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Question 64

What is the Orthodox church's teaching about God the Father? We are taught that God the Son was active in the Old testament and appears to Moses and leads the Israelis out of Egypt. What are we taught about the Father?   



Answer to Question 64


The Old Testament does not call the first person of the Holy Trinity Father, this name was revealed to us by the Second person, the Son of God, in the New Testament as in the Lord’s prayer: Our Father which art in heaven...


You say that God the Son was active in the Old Testament and this is true, but that does not mean that the Father and Holy Spirit were not active. All of God’s works, the works of creation, recreation and the salvation of man are brought about by all three Persons of the Godhead for the Father does all things through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.  Each Person of the Holy trinity has his very own particular and distinguishing mark, his own hypostatic attribute or idioma, but they are one in essence and have one will. 


In the light of the New Testament we understand that whenever God speaks in the Old Testament is it always the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. That is why St. John the Theologian begins the Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Son of God is the Word of God and is the Person of the Holy Trinity who spoke “Let there be light and there was light.” 


In Creation the Father directs all things to be created; the Son effects the creation of all things; and the Holy Spirit perfects the things that are created. Each Person pursues the same goal but in a unique way. 


As St. Basil the Great said, "We should understand in the creation the original cause of the Father as a founding cause, the cause of the Son as a creative, and the cause of the Spirit as an implementing one." Thus the Father is the "Creator of all things", the Son is the one "through whom all things were made", and the Holy Spirit is the one "in whom are all things". In other words, the Father first conceived the creation, and His conception was a work carried out by His Word, and perfected by His Spirit.


Also when God revealed himself to Abraham, Moses and others in the Old Testament it was always the Son of God that appeared to men. Christ tells us in the Gospels; “No man knoweth who the Father is but the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal Him” [Luke 10: 22] ;“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” [John 1: 18]; “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is or God, He hath seen the Father” [John 6: 46]. Christ makes it clear that no man has, at any time, seen the Father. This also takes into account the dreams and visions of the Old Testament prophets as well as the appearance of God to Abraham by the Mambre oak tree. This confirms that Abraham saw the Son of God accompanied by two angels, for it would be logical to say that, if the pre-eternal Word, having not yet received flesh, could appear us a man, then so could the Father and the Holy Spirit. But if this were the case, then it would be in conflict, with what Christ has said and cause His words to hold no truth. This also applies to Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of days; he cannot be the Father as some suppose if no man has ever seen Him.