Are you having difficulty training your children? Understanding two major truths are essential for parenting children successfully. Many readers of my book have commented that learning these important facts alone have been worth the cost of the book. These truths are,

  • Understanding the difference between disobedience and rebellion, and
  • Knowing and utilizing the correct treatment for each of these behaviors to train your children into adulthood.

This post will give parents an overview of two of the child-training principles God has provided for them to be successful in training their children to become mature individuals. Sadly, few parents know these truths.

The quote, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms,” is credited to Voltaire[1] but this concept has been used by many wise people throughout history as an essential principle for having a meaningful discussion.[2] I have personally attempted to live by the logic that, “Before we debate, we first must define our words.” Accordingly, the exact meanings of disobedience and rebellion must be determined before we can discuss how to deal with these issues.

In English, the word “disobedience” has the opposite meaning of obedience,[3] which is defined as:

“Compliance with an order, request, law; submission to another’s authority or moral standards; strict observation of the law/rules. Synonyms: compliance, acquiescence, tractability, duty, amenability, deference.” [Comment: The English language is an amalgamation of words from multiple languages, such as Greek, Latin, French, Gallic, and others. This fact has created a language that is replete with multiple synonyms that often obscure determining precise word meanings.]

The word translated “obey” from the Greek language of the New Testament is a command and means “to hear and obey.”[4] [Comment: It should be mentioned that the Greek words translated obey and submit in Scripture are not synonymous, and each has a distinctively different meaning.] [5] Therefore, disobedience is NOT to hear and obey. Young children (and also untrained older children) are often so absorbed with their own thinking, they don’t even hear your instructions. You can often control this problem somewhat by requiring the child to repeat those instructions back to you.

In English, the word “rebellion” is defined as:

“An act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. Synonyms: uprising, insurrection, mutiny, revolution, insurgency, rioting, disobedience, rebelliousness, insubordination, subversion, defiance, resistance.”

Now that we have considered the difference between the meanings of disobedience and rebellion, we can intelligently approach the proper solution for administrating them in the successful training of children. Just as there are differences between each of these negative behaviors, there are different ways to deal with each. Parents need to learn God’s choice of action to fix each of these problems. The words that represent these actions are punishment and chastisement. (See my book, What the Bible Says About Child Training, available at,


In English, the word “punishment” is defined as:

“The action of punishing or the fact of being punished; the infliction of a penalty in retribution for an offense; a penalty imposed to ensure the application and enforcement of a law. Synonyms: penalizing, punishing, disciplining, retribution, retributive justice, chastisement.”

In English, the word “chastisement” is defined as:

“To inflict punishment or suffering upon, with a view to amendment; also simply, to punish, to inflict punishment (esp. corporal punishment) on. Synonyms: scold, upbraid, berate, reprimand, reprove, rebuke, admonish, chide, censure, lambaste, castigate, lecture, bawl out, reprehend.” [Notice that this meaning has morphed over time from administering physical pain to one of simply stern talking.]


The forces available to parental authorities are chastisement to bring their children’s willful and conscious rebellion under control, and punishment to teach them accountability for the actions of their disobedience. The administration of chastisement and punishment will be fully explained in another post. For now, you can think of punishment as basically the administration of just consequences for the breaking of a pre-established standard. It should never be confused with chastisement, although such confusion commonly exists today.

Example 1: Your son kicks you in the shin and runs away when you tell him to come to you. You think he should be “punished” and so you take a privilege away. WRONG!

Example 2: Your daughter breaks one of your favorite ceramics when swinging her hands around at play. You think she is careless and decide to spank her. WRONG!

We will see what was wrong with each of these actions and what would have been correct according to biblical teaching in our next post.

If you have questions on this paper or any of the following ones, please feel free to e-mail me after you have read my book. If you would like to open a discussion about biblical parenting, you could do that with a Comment on FBR’s Facebook page.

In Christ, R. Fugate


[1] Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (Chapter 2, Aristotle and Greek Science, Part 3, The Foundation of Logic).

[2] Author Comment: Language has degraded in meaning over the past century so that it has taken on an existential, subjective connotation, i.e., as if words have no meaning except what one choses them to mean to him at the moment.

[3] All English word definitions are from The Oxford English Dictionary.

[4] Greek, hupakouo “obey.” Compound word consisting of the preposition hupo “under” and akouo “hear”; literally “to hear under,” thus to obey what is heard. Bible verses that apply to the obedience of children are Ephesians 6:1, 5; Colossians 3:20, 22; 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 3:14.

[5] Greek, hupotasso “submit, subordinate.” Compound word consisting of the preposition hupo “under” and tasso “put in place, station”; literally “to place under,” thus to submit to a subordinate position (Romans 13:1, 5; Titus 2:9, 3:1; James 4:7; 1 Peter 2:13). Note: The distinction between hupakouo and hupotasso is that hupakouo emphasizes the strict following of verbal commands (mandatory compliance) regardless of personal willingness, while hupotasso emphasizes the attitude of voluntary compliance with accepting the known will or position of another.