Friday, October 09, 2015

God the Father in John

1. In preparation for the honor's classes yesterday, did a quick word study of the word father in John. First thing that struck me is how much more John uses the word than any other writing in the NT (109 times). Except for Matthew, the next highest is Luke with only 42.

2. The second thing that struck me is that the overwhelming majority of these references have to do with the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. Almost none of the references have to do with God as the Father of believers. Rather, John seems to emphasize that the relationship between God's people and God is exclusively mediated through Jesus.
  • "I am in my Father and you in me and I in you" (14:20).
  • "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (14:6).
3. Of course we can balance John's focus with key Scriptures elsewhere that speak directly of God as our Father as well.
  • "Our Father, who are in heaven..." (Matt. 6:9) Jesus himself suggests that we can pray to God as our Father.
  • "You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" (Rom. 8:15). Jesus called God, "Abba" (Mark 14:36), and we can too. 
  • [BTW, "Daddy" seems a fairly cozy Western construct. Abba does have a familiar sense, but "Daddy" is probably a little anachronistic.]
  • "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith… There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female… you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:27-29).
4. I pondered a little why John may have this emphasis. I wondered if perhaps it connects to the same reasons why the Gospel of John downplays the significance of John the Baptist. Some speculate that the de-emphasis on JB has to do with followers of the Baptist in Ephesus who did not accept Jesus as Messiah (see Acts 18-19).

So in that scenario, John wants to make it very clear that it is not enough merely to believe Messiah is coming or to be baptized in repentance for Israel's sins in preparation for God's kingdom. One must believe on Jesus as the sole channel through which one can be reconciled to God.

Some thoughts...

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