Summary: Children are to obey and honor their parents because: 1) It Comes from a Command (Ephesians 6:1), 2) It Comes from the Covenant (Ephesians 6:2), 3) It Comes with Continuance (Ephesians 6:3)
We live in an age where millions of serious assaults are made each year by children on their parents. In recent years, a number of children have been convicted of murdering or hiring the killing of their parents—usually for no greater reason than resentment of parental control or discipline. Children who are incessantly told they can do whatever they wish and can have their own way are children who will soon mock their parents, teachers, moral standards, the law, and society in general. All human relationships obviously grow out of those of children with parents. Children who respect and obey their parents will build a society that is ordered, harmonious, and productive. A generation of undisciplined, disobedient children will produce a society that is chaotic and destructive.
In God’s Word, parents have every truth and every guideline necessary for raising their children in righteousness and godliness. And what a child needs to know about how he or she should relate and respond to his parents is there also. The Bible was completed two thousand years ago, but people have not changed since then and neither has God. What Scripture has to say is timeless and up–to–date. No human discovery, philosophy, or attitude is new or surprising to God or outside the scope and judgment of His revealed Word.
Following from the impact of Godly leadership in the home through Lydia in Acts 16, it is obvious from these exhortations here in Ephesians, that the apostle thinks of local congregations as consisting of whole families who come together not only to praise God but also to hear his word addressed to them. As the household tables are read out, children, too, would learn of their own Christian duties as well as those of other family members (O’Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary (440). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
Ephesians 6:1–4 continues Paul’s teaching on the mutual submission of believers (5:21) by moving to the family. Children are to obey and honor their parents because: 1) It Comes from a Command (Ephesians 6:1), 2) It Comes from the Covenant(Ephesians 6:2), 3) It Comes with Continuance(Ephesians 6:3)
Children are to obey and honor their parents because:
1) It Comes from a Command (Ephesians 6:1),
Ephesians 6:1-3 [6:1]Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Tekna (children) does not refer particularly to young children but to all offspring. The term ‘children (τέκνα.) primarily denotes relationship rather than age, and could on occasion include adult sons and daughters, who were expected to honour their parents, especially fathers, who could maintain authority in the family even until death. Here the text has in view children who are in the process of learning and growing up (cf. v. 4). Presumably they were old enough to understand their relationship to their Lord and the commitments that followed from it. Although children’s duty to obey their parents was taken for granted in the ancient world, disobedience to parents, according to the apostle, was indicative of Gentile depravity (Rom. 1:30), or a sign of the evil of the last days (2 Tim. 3:2) (O’Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary (440–441). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
Sons and daughters still under their parents’ roof are to obey and honor them. Obey has to do with action, and honor has to do with attitude. Although, as Paul has just mentioned, men and women are no longer under the authority of their parents once they themselves marry (5:31), special respect and concern for their parents should continue as long as they live. The child who is brought up to obey and honor his or her parents will always be sensitive to their wisdom, counsel, and welfare.
Hupakouō (obey) literally means “to hear under,” that is, to listen with attentiveness and to respond positively to what is heard. Children are to put themselves under the words and authority of their parents. The obligation is not merely on the side of the child, who must obey, but also on the side of the parent, who must enforce the obedience. This is because the parent stands as God in relationship to the child. To teach the child to obey the parent is to teach the child to obey God. To allow the child to defy and disobey the parent is to teach the child to defy and disobey God with all the obvious consequences (Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: An expositional commentary (212). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.).
They are to do this: In the Lord which refers to the sphere of pleasing the Lord, in obeying parents for the Lord’s sake. Children obey their parents as reflective of their obedience to the Lord. The context makes it clear that in the Lord applies to honor as well as to obey. The phrase in the Lord does not mean that children are to obey parents only if their parents are believers (Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), . Vol. 2: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed.) (641). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.).