What About Other Punishments?

Now, let’s see what it means to “chasten” and then we can deal with the second part of the verse. “Chasteneth” is “paideuo” means: 1) to train children; a) to be instructed or taught or learn; b) to cause one to learn; 2) to chastise; a) to chastise or castigate with words, to correct; 1) of those who are moulding the character of others by reproof and admonition; b) of God; 1) to chasten by the affliction of evils and calamities; c) to chastise with blows, to scourge; 1) of a father punishing his son; 2) of a judge ordering one to be scourged.” When used by the Hebrew authors of the Bible the words “chasten” or “chastise” are generally understood to be a verbal correction and carry with them the connotation of “come let us reason together.” This fits better with the understanding of the Proverbs passage in question when read in the Original Hebrew. Why, then, does the author of Hebrews cite the more punitive worded Septuagint and why does he appear to be saying that God punishes his spiritual sons as fathers punish their physical sons? To understand that one must look at the context of the passage in Hebrews and understand to whom it is being written.

Hebrews is a book written to Messianic believers in Yeshua/Jesus who were being persecuted because of their faith. The book is an attempt to encourage them; to give meaning to what they are going through. The intention of this passage is not to teach how to be a parent, but rather to draw on the reality of the life of the individuals who were no doubt at some time treated harshly by their earthly father (note that Paul’s instructions to fathers to not provoke their children to anger was due to parenting practices of the day that were not advisable under the Law as they were causing children to violate the commandment to honor their father and mother) and were now suffering for their faith.

Because it was culturally expected that God got credit for all that was good and all that was painful, God is being shown to be a loving father who is using this to grow them in their faith and bring them into more spiritual maturity. This is upheld by the admonition that follows in verses 7-11 which is: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

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