This Week’s Catechism – 4/7

Doctrinal Standard #63

  • Q. What is the fifth commandment?
  • A. The fifth commandment is: Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Memory Verses

  • Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22, ESV)


  • Study Passage: Mark 7:1-23
  • Support Passages: Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Ephesians, 6:1-4; Matthew 15:1-20; Proverbs 23:22-25; I Timothy 5:1-2; Romans 13:8-10
  • Bible Story: John 19:26-27


  • “The first authority we have over us is our parents’ authority. As we grow, we find other kinds of authority we must honor as well. All human beings are required, first of all, to fear God. He is the Creator and the King of all things and we owe Him complete respect and obedience. In all areas of life, God has established authorities we must honor. God gives certain people the task of providing for and protecting others. Parents provide for and protect their children. Husbands provide for and protect their citizens and pastors and elders provide for and protect their churches.
  • These people cannot do the tasks God has given them to do if they must constantly argue with those who are under their care about what is best. So God has given them authority. The people under them are to respect them and obey them. People in authority are always right. But, unless they command us to disobey God, we must respect and obey them. When we fail to show respect for authority, we show disrespect for God, who put certain people in positions of authority.” [1]
  • “In concluding our discussion of the fifth commandment, we note that it contains ‘a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good,) to all such as keep this commandment.’ We have seen that this commandment is not primarily concerned with individuals. We are not to think, then, that every individual who strives to keep this commandment will enjoy a long life. We are rather to understand this commandment to mean that preservation of God’s covenant people as a continuing community will depend upon their fidelity to this command. In other words, when we (as God’s covenant people) live under a strong sense of God-given authority (in family, Church, and nation) we will be preserved by the Lord. But when we become careless and indifferent about this principle of God-given authority, the result will be the loss of those blessings which can be ours only when these institutions are strong. When parents no longer teach their children to obey them, for example, it is no surprise that they grow up to have little or no respect for those who hold office in Church or state. When family fails, the Church is weakened, and the nation struggles to control the violence of its citizens.” [2]

Discussion Questions

  • What is the fifth commandment?
  • The command is to honor your father and mother. What does it mean to honor someone?
  • In addition to honoring your father and mother, who else are we called to honor?
  • Why does honoring your parents prepare you to honor others in authority?
  • If you struggle to honor your parents, what does this revel about your heart towards God? Explain. What needs to be done?
  • The fifth commandment has a promise attached to it. What is the promise? Is this promise for individuals or for the greater community of faith? (See third point in “Discussion” section).

[1] Meade, Starr (2000). Training Heart, Teaching Minds. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, USA; P&R Publishing Company.

[2] Williamson, C.I. (2003). The Westminster Shorter Catechism – 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, USA; P&R Publishing Company.

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