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Sunday, December 18, 2016 pm                                                Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS  (35)
Duties of Children and Parents
Ephesians 6:1-4

 

In our last lesson in this study we addressed how the relationship between husband and wife compared with the relationship between Christ and His church.   Paul is continuing to make practical application with these brethren and now addresses the relationship between parents and children, as well as between a servant and his master.  In each of these examples, he is still dealing with submitting to one another and he is dealing with both parties (sides) and their responsibilities.  Tonight, we want to notice the parent/child relationship.

 I.                     Children

a.       Children – the word for child here is a term referencing any child, without regard to age. 
In the text, Paul is probably dealing with children within the home, but again of any age (not just a toddler, but probably even more so, a child who has reached an age of understanding).

b.       Obey your parents

                                                   i.      Obey – a typical word for obedience meaning to follow instructions, to be subject to one.  A word found about 21 times in the NT.  Including the winds obeying Jesus (Matt. 8:27) and obeying the gospel (Acts 6:7, Rom. 6:17, 2 Thess. 1:8).
The call is for children to be obedient.   To do what they are told to do, and as we shall see in the rest of this text, it is with respect.   A present tense verb meaning ongoing conduct.  NOTE: Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2 both mention those disobedient to parents in lists of the ungodly that we are to avoid. 
Under the Old Law, rebellion carried the death penalty – Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Lev. 20:9.
God takes this seriously. 
Sadly, we live in times when many children are rebellious and disobey, especially when they get old enough they think they can’t be punished anymore. 

                                                 ii.      Your parents – notice he doesn’t just say to obey your father.  You are to obey BOTH parents.  Inherent in that is the authority of a mother to instruct her children, AND to expect submission from them.  This is also repeated in Colossians 3:20.
We are also reminded of proverbs 1:8-9, My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck. (Also Prov. 6:20).

                                                iii.      In the Lord – we often address this expression related to authority. (i.e. “In the name of the Lord”).  The point of this expression calls for one being willing to submit to the Lord.  Colossians 3:20 clarifies this saying, “For this is well pleasing to the Lord.” 
This would therefore include children who are of an age to understand.    I am NOT convinced this is saying one need only obey parents that are Christians, rather it is dealing with their respectful behavior. 
Obviously, this is not saying a child should obey a sinful command (cf. Acts 5:29).  But the greater tragedy in this is not the child obeying a sinful command or his refusal to do that which is sinful, but the fact that a parent would demand or ask them to!
BUT, even in this, such would not be cause to reject everything your parents command you to do (only that which is contrary to God’s will).

                                                iv.      For this is right – friends, this is the right thing to do!  Obedient children are the right thing.  It doesn’t matter your worldview – an orderly society is going to be one where children are taught to obey their parents (and authority). 
The point here is that God is pleased when we do this!  Psalm 119:128, Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

c.        Honor your father and mother

                                                   i.      Honor your father and mother – again, this is both parents.  This is actually one of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16 (the actual quote).
The word honor means to show respect for, to esteem highly. 
It is truly a sad thing to see a rebellious child who refuses to honor his/her parents.  Yet, it seems to be all too common now.  One of the reasons we are in trouble as a society today is because of the failure of children to properly respect their parents. 
Jesus expressed disdain for sinful behavior that would excuse children from carrying out their duties in these matters – cf. Matthew 15:3-6

                                                 ii.      What does it mean to honor your father and mother?
1) First, as we have seen, obey them!  Similar to Luke 2:51 where Jesus went home with his parents and was subject to them. 
2) Show them respect for who they are – your parents!  Typically, they have sacrificed for the children in many ways and therefore they are worthy of being honored.
3) By listening to them – Prov. 3:1, 23:22 – listen to your father who begot you
4) Be willing to provide for them later in life – 1 Timothy 5:4, 8 – this is the context.  Don’t just dump them off somewhere and then just occasionally go see them. 
5) By obeying God!  There is nothing that will mean more to a parent than children who are following the precepts of God in all things – cf. 3 John 4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

                                                iii.      The first commandment with promise - whether this is saying there were no other commandments that had promises attached to them or something else, it shows hope when we seek to obey the Lord.   I believe this to be saying, this is a primary commandment.  Many other commands build on this! 

                                                iv.      That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth
This is the promise we find in Deuteronomy. 5:16. 
Living long doesn’t mean that obeying your parents automatically guarantees long life.  WE know better, HOWEVER, one who lives a respectful and honoring life is less likely to engage in dangerous and foolish behaviors.  That can make one’s life longer.
FURTHERMORE, if the family unit is the foundation of society, then the wellbeing of a society depends on intact and healthy homes.  These are just to plausible explanations.
Prov. 6:20-24ff  - consider what Solomon says to his son. 
Exodus 21:15-17 – under the old law, to curse or strike a parent carried the death penalty.  This shows how seriously God views our behavior when we abuse His word and commands.  

 II.                   Fathers

a.       Fathers - On the other side of these instructions, Paul now addresses fathers.
Why fathers, and not mothers?  WE know that both have responsibilities to fulfill -
Mothers – Prov. 1:8 – the law (instructions) of the mother, cf. 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:4 – love their children; 1 Timothy 2:15, 5:14– bearing children (I believe much more than simply able to have children, but being a godly mother), and managing the house, etc.
HOWEVER, the father has the primary responsibility within the home.  He is to provide for the household (i.e. Matthew 7:9-11, 1 Timothy 5:8) – and it is more than physical provisions. It includes spiritual guidance, emotional stability and security. 
Both elders and deacons must demonstrate their understanding and fulfillment of this role – 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12. 
Bearing in mind that Paul is addressing submission, he addresses these two “sides” head on.  
One of the sad commentaries on our society is the breakdown of the nuclear home.  There are far too many single parents – mostly mothers, of which many have men who simply don’t care or have abandoned them; AND there are too many fathers who refuse to fulfill their God given and NATURAL role within the home.  Sociologist can deny this all day long, be what God says in the Bible is clearly best – children need BOTH their father and their mother.  And they need them to be caring and concerned in executing their roles.  Never forget, as goes the home, so goes society. 

b.       Do not provoke your children to wrath
Paul addresses the father’s responsibility both negatively and positively.  He begins with what he is NOT to do.   
Do not provoke your children to wrath – provoke means to urge or stir up, to exasperate or frustrate. 
The Greek word here is a compound word involving both provoking and wrath (or anger).  
This is not saying that a father should never do anything that makes a child angry or upset.  Sometimes discipline in unpleasant (punishment NEEDS to be so), sometimes we need to say no or make them do something they don’t want to do, even though it is best. 
But it is possible for fathers to be overbearing, unjust, inconsistent or uncaring in raising their children.  These are the qualities that lead to rebellion and the type of wrath described in this text.     Colossians 3:21 says he does not provoke, “lest they be discouraged.”

c.        Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord
Training (nurture – KJV, discipline - NASB) is a word that means to rear up tenderly and carefully.  To wholly care for the child.  Thayer says of this word, “The whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment.[1]   This is the same word as “chastening” in Hebrews 12:5-11), cf. Proverbs 3:11-12, 13:24 – He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.  Proverbs 29:15 says, The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.  
Admonition (instruction – NASB) – a word that means to teach so that one will avoid or cease improper conduct.  Literally, To put one in his right mind. Found only 3 times in NT (1 Cor. 6:11 – written for our admonition, and Titus 3:10 – reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition).   THIS is training by teaching.  Something we as parents need to do.
Prov. 22:6 – train up a child in the way he should go…

d.       Of the Lord – again, our goal in this is to follow that which is pleasing to and brings glory to our Lord and our heavenly Father.  There are many parents today who are giving in to the worldly philosophies of children rearing – often these methods reject God and His word and they have contributed to the moral failures of our society. 

e.       The point here is fathers (and mothers) need to do their part in a godly relationship.  May we as parents have as our goal, to bring up our children so that they will love the Lord and submit to His will.  This is another example Paul gives of true submission.

 The task of parenting is awesome.  Children ought to be a blessing and a heritage (Psalm 127:3-5).  If so blessed, we only have them for so long.  Let us use that time to mold them so that they will submit to the Lord for the saving of their souls.



[1] Smith, Jerome H. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: The Most Complete Listing of Cross References Available Anywhere- Every Verse, Every Theme, Every Important Word. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992. Print.  Ephesians 6:4, p. 1387