Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Now Children...

As we continue the family thread in Ephesians, we bridge chapters five and six.  The first four verses of chapter six are addressed with respect to children.  If the man and the woman, the husband and wife, understand their roles for each other, a healthy relational environment exists for the children.  The husband/wife, father/mother relationship is not enough in and of itself, so Paul pens a word of exhortation to the children.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  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. 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  NAS

τα τεκνα υπακουετε τοις γονευσιν υμων [εν κυριω] τουτο γαρ εστιν δικαιον τιμα τον πατερα σου και την μητερα ητις εστιν εντολη πρωτη εν επαγγελια ινα ευ σοι γενηται και εση μακροχρονιος επι της γης

και οι πατερες μη παροργιζετε τα τεκνα υμων αλλα εκτρεφετε αυτα εν παιδεια και νουθεσια κυριου  WHNU

Simple, isn't it?  If they children will obey their parents, it will be well for them all their lives.  Not a theory, not a suggestion, mind you, but a promise from God Himself.  Why?  The word used for "obey" is not the same word used earlier for "be subject to/under the command of" which we discussed earlier.  The Greek word used here is υπακουετε from the verb υπακουω, which means "to listen to/harken to/heed".  This verb is not about rank or order, but rather about listening and obeying, heeding to what has been said.  We, as parents, do not want to see our children make the same mistakes we did.  We share our experience and wisdom.  Sure, our children will make mistakes, but at least we can forewarn them of the consequences of certain choices.  In learning to obey their parents, in absorbing their wisdom, as the child grows, he learns to obey God and heed His wisdom.  God promises to bless their hearkening to their parents, and eventually, to Him.

Also included here is an admonishment to fathers:  "do not provoke your children to anger"  Again, if this were not a special problem area for men, I doubt it would be mentioned -- it is not mentioned for mothers, for example.  Why to fathers?  Men are task-driven.  God created Man and gave him a job.  He created Adam to do the job of tending the Garden.  God created Eve to give companionship to Adam.  Adam was created for a job.  Eve was created for relationship.  Men sometimes confuse relationships and tasks, and for this reason, we can come across very harsh toward our children, compelling them to react in anger rather than hearken to our instruction.  What are fathers to do?  Going back to loving the wife as Christ loved the Church, Paul writes that fathers should "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" -- nurture our children in their faith.  Our chief job as husbands and fathers is to nourish and nurture our family in their faith.

This concludes the study of family from the book of Ephesians, but it is not the end of the study on relationships.  That will continue in the next post.

Grace and peace, and mercy in Jesus Christ.