Friday, September 19, 2008

Paterology: The Fatherhood of God

Paterology is the study of God the Father. Pater, or pathr, is the Greek word for father. The fatherhood of God as creator is true for all men, but the New Testament develops a richer and deeper relationship with God as Father for the believer in Jesus Christ. The word for Father is used fifteen times in the Old Testament but 245 times in the New Testament. This concept was clarified by Jesus in his reference to God as his Father concerning his own relationship with God (see Matthew 11:25-27). The Aramaic term Abba, a term originally used by young children for their fathers, indicating an intimate and familiar relationship, was used by Jesus to address God (Mark 14:36).

The identification of God as Father goes even beyond Jesus’ own relationship with God when he teaches his disciples to also pray by saying “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). It should be noted in passing that Jesus’ teaching concerning God’s fatherly relationship to them, and their familiarity and intimacy with God as Father, should not detract from their understanding of his awesome holiness and flawless righteousness because in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus followed “Our Father in heaven” with “hallowed be your name.” The Father/Son relationship of man with God is based on the redemptive work of God through Jesus. John says, “To all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he (God the Father) gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12, 13). Jesus and the apostles taught that God our Father demonstrated his Fatherly care and relationship with each believer in these ways:

Cares for daily needs (Matthew 6:32)
Individual concern and attention (Matthew 6:26)
Source of our spiritual life (John 1:12, 13)
His Love has been lavished on us (1 John 3:1)
Gives us grace and peace (Ephesians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1)
Concerned with our welfare (Romans 8:15-28)
Gives us good gifts (James 1:17)
Oversees our discipline and growth (Hebrews 12:5-13)
Provides us with commands and directions for living life (2 John 4)
Makes us in the image of his own Son (1 John 3:2)

Paul begins all his epistles by identifying God as the Father (Rm.1:7; 1Co.1:3; 2Co.1:2; Gal.1:1; etc.). All human fathers receive the concept of fatherhood from God himself (Ephesians 3:14,15). God is the Father of glory (Eph.1:17), the Father of spirits (Heb.12:9) and the Father of lights (James 1:17). After his resurrection Jesus told Mary that he was “ascending to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).

Galyn Wiemers

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