…The HARD TRUTH with Dr. Kennedy Musonda, Ph.D.
TO understand the spiritual father/sonhood, we must look at the ancient Jewish Father/son relationship, which is the basis of the spiritual father/son metaphor.
This relationship is so vital that a whole book of Proverbs is dedicated to this relationship. Proverbs is a book about a father teaching his son(s) issues of life (Pro. 1: 8, 10, 15; 2:1; 3:1; 7:1). There are three fundamental scriptures about the father/son, primarily the father’s responsibility to the son or children in general (Gen. 18:19; Deu. 6:6-10; 11:18-21).
In the Talmud, a Jewish father was given six responsibilities over his son(s). (A Talmud is a comprehensive written version of the Jewish oral law and the subsequent commentaries on the same). A father was required to (1) circumcise his son; (2) to redeem him [referring to the first-born son, according to in Numbers18: 15-16]; (3) to teach him Torah (4) to find him a wife; (5) teach him a trade and (6) to teach him to swim (survival skills to protect life since most of the long-distance traveling was by water). Rabbi Judah says, “whoever does not teach his son a trade teaches him robbery.”
Like most traditional societies, parents spent most of their time with their children and therefore had more influence on them than today’s parents because they operated a household-based economy.
Today, most parents and children go in different directions in the morning: Parents go to work while children go to school, only to see each other at night when they are both exhausted. But a Jewish father and mother spent most of the time with his sons and daughters, respectively, teaching them the word of God, passing on the traditions, and also teaching them a trade and other duties and responsibilities.
One of the most critical aspects of the father/son relationship is education; that is the father’s education to the son. It was the responsibility of the father in the Jewish culture to prepare a son for life. Sons also had an obligation in the father/son relationship. In addition to obeying their parents according to the fifth commandment, sons were required to assist in maintaining the home, the fields, and tending to the animals.
Fathers trained the sons in many of the heavy tasks needed for survival. Typically, fathers needed to be strict with their sons to ensure that they learned adequately. Also, it was the fathers’ responsibility to ensure that sons continue the family traditions.
A father was required to be wise in his educational approach because of the likelihood of discouraging the son if he put too much pressure on him. However, being too soft could also not produce the intended results.
The father/son relationship was to be informal and not contractual. Love and affection, instruction, obedience, and discipline were the outworkings of an identity that parents and children shared. When the father died, the first-born took over the responsibility to take care of the family.
A father, therefore, made a massive investment in the son and not the other way round. Consequently, a son took after the father, not just biologically but also socially, economically, and culturally. Paul used this pattern of the father/son relationship with Timothy. In Philippians 2:22, Paul wrote, “But you know Timothy has proved himself because as a son with his father, he has served with me in the work of the Gospel.”
How many Papas or any Pastor, Bishop, or priest of today have a Jewish concept of the father/son relationship as they call their flock spiritual children?
How many spiritual children of today have proven themselves to their Papas and are like-minded with them (Philippians 2:20)? Next week I will delve into the relationship between Paul and Timothy, which has been used as the biblical basis for Paparism in the church today.
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Author: Dr. Kennedy Musonda an international development consultant holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work, a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Ph.D. in Business Administration.
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