“ And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”[a]
7 If[b] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12: 5-11)
Did you know that the same Greek word used for ‘chastisement’ is also used for ‘nurture’ and ‘instruction’? It appears as nurture in Ephesians 6:4 when Paul tells parents to raise their children in the“nurture and admonition of the Lord”.
The same word is used as instruction in 2 Timothy 3:16 when Paul tells Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. In placing ‘nurture’ next to admonition (which means also ‘exhortation’), we see that Paul wants parents to show their children a loving God.
The translators could have used the word ‘nurture’ throughout Hebrews 12, and we would have a better understanding regarding the chastening power of the Lord. The author used the same Greek word in each passage, but our rendering of it into one word or the other has a profound negative effect on our interpretation of bible passages.
We always see ‘chastening’ as God beating us with a long stick from heaven? That is why people assume that God sometimes takes our job away or gives us a disease so that we will be less prideful or give more in church? Would you do this to your child? If you wish to teach your little boy not to play with fire, do you place his hand in the flames of a stove and then say, “That’s what happens when you play with fire. That kind of parenting is madness that needs an asylum.
The fact that we are sons of God means that we are going to receive true chastisement from our Heavenly Father. This chastisement will instruct us in the ways of righteousness and show us a little more of Jesus every day. As our Father, He deals with us in much the same way that we would deal with our own children.
The context of Hebrews 12 is about Christians being persecuted for the faith (see Hebrews 11). It will be absurd for the writer of Hebrews to tell a group of believers facing the threat of scourging that God is the one scourging them. The author writes to encourage them (Heb 12:3,5). For them to Hear that God was the one persecuting them was no way to encourage them. It simply doesn’t fit the context.
He saw their persecution for the faith as training for Sonshipthrough trials. A situation where their unpleasant experience will produce character and a hope that doesn’t disappoint. Their experience was not to prove their Sonship but it was another platform for them to give expression to their identity even in the worst of challenges. Just like Jesus was tempted in the wilderness to defend his Sonship by the devil by dropping the word “Beloved”, the early church passed through the same path.
The word ‘chastise’ is ‘Paideuo’ in Greek and it means “child-training”. God is training us up as children and the quicker that we think of Him as a Father to little children, the quicker that we will see Him as good and be able to imitate him as His dear children.
Our perception in difficult moments must be rooted in seeing a loving Father. We must realize that every trial we face is an attempt by the devil to make us see God as less loving than his word tell us. The key to overcoming an trial against you is to remain rooted in His unchanging love for you as a Father who will even use every situation to prepare you for glory.