In the Father

This exploration began as a result of a mention of being “in the Father” (1 Thess 1:1) in one of John’s recent articles.[1]  I wanted to understand further what it means to be “in the Father”.  I have heard much about being “in Christ” and even “in the Spirit”, but being “in the Father” is something new to me.  One of the places in which being “in the Father” is discussed is John 14.  There the relationship between the members of the trinity and the disciples and the trinity are discussed.  Jesus tells the disciples that he is in the Father and the Father in him.  The disciples will also be in the Father and the Father in them.  There are several ways in which this connection between the Father, the Son and the Spirit is made present in the disciples:

1)      The place

2)      The way

3)      The works

4)      The glory/the name

5)      The Spirit

6)      The love/the commandments

7)      The word

The place 1-4

John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

There is a place for the disciples to go, that is, the Father’s house.  There are many rooms there and Jesus is going ahead to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house.  This of course presupposes what comes later in the chapter that Jesus is “in the Father”.  The disciples perhaps cannot understand what it means to be in the Father, so Jesus uses this metaphor of a house with many rooms.  There is plenty of space “in the Father”.  There is no restriction in terms of numbers of people who can be “in the Father”.

The way 5-7

John 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Only Jesus can take them to the Father, because he is the way.  He is then the way to be “in the Father”.  This is so because Jesus is already in the Father and he will take them to where he is.  To know Jesus is to be “in the Father”.  So the great inclusiveness of the Father is only possible for those who know the way to the Father, that is, Jesus.

The works 8-11

John 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles [works] themselves.

According to this, Jesus has already demonstrated to them that the Father is in him and he in the Father.  He did this through his works.  The Father does works in Jesus and speaks in his words.  There is a mutual indwelling which is evidenced by the way in which Jesus does works and speaks the words of the Father.  This mutual indwelling, then, is not some kind of physical or even metaphysical thing.  It is a wonderful relational reality.  That Jesus is in the Father means that he visibly demonstrates who the Father is.

The glory/the name 12-14

John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Because this relational indwelling is something which Jesus is going to share with the disciples they also will do the works of the Father.[2]  Anyway, Jesus will do works in the disciples in the same way that the Father does works in Jesus.  This follows from the fact that Jesus is the way to being “in the Father”.  Jesus shares with us his relationship with the Father so that we can also be people who show others the Father in the works which we do.  Being in the Father is being like Jesus in his relationship with the Father.

The purpose of this sharing of Jesus’ relationship with the Father, of our being “in the Father” is that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  This is why we can ask for anything in Jesus name, because we are “in the Father” with Jesus.

The Spirit 15-20

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Jesus asks the Father, whom he is in, for the Spirit to be given to the disciples.  He is like Jesus – another (allos – another of the same kind) counsellor/advocate/one alongside.  The Paraclete will be in them.  This is parallel to Jesus being in the Father and the Father in Jesus.  They know the Spirit, but the world does not.  The Paraclete is the Spirit of truth, that is, he must be the Spirit of Jesus.  It is not stated explicitly but the indwelling of the Spirit and the relational knowing of the one who is like Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus must enable them to know that Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Jesus.

Verse 20 ties this up with “I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”  Since the disciples are in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father, they too must be in the Father.  They share in Jesus’ relational indwelling of the Father.  This comes up again later when the Father loves those who love Jesus.  The mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son is an indwelling of love.  The one who loves Jesus, loves the Father and the Father loves him/her.  Thus he/she is joined to the mutual loving indwelling.

The love/the commands 21-24

21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching [word]. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching [word]. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Being in the Father is to be loved by the Father.  To be in Christ is to be loved by Christ.  Jesus loves the Father and the Father loves him.  Those who love Jesus obey his word.  Because Jesus obeys the Father’s word and speaks the Father’s word he shows the Father to people.  He does not show himself to the world because they cannot see the Father when they do not obey the word of Jesus.  But the Father and the Son will come to those who love and obey and make their dwelling place with them.  This word for dwelling place is the same one used in verse 2 “My Father’s dwelling place” has many rooms.  Being in the Father’s dwelling place is being in the Father.  To be there implies a keeping/guarding of the word of Jesus.  Love of Jesus and his word results in the Father loving the person.


In the Father there is plenty of room.  There is no limit to how many people may be in the Father.  But the way there is exclusive.  Jesus is the only way to be in the Father.  Those who are in the Father do the Father’s works.  This is first true of Jesus, who is in the Father, and then it is true of those who come through Jesus.  These works are not necessarily miracles, but they involve obedience.  Those who are in the Father give glory to the Father and obey the commands of Jesus.

To be in the Father is to be in Christ and in the Spirit.  It is a mutual indwelling of love.  The Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father, and believers are in the Father and in the Son.  The Spirit is also part of this mutual indwelling.  Being indwelt by the Spirit is to be the Father’s dwelling place and the Son’s dwelling place.  When we are in the Father, we indwell the Father and the Father indwells us.

To be in the Father is to love Jesus.  This mutual indwelling is one of love.  Those who love Jesus are in the Father and the Father loves them.  We cannot be in the Father and not participate in this love.  This love is inclusive and it results in obedience.

Prior to this I had not considered what it means to be in the Father.  It cannot be disconnected from being in Christ and in the Spirit.  The difference seems to be that being in the Father directs us to the Father, through Jesus.  This is not about legal status or righteousness or even holiness as such.  This is about sharing in a relationship which is so profound that it is the basis for all other relationships.  The beginning and end of this passage are about dwelling in the Father’s house and the Father dwelling in us.  This mutual indwelling is the goal of human being (and the reason why fathers are so important to people).  Jesus is not the end goal in himself alone, but the one who takes us to his Father so that we can be in the Father as he is in the Father.

[1] ‘Better than me’

[2] The works which Jesus speaks of here are not necessarily miracles.  This word is used in John in various ways.  Those who do evil works are in the darkness so that their works will not be exposed (John 3:19-21).  The works of God are to believe in the one whom God has sent (John 6:28-29).  The children of Abraham do the works of Abraham, which involve faith in Jesus (John 8:39-40).  These works are moral and to do with faith.  Therefore, works may involve miracles, but they may not.


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