The Instructions for Fathers in the so-called "Household Codes" (Col 3:21 and Eph 6:4)


The household codes in which we find the advices given to fathers are the exegetes’ focus of attention since the time of Reformation. From this period on, on the basis of various criteria, one tried to define the genre of household codes and set them apart as a separate body in the New Testament literature. Following the particular topic which regards the exhortations addressed to pater familias, we analyzed two fragments contained respectively in the Letter to Colossians and in the Letter to Ephesians. To grasp the specificity of these instructions, embedded in an easily traceable and repeating scheme, one should start with finding the common characteristics of the said paraenetic texts. The analyses showed that a common factor is a universal rule based on the two mutually complementing elements: subordination and reciprocity having their source in the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament and the commandment of love. Having in mind the above mentioned rule and the Hellenistic culture in which the addressees of the instructions lived, we examined the command given in the Letter to Colossians. It constitutes a point of departure for the expanded, catechismal instructions contained in the Letter to Ephesians.


Haustafeln; instructions for fathers; Col 3; 2; Eph 6; 4

Published : 2015-08-26

Borek, W. (2015). The Instructions for Fathers in the so-called "Household Codes" (Col 3:21 and Eph 6:4). Verbum Vitae, 20, 139-169.

Wacław Borek

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

(1) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC license Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. 

(2) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

(3) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).