New life in relationships

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Small Group Material: 
Week Commencing: 
14 Mar 2010
Bible Base: 
Eph 5:15-6:9

Week 9 Eph 5:15-6:9 New life in relationships Following sermon on March 14 (David Jeans and Hilda Isaacson)
The key to a right understanding of this much-misunderstood passage is recognising where it starts. All too often it is read starting at v 22 and therefore misses out some crucial points.
1)      What inspires right behaviour (see v 18)?
2)      The grammar of verses 18 to 21 is important. Firstly ‘be filled with the Spirit’ – John Stott points out (i) that it is a command, not an option! (ii) That it is in the present tense – that means it is not something that happens once and for all. It is not something you can look back to and rest upon. It means ‘go on being filled’. Billy Graham prayed before he preached to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Someone said to him (shocked at hearing this) ‘surely you have already been filled with the Spirit’. ‘Yes’ replied Billy ‘but the trouble is I leak’! Discuss your own understanding and experience of ‘being filled with the Spirit’.
3)      The command to be filled with the Spirit is plural. The grammar of verses 19 to 21 (the use of present participles – ‘ing’ words – shows that these are results of obeying the command to be filled with the Spirit – they cannot be manufactured by our own efforts alone) show some results that flow from a church being filled with the Spirit. What are they?
4)      Please notice the first use of the word ‘submitting’. Who submits to whom and what is this the result of? (Therefore reading of this passage at weddings should NEVER begin with verse 22!!!)
5)      There then follow examples of what submitting to one another means in the context of everyday relationships. (There is some difficulty here about the application of these examples to relationships today eg we do not have slaves any more, thank God. The general principle to be applied is that as Spirit-filled people we submit to one another. How that expresses itself today might come out a bit different – though the principle remains the same.)
6)      First husbands and wives; the context was a society in which much marriage was a sham. Wealthier people tended to marry for social status purposes – it was common for ‘love’ to be found outside the marriage through mistresses. Therefore the command to ‘love your wife’ was a radical command to that society. Let’s start with husbands. What model(s) of Christ’s relationship with us should we follow with respect to loving our wives. How would you challenge someone who thought that this meant demanding total obedience from a wife who was merely there to serve the needs of her husband. (You might look at Mark 10:42-45 for help here) How does a husband submit to his wife out of reverence for Christ in today’s world? Some examples might help.
7)      How does a wife submit to her husband out of reverence for Christ in today’s world? Again some examples might help. Remember that there is to be reciprocal submission, so any answer which makes the marriage an unequal relationship is a distortion of what a Spirit-filled marriage looks like. I think verse 33 helps us to answer both questions 6 and 7.
8)       Ch 6 vv 1 to 4 are about children and parents. In our context, how do we express submission to our parents when we have left home? How do we express submission to our children?
9)      Ch 6 vv 5 to 9 are about slaves and masters. For us, this translates to employees and employers. How do we submit out of reverence for Christ to our employers? How do we submit out of reverence to Christ to our employees, or to those we line manage?
(Paul here is addressing the world as it was; the church then was not influential enough to change the law about slavery. Sadly it took many in the church hundreds of years to recognise the total incompatibility between the gospel and slavery. )