Thursday 23 August 2018

Bible Book:

“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord.” (v. 18-20)

Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 Thursday 23 August 2018

Psalm: Psalm 122


In these verses from Colossians we have set out for us for the first time in the New Testament the ‘Household Code’. If a preacher were asked, “How would you preach on the ‘Household Code’? a good answer would be, “I’ll never have to because it never comes up in the Sunday Lectionary.” It is assumed that all the New Testament passages which refer to the ‘Household Code’ are omitted from the Common Lectionary. It is one way of avoiding Bible passages that are not in tune with contemporary society, but it is not to be recommended. It is far better to face them and ask how are we to interpret them in our time and context?

What the writer of this Code is doing is bringing what he holds to be the heart of the Christian message and the heart of his relationship with Christ to bear on Christian values regarding family and social structures. These are determined by the writer’s social and religious context. We need to do the same exercise in our own context. So what might this look like?

For example, I believe love and justice are central in the Bible’s ethical teaching. If I look at what the Code says about marriage through the lens of love and justice what do I see? I see a view of marriage where both partners are held in equal regard. Where no form of domination will be tolerated and where love will ensure that the relationship does not degenerate into a sterile battle ground over each partner’s rights to fulfilment. Instead of assigning love to the husband and submission to the wife, my contemporary view of Colossians takes into account that, earlier in this chapter, humility, forgiveness and love were required of everyone (Colossians 3:12).

As Christians we have a responsibility to ensure that all relationships embody Christ’s disregard for any distinctions based on social status and his commitment to pursuing justice for all, “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free.” (v. 11) Who are the equivalents of these groups in our town and village, or in our churches? They are the people we care called to love and to seek justice for.

Passages like this one from Colossians are a challenge to us, a challenge we should not be ignoring.

To Ponder

  • What for you are key Christian values? How does this passage read if you read it through the lens of those values?
  • Who are the equivalents of “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slaves and free” in the communities to which you belong?


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