Fathers: What does the apostle Paul teach us about them?
We find that the “bishops” and “deacons” of the local church are to be pristine examples of what fathers are to be like. Scripture gives us a clear description of their attributes. Every father would do well to work at emulating them. Let’s look at those qualities.
I Timothy 3:2-5 & 12
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant [attentive to detail], sober [sensible], of good behaviour, given to hospitality [hospitable], apt to teach [skillful in teaching];
3 Not given to [not excessive in drinking] wine, no striker [not an attacker], not greedy of filthy lucre [not lustful of money]; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Please notice next that the father is to be the ruler over the entire household. But with this rulership comes a tremendous amount of responsibility.
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity [respectfulness];
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. [Emphasis added]
Paul also speaks of what the attributes are to be in his letter to Titus.
5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot [degeneracy] or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry [hot tempered], not given to wine [not excessive in drinking], no striker [not physically abusive], not given to filthy lucre [not fond of dishonest financial gains];
8 But a lover of hospitality [hospitable], a lover of good men, sober, just, holy [lives by biblical principles], temperate [exercises self-control];
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers [to refute those who contradict]. [Emphasis added]
1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
2 That the aged men be sober, grave [poised], temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. [Emphasis added]
6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. [Emphasis added]
Christian husbands-fathers are ordained of God to be spiritual leaders of the household. As the above passages teach, bishops and deacons—and all Christian fathers in general—need to function in this manner.
21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. [Emphasis added]
The “provoke” activity would come if the father [or grandfather] somehow abused his authority. However, he is to do everything possible to properly administer his God-given authority. I’ve written an article about fathers and grandfathers that you’ll find at this link. https://4us2usministries.com/questions/grandparents-what-is-their-role-to-their-grandchildren/
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath [anger because of unfair and/or unreasonable treatment]: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. [Emphasis added]
This tells us they need instruction and enforced submission to the teaching. When they are young, this will at times demand the use of a rod [a switch].
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [before it is too late]. [Emphasis added]
This is especially important in the younger, more formative years. But even later, for as long as the child is a part of the father’s household, there must be enforced submission to his authority. Rebellion against that authority is never to be tolerated. There’s to be a balance between being too rough and being too laid back. The father is to lovingly guide them into a life of obedience, causing them to realize that all that’s being done is ultimately for their benefit. When the discipline is not being done in love, there’s typically a reaction that often causes rebellion.
Lastly, we have passages that exhort fathers to be faithful in providing the material needs of their family.
I Timothy 5:8
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. [Emphasis added]
The “infidel” is the unbeliever. This tells us God’s people are never to function like unbelievers, even though many do. Paul’s rebuke of such is to be taken to heart by every father.
I Corinthians 3:1-3
1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal [ones controlled by their sinful nature], even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [Emphasis added]
The carnal father is a disgrace to his family and to his position, but by turning around his thinking he has a fabulous opportunity to positively impact the lives of those in his household and to have a wonderful effect on an entire community and more, enjoying all the blessings God intended for him. He is to know these principles and apply them faithfully. His position enables him to be far more than just a procreator and a sperm donor. He is to choose to serve well in his position of honor. As go the fathers, so goes the nation. They can gain the credit for the good, but they can and should also be held responsible for the bad.
The most important responsibility of a father is on the spiritual side of things. Providing food, clothing, and shelter for one’s family is a part of what he is to do, but not nearly as important as the spiritual factor. As the father he’s to set the Christian example for the whole family. He’s to not only be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, but a faithful student of God’s Word, understanding the meaning of rightly dividing the Scriptures. He’s surely to be a hard worker, but especially diligent as a student of God’s Word. Then everything he does should be to bring honor to his God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s to live out the principle set forth as one who is totally dedicated to his study and application of God’s Word in every area of his life. He should take it upon himself to fulfill what’s set forth by the apostle Paul in his commitment to his task as a Christian father.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [Emphasis added]
What father could you pass this information on to that might make an eternal difference in an entire household?