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the first precept in a promise

04-11-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

1 Children, be obeying your parents, in the Lord, for this is just. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother’ (which is the first precept with a promise), 3 that it may be becoming well with you, and you should be a long time on the earth. Ephesians 6 (CLV)

in promise Paul writes to the children that they should obey their parents. (“Obey” in Greek literally speaks of under-hearing, i.e., hearkening to someone above you.) Paul further motivates this with a command from the “ten words”. Such a citation may surprise us at first sight, because the apostle in his letters always emphasizes that believers do not live under the law of Sinai. But that surprise disappears as soon as we read: this is the first precept with a promise. However, literally it does not say: with a promise, but in promise. The promise is not merely an appendage of the commandment, but is the spirit of the commandment. Educating “in the Lord” means nurturing children to maturity, “in promise”. first commandment Usually, “a first commandment in promise” is understood as: the first commandment of the Ten Words with a promise mentioned as something extra, but that cannot be the thought. Even the second commandment has a promise (“showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me…” Ex.20:6). If one would understand: The first commandment of the second table, then the explanation does not fit either, because on the following commandments are no promises attached, so this commandment is not the first, but the only one in promise. Therefore, the word “first” should not make us think of the place the command occupies among the other commandments, but of the fact that this is the first commandment for children. as long as you live “Honor your father and your mother” is a promising word, because who does this will experience well-being, it says. That is not only a promise for the children, but also for the parents, because what parent would not like to see their children experiencing well-ness? That’s the whole focus of educating them properly! The addition: “that you may live long on the earth” is not to be taken as a disconnected, separate promise. The idea is rather: it will be well with you as long as you live on the earth! law versus promise As stressful, threatening and heavy it is to raise children “in law” (this should be done and that may not be done), so great is the privilege to raise them “in promise”. That is, to direct them to the Lord to Whom they belong; Who cares for them and gives everything they need. And that He is the One Who promises, when they honor their father and mother, that it will be well with them as long as they live! ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema