God the Father

In Apologetics on March 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm
(Isa 44:6 ESV)  Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
1Co 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
(Eph 4:6 ESV)  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
(1Ti 6:13-16 ESV)  I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
The concept of Trinity is can never be fully, explained, illustrations fall short; descriptions can never define the revelation that is Trinity. So as I feebly attempt to define my experience of the Trinity please bear with me it’s as though I am trying to explain the Grand Canyon to a foreigner who is visiting America for the first time. One of the major issues I find in misconceptions of the tri-unity of God is our understanding of the terms used to illustrate how we define the nature and being of God as he exists and expresses himself.
The New Testament obviously features these three characters, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Classically, Christian theology has traced these persons back to an eternal Trinity of God in himself. Since this threefoldness belongs to what God actually is rather than being only something he freely does, it has been called the ontological Trinity, the essential Trinity, or the Trinity of being.
First the being that is God expressed in three persons the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The idea of fatherhood conjures visions of a gentile, old grandpa God. Many reduce His existence into someone we can on a moment’s notice demand his attention; require his intervention with a careless promise of some proper behavior because we are in trouble. Somehow He is only welcome at most when we are unable or unwilling to deal with a difficult issue in our lives. Then when all is well we dispatch Him back to his quaint heaven that someday He will surly require our presence to make it complete. Contrast this with scripture and we are very quickly introduced to a much more engaged, caring, active person who at His will intervenes in the lives of His creatures. He is defined by relationship and His own definition of existence more than His actions carried out in our lives. He is God the Father in the first place, for Trinitarian reasons. There is not a point when He wasn’t the Father. He did not become Father at some point in history; to say he was not- the -Father then had some kind of metamorphous into the Father in ancient history is the wrong concept of Trinitarian fatherhood. The title God the Father wasn’t conjured up by some old men sitting around a Jerusalem campfire and the number of persons in the Trinity determined to be 3 out of some arbitrary decision.  God the Father never existed without his Son, so he was always God the Father. We can too easily slip into conversations about the blessings and actions of God as awesome and wonderful as they are but that is not WHO He is! He is, was and will always be with or without any of His actions God the Father. If all of mankind had never existed He would be God the Father. If the Universe had never been created He would still be God the Father. If He never redeemed the human race by giving His Son He would still be God the Father. Trinitarian fatherhood is not dependent on birth as in natural man, but in majesty and position in the Heavenly places.
In the nt, ‘father’ can refer to the male progenitor (e.g., Matt. 1:1-16; Mark 1:20; Acts 28:8), but in most instances it is used to refer to God. This Christian practice probably derives from the intimate term for father that Jesus used to address God (Heb. and Aram. abba; Mark 14:36; cf. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). ‘Father’ is also the term for God Jesus used in the prayer he taught his followers (Luke 11:2). Rather than being derived from a human analogy, the term ‘Father’ for God represents the ideal by whom every human father is to be judged (Eph. 3:14-15). See also Curse and Blessing; Family,[1]
Father — a name applied (1) to any ancestor (Deut. 1:11; 1 Kings 15:11; Matt. 3:9; 23:30, etc.); and (2) as a title of respect to a chief, ruler, or elder, etc. (Judg. 17:10; 18:19; 1 Sam. 10:12; 2 Kings 2:12; Matt. 23:9, etc.). (3) The author or beginner of anything is also so called; e.g., Jabal and Jubal (Gen. 4:20, 21; comp. Job 38:28).
Applied to God (Ex. 4:22; Deut. 32:6; 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:27, 28, etc.). (1.) As denoting his covenant relation to the Jews (Jer. 31:9; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; John 8:41, etc.).
(2.) Believers are called God’s “sons” (John 1:12; Rom. 8:16; Matt. 6:4, 8, 15, 18; 10:20, 29). They also call him “Father” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:4) [2]
There are three differing views on the term Father as it is used to mean other than progenitor of a family. God is Father of the Son by definition clearly spelled out in Holy Scripture. The most vivid example of this is John 3:16.
(John 3:16 ESV)  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
A child was born in Bethlehem but a Son was given! Fatherhood existed in eternity past, present and eternity future.
The Father is eternal in Rom 16:26,27, He is the creator of all things Psalms 100:3, omnipresent Jer.23:24, omniscient 1 John 3:20. The Father wills and acts supernaturally Eph 1:5, gives life Gen 1:11-31, John 5:21, and finally He strengthens believers Psa 138:3!
In The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Fred Sanders) we read:
There are not many alternatives to taking this mental step back into the eternal Trinity. One alternative would be to say that God in himself is really unipersonal but that when he reveals himself to us, he reveals himself in different aspects as Father, Son, and Spirit. But that would mean that a unipersonal God shows himself as tri-personal, which is not properly showing himself at all, but showing precisely what he is not. Another alternative would be to say that a merely unipersonal God was first the Father, then the Son, and then the Spirit. But that kind of serial monotheism cannot do justice to the biblical episodes in which the Father and the Son address each other in interpersonal communication. A one-personed God who puts on different masks for different tasks, or goes into different modes when he is in different moods, or plays different roles with different rules, is not the Trinity of the Christian faith. To settle for such limited knowledge of the Trinity would be a theological tragedy, not as bad as the heretical modalism’s of the other alternatives but still quite debilitating for Christian faith. We know much more than that there are three somebodies in God. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, the glory that he showed the apostles was “glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). We have met the Son and the Holy Spirit, in person, as the Father has sent them into human history. The Christian experience of salvation is an encounter with the true God as he truly exists: as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We certainly do not know everything about the persons of the Trinity, but what we do know extends all the way into who God is, internally, eternally, and essentially.
Finally looking at the Trinity in expression: The Chalcedonian Creed
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood;truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

nt New Testament

[1] Paul J. Achtemeier, Publishers Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1st ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 305.

[2] M.G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).


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