Bondservants and Masters
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Bondservants and Masters

Ephesians 6:5–9  (ID: 3291)

When Paul addressed the work relationships of his day in his letter to the Ephesians, he was not driven by social or political reform but by the Gospel. Theologically, he could not detract from the priority of the message of Jesus Christ. Alistair Begg reminds us that the church’s calling is not to change the culture but to share the only thing that can change the human heart: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Ephesians, Volume 9

Life Together Ephesians 5:21–6:9 Series ID: 14909

Sermon Transcript: Print

Please turn with me to the letter of Paul to Philemon, which is snuggled in between Titus and Hebrews. I find it usually easier to go from the back forwards and find it. Sometimes the reading is finished by the time I’ve finally tracked it down, but…

The letter of Paul to Philemon. And my thought is that this may give us something for our time this evening, but for now, I read it as something of a cross-reference for this morning:

“Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

“To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

“Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, [as] do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”


Well, I invite you to turn to—no surprise—Ephesians chapter 6 and read from verse 5:

“Bondservants,” or slaves, “obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”

Father, we pray that as we turn to the Bible, we might have the enabling of the Holy Spirit both to speak and to hear, to understand, to believe, to figure things out, to obey. Accomplish your purposes, we pray, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Well, once again, it is important for us to remind ourselves that when we come to this material, that Paul is not writing, as it were, just to the man or the woman on the streets of Ephesus, but that he is writing—as per the introduction of the letter way back in chapter 1—he is writing to those whom he describes as “faithful in Christ Jesus,”[1] those who, later on in chapter 5, he reminds, “are light in the Lord.” Those who were once darkness, he says, “You are [now] light in the Lord.”[2] And in 5:18, those who are not getting drunk with wine, but who instead are being filled with the Holy Spirit. And as they are filled with the Holy Spirit, these brothers and sisters in Ephesus—and indeed, all the readers of this letter in Christ—are learning what it means to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.”[3]

Now, I belabor that point expressly because it is very possible to come to any portion of the Bible in such a way as to miss the fact that the Bible is ultimately to introduce us to Jesus—to introduce us to Jesus as the one who has done for us what we could never do for ourselves, both in living the life that God intends and in dying death in the place of sinners—and that it is in our awareness of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done that we are then able to come to the places of application and recognize that this is not simply a form of moralism—“Do this and do that and don’t do this and don’t do that”—but rather, it is the dynamic of the work of the Spirit of God, quickening those who are the faithful in Christ and enabling us to become what God intends for us to be. He has described these individuals back, again, in chapter 1 as those who have “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and [have] believed.”[4]

Now, not everybody who has heard the Word of Truth here Sunday by Sunday at Parkside has actually understood what has been said. And that may be you. You’ve been listening for a while, but you have never actually come, personally, to believe. You haven’t settled the matter of whether this really is truth and whether this is a matter of great and eternal significance. Well, God is at work, and he will accomplish his purposes.

When the Spirit of God comes to live in the life of an individual, it changes everything.

But to those who have understood what Paul is saying here, then you will have realized what these individuals realized too—namely, that when the Spirit of God comes to live in the life of an individual, it changes everything. And it changes particularly the way in which a person thinks—first of all, the way in which we think. And that is the point that Paul is making. And that is why he has narrowed down to these three crucial areas of life for everybody: nothing more significant than the issue of husband and wife, or the challenges of parent and child, or, as we now come to this morning, the area of industrial relations, or human resources, and the everyday events of life in which some report to others and others are in charge of them.

So let’s be clear about that: the gospel changes our view of things, and it is a change that is a wonderful change, but it is a radical change. Remember, we often quote C. S. Lewis, when he says, “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it but because by it, I can see everything else,”[5] so that the gospel changes our view of marriage, changes our understanding of what it means to be a wife or a child or an employer or an employee. And here in this paragraph that we begin this morning, in verse 5, he is dealing with the impact of the Christian faith in the workplace. All right?

Now, the ESV uses “bondservants.” If you have the same translation as I have, you will notice that it has a little “1” there, then at the bottom of the page it’s translating the Greek noun doulos, then it refers us to the preface, and so on. It simply means “slaves.” Slaves. And he is addressing those who are slaves, and he is addressing those who are the masters of the slaves. Now, the very fact that he’s doing so indicates something to us immediately—namely, that within the congregation in Ephesus, presumably sitting side by side as this letter was given its first reading, were those who were to be found in each category: those whose role in life was within the servitude of a bondservant and those who were in the position of having slaves within their home.

Now, when we come to this, it is immediately a challenge for many of us, and certainly is for me, to make sure that I am not immediately sidetracked in dealing with this by viewing this material through the prism of the Civil War—of immediately coming to this and seeking to contextualize it in light of 150 years ago, when we are confronted with the horrendous nature of circumstances here in our own nation. For those of us who have lived in a country where slavery has been abolished for more than a century and a half, we recognize that it is hard to conceive how the ownership of another person could be countenanced in this way. So, let’s just acknowledge that and the challenge that is represented in it in coming to the text.

The easy thing for me to do is simply to say, “You will notice that this says, ‘bondservants.’ It could be translated ‘slaves.’ What it actually means is ‘employers,’ so let’s talk about employers and let’s talk about employees.” But you’re too smart for that, because you’re sitting there going, “Now, wait, wait, wait a minute. There’s an underlying question here that needs to be addressed.” And so I want to do something with it this morning.

I want to tell you that I’ve been greatly helped—you know that I read novels, and I’ve told you in the past of the novels by the author Robert Harris, and particularly his Cicero Trilogy, written concerning life in the Roman Empire. And the voice in those novels is the voice of Tiro, who is Cicero’s slave. And as he serves in the home of Cicero, he serves, first of all, for the majority of his life as a slave, and then as a freed man. But even after he is granted his freedom by Cicero, he remains within the context of Cicero’s home to serve him, because of the relationship that exists between them. And the relationship that existed between them was that of master and slave, without question. But in actual terms, Tiro was neither socially nor physically nor economically deprived unduly in that context. And he was like thousands—millions, actually—of slaves at that time in the Roman Empire. So the context in which Paul writes is much more that context than our context this morning, or even our context 150 years ago or 200 years ago.

It’s been estimated that at this time, about thirty-five percent of the population in the Roman Empire comprised those who were bondservants or slaves. So if you think about that, you realize how fundamentally important these individuals were, and the tasks that they fulfilled, for the well-being of the Empire. Now, there is no question that many of them were treated brutally, cruelly, and so on. But the fact is, to quote Westermann of an earlier era, “The institution of slavery was a fact of Mediterranean economic life so completely accepted as a part of the labor structure of the time that one cannot correctly speak of the slave ‘problem’ in antiquity.”[6] In other words, you can’t speak of it simply in problematic terms when you’re dealing with that era, given all that was represented in it.

And just parenthetically, we need to recognize that there was no racial component in the Roman Empire. There was nothing of that which was as reprehensible as what was being tackled in America in the Civil War. So again I say to you, when you come to this, do not start from there and then try and read this in light of that. Rather, read this, and then once we come to terms with this, then we can begin to apply this to that, whatever that may be. I hope that is straightforward to you.

Now, the fact that Paul addresses the bondservants, or the slaves, in this way is actually in keeping with Westermann’s assessment: that they were responsible members of the Christian community, and he appeals to them as such.

Now, resisting the temptation to just make a quantum leap into “How has your boss been treating you lately, and have you been turning up for work, you know, on time?” and so on—which are all matters of importance—before we get to that, let’s acknowledge, first of all, what I have had to acknowledge as I’ve been studying it this week: that the most striking thing, first of all, for me, is what Paul doesn’t say. In fact, the most striking thing for me is what the New Testament doesn’t say. Think about it. He does not say to the slaves, “Now that you are a Christian, you are free of your obligation to your master.” He does not say to the masters, “Now that you’re a Christian, you must set your slaves free.”

Now, just think about that for a moment. It’s important. You say, “But isn’t Paul the one who wrote in Galatians 3 that in Christ, there is neither bondservant nor free man, there is neither slave nor master, there’s neither male nor female, there’s neither Greek[7] or barbarian or Jew or Scythian or bond or free, that one is all and all is one,[8] and so on?” Yes, he wrote that. What was he talking about there? He was talking about what it means to be saved. He was talking about the nature of salvation. If you think about it logically, you realize that of course there were Jews, and of course there were gentiles. Of course there were masters, and of course there were slaves.

What he’s saying is what we often say, and that is that men and women are equal in the sight of God, but men and women are not equal. It’s a silly thing to say you’re equal. I’ll race you out to your car, and we’re not equal. You will beat me for sure. I can play about three notes on the piano; you can play the entire piano. We’re not equal. No, in the sight of God he has made us, and in Jesus there is an equality that is grounded in salvation, but that reality does not alter the social, economic aspects of our existence.

And so, when you come to this, you realize that Paul is not calling for the abolition of slavery. “Be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and [the] gentle but also to the unjust.”[9] That’s not Paul. That’s Peter in 1 Peter 2; he’s doing the same thing. He says to these believers, “Now, if you want to commend the gospel, this what you’re to do: you’re to be subject to your masters. You’re not involved in insurrection. God has instituted a structure in the world, and that structure is there, and this is the part that you play.”

“Well, am I only supposed to be kind and nice and good and subservient if the person is a good and a gentle master?” No! Even if he or she is an unjust master.

Okay. Two observations—one, we might say, practically speaking, and the other theologically speaking. And we’ll spend the balance of our time theologically not practically. Okay?

Practically speaking—practically speaking—Paul was in no position to bring about the abolition of slavery. He couldn’t have done it. If he had suggested to these individuals that they operate in a different way from that which was expected within the framework of the Empire, then sure, it would have an impact in some way—in some small way—but thirty-five percent of the population were involved in slavery. There was no way.

In fact, the reverse would have been the case. Not only would it have had very little impact on the practice, but it may well practically have precipitated the extermination of the fledgling church. Because what we know—and we don’t know much, many of us—but what we know of the Roman Empire… And we’re thinking here in terms of Nero. This is not Mr. Nice Guy who’s in charge of the place. What we know of the Roman Empire is that whenever something went wrong in the Roman Empire, who got the blame? The Christians.

They said, “It’s the Christians. The Christians are atheists.” Why would they say Christians are atheists? Well, because the Christians did not believe in all the gods that were in the pantheon. And since they didn’t believe in all the gods in the pantheon, then they’re atheists. And as a result of that, the pressure that was on them was significant. If Christianity, then, in that context, had taken up, if you like, or taken on the institution of slavery, then the Roman Empire would have just crushed it into oblivion. It had all the power to do so.

You see, “God moves in … mysterious way[s], his wonders to perform; he plants his footsteps in the sea, and [he] rides upon the storm.”[10] That’s why I prayed this morning concerning North Korea. We trust and hope and pray that the news that will eventually come out of North Korea is that although the church has been brutalized and driven underground, that it may actually have been thriving, although we know nothing of it at all. Certainly that was true of the Cultural Revolution: the churches barred, and the gates closed, and the Christians driven underground. And everybody would have said, “Well, if it was only different from that, then it would have flourished greatly.” God knows. The expansion of the church in the first three centuries was a church that expanded under persecution.

Anyway, in practical terms, we could make those observations.

The way to approach challenging issues is by learning to think in terms of what the Bible teaches.

More importantly, though, is to think theologically. To think theologically. In other words, to recognize that the reason Paul does what he does is because he is thinking properly. And the way in which we need to approach challenging issues such as this is by also thinking properly: learning to think in terms of what the Bible teaches.

You see, Paul is not driven by pragmatism here. He’s not driven by pragmatism. He’s driven by his theological convictions. Now, what is a foundational theological conviction for Paul? Well, it is this: that God has entrusted to him and to those who serve with him the message of reconciliation. So, for example, when he writes to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 5, he says, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself …. We are ambassadors for Christ …. [And so] we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”[11]

In other words, Paul—if you like, Scripture—is concerned first and foremost with man’s relationship to God. That that is the great issue, always: that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; that the condition of man before God in light of eternity is and always will be the driving import of gospel proclamation.

That’s why Peter, for example, in the passage that I just alluded to in 1 Peter chapter 2, before he says what we just noted, he says, “I appeal to you as pilgrims and as strangers.”[12] All right? So, theologically, the great issue is this issue: God is holy, man is sinful, man is separated from God. The message that we’re given to proclaim is that God in Christ reconciles men and women to himself. We’re also given to proclaim that message in the short journey of our lives, which is a very short journey, because we’re not here forever; we are merely pilgrims and we’re strangers. Therefore, the issues of this world, as significant as they are, are not the great issues. The great issues of the world relate to the reality of our separation from God, of the provision that God has made for us in that need, and of the fact that we are here for a short time.

And Paul recognized that. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 9 he says, “My great concern is to win as many as possible.”[13] To win as many as possible. So if he had taken on, if you like, the cause of slavery, he would never have won hardly anybody at all! Because all he would have been talking about all the time was, “You know, this shouldn’t be happening.” Of course it shouldn’t be happening! But that wasn’t the message being given to proclaim. You see, it alters everything. It absolutely alters everything.

Why is the church in the world today? We’re not in the world today to reform the world. Our mandate in the world is not political, it’s not social, and it’s not economic. The fact that many of us have lived through a period of time in the United States whereby the social, political, and economic concerns have increasingly encroached upon the minds of those who should know better and have begun to take on virtually a life of their own, whereby we have begun to be seduced by the idea that these really are the issues—that if we could fix this and fix this and fix this then we would be fine. But we were never invited to fix this and this and this. The calling of the church is to proclaim the gospel. And whenever that which is central—namely, the gospel—becomes peripheral, then that which is peripheral inevitably becomes central—whatever you want to use as the issue.

In an earlier era, Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this amazing observation. I found it so helpful, I wrote it down in full. Listen.

He’s speaking to a congregation, probably in the 1940s, maybe ’50s, in the UK: “We hear,” he says, “so much today about defending Western civilization [from] attack. That is all wrong! As a Christian I am not primarily [concerned about] Western civilization, I am interested in the Kingdom of God; and I am as anxious that men [and women] behind the Iron Curtain should be saved as that men on this side of the Iron Curtain should be saved. We must not take up a position of antagonism towards those whom we want to win for Christ. If we spend [our whole] time talking against them we [will] never win them.”[14]

Now, let’s just stay there in the 1940s, at the height of the Cold War. What is Lloyd-Jones saying? Lloyd-Jones is saying, “The whole of the Western world is preoccupied by the threat of Communism. Many of you want me to stand up in the pulpit and keep talking about Communism: ‘Communism is a real problem, and the Communists are doing this and the Communists are doing that.’” He says, “But I’m not going to do that. Why? Because I want Communists to hear about Jesus.”

Now, you can apply it in any way you want. Because if we’re to do that and bring in some person—a Christian person, a pastor, whoever it is—says, “You know, the great issue of the world today is the destruction of Western civilization. We have a problem with this, and we have a problem there, and the gender issue is upside down, and marriage has gone to pot, and we don’t know what we’re doing with this, and so on, and the next thing…” You want to see people get up out of their seats and get excited? I guarantee you! It’s happened for the last fifty years in America. And what has happened in terms of people being converted? Very little! Very little! Because it’s not the issue.

If Paul had decided to take this on, the expansion of the gospel would not be as we have now known it. God is sovereign in these things.

You see, the great concern—the great concern—is that the gospel might frame our thinking. And it is the gospel which frames Paul’s thinking. Because Paul recognizes that the gospel works everywhere. The gospel works in jails. The gospel works in politics. The gospel works in science. The gospel works in the arts. The gospel works in the children’s ministry. The gospel works in the nursing homes. The gospel works! And so Paul, as he is addressing these Ephesian believers, is speaking to them in the social context in which they find themselves. And his responsibility is not to disrupt that environment, but it is instead to show them the difference that the gospel makes.

You see, the gospel is the answer to slavery. The gospel is the only answer, actually. The gospel is the answer to human trafficking. The gospel is the answer to the upside-down world, morally, in which we presently live.

That’s why I read from Philemon. And perhaps tonight we can say something of it. But it was the gospel that brought about the reconciliation between Onesimus the slave and Philemon, his master.

So although the New Testament does not call for the abolition of slavery, what does history tell us? That the abolition of slavery was brought about by Christian men and women. Christian men and women. What was it that caused a wealthy, high-ranking member of society called William Wilberforce to take on the plight of slaves? Answer: the gospel! The gospel! You see, the gospel changed his heart, changed his mind. Changed his mind about everything! And caused him then to say, “This is wrong, and this must be addressed.”

You say, “Well, aren’t you talking out of both sides of your mouth?” No. Careful. The distinction between the responsibility of the church to proclaim the gospel and then for the pastor-teacher to proclaim the implications of the gospel in the outworking of that in every area of life—so that Wilberforce did not sit under a steady diet of non-Bible teaching, whereby his pastor was constantly going on and on and on about the issue of the day. He sat under the instruction of the Bible, whose pastor was going on and on and on always about the gospel. And he realized that when the gospel changed him, he had a role to play in society. And so do you. But it’s not my role.

Man is sinful, man is selfish, man is self-centered, and man needs a Savior.

Now, this is just by way of introduction. We’re gonna have to come back to these principles and try and work them out in our own day and time and place. And it does relate to all of that, as we will see. But the reason that industrial relations are in the position they’re in—the reason that you have all that friction in your office, the reason that the unions can’t agree with management and management can’t deal with unions and so on—is what? Man is sinful, man is selfish, man is self-centered, and man needs a Savior. So how will man get a Savior? Only if people share the gospel. The gospel.

Now, it’s been my immense privilege to live here now, for all this time, since the third of August, 1983. I wasn’t hardly in the door in this place before I began to be besieged by well-meaning individuals saying to me, “You know, it’s your responsibility, given the platform you have in your pulpit, to take on the issues of our time.” So they want me to address abortion, they want me to address Supreme Court nominations, they want me to give out literature in support of various candidates for office, they want me to tackle the question of racism, they want me to do all of these things. And as best that I’ve been able, I haven’t done a single one of them. Why?

I want you to know that I care passionately about abortion. I care passionately about racism. I was exercised beyond measure regarding appointments to the Supreme Court. But that’s me as an individual citizen, exercising the privileges of democracy. It is not me as your pastor and your teacher. You see, because at the end of the day, the real transformative work in a nation is the transformative work of the gospel.

When in the north of Ireland there was a great movement of the Spirit of God, in the Harland and Wolff’s shipbuilding factories, the management began to be overwhelmed by the amount of machinery that was being returned to them that had been stolen by the employees, to the extent that the management issued a statement that was to the effect, “We get it. Don’t bring us anymore stuff.” Now, how was it that they began to bring all this back? Because they were transformed by the gospel. The gospel’s changed them, and they in turn were changed. In other words, somebody proclaimed to them the wonder of who Jesus is.

Why is America as ungodly as it is? ’Cause there aren’t enough Christians! We need more Christians. How do you get more Christians? By preaching about the issues of the day? No. By preaching the gospel.

Why does Paul do what he does? Because he understands this. You see, when you come in your Bible to issues like this, if you don’t stand far enough back and address the big principles that underlie all of our understanding of things, then it will be possible to make all kinds of direct and immediate applications that may in part be helpful but by and large may miss the point entirely. And that’s what we want to guard against.

The more Christians, the more Christian thinking. The more Christian thinking, the more Christian action—in art, in science, in politics, in media, in education, and in medicine. But if I were to forsake my calling, I may cause you to be sidetracked into thinking that these issues were the great issues, to the neglect of the message of God’s Word.

If you read history, and alongside it church history, you’ll find a number of fascinating things—and with this I’ll just stop. But you’ll find that the people in pulpits—pastors—who took on the issues of the day and, you know, made it into the newspapers—who in Britain, you know, during the Crimean War, or whatever it might be, they’d say, “This is the great evil of the day,” you know, and so the press picked it up and said, “You know, Reverend So-and-So is really on his game,” and everything else. Meanwhile, over in some little chapel there’s a pastor, and he’s saying to his people who are reading the Bible, “And this is who Jesus is, and this is why it’s…” In the economy of God, that fellow—nobody knows who in the world he is. He’s long gone, forgotten. Nobody cares. And the apparently insignificant work that was going on where the pastor was just simply, day by day, proclaiming to his people the unsearchable riches of Christ—that is what yielded and what yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

You see, think about it. Think about all the work that is going on unseen in small congregations with faithful pastors just sticking with the gospel. That’s why we have Basics: to say to our brothers, “We believe this. We believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. We believe that the greatest need of man is to be reconciled to God. When God reconciles him to himself and changes his way of thinking, then that man, that woman, will engage in the privileges and opportunities that are there for them to effect great change—social change and so on. But don’t, whatever you do, start to tell your people that there is only one economic formula that can be true to the New Testament. Don’t, whatever you do, start to tell your people that trade unions are ipso facto from the devil. Don’t, whatever you do, wrap any of that stuff around the saving work of Jesus Christ. Because the gospel works everywhere, and works through individuals whose lives have been embraced by it and who in turn are embracing others.”

That’s why Wesley, in his great hymn, finally writes the two lines: he says, “’Tis all my business here below to cry, ‘Behold the Lamb!’”[15] “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[16]

You see, the great slavery this morning that each of us faces is a slavery to which Jesus referred in John chapter 8, when these religious people come to him, and they’re very proud of their status and so on, and he says, “You know, you really need to think about this: that everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”[17] That’s the real slavery. And “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”[18]

First that, then this. Not this, then that. May God help us in these things.

Father, thank you that we find our refuge in Christ alone. And as we are confronted by these difficult and complex and uncomfortable areas, we ask that you will help us to do as Paul has done, and that is to frame things in light of the great principles of your Word.

We thank you that beyond the affairs of time there is a throne that is fixed in heaven; beyond the ephemeral nature of our earthly pilgrimage, there is a new heaven and a new earth. And so we pray that we might understand, as M’Cheyne used to say, that “I am a dying man preaching to dying men and women.”

Lord, fill us afresh with an understanding of the gospel and a desire to live for it. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] Ephesians 1:1 (ESV).

[2] Ephesians 5:8 (ESV).

[3] Ephesians 5:21 (ESV).

[4] Ephesians 1:13 (ESV).

[5] C. S. Lewis, “Is Poetry Theology?,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 140. Paraphrased.

[6] William Linn Westermann, “Between Slavery and Freedom,” American Historical Review 50, no. 2 (Jan. 1945): 215, quoted in John R. W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians: God’s New Society (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1979), 250.

[7] See Galatians 3:26–28.

[8] See Colossians 3:11.

[9] 1 Peter 2:18 (ESV).

[10] William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” (1774).

[11] 2 Corinthians 5:19–20 (ESV).

[12] 1 Peter 2:11 (paraphrased).

[13] 1 Corinthians 9:19 (paraphrased).

[14] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home, and Work: An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18 to 6:9 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 323.

[15] Charles Wesley, “Jesus! the Name High over All” (1749).

[16] John 1:29 (ESV).

[17] John 8:34 (paraphrased).

[18] John 8:36 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.