Should my children obey Jesus or Paul? Matthew 10:37 and Colossians 3:20


Matthew 10:37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Each of these verses have a different context, but they are in total agreement with one another. In Matthew, Jesus is speaking of the radical obedience and devotion that is demanded by the gospel and that may only be instilled by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 8:5-8; Tit. 3:5). The text is speaking of our absolute love and devotion that we must have for Christ. It cannot be replaced by any other relationship (Acts 5:29).

This relationship would include everything that pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20), including children who obey godly parents (Eph. 6:1-4; cf. Matt. 22:37-40). In addition, in Colossians, before Paul expresses that children should obey their parents in everything, he specifies what pleases God and describes the life that their parents should be living:

Colossians 3:12-19 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children are to obey their parents (Exod. 20:12; 21:15-17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16; 21:8; Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 30:17; Mal. 1:6; Matt. 15:4-6; 19:19; Mark 7:10-13; 10:19; Col. 3:20). Jesus loves children (Mark 10:13-16). Thus children should obey their parents because of love for their parents, but especially because of their love of the Lord, his Word, and his ways.

So, children should obey both Jesus and Paul.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).