Q63: Which is the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Q64: What is required in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).
Q65: What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing any thing against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations (Rom. 13:7-8).
Q66: What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A: The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity [as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good] to all such as keep this commandment (Eph. 6:2-3).
I. General comments
This command brings us to the second table of the law, which teaches us our duty to man, setting fences for man: 5th for his station, 6th guards his life, 7th his chastity, 8th his goods, 9th his name, 10th all that is his.
A. This commandment respects every person in every relationship: rule of categories.
B. Israel would have understood it this way as authority figures were called “father” (Gen. 45:8; Judg. 17:10); kings (1 Sam. 24:11); prophets (2 Ki. 2:12); Israel’s elders (Acts 7:2).
II. Required in this commandment are the preservation of the honor, and the performance of duties, as respecting each person in his station.
A. God has sovereignly placed each in his station, and contentment therein (Phil. 4:11) is one’s greatest honor.
B. The conscientious performance of duties is part of true religion, for God has placed us therein, and His authority binds us to obedience.
1. We prove our union with Christ by our conformity to Him (1 Jn. 2:6); He is a loving husband to the church (Eph. 5:23); a faithful Servant to the Father; a kind affectionate Master to His servants; and a dutiful subject to the magistrate; and an obedient child (Lk. 2:51).
a. Obedience is part of being a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), the new man (Eph. 4:24-25), who possesses relative holiness (2 Pet. 1:7, 9).
C. Duties of particular relations that all stand in. Three basic institutions regulative to human life: family, church, state. Prior to the Fall the family was the only divine institution. Post-Fall the church exercises spiritual government; state restrains lawlessness. God has ultimate authority. Man is limited to the sphere that he has been delegated to.
1. Family: this is the unit beginning all human society. “Honor” (Heb., kabod, meaning “heavy,” “weighty”)—give due weight to God-given authority by respect, esteem, and value.
a. Husbands to love wife (Eph. 5:23); wives to be submissive (Col. 3:18).
b. Parents and children (Col. 3:20).
(1). Children owe their parents: reverence and respect (Lev. 19:3, 32; 1 Ki. 2:19); a ready submission (Prov. 1:8; 13:1); to take care of them for life (Prov. 23:22; Matt. 15:4-6; 1 Tim. 5:16).
(2). Parents owe their children: care for their preservation (Judg. 13:4: 1 Sam. 1:11); instruction in religious education (Deut. 6:6-7, 20-21; Prov. 1:8; 3:1-2; 4:3-4; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15); care to deter them from sin (1 Sam. 3:13); prayer; correction (Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:6, 15; 23:13-14; Eph. 6:4); a good example (Ps. 101:2); encouragement unto good (1 Chron. 28:20); testimony against sin from one’s experience.
2. Church: flock and officers.
a. Flock owe to officers: reverence and honor (1 Cor. 4:1; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Tim. 5:17); love for their work’s sake (Ga. 4:14-15; 1 Thess. 5:13); diligent attendance to ordinances (Heb. 10:25); submission (Heb. 13:17); prayer (1 Thess. 5:25).
b. Officers owe to flock: minister the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-2); love to their souls (1 Thess. 2:7-8); faithful dispensing of all ordinances (1 Thess. 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 4:2); examples of holiness (Tit. 2:7); watching over (Acts 20:28); prayer (Eph. 1:15-16).
3. State: subjects and rulers (Matt. 22:20-21; Rom. 13:1-7).
a. Subjects owe to rulers: respect and honor (1 Sam. 26:16-17; Prov. 24:21; 1 Pet. 2:17); taxes (Rom. 13:6-7); prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-2); submission (1 Pet. 2:13-14, 18-25).
b. Rulers owe to subjects: the establishment of good laws (2 Chron. 19:5-7; Zech. 8:16); punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:3); wise governance (2 Chron. 1:10); protection (1 Tim. 2:2).
c. Work: employees and employers (Col. 3:22; 4:1)
(1). Employees must obey in “all things,” and not with “eye-service,” but rather in “singleness” of heart, i.e., faithfully.
(a). Employees are to exhibit: inward reverence (1 Pet. 2:18), as “unto Christ” (Eph. 6:5); honor (Mal. 1:6); meekness to rebuke (Tit. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:17-18); cheerful labor (Col. 3:23), done faithfully (Matt. 24:45), as Jacob’s faithfulness was his comfort, though he had his master’s flocks (Gen. 31:38); promptness (Rom. 12:11).
(2). Employers give what is “just,” for they too have a Master in heaven.
(a). Employers give: sufficient maintenance (Prov. 27:27); wages (Ja. 5:4); and exhibit gentleness (Eph. 6:9).
III. Forbidden in this commandment is the neglect or transgression of one’s duty.
A. Family: husbands break this command by unfaithfulness; wives by not submitting; children break this command by disrespect/disobedience (Ex. 21:17), not submitting to correction (Deut. 21:18-19, 21); parents sin against their children by bitter words (Col. 3:21).
B. Church: the laity sins against their ministers by not praying for them nor submitting; ministers sin against their people by not faithfully preaching, teaching, counseling, and praying for them.
C. State: rulers sin against their subjects by being tyrannical or inconsistent in their enforcement of law; people sin against the state by disobedience or irreverence.
1. Work: employees sin by rendering eye-service; employers sin by being harsh.
IV. Reasons annexed.
A. Promised blessing of a long life. “Live long in the land” is a Hebrew phrase for the fullness of God’s blessing (cf. Eph. 6:2-3).
1. A good old age is an honorable thing (Prov. 16:31).
B. Pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20).
C. It is “right” (Eph. 6:1).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Look on your relations as a serious matter, and under which you are bound to so many duties, and to which you will give an account to the Lord.
2. Obedience carries the promise of blessing, which means the curse follows disobedience.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Do we model Jonathan’s and David’s treatment of a bad authority figure?
a. Saul’s undeserving nature: would have killed Jonathan over a mouthful of food (1 Sam. 14:44); ordered Jonathan and soldiers to kill David (1 Sam. 19:1).
b. Jonathan honored Saul: he rightly warned David (1 Sam. 19:2-3); then tried to preserve Saul’s honor (v. 4-5), and tried to honor him by preventing his sin against David (1 Sam. 20:30-33).
(1). Jonathan remained loyal to his father even to death (1 Sam. 31:1-6).
2. David honored Saul by refusing to take his life (1 Sam. 24:4).
a. Convicted for even cutting robe because he was the “Lord’s anointed” (vv. 5-6).
b. Called Saul “father” as sign of respect (vv. 8, 11)
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints. In these things we all offend, both in the matter and manner of duty; which may send us to the Father of mercies, through Christ, for grace to remove our guilt, and to fit us to reform.
1. Sinners. The neglect of these duties will undoubtedly ruin you, if you do not get pardon and grace to reform that neglect (Heb. 12:14). Jesus never broke the Fifth Commandment as we have (Lk. 2:51; Jn. 19:26-27), but all who trust in Him are exonerated from their transgressions, and are looked upon by God through the lens of Christ’s perfect obedience.
2. Saints. Keep up a sense of your own inability for relative duties, and look to the Lord for strength to perform them. Prayer and faith in the promises are necessary to the performance of these duties. Know that your service is ultimately unto the Lord, from whom you will receive your reward.