“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ this is the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'”
Paul’s third argument introduces the gospel and the presence of the Kingdom in Jesus Christ. This is implied in the directive that children should obey their parents “in the Lord.” The parallel command in Colossians tells children to obey parents “in everything.”
But this does not exhaust the meaning. This principle brings the obedience of children into the realm of specifically Christian duty, and it lays upon children the responsibility to obey their parents because of their own personal relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is the Lord as Creator who first established order in family and society. However, the family life which God created at the beginning and pronounced to be ‘good’ was spoiled by human rebellion and selfishness. Relationships fell apart. Society was fractured. Love was twisted into lust, and authority into oppression. But now in the Lord, by his redeeming and reconciling work in Christ, God’s new society has begun.
This presupposes, of course, belief in and obedience to the principles that Paul has been teaching in Ephesians. Children are called to faith in Christ, to walk in a way worthy (axios) of the standards of Jesus, to be filled with the Spirit. Children also are called to put off the old nature and put on the new nature in Christ.
And yes, it must be said: children first learn how to obey Jesus by the example set by their parents. This is why the family unit is so important in the kingdom of God.
In other words, a Christian family is a miniature “community of the King,” with each member of the family individually and collectively called first into right relationship with God, and then into right relationship with each other.
This is God’s design; it is also his blessing.
It is no surprise the Enemy seeks to undermine God’s design for the family. Many cultural forces actively promote distorted views of marriage and openly ridicule and reject the biblical family structure. Despite the social and political pressure to abandon or compromise what scripture teaches, the Christian community must stay faithful to the Lord’s plan for marriage and family.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (1 Timothy 4.1-5)