Ephesians 4:3-6; One Father, part 2.
Tuesday June 8, 2021
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Finally, there is one Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
What Paul seems to have specifically in mind when using the phrase in this passage is the Fathership of the first member of the Trinity to the body of believers.
One of the things that makes this substantial is that every person needs a father. Yet still, not everyone grows up with a father and others grow up with terrible or indifferent fathers. Just yesterday, Prager U published a short video entitled, “Are Father’s Necessary,” in which Prager goes on to prove the affirmative. They reveal the current trend in modern publications, like the NYT, that there is a push to show that fathers are not necessary. Most male violent criminals in prison grew up without a father. The majority of gang members have no father at home. Good fathers give children a sense of safety and security.
Having the almighty Father as our Father, to Whom each of us can forever call eternal Father, must have the impact upon us that it should. This is not any father, but the first member of the Trinity.
Our one Father has adopted all believers, making up His family, sons and daughters now possessing His name Eph 3:14-15.
To the Gentile world filled with thousands of pagan gods that needed and demanded human attention and fawned over human sacrifices and were fickle and temperamental, the Christian message offering the only one, almighty God as Father to all who believed the gospel had quite an impact.
God did not receive His life from another. If God could receive any gift whatever, He would cease to be God. He creates all and contains all.
What we sometimes call giving to God is much like a child asking his father for $5 so that he can buy him a birthday gift. If we give our whole life to God, as we sometimes term it, we are only giving to His authority through our obedience that which He gave to us. If God could receive anything, He would be incomplete. An elementary but correct way to think about God is as the One who contains all, who gives all that is given, but who Himself can receive nothing that He has not first given.
Need is a creature word and cannot be spoken of God. His interest in His creatures stems from His sovereign good pleasure and His love and not from any need God has from any of His creation.
In contrast to God, every creature requires something outside itself in order to exist. Take air and water from the earth and all life would perish immediately. God is self-existent and self-sufficient.
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
We use human language to describe God, for that is all we can do. But we also combine our descriptions with the understanding of the truth. We speak of Christ as the Head and all believers as His body, for this is the truth revealed in the scriptures, and it may sound to us that Christ needed us to fulfill Him, but the fact that we fulfill Him does not mean that He was missing something. He made us and He gave us His life by His work on the cross. All who have believed on Him are an expression of His very life, and His life is His own fullness.
The difference between a petty and indifferent pagan god and a Father who was the one Sovereign of the universe, was immense. He is the one and only God. There is no other. He is almighty and sovereign and He calls Himself your very own Father.
The Father in heaven is not a jealous monarch regarding men as tribute-payers, and needing to be served by human hands. The Father is not a local divinity, honored in one city but not in another where another deity rules, but He is the Father of all, above all, through all, and in all. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating god fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet modern Christianity has made this the popular conception of God. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. If God is made greater by anything we do, by even our own selves, then He is not the God of the Bible.
God does not need our help. We need everything from Him.
A.W. Tozer puts it: “Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of the Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his hearers, not only for the heathen but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of.”
God exists for Himself and man only for His glory. That is the emphatic teaching of the Bible.
Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more;
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
Among all created beings, not one dare trust in itself. God alone trusts in Himself; all other beings must trust in Him.
The question of whether “Father of all” refers only to the body of Christ, or to the entire human race and in fact all “things” is debated by scholars. Ironside writes in his commentary that it refers to the entire human race, showing the Father as Creator but not indicating a universal fatherhood. I share that with you because Ironside is a solid and humble exegete and expositor, and I have also read several other very good teachers that hold the same view. Of course, that doesn’t make their view correct, but I state it so that we might proceed with caution.
The “one Father” as Creator of all men is similar to what Paul taught in Athens.
"For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.'
One thing to keep in mind is that Paul is speaking to unbelievers here, but in Ephesians he is writing to believers. The unbeliever can understand God as creator of all men. That is in fact what deists believe.
However, only believers in Christ understand God as their very own Father who has adopted them as sons.
The Father of all seems to widen Paul’s scope, and though he may be referring to the Father as Creator of the human race, only the body of Christ understands their complete dependence upon Him and obligation to Him, while the world that has rejected Christ, who remain independent from God, do not know Him as He is. So then, yes, He is the Creator of all, but only the believer recognizes Him as his Father and understands his debt to the Father who has predestined him to adoption as His own.
Though God is the Creator of all and so in one sense can be seen as the Father of all, only believers see Him as Father, and so Paul would be referring to Him as Father of the church.
The believer possesses the life of Christ. Christ said, “I go to My Father and your Father.” We look to the Father in the manner that He did.