|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:18-25 The epistles most taken up in displaying the glory of the Divine grace, and magnifying the Lord Jesus, are the most particular in pressing the duties of the Christian life. We must never separate the privileges and duties of the gospel. Submission is the duty of wives. But it is submission, not to a severe lord or stern tyrant, but to her own husband, who is engaged to affectionate duty. And husbands must love their wives with tender and faithful affection. Dutiful children are the most likely to prosper. And parents must be tender, as well as children obedient. Servants are to do their duty, and obey their masters' commands, in all things consistent with duty to God their heavenly Master. They must be both just and diligent; without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise. Those who fear God, will be just and faithful when from under their master's eye, because they know they are under the eye of God. And do all with diligence, not idly and slothfully; cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation. And for servants' encouragement, let them know, that in serving their masters according to the command of Christ, they serve Christ, and he will give them a glorious reward at last. But, on the other hand, he who doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done. God will punish the unjust, as well as reward the faithful servant; and the same if masters wrong their servants. For the righteous Judge of the earth will deal justly between master and servant. Both will stand upon a level at his tribunal. How happy would true religion make the world, if it every where prevailed, influenced every state of things, and every relation of life! But the profession of those persons who are regardless of duties, and give just cause for complaint to those they are connected with, deceives themselves, as well as brings reproach on the gospel.
Verse 21. - Ye fathers, do not irritate your children, lest they be disheartened (Ephesians 6:4). Αρεθίζω ("irritate" or "provoke") St. Paul uses once besides (2 Corinthians 9:2), in a good sense. It implies a use of parental authority which, by continual exactions and complaints, teaches the child to look on the father as his enemy rather than his friend. The synonymous παροργίζω of Ephesians 6:4, found here in many copies, is, more definitely "to rouse to anger." Αθυμέω (only here in the New Testament) means "to lose heart," to have the confidence and high spirit of youth broken; "fractus animus pestis juventutis" (Bengel). In place of this treatment, "the discipline and admonition of the Lord" are recommended in Ephesians 6:4.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger,.... See Gill on Ephesians 6:4.
lest they be discouraged; or disheartened and dispirited; their spirits be broke through grief and trouble, and they become indolent, sluggish, and unfit for business; or, despairing of having any share in the affections of their parents, disregard their commands, instructions, and corrections, and grow obdurate, stubborn, and rebellious.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. (Eph 6:4.) It is a different Greek verb, therefore translate here, "irritate not." By perpetual fault-finding "children" are "discouraged" or "disheartened." A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth [Bengel].
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