The Hebrew noun mu·sarʹ and the verb form ya·sarʹ convey the sense of “discipline,” “chastisement,” “correction,” “exhortation.” In the Greek Septuagint and in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the corresponding noun pai·deiʹa and the verb pai·deuʹo have basically the same significance. Drawn from pais, meaning “child,” pai·deiʹa primarily relates to what is needed in bringing up children—discipline, instruction, education, correction, chastisement.
Sources and Objective. In expression of his love, Jehovah provides discipline for his people. (Pr 3:11, 12) He gives them instruction that corrects wrong viewpoints and that molds their mental faculties and course of conduct. For the Israelites during the time of Moses, the discipline included their witnessing manifestations of God’s greatness. There were displays of matchless power when Jehovah executed judgment on all the gods of Egypt, liberated his people, and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. There were fearsome judgments executed upon disobedient Israelites. And there was miraculous provision of food and water coupled with lessons in the importance of taking to heart and applying everything that Jehovah says. All this discipline served to humble them and to impress upon them the need for a proper fear of Jehovah, to be shown by faith and obedience.—De 8:3-5; 11:2-7.
Often Jehovah’s discipline comes through his representatives, duly constituted authorities. An Israelite who falsely accused his wife of not being a virgin at the time of marriage was to be disciplined by the elders who served as judges. (De 22:13-19) Parents represent Jehovah when they properly discipline their offspring. And children are to respond to such discipline as an expression of parental love, designed to promote their lasting welfare. (Pr 1:8; 4:1, 13; 6:20-23; 13:1, 24; 15:5; 22:15; 23:13, 14; Eph 6:4) In the Christian congregation, God’s Word is used by elders to provide discipline—admonition, correction, reproof. (2Ti 3:16) The object of discipline from Jehovah administered to Christians in cases of wrongdoing is to recover them from a fall into sin and to prevent their sharing in the condemnatory judgment to be expressed against the ungodly world. (1Co 11:32) As head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ, in expression of his affection, sees to it that needed discipline is provided.—Re 3:14, 19.
A severe form of discipline is expulsion from the congregation. The apostle Paul resorted to this when handing Alexander and Hymenaeus “over to Satan.” (1Ti 1:20) Cut off from the congregation, they were again part of the world under Satan’s control.—1Co 5:5, 11-13.
What Jehovah may permit to come upon his servants in the form of persecution can serve as discipline, or training, producing the desirable fruit of righteousness, to be enjoyed in peace after the trial is over. (Heb 12:4-11) Even the Son of God was equipped to be a compassionate and sympathetic high priest by reason of the suffering that his Father allowed him to undergo.—Heb 4:15.
Results From Heeding and From Ignoring. The wicked, the fools, or the morally worthless ones show their hatred of Jehovah’s discipline by rejecting it completely. (Ps 50:16, 17; Pr 1:7) The bad results that come from such foolishness constitutes further discipline, often severe chastisement. As the proverb puts it: “The discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness.” (Pr 16:22) They may bring upon themselves poverty, disgrace, sickness, and even untimely death. The history of the Israelites illustrates how great the loss can be. They paid no attention to the discipline in the form of reproof and correction expressed through the prophets. They were heedless of the discipline in the form of Jehovah’s withholding his protection and blessing. Finally, they experienced the severe discipline announced beforehand—conquest and exile.—Jer 2:30; 5:3; 7:28; 17:23; 32:33; Ho 7:12-16; 10:10; Zep 3:2.
By contrast, acceptance of discipline, coupled with a wholesome fear of Jehovah, makes one wise, able to use knowledge aright, and thus helps one to avoid much pain and suffering. When acted upon, discipline received appreciatively can contribute to a lengthening of one’s present life and holds promise of an abiding future. Rightly, then, discipline should be highly esteemed.—Pr 8:10, 33-35; 10:17.