The Apostle’s Creed: God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth

The right to claim to have God as one's Father is dependent upon one's union with Jesus Christ

“When Christians think of the fatherhood of God, their minds most likely go at once to the Trinity, and from there to the many New Testament passages that refer to God as the Father, along with the connecting belief in God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”

 

When we speak of God as our Father, it is immediately plain that we are expressing a belief that is unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Of course, to the extent that other religious or philosophical systems maintain that the world owes its allegiance to some kind of deity, in a very general or implied sense the deity could be thought of as fatherly because of its presumed involvement in bringing the world into being.  Nevertheless, referring to the deity as a father is not the way such a god is viewed.  And, moreover, when the Bible speaks of God as Father it means something more than a simple denoting of the source of the world’s origins; indeed, it is establishing a unique relationship that is absent anywhere else.  The right to claim to have God as one’s Father is dependent upon one’s union with Jesus Christ.

When Christians think of the fatherhood of God, their minds most likely go at once to the Trinity, and from there to the many New Testament passages that refer to God as the Father, along with the connecting belief in God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  And while any proper discussion of God needs to faithfully reflect upon and articulate such Trinitarian theology, when considering God as our Father it is necessary to lay a thorough foundation from the Old Testament, since that, after all, is where the theme originates.  From there, then, we can go on to attempt to discover how the New Testament explains the fatherhood of God.

In the Old Testament, God is referred to as a father approximately fourteen times (e.g., Deut. 32:6b; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:19; Mal. 1:6).  The important point to note is that God is considered a father to the nation of Israel as a whole, rather than as a father to individuals, seen in the observation that God is not addressed as “Father” in individual prayers.  In other words, the emphasis is on the corporate sonship of Israel, with God as the father of the nation, since he gave them life, as it were, when he brought them into existence through his covenant with Abraham.

In the coming of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament conception of the fatherhood of God is taken to a unique and unexpected level.  Jesus knows that his relationship with God as Father is different from the Old Testament corporate relationship between God and Israel.  Thus, he can speak of God as “my Father” (Matt. 11:27; Luke 2:49; John 2:16; 5:43; 8:19; 14:2), or even “abba,” a term of endearment which would not have been considered an appropriate address for God (Mark 14:36).

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