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Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is, in some ways, a continuation of his epistle to the Romans. It enlarges upon Romans 1-8 in regard to the believer's position and right standing with God. We are "seated" with Christ, so we must "walk" according to our calling, and "stand" in the full armor of God against those who would oppose us.
Category - Bible Commentaries
After discussing the relationship between husband and wife, Paul turns his attention to the relationship between parents and children. This is another application of Kingdom authority. Eph. 6:1 says,
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
A command to obey immediately puts this into the category of an Old Covenant relationship, which is based on the need for obedience. Exodus 19:5 says, “Now, then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant.” Children, being minors, are not free to do as they please. Parents are responsible to train them in the ways of God. Children must learn obedience in order to come to maturity and be able to make decisions for themselves in accordance with what they learned.
In an ideal family, a child undergoes the discipline of an Old Covenant relationship until he is old enough to handle the freedom of the New Covenant. His ability to love also changes from phileo to agape. This change is gradual, and his responsibilities increase gradually as he is given more and more authority. Responsibility should be the measure of his authority (and vice versa). It is not normally a good idea to wait until the child is grown before he is given authority. A large part of his growth is based on his increasing amount of authority and responsibility.
Childhood is also a time of disagreement, for it is seldom that a child always agrees with his parents when he is told that he cannot do something. We will not discuss the causes of such disagreement, other than to say that sometimes imperfect parents are unreasonable, and other times the immature child is unreasonable. Paul bases his teaching on the Fifth Commandment in Exodus 20:12, which in turn is repeated in Deut. 5:16. Paul refers to this in Eph. 6:2, 3,
2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
We see from this that a child honors his parents by obeying them, even if he does not understand why he may be restrained from eating only cake and ice cream. We should also note that this Old Covenant relationship is not a bad thing; it is just temporary. The purpose of teaching them obedience is not to make them subservient forever, but to bring them to the point of maturity and freedom.
The same principle applies to national governments and to church government. Governments of all kinds ought not to keep their citizens in bondage but provide an environment where they may be educated and trained to be a free people. Only then can the people (collectively) be qualified as a responsible double witness to their leaders.
Modern leaders of Mystery Babylon have discovered this principle as well, but being desirous of keeping the people in bondage, they have deliberately passed laws encouraging childish behavior and spiritual immaturity. Their policies are designed to encourage corrupt and immoral behavior, knowing that corrupt citizens are an excuse to give governments greater power to keep law and order. By corrupting the people, they enslave them in a never-ending Old Covenant relationship, treating them as rebellious children.
Church government, too, should teach the law (all of Scripture), so that believers may grow to spiritual maturity. Unfortunately, the church in recent decades has often cast aside the law and established the Old Covenant, when they ought to have cast aside the Old Covenant and established the law (as Paul did in Rom. 3:31).
The result has been that believers have often remained as spiritual children, who are expected to remain forever under the authority of their spiritual parents (hierarchy). Church leaders instinctively do this in order to retain a large membership, along with their financial support. Their idea of building or edifying the church is to increase membership, rather than to bring the people to maturity.
The biblical food laws are found in Leviticus 11. They teach us how to eat clean spiritual food and are especially applicable to the “food” that is dispensed from the pulpits.
What is applicable to us here, in regard to the church is the law in Lev. 11:20-23, where insects are “clean” only if they have “legs with which to jump on the earth” (Lev. 11:21). Insects that can only “walk on all fours” (i.e., crawl) are unclean.
The spiritual principle behind this is to show that spiritual food dispensed from the pulpit is clean in the sight of God only if it causes the people to leap higher into the realms of the Spirit. If the food is designed to keep people immature (babies who can only crawl), then it is “detestable” (Lev. 11:20).
The other food laws support this as well. Clean animals must have a cloven hoof (Lev. 11:3), because such teaching stands upon a double witness. A preacher or teacher cannot deny the people the right to seek a double witness before accepting the teaching. The animal must also be able to chew the cud, because believers must be given the right to meditate upon the teaching to see if the Holy Spirit will give them a double witness.
This also allows the believer to learn how to discern and be led by the Holy Spirit, which ought to result in his/her spiritual growth. If believers are denied this right, the food is unclean, no matter how factual the teaching may be.
Similarly, seafood is unclean unless it has fins and scales (Lev. 11:12). Fins represent divine guidance, and scales are spiritual armor. In consuming spiritual food that is being dispensed, a teacher or preacher must allow the people to be guided by the Holy Spirit. “He will teach you all things,” Jesus said in John 14:26 and “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). If spiritual food has no fins, then it is unclean, no matter how factual the teaching may be.
Scales are important, too, because it is the armor of a fish. As we will see shortly in Eph. 6:10-17, we need to put on the armor of God so that false teaching does not harm us when we hear it. If we have a sharp sword of the Spirit, we will be able to discern what is true from what is false.
As for clean and unclean birds, they are unclean if they eat carrion (dead animals). That is, they eat other animals with the blood, which is prohibited in Lev. 17:10-14 and in Acts 15:29. This law prohibits teachers from being “bloodthirsty” when dispensing spiritual food. We are not to be like the Edomites in Ezekiel 35:6, who were judged because “you have not hated bloodshed,” (or literally, “did not hate blood”). They had a bloodthirsty attitude and were therefore unclean.
In my view, this is an admonition to Bible teachers to be very careful about their denunciations of those who disagree with them. Their prime motive should be to teach truth, not to attack others for not knowing their truth. One should disagree without being bloodthirsty about it.
Eph. 6:4 says,
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
If a child grows up with anger issues, the responsibility falls upon the parent—the father in particular. Fathers may provoke children to anger in a variety of ways. Some do it by never being there—or even by abandoning the mother altogether. Others do it by disciplining their children in a spirit of anger, rather than in love. Hence, they pass on their own anger issues to their children without realizing it.
Sometimes, a parent is unjust toward his children, favoring one over the other or punishing them for what they did not do. There are many ways to provoke children to anger. If a child grows up with anger issues, the primary blame falls upon the father, because his authority over the child comes with an equal level of responsibility. Hence, he cannot shed his responsibility.
If a father finds himself incapable of preventing this “anger,” he ought to inquire of God to know what he is doing wrong. Occasionally, something deeper is at work. We see this, for example, in the case of Jacob and Esau, who were fighting in the womb before they were even born (Gen. 25:22). In that case, something prophetic was happening, so neither Isaac nor Rebekah was at fault.
Whatever the case, it is important to receive divine revelation and instruction in order to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”