Posted by: Ety W. | May 16, 2008

To Love Their Children

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After the interesting surprise I received when I researched “to love their husbands,” I was eager to get on to the last part of the verse.

…that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, Titus 2:4 (NASB)

Love their children – Strong’s 5388 – φιλοτεκνος – philoteknos – from 5384 (philos = fond, friendly) and 5043 (teknon = one’s child, daughter, son) = fond of one’s children, i.e. maternal. Used only in Titus 2:4.

I suppose it would seem odd that women should need to be encouraged to be fond their children. Isn’t the maternal bond a natural one?

One would think so. However, anyone who has had the day-in, day-out responsibility of caring for small children knows how exhausting this job can be; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t know how it was in the 1st century, but in the 21st century, we can add to that society’s pressure for women to be in the workforce, plus feminism’s claim that the domestic arts can never be fulfilling. All these things can gradually chip away at any woman’s maternal resolve. Then, when we look at the alarming trend of increasing child abuse, neglect, and abandonment, we might well ask, what has happened to this nation’s maternal instincts?!?

Very little else is said in the New Testament regarding loving our children. I did find one verse which describes maternal love:

But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for the own children. 1 Thes. 2:7 (NASB)

Here, maternal love is used as a comparison, but we can glean two characteristics:

Gentle – Strong’s 2261 – ηπιος – epios = affable, i.e. mild, kind, gentle.

Tenderly cares – Strong’s 2282 – θαλπω – thalpo = to brood (as a hen broods her chicks), to foster, to cherish.

I also found a few other helpful verses. Two on raising children are addressed to fathers:

Fathers, do not exasperate your children that they may not lose heart. Col 3:21 (NASB)

And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4 (NASB)

Discipline – Strong’s 3811 – παιδευω – paideuo – to train up a child. i.e. educate, chasten, nurture, instruct.

Also, there are two references describing children of men being considered for church leadership:

He must be one who manages his own household well. keeping his children under control with all dignity. 1 Timothy 3:4

Namely, if a man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe….. Titus 1:6

From all of these we can see that children need kindness, gentleness, nurturing, encouragement, discipline, and instruction in the Lord. We also see that childrearing is a team effort on the part of both parents. However, this post has gone on long enough, so let’s start taking a closer look next time. Content copyright 2008 by If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.


  1. I really appreciated this post. I did not have the maternal instinct naturally. It was something that God taught me as I went along. I learned it very well with my birth children. I am now learning it with my son we are trying to adopt. In regards to this son, I needed the reminder about the importance of being gentle with our children. Thank you!

  2. Courtney, I’m very excited for you about your upcoming adoption! May this be a blessing to both you and your son.

  3. Thank you! We also have his biological sister we want to adopt. She suffered terribly at the hands of her birth father, but the grace of our LORD has done such a healing work in that little 10 year old girl.

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