Summary: Fathers who are intentional will make a great impact.

Fathers Who Father

Ephesians 6:4

Rev. Brian Bill

June 20-21, 2015

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→ We want to celebrate the most mature men in each service by giving Outback Steakhouse gift cards to the two oldest dads.

I recognize that for many of you this day is difficult because your dad is no longer here or has dropped the ball somehow. The U.S. Census Bureau has stated that we have become a fatherless nation. Seven years ago, 33% of the children in America went to bed without their biological father in the home. That has risen today to 43%.

Some of us have been blessed with tremendous models of what fatherhood was meant to be: a reflection of our relationship with our Father in heaven. But there are others who have been ignored, neglected, abused or abandoned. And for you, Father’s Day is anything but happy.

I sincerely hope that you will allow our Heavenly Father to fill that void in your life. May you experience the truth of Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

I generally like things short and sweet (even though I’ve been known to preach long sermons). Fellow fathers, I want to draw our attention to a verse that is only 22 words long. As we unpack it, we’ll see that dads who are intentional make the greatest impact.

Cultural Background

Please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 6:4: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

It’s helpful to know the cultural setting in which this Scripture was written. Rome had a law called patria potestas, which meant “the father’s power.” By law, his children and wife were regarded as the patriarch’s personal property, and he could do with them what he wished. A displeased dad could disown his kids, sell them into slavery, or even kill them with no consequences.

When a child was born, the newborn was placed between the father’s feet. If the father picked up the baby, the child stayed in the home. If he turned and walked away, the child was either left to die or sold at auction.

Friends, things are not much better today, are they? Are you aware that more than 57 million babies have been aborted since abortion was legalized in 1973? Children have become a disposable commodity in our society, just as they were in ancient Rome.

Notice how this verse begins: “And you, fathers.” Paul laid out the biblical roles of husbands and wives in chapter 5. In the opening verses of chapters 6, he spells out the importance of children obeying and honoring their parents. And now he moves to fathers. The word “you” is emphatic, as if he’s calling out dads in order get their attention.

Paul is just addressing dads here because he knows that we especially need to hear this. In essence we’re challenged to see the word “fathers” as a verb, not just a noun. It’s biologically easy to become a father, but biblically challenging to actually “father” our children. In this passage, we’re given one caution and four commands. I’ll be following an outline I’ve adapted from Alan Carr.

We’re going to discover that dads who are intentional make the greatest impact.


The first duty is negative – “Do not provoke your children to wrath.” Another version says, “Do not exasperate your children.” God starts with a negative command because He knows that fathers, who are fallen creatures, are prone to abuse their authority in the home.

The Greek word translated “provoke” means “to rouse to anger, to enrage, irritate or embitter.” The present tense of the verb indicates that we are to stop doing something that is common and continuous. This warning is calling us dads to avoid anything that will eventually break the sprit of our children. Colossians 3:21 expands this caution: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” When we exasperate our kids, they can become bitter and bummed out.

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, our daughters know this verse well and sometimes quote it to me when I get under their skin. Recently we were playing a family game and because I may or may not be competitive, I decided to step on Megan’s foot to break her concentration. I quickly stopped when she reminded me that the Bible says to not exasperate my children.

Remember that our children are commanded by God to honor us. When we provoke them to wrath, we are causing them to break the Fifth Commandment. In such cases we are guilty before God for disobeying Ephesians 6:4 and also doubly guilty for causing our children to stumble.

Here are some common ways that fathers can exasperate their children:

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