One of the most neglected sections amongst the people of God today are children. Often, they are regarded as an inconvenience to the adults during their meetings and discussions. As a result, they are locked away somewhere out of sight and kept busy with toys and games. It is important to find out what the Scriptures say concerning this matter. We must search the Scriptures starting with the Old Testament and going on to the New Testament to appreciate what God’s plan is for the children whom he gives to parents as a gift. This article seeks to find out what the Lord says about children and the task that he has given to the parents to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. As the article unfolds, it shall become clear that children are a blessing from the Lord to parents who need to do all they can to pass on values that will enable them live the right way in God’s world. Sometimes parents think that there are no specific instructions from the Lord on how they should do their work. Let us begin our journey from the Old Testament.

The Old Testament

In the beginning (from Adam to Noah). The Bible says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:28).

God set out in very clear terms from the verse above what he wanted man to do in relation to his creation. Adam and Eve were placed on earth to rule over it. The first parents were not going to do it alone but for as long as the Lord had determined in his will for all the duration of mankind. This means that they had to raise children who would also in turn raise future generations to fulfil God’s plans for the world. Therefore, the original parents were expected to set in motion a deliberate plan on what to do regarding the training of their children in fulfilling God’s purpose for their life. There is very little information that we are given from the time of Adam and Eve to Noah, which covers a great number of generations as far as our subject matter is concerned. In Genesis 4:1–7 the Bible records the story Cain and Abel. What is interesting is the fact that both these boys made offerings to the Lord. Cain’s sacrifice was rejected while that of his brother Abel was accepted by the Lord. This is a clear indication that their parents taught them about God.

In Genesis 6:9 there an account of Noah who lived in such a way that he was an ideal candidate to fulfil what the Lord had wanted man to do on the earth. The fact that he was highly regarded could imply that he shared his religious piety with his family. This could explain the fact that his was the only family that survived the great flood. Noah must have spent a great deal of time to educate and instruct his children in the right way to live so that they do not follow the rest of humanity during their time. It is amazing that the Lord preserves for himself a remnant in every generation.

The period of the Patriarchs (heads of families). The Bible says,“The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 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 him’” (Gen. 18:17–19).

The second major period in the Scriptures is that of the Patriarchs, i.e. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord in his sovereign will called Abram, according to Genesis 12, from the land of Haran to the land he was going to show him. Not only was God going to make him into a great nation but Abram was going to command his family to keep the way of the Lord according to Genesis 18:17–19. From this passage, it is very clear that fulfilling the task of the Lord meant that children were also involved in what the Lord was going to do through the head of the family. Therefore, Abram, whose name was changed by God to Abraham, fulfilled his responsibility of raising Isaac, who in turn also did the same to his son Jacob (Israel). Jacob also did his best to raise his twelve sons (who became the tribal heads of the nation of Israel) to walk in the ways of the Lord. A good example is that of Joseph who never forgot about the God of his forefathers even when he was far away from his land and family (see Heb. 11:20–21). Joseph continued to walk in the faith that his parents had taught him and this became a witness to the Egyptians that the God that he served was the true God.

The period of the nation of Israel. This is the period when the family of Jacob was constituted as one nation under Jehovah, the sovereign ruler of the world. Jacob and his children went into Egypt at the invitation of Joseph because of the famine that had befallen the land. When Moses the servant of the Lord led that great multitude of people out of this land after a period of 400 years of slavery, it signalled a shift from the time of the patriarchs to that of the nation of Israel. The raising of children was still an important part of their task as the people of God. This task was undertaken in several ways, below are some of them: –

1. Direct instructions: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:4–7).

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

The two verses above are among several others in the Old Testament where the Lord directs his people to fulfil their duty of raising up their children in the way that he wants them to grow.

2. Role models: The history of the nation of Israel is littered with a good number of examples of men and women who lived according to the instructions that God had given them. Among them was Moses, a man who was given the great task of not only taking the people of God out of Egypt, but also delivering the laws of God to them. The kind of life that he led a good model, such that he testified in Deuteronomy 18:15 that another prophet like him was going to come from the Lord. His successor by the name of Joshua also did a great job by following the instructions that were written in the book of the law. He led Israel into the promised land and divided the land according to God’s instructions. David was another good role model. The Scriptures describe him as a man after the heart of God. He served his master with distinction. No doubt he had his own weaknesses but, overall, he is remembered as one of the best sons of Israel. He also represented the coming king who was to sit on the throne of his father David. There are countless men and women who sought to live as the Lord wanted them to live. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in chapter 11 gives us the hall of faith. Even he acknowledges that time and space could not permit him to list down all the people who walked with God. The children of Israel, therefore, had no excuse not to live according of the demands of God because they had several good role models.

3. Feasts and festivals: The Lord instructed the children of Israel to perform several commemorations to help them remember the things that he had done for them. One such feast was that of the Passover, as recorded in the book of Exodus. We read, “You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Ex. 12:24–27).

The purpose of these events was for them to always remember what he had done for them. Apart from the Passover, there are other events that he commanded his people to observe so that they could order their lives in line with his Law.

 4. Types and symbols: The Lord told the Israelites to keep certain types and symbols that could act as teaching aids to them and their children forever. One such example was when he told them to pick and carry the stones from the river Jordan so that they could tell their children that the Lord on their way to the promised land parted the waters of the Jordan and they walked on dry land. The ark of the covenant was another powerful symbol of the presence of the Lord among his people. All these were meant to help God’s people to follow his instructions so that they do not live as the other nations around them but as the special people that the Lord called and saved for himself. It was, therefore, important that the Hebrews pass on these instructions to their children to continue the legacy (see Josh. 4:6–7).

A very good example of the parents instructing their children in the ways of the Lord is that of the three Hebrew children. These children—namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were taken into exile far away from home and incited to live contrary to the way the Lord wanted them to live. They were commanded to worship gods that they had not known. In all their trials and temptations, they remained faithful to their God (see Dan. 3:16–18). This is a great tribute to the commitment of their parents to ensure that the children knew the true God and ordered their lives in line with his instructions.

The New Testament

The time of Christ. The best way to start in the New Testament is to look at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ was a child. Luke is the only one of the Gospel writers who gives us in a sneak peek into the childhood of our Lord. Though he was God, as a child he made some development as evidenced in Luke 2. A case in point is the discussion he had with the religious leaders of the day in the temple in Jerusalem, which shows what his parents invested in him to raise him in the way God wanted them. Luke records that when he returned home with his parents he continued to grow in all areas of life (see Luke 2:52) It is important to bear in mind that before the Lord Jesus was born, the parents were visited on separate occasions by the angel of the Lord who told them the magnitude of the task that the Lord had given to them to bring up the Son of God in the world.

When Christ started his public ministry he never left out the children. One example is Luke 18:16–17 when he did not take kindly to his disciples who were blocking children from coming to him. It is also evident that in his teaching he often referred to children, e.g. Matt. 18:3–4 and Luke 11:13.

The apostles. The apostles’ writings show that they reinforced the teaching that parents have a responsibility towards their children, as can be seen from 2 Corinthians 12:14. This can further be demonstrated by the premium the Lord placed on this matter by the requirement that anyone who is to be given the responsibility of leadership in the church as an elder or a deacon should be one who has shown his ability to raise his children as the Lord would want him to. The qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are supposed to be evident not only in leaders but also in all mature believers. It means that all Christian parents need to ensure that they do their best to train the children that God has given them to fulfil the purpose for which God brought them into the world. The apostles taught that children were to obey their parents as this was what the Lord commanded them to do. The parents were called upon to raise their children in the ways of the Lord from passages such as Ephesians 6:1–4 and Colossians 3:20–21.

The apostle Paul gives a very good picture of how the parents should carry out their role in shaping their children. He considers his role as being both a father and a mother to the believers at Thessalonica. He says, as a mother, he nursed them and gave them love (1 Thess. 2:7-8). And as a father, he instructed them in the way of the Lord.

Example of Timothy. Another good example of the role of parents in the New Testament is that of Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. Though his father was a Greek and most likely a non-believer, Timothy was blessed with godly women who ensured that he was brought up in the way of the Lord. By the time he met with Paul he was already well spoken of by the believers in his hometown (2 Tim. 1:5).

It is important for parents to have and to demonstrate faith in God for the children to emulate their example. Wes Haystead, in his book Teaching Your Child About God, says, “For a child whose parents possess a deep faith in God, total avoidance of religious knowledge in the early years is less feasible. Even if the parents should desire to arrange it, their belief influences their everyday behaviour” (Haystead, 1974:21).

Paul, in writing to his son in the faith, instructs him to teach older women in the church to play their role by training younger women how to raise their children (Tit. 2:3–5). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also showed the important role that fathers were supposed to play in the lives of their children. He said that failure to do so could result in the children turning out in the wrong way. He also stated that discipline is a demonstration of the love that a father has for his children (Heb. 12:8–9).


From the journey that has been made across the Old and New Testaments of the Bible concerning the subject of raising children there are several important points that we have observed. These are;

  • Children are a gift from the Lord and he gives them in accordance to his will. This means that children are important to the Lord.
  • Parents have a responsibility of raising children in the way of the Lord and that is the reason that he has given the Holy Scriptures, which show the way this can be done. It is important for parents to assess whether they are doing this important task that the Lord has given them.


Swindoll, Charles. Growing up in God’s family: Insight for living, California, 1986.

Haystead, Wes. Teaching Your Child About God, Regal books: Ventura, 1974.