Does God scourge His sons? (Hebrews 12:3-13)

In context, Hebrews 12 has victims of persecutions as its audience:

3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

They were Jews who turned their faith to the Lord Jesus, Because of this, they were treated like outcasts; hated by their own people. This chapter is written to encourage them in the midst of their trials. The writer uses Jesus as an example of One who endured trials without budging. They are to do the same. Then He goes further to talk about the “chastening of the Lord,” using a wider range of thoughts to narrow in into what he had been saying earlier:

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.”

Now note that he is quoting here from Proverbs 3:11-12:

Proverbs 3:11-12 (NKJV)

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Observe the two instances, both the quotation and the source. Note the difference:

Proverbs stopped at “whom the Lord loves, He corrects

Hebrews went on to say “and scourges every son whom He receives

That was most likely a copyist error (get the sermon “Can The Bible Be Trusted?” for an explanation on this). “Scourges” is not in the original source-text. God DOES NOT scourge His sons. The word “scourges” there (Heb 12:6) is used for punishment for criminals! It is therefore highly plausible that the wordings of the original text got corrupted during replication by a scribe. Either way, “scourges” is not in the Old Testament text. We CANNOT impute it there.

Now, the word “chastening” used here (vs. 5)  is translated from the Greek word “paideuo” which means “to train a child.” It’s not a violent term. It simply means to instruct a child. It has to do with WORDS! See how it was used in 2 Timothy 3:16

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for INSTRUCTION in righteousness,

How would God instruct? Via the Scriptures! His written Word (not through accidents, sicknesses or natural disasters). As the Word is taught, men are being instructed. The Word is potent enough to correct their character, when faulty. This is what the Hebrews 12 text is saying. Simple: Receive correction from God’s Word! Don’t despise it. It is God’s tool to grow you:

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 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.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.


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