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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. The idea of ‘family’ is represented in the NT by πατριά, οἷκος, and οἰκία.-( a ) πατριά is used in  Luke 2:4 for ‘lineage,’ ‘descendants’ (of David); in  Acts 3:25 (in plural) for ‘races’ of mankind; and in  Ephesians 3:15, where there is a play on words between πατήρ and its derivative πατριά: ‘the Father, from whom all fatherhood (Revised Versiontext: ‘every family,’ Authorized Versionwrongly: ‘the whole family’) in heaven and earth is named.’ Though ‘family’ is here the literal translation, yet, since the English word ‘family’ is not derived from ‘father,’ the above paraphrase suggested by J. Armitage Robinson ( Com. in loc. ), who here follows the Syriac and the Latin Vulgate, is best, and overcomes the difficulty presented to the English reader by the existence of ‘families’ in heaven, in opposition to  Matthew 22:30. Fatherhood, in a real sense, there must be in heaven, and it is ‘named’ from God the Father. Thackeray, indeed, suggests ( The Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought , 1900, p. 148f.) that orders of angels are meant, and he quotes a Rabbinical phrase, ‘His family the angels’; but ‘families’ (plural) of angels are not mentioned, and the suggestion is hardly necessary. Another way out of the difficulty is seen in the v.l. [Note: .l. varia lectio, variant reading.]φατρία (= φράτρα), i.e. ‘tribe,’ but this is an obvious gloss which spoils the sense. Cf. πατριάρχης in  Hebrews 7:4. Abraham the ‘father of the whole family of faith’ (Westcott); the word is used of David and of the sons of Jacob in  Acts 2:29;  Acts 7:8.

( b ) οἷκος, besides being used for ‘house’ in the sense of a structure, represents (like domus ) familia , the ‘family’ in its widest sense (See also Home). It is used (1) for all living under one roof -father, mother, near relations, and dependents-frequently in the NT:  Acts 7:10 (Pharaoh),  Acts 10:2 and  Acts 11:14 (Cornelius),  Acts 16:31 (Philippian jailer: so  Acts 16:34 πανοικί ‘with all his house,’ here only in NT),  Acts 18:8 (Crispus),  1 Corinthians 1:6 (Stephanas),  1 Timothy 3:4 f. (the bishop),  1 Timothy 5:4 (the widow),  2 Timothy 1:16;  2 Timothy 4:19 (Onesiphorus, who apparently was dead, and whose household is nevertheless named after him: see below, 2 ( d )),  Hebrews 11:7 (Noah), and, in plural,  1 Timothy 3:12 (deacons),  Titus 1:11 (Christians generally); (2) for descendants ,  Luke 1:27;  Luke 2:4; (3) for God’s family , the house of God (see below, 3).

( c ) οἰκία is similarly used for a ‘household’ in  Philippians 4:22 (Caesar),  Matthew 10:13;  Matthew 12:25,  John 4:53 (the Capernaum royal officer),  1 Corinthians 16:15 (Stephanas); and therefore for ‘possessions’ in the phrase ‘widows’ houses,’  Mark 12:40,  Luke 20:47, and inferior Manuscriptsof  Matthew 23:14.

2. Members of the family

( a ) Father .-The father, if alive, is the head of the family ( paterfamilias ), and exercises authority over all its members.*[Note: Ramsay points out (Galatians, 1899, p. 343) that pater has a wider sense than our ‘father’; he was the chief, the lord, the master, the leader.]He is the ‘master’ or ‘goodman’ of the house (οἰκοδεσπότης),  Matthew 24:43,  Mark 14:14 (in  Luke 22:11 οἰκοδεσπότης τῆς οἰκίας), and the ‘lord’ (κύριος) of the household (οἰκετεία),  Matthew 24:45. That in some sense he is the priest of his own family appears from  Hebrews 10:21, where the spiritual family, the house of God, has our Lord as ‘a great priest over’ it (see below, 3). The subordination or the family to the father is a favourite subject with St. Paul, who, though the Apostle of liberty, carefully guards against anarchy. His liberty is that of the Latin collect: ‘Dens … cui servire regnare est’ (paraphrased: ‘O God … whoso service is perfect freedom’). He lays down the general principle of subordination for all Christians in  Ephesians 5:21 (cf.  Romans 13:1,  1 Corinthians 15:28, and  1 Peter 5:5), and then applies it to Christian families. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is Bead of the Church; husbands must love and honour their wives, for they are one flesh, and wives must be in subjection to their husbands and reverence them ( Ephesians 5:22-25;  Ephesians 5:28-33,  Colossians 3:18 f.,  Titus 2:4 f.; cf.  1 Peter 3:1-7), For children and dependents see below, and for the relation of husband and wife, see Marriage.

( b ) Mother .-On the other hand, the position of the mother in the family is a very important one; to this day in Muhammadan countries, where the women are mere in the background than among the Oriental Christians (for even there Christianity has greatly raised the position of women), the influence of the mother is immense. We find many traces of this in the NT, In  1 Timothy 5:14 even young mothers are said to ‘rule the household’ (οἰκοδεσποτεῖν). In  1 Peter 3:1 the heathen husband is gained by the influence of the wife. The household at Lystra in which Timothy was brought up was profoundly influenced by the ‘unfeigned faith’ of his mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois ( 2 Timothy 1:5; cf.  2 Timothy 3:15), and the influence of the former over her Greek husband ( Acts 16:1) may have been in St. Peter’s mind. In  Matthew 20:20 ‘the mother of the sons of Zebedee’ (a curious phrase) is put forward to make petition for her children. Further, if the mother was a widow, she, rather than one of the sons, seems, at least in some cases, to have been the head of the household. Thus we read of the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, not of the house of Mark ( Acts 12:12); and of the house of Lydia. ( Acts 16:15), who was probably a widow, trading between Philippi and Thyatira, a city famous for dyeing, with a gild of dyers evidenced by inscriptions (the supposition that Lydia was the ‘true yokefellow’ of  Philippians 4:3 rests on no solid basis). It was Lydia who entertained St. Paul and his companions, not her sons or brothers. A similar case is perhaps that of Chloe; she seems to have been a widow whose household (‘they of Chloe,’  1 Corinthians 1:11) traded between Ephesus and Corinth. Other prominent women in the apostolic writings are Damaris ( Acts 17:34), whom Ramsay thinks not to have been of noble birth, as the regulations at Athens with regard to the seclusion of women were more strict than in some other places, and a well-born lady would hardly have been likely there to come to hear St. Paul preach ( St. Paul the Traveller , 1895, p. 252); Phœbe, a deaconess who had been a, ‘succourer of many’ ( Romans 16:1 f.); Euodia and Syntyche, who were prominent church workers at Philippi ( Philippians 4:2 f.), It has often been noticed that the position of mothers of families was especially strong in Macedonia and in Asia Minor, and particularly in the less civilized parts of the latter. Of this there are some traces in the NT. Thus the influential women at Pisidian Antioch, the ‘devout women of honourable estate,’ are, with the chief men (πρῶτοι) of the city, urged by the Jews to arouse fooling against St. Paul and Barnabas ( Acts 13:50), and the ‘chief women’ are specially mentioned at Thessalonica ( Acts 17:4) and Berœa ( Acts 17:12). There are even instances (not in the NT) of women holding public offices, and of descent being reckoned through the mother (see further J. B. Lightfoot, Philippians , 1903 ed., p. 55f.; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire , 1893, pp. 67, 160-2). It is curious that Codex Bezae (D) waters down the references to noteworthy women: e.g. in  Acts 17:34 it omits Damaris; it seems to reflect a dislike to the prominence of women which is found in Christian circles in the 2nd century.

( c ) Children .-The duty of obedience to parents is insisted on by St. Paul in  Ephesians 6:1-4,  Colossians 3:20 f., where the two-edged injunction of the Fifth Commandment is referred to as involving duties of parents to children as well as of children to Parents. The relation of the younger to the elder in the family must have been greatly simplified by the spread of monogamy in the OT (see Marriage), and in Christian times there would have been very few complications in this respect. Yet it was often the case, as it still is in Eastern lands, that several families in the narrower sense made up a ‘family’ in the wider sense, and lived under one roof: thus a son would ordinarily bring his bride to his father’s house, as Tobias brought Sarah to that of Tobit, so that his parents became her parents, and the Fifth Commandment applied to her relationship with them (To 10:9-12). So we note in  Matthew 10:35 f.,  Luke 12:52 f. that the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law are of one family or household (οἰκιακοί Mt., ‘in one house’ Lk.). The brethren of our Lord (whatever their exact relationship to Jesus) appear during His ministry to have formed one household with Mary ( John 2:12,  Matthew 12:46 f.;  Matthew 13:55 f.,  Mark 6:3; Joseph was probably dead), notwithstanding that they themselves, or some of them, were married ( 1 Corinthians 9:5). It is because of this custom that חָתָן ( ḥâthân , ‘bridegroom’) and בֵּלָה ( kallâh , ‘bride’) and their equivalents in cognate languages represent the relationship of a married man and woman to all their near relations by affinity. In the case of a composite ‘family’ of this nature, the father still retained some authority over his married sons.

( d ) Slaves and dependents .-These formed a large portion of the more important families; the ‘dependents’ would be chiefly freedmen. On the other hand, it appears that hired servants were not reckoned as part of the family ( Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iv. 461). Among the Israelites the slaves were comparatively few, while in Greek and Roman families they were extremely numerous. In Athens the slaves were reckoned as numbering four times the free citizens, and elsewhere the proportion was even greater. Some Roman landowners had ten or twenty thousand slaves, or more (Lightfoot, Colossians , 1900 ed., p. 317ff.). These slaves were entirely at their master’s disposal, and under a bad master their condition must have been terrible (see Lightfoot, p. 319, for details). Yet their inclusion in the ‘family’ somewhat mitigated the rigours of slavery even among the heathen in NT times; and this mitigation was much greater in Christian households. The Church accepted existing institutions, and did not proclaim a revolutionary slave-war, which would only have produced untold misery; but it set to work gradually to ameliorate the condition of slaves. On the one hand, slaves are enjoined by St. Paul to obey and be honest to their masters, whether Christian or not, as in  Ephesians 6:5-8,  Colossians 3:22 ff. (where the great detail was doubtless suggested by the Onesimus incident),  1 Timothy 6:1 f.,  Titus 2:9 f.; cf.  1 Peter 2:18 f. These exhortations were probably intended to take away any misapprehension that might have arisen from such passages as  Galatians 3:28,  1 Corinthians 7:21 f., which assert that in Christ there is neither bond nor free. Christianity did not at once liberate slaves, and St. Paul does not claim Onesimus’ freedom, though he indirectly suggests it ( Philemon 1:13 f.). On the contrary, it taught those ‘under the yoke’ to render true service. At the same time, St. Paul points out that the Fifth Commandment lays a duty on masters as well as on slaves ( Ephesians 6:9, where the double duty is referred to just after the application of this Commandment to fathers as well as to children). The Christian head of the house must provide for his own household, or be worse than an unbeliever ( 1 Timothy 5:8). By Christianity musters and slaves become brethren ( 1 Timothy 6:2). In Philom 18 Onesimus is said to be ‘no longer a slave, but more than a slave, a brother beloved.’ We cannot doubt that we have here a reminiscence of Such words of our Lord, orally handed down, as ‘no longer slaves but friends’ ( John 15:15; cf.  Hebrews 2:11 ‘not ashamed to call them brethren’). It was owing to the good example set a’ Christian slaves to their heathen masters that Christianity, which at first took root in the lower social circles of society ( 1 Corinthians 1:26), spread rapidly upwards.

The domestic servants of the family are called ‘they of the house’-οἰκέται,  Acts 10:7; or οἰκεῖοι  1 Timothy 5:8 (cf.  Ephesians 2:19 fig.); or οἰκιακοί,  Matthew 10:25;  Matthew 10:36 (this includes near relations); or ‘the household,’ οἰκέτεια,  Matthew 24:45 Revised Version(= θεραπεία,  Luke 12:42). They included in their number, in the case of great families, many who would now be of the professional classes, but who then wore upper slaves, such as stewards or agents, librarians, doctors, surgeons, oculists, tutors, etc. (for a long list, see Lightfoot, Philippians , p. 172). Thus in the NT we find (1) the steward , οἰκονόμος,  Luke 12:42 (cf.  Matthew 24:45); such were the unjust steward of the parable ( Luke 16:1 ff.; the word οἰκονομεῖν is used for ‘to be a steward’ in v. 2), and the stewards of  1 Corinthians 4:2,  Galatians 4:2. The ‘steward’ of a child was the guardian of his property (Ramsay, Gal . p. 392). Metaphorically οἰκονόμος is used of Christian ministers ( 1 Corinthians 4:1; of ‘bishops,  1 Timothy 1:17), of Christians generally ( 1 Peter 4:10)-the idea is doubtless taken from our Lord’s words about the ‘wise slave whom his lord had set over his household to give them their food in due season’ ( Matthew 24:45), (2) The guardian of a child , ἐπίτροπος, was concerned with his education ( Galatians 4:2); perhaps this is the same as the following. (3) The pedagogue or tutor (παιδαγωγός,  Galatians 3:24 f,  1 Corinthians 4:15) was a slave deputed to take the child to school (not a teacher or schoolmaster as the Authorized Version); this: was a Greek institution adopted by the Romans, for in education Greece led the way, (4) The physician (ἰατπός,  Colossians 4:14) was also regarded as an tipper slave. It has been pointed out by Ramsay ( St. Paul the Traveller , p. 316) that a prisoner of distinction, such as St. Paul undoubtedly was ( ib. p. 310 f.), would be allowed slaves, but not friends or relations, to accompany him, and that St. Luke, who (as the pronoun ‘we’ shows) accompanied him on his voyage to Italy, as also did Aristarchus ( Acts 27:2;  Colossians 4:10), must have done so in the capacity of a slave, taking this office on himself in order to follow his master.

Under this head we may notice four households mentioned in the NT: the ‘household of Caesar’ (ἠ Καίσαρος οἰκία),  Philippians 4:22; ‘they of Aristobulus,’  Romans 16:10; ‘they of Narcissus,’  Romans 16:11; and ‘they of Chloe,’  1 Corinthians 1:11. For the last see above ( b ); but the first three households wore probably all part of the Imperial ‘family’ at Rome, That ‘Caesar’s household’ does not necessarily or even probably mean near relations of the Emperor is shown by Light-foot ( Philippians , p. 171ff.); the meaning seems to be ‘the slaves and freedmen of Caesar.’ Lightfoot with much ingenuity and probability identifies several of the names mentioned in Romans 16 with the household. The curious phrases in  Romans 16:10 f. are probably due to the fact that Aristebulus and Narcissus wore dead (for their identification with well-known characters see Lightfoot, and Sanday. Headlam, Romans 5 [ International Critical Commentary , 1902], p. 425), and that their households were absorbed in that of Caesar, but still retained their old names, ‘They of Aristobulus1 would be equivalent to ‘Aristobuliani,’ and ‘they of Narcissus’ to ‘Narcissiani.’ (If the view that Romans 16 is not a real part of the Epistle be correct, this argument fails; but its verisimilitude is some ground for rejecting that view.)

3. The Christian Church as a family .-In the NT the word ‘house’ (οἶκος) is used figuratively of the Christian community, as in  Hebrews 3:2;  Hebrews 3:6 (Christians successors to the house [of God] in the Old Covenant),  Hebrews 10:21 (see above, 2 ( a )),  1 Timothy 3:15 (where οἶκος is explicitly defined as ‘the Church of the living God’; the phrase follows the instructions as to the homes of bishops and deacons; see Home),  1 Peter 2:5 (a ‘spiritual house’),  1 Peter 4:17. The metaphor is further elaborated in  Ephesians 2:20-22 where the foundation, corner-stone, and each several stone that is laid (such is the best paraphrase of πᾶσα οἰκοδομή) together result in a holy temple, of which Christians are stones, ‘builded together for a habitation of God.’

The conception is based on the Fatherhood of God and on our position as His children. It is carried out by various analogous metaphors. The Church is the Bride of Christ-this is the outcome of  Ephesians 5:22 f.; cf.  Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:2;  Revelation 21:9;  Revelation 22:17 -and He is the Bridegroom,  Matthew 9:15;  Matthew 22:2 ff;  Matthew 25:6,  Mark 2:19,  John 3:29,  2 Corinthians 11:2; Christians are the οἰκεῖοι, members, of the household, of the faith.  Galatians 6:10; Christ is their brother.  Hebrews 2:11 f.; the Church is a brotherhood,  1 Peter 2:17, filled with brotherly love (φιλαδελφία),  Romans 12:10,  1 Thessalonians 4:9,  Hebrews 13:1,  2 Peter 1:7; cf.  1 John 5:1. The most usual designation of Christians among themselves is ‘the brethren’ (Acts, passim ); even heretics are ‘false brethren ,’  2 Corinthians 11:26,  Galatians 2:4. ‘A brother,’ ‘brethren,’ denote Christians as opposed to unbelievers in  Philemon 1:16,  1 Timothy 6:2; and so in  1 Corinthians 9:5 ‘a sister, a wife’ means ‘a Christian wife’ (the ‘apostle’ may have a Christian wife; cf.  1 Corinthians 7:39 ‘only in the Lord); in  1 Corinthians 7:15 ‘the brother or the sister’ means the Christian spouse of an unbeliever (cf.  1 Corinthians 7:14 and  1 Corinthians 5:11); in  Romans 16:23 Revised Version(‘Quartus the brother’) the definite article seems to distinguish this Christian from some unbelieving Quartus. Cf. also  2 Corinthians 8:18 (‘the brother whose praise in the gospel is spread through all the churches’: but some translate ‘his brother’- i.e. the brother of Titus, and interpret the phrase as applying to St. Luke)  2 Corinthians 8:22 f.,  Philemon 1:7,  Romans 16:1,  James 2:15,  2 John 1:13, and  1 Thessalonians 4:6, where see Milligan’s note.

In this connexion also we may note the symbolical use of words denoting family relationships. The Israelites of old were ‘the fathers’ ( Romans 15:8), just as early Christian writers are called by us. Abraham is father of spiritual descendants, believing Jews and Gentiles alike ( Romans 4:11 ff.,  Romans 4:16 f.,  Galatians 3:7; in  Acts 7:2,  Romans 4:1, and probably in  James 2:21, physical descent is referred to). The teacher is father of his disciples ( 1 Thessalonians 2:11), though sometimes he calls himself ‘brother’ ( Revelation 1:19, ‘I John your brother’; cf.  Acts 15:23 Revised Version, ‘elder brethren’). Also ‘father’ is used of any old man ( 1 Timothy 5:1); in this verse (unlike  1 Timothy 5:17) πρεσβύτερος cannot refer to a presbyter. So ‘mother is used of any old woman in  1 Timothy 5:2; younger men and women are ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ ( 1 Timothy 5:1 f.). Jerusalem is called ‘our mother’ in  Galatians 4:26, just as Babylon in  Revelation 17:5 is called ‘the mother of the harlots.’ In  Romans 16:13 ‘mother’ is a term of attention (‘Rufus and his mother and mine’). Similarly the expressions ‘without father,’ ‘without mother,’ in  Hebrews 7:3 must be taken figuratively. Melchizedek’s parentage is not recorded in Holy Scripture: ‘he is not connected with any known line: his life has no recorded beginning or close’ (B. F. Westcott, Hebrews , 1889, p. 172). Disciples, likewise, are called ‘sons’ or ‘children’ of their master, as in  1 Peter 5:13 (Mark),  Galatians 4:19 (the Galatians),  1 Timothy 1:2,  2 Timothy 1:2;  2 Timothy 2:1 and  Philippians 2:22 (Timothy),  1 Corinthians 4:14 f. (the Corinthians),  Philemon 1:10 (Onesimus),  1 John 2:1 etc.,  3 John 1:4.

4. The Christian family as a church .-We often read in the NT of families or households becoming Christian as a body; e.g. those of Cornelius ( Acts 10:2;  Acts 11:14), Lydia ( Acts 16:15 : the first in St. Paul’s history), the Jailer at Philippi ( Acts 16:31-33), Crispus ( Acts 18:7). So in  John 4:53 it is recorded that the king’s officer (βασιλικός) at Capernaum believed ‘and his whole house,’ Hence, in the absence of public churches, which persecution made impossible till a later date, a family became a centre of Christian worship, in which not only the household itself but also the Christian neighbours assembled. Thus, probably the house of Lydia was the beginning from which the Church at Philippi developed; those of Stephanas, whose family was ‘the firstfruits of Achaia’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:16;  1 Corinthians 16:15 οἰκία), Titus Justus ( Acts 18:7), Crispus ( Acts 18:8 οἶκος), and Gains ( Romans 16:23) perhaps became centres of worship at Corinth. Such, again, was Philemon’s house at Colossae ( Philemon 1:2); probably Apphia was his wife, and possibly Archippus his son ( Philemon 1:2,  Colossians 4:17). Archippus was clearly a church official; he had received the ministry (διακονία) in the Lord, and was in some way connected with Philemon; we are led to think of him as ‘bishop’ of the Church at Colossae, or, less probably, with Lightfoot, of the neighbouring Church at Laodicea (so Apost. Const , vii. 46, which makes Philemon bishop of Colossae; but it is more likely that Philemon was a layman). At Laodicea we read of Nymphas or Nympha ( Colossians 4:15; the gender is uncertain), and ‘the church that is in their house’ (Revised Version)- i.e. probably all who met to worship there are regarded as one family. Lightfoot thinks ( Colossians , p. 241) that there wore perhaps more than one such ‘church’ at Laodicea, as there certainly were in Rome (see below).

In Jerusalem such a private house was at first used for the Eucharist ( Acts 2:46; κατʼ οἷκον, ‘at home,’ as opposed to ‘in the Temple’), and so doubtless at Troas ( Acts 20:7), For preaching to outsiders, the apostles made use of the synagogues ( Acts 17:1 f.: ‘as his custom was’), or the Temple at Jerusalem, or the ‘school of Tyrannus’ at Ephesus, which was probably open to all ( Acts 19:9), or other public places; but for the instruction of the faithful the Christians gathered in a private house ( Acts 5:42 ‘every day in the Temple and at home’; cf.  Acts 20:20); in Jerusalem probably in that of Mary the mother of John Mark ( Acts 12:12), for her family was certainly such a centre of worship. As St. James the Lord’s brother was not present in the house where the people were assembled to pray for St. Peter  Acts 12:17), it has been suggested that there were more than one such ἐκκλησία in Jerusalem; but this is uncertain. At Caesarea we are tempted to think of Philip’s household as such a centre ( Acts 21:8); at Cenchreae of that of Phœbe the deaconess ( Romans 16:1). For Ephesus we have mention of Aquila and Prisca (or Priscilla), and ‘the church that is in their house’-their ‘family’ formed a Christian community ( 1 Corinthians 16:19). Here we have a remarkable feature, for about a year later we find these two workers credited with another ‘church’ in Rome ( Romans 16:3-5), and this has been adduced as disproving the integrity of Romans as regards the last chapter. But it is not an improbable supposition that they gathered the Christians together in their own household wherever they were; and as Sanday-Headlam remark ( op. cit. p. 418f.), they were, like many Jews of the day, great travellers. We read of Aquila in Pontus, then of him and his wife in Rome a.d. 52, when they were expelled from the capital with their fellow-countrymen ( Acts 18:1 f.); then we read of them at Corinth, where they met St. Paul ( Acts 18:1 f.), and of their going with him to Ephesus ( Acts 18:18 f.), where they remained. some time. Thence, probably, the old decree of expulsion having become obsolete, they returned to Rome, between the writing of 1 Cor. and Rom., and the ‘church in their house’ in Rome was then founded. Its site has been identified with that of the old church of St. Prisca on the Aventine, and this is quite possible, though there is no evidence of importance to support the identification. Hort suggests ( Prolegomena to Romans and Ephesians , 1895, p. 12ft.) that Prisca was a Roman lady of distinction, superior in birth to her husband; and this would lend probability to the supposition that their home was a centre of Christian worship; but Sanday-Headlam think that they were both freed members of a great Roman family.

There are traces of other centres of worship in Rome. In Romans 16 both  Romans 16:4 and  Romans 16:14 and  Romans 16:15 indicate communities or ‘families’ of Christians at Rome in addition to that of Aquila and Prisca in  Romans 16:5. In  Romans 16:14 only men are mentioned, and yet they form a community; cf. ‘the brethren that are with them.’ In  Romans 16:5 Philologus and Julia were probably husband and wife; Nereus and his sister, and also Olympas, would be near relations, living with them, lint hardly their children, for it would not be likely that Philologus' daughter should be referred to here as ‘the sister of Nereus.’ This household seems to have been a large Christian centre; ‘all the saints that are with them’ are mentioned. The multiplying of centres in one; city at a time when persecution was present or imminent may be illustrated by the account of the trial of Justin Martyr before the prefect in Rome (T. Ruinart, Acta Prim. Mart .2, 1713, p. 59). Justin tells the prefect that the Christians in the city do not all assemble at one place, for ‘the God of the Christians is not circumscribed in place, but, being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is adored by the faithful and His glory praised.’ Justin is pressed to say where he and his disciples assemble, and he replies that hitherto he has lived in the house of one Martin. The Acts may probably be said at least to contain the traditions current in the 3rd cent, as to Justin’s death (see Smith’s DCB [Note: CB Dict. of Christian Biography.]iii. [1882] 562).

Another Christian family in Rome has left o, relic of its house as a centre of worship in the church of San Clemente. This now consists of three structures, one above the other; the highest, now level with the ground, is. mediaeval, but contains the Byzantine furniture (ambones, rails, etc); the middle one is of the 4th cent. (?) and used to contain this furniture; while underneath is the old house, now inaccessible through the invasion of water. This last building, there is little reason to doubt, was the meeting-place of the Christians of the let cent., and though now far beneath the surface, was once level with the ground. Local tradition makes it the house of St. Clement the Bishop, and it is highly probable that he worshipped in it; but it is not unlikely, as Lightfoot suggests, that it was the house of Flavius Clemens the Consul, whom tradition declares to have been buried in it, and who was perhaps ‘patron’ to his namesake the Bishop (Lightfoot, Apostolic Father , pt. i.: ‘Clement,’ 1890, vol. i. p. 91ff.). The Consul was a near relative of the Emperor Domitian, and was put to death by him, perhaps because he was a Christian; at least his wife Domitilla was a believer ( ib. p. 53), and it is quite probable that their household became a Christian ἐκκλησία.

A further illustration of the ‘family’ as a Christian community is furnished by the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in Rome. The present church is built above the house of the martyrs so named, who perished, according to tradition, in the reign of Julian the Apostate. The house was probably used at that time for worship.

On the other hand,  Romans 16:18 does not refer to a number of, ἐκκλησίαι Ephesus. St. Paul here speaks on behalf of the whole of the communities of Christians which he had evangelized, or perhaps of all throughout the world, as in  Romans 16:4,  1 Corinthians 7:17. It should be noticed that the word ἐκκλησία is not used for a church building till a much later date.

In two places we read of private prayers at fixed hours in houses:  Acts 10:9 (Peter at the sixth hour, on the flat roof: see House) and  Acts 10:3 f,  Acts 10:30 (Cornelius keeping the ninth hour of prayer in his house). But these were private prayers, not family worship. Before public daily worship became generally customary, in the 4th cent. after the cessation of persecution, these and other hours of prayer, taken over from the Jews, were frequently observed by Christians, apparently in their families. See the present writers Ancient Church Orders , 1910, p. 59ff.

Literature.-This is given in the course of the article, but Special reference is due to the Prolegomena to J. B. Lightfoot’s Colossians and Philemon (1900 ed.) and Philippians (1903 ed.). For other aspects of the subject see articleon ‘Family’ by W. H. Bennett in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and E. G. Romanes in Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible (these both deal almost exclusively with the OT); by C. T. Dimont in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels (especially for the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels) and J. Strahan in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (‘Family, Biblical and Christian,’ dealing chiefly with the OT). There are several articles on the ‘Family’ in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics from the point of view of other nations of the world.

A. J. Maclean.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

The biblical portrayal of family represents the basic structures and conditions of the Near East of biblical times, conditions which still prevail over much of the East today. Throughout biblical times the structures and relationships changed. Likewise, the commitments and functions changed.

Old Testament The span of the Old Testament allowed for much transition in the family. Their understanding of the nature of God as well as of their culture influenced much of the Hebrew family life.

Structure The Old Testament family represents a larger body that the English word suggests. There are two Hebrew words which are used to refer to the family. One word ( mishpachah ) was used to describe the larger partriarchal clan which included those persons related by blood, marriage, slaveship, and even animals (as found in the fourth commandment,  Exodus 20:10 ). Occasionally even strangers or sojourners could be included in the larger household.

The second word ( bayith ) was used to suggest the place of residence or household. It had multiple meanings. It represented a clan of descendents ( Genesis 18:19 ), or property and persons of a particular place or residence on which and on whom one depended ( Job 8:15 ).

Central to this household was the oldest male relative who was viewed as the “father,” master, and ultimate authority, thus signifying the family as the father's house. All who belonged to him and claimed their allegiance to him were considered part of the household and were similar in beliefs and values. In  Genesis 7:1 Noah and his household were directed to enter the ark. Beyond the household was the larger clan, the tribe, and the nation which were descendants of Abraham, the origin of the people of Israel.

Relationships With the oldest male as center of the household, he was expected to marry and often have more than one wife ( Genesis 38:8-10;  Deuteronomy 25:5-10 ). Polygamy was common, though monogamy was widely practiced in Israel. Abraham, Jacob, and David were all husbands of more than one wife, and they also had concubines which were recognized as a lower status than a wife. See  Genesis 46:26 ). The creation story ( Genesis 1-2 ) modeled the monogamous relationship of one male and one female, as does much of the Bible.

The authority of the father was quite significant, even though he may actually have been the grandfather or great-grandfather. His responsibilities included begatting, instructing, disciplining, and nurturing. Abraham had the power to sacrifice his son ( Genesis 22:1 ). The father could even destroy family members if they enticed him from his loyalty to God ( Deuteronomy 13:6-10 ). However, the father was also to be loving, and the divine mercy of the New Testament was based on the compassionate Old Testament father ( Psalm 103:1 ).

In the marriage, the male had power over the female or females ( Genesis 3:16 ). They were often considered property of the male. He could have relationships with other women as long as he did not destroy property rights. Therefore, divorce was a male option only. He could divorce for almost any reason. As an example, he might “lose favor” ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ). He simply had to write a note and place her out. Both persons were free to marry again.

The Hebrew “mother” often saw her primary function as having children. The account of creation, however, described the female as being created equal with the male. After the Fall, women were relegated to the child-bearing role. The mother exercised significant authority over family life and often gave directions. Her primary role was to provide love and care for the members. The prophet Isaiah used the image of the mother to describe the compassion of God ( Isaiah 66:13 ). The mother was the object of love and honor and is praised in  Proverbs 31:1 for her good works.

Children were very important to the family and were considered proof of God's love ( Psalm 127:3-5 ). They were under absolute authority and control of the father. Sons were especially important and were considered second to the father in significance. Descent was through the male which also determined the perpetuation of the family name and the personality. Therefore, sons were trained in the traditions of the community and in the meaning of wisdom ( Proverbs 3:12;  Proverbs 13:24;  Proverbs 19:18 ). Daughters were often considered of secondary importance. The fathers were responsible for arranging marriages for the sons ( Genesis 24:4 ) and writing contracts for the daughters.

Commitment The Old Testament family was close-knit, and family loyalty was very strong. The family was held together around the central dominant figure of the father. Family honor and respect was high. The covenant was central to understanding Old Testament family relationships as well as relationships with God. A covenant had both an interior bonding and an exterior binding quality. Steadfast love (heed) was the basis of the covenant which created a sense of loyalty, justice, and high regard. Covenants were personal and caring and were greater than contracts for directing the family. Hebrew marriages were covenant marriages ( Malachi 2:14 ). Hosea especially revealed the importance of steadfast love ( Hosea 2:19-20 ).

For the Hebrew family steadfast love was the heart of loyalty and corporate solidarity. Marriages were based on faithfulness and vows of covenant love. This covenant included all family relationships and has helped to maintain the identity of the Hebrew family even until today.

Functions The family of the Old Testament had the purposes of reproduction, instruction, care giving, maintaining traditions, and conveying wisdom. The primary function, however, was the teaching of religion, thus providing guidelines and instruction which were central to Hebrew family well-being. They carefully guarded the family from outside influences. When the family moved from a rural to an urbanized culture, their traditions and values were threatened. Consequently, ancient customs were reaffirmed, and faith was used to undergird them.

New Testament The New Testament introduced major changes in understanding the family, and it provided new and creative ways to appreciate the nature of family and the nature of faith.

Structure As in the Old Testament the Greek words used to describe family did not refer exclusively to our understanding of the nuclear family. One word ( patria ) was used to identify lineage and descent from a specific ancestor ( Luke 2:4;  Acts 3:25;  Ephesians 3:15 ). Another term ( oikos ) meant a house or a building but could also refer to a lineage or clan much like the Old Testament word for household ( 1 Corinthians 1:16 ). A similar term ( oikia ) also referred to a building ( Matthew 7:24 ) but was used to describe a household including husband, wife, children, and others.

The New Testament household or family, especially the Christian family, probably had one husband and one wife, children, relatives, slaves, servants, and others who lived there for various reasons. The household codes of the New Testament outlined duties for the members including husband/wife, father/child, and master/slave ( Ephesians 5:21-6:4;  Colossians 3:18-4:1 ).

The importance of lineage in the New Testament shifted from a focus on the lineage from an ancestor to lineage from God. In Matthew, Jesus said, “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” ( Matthew 23:9 ). The focus of family structure and family lineage changed from the “earthly father” and was replaced by a lineage from “God the Father,” accessible to anyone through Jesus Christ. Therefore, all who believed on Jesus became part of a broader family of God.

Relationships Jesus used the relationships of His own family as well as natural families to define the nature of God's relationships with His people ( Matthew 7:9-10;  Matthew 11:16-17;  Matthew 21:28-32;  Luke 11:7;  Luke 14:11-32 ).

Jesus even gave greater importance to relationships within the family of God than to the natural family. He said, “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” ( Matthew 12:50 ). Following Jesus often meant leaving one's family ( Mark 1:16-20;  Luke 9:59-60 ).

Jesus provided a new understanding of family—the family of God and the family of faith. According to Jesus, neither the nuclear family nor the household was the primary unit of God's creation. Rather, one's faith commitment and faith family were central to God's purpose.

The primary relational dynamic Jesus and the New Testament taught was love ( agape ). This New Testament love expanded the Old Testament understanding of steadfast love ( hesed ) by developing an unconditional, accepting love known initially in the love of God ( John 3:16;  1 Corinthians 13:1 ). This love permeated and transformed the relationships of families and all persons.

Marriage in the New Testament was founded on a love bond experienced by both male and female in contrast to the arranged marriage of the Old Testament. Women were not to be considered property by men but rather were to be loved and nurtured ( Ephesians 5:25 ).

The roles of men and women were transformed by the love of Christ. The father was no longer the central figure of the family but was replaced by God the Father and faith in Jesus Christ. The authority of the male became like the sacrificial, servant authority of Jesus Christ ( Ephesians 5:25-33 ).

The role and status of a woman were not linked intrinsically to her function as a wife and mother. Her identity and personhood were discovered in her faith commitment to Jesus Christ and in doing the will of the Father. Therefore, women did not have to be married or have children to be important in the family of God ( Galatians 3:28 ).

The marriage relationship was important in the New Testament. There was to be marriage between one man and one woman ( Mark 10:6-8;  Ephesians 5:31 ). The relationship was to be permanent. Jesus addressed the issue of divorce because it was so commonly and easily exercised (for the man). Jesus believed that the love bond made the marriage vows sacred, and they were not to be broken ( Mark 10:11-12;  Luke 16:18 ). Jesus affirmed the value of marriage but did not view it as more important than the family of God.

The nature of the Christian marriage relationship, guided by Christlike love, called for both man and woman to give themselves voluntarily and sacrificially to each other ( Ephesians 5:21 ). This mutual love commitment was a radical departure from the Old Testament marriage model. The New Testament marriage union was based on an equal and mutual sharing guided by love ( 1 Corinthians 7:4 ).

Children were given a place of high honor by Jesus ( Mark 10:13-16 ). Having a child created an opportunity for parents to become co-creators with God in helping earthly children to become children of God ( Romans 9:8 ). Therefore, the focus of the parent/child relationship was on love, honor, and respect as well as discipline and instruction ( Ephesians 6:1-4 ).

Commitment The Old Testament concept of covenant became the foundation for the new covenant in Jesus Christ. Steadfast love was enhanced by Christlike love. Covenants and commitments, in family relationships and faith relationships, were deepened by the new covenant of love which was infused with grace and forgiveness. All relationships were guided by grace and the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ ( 1 John 3:16 ). Christian family relationships called for a commitment which was based on openness and compassion, forgiveness and understanding.

This image of family commitment was so significant that it was used by the early church to describe the relationship of Christ and the church ( Ephesians 5:1 ). Since the early churches were house churches, family relationships were very important because of the pagan forces which threatened them. All believers were members of the household of God ( Ephesians 2:19 ), which was the household of faith ( Galatians 6:10 ).

Function The function of the family in the New Testament was secondary to the primary purpose of the family of God. Obedience to Christ and doing God's will was the calling for everyone. This faith commitment, then, shaped the purpose and function of the family. The family was guided by Christlike love, and the purpose of the family was to give witness to the love of God and bring people to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, thus creating the larger family of God. See Father; Mother; Marriage; Sex; Woman; Children; Divorce .

J. Michael Hester

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]


1. Character of the family in OT . ‘Family’ in the OT has a wider significance than that which we usually associate with the term. The word tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘house’ (  Genesis 7:1 ) approaches most nearly to our word ‘family’: but a man’s ‘house’ might consist of his mother; his wives and the wives’ children; his concubines and their children; sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, with their offspring; illegitimate sons (  Judges 11:1 ); dependents and allens; and slaves of both sexes. Polygamy was in part the cause of the large size of the Hebrew household; in part the cause of it may be found in the insecurity of early times, when safety lay in numbers, and consequently not only the married sons and daughters dwelt, for the sake of protection, with their father, but remote relatives and even foreigners (‘the stranger within thy gates’) would attach themselves, with a similar object, to a great household. The idea of the family sometimes had an even wider significance, extending to and including the nation, or even the whole race of mankind. Of this a familiar illustration is the figure of Abraham, who was regarded as being in a very real sense the father of the nation. So also the same feeling for the idea of the family is to be found in the careful assigning of a ‘father’ to every known nation and tribe (  Genesis 10:1-32 ). From this it is easily perceived that the family played an important part in Hebrew thought and affairs. It formed the base upon which the social structure was built up; its indistinguishable merging into the wider sense of clan or tribe indicates how it affected the political life of the whole nation.

Polygyny and bigamy were recognized features of the family life. From the Oriental point of view there was nothing immoral in the practice of polygamy. The female slaves were in every respect the property of their master, and became his concubines; except in certain cases, when they seem to have belonged exclusively to their mistress, and could not be appropriated by the man except by her suggestion or consent (  Genesis 16:2-3 ). The slave-concubines were obtained as booty in time of war (  Judges 5:30 ), or bought from poverty-stricken parents (  Exodus 21:7 ); or, possibly, in the ordinary slave traffic with foreign nations. In addition to his concubines a man might take several wives, and from familiar examples in the OT it seems that it was usual for wealthy and important personages to do so; Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, occur as instances. Elkanah, the husband of Hannah and Peninnah, is an interesting example of a man of no particular position who nevertheless had more than one wife; this may be an indication that bigamy, at least, if not polygamy, was not confined to the very wealthy and exalted. At all events, polygyny was an established and recognized institution from the earliest times. The gradual evolution in the OT of monogamy as the ideal is therefore of the highest interest. The earliest codes attempt in various ways to regulate the custom of polygyny. The Deut. code in particular actually forbids kings to multiply wives (  Deuteronomy 17:17 ); this is the fruit, apparently, of the experience of Solomon’s reign. In the prophetic writings the note of protest is more clearly sounded. Not only Adam but also Noah, the second founder of the human race, represents monogamy, and on that account recommends it as God’s ordinance. It is in the line of Cain that bigamy is first represented, as though to emphasize the consequences of the Fall. Reasons are given in explanation of the bigamy of Abraham (  Genesis 16:1-16 ) and of Jacob (  Genesis 29:23 ). Hosea and other prophets constantly dwell upon the thought of a monogamous marriage as being a symbol of the union between God and His people; and denounce idolatry as unfaithfulness to this spiritual marriage-tie.

2. Position of the wife . Side by side with the growth of the recognition of monogamy as the ideal form of marriage, polygamy was practised even as late as NT times. The natural accompaniment of such a practice was the insignificance of the wife’s position: she was ordinarily regarded as a piece of property, as the wording of the Tenth Commandment testifies. Also her rights and privileges were necessarily shared by others. The relative positions of wives and concubines were determined mainly by the husband’s favour. The children of the wife claimed the greater part, or the whole, of the inheritance; otherwise there does not seem to have been any inferiority in the position of the concubine as compared with that of the wife, nor was any idea of illegitimacy, in our sense of the word, connected with her children.

The husband had supreme authority over the wife. He was permitted by the Deut. code to divorce her with apparently little reason. The various passages (  Deuteronomy 22:13;   Deuteronomy 22:19;   Deuteronomy 22:28-29 ,   Isaiah 50:1 ,   Jeremiah 3:8 ,   Malachi 2:16 ) referring to and regulating divorce, indicate that it was of frequent occurrence. Yet wives, and even concubines who had been bought in the first place as slaves, might not be sold (  Exodus 21:7-11 ,   Deuteronomy 21:14 ). Indeed, the Law throughout proves itself sympathetic towards the position of the wife and desirous of improving her condition (  Exodus 21:2;   Exodus 21:12 ,   Deuteronomy 21:10-17 ). This very attitude of the Law, however, indicates that there was need of improvement. The wife seems to have had no redress if wronged by the husband; she could not divorce him; and absolute faithfulness, though required of the wife, was not expected of the husband, so long as he did not injure the rights of any other man.

The wife, then, was in theory the mere chattel of her husband. A woman of character, however, could improve her situation and attain to a considerable degree of importance and influence as well as of personal freedom. Thus we read not only of Hagars, who were dealt hardly with and were obliged to submit themselves under the hands of their masters and rivals, but also of Sarahs and Rebekahs and Abigails, who could act independently and even against the wishes of their husbands in order to gain their own ends. And the Book of Proverbs testifies to the advantage accruing to a man in the possession of a good wife ( Proverbs 19:14;   Proverbs 31:10 ff.), and to the misery which it is in the power of a selfish woman to inflict (  Proverbs 19:13 etc.).

3. Children . In a household consisting of several families, the mother of each set of children would naturally have more to do with them than the father , and the maternal relationship would usually be more close and affectionate than the bond between the father and his children. Although it was recognized to be disastrous for a household to be divided against itself, yet friction between the various families could hardly have been avoided. ‘One whom his mother comforteth’ (  Isaiah 66:13 ) must have been a sight common enough a mother consoling her injured son for the taunts and blows of her rivals’ children. Thus the mother would have the early care and education of her children under her own control. The father, on the other hand, had complete power over the lives and fortunes of his children, and would represent to them the idea of authority rather than of tenderness. He it was who arranged the marriage of his sons (  Genesis 24:4;   Genesis 28:2 ,   Judges 14:2 ), and had the right to sell his daughters (  Exodus 21:7 ). The father seems even to have had powers of life and death over his children (  Judges 11:39 ): and the Law provided that an unworthy son might be stoned to death upon the accusation of his parents (  Deuteronomy 21:18-21 ). See also art. Child.

4. Family duties . The claims of the family upon the various members of it were strongly felt. Many laws provide for the vengeance and protection of the injured and defenceless by their next-of-kin. Brothers were the guardians of their sisters (  Genesis 34:1-31 ). A childless widow could demand, though not enforce, re-marriage with her brother-in-law (  Deuteronomy 25:5-10 ). Boaz, as the nearest relation, performed this duty towards Ruth. In spite of the prohibition of the later code (  Leviticus 20:21 ), levirate marriage seems to have been practised at the time of Christ (  Matthew 22:25 ff.). Its purpose was perhaps rather for the preservation of the particular branch of the family than for the advantage of the widow herself: in any case it illustrates the strong sense of duty towards the family as a whole.

Children owed obedience and respect to their parents. Even a married man would consider himself still under the authority of his father, whether living with him or not; and his wife would be subject to her father-in-law even after her husband’s death.

To an Israelite, ‘family’ conveyed the notions of unity, security, order, and discipline. These conceptions were nourished by the religious customs and observances in the home, the most conspicuous instance of which was the keeping of the Passover. Such observances no doubt helped to bind the members of the family in close religious and spiritual sympathies. The common longing to love and to serve God was the base of the family affection and unity from patriarchal times when the head of each family would offer sacrifice upon his own altar, until the hour in which Mary’s Son asked in tender surprise of her and Joseph: ‘Wist ye not that I must he in my Father’s house?’ ( Luke 2:49 ).

E. G. Romanes.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

According to God’s plan for human life, people do not exist in isolation but as part of a vast society, and they are fitted for their part in that society by being brought up in families ( Ephesians 3:14-15;  1 Timothy 3:4). Stability, love and cooperation in the family will help produce similar qualities in society as a whole. (Concerning illustrations of the family in relation to Israel or the church see Church ; Father .)

Parents and children

With his ordering of human life, God has put it into the nature of people to exercise and accept authority. He has, for example, given parents authority over their children, and children naturally recognize that authority ( Genesis 22:7-8;  Exodus 20:12;  Luke 2:51).

The Bible warns parents against misusing their authority or treating their children unjustly. It also teaches children that they must respect and obey their parents ( Ephesians 6:1-4;  Colossians 3:20-21). This does not mean that the family is intended to function in an atmosphere of harsh authority. On the contrary it will function best where there is an atmosphere of self-sacrificing love ( Titus 2:4; cf.  2 Corinthians 6:11-13;  Ephesians 5:25).

Parents who love their children will fulfil their duty to instruct and discipline them. They will not be able to do this, however, if they are ill-instructed or ill-disciplined themselves ( Deuteronomy 11:18-19;  2 Samuel 7:14-15;  Proverbs 1:8;  Proverbs 13:1;  Proverbs 13:24;  Proverbs 19:18;  Proverbs 29:17;  Ephesians 6:4;  1 Timothy 3:2-5;  1 Timothy 5:14;  Hebrews 12:7-11; see Chastisement ). They must encourage open communication between themselves and their children ( Deuteronomy 6:20-25;  Joshua 4:21-24). If parents act responsibly towards their children, they can expect to produce children who act responsibly ( Proverbs 10:1;  Proverbs 10:5;  Proverbs 22:6;  2 Timothy 1:5). The training that produces this responsibility begins in the children’s infancy, is carried out primarily in the home, and is based on the Word of God ( Deuteronomy 6:6-9;  2 Timothy 3:14-15).

The teaching that parents give their children must be supported by the example of right conduct in the parents’ lives ( Romans 2:21-24;  1 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Parents must practise and teach self-sacrifice for the sake of others, so that the family is a place where people learn how to love others, forgive others, honour others and serve others ( Ephesians 4:31-32; cf.  Matthew 20:25-27;  John 13:12-15).

Wider responsibilities

Parents must be careful that concern for the family’s well-being does not make them or their children self-centred. By practising hospitality and helping the needy, parents will encourage their children to have a generous attitude to those outside the family ( Romans 12:13;  1 Timothy 5:10;  James 1:26-27;  1 John 3:17; see Good Works; Hospitality ) Such attitudes and conduct, besides benefiting others, will help those within the family develop godly character and produce a happy home ( Psalms 128:1-4).

Responsibilities within the family concern more than just the parents and children. They extend beyond the immediate family to those of the former generation who may no longer be able to support themselves. Regardless of the help that may come from the government, the church, or other sources, Christians have a responsibility for the well-being of their aged parents ( Mark 7:9-13;  1 Timothy 5:4;  1 Timothy 5:8; see also Widow ).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [5]

Mishpâchâh ( מִשְׁפָּחָה , Strong'S #4940), “family; clan.” A form of this Hebrew word occurs in Ugaritic and Punic, also with the meaning of “family” or “clan.” The word is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as in Mishnaic and modern Hebrew. Mishpâchâh occurs 300 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is first used in Gen. 8:19: “Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds , went forth out of the ark.”

The word is related to the verbal root shipchah —but the verbal form is absent from the Old Testament. Another noun form pechah (“maidservant”), as in Gen. 16:2: “And Sarai said unto Abram … I pray thee, go in unto my maid.…”

The noun mishpachah is used predominantly in the Pentateuch (as many as 154 times in Numbers) and in the historical books, but rarely in the poetical literature (5 times) and the prophetical writings.

All members of a group who were related by blood and who still felt a sense of consanguinity belonged to the “clan” or “the extended family.” Saul argued that since he belonged to the least of the “clans,” he had no right to the kingship (1 Sam. 9:21). This meaning determined the extent of Rahab’s family that was spared from Jericho: “… And they brought out all her kindred , and left them without the camp of Israel” (Josh. 6:23). So the “clan” was an important division within the “tribe.” The Book of Numbers gives a census of the leaders and the numbers of the tribes according to the “families” (Num. 1-4; 26). In capital cases, where revenge was desired, the entire clan might be taken: “And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth” (2 Sam. 14:7).

A further extension of the meaning “division” or “clan” is the idiomatic usage of “class” or “group,” such as “the families” of the animals that left the ark (Gen. 8:19) or the “families” of the nations (Ps. 22:28; 96:7; cf. Gen. 10:5). Even God’s promise to Abraham had reference to all the nations: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).

The narrow meaning of mishpâchâh is similar to our usage of “family” and similar to the meaning of the word in modern Hebrew. Abraham sent his servant to his relatives in Padanaram to seek a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:38). The law of redemption applied to the “close relatives in a family”: “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself” (Lev. 25:48-49).

In the Septuagint, several words are given as a translation: demos —(“people; populace; crowd”), phule (“tribe; nation; people”), and patria (“family; clan”). The KJV translates mishpâchâh with “family; kindred; kind.” Most versions keep the translation “family”; but instead of “kindred” and “kind,” some read “relative” (NASB) or “clan.”

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

1: Οἶκος (Strong'S #3624 — Noun Masculine — oikos — oy'-kos )

signifies (a) "a dwelling, a house" (akin to oikeo, to dwell); (b) "a household, family," translated "family" in  1—Timothy 5:4 , RV, for AV, "at home." See Home , House , Household , Temple.

2: Πατριά (Strong'S #3965 — Noun Feminine — patria — pat-ree-ah' )

primarily "an ancestry, lineage," signifies in the NT "a family or tribe" (in the Sept. it is used of related people, in a sense wider than No. 1, but narrower than phule, "a tribe," e.g.,  Exodus 12:3;  Numbers 32:28 ); it is used of the "family" of David,  Luke 2:4 , RV, for AV, "lineage;" in the wider sense of "nationalities, races,"  Acts 3:25 , RV, "families," for AV, "kindreds;" in  Ephesians 3:15 , RV, "every family," for AV, "the whole family," the reference being to all those who are spiritually related to God the Father, He being the Author of their spiritual relationship to Him as His children, they being united to one another in "family" fellowship (patria is akin to pater, "a father"); Luther's translation, "all who bear the name of children," is advocated by Cremer, p. 474. The phrase, however, is lit., "every family." See Kindred.

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): ( v. t.) The group comprising a husband and wife and their dependent children, constituting a fundamental unit in the organization of society.

(2): ( v. t.) The collective body of persons who live in one house, and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children, and servants, and, as the case may be, lodgers or boarders.

(3): ( v. t.) Those who descend from one common progenitor; a tribe, clan, or race; kindred; house; as, the human family; the family of Abraham; the father of a family.

(4): ( v. t.) Course of descent; genealogy; line of ancestors; lineage.

(5): ( v. t.) Honorable descent; noble or respectable stock; as, a man of family.

(6): ( v. t.) A group of kindred or closely related individuals; as, a family of languages; a family of States; the chlorine family.

(7): ( v. t.) A group of organisms, either animal or vegetable, related by certain points of resemblance in structure or development, more comprehensive than a genus, because it is usually based on fewer or less pronounced points of likeness. In zoology a family is less comprehesive than an order; in botany it is often considered the same thing as an order.

King James Dictionary [8]

FAM'ILY, n. L. familia.

1. The collective body of persons who live in one house and under one head or manager a household, including parents, children and servants, and as the case may be, lodgers or boarders. 2. Those who descend from one common progenitor a tribe or race kindred lineage. Thus the Israelites were a branch of the family of Abraham and the descendants of Reuben, of Manasseh, &c., were called their families. The whole human race are the family of Adam, the human family. 3. Course of descent genealogy line of ancestors.

Go and complain thy family is young.

4. Honorable descent noble or respectable stock. He is a man of family. 5. A collection or union of nations or states.

The states of Europe were, by the prevailing maxims of its policy, closely united in one family.

6. In popular language, an order, class or genus of animals or of other natural productions, having something in common, by which they are distinguished from others as, quadrupeds constitute a family of animals, and we speak of the family or families of plants.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [9]

 Ephesians 3:15 (a) GOD's people are represented as a family for fellowship. This is one of the six aspects of the church found in the book of Ephesians. As a "family" we serve together and play together. We study and work together in happy relationship. Each one helps and loves the other. Each one shares the problems, the defeats and the victories of the others in the family. So it should be among GOD's people.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

fam´i - li ( משׁפחה , mishpāḥāh , בּית , bayith  ; πατριά , patriá ):

1. The Foundation

2. Monogamy, the Ideal Relation

3. Equality of the Sexes

4. Polygamy

5. The Commandments and the Family (5th Commandment)

6. The Commandments and the Family (7th Commandment)

7. The Commandments and the Family (10th Commandment)

8. Primitive Monogamic Ideal

9. Reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah

10. The New Testament

11. The Teaching of Jesus

12. The Teaching of Paul

13. Modern Dangers


1. The Foundation

The Bible is the world's great teacher of monogamy - the union for life of one man and one woman in marriage as the basis of the family. Whatever may be said about the time of the writing of the books of the Bible, or of parts of them, the testimony of the whole is incontrovertibly to the point that marriage springs from the choice of one man and one woman of each other for a permanent family relation. Over and through the whole of the Bible this ideal is dominant. There may be instances shown here and there of violation of this rule. But such cases are to be regarded as contrary to the underlying principle of marriage - known even at the time of their occurrence to be antagonistic to the principle.

There may be times when moral principle is violated in high places and perhaps over wide reaches in society. The Bible shows that there were such times in the history of man. But it is undeniable that its tone toward such lapses of men and of society is not one of condonation but one of regret and disapproval. The disasters consequent are faithfully set forth. The feeling that finds expression in its whole history is that in such cases there had been violation of the ideal of right in the sex relation. The ideal of monogamic relation is put in the forefront of the history of man.

2. Monogamy, the Ideal Relation

The race is introduced synthetically as a species in the incoming of life. "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" ( Genesis 1:27 ). But with the first particularization of the relation of the sexes to each other the great charter of monogamy was laid down so clearly that Jesus was content to quote it, when with His limitless ethical scrutiny He explained the marriage relation. "And the man said (when the woman was brought to him), This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" ( Genesis 2:23 ,  Genesis 2:14 ). It is well to pause and look at the grammatical number of the nouns: "a man," "his wife." The words of the charter hold the sexes to monogamy. The subsequent words make marriage life-lasting. "They twain shall be one flesh." A dualism becomes an individualism. So said Christ: "Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh" ( Matthew 19:6 the King James Version). Nothing but death separates a man from his own flesh. Nothing but life-monogamy can find place in the language of this charter.

There is much in the setting of this charter in the account given in Gen that is suggestive of the fine sentiment which we know has always gone along with love and marriage. That this account should have held the place in history that it has had adds testimony to the fine perception of sentiment and the strong grasp on principle out of which it came.

3. Equality of the Sexes

Eve, "the mother of all living," comes out as distinctly as Adam on the canvas in the portraiture of the first pair. She is the feminine representative - 'ishshāh ̌ - of the race, as Adam is the masculine - 'ı̄sh ( Genesis 2:23 ). The personality of Eve is as complete as that of Adam. She is a rational and accountable creature, as Adam is. In primitive intellectual and moral transactions she has share on equality with Adam, and is equally involved in their results. Different physical consequences fall on her for "transgression," because she is "woman," "the mother of all living" ( Genesis 3:16 ). But Adam does not escape retribution for sin, and it may be questioned whether its burden did not fall hardest on him ( Genesis 3:18 ,  Genesis 3:19 ), for motherhood has its joy as well as its pain, in the companionship of new-born child-life; but the wrestler for subsistence from a reluctant earth must bear his hardship alone. It cannot but be that much of the primitive conjugal love survived the fall.

4. Polygamy

According to the record, monogamy seems long to have survived the departure from Eden. It is not till many generations after that event that we find a case of polygamy - that of Lamech ( Genesis 4:19-24 ). Lamech is said to have had "two wives." The special mention of "two" seems to show that man had not yet wandered far away from monogamy. The indications seem to be that as the race multiplied and went out over the face of the earth they forgot the original kinship and exhibited all manner of barbarities in social relations. Lamech was a polygamist, but he was also a quarrelsome homicide: "I have slain a man for wounding me, and a young man for bruising me" ( Genesis 4:23 ). If such acts and dispositions as are disclosed in the case of Lamech become common, it will certainly not be a long while before the only apt description of the condition of society must be that upon which we come in  Genesis 6:5 : "And Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Out of such condition will come war and slavery, and polygamy - and come they did. It is a straight road from   Genesis 6:5 to "The Koran, tribute or the sword," and the polygamy of Mohammedans.

5. The Commandments and the Family (5th Commandment)

The commandments ( Exodus 20:12;  Deuteronomy 5:16 ) are a succinct summary of the supreme moral relations and duties of man. The first four pertain to our relationship to God. The six following concern human relations. Of these six, three have considerations of the family involved in them. Commandments do not come to people ignorant of the subjects to which they relate. A commandment to cover an unknown moral relation is an absurdity. The text of the Fifth Commandment is, "Honor thy father and thy mother." This refers to the relation of children to parents. This commandment could scarcely have arisen when polygamy was a common practice, certainly never from promiscuity. The equality of father and mother is stamped on its face. That idea never could have had strength and solemnity enough, except in a prevailing condition of monogamy, to entitle the command in which it appeared to rank with the important subjects covered by the other commands. Before the gaze of the children to whom this commandment came, the family stood in monogamic honor - the mother a head of the family as well as the father. There is no question about the position of the mother in this commandment. She stands out as clear as Sinai itself. There is no cloud on her majesty. Such honor as goes to the father goes to the mother. She is no chattel, no property, no inferior being, but the mother; no subordinate to the father, but his equal in rank and entitled to equal reverence with him. The commandment would not and could not have so pictured the mother had she been one of the inmates of a harem.

6. The Commandments and the Family (7th Commandment)

The Seventh Commandment ( Exodus 20:14;  Deuteronomy 5:18 ) gives the family. It secures the home. It says that whatever children are born to the race shall be born in a home and of the home - shall be family-born. The terms adultery and fornication have now become synonymous. Under the influence of polygamous practices a distinction was made in respect to unlawful sex union as to whether one or both of the parties thereto were married or not, or whether one or both were single. Such distinction will not hold in morals. All or any sex union out of marriage is barred by the family idea. Outside of that all sex union is sin.

While it is true that in the laws of Israel sex sin outside the family relation was treated as a subject by itself, yet when we remember how early in life marriage came in those ancient days, and that betrothal in childhood was deemed as sacred as marriage itself, we see that even then the sweep of the commandment was well-nigh universal and over what a broad range it protected the family. The family is the primal eldest institution of man - the greatest and the holiest. Over this institution this commandment stands sentry. It prevents men from breaking up in complete individual isolation, from reverting to solitary savagery. Think to what a child is born outside of the family relation! Then think of all children being so born, and you have the picture of a low plane of animalism from which all trace of the moral responsibility of fatherhood has disappeared, and where even motherhood will be reduced to simple care during the short period of helpless infancy, to such care as belongs to animal instinct. Put up now the idea that marriage shall be universal and that the children born in marriage shall belong genuinely to it, and you have a new heaven and a new earth ia the sex relations of the race of man.

7. The Commandments and the Family (10th Commandment)

The Tenth Commandment seems almost out of place on the list of the commandments. All the others enjoin specific acts. This tenth seems to be a foregleam of the Savior's method - going to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is an attempt at regulation in man. It goes beyond outward acts and deals with the spirit. Its purpose seems not regulation of man in society but in himself. So far as it has outward relation it seems to apply primarily to the rights of property. We have at common law the expression, "rights of persons; and rights of things," i.e. to property. But the list of things enumerated in the commandment comprises the things most common to family life: house, servants, animals. One is forbidden not only to take but even to desire such things. They are necessary to family life. In this list of things belonging to a neighbor that a man is forbidden to desire occurs the term "wife." To first thought it may seem strange that she should be listed with property in house and chattels. But it may not be very singular. One of woman's greatest blessings to man is helpfulness. Eve, the mother of all living, came as a helpmeet for Adam. Sarah is mistress of domestic operations. A wife quick of thought, accurate in judgment and deft of hand is usually the key to a man's material prosperity. As such help a man's desire might stray to his neighbor's wife as well as to his cattle. Even on this lower plane she is still a constituent element of the family. Here the thought of sex is scarcely discernible. Covetousness unlimited in the accumulation of property is what comes under ban. To treat of that matter would lead too far astray. See Covetousness .

It is well to remember in taking leave of the commandments that half of those pertaining to human relations hold the family plainly in view. This is as it should be. The race is divided equally between male and female, and their relations to each other, we might expect, would call for half of the directions devoted to the whole.

8. Primitive Monogamic Ideal

The laws against adultery and incest (Lev 20 and the like) may seem barbarously severe. Be it so; that fact would show they were carried along by a people tremendously in earnest about the integrity of the family. Beneath pioneer severity is usually a solemn principle. That the children of Israel had a tough grasp on the primitive monogamic ideal is not only apparent in all their history, but it comes out clear in what they held as history before their own began. Mr. Gladstone said the tenth chapter of Genesis is the best document of ancient ethnography known to man. But it is made up on family lines. It is a record of the settlement of heads of families as they went forth on the face of the earth. The common statement for the sons of Noah as they filed out over the lands of which they took possession is, 'these are the sons of ... after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, in their nations.' Mr. Gladstone called attention to the fact that modern philology verifies this classification of the nations which rests on outgrowth from families .

9. Reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah

Turning now to a very distant point in history - the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon - we find in Ezra and Nehemiah the most critical regard for genealogy. The effort to establish "pure blood" was fairly a fanaticism and might even be charged with injustice. Yet this effort was ratified by the people - sufferers in degraded name though many of them must have been. This could never have been done had not the monogamic family idea rested in their hearts as just and right. Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 13:26 ) unsparingly condemned the mighty Solomon for his polygamy, and Israel upproved the censure.

10. The New Testament

When we come to the times of the New Testament, contemporaneous polygamy in Jewish society was dead. Wherever New Testament influences have gone, contemporaneous polygamy has ceased to be.

There has been in the United States by Mormonism a belated attempt to revive that crime against the family. But it has had its bad day, and, if it lives at all, it is under the ban of social sentiment and is a crime by law. Consecutive polygamy still exists in nations that are called Christian by the permission of divorce laws. But the tide of Christian sentiment is setting strongly against it, and it takes no special clearness of vision to see that it must go to extinction along with polygamy contemporaneous.

Jesus reaffirmed the original charter of the monogamic family ( Matthew 19:1-12;  Mark 10:2-12 ). It is to be noticed that He affirmed the indissolubility of the family not only against the parties thereto but against the power of society. See Divorce .

11. The Teaching of Jesus

At first sight it seems a little strange that Jesus said so little about the family. But as we reflect on the nature of His mission we shall catch the explanation of His silence. He said, "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill" ( Matthew 5:17 ), that is, to fill out, to expound and expand. He also said, "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost" ( Matthew 18:11 the King James Version), and, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (  Matthew 9:13 ), that is, to rectify what was wrong. To what was right He gave the right of way - let it go on in its own course. When the law was right, He said, not one jot or tittle of it should fail ( Matthew 5:18 ). With regard to the family, He held the old charter written in the heart of man, before it was burned in brick or committed to manuscript, was right. It was comprehensive, would and ought to stand. So He stood by that, and that sufficed His purpose. Christ did not try to regulate the family so much as to regulate the persons who entered into family life. This may explain why we have no utterance from Him in regard to the conduct and duties of children toward parents. Still stood the ancient statute, "Honor thy father and thy mother." He came not to destroy but to fulfill that. That still indicated the right relation of children to parents. If a child had asked about his relation to his parents, Christ would doubtless have referred him to that commandment, as He did other inquirers about duties to the commandments that cover so large a part of the ethical realm.

12. The Teaching of Paul

Paul, who particularizes so much in explanation of duties in all relations, scarcely gets beyond the old commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother," when he says, "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord." It has always been well-pleasing in the Lord. To be sure there was new inspiration to obedience from the new revelation of duty which came to them in Christ, but the duty was enforced by the Fifth Commandment, and that was copied from the deeper revelation in the heart of man.

13. Modern Dangers

In modern society the two great foes of the family are Divorce and Migration. Families no longer live a continuous life together. We have less family life than the old pastoral nomads. They had to keep together for several generations in order to protect their lives and their flocks and herds. So arose the clan, the tribe and the nation. Family influence can be detected through them. Modern Industries are very much localized. We should easily think that families would be under their controlling influence. But they are not; the industries are localized, the workers are becoming rovers. When trouble comes in an industry, a workman's first resort is to try somewhere else. Cheapness of transportation gives him the opportunity he desires. So with a satchel he goes hunting, much as a barbarian roams the forest for game, alone. He may take his family or leave it behind. He may be separated from his family for months or years - possibly abandon it forever. A very common cause of divorce is abandonment of family by its male head.

In fact, those engaged in a great deal of legitimate industry are looking out for a better place quite as much as to develop the capacities of business in their own locations. The signs over places of business are few that carry the same name in town or city for a generation. Moving is perhaps more the order of the day than movement. The families are few that can be found in the same place for a quarter of a century. The wealthy cannot stay in the same house six months at a time. They have a house in the city for the winter and one in the country for the summer, and then forsake both and fly over the sea, perhaps to remain for years - traveling. How can family ties survive under such migratory life? Society supersedes the family.

Even education is subject to this malign influence. At their most impressive age, when they need family influence most around them, children are sent away to prepare for or to enter upon higher courses of education. This fits them for something else than life in the family from which they sprang and they rarely return to it. We may not be able to check this drift, but we ought to see its tendency to degrade the estimate of the value of the family.


Wolsey, Divorce , Scribners; Publications of the National Divorce Reform League; Reports State and National, ad rem  ; Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question , chapter iii; Caverno, Divorce , Midland Publishing Co., Madison, Wis.; The Ten Words , Pilgrim Press, Boston.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

The idea of the family ( Οϊ v Κος ), in Greece, was that of the nucleus of society, or of the state. "Aristotle speaks of it as the foundation of the state and, quotes Hesiod to the effect that the original family consisted of the wife and the laboring ox, which held," as he says, to the poor the position of the slave (Polit. 1:1). The complete Greek family, then, consisted of the man, and his wife, and his slave; the two latter, Aristotle says, never having been confounded in the same class by the Greeks, as by the barbarians (Ib.). In this form, the family was recognized as the model of the monarchy, the earliest, as well as the simplest, form of government. When, by the birth and growth of children, and the death of the father, the original family is broken up into several, the heads of which stand to each other in a co-ordinate rather than a strictly subordinate position, we have in these the prototypes of the more advanced forms of government. Each brother, by becoming the head of a separate family, becomes a member of an aristocracy, or the embodiment of a portion of the sovereign power, as it exists in the separate elements of which a constitutional or a democratic government is composed. But at Rome the idea of the family was still more closely entwined with that of life in the state, and the natural power of the father was taken as the basis not only of the whole political, but of the whole social organization of the people. Among the Romans, as with the Greeks, the family included the slave as well as the wife, and ultimately the children, a fact which, indeed, is indicated by the etymology of the word, which belongs to the same root as famulus, a slave. In its widest sense, the famalia included even the in-animate possessions of the citizen, who, as the head of a house, was his own master (sui juris); and Gaius (2:102) uses it as synonymous with patrimonium. In general, however, it was confined to persons the wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, if such there were, and slaves of a full-blown Roman citizen. Sometimes, too, it signified all those who had sprung from a common stock, and would have been members of the family, and under the potestas of a common ancestor, had he been alive. In this sense, of course, the slaves belonging to the different members of the family were not included in it. It was a family, in short, in the sense in which we speak of 'the royal family,' etc., with this difference, that it was possible for an individual to quit it, and to pass into another by adoption. Sometimes, again, the word was used with reference to slaves exclusively, and, analogically, to a sect of philosophers, or a body of gladiators." See Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

The Christian family, on the contrary, is a communion resting as an ethico- religious foundation, and forming the closest of all human relationships. It is a copy of the highest and most perfect union, that of the Church with Christ its head. Christianity, considered as the true (ideal) family, wherein Christ's power begets, through the Word and the Spirit, children of faith unto God, who mutually aid each other with their several spiritual gifts, is imaged in the natural family; imperfectly, indeed, since the life of the Christian family is yet a life in the flesh ( Galatians 2:20); yet truly, because its bond of union is spiritual, being the spirit of Christ. The basis of the Christian family is Christian marriage, or monogamy, the exclusive union of one man to one woman. The deepest ground of this union, and its true aim, without which Christian marriage and family are impossible, is the consciousness of unity in Christ, or in the love of God in Christ, the source of individual sympathy, as well as of brotherly and universal love. Marriage has, in common with Christian Friendship, the bond of tender sentiments; but the former is an Exclusive bond between two persons of different sexes, whose personality is complemented, so to speak, by each other. It is therefore a lifelong relation, while friendship may be only temporary. (See Marriage).

Two persons thus joined in marriage lay the foundation of a Christian family; indeed, they constitute a family, though yet incomplete and undeveloped. It awaits its completion in the birth of children. In proportion, however, as the married couple live in a state of holiness, so are the natural desires for issue and their gratification made subservient to the divinely ordered end of the marriage, and accompanied by a sense of dependence on the will and biessingof God. And in order duly to attain this higher end of the family, it is necessary that, keeping the merely carnal passions subordinate, both husband and wife should endeavor to subserve each other's moral and spiritual completeness; and also that they should, when children are born, faithfully help each other in training them properly, by the combination of their particular dispositions, the father's sternness being tempered with the mother's gentleness, and the mother's tenderness energized by the father's authority. The children should see the unity between the father and the mother, in their unity of aim, though manifested according to their different dispositions. Early baptism should be followed by careful religious training. In this the mother has a certain priority, inasmuch as, aside from giving her children birth, she is also first in giving them the bodily and spiritual care they require. Yet even in this early period she derives assistance from the husband, who, as the head of the family, counsels, strengthens, and assists her. In after years their relative shares in the education of the children become more equalized, the sons coming, however, more under the influence of the father, while the daughters remain more under the mother's.

Those who wish theirs to be a real Christian family must from the first inculcate on their children (aside from the habit of absolute, unquestioning obedience to the parental authority as divinely instituted) the true ground of obedience, as laid in obedience to God, springing from love to God. "The order in which the love of the child graduates is from the stage of instinctive love to moral affection; and from this to the love of its heavenly Parent. Desirous as the parents may be to lead its affections up at once to the Creator, the previous stages of the path must first be passed through. For a while the maternal care is the only Providence it knows; and the father's experience is to it a world of grand enterprise, and of power unlimited. In vain it strives to climb the height of his knowledge his virtual omniscience; nor can it conceive of a diviner guarantee than his promise. To see its parents bend in worship, and to hear them speak with holy awe of their Father in heaven, is itself solemn and suggestive as a ladder set up from earth to heaven. The wise discipline, too, which leads the parent kindly to repress its selfish desires, and constantly to aim at its moral welfare, invariably begets in return the highest order of filial love and confidence; evincing the power of the child to discriminate between instinctive and moral affection, and preparing it to embrace that heavenly Parent of whom the earthly is but an imperfect representation. And let the parents remark that, from the moment they begin to point their child to God as all object of reverence and love, they are pursuing the certain course for augmenting its moral affection for themselves; while its intelligent love for them is a valuable means and a pledge for its ascending to the love of God" (Harris, Patriarchy, or the Family, page 352). This divine liberty, based on fear and love, far from diminishing the respectful love of the children for their parents, will exalt and purify it, and bring it to its highest degree of perfection; it will make it become part of their religion, and whenever a collision may occur between the parental wishes and the will of God, it will lead the children, while obeying the latter, to cherish all possible reverence and respect for the former. By this personal development of their spiritual life the sons and daughters will become friends to their parents; a higher kind of trust; such as is felt in one's equals, is thus reached, without diminishing the respect which is the, duty of the child and the right of the parents. This is the true graduation of the Christian family life, in which the elder children become helps to the parents for the education of the younger, while at the same time they become more thoroughly fitted to fulfill their own duties as heads of families in after life. Where the blessing of children has been denied, it can in some measure, though not completely, find a substitute in the adoption of orphans or other children, and then the duties towards these are the same as towards one's own.

The Christian family includes also what heathen Rome called the family in a subordinate sense the servants. Their position, wherever the principles of Christian humanity prevail, is not one of slavery, but is a free moral relation, entered into by the consent of both parties, and giving each peculiar rights and duties. The Christian, penetrated with the spirit of his Master, will not lose sight of the fact that this spirit inclined Him much more to serve others than to have them serve Him, and he will not be satisfied by rewarding his servants with wages only, but with all the spiritual blessings of which the family is the proper sphere. They should take part in the family worship, and even an active part, as in reading, singing, praying. The more they come to take part in the life of the family, in its interests, its joys, its griefs, and receive from it the sympathy and help they require, either for the body or the mind, the more does the general family lead a really Christian life.

The entire life of the Christian family is a continuous act of worship in the more extended sense of the word, and must gradually become more and more so, since all its actions are done in the name of Christ and for the glory of God. This thoroughly Christian conduct is, however, sustained and strengthened by the family worship in the proper sense, in which the family, as such, seeks for strength in the Word and in the Spirit of God. The more perfectly this family worship is organized, the more will it resemble public worship, consisting, like it, in the reading and exounding of Scripture, singing, and prayer. The eader in the religious exercises of the family should be the father, as priestly head of the house. This, however, is not to exclude the co-operation of the mother, children, and other members of the family their participation, on the contrary, adds much to theinterest of the service, and makes it an admirable supplement to public worship, as in the family the feeling of trust in each other and of self-dependence add much: to liberty in prayer. This constitutes the true hearth of the family, the center around which all meet again, from whence they derive light and warmth, and whose genial influences will be felt through life. From the bosom of such a family the spirit of Christianity goes out with its healthful influence into the Church, the school, the state, and even the whole world.

See generally the writers on moral philosophy and Christian ethics, and especially Herzog, Real-Encyklopddie 4:318; Rothe, Theolog. Ethik, in, 605; Schaff,. Apostolical Age, § 111; Harris, Patriarchy, or the Family (Lond. 1855, 8vo); Anderson, Genius and Design of the Domestic Constitution (Edinb. 1826, 8vo); Thiersch, Ueber christliches Familienleben (4th ed. Frankf. 1859; translated into several languages).