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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Chaldaic 'abba . Christ's endearing filial mode of addressing God; so believers (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15); from 'aabah , "to show kindness." God's fatherhood is the ground and pattern for human fatherhood. Abraham was "father of nations," both by natural descent from him and by spiritual fellowship in his faith (Genesis 18:18-19; Romans 4:17). The godly father's blessing brought great good, his curse great evil (Genesis 9:25-27); the undutifulness of Ham entailing a curse on his race, the dutifulness of Shem and Japhet a blessing on their races (Genesis 27:27-40; Genesis 48:15-20; Genesis 48:49). The fifth commandment, "honor thy father and mother," is the first with special promise (Ephesians 6:2).

Love descends rather than ascends; hence this commandment is more needed than one concerning parents' duties to children, but this is added (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). Dishonoring parents is one of the worst sins (Exodus 21:15-17; 1 Timothy 1:9; Malachi 1:6; Isaiah 45:10). Still the parent was not to inflict death, but to bring the refractory child before the city elders in the gate or place of justice (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Any ancestor is called "father" or "mother" (Isaiah 51:2; Jeremiah 35:16-18, the sons of Jonadab son of Rechab, a striking instance of the blessing on obedience to parents; Daniel 5:2; 2 Chronicles 15:16 margin). "Father" is used also for protector, patron (Job 29:16; Psalms 68:5; Deuteronomy 32:6). "Fathers" mean elders (Acts 7:2; Acts 22:1). The pupils of a spiritual master are called "sons" (2 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 4:1).

"Father" expresses one worshipped or reverenced (Jeremiah 2:27; 2 Kings 2:12; 2 Kings 5:13; 2 Kings 6:21). The inventor of any art is called "father" of it or of its practicers (Genesis 4:20-21; John 8:44; Job 38:28; Job 17:14). So the source (2 Corinthians 1:3) or instrument of spiritual blessings, as "mercy," regeneration. 1 Corinthians 4:15; "though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." The father's great duty was to teach God's laws continually to his children; "speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up ... that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children ... as the days of heaven upon the earth" (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Father'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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