MBS051 GOD THE FATHER
by Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.John 1:18
The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there are three specific Persons in the Godhead. In most biblical studies, the two Persons on which most attention is focused are God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As a result, believers often have a fuzzy idea of exactly who God the Father is, and exactly what God the Father does and is responsible for.
In this study, God the Father will be discussed in two major areas: first, the Fatherhood of God; and secondly, the works of God the Father.
I. THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD
The first area distinguishes His work from that of the Son and the Spirit. There are six different aspects of the Fatherhood of God: the Father of the Messiah, the Father of Creation, the Father of angels, the Father of all men, the Father of Israel, and the Father of believers.
A. The Father of the Messiah
The first aspect of the Fatherhood of God is that He is the Father of the Messiah. The fact that God the Father is the Father of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) the Son, is seen in five ways.
1. Begotten by the Father
The first way that God is seen as the Father of the Messiah is that the Son was begotten by the Father. This is taught in the Old Testament in Psalm 2:7: I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, You are my son; This day have I begotten you.
In the New Testament, this is taught in John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 reads: No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
This is found once again in John 3:16–17: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.
Another example is 1 John 4:9. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him.
The fact that the Messiah was begotten by the Father has often been misinterpreted. Some groups, mainly those among the cults that teach that Yeshua is not eternal, interpret the term “begotten of the Father” to mean that Jesus was created by God the Father. Actually, the term begotten emphasizes “uniqueness” in that He is the unique Son of God, not His creation.
While the Fatherhood of God has several aspects, there is a uniqueness in the relationship with the Son. So the term “begotten by the Father” does not mean that Jesus was created by God the Father, but that the Fatherhood-Sonship relationship is unique. This is simply not true of other relationships. God’s fatherhood of the Messiah is seen in that He is begotten by the Father, meaning He is the unique Son of God; He has a unique relationship not true of other father-son relationships.
2. Acknowledged by the Father
The second way that the Fatherhood of God is seen is that the Father Himself acknowledged Yeshua to be His Son. One example is Matthew 3:17b, where God the Father, speaking out of Heaven stated: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. God the Father acknowledged Jesus to be the Son.
3. Acknowledged by Yeshua Himself
The third way that the Fatherhood of God is seen is that the Son acknowledged God the Father as being His Father (Matt. 11:27; Jn 8:54; 14:12–13).
4. Acknowledged by Other Men
The fourth way that the Fatherhood of God is seen in that other men acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of His Father, and that God the Father was the Father of the Messiah. One example is Matthew 16:16, where Peter made his great confession and literally said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the God, the Living One.” Peter acknowledged Yeshua to be the Son of God; therefore, God the Father is the Father of the Messiah.
Other examples of this are found in Mark 15:39 and Romans 8:32. Jesus was acknowledged to be the Son of God by men, and this emphasized again that God the Father is the Father of the Messiah.
5. Acknowledged by Demons
The fifth way that the Fatherhood of God is seen is the fact that Yeshua was also acknowledged by demons to be the Son of God. One example is Matthew 8:28–29: And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, you Son of God? are you come hither to torment us before the time?
In these verses, demons were speaking and acknowledged that He was the Son of God. This would automatically mean that God is the Father of the Messiah.
B. The Father of Creation
The second aspect of the Fatherhood of God is that He is the Father of Creation. One example of this truth is found in 1 Corinthians 8:6: yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.
In this passage, the Father is addressed as God, the Father and connected with Creation in that He is the Father of Creation.
A second example is in James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.
In this verse, He is addressed as the Father and is called the Father of lights, a title that connects Him with Creation itself.
C. The Father of Angels
The third aspect in which the Fatherhood of God is seen as is that He is the Father of all angels. For that reason, angels are referred to as the sons of God.
There are four Scriptures that teach this truth. The first passage is Genesis 6:1–4, which mentions the sons of God. Some interpret the term sons of God in the Book of Genesis to refer to the descendants of Seth as opposed to descendants of Cain. The other three passages, Job 1:6; 2:1; and 38:7, clearly show that the term sons of God must refer to angels. All of these Scriptures use the term sons of God and, in those contexts, no one doubts they refer to angels. Consistency should be maintained, so Genesis 6 must also refer to angels.
D. The Father of All Men
The fourth aspect of the Fatherhood of God is that He is the Father of all men. An example of this is Acts 17:29: Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.
This verse states that all men are the offspring of God. In one sense there is the universal Fatherhood of God of all men; He is the Father of all men in that He is man’s Creator. In the same way, He is the Father of all angels. It is unfortunate that the liberals have camped on this aspect, ignoring the others.
Yes, the Bible does teach that there is the universality of the Fatherhood of God. He is indeed the Father of all men, but only in the relationship of the Creator to the created. It does not mean, as they have been teaching, that this automatically means a universal salvation; that all people will be saved anyway. The Bible does not teach that all people are going to be saved. Because God is the Father of all men does not mean all men are going to be saved; it means only that God is the Creator of all men.
Another example where He is said to be the Father of all men is in Ephesians 3:14–15: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
In this passage, the concepts of family and the Fatherhood of God are brought together. This, too, emphasizes the universality of the Fatherhood of God. He is the Father of all men by virtue of being the Creator of all men.
A third example is Hebrews 12:9: Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
God the Father is spoken of as being the Father of spirits without distinction. Again, He is the Father of all men, not in a salvation-relationship, but in a creation-relationship. There is a universality of the Fatherhood of God because He is the Creator of all men.
E. The Father of Israel
The fifth aspect of the Fatherhood of God is that He is also the Father of Israel. This is brought out a number of times throughout the Old Testament. One example is found in Exodus 4:22: And you shall say unto Pharaoh, Thus says Jehovah, Israel is my son, my first-born.
God called Israel Jehovah’s son. As a nation, Israel is the national son of God. No nation is ever called the son of God except one, and that is Israel.
A second example is found in Deuteronomy 32:6: Do ye thus requite Jehovah, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he your father that has bought you? He has made you, and established you.
In this passage, Moses pointed out very clearly that God the Father is also the Father of Israel; Israel, as a nation, is God’s son.
A third example is Isaiah 64:8, in which Israel is said to be the son of God.
A fourth example is Jeremiah 3:4.
A fifth example is Hosea 11:1: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Finally, Malachi 1:6 also emphasizes this unique relationship of Israel as the son of God: A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is mine honor? and if I am a master, where is my fear? says Jehovah of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised your name?
In addressing Israel, God reminds Israel that He is their Father, and Israel is His son.
F. The Father of Believers
The sixth aspect of the Fatherhood of God is that He is the Father of believers. John 1:12 states: But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name.
This is His unique relationship in the salvation sense. Speaking of God the Father as being the Father of all men emphasizes God as the Creator of all men, from whom all men received their life. But that does not guarantee the salvation of all men, because every individual must exercise the personal act of faith. God the Father is uniquely the Father of believers by virtue of the new birth, by virtue of regeneration. It is this relationship of God the Father to believers that reflects the salvation aspect.
Other passages that refer to God as the Father of believers include Matthew 5:45; 6:6–15; Romans 8:14–16; and 1 John 3:1.
II. THE WORKS OF GOD THE FATHER
The second area in the study of God the Father concerns His works. Whereas the fatherhood aspects distinguish Him from the other two Persons of the Trinity as far as personality is concerned, the works of God the Father distinguish Him from the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Five works of God the Father need to be mentioned. First, God the Father generates the Son for all eternity (Jn. 5:17–26). Secondly, it is God the Father who is the author of the decree that brings to pass all that He wills (Ps. 2:7–9). Thirdly, the work of election is said to be the work of God the Father (Eph. 1:3–6). Fourthly, it is God the Father who sent the Son to do the work of redemption (Jn 5:36). And fifth, it is God the Father who disciplines His children. Because He is the Father of believers, He has the right to discipline believers. The work of divine discipline is a work of God the Father (Heb. 12:9).