5th Commandment

5th commandmentThe 5th Commandment:

We now turn to the 5th of the 10 Commandments, which we have already noted based on our study of Eph 6:2-3, that led us to this study. See our study of Eph 6:2-3, for those details related to this commandment.

Ex 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Deut 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

In comparing the two OT passages of the Decalogue, we see that the Deuteronomy listing is modified from the Exodus listing. Deuteronomy adds the phrase “as the LORD your God has commanded you,” KE ASHER YHWH ELOHIM TSAWAH, in the Piel Perfect, just as it did in the 4th Commandment, because this was approximately 40 years from the giving of the Law in Sinai in the book of Exodus. So, God reminds them that He has already given them this mandate.

Deuteronomy reiterates the blessing, “that your days may be prolonged,” LE MA’AN YOM ARAK, in the Hiphil Imperfect. But then Moses, preparing the people for the conquest and settlement of the land, added in Deuteronomy, “and that it may go well with you,” WE LE MA’AN YATAV, “to be good or go well,” LE. Finally, both accounts of the Decalogue end with, “in or on the land which the Lord your God gives you,” AL HO ADAMAH ASHER YHWH ELOHIM NATHAN LE. These promises are also seen in Lev 26:3-13; Deut 5:16; 6:2; 7:12-16; 11:8-9; 28:1-14, in regard to keeping all the commandments of God.

This is a positive commandment and the first of the “horizontal commandments,” as it is directed to other members of the human race, compared to the first four commandments that are “vertical commandments,” which means directed to God. It emphasizes that the core of the covenant community is the family. Nevertheless, we also see the honoring of God our Father in this commandment when we honor our parents. The prior commandments were all concerned in one way or another with the necessity of honoring God as a basic means of keeping His covenant. Now we have a commandment that follows logically because it is concerned with honoring parents, who have the awesome role in the family of representing God to their children.

Therefore, this commandment is directed to children under Divine Institution #3: Family, to honor and respect their parents throughout the parents’ entire life time. And I would venture to say that it also applies after the parents’ death in order to, “honor their name.” In fact, some theologians believe this command is for “adult sons,” requiring them to care for the material needs of their aged parents and whatever other needs may be associated therewith.

Honor,” is the Hebrew Word KABEDH, ‏כָּבֵד‎ in the intensive active Piel, and the Infinitive Absolute acting as an Imperative that gives us the “you shall” of this command. It can mean, “to weigh heavily, to be heavy, to venerate, to honor, to glorify, or to multiply.” In Prov 4:8, it means, “to prize highly,” in Psa 19:15, “to care for,” and in Lev 19:3, “to show respect for.” It also is used in some negative ways like, “to make dull or let weigh down.”

Honor is not something that can be commanded if it remains only an attitude or disposition. To honor demands action that emanates from and demonstrates the inner spirit. Since all authority belongs to the Lord, and since He instituted the family and established all human authority structures into human social relationships, all such authority structures are to be honored and respected in this way. Therefore, the command to honor is a command to demonstrate in tangible, empirical ways the respect people must have for their parents.

In the Decalogue, it implies that children give the proper “weight” or “respect” to their parents’ position. The opposite of this would be to despise or scorn one’s parents. One who did this was in danger of being put to death, Lev 20:9, in some cases by stoning, Deut 21:18-21. Thus, respect for parents, and for authority figures in general, should be taken seriously.

Therefore, to honor means more than to obey. It is to respect and esteem. It involved teachable attitudes by the children. It is the form that AGAPE love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need you, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way you live.

Father and Mother” are AV WE EM and the promise of “length of days,” is AREKH YOM. AREKH means, “to be long or to prolong,” in the causative Hiphil Imperfect for ongoing action. This emphasizes quality of life, in terms of giving to others and serving Yahweh, as a priority over quantity of life. As God is to be served with honor and respect, His representatives are to be so too. So, the blessing for having this mental attitude expressed in your life is first quality and then quantity of life.

Parents are the subject of special respect and obedience because in the Divine hierarchy, they stand next to God Himself, that is, in the administration of His kingdom community. This is noted in the statement of God’s creation of the human race in Gen 5:1-3, “When God created human beings, he made them to be like Himself…. When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him, in his very image.” The parent thus stands as the image of God to the child and is worthy of the reverence that entails.

Likewise, the father/son relationship is analogous to the God/Israel relationship, Deut 1:31.

Deut 1:31, “And in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked, until you came to this place.”

Therefore, this 5th Commandment provides the link between the first four commandments, which emphasize the vertical man/God relationship, and the last five commandments, which emphasize the horizontal man/man relationship. The family structure provides the sphere of the most intimate relationship, through which the right relationship with God can be extended to a right relationship with fellow human beings. As such, loyalty and submission to one’s father and mother in the context of the Covenant are absolutely vital for the passing on of God’s blessing from one generation to another.

The parents are charged with the solemn responsibility of carefully instructing their children, both by precept and example, to live for God and his testimony, rather than following the corrupt example and mind-set of the secular world about them, as the heirs of God’s covenant blessing bestowed on them at the time of the Exodus.

“Parents are to be honored and feared; reverence is to be shown to them with heart, mouth, and hand—in thought, word, and deed. But by father and mother we are not to understand merely the authors and preservers of our bodily life, but also the founders, protectors, and promoters of our spiritual life, such as prophets and teachers, to whom sometimes the name of father is given (2 Kings 2:12; 13:14), whilst at other times paternity is ascribed to them by their scholars being called sons and daughters (Ps 34:12; 45:11; Prov 1:8, 10, 15, etc.); also the guardians of our bodily and spiritual life, the powers ordained of God, to whom the names of father and mother (Gen 45:8; Judg 5:7) may justly be applied, since all government has grown out of the relation of father and child, and draws its moral weight and stability, upon which the prosperity and well-being of a nation depends, from the reverence of children towards their parents.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)

So important was this principle for the perpetuation of the faith that each family and each assembly after reciting the great Shema, in Deut 6:4-5, were reminded to teach these things to their children in Deut 6:5-7.

The Shema, Deut 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord (YHWH) is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Then they were instructed in Deut 6:6-7, “And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your son (or children) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Therefore, honoring and respecting parents consists of respecting their instruction in the covenant. This assumes that a religious heritage is being passed on. The home was seen as an important and necessary link for the covenant instruction of each successive generation. Honor is given to them as representatives of God’s authority for the sake of covenant preservation. If parents are not heeded or their authority is repudiated, the covenant would be in jeopardy.

Likewise, the parents are to set the tone for their home and all who live in it, making it clear that their main purpose in life is to put God first in their lives and live for Him, rather than for the ambitions and goals of worldliness in a vain search for happiness and meaning in a career of egoistic self-seeking. As fathers and mothers, you should seek to imitate God, who is the perfect Father.

Therefore, this commandment is like the previous one, it links the requirement to an action of God: As God rested on the creation Sabbath, so individual Israelites must do so each week in their own families; as God promises to take care of his dependents, Israel, for a long time in the promised land, so individual Israelites must take care of their dependent parents for a long time, as necessary, in their own families. The prior commandment looks back on the creation Sabbath, whereas the present commandment looks forward to the nation’s tenure in the land of promise.

What do we learn about God here? We learn of His authority. We also learn about His provision. Rebellion and insubordination to parents, governments, teachers, and others, ultimately is rebellion and insubordination to God. The clause on the end of the commandment provides a motivation for keeping the commandment, “to live long in the land given by God.” This reveals the generosity of God.

There is a double promise here. So long as the nation rejoiced in the possession of obedient children, it was assured of a “long life” or existence in the land of Canaan; but there is also included the promise of a “long life,” (i.e., a great age, to individuals, cf. Deut 6:2; 22:7, just as we find in 1 Kings 3:14), a good old age referred to as a special blessing from God. Therefore, the promise of prolonged occupation in the land of Israel is primarily in view in this commandment. As such, the double promise of blessing is first quality of life and then quantity of life; permanence, progeny, and prosperity. It was not necessarily a guarantee that each individual Israelite was to live to be 100 years old, although that could be the case, but more so that the nation as a community of faith is to be kept safe and secure in the territory promised to Abraham in Gen 15:18-21.

In the ancient Near East, it is not just the religious heritage but the fabric of society that is threatened when there is no respect for parental authority and family obligations are neglected. Violations would include striking parents, cursing parents, neglecting the care of elderly parents, and failing to provide adequate burial. Therefore, it speaks to duration as a nation in covenant relationship with God, “in the land the Lord your God is giving you,” rather than a lengthened lifespan for each obedient individual.

Implicit in this is the promise that Israel would be strong and secure in possession of the land as long as they maintained loyalty to the Sinai Covenant and the standards set forth by Moses and Aaron by the word of God and faithfully adhere to them. The opposite of the blessing is found in the negative warning for not “honoring your father and mother” in Deut 21:18-21.

Deut 21:18-21, “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.”

The example given here is that of a “stubborn and rebellious son” who defiantly disobeys his parents, resists their admonition, and is unresponsive to discipline. A son who was rebelliously stubborn, not respecting his parents, would most likely eventually express that same attitude toward God and become a threat to the security and continuity of the covenant community of God. Likewise, to “curse” one’s parents was tantamount to repudiating their authority, and was a capital offense, Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9; Prov 20:20.

Ex 21:17, “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

As the years went on and Israel rebelled against God forgetting His covenants and promises, and falling into reversionism, it led to God’s removal of this promise, as the nation was first torn in two in the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, and later each kingdom going under slavery to another; the Northern to Assyria in 722 B.C., and the Southern to the Chaldeans 586 B.C. The captivity of Israel would be caused, in part, by a failure to honor their parents, Ezek 22:7, 15.

Ezek 22:7, “They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you.”

Ezek 22:15, “And I shall scatter you among the nations, and I shall disperse you through the lands, and I shall consume your uncleanness from you.”

Later, God through Malachi equates the failure of the priests to honor God with despising him; i.e., they “show contempt for His name,” Mal 1:6.

Moses had reminded them in Deut 4:9f, that God had spoken to them at Horeb so that they “might learn to revere Me.” The parents were to teach this reverence and fear of God to their children. By failure to respect his parents, such a son or daughter also failed to respect God. He had not learned “to fear God,” Deut 4:10.

Therefore, if the child was unwilling to learn and apply what the parents had taught them, the parents had the responsibility to prosecute their child for the offense in question, but they could not take the law into their own hands. Judgment was the responsibility of the community. The whole community was affected by such a crime in the family, and parental sovereignty was at stake.

The severity of the punishment was to serve as a warning that insubordination to parental authority might lead to insubordination to God, who was Israel’s sovereign Lord. In this manner, the Israelites were instructed, “to purge the evil from among you,” Deut 17:12.

Psa 112:1-2, “Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. 2His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

In a world that worships and imitates youth, where youth and the quest for rejuvenation is the highest priority, and tends to disregard or eliminate unwanted old people, where the wisdom of the elderly and the counsel of parents are ignored, this commandment sounds like an echo from a time warp. But the Jews were taught to respect age and to care for their senior citizens, which remains a good example for us to follow today as we will see in our NT passages including, 1 Tim 5:1-2, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

The fifth commandment provides the key to real social stability. Someone said that, “the elderly are the only outcast group that everybody expects to join.” Therefore, how you treat them today will help to determine how you are treated tomorrow, because we reap what we sow. A stable family-life leads to a stable-society.

Likewise, we see that as the image of God was to be kept sacred by all men in the first four Commandments, the majesty of God was to be honored and respected in parents in the 5th Commandment. This thought forms the transition to the rest of the commandments.

New Testament Usage:

We now continue our study of the 5th Commandment, by noting its utilization in the New Testament. This Commandment is used six times in three events. Five times it is used in the Gospels describing two events of Jesus Christ. Once it is used by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. The principle is: It is just as wrong for a NT Christian to dishonor his parents, as it was for an OT Hebrew.

  • The first event is found in, Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10.
  • The second is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.
  • The third is Paul’s usage in, Eph 6:2-3, which is the only time the attached promise is given to the Church Age, Eph 6:3, “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

In all of these, we see that the honoring of father and mother, together with its promises, carries over into all time and everywhere.

We have previously studied the 5th Commandment’s utilization in Eph 6:2-3. The information from that study includes the following. After that review, we will see the other two events where this commandment was used by our Lord.

Vs. 2

Children were made by God to glorify God. This great purpose is partly lived out by honoring and obeying their parents in the Lord. Paul appeals to what the children had already learned, for their Christian education began with the Ten Commandments.

Eph 6:2, “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise).”

As mentioned previously, here, and in vs. 3, we have the fifth of the Ten Commandments, “The Decalogue,” found in Ex 20:1-17 and Deut 5:1-21, and is quoted six times in the New Testament, Mat 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20, Eph 6:2, but only here is the attached promise also cited, vs. 3.

This is first of the “horizontal commandments,” and is directed to children under Divine Institution #3: Family. It is also the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, as noted in this verse, and is the only commandment that has a direct promise associated with it; as all the commandments have the general promise of blessings, peace, and prosperity associated to them, cf. Ex 20:6.

This does not mean that the Christian is “under the Law,” for Christ has set us free from both the curse and the bondage of the Law, Gal 3:13; 5:1. But the righteousness of the Law is still a revelation of the holiness of God, and the Holy Spirit enables us to practice that righteousness in our daily lives, Rom 8:1-4. All of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament epistles for the Christian to observe except the 4th“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” We will discuss why this is in a forthcoming study.

Yet, the principle in our passage is that it is just as wrong for a New Testament Christian to dishonor his parents, as it was for an Old Testament Hebrew.

This verse begins with the command to “honor,” TIMAO, τιμάω in the Present, Active, Imperative that means, “esteem, honor, regard, revere, or respect,” and refers to honor or respect bestowed upon someone or something, in this case the parents. It is used in all six New Testament quotes of this Old Testament command.

The Customary Present Tense is for the ongoing customary or habitual action of the child to honor their parents throughout their lifetime.

The Active Voice; the child produces the action.

The Imperative Mood is for a command from God to honor your father and mother.

The Hebrew of Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16 uses the verb KABED (kavedh), ‏כָּבֵד‎ that means, “to honor, glorify, be heavy, be rich, etc.,” in the Piel, Infinitive, Absolute.

The Piel Mood is used for intensification of the action of the verb.

The Infinitive Absolute Tense is also used to intensify the certainty or force of the verbal idea where we can add the emphasis, “you shall.” It is also used in place of an Imperative as a command. The Septuagint uses TIMAO for this word in these verses.


To honor means more than to obey. It is to respect and esteem. It is the form that AGAPE love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God.

Next, we have the ones to honor, “YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,” which in the Greek is HO PATER, in the Accusative Singular, SU, in the Genitive of Possession, KAI, the Coordinating Conjunction, and HO METER, in the Accusative Singular for, “the father your and the mother.”


  • To “honor” your parents means much more than simply to obey them. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need you, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way you live.
  • This was the most common formulation of the obligation in both Jewish, (presumably influenced by the wording of the commandment), and Greco-Roman writings. It was understood as involving not only a respectful attitude but also care for the parents’ physical needs when they became old.
  • So, for children still in the father’s house, it would mean obedience to parents, and for those who had left home, it would mean continued deference to, and care for aging parents.

Then we have a statement regarding this commandment, “(which is the first commandment with a promise).” The Greek reads HOSTIS the relative pronoun for “which, whichever, whoever, etc.,” EIMI, the verb, “to be or is,” in the Present, Active, Indicative speaking to the 5th Commandment, PROTOS ENTOLE, “first commandment,” in the Nominative Singular, and EN EPAGGELIA, “with a promise,” in the Dative of Advantage for “a promise of blessing.”

Some think “first commandment” and “with a promise” should be separated for various reasons, such as “first of importance” or first on the second tablet of Moses, etc. In addition, some believe the 2nd Command had a “promise,” so this would not be the “first promise.” Yet as noted above, that is a general precept for all the commandments of God, including those not listed in the Decalogue that includes the love we are to have for the Lord God as noted in Deut 6:5, the 11th, but truly A #1 commandment of them all. Therefore, a clear reading here keeps them together and reflects the intent of Paul’s understanding of the 5th Commandment, that it had a specific promise associated with it directly, signifying it is unique and important.

The commands to obey and honor parents are threefold: They are of the Natural Law; they are of God’s Law; and they are of Grace.

  • Christianity upholds nature, not the fallen nature, but God’s original creation and the order to things inside His design. In the natural way of things, children are in subjection to their parents, and are to obey and honor them.
  • Christianity upholds law and order. We are no longer under the Mosaic Law, but the commands and mandates of God, specifically those reiterated in the NT from the Old, plus the Mystery Doctrines for the Church, uphold His righteousness and justice inside His Plan.
  • Christianity is based on our relationship with Christ, being “in the Lord.” Our obedience to Him demonstrates that relationship. Therefore, obeying and honoring your parents “in the Lord” is a demonstration of the Grace Plan of God for the Church Age. Grace raises the commandment to the highest level; therefore, we are to obey our parents, to honor them, and to respect them in order to please our Lord and Savior, Eph 5:10, who is looking down upon us. When you do, you are showing the world and angels the Grace Plan of God, who are amazed that He, the Son, has ever been able to make such people of us, that we can live according to the commandments of God in a sinful world such as this. In addition, obedience to Christ’s Word is proof that you are like Him by the Grace of God, for you are doing what He Himself did when He was here in this sinful, evil world, Luke 2:51.

Vs. 3 – The Promise.


Here we have two promises of blessing, the first is quoted from Deut 5:16 and the second paraphrased from both Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16.

Deut 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Ex 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”

Originally, these promises were given to the children of Israel during the Jewish dispensation regarding the Promised Land He gave them, where it meant the following: ‘If you want to go on living in this land of promise to which I am leading you to, observe this commandment. If you want to have a time of blessedness and happiness in that land, if you want to go on living there under My blessing, observe these commandments, especially this one.’

But in our verse, these blessings are generalized because God is dealing with both Jew and Gentile Christians of the Church Age.

Here we have a HINA of Results clause, “so that” with the Subjunctive Mood that begins this verse in the Greek and is supplied to both parts of it. It is used once in the Greek but translated twice in the English. This verse has two promises of blessing:

  • It may be well with you,” from Deut 5:16, this is an idiom that means, “that you may prosper.” It is the Adverb EU, “well, good, etc.,” with the Personal Pronoun SU in the Dative of indirect object, 2nd Person, Singular, “with you” speaking of each individual child that obeys and honors their parents. Then we have in the Greek GINOMAI in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive, for “to be, to come into being, to be made, become, etc.” We translate this, “may be.”

The Constative Aorist views the entirety of the action of blessing in the life of the obedient child.

The Middle Deponent Voice, speaks to the child’s actions honoring his parents that, as a result has a blessing back to the child.

The Subjunctive Mood is part of this HINA Clause to show potential of the action of being blessed, as a result of honoring and obeying your parents. Therefore, this is a promise of prosperity.

Prosperity comes in many different ways. Most just think in terms of materialism. But prosperity can mean different things to different people, and God knows what prosperity is to you. Cf. Psa 112:1-9. It can include:

  1. Wealth, given by God when you have capacity from Doctrine in your soul to truly handle and appreciate it.
  2. A shower for those not able to bath regularly.
  3. Food, after starving for days.
  4. Rain for your crops, and a great harvest of the crops.
  5. An abundance of friends, unity of the body of Christ, family members, etc. (People).
  6. Success on the job when you line up with the Authority, Policy, and Goals (System).
  7. Inner stability, the result of grace that comes from appropriation and utilization of God’s grace, having peace of mind (Thought).
  8. Tranquility of mind after a long hard day at work or home with the children.
  9. Peace of mind during adversity or conflict (Disaster), etc.
  10. Being blessed inside one or more Divine Institutions, (volition, marriage, family, or nationalism), as a result of honoring those Divine Institutions.

Psa 112:1-2, “Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments. 2His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

Mat 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

Then we have the Coordinating Conjunction KAI, “and,” to link the second promise of blessing.

  • You may live long on the earth,” taken from both Ex 20:12and Deut 5:16“You may” is the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative, in the 2nd Person Singular of EIMI, “to be or is,” that continues the HINA Subjunctive clause. We can translate this, “you may be.”

The Future Tense is Gnomic, for a statement of fact that speaks to the time after the child begins to honor his parents, whether that time has already begun or is yet to begin in the future. We could say, when they reach adulthood themselves.

The Middle Deponent once again speaks of the blessings the child receives, as a result of their actions of honoring and obeying their parents.

The Indicative Mood, is for the dogmatic reality of receiving this blessing when the child honors his parents.

Here the blessing is “live long,” which is the Nominative Singular of MAKROCHRONIOS, μακροχρόνιος that means, “long-lived,” and is used only here in all the NT. This is a compound Adjective consisting of the two words, MAKROS, “long,” and CHRONOS, “time.” In its use in classical Greek, the Septuagint, and its single occurrence in the NT it means, “long-lived.” This is an idiom for a life of quality and/or quantity – longevity.

Therefore, this tells us that obedience brings blessing. The 5th Commandment has a promise attached to it: “That your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives to you.” This promise originally applied to the Jews as they entered Canaan and throughout the Jewish Dispensation, but Paul applied it to believers of the Church. He substituted “earth” for “land” and tells us that the Christian child who honors his parents can expect two blessings. It will be well with him, and he will live long on the earth. This does not mean that everyone who died young dishonored his parents. He was stating a principle; when children obey and honor their parents in the Lord, they will escape a good deal of sin and danger and thus avoid the things that could threaten or shorten their lives. But life is not measured only by quantity of time. It is also measured by quality of experience. God enriches the life of the obedient child no matter how long he may live on the earth. Sin always robs us; obedience always enriches us.

This states a general principle that obedience fosters self-discipline, which in turn brings stability and longevity in one’s life. (Stated conversely, it is improbable that an undisciplined person will live a long life. An Israelite who persistently disobeyed his parents was not privileged to enjoy a long, stable life in the land of Israel. A clear example of this was Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas, 1 Sam 4:11.) Though that promise was given to Israel in the OT, the principle still holds true today, but in general, to all believing children of the Church Age.

Parents may be unfair or they may be tyrants, yet the children who are amenable to discipline will have a long (in quality and/or quantity), and prosperous life on this earth. Therefore, this verse is a demonstration of God’s fairness, because no matter how unfair parents could be or may be, God will bless the child who honors and respects his parents. This verse is also saying that it is better to endure hardship in youth and learn discipline so that in your later years you will have God’s blessings and long life. Long life is not always a blessing, but when it is associated with prosperity, long life is a blessing.

This does not exclude other types of suffering in the obedient child’s life from time to time, but his life is characterized by great prosperity. The person who in childhood and adolescence obeys parents and respects the authority of parents, will be happy and well-adjusted in life.

Next, we have the time and place of this blessing, “long life.” It is not speaking of eternity or heaven, but while here, “on the earth,” EPI HO GE.

Because the prospect of longevity is not held out elsewhere in the NT as part of the Christian hope, commentators have tended to spiritualize the application by linking it with eternal life, to a fault. That is not what Paul, nor the Holy Spirit intends here, as “on the earth” literally rules that out. It is not talking about the New Earth of eternity. These promises express the fact that obedience to God’s laws will bring God’s blessings in time. Many commandments were given to Israel. Obedience to these commandments would benefit in many ways, including the matter of enjoying longer life. Although many of the specific commandments given to Israel were not transferred into the NT, the basic philosophy behind them was. Therefore, obedience equals blessings in time for both believing and unbelieving children.

In our verse, the promise omits the clause, “which the Lord your God gives you,” from Ex 20:12, which linked the original promise of God to the child, with the land of Canaan. This is not appropriate for the Church. This omission then, has the effect of making the promise more generally applicable to the Church. The promise is now of well-being and long life on the earth for both Jew and Gentile of the Church Age.

So, the child must learn early to obey and honor their father and mother, not only because they are his parents, but because God has commanded him to do so. Disobedience to parents is rebellion against God. The sad situation in homes today is the result of rejecting God’s Word, Rom 1:28-30; 2 Tim 3:1-5, as we have noted above. By the Sin Nature, a child is selfish, and in selfishness, God is not able to provide His blessings. So, the arrogant, disobedient, and dishonoring child will miss out on these core blessings from God.

On the earth,” also reflect the immanency of the PAROUSIA, (the 2nd Coming of our Lord at the Rapture of the Church), as we do not know the day or hour in which it will occur. Even though Paul wrote about it 2000 years ago as if it were immanent, He also wrote about the blessing of a long and prosperous life here on earth. So, long life on earth reflects the PAROUSIA, in that we should live each day as if the Rapture were to occur that day, and enjoy each and every day our Lord gives to us here on earth to glorify Him right up to the PAROUSIA.

It first uses the second half of the promise from Deuteronomy, “It may be well with you,” and then modifies the second part of the blessing, “that you may live long” from the first half of the Deuteronomy blessing and the blessing from the Exodus blessing, “your days may be prolonged.”

Finally, rather than the blessing from the Decalogue being, “in the Land which the Lord your God gives to you,” the NT simply reads “on the earth,” since the Church and Church Age believer, do not have a Covenant promise for an earthly eternal land with an earthly eternal kingdom as Israel does. The Ephesian passage is a simple blessing for a life of quality and quantity while they are hear upon the earth. There is no statement of eternal blessing in the NT promise, as there is both a temporal and eternal promise for Israel in the OT. So, it is a promise of various prosperity blessings and a life of quality and quantity for those who “honor their parents” throughout the parents’ entire lives.

We now continue our study of the 5th Commandment’s utilization in the NT, by noting the other times this Commandment was used by our Lord.

As a reminder, this Commandment is used six times in the NT, in three events.

  1. The first is found in, Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10.
  2. The second is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.
  3. The third is Paul’s usage in, Eph 6:2-3, which is the only time the attached promise is given to the Church Age, Eph 6:3, “So that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”

Jesus understood this commandment as applying to adult children, cf. Mat 15:4-6. However, the young are not excluded, as Paul noted in Eph 6:1-2.

  • The first utilization of this Commandment in the NT is found in Mat 15:4; Mark 7:10, which is the story of Jesus refuting the Pharisees for adhering to man-made traditions, rather than having truth resident in their heart, (right lobe of the soul), applied towards God.

The issue began with the Pharisees rebuking Jesus’ disciples for not ceremonially washing their hands before eating, as was the rabbinical tradition passed down through their generations. Because Jesus was the disciples’ leader, in the Pharisees minds, He was guilty of being a lawbreaker. He was not accepting the so-called binding character of these man-made regulations.

Notice that Jesus’ reply to them is quoting Scripture. First, He quoted the Law and then Isaiah. In the Matthew account, the quote from Isa 29:13, comes after our Lord speaks to the application of the 5th Commandment, whereas in the Mark account, it comes before.

In both accounts, we see the falsehoods of man-made religion with its lists of do’s and don’ts that are not found in Scripture. More importantly, if there are any commands that we are to keep, we are to do so from the heart, right lobe of the soul, in love, praise, and service of God, rather than keeping a ritual for ritual sake, or a tradition that is man-made.

The “traditions,” is the Noun PARADOSIS, παράδοσις. Traditions consisted of hundreds of minute details and ceremonial stipulations from the “doctrines” of the rabbis, which were written down in the Talmud that were supposedly handed down since the time of Moses, so that the Israelites could better keep the Law. In the eyes of the Pharisees, they had equal authority to the Scriptures, and were considered to be binding upon the faithful. Jesus rejected their claims and called their traditions human commandments, Mark 7:8-9.

In Mat 15:3; Mark 7:8-9, our Lord turns the Pharisee’s rebuke of His disciples back to them. He points out that they transgressed the 5th Commandment of God. What the Pharisees proudly claimed to be the “traditions of the elders,” Mark 7:3, our Lord called the “tradition of men,” vs. 8, and “your own tradition.” Through these traditions, the spirit of God’s law was being broken.

Mat 15:3, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’”

Mark 7:8-9, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. 9He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition’.”

The Pharisees were treating God’s commandments as invalid when they came in conflict with their own traditions. They were displacing God’s holy Law with man’s fallible traditions. In effect, they were setting themselves up as gods with the prerogative of establishing Divine law, cf. James 4:11-12.

Jesus set the law of God over/against the tradition of the elders. By saying, “your,” Jesus personalized these traditions as theirs and not His, thus disassociating Himself, and not identifying Himself with that which was not of God. For Him, only the Law of God had binding authority.

Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Jesus understood that this law did not merely require a child to obey and respect his or her parents. It also dictates that someone love, respect, and if necessary care for one’s parents when they are old.

Jesus also quoted Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9, in regard to the capital punishment one should receive for “cursing,” that is speaking evil of, his parents. This was in comparison to the man-made tradition of washing the hands, to show the greater severity for breaking the 5th Commandment.

Jesus then gives an object lesson in Mat 15:5-6, “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” Mark expounds on this a bit more in Mark 5:11-13,

While the Law regarded dishonoring your parents as a grave offense, vs. 4, the Scribes and Pharisees created a way to circumvent the offense in order to fill their own coffers and allow children to abuse their parents and keep the money that otherwise should have gone to support their parents. They said in essence, “if you make a vow to give your money to the temple,” versus to your parents who were in need, “you are ok with God.” This was a loophole in the law that they created. According to tradition, one could pledge goods to the temple and God, and thus be released from one’s responsibility to others. Underlying this was the rabbinic principle that viewed actions related to the temple ritual and procedures, as more important than works of love and mercy, i.e., attitude and behavior; cf. Mat 23:23-26. Yet, Jesus taught otherwise, cf. Mark 12:28-34.

In Mark 7:11, the phrase for this loophole is, “it is Corban,” KORBAN, κορβᾶν, which means, “a gift dedicated to God or the temple by a vow.” Thus, the parents received nothing, while the offspring either gave all of it or a portion of it to the temple, or just outright retained the entire vowed gift as their own, which was typically the case. This was ok, according to tradition.

In practice, this tradition proved even worse than its theory, because children not only neglected their parents, but they were able to fill their own pockets by pretending to be religious. The temple vow allowed some of the aid that should have gone to parents to remain in the child’s possession. Even in the most favorable circumstances, the decision to dedicate a gift to the temple was voluntary, yet, to honor one’s mother and father was a commandment. That is what religion does, it creates loopholes, so that you think you are good with God, yet in reality you are not.


1) People use human traditions to avoid what God expressly commands.

2) They rob the Word of its power and authority, making it meaningless and of no effect.

3) The substitution of man-made religion and traditions is a double delusion:

a) It leads men to believe that the correct observance of religious forms and ceremonies satisfies God’s requirements.

b) It leads people to disregard the plain teachings of the Word of God.

Mark 7:12-13, “You no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.””

The Word of God, including the Law of Moses, calls for obedience out of love and gratitude to God, Deut 6:5, 21-24; 10:12. Samuel told King Saul in 1 Sam 15:22, “to obey is better than sacrifice,” Micah declared that a walk in humble fellowship with God, rather than outward appearance, is what pleases Him, Micah 6:6-8.

Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Everything that God commands of us is for the means of entrance into fellowship with Him, and is not a substitute for a personal walk with Him. That is why in Mat 15:7-9, the Lord calls them hypocrites.

Hypocrite,” is the Greek noun HUPOKRITES, ποκριτς, that means “hypocrite or pretender; an actor, one who pretends, or one who wears a mask,” cf. Mat 6:2, 5, 16. Figuratively, it refers to someone who appears to be different in character and identity from what he really is; a phony, a pretender, a fraud.

In 536 B.C., it was used by Thespis who introduced an individual who replied to the chorus, (a group of male dancers and singers), in the festival of Dionysius held every spring in Athens, as Hupokrites. In addition, to the Jews, it meant one who is “estranged from God, godless.” So, you can imagine the impact this word had on the Pharisees.

This word is only found in use by Jesus in the synoptic Gospels, and typically directed towards the Pharisees. It showed what spiritual “actors” and “pretenders” these fakes were. The hypocrite often deceives himself, as well as others. In addition, it carries the idea of the hardness of heart and lack of compassion characteristic of a hypocrite, Luke 12:56; 13:15.

That is why Jesus applied the words of Isa 29:13, in Matthew and Mark to them, showing that God does not tolerate such pretense. Jesus’ attitude is similarly reflected in His pronouncement of “Woe!” upon the hypocritical Pharisees and legal experts; they not only perverted the Law but also prevented others from knowing God, Mat 23; cf. Luke 11.

Therefore, the external profession of the Pharisees was in marked contrast to their inner heart condition. The hypocrite may honor God verbally, but not with his heart. He is always far from God. These “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” were pretending the truths they taught were of Divine origin, but in reality, they were hairsplitting rules which mere men had passed down from generation to generation.

In Mat 15:9 and Mark 7:7, “They worship me in vain,” is the Adverb MATEN, μάτην meaning, “in vain, fruitless.” Some believe it meant, “groundless, pointless, or deceitful.” This was Jesus’ paraphrase of Isa 29:13, and it closely resembles the Septuagint. He is saying, despite their words, worship is pointless for those whose hearts are far from God; it is a futile attempt.

Therefore, these pious leaders of Israel were accused of having void, empty results in their worship, because their worship was based on empty rote, not conscious worship. Their religion had a fruitlessness about it.

Paul also wrote of such self-conceived religion, (the teachings of men), in Col 2:22-23. He pointed out that an outward show of tradition or rituals are of no value against fleshly lusts.

In both Gospel accounts, Jesus followed this up by telling the people that what proceeds out of the mouth is truly what is in man’s heart. Therefore, you must have God’s Word cycling through the right lobe of your soul, heart, so that you can in love apply it to all situations in life to the service, worship, and glory of God.

  • The second utilization of the 5th Commandment is found in, Mat 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20.

Here we see a certain rich young man asking Jesus what good thing he could do to obtain eternal life, Jesus answered, “Obey the commandments,” Mat 19:17. To clarify this, Jesus specifically mentioned 5 of the last 6 of the Ten Commandments, because they all related to the horizontal relationships of life, that is, related to behavior toward others, Deut 5:16-20; Mat 19:18-19. He also added, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Mat 19:19; Lev 19:18, to make this point.

Paul declared that the commandments are summed up and fulfilled in love toward one’s neighbor, Rom 13:9-10. The young man said he fulfilled all these things. Yet, he had a sense that he was still “lacking” what was necessary for eternal life, just as all unbelievers are given this innate sense.

Therefore, we see a principle: One can obey the letter of the Law, but still transgress spiritually if they do not operate in faith and AGAPE love.

Here, the issue was salvation, eternal life. This man had kept the Law but in a fashion that was a works for salvation program, (which he knew was lacking), rather than having faith in God and Christ for salvation. This is seen in the final challenge our Lord gave him; “to sell all that you have,” Mat 19:21.

You see, human works can only take you so far, and human works will only let you go so far. They will never take you all the way to salvation and eternal life.

Human works eminent from the flesh, (the sin nature), and at some point, there is a red flag that gets raised by the sin nature to stop you from having faith. The sin nature is fine and comfortable when you are doing all sorts of human good works. But, it gets very uncomfortable when you put them and it aside, and apply complete trust and faith in God. That is the point when the sin nature says whoa!

Just as this rich young man’s sin nature said “whoa” to him, where his countenance fell and depression set in, so does your sin nature try to say to you, when God asks you to step out in faith.

This young man was all well and fine when his works were on display. But as soon as faith was the issue, “sell everything and follow me,” that is when he hit the wall, and could go no further. Even though Jesus gave him a promise, this man could go no further. And even as a business man, when he was promised a great return on his investment, he could not do it, because the investment was beyond his power. In other words, he did not or could not control the situation, he had to step out in faith and trust in another for his well-being. That was too much for him.

Both requests by Jesus represented a test of faith and his love for the Lord, in regard to both the vertical and horizontal commandments. In Jesus’ request of him, to follow Jesus would have been the fulfillment of the first 4 Commandments. To give to the poor would have been the fulfillment of the remaining 6, i.e., “loving one’s neighbor.” Both represented a test of faith, and his love for the Lord.

This man had done well in his performance of the letter of the Law, but there was failure in keeping the spirit of the Law. The challenge to “sell everything and follow me,” was our Lord’s way of seeing if he could operate on faith in his walk and relationship with Jesus and God the Father. In these passages, the Ten Commandments were used to show this man’s hypocrisy, (like the Pharisees demonstrated in the previous use of the 5th Commandment), and that works cannot and do not save you. In fact, they can be abused to a hypocritical religiosity.

Jesus’ challenge included:

  1. Would he give up all he was trusting in and put his trust in Jesus alone?
  2. Would he turn his back on those things which contributed to his self-esteem and made him think he could do something to merit eternal life?
  3. Would he give up the wealth and position that gave him power with men?
  4. Would he sell all his possessions and give them to the poor and be content with the assurance that he would have treasure in heaven?

Notice that Jesus did not mention the 1st Commandment that deals with relationship to God. He repeated only commands from the second part of the Decalogue that deal with human relationships and with human responsibility toward one’s neighbor. He waited on that one until the end, “follow Me!” Jesus knew this man’s heart was not in the right place, and gave him grace.

By his own choice, this young man turned his back on God and Jesus Christ and went back to his beautiful home, his pleasures, his acres of farm, forest, and pasture, and the power and position his wealth gave him in the eyes of men. But in so doing, he broke the 1st Commandment, as well as the commandment Jesus said is greatest, Mat 22:37; Deut 6:5, “love the Lord your God with all your …”

Gold was his god. Self was his love. It was not that he had much property; rather, the property had him. Possessions were his god. Therefore, he broke the 1st Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” which speaks of man’s relationship with God. Mat 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”       

If the love of money fills a person’s heart, he can no longer come under the rule of God, but will do all kinds of evil things, things that would have horrified him if he had not become a slave of the love of money, 1 Tim 6:10.

Therefore, this example is for all to understand that faith alone in Christ alone is the only way to salvation, Eph 2:8-9. You can keep all the commandments you like, but if you do not have faith in God, you have nothing.

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