Christian Parents: Train Up a Child in the Way They Should Go

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Dive into our enlightening article, “Christian Parents: Train Up a Child in the Way They Should Go.” Uncover biblical parenting principles and learn how to nurture your child’s faith, incorporating Christian values into your family life. A must-read for all Christian parents seeking guidance on raising godly children.

Luke 18:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 But Jesus called them to himself, saying, “Allow the children to come to me, and do not forbid them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

The Challenge of Secular Influence

In today’s world, a significant problem facing parents is the increasing influence of secular perspectives in culture, society, and education. Many children are being exposed to worldviews that may not align with their family’s faith-based values. This influence comes from various sources, such as public schools, media, and the internet, where secular views are often prevalent.

Parents may find it challenging to maintain a faith-based environment when the external world seems increasingly at odds with their beliefs. The teachings of the Bible can sometimes seem contrary to the prevailing trends in society, making it more challenging for parents to instill these values in their children. For instance, the Christian principle of selflessness, as demonstrated by Jesus in passages like Mark 10:45, might clash with societal messages emphasizing individualism and self-promotion.

Fostering a Strong Foundation in Faith

Despite these challenges, it is not an insurmountable task. Parents can address this issue by fostering a strong foundation in faith within their homes. This can involve regularly studying the Bible as a family, engaging in prayer, and participating in church activities together. It’s also crucial to have open conversations about faith and the challenges that come with upholding it in a secular world.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, parents are urged to impress Jehovah’s commands upon their children, to talk about them at home and on the road, and to make them a constant part of their lives. This ongoing communication and active engagement in faith can help children understand and appreciate the value of their religious beliefs.

The Role of Community and Church

The community and church play a vital role in overcoming this problem. By involving their children in a faith-based community, parents can provide them with peers who share their values. A strong, supportive community can reinforce the teachings parents instill at home and serve as a valuable buffer against secular influences.

Moreover, the church can offer resources and support to parents navigating this issue. Many churches provide faith-based educational programs for children and youth, which can serve as a supplement or alternative to secular education. They also provide opportunities for service and involvement, which can help young people apply their faith in practical ways.

The Importance of Personal Testimony

Finally, parents’ personal testimony is a powerful tool in imparting faith to their children. Children are more likely to adopt the values and beliefs of their parents if they see them lived out authentically. As the Apostle Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 11:1, believers should strive to follow Christ’s example and, in doing so, provide an example for others to follow.

Prospects for Success

While the challenge of secular influence is significant, the prospects for successfully navigating it are promising. With a strong emphasis on faith at home, involvement in a supportive community, the resources provided by the church, and the authentic living out of their faith, parents can instill strong, lasting Christian values in their children.

This doesn’t mean that children won’t have questions or doubts, but it equips them with the foundation and the tools to explore those questions within a faith-based framework. In the end, the goal isn’t to shield children from secular influence entirely but to prepare them to engage with it thoughtfully and confidently from a place of faith. As it is written in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”


Spiritual Training and Divine Favor

The type of training that brings divine favor is spiritual training, rooted in a diligent and humble study of Scripture, prayer, and faithful obedience to God’s commands. In 2 Timothy 3:16, it is written, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” indicating that the study and application of Scripture in one’s life is a fundamental aspect of spiritual training.

Spiritual training involves more than just an intellectual understanding of Scripture; it also involves applying its teachings in daily life and seeking to cultivate a Christ-like character. As stated in James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Blessings for God’s People

Throughout the Scriptures, those who have dedicated themselves to spiritual training and obedience to God’s commands have been blessed and found favor with Jehovah. This divine favor often manifests in various ways, such as spiritual wisdom, guidance, peace, and protection.

For example, King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), was known for his commitment to Jehovah’s laws. He declared in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” David’s life, although marked with many trials, bears testament to the guidance and favor he received from Jehovah as a result of his dedication to spiritual training.

Similarly, Daniel and his companions found favor with Jehovah when they refused to defile themselves with the royal food and wine, choosing instead to adhere strictly to the dietary laws of their faith (Daniel 1:8-17). As a result, they were blessed with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and they found favor not only with God but also with the Babylonian king.

The Power of Prayer and Faith

Moreover, the training of one’s spirit also involves the cultivation of an active prayer life and a deep, abiding faith in God’s promises. Prayer, as taught by Jesus in Matthew 6:5-15, is a way of communicating with God, seeking His will, confessing sins, expressing gratitude, and petitioning for our needs and the needs of others. As we draw closer to Jehovah through prayer, we are shaped and guided by His spirit, thereby gaining divine favor.

Faith, meanwhile, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 all exhibited unwavering trust in God’s promises, even in the face of great trials and uncertainties. Their faith was accounted to them as righteousness, and they obtained a good report through it (Hebrews 11:39).


Divine Favor through Spiritual Training

Spiritual training – the diligent study and application of Scripture, an active prayer life, and a deep faith in Jehovah’s promises – brings divine favor. It does not promise a life free from trials, as Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” However, it does assure us of God’s abiding presence, guidance, and peace amidst these trials. And most importantly, it promises eternal life for those who remain steadfast in their faith, as stated in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Theocratic Context of Ancient Israel

In the context of the theocracy of ancient Israel, the training of children was of paramount importance. The term “theocracy” refers to a system of government in which God is recognized as the supreme ruler, and His laws form the basis for societal and moral standards. In the theocracy of Israel, Jehovah’s law as revealed in the Torah was the foundation for all aspects of life, including the upbringing of children.

Instruction in the Law

Central to the training of children was instruction in the law of Jehovah. This was considered the highest form of education and was primarily the responsibility of parents. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 emphasizes this duty, stating, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

This passage not only underscores the importance of teaching children the laws of Jehovah but also emphasizes that this instruction should permeate all aspects of daily life. The Israelites were to keep the words of the law in their hearts and teach them diligently to their children in every circumstance – whether at home or on the journey, at the beginning of the day, and at its close.

Rituals and Festivals

Additionally, the various rituals and festivals mandated in the Torah served as critical tools for the instruction of children. Events like the Passover, for instance, were not only acts of religious observance but also provided opportunities for parents to recount to their children the acts of Jehovah on behalf of His people (Exodus 12:26-27).

These occasions offered concrete examples of Jehovah’s laws and teachings and gave children a direct and personal understanding of their cultural and spiritual heritage. They were meant to provoke questions in the children’s minds, allowing parents to explain their significance (Exodus 12:26).

The Role of Community

The responsibility of training children was not solely on the parents; the entire community also played a part. The elders at the city gates, the Levites, and the prophets all had roles in instructing the younger generation (Deuteronomy 31:9-13). This communal effort reflected the principle found in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

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The Importance of Training Children in the Theocracy of Israel

In conclusion, the training of children was highly valued in the theocracy of Israel. The aim was not merely to impart information but to shape the heart and character of the child, to instill in them a love for Jehovah and His laws. This was seen as essential for maintaining the covenant relationship with Jehovah, ensuring societal harmony, and guaranteeing the continuation of the faith to the next generation.

The theocracy of Israel, with its focus on teaching children the laws of Jehovah, serves as an example of the importance of spiritual training in the family, a principle that remains relevant for Christians today.

Understanding the Concept of Training

For the Israelites, the concept of training encompassed much more than mere teaching or instruction. While it certainly involved imparting knowledge, it was more deeply focused on the shaping of character, morals, and behavior in accordance with the laws and commands of Jehovah. This holistic form of training aimed to foster a deep-rooted love for Jehovah and a commitment to His ways in every aspect of life.

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Training in Practice: A Daily Endeavor

In the daily life of the Israelites, training was a consistent and comprehensive endeavor. As highlighted in Deuteronomy 6:7, parents were commanded to continually impress Jehovah’s laws upon their children: “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

This passage illustrates that training was not confined to formal settings or specific times. Instead, it was integrated into every aspect of daily life. Conversations at home, journeys on the road, the beginning and end of each day—all were seen as opportunities to reinforce and apply the teachings of Jehovah.

Rituals and Festivals as Tools for Training

Training also took place through participation in various religious rituals and festivals. These communal events were designed not only as acts of worship but also as educational experiences that instilled and reinforced the history, values, and beliefs of the Israelite people.

For example, during the festival of Passover, children would ask, “What does this ritual mean to you?” (Exodus 12:26). This question opened the door for parents to recount the story of the Exodus and to emphasize the faithfulness of Jehovah in delivering His people from bondage. These narratives helped to make the abstract concepts of faith and obedience more concrete and relatable, reinforcing the children’s understanding and commitment to their faith.

Training through Discipline

Furthermore, the training involved the use of discipline. Proverbs 13:24 states, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Here, discipline is seen not as punishment but as a necessary means of correction and guidance—an expression of love aimed at helping the child grow in wisdom and righteousness.

The Ultimate Goal of Training

The ultimate goal of this training was to cultivate a heart that loves Jehovah and seeks to obey His commandments. This was not simply about conforming to a set of rules but about internalizing the values and principles behind those rules. It was about developing a personal relationship with Jehovah and a sincere desire to walk in His ways.

In conclusion, for the Israelites, training was a comprehensive, holistic process aimed at shaping the heart, mind, and behavior in alignment with the laws of Jehovah. It was a daily endeavor, integrated into every aspect of life, and aimed at cultivating a deep, enduring love for Jehovah and His ways.

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Individual Dispositions and Responses to Training

While the principles and practices of child training are universally applicable, not all children respond in the same way to the same training. This is due, in part, to individual differences in disposition, understanding, and free will.

Proverbs 20:11 states, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” This verse suggests that even from a young age, children show their individual tendencies and dispositions through their actions. Some children naturally lean towards obedience and righteousness, while others may exhibit more rebellious tendencies.

Wisdom vs. Folly: The Role of Individual Choice

Ecclesiastes 4:13 highlights the importance of wisdom in receiving training, “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.” This verse indicates that wisdom, an openness to heed warnings and learn from them, is crucial for benefiting from training. A young person, though poor, can profit from wholesome training if they are wise, while an old king, though in a position of power, may fail to benefit if he is foolish and refuses to heed warnings.


The Influence of Free Will

One of the key principles that underpin biblical teaching is the idea of free will. Jehovah does not force obedience but allows each individual to choose their path. This principle also applies to the context of child training. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” This does not mean that every child raised in a godly home will choose the path of righteousness. The child, as they grow and develop their independent identity, also has the free will to choose their course in life.

An example of this can be seen in the biblical account of King David’s sons, Amnon and Absalom (2 Samuel 13). Despite having the same father, their choices and actions varied greatly. Amnon, swayed by lust, disgraced his sister Tamar, while Absalom, driven by revenge and ambition, ended up leading a revolt against his father. Both failed to adhere to the wholesome training they would have received from their father, King David.

The Role of Persistence in Training

While it is true that not all children immediately or consistently respond positively to the same wholesome training, this does not imply that such training is futile. Persistence in training, coupled with prayer and reliance on Jehovah, is critical. At times, the beneficial results of training may not be evident until later in life, as implied by the “when he is old” phrase in Proverbs 22:6.

The Evening Meal: A Setting for Education

In biblical times, the evening meal was more than just a time to nourish the body with food; it was also a prime opportunity for nourishing the mind and spirit with wisdom and knowledge. This tradition stems from the instructions given to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:7: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Discussion of the Scriptures

One significant educational opportunity at the evening mealtime was the discussion of the Scriptures. This was a time when the family gathered together, free from the distractions and demands of the day. Parents could take this opportunity to discuss the stories, teachings, and laws contained in the Scriptures.

For instance, they could recount the stories of the patriarchs, the miracles performed by Jehovah, the history of the Israelites, and many other events and characters from the Scriptures. By doing so, they not only entertained their children but also instilled in them crucial spiritual and moral lessons.

Teaching through Questions and Answers

Another educational method employed during mealtime was the use of questions and answers. Children would often be encouraged to ask questions about what they had heard, seen, or read. The parents would then provide answers, using the opportunity to delve deeper into the teachings of Jehovah and to help their children understand and apply these teachings in their daily life.

Practical Lessons

In addition to the discussion of the Scriptures and spiritual matters, the evening mealtime also provided an opportunity for teaching practical lessons. This could involve lessons on table manners, hospitality, thankfulness, and the importance of sharing. Through these lessons, children learned how to interact respectfully with others and how to live in a way that honors Jehovah.

Prayer and Gratitude

The evening mealtime often began and ended with prayer. This routine inculcated in the children a sense of gratitude and reliance on Jehovah. They were taught to thank Jehovah for the food they had received and for His unfailing love and protection. This practice fostered a prayerful attitude and deepened their personal relationship with Jehovah.

Training Boys in Ancient Israel

Training for life’s work in ancient Israelite society was primarily the responsibility of the family and more specifically, the father. Boys were typically trained in the family’s trade or occupation, be it agriculture, herding, carpentry, or fishing.

This training was hands-on and practical. For example, a boy in a family of farmers would learn about different types of soil, seasons, crops, and farming techniques. He would learn how to plow, sow, and harvest. In the process, he would also learn about hard work, diligence, and patience.

The training was not just about acquiring skills for making a living. It was deeply interwoven with moral and spiritual education. As they worked together, fathers would have the opportunity to instill in their sons the principles and laws of Jehovah. For instance, while working on a field, a father might remind his son of the law in Leviticus 19:9-10, which instructed the Israelites not to reap the edges of their field or to pick up the gleanings, but to leave them for the poor and the foreigner.

Training Boys in the First Century Christian Era

In the first-century Christian era, the training of boys for their life’s work was largely similar to that in ancient Israel. Boys continued to be trained in their family’s trade or occupation. We see this in the case of Jesus, who was known as the carpenter’s son and was himself referred to as a carpenter in Mark 6:3.

However, with the coming of Jesus and the establishment of Christianity, there was a heightened emphasis on spiritual training. All followers of Jesus, including young boys, were encouraged to become his disciples and to take on the ‘yoke’ of discipleship. This involved learning Jesus’ teachings and way of life, and striving to live in accordance with them.

Discipleship was not seen as conflicting with secular work but was integrated with it. The Apostle Paul, for instance, was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3). Yet, he was also a devoted follower of Jesus, spreading his teachings wherever he went.

Training of Israelite Girls

In ancient Israel, much like the boys, girls were also primarily trained within the family setting. However, the focus of their training was usually more on household chores, child-rearing, and other duties traditionally associated with women during those times.

Girls would learn from their mothers and other female members of the family about how to cook, clean, sew, spin wool and flax, and take care of younger siblings. These skills not only prepared them for their future roles as wives and mothers but also contributed to the well-being and sustainability of the family and community.

Spiritual training was a crucial part of their education too. Mothers and grandmothers played a significant role in imparting the knowledge of the Scriptures and the faith in Jehovah. This was in accordance with the instructions in Proverbs 31, which presents the model of a capable wife who is not only skilled in managing her household but also in living by and teaching the fear of Jehovah.

Training of First Century Christian Girls

The training of girls in the first century Christian era was similar in many respects to that of the Israelite girls. They were taught about household management, child-rearing, and other traditional women’s duties. At the same time, the advent of Christianity brought with it some changes.

Christianity emphasized that all, regardless of their gender, were one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Women were valued and respected for their faith and spiritual gifts. They played significant roles in the early church, not only in managing their households but also in extending hospitality to Christian travelers, supporting the ministry financially, and even hosting house churches.

The New Testament contains several instances of women who were strong believers and played significant roles in the early church, such as Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, and the Proverbs 31 woman. These women served as models for Christian girls, demonstrating that their life’s work was not just about managing their households but also about serving Jehovah and their community in various ways.

First Century Church’s Role in Education

The first century Christian Church played a pivotal role in the education of the young. The key factor that set the first-century church apart was the inclusive nature of their teachings; they made it a point to impart education to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social standing.

Teaching the Scriptures

The most prominent way in which the first-century Church educated the young was through teaching the Scriptures. Paul’s letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15) affirms this, as he acknowledges that Timothy had known the holy Scriptures from infancy, which were able to give him wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Moral and Ethical Education

The Christian Church took it upon themselves to impart moral education to the young ones. The Epistles are filled with advice on how to lead a good, Christian life, advice that was given not just to the adult members of the congregations, but to the young ones as well. This is clearly demonstrated in letters like Ephesians 6:1-3, which specifically addresses children and their responsibilities.

The Power of Example

A considerable part of education within the Church came from the examples set by the older and more experienced members of the community. The Apostle Paul often urged fellow believers to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Similarly, Titus 2:3-5 instructed older women in the Church to set a good example for the younger women, demonstrating the value of learning by observing the conduct of more mature Christians.

Teaching Through Worship and Fellowship

Meetings for worship and fellowship offered additional opportunities for education. During these meetings, the young had the chance to learn from the prayers, hymns, teachings, and even the informal conversations of the adults (1 Corinthians 14:26). These occasions also presented opportunities for young ones to participate actively, for instance, by sharing what they had learned or by offering a prayer.

Understanding Family Responsibility

Family responsibility refers to the obligations that each family member has towards others in the same family unit. It’s about caring for each other, showing love and respect, supporting one another in times of need, and working together towards common goals.

Family responsibilities vary by culture and personal circumstances but can include providing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of family members. The parents, for instance, are typically tasked with providing sustenance, guidance, protection, and education to their children. On the other hand, children are expected to honor and obey their parents, as seen in Ephesians 6:1-3: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—’so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'”

The Importance of Developing Family Merit

Developing family merit, or strengthening the integrity and virtue within a family, is more important today than ever before. In an increasingly fragmented and individualistic society, maintaining a strong, cohesive, and morally upright family unit can serve as a powerful counterbalance.

Strengthening family merit can provide a stable and nurturing environment for all family members. A family that is known for its virtues provides a safe and secure space for its members to grow and thrive. It fosters a sense of belonging and self-esteem, which can significantly contribute to emotional well-being.

Moreover, a family with a strong moral foundation can serve as a beacon of light in the community. It can have a transformative effect, inspiring others to pursue virtue and integrity in their own lives. As stated in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Developing family merit is also critical in raising children who are not only knowledgeable of Jehovah’s teachings but are also motivated to follow them. Proverbs 22:6 attests to this by saying, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

New Testament Counsel on Rearing Children

The New Testament is a rich source of advice and counsel regarding child-rearing. Here are a few key points that parents are encouraged to consider:

Teach Children about God and His Kingdom

First and foremost, Christian parents are instructed to teach their children about God and His Kingdom. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This underscores the importance of introducing children to spiritual matters from a young age.

Nurture Children in a Loving Environment

In the New Testament, parents are also instructed to create a loving and nurturing environment for their children. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 provides a detailed description of what love should look like: patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring to others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, and always persevering.

Avoid Provoking Children to Anger

In Ephesians 6:4, fathers are specifically admonished not to provoke their children to anger: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This advice can be applied to both parents and emphasizes the importance of patience and understanding when dealing with children.

Instill Discipline and Instruction of the Lord

The same verse in Ephesians also encourages parents to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Discipline here refers to training or educating children in a way that is pleasing to God. This involves teaching them God’s laws and principles and helping them apply them daily.

Respect and Obey Parents

Children, in turn, are counseled to respect and obey their parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 instructs: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—’so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'”

How to Interpret the Bible-1


The New Testament provides a wealth of counsel on rearing children. It emphasizes teaching them about God and His Kingdom, nurturing them in a loving environment, avoiding provocation to anger, instilling discipline and instruction of the Lord, and fostering respect and obedience towards parents. Following these principles will help Christian parents raise children who are not only respectful and obedient, but also have a strong spiritual foundation.

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).




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