Who Do We Pray To? Part 2
by Karl Kemp 10/03/2011 / Bible Studies
Luke 11:1-13. I'll just quote verses 5-8. "Then He said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves; (6) for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him"; (7) and from inside he answers and says, "Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything." (8) I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.' " Jesus is teaching us here that we should be persistent (but certainly respectful) when we pray. The verses before and after these verses show that Jesus is speaking of praying to God the Father.
Luke 18:1-8. "Now He [Jesus] was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, (2) saying, 'In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. (3) There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, "Give me legal protection from my opponent." (4) For a while he was unwilling; but afterwards he said to himself, "even though I do not fear God nor respect man, (5) yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out." ' (6) And the Lord [the Lord Jesus] said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge said; (7) now, will not God [God the Father] bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? (8) I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man [the Lord Jesus] comes [at the end of this age; at the time predetermined by God the Father], will He find faith on the earth?' " We don't need to be concerned about God's being faithful to make everything right for His people, but we do need to make it top priority to remain faithful to Him (by His saving grace in Christ) and to continue to look to Him to make everything right until Christ Jesus comes, or until the end of our lives.
John 15:16. "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that WHATEVER YOU ASK OF THE FATHER IN MY NAME HE MAY GIVE IT TO YOU." I have a paper titled "A Verse-by-Verse Study of John Chapters 13-17," which is available on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). I recommend you read what I said under this verse in that paper, but for our present purposes, note that Jesus spoke of asking of the Father in His name. We pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus. Even when we don't say the words "in the name of Jesus" or similar words, it must be understood that our access to God the Father comes through Jesus Christ.
John 16:23-28. "In that day ["That day" began when the disciples fully entered into new-covenant salvation when they received the promised Holy Spirit and were born again through the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God.], you will not question [Greek verb "erotao"] Me about anything. [I rather strongly prefer the translation, "you will not ask Me for anything," or the equivalent. The New Living Translation has, for example, "At that time you won't need to ask me for anything" and the New Revised Standard Version has, "On that day you will ask nothing of me." The Greek verb erotao is sometimes used of asking for things in the New Testament, including in the second half of John 16:26. Asking the Father for things could include asking Him for the answer to a question.] Truly, truly, I say to you, 'IF YOU ASK THE FATHER FOR ANYTHING IN MY NAME, HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. [At that time, the Lord Jesus will have been crucified, resurrected, glorified, and He will be seated at the right hand of God the Father. But God the Father will still have the preeminent role, as He always will, and our prayers will typically be addressed to Him. And at that time, God the Father and the Lord Jesus will still be distinct Persons, as they always will.] (24) UNTIL NOW YOU HAVE ASKED FOR NOTHING IN MY NAME; ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE, SO THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE MADE FULL. (25) These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. (26) In that day YOU WILL ASK [THE FATHER] IN MY NAME, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; (27) for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. (28) I came forth from the Father and have come into the world [God the Father sent His Son, His Son who was always with Him in glory (see John 1:1-3, 9 ("coming into the world"), 14; 17:4, 5, 18, 21, 23, 25, for example), come into the world through the virgin birth.]; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father."
John 14:12-14. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (I had a footnote: I recommend that you read the comments that I have under John 14:12 in my paper titled, "A Verse-by-Verse Study of John Chapters 13-17," which is available on my internet site.) (13) WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, THAT I WILL DO ["I" here refers to the resurrected, glorified Son of God, who will at that time be at the right hand of God the Father; we see two Persons], SO THAT THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED IN THE SON, [[It is to be understood that we will ask the Father in the name of Jesus, as in John 15:26; 16:23, 24, 25, 27, for example, the verses which we just discussed. I believe we can say that the greatest desire on the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ is to always see the Father glorified. I am convinced that the Lord Jesus is concerned when He is the One being prayed to most of the time, or all of the time (or being worshiped most of the time, or all of the time). We make it look like the Father, who is greatly loved by the Lord Jesus and to whom the Lord Jesus is subordinate in His role, is being left outside of what is happening. Some Christians may be leaving Him outside, but I'll guarantee you that He isn't really being left outside of what is happening. As this verse shows, it is biblical to think of the Lord Jesus bringing to pass the things we ask the Father for (at least some of the time), but it must be understood that the Father is very directly involved. The Son doesn't do anything that is not in line with the Father's will or independent of the Father's authority or power in any way. The Father must always be glorified!]] (14) IF YOU ASK ME ANYTHING IN MY NAME, I WILL DO IT." I agree with the commentators and translators who don't believe the Greek word translated "Me" was included in the original Greek text written by the apostle John. It is not included in many ancient Greek manuscripts. I'll quote part of what F. F. Bruce says under verses 13, 14 ("Gospel of John," Eerdmans, 1983, page 301), "If something is asked for in Jesus' name, the request is probably viewed as addressed to the Father. The Father denies nothing to the Son, and a request made in the Son's name is treated as if the Son made it. The textual evidence in verse 14 is fairly evenly divided between the omission and retention of 'me'; but the logic and the thought here favour its omission, which indeed seems to be demanded by the plain sense of John 16:23a [quoted above]." And I'll quote part of what F. Godet says here ("Commentary on the Gospel of John" [Zondervan reprint, 1969], page 278), "It seems to me absolutely impossible to keep in the text...me.... It is inadmissible that one should ask anything of a person in his own name, except in the sense: for his own cause, which cannot be that of this phrase." The KJV, New KJV, the Amplified Bible, and the New Living Translation, for example, do not include the word "Me."
John 20:28, 29. I'll quote verses 24-29 to get the context. (To get the full context start at verse 19.) "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came [The apostle John is speaking of the resurrected Lord Jesus appearing to the apostles on the evening of the day of His resurrection, Sunday evening. The resurrected Christ may have appeared to more disciples than the ten apostles on that occasion (compare Luke 24:13-49).]. (25) So the other disciples [the ten apostles and perhaps other disciples too] were saying to him [to Thomas], 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' (26) After eight days His disciples [including the apostles and perhaps other disciples] were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst and said, 'Peace be with you.' (27) Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it in My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.' [These words are based on what Thomas had said in verse 25. The fact that Jesus demonstrated that He knew what Thomas had said probably further intensified the effect this experience had on Thomas, but there can be no doubting that the resurrection of Christ was dominant here. And Jesus had told them several times that He would be raised from the dead.] (28) Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!' [[Thomas was fully satisfied when he saw the Lord Jesus. The words "My Lord and my God" addressed to the Lord Jesus are quite unusual, but they clearly demonstrate that Thomas now understood the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. These words clearly teach the deity of the Lord Jesus, and Jesus did not correct Thomas, because He is deity, God the Son. The apostle John established that super-important fact in the first verse of his Gospel. Even though Thomas and the other disciples may not have fully understood the Trinity yet, it would have been totally clear to them that the resurrected Christ was a Person distinct from God the Father. There wouldn't have been any confusion on that point whatsoever. See John 20:17, 21, for example. Even though Jesus had told His apostles of His resurrection, they didn't believe it until after He had been resurrected. And it took a while for them to really understand His full deity as the Son of God. There was no basis whatsoever for Thomas, or any of them, to be tempted to think that actually He was God the Father. Jesus had prayed to the Father and taught them of the Father; He had told them that He had been sent by the Father and was going back to the Father, etc.]] (29) Jesus said to him, 'Because you have seen Me, have you believed? [I prefer the translation, "you have believed" with the NIV, NKJV, for example.] Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." With the words of verse 29, Jesus was mildly rebuking Thomas for not accepting the testimony of the other disciples, and, significantly, He was setting the stage for what was to come: Most of us who have become Christians since that time have not seen the resurrected Christ. We must accept the gospel, including His resurrection, by faith.
Acts 4:23-31. "When they [the apostles Peter and John] had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. (24) And when they heard this, they lifted up their voices to God [God the Father] with one accord and said, 'O Lord [referring to God the Father; the Greek noun translated "Lord" here is "despotes"], it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea [He created them through His Son (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). Many verses speak of God the Father as Creator, including Rev. 4:11; 14:7.], and all that is in them, (25) who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said [in Psalm 2], "Why do the Gentiles rage, And the
peoples devise futile things? (26) The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord [Greek noun "kurios," referring to God the Father, as the next words demonstrate] and Against His Christ." (27) For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, (28) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. (29) And now, Lord [Greek kurios; referring to God the Father, as the following words demonstrate], take note of their threats, and grant that Your bondservants may speak Your word with all confidence, (30) while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant [or, Son] Jesus.' (31) And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness." So here again the prayer was addressed to God the Father, and in the same context the Lord Jesus Christ, who clearly is a different Person than God the Father, is mentioned in verses 26, 27, and 30. And the Person of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in verses 25, 31. So we see the Trinity here. Verse 30 requests God to extend His hand to heal and manifest signs and wonders "through the name of...Jesus." That is comparable with saying that God does these things in answer to prayer for these things in the name of Jesus. I am using the word "prayer" in a broad sense that includes what Peter did in Acts 3:6, 7, for example, even though Peter didn't technically address a prayer to God for the healing of "the man who had been lame from his mother's womb" (Acts 3:2). Peter said [before God the Father, who hears what we say in the name of Jesus], "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene...walk!" (compare Mark 11:22, 23, for example).
Acts 7:54-60. "Now when they heard this [Stephen was testifying before the Jewish Sanhedrin], they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. (55) But being full of the Holy Spirit [For one thing, the Holy Spirit strengthened Stephen, enabling him to do what he needed to do. God's grace always is sufficient. It is even possible that Stephen didn't feel pain; God could do that. And God let him live long enough to complete his prayers before those who hated him.], he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus [Jesus in His glorified state, after His resurrection and ascension] standing at the right hand of God [Stephen wasn't permitted to see God the Father Himself (see John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16, for example), but he was able to see something of His glory. This is like Rev. 4:2, 3, where the apostle John was able to see the throne of God the Father and something of His glory, but He didn't see God the Father Himself. After we are glorified at the end of this age, we will be able "to see Him just as He is" (1 John 3:2). So, even though Stephen didn't see God the Father Himself He saw something of His glory, and He saw the Lord Jesus at His right hand. Again we see two Persons here, God the Father and God the Son. He wasn't seeing the human nature of Jesus and the divine nature of Jesus, as some would say.], (56) and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God [God the Father].' [See Psalm 110:1; Matt. 26:64, for example. Apparently the Lord Jesus was standing to help Stephen and to welcome His faithful witness (see verse 59). Stephen was the first martyr for Christ, at least the first martyr mentioned in the New Testament.] (57) But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. [The Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put anyone to death (see John 18:31), but they didn't let that stop them.] (58) When they had driven him out of the city [of Jerusalem], they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul [who was to become the apostle Paul]. (59) They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' [Compare Luke 23:46.] (60) Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them!' [Compare Luke 23:34.] Having said this, he fell asleep."
The vision that Stephen saw pretty much dictated who he would speak to (pray to). He was seeing the glorified Son of God, and it was natural for him to pray to Him in verses 59, 60. This is similar to the situation where the resurrected Christ appeared to Thomas in John 20:28. Because of this I'm going to count these two events where prayer was addressed to Jesus as one event.
Acts 12:5. "So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God [God the Father]."
Acts 16:25. "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God [God the Father], and the prisoners were listening to them."
Romans 1:8-10. Before I quote these verses, I'll mention that both God the Father and God the Son are mentioned repeatedly in Rom. 1:1-7, and it is clear that they are distinct Persons. God the Father is mentioned in verses 1 and 7, and the Lord Jesus is mentioned in verses 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7. This pattern, where we see the Persons of God the Father and the Lord Jesus permeates the New Testament. "First, I thank my God [God the Father, as the following words demonstrate] through Jesus Christ [with whom the apostle Paul (and all true Christians) was united and through whom he had access to God the Father and His salvation (see John 14:6, for example)] for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. (9) For God [God the Father], whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son [the Lord Jesus Christ], is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you [before God the Father], (10) always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God [God the Father] I may succeed in coming to you."
Romans 8:26, 27. In these verses we see that the Person of the Holy Spirit intercedes for us before the Person of God the Father. One Person doesn't intercede to Himself. "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (27) and He who searches the hearts [God the Father] knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He [the Spirit] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." The point is that even when the Spirit (in His interceding for us) doesn't communicate to God the Father with words, the Father knows exactly what the Spirit is asking for because He knows that the Spirit is asking for the Father's good will to be fully accomplished, and the Father knows what His will is. Talk about God's helping us; the Holy Spirit effectively intercedes for us, and in the next verse we will look at, the Lord Jesus (in His glorified state at the right hand of God the Father) intercedes for us before God the Father. What a salvation plan!
Romans 8:34. "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God [God the Father], who also intercedes for us [before God the Father]." I don't know how we can avoid seeing the two Persons of God the Father and Christ Jesus [God the Son] here. God the Son is interceding before God the Father (who clearly has the preeminent role) in our behalf.
Romans 10:1-4. I'll just quote verse 1. "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God [God the Father] for them [for the people of Israel] is for their salvation."
Romans 15:5, 6. "Now may the God [God the Father] who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, (6) so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." We see God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ here, and the preeminent role of God the Father is rather strongly emphasized.
Romans 15:13."Now may the God of peace [God the Father] fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:30-33. "Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God [God the Father. The Trinity is mentioned in this verse.], (31) that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints [referring to the generous offering the apostle Paul was taking to the Jewish Christians in Judea]; (32) so that I may come to you [the Christians in Rome] in joy by the will of God [Paul didn't want to do anything that wasn't fully in line with the will of God] and find refreshing rest in your company. (33) Now may the God of peace [God the Father] be with you all. Amen."
Romans 16:25-27. These last verses of this super-important epistle are a doxology, written to glorify God the Father. "Now to Him [God the Father] who is able to establish you according to my gospel [which the apostle Paul received from the Lord Jesus Christ] and the preaching of Jesus Christ [The gospel centers in God's saving us through the incarnation and all-important atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.], according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, (26) but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets [Now that new covenant salvation is available, we can understand God's salvation plan to a significant extent, including being able to understand the relevant Old Testament prophecies (compare Luke 24:27, 44-48).], according to the commandment of the eternal God [referring to God the Father], has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (27) to the only wise God [God the Father], through Jesus Christ [As I mentioned, Jesus Christ is the One who brings us to God and gives us access to Him as His born-again children.], be the glory forever. Amen." The New Testament makes it clear that we glorify and worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but God the Father has the preeminent role, which is strongly emphasized with the words of verses 26, 27. I am totally sure that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit love the idea that the Father has the preeminent role. They have ZERO jealously or competition and TOTAL love toward God the Father. Everything is in DIVINE ORDER in the Trinity.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9. I'll just quote the first verse here, "I thank my God [God the Father] always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus...."
1 Corinthians 11:13. "Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God [God the Father] with her head uncovered?"
1 Corinthians 15:57. "but thanks be to God [God the Father], who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Corinthians 2:14. "But thanks be to God [God the Father], who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him [the Lord Jesus] in every place."
2 Corinthians 8:16. "But thanks be to God [God the Father] who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus."
2 Corinthians 9:15. "Thanks be to God [God the Father] for His indescribable gift!"
2 Corinthians 13:5-10. I'll just quote verses 7, 8. "Now we pray to God [God the Father] that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. (8) For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.