Reliable Definitions of a Strong Biblical Family

Published September 21, 2020 | Updated June 19, 2023

by Joseph Shulam

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    We need to understand some reliable definitions of a strong biblical family, and the best place to find those definitions is the Bible itself.

    For more than a decade, I have been teaching that the most significant victim of the 20th Century were not the 37 million casualties of World War I nor the 70-85 million people who were killed in World War II. The biggest and the most significant number of casualties were the families that were destroyed not only by wars, but by divorce, abandonment, abuse, and the like.

    When the Family was a Tribe

    I am old enough to remember well my family life. Far from being perfect, it was a family. It was a tribe.

    It was a bonded cooperative of care for the branches and the buds (children), and each branch was an extension of the main root of grandparents, uncles, first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, nieces, and nephews.

    There were the celebrations and the tragedies that united the whole family, clan, tribe, corporation, or whatever you want to call this conglomerate of people who love each other and some who love each other and can’t stand each other at the same time.

    Yes, the Shulam tribe, the family, La Cosa Nostra! This was most evident when there was a tragedy, a death in the family, an attack on the family, a real need in the family. The hardship moments were the demonstration of what a family ought to be—a small society of mutual responsibility.

    A bunch in which everyone knows each other for the good, the bad, and the ugly, and yet everyone one feels responsibility and indebtedness to be in touch, to be concerned, to help in every way possible, and to fight for turf, honor and respect, when it was deserved and sometimes also when it was not deserved; a family.

    Netivyah | Reliable Definitions of a Strong Biblical Family

    Biblical Words for Family

    Allow me to take you on a short semantic tour of the Bible with three terms that the Word of God uses to describe the family.


    Shevet (“Tribe”), used in the Hebrew Bible 190 times.

    This first term was the primary unit of social and territorial organization in Israel. The tribes bore the names of the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel, with Joseph divided into Manasseh and Ephraim. Their varied histories are as complex as the history of the emergence and settlements of Israel itself.

    Although, as the nomenclature shows, a person’s tribal identity was important—and in wartime the military levy was on a tribal basis—yet, in terms of practical social impact on ordinary life, the tribe was the least significant of the circles of kinship within which someone lived.

    The secondary and tertiary subdivisions of the social structure were both more socially relevant as well as closer to what we could recognize as a meaningful “family” structure.


    Mishpacha (“Clan”). This second term is used in the Hebrew Bible 300 times. It is also the word used in modern Hebrew for family.

    I want to start with the word mishpacha (משפחה) because it is the word most commonly used today in the Hebrew and even in the Jewish (Yiddish) language.

    In most English and other European languages this Hebrew word is translated as “family.” Looking through the Hebrew Bible we can see that this word can be used as a specific single family but also as a group of families – i.e. a tribe or a clan.

    If we analyze this word in a sociological way, we see that the word mishpacha is used normally as a relationship established through the institution of marriage.

    The best example of this is taken from a very interesting story in Numbers 36:1-12. We learn from this story the reason why it was so important to have orderly marriages in Israel. It was for the preservation of Israel’s system of the division and inheritance of the land given by the Lord to each tribe and family in Israel.

    “Then Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the Lord, saying: ‘What the tribe of the sons of Joseph speaks is right. This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, “Let them marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of their father’s tribe.” So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be the wife of one of the family of her father’s tribe, so that the children of Israel each may possess the inheritance of his fathers. Thus, no inheritance shall change hands from one tribe to another, but every tribe of the children of Israel shall keep its own inheritance.’ Just as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad; for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married to the sons of their father’s brothers. They were married into the families of the children of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s family.” – Numbers 36:5–12 [NKJV]

    What we learn from this text is that mishpacha (משפחה) is a unit of people who are recognized by the society as kinfolk. Family is a group of people (mainly a man, a woman and children) who are related by a social agreement accepted and approved by God and by the community.

    Note from the case of the daughters of Zelophehad that they were given an approval from God to inherit the land of their father, but it was dictated by God and Moses whom they can marry that would be acceptable to the community of Israel.

    It is this kinship relationship factor that lies behind the motive for the supportive role of the mishpacha in the social structure of the community. The family had a two or three-fold, social and economic importance. Families made up clans, and clans made up tribes.

    In Numbers 26, we find 60 clans in Israel. If we count the numbers, it would show that some of these clans that joined together making up each tribe would have comprised very large numbers of people.

    It is important to note that some of the clans (families) that we encounter in the later books were clans/families that were not recorded in the census of the book of Numbers. Examples of two of these clans/families are the Matrite clan that King Saul was from (1 Samuel 10:21), and also mentioned later on, the Ephrathite clan related to the family or clan of King David (1 Samuel 10:21).

    It is clear from these two clan names that they are based not on progeny but on geography. Like today, we have families called Tarablus because they came from Tripoli in Libya or Syria. We have families called Warshawsky because they originated in Warsaw, Poland. The Ephrathite clan came from Bethlehem in Judea whose more ancient name was Ephrat.

    The above point relates to the second major feature of the mishpacha —its territorial identity. Today, in the West, the territorial identity of a family has melted down.

    My wife was born in Florida, with two parents from Texas, who lived in Arkansas when she was a toddler, and in Tennessee when she was in elementary school, and in Ohio when she was in high school. In ancient Israel, the territorial identity of the family was closely related to the territory that the clan/family/tribe received when the land was parcellated in the days of Joshua the son of Nun.

    The clearest evidence for this is found in the ancient tribal boundary lists. (Please see the following texts: Josh. 13:15, and passim; cf. Num. 33:54).


    Beit-av (“the Father’s House”). I was surprised to find that this third term is used 140 times in the Hebrew Bible. Its first use is related to Abraham:

    “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.’” – Genesis 12:1 [NKJV]

    The “father’s house” was an extended family, composed of all the descendants of a single living ancestor, the head of the household, who was called, rosh-beit-av (ראש בית אב). The “father’s house” included the grandfathers, the married daughters, their families, the slaves and their families, and workers who lived with the family.

    Because people married young, the head of the household could preside over three generations of his family. The head of the household could be over several families of two generations each. The head of the household could also have more than one wife, like Abraham, Jacob, and many of the Old Testament leaders had.

    The New Testament also has several households who received the Good News globally which means the whole household heard the Good News, accepted it, and was baptized the same day.

    The two best examples of this are of two non-Jewish households:

    “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’” – Acts 10:1–3 [NKJV]

    The second example of significance is also from the book of Acts, from the story of Paul and his companion being put in jail in the city of Philippi in Asia Minor:

    “So they (Paul and Barnabas) said (to the jailer), ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” – Acts 16:31–34 [NKJV]

    Now the question that comes up in this case is how big were the households in the Hebrew Bible, and how big were these households in the New Testament?

    First, about the New Testament, we have several mentions of “household” that were or became disciples of Yeshua. The implications of this are far-reaching relating to evangelism, outreach, and the sheer numerical significance of the disciples of the Messiah in the early community.

    “…a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum…inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ So, the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed, and his whole household.” – John 4:46 – 53

    “…who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” – Acts 11:14

    “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So, she persuaded us.” – Acts 16:15

    “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” – Acts 16:31

    “Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” – Acts 16:34

    “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” – Acts 18:8

    “Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.” – Romans 16:10,11

    “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.” – 1 Corinthians 1:11

    “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” – 1 Corinthians 1:16

    “I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” – 1 Corinthians 16:15

    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:10

    “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” – Ephesians 2:19

    “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” – Philippians 4:22

    In our modern times, the family is a nucleus comprising a father, mother and their children along with grandparents. The extended family today rarely includes uncles, aunts, and cousins because the larger family rarely lives in a close enough proximity to have a meaningful community aspect.

    For this reason, it is difficult to speak of a “household” in our western culture today. Most of the time, we live in homes that are one family of a father, a mother and children.

    If you visit Israel and the Arab villages in Judea and Samaria, you will see these very big homes several levels high — big, beautiful, with modern architecture, elevators and gardens. These are one family/household homes.

    In the Arab culture, the big family—the grandparents, the children and their families, the grandchildren and even greatgrandchildren—all live in the same house. They are a household – beit-av –in the biblical sense of the word “household.”[1]

    So, when we think of a household in the Biblical culture, we must consider that the household would consist of several nuclear (two-generation) families and (with average fertility even under monogamy) would be a substantial number of people.

    It is likely that a household (beit-av) could have comprised some 50–100 persons residing in one building or courtyard with several buildings encircled by a fence. The Biblical story of Gideon, though married with teenage sons and servants of his own, lived under the authority and the protection of his father, Joash, and his house (Judges 6:11, 27, 30ff; 8:20).

    The household of Micah the Ephraimite occupied several dwelling houses and could muster a contingent of men (Judges 18:14, 19, 28f.).

    It is important to note that the beit-av in Israel was reckoned through the male line and was patrilocal. When a woman married, she left her “father’s house” and went to live with the family of her husband.[2]

    Growth would happen by births, acquiring wives for sons, adoptions, attraction of resident workers and resident craftsmen (gerim and toshavim), and by purchase of slaves. Conversely, a beit-av could shrink, even to extinction, through deaths in war or famine, or in a lack of sons because daughters would marry into other households.

    More Terms Used in the Bible to Denote Some Kind of Family Relationship

    Kinship terms in the Israelite family were used sometimes for both immediate blood relatives in the family and for wider relationships both familial as well as within the context of a teacher and student.

    Besides for immediate family members, the use of “father,” “mother” and “son” were used for other broader relationships among students and teachers, fellow members of a military group, fellows or sisters in a social circle or members of the same fraternity. The same is true for the feminine terms like “mother” and “sister”.

    Terms like dōd and dōdah refer to the brothers and sisters of the father or mother, i.e. an uncle (father’s or mother’s brother, dōd), or an aunt (the father or mother’s sister, dōdah). This terminology could be vague at times, but the relationships themselves in the extended family were carefully regulated.

    There were prohibitions on certain degrees of kinship for marriage purposes (Leviticus 18:6–18; 20:11–14, 19–21). The concern was for sexual ethics and limitation of marital relationships.

    Social Functions of the Family for the Larger Community

    The conquest of the land of Canaan by Joshua Ben-Nun and the Israelites who came up from the Sinai desert after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness brought a totally different social structure into the land of Canaan.

    The social structure of the inhabitants of the land was “city states” of different ethnic groups. We hear of seven different nations that lived in the land of Canaan during the conquest period when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River.

    The city-state culture had a very stratified social and economic structure. Each city-state had a king or a ruler from its own ethnic origin. Their cities were fortified with the nobility living inside the fort (within the walls).

    The local king or ruler and his court (nobility and military brass) were supported by the mass of taxpaying tenant peasants who lived outside the walls of the fortress. This power-at-the-top, poverty-at-the-bottom pattern was accurately portrayed and warned against in Samuel’s speech to monarchy-seeking Israelites (1 Sam 8:10–18).

    The Israelites had the Torah of Moses and the social system based on a broad equality of kinship groups (tribes and clans). In the beginning, they were without a centralized, elite powerbase. Even after the crowing of Saul as the first King of Israel, there was resistance to a centralized government of one king over all of Israel with one law and one loyalty.

    After the third king of Israel, Solomon, we see the strength of the tribal (family-based) allegiance that ended in splitting the nation of Israel into two parts. This breakdown in the family of Israel’s national identity has not healed even to our own day.

    The beit-av and the mishpacha in which the individual found his or her identity as a member of the covenant people of Israel has survived even after two thousand years of exile and dispersion over the face of the whole world.

    For this reason, it is important for us to understand and to appreciate the concept of mishpacha (family) and of the beit-av (household) and learn of the relationships and obligations that are important for the saving of our communities and next generation.

    Socioeconomics of the Family in the Bible and in the Jewish Tradition

    An accurate description of the family (or at least of what an extended family ought to be) is an extended association of a protective union of blood-related members. The role of the extended family was primarily protective and restorative for the household that constituted the extended family.

    This, in fact, was the essential nature of the “kinsman-redeemer” (go’el, the savior or redeemer).

    We can see this role in the book of Ruth and also in the instructions of the Torah in Leviticus 25:47-49,

    “Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able, he may redeem himself.” – Leviticus 25:47-49

    In Europe and later in the middle of the 19th century when Jews first immigrated to the USA, the Jewish communities observed this rule and Jewish families helped their kinsman to establish themselves in their new country.

    The family, the mishpacha, was of great importance for the survival of each individual and branch because a person could, and in fact did, count on his relatives to help him to be established in the new land.

    The relatives were required to act as a go’el (redeemer kinsman) for their family members that were in need. It was a necessity of survival in the New World. The responsibility starts with a brother, moves to uncle, cousin, and then to “any blood relative.”

    Everybody did what he could do, and, collectively, the problems inside the family were solved. Today, you help a cousin; tomorrow you may be helped by your uncle or brother-in-law. This is really the biblical concept of a redeemer (go’el).

    There is a very interesting story, although contrived by Joab, King David’s chief of staff, that demonstrates how this idea of a kinsman redeemer worked:

    “And when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, ‘Help, O king!’ Then the king said to her, ‘What troubles you?’ And she answered, ‘Indeed I am a widow, my husband is dead. Now your maidservant had two sons; and the two fought with each other in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole family has risen up against your maidservant, and they said, “Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed; and we will destroy the heir also.” So they would extinguish my ember that is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the earth.’ Then the king said to the woman, ‘Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.’” – 2 Samuel 14:4–8

    This idea of the go’el (kinsman redeemer) is of major importance for the understanding of the role of Yeshua in our own redemption. Therefore, the savior (go’el) had to be from the family of Israel (a Jew). The most important horizontal relationships that human beings will have in their lifetime are family relationships. The breakdown of the family in our modern world puts all of humanity in danger of extinction.

    Issues of Jurisdiction in the Biblical family

    In certain cases, the father (the head of the family and the household) had authority to act judicially on certain family problems based on the authority of the Torah. These included marriage and divorce, matters relating to slaves and parental discipline.

    Of course, now, in the 21st century, the issue of parental discipline has been limited by the laws of state in most western countries of the world. Even in biblical times, the head of the family (the patriarch of the family) could not act on suspicion, and he had to investigate and examine before applying parental discipline even if it would not be a physical punishment on the child.

    We can see that the Scriptures both give permission to exercise parental discipline as well as instructions and limits on it (Deuteronomy 24:10f.; Judges 6:30f.; 2 Samuel 14:7). The law of the rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21:18–21) instructs the father, and through him the whole family, that any disciplinary action ought to be taken only after the family has done all it can, and the matter has come before the civil elders for public exposure of the rebellion of the child.

    The most important aspect of the role of the family in ancient Israel was how it served as the vehicle of continuity for the faith, history, law, and traditions of the nation.

    The family in Israel and in the New Testament as well had one major objective in relationship to the children and the next generation, namely, the preservation of Israel’s “national assets.” These “national assets” were Israel’s relationship to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; the observance and preservation of the Torah; and the continuity of faith and community in the best way that the Lord has prescribed for all of our generations.

    The father of the family was obligated to teach the Torah of the Lord to his children, not only as a duty of parenthood, but indeed as a condition of his own enjoyment of the gift of the land (Deuteronomy 6:7; 11:19; 32:46ff). It is interesting that so many of the main commandments of the Torah and of the Holidays are geared to keeping the interest of the children and being a blessing to the younger generations.

    We see this in one of the major texts—a text that could be called “The Creed of Israel” and ought to be also of every Jew or non-Jew that believes in God and believes in Yeshua:

    “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

    As you can see this text is fully engaged with the importance of the family and the children. It is not a theoretical, theological statement, but the most important theological principle in the whole Bible, and the objective of it is practical concerning the children and the family.

    As well as teaching the law itself, the father was to give explanations to his child concerning particular events, institutions, or memorials. There are five such question-and-answer texts: Exodus 12:26ff; 13:14ff; Joshua 4:6ff, 21–23; and Deuteronomy 6:20–24. These passages have to do with a special Biblical didactic principle that involves the children asking questions and the Father answering their questions.

    It is not forcing the children to learn but engaging their curiosity to ask: “When your son asks you… you shall say…” These texts and instruction are not liturgical in form. They are natural; a result of the action and the deeds that the family is doing. The living examples of the family offer an educational opportunity that is a result of the desire of the children to understand what the family is doing.

    A very important function of the father and the husband in the Israelite family is the ability to annul the vow that a daughter or a wife swears. This is an especially important rule from the Torah that sets the hierarchic order of the family. It is the same hierarchy that we see in the New Testament.[3]

    Today, with the social movements that are taking place in Western Society, it is doubly important to point out these biblical principles:[4]

    “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:3

    “Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will release her, because her father overruled her.” – Numbers 30:3–5 [NKJV]


    Marriage is one of those universal institution. The Word of God in every one of the categories — the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings (The Tanakh) and the New Testament — all deal with and instruct about marriage and divorce.

    Marriage in the Torah falls under the category of family laws. In the Hebrew Bible, most marriages were arranged between the families. We see this in the case of Isaac and Rebecca in the clearest way.

    However, there are some famous marriages that were not arranged by the families. That of David and Bathsheba is a good example of a marriage that was not pre-arranged by the family. The Torah speaks of three ways to get married:

    1. By purchase – you buy the wife from her father (family). The best example of this is Abraham’s servant Eliezer who goes up to the house of Laban in Haran to find a bride for Isaac. He takes several camels with gold and silver to give to Laban for Rebecca to come with him and to marry Isaac.
    2. By contract (a writing of divorcement) or in modern English it is called “a pre-nuptial agreement.” In Hebrew, it is called a Ketubah. The text that this is based on is from Deuteronomy 24:1, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house…”
    3. By the consummation of the marriage. This is based on several stories and texts from the Bible, but the most commonly quoted is from Deuteronomy 22:13-14, “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin…’”

    It is clear from this text that the consummation of the marriage is a commitment to marriage of this woman. The expectation of the marriage is that the woman is a virgin. This is still true for both Jewish and Muslim marriages even unto this day.

    In the Christian world these three ways to get married still exist:

    1. The giving of a ring (normally gold and sometimes with diamonds) is the act of purchase. This is what those words uttered in the marriage ceremony mean: “With this ring I do thee wed!”
    2. The vows exchanged between the bridegroom and the bride are a verbal contract that has replaced the written contract that is still in vogue in both Jewish and Muslim weddings.
    3. Of course, the consummation of the marriage is also there, although not spoken of in public. However, if there is no consummation of the marriage, the marriage has not really taken place legally and it can be annulled.
    4. In Jewish marriages, there is one last event that takes place in every stream of Judaism. The breaking of a glass under the foot of the bridegroom. This is done after the bridegroom takes a vow based on 137:5, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!”

    This unique Jewish practice in marriage is of great importance, and it demonstrates how seriously Jewish men and women take the destruction of the Temple of God in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.

    Although most of the marriages in Israel were arranged by the family, there are exceptions, like in a case of rape, or in the case of two free people who engaged in sex out of their free will, and by the Torah they are then automatically married and cannot ever divorce.

    Another kind of marriage in the Torah was taking a wife from captives of war sSee Deuteronomy 21:10-14).


    In Israel, authority and leadership for all practical purposes at the local level lie in the hands of elders who were almost certainly the senior males from each household. Whether consciously imitating this pattern or not, the early Christian movement entrusted its leadership (under the apostles) to “elders” in each church (always referred to in the plural in the NT), and these seem to have normally been drawn from the functioning heads of households whose own family life was exemplary. (See the guidelines for appointing overseers, elders — probably synonyms — and deacons, in 1 Timothy 3:2–7, 12; Titus 1:6.)

    It is interesting that women are mentioned as heads of households (e.g., Lydia, Nympha, and Priscilla are always named before their husbands). They are not explicitly called heads of the churches which met in their homes, but it seems not at all improbable that they would have been.

    Worship and Teaching

    The Israelite family was the location of key elements in the continuity of Israel’s faith, including Passover, circumcision, and the teaching of the Law. Similarly, in the New Testament, much of the Church’s functioning life took place in homes. This included the preaching of the gospel (Acts 5:42; 20:20); administering baptism (Acts 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:16); breaking bread, probably referring to the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:46, 20:8); and systematic teaching (Acts 20:20).

    In this last text, Paul recalls that his prolonged teaching ministry in Ephesus was conducted both in public and in homes. The household codes envisage not only the family-centered nature of the Church, but also the home as the place of Christian education for wives (1 Corinthians 14:35) and children (Eph. 6:4).[5]

    Finally, with all this wealth of familial characteristic and their Old-Testament background, it is not surprising that after the 4th century A.D., the Christians also took over the metaphorical use of family as a picture for the whole Church. It was a part of the replacement theology that was adopted by the Christian Church to cut all relationship with the Jewish people and the Jewish nation.

    In the Bible, Israel as a nation is the only one called beit-Yahweh, “house/family of the Lord” (Numbers 12:7; Jeremiah 12:7; Hosea 8:1; and Micah 4:2 where the Temple probably stands for the whole land and people of God). The church, as the organic continuum of Israel and not a replacement of Israel, could be called metaphorically the house of God (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 3:2–6; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17).

    In conclusion, the family is the greatest victim of modernity, and the 20th and 21st centuries have brought major changes to the way families see themselves and are seen in western society. We must remember that the family is the molecule that humanity is built upon. The family consisted of one man and one woman when God created Adam and Eve in the Genesis of our world.

    This is the only way that humanity can continue to procreate and exist according to God’s design. As human beings, we each have the divine characteristic of the power of imagination. We can imagine, invent, develop and create new ideas, systems and technology because we are created in the image and form of our Creator.

    There were chapters in human history where humans imagined a tall building that will reach the sky. Humans gathered around this great idea and united and all spoke the same language and began construction of the tower. It was a great idea imagined and created by human beings—a wonderful accomplishment of noble ideas like unity and uniformity, ideas that many governments have tried hard to accomplish with lofty aspirations.

    However, human beings forget this universe has an Owner, the Creator, the Lord God of Israel. The final word and the outcome of great plans made by mice and men are ultimately in HIS hands. God the Creator of all in both Heaven and Earth is still in control of His universe.

    If the family falls apart, the only ones who will suffer are our children and our children’s children. Let us guard, preserve, protect, and stand with the biblical family — with our families — and raise our children under the guidance and admonition of the Lord God of Israel and His instructions.

    Men, remember that a disciple who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel.

    “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

    Let us protect and stand by our families! The family is the only guarantee that humanity will continue to exist as we have known it since the dawn of history.

    [1] This is a major weakening factor in the structure of the family and in the ability to keep the children and the next generations close enough to really have a serious impact on their values and faith. The Arab / Islamic communities succeed much better to keep their children close to the patriarchal structure and in their faith because of the “household” factor that is kept in those communities.

    [2] This seems to be different from the scheme of Genesis that says: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

    [3] “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” – Colossians 3:18

    [4] Of course, if people want to find reasons why these principles don’t apply for us today, it would not be too difficult or too sophisticated to bring logical arguments with good humanistic principles that would justify ignoring and rejecting these old but important biblical principles. There are no limits to human imagination and ability to justify.

    [5] There were no church buildings for worship until emperor Constantine in the 4th Century A.D.

    Published September 21, 2020 | Updated June 19, 2023

    About Joseph Shulam

    Joseph Shulam was born in Bulgaria in 1946 to a Sephardic Jewish Family. In 1948 his family immigrated to Israel. In 1981, Joseph and the small fellowship that was started in his house established one of the first official non-profit organizations of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in Israel – Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry. Joseph has lectured extensively and has assisted in encouraging disciples around the world. He and his wife Marcia have two children and two grandchildren.



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