1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Who are the children commanded to obey their parents in Eph vi. 1?-The children of those to whom Paul was writing, who were believers. At the same time, it is according to the will of God that all children obey all parents. They are disobedient at present; but the law will be enforced in the Kingdom. Editor
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Man rules in his family by the grace of God, which says,
"children obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long in the land."
This obedience is founded on the fitness of things; but even this is not enjoined absolutely.
It is only "parents in the Lord," who have a divine right to expect unqualified obedience from the Christian children of their household. If parents not in the Lord, require their children to do contrary to, or to abstain from doing, His will, obedience should be firmly but affectionately refused.
This would probably produce trouble and division in the family, if the parent were an uncultivated man of the flesh, or a bigot. In that case, he would behave like a tyrant, and endeavour to coerce them to obey him, rather than their conviction of the truth; whose nature it is to divide between flesh and spirit, sinners and saints, and to create a man's foes out of the members of his own household (Matt. 10:35,36).
But such children should remember that "it is better to obey God than man" (Acts 4:19; 5:29); and that he that loves parents more than Jesus, is not worthy of Him. Better leave the paternal roof as an outcast, than to dishonour Him by preferring their laws to His.
Elpis Israel 2.10.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
When parental discipline destroys filial love, it is bad. Veneration is a mixture of fear and love, and is created in every well-organised child by strict discipline and kindness on the part of the parent. But a parent who is always beating, always frowning, scolding, and commanding, and never coaxing and caressing a child, can only be reared, and, ultimately, disliked.
Children can never be beaten into goodness, any more than nations can be persecuted into orthodoxy. They generally love their mothers best, because they are most indulgent; but at last they find that indulgence is weakness, and then they learn to disobey the old lady, as they call her. They fear the father, because he is stern and severe; and at last they dislike him, and avoid his society, for his want of sympathy.
Were the weakness of both parents combined in one, they would make a virtue. The joint and cordial cooperation of the two sexes makes the best discipline for children; but we are sorry to say, that there is very little of that cooperation to be found. The mother is generally a shield from the father, and her opposition always increases his severity, whilst his severity increases her indulgence.
Children cannot be well reared unless parents are well married
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1853.
Provoke not your children to wrath
This command is worthy of much meditation. It warns of a danger that can destroy all good efforts, and one that only true divine love can protect against. In giving the same command to the Colossians, he adds—
". . . lest they be discouraged."
It does not mean that there should not be strict discipline for fear of arousing anger. The Scriptures are very clear on the necessity of that. In fact, the necessity of strict discipline is what makes this command so essential.
The parent is in the position of the strong having complete control over the weak. The bully is latent in us all, ingrained in our fleshly natures. There are a thousand subtle ways in which a parent can provoke a child to wrath, agitating and arousing the natural evil of the flesh, often with great and pompous self-righteousness, and the parent can always save face by taking refuge behind his divinely-given authority.
The child has no recourse except to impotent, inward turmoil against sarcasm, and oppression, and impatience, and foolish teasing, and habitual unjustified harshness in giving instructions, and passing whims and passions of the flesh, and a discouraging attitude of petty fault-finding and antagonism.
There must be a basic foundation of gentle love, manifest even in correction. We cannot teach what we do not practice. Teaching is by example, and a bad, fleshly example is much more quickly imitated than a good one, that is the natural trend of the flesh. We cannot teach gentleness without consistently manifesting gentleness. Whatsoever is not done in godly love and patience is evil, and out of evil will come evil.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 37
THE FAMILY DISADVANTAGES OF THE TRUTH
But the children! Well, our duty is plain. It is an apostolic injunction (and the dictate of common sense) to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," (Eph. vi, 4.)
Now, this cannot be done if they are allowed to run in "the old paths" mentioned by our correspondent, namely going to church and chapel, and attending the Sunday School of orthodox institutions. While they do this, they imbibe sentiments which effectually prevent the truth from entering in, and make it a difficult thing afterwards to introduce it. They contract early prejudices for men and things connected with the apostacy, which help to implant the fables deeply. Their young affections entwine themselves around objects which afterwards prove snares and obstacles in the way, and all the more powerful, because they enlist the religious feelings.
Our best, opportunity of discharging the parental duty is gone before we know. The nurture and admonition of the Lord involve instruction as to our constitution and position before God, and his purpose towards us as declared by his servants, the prophets and apostles. This it is impossible to communicate to children, while their minds are daily undergoing that powerful inoculation of error which takes place in a young mind among large numbers in circumstances of respectability.
If we would discharge the duty apostolically enjoined, we must withdraw them from "the old paths," which are the paths of darkness. But our correspondent says "I cannot teach them." Perhaps not to his own satisfaction; but that he is absolutely incapable of imparting any instruction to them, no one will believe who reads his letter. He can teach them a little, and if he can only do this imperfectly, it is better to teach them the truth blunderingly than allow them to be educated smartly in error.
A chapter read every Sunday, and a few simple questions on those simple historical occurrences on which so great a part of the truth hinges, will do them more good in the way of genuine enlightenment, than all the Sunday School tuition they would get in ten years.
Mixing with strange children in such an exercise would, no doubt, be beneficial, but, if this cannot be had at first, make the best of the circumstances. A brave attempt to do right in the matter might lead to an extension of operations beyond the family circle.
But, why deprive them, says our correspondent, of "the modicum of good" they get in the orthodox channel? The answer is, because of the preponderance of evil that comes along with it, and because the good they get is to be had at the secular day school without the evil.
It cannot he denied that the case depicted by our correspondent's letter is one of drawback and disadvantage; and the only counsel that can be given in the circumstance, is to face the difficulty with a deliberate resolution that come what will, the right will be the guide, the duty to God be done. It may be that such a course, with prayer, will evoke the blessing of the Almighty, and lead to happier circumstances even now.
The Ambassador of The Coming Age, Feb 1868. p53,54
Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
"Nurture and admonition" means "chastening and instruction," as the RV has it. Here again, it is "of the Lord"—"in the Lord." Everything must be done in the Spirit, and according to the instruction, of the Lord—within the circle of the Lord's blessing and superintendence—in God's way—or all will fail.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 37
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
"A servant of Jesus Christ."
Doulos-"a bondservant, a slave."
There are 7 words translated "servant" in the New Testament. This is the one Paul always uses of the believer's relation of God and Christ. It means one who is completely subject to the will, and wholly at the disposal, of another; one who is bound to serve, one who has been purchased or acquired as a possession.
James, Peter and Jude all open their epistles with the same description of themselves-the "slave of Jesus Christ." It is the word Paul uses in such passages as Eph. 6:6-
"The servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart."
It is a repeated reminder that we are not our own, we have no freedom of action, we are bound to a proscribed and narrow course that is irksome to the flesh, but joyous to the spirit-
"Ye are bought with a price; be ye not servants of men" (I Cor. 7:23).
"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (Matt. 6:24).
"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15).
We are bondservants whose reasonable and expected service is a living and lifelong sacrifice, as Paul says later in this same epistle (Rom. 12:1).
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.30
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
...our daily work—our relationship to our employers. No brother of Christ is a slack, or careless, or disinterested workman, whatever he may be doing. Christ's brethren are only those who do the will of his Father, and his Father's expressed will is that everything be done heartily and cheerfully, with singleness of heart, as if each task is done for God Himself. And work so done, whatever it may be, will be so accepted by God as service to Him.
Brethren of Christ must be constantly on guard against drifting into the world's evil way of serving as little as possible, afraid of giving more than enforced minimum, always seeking more payment for less labour. This is an evil, selfish, grasping manifestation of the flesh that brethren will have no part of.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.37
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
A fortified state of the mind
The absence of mental armour means certain death in the battle we are fighting. It is a very real and earnest battle. It's not a fancy or a talk. It is not a dream, but a life and death conflict with foes, whereof the end is fatally sure with those who do not overcome. Our foes are of different shapes and sizes, but they all work to the same tragic end, they all aim to edge us over the fearful precipice, at the bottom of which lie the splintered bones and bespattered blood of millions.
There is first the sentence of death in ourselves, which we bring into the world with us, and which is slowly but surely working out its appointed end with us every hour of the day.
...There is a way of fighting it. It has a weak spot on the head, and a certain royal weapon can find this out. In Christ only can we overcome the death that has passed on all men by Adam's disobedience; compliance with his directions only-submission to the Gospel alone-will give us the victory here.
But there are other foes more deadly. Such is the one called the old man. This covers our whole nature in its native propensities. Left to itself, this will draw us to death more certainly than the one which presents at the very start of the journey.
"The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
This carnal mind will lead us to disobedience; and we know that the way of disobedience is the way of death. We all have this carnal mind at the bottom. We know what it is. It is the state of mind which the human faculties left to themselves produce.
In its purest state, we see it in the barbarian, who has been brought up without tutoring and without law, and who is like the beasts that perish. In a slightly diluted state, we see it in half civilised nations, and more or less, in men of all nations among whom a true civilisation does not exist anywhere. The natural mind is the fundamental bias even with men who have become subject to the law of God.
Its affinities are a great trouble to such, as witness Paul's lamentations of his wretchedness from this very cause, in Rom. 7. Paul laboured to keep it at bay (cp.1 Cor. 9:27) and laboured successfully, as we know from his last words, but men who are not engaged in this war, a war with themselves, bringing the natural mind into subjection to the law of God-have no chance at all of victory. Instead of overcoming they will assuredly be overcome, and thrown into the ditch.
Then there are enemies in a more concrete form. There is an evil heart of unbelief which stupidly and insultingly insists upon seeing before believing, and is not quite sure then. This is a great enemy. Without faith it is impossible to please God. If a man will not honour God by taking Him at His attested Word, God has no pleasure in him, and He will cast him aside finally as of no use to Him.
The pleasure of God is the ultimate standard of existence, a true doctrine but hard to be received in a generation which, above all things, has forgotten that man exists for God, and not God for man;
"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour, and power, for Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
If God take no delight in a man, a man is undone; and God taketh no delight in men who know and recognise Him not.
"The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in them that hope in His mercy," "in such as keep His covenant and do His commands."
Then there is the case of ignorance and the pleasantness of folly; a man who lays down his sword in their presence will be taken prisoner to his destruction. Then there is the love of the present world which is natural with all; the love of the praise of men; the love of money;
"the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life."
All these and many other snares and temptations, such as plausible friends of carnal mind, lie in the way as so many robbers and beasts of prey to destroy the unwary. It is no very extravagant figure which speaks of the conflict with these as a battle. A battle sore and fierce it is; and the victory is not easily won, but victory is possible.
It is a question of the right equipment, and the right use of the weapons. Without equipment, there is no chance at all. Equipment is the first essential. In this conflict, a man with a mind unfortified has no more chance than a man without armour on the field of battle.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The kingdom of Satan is manifested under various phases. When the word was embodied in sinful flesh, and dwelt among the Jews, the Kosmos was constituted of the Roman world; which was then based upon the institutions of paganism. After these were suppressed, the kingdom of the adversary assumed the Constantinian form; which was subsequently changed in the west, to the papal and protestant order of things; and in the east, to the Mohammedan.
These phases, however, no more affect the nature of the kingdom, than the changes of the moon alter her substance. The lord that dominates over them all from the days of Jesus to the present time, is SIN; the incarnate accuser and adversary of the law of God, and therefore styled "the devil and Satan."... Iniquity has only changed its form and mode of attack against the truth.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
These principalities, authorities, and world-rulers in general were men invested with power, whom he styles collectively τα πυευματικα, ta pneumatika, (an adjt.plur.neut.), "the spirituals of the wickedness in the heavenlies"-that is, the ecclesiastics, as we style them, who in those days, exercised power in spiritual and temporal matters, as ordained by the statutes and ordinances of Pagan Rome.
We have examples of these pneumatics in the Roman Emperors, who were at once both chief Pontiffs and civil and military chiefs; and in the Popes, who are spiritual and civil rulers; and in the Cardinal-premiers of France; and in Queen Victoria, who is at the same time chief magistrate of the British Empire, and head of the Anglo-Hibernian church-daughter of the "Roman mother of all churches," and defender of its faith; and in the petty justices of rural districts, the clerical magistrates of England.
...the ecclesia was to make that wisdom known "to the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies." The heavenlies, therefore, and all they contain, must pertain to the terrestrial system; for it is only to mundane principalities and powers, that men in flesh and blood can make anything known.
A Bible dictionary begun - Bro Thomas
The Christadelphian, Aug 1872
The "principalities and powers" against which Paul's belligerency was directed, were the authorities (Jewish and Pagan), who held the people in spiritual bondage, and who held Paul's work a punishable offence. The weapons of his warfare against them, he says, (2 Cor. 10:4), were not carnal, but
"mighty through God to pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God."
So mighty were his weapons that in the very city to which the letter above mentioned, was sent, it was declared in tumultuous public assembly by a certain excited silversmith,
"Not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods which are made with hands."-(Acts 19:26).
These "principalities and powers" were "the rulers of the darkness of this world," and while in spiritual matters, they were to be resisted, Paul teaches that in civil (or temporal) matters, they were to be obeyed by the disciples. "Put them in mind," says he to Titus (3:1),
"to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates."
If these "principalities and powers" had been infernal dignitaries, surely Paul would never have penned such an exhortation! They were sin's flesh in civil and ecclesiastical organisation, and therefore the devil-
"spiritual wickedness (or wicked spirits) in high (or more correctly translated, heavenly) places."
The constitution of the world still presents this lamentable phenomenon: the high places of the earth-the ruling sphere-the heavens of the earth, are occupied by wickedness; but in the purpose of God, this will not be of long duration; for the time is near to eject human wickedness from the government of the world, and establish
"new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Substitute the diabolism of popular superstition, and you get the extraordinary proposition that Paul preached the gospel on earth in order to fight devils that were up in heaven!
The Christadelphian, May 1870
...there are heavenlies beyond the pale of the Christ-Body. These are Supernal States in which Paul locates principalities, powers, world-rulers of the darkness of the times of the Gentiles, which he styles "this aeon," and the spirituals of the wickedness enthroned throughout the earth.
These heavenlies are constituted providentially or instrumentally by human authority and power after "the course of this world;" and are the tabernacle of
"the Prince of the power of the Air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
This Prince-power and Spirit of the Air is Sin's Flesh; whose spirit pervades all sublunary human constitutions, styled "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers,'' which Paul specifies as ''things in the heaven" or "the Air'' (Col. 1:16).
...The dwellers in this Aerial are the civil and ecclesiastical orders of society; such as, emperors, kings, diplomatists, nobles spiritual and racial, legislators, magistrates, priests, clergymen, parsons, and all of that class, styled by the apostle "spirituals of the wickedness" which reigns in "the Court of the Gentiles without the temple."
Between this heaven and "the Heavenlies in Christ" there is implacable and uncompromising hostility. No peace can be permanently established in the earth till one or other of these heavens be suppressed or subjugated: and who can doubt which of these heavens shall be shaken, be rolled up as a scroll, and be made to pass away with the great tumult of war?
The heavenlies, or high places, of this world are decreed to Yahweh and his Anointed Body; who, by the thunders and lightnings issuing from the throne newly set in the heaven, shall take the dominion under the whole heaven, and possess it during the Olahm and beyond (ch. 11:15; 4:1-5; Dan. 7:18,22,27).
This is the fiat of Eternal Wisdom and Power. The Seventh Vial, the last blast of the Seventh Trumpet, is to pour out its fury upon the Air, the secular and spiritual constitution of which will thereby be thoroughly and radically changed. The things now in the Air will be transferred to "them who dwell in the heaven" in Christ; who, having passed through the Vail of the Flesh which divides the Heavenlies, in the putting on of immortality, will be manifested as the Most Holy Heavenly in Christ; and the Air, filled with their glory, will become the New Heavens, in which righteousness will dwell forever.
The Air will then no longer be malarious with the pestiferousness of secular and spiritual demagogues, who "with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." The Prince of the Power of the Air will then be the Spirit that works in the children of obedience - the truth incarnated gloriously in Jesus and his Brethren; who, in the highest sense, will be those who dwell in the heaven.
In its relation to the truth the world is now in worse condition than in the days of Paul. A large section of it most complacently styles itself "Christendom," or the Dominion of Christ, in the sense of his actually reigning over it; the Pope and all orders of clergy, Romish and Protestant, being the saints who reign with him!!!
It is a principle universally confessed by the supporters of this system of abomination, that Jesus is the Son of God, died for sins, was buried, rose again from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of God. This they call the Gospel, and themselves therefore believers of it! They "believe" it, because they so happened to be led.
Had they been born in Turkey under Mohammedan influences, they would have been Ulemas and Dervishes, and have confessed "there is one God, and Mahomet is his prophet!" For they attain to the belief of what they call Gospel by educational constraint. This "Gospel," mantled over with the phrenological afflations of veneration and conscientiousness, called "piety," is obeyed in the heart when the cloak of their fleshly piety is thrown over their profession.
According to their theological jargon, they then "experience conversion," are "born again," "regenerated," or have "got religion!" This theological "obedience" is common to "the Mother of Harlots," her Daughters, and to "all the abominations of the earth," that have exhaled from their corruption.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
But truth and the sword of God have been thrown into the scale of human events. Multitudes have embraced that truth in whole or part--vastly more, however, in part than as a saving whole. According to their apprehensions of it, they have resolved themselves into party groups.
A minority, a great minority, so great as to be styled "a few," have seized upon it in letter and spirit. These contend against everything opposed to it without regard to fame, property, or life; they contend, however, not with the sword of the flesh, but with "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."
Not so, however, they who embrace it in part, corrupt it by admixture with human tradition, or reject it altogether. They fight for their opinions as their means enable them. They who corrupt, or reject it, endeavour to suppress it vi et armis, by force, not of argument, but by clamor, misrepresentation, and proscriptive laws, and where they can find scope, by imprisonment, war, and murder.
But there are others who understand the theory of the truth to a considerable extent, but have only that spirit of liberty and sense of justice in them, which the truth inspires, without that disposition to suffer patiently and unresistingly for it, which it inculcates.
Men of this class take the sword for liberty and the rights of men, and contend against all who would destroy them with a courage which strikes terror into their enemies. By such agency as this, by action and reaction, by agitating the truth revealed, and the warlike conflict it produces among the nations, things have been shaped into the civil, ecclesiastical, and social, constitution of things, which prevails upon the earth in the present age; and which, having waxed old, is ready to vanish away.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
It will be noted that there are four "alls" in this brief watching command - always, all prayer, all perseverance, all saints. A very intense verse, after Paul's usual style.
To him, these things were terribly urgent and important. He speaks of warning night and day with tears, of writing with many tears, and of weeping as he wrote. Paul took the things of God very seriously, and he sadly knew that so few gave the truth the urgency that was needed to gain them eternal life. And it was a tragedy.
"Watching," here, is again agrupneo-chasing away sleep. It is clear from this verse as elsewhere that Paul considered continuous persevering prayer for one another as essential to salvation. Even to the loss of sleep, as he himself is a worthy example, for of himself he says, "in watchings (agrupneo - self-forced sleeplessness) often" (II Cor. 11), because of the care of all the ecclesias - not just the ecclesias as organized units, but each member of them.
"Who is offended, and I burn not?"
Prayer for others - we do not do enough of it. We never could do enough of it. We are too self-centered. But we can, and we must, gradually train and condition ourselves in this direction. Prayer is not necessarily the closing of the eyes and formally articulating specific words of address.
We must train ourselves that prayer becomes a continuous frame of mind-a continuous, conscious seeking for help and guidance at all times and under all circumstances. God doesn't need words. He knows what we need far better than we do ourselves. It's best to leave that to Him. Prayer is a matter of looking constantly to Him, and keeping the line of communication continually open, of keeping the mind fixed upon God. That is living prayer.Bro Growcott - Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
The difference between their preaching of the gospel and that of Jesus, was that between promises unfulfilled and promises fulfilled to a very limited extent. So far as the promises were fulfilled in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as the Son and King anointed of Yahweh, the accomplished facts became the foundation or basis of the conditions, by conformity to which, Jews and Gentiles might become heirs of the promises yet largely unfulfilled.
The facts and the doctrine or teaching predicated upon them, constitute "the mystery of the gospel," or "things concerning the name of Jesus," and therefore, "the mystery of Christ," which are not two mysteries, but one. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom minus the mystery in his own name, because it was still a hidden mystery, and must have so continued until he was "perfected;" the apostles preached the same gospel with its mystery, because it was no longer hidden, but commanded to be proclaimed.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1854.