52. What does God command in the fifth commandment?

I am to show my father and mother and all my superiors the honour, love and loyalty due to them, obediently submitting to every good teaching and punishment, and patiently enduring their faults and shortcomings; for God wants to rule us through them.

In addition to the parents, there are several groups of superiors. So this commandment covers five areas:

  1. Obligations of children towards their parents and their representatives (step-parents, foster-parents, guardians).
    • My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
    • Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
  2. Obligations of employees to their employers.
    • Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. (1 Peter 2:18)
  3. Obligations of the students to their teachers, and of the church members to their pastor and those that watch out for their souls.
    • Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
  4. Obligations of the citizen to their worldly authorities.
    • Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Romans 13:1)
    • Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:21)
  5. Obligations of the youth to the elderly.
    • You shall rise before the gray headed and honour the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)
    • Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Obedience to superiors ceases when their demands are directed against God’s Word and our conscience.

  • We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)