Fathers in the Bible

9 Famous Fathers in the Bible Who Set Worthy Examples

Scripture is filled with people we can learn much from. When it comes to the challenging vocation of fatherhood, several fathers in the Bible show what is wise to do—and what is not wise to do.

Of course, the most important father figure in the Bible is that of God the Father, the ultimate role model for all human dads. His love, kindness, patience, wisdom, and protectiveness are impossible standards to live up to. Fortunately, he is also forgiving and understanding, answering fathers' prayers and giving them expert guidance so they can be the man their family wants them to be.

Adam—The First Man

Adam and Eve Mourn Over Abel's Body, by Carlo Zatti (1809-1899).

As the first man and first human father, Adam had no example to follow except for God's. However, he strayed from God's example and ended up plunging the world into sin. Ultimately, he was left to deal with the tragedy of his son Cain murdering his other son, Abel. Adam has much to teach today's fathers about the consequences of our actions and the absolute necessity of obeying God.

Noah—A Righteous Man

Noah's Sacrifice, painting by James Tissot.
SuperStock / Getty Images

Noah stands out among fathers in the Bible as a man who clung to God in spite of the wickedness all around him. What could be more relevant today? Noah was far from perfect, but he was humble and protective of his family. He bravely carried out the task God assigned to him. Modern fathers may often feel they are in a thankless role, but God is always pleased by their devotion.

Abraham—Father of the Jewish Nation

After Sarah gave birth to Isaac, Abraham banished Hagar and her son Ishmael into the wilderness
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What could be more frightening than being the father of an entire nation? That was the mission God gave Abraham. He was a leader of tremendous faith, passing one of the most difficult tests God ever gave a man: offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham made mistakes when he relied on himself instead of God. Still, he embodied qualities that any father would be wise to develop.

Isaac—Son of Abraham

"The Sacrifice of Isaac," by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1603-1604

Many fathers feel intimidated trying to follow in the footsteps of their own father. Isaac must have felt that way. Abraham was such an outstanding leader that Isaac could have gone wrong. He could have resented his father for offering him as a sacrifice, yet Isaac was an obedient son. From his father Abraham, Isaac learned the invaluable lesson of trusting God. That made Isaac one of the most favored fathers in the Bible.

Jacob—Father of the 12 Tribes of Israel

Jacob declares his love for Rachel
Culture Club/Getty Images

Jacob was a schemer who tried to work his own way instead of trusting God. With the help of his mother Rebekah, he stole his twin brother Esau's birthright. Jacob fathered 12 sons who in turn founded the 12 tribes of Israel. As a father, however, he favored his son Joseph, causing jealousy among the other brothers. The lesson from Jacob's life is that God works with our obedience and in spite of our disobedience to make his plan come to pass.

Moses—Giver of the Law

Guido Reni / Getty Images

Moses was the father of two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, and he also served as a father figure to the entire Hebrew people as they escaped from slavery in Egypt. He loved them and helped discipline and provide for them on their 40-year journey to the Promised Land. At times Moses seemed to be a larger-than-life character, but he was only a man. He shows today's fathers that overwhelming tasks can be achieved when we stay close to God.

King David—A Man After God’s Own Heart

King David
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

One of the great stories of struggle in the Bible concerns David, a special favorite of God. He trusted God to help him defeat the giant Goliath and put his faith in God as he was on the run from King Saul. David sinned greatly, but he repented and found forgiveness. His son Solomon went on to become one of Israel's greatest kings.

Joseph—Earthly Father of Jesus

Jesus working as a boy in his Father Joseph's carpentry shop in Nazareth
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Surely one of the most underrated fathers in the Bible was Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ. He went through great difficulties to protect his wife Mary and their baby, then saw to Jesus' education and needs as he was growing up. Joseph taught Jesus the carpentry trade. The Bible calls Joseph a righteous man, and Jesus must have loved his guardian for his quiet strength, honesty, and kindness.

God the Father

God the Father by Raffaello Sanzio and Domenico Alfani.
Vincenzo Fontana / Contributor / Getty Images

God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity, is the father and creator of all. Jesus, his only Son, showed us a new, intimate way of relating to him. When we see God as our heavenly Father, provider, and protector, it puts our lives in a whole new perspective. Every human father is also a son of this highest of God, the constant source of strength, wisdom, and hope to Christians everywhere.