Eph. 6:1-4: A Sermon on parents and children

I want to make some introductory comments about our world and our country. Christians are never called to a life of safety. Jesus told us we will be persecuted (Matthew 24:9; 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:10; John 16:1 and following; John 15:18; Paul wrote many of His letters from a Romans prison, including Philippians which He wrote to a persecuted church, see Phil. 4:4-13) Jim Elliot was a martyred Christian as they were trying to minister to the people of Ecuador in 1956. He and his group were killed by the people they were trying to reach for the Gospel. However, when they were speared To death they had a rifle. They fired a shot in the air. The tribal group they were trying to reach realized they had a gun and could have killed them, but since they did not it opened doors for later ministry. The wives of Jim Elliot, and the group who were martyred, went back and witnessed to the tribe and led them to Christ. Even in the death of the husbands the people came to Christ through their wives. They came to Christ through grace and mercy and love and forgiveness. But it was not easy for the Christian families. I cannot imagine what they went through.

We have enjoyed safety in America for some time. We were a country with Judaeo-Christian values, but we are losing those values. In the United States several things are coming together to cause tragedies. I see several pieces of a puzzle of our great society and these pieces are coming apart. These are not in order from most significant to the least significant. Certainly the most significant is that we are rejecting Christ.:

  1. We are having increasingly violent video games, music, moves, television.
  2. We have the rise of secularism which is leading away from Christianity to a hatred of those that hold Christian views. It went from where most people claimed Christ, to the point where people may not claim Christ but they did accept Christian values as the best values, and now people reject Christ, reject Judeao-Christian values and hate those that hold those values.
  3. We have lost the ability to work, and the need to work, and this leads to the rise of people without purpose and responsibilities.
  4. We have a rise in depression and anxiety. This is linked with the other puzzle pieces. As work and having a purpose in life actually helps fight depression and anxiety.
  5. Our families have fallen apart. People are raised with broken homes and without a father.

That is what I wish to talk about today. The family is critical for our culture’s health.

Think with me, were you ever disobedient to your parents?

Think about it. Think of a humorous time when you disobeyed? What happened? Were your parents correct in the end?

When I was in Jr. High School, (that is what it was called back then, Jr. High) my brother and I went for a long bike ride. My mother told us not to cross a certain road. I followed my older brother and we crossed that road. You know what though? When we got home, my older brother told my mom that we disobeyed. He right out just told her. I was quite surprised. However, later on WE were quite in trouble. My father got home from work and was very upset with us and gave us the punishment which we deserved.

In the passage today we see instructions for children and instructions for parents, mainly fathers. Let’s look at the passage.

My theme:

Children obey and honor your parents. Fathers, don’t provoke your children, but bring them up the in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4:

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 be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

  1. First, we see Children obey your parents
    1. 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 be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
    2. Obey is the command in verse 1.
    3. “in the Lord” modifies obey, not parents.
    4. So this is meaning children are to obey their parents as unto the Lord.
    5. Children are to obey their parents as unto the Lord and this means that regardless of whether or not the parents are believers children are to obey them.
    6. This is cross referenced in the Scriptures:
    7. Proverbs 6:20 My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother..
    8. Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.
    9. Colossians 3:20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
    10. Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
    11. Deuteronomy 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.
    12. In verses 2 and 3 we see Honor.
    13. This is an Old Testament quotation which we have already read.
    14. Honor is different than obey. We are to honor our parents all of our days, but we must obey our parents while we are under their supervision.
    15. So, are you honoring your parents? Are you respecting your parents? There is no time limit on this Old Testament commandment.
    16. Paul adds: that this is the first commandment with a promise
    17. àIt seems that some paraphrase translations get this wrong
    18. àI believe the Message interprets this “so you will live well and have a long life.”
    19. àI believe God was saying that the people will live long and healthy in the land if they obey their parents. In other words, if they cannot obey their parents their society will not be healthy.
    20. àThis is saying that they would have a long life in the promised land if the children honor their parents.
    21. àTo us we will have a good life now and reward in eternity by honoring our parents.
    22. àNo people group can exist when children do not obey.
    23. àThis is true of our current country. Fathers are not involved and look at us. Look at our country.
    24. We cannot exist without honoring parents.
    25. We cannot exist when there is no authority. We have to have authority in the home.
    26. I expect the world to be the world but we as Christians must do better with obeying and honoring. We must know how to respect.
  • Think of the influence a family has. The devil loves to break apart families. As the family goes so goes society. Ray Ortlund Jr shares: When Jani and I married in 1971, we were just two people. But now we have grandchildren, with more on the way. At present trends, our family alone could grow to 52,488 people in ten generations. That’s a city about the size of Flagstaff, Arizona. And it’s all our fault! We bear some responsibility for these thousands along our lineage.
  1. The next instruction is for Fathers
    1. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
    2. MacArthur shares: In the pagan world of Paul’s day, and even in many Jewish households, most fathers ruled their families with rigid and domineering authority. The desires and welfare of wives and children were seldom considered. The apostle makes clear that a Christian father’s authority over his children does not allow for unreasonable demands and strictures that might drive his children to anger, despair, and resentment. discipline and instruction of the Lord. This calls for systematic discipline and instruction, which brings children to respect the commands of the Lord as the foundation of all of life, godliness, and blessing.
    3. This is now addressed to Fathers
    4. àI believe this is the only verse addressing fathers in this passage.
    5. Fathers are not to provoke children to anger
    6. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
    7. Notice that word “instruction.”
    8. Some personal applications:
    9. àAs a Father I must not be so authoritative that I am trying to incite my children to anger and rebellion.
    10. àI must lovingly discipline my children.
    11. àI must lovingly care for my children.
    12. àThis means I must not have inappropriate, or excessive, boundaries.
    13. àThis means I must not have excessive disciplines.
    14. àThis means that I must not have excessive education or other expectations.
    15. I remember hearing that many Puritan children had been through the whole Bible by age 5. Puritan children were also not allowed to talk or laugh at the dinner table.
    16. àYet, I am supposed to discipline.
    17. àI am supposed to care for and raise my children by the Lord’s ways.
      1. One source I read listed some additional ways in which parents may become guilty of exasperating their children: (1) by over-protection, (2) by favoritism, (3) by discouragement, (4) by failure to make allowance for the fact that the child is growing up, has a right to have ideas of his own, and need not be an exact copy of his father to be a success, (5) by neglect, and (6) by bitter words and outright physical cruelty.
  • Final applications
    1. For children, if you are under your parents’ authority, obey. Of you have not been obeying repent.
    2. If you are an adult, honor your parents, respect them.
    3. If you have not been honoring your parents, repent. Meet with them and apologize and ask for forgiveness. Ask God for forgiveness first.
    4. Lead your children spiritually.



Being a dad is amazing. You know what frustrates me is absent fathers. Meagan’s mother and father had a bad divorce when she was 12. From 12 until when she was 18 he was mainly absent. When I was younger I was sympathetic to Meagan’s hurt over that. But now, I just cannot understand how a man can do that. Before I say anything else let me say that Meagan’s relationship with her father has been off and on restored since she was eighteen and we were married. Her father has apologized. But I look at my two little girls and I think how can a man abandon his children. Parents, we have a heavy responsibility and privilege and honor. You know how exciting it is to come home and hear the excitement in my girls? I hate being away overnight and I miss them. It is wrong to abandon children. Men that do that are not men, they are little boys. But there is another type of abandonment which is more acceptable. Many dads abandon their children spiritually. This is not right. We can get everything right that society says to do, but miss the spiritual. Give your kids food, clothes, housing, education, even college, great; but don’t forget to raise them spiritually. They need Jesus. Without Jesus, our children have nothing. Fathers, parents, what a gift you have been given! Raise them up in the instruction of the Lord. They need to know Jesus.

So, how are you doing with this?

Pray for families this week. Pray for Christian families to follow Jesus. Pray this passage for your family, your children, grandchildren, etc.


Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s