God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace.

God the Father

God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

When God brings us into His family, He not only gives us a new status as His adopted children. He also sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us a new sense of who He is and who we are. In this brief clip, Sinclair Ferguson considers our cry of “Abba, Father.” Learn more in his new teaching series, The Basics of the Christian Life, available now from the Ligonier store.

Sinclair Ferguson, Spirit of Adoption

God the Father is the person of the Trinity who is the principle of the Son and the Holy Spirit though having no principle himself.

The name “Father” may be predicated of God personally and essentially. “Father” primarily and most properly signifies the divine person who generates and is therefore in relation to the Son. To be Father is to beget another who has the same nature. When predicated personally of God, the name “Father” also designates in a secondary sense the divine person to whom those adopted in Christ are related as children of God. The paternity of God the Father extends to those who are coheirs in Christ, the Son of God.

Although “Father” is the proper name of a specific divine person, the name may also be predicated of God’s essence, the essence in which each of the divine persons subsists. God in his being is first a Father to all human persons who, as image bearers, reflect the relation the Father has with the Son, who is the image of the Father. Second, God may be called “Father” because of the relation all creatures bear to him: every finite being receives its being from God, who is absolute being itself. Thus the order of God’s Fatherhood may be expressed from the most proper to most general like this:

Father as personal name:

1) Father of God the Son

2) Father of those united to the Son

Father as an essential name:

3) Father of image-bearing humans

4) Father of all creation

In each of these four ways of naming God as Father, the term designates a relation. The person of God the Father subsists as a relation to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father, the First Person of the Trinity, having no principle himself, is the principle of the Son and with the Son the principle of the Holy Spirit. Yet that the Father is principle and first in no way entails superiority or causal priority. Rather the Father is only principle and first in the order of origin within the Trinitarian processions. The revelation of these processions in Holy Scripture discloses the person of the Father, who is not adequately known unless he is understood as the one who generates the Son and, with the Son, spirates (breathes out) the Holy Spirit.

Thus God the Father is the principle and origin of unity within the Godhead, as both the Son and Holy Spirit proceed from him. Yet the Father is also known as the person who does not proceed from another. Like the names “principle” and “first,” God the Father’s unbegottenness must be understood within the Trinitarian order of origin and procession. The fact that the Father does not receive his being from another (paternal “innascibility”) must not be confused with the fact that the one God does not receive his being from another (divine aseity).

The Trinitarian works of creation and salvation reveal the economy of personal procession in the Trinity. Just as the Son and Holy Spirit originate from the Father, who has no origin, so in the divine missions the Son and Holy Spirit are sent by the Father, who is not sent. Thus the Father creates the world and saves his people through the Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, there would be no access to the Father except unless the Father had sent the Holy Spirit to draw sinners to the Son, who is the only way to the Father. The Son with the Spirit was sent to deliver this world to its eschatological goal of having full communion with and knowledge of God the Father. Hence God the Father is the first principle, source, and last end of all creation.

Robert LaRocca, “God the Father,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).

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