New Testament household code

A funerary stele depicting an ancient Roman family

The New Testament Household Codes (Haustafeln), also known as New Testament Domestic Codes, consist of instructions in the New Testament writings of the apostles Paul and Peter to pairs of Christian people in different domestic and civil structures of society. The main foci of the Household Codes are upon husband/wife, parent/child, and master/slave relationships. The Codes apparently were developed to urge the new first century Christians to comply with the non-negotiable requirements of Roman Patria Potestas law, and to meet the needs for order within the fledgling churches.[1][2] The two main passages that explain these relationships and duties are Ephesians 5:22-6:9 and Colossians 3:18-4:1. An underlying Household Code is also reflected in 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 8ff.; 3:1ff., 8ff.; 5:17ff.; 6:1f.; Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:13-3:7. Historically, proof texts from the New Testament Household Codes—from the first century to the present day—have been used to subordinate married Christian women to their husbands, and to disqualify women from primary ministry positions in Christian churches.[3][4] Others more positively interpret the Haustafeln passages to be “Peter and Paul’s radical Christian ‘remix’ that often passes unnoticed by modern readers”.[5]


1 The term Haustafel
2 Historical setting
3 Sources of the concept
4 Intent of the Codes

4.1 An apologetic thrust
4.2 For order within churches and society
4.3 To humanize antagonistic domestic relationships
4.4 Responsibility and mutual respect
4.5 Manifesto for maintaining hierarchical attitudes

5 See also
6 References

The term Haustafel[edit]
The German word Haustafel (“house table”), plural Haustafeln, refers to a summary table of specific actions members of each domestic pair in a household are expected to perform. The term is said to have been coined by Martin Luther. A Haustafel is included in Luther’s Small Catechism.[4]
Historical setting[edit]
According to certain studies, the public life of women in the time of Jesus was far more restricted than in Old Testament times.[1]:p.52 At the time the apostles were writing their letters concerning the Household Codes (Haustafeln), Roman law vested enormous power (Patria Potestas), lit. “the rule of the fathers”) in the husband over his “family” (pater familias) which included his wife, children, agnatic descendants, slaves, and freedmen.[6] Originally this power