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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Child of God.

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The terms "child," "children," "babe," etc.. are used in the N.T. in the following senses:

1. Psychologically these terms are used to denote a state of ignorance and of intellectual narrowness or darkness (Matthew 11:16; Luke 7:32; 1 Corinthians 13:11 : "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;" 14:20: "Brethren, be not children in understanding;" 'Ephesians 4:14 : "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro," etc.; Hebrews 5:13 " For every one that useth milk, is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe").

2. In the ethical sense, they are used, in the abstract, to designate a state of innocence, and, in the concrete, to signify the totality of children, towards whom holy duties are to be fulfilled by the community, and particularly by parents. We see even that the appellation "children" is used by the Lord as an expression of his greatest love (Mark 10:24). Children are then distinguished by moral preference; yet from this it does not follow that they are holy, but merely that they are yet uncontaminated by actual contact with the world. They are, therefore, partly to be imitated, partly to be restrained, and in all cases to be the objects of the greatest moral solicitude. As duties of parents towards children, the N.T. names the providing for their wants, giving them good examples, and bringing them up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Children, on the other hand, are to be obedient to their parents. That the N.T. does not give a more systematic view of the relative moral duties of parents and children is to be accounted for on the ground that where faith and love are found, all the rest follows naturally (Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11 : "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:47-48 : "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me"). See also Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17; 2 Corinthians 12:14; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21.

3. In the spiritual sense, the expression "children" designates those who have become children of God through Christ. To be a child of God through Christ is to have attained the highest (moral) perfection, and the greatest degree of holiness of which human nature is susceptible. This consciousness of its holy purity is one of the characteristics of Christianity (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:33-35 : "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Wisdom is justified of her children;" 1:e. those whom Christ recognizes as his prove by words and deeds that they are the children of wisdom. See also Matthew 5:9; Matthew 15:26; John 1:12; Romans 8:14-17 : "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abbae Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together;" Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:5; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 3:9-10; 1 John 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:15; Luke 20:36; Romans 8:23, etc.). Krehl, Handwö rterb. d. N.T. s.v. (See ADOPTION).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Child of God.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/c/child-of-god.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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