|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-4 The great duty of children is, to obey their parents. That obedience includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts, and in every age prosperity has attended those distinguished for obedience to parents. The duty of parents. Be not impatient; use no unreasonable severities. Deal prudently and wisely with children; convince their judgements and work upon their reason. Bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Often is this duty neglected, even among professors of the gospel. Many set their children against religion; but this does not excuse the children's disobedience, though it may be awfully occasion it. God alone can change the heart, yet he gives his blessing to the good lessons and examples of parents, and answers their prayers. But those, whose chief anxiety is that their children should be rich and accomplished, whatever becomes of their souls, must not look for the blessing of God.
Verse 4. - And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath. "Fathers" is inclusive of mothers, to whom the practical administration of the household and training of the children so much belong. The first counsel on the subject is negative, and probably has respect to a common pagan habit, against which Christians needed to be put on their guard. Irritation of children was common, through loss of temper and violence in reproving them, through capricious and unsteady treatment and unreasonable commands; but more especially (what is still so common) by the parents being violently angry when the children, inconsiderately, perhaps, disturbed or annoyed them, rather than when they deliberately did wrong. All this the apostle deprecates. But bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. The words παιδεία and νουθεσία are not easily defined in this connection; the former is thought to denote the discipline of training, with its appropriate rewards and punishments; the latter, instruction. Both are to be "of the Lord," such as he inspires and approves. Instilling sound principles of life, training to good habits, cautioning and protecting against moral dangers, encouraging prayer, Bible-reading, church-going, sabbath-keeping; taking pains to let them have good associates, and especially dealing with them prayerfully and earnestly, in order that they may accept Christ as their Savior and follow him, - are among the matters included in this counsel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,.... Neither by words; by unjust and, unreasonable commands; by contumelious and reproachful language; by frequent and public chidings, and by indiscreet and passionate expressions: nor by deeds; preferring one to another; by denying them the necessaries of life; by not allowing them proper recreation; by severe and cruel blows, and inhuman usage; by not giving them suitable education; by an improper disposal of them in marriage; and by profusely spending their estates, and leaving nothing to them: not but that parents may, and ought to correct and rebuke their children; nor are they accountable to them for their conduct; yet they should take care not to provoke them to wrath, because this alienates their minds from them, and renders their instructions and corrections useless, and puts them upon sinful practices; wrath lets in Satan, and leads to sin against God; and indeed it is difficult in the best of men to be angry and not sin; see Colossians 3:21. Fathers are particularly mentioned, they being the heads of families, and are apt to be too severe, as mothers too indulgent.
But bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; instructing them in the knowledge of divine things, setting them good examples, taking care to prevent their falling into bad company, praying with them, and for them, bringing them into the house of God, under the means of grace, to attend public worship; all which, under a divine blessing, may be very useful to them; the example of Abraham is worthy of imitation, Genesis 18:19, and the advice of the wise man deserves attention, Proverbs 22:6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. fathers—including mothers; the fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to their children than mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence.
provoke not—irritate not, by vexatious commands, unreasonable blame, and uncertain temper [Alford]. Col 3:21, "lest they be discouraged."
nurture—Greek, "discipline," namely, training by chastening in act where needed (Job 5:17; Heb 12:7).
admonition—training by words (De 6:7; "catechise," Pr 22:6, Margin), whether of encouragement, or remonstrance, or reproof, according as is required [Trench]. Contrast 1Sa 3:13, Margin.
of the Lord—such as the Lord approves, and by His Spirit dictates.
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