Children Learn about Biblical Authority in the Home

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

We are looking at the observance of Biblical authority structures as an important underpinning of biblical freedom. In an earlier post we saw Colossians 1:13-14 

13 He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (see NKJV below)


In these verses we are reminded that we are never out from under someone’s authority in this world. We are under the dominion of darkness until Jesus Christ buys us from that slavery and places us into his kingdom of His Beloved Son! 

The moral law of God is the ethical norm for life in the kingdom.

In the Ten Commandments we have the injunction: Exodus 20

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Ephesians 6 underscores this basic commandment—

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

family at devotions

Family prayers were part of our past.

Paul adds that this is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. The Reformation Study Bible adds this information about law—

The law of God has lost its power to condemn those who are in Christ (Col. 2:13, 14), and the observance of the ceremonial law is inappropriate following their fulfillment in Christ (2:15; Col. 2:16, 17). However the “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23) are revelations of God’s character, and establish permanent ethical principles. One of these is that children must honor their parents. (see RSB below)

The Reformation Study Bible points out the 5th Commandment is a part of the moral law of God that is underscored by Jesus and the Epistles in the New Testament. The moral law is not a part of the law that passed away with the nation of Israel.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches the full implication of the 5th Commandment—

Q 64: What is required in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. (See Shorter Catechism below)

The family is the basic building block of a society.

James Fisher expands on this question by adding—

Q. 1. “Who are meant by father and mother in the Fifth Commandment?”
A. “Not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” (see Fisher below)

How are people superior or inferior in a modern nation? Doesn’t our Declaration of Independence state all are equal? Yes. But all are not equally talented or gifted by God.


Abraham Kuyper (pictured left) states this God-imposed inequality clearly—

Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. (see Kuyper below)

We cannot be anything we want to be, contrary to current educational psychology. God has distributed gifts and talents according to his good pleasure. I used to tell my students, “I might want to be a brain surgeon, but that is not possible for a man 60+ years old.” The limitations are God-imposed. 

This explains the far reaching implications of the family in society. Children learn order from observing it in their family. 

Why does God want us to honor our parents? The family is the basic building block or unit of society, [and] thus the stability of the community depends on the stability of the families that comprise it. A person’s response to government derives from the parent-child relationship. The lessons and principles learned from honoring, respecting, and obeying parents will result in a society stable enough to promote development of the whole person. (see Bible Tools below)

Where to go from here

Many may look back at their flawed birth family and think, “How could anything like that be a good building block?” Or, some may look at their own family now and see too many problems. 

I have dealt with all problems in the family in the course of 40+ years of ministry. (I had my own, too.) Divorce is a world of hurt for all involved. It leaves scars on spouses and children. Many I have talked with want to see God meet them with healing in their relationships. I say we cannot change the past, but we can begin afresh with the relationship we are in now.

You do not have to take it on Maury or Oprah to hash out past hurts. God hears and answers prayers! When he forgives, he separates our sins from us. Micah 7:19

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

I like what Corrie ten Boom said about this verse.

“It was 1947 … I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I like to think that that’s where forgiven sins are thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!‘” (see Forgiveness below)

No fishing allowed

Some of us need to stop muckraking in our past sins. If God forgives, we can accept it and move on. We each need to work on the family God has given us now. That is the only hope of restoring this important building block of society and underpinning of our freedom. 


Bible Tools. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Fisher, James. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Forgiveness: No Fishing Allowed. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Kuyper, Abraham. Stone Lectures on Calvinism accessed October 29, 2018 from

Lowell, James Russell. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

New King James Version. accessed October 29, 2018 from

Reformation Study Bible. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Shorter Catechism. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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