God the Father

God the Father

In many religions, the supreme deity (God) is given the title and attributions of "Father". In many forms of polytheism, the highest god has been conceived as a "father of gods and of men". In the Israelite religion and modern Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, law-giver, and protector. In Christianity, God is called Father for the same reasons, but especially because of the mystery of the Father-Son relationship revealed by Jesus Christ. In general, the name of "Father" applied to deity signifies that he is the origin of what is subject to him, a supreme and powerful authority, a patriarch, and protector.


In many polytheistic religions, one or more gods who is thought to be a leader and a father of other lords, or of humanity. The classical example from Indo-European mythology is Dyeus, with an epithet "father" e.g. in Roman religion as Iuppiter, and in Vedic religion, as Dyaus Pita. In Egyptian religion, "jt-nṯr" "god father" was an epithet of Thot.


In major forms of modern monotheisms, such as Judaism, Christianity, Bahai as well as in Vaishnavism and Krishnaism God is addressed as the father in part because of his active interest in human affairs, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children, who are depended on him. [Diana L. Eck (2003) Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. p. 98] Thus, many monotheists believe they can communicate with him through prayer, either to praise him or to influence his behavior. They expect that as a father, he will respond to humanity, his children, acting in their best interests, even punishing those who misbehave like a father punishes his children. "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons." (Hebrews 12:8)

Islam, however, does not see Allah in a fatherhood role. For Muslims, such a relationship with him is condemned by the Qur'an. "(Both) the Jews and the Christians say, 'We are sons of Allah and His beloved'. Say: why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men of the men He has created". (Surah 5:18)


In Judaism, God is called "Father" with a unique sense of familiarity; in addition to the sense in which God is "Father" to all men because he created the world (and in that sense "fathered" the world), the same God is also uniquely the patriarchal law-giver to the chosen people. He maintains a special, covenantal father-child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his oracles, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel "my son" because he delivered the descendants of Jacob out of slavery in Egypt ("Bibleref|Hosea|11:1|47") according to his oath to their father, Abraham. To God, according to Judaism, is attributed the fatherly role of protector: he is called the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, their guarantor of justice. He is also called the Father of the king, as the teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.


Masculine characteristics are ascribed to God, in the scripture and traditions of the vast majority of monotheists; although, God is also usually defined as being a spirit, and thus having no biological sex. Accordingly, God is thought of as dominant, powerful, fatherly, passionate, whose ways are too high for his children to understand; and, in keeping with this understanding, God is conventionally referred to by the masculine pronoun "he" (often capitalised; He).


Christianity|state=collapsed In Christianity, God is called "Father" in a more literal sense, besides being the creator and nurturer of creation, and the provider for his children. The Father is said to have an eternal relation to his only son, Jesus; which implies an exclusive and intimate familiarity: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27). In Christian theology, this is the revelation of a sense in which fatherhood is inherent to God's nature, an eternal relationship.

To Christians, God the Father's relationship with humanity is as a father to children. Thus, humans in general are sometimes called "children of God". To Christians, God the Father's relationship with humanity is that of creator and created beings, and in that respect he is the father of all. The New Testament says, in this sense, that the very idea of family, wherever it appears, derives its name from God the Father (Ephesians 3:15), and thus God himself is the model of the family.

However, there is a deeper sense in which Christians believe that they are made participants in the eternal relationship of Father and Son, through Jesus Christ. Christians call themselves "adopted" children of God: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Epistle to the Galatians 4:4-7)

The expressions "God the Father" and "God our Father" appear frequently in the New Testament, as does Son of God, while God the Son and "God the Holy Spirit" are absent. Patristic and liturgical texts include the phrase "the God and Father," [E.g. the dismissal used at the feast of Christ's Ascension in the Orthodox tradition: "May He who ascended ... and sat at the right hand of the God and Father, Christ our true God..."] which is also used by Cyril of Alexandria. [E.g. in his Commentary on the Gospel of John. Pusey's translation of this work, however, consistently but imprecisely renders the phrase as "God the Father", perhaps influenced by the biblical and common English phrasing "God the Father."] Basil the Great in one passage speaks of "God the Father and God the Son" (ep. 52:1), but he writes elsewhere: "There is one God and Father, one only-begotten Son, and one Holy Spirit." [On the Holy Spirit, 44] Thus, while the classic Christian teaching is that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, this does not appear to be matched by equal usage of the phrases "God the Father", "God the Son", and "God the Holy Spirit" in early Christian writing. Likewise, the popularity of such expressions as "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit" (which might be criticized as having a modalistic flavor) appears to be of more recent origin. While such language departs from New Testament usage, the undoubted deity of the Son and the Spirit according to classical Christianity legitimates its use. Still, it is notable that the biblical expression "God the Father" -- and absence of similar expressions relative to the Son and Spirit -- lays stress on the unique monarchy of the Father.

Trinitarianism and other Christian conceptions

To trinitarian Christians (which since post-apostolic times has represented the vast Christian majority), God the Father is not at all a separate god from the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other members of the Christian Godhead. Trinitarian Christians describe these three persons as a Trinity. This means that they always exist as three distinct "persons" (Greek "hypostases"), but they are one god, each having full identity as God himself (a single "substance"), a single "divine nature" and power, and a single "divine will".

Other Christians held alternative ideas about the Trinity. A handful have described the Father, Son and Spirit as each a distinct, eternally existent being (tritheism), or as a different "manifestation" of a single being (modalism). Some have theorized that the relationship of Father and Son began at some point probably outside of normal "history" (Arianism); and others have believed that God became a Father when he uttered his creating Λογος ("logos" or "word"), who is both a principle of order and a living being to whom God bears the relationship as Father (some gnostics). Others found strong affinity with traditional pagan ideas of a savior or hero who is begotten by deity, an idea of the Father similar to Mithraism or the cult of the Roman emperor.

For many Christians, the person of God the Father is the ultimate, and on occasion the exclusive addressee of prayer, often in the "name of" Jesus Christ. The Lord's Prayer, for example, begins, "Our Father who art in Heaven…"

In the New Testament, God the Father has a special role in his relationship with the person of the Son, where Jesus is his Son and his heir (Epistle to the Hebrews 1:2-5). According to the Nicene Creed, the Son (Jesus Christ) is "eternally begotten of the Father", indicating that their "divine" Father-Son relationship is not tied to an event within time or human history. "See" Christology.

In Eastern Orthodox theology, God the Father is the "arche" or "principium" ("beginning"), the "source" or "origin" of both the Son and the Holy Spirit (which gives intuitive emphasis to the threeness of persons); by comparison, Western theology explains the "origin" of all three hypostases or persons as being in the divine nature (which gives intuitive emphasis to the oneness of God's being). The Cappadocian Fathers used this Eastern Orthodox monarchian understanding to explain why trinitarianism is not tritheism: "God is one because the Father is one," said Basil the Great in the fourth century. In the eighth century, John of Damascus wrote at greater length about the Father's monarchial relation:: "Whatsoever the Son has from the Father, the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son and the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have."


ee also

* God
* Christ
*Divine filiation
* Jesus
* Gender of God
* Godhead (Christianity)
* Godhead (Latter Day Saints)

External links

* [http://www.theopedia.com/God_the_Father God the Father at Theopedia]
* [http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/topic.asp?topic_id=14&Parent_ID=1 God the Father at Biblical Resource Database]
* [http://paternoster.biografi.org/ Father of all Mankind]
* [http://www.e-water.net/viewflash.php?flash=loveletter_en Flash animation about God as father of mankind (3.6 MB)]

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