Prospank Misuse of Hebrews 12
By Chris Dugan
June 8, 2006

Although the practice of spanking is often characterized by certain of its apologists as a "Christian" practice, there is nothing in the New Testament which says parents should hit their children.  Hence, there is no scriptural support for "the rod" as a Christian practice as opposed to a Jewish practice.

In response to this argument, the most common rejoinder offered is Hebrews 12.  The fact that apologists for spanking must resort to Hebrews 12 to defend their contention that there is something explicitly "Christian" about spanking demonstrates the poverty of their position.

Hebrews 12 is about the relationship between the heavenly "father"  and his earthly "children."  It says not to lash out at God in response to God's punishments, and uses the metaphor of a son being beaten by a father yet not hitting the father back.  Nowhere, in this chapter or anywhere else in the New Testament, does it say that parents must beat children with rods to begin with.

The chapter is not about parent/child relationships at all.  It is about the relationship of the believer to God.  There is no explicit New Testament support for spanking, in Hebrews or anywhere else.

Aside from having nothing to do with parental spanking of children, Hebrews 12 also was not even written by Paul, but by an unknown author. Statistical stylometric analysis indicates that Paul was not the author of this text (Kistemaker, 1984, pp. 6-8).  What the actual historical Paul does say about "the rod" is that it was used on him by persecutors and unbelievers (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-25).


Kistameker, S.J.  1984.  _New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews_.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.



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