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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: May 22, 2020
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS and thank you for being here.
Last week we left Colossians momentarily for the book of beginnings (Genesis) to show the LORD God (Jehovah) is the architect of marriage not man. Therefore every Believer is to understand their God-given roles in the marriage relationship and when problems arise they are to seek guidance from the Lord Jesus Christ. These instructions are found in Paul’s epistles, previously identified as “the word of Christ:”
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another…” (3:17).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (3:18-19).
As I recall, we also looked at Ephesians 5:21-28 where Paul’s expounded on this teaching say, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (wives that’s the key to success). For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so the wives to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:21-28).
In Ephesians 5:25 we learn the husband’s role in the marriage relationship is to “love his wife, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…” Now, we could devote the rest of this lesson, and several future lessons to the study of that subject alone. Suffice to say the relationship between husband and wife speaks of agape (sacrificial) love. When you bring this motivation into that same relationship as the Church is to Christ and Christ is to the Church, between wives and husbands, there’s no place for abuse of this God-given authority. Apparently many people are unaware of this fact or they are paying no attention to it because the divorce rate for both secular marriages and Christian marriages in the U.S.A. is about 50%. Speaking for myself, both my ex-wife and I knew these Bible verses existed, but any attempt by me to exercise them in our marriage was hindered by my wife. When I tried to explain these Bible passages to her, she said, “That’s your opinion; I have my own…” So, let’s be clear, this isn’t my opinion it’s the word of Christ, so the goal of every married couple is to make the Lord Jesus Christ the Head, the Counselor, and their Guide not just in marriage but also in their lives. When you do, you’re not only in compliance with Christ’s commands above (1 Corinthians 14:37) you’re in compliance with His command in Colossians 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (See Colossians 3:23)
Please open your Bible at Colossians 3:20.
Children and Fathers
“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
We have new visitors to this Bible study every day, so I’d like for them to know right off-the-bat Colossians is one of the most Christ-centered books of the Bible. Anyone who has ever searched for an answer to the question, "Who is Jesus?" will eventually find themselves reading Colossians. Why? Colossians answers that question with: "Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, therefore, He is supreme over all persons and things!" Since this is true, then He is sufficient for every spiritual need, most importantly your salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Having dealt with the wives and husbands roles in the marital relationship, Paul now turns his attention to the children saying, “…obey your parents in all things: (why?) for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (3:20).
Here Paul presents the reason why children are to obey their parents in all things that morally line up with what God has said, dispensationaly speaking. It’s beneficial to know the world-at-large doesn’t know this biblical teaching exists, while others know of it but stand in opposition to it, but we’ll address that issue later on. Thinking back, I remember asking my mother once or twice why I had to do something; her standard response was, “Because I said so,” so that was my motivation - she’s the boss. Here Paul said the reason why this is done is because, “…this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Not only is this an entirely different response, Paul’s instruction surpasses the worldly (earthly) view of most people, one of which is, “Because Santa knows whose naughty and nice.”
Please know Paul’s instruction mirrors the teaching found in the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:12 the LORD God addressed the children through His servant Moses saying, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” When our apostle Paul addressed the children in Ephesus, he combined this same command with his message: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (why?) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
So, Paul is definitely addressing children in this passage, but he did not mention a specific age group. One might assume Paul’s referring to little children, but not so much. The Koine Greek word for “children” in 3:20 is not from teknia (little children), but from teknon which means offspring. You and I are teknon, i.e., the offspring of our parents not yet of age. What does this mean? As previously stated, our parents relinquish responsibility for their children when they marry and leave their home to start one of their own. Thus, this command to obey your parents no longer applies when wives and husbands establish their own home, or come of age.
Why did Paul issue this command to children? Permit me to illustrate: An Indian was asked why his son disobeyed him and refused to listen to reason. He answered him saying, “Two dogs live in man; one good and one bad. The dominant dog is the one that is fed regularly.” So then, make sure you’re feeding the good dog with the word of Christ every day (Psalm 119:105; Colossians 1:9-12). We’ve covered this topic in previous lessons, so we now know everyone possesses two natures, one good; one bad, including children. As for children sin is manifested in multiple ways, such as, deceit, impertinence, mean-spiritedness, rebellion against authority, etc., in short, children can be downright obnoxious. If you’re a parent, then you know exactly what I mean. Children can be loveable and loving at times, but then there are those trying times when you consider whether or not to gag them and lock them in their bedroom until they turn twenty-one.
Digging Deeper we learn in Paul’s day the then known world lived under Roman rule, consequently, the father possessed supreme power over his children, and their children, etc., in accordance with “Roman Family law.” The purest example of this truth is found in “patria potestas” which is defined as “the power of the father.” The male head of the family wielded supreme power over his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on, whatever their age, as well as over those brought into the family through adoption. This power meant he had control over the persons of his children, even the right to inflict capital punishment, if he so chooses. He alone had any and all rights pertaining to private law. Succinctly said, the child and their acquisitions became the property of the father. He might allow a child (as he might a slave) certain property to treat as his own, but in the eye of the law it continued to belong to the father.
Bringing this information into our Bible study, the ancient city of Colosse was built on a major trade route through the Lycus River Valley in the Roman province of Asia Minor (in the southwest corner of modern-day Turkey). Paul had spent two years planting a church in Ephesus, and in Acts 19:10 we learn that, radiating from that center, “all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.” It’s understood from the Colossian text Paul did not visit or preach the truth of the gospel to the saints there. Instead, it’s highly likely that church was established by Epaphras (1:7), and from verse 1:21 it’s safe to say it was comprised mainly of gentile Believers.
It’s in this environment Paul issued the command “Obey your parents” to children who have not as yet come of age. The reason why is, “for this is right;” (See 3:17), and since it’s the right thing to do, “…this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (3:20b).
Loving parents are called to guide their children in the path of righteousness. They are to lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that is found in Him alone, that they might trust Christ Jesus as their personal Savior. What’s more, they are to plant the word of the Lord in their hearts and minds, in order for them to build a firm biblical foundation for their lives and their children, and so on down the line. A good example of this biblical teaching is Paul’s protégé young Timothy, so let’s read it together:
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (1 Timothy 1:5).
Here Paul revealed the positive influence elder family members have upon their offspring. Timothy had been taught elements of the faith of God by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. Notice only these two female family members are praised and acknowledged for the excellent example they provided at home to Timothy, which begs the question, “Where’s dad?” Timothy’s father was a gentile and not a believer in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:1-3). Yet, beginning with Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice, they were able to make a difference in teaching Timothy as a boy, after which he would grow up to be one of the early ministers of the Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church, and a faithful companion and coworker alongside Paul.
I can relate to this personally because my father was an unbeliever. In short, he was a Christian going through the motions but is heart wasn’t in it. My mother, on the other hand, was a woman of faith and earned my respect early on. She didn’t just talk the talk; she walked the walk. It was her heartfelt desire to see us children grow up to be men and women of God and hopefully share the gospel with others and lead them to the Lord. This should be the heartfelt desire of every married couple that follows the apostle Paul, who in turn follows the risen Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 11:1). That thought leads us to verse 3:21:
“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, (Why?) lest they be discouraged.” Said, differently, “Fathers bring the children up; don’t tear them down.” There’s a companion Bible verse in Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Here Paul addressed the head of the family, “fathers,” and gives them a negative instruction followed immediately by a positive one. First, he tells fathers to “provoke not your children to anger.” This refers to everyday family life, and a repeated pattern of maltreatment, a way of living that, over time, has a tearing-down effect on the child. This repeated provoking over time often leads to a built-up, deep-seated anger and resentment within the child. Provoking children to anger happens in a number of ways such as: breaking promises, constant criticism, discouragement, fault finding, inconsistency, partiality, neglect, , overreacting, sarcasm, unreasonable demands, etc. None of these things build a child up.
Instead of provoking their children to anger, God wants fathers to provide their children with a loving, nurturing, and godly home. This verse demonstrates the father has the primary responsibility before God to raise his children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” He is to be the spiritual leader of the home. God wants children to learn from their father’s example of what it means to love the Lord and to live for Him. Studies show when the father is an active Believer, there is about a 75% likelihood the children will follow suit, as they say. But if only the mother is a Believer, this possibility is dramatically reduced to about 15-20%. I’ve seen this statistic played-out in my family. Of us six children only three follow after our mother. That’s 50% by my reckoning, but of those three only one of us follow the revelation of the mystery, i.e., the teachings of Paul, (Romans 11:13, 16:25-27; Galatians 1:11; Ephesians 3:1-3).
In verse 3:21, Paul gives Fathers the key to the wise rearing of children; it’s to be in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Paul means to say parenting and training children is not to be carried out by obeying earthly (worldly) wisdom but according to what God has revealed to us in the dispensation of grace. The Lord is everyone’s teacher, and this includes the children, so fathers are to look to Him for guidance.
Many people today think this is wrong. They maintain the child ought to be able to express themselves or they’ll be inhibited, that is, unable to reach their full potential. To that I say, “Nonsense.” I was disciplined by my father and on a few occasion received a spanking not with a belt or paddle but with his hand applied to my backside. I can also honestly say I know what a bar of soap tastes like… The one thing missing in that is my father failed to discipline in love. It takes a loving parent to discipline a child in love. My mother spanked me once, and I saw tears in her eyes after that. That’s when I knew she corrected me because she loved me. All this to say, been there, done that, and I’m a better person for it. But, as I said, many people consider corporal punishment to be nothing less than a criminal act. It may surprise some of you to know parents have and are being arrested and incarcerated for disciplining their children in the home. Some time ago I read a child that had been spanked called the local sheriff and reported his mother had “beat him.” Evidence shows she “spanked” him. Hardly a beating. This speaks of the day, evidently, that we are currently living in. Even though 2 Timothy was written circa 68 AD, it’s message rings true for this present evil age: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than the lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
I pray you and your children desire not be counted as one of these, for as I said, they are indicators that we are indeed living in the last days of the dispensation of God’s Grace. The disobedience of children to their parents is one of the indicators. So, children, if not for your parent’s sake, at least for your own sake, as well as for the Lord’s, “…obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (3:20). For the obedience given to parents is obedience given to Christ Jesus.
I’ll close with this: One winter day in the Colorado wilderness, a man found it necessary to go see a neighbor who lived beyond a steep and rugged mountain range. He lived alone and was very ill. The man climbed the dangerous trail for some time through the drifted snow not realizing that his son had been following him. Suddenly, as he was trudging and struggling through the deep snow, he heard a young voice behind him call out, “Be careful, daddy, I’m walking in your steps!” Fathers, our children are walking in our steps and, as fathers, we should take great care in how we live and ever mindful of the example we present to them, furthermore, we need to raise them in accordance with Paul’s command in 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
Summing up, the principle here is for Christ and His word to be central in a family’s life. The Lord is to be the Head, the Counselor, and the Guide and at the forefront in our homes. God wants our homes so full of His Word and the acknowledgement of Him that our children can’t help but think of Him, while saying, “I want to be just like my father, because he wants to be like Christ.”
(To be continued)
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