Cliff Jones, Cardiff, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
God is infinite in every aspect of His being. He is unfathomable, majestic, and awesome, and can be understood only to a very limited extent by finite human beings. If we are to have any understanding of God, however limited, the revelation of truths concerning Himself must come from God, and He has indeed graciously revealed Himself:
- The universe reveals His glory and creatorial power, Ps. 19. 1-6, and that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, Ps. 139. 14.
- God revealed aspects of His being through the titles, names, and compound names in the word of God.1
- God has revealed Himself throughout the scriptures, and this revelation is gradual and piecemeal, the full and final revelation being in and through His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.2
Knowledge of God, gained through what He has revealed of Himself, will increase our love for Him and provide comfort and courage in times of difficulty and anxiety. It should create within us a desire for greater holiness in our lives, and a more effective witness to His saving grace in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word Father speaks of a loving, tender relationship, and of authority, guidance, and protection. The word also raises thoughts of one who is to be loved, respected, and obeyed.
None of the names and titles of God brought before us in the Old Testament reveal God as Father in the sense in which the Lord revealed Him. There are references to God as Father of His chosen people, the nation of Israel,3 but these tend to express His love and care for the nation, and not the relationship brought about as a result of faith and trust in the person and completed work of the Lord on the cross. Those of us who have been saved have been brought into this blessed relationship with God and know Him as Father individually. Thus, for us, all the thoughts associated with the other titles and names of God revealed in the scriptures are brought together in the title Father.
The Lord, in the model prayer He gave to His disciples, taught them to say, ‘Our Father’, Luke 11. 2-4, the use of these words indicating the relationship His disciples would enjoy with God eternally. Lest they should ever presume on this relationship, the Lord said of His Father, ‘which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name’. The Lord never joined His disciples in prayer to His Father as the prayer in Luke chapter 11 was an outline of a prayer the disciples might make.4
Similarly, the risen Lord told Mary to go to the disciples, referring to them for the first time as ‘my brethren’. She was to tell them that the Lord had said, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God’, John 20. 17. This reminds us that God is the eternal Father of the eternal Son, their relationship had no beginning. However, the believer became a son of God at the moment of salvation.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord experienced intense agonies, anticipating what He would suffer when hanging on the cross as the perfect sin offering. Out of the midst of His awful suffering, He, the perfect Servant, prayed to His Father saying, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt’, Mark 14. 36. The title, ‘Abba, Father’, is one which conveys love and intimacy. Abba is an Aramaic word meaning ‘father’, and in the New Testament it is always combined with ‘Father’, Greek, pater.5 Thus the title ‘Abba, Father’ is tautological, in that the word Father is repeated, once in Aramaic and once in Greek.
The word ‘Abba’ was the usual form of address used to his father by a child. It is an informal term for father and indicates a child’s love for his father, and the complete, unquestioning trust and confidence the child has in his father. The word ‘father’ brings to mind a more mature appreciation of the blessed relationship between a child and his father.
In Galatians chapter 4 verse 6 we read, ‘because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father’. At the moment of salvation, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us: we become sons of God, and the Spirit causes us to cry, ‘Abba, Father’. We are told elsewhere, ‘ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father’, Rom. 8. 15. Believers are adopted in the sense of being placed, as mature sons, in the family of God. As a result of the relationship into which the saints have been brought as sons of God,6 they cry ‘Abba, Father’. This is the blessed position of every believer!
- The names and titles reveal something of His character and attributes. Taken all together, the names and titles of God stimulate us to worship.
- Heb. 1. 1-3; John 14. 9.
- See Deut. 32. 6; Jer. 31. 9; Hosea 11. 1.
- Equally, in Luke chapter 11 verse 4 we read ‘forgive us our sins’, and these words would not be uttered in a prayer in which the Lord was involved because ‘in Him is no sin’, 1 John 3. 5.
- Aramaic was spoken by the Jews, and Greek by Gentiles.
- John 1. 12; 1 John 3. 1, 2.