August 6, 2017 – Ephesians 6:1-4

Lesson Date: August 6, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 6:1-4

AIM: To lead students to discover God’s instructions for how Christian parents and children are supposed to relate to one another, and to commit themselves to following God’s guidelines.


Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 6:1-4 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following scripture references on index cards or small pieces of paper: Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Colossians 3:20-21. Ask some class members who are comfortable reading aloud to look up the verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following case studies to the class:

  • Bobby and Melissa were frustrated with their 4-year-old daughter, Amanda. It seemed that no matter what they told her to do, she always threw a fit. Regardless of whether they told her to turn off the TV, get ready for bed, or put away her toys, Amanda went “ballistic.” She sometimes yelled, hit, and even kicked her parents.
  • Rex, a teenager, resented his parents and their endless instructions and rules. He often disobeyed their rules. When his parents tried to correct him, Rex would scream insults and curses at his parents.

Tell the class that these two fictional case studies are actually representative of many American families. Dysfunctional families, abusive parents, and even family violence are things we often hear about in the news. (An alternate introductory idea to the case studies above would be to gather recent news stories that tell about dysfunctional and violent families, and then read some of those stories to the class.)

Ask: “What is wrong with our families?” “Does God have an answer?” Tell the class that today’s lesson will answer those questions.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Ephesians. Locate Ephesus on the map.
    • Remind them that chapters 1, 2, and 3 are primarily doctrinal, while chapters 4, 5, and 6 contain very practical instructions for living the Christian life.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God’s instructions for Christian husbands).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (Eph. 5:25).
    • Ask: “Do you remember what we learn about in Ephesians 5:15-21?” (being filled with the Spirit).
    • Tell the class that command is foundational for functioning within the family according to God’s plan. If wives aren’t filled with the Spirit they can’t truly submit and respect their husbands. If husbands aren’t filled with the Spirit they can’t truly love and care for their wives. The same is true for the parent-child relationship we will learn about today.
  2. Children – Obey Your Parents.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:1 from the King James Bible.
    • Ask: “What are children commanded to do?” (obey their parents).
    • Sarcastically tell the class that the King James is an old Bible translation, so surely a more modern version would be less strict and inflexible.
    • Ask any students who have modern language translations of the Bible to read that verse from their Bibles. This will show that all the popular modern translations use the word “obey;” in fact, the verse is virtually identical in all of them.
    • Tell the class there is no getting around it – God clearly commands children to obey their parents.
    • Ask everyone to look back at the verse.
    • Ask: Why must children obey their parents?” (because it is RIGHT).
    • Explain that the Bible gives us an inflexible standard of right and wrong. It is simply right for children to obey their parents. In fact, anything less is wrong.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Colossians 3:20.
    • Ask: “In what areas are children commanded to obey their parents?” (in all things).
    • Ask: Why does that verse say children should obey their parents? How does the Lord feel about such obedience?” (it pleases Him).
    • Tell the class there is another practical reason God commands us to obey our parents: learning how to obey commands teaches us how to give commands later in life. A person who never learns how to be under authority will never learn how to exercise
    • Summarize: Children are commanded to obey their parents.
  3. Children – Honor Your Parents.
    • Read Ephesians 6:2.
    • Ask: “What are children commanded to do?” (honor their parents).
    • Ask: “What do you think is meant by the word honor?” (treat with respect; the Greek word literally means to give value to or to prize something).
    • Explain that honor is the attitude or frame of mind from which obedience comes.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16.
    • Ask: “What did God promise to do for the ancient Israelites if they honored their parents?” (give them long lives and His blessings).
    • Tell the class that God made those promises a long time ago and He made them to the Israelites.
    • Ask: “Do you think those promises are still valid for modern, New Testament Christians?” (yes).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:3.
    • Note that God promised the same things to us if we honor our parents.
    • Ask: “What do you think the promises found in verse 2 mean to us today – in practical terms?” (responses will vary).
    • Explain that childish disobedience, if unchecked, will bring bad consequences and lead to actions that will shorten one’s life.
      • Most violent criminals started at a young age with disobedience and mischief.
      • We are free to disobey God’s commands concerning obeying and honoring our parents, but we do so at our own peril.
      • Simply stated, it is foolish and stupid to disobey and dishonor our parents.
    • Ask: “How long do you think Christians should honor their parents?” (as long as they live).
    • Summarize: Children – regardless of their age – should honor and respect their parents.
  4. Parents – Don’t Provoke Your Children.
    • Tell the class God gave instructions for all family members:
      • Wives are told to submit and respect their husbands.
      • Husbands are told to love and nurture their wives.
      • Children are told to obey and honor their parents.
    • Ask: “What instructions have we found for Christian parents?” (none so far).
    • Read Ephesians 6:4.
    • Ask: “What are fathers commanded NOT to do?” (provoke their children to wrath).
    • Explain that the word provoke means to stir up, aggravate, or exasperate.
    • Ask: “Does this mean parents must give their children whatever they want to prevent them from becoming angry?” (no, that would violate God’s previous commands).
    • Ask: “What kinds of things do you think parents do that provoke their children to wrath?” (inconsistent discipline, harsh treatment, double standards, unfair discipline, unrealistic expectations, etc.).
    • Tell the class the Bible reveals what happens when parents provoke their children to wrath.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Colossians 3:21.
    • Ask: “What happens to such children?” (they become discouraged, feeling they will never be able to satisfy their parent’s ever-changing expectations and demands).
    • Ask: “Based on Ephesians 6:4, how are parents supposed to raise their children?” (in the nurture and admonition of the Lord).
    • Ask the students what they think that means.
    • NOTE: The Bible clearly advocates corporal punishment (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 29:15), but nowhere does it permit parents to abuse their children.
    • Summarize: Parents must not provoke and stir up their children through harsh or inconsistent disciple, but should raise them to know and love the Lord.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class the Bible has answers to modern family problems. If Christians did things the way God commands, we would see far fewer broken and dysfunctional families within the church. If the world at large followed God’s guidelines, our society would be a much more safe and peaceful place.

Ask: “How do the things we have learned today apply to your life?”

Tell the students the message of these verses is simple:

  • If you are a child still living under your parent’s roof, you are commanded to obey your parent(s), because that is the right and God-honoring thing to do. If that is your situation in life, ask God to help you follow His commands.
  • If you are a parent (or someday hope to be one), then you should ask the Lord to teach you how to bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, without provoking them to wrath.
  • If you are an adult with living parents, then you are commanded to honor and respect your parents. Ask God to help you do that.

Encourage everyone to confess their sin and commit to obeying God’s instructions for parent-child relationships. Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Ephesians 6:1 and 6:4 this week. Encourage them to ask God daily to help them follow His guidelines in their homes. Tell them next week we will learn what God has to say about our behavior on the job.

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