|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-4 The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. That obedience includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts, and in every age prosperity has attended those distinguished for obedience to parents. The duty of parents. Be not impatient; use no unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with children; convince their judgements and work upon their reason. Bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Often is this duty neglected, even among professors of the gospel. Many set their children against religion; but this does not excuse the children's disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it. God alone can change the heart, yet he gives his blessing to the good lessons and examples of parents, and answers their prayers. But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children should be rich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must not look for the blessing of God.
Verse 2. - Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise). The exhortation, based on natural morality (ver. 1), is here confirmed from the Decalogue. "Honor" is higher than obedience (ver. 1); it is the regard due to those who, by Divine appointment, are above us, and to whom our most respectful consideration is due. Father and mother, though not quite on a footing of equality in their relation to each other (Ephesians 5:22), are equal as objects of honor and obedience to their children. It is assumed here that they are Christians; where one was a Christian and not the ether, the duty would be modified. But in these succinct verses the apostle lays down general rules, and does not complicate his exhortations with exceptions. The latter part of the verse contains a special reason for the precept; it is the first commandment with a promise attached. But obviously the apostle meant more than this; for as in ver. I he had affirmed the duty to be one of natural religion, so here he means to add that it is also part of the revealed will of God - it is one of the commandments; but still further, it is the first commandment with a promise. It may, perhaps, be said that this is appealing, not to the higher, but to the lower part of our nature - to our selfishness, not our goodness; but it is not an appeal to one part of our nature to the exclusion of the rest; it is an appeal to our whole nature, for it is a part of our nature to expect that in the end virtue will be rewarded and vice punished. In the case of children it is difficult to look far forward; the rewards and the punishments, to be influential, must be within the ken of vision, as it were; therefore it is quite suitable that, in writing to them, the apostle should lay emphasis on a promise which had its special fulfillment in the life that now is.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Honour thy father and mother,.... This explains who parents are, and points at some branches of obedience due unto them; for they are not only to be loved, and to be feared, and reverenced, their corrections to be submitted to, offences against them to be acknowledged, their tempers to be bore with, and their infirmities covered; but they are to be honoured in thought, word, and gesture; they are to be highly thought of and esteemed; they are to be spoken to, and of, very honourably, and with great veneration and to be behaved to in a very respectful manner; and they are to be relieved, assisted, and maintained in comfortable way when aged, and in necessitous circumstances; and which may be chiefly designed. So the Jews explain "the honour" due to parents, by, &c. "giving them food, drink", and "clothing", unloosing their shoes, and leading them out and in (x). Compare with this 1 Timothy 5:4; See Gill on Matthew 15:4;
which is the first commandment with promise: it is the fifth commandment in the decalogue, but the first that has a promise annexed to it: it is reckoned by the Jews (y) the weightiest of the weightiest commands of the law; and the reward bestowed on it, is length of days, as follows.
(x) T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 61. 2. T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 31. 1, 2. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 7. (y) Debarim Rabba, sect. 6. fol. 241. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. Here the authority of revealed law is added to that of natural law.
which is … promise—The "promise" is not made the main motive to obedience, but an incidental one. The main motive is, because it is God's will (De 5:16, "Honor thy father and mother, as the Lord thy God hath COMMANDED thee"); and that it is so peculiarly, is shown by His accompanying it "with a promise."
first—in the decalogue with a special promise. The promise in the second commandment is a general one. Their duty is more expressly prescribed to children than to parents; for love descends rather than ascends [Bengel]. This verse proves the law in the Old Testament is not abolished.
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