Saturday, April 20, 2024

Post #42 The Doctrine of God: The Old Testament and Jesus' Teaching On God the Father as Creator And Redeemer


    In our last post, we began to look at what the Old Testament and Jesus had to say about the Deity of the Father and the Father's relationship to Him as the incarnate Son. We noted that the Old Testament reveals the Person of the Father under four major subjects:

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people.

     We looked at the first two headings and will devote the remainder of this post to the final two subjects. The point of our current postings is to establish a Biblical theology of the doctrine of God with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. One major point to make is that the New Testament's revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity did not come from left field. The testimony of Jesus and the Apostles reveal a full-realization and progressing revelation of the Old Testament foundational truths we already noted about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Godhead. 

    Thus far then, we can say Jesus's teaching brought together the above  truths into a coherent picture of the Biblical doctrine of God. It is this coherent picture that springs forth the full robust doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament.  

God the Father as the Creator of the world. 

    If we take into consideration everything I wrote above, we can understand why the Old Testament makes known the Father's work in creation. Passages such as Job 38:8; Psalm 33:6,9; and Malachi 2:10 indicate God the Father as having the capability to create. The Father, often called "the First Person of the Trinity", is assigned the title "from whom all things are made" (1 Corinthians 8:6).1 As to the work of creation, we must not forget that all three Persons inseperably worked as One God in creating all things. 

      This capability of the Father as the Creator, being God by nature, is also ascribed to the Divine Person of "the Word" or Son and the Person of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 33:6,9 and Psalm 104:30. Such Scriptural assigning of creative abilities to the Son and the Holy Spirit lead to the conclusion that they are wholly God by nature - with all three Divine Persons being God the Creator.

    Such ascription of Divine power to the pre-incarnate Word and the Spirit of God is the Old Testament's indirect way of pointing us to their equality with the Father in regards to deity. No doubt Jesus, in His many mentions of the Father throughout the Gospel, taught this very same truth (see Matthew 19:1-7; John 5:25-29). 

God The Father as the redeemer of His people. 

    We've noted how the Old Testament teaches us about the Father as He is as truly God, His relationship to the Son, and His work in creation. We've observed how Jesus taught those same truths. One final area we find the Hebrew Bible teaching about God the Father is in His role as the redeemer of His people. 

    It is in this work of redemption where the Old Testament shows us precursors of the doctrine of God the Father. Such "precursors" set the stage for Jesus' teaching and the underpinnings for a full New Testament revelation of the Trinity.2 

   So, we have seen four main ways the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament brings forth the revelation of God the Father, and how Jesus incorporated such truths into His teaching.

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people. 

Jesus' teaching about the Father and the Godhead - what additional light He shed upon the Godhead.

    I have labored to show how much unity there is between the Old Testament's vision of God as one in being and plural in person and Jesus' reaffirmation of the same. We must equally grasp that the incarnate Christ furthered our understanding as to how those two major truths about the God of the Bible (His unity of being and plurality of Personhood) operated to set the ground for the doctrine of the Trinity.

    The 19 century theologian B.B. Warfield's essay on the Doctrine of the Trinity points out that what Jesus was setting forth was not new. The doctrine of the Trinity flowed naturally from the Old Testament through Jesus' teaching into its full-orbed revelation in Acts, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. 

    What was it then that Jesus brought to the table that propelled the understanding of the Godhead forward? 

    The unity of the Godhead and the plurality of the Persons find their clarity in Jesus' teachings, which interested readers may read more about in the footnotes following this post.3 

   Thus, in the Old Testament, the acts of creation and salvation are used as lenses to introduce us to the Father. What Jesus does is show how He Himself is that primary lens, explaining the Father and making Him known, since He Himself is truly God as the Father as God - He being the Revealer and the revealed (see John 1:18; John 14:8; 17:3). 

Closing thoughts

    Whenever we combine what Jesus says about the distinctions He and the Father have as Divine Persons along with the mutual indwelling language we devoted time to in the last post, what emerges is a firm foundation for the continuing, progressive revelation of the Trinity in the Bible.  

    This then demonstrates what I said at the beginning of today's post concerning what Jesus taught about the Godhead, and the agreement between Himself and the prior Old Testament revelation.

1. There is one, and only one true and living God that is one in nature or in His Godhead.

2. This Godhead (that is, deity, Divine nature, Divine essence, God's very substance and being) is equally and wholly in each of the Divine Persons - The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.


1. In theology, we often refer to the Father as "the first Person of the Godhead". Why is that? The idea of "first" means "principle", which is to say the Father is unoriginated, the "unbegotten One", who makes common the Divine nature by His eternal act of "filiation" or "begetting" the Son (see Psalm 110; John 1:18; 3:16). 

    The ordering here is not an ordering of importance (all three Divine Persons are of equal importance). The ordering is also not that of power, being, or glory (all three Persons are one in nature, hence co-glorious, co-eternal, omnipotent). The ordering of "first person", "second person", and "third person" refers to how the undivided Godhead or nature is communicated among the three persons.  

    Thus, the Father, as I mentioned, is described in the Bible and in the doctrine of the Trinity as "begetting the Son", the fount that makes common the Divine nature. The Son, eternal and without beginning, ever receives or is "begotten" in an eternal, second act of sharing in the Divine nature with the Father. Then, the Father, with the Son, in what we could call a "third activity", makes common the Divine nature in what theologians refer to as "spiration" (that is, an outbreathing) of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is identified then as the third Person of the Trinity, proceeding eternally from the Father and the Son (John 15:26). 

    This "order of eternal relations" distinguishes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from one another in terms of identity, while at the same time affirming their equality and unity of being. 

2. It is in Deuteronomy 32:6 we find first clear mention of the Father's explicit involvement in the salvation of His people - 

“Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you." 

    The remainder of Deuteronomy 32 is devoted to how the Father saved Israel from Egypt, carrying them along as a father would his son. 

    Isaiah 43:10-11 is another striking example of the Father being the Redeemer of His people, with the reminder that He is God by nature, and that there is no other God - asserting His nature of self-existence or what theologians call "Aseity" (from the Latin a se, meaning "from oneself"). 

    This same self-existent, exclusive Redeemer of God's people is expounded most clearly in the Old Testament in Isaiah 63:8, 15-19; 64:6-9). Jesus no doubt taught this truth in His expression of the Father sending Him, the Son, to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16).

3. The places Jesus teaches about the Father in Matthew 6:9-11; Mark 8:38; 11:25; 13:32; 14:36; Luke 10:21-23; 11:11-13; 15:11-32 sharpen the picture about the Father, with the additional, startling reality of the intimate awareness and uniqueness of relationship Jesus has with this Father that no other had. 

   We find Jesus revealing truths about Himself as He teaches the sharper picture of the Father. For example, as truly man, Jesus shows how much He is yielded in His human will to the Father's will, thus encouraging others to do the same (Matthew 6:10, 25-32; 11:25; 12:50; 21:31; 26:39,42; Luke 23:34; 6:36; 10:21-22; 11:2,13; 12:30). As truly God, the Son equates Himself with the Father, who being God by nature, means Christ Himself is truly God as well (John 5:17-18; 5:26-27; 8:58). 

    No doubt the "only-begotten" language I referred to earlier in Psalm 2:7 finds its way in Jesus teaching about Himself in His relationship with the Father (John 1:14-18; 3:35; 5:20; 10:17). To be "the only-begotten Son" refers to how the Father, as the unoriginate one, shares in common that same unoriginated nature through communication of it to the Son by the eternal act of begetting. 

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