Paul encourages children to obey their parents so that it will go well with them and that they will live a long life on the earth. These words echo the fifth commandment, found in Deuteronomy 5:16. We know that the gospel is all about grace and receiving things we do not deserve. Yet in Ephesians 6:3, Paul appears to add a caveat to grace -- if children obey their parents, they will enjoy a long and favorable life on earth. Is this a formula for works being woven into the gospel? The answer is no! To understand Paul's admonition to children, we must remember how Paul previously describes obedient living to the Ephesians. Here are two examples:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).
The truths of these two verses must not be separated from what Paul writes in Ephesians 6:3. Otherwise, obedience becomes about performance and earning approval. Obedience is not about doing what I say or else. Obedience to parents must be rooted in love for God, offered to him as a fragrant offering. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Obedience given to parents must be seen as obedience to Christ. They cannot be separated.
[Read the rest of the article at Shepherd Press.]