God the Father is a title given to
God in various religions, most
prominently 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
God the Son (
Jesus Christ) and the third
God the Holy Spirit. Since the second century, Christian creeds
included affirmation of belief in "
God the Father (Almighty)",
primarily as his capacity as "Father and creator of the universe".
Christianity the concept of
God as the father of
goes metaphysically further than the concept of
God as the Creator and
father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's
Creed where the
expression of belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and
earth" is immediately, but separately followed by in "
his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.
1.2 Old Testament
1.3 New Testament
2 Other religions
3 In Western art
4 See also
A figurative drawing of God, in the old German prayer books
(Waldburg-Gebetbuch), about 1486
God in Christianity
Patriology (Christianity) and Name of
God in Christianity
An image of
God the Father by Julius Schnorr, 1860
God is addressed as the Father, in part because of
his active interest in human affairs, 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 ‘
Father’. Although the term "Father" implies masculine
God is usually defined as having the form of a spirit
without any human biological gender, e.g. the Catechism of the
Catholic Church #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 Isa 42:14, Isa 49:14–15 or Isa
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,
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
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
According to Marianne Thompson, in the Old Testament,
God is called
"Father" with a unique sense of familiarity. In addition to the sense
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 Egypt [Hosea 11:1] according to his covenants
and oaths to their fathers, Avraham,
Isaac and Yaacov. In the Hebrew
Bible, in Isaiah 63:16 (JP) it reads: "For You are our father, for
Abraham did not know us, neither did Israel recognize us; You, O Lord,
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. 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
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
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.
— Galatians 4:4–7
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 Apostle's 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.
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
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 "eternally begotten of the Father", indicating that their
divine Father-Son relationship is seen as not tied to an event within
time or human history.
A depiction of the
Trinity consisting of
God the Father along with God
the Son (Jesus) and
God the Holy Spirit
To Trinitarian Christians (which include Roman Catholics, Eastern
Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and most but not all Protestant
God the Father is not a separate
God the Son
Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other
hypostases of the Christian Godhead. In Eastern Orthodox
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 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
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
Yahweh of the
Old Testament and the
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
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
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."
Main article: Nontrinitarianism
Mormon depiction of
God the Father and the Son Jesus
A number of Christian groups reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but
differ from one another in their views regarding
God the Father.
In Mormon theology, the most prominent conception of
God is as a
divine council of three distinct beings:
Elohim (the Father), Jehovah
(the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are
considered to have perfected, physical bodies, while the Holy Spirit
has a body of spirit. Mormons believe that
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. Mormons do not distinguish
God as a separate
ontological species from humans, a concept they believe was originated
by post-apostolic theologians who incorporated elements of Greek
philosophy into Christian doctrine. Mormons teach that the title
of Father is not figurative, because humans are literally the spirit
God (Acts 17:28–29, Hebrews 12:9). In this sense,
Jesus Christ their older brother (John 20:17), as He is
the first born, or first begotten of God's children (Colossians 1:15,
Hebrews 1:26; 12:23). Biblical references to Christ as the "only
begotten", in contrast, refer to
God being the Father of Christ's
mortal body, born of the virgin Mary. The terms "Father" and "Son"
imply a lineage of beings in Mormonism and in all non-symbolic usage
of these words. In the Mormon hymn, "If You Could Hie to Kolob", there
is no beginning to the lineage of exalted, resurrected personages that
are in perfect unity.
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 pre-existent Christ is God's First-begotten Son, and that the Holy
Spirit is God's active force (projected energy). They believe these
three are united in purpose, but are not one being and are not equal
in power. While the Witnesses acknowledge Christ's pre-existence,
perfection, and unique "Sonship" from
God the Father, and believe that
Christ 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
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.
Pentecostalism teaches that
God is a singular spirit who is
one person, not three divine persons, individuals or minds.
Father is the title of the Supreme Creator. The titles of the Son and
Spirit are merely titles reflecting the different personal
manifestations of the One True
God the Father in the
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.
God in the Bahá'í Faith
In the Bahá'í faith
God is also addressed as father.[citation
needed] The Bahá'í view of
God is essentially monotheistic.
the imperishable, uncreated being who is the source of all existence.
God in Hinduism
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.
God in Islam
The Islamic concept of
God differs from the Christian and Jewish
views, the term "father" is not formally applied to
God by Muslims,
and the Christian notion of the
Trinity is rejected in Islam.
Muslims also believe
God is Wali.
Wali means "custodian", "protector"
and "helper". Allah is also called Rahim, meaning "Merciful,
In Islamic theology,
God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator,
sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe.
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
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 Qur'an states:
Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He
begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
(Sura 112:1–4, Yusuf Ali)
God in Judaism and Names of
God in Judaism
See also: Av
God is described as "Father" as he is seen as the absolute
one, indivisible and incomparable, transcendent, immanent, and
God of creation and history. The
Judaism is the giver of the sabbath and the two torahs—written,
oral, mystical tradition—to his chosen people. 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 similar to the Christian view, being that
Christianity has Jewish roots, though there are some differences,
regarding things like the role of a Mediator. And also the concept of
God the Father" in Biblical Judaism is generally more metaphorical.
The Jewish concept of
God is that
God is non-corporeal, transcendent
and immanent, the ultimate source of love, and a
metaphorical "Father". The
Torah declares: "
God is not a man
(איש : ['iysh]) that He should lie, nor is He a mortal
(בן–אדם : [ben-'adam]) that He should relent". (Book of
Numbers 23:19 Hebrew: לא אישׁ אל ויכזב ובן־אדם
ויתנחם ההוא אמר ולא יעשׂה ודבר ולא
The Aramaic term for father (Hebrew: אבא, abba) appears in
Jewish liturgy and Jewish prayers to
God (e.g. in the
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." 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
God in Sikhism
God is considered uncompromisingly monotheistic, as
Ik Onkar (one Creator), a central tenet of Sikh
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 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).
In Western art
God the Father in Western art
God the Father (detail), Pieter de Grebber, 1654
For about a thousand years, no attempt was made to portray
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
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
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
By the twelfth century depictions of a figure of
God the Father,
essentially based on the
Ancient of Days
Ancient of Days in the
Book of Daniel
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
Rohan Book of Hours
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
Renaissance artistic representations of
God the Father were freely
used in the Western Church.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
God the Father.
Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio
^ a b c d Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Creeds Longmans:1960, pp. 136,
139, 195 respectively
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^ Floyd H. Barackman, 2002 Practical Christian Theology
ISBN 0-8254-2380-5 p. 117
God "Father" by John W. Miller (Nov 1999)
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^ Church Dogmatics, Vol. 2.1, Section 31: The Doctrine of
God by Karl
Barth (Sep 23, 2010) ISBN 0567012859 pp. 73–74
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God the Father B&H
Publishing ISBN 0805440836 p. 3
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(Winter, 1992), pp. 615–616
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New Testament ch.2
God as Father in the
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Temple Judaism p35 2000 "Christian theologians have often accentuated
the distinctiveness of the portrait of
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Spirit to proceed from no other source than from the Father through
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Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13–17 by Daniel B. Stevick
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Faith by Peter Kreeft 1988 ISBN 089870202X
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Monotheism in Islam and
Christianity by Hans
Köchler 1982 ISBN 3700303394 p. 38
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God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran
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edition (2010). ISBN 978-0615348391.
^ a b c Singer, Tovia (2010). Let's Get Biblical – In depth Study
Guide. Outreach Judaism (1998). ASIN B0006RBS3K.
^ a b c Kaplan, Aryeh (1985). The real Messiah? a Jewish response to
missionaries (New ed.). New York: National Conference of Synagogue
Youth. ISBN 978-1879016118. The real Messiah (pdf)
^ Gerald J. Blidstein, 2006 Honor thy father and mother: filial
responsibility in Jewish law and ethics ISBN 0881258628 p. 1
^ Rashi: "
God is not a man that He should lie": He has already
promised them to bring them to and give them possession of the land of
the seven nations, and you expect to kill them in the desert? [See
Mid. Tanchuma Mass’ei 7, Num. Rabbah 23:8] "Would He say…": Heb.
הַהוּא. This is in the form of a question. And the Targum
[Onkelos] renders "who later relent". They reconsider and change their
^ Singer, Tovia. "Monotheism". Retrieved 19 August 2013.
^ Spiro, Ken (Rabbi, Masters Degree in History). "Jewish Followers of
Jesus". Seeds of Christianity. Simpletoremember.com. Retrieved 19
^ Ariela Pelaia – What Is Rosh HaShanah? – The Jewish New Year of
Rosh HaShanah – Rosh HaShanah Liturgy – About.com – Judaism.
Retrieved 7 December 2013.
^ a b Real
God – Who is God? What does
God look like?
Sikhism – Exploring the Sikh Religion. Retrieved 8 April
^ a b James Cornwell, 2009 Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic
Language of Christian Art ISBN 081922345X p. 2
^ Adolphe Napoléon Didron, 2003 Christian iconography: or The history
Christian art in the middle ages ISBN 076614075X p. 169
^ George Ferguson, 1996 Signs & symbols in Christian art
ISBN 0195014324 p. 92
Law and Gospel
Son (Hypostatic union
Means of grace
Union with Christ
Incurvatus in se
Summary of differences
Millenarianism (Pre- / Post- / A-millennialism)
New Covenant theology
War in Heaven
History of Christian theology
Assumption of Mary
Protestant ecclesiology (Branch theory)
Priesthood of all believers
Arminian / Wesleyan
Conditional preservation of the saints
Theology of the Cross
Five solae (Sola fide
Soli Deo gloria
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Outline of Christian theology