple I was marrying chose the longer version of this passage as their reading.1 Surprise, because these instructions about family ,relationships court controversy. How can they be relevant for a contemporary couple? Paul’s cultural context, where men owned their wives, children, and slaves as possessions, did have pagan and Jewish household rules, but now, after teaching about Christian behavior, household rules are radically changed. Now families live within Christ’s rule (v 15). Order remains important, yet Christ’s peace and unity require new rules, as family members willingly place themselves in relationships of love and service to each other.

Note the balance between husband and wife (vs 18,19). Respective roles remain, but wives and husbands are called into a new relationship of mutual love and respect, a relationship ‘fitting in the Lord’ (v 18) within his rule of love. The new relationship between parents and children (vs 20,21) recognizes that discipline is essential but should never be discouraging. In Paul’s world, slavery was the norm, but slaves’ equality before the Lord2 anticipates eventual emancipation. Regarded as nobodies, slaves are now given the choice to see their work as for the Lord: to be somebodies, serving Christ’s kingdom. Christian masters are challenged to show the key qualities, so often missing in that world, of justice and fairness. Imagine how slave owners felt, on hearing that they were accountable as slaves to God (4:1).

The couple I mentioned chose this passage because they wanted to make it clear to their friends that Jesus had a pattern for their marriage. As one commentator says: ‘It would be a bold person who would argue … that the contemporary non-Christian world offers a better model for marriage and family life’.3


Pray for Christian marriages, especially any you know that are under pressure.

Closing prayer

Heavenly Father, the world is always trying to squeeze me into its mold. I pray that I will always be molded by your hand, living carefully and wisely for you.

Eph 5:22 – 6:3 Gal 3:28 NT Wright, Colossians and Philemon, TNTC, p151

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Last Updated on December 17, 2022 by kingstar

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