Call No Man Your "Father"


Call No Man Your Father

Matthew 23:8-10
8"But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ (Gr. rabbi) for you have only one Master (Gr. didaskalos, kathegetes) and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ (Gr. patera) for you have one Father (Gr. pater), and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ (Gr. kathegetai) for you have one Teacher (Gr. kathegetes), the Christ.” (NIV)

Matthew 23:8-10
8”But be not ye called Rabbi (Gr. rabbi): for one is your Master (Gr. didaskalos, kathegetes), even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9And call no man your father (Gr. patera) upon the earth: for one is your Father (Gr. pater), which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters (Gr. kathegetai) : for one is your Master (Gr. kathegetes), even Christ.” (KJV)

Based on the preceding passage, many non-Catholics claim that the Catholic Church violates the scriptural prohibition against calling anyone “father” since its priests are commonly called “father” and the pope is referred to as the “Holy Father.” Is this really what the Bible teaches? Let’s take a closer look at this issue by reviewing not just a single verse but all that the Bible contains on this subject.

Ephesians 4:11-13
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers (Gr. didaskalovs), 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that God has established some people as “teachers” in the Church; this appears to be a direct violation of Jesus’ prohibition against calling anyone “teacher”. Does God contradict Himself?

James 3:1
1Not many of you should presume to be teachers (Gr. didaskaloi), my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that not many believers should presume to be “teachers.” This implies that a few (though not many) should and would rightfully have that position. Does God contradict Himself?

Luke 16:24
24So he called to him, “Father (Gr. pater) Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

Jesus tells a parable in which He has one of the characters speak to “Father Abraham” which would obviously be a bad example for His audience. Does Jesus contradict Himself?



Romans 4:1-18
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father (Gr. patera)of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

In this passage, Paul refers to Abraham as a spiritual father eight times. This is a terrible precedent to establish if Jesus has prohibited us from using the term “father.”

James 2:21
21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, refers to the spiritual fatherhood of Abraham. This is a terrible precedent to establish if Jesus has prohibited us from using the term “father.”

1 Corinthians 4:14-15
14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers (Gr. pateras), for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

In this passage, Paul refers to himself as the spiritual father of the Corinthians. This is a terrible precedent to establish if Jesus has prohibited us from using the term “father.”


Jesus was talking about the fatherhood of a person who does not subject himself to the Fatherhood of God. That fatherhood is what Jesus prohibit to be recognized by his disciples.


I think Randy knows that better than most of us. I also suspect that this was posted as supporting reference.

PS: Randy, don’t be a strange. Stop by the ranch every once in a while :wink:


the call no man your father thing, was a critic for the religious authorities of the time.


I always wonder why this one keeps coming up.



Mostlikely, Randy got tired of “proving” this point over and over again so he started up a new thread which he can reference for those that take issue with it elsewhere.




After watching each others back against a common adversary for several months, I learned a thing or two from you :wink:


Funny thing is Protestants used to also call their clergy "Father"
as this article explains…

It was written by a Protestant.


What about the big one? The Fourth Commandment(Exodus 20:12) If Jesus meant a strict ban on calling anyone other than God “Father,” Then he would be accusing God the Father of sin in that the Fourth Commandment, given to us from God, uses the term “father” in reference to people other than God.
I would be interested, though, in knowing, where is the origins of refering to the Pope as “the Holy Father?” What is the earliest we have on record of that term being used in reference to the Pope?


"Where does it say that in the Bible "?


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