Ephesians 6:1-4 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What instruction does the apostle give to Christian children in Ephesians 6:1a (printed below?)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

Christian children are exhorted to obey their parents. When Christian children are living a Spirit-filled life, the characteristic of submission will especially display itself in the form of obedience to their parents. Christian children are commanded to obey their parents “in the Lord.” For children who trust in Christ as their Savior, obedience to their parents forms a major part of their devotion to their Lord Jesus Christ: they are to obey their parents out of love and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. What is the first and foremost reason why children are to obey their parents? See Ephesians 6:1b (printed above under question #1)

Christian children are to obey their parents “because this is right.” The Bible’s first and foremost concern is for righteousness: doing what is right. The first and foremost reason why the child is to obey his parents is “because it is right.” Obedience is pleasing to God (note Psalm 11:7); furthermore, obedience is fulfilling the purpose God has for us (note Ecclesiastes 12:13).

3. Christian children are also commanded to honor their parents. What is the difference between obeying one’s parents and honoring them?

Obedience deals with actions, whereas honor is a matter of attitude. The child’s attitude towards his father and mother must be that of rendering unto them honor and respect (note Deuteronomy 27:16 and Ezekiel 22:1-12). Honor and respect towards one’s parents is an attitude that the son or daughter must never outgrow (note Mark 7:10-13, a passage in which the Lord Jesus condemns the Pharisees for tolerating such practices in Israel that would allow a man to neglect his parents in their need and thereby fail to honor them).

4. What are Christian fathers exhorted to do? See Ephesians 6:4 (printed below)

And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; on the contrary, raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Christian fathers are exhorted not to provoke their children to anger (or, to resentment). Positively, Christian fathers are to nurture their children. “To nurture” means to promote the growth and development of the child; “to nurture” means to cultivate life to maturity. By way of illustration, one nurtures a little seedling into a mature, fruit-producing plant. So the task of the Christian father is to cultivate his children’s development, especially their spiritual development, for Christ.

5. What means is the Christian father to use as he seeks to fulfill his God-given duty to his children? See Ephesians 6:4b (printed above under question #4)

Christian fathers are to nurture their children by means of “discipline” and “instruction.” The first Greek word Paul uses here has the meaning of training through the use of discipline. The second word, translated “instruction,” has the meaning of “counseling, warning, giving guidance” (note the counsel given to the young man in Ecclesiastes 11:9,12:1). Christian fathers are instructed to nurture their children for the Lord. As Christian parents we must be interested in pointing our children to Christ, leading them to Christ, seeing them receive Christ as their Savior and then proceed to lead lives that are devoted to Christ.