The Father of Spirits
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9)
In these days when parents are urged by special interest and political groups not to discipline their children, and children’s rights are championed at the expense of parental authority, it is comforting to read in Scripture that the normal response to parental discipline is reverence. Thankfully, even most secular “experts” today recognize the child’s need for parental guidelines, reinforced by physical discipline as appropriate.
But this passage is primarily discussing the role of chastening father that God plays in the lives of His spiritual children. “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord . . . for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. . . . But if ye be without chastisement . . . then are ye . . . not sons” (vv. 5-8). This discipline is “for our profit” (v. 10) and “yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (v. 11) in our lives. The natural response should be both “reverence” and “subjection” (v. 9).
In our text, God is identified as the “Father of spirits,” reminding us that God is Creator. “The LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him” (Zechariah 12:1). He who created all things, including the spiritual side of mankind (Colossians 1:16), recreated each spirit at the time of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; etc.). His wise and timely chastening is “for our profit” and has as its goal “that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).
On this day of special honor for fathers, let us not forget to honor our heavenly Father. JDM