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If it is not asking too much, I will request you to give your views through the “Signs” on Ephesians 6:1-5. Who are the children and the parents there spoken of? As I have heard different views on the subject, I should be glad to have yours, and there are others in this vicinity who also desire your views on the subject.

M. E. King

Reply: - The apostle had nothing to do with laying down rules for the government of any outside of the church of Christ. As apostles of Christ they were officially seated on twelve thrones, with authority from above to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Not the carnal Israelites, for they are not all Israel that are of Israel, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Neither the children of the flesh, for they are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are the children recognized under the gospel for the true spiritual anti-typical Israel, over whom the apostles on thrones of judgment were to preside. Christ had said of and to them, “When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory” (that is, when he should have finished transgressions and made an end of sin, risen from the dead, and shall have set upon its kingdom in its gospel organization, and ascended his throne., in his spiritual kingdom), then they should also sit on the twelve thrones: according to the prophecy, “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.” The installation of the apostles in power to judge the subjects of the kingdom, over which Christ reigns as the blessed and only potentate, invested them with no more power or authority over any that were or are not in the kingdom of Christ, than the inauguration of a president over the States of America, gives to such a president to preside over the affairs of England, France, or Russia. His kingdom is not of this world, consequently the officers, princes, or judges in it have no power or dominion beyond her legitimate boundaries.

The subjects of Christ’s kingdom over which the apostles hold authority are those, and only those, who are born of water and of the Spirit; for Jesus has said expressly that none other can enter his kingdom. Of those who are born of God, taught by the Spirit, and gathered into the kingdom, and brought under the judgment of the apostles, there are of all the classes, kindreds and tribes of mankind, redeemed unto God, and duly admitted as fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. Of these, there are some parents, and some children; some husbands and some wives, some masters, and some servants, called by grace, born of the Spirit and received into the church. But while their new spiritual birth brings them into a new relation to the church, it does not annul their fleshly relations in which they before existed. A parent in nature, in being born again and baptized into an apostolic church, does not thereby cease to be a parent, nor is he thereby released from any responsibility to faithfully fulfill every obligation which was before binding on him to his children in the flesh. Nor does the conversion and admission of a child, son or daughter, into the church release him or her from their obligation to honor or obey their parents; and if both children and parents are members of the church of God, although as church members they are on a perfect equality, yet as parents and children are fleshly relations, they are still held under all the obligations in that relationship which existed before. And this rule is also applied to the relationship of husbands and wives, whether married or betrothed; to masters and servants, magistrates or citizens, their new relationship to each other in the church by no means abrogates their old relationship. In the primitive churches there were frequently instances of whole families and households being born again and brought together into the same church, and it was necessary for the apostles on their thrones of judgment to settle what were their relative obligations to each other.

In the case before us (Ephesians 6:1-5), the apostle limits the application of his administration to those children and parents which were in the Lord; that is, in the church, which is the body of our Lord; as he had no right to extend his judgment beyond the body of Christ. Children which were in the Lord, and parents also in the Lord, were alike subject, in all things, to the laws of the Lord, as expounded and applied by the apostles. As in the preceding chapter, Paul had given authoritative instructions as to the relative duties of husbands and wives, which were under his direction, being in the church, and to the Corinthians to those who were espoused, or betrothed; so, in this chapter he admonishes the children of the Lord, or church, to obey their parents, which were also in the Lord, or church, and the parents are also admonished in regard to their duty to their children in the Lord, and the servants in the church, to their masters which were in the church, and the masters to their servants which were in the church.

In evidence that Paul’s admonitions in this chapter were restricted to such children, parents, servants and masters as were members of the church, in the fourth verse he admonished the fathers in the Lord to bring up their children in the Lord in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Nurture is food, and the nurture of the Lord is spiritual food or nourishment, and this is connected with the admonition of the Lord, or church. Now neither spiritual food or gospel admonitions can be applicable to any who are not in the Lord. But how suitable the instructions to the godly fathers and mothers, who with their sons and daughters, were gathered into the church, that the fathers should feel a special charge devolving on them to give wholesome spiritual instruction to their Christian children. But should we attempt to feed our carnal unconverted children on gospel food, they would trample our pearls under their feet and turn and rend us.

Middletown, N.Y
November 15, 1868.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 287 – 290