FATHERHOOD OF THE ETERNAL

FATHER

The Saviour, ca. 1900-1905 by Henry Ossawa Tanner (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

HOW TO BECOME A CHILD OF ELOHIM
In Matthew 6:9 the Nazarene’s model prayer begins with first things 
first, or the primary teaching of the Bible: the Fatherhood of  the Eternal. This includes the potential, or possibility, that you can enjoy a close and intimate relationship with Elohim, he Eternal, through a spiritual rebirth. For Yeshua begins, <Father…>. The designation Father was one of Yeshua’s most preferred terms for the Eternal. He uses it 45 times in the book of Matthew and 109 times in the book of John. Yeshua uses this intimate designation or name Father in his own prayers. 

WHO IS THE FATHER?
When the Nazarene uses the expression “Father” he means Elohim or “The God(«ho theos») in the mode of a special relationship with His worshipers. It is one thing to speak of the Eternal in a general sense as the Supreme Being, the Creator, or the Almighty. It is quite another to infer a specific relationship with יהוה the Father, indicating one believes oneself to be a Child of יהוה.

The word “father” occurs over 1,000 times in the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures or
Old Covenant). Of this total only about a dozen refer to the Eternal directly. Most of these verses are in the context which would apply to the foretold Messiah. It does occur rarely with reference to those other than the Messiah. So, that in the whole body of the Hebrew Bible this relationship with humans is mentioned less than a dozen times.

It is the Nazarene who introduces to his world the possibility of becoming a child of the Eternal and entering a Father-child relationship with the Almighty. Though the relationship is foretold by inference, it is now with the Nazarene, that this becomes a true possibility when he introduces his model prayer.

ARE ALL CHILDREN OF ELOHIM?
All persons are not children of the Eternal by virtue of birth. In Moses’ song at Deuteronomy 32:5, he sings in praise as a warning to Israel,

Deuteronomy 32:5
5 A twisted and crooked generation has corrupted itself, Their blemish, they are not His children.

Conversely, those pious religious leaders who claimed Abraham as their natural father asserted,

John 8:41 
41 We were not born of whoring, we have one Father: Elohim.” 

But, Yeshua replies to them,

John 8:42, 44 
42 יהושע {Yehoshua} said to them, “If Elohim were your Father, you would love Me, for I came forth from Elohim, and am here. For I have not come of Myself, but He sent Me.
44  “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you wish to do.
{Yeshua (ישוע) is short for Yehoshua}

They were thus identified as having a different fatherhood by their murderous passions and religious lies.

HOW DOES ONE KNOW?
The tone of the Nazarene above is similar to what the book of John was written about sixty years later. In First Johnthe apostle identifies five basics for knowing one is truly born from above, or born from the Eternal by a spiritual rebirth.

●RIGHTEOUSNESS We must practice righteousness or be law-abiding, for, <Everyone Elohim-born does righteousness>
Anyone claiming to be a child of the Eternal must give evidence of habitual obedience to the commandments of יהוה as revealed through His Son, the Nazarene. This one Eternal-born demonstrates a character or disposition which always has a bent toward what is right, just, or correct from the Eternal’s view.
●HABITUAL SIN We must not become habitual sinners, for, <Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin> – 1 John 3:9 [
Here the negative of the previous point is emphasized. Anyone claiming to be a child of the Eternal  and yet persisting in the habitual practice of sin belies such a profession.
●LOVE We must be characterized by love («agape»), for, <everyone who loves has been born of Elohim> – 1 John 4:7

 The child of the Eternal is evidenced by a loving nature and a character which conforms to that description of love in

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
 4 Love is patient, is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, is not puffed up, 
 5 does not behave indecently, does not seek its own, is not provoked, reckons not the evil, 
6 does not rejoice over the unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth, 
7 it covers all, believes all, expects all, endures all.

Two of the better definitions of this kind of love – «agape», are given in 1 Corinthians 10:24 and

Philippians 2:4 
4 Each one should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others

The scholar William Barclay defines this quality as always looking for the highest good of your neighbour.’

●BELIEF OR FAITH We must believe Yeshua the Nazarene is the Messiah, for, <Everyone who has trust that Yeshua is the Messiah, is begotten of Eloah,> – 1John 5:1
When asked what the “works of Elohim” were, Yeshua responded,

John 6:29 
29 “This is the work of Elohim, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” 

The the author of John also wrote,

John 3:36
36 He who believes in the Son possesses everlasting life

In making that statement the book of John paralleled the idea of belief or faith with obedience to the Son. This subject of belief or faith in Yeshua as the Son of יהוה is a major theme of the Nazarene’s preaching as well as the subject in much of the apostolic letters. The one who claims to be born from the Eternal must give evidence of such a belief and this usually shows up in speech. Shaul (Paul) wrote,

2 Corinthians 4:13 [See also Psalms 116:10]
13 I believed, therefore, I spoke 

Persons who have a firm conviction will be found speaking about it.

●VICTORIOUS! And, finally, we must be victorious over worldly influence because of our faith, because <Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that יהושע is the Son of Elohim?> – 1John 5:4 [HRV]
The Nazarene made a similar claim, ‘I have conquered the world.’ It is not enough for one to just begin with faith, for conviction and trust must be carried on to complete victory. The Nazarene exhorts,

Matthew 24:13
13 “But he who shall have endured to the end shall be saved.

These brief basics help one appreciate what is involved in being <authorized> (John 1:12) to become a child of יהוה. John continues to stress this theme when he writes:

1 John 3:9-10
9  Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, because His seed stays in him, and he is powerless to sin, because he has been born of Elohim. 
10 In this the children of Elohim and the children of the devil are manifest

This is something like inheriting a certain gene from a parent but here the source is the Eternal and so the spiritual DNA as it were keeps one from habitual sin which could bring about the Father’s permanent displeasure.

HOW MANY CAN BECOME CHILDREN OF יהוה?
It ought to be clear “all” or “everyone” or “as many as” who follow  and truly “receive” Messiah, can be called “sons of the Eternal.” There are no limitations to this as if there were a pre-selected number. It is open-ended and all real Believers hold this hope dear. <Everyone> the author of the book of John wrote. (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 5:4. Compare Romans 8:14). These verses all use a form of the word «hosoi» which means <everyone>.
In the Hebrew mind of the first century, a child born through the intervention of Elohim such as Yitshaq (Isaac – son of Abraham), Yoseph (son of Yaq’ob), Shimshon (Samson), Shemu’el (Samuel), Yohanan (John) the Immerser and Yeshua, was considered a “son of Elohim”. Out of all of them it is only Yeshua that uses the term <Father> on a daily basis.

This endearing form of address, <Father> is used by those disciples of the Nazarene who wrote their great epistles. Shaul (Paul) uses <Father> four dozen times, almost always with the connecting designation “יהוה” in a formula such as <Elohim the Father>. Kepha (Peter) uses <Father> four times in much the same way. The beloved apostle uses it most often, 16 times. Despite this, none of the Nazarene’s disciples ever address the Eternal as <my Father> as Yeshua himself does. On the other hand, the phrase <my Elohim> occurs about 190 times in the Scriptures with Shaul using it several times – Romans 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19; Philemon 4. In harmony with the spirit of  Yeshua’s Prayer’s opening phrase, < Father…> this expression occurs about a dozen times only in the writings of ShaulRomans 1:7; 4:12; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:16; Philemon 3)
It seems clear the term <Father> finds its root in Yeshua the Nazarene. Thereafter, <Father> becomes one of the two most popular designations for the Almighty.

Spiritual rebirth is taught by the Nazarene himself when he speaks to the Jewish Elder Nakdimon (Nicodemus):

John 3:3
3  יהושע {Yehoshua} answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he is unable to see1 the reign of Elohim 

Kepha (Peter) and Ya’aqob (James) echo the same:

[NCMM Paraphrase]
‘The Father regenerated us into a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. You have been regenerated by incorruptible seed through the Word of a living Elohim. As newly generated infants, eagerly crave the pure milk of the Word. The Father of the Lights wished our birth by the Word of Truth and we became, as it were, the first children of His new family.’

The later statements by the Nazarene’s disciples emphasize the place the Eternal’s Word plays in this process of rebirth. It cannot occur without appropriate knowledge of the Scriptures.
(see the article New Birth: What Does Born Again Mean?

WHO IS יהוה? ACCORDING TO THE NAZARENE
When the Nazarene speaks of  <Our Heavenly Father> who does he have in mind? Any Jew would have understood this expression <Father> to mean the Eternal as John 8:41 shows,

John 8:41 
41 we have one Father: Elohim.”  

The the author of the book of John understood this as he writes,

John 13:3 
3 יהושע {Yehoshua}, knowing that the Father had given all {all things} into His hands, and that He had come from Elohim and was going to Elohim

 Yeshua himself made it clear that when he spoke of the <Father> he meant the Eternal:

John 6:27 
27 ...for the Father, Elohim, has set His seal on Him

On many occasions, Yeshua quoted the sacred Jewish texts. For example, note

John 6:44 
44 ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws that one to me

In the book prophet Isaiah, it is written,

Isaiah 54:13
13 and all your children taught by יהוה

Here the sacred Tetragram, or the four letters YHWH (יהוה), appear in the original and some translations faithfully render it so. It seems clear when Yeshua speaks of Elohim he means the Father who is יהוה, the Eternal, in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Nazarene makes other quotes where the divine Name appears about half a dozen times. (Matthew 4:7, 10; 5:33; 22:37, 44; Mark 12:29; Luke 20:42) Let us look at a few of them.
In Mark 12:29 Yeshua quotes the well-known «Shema» of Deuteronomy 6:4:

Deuteronomy 6:4 
4 “Hear, O Yisra’el: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one!

Generally, this is repeated by the Jews: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our Elohim is one,’ as the anthem of monotheism. Whether the Nazarene would have uttered the Divine Name (יהוה) (he is not condemned for this by the Jews), or respected the Jewish sensitivity with regard to the Commandment, it demonstrates that Yeshua viewed the Eternal  of the Old Testament as “our Elohim.”
Again in his reunion with his home synagogue in Nazareth, Yeshua boldly quotes from the book of Isaiah

Isaiah 61:1, 
The Spirit of the Master יהוה is upon Me, because יהוה has anointed Me [compare also Luke 4:16]

It is likely this little town’s scroll of Isaiah would have contained the Sacred Name יהוה. The Nazarene applies this text to himself from his seat by inference. Therefore, it was יהוה who anointed him and made him Messiah (Anointed; Christ)
In the wilderness temptation, the Nazarene quotes Moses against the devil,

Matthew 4:10; [See Deuteronomy 5:9]
10 You shall worship יהוה your Elohim, and Him alone you shall serve. 

Whether Yeshua uttered the Divine Name to Satan the devil or not is unknown. It is true the Jews had abandoned the use of the Divine Name and when they came to the sacred four letters יהוה they inserted LORD or GOD. That the Name of Elohim is of great importance to the Nazarene is consistent with the Second Nazarene Principle in the Lord’s Prayer which we will examine,

Matthew 6:9
9 let Your Name be set-apart

 In his long prayer with his disciples at the Last Passover, the Nazarene prays,

John 17:6
6I have revealed Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world.

 And, again, Yeshua himself hears the heavenly Voice speak in response to the Nazarene’s petition:

John 12:28
28Father, esteem {glorify} Your Name.” Then a voice came from the heaven, “I have both esteemed {glorified} it and shall esteem it again.”

Though it cannot be firmly established that Yeshua ever used the Name beyond a quotation, these verses above establish the Nazarene’s view that his Elohim and Father was the Eternal (יהוה) of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The First Principle of the Nazarene’s prayer, then, is the revolutionary possibility of becoming a child of יהוה, a member of the Eternal’s own Family with all the rights and prospects 

Galatians 4:7 
7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, also an heir of Elohim through Messiah.

 Such a hope and privilege ought to arouse the greatest response in heartfelt appreciation of our Heavenly Father.

By Mark Heber Miller [Used through permission from Shawn Miller)
The following words that appear in the original article were changed:
God was changed to Elohim, the Eternal or יהוה; Jesus was changed to Yeshua; Christ was changed to Messiah; Bible was changed to Scriptures; Testament was changed to Covenant
Edited by Nazarene Notes

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from The Scriptures,
Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.