When Did God Become Father?
By gordon Mallory
The issue of the Deity of Christ has posed a stumbling block to the acceptance of the oneness of God. It is significant that Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mohammedans, and orthodox Jews embrace the truth of the One God, while they reject Jesus as God, whereas the doctrine of a plural God, or trinity, is predominant among those who proclaim Jesus as God. Indeed, it is contended that the message of the divinity of Jesus cannot be reconciled with the proclamation of the One True God.
It is both remarkable and significant that this dilemma has caused scholars to deny the literal meaning of such related words as “Father,” “Son,” “conceived,” “begotten,” and “born.” In our study of the Bible, we have chosen to be governed by the law that the student of the Bible must not arbitrarily or promiscuously reject the literal meaning of the word or text in the Scriptures. A literal father is not eternal, nor are there any who are born fathers. the title “father” signifies a relationship that can only exist when a son or offspring is begotten and born of that person. Any other concept of a true father is both incomprehensible and illogical and has no real basis of truth, whether in God’s creation or in the Scriptures.
While some scholars have declared Jehovah, or LORD, as the name of the Father or the first person of the trinity, others have affirmed Jehovah to be the name of the Son or second person. We submit that an unbiased examination of the Old Testament Scriptures reveals no evidence that either of these conclusions is true.
The word “father” may be used in a symbolical sense, as when, for example, history records George Washington as “the father of our country.” There are instances where “father” is used in a similar sense in Scripture, as noted in Genesis 45:4, 8: “And Joseph said unto his brethren … So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.- and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house… ”
The term “father” is used approximately 14 times in relation to Jehovah. The following tests are representative of the three ways in which “father” is used of God in the Old Testament:
(1) These verses are prophetic of the birth of Christ, the fulfillment of which is recorded in the gospels of the New Testament:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called… The everlastingFather.” (Isaiah 9:6).
“He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God…Also I will make him my first-born… ” (Psalm 89:26-27).
(2) Regarding the significance of “father” in this group, we quote from the Scofield Bible under Malachi 1:6: “The relationship here is national, not personal”:
“A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is mine honor? and if I am a master, where is my fear? saith Jehovah of hosts unto you, 0 priests, that despise my name…” (Malachi 1:6,ASV).
“But I said, How I will put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage … ye shall call me My Father, and shall not turn away from following me … saith Jehovah. (Jeremiah 3:19-20,ASV).
(3) The following verses are references to relation through creation, to Jehovah as the creative Father:
“But now, 0 Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. ” (Isaiah 64:8,ASV).
“Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?… ” (Malachi 2:10).
In the light of traditional teaching of the eternal Fatherhood of God it must come as a distinct surprise to many that the common term of father is rarely used of the Hebrews’ Jehovah, and that in the Old Testament Jehovah is not depicted as a true and literal Father. The absence of a real father and son relationship is further illustrated in the superstitious fears of the Hebrews, which led them to avoid the pronunciation and proclamation of Es Name.
The Spirit of Jehovah
The Old Testament Scriptures show no trace of a consciousness of the personal Fatherhood of Jehovah, nor of the divine Son of God, except in terms of a future event. The prophets spoke of God as the eternal, omnipresent, invisible, and all-wise Spirit. He is the Spirit of the One whose name is declared as Jehovah, as is seen in the following texts:
“But the Spirit of Jehovah came upon Gideon;…” (Judges 6:34,ASV).
“…David the son of Jesse saith… The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, And his word was upon my tongue.” (11 Samuel 23:1-2,ASV).
“And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse … and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him…” (Isaiah 11:1-2,ASV).
“And the Spirit of Jehovah fell upon me, and he said unto me, Speak, Thus saith Jehovah:… (Ezekiel 11:5, ASV).
The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.” (Ezekiel 37:1, ASV).
“…Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts. ” (Zechariah 4:6,ASV).
“…I am Jehovah your God and there is none else … And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh… ” (Joel 2:2728, ASV).
(Peter said) “… this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh… ” (Acts 2:16-17).
The Fatherhood of the Spirit
The traditional concept of the Father is that He is not the Spirit. Those who affirm that the Father is not the Spirit do not define who or what the Father is. The Scriptures tell us both what God is not and what God is: “God is not a man,” (Hosea 11:9; I Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19) and “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24; II Corinthians 3:17). We submit that if the Father is not the Spirit, then the Father is not God, for God is Spirit.
Where there is a Son there is a Father. We would expect the Father to be identified by the Scriptures that record the birth of the Son. Let us examine the following Scriptural references:
“… The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee … therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. ” (Luke 1:35).
“…She (Mary) was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1: 18).
(Joseph) “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn Son, and he called his name JESUS.”(Matthew 1:25).
The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. This was not the normal union of man and woman, but the union of the Spirit as Father and Mary as mother whereby the Son was begotten and conceived. The progenitor of the Son must of necessity be the Father. The laws of genetics permit no alternative.
Jesus is called the first born’ of all creation. No one before Jesus was ever born of the Spirit of Jehovah. Not even Abraham, often styled the “father of the faithful,” could call Jehovah Father, since no Old Testament believers were born of the Spirit, It is particularly significant that whereas the term Father, prior to the Advent of the Son, was rarely used of Jehovah – and then only in a figurative or prophetic sense – that Jesus addressed God as Father approximately 170 times in the four gospels. He who was conceived and born of the Spirit knew who His Father was.
And who is the Father of the “born again” Christian? He who believes on the Son is “born of the Spirit” and thereby the Spirit becomes his Father. The initial pronouncement of the birth of sons into God’s Kingdom was given by Jesus to a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. The “new birth” is a New Testament phenomenon predicated upon the death, burial and resurrection of the One who was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).
Note the following:
“…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
“The wind bloweth where it listeth … so is every one that is born of the Spirit. ” (John 3:8).
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.. ” (I John 5:1).
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ” (Romans 8:1).
“…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9).
“The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God ” (Romans 8:16,ASV).
We have taken the latter verse from the American Standard Version because we favor the use of the pronoun ‘himself in reference to the Spirit, rather than “itself’ as it appears in this text in the Authorized Version.
The child of God is not indwelt of three persons, nor by three Spirits, for “we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (I John 3:24). And in Ephesians 2:22 we note an affirmation: “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The Sonship of the Son
The Scriptures declare the literal oneness of God, the literal Fatherhood of the Spirit, and the literal Sonship of the Son. The Son of God is not a Son in a figurative, symbolic or metaphorical sense, but in the words of the centurion at the cross, “Truly this man was the Son of God’ (Mark 15:39). The oft heard phrase “God the Son” does not appear in Scripture and is a contradiction, for God is not offspring, whereas the Son, if He be indeed a Son, is the offspring of I-Es Father. “The Son” must of necessity imply offspring or else the term “Son” is a misnomer.
Note the prophecy, “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit; and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him … the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah” (Isaiah 11:1-2, ASV). And in Revelation 22:16: I Jesus-am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. “This is to say that Jesus was the ‘Root” or source of David in his Deity. He was the ‘Branch’ or Offspring “out of the stock of Jesse” in his humanity. The Branch is the Son upon whom the Spirit of Jehovah rested, indicating that the Son, whom the apostle John affirmed as ‘Offspring,’ did indeed have a beginning.
Theologians have taught the Son as “eternally begotten.” They have speculated over what they describe as the “eternal regeneration of the Son of God.” They have declared the Son to be “begotten of the Father from eternity” and have claimed, “He always was begotten of the Father.” Can a reasonable person conceive of a Son begotten and born from eternity? Yet men turn away and have been turned away from the Church for not believing that which has no rational explanation.
The Sonship of the Son is declared in the first group of quoted texts under the title in this work, “The Fatherhood of the Spirit, ” and in the following Scriptural references:
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son… (Isaiah 7:14).
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…”(Isaiah 9:6).
“…thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son…” (Luke 1:31).
“…his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21).
“…God…gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).
“…God sent his only begotten Son into the world…” (I John 4:9).
“…Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.” (Psalm 2:7,ASV).
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Hebrews 1:5).
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…” (Luke 2:11).
Why should the Eternal God who cannot and did not die, was not buried, and was not raised from the dead, be presumed to have been conceived, or begotten, and born? The above verses of Scripture do not support the traditional concept of “God the Son.” We would note particularly that the Scriptures speak of a specific time when the Son was begotten and of the time and place of His birth.
God’s gift to man was not merely a Son. God gave His only ‘begotten’ Son. God’s begotten Son was the humanity that was born of Mary in a manger. The humanity that was born in the manger was the Son who cried upon the cross, “…My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). God could not dwell where the guilt of sin existed, and the Son died bearing the guilt of the sins of the human race. As our Passover Lamb He died alone and forsaken. Not Deity, but humanity, was the Son, begotten of the Spirit, born in Bethlehem, dying on a cross, buried in a tomb, and risen the third day.
God in the flesh – God in Christ – God in the Son – such is the mystery of godliness whereby Jehovah has become our salvation.
A Look at Rules
Following is a summary of rules with which we have chosen to comply in our study and interpretation of the Scriptures pertaining to the Name of the One True God:
(1) A split decision is no decision.
(2) A creed, if not adhered to, is of no value.
(3) Scripture may not be used out of context.
(4) A message which cannot be spoken in the language of the Bible is not a biblical message.
(5) Truth may not rest on a single portion of Scripture,
(6) A Scriptural message rests upon a Scriptural foundation.
(7) The literal meaning of a word, phrase or text may not be arbitrarily or promiscuously rejected.
The American game of baseball achieved its present status because the game is played by standardized rules. A Bible student may study with no rules, with rules that are not followed consistently, or with rules that he conscientiously obeys. This is an area where the student must be directed by his own conscience and understanding.
We have established in these pages a foundation that is governed by the above rules, which we believe to be sound and Scriptural. We have laid much emphasis upon the Deity of Jesus. It is equally essential that I-Es humanity be emphasized.
The Arians of the fourth century claimed that Jesus was partially man and partially God. In contrast, the true believer embraces Him as very God and very man, which is to say that Jesus was a complete and total man as well as being the great Creator of all things.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY REACH PUBLICATIONS INC., 1996, PAGES 69-81. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.