The Duty and Dependence of Christian Parents

I was engaged in a mini-study of the word “know” (KJV) or “chosen” (ESV) in Genesis 18:19: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised.”

The ESV’s decision seems to be an interpretative rendering of the Hebrew word ed2y1 (yada) which often means simply “to know” (in different ways, including socially and sexually).  The LXX uses the common Greek word oida (oida), which normally means “to know”.  A literal translation is along the lines of “know” or “known” as found in the KJV and NKJV respectively.  Interestingly, the usually literal NASB also reads “chosen” as do the NIV, RSV, and HCSB.  Even the paraphrases bear out the idea of “chosen” rather than “known” (cf. the CEV).  So the NLT: “I have singled him out.”  In doing this research, I came across two noteworthy citations which address both the duty and dependence of Christian parents to fulfill their God-given obligation.  Finally, I realize this is an OT text directed towards Abraham.  However, this is one of many such passages that highlight parental responsibility to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their children.  The instructions transcend the old and new dispensations. 

First, the duty of Christian parents . . .

Wherefore, it is the duty of parents to apply themselves diligently to the work of communicating what they have learned from the Lord to their children (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 1:481).

Second, the dependence of Christians parents on God’s grace for parenting and the results . . .

Lo! Lord, I sit in thy wide space,

My child upon my knee;

She looketh up into my face,

And I look up to thee

(George MacDonald, “The Father’s Hymn for the Mother to Sing,” cited by Walter Russell Bowie, “Genesis” in The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. George Arthur Buttrick, 12 vols., 1:622).


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