In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, “And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In this passage, Paul requires Christian fathers to provide their children with a “paideia of the Lord.” To the ancient world, the boundaries of paideia were much wider than the boundaries of what we understand as education. Far more is involved in paideia than taking the kids to church, having an occasional time of devotions in the home, or even providing the kids with a Christian curriculum.
In the ancient world, the paideia was all-encompassing and involved nothing less than the enculturation of the future citizen. He was enculturated when he was instructed in the classroom, but the process was also occurring when he walked along the streets of his city to and from school. The idea of paideia was central to the ancient classical mind, and Paul’s instruction here consequently had profound ramifications.
Douglas Wilson graduated from the University of Idaho with a B.A. in classical studies and an M.A. in philosophy. He is pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and Senior Fellow in Theology at New Saint Andrews College. He is also the founder and editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine.