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Why is God the Father called a Father?

Why should Christians call God "Father"?
Why should we pray, "Our Father which art in heaven . . ."?
Is the term a title, an anthropomorphism, a description, a theological euphemism, a comforting thought?
Is God called Father because He's the collective Father of all mankind by virtue of creation?


CATECHISM, the Apostles' Creed and Jewish thought all point to God as Father — each with different interpretations and understanding. Long and eloquent are the comments and reasonings of Bible commentaries and dictionaries. Every analogy possible is explored and exploited to expound the vast scope of the awe-inspiring term "Father" — often ending in enthusiastic, but frustratingly impotent statements like, ". . . The glory intimated by the fact that we are to be called the sons of God is too glorious for us to comprehend the depth, nay the height, of its meaning."

Every analogy is magnified, examined in detail, verbalized: God is the Creator, the Beginner, the One who caused us to have life — and so is called our Father. He is Benefactor, Provider, Protector. He is Love-giver, Law-giver and Forgiver, Punisher of sins, Rewarder of virtue, Maker of angels (and so their Father by creation), true and actual Father of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

God the Father is our Father in every way, and we are His sons in every way. . . .


That one? TO BE GOD AS GOD IS GOD. That God is our Father because He is actively and presently in the process of begetting and bringing sons to birth, sons to be born in His image, spiritually perfect as He is perfect, everliving as He is everliving, God as He is God — the purpose of all creation, the goal of human life, the plan of God!



Don't be too hasty in your judgment. Don't, as ancient Israel did before you — don't limit God! (Psalm 78:41) Read on. See what the Old and New Testaments of your Bible have to say on this most important question: Why is God the Father called a Father? Read what prophets and apostles of God alike tell us is the plan of God. Read what Jesus said, says and will say!

Jesus had this problem when He was here on earth some two thousand years ago! The way He answered the scribes,

Pharisees and Sadducees of His time — the scriptures He used are still there. They still mean the same thing today that they meant in that yesterday, and they will mean the same thing forever!

(Hebrews 13:8) No, they were NOT scriptures that just applied to Jesus alone! Remember when Jesus said, "Is it not written in your law, I said, YE ARE cops? [Jesus here quoted from Psalm 82:6.J If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified . . . Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God ?" (John 10:34-36)

What got everyone upset was not that He taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father which art in heaven. . . ." (Matthew 6:9). All the people of the Book, Israelites and Jews alike, considered God as their Father. ". . . Israel is my son, even my firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). ". . . O foolish people and unwise, is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made [created] thee, and established thee?" (Deuteronomy 32:6). They knew the scripture which says, "Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting" (Isaiah 63:16).

Also, "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thy hand" (Isaiah 64:8). The beautiful analogy was accepted by everyone. The idea of thinking of God as Father-like was everyone's doctrine. It was much like today — Hastings' Bible Dictionary says, ". . . Jesus taught His followers to think of themselves as sons of God." The common thought of the day was NOT what Jesus had in mind when He taught them to pray, "Our Father. . . ." Neither did Jesus at any time in His life teach His followers to conjure up the nice spiritual feeling of thinking of themselves "As IF" they were sons of God!

What stirred people up was that Jesus literally meant what He said. And what He said was, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). THAT is what triggered the charge of blasphemy! THAT is what drove His listeners to attempt to stone Him!

And people have not changed in two thousand years. People still get stirred up and snort, "Blasphemy!" when they hear a follower of Jesus Christ and His Father say that he literally believes Jesus' prayerful statement to His Father, spoken on that day He was sacrificed for us, when He said, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be ONE, as we are"! (John 17:11)


Jesus, the ONLY Begotten

The Apostle John, explaining about Jesus Christ, the Word of God, pointed out that He was God from the beginning and had always existed before His human birth (John 1:1). (If you do not understand that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, please send immediately for our free reprint "Who and What Was Jesus Before His Human Birth?") John went on to point out that everything that we see around us in creation was made by that One we call Jesus (John 1:3). And further, that God was made flesh and dwelt with human beings on the face of the earth — referring to Him as "the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14, 18).

That Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God is a cardinal point of doctrine upon which all Christianity rests. No one who calls himself a Christian can at the same time deny that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God.

One who had been God became man! That Jesus of Nazareth, "Who, existing in the form of God [ASV], did not cling to his prerogatives as God's equal [Phillips): but emptied himself [of his glory] [ASV & Conybeare] and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [KJV]." (Philippians 2:6-8 — several translations are used here to make the meaning of the original Greek more clear in today's language) That same Jesus who was God, yet also was with God from the beginning, was also the One who confounded His fellow countrymen by saying, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). And by explaining to them that He was both the LORD of and yet also the son of David (Matthew 22:41-46), Jesus Christ was actually telling them that God had become a human being. This was the same Jesus who emptied Himself of the glory of being God (John 17:5) and became a human being, fleshly, subject to death.

That God could become a human being, subject to death, subject to all of the manifold temptations of physical man (as Christ was) was and is totally unacceptable to Jewish thinking — so they rejected outright the claim of Jesus of Nazareth that He was the Son of God. Now, before you judge that rejection too harshly, let us remember that the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian reject outright as blasphemy and consider unthinkable the fact that human beings can become God! So we have on the one hand a great body of people who deny that God can become man and, on the other hand, a greater body of people who deny that man can become God!

In fulfilling the prophecies which looked forward to the coming of the Son of man, the Messiah in His firs) coming, His humble, rejected-of-men coming, Jesus became the ONLY begotten Son of His Father in heaven. He fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 7:14). What so many of the other prophets looked forward to as well — that is: a human baby was formed by the power of the Spirit of God (Matt. 1:18) in the womb of a virgin, and so was the ONLY human being who ever had or ever will have the Father in heaven be the one who engendered Him in the womb. In this way Jesus is the ONLY begotten Son of God the Father.


Jesus, The FIRST born

Regeneration — new birth — being begotten — being born again into the Kingdom of God are all principles with which every Bible scholar is familiar. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order to gain God's Kingdom human beings have to be born again. He very patiently explained to him that it was not a physical rebirth that He was talking about, but a newborn SPIRIT being (John 3, especially verse 3). There are so many scriptures going over the details of this doctrine as Jesus explained it to Nicodemus that it is difficult to pick any one to explain this spiritual change, regeneration, new birth. Yet of any chapter in the Bible, perhaps Romans 8 best explains how it is that human beings become the Sons of God in every sense of that expression.

This chapter begins by showing that as physical human beings with carnal minds in our present fleshly state we cannot obey the Laws of God and please Him. First of all we have to have a sacrifice to pay for the sins which demand our death, and then receive a new mind, a changed mind, a spiritually, rather than a physically, oriented mind so that we can begin to think and act and live like God our Father in heaven, or as Paul better puts it, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

The Father's Spirit, God tells us, joins with our spirit and proves to us that we are the sons of God (verse 16). It goes on to show that by joining His Spirit with ours, God does not immediately bring us into His Kingdom, His Family, but that we have to live through experiences, which in many cases are painful, to develop character, to bring us to maturity (Matthew 5:48) so that we can finally be born as the Sons of God. Comforting advice is given to show us that despite all the trials and difficulties we have to endure while we are still human beings, 44 . . . we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Paul goes on to explain in verse 29 that the purpose of God according to which true Christians have been called is that we might be sons of God as Christ is a Son of God, born into the Kingdom and Family of God as Christ was born into the Kingdom and Family of God! And so it is that Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, is called the "FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN."

That is, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the only human being to be begotten in the womb of a woman by God the Father in heaven, is the first human being to become a Son of God by the resurrection from the dead! (Romans 1:4)


Any human being, by exercising the power of the Spirit of God, can join that Firstborn Son in God's Kingdom once he is called by God the Father.

It was from the beginning the plan of our great God — the source of outgoing concern, the source of love — to SHARE His eternal life, with all its joy and majesty! Speaking of Christ, Paul quoted the Book of Psalms and wrote, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:6-8). Certainly we recognize that all things are in subjection to Jesus Christ! We all remember the scripture quoting Jesus, after His resurrection explaining to His disciples, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18). Notice in reading this quote that Paul cites from Psalms that it is not just the Son of Man (Jesus) who is being talked about, but MANKIND. That God created mankind with the ultimate purpose of sharing His own rulership of all things is manifest by these verses. Christ is not the only One to have Sonship in the Kingdom of God — all of mankind was created with that purpose in mind.

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him [this Him, you will notice in the context, is not referring to Jesus Christ, but to God, the Father of Jesus Christ], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY, to make the captain of their salvation [this is referring to Jesus Christ] perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:9-10). Yes, God the Father intends, it is His will and purpose to ADD MANY SONS to His Kingdom, His Family, to have the SAME GLORY that the Captain of their salvation, Jesus Christ, now enjoys. It is in this context that Jesus refers to called-out human beings as brethren (verse 11). Really brethren — not just called brethren.