April 9, 2021

What Does Colossians 3:20-21 Mean?

What Does Colossians 3:20-21 Mean?

Colossians 3:20-21 (NIV):

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.


Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth. 

We’ve been studying a passage from Colossians chapter 3 in which Paul gives us instruction for how to live in Christian homes. Today, in verse 20, Paul addresses children when he writes, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Paul is following the Ten Commandments given in Exodus 20 when children are instructed to honor their parents. In the Jewish culture, honor was demonstrated with obedience. 

In Roman Culture at the time of Paul’s writing, children were valued just slightly above the slaves owned by the father. The father was an authoritarian and ruled over his wife and children. As an authoritarian, the father would do whatever he desired to his household members. He could put them into prison. He could make them work the fields. He could sell them as slaves. He could even put them do death without any trial or without even bringing any sort of accusation against them. 

But Christianity came and changed everything. Paul says to honor and submit to one another just as you honor and submit your life to Christ. 

So, children have the responsibility to obey their parents, but Paul turns and addresses the fathers too as he continues in verse 21 with “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."

Notice, Paul did not address mothers here? The father had absolute control over the lives of the children even after they were grown and married. While everyone has a role to play in teaching the children, fathers ultimately have the responsibility to discipline and teach God’s ways to their children.

So, how can a father embitter his children? Well the Greek word Paul uses here means to arouse or to provoke in a bad sense. In other words, being too harsh or too demanding can push a child over the edge leading them to anger, discouragement and resentment. While it is important to discipline a child, a father must also add fun and laughter into their relationship.

So your Simple Truth for Today: We are to honor and submit to one another. This applies to everyone, including children and their fathers. 

Have a blessed weekend. I’ll see you again on Monday.