Discipline, Punishment, Condemnation

When I wrote God Punishes, some of my readers insisted the Bible teaches that God doesn't punish believers.

This is an important subject, so let's address their objections:

God punishes, God disciplines, God is a perfect FatherObjection: God disciplines but never punishes. We simply suffer consequences. 

In English and Greek, discipline can include punishment. More relevant is the fact that Hebrews 12:6 says God disciplines and punishes.(1)   

Objection: God is good and only gives good gifts (James 1:17). Therefore, He's not a part of punishment, trials or difficulties in our lives. 

Good isn't the same as pleasant. 

Discipline and punishment can be good for us, increasing our faith - Hebrews 12:11; Revelation 3:19. (2) 

Objection: Since there's no condemnation for Christians (Romans 8:1-2), there's no punishment. 

Condemnation (a final verdict) is different from discipline and punishment. Believers are not condemned, but neither are we freed from consequences or punishments here on earth.(3)  

It's important we have the correct view of God. If we believe God is perfect and loving, we'll accept His right to punish His children.

(1) In Heb.12:6 the Greek word for discipline can include punishment. And there's no doubt about the Greek word for punish which literally means "whip."
(2)  1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
(3) Condemnation is a different word in the Greek than either discipline or punishment. It involves punishment after a verdict of guilt. We often say a man is "condemned to death." See Romans 6:23.

For more Scriptures that confirm these principles, check out today's Bite Size Bible Study.


  1. Everything you said is true, it's backed up scripturally, if God didn't love us, he wouldn't punish us, we need this part of God's love to grow and stay on the right path, hopefully punishment changes our hearts, and love is the pure motive to do right, because we want to be pleasing in all we do and say to bring pleasure to the lover of our souls, the one who died for each of us. I think the scripture: pure love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment, maybe it's referring to legalism, perhaps as we mature in love, our motives change, and Godly sorrow and repentance replaces fear when we fall short....

    1. I appreciate your insights, Alice. All true and good additions to this subject. And I appreciate you adding 1 John 4:18 - I should have addressed that Scripture. Thanks!

    2. If you read 1 John 4:18 in context I think it's referring to final punishment at the day of judgment. So I think it's referring to a different punishment.

    3. Yes, it is in a different context, and I hope to address that in an upcoming devotion. Thanks for sharing your insights.


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