Childhood and the Holy Scriptures (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 16)


In this chapter, Spurgeon employs the example of Paul and Timothy to draw some conclusions about children and the Bible.  He begins by recounting the method how Paul taught Timothy the gospel.  He taught him the lessons of the Bible verbally by teaching him sound doctrine.  As importantly, he taught him experientially by allowing Timothy to see Paul live out his Christian faith in everyday life.  As Spurgeon explains,

“We cannot force truth upon men, but we can make our own teaching clear and decided, and make our lives consistent therewith. Truth and holiness are the surest antidotes to error and unrighteousness.”

As teachers of children, it is of the utmost importance that we lead lives consistent with what we teach.  If our kids see us outside of the classroom setting violating the very standards that we teach them on Sunday morning, they will never follow those standards again.  We are supposed to shine the light of Jesus on them by imitating hm.  Teaching the Word of God is as much about living it as it is about speaking it.

So, why endeavor to teach children about the Bible?  In his second letter to Timothy, Paul told the young man:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” [2 Timothy 3:14 ESV]

Having a knowledge of the scriptures from youth served as a safeguard for Timothy, and Paul understood that.  He would later write the following to Timothy, to commend him and remind him of what he had learned:

“…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 3:15 ESV]

Spurgeon observes that this knowledge of Scripture from youth serves the child well later in life.  Knowing God’s word at a young age allows God to use them in the spiritual battle against evil even at a very young age.  Spurgeon observes:

“One of God’s chief methods for preserving His fields from tares, is to sow them early with wheat.”

Spurgeon notes that this verse indicates that Timothy knew the scripture “from childhood.”  Spurgeon observes that this language does not refer to a grown child or even a youth, but a child just out of infancy.  The point is clear.  We should not wait to begin teaching scripture to kids.  There is no age which is too early.  As soon as children are capable of understanding and learning practically anything, they are capable of understanding the Bible.  Indeed, the Bible has been used more effectively throughout history to teach kids how to read than any other work.  Start teaching scripture to your children when they are infants.  Sing scriptures song to them.  As they become toddlers teach them easy verses to memorize.  Teach them how to read using the Bible, and encourage their own reading the Bible throughout their childhood.

As Spurgeon points out, our job as teachers is to find a way to lead the kids into the Bible – even into those areas which are so deep that even adults cannot fully understand them:

“Parts of it [the Bible] are above a child’s mind, for they are above the comprehension of the most advanced among us. There are depths in it wherein leviathan may swim; but there are also brooks in which a lamb may wade. Wise teachers know how to lead their little ones into the green pastures beside the still waters.”

Spurgeon is clearly of the opinion that working with Children is amongst the most important kingdom work a person can do.  Given that, he offers the following challenge and observation:

“Give us the first seven years of a child, with God’s grace, and we may defy the world, the flesh, and the devil to ruin that immortal soul. Those first years, while yet the clay is soft and plastic, go far to decide the form of the vessel. Do not say that your office, you who teach the young, is in the least degree inferior to ours, whose main business is with older folks, No, you have the first of them, and your impressions, as they come first, will endure last; oh, that they may be good, and only good!”

Spurgeon rightly notes that as workers in children’s ministry, we have the opportunity to teach kids and form their knowledge of God in the most formational time of their lives.  With that though, Spurgeon also offers the following words of warning:

“The teachings of our childhood leave clean-cut and sharp impressions upon the mind, which remain after seventy years have passed. Let us see that such impressions are made for the highest ends.”

With the great opportunity and teaching kids comes great responsibility.  Due to the fact that we have these kids at such an impressionable time in their lives, we must be certain that what we are writing on their minds is the truth of God and nothing else.  Finally, Spurgeon ends the chapter with some words about those who are principally responsible to teaching children about their Bibles.  Spurgeon notes that the Bible is clear who taught Timothy:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.  [2 Timothy 1:5 ESV]

Timothy’s grandmother and mother were instrumental in his teaching.  Spurgeon offers the following words of encouragement specifically for mothers:

“Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true…Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple.”

While the Bible is clear that fathers are given the responsibility for leading their families, Spurgeon reminds us of the very important role that mothers play in the spirituality of their kids.

Links to Complete Text

If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at:

The complete text of Chapter Sixteen can be found at:

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