Does God Discipline His Children? – By Asher Chee (V120 Dated 2 Aug 2021)
Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Commenting on Hebrews 12:5-6, Joseph Prince writes (Destined to Reign, pp. 65–66. Emphasis original):
My friend, there is confusion in the church because the original Greek word here for “chastens” is poorly translated. The Greek word here is paideuo, which means “child training”. It does not mean “to punish”.
In order to refute the idea that God disciplines his children by punishment, Joseph Prince argues that the translation “chastens” in Hebrews 12:6 (NKJV) is mistaken, and claims that the Greek word paideuō really means “child training”. Is he right? Well, not really.
God still whips!
Firstly, even if Joseph Prince is correct that paideuō does not mean “to punish”, he still cannot escape the fact that the very next line says that the Lord “scourges every son whom He receives.” The Greek word for “scourges” there is the verb mastigoō which means “to whip”. This same word was used for the whipping of Jesus in John 19:1:
John 19:1 ESV
Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged [mastigoō] him.
Secondly, Joseph Prince gives the impression that the Greek word paideuō always and only means “child training”. However, the truth is that paideuō can also mean “to discipline”, and even “to whip”. In fact, paideuō is used in the Gospel of Luke for the whipping of Jesus:
Luke 23:16, 22 ESV
I will therefore punish [paideuō] and release him.” … A third time he [Pilate] said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish [paideuō] and release him.”
Was Pilate thinking about “child training” Jesus? Of course not; he had Jesus whipped!
As any basic student of Biblical Greek would know, the meaning of a Greek word is determined by its use in context. In Hebrews 12:6, does the Greek word paideuō mean “to whip”? The answer, of course, is: Yes, of course, especially since the very next line says: “And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Thirdly, Joseph Prince’s interpretation of Hebrews 12:5-6 does not fit the context. A few verses later, the writer of Hebrews writes:
Hebrews 12:11 NKJV
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Yes, God does discipline his children, and whatever that entails, it is certainly not a pleasant experience!
In order to argue that God does not discipline his children by punishment, Joseph Prince had to take Hebrews 12:5-6 out of context. It is highly ironic that on the very same page, he has the cheek to lecture his readers about reading the Bible in context:
Let me give you a Bible study tip: When you read the Bible, be sure to read everything within its context because when you take the “text” out of its “context”, what you are left with is a “con”! Many believers are hoodwinked into believing “cons” and erroneous teachings when something is lifted and taught out of its context.
— Destined to Reign, p. 66.
Indeed, as Joseph Prince warns, we can be hoodwinked into believing “cons” and erroneous teachings when something is lifted and taught out of its context – which is exactly what Joseph Prince himself does with Hebrews 12:5-6.
O the hypocrisy!
(For more info on the topic, see Rev George Ong’s Volume 9, ‘Prosperity Gospel Is Perverted Gospel’, pages 406-432, please click to read.)