The Nature of God the Father

    Now we can move to a discussion of God the Father. First, know that when Jesus talks about God the Father, he is referring to Elohim, the God of the Jews. I will now list a fairly complete summary of what Jesus taught about Elohim. Even though his emphasis is sometimes different, he does not contradict the teachings of the Old Testament. Because we know that we can trust Jesus, the following are all true. If you compare the God revealed by Jesus with the God we deduced from philosophy, you will see many similarities and no contradictions. However, the God of the Bible is much more personal and intimate than the God of philosophy as we shall see. If we look at the whole Bible, we can get a fuller picture of God; but I show below that the words of Jesus alone are enough to get all the key points.


    All Jews know that God was the creator of all things, so Jesus did not need to expound on this at great length, but he does mention it in passing while discussing other topics. God is the first cause as described in Genesis. God is not merely the cause, but the creator, which implies a personal interaction with creation rather than a mechanical one.

"But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' " (Mk 10:6; Gn 1:27)

"For those times will have tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of God's creation until now, nor ever will be." (Mk 13:19)


    Jesus spoke frequently about the omniscient (all-knowing) nature of the Father. He knows not only all the details of what is happening in the universe, but also knows what is in our hearts.

"But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." (Mt 6:3-4)

"Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Mt 6:8)

"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Mt 6:17-18)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted." (Mt 10:29-30; parallel in Lk 12:7)

"But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Mt 24:36; parallel in Mk 13:32)

And he said to them, "You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God." (Lk 16:15)


    Not only is God all-knowing, but he is all-powerful as well.

Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Mt 19:26; parallels in Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27)

Glory Of

    In addition, Jesus taught that the Father is worthy to be glorified.

"This is how you are to pray:

    Our Father in heaven,

        hallowed be your name." (Mt 6:9)

"Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." (Jn 12:28)

"And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (Jn 14:13)


    Next, we see that the term Father is not merely a metaphor. He is truly our Father, and loves as a good Father should. In turn, our proper relationship to him is that of children not subjects or slaves.

"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him." (Mt 7:11; parallels in Mk 11:24; Lk 11:9-13)

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust." (Mt 5:44-45; parallel in Lk 6:35)

All Loving

    Regardless of our mistakes, imperfections, and willful disobedience, our divine Father is always there waiting and urging us to return to him.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." (Mt 6:25-34)

    It may be that you believe the teachings of Christianity, but believe that you cannot be a Christian for a different reason. The argument is the following:

"If God knows anything about me, and he knows everything about me, then he will not want to have anything to do with me. I've stolen, lied, slept with half the town, murdered, etcetera. Christians are holy, and I can never be holy. I have already been condemned, and nothing can change that."

As is often the case, Jesus has the best answer for this, which he tells in the form of parable of the lost sheep.

"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." (Lk 15:4-7; parallel in Mt 18:11-14)

There is also the parable of the prodigal son.

Then he [Jesus] said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers." ' So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began." (Lk 15:11-24)

No matter who you are, or what you have done, God still loves you and wants you to come home because he is your Father. Unlike human parents, however, God is a perfect parent: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you" (Is 49:15). Some Christians find it disturbing that those who have sinned are not sufficiently punished for their sins when they repent. Jesus has an answer for them, in the continuation of the parable of the prodigal son:

"Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' " (Lk 15:25-32)

Finally, I must warn you that your repentance must be genuine. You cannot scam God and tell him that you have repented, but continue with your old life. It is vital that every time you fall, you must repent again and strive to do better. It may take many cycles of sin and repentance before you are truly home, but with every cycle, you will be closer.


    Because the Father loves us, it also follows that he is merciful to us when we repent.

There is the parable of the lost sheep, same as above. (see Lk 15:4-7)

There is the parable of the prodigal son, same as above. (see Lk 15:11-24)

"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you." (Mt 6:14)

"Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful." (Lk 6:36)

"This is how you are to pray:

    Our Father in heaven,

        hallowed be your name,

        your kingdom come,

        your will be done,

            on earth as in heaven.

        Give us today our daily bread;

        and forgive us our debts,

            as we forgive our debtors;

        and do not subject us to the final test,

            but deliver us from the evil one."

(Mt 6:9-13; parallel in Lk 11:2)

"That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan." (Mt 18:23-27)


    Though he loves us, his love is not blind. If we are not ready for him, our sins will have consequences. If we – in the final analysis – reject him, then he will grant us our desire. That he loves us as persons rather than animals requires that he honor our will, no matter how bad it is for us.

[continuation from above] "When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." (Mt 18:28-35)

"When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions." (Mk 11:25)

"The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city." (Mt 22:6-7)

"Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.' " (Mt 22:13)

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28