24 October 2014

Colossians 3:18 – 4:1

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” (vv. 18-19)


It is not what Paul says about what was already assumed 2,000 years ago that must grab our attention here, but what, having said that, he went on to say. He repeats the known of his day about women and about slaves. And we say, 'He was a man of his day'. But he was more than that. It matters that for millennia human beings have treated each other with inequality. It matters that Paul accepted slavery and the subservience of women in the way he did. It is not a justification to say, 'he was a man of his day' for with our God-given perspectives we have the privilege to look back and know that such damaging and dangerous imbalances of power are symptoms of a profound sickness in human society.

But Paul has met Christ and something has changed for him to reveal a little more of God's divine will. So husbands must love their wives and not just treat subservience with diminishing behaviour. Masters must treat their slaves justly and fairly. Parents must not provoke their children. This is what startles us in the passage, for God's mending and healing of all that is fallen must always startle us.

To Ponder

  • What customs that you assume to be God-given are simply customs that our children will look back on with curiosity?
  • How have things changed for the better in your lifetime, as more of the gospel (good news of Jesus) is revealed, and for which we may give thanks?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.