“. . . I am writing you these instructions so that . . . you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household . . .” (1 Tim. 3:14, 15)
In this first letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, the apostle Paul makes his purposes clear. He had left Timothy in Ephesus and now chose to write these words to help the Ephesian church know what proper church conduct looks like. Bible commentators have come to call these and similar passages Paul’s “Haustafel” or “Household Code.” When we first hear terms like this, we may conjure up images of signs posted on the wall of the church outlining things like:
- No running in the hallways!
- No food or drink in the worship center!
- No shorts allowed!
A closer look at the contents of the letter, however, reveals something different.
This “Household Code” has more to do with relationships, roles, and responsibilities within the unstoppable body of Christ rather than with actions within a facility. Paul’s instruction, then, include such things as:
- The priority of prayer (2:1-7
- The role of men and women (2:8-15)
- The qualifications of church leaders (3:1-16)
- The care for widows (5:1-16)
- The responsibilities towards church leaders (5:17-22)
Further iterations of the “Household Code” for the church are found in other New Testament letters like Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, and 1 Peter. Many of these passages, draw attention to important topics such as how Christian husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters, men and women, citizens and government relate to one another.
We could spend days focusing on each one of these relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Instead, we are only highlighting its content for your further consideration and inviting you now to ask whether your conduct is in keeping with God’s expectations. How about it?