7 SEPTEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Obeying Parents in the Lord

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

suggested further reading: Colossians 3:18–25

Why does the apostle use the word obey instead of honor, which has a greater scope of meaning? It is because obedience is evidence of the honor which children owe to their parents and is therefore more earnestly enforced.

Obedience is also more difficult, for the human mind recoils from the idea of subjection and with difficulty allows itself to be placed under the control of another. Experience shows how rare this virtue is, for do we find even one among a thousand who is obedient to his parents? By a figure of speech, a part is here put for the whole, but it is the most important part and is necessarily accompanied by all the others.

Children are to obey their parents in the Lord. Besides the law of nature, which is acknowledged by all nations, the authority of God enforces the obedience of children. Hence it follows that parents are to be obeyed so far as is consistent with piety to God, which comes first. If the command of God is the rule by which the submission of children is to be regulated, it would be foolish to suppose that the performance of this duty could lead away from obeying God himself.

For this is right is added to restrain the fierceness which, as we have already said, appears to be natural to almost all people. It is right, because God has commanded it. We are not at liberty to dispute or call in question the appointment of him whose will is the unerring rule of goodness and righteousness. That this honor should be represented as including obedience is not surprising, for mere ceremony is of no value in the sight of God. The precept honor thy father and mother includes all the duties by which children can express sincere affection and respect to their parents.

for meditation: Are you showing due respect to your parents, even as an adult? How do the principles Calvin has outlined here apply to us in other areas of life in which we are subject to divinely appointed authority?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 269). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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