Is God Everyone’s Father?

Although God is Father of all created, some teach that the fatherhood of God means everyone is a spiritual child of God and because of that everyone is going to heaven. According to the Bible, this is not true.

This doctrine, called Universalism denies that all men are sinners and implies that there is no eternal punishment for sin. It denies the necessity of Christ dying for our sins. Hence there is no need of salvation. It claims that all men are born the children Of God. Because of the abuse of these humanistic teachings, many conservative Christians will not use the phrase, “the fatherhood of God.” However, the Bible teaches that God is the father of the universe and all people in that universe, but that does not mean everyone is a Christian and that everyone will go to heaven (Gal. 3:26).

The Father of Creation

When people describe God the Father, they often use the phrase, “the universal fatherhood of God.” This phrase makes God the Father of all living things, including people, by virtue of the fact that he is their Creator. We prefer to use the phrase “the Father of creation,” because it identifies God with the reason why he is Father.

The best verse to identify “the Father of creation” is James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”

When we study the history of an organization or a nation, we find the term “founding fathers.” The man who invents or develops some new product is often called the “father” of that product. We use the term “father” to identify its source.

Since God is the Creator of all things, he is the Father of the universe. The national Father of Israel. God has a unique relationship with the nation Israel; he is called its father. Although the doctrine of the Father is fully developed in the New Testament, we have noted that it exists in embryonic form in the Old Testament.

Jeremiah put it this way, “I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (Jer. 31:9). Israel was a special son to God because he was its source; Israel was loved by Jehovah and he was their teacher, giving them the law to instruct them in the way they should live. God cared and protected Israel as a Father.

The Unique Father of Jesus Christ

In an extremely unique way, God is the Father of Jesus Christ, his Son. Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin with no human father. Actually, he existed from before the beginning and simply became a man, while retaining his divinity at his birth.

God claims to be the Father of Christ when he calls him “Son,” and in “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7). This does not mean that Jesus Christ was begotten at a point in time. The phrase “this day” means God’s eternal day, or a day without time.

The Son was always in the process of being begotten by the Father-both Father and Son are eternal. At the baptism of Jesus, the Father himself spoke. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Jesus recognized his sonship by telling the Jewish leaders, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).

This statement looks innocent to us because we do not see the implication of the original language. The Greek word for “my” is idios, by which Jesus meant, “My Father, of whom I am identical.” When Jesus called God his Father, he also recognized himself as equal in deity.

Paul related Jesus to God by saying “his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). John called Christ “his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Jesus recognized this unique relation he had with his God. He used the title “Father” more than any other when referring to God. He distinguished between “my Father” and your Father.”

Though he instructed his disciples to pray our Father,” he himself never used the term. He recognized the uniqueness of his relationship with the Father.

A Protective Father

“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation” (Ps. 68:5). God is a father to those oppressed who need a father. This verse does not teach that all poor orphans and widows are saved, but rather that God is concerned about those for whom no one else cares. Even among Christians there is a tendency to ignore those who are less fortunate. But God is the defender of those unable to defend themselves.

When a Christian is opposing the poor, he is opposing those supported by God. As fathers will sometimes involve themselves in the disputes of their sons, so will the “father of the fatherless” step in for his children.

Redemptive Father

The major emphasis in New Testament doctrine is the Father’s relationship to redemption. All who are saved are born “of God” (John 1:13). God becomes our Father when we trust Christ as our Savior and gain admittance into the family of God (John 1:12). We immediately, upon salvation, have an intimate relationship with God “whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).

We cannot know God as our redemptive Father until we are known by him as his redeemed children.

Interpreting Acts 17:29

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto God, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”

The historical setting of the book of Acts, chapter seventeen, is the Apostle Paul’s visit to Athens, where he was invited to address the Greek philosophers (Epicureans and stoics). Paul stood at the open Areopagus on Mars Hill, where he observed, no doubt, the numerous temples, statues, and idols (art work) of the Greek’s religious mythology. Paul accused these philosophers of being too superstitious (see verses 16, 22).

In Paul’s address to the pagan philosophers, he did not quote extensively from the Old Testament … he actually quoted from two Greek poets: Epimenides of Crete and Aratus of Cilicia. By referring to men as the “offspring of God,” Paul was not implying by any means that all men are saved, but rather, that they are all God’s creatures and therefore responsible to Him. (Liberty Bible Commentary, Vol. II, p. 309.)

We Are Handmade by God, in His Likeness

The word “offspring” is from the Greek word genos meaning race. The reference is the creation-work of God, in which He made man (i.e., mankind, the race in Adam) in His own likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), thus rebuking the thought that “the Godhead is like unto gold,” etc. (The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1190, see note cf. Acts 17:29.)

The passage may be paraphrased as: “Since we are formed by God; since we are like Him, living and intelligent beings; since we are more excellent in our nature than the most precious and ingenious works of art, it is absurd to suppose that the original source of our existence can be like gold, and silver, and stone.

Man himself is far more excellent than an image of wood or stone; how much more excellent still must be the great Fountain and Source of all our wisdom and intelligence!” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, p. 486, see note cf. Acts 17:29.)

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

Latest posts by Dr. Elmer Towns (see all)