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Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Father" differs in frequency in the gospels

I recently did a search for occurrences of the word, "father," in the Bible. I wasn't looking for it, but was struck by the number of times it was used in each of the four gospels.

Here's a link to the results of that search, using the English Standard Version.

The frequencies in the four gospels are these:

in Matthew: 70. 15 of these are in the genealogies at the beginning of Matthew. 15 are in the Sermon on the Mount, where something like "your Father which is in heaven" occurs frequently. There are 40 more references. It seems clear that Matthew wanted his readers to think of Christ (and themselves) in relationship to God the Father.

in Mark: 17. Most of these refer to an earthly father, not to God the Father.

in Luke: 41. 9 of these are from the parable of the Prodigal Son. Roughly half of the rest relate to God the Father.

in John: 108! I found that number to be astounding, especially considering that John doesn't have genealogies, or the parable of the Prodigal Son. Most of the statements are about God the Father. I suppose that the most significant is John 10:10, where Jesus said that He and the Father were one.

The frequent use, especially in John, indicates that Jesus, and the gospel writers, believed that the idea of a relationship with God the Father, through the Son, was important.

Thanks for reading. Read the gospels.


atlibertytosay said...

I've never known how to take this comment ~ whether as precaution os sacrilegious.

I was once told by a very prominent preacher that a maintained relationship with God, the Father was crucial because on the off chance, Jesus was not the son of God, we would be "ok" in the eyes of God.

That's a crazy thought to me because so much beyond faith points to Jesus' existence and trinity. But, I thought I'd throw it out there.

Martin LaBar said...

I'd say the latter. If Jesus was not the Son of God, about the whole New Testament is garbage.


atlibertytosay said...


The conversation, which I didn't feel comfortable listening to, said that the gospels covered the bases "with mentions of God the Father".

Martin LaBar said...

It sounds like that preacher wasn't Biblically based. Thanks for the comment.