Chastening; Chastisement

chas'-'-n-ing, chas'-tiz-ment: These two words corresponding to Hebrew mucar, and Greek paideia, are distinguished in English use, in that "chastisement" is applied to the infliction of pain, either as a punishment or for recalling to duty, while "chastening," is a wider term, indicating the discipline or training to which one is subjected, without, as in the other term, referring to the means employed to this end. The narrower term occurs in the Revised Version (British and American) but once in the New Testament and then in its verbal form, Lu 23:16: "I will therefore chastise him." the King James Version uses it also in Heb 12:8.

The meaning of the word paideia grows with the progress of revelation. Its full significance is unfolded in the New Testament, when reconciliation through Christ has brought into prominence the true fatherhood of God (Heb 12:5,10). In the Old Testament, where it occurs about 40 times, the radical meaning is that simply of training, as in De 8:5: "As a man chasteneth his son, so Yahweh thy God chasteneth thee." But, as in a dispensation where the distinguishing feature is that of the strictest justice, retributive punishment becomes not only an important, but a controlling factor. in the training, as in Le 26:28: "I will chastise you seven times for your sins." In this sense, it is used of chastisements inflicted by man even unjustly: "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (1Ki 12:11). As, therefore, the thought of the suffering inflicted, or that of the end toward which it is directed, preponderates, the Psalmist can pray: "Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure" (Ps 6:1), and take comfort in the words: "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest" (Ps 94:12). Hence, it is common in both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) to find the Hebrew mucar, and Greek paideia translated as "instruction." Illustrations are most numerous in Prov.

In the New Testament the Greek paideia is used with a variety similar to its corresponding Hebrew in the Old Testament. Examples of the fundamental idea, namely, that of "training," are found in such passages as Ac 7:22; 22:3, where Moses and Paul are said to have been "instructed," and 2Ti 3:16, where Scripture is said to be "profitable .... for instruction" (compare 1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 2:25; Tit 2:12; Ro 2:20). A similar, but not identical, thought, is found in Eph 6:4: "Nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." But when paideia is described as bringing pain, the mystery of suffering, which in the Old Testament is most fully treated in the Book of Job, at last finds its explanation. The child of God realizes that he cannot be beneath God's wrath, and hence, that the chastening which he endures is not destructive, but corrective (1Co 10:13; 11:32; 2Co 6:9; Re 3:19). In Heb 12:5-11, such consolation is afforded, not, as in the above passages, by incidental allusions, but by a full argument upon the basis of Pr 3:11 f, an Old Testament text that has depth and richness that can be understood and appropriated only by those who through Christ have learned to recognize the Omnipotent Ruler of heaven and earth, as their loving and considerate Father. On the basis of this passage, a distinction is often drawn between punishment and chastisement; the former, as an act of justice, revealing wrath, and the latter, as an act of mercy, love. Since to them that are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation (Ro 8:1) they can suffer no punishment, but only chastisement. Where there is guilt, there is punishment; but where guilt has been removed, there can be no punishment. There being no degrees of justification, no one can be forgiven in part, with a partial guilt still set to his account for which he must yet give a reckoning, either here or hereafter. If, then, all the righteousness of Christ belongs to him, and no sin whatever remains to be forgiven, either in whole or in part, all life's sorrows are remedial agencies against danger and to train for the kingdom of heaven.

H. E. Jacobs

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