“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1 (ESV)
“Why does the apostle us the word obey instead of honor, which has a greater extent of meaning? It is because obedience is the evidence of that honor which children owe to their parents and is therefore more earnestly enforced.” – John Calvin
The Apostle Paul continues to examine the biblical roles within the family unit. Having begun with the husband and wife relationship, he now transitions to the parent child relationship.
Paul begins with the word children (τέκνον; teknon). This means one’s offspring and descendants. In other words, the kids in the family. How are children adolescents and teenagers to behave towards their parents?
The Scripture says, obey your parents. The word obey (ὑπακούω; hypakouo) is a present, active imperative verb. In other words, it is a command. It means to listen and to be obedient (Matt. 8:27; Mark 1:27; Acts 6:7; Rom. 6:12, 16, 17; Eph. 6:1, 5; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Peter 3:6). Literally, it means to answer the door (Acts 12:13).
The phrase your parents (σύ γονεύς; sy goneous) refers to fathers, mothers, and also other close relatives ((Mark 13:12; Luke 2:27; 8:56; 21:16; John 9:2; Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:14; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20; 2 Tim. 3:2).
Children are to do so in the Lord (ἐν κύριος; en kyrios). This phase does not mean that children are to obey their parents only if their parents are believers. Rather, a child’s obedience to his parents is pleasing in the Lord’s sight (Col. 3:20).
Not only is obeying one’s parents pleasing to the Lord, but it is also right (εἰμί δίκαιος; eimi dikaios). This means that obedience is proper and righteous in the eyes of God.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “In today’s passage, the apostle addresses Christian children. His main audience consisting of kids who still live under their parents’ roofs. Adult children can certainly draw principles from Ephesians 6:1–3 for their relationship with their parents, but the primary instruction is for those who have yet to reach maturity.”
Dr. Sproul continues by saying, “Scripture uniquely addresses children directly, commanding them as individuals with a moral sense of what they should and should not do. This elevates children from the status of mere possessions to persons, conferring upon them a dignity and worth not always given to them in unbelieving societies. Kids are not chattel who can be treated any way their parents like.”
Dr. Sproul concludes by stating, “Obedience “in the Lord” qualifies the child-parent relationship, but it cannot excuse rebellious kids who disobey rules they do not like. God gives us parents for our benefit, and obeying their wisdom, besides being right, brings us many benefits (Eph. 6:2–3). In fact, children who impenitently disobey the godly instruction of their parents mark themselves off as unregenerate (Rom. 1:28–32; 2 Tim. 3:1–5). Yet children who profess Christ and render respectful love to their parents demonstrate the reality of their salvation, enjoying many other blessings as well.”
Leviticus 19:3, 14, 32 says for children to honor their parents as they fear and reverence the Lord. This applies to all children, not matter what their age and how long they have lived outside their parent’s home. May we be visible examples of honoring our mothers and fathers.
Soli deo Gloria!