Despite the corruptions it has suffered throughout humanity’s past, the family has generally remained the most dependable bond of human togetherness. Typically speaking, a person’s family is his or her support in life in ways no one else can or desires to be.
From humankind’s beginning, God made it clear that He wanted man and woman to come together to build a family: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’ ” (Genesis 1:27-28 Genesis 1:27-28 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×).
God also instructed that Adam and Eve be joined in physical union and living together to become one: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×).
God gives a husband and wife a family: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows in a warrior’s hands. How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them!” (Psalms 127:3-5 Psalms 127:3-5 3 See, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
The family as God intended is a preeminent joy and an ongoing pleasure. But does the family unit only apply to life in the human flesh, or is it a picture of something far greater and more glorious? Does God have an ultimate purpose for the family unit that nearly 7 billion people don’t know about? Let’s explore God’s ultimate purpose for the family.
Ruth’s extraordinary family
It may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most faithful families of the Old Testament began with a gentile woman named Ruth and the highly regarded Israelite she married, Boaz. Both had great credibility. Ruth earned hers the hard way, rigorously and sensitively. Boaz earned the respect of his community by conducting his business affairs in a reputable way, fair and solicitous of others’ needs.
Ruth started from nothing and allowed her mother-in-law and God to make her into something. A Moabitess who grew up amid false religion, Ruth was led to learn of the true God. And when she did, she forsook her Moabite family and religion and cherished God’s holy truths.
Ruth loved her mother-in-law, who loved God. That which Ruth loved in Naomi was God. God’s love illuminated and emanated from Naomi’s loving character. When Ruth lost her previous husband, one of Naomi’s sons, she refused to leave Naomi’s side, no matter what:
“But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me’ ” (Ruth 1:16-17 Ruth 1:16-17 16 And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God:
17 Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part you and me.
American King James Version×).
Loyalty and faithfulness characterized the life of Ruth. Her inward beauty came from God after she unconditionally surrendered herself to Him. For there is nothing more beautiful in human beings than living according to the holy truths of Almighty God!
God transformed Ruth, though she showed good character before she left her native land. She was pliable in God’s hands, and He shaped her into a vessel of mercy and saw to it that she would marry the renowned Boaz, who set an unimpeachable example of godly character. From a marriage between an Israelite and a gentile came eventually Jesse the father of King David, and later the King of Kings, Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:22 Ruth 4:22And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
American King James Version×; Matthew 1:5 Matthew 1:5And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
American King James Version×, Matthew 1:16 Matthew 1:16And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
American King James Version×).
Philip’s faithful family
The evangelist Philip evidently had a wonderful family with deep roots in God and His Word. The relatively little said about Philip and his family speaks volumes. He was ordained as a deacon in the early Church in Jerusalem, handpicked by discerning brethren:
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them” (Acts 6:1-6 Acts 6:1-6 1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Why, brothers, look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout).
Philip was the second deacon mentioned in the New Testament, after Stephen, who suffered martyrdom (Acts 7). Philip was also a highly effective preacher of God’s truth, and many people were called through his teachings and observed how God performed miracles through him (Acts 8:5-13 Acts 8:5-13 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
American King James Version×).
Later we see Philip referred to as an evangelist (Acts 21:8 Acts 21:8And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came to Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and stayed with him.
American King James Version×). It’s recorded in the same place that his four daughters prophesied (Acts 21:8 Acts 21:8And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came to Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and stayed with him.
American King James Version×), implying that all were well-grounded in God’s truth, having been taught by a faithful father. And though nothing is said of Philip’s wife directly, it seems reasonable to assume that she also had much to do with this outstanding family. Philip’s family is highly commended by God in their faithful attitudes and actions.
Clearly the earthly family, intended by God as an institution for spiritual instruction, is very important in His eyes. And it points to another family that eclipses the physical family, as important and wonderful as the human family is.
God’s begotten family on earth
God is a family, and He has a family on earth (Ephesians 1:5 Ephesians 1:5Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
American King James Version×; Ephesians 3:14-15 Ephesians 3:14-15 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
American King James Version×). Presently, the God family on the divine level comprises the Father and the Son (Romans 1:1-4 Romans 1:1-4 1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
American King James Version×; Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-2 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
American King James Version×; Matthew 3:17 Matthew 3:17And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
American King James Version×). Further, God’s spiritual family also consists of the saints of God—that is, true Christians: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
The book of Hebrews discusses God’s family, stating: “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:9-11 Hebrews 2:9-11 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
11 For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version×, NIV).
The apostle Paul further shows that the spiritually begotten family of God, both sons and daughters, are viewed as seated with Christ at God’s throne. While we of course remain here on this earth physically, through the work of Christ we are presented as raised up with Him:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6 Ephesians 2:4-6 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)
6 And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×, NIV). God refers to those things He has planned that haven’t yet come to be as though they have (compare Romans 4:17 Romans 4:17(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who vivifies the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.
American King James Version×).
So we see from Scripture that God has a family here on earth consisting of His begotten sons and daughters. These have repented of their sins and committed to obeying Him, have turned in faith to God, believing His promises, have been baptized or immersed in water and then raised from this “watery grave,” and have had a minister of Christ lay hands on them for the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit. (See our free Bible study aid Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion to learn more.)
The ultimate purpose for family
Part of God’s ingenious communication to humankind is through the pattern of physical models picturing spiritual realities. For example, Scripture describes our bodies as physical temples (2 Corinthians 5:1 2 Corinthians 5:1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
American King James Version×) and the entire Church as a temple too (1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
American King James Version×). And God fulfills the physical forerunner in ultimate reality—divine, spiritual, immortal reality.
So it is with marriage. The marital and family relationships human beings have the privilege of enjoying are but models or types of the spiritual family of God and the coming marriage of Jesus Christ to His transformed people (Revelation 19:7 Revelation 19:7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.
American King James Version×).
Both Jesus Christ and all God’s saints are all children of God, Christ being the firstborn Son of God—the first to be raised into divine glory (though He also preexisted in glory before His human life, unlike any of us—read the Bible study aid Jesus Christ: The Real Story ). The Church’s New Covenant union with Christ, represented by the heavenly Jerusalem where God reckons His family as seated, is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
American King James Version×), and God is our Father forever.
Eventually, after the great salvation periods of the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment that follows (Revelation 20:4-6 Revelation 20:4-6 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×, Revelation 20:11-13 Revelation 20:11-13 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
American King James Version×), God the Father will bring the New Jerusalem down to a renewed earth, and Christ will present all the many billions of saved children of God to God the Father.
The apostle Paul describes it well in laying out the order of people being raised into glory: “But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming; then the culmination, when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father …” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
American King James Version×, Complete Jewish Bible).
Therefore, the ultimate purpose for the family on earth is to provide a great spiritual, divine family for God forever. This is why the physical family is so vitally important to God and to us. When we understand the ultimate purpose for which God established our human families, it provides us with peace and security, allowing us to rise above the selfish tendency to see children as getting in the way or as nuisances.
We can also then more easily accept the opportunities God gives us for daily dedication to the better welfare of our little ones. This will bring us joy and other rewards—some immediate and some later on. But all human beings have human nature that fights against us as an enemy to overcome. And overcome we must—through prayer to God, meditation on His Word and the resultant strength and comfort that comes from the Father and Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The family unit helps to secure the marriage relationship. There is an ultimate purpose to the family relationship, and that is for all who are willing to become a part of the divine family of God. Now you know God’s ultimate purpose for the family unit. And with that glorious knowledge, you can help secure your own family in the peace of the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus!