25 Bible Verses About Fathers
Throughout the Bible, the role of fathers is extremely important. There are instructions about how to raise children. There are examples of good (and bad) fathers. And God himself is described as our Father in heaven.
To help you explore what the Bible says about being a dad, we’ve rounded up some verses that directly talk about fatherhood, parenting, and qualities of fathers.
Keep in mind: there are a lot of encouraging Bible verses that aren’t specifically about fathers that may fit what you’re looking for too.
Here are 25 verses about fathers.
1. Start children off on the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Fathers play a vital role in shaping how their children see the world and understand right and wrong. As kids mature into adults, they make their own choices about what to do with their lives, how to treat others, and how to understand their relationship to God. Dads get to help lay the foundation for those decisions.
Parenting isn’t the only variable in how kids turn out though. A father can’t know what specific challenges their child may encounter on the path, and he can’t control how his children will react. He can only start them on the path.
2. Impress God’s commands on your children (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
This passage comes just after Moses shared the Ten Commandments with Israel, but for Christian fathers, the heart of this verse is that God’s Word should be on our minds throughout our day, and we have a responsibility to teach our children what God desires.
3. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children (Malachi 4:6)
“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi challenged the Israelites to honor their covenant with God and reconnect with him or else face the consequences of their separation from him. He predicted that one day God would send Elijah to turn people’s hearts toward what is good and right. For fathers, part of honoring God is loving your children well and having compassion for them. Fathers aren’t just responsible for teaching their children what is right, but for caring about their needs, hurts, desires, dreams, and problems.
4. The one who loves their children is careful to discipline them (Proverbs 13:24)
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
Everyone makes mistakes, and we all sin. But when children make poor choices, disobey, or hurt others, it’s not always immediately clear to them that they’ve done something wrong. They may not understand why what they did was wrong. And if it resulted in something they desired, they may be more motivated to do it again.
Consequences help us avoid repeating bad behavior. Sometimes “discipline” is as simple as talking to a child about what they’ve done and why it was wrong. Sometimes the consequences are more severe. But it’s never comfortable or pleasant. Good fathers recognize that discipline comes from a place of love and a desire to teach your children what is right.
5. You have one father, and he is in heaven (Matthew 23:9)
“And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”
Jesus reminded his followers that they all belonged to God’s family and that, above anyone else, God is the one who deserves their honor and obedience. This echoes Malachi’s words in Malachi 2:10: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”
When we recognize our shared Father, it changes the way we see our relationship to others and challenges us to care for one another as brothers and sisters.
6. Honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12)
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
The Israelites were commanded to honor their fathers and mothers as part of their covenant with God. Dishonoring their parents dishonored God. But this isn’t just an ancient commandment for the Israelites. It’s for us too.
Paul repeats this commandment to Christians in Ephesians 6:1–3:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”
And in Colossians 3:20, Paul paraphrases this commandment and connects it to our relationship with God:
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
7. Fathers encourage and comfort their children (1 Thessalonians 2:11–12)
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
Paul highlights some ways fathers love and lead their children: through encouragement, comfort, and persistently reminding them to live in a way that glorifies God. The writer of Hebrews says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24) and the unique relationship between father and child creates many opportunities to do so.
When children try to do something difficult, a good father encourages them. When a child is hurting, a good father comforts them. And a good father demonstrates how to live out God’s calling.
8. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Parents make important decisions for their families about how to use their resources, how to spend their time, what to prioritize, and even what ideas and worldviews will influence those decisions. A father plays an important role in shaping their family’s ideology. A good father makes choices that help their spouses and children orient their lives around God and recognize opportunities to serve his purposes.
9. The Lord carried you, as a father carries his son (Deuteronomy 1:29–31)
“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.’”
“As a father carries his son,” the Lord carried the Israelites out of slavery, fought off their enemies, provided for them through their wandering in the desert, and brought them into the promised land.
When a child isn’t strong enough to do something on their own, their father can carry them through it. Fathers advocate for their children. They provide wisdom and guidance in the face of uncertainty. And with the protection of a loving father, a child doesn’t have to be afraid.
10. The Lord disciplines those he loves (Proverbs 3:11–12)
“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
It may seem strange to think of discipline as a sign of love, but a lack of correction often comes from a lack of concern. While kids who are disciplined may wish they had more freedom from consequences, children who grow up with no rules or correction come to crave structure and even recognize it as a result of love.
The disciplined child may ask, “Why do you even care?” And the answer is, “Because I love you and care about your well-being, and I want the best for you.” The undisciplined child may question, “Why don’t you care?”
11. Your faith will be a refuge for your children (Proverbs 14:26)
“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”
When families face hardships, children look to their parents for reassurance, hope, and encouragement. If a father respects and submits to God in all things, his faith will be a source of comfort for his children and help them feel secure, regardless of what the storms of life bring against them.
12. Blessed is the man with many children (Psalm 127:3–5)
“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
The psalmist wrote that a father with many children will be safer from his enemies. Children depend on their parents for protection and guidance. But as they mature into adulthood, the relationship often shifts, and children become advocates, caretakers, protectors, and counselors for their parents.
13. Do not exasperate your children (Ephesians 6:1–4)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—’so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
The Bible doesn’t just tell children to obey and honor their parents. It also tells fathers not to do or say things that deeply frustrate their children. The ESV translates “do not exasperate your children” as “do not provoke your children to anger.”
A father’s goal should be to bring out the best in his children. If a father angers or frustrates his children, he’s leading them into sin and steering them away from what God desires for them. This can be incredibly difficult, and following Paul’s admonition requires fathers to be intimately attuned to their child’s heart and sensitive to their weaknesses.
14. Blessed are the children of the righteous (Proverbs 20:7)
“The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.”
Righteousness doesn’t lead to wealth and prosperity. But it does change the way we respond to our circumstances and how others see us. A father who pursues righteousness won’t find himself in compromising positions or be an embarrassment to his children. Rather, he’ll provide his children with a model worth following, and his righteousness will change the way others treat his family as well.
15. Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction (Proverbs 4:1–2)
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
For I give you sound teaching;
do not abandon my directive.”
Proverbs 4 is a good passage for fathers and children alike to reflect on in its entirety. It’s a message about the importance of seeking and acquiring wisdom and an assurance that a son can trust his father to be a source of wisdom. Long after a father is gone, his wisdom will live on in the words he has spoken to his children. The insights, advice, and encouragement he has given them will continue to shape their decisions and even become the things they pass on to their own children.
16. Your father gives good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9–11)
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Fathers can’t give their children everything they want. But they do their best to give good gifts and fulfill their children’s needs. Jesus uses this example to remind us that God is a much better father than any human could ever be, and as his children, we can trust God to provide us with good things.
17. Parents are the pride of their children (Proverbs 17:6)
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.”
Children believe their fathers are capable of anything. They believe their fathers are strong, smart, and unshakeable. And they’re proud to say, “That’s my dad.”
18. A father’s greatest joy (3 John 1:4)
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
When a child pursues truth and walks in wisdom, it makes their father joyful because he can trust his children to make good choices, represent his family well, and focus on what is right—regardless of their circumstances. Seeing your child walk in truth assures you that they can handle whatever comes their way.
19. Do not embitter your children (Colossians 3:21)
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
Our families are one of the greatest proving grounds for our faith. Our children, spouses, parents, and siblings are most likely to see us at our weakest, in the moments when it’s hardest to do and say what is loving. In his instructions to households, Paul cautions fathers not to cause their children to become bitter, as it can discourage them.
20. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (Hebrews 12:7)
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”
The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to treat our struggles against sin and difficult circumstances as discipline from our father. The passage goes on to suggest that while our earthly fathers discipline us to point us toward what they think is best, God disciplines us so that we may share in his holiness.
“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” —Hebrews 12:9–11
Similar to the encouragement we see in James 1:2–4, this passage isn’t suggesting that our hardships are in any way enjoyable or that Christians don’t suffer through them. Rather, we can be encouraged by the knowledge that our trials are refining our faith and transforming us into better Christ followers.
21. A father should never take away his love (2 Samuel 7:14–15)
“I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.”
Speaking through Nathan, God promised David that he would treat David’s son as his own child. No matter what sins David’s son committed, and no matter how harshly he was disciplined, God promised that he would always love him.
God is the only perfect Father. But the way he loves his children is a model every father should aspire to.
22. A man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him (Proverbs 23:22–24)
“Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.”
God is the one who ultimately makes us righteous and gives us wisdom. But fathers have an opportunity to participate in the process. And when a father sees that God has used him to produce righteousness and wisdom in his child, it’s something to rejoice about.
Parents often look at their children and say things like, “How did we make such a beautiful baby?” We know that it is God who creates life, but we get to participate in the incredible process. In the same way, he uses us to produce righteousness and wisdom in our children.
23. I have come to turn a man against his father (Matthew 10:34–36)
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”
This is one of the more startling statements Jesus made in his earthly ministry. But he goes on to give us a better idea of what he means:
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” —Matthew 10:37
Sometimes following Jesus pits us against the desires and perspectives of our family members. These moments reveal who truly holds the greatest importance in our lives and what we really love most. No matter how much we love our families, obeying God and honoring him with our choices should always take precedence.
24. The Lord is like a compassionate father to those who fear him (Psalm 103:13)
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him”
A father cares deeply about the suffering and misfortune of his children. He empathizes with them and desires to help make things right. While it’s easy to think about God as being so far removed from us that he couldn’t possibly be concerned about our problems, the psalmist says that a father’s compassion for his children is a picture of God’s compassion for us.
25. His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him (Luke 15:20)
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The Prodigal Son is a powerful portrayal of a loving father. The father in Jesus’ story symbolizes God and his love for us, and he also shows us a love every dad should aspire to. His son effectively said, “I wish you were dead so I could have my inheritance” (Luke 15:12) and then abandoned him. Despite the hurt he surely felt, the father not only welcomed his son with open arms, but he ran to greet him, hugging and kissing him.
At times children deeply wound their fathers. The ideal father humbles himself and doesn’t allow his pain or frustration to overpower his love.
Want more verses for fathers?
These aren’t all the verses that apply to fathers. The Bible is full of wisdom we can draw from to navigate relationships or to inspire and celebrate others. Whether you’re looking for encouragement for yourself or wanting to make someone feel special on Father’s Day or another occasion, check out these encouraging Bible verses.