May 29, 2014

Theos Hemon Pater: "God Our Father"

Romans 1:1-7

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
—Romans 1:7


At the beginning of the book of Romans, we find Paul’s usual identification of himself along with his greeting to all his readers. In this greeting, Paul refers to God as Theos hemon Pater, “God our Father.”

Hemon Pater, “our Father,” occurs in different ways in the New Testament. Throughout the gospels, we hear this phrase on the lips of Jewish religious leaders. When they use the phrase, it refers to an ancestor, such as Abraham or David. In Romans, Paul also uses “our father” to refer to Abraham.

In the greetings of his letters, though, Paul specifies that hemon Pater, “our Father,” refers to God. The greeting is from the God who made the heavens and the earth, who poured out his grace on us through his Son, Jesus. Through Jesus, we also receive our Father’s peace, which “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). A wonderful greeting, indeed!

Another use of hemon Pater occurs when Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9) in the Lord’s Prayer.

In yet another passage we learn that Jesus also intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:34). We confess this when we say Jesus is “seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty” (Apostles’ Creed). On this Ascension Day, when you pray, “Our Father,” take comfort and assurance in knowing that Jesus intercedes on your behalf.

Our Father in heaven, thank you that in Jesus Christ we have an intercessor at your right hand. Thank you for the assurance that you hear and answer our prayers. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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