Ever since it was championed by Sonora Smart Dodd, Father’s Day has been commemorated throughout the U.S.A. on the 3rd Sunday of June since 1910 (1). Today, on Fathers’s Day, what could be more apropos and timely to honor it than to know who the “Father” in the Old Testament is? Is he the same or different from that referred to in the New Testament? Is the Father in the Old Testament the same as the Father of Jesus in the New Testament? To provide context to these questions, consider a parallel question:
Who is the God of the Old/ New Testament?
Many grew up in a Christian family and were taught that the God of the Old Testament is the Father of Jesus. And, that of the New Testament is Jesus and/or his Father, as they “are one”. Does being “one” mean indistinct or inseparable? Are they similar or different? In what way if any or when are they the same or distinct from each other? Is this issue a mere exercise in futility, unnecessary minutiae, pure semantics or “splitting hairs”? Although not a recent phenomenon, these questions are confusing and distracting to many today. Even in mid-second century Rome, a prominent Christian leader by the name of Marcion who had a thriving shipbuilding business at the time of Justin, was confused (2).
Does it really matter who is the God of the Old and/or New Testament? Yes, it does. In fact, about 90 C.E., John who wrote “I and Father are one”(John 10:30) also said that life eternal hinges on this understanding: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The Father, “the only true God” and Jesus are distinct and separate from one another, even when they “are one”.Always remember what Paul said in Heb 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” We need “assurance” that depends on evidence-based facts, not empty promises, unsubstantiated teaching, nor hope against hope. The answer to these questions may help enhance our understanding of the subject, thus solidifying even more our handle on the truth and fortifying our faith.
Old Testament God
There are many so-called “gods”, and polytheism is more than a phenomenon; it is a reality. While it is tempting to deny this fact, the presence of many “gods” is acknowledged to be true. And yes, this has been a crucial fact in the Old Testament, such that Israel has to be directed away from these real “gods” and commanded not to worship them. Instead, worship has to be to one particular and specific God. There was/is only one God to be worshipped. This is the basis from where developed the Jewish “Shema” doctrine of, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex.20:3) …above all gods”(Ps 95:3; 135:5); See also (3) https://fact-s.net/2011/05/21/what-is-god/
Who, was the God of Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses?
This question maybe resolved if one accepts the fact that this God introduced himself with different names at different times. Strong’s Concordance helps in finding the derivation of the original words translated in English. And, while names are different, they refer to only one, the Creator. Getting right to the point, consider these documentation and confirmation:
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heaven(s) and the earth”. Here, without doubt, this God was introduced as the Creator. But, this particular God was not identified and was described as a uni-plural generic “Elohiym” (Strong Concordance 0430/plural form being supreme). But, in Ex.6:2-3, this God was identified with different descriptive names, “And God (Elohiym 0430) spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD (Yhovah 03068) : And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God (0410 El) Almighty (Shadday/07706), but by my name JEHOVAH (Yhovah 03068) was I not known to them”. This Creator God was God Almighty/ “El Shadday” to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but to Moses he was known as Lord/”Yhovah”.
Moreover, in Isa 45:11-12, this Creator God was also referred to as Lord, “Thus saith the LORD (03068/Yhovah), the Holy One (06918/qadowsh) of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” That particular Creator God was The Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
Post Old-Testament times, this Creator God was also identified more specifically as the“Word”. In John 1:1-3, he said “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” He then went further to identify this Creator God to be The Begotten Son, as in “So the Word became human and….And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father” (John 1:14, NLT). To make it even clearer, John reiterated that this Creator God was Jesus, as in “The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). The Creator God was Word God.
Paul also testified, that the Creator God was Jesus , “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of creation. For by Him all things were created…all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-17 NASB).
This Creator God, who “fathered” all creation, incarnated into Jesus, the Christ/Messiah, as in Isa:9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father(01,ab), The Prince of Peace.
From the preceding verses, one sees the “evidentiary facts” that the same specific and distinct person is known as:
LORD: (Yhovah 03068)
God (0410 El) Almighty (07706 Shadday)
The “Holy One (06918/qadowsh) of Israel”
The “Word” (3056/logos)
“Begotten Son” (monogenes/3439)
The “only Son of the Father”
Jesus Christ, the Word of life (3056)
First-born of Creation (prototokos/4416)
Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father(01,ab), The Prince of Peace.
Changes in Name, Position and Function
All these descriptive positions, tasks, functions and changes in name at a particular time are no different from our own experience as humans. All of us have been children and have parents and grandparents. As we ourselves became parents, we left our description as children. After we have grandchildren, we are now called grandparents. Our position and function changed but we are still the same person. Likewise, previously, one maybe secretary in an organization, but then can become vice-president or president. That person is no longer addressed as Mr Secretary; rather called Mr. President. The same person but different function, task and time. In general, unless described otherwise, when the word “God” is used in the Old Testament, it refers to El Shaddai/YHVH; in the New Testament, it refers to the FATHER of Jesus.
The Creator God and the only one commanded to be worshipped in the Old Testament was “El Shaddai” to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but to Moses he was “YHVH”. The same person was the “Word Creator” even before there was any creation. Subsequently, he incarnated, dwelt among humans and assumed a different function and name as “Jesus-Yhusuah/Massiach-Messiah, the Redeemer” (John 4:26). As an incarnate/ flesh-composed person, he was “begotten Son”. This official introduction ever, of the Father-Son relationship took place at the river Jordan when Jesus was baptized (Matt.3:13-17;Mk 1:9-11; Luke 3:21). The Synoptic gospels testified that the Father introduced the Son, as the Son also “declared” the FATHER (John 1:14,18) ; rightly so, as they knew each other from before the beginning of time. As he is the only one who had seen him, he was the perfect person to introduce his FATHER and ours as the “only true God” and commanded us to worship only his Father. No doubt, this is fool-proof identification of both of them as distinct and separate (I Cor.8:6) , even when they “are one”. Subsequently, he was then “declared Son of God” (spirit-composed) by the resurrection from the dead ( Rom.1:4 ) He is also now “head of the spiritual church…firstborn from the dead (Col.1:18), the “head and elder Brother” (Heb. 2:11) of his “fellows” (Ps.45:7; Heb.1:9 ) , the other “firstfruits” (I Cor.15:23; Rev. 14:4). As a Creator God/Word of all that is known, whether angelic spirits, inanimate universe and all living things, this ” Son of God” is now creating from humans, “spirit-composed firstfruits/harvest” to be his “body/church” and subsequently in due time, the ” latter-fruits/harvest”. Indeed, an “upgrade” of his position and glory, all given by our “FATHER” and planned from the beginning, much before “time.
Mechanism of How we are “saved”
The Word/El Shaddai/YHVH has to dis-empower himself, take-off his power, and incarnate as Jesus so that by being human, he could die as our “Passover” ( I Cor. 5:7 ). YHVH, being spirit and eternal, could not have died unless incarnated. Jesus’ power, being “flesh-blood” was not inherent in him but was spiritual powers/abilities given to him by the Father much like us humans with measured spirit-power given by the Father through the function of the Spirit ( Compare John 8:28, 19:11; Acts 1:5, 2:4; Luke 4:1 ). As the “FATHER” imputed the sins of mankind on the sin of the first Adam (I Cor. 15:45-50) at the garden of Eden and eternal death to all mankind, so was Jesus’/last Adam’s death (a consequence of sin) imputed to mankind ( Rom.5:12-21). His death was the propitiation/atoning sacrifice for our sins ( I John 2:2 ) and reconciled us to the “FATHER” ( II Cor. 5:8; Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:20-22 ); put us “at-one” with the “FATHER”. His death was only the beginning so that “death, where is thy sting?” ( I Cor. 15:55 ), will no longer have a hold on us. Having been reconciled, we are now “saved by his life” ( Rom.5:10 ). But, how are we saved by his life? How is this knowledge and understanding “life eternal” as in “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)?
Now that from “flesh/human” incarnate Jesus was subsequently created by the Father as spirit-composed “Son of God” by the resurrection from the dead, higher than angelic spirits, Jesus “by his life” (after resurrection) is now creating his “body/church” of fellow “firstfruits”, “sons/daughters/children of God” and subsequently the “latter-fruits”. All spirit-composed, as in I Cor. 15:53, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” He has to be first, a “Son of God” before he can bring other “sons/daughters” to glory as their “Elder-Brother and “Head of the church”. He is developing us into his “body/church” through the Spirit that he could not have sent until after his resurrection from the dead, (saved by his life) as in ” “When the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about Me. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 14:25,26; 16:7). This Spirit was sent at Pentecost (Acts 2) and getting into us to have power to develop into the “body/church” of Christ. And all of these as planned and implemented by God through his “first-born Son of God”.
In the Old Testament, the Father and God that was commanded to be worshipped was the Creator God, El Shadday/YHVH, Jesus the Messiah/Christ. Since then, in New Testament times, Jesus himself introduced his “FATHER”; and rightly so, as he was the only one who saw the “FATHER”. As incarnate Messiah/Christ, he instructed us to pray to his “FATHER”, but through Jesus and in his name (John 15:16). Who to worship? In the Old Testament times, YHVH/El Shaddai/Jesus was commanded to be worshipped as he was “above all gods”(Ps 95:3; 135:5) known to all creation. But today and for all of us, the “FATHER” of Jesus, the only one referred to as God in the New Testament, is the only one to be worshipped and prayed to, but “in the name of Jesus”. The “Father” is the God and Father of Jesus and of us all (Eph.1:17). As the Creator God/El Shadday/YHVH took off that glory, honor and position by incarnating into “flesh” as Jesus/Messiah/Christ, by so doing he shifted and directed/introduced all of us to his Father as the only God to be worshipped today. The Father is greater than Jesus; they are not co-equal as in John 14:28 “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away,…for my Father is greater than I.”
On the side, this particular “FATHER” of Jesus, started a “new creation” (2Cor.5:17, NKJV), from the human “first-begotten” son Jesus (John 3:16) who then became the “first-born” (Col.1:18; Rom. 8:29) spirit Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead. Indeed, a position of “sonship” which is higher than the angelic category (compare Ps 8:4-6 and Heb. 2:6-18). Jesus is now the “the first/wavesheaf of the firstfruits” ( compare I Cor. 15:10,20,23 and Ex 34:26, Ezekiel 44:30; Lev. 23:10-12 ). After him, will follow the remaining “firstfruits” (Rev.14:4) at the resurrection to commence the “Millenium”. As the “FATHER” through (I Cor.8:6) Jesus/YHVH/Word created the “first known creation” (all non-living and living things including angels), the “FATHER” is now creating a “new creation” of “sons and children” of God, Jesus the “first of the firstfruits“, then through Jesus, “fellow firsfruits” will follow “at the last trumpet” ( I Cor. 15;52) , all of them spiritual beings, higher than angelic spirit-beings, and after the Millenium, the “latter-fruits“. This is Jesus’ “body” the church, being “one” yet with many members that are distinct/separate from each other ( I Cor.12:12-20) as we are altogether “one” with a distinct and separate “FATHER”. As incarnate Jesus/Passover, his death paid off mankind’s penalty for sins, reconciled us to the Father so we will all be like him. Everyone at their own time , first is Jesus becoming the Son of God, the first of the firstfruits, then fellow firstfruits at this dispensation to be manifested at the start of the Millenium, then subsequently after the Millenium will manifest the “latter-fruits”….all with “life eternal” ( John 17:3 ).
Buttressed with these facts, our appreciation of God”s love for all of us, hopefully, will be magnified and enhanced. We can have confidence and trust in God because of these facts. i.e., faith which is “evidence of things hoped for.” Remember, that this is the plan of God, the “FATHER”, even before the first creation by YHVH, before any of us have done anything right or wrong. Even our will to do good and to act are from God ( Phil. 2:13) so that “no one can boast” (Eph.2:9; I Cor. 1:29). Truly, grace and love manifested. Glory to God, our “FATHER”.
HAPPY FATHER’s DAY.
1. Father’s Day.http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father’s_Day
2. Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus, p.33-34, 2005.Harper Collins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St. NY, NY 10022.
3. What is God? https://fact-s.net/2011/05/21/what-is-god/
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Thank you Al for the article, it is truly enlightening. It does agree to 3 or 4 other works I have read about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am glad you are progressing in your studies of the Word.
It is comforting to know that God has included us in his circle long before the creation of the world, that we are in His thoughts. God is sharing with us the fellowship they have, we can only attain if we know our identity as having the same image and likeness as He intended it to be.
Thanks for your prompt response. Great to know that it resonated on you.