De Moor V:7: The Person of the Father

The Property of the Fatheris Ἀγενησία/unbegottenness, the ineffable Production of the Son and the Spirit. That is, with respect to Essence this agrees with the Triune God, that He is not from another Essence, but is sufficient for Himself by Independence; thus, with respect to Subsistence, this is peculiar to the Father, that He is not from another Person, but rather the Son and the Spirit from Him.


[The passage in John 5:26 means this.] Concerning which passage see next in § 8.



[And the name of the Father] Compare WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, Preface, *** 3 versa, 4; RUFFINUS’ in Symbolum, opera Hieronymi, tome 4, page103, “God, as far as the human mind is able to imagine, is the appellation of that nature or substance that is above all. Father is a term of arcane and ineffable sanctity. When you hear God, understand substance without beginning, etc. When you hear Father, understand the Father of the Son, which Son is the image of the aforementioned substance.[1] For, just as no one is called lord, except he have either a possession or servant over which he is master; and just as no one is called teacher, unless he have a student: so also no one is able in any manner to be called a father, unless he have a son. Therefore, by this very name, whereby God is called Father, a Son is also demonstrated to subsist with the Father.”

Nevertheless, our AUTHOR does not think that the paronymic[2]name, πατριὰ/family, has regard to this, Ephesians 3:15, where Paul makes mention of πᾶσαν πατριὰν ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς, the whole family in heaven and on earth, of which he affirms that ἐξ οὗ, of whom (namely, Πατέρος τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ[3]) ὀνομάζεται, it is named. Evidently MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus III, § 25, note b, page115, “although he knows that a great many Interpreters think otherwise, he supposes that one could suspect that Paul here made mention of a twofold πατριᾶς/family, as it were, the one earthly, and that either more common, consisting of all creatures, but especially men, whom he calls the offspring of God, Acts 17:28, 29, or more special, of the elect and faithful constituting the Church of God; the other heavenly, which again is twofold, both the inferior of Angels, who are called the sons of God, Job 1:6, and the superior, of the Son and the Holy Spirit, of which that Talmudic saying could be understood, God does not do anything, unless he first consult of it with the superior family, which Maimonides[4]in More Nevochim, part II, chapter VI, applies to the passages in Genesis 1:26; 11:7.” Nevertheless, our AUTHOR thinks that Paul in the passage cited rather has regard to Creaturesalone. That also appears more probable to me, since, 1. in the words immediately preceding in verse 14 God had been called Father, ὁ Πατὴρ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whence what is next mentioned, πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς, the whole family in heaven and on earth, appears to be distinguished, not only from the Father, but also from our Lord Jesus Christ, as of an inferior class and dignity, neither having so excellent and close communion with God the Father as indeed His Natural Son has. 2. And, if under this πατριᾷ πάσῃ, whole family, the Son and Holy Spirit are comprehended together with whatever creatures, this could certainly appear to be contrary the divine dignity of the Son and Spirit, because they would be distinguished from the creatures to no greater extent, but would be esteemed with them in the very same position, as it were: while elsewhere, when the Lord proclaims His Father to be the Father of the faithful also, He carefully distinguishes these two from Himself, John 20:17.


[Moreover, the Ancients maintained this, when they called the Father the Cause, Principium, Fount, and Origin of All Deity.] See BULL’S Defensionem Fidei Nicænæ, section IV, chapterI, § 1-6, pages 251-254. Thus, for example, ATHANASIUS in his Ἐκθέσει πίστεως, if it be by him, of which there is some doubt, opera, tome I, page241, Οὔτε γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ Υἱός ἐστιν· οὕτε ὁ Υἱός Πατὴρ ἐστιν. ὁ γὰρ Πατὴρ, Υἱοῦ Πατὴρ ἐστιν· καὶ ὁ Υἱός, Πατρὸς Υἱός ἐστιν· ὡς γὰρ οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ πηγὴ ποταμὸς, οὐδὲ ὁ ποταμὸς πηγὴ· ἀμφότερα δὲ ἓν καὶ ταὐτόν ἐστιν ὓδωρ, τὸ ἐκ τῆς πηγῆς εἰς τὸν ποταμὸν μετοχετευόμενον, οὕτως ἡ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς εἰς τὸν Υἱὸν θεότης ἀῤῥεύστως καὶ ἀδιαιρέτως τυγχάνει, for, the Father is not the Son; and the Son is not the Father: For the Father is the Father of the Son; and the Son is the Son of the Father: For, as the spring is not the river, nor the river the spring; but both are one and the same water, which is poured from the spring into the river, as the Divine Nature continually and undividedly flows from the Father unto the Son: page 241, Ὁ Πατὴρ, συνέχων ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ τὸ εἶναι, ἐγένησε τὸν Υἱὸν, ὡς ἔφαμεν, καὶ οὐκ ἔκτισεν· ὡς ποταμὸν ἀπὸ πηγῆς· καὶ ὡς βλαστὸν ἀπὸ ῥίζης· καὶ ὡς ἀπαύγασμα ἀπὸ φωτός· ἃ οἶδεν ἡ φύσις ἀδιαίρετα, the Father, being of Himself, begat the Son, as we affirm, and did not create Him: like a river from a spring: and like a shoot from its root: and like a beam from light: which things nature itself knows to be indistinguishable, undivided. To our AUTHOR this comparision does not appear, 1. sufficiently to agree with the omnimodal Independence of God, but, 2. to imply a Deity divided by Communication; while, on the other hand, the Father communicates the whole Deity in such a manner that He Himself retains the whole. Thus GREGORY NYSSEN, Quod non sint Tres Dii, opera, tome 3, page 27, says that the Fatheris without cause, ἄνευ αἰτίας, and the cause αἴτιον/responsible; the Son and the Spirit, of a cause and caused, ἐξ αἰτίου, αἰτιατους. But, to consider the Father as Cause, and the Son and the Spirit as Caused, 1. assails again the Independence of the divine Persons, since a thing cause, an effect, is dependent upon its cause; 2. this concept also appears to be opposed to the Coeternity of the Spirit and the Son with the Father: since a cause through the efficacy that it exerts produces the effect, and so it precedes the effect by its own existence; unless you think of an emanative Cause, which in time is simultaneous with the effect, yet in order and dignity always remains prior. Therefore, others preferred to call the Father the Principium of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, considering the Principium as what extends more broadly than a Cause, as, for example, a point is able to be called the principium of a line, but not the cause. But our AUTHOR reckons Principiumamong the harsher terms in this matter, neither perhaps by the application of this term are all scruples also avoided, since thus the Son and the Holy Spirit appear to be considered as Principiata/Begun, which the Scholastics are unwilling to be said, and not without reason; since this consideration is also apt to implant concepts that are not at all easily reconciled with the Independence and Consummate Perfection of the divine Persons. Therefore, as far as possible, let us abstain from all terms of this sort in this business.


[1]See Hebrews 1:3. [2]That is, etymologically related. [3]Verse 14. [4]Moses Maimonides, or Rambam (1135-1204), is reckoned by many to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his age. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition, natural science, and Aristotelian philosophy, Maimonides demonstrates great command and almost equal facility.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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