Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
As he did in Colossians, Paul follows his instruction for married couples with instruction for children and parents, after which he will address masters and servants. These relationships are the three areas in which most people spend the majority of their lives. As with the marriage relationship, each of these three major areas of human interaction is illustrative of an aspect of our relationship with God. In the case of children and parents, are we not all someone’s child? Are we not also a child of God… and is not God our Heavenly Father?
Children are told to obey their parents “in the Lord.” That children should obey their parents is universally understood, but what does he mean by “in the Lord?” I doubt he means that children should only obey their parents if they follow the Lord, or only if they are being godly, for this would require judgments that children are generally not qualified to make. It is clear, however that obedience is within the Lord’s will for children and in this way, it would be “in the Lord.” Next, Paul tells us that for a child to obey his or her parents is “right.”
It is also a commandment carried over from the Old Testament, and finally, that commandment carries with it a promise of God. Thus, Paul gives us four solid reasons for children to obey their parents… and for us to obey our Heavenly Father.
As with his instruction to husbands and wives, Paul is not one-sided in his instruction: Fathers (and mothers) are not to exasperate their children, but instead they are to raise their children in the knowledge of the Lord. If you think about it, for a child to be naughty from time-to-time is to be expected, they are children after all. For parents to misbehave towards their children is quite another matter, for aren’t they supposed to be adults?
Let’s take a step back and look at this passage with a little perspective, can you see the pattern?
For a child to be obedient he or she must submit his or her will to that of the parent; hasn’t Paul mentioned “submission” just before this? Yes, I believe he did. For the parent not to exasperate their child, don’t they need to exercise restraint? Yes, I think being a parent requires considerably more restraint than anything else.
Does that remind you of another relationship?
As God’s children, we are asked to submit our will to His, and God’s most notable attribute is His restraint. Interesting isn’t it?
“As God’s children, we are asked to submit our will to His, and God’s most notable attribute …”
Yes! We, as God’s children, are to be like Him; made in His image we are to display it:
Leviticus 11:44 “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”
(Also in Leviticus 11:45; 19:2; 20:7,26; 1 Peter 1:14-16) If we don’t, we fit what Jesus said to some religious leaders of His day in John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”