The Father

A fourth lecture in a seven part series on the Godhead.

The Revelation of the Father

The Father Revealed in the Son. All of the historical and dispensational Names of God contemplate the whole Godhead; that is, all three persons of the Trinity. For example: the Father is Jehovah, the Son is Jehovah, and the Holy Spirit is Jehovah. And yet there is only one Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:4). But at the incarnation, a tremendous change happened. In the New Testament, we begin to see the three Persons of the Godhead clearly distinguished in a way not known in the Old Testament. At last, according to the eternal counsel and foreknowledge of God, the Son was sent down from heaven to be the Savior of the world. The Son, as a man on earth, was given the name of Jesus [‘Jehovah saves’], claiming in a special way the Name of Jehovah in incarnation. On earth, His mission was to reveal God to man. “No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18). The Father was perfectly declared by the Son. If we want to know the Father, the only way is through His Son! This is the central theme of John’s gospel. In John 14:6-11, the Lord explains that He perfectly displayed the Father’s works and words, so accurately that He could say “I am in the Father and the Father in me”, and “he that has seen me has seen the Father”. The Father could not have been revealed in the Old Testament because the Son had not been given. “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). It takes a Divine Person to reveal a Divine secret.
Essential Fatherhood vs. Other Types of Paternity.

The Fatherhood of the Father is not to be confused with His other types of paternity; the Father of Spirits (Heb. 12:9), the Father of Lights (James 1:17), the Father of creation (Acts 17:29), of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Eph. 3:15), and "your heavenly Father" (Matt. 6:32). These other types of paternity alone are not the reason He is called "God the Father". He is "God the Father" because of His eternal relationship to the Son. First, Jesus spoke of God as "My Father" (John 5:17; 10:17). Second, Paul speaks of "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:3), showing that God the Father is the Father of the Son. We can conclude that the term "the Father", which is frequently used without additional qualification or specification in the New Testament, is in relationship to the Son. Third, the other types of paternity are neither intrinsic nor eternal. Whether they pertain to creation or redemption, the other types of paternity relate to things or persons that were conceived and ordered from the eternal counsels of God, and accomplished in time. "They cannot themselves be placed in the eternal and pre-temporal realm."1 We cannot conceive of relationships between God and His creatures as constituting an intrinsic Fatherhood. To do so would be to confuse who the Father is in His being with what comes from the counsel of His will; i.e. who He is and what He does. This shows that God is "the Father" in relation to the Son.

It was God in this character, as eternally His Father, that the Son revealed here below.
Christ Declaring the Father’s Name. On earth, Jesus often declared His Father’s Name, but His disciples did not understand its fullness until, in resurrection, He communicated that Name to them and to us. “Touch Me not,” He said to Mary. From that time on Jesus was to be known in a new way by His own. Not simply as his manhood Name (Jesus), nor only as Messiah (Christ) in connection with promises, but also as the Risen One ascended to His Father (Lord). In Resurrection, “all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:16, 17), including the relationships believers enjoyed. It was then that the risen and soon-to-be-glorified man declared His Father’s Name when He said, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God” (John 20:17). Being linked with Christ, we share the Son’s relationship with His God and Father! We can now address God in prayer as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3) with the full knowledge that He is ours in those same relationships!

Our Relationship to the Father

A Conscious Relationship as Children. One of the most fundamental privileges we have as New Testament believers is the conscious knowledge that we are God’s children, part of His family! In the Old Testament, those who had faith were the children of God, but they did not know that fact. In the language of  John 11:52, they were “the children of God that were scattered abroad.” But when the Son of God came into this world, He became the object for faith, and so to “as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God, to those that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The “right to be children” is the right or privilege to know themselves in a conscious relationship with God as His children.
One Family. Not only do New Testament believers know themselves as God’s children, but they know themselves as part of One Family of God. It took the death of Christ to “gather together into one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52). God’s desire is that His children would walk as one family, a display to the world that the Father had sent the Son (John 17).
A Common Life: Eternal Life. Those who are children of God share His life and nature. The offspring of a dog is a dog, and the offspring of a sheep is a sheep; so the children of God share His life and nature. What is God’s “life” like? It is full of love, joy, peace, satisfaction, and separation from evil. It is the best possible life that could be lived! That same life is said to be “in the Son” (John 1:4; 1 John 5:11). When the Son became flesh, and walked here among men, He was the perfect expression of that life to man. As such, He was “the Word of Life” which the apostles had seen with their eyes, contemplated, and their hands had handled. The life had been manifested, and the apostles had seen it, and then in their writings reported to us that Eternal Life. As believers, we have that same Eternal Life! We do not have it “in” us intrinsically like the Son, but we “have” it by derivation because we have the Son; for “He that has the Son has life: he that has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:12). What specifically is it that causes us to enjoy the very life of God? Communion with the Father and Son! “And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3, see also 1 John 1:3). Eternal life is something that we have now, at the present time as God’s children. But eternal life is also looked at as a future thing, especially in Paul’s writings. Read more…
The Father’s Training of His Children. Those who are children of God come under His training. He showers us with love and blessing, and seeks to bring us more and more into communion with Himself. “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). If necessary, our Father chastens us; “God conducts himself towards you as towards sons; for who is the son that the father chastens not?” (Heb. 12:7). We must look to our Father for our needs, approaching Him with our petitions in the Name of His Son (John 14:13). We ask Him for wisdom about the decisions of the pathway, for He “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). He gives, and gives, and gives again. His is never partial towards His children, and He never turns away, for “every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
Sonship, and Crying “Abba, Father”. Paul brings out a still-higher relationship that believers have to the Father. When we believe the gospel and receive the indwelling Spirit, we are given an elevated status in the family: something called “sonship” (Gal. 4:5-7; Rom. 8:15-16).

In Greek, the word 'huiothesian' means 'the place of a son'. It is translated into English as "sonship" or "adoption". Sonship is a privilege that Christians are given because they are justified and stand in Christ's place before God. Sonship is not the same thing as coming into God's family. Due to the modern use of word 'adoption', the original sense of sonship has been lost for many believers. As we see in Galatians 4:1-7, the child becomes a son, showing that sonship has to do with a special place or relationship in the family. We enter God's family by new birth, and this makes us children of God. But adoption gives us an elevated place within the family. For an example of Jewish adoption, see Gen. 48:5 where Jacob took the sons of Joseph as his own. Ephraim and Manasseh were Jacob's grandsons, but he elevated them to the status of their uncles; "as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine". Sonship is the greatest blessing we have as individuals in relation to the Father. There is no higher place than the place of God's Son, and He has given us "the Son's place"!

So we have received a spirit (attitude) of adoption, and cry “Abba, Father”. Abba is the Aramaic word that relays the most intimate relationship to one’s father. The closest English word is “Daddy”. Twice in the New Testament we are shown that we have been given the same closeness of relationship that the Son has, and thus we cry, “Abba, Father”.
  1. Murray, John. Eternal Sonship. Princeton Theological Seminary.