The Expository Files


An Interview With The Apostle Paul

Ephesians  6:1-4


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:  "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

What if we could talk to the apostle Paul? Have him in before the group you are in. Conduct an open forum with questions directed to the apostle. We get to ask him about our problems, questions, issues, etc. We are interviewing the apostle Paul.

I want you to imagine that happening and in the course of the event a child wants to speak to Paul. The child says, "Paul, I have a problem."

I just don't like some of the things my parents want me to do! I know I have to do my homework, but I think I can decide what time of day to do it. My parents just won't let me do some things I want to do . . . they are way too cautious, too restrictive and sometimes they punish me. Paul, it is an oppressive condition I live in and my parents are not getting any smarter. They are good people and they mean well - but I'm sick and tired of doing what they say. (This is a very verbose child for his age, -web).

How does Paul answer? "Children, obey your parents in he Lord, for this is right."  "Honor your father and mother."

Then later in the interview a father wants to address the apostle Paul. He is a member of the church. He has a demanding job; a job that has social obligations and travel. He wants to do everything right, but is often stressed and torn by conflicts, unexpected time pressures and things come up about his kids he didn't expect. So he says to Paul:

Brother, I'm a father. I'm not asking you to solve every problem - but in one sentence, can you tell me what the Lord expects?

Paul speaks: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

Parents, we need to let Paul take us back to the simple truths of God!

Scripture is sufficient to equip us as good parents!

I delivered a sermon one time on biblical parenting and gave that sermon from the Bible. A woman - as she walked out -  said: Can you recommend a good book about parenting? As soon as she said that she was embarrassed; she caught herself and said, "I mean, in addition to the Bible." {Could this be part of our problem?}

There may be books about marriage and parenting that can help us. I have some and they have helped me. But we need to start with the Bible, and whatever other reading we do - consider the Bible to be the supreme standard on this subject. Everything else we read needs to be strongly considered as inferior to our central authority, the Word of God. (In reading Expository
Files, you are not reading authorized inspired writing. You are reading the comments of writers who want to help you and challenge you.)

Men and women with experience and special knowledge can help us but the standard God has given must be our primary source of parental instruction.

I want to tell you that many very good children were raised by very good parents long before books were printed and marketed. Many of us were raised by parents who never heard of James Dobson. If some human can help you focus on biblical principles and supply some tools and methods to carry out what God has said, we can be receptive to that.

But what is essential is, NOT THE WISDOM OF THE EXPERTS  -  BUT THE WISDOM OF GOD, revealed in His Word. Paul said - All Scripture is profitable! Central to all our thinking about everything must be the Word of God.

Now when I say that Scripture is sufficient to equip us as good parents, let me explain.

I do not mean that for every specific issue you have, you can turn to a certain page and read a four step solution. And I do not mean you can just list every passage that mentions parenting, thinking that's all you need. Read the entire book, and let that book direct all your thoughts and actions. Then, what is said about parenting can be applied.

Scripture will give you the goal, the values, the principles and the warnings; and the love for God! As you apply all that in life, doing what God asks you to do, you are equipped to become a good parent.

It's that principle we stress all the time. If you love God and obey Christ, that's your best preparation to be a spouse, parent, neighbor or citizen.

To this I need to add - Some of the popular books on the market about parenting will give you bad advice. Popular authors may have no hesitation to speak against God's principles. And there may be very subtle advice in parenting books that amounts to nothing but popular cultural nonsense. Be careful.

On this subject, God has spoken. In Eph. 6:4, in 22 words (New King James), four key questions are answered by Paul. {We return now to the "interview."}

Paul, What Is The Goal?

Answer - to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The goal is not to get them out of your life as soon as possible. The goal is not the honor roll, a football championship or a crown from a beauty contest. The goal is not riches, fame or power. It is very simple: raising your children to be God's children! If your heart is right with God, He will help you set and reach that goal. Maybe you need to get serious about that again.

If this is not your goal, you will certainly not get there, and it is unlikely they will live a life you have rejected. The goal is - for your children to be God's children.

Paul, Who Are You Talking To?

Answer - Fathers.

Here's something everybody knows: Children need their fathers! One of the persistent problems in our society is - Fathers who are not there.

There are men who are quick to become biological fathers - but never sign on to being real fathers. Whole government and law enforcement systems have been put in place to find fathers who have abandoned their children, and get them at least to bear part of the financial burden. It is a ravaging act of cowardly, self-centered behavior when boys and men abdicate responsibility
to children they bring into the world.

But it is important to add to that another dimension of this. Some men stay in the home with the family physically - but might as well be absent.

I've known men with this attitude:

I bring home the money. I work hard - so I deserve my poker buddies, my boat, my football, my hunting trips. I have a wife - She can take care of the kids.

So the father lives in the home and he brings some money into the family - Great! But he doesn't spend much time with his children. He doesn't pray with them. He is a man with things to do outside the home.  He doesn't read the Bible with his children; "their momma can do that stuff."

When there is a crisis with the children's behavior - he leaves all that to his wife - - he had this fishing trip planned. And then when his grown children don't know him - he wonders what happened.

Paul, what about this? "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

Men need to step up to this. Christian men ought to be models of involved, caring fathers. Paul speaks to fathers of their duty.

Have you ever noticed - in the book of Proverbs - the format of that book is, a father counseling his children. The first seven chapters of Proverbs begin that way, a father addressing his son. And scattered along in the text, statements like this to children: Listen to your father (Prov. 23:22)!

Fathers, we need to have something to say for our children to listen to and live by. The best fathers not only give us life -they teach us how to live life - to be children of God.

Paul, What Is The Danger?

Answer - provoking them to wrath.

"Do not provoke your children to wrath."

Children need loving, firm, just - sometimes painful - discipline. But to demean them, belittle them, discourage, defeat and terrify is just wrong and destructive. Those tactics miss the mark of godly parenting, and ought to be removed from the tool box.

Just here, it is important to take God as the model parent. He is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish. His love for us is made known to us. He doesn't laugh at us to entertain someone. He is patient, a God of grace and forgiveness.

Fathers, we cannot justify outbursts of hurtful anger. Frustration must be restrained. Words must be measured. Abuse is never OK.

Paul, How Will I Do This?

Answer - Training & Admonition.

"Training" means to raise up carefully, with all the right instruction for life. For this, you'll have to have a Bible; read it and learn it yourself. Read it to them and with them and discuss with them how you take the principles of the Bible, and apply them in life.

Here is a typical response to this: Well, OK, I see the value of that. So, I'll bring them to Bible classes at the church building. By all means do that. But if they don't see at home what they see here;  if the Bible is opened only here but not at home, you are setting yourself and your children up for almost certain disappointment.

Do you know how many times parents say something like this:

Little Johnny has left the church, and his life is all messed up. We brought him to Sunday School!!!

Ask little Johnny about that. He is liable to say - Yeah, Mom and Dad took me to church, but it didn't mean much to them - IT NEVER CAME UP AT HOME!!!

Fathers, train them in the way that is right. Wrapped up into this is chastening. A separate word in some translations, it concerns education with emphasis on correction.

I hear parents brag sometimes, "Little Johnny was a perfect boy. I never had to correct him."

You know what that tells me? Momma had no idea what little Johnny was doing when she was doing laundry or watching TV. Little Johnny just may have been so clever, he didn't get caught. Children need correction. In fact, Hebrews 12 says - We all need correction, and God provides that.

Fathers and mothers, you need to talk about this; let the standards of the Bible inform your choices and send the signals out - when wrongdoing is going on.

In the New King James there is this word "admonition." Were you ever admonished when you were a child? My mother was good at that. My father was long at that. I was lectured. I preferred physical punishment, and was on the receiving end of a good bit of that. But it was always accompanied by admonition.

Son, here's why this is wrong. Here's the problem with your behavior. Here's why this is so important for your future. Like in the book of Proverbs: My Son, Listen to this!


People living in less developed cultures, who don't have all the books and technology we have raise their children, transmit their traditions and ethics - in many cases, better than us.

Because they do the simple things parents must do in raising children.  Care for them. Model good behavior. Talk to them about what truth is. Surround them with valuable people.

Correct their misbehavior without provoking them to anger.

It is not a mystery. It does not require a Phd. Books may help a little - but only if your living by THE BOOK.

God made us and He made us to relate to Him and to each other - in eternally valuable ways. It is an inescapable truth. Once I connect with God, through Jesus Christ - I can effectively connect with others; serve others; teach others, and be taught by others. Listen to Paul, parents!

By By  Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 18.4; April 2011