Divine Titles and Their Significance

Part Six 

By A. J. Pollack

Divine Titles In The New TestamentWhen we come to the New Testament we breathe an atmosphere different from that of the Old Testament. Then it was a time of shadows, when the wonderful prophecies of the coming Christ were heard. Now we have the light of God fully revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know of His actual entrance into this world, of His wondrous testimony to and revelation of God, of His wonderful life, of His atoning death and resurrection and glorification. How glorious that He who came into this world has brought the light of the love of God to sinful man – “love” which a writer describes as “infinite in measure, everlasting in duration, omnipotent in power, unchanging in character, all pervading in its presence, and passing knowledge.”

Unlike the Old Testament where there are several names of God in His essential Being, the New Testament has only one name, the translation of the Greek word Theos. The various names of God in the New Testament designate relative position, such as the Father in relation to the Son. God is:

  • a Spirit (Jn. 4:24),
  • the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), 
  • the true God (1 Th. 1:9),
  • able (2 Cor. 9:8),
  • faithful (1 Cor. 1:9),
  • the God of hope, peace, all comfort, patience and consolation (Rom. 15:13; Heb. 13:20; 2 Cor. 1:3; Rom. 15:5; 2 Th. 2:16), and
  • love (1 Jn. 4:16).

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 25).

This name of God (Theos) occurs over 1,200 times in the New Testament. Eight times it is employed to designate the gods of the heathen world or distinguished people. For example, John 10:34 speaks of “gods,” quoting from Psalm 82:6-7 where God is seen among the mighty, but telling them they would die like men, for they were but men. Otherwise, God (Theos) is invariably translated God. 

God is presented in two ways: (1) acting in grace, “the acceptable year of the LORD” (Isa. 61:2) or (2) acting in government, “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2). Note the acceptable year of the Lord, the long stretched-out days of gracious waiting on man for his blessing, is compared with “the day of vengeance of our God,” the short hours in which judgment will be rendered to every man. “The acceptable year of the LORD” has already lasted 2,000 years and still God lingers in grace over a godless world. But the day of judgment must come, and signs are telling us that day is not far off. “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Ps. 145:8).

This is a most unspeakable name of God. In a most unique way it stands in relation to the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a relationship He shares with none. There ever was the Father and the Son, the “only begotten” [Greek: monogenes] Son of God (Jn. 3:16). One has said, “Life – the Father from all eternity gives it; the Son from all eternity receives it.” And, there ever was the Holy Spirit. The three share their Godhead glory with none other.

But how wonderful that believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are children of God and can call Him Father. What joy must have filled the heart of the blessed Lord when risen and triumphant He sent the message by Mary Magdalene to His disciples saying, “Go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (Jn. 20:17).

What a glorious message! We believers are seen in a relationship with God as Father in association with our blessed Lord. Divine life has been communicated to us, made possible by the atoning work of our Lord on the cross. We read: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 Jn. 4:9).

We have been made partakers of the divine nature, but not as being lifted to the level of deity for that could never be. We are not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent [all-powerful, all-knowing or everywhere present]. Yet we share the moral qualities of the divine life, such as love, purity, compassion, holiness and righteousness; all while we possess a nature that can commune with God.

Note from John 20:17 that our Lord, in sending this marvelous message to His brethren is careful to indicate, by the very phrasing of the message, His preeminence which we all gladly recognize. He did not say “our Father,” but He carefully distinguished between “My” and “your.” He is not ashamed to call us brethren, but remembering who He is and what He has done for our eternal blessing it would be quite out of place to call Him “our elder Brother.” Let us keep to the phrasing of Scripture and exercise that deep reverence that becomes us, while rejoicing in the wondrous relationship we are called to enjoy. How wondrous that God sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts that we might with the confidence of children cry, “Abba Father” (Gal. 4:6). [Abba is a word in Aramaic for father used by infants and might be reverently translated “Daddy.”]

We read: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17).

Related thoughts shared by Walter Scott 
(adapted from The Bible Handbook)
The divine revelation to the Patriarchs was as “God Almighty,” to Israel as “Jehovah,” while to Christians it is “Father”– the distinguishing New Testament title. The name occurs by itself or in conjunction with other titles about 300 times in the New Testament Scriptures. It is worthy of notice that Jesus only once directly addressed “God” as such (Mt. 27:46); He often spoke of God, but with that one exception, He always directly addressed the “Father.” Of the many divine names and titles there is none more full of comfort or more touching to the heart than that of “Father.” To the Christian it is the expression of that peculiar relationship and measure of blessed nearness, which every believer occupies, founded on accomplished redemption. A Jew, however godly, could not directly address Jehovah as his “Father.” “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Ps. 103:13)
“Father” is the language of the babe in Christ (1 Jn. 2:13), the cry of the Spirit in the believer (Rom. 8:15) and a name which speaks of a love and relationship only known and enjoyed by the practically [how he behaves] separated saint (1 Jn. 2:15-16). In those loved chapters of John 13-17, containing the dying instructions of Christ and in which His mind is given us for comfort and profit during the whole period of this present interval of grace, the name “Father” with its pronouns occurs upwards of 100 times.

The prayer of glory is addressed to the God of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:17-23); while the prayer of love to the Father of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:14-21). “Our Father” is not the language of Jesus and His disciples as some have supposed, but of the latter only. “My Father” was solely spoken by Jesus. “My Father” and “Your Father” (Jn. 20:17), while maintaining the special blessedness of the believer, distinctly marks off the pre-eminent place of Jesus.

All disciplinary dealing (Heb. 12:9-10), conduct and life (1 Pet. 1:14-17), fellowship (1 Jn. 1) and restoration of soul (1 Jn. 2:1) are referred to the “Father.” It is also the Father’s care (Lk. 12:30), love (Jn. 16:27), grace (Mt. 5:45-48), goodness (Mt. 7:11), words (Jn. 17:8) and testimony (Jn. 17:14) that forms, stays and comforts the soul of the saint in his daily life.
But while “Father” is the name which, perhaps above all others, stirs the feelings and awakens the tenderest emotions of the heart, it must be kept in mind that the name was only fully declared after redemption had been accomplished, after the wrath of God had spent itself on Jesus on the cross.