Paul as a Mother

Justin Johnson

Paul was a good father in the faith, but he also patterned traits of a good mother.

“But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:” – 1 Thess 2:7

Good mothers know that raising children is more than flattering your children so that they will love you more. A good mother bears the truth with gentleness, affection, and labors night and day to see her children grow up in God’s will.

A Mother’s Gentleness

Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was given authority to dispense the gospel of the grace of God, and had authority over his spiritual children (1 Cor 9:11).

Yet, he did not use this power, and instead humbles himself so as not to be a burden to the ministry of the gospel of grace. Paul put on the mind of Christ and took the form of a servant, just as a mother does to her children (Phil 2:5-7).

“Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:” – 1 Thess 2:6-7

Good mothers deserve honor and praise, but they do not seek it. Mothers are given authority over her children, but she does not boast in it.

The greatest helps are often those that go unnoticed, and Paul’s greatest contributions to the expansion of his ministry was his willingness to take wrong, dishonor, and scorn from his own spiritual children so that they would grow up in God’s word rightly divided (2 Cor 11:23-30).

Instead of striving with those who opposed themselves, Paul exhorted Timothy to be gentle, apt to teach, patient, with meekness (2 Tim 2:24-26).

These are all wonderful attributes of a good mother for raising children. All children are born into sin needing the kindness and grace of God toward them in the gospel (Titus 2:11; Titus 3:3-5).

The kindness and love of God toward men motivated Paul to minister (2 Cor 5:13-14).

A Mother’s Love

Like a mother, Paul was willing to give all that was in him and more to his children whom he loved (Rom 1:11).

“So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” – 1 Thess 2:8

Affection does not mean using false praises and flattery so that children become spoiled and “like momma best”.

“For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:” – 1 Thess 2:5

Paul spoke the truth in love knowing that even though the truth may hurt that it would be a greater help to them in their maturity. Some things can only be said out of love, and will only be accepted if said in love.

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” – Eph 4:15

Paul’s love was for the truth to work in his children, and loved them too much to keep silent about the reality of their failures and their need to rejoice in the truth.

Sometimes his children despised him for speaking the truth (Gal 4:16), but Paul followed the pattern of God’s great love, rich in mercy, abounding in love even when his children defamed him (Eph 2:4, Rom 5:8).

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – 2 Cor 12:16

A Mother’s Labour

Paul labored night and day, and like a good mother, spent countless hours of thankless work for the sake of his children.

“For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” – 1 Thess 2:9

For the first nine months of their life children literally live off the flesh and blood of their mother. For years afterward mothers continue to work for their children so that they can learn to live according to God’s will.

This is a classic definition of grace and is why Sarah, the Hebrew picture of God’s grace, is the mother of us all (Gal 4:26).

Even though the Galatians had believed the gospel of grace, Paul continued to work with them until Christ was formed in them.

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” – Gal 4:19

Paul labored night and day for his children so as to be an ensample toward them of hard work, love, and grace. Mothers don’t beg from their children, and Paul never begged from his children for money to do his ministry.

“…wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:… Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” – 2 Thess 3:8-9

A Church Without Good Mothers

A church without the traits taught by good mothers lacks gentleness, love, and persistent labor in the gospel.

Instead of gentleness and humility, there is boasting, fame seeking, and celebrity Christians.

Instead of love of the truth, the church speaks flattering words and hollow niceties to get people in the pew.

A mother’s constant labour and travail is replaced by shameful workman who cannot rightly divide the word of truth and beg for money through the tithe.

Paul says:

“…thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions…” – 2 Tim 3:10-11

In a culture of proud mothers and church flattery we need more women to follow Paul’s pattern.

Mark them that do.

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” – Phil 3:17

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Published: April 26, 2014
Last Modified: August 18, 2018
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