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Colossians 4:1

Masters Are Equals

1 Masters, give unto [your] servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.


Having appealed to Christian servants, Paul now turns to their masters.

In Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible, he states that, "The condition of slaves among the Greeks and Romans was wretched in the extreme; they could appeal to no law; and they could neither expect justice nor equity. The apostle, therefore, informs the proprietors of these slaves that they should act towards them both according to justice and equity; for God, their Master, required this of them, and would at last call them to account for their conduct in this respect. Justice and equity required that they should have proper food, proper raiment, due rest, and no more than moderate work. This is a lesson that all masters throughout the universe should carefully learn. Do not treat your servants as if God had made them of an inferior blood to yours."

It is required of all Christians to treat others justly. That is the essence of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. However, justice is often difficult to find, even in this modern age. In many countries, people are required to work for wages that keep them in poverty and there is little justice when they are treated unfairly by their employers.

Clarke and others have interpreted the Greek word ἰσότης isotes (ee-sot'-ace) to mean equity, but its true meaning is "equal" or "equality." Those who employ others, whether they are slave masters or employers, are not superior to their employees. They have been given authority over them, but they should remember that they are equals in the eyes of God.

A much forgotten verse from the Mosaic law says, "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant [that is] poor and needy, [whether he be] of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that [are] in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give [him] his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he [is] poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee." (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

With that in mind, Paul used the present, middle, imperative of the verb "give." This implies that the just treatment and recognition of their equality should be a continuous process and that it is given in the master's or employer's self-interest. The reason for that is given in the last half of the verse.

"...knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." It should never be forgotten that we serve a Master who has treated us more than justly and also humbled Himself to be our equal. He does not call us His servants. We are called His friends. He now sits in heaven at the right hand of His Father and will one day sit as judge of all the earth.

Before The Throne:

Are you in a position of authority? Remember that those who are under you are your equals and should be treated justly. Pray for your underlings and ask the Lord to make you a blessing to them. Thank Him for their service. If you are not in authority over anyone, pray for those who have authority over you, even for our government leaders. Forgive those who have mistreated you and pray especially for them.

For Further Study:

(v.1)
** give. Lev 19:13; Lev 25:39-43; Deut 15:12-15; Deut 24:14-15; Neh 5:5-13; Job 24:11-12; Job 31:13-15; Isa 58:3, 5-9; Jer 34:9-17; Mal 3:5; Jas 2:13; Jas 5:4; ** ye. Eccl 5:8; Matt 23:8-9; Matt 24:48-51; Luke 16:1-13; Luke 19:15; Eph 6:8-20; Rev 17:14; Rev 19:16;

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