5th Commandment

Bible Study Lesson 5.05

The 5th Commandment Bible Verses:
God spoke all these words, saying, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you." Exodus 20:1,12 NHEB. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1 NHEB.

Previous Bible study lesson: 4th Commandment 5.04. Also, it's very important to teach kids about God's Law (click) Ten Commandments for Children 5.16.

Preliminary Bible Study Questions:
1) What is the Fifth Commandment?
2) Why does the Fifth Commandment exist?
3) Is this commandment included in the Law of Christ?

The 5th Commandment can properly be referred to as the human relationship commandment.

After we get right with God through his first four commandments we can begin working on our human relationships with the 5th commandment.

This law has a very real promise attached to it, signifying its importance. If you respect your elders you'll live a long, pleasing life. What that really means is that the humble, peacemaking servant of God will not do anything sinful enough to warrant severe punishment. God will be pleased with the respect you show Him and your fellow man by your level of obedience to this law.

One's disrespect towards his or her elders reveals one's attitude towards God. The way we treat our elders is the way we treat God Almighty. We worship God through our authority figures.

The table has been set, so let's get started with an in-depth study of the Fifth Commandment.

The 5th Commandment

Who exactly is a "father" and "mother" according to the 5th Commandment? Who are we commanded to honor?

Each of us, as God-fearing, Jesus-following disciples are commanded to respect and honor those in authority above us. This is true in the home, church, and society.

A "father" or "mother" is a person who ranks above you based on position, experience, or even age. The scope of the fifth commandment is throughout one's entire lifetime.

Children (both young and grown), honor your parents (Ephesians 6:1). Slaves (imprisoned and free), honor your masters (1 Timothy 6:1). Husbands, honor your wives (Ephesians 5:25-26). Wives, honor your husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24). Christians, honor your government workers (Romans 13:1-7); and your elders and teachers in the church (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). 

Paul helps us understand the breadth of the 5th Commandment here, "Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity" 1 Timothy 5:1-2. Treat all people like they're your family members.

Let's now learn the obligations that are in place for each of the participants in the 5th Commandment.

Obeying the 5th Commandment

Honoring someone means that you respect their position of authority over you.

Honoring someone means that when a duty is delegated to you, you whole-heartedly follow through and accomplish it. It means obedience to the rules of your society, institution, and leaders.

Children (i.e. all of us!), you're called to love your parents and prove it through your obedience, and by fulfilling all responsibilities within the institution in which you're a part. God did in fact place you in the family that you find yourself. Your treatment of your parents and other authorities equates to your treatment of God himself. Do NOT take this commandment lightly.

Husbands, love your wives like Christ loves his Church, which is an immense assignment. Grace, affection, and service towards your wife should rule your married life. Seek her counsel and wisdom in all major family decisions. Treat your wife like a woman appreciates, that is, like a queen. Your body is your wife's possession - do not neglect her needs.

Women, honor your husbands through submission to his God-ordained role as the physical and spiritual leader of the household. He has the final word. Treat your husband like a man, that is, like a king. Your body is your husband's possession - do not neglect his needs.

Workers and slaves, you're called to be strong supporters of your organization and its authorities. You should act like Christ and Paul would act, so that you can shine the light of God's gospel in the workplace.

Respect all government authority by, first, obeying the laws of the land; and secondly, by treating all public servants with honor. Show your public servants your appreciation. Accept any punishments with due respect and fulfill your obligations to society (ex. fines, court sentences, and all penalties). Pay your taxes, no matter how unfair and oppressive. Stand-up and support government officials to help investigate, i.e. report, witness, etc. wrong-doing within society. Do your part to maintain order in society no matter the country in which you live.

If you haven't yet connected the dots here, the 5th Commandment is all about order and peace. Society will remain stable, orderly, and peaceful when nations, communities, families, institutions, and churches respect this foundational rule that God gave us for peace and order within the commonwealth.

Responsibilities of Authorities

Let's now turn to the responsibilities of the authorities. Older siblings should treat younger siblings with love. Older children must realize their place within the family, meaning that they are under their parents. Show your younger siblings that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of your life. Many young brothers and sisters follow the lead of their elder siblings into God's true Kingdom. Remain fiercly loyal to your siblings.

Parents, you have the God-given task to train up your children in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). Failure to instill biblical knowledge, values, and obedience in your children will remove God's presence within your family unit. Your children will not fully respect and honor you if you fail with this assignment. On top of a disorderly family that doesn't glorify God, you're inviting a great deal of shame on your personal Judgment Day.

Husbands, don't lord it over your wife and family (1 Peter 5:3-4). Don't be a tyrant, provoking your children to anger (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). Christ wants you to be a gentle spiritual leader of your family. God wants your heart on him, then on your wife, and then on your kids, in that order. Get rid of the idols within your heart and love the Lord and your family. Discipline with mercy, and lovingly teach all your family members how to follow Jesus Christ as a true disciple.

Wives, don't emasculate your husband by claiming authority over him (Genesis 3:16). This angers the Lord, and destroys marriages. Today's culture trains and tempts you to defy your husband. True disciples, though, won't cave in to the ungodly precepts of an atheistic society. Prop your husband up, respect and support his decisions, and show your love to him. Nurture your husband and children the way God commands in Proverbs 31:10-12.

Masters, bosses, and leaders of all sorts, respect those under you by treating all people with the dignity that they deserve. Tyrants are fools, and Christian tyrants are hypocritical fools. Devise fair rules, always communicate well with workers, and lead and discipline with fairness, mercy, and grace. Pastors, don't lord it over your precious flock of lambs (1 Peter 5:3-4). Shine the light of God's word and salvation with those under your authority.

Government authorities, abide by your official documents, such as the nation's or state's constitution or governing documents. Corruption within your personal political office or position will bring God's wrath on you and society at large. God is watching and will repay evil with destruction. Your evil activities will help destroy your nation slowly, but surely. God's wrath comes and destroys the society in which corrupt politicians govern. All evil will be held accountable by the ultimate Judge, Jesus Christ.

Fifth Commandment Dilemmas

An authority's demands, rules, or laws that contradict God's direct commands, releases a subordinate's responsibility to respect, honor, and obey the society's, institution's, or family's authorities.

Whew! That's a mouthful. In other words, a Christian is disallowed to break God's commands simply because human commands are demanded of him or her. One more time, Christians are never obligated by the world to break God's holy law. Breaking God's truth is never approved of by God. Christians are never instructed to sin against God's word, the Holy Bible.

A Christian may complain that failure to abide by godless rules or godless authority may cost him a job, or his marriage, or even a church position. A Christian, above all, follows Jesus Christ and his word. If one fails in this regard his spiritual life will proportionately suffer.

There are some exceptions to this biblical principle. For instance, if people are being unjustly killed by a tyrannical government, and you have to lie to protect the innocent, you're expected by God to protect them. The greater law of loving your neighbor would trump the law that tells us to be honest with others. In other words, telling a lie to protect an innocent person's life is acceptable to God. In this case, lying is not sin; while cowardice in the form of turning in an innocent soul to corrupt authorities would be murder.

5th Commandment Governs Relationships

Jesus reaffirmed, re-established, and basically rewrote the 5th commandment several times, in several ways. He broadened it and deepened it, thus making the fifth commandment important for the Christian disciple. Here are several of Jesus' quotes which represent the depths of Jesus' commandment to "honor your father and mother."

First, he said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35 NHEB. The 5th commandment falls under this overarching new commandment from Christ.

Secondly, Jesus stated, "Allow the little children, and do not forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these." Authorities have the charge from God to lead children to Him.

One more of the many examples for us includes the time Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" Matthew 5:7-9 NHEB. Christ has called us to a higher level of obedience in his New Covenant.

Following Jesus Christ equates to loving your neighbor, which includes your parents, spouse, kids, boss, church leaders, and everyone over AND under you. Really, truthfully, we Christians are called to love all people, even our enemies! Our mission is to win souls to Christ by how we treat them.

Fruit of the Spirit Response to the 5th Commandment.

If we truly love Jesus Christ we'll obey his commands, including the fifth commandment (John 14:15). We will respect and honor all people. Why? Because all people are created by God, in his own image.

Treating people like dirt, or like animals, or criminals is a grievous error and outright rebellion against the Laws of Christ.

Let's look at people with a new vision. Let's see them as God's children, created in his image. Let's treat everyone as Christ commands, with no regard to their gender, race, religion, nationality, looks, or intelligence.

Value people, all people, by properly addressing them and respectfully talking to them. Be nice to people. Meet them where they are in life. Notice their good attributes. Ask them if they have any needs. Care for them. Be Jesus to all people with whom you come in contact.

Your spiritual life is only as strong as the last person with whom you related. Real Christian living appeals to those whom God has called. Let's work hard at building relationships for the Lord's glory.

Grasp This!

Children must obey their parents, as well as all adults with direct supervision over them.

Parents and grandparents are expected to biblically train their children, while being shining examples of real disciples of Jesus Christ. They are to physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually protect, nurture, and train their children, by expanding their overall growth.

Christian parents pray for their children; teach their children about the Lord; and model Christian servanthood to the nth degree.

All of us are in some type of authority position over others. Let's treat people with the love that we know by and through God and his Son, Jesus Christ. We can't do it through our own power, but the Holy Spirit will enable us to love and honor our neighbor.

Next Bible study lesson: 6th Commandment.

Fifth Commandment Bible Study Questions:
1) How are policemen, firemen, politicians, and soldiers our fathers and mothers? (see Luke 8:19-21).
2) Can a believing husband or wife leave their unbelieving spouse? (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Corinthians 7:22-24).
3) Do I have to bow to government authorities when I don't agree with their law(s)? When is it okay to rebel against governmental laws? (see Acts 5:40-42).

More 5th Commandment Bible Verses:
If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. Matthew 18:15 NHEB.

Brothers, even if a man is caught in sin, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also are not tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2 NHEB.

For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 1 Peter 2:15-17 NHEB.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does not harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NHEB.

The 5th Commandment Prayer:
O Lord God, Thank You for the commandments you gave us. They guide us to a right relationship with you and Jesus. And they guide us to right relationships with all people. We are to love our neighbor as ourself. You call us to love the people of the world, even our enemies. I don't know that we have a greater challenge, God. Please show us our faults before they harm others, and strengthen our resolve to defeat the sins. Father, we love you, in honor of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

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