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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Trinity: One God in Three Persons

Don Stewart :: What Does the Bible Teach about God the Father?

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What Does the Bible Teach about God the Father? (Paterology)

The Trinity: One God in Three Persons – Question 7

The Bible speaks of a Person called “God the Father.” The study of His Person is sometimes called “paterology.” We find God being called a Father in both testaments. However, most of our information about Him comes from the New Testament. When the name God is used in Scripture it sometimes refers specifically to God the Father. However, more likely, it refers to all three members of the Trinity. The context must tell us.

Who is this Person called God the Father? What do we know about Him? From Scripture, we can make the following observations about “the Father.”

God the Father Is the First Person of the Trinity

God the Father is the first Person in rank among the members of the Trinity. Neither the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, is ever mentioned as being first in rank. This does not mean that the Father is greater than the other two members. While He is first in position, or rank, they are all equal in character.

He Is Called the Father in the Old Testament

The references in the Old Testament to God the Father are few. There is however, a specific reference to Him in the Book of Isaiah:

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16 ESV)

The Lord is the Father to the people.

In the Book of Hosea, we read of God calling Israel His “son:”

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1 NIV)

This statement would give the assumption that God was their Father in some sense.

In the Book of Proverbs, there is another passage that speaks of a “son:”

Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4 RSV)

This again, indicates that God can be called a Father.

He Is Also Called the Father in the New Testament

Most of the instances of God being called “the Father” are found in the New Testament. For example, Paul wrote,

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead...(Galatians 1:1 ESV)

There is a Person called God the Father.

It is from the New Testament that we learn about the identity of the Father. From it, we discover the following truths:

The Father Is a Person

The fact that the Father is a Person can be clearly seen by a number of factors. They include the following:

1. He Is Conscious of His Own Existence

The Father is conscious of Himself. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke in an audible voice to the Son:

...and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)

The Father is conscious of who He is and whom His Son is.

We are also told that the Father is looking for people to worship Him. Jesus said,

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23 NKJV)

The fact that the Father is conscious of His own existence is a clear evidence of His personality. He is a personal Being.

2. He Has Self-Determination or a Will

We also find that God the Father has self-determination, or a will. Jesus spoke of the will of the Father. We read,

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:38-39 ESV)

Self-determination is a sign of personality.

3. The Father Shows Emotion

God the Father has the ability to express emotion. For example, He sent His Son into the world because of the great love which He has for humanity. John wrote,

God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

Emotion is a sign of personality. This further indicates the personal nature of God the Father. He is a Person.

4. He Can Communicate

The Father is able to communicate to others. We read of Jesus speaking and then God the Father replying. We Jesus saying,

“Father, glorify thy name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:28 RSV)

God the Father is able to communicate to others.

On another occasion, we find that Jesus spoke of the things that He heard from the Father. Our Lord said,

“I don’t call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. But I’ve called you friends because I’ve made known to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father.” (John 15:15 God’s Word)

The fact that God the Father can communicate shows He is a personal God.

5. He Makes Promises

The Bible says that God the Father can make promises. We read about this in Luke’s gospel. Jesus said,

“And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 RSV)

The fact that God is able to make promises shows that He is a personal being.

6. The Father Can Bless People

God the Father blesses people. Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians about this desire of God to bless those who are His.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places... (Ephesians 1:3 RSV)

Only a person has the ability to bless others.

7. He Can Comfort People

The Father is able to comfort people who are hurting. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this capacity of God the Father:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV)

The ability to comfort people is a sign of personality.

8. He Can Give to Others

The Father can give to others. Jesus said the Father would give believers another Helper, the Holy Spirit:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever...” (John 14:16 ESV).

The Father has the ability to give.

These are attributes that belong exclusively to personal beings. It is obvious that God the Father is a Person.

The Father Is God

There is more. The Father is not only a Person, He is also called God. We discover this in four different ways. They are as follows:

The Father Is Called God in the New Testament

The Father is directly called God. When Paul wrote to the Romans and identified the Father as follows:

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7 ESV)

The Father is God.

Paul called the Father “God” when he wrote to the Ephesians:

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6 KJV)

There is one God and Father, only one.

To the Philippians, Paul wrote of God the Father:

...so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10, 11 HCSB)

We conclude there is a Person revealed in the Bible known as the Father. This Person is also called God.

The Father Has Divine Attributes

The Father possesses attributes that belong to God alone. They include the following:

1. He Is All-Powerful

Omnipotence, or being all-powerful, is an attribute that belongs to God alone. The Father has all-power. Jesus said the following about the power of God the Father.

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29 ESV)

No power in the universe can stop God the Father if He wishes to do something. Nothing whatsoever.

Jesus also said that God the Father has granted authority to God the Son. The Father has the power to give this authority:

“My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27 NLT)

The authority of the Father extends to everything.

2. He Is Everywhere Present

The Father is omnipresent. He has the quality of being everywhere at the same time. This is something only God has in His character. Jesus said that God the Father has the ability to see everything.

We read about this in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus explained it in this manner:

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 NRSV)

This is an attribute that belongs to God alone. Indeed, no other creature in the universe can be everywhere present.

3. He Has All-Knowledge

The Father has all-knowledge. Another word for this is omniscient. Jesus said that He knows what we need before we ask Him. Again, Matthew records Jesus stating this truth:

“Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8 God’s Word)

Only God has all-knowledge.

4. He Can Forgive Sin

The Father can forgive sins. Clearly, this something that only God can do. Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He said the following:

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 CEV)

Jesus said that the Father will forgive those who ask Him. This is another declaration that He is God.

The Father Does the Work of God

God the Father does work that only God can do. The Bible gives a number of examples of this. They are as follows:

1. The Father Is the Creator

The Father was actively involved in creation. We read the Apostle Paul testifying to this as he wrote to the Corinthians:

...yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV)

God the Father is the Creator of the universe. Only God creates. And since the Father is the Creator He must be God.

2. The Father Is the Source of Scripture

Jesus said that the Father is the source of divine revelation. He stated that the Father would take His words and declare them to the people. We read His words in John’s gospel:

“All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:15 NKJV)

The Father will be the One who spreads the message of Jesus. This message has been recorded in the Bible.

At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote about how God the Father showed to Jesus what was to come. He put it this way:

This is what God showed to Jesus Christ, so that he could tell his servants what must happen soon. Christ then sent his angel with the message to his servant John. (Revelation 1:1 CEV)

Scripture has its ultimate source in God the Father.

God Is the Father to Many Different Groups of People

He is the Father to a number of different groups. They can be listed as follows:

1. He Is the Father to the Elect

God is the Father to God’s elect, or special people. This includes the nation of Israel and the New Testament church.

2. God Is the Father to the Nation Israel

The Bible teaches that God is the Father to the nation Israel. Israel was called God’s children as well as God’s son:

“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son...’” (Exodus 4:22 ESV)

Moses was to tell Pharaoh of this unique relationship between the Israel and God. He was a Father to this nation.

3. He Is the Father to the Church

We are also told that God is the Father to the New Testament church. The church consists of those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16 RSV)

God is also the Father to New Testament believers.

The Location of the Father: Everywhere Present but Has a Special Presence in Heaven

According to Scripture, the Father is everywhere present, or omnipresent. While the Father is an invisible spirit, His presence is spoken of as being seated on a throne in heaven:

And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. (Revelation 4:2-3 NLT)

This may speak of some visible presence of the Father that is for the sake of angelic beings. However, we certainly cannot be certain of this.

Therefore, from Scripture, we find that the Father is a personal being, the Almighty God who is present everywhere in the universe but, in a special sense, is located in heaven.

The Father Receives Honors That Belong to God Alone

Finally, God the Father receives honors that are due to God alone; this includes worship. Jesus said the Father rightly receives worship. He said,

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers (John 4:23 NASB).

Since the Father is worshipped, He indeed is the true God. We are only to worship God and He alone.

Summary – Question 7
What Does the Bible Teach about God the Father? (Paterology)

The Bible speaks of a distinct Person called God the Father. While He is of the same essence or being as God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Scripture always makes a distinction between them. Most of our information about Him comes from the New Testament.

We discover that He is a Person. Indeed, He has the attributes of a Person. Among other things, He thinks, loves, communicates, and has a will. There is no doubt that the Father is a genuine Person.

He is also the Father of Jesus. Jesus often referred to God as His “Father.” As Jesus is “God the Son,” the Father is known as “God the Father.”

We also learn that He is the eternal God. He has the attributes or characteristics which belong to God alone. The Father is the eternal God. He is the Father to the elect; to Israel in the Old Testament, and to the church in the New Testament.

Although present everywhere in the universe, in some sense, the Father has a special presence in heaven.

These are some of the important things which we learn about God the Father.

In What Sense Is the God of Scripture a Unity? ← Prior Section
Does the Bible Teach That God the Father Is a Distinct Person from God the Son, Jesus Christ? Next Section →
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