God the Father is a title given to God in Christianity. In mainstream trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity, followed by the second person, God the Son Jesus Christ, and the third person, God the Holy Spirit.Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in "God the Father (Almighty)", primarily in his capacity as "Father and creator of the universe".
However, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus Christ goes metaphysically further than the concept of God as the creator and father of all people,as indicated in the Apostles' Creed where the expression of belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" is immediately, but separately followed by in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.
In much of modern Christianity, God is addressed as the Father, in part because of his active interest in human affairs on the earth, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children who are dependent on him and as a father, he will respond to humanity, his children, acting in their best interests.Many believe they can communicate with God and come closer to him through prayer – a key element of achieving communion with God.
In general, the title Father (capitalized) signifies God's role as the life-giver, the authority, and powerful protector, often viewed as immense, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent with infinite power and charity that goes beyond human understanding.For instance, after completing his monumental work Summa Theologica , Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas concluded that he had not yet begun to understand 'God the Father'.
Although the term "Father" implies masculine characteristics, God is usually defined as having the form of a spirit without any human biological gender, e.g. the Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 239 specifically states that "God is neither man nor woman: he is God".Although God is never directly addressed as "Mother", at times motherly attributes may be interpreted in Old Testament references such as a hymn of praise Isa 42:14, Isa 49:14–15 or Isa 66:12–13.
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In the New Testament, the Christian concept of God the Father may be seen as a continuation of the Jewish concept, but with specific additions and changes, which over time made the Christian concept become even more distinct by the start of the Middle Ages.The conformity to the Old Testament concepts is shown in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 where in response to temptation Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and states: "It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." 1 Corinthians 8:6 shows the distinct Christian teaching about the agency of Christ by first stating: "there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him" and immediately continuing with "and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him." This passage clearly acknowledges the Jewish teachings on the uniqueness of God, yet also states the role of Jesus as an agent in creation. Over time, the Christian doctrine began to fully diverge from Judaism through the teachings of the Church Fathers in the second century and by the fourth century belief in the Trinity was formalized. According to Mary Rose D'Angelo and James Barr, the Aramaic term Abba was in the early times of the New Testament neither markedly a term of endearment, nor a formal word; but the word normally used by sons and daughters, throughout their lives, in the family context.
According to Marianne Thompson, in the Old Testament, God is called 'Father' with a unique sense of familiarity. In addition to the sense in which God is 'Father' to all men because he created the world (and in that sense 'fathered' the world), the same God is also uniquely the law-giver to his chosen people. He maintains a special, covenantal father–child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his prophecies, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel 'my son' because he delivered the descendants of Jacob out of slavery in Egyptaccording to his covenants and oaths to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 63:16 (JP) reads: "For You are our father, for Abraham did not know us, neither did Israel recognize us; You, O [YHWH], are our father; our redeemer of old is your name." To God, according to Judaism, is attributed the fatherly role of protector. He is titled the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, their guarantor of justice. He is also titled the Father of the king, as the teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.
According to Alon Goshen-Gottstein, in the Old Testament "Father" is generally a metaphor; it is not a proper name for God but rather one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God. According to Mark Sameth, references to God the Father convulsing in labor, giving birth, and suckling (Deuteronomy 32:13, 18) hint to a priestly belief, noted in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries by Guillaume Postel and Michelangelo Lanci respectively, that “God the Father” is a dual-gendered deity.In Christianity fatherhood is taken in a more literal and substantive sense, and is explicit about the need for the Son as a means of accessing the Father, making for a more metaphysical rather than metaphorical interpretation.
There is a deep sense in which Christians believe that they are made participants in the eternal relationship of Father and Son, through Jesus Christ. Christians call themselves adopted children of God:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
In Christianity the concept of God as the Father of Jesus is distinct from the concept of God as the creator and Father of all people, as indicated in the Apostles' Creed.The profession in the creed begins with expressing belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" and then immediately, but separately, in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the creed.
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Since the second century, creeds in the Western Church have included affirmation of belief in "God the Father (Almighty)", the primary reference being to "God in his capacity as Father and creator of the universe".This did not exclude either the fact the "eternal father of the universe was also the Father of Jesus the Christ" or that he had even "vouchsafed to adopt [the believer] as his son by grace".
Creeds in the Eastern Church (known to have come from a later date) began with an affirmation of faith in "one God" and almost always expanded this by adding "the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible" or words to that effect.
By the end of the first century, Clement of Rome had repeatedly referred to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and linked the Father to creation, 1 Clement 19.2 stating: "let us look steadfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe".Around AD 213 in Adversus Praxeas (chapter 3) Tertullian is believed to have provided a formal representation of the concept of the Trinity, i.e. that God exists as one "substance" but three 'Persons': The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and with God the Father being the Head. Tertullian also discussed how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. While the expression "from the Father through the Son" is also found among them.
The Nicene Creed, which dates to 325, states that the Son (Jesus Christ) is "born of the Father before all ages", indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is seen as not tied to an event within time or human history.
To Trinitarian Christians (which include Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, and most but not all Protestant denominations), God the Father is not a separate God from God the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other hypostases of the Christian Godhead.In Eastern Orthodox theology, God the Father is the arche or principium ("beginning"), the "source" or "origin" of both the Son and the Holy Spirit, and is considered the eternal source of the Godhead. The Father is the one who eternally begets the Son, and the Father through the Son eternally breathes the Holy Spirit.
As a member of the Trinity, God the Father is one with, co-equal to, co-eternal, and consubstantial with the Son and the Holy Spirit, each Person being the one eternal God and in no way separated: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.Because of this, the Trinity is beyond reason and can only be known by revelation.
The Trinitarian concept of God the Father is not pantheistic in that he is not viewed as identical to the universe or a vague notion that persists in it, but exists fully outside of creation, as its creator.He is viewed as a loving and caring God, a Heavenly Father who is active both in the world and in people's lives. He created all things visible and invisible in love and wisdom, and created man for his own sake.
The emergence of Trinitarian theology of God the Father in early Christianity was based on two key ideas: first the shared identity of the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus in the New Testament, and then the self-distinction and yet the unity between Jesus and his Father.An example of the unity of Son and Father is Matthew 11:27: "No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son", asserting the mutual knowledge of Father and Son.
The concept of fatherhood of God does appear in the Old Testament, but is not a major theme.While the view of God as the Father is used in the Old Testament, it only became a focus in the New Testament, as Jesus frequently referred to it. This is manifested in the Lord's prayer which combines the earthly needs of daily bread with the reciprocal concept of forgiveness. And Jesus' emphasis on his special relationship with the Father highlights the importance of the distinct yet unified natures of Jesus and the Father, building to the unity of Father and Son in the Trinity.
The paternal view of God as the Father extends beyond Jesus to his disciples, and the entire Church, as reflected in the petitions Jesus submitted to the Father for his followers at the end of the Farewell Discourse , the night before his crucifixion.Instances of this in the Farewell Discourse are John 14:20 as Jesus addresses the disciples: "I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" and in John 17:22 as he prays to the Father: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."
A number of Christian groups and communities reject the doctrine of a co-equal Trinity, and generally teach that God the Father is supreme, but nontrinitarian Christian groups differ somewhat from one another in their views regarding God the Father and Christ the Son.
In Mormonism, including its largest denomination the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the most prominent conception of "the Godhead" is as a divine council of three distinct beings: the Father (who is also referred to as Elohim), the Son Jesus (who is identified with Jehovah of the Old Testament), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are considered to have perfected, physical bodies, while the Holy Spirit has a body of spirit.LDS Church members believe God the Father presides over both the Son and Holy Spirit, where God the Father is greater than both, but they are one in the sense that they have a unity of purpose. Most denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement also believe God (often referred to as Heavenly Father) has at least one spouse referred to as Heavenly Mother, and together they are called Heavenly Parents.
The Assemblies of Yahweh are nontrinitarian, believing that the Father is greater than the Son in all things, and that the Holy Spirit is not equal to the Father, and is not an actual person, but is God's "power" or "character" in action. They refer to God the Father as "Yahweh".The Yahweh Assemblies and other Sacred Name groups generally teach that Christ the Son was God's first and prime creation, and was used to create everything else. They believe that the Messiah, whom they call "Yahshua" or "Yeshua" or "Yehoshua", died for man's sins, and is to be honored as the Anointed Lord, but that God the Father (Yahweh) is the True God that all "true worshippers" ultimately serve and worship. They teach that the Father is the only eternal one.
In Jehovah's Witness theology, only God the Father (Jehovah) is the one true almighty God, even over his Son Jesus Christ. They teach that the Logos is God's Only-begotten Son, and that the Holy Spirit is God's active force (projected energy). They believe that the Father and the Son are united in divine purpose, administration, legislation, and man's salvation, but are not one being and are not equal in power. While the Witnesses acknowledge Jesus’ pre-existence, perfection, and unique "Sonship" from God the Father, and believe that the Logos had an essential role in creation and redemption, and is the Messiah, they believe that only the Father is without beginning. They say that the Son was the Father's only direct creation, before all ages. While both Persons are highly honored, taught, and preached, in their interpretations of John 17:3 and John 14:28, God the Father is emphasized in Jehovah's Witness meetings and services more than Christ the Son, as they teach that the Father is greater than the Son.
Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that God is a singular spirit who is one person, not three divine persons, individuals or minds. God the Father is the title of the supreme creator. The titles of the Son and Holy Spirit are merely titles reflecting the different personal manifestations of the One True God the Father in the universe. [ page needed ]
Although similarities exist among religions, the common language and the shared concepts about God and his title Father among the Abrahamic religions is quite limited, and each religion has very specific belief structures and religious nomenclature with respect to the subject.While a religious teacher in one faith may be able to explain the concepts to his own audience with ease, significant barriers remain in communicating those concepts across religious boundaries.
Greco-roman pagans believed in an original triad, with the time the names and gods of it were changed, except one, Jupiter, which means "Father Jove" and comoes from Proto-Italic Djous Patēr, from Djous (“day, sky”) + Patēr (“father”), from Proto-Indo-European Dyḗws (literally “the bright one”), root nomen agentis from Dyew- (“to be bright, day sky”), and Ph₂tḗr (“father”).
A syncretic sect created by Hong Xiuquan, founder of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, that mixed Protestantism and Chinese folk religion, the objective of this sect was to overthrow the Manchus and restore power to the Han. God consisted of a triad made up of Shangdi (the Supreme Emperor in ancient Chinese worship), Christ as the eldest son and Hong as the youngest son.
In Hinduism, Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 17, stated: "I am the Father of this world, the Mother, the Dispenser and the Grandfather", one commentator adding: "God being the source of the universe and the beings in it, He is held as the Father, the Mother and the Grandfather".A genderless Brahman is also considered the creator and Life-giver, and the Shakta goddess is viewed as the divine mother and life-bearer.
Unlike in Judaism, the term "father" is not formally applied to God by Muslims, and the Christian notion of the Trinity is rejected in Islam.Even though traditional Islamic teaching does not formally prohibit using the term "Father" in reference to God, it does not propagate or encourage it. There are some narratives of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in which he compares the mercy of God toward his worshipers to that of a mother to her infant child.
Islamic teaching rejects the Christian father-son relationship of God and Jesus, and states that Jesus is a prophet of God, not the Son of God.Islamic theology strictly reiterates the Absolute Oneness of God, and totally separates him from other beings (whether humans, angel or any other holy figure), and rejects any form of dualism or Trinitarianism. Chapter 112 of the Quran states:
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “He is Allah—One ˹and Indivisible˺; Allah—the Sustainer ˹needed by all˺. He has never had offspring, nor was He born. And there is none comparable to Him.”
In Judaism, the use of the "Father" title is generally a metaphor, referring to the role as Life-giver and Law-giver, and is one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God.The Jewish concept of God is that God is non-corporeal, transcendent and immanent, the ultimate source of love, and a metaphorical "Father".
The Aramaic term for father (Hebrew : אבא, abba ) appears in traditional Jewish liturgy and Jewish prayers to God (e.g. in the Kaddish).
According to Ariela Pelaia, in a prayer of Rosh Hashanah, Areshet Sfateinu, an ambivalent attitude toward God is demonstrated, due to his role as a father and as a king. Free translation of the relevant sentence may be: "today every creature is judged, either as sons or as slaves. If as sons, forgive us like a father forgives his son. If as slaves, we wait, hoping for good, until the verdict, your holy majesty."[ citation needed ] Another famous prayer emphasizing this dichotomy is called Avinu Malkeinu, which means "Our Father Our King" in Hebrew. Usually the entire congregation will sing the last verse of this prayer in unison, which says: "Our Father, our King, answer us as though we have no deed to plead our cause, save us with mercy and loving-kindness."
The Guru Granth consistently refers to the creator as "He" and "Father". This is because the Granth is written in north Indian Indo-Aryan languages (mixture of Punjabi and dialects of Hindi) which have no neutral gender. Since the Granth says that the God is indescribable, God has no gender according to Sikhism.
God in the Sikh scriptures has been referred to by several names, picked from Indian and Semitic traditions. He is called in terms of human relations as father, mother, brother, relation, friend, lover, beloved, husband. Other names, expressive of his supremacy, are thakur, prabhu, svami, sah, patsah, sahib, sain (Lord, Master).
For about a thousand years, no attempt was made to portray God the Father in human form, because early Christians believed that the words of Exodus 33:20 "Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me and live" and of the Gospel of John 1:18: "No man hath seen God at any time" were meant to apply not only to the Father, but to all attempts at the depiction of the Father.Typically only a small part of the body of Father would be represented, usually the hand, or sometimes the face, but rarely the whole person, and in many images, the figure of the Son supplants the Father, so a smaller portion of the person of the Father is depicted.
In the early medieval period God was often represented by Christ as the Logos , which continued to be very common even after the separate figure of God the Father appeared. Western art eventually required some way to illustrate the presence of the Father, so through successive representations a set of artistic styles for the depiction of the Father in human form gradually emerged around the tenth century AD.
By the twelfth century depictions of a figure of God the Father, essentially based on the Ancient of Days in the Book of Daniel had started to appear in French manuscripts and in stained glass church windows in England. In the 14th century the illustrated Naples Bible had a depiction of God the Father in the Burning bush. By the 15th century, the Rohan Book of Hours included depictions of God the Father in human form or anthropomorphic imagery. The depiction remains rare and often controversial in Eastern Orthodox art, and by the time of the Renaissance artistic representations of God the Father were freely used in the Western Church.
Arianism is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius, a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God the Father with the difference that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten/made before "time" by God the Father; therefore, Jesus was not coeternal with God the Father, but nonetheless Jesus began to exist outside time as time applies only to the creations of God.
In Christian theology, historically patripassianism is a version of Sabellianism in the Eastern church. Modalism is the belief that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three different modes or emanations of one monadic God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons within the Godhead – that there are no real or substantial differences between the three, such that the identity of the Spirit or the Son is that of the Father.
In Christianity, Sabellianism is the Eastern Church equivalent to Patripassianism in the Western Church, which are both forms of theological modalism. Condemned as heresy, Modalism is the belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different modes of God, as opposed to a Trinitarian view of three distinct persons within the Godhead. However, Von Mosheim, German Lutheran theologian who founded the pragmatic school of church historians, argues that Sabellius "believed the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, described in the Scriptures, to be a real distinction, and not a mere appellative or nominal one."
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is the central doctrine concerning the nature of God in most Christian churches, which defines one God existing in three coequal, coeternal, consubstantial divine persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three distinct persons (hypostases) sharing one essence/substance/nature (homoousion). As the Fourth Lateran Council declared, it is the Father who begets, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds. In this context, one essence/nature defines what God is, while the three persons define who God is. This expresses at once their distinction and their indissoluble unity. Thus, the entire process of creation and grace is viewed as a single shared action of the three divine persons, in which each person manifests the attributes unique to them in the Trinity, thereby proving that everything comes "from the Father," "through the Son," and "in the Holy Spirit."
Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian theology of the Trinity—the belief that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence. Certain religious groups that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as antitrinitarian.
Oneness Pentecostalism is a nontrinitarian religious movement within the Protestant Christian family of churches known as Pentecostalism. It derives its name from its teaching on the Godhead, a form of Modalistic Monarchianism commonly referred to as the Oneness doctrine. The doctrine states that there is one God―a singular divine spirit with no distinction of persons―who manifests himself in many ways, including as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This stands in sharp contrast to the doctrine of three distinct, eternal persons posited by Trinitarian theology.
In orthodox Mormonism, the term God generally refers to the biblical God the Father, whom Latter Day Saints also refer to as Elohim or Heavenly Father, and the term Godhead refers to a council of three distinct divine persons consisting of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. However, in Latter Day Saint theology the term God may also refer to, in some contexts, the Godhead as a whole or to each member individually. Latter Day Saints believe that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three distinct beings, and that the Father and Jesus have perfected, glorified, physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost is a spirit without a physical body. Latter Day Saints also believe that there are other gods and goddesses outside the Godhead, such as a Heavenly Mother—who is the wife of God the Father—and that faithful Latter-day Saints may attain godhood in the afterlife. The term Heavenly Parents is used to refer collectively to the divine partnership of Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. Joseph Smith taught that God was once a man on another planet before being exalted to Godhood.
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies the Logos (Jesus) as the incarnation of God. United in essence (consubstantial), but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two persons, personas, or aspects in one substance/Divinity. Classically, binitarianism is understood as a form of monotheism—that is, that God is absolutely one being—and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God, which means one God family. The other common forms of monotheism are "unitarianism", a belief in one God with one person, and "trinitarianism", a belief in one God with three persons.
In Christian theology, the doctrine of incarnation teaches that the pre-existent divine person of Jesus Christ, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and the eternally begotten Logos, took upon human nature and "was made flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos. The doctrine of the incarnation then entails that Jesus was at the same time both fully God and fully human.
The concept of God in Abrahamic religions is centred on monotheism. The three major monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, alongside the Baháʼí Faith, Samaritanism, Druze, and Rastafari, are all regarded as Abrahamic religions due to their shared worship of the God that these traditions claim revealed himself to Abraham. Abrahamic religions share the same distinguishing features:
Subordinationism is a Trinitarian doctrine wherein the Son is subordinate to the Father, not only in submission and role, but with actual ontological subordination to varying degrees. It posits a hierarchical ranking of the persons of the Trinity, implying ontological subordination of the persons of the Son and the Holy Spirit. It was condemned as heretical in the Second Council of Constantinople.
Modalistic Monarchianism, also known as Modalism or Oneness Christology, is a Christian theology upholding the oneness of God as well as the divinity of Jesus. As a form of Monarchianism, it stands in contrast with Trinitarianism. Followers of Modalistic Monarchianism considers themselves to be strictly monotheistic, similar to Jews and Muslims. Modalists consider God to be absolutely one and believe that He reveals Himself to creation through different "modes", such as the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, without limiting His modes or manifestations. The term Modalism was first used by Trinitarian scholar Adolf von Harnack, referencing this belief.
God in Christianity is believed to be the eternal, supreme being who created and preserves all things. Christians believe in a monotheistic conception of God, which is both transcendent and immanent. Christian teachings on the transcendence, immanence, and involvement of God in the world and his love for humanity exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe but accept that God the Son assumed hypostatically united human nature, thus becoming man in a unique event known as "the Incarnation".
Debate exists as to whether the earliest Church Fathers in Christian history believed in the doctrine of the Trinity – the Christian doctrine that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons sharing one homoousion (essence).
This is a glossary of terms used in Christianity.
Christian theology is the study – theology – of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theologians may undertake the study of Christian theology for a variety of reasons, such as in order to:
The Jesus' name doctrine or the Oneness doctrine upholds that baptism is to be performed "in the name of Jesus Christ," rather than using the Trinitarian formula "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It is most commonly associated with Oneness Christology and the movement of Oneness Pentecostalism; however, some Trinitarians also baptise in Jesus' name and interpret it as on the authority of Jesus' name which most of mainstream Christendom justifies as referencing the existence of a Trinitarian Christian deity through the Great Commission among other precepts such as instances in the Old Testament.
For the majority of Christian denominations, the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is believed to be the third person of the Trinity, a triune God manifested as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, each being God. Nontrinitarian Christians, who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, differ significantly from mainstream Christianity in their beliefs about the Holy Spirit. In Christian theology, pneumatology is the study of the Holy Spirit. Due to Christianity's historical relationship with Judaism, theologians often identify the Holy Spirit with the concept of the Ruach Hakodesh in Jewish scripture, on the theory that Jesus was expanding upon these Jewish concepts. Similar names, and ideas, include the Ruach Elohim, Ruach YHWH, and the Ruach Hakodesh. In the New Testament it is identified with the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit.
Paterology, or Patriology, in Christian theology, refers to the study of God the Father. Both terms are derived from two Greek words: πατήρ and λογος. As a distinctive theological discipline, within Theology proper, Paterology is closely related to Christology and Pneumatology.