Colossians 3:21
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Provoke not . . . to anger.—This, in the text followed by our version, is borrowed from Ephesians 6:4. The true reading is provoke to emulation, as in 2Corinthians 9:2. What is forbidden is a constant and restless stimulation, “spurring the willing horse;” which will end in failure and despondency.

3:18-25 The epistles most taken up in displaying the glory of the Divine grace, and magnifying the Lord Jesus, are the most particular in pressing the duties of the Christian life. We must never separate the privileges and duties of the gospel. Submission is the duty of wives. But it is submission, not to a severe lord or stern tyrant, but to her own husband, who is engaged to affectionate duty. And husbands must love their wives with tender and faithful affection. Dutiful children are the most likely to prosper. And parents must be tender, as well as children obedient. Servants are to do their duty, and obey their masters' commands, in all things consistent with duty to God their heavenly Master. They must be both just and diligent; without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise. Those who fear God, will be just and faithful when from under their master's eye, because they know they are under the eye of God. And do all with diligence, not idly and slothfully; cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation. And for servants' encouragement, let them know, that in serving their masters according to the command of Christ, they serve Christ, and he will give them a glorious reward at last. But, on the other hand, he who doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done. God will punish the unjust, as well as reward the faithful servant; and the same if masters wrong their servants. For the righteous Judge of the earth will deal justly between master and servant. Both will stand upon a level at his tribunal. How happy would true religion make the world, if it every where prevailed, influenced every state of things, and every relation of life! But the profession of those persons who are regardless of duties, and give just cause for complaint to those they are connected with, deceives themselves, as well as brings reproach on the gospel.Fathers, provoke not ... - Notes, Ephesians 6:4.

Lest they be discouraged - Lest, by your continually finding fault with them, they should lose all courage, and despair of ever pleasing you. There is much sound sense and practical wisdom in this observation of the apostle. Children should not be flattered, but they should be encouraged. They should not be so praised as to make them vain and proud, but they should be commended when they do well. The desire of praise should not be the principle from which they should be taught to act, but they should feel that the approbation of parents is a desirable thing, and when they act so as to deserve that approbation, no injury is done them by their understanding it. He who always finds fault with a child; who is never satisfied with what he does; who scolds and frets and complains, let him do as he will, breaks his spirit, and soon destroys in the delicate texture of his soul all desire of doing well. The child in despair soon gives over every effort to please. He becomes sullen, morose, stupid, and indifferent to all the motives that can be presented to him, and becomes to a great extent indifferent as to what he does - since all that he does meets with the same reception from the parent.

21. (Eph 6:4.) It is a different Greek verb, therefore translate here, "irritate not." By perpetual fault-finding "children" are "discouraged" or "disheartened." A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth [Bengel]. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger: and to moderate the parental authority, that they may exercise it Christianly, he allows not parents to do that which is in a direct tendency to irritate or move the passions of their children merely for their own pleasure, without a principal regard to God’s glory, and their children’s profit, Hebrews 12:10. Indeed, he seems here more strictly to guard fathers against mal-administration of their power in this extreme than he doth elsewhere, when writing upon the same subject, Ephesians 6:4, considering the original word he here puts the negative upon, to engage them to lay aside rigour in their government, (as well as unwarrantable indulgence), and that upon a very weighty reason, drawn from the end, viz.

lest they be discouraged; lest some children, who might with a moderate hand be reduced to obedience, should be (as it were) dispirited, by the roughness of their father’s discipline, and even pine away with grief, or grow desperate. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger,.... See Gill on Ephesians 6:4.

lest they be discouraged; or disheartened and dispirited; their spirits be broke through grief and trouble, and they become indolent, sluggish, and unfit for business; or, despairing of having any share in the affections of their parents, disregard their commands, instructions, and corrections, and grow obdurate, stubborn, and rebellious.

{13} Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

(13) Of parents, that they are gentle towards their children.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 3:21. ἐρεθίζετε: i.e., irritate by exacting commands and perpetual faultfinding and interference for interference, sake. The consequence of such foolish exercise of authority is that the child becomes discouraged; in other words, his spirit is broken, and since what he does leads to constant blame, he loses hope of ever being able to please. “Fractus animus pestis juventutis” (Beng.).21. Fathers] We may (as in Ephesians 6:4, where see note) equally well render Parents. Cp. Hebrews 11:23, in the Greek. Still, the father is the natural representative of the dual parental authority.

provoke not … to wrath] Chafe, irritate. The Greek word is as old as Homer (e.g. Iliad, i. 32, iv. 5), who almost always uses it of provocation to combat. Unwise, unloving, parental despotism, exacting, needlessly chiding, interposing for the sake of interposition, is a fatally sure challenge to the child’s will. The Christian father should handle that will as kindly as firmly.

be discouraged] Lose hope, the hope of pleasing, the animating expectation of doing right and so winning the “well done” of love. The eternal Father “upbraideth not” (James 1:5; cp. Isaiah 57:16).—Luther has here, auf dass sie nicht scheu werden.Colossians 3:21.[28] Ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν, lest they be discouraged) ἀθυμία, despondency (a broken-down spirit), the bane of youth.

[28] οἱ πατέρες, the fathers) The husband is the head of the wife; wherefore power is principally attributed to the fathers.—V. g.Verse 21. - Ye fathers, do not irritate your children, lest they be disheartened (Ephesians 6:4). Αρεθίζω ("irritate" or "provoke") St. Paul uses once besides (2 Corinthians 9:2), in a good sense. It implies a use of parental authority which, by continual exactions and complaints, teaches the child to look on the father as his enemy rather than his friend. The synonymous παροργίζω of Ephesians 6:4, found here in many copies, is, more definitely "to rouse to anger." Αθυμέω (only here in the New Testament) means "to lose heart," to have the confidence and high spirit of youth broken; "fractus animus pestis juventutis" (Bengel). In place of this treatment, "the discipline and admonition of the Lord" are recommended in Ephesians 6:4. Provoke to anger (ἐρεθίζετε)

Only here and 2 Corinthians 9:2, where it is used of stirring up to good works. To anger is added by A.V.

Be discouraged (ἀθυμῶσιν)

Only here in the New Testament. Lose heart, or become dispirited.

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