For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q65


We return to the fifth commandment, looking at what the commandment forbids concerning the honoring of those in authority.
Let us pray once again that the Lord would open our understanding of these things, and help us to embrace them in faith and obedience in ways that honor and please him.
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WSC Q65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A.   The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations[a].
[a] Matt. 15:4-6; Rom. 13:8
Question 65 asks what the fifth commandment forbids, and answers that the fifth commandment forbids being disrespectful to others or not treating them as their position or relationship to us demands.
Comments and considerations:
The older I get, the smarter my parents become. That is a familiar adage which—if we are honest enough to admit it—tells the truth about the sin and foolishness of youth, that there was a time in my ignorant young age, as a country song so aptly describes it, “back when I knew it all.”  But we are looking at the fifth commandment and are learning that its instruction goes beyond just parental respect and obedience to preserving the honor that belongs to others in several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals (WSC Q64). Now we see what the commandment forbids in those same relationships: the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongs to everyone in their several places and relations (WSC Q65). We must not fail to give others their due; that’s part of fulfilling the law’s command on the horizontal, love for our neighbor.
Paul writes in Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” This follows his exhortation to be a “living sacrifice” (12:1-2), speaking the truth in humility (12:3-8), being kindly affectionate, repaying no evil for evil, overcoming evil with good (12:9-21), and submitting to ordained authorities in a godly manner (13:1-7). Our fathers rightly referenced Rom. 13:8 for this catechism question, along with Matt. 15:4-6 where our Lord mentions of the fifth commandment and its abuse by the leaders of his day. We see here the other side of the covenant coin: “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’” That severe statement is a quote from the Old Testament. It is found originally in Ex. 21, one of the many applications, explanations, and case laws that follow the giving of the Ten Commandments. Along with a covenant blessing for obedience is a promise of covenant cursing for disobedience and unfaithfulness: “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:17). This command is foundational for a sound family and society, and God takes it extremely seriously. But again, we see this principle goes beyond parent and child, to every level of relation we encounter; superiors, inferiors, and equals deserve particular respect and honor.
Note if you will, the extent to which the Larger Catechism expands on the study of this aspect of the fifth commandment, providing no less that five parallel questions linked to this one shorter catechism question. This is how they are stated:
  • What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?
  • What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
  • What are the sins of superiors?
  • What are the duties of equals?
  • What are the sins of equals?

Let’s consider just the last two as they relate to our obedient calling in the fifth commandment:
Q. 131. What are the duties of equals?
A. The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each other’s gifts and advancement, as their own.
Q. 132. What are the sins of equals?
A. The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another; and usurping pre-eminence one over another.
There is much here which aids us in self-examination. Words and phrases like dignity, worth of each other, to rejoice in each others’ gifts, the undervaluing of the worth, envying or usurping pre-eminence one over another all give us pause to consider our own heart attitude in how we relate to one another.
To summarize, along with Paul: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil… Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is, …submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Eph. 5:15-17, 21)

Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Read Deut. 27:16. The context of this curse is twelve curses that God gave the Israelites to pronounce as soon as they entered the Promised Land. These were curses for people as a warning against certain sinful behaviors. The curses were for things like killing innocent people or worshiping idols. Deut. 27:16 is for anyone who would treat their parents with disrespect. Read the verse again, along with others in the immediate context, and consider the implications of what is taught here.
2.     What are ways that we might show disrespect and dishonor of parents, and what might be God’s thoughts concerning such abuses? What examples are recorded in Ex. 21:15 -17 and Prov. 30:17.
3.     What does Prov. 4:1-5 describe as another way that we can both honor or possibly dishonor our parents?
4.     As children mature and go out on the their own, and parents grow older and become less able to care for themselves, what warning does the Bible give regarding continued respect and honor of parents? See Prov. 19:26.
5.     Under the Law in the OT, God gave specific civil laws concerning Israel. In those laws we see how God views certain behaviors, attitudes, and actions. Reading Deut. 21:18-21. How were the people to regard a rebellious child? What was to be done with that child?
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q65, WLC Q128 through 132
WSC Q65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A.  The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations[a].
      [a]  Matt. 15:4-6; Rom. 13:8
WLC Q128. What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?
A.  The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them[a]; envying at[b], contempt of[c], and rebellion[d] against, their persons[e] and places[f], in their lawful counsels[g], commands, and corrections[h]; cursing, mocking[i] and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonour to them and their government[j].
[a]   Mat. 15:4-6
[b]  Num. 11:8-9
[c]   1Sam. 8:7; Isa. 3:5
[d]  2Sam. 15:1-12
[e]   Exod. 21:15
[f]   1Sam. 10:27
[g]   1Sam. 2:25
[h]  Deut. 21:18-21
[i]    Prov. 30:11, 17
[j]    Prov. 19:26
WLC Q129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A.  It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love[a], pray for[b], and bless their inferiors[c]; to instruct[d], counsel, and admonish them[e]; countenancing[f], commending[g], and rewarding such as do well[h]; and discountenancing[i], reproving, and chastising such as do ill[j]; protecting[k], and providing for them all things necessary for soul[l] and body[m]: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God[n], honour to themselves[o], and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them[p].
[a]   Col. 3:19; Tit. 2:4
[b]   1Sam. 12:23; Job 1:5
[c]   1Kng. 8:55-56; Heb. 7:7; Gen. 49:28
[d]   Deut. 6:6-7
[e]   Eph. 6:4
[f]   1Pet. 3:7
[g]   1Pet. 2:14; Rom. 13:3
[h]  Esth. 6:3
[i]    Rom. 13:3-4
[j]    Prov. 29:15; 1Pet. 2:14 (See in note 7 above.)
[k]  Job 29:12-17; Isa. 1:10, 17
[l]    Eph. 6:4
[m] 1Tim. 5:8
[n]  1Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:3-5
[o]  1Kng. 3:28
[p]  Tit. 2:15
WLC Q130. What are the sins of superiors?
A.  The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them[a], and inordinate seeking of themselves[b], their own glory[c], ease, profit, or pleasure[d]; commanding things unlawful[e], or not in the power of inferiors to perform[f]; counseling[g] , encouraging[h], or favouring them in that which is evil[i]; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good[j]; correcting them unduly[k]; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger[l]; provoking them to wrath[m]; or any way dishonouring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behaviour[n].
[a]   Ezek. 34:2-4
[b]   Phil. 2:21
[c]   John 5:44; 7:18
[d]   Isa. 56:10-11; Deut. 17:17
[e]   Dan. 3:4-6; Acts 4:17-18
[f]   Exod. 5:10-18; Mat. 23:2, 4
[g]   Mat. 14:8; Mark 6:24
[h]  2Sam. 13:28
[i]    1Sam. 3:13
[j]    John 7:46-49; Col. 3:21; Exod. 5:17
[k]  1Pet. 18-20; Heb. 12:10; Deut. 25:3
[l]    Gen. 38:11, 26; Acts 18:17
[m] Eph. 6:4
[n]  Gen. 9:21; 1Kng. 12:13-16; 1:6; 1Sam. 2:29-32
WLC Q131. What are the duties of equals?
A.  The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other[a], in giving honour to go one before another[b]; and to rejoice in each others' gifts and advancement, as their own[c].
[a]   1Pet. 2:17
[b]   Rom. 12:10
[c]   Rom. 12:15-16; Phil. 2:3-4
WLC Q132 What are the sins of equals?
A.  The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required[a], the undervaluing of the worth[b], envying the gifts[c], grieving at the advancement of prosperity one of another[d]; and usurping pre-eminence one over another[e].
[a]   Rom. 13:8
[b]   2Tim. 3:3
[c]   Acts 7:9; Gal. 5:26
[d]   Num. 12:2; Esth. 6:12-13
[e]   3John 9; Luke 22:24
Question(s) for further study:
How many Larger Catechism instructions are found in connection with this one Shorter Catechism Question; and to what extent does it expand and cover the duty and honor owed to others in the fifth commandment?   

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