The Mutual Offices of Parents and Children
Colossians 3:20-21
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.…

Among all those mutual offices by which society is preserved those incumbent on parents and children are the most important. If a man neglect his children or misgovern them, how wilt he duly treat other dependants? Or if a child shake off the parental yoke, how will he bear that of a master or prince? Whereas a good child in the house is likely to be a good subject in the state, and a good father will prove a good master and magistrate (1 Timothy 3:4-5).


1. Those addressed are of either sex. Daughters, therefore, must not urge their weakness, nor sons their strength, as a reason why obedience should be dispensed with. Nor must time or fortune, for children, of whatever age or rank, are unalterably their father's and mother's (Genesis 46:29).

2. The duty is obedience: which includes the "honour" prescribed by the law. But the term is used to show us that this honour is not a vain respect, and to condemn hypocritical obsequiousness (Matthew 21:30).

3. The extent of the duty is universal. This is natural, and would have been literal but for sin. Now, however, exceptions must be introduced (Ephesians 6:1), and obedience in things not "well pleasing to the Lord" is prohibited. If a father should command his son to be an idolater, or to kill or hate his neighbour, or forbid him to embrace the service of God, obedience would be criminal (Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37). But children are to obey —

(1) In those things which are conformable to the Divine will — in which case God's law has an additional sanction — viz., parental authority, and disobedience involves, therefore, double guilt.

(2) In things indifferent. I wish that fathers would confine themselves to what is human, yet if they command anything not repugnant to God's law, however harsh, it must be obeyed.

(3) Whence it appears how dangerous and contrary to the Word of God is the doctrine of Rome, which enfranchises children from this authority, daughters at twelve and sons at fourteen, giving them liberty, in spite of their parents, to enter a cloister. This directly contradicts Numbers 30:3-8; Matthew 15:4-6.

4. The enforcement. The apostle might have urged the justice of the thing itself, gratitude prompting it; or from nature, which has engraven this law on animals; or from the custom of all nations, who have authorized the veneration of parents as of sacred persons, and made piety at once Divine worship and filial obedience. But he alleges nothing but the sole will of God. That this is well pleasing to God is seen —

(1)  From His commandment.

(2)  The promise annexed.

(3)  The punishments threatened (Deuteronomy 21:18; Exodus 21:17:Leviticus 20:9; Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 30:17).

(4)  His Fatherly relation (Malachi 1:6).


1. The provocation forbidden is an ill effect of the abuse of parental authority. Fathers provoke their children —

(1) When they deny them a suitable maintenance (1 Timothy 8).

(2) When they give them inhuman or unrighteous commands (1 Samuel 20:34; Matthew 14:8).

(3) When without necessity they compel them to perform sordid actions.

(4) When they assail them with irritating or angry words (1 Samuel 20:30).

(5) When they chastise them beyond measure or desert (2 Samuel 7:14).

2. To dissuade fathers from this fault, the apostle shows the evil it produces. Nothing more dejects the heart of a child than undue vigour.

(1) It saddens him when in the countenance and actions of that person to whom he should be most dear he sees nothing but aversion.

(2) It intimidates and deprives him of all courage for a good undertaking; for, finding himself ill-treated by his father, what can he hope for from others.

(3) Some get hardened, and fall by degrees into desperate impiety.

(J. Daille.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

WEB: Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord.

The Duties of Parents and Children
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