Skip to main content


This article explores Christian parental honor, focusing on what Martin Lloyd Jones said in his Ephesians Homilies.

A Higher Calling: Honoring Your Parents


This brings us to our third and final point. The Apostle Paul said, “Children, obey your parents; honor your father and mother.” This is the order of nature and the law of the land.

This is the order of nature, and it’s also the law of the land. But this commandment goes one step further: it’s also a grace.

This commandment encompasses both the natural law and the grace dimensions. Paul said, “Obey your parents in the Lord.” We need to understand the place of this phrase “in the Lord” correctly.

Paul does not say, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord,” but rather, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” Here Paul takes the same position as he does when dealing with wives and husbands.

“Wives, therefore, be subject to your husbands in all things, as the church is to Christ: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for her”

Ephesians 5:24~25

Obedience To Parents

Obedience to parents should flow naturally from a relationship with Christ and obedience to Him.

The same is true for us. Paul said, “Servants, obey your fleshly masters as you would Christ.” This is what “in the Lord” means. This is what “in the Lord” means.

The reason we should respectfully obey our parents is that we are obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the ultimate reason for obedience. While the natural order dictates obedience and the laws of the world require it, for Christians, there is another, greater, and more powerful reason for obedience.

Christians should honor their parents because it is a commandment and requirement of Jesus.

Obedience to parents should flow naturally from a relationship with Christ and obedience to Him. Paul’s words were, “Children, obey your parents as you would Christ.”

The natural order of things and the laws of the world play only a supporting role. We shouldn’t be on that level, but obey the commandments as Christ did.

Again, the New Testament teaching is always this way. Christianity is not limited to the laws of nature.

Of course, this does not refer to “fallen nature” but to “good nature” as God created and designed it.

Does Christianity Contradict Nature and Law?

Christianity does not contradict nature. Some early Christians tried to apply the idea that Christianity contradicts nature to marriage.

Paul specifically addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 7. There were believers in the Corinthian church who thought, “I’ve become a Christian, but my wife doesn’t believe in Christianity yet. I’m a Christian and she’s not, so we might as well split up.”

Of course, their wives thought the same thing. But Paul says that’s wrong.

Christianity does not require us to deny or be hostile to the laws of nature. Nor should we reject the laws of nature.

Rather, Christians should be able to elevate the natural to holiness. “Obey the commandments as you would the Lord. “ Obey your parents in the Lord. That is the most excellent motive.

The same goes for our relationship with the law. Christianity does not abolish the law. Christianity adds grace to the law, making it possible to keep the law.

The law commands, “Children, honor your parents.” Of course, Christianity gives the same commandment.

The Depth of Christian Obedience


But Christianity makes the reasons for obeying the commandments more explicit, providing a deeper level of enlightenment and understanding.

As Christians, we know that whatever commandment we keep, we should do it as unto the Lord. And Jesus came into the world to fulfill the law of God the Father.

Jesus kept God’s law and lived by it. Jesus saved us “so that he might have a people for himself, zealous for good works”-that is, to fulfill the law.

Jesus said himself

“so that the demands of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.

Romans 8:4

In this way, grace elevates the commandments to their highest level. We are to obey our parents and honor them to please God, who is watching over us.

The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 3:10

“Now unto the church, it is given to make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God.”

Ephesians 3:10

As the angels, principalities, and powers in heaven look down on us Christians living in obedience to God’s will, they will marvel that God the Son has made us His people, keeping His commandments in a sinful world.

The True Meaning of Obedience in the Lord

Therefore, “obey the commandments as you would the Lord. Obey your parents “in the Lord.” That is the highest motive. Only such obedience can please the Lord. The Lord’s teachings and words must be embodied in our actions.

The purpose of the Lord’s coming into the world to save and cleanse us is to give us a new nature, to make us new people.

The Apostle Paul tells us to demonstrate this by our behavior, to show it by our actions. Children should show evidence of their new nature by obeying their parents.

Christian children should be different from non-Christian children. Christian children should be distinguished from children who are proud, rebellious, arrogant, and evil-speaking.

Christian children should show by their behavior that the Holy Spirit lives in them and that they belong to Christ.

We must never miss this wonderful opportunity, for only by living such a life can we bring great joy to the Lord.

Following Jesus

There’s one more reason to honor the command, “Children, obey your parents.” Jesus himself modeled parental honor when he was on earth. Read Luke 2:51.

“And Jesus went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was received in obedience.”

This verse describes a situation when Jesus was twelve years old. Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary.

Mary and Joseph were on their way home from the pilgrimage when they realized that Jesus hadn’t followed them.

They traveled back to Jerusalem and finally found him in the temple talking to the lawyers.

The rabbis were amazed at his wisdom and were speechless. To Joseph and Mary, who had come to find him, Jesus said, “Did you not know that I should be in my Father’s house?”

At the tender age of twelve, Jesus was already clearly conscious of his calling. But as it says, “And Jesus went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was obedient and obeyed them,” so he went to Nazareth and served Joseph and Mary.

The Son of God in human form was obedient to Joseph and Mary. Jesus was conscious of the fact that He had come into the world to do the work of God the Father, but He humbled Himself to obey His fleshly parents.

This reminds us that Jesus sought to please his heavenly Father by not neglecting any of God’s laws and setting an example for those of us who would follow in his footsteps.

So far, we’ve discussed the reasons to obey the command to “honor your parents” from a variety of angles, with a focus on Martin Lloyd-Jones’s Ephesians homily.

Honoring parents is the right thing to do; it’s a natural law, a commandment of God, and it’s pleasing to God.

Furthermore, obedience is evidence that we are image-bearers of the Lord because we are imitating what He did when He was in the world.



May God make each of us realize the importance of keeping this commandment. Obedience is proof that we are image-bearers of the Lord because it imitates what the Lord did when he was in the world.

The Apostle Paul’s teaching is, as always, impartial: he does not demand obedience only from children but also presents lessons for parents. If we don’t keep this in mind, we may misunderstand what has been said so far.

If parents are only concerned about their children’s obedience, they are at increased risk of doing serious wrong. Paul doesn’t stop with lessons for children, he goes a step further and offers lessons for parents as well.

Of course, everything we’ve said so far applies to children. On the other hand, you may have children who are wondering, “Is it right to obey my parents when they don’t believe in Christianity?”

If we ponder Paul’s instructions for parents, we can easily find clues to resolve such issues. May God give us all the grace to pay serious attention to this commandment.

Leave a Reply

A Quick & Practical Guide to Enhancing Your Faith
Enter your email address and we will send you a 100% free e-book about the Christian Worldview Guide.
The Christian Worldview
O Favored One