Why do the Scriptures call God our Father?

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Answer

The Scriptures sometimes call God our Father, I believe, in reference to the covenantal relationship that God enters into with his people. It's interesting the two primary metaphors for covenant in the Bible itself are either parenthood, fatherhood and sonship, or marriage, husband and wife. The argument can even be made the covenants really are a family-making edifice, they're a family-making procedure wherein someone who was not a family now becomes a family. And God becomes the father of his people through covenant. But it's not just any type of fatherhood that God that is attributed to God in the Bible, but rather, it's a royal fatherhood. The greater king who enters into a relationship with a lesser king is the father of the lesser king; he's a royal father who cares for his children, he cares for his sons, and he protects them, but he also gives them his inheritance. We shouldn't be surprised that when Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, drawing off of the whole anthology of the Psalter, he distills it down to this very basic outline of the faithful prayer. But the prayer starts with this: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done." Now notice that even for Jesus, God's fatherhood is tied directly to his royalty. God is not merely a father, he's a king father. And so, as a faithful son, when you come before your father, you want his kingdom expanded. You want to see his reign brought to bear in every aspect of the human life.

Answer by Dr. Scott Redd

Dr. Scott Redd, Jr. is the president and an associate professor of Old Testament at the Washington, D.C., campus of Reformed Theological Seminary.