The word translated “sons” is “huios” and means “those who revere God as their father, the pious worshippers of God, those who in character and life resemble God, those who are governed by the Spirit of God, repose the same calm and joyful trust in God which children do in their parents (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 3:26 ), and hereafter in the blessedness and glory of the life eternal will openly wear this dignity of the sons of God. Term used pre-eminently of Jesus Christ, as enjoying the supreme love of God, united to him in affectionate intimacy, privy to his saving councils, obedient to the Father’s will in all his acts.” And often the word translated as “disciplines” in one version is translated as “corrects” or other words in other versions. For example, in verse 9 when he talks about “fathers which corrected”, “which corrected” is “paideutes” and means “1) an instructor, preceptor, teacher; 2) a chastiser.” So God is compared to our fathers who corrected us as instructors through what was generally understood to be verbal correction.
So we have the redeemed of God who are suffering and an encouragement to them that God is using this suffering to teach them as their earthly fathers who loved them taught them through unpleasant means. Yet other than the reference to “scourgeth” which only appears in some translations and for which there is no Hebrew OT reference, we don�t have a picture of people being spanked or physically punished. Instead we have a situation that is in line with James’ admonition to “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2)
Does this reference to unpleasant discipline from earthly fathers in an attempt to encourage those who are suffering for their faith give us a foundation, or even a wall, for a doctrine of punishing our children? Not only is that not the authors’ intention, I do not believe that this passage can be stretched to support that idea.
In Deuteronomy 32:35 we learn that vengeance and recompense belong to the Lord. This means that it is for God to demand justice. In the Law He clearly states some violations of the Law that require certain actions from the violator in order for recompense to be made. While the community was responsible for demanding these actions of recompense, they were not put in the position of setting them. Also, because of the commandment forbidding someone from bearing false witness against his neighbor, it was determined that no one was allowed to be the only witness against someone’s sin.