Paterology comes from two Greek words which mean “father” and “word”. When combined and used in terms of theology, they mean “the study of the Father”. Common subjects studied in Paterology include the knowledge of the existence of God, the Trinity of God, the attributes of God, the names of God, His sovereignty, and His purposes and plans.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXISTENCE GOD
We obtain knowledge of God in the following ways:
The first words in Genesis are: “In the beginning God created…” Genesis chapters 1-3 record that God is the creator. If you do not believe these first five words, then you will be unable to understand or accept the remaining truths of biblical theology. God created both the natural and spiritual worlds.
Here are some other verses confirming God as Creator:
O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. (Isaiah 37:16)
Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
God created everything–the universe, the earth, plants, animals, water, light, seasons, etc. His greatest creation was man who was made in His image.
All creation continues to be sustained by God:
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, (Psalm 104:13-14)
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)
Creation actually declares and confirms the existence of God:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. (Psalm 97:6)
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
History confirms the existence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God–His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. Historical records of kings, wars, and other events in the Bible are also confirmed by history. Archeological digs have also confirmed many cities, villages, and events mentioned in the Bible.
Accurate knowledge of God is passed from one generation to the next.
Through the new birth experience, people come to a knowledge of the living God. Experiences such as dreams and visions may also provide knowledge of the true God, as do experiences of observing God at work in the lives of others in miracles and transformation.
The greatest confirmation of the existence of God is found in the Word of God through numerous statements such as these:
I am God, even thy God…(Psalm 50:7)
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God , and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22)
…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:9)
THE TRINITY OF GOD
The one true God is revealed in three distinct personalities of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. They are one in essence, one God with three distinct natures. The doctrine of the Trinity must be accepted by faith, as it is difficult to grasp with our finite minds.
The first person of the Trinity of God is called the Father. He is the father of:
-Israel: Exodus 4:22
-The angels: Job 38:7
-Jesus Christ: John 17:1
-All believers: John 1:12-13
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for God, “Elohim”, is a plural word. Plural pronouns are used of God (Genesis 1:26), and the angel of Jehovah is deemed to be Old Testament appearances of Christ (Judges 2:1-5). The strongest Old Testament verse for the doctrine of the Trinity is:
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me. (Isaiah 48:16)
In the New Testament, the Father, Son and Spirit are confirmed to be divine, to do the works of God, and to be worshipped. Much is written about the deity of Jesus (examples in John 1:1; Titus 2:13), yet He is distinguished from the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit is also God (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 5:3-5), but distinguished from the Father and the Son.
God has a triune nature with three distinct personalities, yet He is one God:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
There are several Scriptures which confirm this triune nature of God. When Jesus was being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, God spoke and the Holy Spirit descended:
And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a
dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo, a voice from Heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)
Prior to returning to Heaven after His ministry on earth, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit coming from God:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me.(John 15:26)
The Apostle Peter spoke of the triune nature of God:
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:14)
The Apostle Paul spoke of the Trinity in his writings:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the
Holy Ghost, be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
For through Him (the Son) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
The book of Acts also verifies the triune nature of God:
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He (Jesus) hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33)
THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are described in the Bible in terms of their nature. When we speak of “nature” we mean basic qualities which describe God. These qualities are also known as “attributes” which means “characteristics.” The Bible reveals that God is…
The Trinity of God is eternal with no beginning and no ending:
Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. (Psalms 90:1-2)
And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the
Lord, the everlasting God. (Genesis 21:33)
The eternal nature of God can be illustrated by a circle. The circle has no visible starting point or ending point, yet it exists.
God is a spirit. This means He is without flesh and blood and therefore invisible to the natural eyes of man:
God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
God is sovereign–the ruling power over all the universe. Read Ephesians l and Romans 9.
God is present everywhere:
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth… (2 Chronicles 16:9)
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)
Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou are there. (Psalms 139:7-8)
God knows all things:
…Thou knowest it altogether. (Psalms 139:4)
…God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (1 John 3:20)
…But all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:13)
God is all powerful:
…I am the Almighty God… (Genesis 17:1)
…With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
…For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6)
God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
God does not change His person, nature, or divine purposes:
For I am the Lord, I change not… (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)
God is sinless, absolutely pure:
…Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)
God is fair and impartial in judgment:
…A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
God keeps His promises and is absolutely trustworthy.
…He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
God is good, kind, and desires your welfare. He is benevolent towards all of His creatures:
The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalms 145:9)
God shows continuous mercy to sinful mankind:
…The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands… (Exodus 34:6-7)
God shows undeserved kindness to sinful man:
…For I am gracious. (Exodus 22:27)
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
God is love:
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
God “suffers long”–meaning that He does not immediately judge sin, but appeals to all men to repent and patiently waits for them to acknowledge their sins and turn to Him.
God shows deep understanding and keen discernment.
The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens. (Proverbs 3:19)
God is not subject to natural and human limitations. He is not subject to the limitations of space:
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee: how much less this house that I have builded? (1 Kings 8:27)
He is not subject to the limitations of time:
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (Exodus 15:18)
See also 1 Kings 8:27; Exodus 15:18; Deuteronomy 33:27; Nehemiah 9:5; Psalms 90:2; Jeremiah 10:10; and Revelation 4:8-10.
NAMES OF GOD
God has revealed himself in many ways in the Holy Bible, including His names through which He has revealed His nature and character. The word “God” (one who is worshiped) is a title men use to describe the Supreme Being. In the Bible names are more than an identification. They are descriptive of the bearer of the name. The names for God include:
-Jehovah: Means Lord.
-Jehovah-Rapha: “The Lord that healeth”: Exodus 15:26
-Jehovah-Nissi: “The Lord our banner”: Exodus 17:8-15
-Jehovah-Shalom: “The Lord our peace”: Judges 6:24
-Jehovah-Ra’ah: “The Lord my shepherd”: Psalms 23:1
-Jehovah-Tsidkenu: “The Lord our righteousness”: Jeremiah 23:6
-Jehovah-Jireh: “The Lord who provides”: Genesis 22:14
-Jehovah-Shammah: “The Lord is there”: Ezekiel 48:35
-Elohim: Means God and is used where the creative power of God is implied:
Acts 17:28; John 1:12-13
-Father: Abba–Heavenly Father: Romans 8:15
-Adonai: Means Lord or Master: Exodus 23:17; Isaiah 10:16,33
-El: This is often used in combination with other words for God:
-El Shaddai: “The God who is sufficient for the needs of His people”: Exodus 6:3
-Elolam: “The everlasting God”: Genesis 21:33
-El Elyon: “Most high God, exalted above all other gods”: Genesis 14:18-20
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
The best statement of the sovereign plan of God is the summary in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.”
The details of the plan of God are revealed clearly in Romans 9 and Ephesians 1:11: “…in whom we also were called, having been foreordained according to the plan of him who works out all things in conformity with the counsel of his will.”
These decrees of God are to be distinguished from God’s will in regards to His commands and
prohibitions which are clearly laid out in His Word. For example, the fall of man–which resulted from the command to “not to eat the fruit”–was foreknown by God, but He is not the author of sin in any way. Mankind has free will and is responsible for their choices. The command of God was not to eat the fruit, yet He knew that man would eat the fruit.
Jesus taught that His death was not an accident, but rather according to the foreordained and decreed plan of God (Luke 22:22). Peter states regarding the crucifixion that Jesus was handed over to the people by “God’s set purpose and foreknowledge”. Yet in neither of these cases are the sins of these people or the moral and spiritual consequences minimized. People are responsible for their choices, even though those choices were foreknown by God.
Jesus said “woe” to the person who betrayed Him and Peter referred to the men as “wicked” who crucified Him (Acts 2:22-24). The early Church implicated Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Jews, and Gentiles in this awful deed, claiming that they had done what “God’s hand and will determined beforehand should happen”. Again, this confirms that God knows the future because He decreed what would come to pass.
We are predestined in one sense, in that all mankind is predisposed to sin because of the basic sin nature:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)
According to Romans 8:29, however, God’s predetermined plan is that we all be conformed to the image of His Son through salvation and the new birth experience: “…For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” A sovereign God knows who will chose His plan, and who will reject it–yet without violating man’s free will.
God is sovereign over all the world:
-He controls the physical universe: Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17.
-He controls animals: Psalm 147:9; Matthew 6:26.
-He controls nations: Daniel 2:38-39; 4:17,25; Romans 13:1.
-He controls individuals: Galatians 1:15-16; Luke 1:52; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 10:30.
-He controls the destiny of the wicked: Psalm 11:6.
THE PURPOSES OF GOD
God’s purpose is not a vague purpose or a “hoped for” purpose. The purpose of God is clearly communicated in His Word. Perhaps one of the best summaries of His purpose is given in the book of Ephesians. Here is God’s statement of purpose:
According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him. (Ephesians 3:11;1:9-10)
God wants to bring all men into right spiritual relationship with Himself:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
God’s purpose is that all people experience forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, come into right relationship with Him, and become part of the Kingdom of God (John 3). The Bible assures that God’s purposes will be accomplished:
The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. (Isaiah 14:24)
This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isaiah 14:26-27)
THE PLANS OF GOD
God not only has an established purpose, He implements plans to achieve that purpose. God uses individuals, nations, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Church to accomplish His plans.
From the beginning of time as we now know it, God has worked through individuals to accomplish His purposes. The Bible is filled with stories of how God used different men and women as part of His plan.
In Old Testament times God raised up great leaders like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses. He also anointed prophets, kings, and judges to accomplish His purposes. In New Testament times, God used individuals like John the Baptist, the disciples of Jesus, Paul, Timothy, Barnabas and many others.
God even took sinful men who would not conform to His plan and reversed their evil plans to accomplish His purposes. God did not cause their sinful actions, but He worked through them and in spite of them to achieve His will. For example, God said regarding the wicked Pharaoh in Egypt:
And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)
In Old Testament times God raised up the nation of Israel to accomplish His purpose in the world. As a nation, Israel was mandated to reveal God’s plan to the heathen nations of the world. Repeatedly, they failed in this responsibility.
Because of this, judgment came upon Israel through the heathen nations which lived around them. God was so determined to accomplish His plan that He worked through the evil acts of these sinful nations, although He did not condone their actions and held them accountable.
Early in history, God promised a Savior through whom forgiveness from sin would be available to all mankind. The promise was first given to Adam and Eve after their sin in the Garden of Eden. God said:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
This was the beginning of many promises of a Savior. For a long time God did not reveal the details of how He would accomplish this plan. It was a great mystery. Later, in the time of the Old Testament prophets, God shared additional details of His plan. In New Testament times, these details were fulfilled and the mystery revealed when God sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of all mankind:
No longer was God’s plan a mystery. His plans and purpose were revealed openly in Jesus Christ: Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
From childhood, Jesus knew God’s purpose was to provide salvation for all mankind and restore all men and nations into fellowship with Him. Jesus lived His life on earth to accomplish God’s purposes. Even as a child, Jesus was concerned–not with His own plans and purposes–but with those of God the Father. When His parents thought He was lost and eventually found Him…
…He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luke 2:49)
The ministry of Jesus focused on the purposes of God. Every plan, every decision, and every act focused on these purposes:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus commissioned His followers, which includes all true believers, to fulfill God’s purposes:
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
The chapter on Christology in this study provides details on the ministry of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is also part of God’s plan. After Jesus returned to Heaven, a special power was given in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 2. This experience is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit was given to accomplish God’s purposes in the world:
But yet shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
The Holy Spirit provides guidance and direction to believers to enable them to fulfill God’s plans. Because the Holy Spirit knows the will of God, and because He searches and understands the spirit of man, He serves as the link between you and God to help you achieve these purposes:
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)
The Holy Spirit works in partnership with you to accomplish God’s will. As you speak God’s Words, He convicts unbelievers of sin, leading them to accept the Gospel (John 16:7-11). The chapter on Pneumatology in this course provides additional teaching on the Holy Spirit.
All true believers are part of the Church, which is now the instrument through which God works to accomplish His purpose and plans on earth:
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent [this means it is God’s purpose] that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God [God’s plan and purpose]. (Ephesians 3:9-10, TAB)
God works in the lives of believers who are members of the Church to accomplish His purposes:
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
To “do His good pleasure” means He is working in you to accomplish His purposes in your life. This includes salvation, infilling of the Holy Spirit, using you to minister to others, and continuously conforming you to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ:
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:13)
When you yield yourself to become “instruments of righteousness unto God” it means you bring your life and ministry in harmony with His purpose and plans. By doing this, you become instruments through which He can work:
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ… (2 Corinthians 5:20)
We then, as workers together with Him… (2 Corinthians 6:1)
If God does not work in and through you, then all of your work is in vain:
Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Psalms 127:1)
Your ministry will not succeed unless it is built upon the eternal purposes of God, rather than man:
…For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38-39, NIV)