Ephesians 6:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ephesians 6:5, NIV: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

Ephesians 6:5, ESV: Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

Ephesians 6:5, KJV: Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Ephesians 6:5, NASB: Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

Ephesians 6:5, NLT: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.

Ephesians 6:5, CSB: Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ.

What does Ephesians 6:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Verses 5 through 9 provide Paul's instructions for servants and masters. In this verse, Paul notes the importance of obedience to one's master: Three specific aspects are noted. First, Paul mentions "fear and trembling." The terms do not imply terror or living in dread. Rather, this carries the idea of respect and reverence.

Second, Paul adds that service should be done with "a sincere heart." A servant should not attempt to deceive a master, but rather genuinely work hard to do his or her best.

Third, Paul sets the highest standard possible in stating that a servant's obedience should be as serving Christ. This would have been a difficult challenge, especially for servants under the rule of harsh masters. Though servants in Ephesus lived with relatively pleasant conditions, compared to the African slavery experienced in America, not all did. Even in the worst situations, Paul wanted servants to show the love of Christ. Paul often sought freedom for slaves (Philemon 1:15–16), yet also encouraged those in bondage to still live for Christ.

Paul will specifically address those who command servants, or who own slaves, in verse 9. There, he will remind them that they are no better than those they oversee, and God will not show favoritism.