Throughout the Bible, God uses the persona of a Father. Jesus specifically refers to God as Father, and us as his sons. Why is it significant that God is a Father? And why did God choose the nature of Father to commonly describe his character, as opposed to other relationships that God created, such as that of Mother or a non-descript purely spiritual nature?

How is this viewed in general Protestant traditions? And are their significant variances across these traditions?

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    Most Christians don't think that he choose the role as if it were interchangeable with any other, but that the Father is intrinsically a father (and to be precise, our knowledge of "fatherhood" is derived from him rather than it being a metaphor.) But the way this question is phrased makes it what we call a Truth Question. – curiousdannii Feb 15 '17 at 12:15
  • If you'd like the view of a particular Christian tradition, please specify it, and the question can likely be reopened. – Nathaniel is protesting Feb 15 '17 at 14:09
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    I would argue not that God choose the metaphor of Father to commonly describe himself, as though he chose from among available human roles which would be best to describe himself, but instead that God invented the role of human fatherhood and gave it to mankind to reveal an aspect of himself to them. – Andrew Feb 15 '17 at 15:13
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    I´d say God hasn´t really chosen any name, because he is called himself differently along the bible. The concept of the Father is introduced only in the new testament. God calls himself "I am that I am" in Genesis. Other names are IMHO an easier representation or the closest representation of what God actually is. – Charlie Feb 16 '17 at 7:32
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    I made a new related question with the answer from the Catholic Church’s perspective (as suggested by @Nathaniel): According to the Catholic Church, why is God called “Father” (and not, say, “Mother”)? – AthanasiusOfAlex Feb 16 '17 at 12:21

As is pointed out in the comments, the question tends to put the cart before the horse. God established the institution of "father". The Old Testament represents God by many different names, each one expressing a different aspect of who God is (i.e. El Shaddai-Lord God Almighty, Jehovah Jireh-The Lord Will Provide, etc.) God is represented as Father in the New Testament, not inconsistent with His OT character. The difference comes with the intimacy of the term consistent with the intimacy established by the New Covenant. Paul stated, "the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Gal. 3:24,25). The transition from law to faith is paralleled by the transition from "Adonai-Lord, Master" to "Father". The tearing of the curtain separating the Holy Place from all but the High Priest and then only once a year is yet another illustration of this revelation that God is not only "El Elyon (The Most High God)", but also "Father", a figure of authority who is capable of and expected to love us. Likewise, Christ's designation as "Son" illustrates someone with whom we can identify and helps us to understand, as Paul puts it, "...our adoption to sonship..." (Rom. 8:23) Our ability to understand God is limited at best and nobody understands that better than our Creator. Loving Father is how He wants us to know him.

  • Good observations. I thank God for the many names and titles through which he has revealed himself to us through his Word. Each one, as you point out, expresses "a different aspect of who . . . [he] is." Vernon Poythress, in his book Symphonic Theology, likened the many names and titles of God to the many facets in a brilliant-cut diamond. That diamond, however, has but 58 facets; God on the other hand, has an untold number of facets, the most important of which might just be his holiness. Perhaps holiness shines through every other facet and expression of his being. Selah. – rhetorician Mar 3 '17 at 6:00

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