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Ephesians 6:1-4

Ephesians 6:1-4


Sermon: Children and Parents
Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:1-4

I. Introductory Discussion

1. Eph 6:1-4 is a continuation of 5:15-18,1 which has two emphases

a. “Wise living as Christians”
b. “Living under the influence of the Holy Spirit”

2. Previous section: “wives and husbands,” “submission,” “love,” and “Christ-imitating leadership”
3. Eph 6:1-4 is about children and parents
4. The exhortations of this passage assume that the families come together for corporate gatherings where these teachings were read out and followed
5. The expression “children” refers to those who are capable of comprehending Paul’s teachings and make decisions “in the Lord”
6. It expresses relationship rather than age, children of any age who have parents
7. The children in focus are at an age where they can disagree with their parents, challenge their authority, and rebel
8. Paul appears to teach biblical order of household relationship—the creation order
9. The assumption is that the child is living with parents, and they are functional families

II. The passage Ephesians 6:1-4

1. Paul instructs children to “obey” their parents

a. Does the exhortation demand a blanket “obedience”?
b. This is one of the most misunderstood instructions
c. What if parents are not believers? Should children listen to them?
d. What if parents are abusers, exploiters, non-contributing member(s)
e. How about children with no biological parents?
f. The answer to all these concerns: Paul’s teaching here is specific to fully functioning Christ-following families
g. This instruction is for a family that “walks by the Holy Spirit” and “lives wisely” as Christians
h. A good number of Christian families remain dysfunctional

i. Parents and children do not have functional relationships
ii. Children rebel—generation gap, worldview difference, aversion towards order, structure, and authority

2. The Greek word ὑπακούω refers to “obey,” “comply,” or “subject to”

a. The “obedience” or “compliance” comes through hearing
b. It is the result of listening to the instructions and admonitions of the parents
c. The obedience happens “in the Lord”
d. Paul does not seem to teach obedience because “parents are believers” but children are!—obedience is a Christian behavior and fruit
e. “Obedience” is to both the parents—divinely established order
f. It’s about not to push back, not to disrespect, and not to criticize

3. Paul lists four reasons for his exhortation

a. They are “in the Lord”
b. They are expected to do what is “right”
c. They have a “commandment” of God
d. They are given a “promise” (cf. Deut 5:16)

III. Paul exhorts fathers not to provoke their children to anger (6:4)

1. Between the parents, father is singled out in this exhortation
2. Fatherhood is embedded when God created fathers
3. Sin has brough distortions in fatherhood —instead of providing godly leadership, fathers often fail miserably in their role
4. The role of father is misused—aggression, imposition, apathetic, entitlement, and being absent
5. By overdoing and underdoing their role, fathers can provoke their children to anger
6. Provoking children to anger can cause children to rebel and affect their character and spiritual formation

IV. Paul exhorts fathers to raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (6:4) (three Greek words)

1. “Raise up” to feed, to nourish, to bring up
2. “Discipline” : guidance for responsible living (training in righteousness; passing of culture, belief, and conduct)
3. “Instruct” : turning people from wrong and laying good on their hearts (admonition and instruction)
4. Fathers are called to lead and maintain harmony by modelling and articulating the Christian life to their children, who reciprocate with obedience and honour

Take Away:

Contribute to the harmony of the family unit by walking after the leadership of the Holy Spirit

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at