Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Praise of the Father (Eph. 1:3)

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

It is Paul’s common practice to begin his letters with thanksgiving and intercession for his readers. The order in which he does this is important: first, he praises God for who he is and what he has done, and then he asks him for specific needs to be met. Verses 3-14 of Ephesians 1 are one sentence in the Greek text. Paul was dictating these words and as he spoke ‘his speech poured out of his mouth in a continuous cascade’ (John Stott).
In an encounter at a well near Sychar Jesus had told a lonely woman that the time was coming when real worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He told her that the Father was seeking people to worship him (John 4:23-24). Therefore Paul’s manner of address to God here is both a fulfilment and an example of what Jesus had taught about worship.

Paul addressing the Father is also an example of how to practise the teaching of Jesus that he gave in what we call the Lord’s Prayer. We are to say, ‘Our Father,…’

Paul’s prayer breathes the spirit of adoption. In Romans 8:15 Paul reminds his readers of the way the Holy Spirit leads believers to say ‘Father’ in all kinds of circumstances.

It is also important to note how Paul describes the Father; he addresses him as ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. According to Leon Morris, ‘The first term [God] expresses the majesty and remoteness of him who we worship and the second [Father] his love and nearness.’ We need to maintain this balance when we approach the Father.

Here are three other reasons why we should address God in this manner? First, this is how God is now identified. In the Old Testament he was the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, Paul’s method is a reminder that we can only approach God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Mediator between us and God, he is our Advocate with the Father.

Third, when we link the Father with Jesus we are reminded that through Jesus we know what the Father is like. On one occasion Jesus said that any who had seen him had also seen the Father (John 14:9).

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