Appreciating Fathers

Greek word: Pater “from a root signifying ‘a nourisher, protector, upholder’” (Vine’s). “From root ‘pa’; lit. nourisher, protector, upholder” (Thayer).

Aramic word: Abba. “Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants” (Vine’s). It is a tender affectionate term of endearment.

English word: “The word ‘father’ can be traced back to the Latin ‘pater’. There was a process called ‘the great consonant shift’ which meant that related languages began to change the letters such as ‘p’ for ‘f’ or ‘v’, and ‘t’ began to be pronounced as ‘d’. This explains why the Latin word ‘pater’ translates so similarly into various European languages as: Vater (German); Father (English); Padre (Italian/Spanish); Athar (Irish); Pere (French)…” (Answers.com). “Today’s word probably comes from one of the first syllables uttered by babies, ‘pa’ plus the proto-Indo-European suffix ‘-ter’, also found in ‘mother’. These two components alone account for Greek ‘pater’ and Latin ‘pater,’ … Sanskrit ‘pitAr’ …” (alphaDictionary.com).

A distinction should be made between the mere act of reproducing and fatherhood in its complete sense. This distinction is sometimes emphasized in Latin with ‘pater’ being used of the true father, and ‘sator’ being used of one who simply begets. It doesn’t take much of a man to reproduce. God wants more from us. God commanded Abram saying, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD” (Genesis 18:19).

The Bible teaches much about respecting fathers. “Honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2 cf. Exodus 20:12). “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). The fruits of a good relationship can be long lasting. “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6). Children should seek to live a life which rejoices their parents. “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24-25 cf. 10:1; 17:25; 29:3).

The role of a father is used to illustrate care and concern: (1) Jesus in teaching the disciples to pray said, “ask… seek… knock” (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9). He then illustrated the Father’s love by saying, “what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish will give him a serpent? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then being evil (relatively speaking in comparison to God -B.H.) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things (the Holy Spirit- Luke) to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 11:11-13 harmonized). * (2) Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11). (3) He also wrote to the Corinthians describing his work among them saying, “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (2 Corinthians 12:14). (4) Concerning God’s correction, we’re told, “My son, do not despise the chastising of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastises and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of Spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness, Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; Nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-11). Note: The chastening of the LORD in context refers to the words of correction provided through the inspired writer.

A Few Things Dads Do

1. They provide. The etymology of the word “Father” seems to have to do with being “a nourisher, protector, upholder.” They provide for their children physically (2 Corinthians 12:14). I have been reading a book about David Crockett. It tells how in his early boyhood days he was often “bound out” for months at a time to pay for his father’s debts. Fathers should be trying to provide for their children, and not the other way around. Note: This does not mean that a child has no responsibility to care for his parent(s) in their old age [Psalm 127:4-5 (“gates” cf. Deuteronomy 16:18; 21:18-20; Joshua 20:4; Ruth 4:1, 2, 11; Proverbs 22:22); 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16]. They should also provide for their children’s spiritual development (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4). Four fold growth is the goal: (1) wisdom (mind); (2) stature (body); (3) favor with God (spiritual) (4) favor with men (social) see Luke 2:52.

2. They care. (Matthew 7:9-ff; Luke 11:11-ff). A loaf of bread and some stones may look similar. Some fish and some poisonous serpents may look similar. An egg and a rolled up scorpion may look similar. Fathers should not be needlessly cruel.

3. They care enough to exhort, comfort, and charge (1 Thessalonians 2:11). Exhort: lit. “to the side to call” (Vine’s). It could be to motivate. It could be to correct. Comfort: lit. “near speaking” (Vine’s). Charge: lit. “to testify” (Vine’s). It carries the idea of explaining how things are.

4. They care enough to correct (Hebrews 12:5-11). God’s creation is perfect. He knows what is best. He knows what to say and what to do. Earthly fathers sometimes make mistakes. They even sometimes correct the wrong child not knowing the details. However, good fathers do care enough to discipline. One who doesn’t care enough to do this might as well be regarding you as illegitimate, for such is how mere begetters, especially out of wedlock begetters, treat their children. Holly Dunn had a 1986 country music hit called “Daddy’s Hands,” (Note: her daddy was a gospel preacher, Frank Dunn of Texas ). Her song said, “Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’, Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong. Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle, but I’ve come to understand. There was always love in Daddy’s hands.”

If you have such a father, love him and appreciate him!

* Notes: (a) The words “what man among you…” expects a negative answer (Mt. 7:9; 12:11; cf. Lk. 11:5; 14:5-6; 15:4; 15:8). (b) “Good things” is equated with “Holy Spirit” (Lk. 11:13). This may refer to God answering prayer by the providential agency of the Holy Spirit. That is, it is the Holy Spirit which makes possible the receiving of these gifts. Another possibility is that this refers to the receiving of miraculous gifts through the agency of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 8:14-17 which is the only reference to anyone being given the Holy Spirit in connection with prayer.) Steve Wiggins wrote, “when Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for the Spirit, Joel’s prophesy was in the background, whereas the day of Pentecost and the initial pouring out of the Spirit was in the foreground… It is no more scriptural to pray for the reception of the Holy Spirit today, than it is to pray for the kingdom to come” (Hammer and Tongs, Nov.-Dec. 1992).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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