Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
A legalist reads these words as law that must be obeyed: Children, obey your parents. But the apostle of grace is not preaching law. We are under grace, not law (Rom. 6:14). He is saying that obeying parents is the right thing to do. Having said that, he then quotes one of the Ten Commandments…
“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.”
Why is the apostle of grace quoting the Fifth Commandment? And why is he quoting it to a non-Jewish church? He is not doing it to put law on people, but to show that honoring our parents is a good and right thing to do. Treat your parents well, and your life will go well.
If Paul were preaching law, he would have to include the penalties for breaking the law. Under the law, the penalty for dishonouring or cursing your parents was death (Ex. 21:17). Paul never mentions that because we are not under law. However, Jesus mentions the penalty when he quotes this same law in Matthew 15:4. But the context was different. Jesus was talking to religious leaders and law-teachers living under the law.
Jesus and Paul preached different parts of the same law to different audiences for different purposes. There’s a wonderful symmetry here. One used the law to silence the self-righteous; the other used it to illustrate a timeless truth which is that honoring your parents is a good idea. Whether you’re under grace or law, it’s a good thing to do.
Further reading: “New Testament commands”
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Strong in the Lord. The strength to endure is one of the many blessings that we enjoy as a result of being in union with the Lord. See entry for Philemon 1:6.
Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
The breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate protects your heart and your very life.
When we make mistakes or hear that we are not doing enough for God, the temptation is to slip into dead works of self-righteousness. We resist this temptation and guard our hearts from the enemy’s accusations by standing secure in the righteous affirmation of our Father’s love and acceptance. When the accuser says you are a sinner, reply, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Love with faith, from God. Just as our love for God is a response to his love for us, our faith in God is a response to his faith in us.
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