The Fifth Commandment

Jeff Wehr

Wehr Publishing
PO Box 88
Orange, VA 22960
(540) 672-2211
email: jeff_wehr21[AT]yahoo[DOT]com

Let us begin our study on the fifth commandment by turning to Exodus 20:12.

"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six commandments deals with our relationship with one another. The family is the most important and fundamental unit in society and therefore it is the first of the last six commandments.

Respect for parental authority and obedience to parents, when it does not contradict the will of God, is the foundation of all order. You might say, "As the family goes so goes the nation."

The fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath holy and the fifth commandment to honor our father and mother are a perfect bridge from the first table of the Decalogue to the second.

"Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:3.

During the early years of life, parents are to their children what God is to the adult. Children depend upon their parents for sustenance, love, and care.

By creation we are made in the image of God. By procreation our children are made in our image and take on the great law of heredity.

As parents we are to direct our children to reverence God, especially on the Sabbath day. It is in the home where children are to learn of the Sabbath, our Creator, and Redeemer.

The commandment tells us to "honor" our father and mother. The word "to honor" means more than showing respect. It means to hold in high esteem. It means to show affection towards our parents. It would direct children to respect their parent's authority and to guard their reputation. It would also direct them to lighten their cares in old age.

Results of Honoring our Parents

"Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother: which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:1-3. Love, respect, and being helpful are all life-promoting principles. But disrespect, divisiveness, and laziness are health-destroying.

"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:9-11.

"The peaceable fruit of righteousness" is part of the results of honoring our parents.

Jesus and the Fifth Commandment

The story of Jesus when He went to the Passover at the age of twelve shows how respect of earthly parents leads to respect of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Luke 2:49. Jesus was a dutiful son to His earthly parents, and ever sought to please His Heavenly Father.

While hanging upon the cross, Jesus still sought to care for His mother Mary. "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!' Then saith he to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:26, 27.

In Jesus' discourse with the Pharisee, as recorded in Matthew 15:1-9, He pointed out how by their traditions they were breaking the fifth commandment. By presenting a gift that was pronounced as "korban," the son could make use of the offering, but the parents were not permitted to touch anything thus dedicated. In other words, the son could neglect to care for his parents by performing what seems to be a pious act. But in reality he could be shortchanging the care of his parents.

Other Passages

"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." Colossians 3:20.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Parental Responsibility

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly." Proverbs 13:24.

"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Proverbs 19:18.

"And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4.

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." Colossians 3:21.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6.


Jeff Wehr


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