Commandment #5 – Honour your parents

Opening Question

What’s the best thing you have learned from your parents?

Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

In the beginning (5 mins)

What can we say about family from the first pages of the bible?

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:23-24; 3:20; 4:1-2,25-26

We see God’s design for husband and wife to procreate and another family to be formed. Being God’s design is the key. Note that Gen 4:25-26 describes a new generation who are being taught to call on the Lord. The next generation must hear and respond to the gospel!

Also Genesis 17:1-9

Abraham means something like ‘father of many’ and Verse 9 declares that he and his descendants are to keep this covenant so that they will be blessed in the land and they will be God’s people.

The command to Israel (5 mins)

What are the points that come from Exodus 20:12 and how does our tour of Genesis show the importance of this command?

  1. Respect and appreciate your parents
  2. Because of the covenant between God and Abraham and Israel.
  3. Parents are given the duty to teach their children about this covenant and pass on to them the need to remain faithful to the LORD. Children need to give ear to their parents and not abandon the covenant. This is the ordered way since creation.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Read Deuteronomy Chapter 6.

  1. What is the responsibility of the parents?
  2. What is the expectation of the children?
  3. What clues do we see in this chapter that tell us that Israel did not keep this commandment well?

The Gospel (10 mins)

What difference has Jesus made to our understanding of this command?

  • Matthew 10:34-39 (see also 19:27-30)
    • Israel was a nation under the Old Covenant that tied them to family and to the land. Jesus is not interested in breaking up families but he desires us to choose the kingdom over family. His teaching is with regard to children needing to opt into the kingdom of God despite the teaching of their parents. The order is not rebellion but a covenant that is no longer dependent on parents to teach the children. Literally, children in the first century will leave their Jewish faith and put their trust in Christ.
  • Matthew 12:46-50
    • The family of God transcends blood relations. We will learn of the covenant with Christ in the church.
  • Matthew 15:1-9
    • Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for dodging the 5th commandment with some loopwhol of higher loyalty to God. It is difficult to reconcile his rebuke here with the earlier passages in Matthew. But both the old covenant and the new share this: loving God and neighbour – God desires mercy rather than sacrifice. Honouring the 5th commandment is about living in submission to God – to love relationships under God. 
  • Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21
    • The 5th commandment is not overturned by the gospel. Parents ought to do better in the family because of the gospel.

Christian Living (15 mins)

The 5th commandment remains a created ordinance and the nurture of children is best found inside the family unit. A family who raises children to know and love the Lord is a blessed family (not to be confused with happy and perfect!) Anybody who finds the Lord ought to find a family in the church. No matter what your circumstance, we are all called to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Parents are a gift and even under the curse we can learn something from them.

If you are running out of time, you may need to discuss how this teaching affects each other and pray for one another. Support for Fathers and Mothers; prayer for those who still have parents; prayer to forgive others and to repent ourselves.

If you have more time – or for homework…

The following verses share Paul’s response to the gospel and the blessing of his own mothers.

  • Galatians 1:13-20 (he was called from his mother’s womb and left the tradition of his parents to follow the true gospel of the Lord)
  • Romans 16:13 (Paul mentions a spiritual mother)
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (Paul remembers that sharing the gospel went further than knowledge but came with love like a mother to children).
  • 2 Timothy 1:3-5 (generational faith is seen in the family of Timothy)