Grace Family Bible Church

Family Matters

By: Scott Morton


Colossians 3:18-21

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. [19] Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. [20] Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. [21] Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.


As we continue looking through this epistle and dealing with the practical issues being addressed by the Apostle Paul, we have come to a discussion of issues related to how individuals are to be dealing with each other in the family. There are two different issues being brought up, the issue of marriage (wife and husband), as well as parenting (children and fathers).


These are issues which are not typically taught in local assemblies for various reasons. Sometimes it is felt this is controversial based on where society is. Other times it is felt that everyone already knows this and we don't have to cover it. There can be a feeling that if this is being taught individuals will start looking at my family and see all of the problems there, so we will just let it go. Another issue is not wanting to have to deal with the difficulty of attempting to explain certain things (submission) based on the reaction they may get from others. This is something which we should address, as the Apostle Paul is giving us information on it. If we are to be the beacons of light to this world, we should have answers for these things.


We will start with the issue of marriage as the Apostle Paul does here and will look at some of the things which is being said about this. Paul starts with the issue of wives here. He speaks of this throughout his epistles:


Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; [4] That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.


Here we have Paul speaking of how it is that individuals learn. The older women are going to demonstrate these things to the younger women. This can be through what they are doing and being a pattern for them, through discussions they have with the younger women, or even through a women's Bible study to deal with some of these issues. The information is being passed down from generation to generation so God's Word can be followed.


The Bible does make it clear of what a marriage is:


Genesis 2:24-25

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. [25] And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


This is a clear explanation of what God intended and is given to us at the very beginning of the Bible. This was pointed to by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry and also by the Apostle Paul as he was writing to us. No matter how much society wants to deviate from this definition, God has not changed what He meant.


We are going to see a problem text for many individuals with the issue of marriage and what wives should be doing:


Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. [23] 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. [24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.


Ephesians 5:33

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.


The problem many have is the issue of submission and subjection which are brought up in verses 22 and 24. Individuals have taken this to mean issues of almost slavery, as they take it for the husband to be domineering in relationship to his wife and the wife dutifully obeys every whim of her husband.


This is not what the Apostle Paul means at all. He uses the issue of the Lord Jesus Christ and the church (the Body of Christ) as the example. There is a unity we have in how we are supposed to function and there are clear guidelines on what is supposed to occur in the behavior and relationships we have. We all make mistakes in this process and God continues to demonstrate His love towards us, as we are part of Him.


The issue of the subjection and submission is that the two have become one and are supposed to be functioning together as one. This is why we see what verse 33 says, as it shows the love each are to have for the other. This can only be present if both the husband and the wife are following the doctrine, which would be what is intended for all members of the Body of Christ.


As Paul speaks to the husbands in this, he speaks to them of the love which is supposed to be demonstrated:


Ephesians 5:25-28

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, [27] 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. [28] So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.


The love would be patterned after the love which the Lord Jesus Christ has for us, the members of the Body of Christ. Since we are members of His Body, He loves us as we truly are a part of Him. This is the same way the marriage relationship works and the love being demonstrated. We have already seen how in marriage the two become one. Since the wife is now part of the husband, he is to love his wife just as he loves himself.


When this love is present, it removes many of the problems which are present when we look at how marriage is among the unsaved. Many times the marriage relationship is looked at as a manner to get their own needs met. This is not to be the case. When the marriage relationship is seen in a manner outside of what God intends, it leads to many problems and often to separation. The selfish attitude needs to be examined, as the two have become one and demonstrating the love in the manner God intends shows how this is to work.


Just as the issue of being subject causes many problems, so does the idea of headship:


Ephesians 5:23

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.


A verse such as this tends to continue the viewpoint of dictatorship which many people seem to have related to marriage. We need to understand what the idea of head actually means. We are going to look at the definitions from Webster's 1828 Dictionary. I am going to provide all of them in order to show how there are a number of meanings which help lead to the confusion.




1. The uppermost part of the human body, or the foremost part of the body of prone and creeping animals. This part of the human body contains the organs of hearing, seeing, tasting and smelling; it contains also the brain, which is supposed to be the seat of the intellectual powers, and of sensation. Hence the head is the chief or more important part, and is used for the whole person, in the phrase, let the evil fall on my head.


2. An animal; an individual; as, the tax was raised by a certain rate per head. And we use the singular number to express many. The herd contains twenty head of oxen.


Thirty thousand head of swine.


3. A chief; a principal person; a leader; a commander; one who has the first rank or place, and to whom others are subordinate; as the head of an army; the head of a sect or party. Eph 5.


4. The first place; the place of honor, or of command. The lord mayor sat at the head of the table. The general marched at the head of his troops.


5. Countenance; presence; in the phrases, to hide the head, to show the head.


6. Understanding; faculties of the mind; sometimes in a ludicrous sense; as, a man has a good head, or a strong head. These men laid their heads together to form the scheme. Never trouble your head about this affair. So we say, to beat the head; to break the head; that is, to study hard, to exercise the understanding or mental faculties.


7. Face; front; forepart.


The ravishers turn head, the fight renews. [Unusual.]


8. Resistance; successful opposition; in the phrase, to make head against, that is, to advance, or resist with success.


9. Spontaneous will or resolution; in the phrases, of his own head, on their own head. But of is more usual than on.


10. State of a deer's horns by which his age is known. The buck is called, the fifth year, a buck of the first head.


11. The top of a thing, especially when larger than the rest of the thing; as the head of a spear; the head of a cabbage; the head of a nail; the head of a mast.


12. The forepart of a thing, as the head of a ship, which includes the bows on both sides; also, the ornamental figure or image erected on or before the stem of a ship.


13. The blade or cutting part of an ax, distinct from the helve.


14. That which rises on the top; as the head or yeast of beer.


15. The upper part of a bed, or bed-stead.


16. The brain.


They turn their heads to imitate the sun.


17. The dress of the head; as a laced head. [Unusual.]


18. The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile.


19. Altitude of water in ponds, as applicable to the driving of mill-wheels. The mill has a good head of water.


20. Topic of discourse; chief point or subject; a summary; as the heads of a discourse or treatise.


21. Crisis; pitch; highth. The disease has grown to such a head as to threaten life.


22. Influence; force; strength; pitch. The sedition got to such a head as not to be easily quelled.


23. Body; conflux.


24. Power; armed force.


My lord, my lord, the French have gathered head.


25. Liberty; freedom from restrain; as, to give a horse the head. Hence,


26. License; freedom from check, control or restraint.


Children should not have their heads.


He has too long given his unruly passions the head.


27. The hair of the head; as a head of hair.


28. The top of corn or other plant; the part on which the seed grows.


29. The end, or the boards that form the end; as the head of a cask.


30. The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea; as the head of a bay, gulf or creek.


31. The maturated part of an ulcer or boil; hence, to come to a head, is to suppurate.


Head and ears, a phrase denoting the whole person, especially when referring to immersion. He plunged head and ears into the water. He was head and ears in debt, that is, completely overwhelmed.


Head and shoulders, by force; violently; as, to drag one head and shoulders.


They bring in every figure of speech, head and shoulders.


Head or tail, or head nor tail, uncertain; not reducible to certainty.


Head, as an adj. or in composition, chief; principal; as a head workman.


By the head, in seamen's language, denotes the state of a ship laden too deeply at the fore-end.


We can see there are a number of definitions related to head, which helps to create some of the confusion related to this word and the meaning in the passage we are looking at. The third definition in this list shows the issue of being a leader and is referred back to Ephesians 5 as a verse which is associated with it. The problem comes in with how man has taken the issue of being the head or leader in the marriage relationship. Too often it is taken to be in a dictatorial sense. Husbands attempting to follow the concept of headship in this manner will treat their wives in a very non-loving manner and think it is honoring God.


Paul gives us the example of how this is to function. He tells us this should be done in the same manner as the Lord Jesus Christ being the head over the church, the Body of Christ. Does the Lord Jesus Christ function in the manner of being a dictator to us? No, He has demonstrated love towards us, has given us information on how we should be living at this time, and we are working together with Him. An example is He lives in us and through us (Galatians 2:20) and we are identified as being complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). None of this would demonstrate the way headship is often looked at.


The Apostle Paul does speak about issues of provision for the home:


1 Timothy 5:8

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.


This does speak of the basic needs of the family. These are supposed to be provided for, which is part of the love which the Apostle Paul keeps circling back to as being part of this relationship. While there are reasons why this might not happen at times (ex: physical disability) this is intended to be the standard which happens in the family relationship and the provision for the members of the family.


As Paul continues looking at things with this, he moves to the relationship between children and fathers. This is another relationship which society has attempted to put their thoughts into, resulting in many things contrary to what the Word of God would say is supposed to happen. As we consider the verses speaking of this, it is important to note that there is nothing which is supposed to be stepping in between this relationship. The government, schools, or other outside entities are not to be taking the place of the parent-child relationship.


Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. [2] Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) [3] That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.


This passage shows multiple things related to how children are supposed to be functioning during this dispensation. The first things which is said is children are to obey their parents. This is where individuals usually stop the discussion and leave off the issue of in the Lord. This obedience is supposed to be according to what the Word of God says, as this is what makes it right.


How often do we see situations in stores where it is very clear children are not obeying their parents? This is becoming more common and creates situations which are uncomfortable to witness and creating havoc in the stores. Children have seen there is no reason to be obedient, as they will not face any consequences of their behavior and will eventually get what they want because their parent wants to be their friend instead of being their parent. This is clearly not what the Apostle Paul is explaining here in this text. He is saying it is right for children to be obeying their parents in the Lord.


As he continues on with this discussion he brings up the issue of honoring the father and mother. There are some ideas which individuals come up with that do not line up with the idea being presented here, similar to the discussion of headship. The following comes from Webster's 1828 Dictionary:


HON'OR, v.t


1. To revere; to respect; to treat with deference and submission, and perform relative duties to.


Honor thy father and thy mother. Exo 20.


2. To reverence; to manifest the highest veneration for, in words and actions; to entertain the most exalted thoughts of; to worship; to adore.


That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. John 5.


3. To dignify; to raise to distinction or notice; to elevate in rank or station; to exalt. Men are sometimes honored with titles and offices, which they do not merit.


Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor. Est 6.


4. To glorify; to render illustrious.


I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host. Exo 14.


5. To treat with due civility and respect in the ordinary intercourse of life. The troops honored the governor with a salute.


6. In commerce, to accept and pay when due; as, to honor a bill of exchange.


We see the issue of honor is tied in with the thought of reverence and respect which is to be shown. Associated with this is the fact that there should be a submission to the authority of the parent. This ties in with what we read in verse 1, as children are to obey their parents.


The last part of the passage in verse 3 is the issue of living a long life. Parents have had life experiences where they know what is good and what is bad. Children, as they are obeying their parents, are going to make decisions which will ensure they have a long life.


We can quote Mark Twain to see the common thought process of children: "When I was 14 years old, my father was so ignorant I was ashamed of the old man. By the time I got to be 21, I was surprised at how much he had learned in seven years." This is commonly how children, outside of what the Bible teaches us, feel about this. They reject the things of the parent in the teenage years (rebellion) and come back as they get older and then realize how wrong they were in this thought process.


2 Timothy 3:1-5

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.


Paul speaks about what is going to happen at the end of this dispensation in 2 Timothy 3. He speaks about how children will be disobedient to parents. While we have already talked about how this is going on in the world today, this is not what Paul is speaking about here. Paul is stating that as the dispensation gets closer to the end, the children in the Body of Christ will behave in the same manner as we see in the rest of the world. The passage speaks about this change in many different areas of life, one of them being how children will be disobedient to parents.


One last passage as we deal with children comes from the book of Proverbs:


Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.


Solomon speaks about how children if they are left on their own, which means they will be making the decisions for themselves, will bring shame to their parents. This is because they need the parents to be able to guide them in the right way of how to live life.


This is why we see the fathers are being given the instruction by Paul to not provoke their children to anger. This can seem to be a difficult thing because nobody likes to be disciplined and this can lead to anger. While it is okay to be angry (Ephesians 4:26), the issue is what results from the anger. The actions that can result from anger are sometimes sinful (following the whatsoever is not of faith is sin principle- Romans 14:23). Fathers have to be careful in their approach to dealing with their children, as we see from how the Apostle Paul addresses fathers in the book of Ephesians:


Ephesians 6:4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


There are two principles which are brought up in this passage. The first of these is to not provoke children to wrath. The issue of wrath would result from punishments or other actions towards them which go against what God has instructed. There are many different examples of this which can be given. A father who punishes a child harshly for the smallest of things which have been done wrong, abuse of a child which has nothing to do with correcting bad behavior, and basic neglect of child are a few examples of doing things which would provoke wrath. The wrath being spoken of here is not the wrath of God, but the wrath of the child which is being treated in this manner. The result of this is the child is driven from wanting anything to do with the family as they get older and it will have a negative impact on their relationships with others in the future, as they will see this as normal behavior.


What the Apostle Paul does want fathers to understand and do is what the second part of the verse states. They are to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This means that things are to be done in a manner where children are raised to understand the things of what the Word of God says to them. We see this principle throughout the Bible, regardless of which dispensation we look at:


Deuteronomy 31:13

And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.


Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


2 Timothy 1:5

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.


2 Timothy 3:15

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.


These four verses show what the Bible truly says about this topic. Israel was given these instructions in Deuteronomy and Proverbs to show how they were to treat their children. The Apostle Paul also speaks of this with Timothy, using how he was raised as a foundation to this. The focus of things is to be on raising a child with the knowledge of what God's Word says. If this is the focus of things, the child is going to be raised in a manner where they will not depart from the Word and will be able to make decisions in their lives based on what the Word says, which will help to live a long life as the Apostle Paul had stated.


This is the foundation of which things are built on:


1 Corinthians 3:10-11

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


Colossians 1:25-29

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.


These two passages show how the only foundation which can be built upon is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing else which we can build on which would be satisfactory to God, which could actually help an individual today, or result in everything which is intended for us today. Other things might seem to give some of this and have an appeal because of it. However, they do not have the eternal glory which comes with doing the things according to the Word of God.


In Ephesians 6:4 the issue is to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The definitions of these two words follow:



1. That which nourishes; food; diet.

2. That which promotes growth; education; instruction. Eph 6.




Gentle reproof; counseling against a fault; instruction in duties; caution; direction. Titus 3. 1 Cor 10. In church discipline, public or private reproof to reclaim an offender; a step preliminary to excommunication.


These two words show the impact the father is to have on the children in the home. There is to be a clear direction of things pointing to the Lord, which starts from how the children are being raised and what the father is showing them. This starts with the issue of nurture, which would reflect the growth which is to come. A word we would commonly use to describe this would be the edification of the individual. This is something which flows through Paul's epistles, showing the importance of this issue.


2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.


Here we see it is the Word of God which is profitable for all of the things which are listed. The first of these is doctrine, which is where the edification is going to come from. Children are to be raised in a manner where they are being taught from the Word of God, showing the importance of the Word in their lives. This is what we had seen with Timothy in the beginning of this article, as Paul spoke about how Timothy had been taught things from Scripture starting as a child. If children are shown the importance of the things of the Word of God as a child, they will not depart from this as easily as others do.


Acts 14:21-23

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. [23] And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.


This passage from the book of Acts shows the pattern of Paul as he was traveling. He would go into a city to establish local assemblies for the purposes which are laid out here. These can be referred to as the 4 E's of the assembly: Evangelism, Edification, Exhortation, and Eldership. The local assembly is something which is to help with the edification, as individuals need to learn from each other. This process can only happen if it starts at home and is continually being reinforced in the home in order to make sure there is a continual growth happening.


1 Corinthians 3:10-11

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


Colossians 1:25-29

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.


These two passages show how the only foundation on which can be built is the Lord Jesus Christ. He accomplished everything which allows for the reconciliation with God and the complete victory over sin and death. The Apostle Paul continuously points back to what the cross accomplished for us and uses this as the foundation of things for us. When we truly grasp what has been accomplished we can be able to see the true nurture and admonition of the Lord which Paul states we should have.


The Apostle Paul does speak in the book of Romans about man and the lack of this which can happen:


Romans 1:18-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. [24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


Looking at this passage we see some problems which come up with the natural man. Even though there is a knowledge of God within man, the tendency is to reject the things of God and be unthankful toward Him. This rejects the admonition of the Lord which we are supposed to have. The passage continues on to speak about the end result of this, which is the things man is given over to. Man ends up going down the path of following these things because of this rejection of who He is and the lack of admonition towards Him. Without this, there can truly be no nurture which would be there.


Paul identifies the fact we are to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to live in us and through us (Galatians 2:20). This is what is intended in our lives and if we are doing this, we will have the right relationships with family members as God intends. We know this happens by applying the doctrine which has been given to us by Paul in his epistles (Romans through Philemon) and following the pattern which has been laid out for us today:


Philippians 3:17

Brothers, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an ensample.