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Dictionaries :: Father

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


a name applied (1) to any ancestor (Deu 1:11; 1Ki 15:11; Mat 3:9; 23:30, etc.); and (2) as a title of respect to a chief, ruler, or elder, etc. (Jdg 17:10; 18:19; 1Sa 10:12; 2Ki 2:12; Mat 23:9, etc.). (3) The author or beginner of anything is also so called; e.g., Jabal and Jubal (Gen 4:20,21; Job 38:28).

Applied to God (Exd 4:22; Deu 32:6; 2Sa 7:14; Psa 89:27,28, etc.). (1.) As denoting his covenant relation to the Jews (Jer 31:9; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jhn 8:41, etc.).

(2.) Believers are called God's "sons" (Jhn 1:12; Rom 8:16; Mat 6:4,8,15,18; 10:20,29). They also call him "Father" (Rom 1:7; 1Cr 1:3; 2Cr 1:2; Gal 1:4)

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


fa'-ther (Anglo-Saxon, Foeder; German, Vater; Hebrew ?abh, etymology uncertain, found in many cognate languages; Greek pater, from root pa, "nourisher," "protector," "upholder"):

1. Immediate Male Ancestor:

Immediate male ancestor. The father in the Hebrew family, as in the Roman, had supreme rights over his children, could dispose of his daughter in marriage (Ge 29), arrange his son's marriage (Ge 24), sell his children (Ex 21:7), but not his daughter to a stranger (Ne 5:5), had power of life and death, as in the case of Isaac (Ge 22), Jephthah's daughter (Jud 11:34 ), the sacrificing of his children to Molech (Le 18:21; 20:3-5), etc. Respect, reverence and affection for fathers (and equally for mothers) is most tenderly, explicitly and sternly prescribed from the earliest times (Ex 20:12; Le 19:3; De 5:16; Mic 7:6; Eze 22:7, etc.). A symmetrical and beautiful picture of the duties and character of the ideal human father may be built up from the Old Testament, with added and enlarged touches from the New Testament. He loves (Ge 37:4); commands (Ge 50:16; Pr 6:20); instructs (Pr 1:8, etc.); guides, encourages, warns (Jer 3:4; 1Th 2:11); trains (Ho 11:3); rebukes (Ge 34:30); restrains (Eli, by contrast, 1Sa 3:13); punishes (De 21:18); chastens (Pr 3:12; De 8:5); nourishes (Isa 1:2); delights in his son (Pr 3:12), and in his son's wisdom (Pr 10:1); is deeply pained by his folly (Pr 17:25); he is considerate of his children's needs and requests (Mt 7:10); considerate of their burdens, or sins (Mal 3:17, "As a man spareth his own son"); tenderly familiar (Lu 11:7, "with me in bed"); considerately self-restrained (Eph 6:4, "Provoke not your children to wrath"); having in view the highest ends (ibid., "Nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord"); pitiful (Ps 103:13, "as a father pitieth his children"); the last human friend (but one) to desert the child (Ps 27:10: "When (a thing to the psalmist incredible) my father and my mother forsake me, then Yahweh will take me up").

2. Ancestors, Immediate or Remote:

(a) Ancestor, immediate or remote: Ge 28:13, "Abraham thy father" (grandfather); 1Ki 22:50, "Jehoshaphat.... David his father"; Jer 35:6, "Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father"; Da 5:11, "Nebuchadnezzar thy father" (personal or official ancestor); Ge 15:15, "Go to thy fathers in peace" (and so (in the plural) in over 500 passages). The expressions "slept with his fathers," "go down to his fathers," "buried with his fathers," "gathered to his fathers," are self-explanatory euphemisms.

(b) The founders of the (Hebrew) race, specifically the patriarchs:' Ro 9:5, "whose are the fathers," considered here also as in a sense the religious ancestors of all believers.

(c) Progenitors of clans, i.e. (Revised Version (British and American)) "fathers' houses": Ex 6:14; 1Ch 27:1, etc.

(d) Gods as progenitors of men: Jer 2:27, "Who say to a stock, thou art my father."

3. Figurative and Derived Uses:

(a) A spiritual ancestor, one who has infused his own spirit into others, whether good, as Abraham, the father of the faithful, Ro 4:11; or bad, as Joh 8:44, "Ye are of your father the devil."

(b) Indicating closest resemblance, kinship, affinity: Job 17:14, "If I have said to corruption, Thou art my father."

(c) A source: Eph 1:17, "Father of glory"; Job 38:28, "Hath the rain a father?"

(d) Creator: Jas 1:17, "the Father of lights."

(e) The inventor or originator of an art or mode of life: Ge 4:20, "father of such as dwell in tents" (a hint here of hereditary occupations? Probably not).

(f) One who exhibits the fatherly characteristics: Ps 68:5, "a father of the fatherless."

(g) One who occupies a position of counsel, care, or control (frequently applied by sultans to their prime ministers): Ge 45:8, "a father to Pharaoh"; Jud 17:10, "Be unto me a father and a priest."

(h) A revered or honored superior: 2Ki 5:13, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee"; but especially applied to prophets: 2Ki 2:12, "My father, my father!" also to elderly and venerable men: 1 Joh 2:13, "I write unto you, fathers"; hence also, with perhaps an outlook on (2) (a), deceased early Christians: 2Pe 3:4, "from the day that the fathers fell asleep." An ecclesiastical title, condemned (in principle) by our Lord: Mt 23:9, "Call no man your father on the earth"; but applied, under the power of the Spirit, to members of the Sanhedrin (probably) by Stephen: Ac 7:2; and by Paul: 22:1, but the latter, perhaps also the former, may simply refer to the elderly among his hearers. Christ's condemnation is clearly of the praise-seeking or obsequious spirit, rather than of a particular custom.

"Father," used by Mary of Joseph, in relation to Jesus, equals "putative father," a necessary reserve at a time when the virgin birth could not yet be proclaimed (Lu 2:49). But note Jesus' answer: "my Father's house."

Written by Philip Wendell Crannell

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Noun Strong's Number: g3962 Greek: pater


from a root signifying "a nourisher, protector, upholder" (Lat., pater, Eng., "father," are akin), is used

(a) of the nearest ancestor, e.g., Mat 2:22;

(b) of a more remote ancestor, the progenitor of the people, a "forefather," e.g., Mat 3:9; 23:30; 1Cr 10:1; the patriarchs, 2Pe 3:4;

(c) one advanced in the knowledge of Christ, 1Jo 2:13;

(d) metaphorically, of the originator of a family or company of persons animated by the same spirit as himself, as of Abraham, Rom 4:11, 12, 16, 17, 18, or of Satan, Jhn 8:38, 41, 44;

(e) of one who, as a preacher of the Gospel and a teacher, stands in a "father's" place, caring for his spiritual children, 1Cr 4:15 (not the same as a mere title of honor, which the Lord prohibited, Mat 23:9);

(f) of the members of the Sanhedrin, as of those who exercised religious authority over others, Act 7:2; 22:1;

(g) of God in relation to those who have been born anew (Jhn 1:12, 13), and so are believers, Eph 2:18; 4:6 (cp. 2Cr 6:18), and imitators of their "Father," Mat 5:45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8, 9, etc. Christ never associated Himself with them by using the personal pronoun "our;" He always used the singular, "My Father," His relationship being unoriginated and essential, whereas theirs is by grace and regeneration, e.g., Mat 11:27; 25:34; Jhn 20:17; Rev 2:27; 3:5, 21; so the Apostles spoke of God as the "Father" of the Lord Jesus Christ, e.g., Rom 15:6; 2Cr 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; Hbr 1:5; 1Pe 1:3; Rev 1:6;

(h) of God, as the "Father" of lights, i.e., the Source or Giver of whatsoever provides illumination, physical and spiritual, Jam 1:17; of mercies, 2Cr 1:3; of glory, Eph 1:17;

(i) of God, as Creator, Hbr 12:9 (cp. Zec 12:1).

Note: Whereas the everlasting power and divinity of God are manifest in creation, His "Fatherhood" in spiritual relationship through faith is the subject of NT revelation, and waited for the presence on earth of the Son, Mat 11:27; Jhn 17:25. The spiritual relationship is not universal, Jhn 8:42, 44 (cp. Jhn 1:12; Gal 3:26).

B-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g3971 Greek: patroos


signifies "of one's fathers," or "received from one's fathers" (akin to A), Act 22:3; 24:14; 28:17. In the Sept. Pro 27:10.

B-2 Adjective Strong's Number: g3967 Greek: patrikos


"from one's fathers, or ancestors," is said of that which is handed down from one's "forefathers," Gal 1:14.

B-3 Adjective Strong's Number: g540 Greek: apator


"without father" (a, negative, and pater), signifies, in Hbr 7:3, with no recorded genealogy.

B-4 Adjective Strong's Number: g3970 Greek: patroparadotos


"handed down from one's fathers" (pater, and paradidomi, "to hand down"), is used in 1Pe 1:18.

Smith's Bible Dictionary


The position and authority of the father as the head of the family are expressly assumed and sanctioned in Scripture, as a likeness of that of the Almighty over his creatures. It lies of course at the root of that so‐called patriarchal government (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3) which was introductory to the more definite systems which followed, and which in part, but not wholly, superseded it. The father's blessing was regarded as conferring special benefit, but his malediction special injury, on those on whom it fell (Genesis 9:25, 27; 27:27-40; 48:15; 48:20; 49:1). … and so also the sin of a parent was held to affect, in certain cases, the welfare of his descendants (2 Kings 5:27). The command to honor parents is noticed by St. Paul as the only one of the Decalogue which bore a distinct promise (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2) and disrespect towards them was condemned by the law as one of the worst crimes (Exodus 21:15; 21:17; 1 Timothy 1:9). It is to this well‐recognized theory of parental authority and supremacy that the very various uses of the term "father" in Scripture are due. "Fathers" is used in the sense of seniors (Acts 7:2; 22:1) and of parents in general, or ancestors (Daniel 5:2; Jeremiah 27:7; Matthew 23:30; 23:32).


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