If our faith in Christ is real, it will usually prove itself at home, in our relationships with those who know us best. Children and parents have a responsibility to each other. The fact that Paul took the time to directly address those who were regarded by some as the “lower” and “less important” members of society (wives, children, and slaves) shows that he raised them to a level of importance and responsibility in the body of Christ. All Christians are to be responsible in their positions, living as Christ would have them live.
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.NKJV Continuing the theme of Christian submission, Paul turned next to children. He assumed that children would be in the congregation of believers as this letter was read. His command to them is simple: Obey your parents in the Lord.
This is not an absolute command; when a parent tells a child to do something unbiblical, immoral, or unethical, the law of God supersedes the will of the parent. But aside from those extremes, children are to obey their mothers and fathers. This is the way God intends it. It’s easy to see the immediate practical benefits of this for both children and parents because parents usually really do know best.
God requires children to obey because children need to rely on the wisdom of their parents. Jesus himself submitted to the authority of his earthly parents, despite his authority as the Messiah: Luke 2:51 (ESV) And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
All young children will, at times, disobey and test their parents’ limits. As they get older, they will understand why God wants them to obey. Obedience that recognizes parents’ authority can carry over into recognizing God’s authority. God’s plan for his people includes solid family relationships where there exists respect, obedience, submission, and love for one another. When both parents and children love God, all of them will seek to obey and please him.
The parent-child relationship is the arena in which the child is to learn to submit to and respect his elders and those in authority over him—including God. Do you require your children to obey you? Do you help other parents by setting a good example for them in this area? Don’t be misled or dissuaded by the media or our permissive culture. Let the Bible be the voice of wisdom that cuts through the noise of our society. If you love your children, teach them the value and blessings of obedience.
6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”NKJV Paul added the authority of the revealed law to the natural law described in 6:1, quoting the fifth commandment, recorded in Exodus 20:12, Honor your father and mother. Obeying and honoring are different. To obey means to do what another says to do; to honor means to respect and love.
What does it mean to honor our mother and father? The word “honor” literally means to give weight or heaviness. To honor someone then means that we take them seriously.
Children are to obey while under their parents’ care, but they should honor their parents for life. Paul described this as the first commandment with promise, that of prolonged life.
In the Ten Commandments the first to deal with human relations is this duty toward parents. When the law was first given through Moses, severe penalties were established for the rebellious son who refused this command.
Exodus 21:15 (ESV) 21:15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.
Exodus 21:17 (ESV) 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV) 21:18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
It is entirely possible to obey without honor—who hasn’t seen a child do what he or she is told, but with clenched fists and teeth and an “I’m only doing this because you’re making me” attitude?
Romans 1:18-30 (ESV) 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…
As children obey the command to honor their parents, they show an attitude of love and respect that they carry over into their relationship with God. Such an attitude provides a community that helps provide for and protect the aged. On the individual level, as each person cares for older people, the elderly live longer, and the younger people help pass the values down to the next generation.
Jesus came into sharp conflict with the Pharisees over their failure to keep God’s will in the way they taught men to neglect their elderly parents. By making a voluntary commitment (“corban”) of their estate, they thought they were free to defy the express command of God.
Mark 7:9-13 (ESV) 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV) 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Some societies honor their elders. They respect their wisdom, defer to their authority, and pay attention to their comfort and happiness. Christians should act this way. Where the elderly are respected, long life becomes a blessing, not a burden to them.
By next year, experts tell us that one in six people will be over sixty-five years of age. Honoring our aging parents will be crucial as our Christian duty.
The family is primary to God as a means for blessing and guiding human lives. With the failure of so many homes in the different ways already identified, the will of God is being thwarted too frequently. One of the rules for right living points to the need for keeping the family strong through proper relationships between children and their parents.
We should honor our parents because the day will come when we cannot show them the honor we would like to give. Some don’t have your parents with you any longer. I hope you don’t have to look back with regret. I once told my parents that I appreciated all they had done for me…my mother promptly said this: “Do you know what you can do? Do it for your own children.”
Obedience must be learned, and it is the job of parents to teach it to their children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Children need to cooperate with their parents in creating a good home. Parents should not have to fight their children for control of the family.
Train up: – Mold & Shape. Dedicate by training
- Strong’s: “chanak figuratively, to initiate or discipline:- dedicate, train up.”
- Same word translated “dedicate” (Deut 20:5; 1Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5) – Training is dedicating a child to God. James Dobson tells us that we should learn the special characteristics of each child (if we have more than one). They each respond to instruction in different ways. Discover those things and tailor what we say and do with them.
- When we had our daughter, at one point I told Terry that I would yield to her insights as she grew older…and she said/did something similar when we had two sons. Mother-daughter…Father-son.
- How? – Guide them in what they need.
- Train: Hebrew word khaw-nak’ chanak – literally means “to put something in the mouth.” A Hebrew nurse would prepare a concoction to be given to the infant in order to prepare them for nursing.
- Matthew 5:6 (ESV) 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- We seek to “create a thirst for God, for a life patterned after Jesus, for God’s Word and God’s will.
In America, several factors tend to undermine honoring parents.
(1) Because of the rapid increase of divorce, children are often called upon to honor one parent and to despise the other. Neither parent can seem to tolerate the thought of the former mate having the respect of their child. If this were not bad enough, Freudian Psychology has provided each generation with an excuse to blame all of its problems on family members from our past. Countless expeditions into the parental past has provided many individuals with an expensive excursion into past history in order to pin the blame for their sins on someone else, often one or both parents.
(2) Honor is due to more than just parents. The New Testament requires the Christian to honor all men.
Romans 12:10 (ESV) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
1 Peter 2:17 (ESV) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.
(3) The way in which one relates to parents changes with conversion. When a person comes to Christ through baptism, there are a number of significant changes. When a person becomes a child of God by faith, God becomes a Father to them in a new and previously unknown way. While God was once denied, and His authority rejected (Ephesians 2:1‑3), now He is our Heavenly Father, with final authority, authority which has priority over all others, including fathers and mothers. As we have seen from our Lord’s teaching, faith in Christ may alienate children from their parents.
(4) The way in which one relates to parents changes with marriage. Marriage is usually the first of several dramatic changes in the child’s relationship with his parents. From the time our children enter the teen years, we are “working ourselves out of a job.” We’re preparing them for the time when they will leave our home and make their own decisions/mistakes. We are always there for advise, of course, but it is best IF it is offered when “it is asked for.” The parent‑child relationship and the resulting authority is temporary, the husband‑wife relationship is permanent.
(5) Honoring parents may someday require parenting parents. It is an irony indeed, but those who were once cared for by fathers and mothers often find themselves caring for their parents in their final years of life.