THE ELEVENTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.
We are familiar with the lists of instructions to various members of the household in Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. Paul is not writing in a vacuum but in a context. Preachers of various philosophies had been teaching their ideas of the ideal household for centuries before Paul. Following are excerpts from a recent posting titled ‘Household Codes,’ by David B. Capes, gracEmail subscriber and Academic Dean of Houston Graduate School of Theology. Dr. Capes looks at the larger context of household “codes” or rules in the Greco-Roman world, and notes some ways that Paul’s perspective differed from that of his pagan contemporaries.
DAVID B. CAPES WRITES — “Paul is not starting a conversation about house management – that had been going on for centuries – he is however joining the conversation from a new-creation vantage point . . . Aristotle . . . believed that man was more fit to rule than woman by nature (Politics, 1.12-13) . . . even as it equipped women, children, and slaves to be subordinate . . . Keeping the masters, wives, and children in subjection to the paterfamilias (male head of the household) was vital to the common good . . . This . . . was the social backdrop to everything Paul has to say on the matter.
“Essentially, Paul . . . challenges Aristotle’s teaching and logic about the hierarchy. If there ever was a hierarchy . . . , then Christ has effectively lifted it . . . (Phil 2:5-11) . . . [and] redefined . . . family relationships (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 7). This is more than ‘equal access’ to God; it is the foundation of the new creation where God is Father, Jesus is elder brother, and all who are adopted in the family of God live as brothers and sisters. The basis of this new order is . . . imposed by . . . the Lordship of Jesus. These instructions are to be lived out ‘in the Lord’ . . .
“It was Pauls habit to address the ‘subordinate’ members of the household along with the paterfamilias . . . [T]he typical pattern for most moral instruction outside of the NT was to address the [paterfamilias only– leaving it to him to teach the others]. The apostles direct address . . . demonstrates that Pauls authority extended to the wives, children and slaves of other men . . . [T]hey are fellow members of the church and not just someone elses property . . . Wives, children, and slaves are responsible before the Lord for their behavior. In other words, Paul treats those deemed by society as lessers, as moral agents equal to the greaters . . .”
Once upon a time, I wrote a book called “The Fire That Consumes.” Some 30 years later, Mark Lanier built a chapel and invited me to give a lecture with the same title, attended by 800 people. With Mark’s permission, Mike McHenry put the video recording of the lecture on YouTube. Mike recently told me that people in 170 nations have now viewed the video. On July 28, 2015 it was the first video from Mike’s channel to be watched in Iran. We marvel at what God is doing, overwhelmed in awe and respect (“fear and trembling”) that he uses us in the process.
HOME, SWEET HOME
As of Thursday, September 8, following three weeks in Rehab Hospital, we are once more at home and regaining strength day by day.