The Book of Ephesians ~ Chapter 6:1-2 ~ Children Obey Your Parents Pt 2 ~ The Fifth Commandment

Vol. 16 No 36 – September 3, 2017

eph 6 vs 1 Word 9 3 17In Eph 6:1, the next word we have is “obey,” which is the Present, Active, Imperative of HUPAKOUO, ὑπακούω that means, “listen to, obey, respond, answer, follow, or be subject to.” It is used 21 times in the New Testament and is a compound word from the Preposition HUPO, “under or from which,” and the Verb AKOUO that means, “to hear, heed, listen, understand, learn, etc.” It means learning through the ear gate. So, combined we see both meanings as, 1) being under the authority of the parents, and 2) learning from them for application in life. We will see this word again for “servants” or “workers,” in vs. 5, and it is used in the parallel verse for children in Col 3:20.

The Customary Present Tense means this should be the habitual response of children towards their parents.

The Active Voice; the children produce the action of obedience towards their parents.

The Imperative Mood is for a command given by Paul, on behalf of God, for children to obey their parents.

To obey means, “to follow instructions or behave in accordance with a law, rule, or order.” This obedience is the act or practice of following instructions, complying with rules or regulations, or submitting to somebody’s authority; in this case the parent’s. Therefore, this obedience of the child comes from hearing the instructions of the parents and submitting to them, heeding their warnings and directives in compliance to their rules and policies.

This is a stronger demand than the submission required of wives in Eph 5:21, with the verb HUPOTASSO that meant, “to voluntarily place yourself under the direction or authority of the husband and assume a subordinate position.” That submission is willing subjection to another, where this obedience, HUPAKOUO, is less rational and more implicit, to learn from and apply the parent’s instructions and heed their warnings and directives.

As we have noted, Col 3:20 adds that this unswerving obedience is to be comprehensive in its scope, “everything.” Isaac’s willingness to be offered as a sacrifice by his father Abraham is a model of such submission.

On the other hand, disobedience to parents is a symptom of the child’s arrogance complex of sins stemming from their Old Sin Nature. Both the Old and New Testament condemn disobedience to parents, Prov 30:17; Rom 1:30; 2 Tim 3:2. When this happens collectively among many children within a society, it causes a disintegrating social structure. Christian families have a particular responsibility to not contribute to the collapse of an ordered community.

God will discipline the disobedient child as stated in Prov 30:17, “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”

In order to be obedient to another’s authority in any realm, including the child’s obedience to their parents, there must be great humility in the soul. This can come from either genuine humility by learning and applying principles of authority orientation, or by enforced humility from those who are in authority. Therefore, we will note several Principles of Humility.

  • Humility, TAPEINOPHRO – SUNĒ ταπεινοφροσύνη, is the quality of being modest or respectful, the act of being submissive. As we noted previously, in Mat 18:6, Jesus used a young child as an illustration of the importance of humility as a virtue of the spiritual life.
  • This “humility,” however, has nothing to do with “groveling” or “weakness.” It is a humility that naturally evolves out of a heart of love and respect for others. For the Christian, this love and respect emanates from and is directed toward the exalted Lord, “in the Lord.” As such, it is the attitude of the Christian servant, first exemplified by Jesus. In fact, it is only in an attitude of humility, a contrite heart, that the spiritual life can prosper, Eph 4:1-4; Phil 2:3; Col 3:12f; 1 Peter 5:5.

Eph 4:1-4, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.”

a) Humility is Authority Orientation, which must first be taught in the home.

b) Humility is Grace Orientation, which reflects metabolized doctrine circulating in the soul of the child-believer. This must be taught by the parents and cannot be left up to the church, the school, or any other organization.

c) Humility is objectivity, and therefore, teachability.

d) Humility is Doctrinal Orientation, which is the basic value and function of the spiritual life, and therefore, a combination of parental and pastoral teaching, resulting in the parents acting as the FLOT line of the soul of their children.

R.B. Thieme Jr. stated, “How do children handle pressure and adversity? Depending on the age, growth, and maturity of the child, adversity, stress, and circumstances can be all one and the same. Therefore, the parents should be the child’s FLOT line of the soul (the Forward defensive Line Of Troops). They should be there to prevent the development of stress in the life of a child. Parents have been entrusted to care for and protect the soul of their children. What happens to the FLOT line protection, if: the parents are not there, the parents are hearers of the Word and abuse their authority, the parents are totally inflexible with the “I am right” syndrome (authority with no leadership), the parents are fighting all the time, the parents do things in front of their kids that they should not do, or they tell their children doctrine is number one in their life and then they divorce. Now the child has no FLOT line but only stress from the parents who are supposed to be protecting him or her. Stress in a child’s life is directly proportional to the stability of the parents or parent.”

  • Humility is not acquired genetically. It is the status of being humble and being humble is the antithesis of arrogance. For the child, this begins with the parents. Divine Institution #3 is the family in the home. The home is the structure for organizational humility, the parents are the authority for enforced humility, and the child’s volition is the basis for genuine humility, or the basis for developing tragic flaws if parental authority is rejected.
  • Therefore, humility in a child must be attained through the teaching and the just and loving function of the authority of the parents. As such, humility as teachability recognizes two authorities: the authority of the parents and the content of their teaching, and the authority of the Pastor and the content of his teaching.
  • The greatest humility function of the child is what he learns in the home. Child abuse destroys teachability at the most critical point in life and substitutes arrogant preoccupation with self that can become a lifetime habit, which is almost impossible to break, apart from Bible doctrine.
  • Num 12:3, teaches the importance of humility. Spiritual greatness is related to humility in every dispensation of human history. “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.”
  • Honor is the attainment of spiritual greatness, but humility comes first, Prov 15:33; 29:33; 1 Peter 5:5-6; James 45:6.

Prov 15:33, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”

1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise you young men be subject to (HUPOTASSO) your elders and all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, `For God makes war against the arrogant believer but He gives grace to the humble believer.’ Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may promote you at the proper time.”

James 4:6, “But He gives greater grace. Therefore, it says, ‘God makes war against the arrogant believer but He gives grace to the humble believer’.”

Prov 29:23, “A person’s arrogance will bring him down but a spirit of humility will attain honor.”

  • Humility is often related to the dynamics of the spiritual life in any Dispensation, as noted by the pivot in the time of Solomon, 2 Chron 7:14, “And My people, over whom My name is called, if they will humble themselves and pray and seek My face (perception of doctrine) and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, I will heal their land.”

Therefore, for the child to “obey” his parents, he must have great humility to receive and apply their instructions. This humility can be genuine from a humble soul under volitional responsibility and/or enforced by the discipline of the parents.

Next, we see the ones the children are to obey, “your parents,” HO GONEUS in the Dative Plural, with the Genitive of Possession Pronoun, HUMEIS. GONEUS, γονεύς means, “parents.” It is used 19 times in the NT, and is used in the parallel verse Col 3:20.

Unfortunately, the most awful and awesome mistake people can make is the rejection of the authority of their parents. Your attitude toward their authority determines whether you ever grow up in life and even in the spiritual life, or not. You never really grow up until you accept authority.

While young children must recognize the authority of their parents, as a result, they will develop respect for other authorities in their life later on, as well as have love and respect for their parents. But if they reject the authority of their parents, they will be a misfit in society. Young people who resist the authority of their parents will develop a habit of rejecting other authorities in life, which will be destructive in their lives.

When believers reject authority in childhood and adolescence, they will reject the authority of the Pastor and Bible doctrine, which is tantamount to rejecting God’s protection in His Directive Will under D.I. #3. Destruction of the authority of God in your life is a guarantee of a disastrous life.

Predominant rejection of authority of parents in a society destroys that society. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence stated, “The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”

Children were made by God to glorify God. This great purpose is partly lived out by honoring and obeying their parents in the Lord. While parents have authority in the home, this authority is useless apart from training and discipline, which eventuates in the child accepting the parents’ authority. When parents are instructing children in the ways of the Lord, then the child must honor and obey them. When both parents and children are abiding by these principles, it glorifies God.

Principles on Honoring and Obeying Your Parents

  • How should children honor their parents? One way is through a proper attitude. Children do not honor their parents when they huff and puff, pout, or talk back to them. When children dishonor their parents like this, they dishonor God Himself. Parents need to teach them that.
  • When God introduced His written law, the first horizontal relationship was mentioned in the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” Ex 20:12. In contrast to this, physically or verbally abusing your parents was a capital offense, Ex 21:15, 17.
  • The command to honor father and mother appears in five other places in the NT, Mat 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20. This further highlights the importance of this command.
  • A child that does not grow up with honor and respect of parents will likely not honor and respect others in general.
  • Those with older parents should also honor their parents. You should show proper respect to them and give special care to them when they get older, 1 Tim 5:4.
  • How should children obey their parents? Children obey their parents by hearing and doing what their parents say. If children want to please the Lord, then they must obey their parents. Obeying their parents is one way they can obey the Lord.
  • Children will have a difficult time obeying their parents. When they fail, they need to be reminded that Jesus died for sinners who disobey God. Make their disobedience an occasion to teach the gospel.
  • Parents know that children do not have to be taught disobedience. They need to be taught the gospel. Remind them of Eph 5:18, which casts light on the previous verses and Eph 6:1-4. Tell them the Spirit enables them to obey.
  • Why should children obey their parents? Paul provides some reasons:

a) First, he gives the motivational factor, “in the Lord,” HO KURIOS in the Dative of Sphere. Here we see that the children he is addressing are believers who have a position in Christ Jesus as a result of their salvation. They too are in union with Christ and members of the body of Christ, the Church. Therefore, similar to all believers’ motivational factor to “be subject to one another,” theirs too is based on “reverence for the Lord,” Eph 5:21, as well as the wives motivational factor of “being subject to their husbands,” “just as they would to the Lord,” Eph 5:22, and the husband’s motivational factor to “love his wife just as Christ loved the Church,” Eph 5:25. So too, are Christian children to be motivated to obey their parents, because they are members of the Church, the body of Christ, “in (the sphere of – in union with) the Lord.” Their motivational factor is their exalted position in Christ Jesus the Lord.

b) Second, he says, “because this is right,” which in the Greek is HOUTOS GAR EIMI DIKAIOS, literally “this for is right.” EIMI here is in the Gnomic Present, Active, Indicative for a timeless general fact. This timeless general fact of obeying parents is said here to be DIKAIOS, δίκαιος, “just, righteous, right, upright, etc.” It is part of walking in the righteousness of God.

This may seem unnecessary to state, since the natural law of all humanity in every society understands that children are subordinate to their parents. Stott comments, “Child obedience belongs to the realm which came in medieval theology to be called “natural justice.” It does not depend on special revelation; it is part of the natural law which God has written on human hearts. It is not confined to Christian ethics; it is a standard of behavior in every society. Pagan moralists, both Greek and Roman, taught it. Stoic philosophers saw a son’s obedience as self-evident, plainly required by reason and part of the “nature of things.” (Ephesians, 238-39).

Yet, children also have Old Sin Natures and arrogance that will tempt them to not be obedient to their parents. So, Paul is reminding them of the “Christ like nature” to be obedient to their parents as they should, cf. Luke 2:51; John 19:26-27.

In addition, it is worth saying because parents might be tempted to think, “should I really require obedience? Look how cute she is!” Maybe she is, but requiring obedience is still the right thing to do.

Prov 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

c) Third, Paul gives a motivating promise of blessing and safe-keeping. In vs. 2, God promises both blessing: “That it may go well with you,” and vs. 3, safekeeping: “That you may have long life in the land.” Paul combines Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16. The original promise to Israel involved a long and good life in the land of Israel. Paul omits the focus on Israel and makes the statement more general and proverbial for the Church Age.

Of course, this does not mean that by obedience to one’s parents the child may never get sick or even tragically die. Paul is basically saying that the child is endangering himself by dishonoring his parents. Great spiritual blessings always come by obeying God’s Word. Children, obey and honor your parents in the Lord.

Concluding Principles of Vs. 1

  • Under the Laws of Divine Establishment, the parents are the authority in Divine Institution # 3, i.e. the home.
  • The parents are the most basic authority in human life and have been since Adam and Eve were the first parents. As goes your attitudes toward your parents, often so goes your attitude toward authority.
  • Parents are responsible to train the children in both the functions and the principles of life. That means the parents must train both the body and the soul of their children.
  • Therefore, parents are not only responsible for food, shelter, clothing, and health of their children, but parents are responsible for the thinking, attitudes, poise, manners, and self-discipline of their children.
  • All children must be inculcated in both the fundamentals of freedom, as well as the principles of authority in life, and how the two have been merged into the Divine Establishment for blessing.
  • Children must be trained and taught to respect the freedom, privacy, property, and the rights of others. (Some adults are never thoughtful of others, because they were never taught thoughtfulness in the home.)
  • Included in the Laws of Divine Establishment are respect for law and the police officer.
  • In addition, Christian parents have the responsibility of evangelizing their own children through the communication of the gospel.
  • Once the children are saved by faith in Christ, the parents must provide doctrinal teaching for their children under the command of Deut 6:6-9; 7:9.
  • As children become oriented to the concept of the local church, they must be taught to recognize the authority of the Pastor-Teacher, and they must be trained to concentrate on his message, Heb 13:7, 17.

Heb 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

As previously quoted by R.B. Thieme Jr., I remind parents of their responsibility to walk the talk, “Parents have been entrusted to care for and protect the soul of their children. What happens to the FLOT line protection, if: the parents are not there, the parents are hearers of the Word and abuse their authority, the parents are totally inflexible with the “I am right” syndrome (authority with no leadership), the parents are fighting all the time, the parents do things in front of their kids that they should not do, or they tell their children doctrine is number one in their life and then they divorce. Now the child has no FLOT line but only stress from the parents who are supposed to be protecting him or her. Stress in a child’s life is directly proportional to the stability of the parents or parent.”

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 6 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.

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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#’s 17-092 through 17-094

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If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.

To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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