The Disciple and Family Life
The Disciple and Family Life
When God created the heavens and the earth, his final act was to create man and woman. His purpose was not complete until He had made Adam and Eve and told them that they were to come together as man and wife, to have children so that the earth might be populated with people. But later in the Bible we learn more about this, they were to bring up their children to know and accept God. The Lord did not just want the earth filled with any sort of people, He wanted it filled with people who would believe in Him and would honour Him in the way that they lived, following His commandments.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them,
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
Right at the beginning, therefore, God made the
family unit, a man and woman plus their
children, as the basis of the social unit necessary
for His purpose. It was meant to be stable and
secure; a lifelong partnership between two
people to raise children who would grow up as
Godly people. Jesus confirmed this with these
“Have you not read that he who created them
from the beginning made them male and
and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his
father and his mother and hold fast to his
wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together, let not
man separate.” (Matthew. 19:4-6)
We should note two important points that Jesus
Marriage is a formal union; it is not a
case of a man and a woman simply
deciding to live together. God’s angel
spoke these words to Adam and Eve,
He joined them together.
Marriage is for life and divorce should
only happen in exceptional
The Ten Commandments
Many years after Adam and Eve, God’s people,
Israel had become a nation of a great number of
people. They needed more instructions from
God on how to organise themselves. He gave
them the Ten Commandments which included
these two laws.
“Honour your father and your mother, that
your days may be long in the land that the
LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus.
The first of these is called ‘the first
commandment with promise’. By this the Bible
means that if we have stable families in which
children are brought up to respect and honour
their parents and also men and women are
faithful to their spouses then we will have
stable societies in which people will flourish.
New Testament Teaching
The night before he died Jesus left his disciples a
very clear commandment. They should ‘love
each other as I have loved you’. Jesus died for
his disciples; that was the extent of his love for
them. Loving each other involves putting other
people before ourselves, learning to be
unselfish in our lives and the Bible teaches us
that first of all we learn to do this in our
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved
the church and gave himself up for her,”
In the family then the husband is the head and
should love his wife just as Christ is the head of
the church and loves it. In the family therefore
the husband must take the lead, teaching his
wife and children from the Bible, leading the
family in Bible readings and in prayers. Above
all, he has to lead by example, his behaviour
should be moderate and sober; he must be
honest and caring in all that he does. The
Apostle Paul also wrote about fathers and their
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to
anger, but bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
All children need correction at times in their
lives but Paul gives us very clear instructions
about how we should do it. We should not beat
our children as soon as they do wrong things.
Paul uses words which mean we should guide
them like this.
Firstly we should be ‘bringing them up’.
No father should neglect his child but
should be involved in nurturing them –
just as we feed our children physically,
so we should be feeding them from
If they do wrong we need to take time
to explain what they have done and
why it is wrong, helping them to
understand that they should not do it
Only if this approach fails should we
In his teaching to the church at Ephesus Paul
explains that the relationship between a man
and his family should be like that of Jesus with
the church. Jesus died leaving us his example
that we should follow in his footsteps and we
should do this particularly in our families.
The Bible also tells us of the responsibilities of
wives in their families. Wives should look to
their husbands for leadership of the family, each
should be a trustworthy and loving companion
of her husband; they should be partners
together in their lives.
A Greater Family
Sometimes, disciples of Jesus have a tough
choice to make. They may want to be baptized
but they discover that their families are strongly
opposed to their choice. They need to explain
that this decision does not mean that they will
be separated from their natural families;
indeed, their relations should see that their new
faith means that they behave in a much better, more loving way than before. But sometimes estrangements happen. Jesus spoke about this. The Apostle Peter said to him; ‘we have left everything to follow you, what will we get from you to take its place?
“Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,
who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark. 10:28-30)
Disciples of Jesus have another family, people who share their same beliefs and who become their brothers and sisters in Christ. The church becomes their family, a place in which we practise the love of Christ, caring for each other and looking after each other as we await the return of Jesus. No sacrifice we make in this life means anything when we see the certainty of immortal life in the family of God when Jesus returns.
Not everyone is blessed with a husband or wife or with children. Being a single person can be very lonely. But God said that ‘He sets the solitary in families and the word ‘family’ means a home. The church will be a family home to those who have a need and those who are blessed with a spouse and children should make extra effort to look after single people.
In your family:
Love your family members and put them first – God has given them to you.
Be a faithful and loving spouse.
Teach them the Gospel.
Read and pray together
Be a loving and guiding parent to your children
Treat your brothers and sisters in the church in the same way. God has also given them to you.