Believing in God the Father : interpreting a phrase from the Apostle's Creed

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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

In our days, the creedal phrase ‘I believe in God the Father almighty’ is interpreted primarily along Trinitarian lines: It is applied to God as the Father of Jesus Christ. Here I argue that it has a dual background: in Jesus’ prayer practice, in which He consistently addressed God as ‘Father’, and in the Hellenistic habit of referring to the Creator as ‘Father’. I discuss Jesus’ use of the term ‘Father’ against its Old Testament background, and argue that it primarily points to the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with His father. Against the Hellenistic background, however, the metaphor ‘Father’ means ‘he who brings forth effortlessly’. Finally, I discuss some gender issues connected with the use of the term ‘Father’ for God.