The Concept of Family in the Bible


  • Joseph Pamplany Secretary, CBCI Doctrinal Commission


Mystery, Family, Bible


Marriage and the family were God’s idea and divine covenant between one man and one woman, a lifelong union of two partners created in God’s image to govern and manage the earth for him. Gen 1:26-27 and 5:1-3 emphasise that humankind is created as a community not as an individual; consequently it is not the individual but the community (family) who fully reflects the image and likeness of God. However the bible does not conceive any contradiction between individual and family. God designed it so that the man needs the woman and the woman needs the man (1 Cor 11:11). Both are equal persons and yet have distinct roles to fulfil. If sex is removed from the context of the marriage commitment, sex becomes a superfluous object of hedonism. Bible is of the opinion that God created marriage for a purpose bigger than itself: Marriage is a picture of the believer’s relationship with God. Marriage is an earthly picture of the spiritual relationship that exists between Christ, the bridegroom, and the church, His bride. In this respect family life is a great mystery (Eph 5:23). Family must be the
subject and object of evangelisation, liberation and humanisation.

Author Biography

Joseph Pamplany, Secretary, CBCI Doctrinal Commission

Joseph Pamplany, a priest from the Archdiocese of Tellicherry, has secured his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from KU Leuven in 2005. At present he serves the Catholic Bishops Conference of India as its secretary to the doctrinal commission. Besides, he is teaching Scripture in various theological faculties in India. He is the founding director of Alpha Institute of Theology and Science, a UGC recognized centre for Asian Christian Studies. He has published 15 books and 30 scholarly articles in international journals. Email: jpamplany@gmail.com


Johan Jakob Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart: Morgan, 1861.

Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage, London, 1991.

H. Moxnes, H., “What Is Family? Problems in Constructing Early Christian Families,” in Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor, ed. H Moxnes, 13-41, London, New York: Rutledge, 1997.

James S. Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity, New York: Intervarsity Press, 1999.

M.Y. MacDonald, “Kinship and Family in the New Testament,” Understanding the Social World of the New Testament, ed., Dietmar Neufeld, Richard E., New York: Routledge, 2010.

J. A. Sanders, “The Family in the Bible,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 32/3 (2002).

C. Osiek, “Family Matters in Christian Origins,” in ed. R.A. Horsley, A People’s History of Christianity, vol. 1, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.

W.A. Meeks, The Moral World of the First Christians (Library of Early Christianity), Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986.

D.B. Martin, “Family Idolatry and the Christian Case against Marriage,” in Authorizing Marriage? Canon, Tradition, and Critique in the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions, ed., MD Jordan, MT Sweeney and DM Mellott, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Dennis P. Hollinger, The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics and the Moral Life, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

Stanley Hauerwas, Character and the Christian Life: A Study in Theological Ethics, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994.

Richard A. Batey, New Testament Nuptial Imagery, Leiden: Brill, 1971.

Johns Varghese, The Imagery of Love in the Gospel of John (Analecta Biblica, 177), Rome: Gregoriana, 2009.




How to Cite

Pamplany, J. (2014). “THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY .” (EPH 5:32): The Concept of Family in the Bible. Asian Horizons, 8(02), 238–257. Retrieved from https://dvkjournals.in/index.php/ah/article/view/2047