Original Research - Special Collection: Africa Platform for NT Scholars

A theology of child rearing for Nigerian fathers: A socio-rhetorical reading of Ephesians 6:4

Olubiyi A. Adewale
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a8349 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.8349 | © 2023 Olubiyi A. Adewale | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2022 | Published: 11 August 2023

About the author(s)

Olubiyi A. Adewale, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

One of the major causes of juvenile delinquency almost anywhere in the world, including Nigeria, is abusive conditions in the homes. The abusive condition in the Nigerian situation is exacerbated by the authoritarian concept of the home. Children are usually seen as mere objects who are to obey their parents, especially the father who has an absolute power over his children. Christian parents too are guilty of being authoritarian and their favourite cliché is ‘children, obey your parents’. This article aims at developing a theological guideline that would assist fathers in rearing their children from the biblical perspective via a socio-rhetorical study of Ephesians 6:4. It examines the rearing of children in the 1st century among the Jews and the Graeco-Romans – the original recipients. Then, it compares the social condition of Nigeria with that of the 1st century Graeco-Roman. It concludes by stating that the key to understanding the verse is the phrase μὴ παροργίζετε, a combination of μὴ and a present active imperative, which is used to prohibit actions already in progress. Thus, the verse becomes an appeal to fathers to stop exasperating their children. To achieve this, fathers should see their children as full-fledged human beings with a right to their opinions and decisions about their lives.

Contribution: This article holds that rather than being treated as obedient objects to fathers in all things, children must be seen as human beings created with will, mind and intelligence and therefore be given a say in issues that concerns them and be disciplined in love and not harshly.


Keywords

New Testament; Pauline Epistles; Ephesians; household codes; parenting

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

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