“My son, despise not [the] chastening of [the] Lord, nor faint [when] reproved by him; for whom [the] Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives”

(Hebrews 12:5/6)

The above quotation is from the section in Hebrews 12 (verses 5-11) about the Lord’s chastening of his sons. There is in the passage a reference to the chastening of our natural fathers “We have had the fathers of our flesh as chasteners” (verse 9), which shows that chastening is something done by both God our Father and our natural fathers. The writer to the Hebrews no doubt had in mind the passage in Proverbs which says; “My son, despise not the instruction (correction, warning, discipline) of Jehovah, neither be weary of his chastisement (or ‘loathe not his reproof’); for whom Jehovah loveth he chasteneth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:11/12). The writer to the Hebrews points out that our natural fathers “chastened for a few days, as seemed good to them; but he for profit, in order to the partaking of his holiness” (verse 10). What we learn from all this is that (1) Chastening is something carried out by our natural fathers (interestingly it does not mention mothers), though being fallible they may not always give the right measure that is needed. (2) The Lord however is infallible and knows exactly what is needed in the way of chastisement. In Deuteronomy it is said: “And know in thy heart that, as a man chasteneth his son, so Jehovah thy God chasteneth thee” (chapter 8:5). If we eschew all chastisement then in effect we are condemning what God does.

We perhaps need to define what is meant by chastisement. Dictionaries give the following meanings: to punish, as by beating; to criticize severely; also castigation, chastening, correction. The meaning of the word translated chasten (paideuo) in Hebrews is said in Young’s concordance to mean instruct, train up. Chastisement (paideia) means instruction, chastisement. What this would tell us is that chastisement does not always mean corporal (physical) punishment, though it may include it.

Apart from Hebrews there are plenty of other Scriptures that speak of chastisement and similar things, such as discipline. We will consider some, firstly in relation to the Lord’s discipline, and secondly in