"You shall not call anyone Father"


My Evangelical friend has posed the question of the Catholic ( & other Christian) Church’s plethora of titles e.g. father, teacher, bishop, pope etc. He quotes Jesus’ teaching that there is only one Father/Teacher.

How does one respond to this?


Well, you could get into the nit-picky parts of that chapter and refute him or you could do it the way I like to (the easy way :smiley: ).

Refer to the fact that if you wanted to universally eliminate the use of father then you would have to eliminate many bible verses. A few times Abraham is referred to as father (by Jesus even, and yes he is the literal father of Israel, but regardless he is described as father). You should then refer to the hard hitter in 1 Corinthians. Chapter 4 verse 15, “Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” and also previously, in verse 14, he refers to his readers (the people of corinth) as his children. Now the whole idea is that we have priests who are in succession with the apostles, so if Paul calls himself one of our few fathers, then would we not call our spiritual leaders who succeed the apostles ‘father’ aswell?

*also have him read back into that verse in Matthew and see what Jesus was addressing (the jewish leaders who loved the spotlight, in short). this may bring into perspective the fact that Jesus may not have been speaking all inclusively.


Good point, cascherman!

It should also be noted that most all Protestant faiths called their preachers “Father” in the United States until all those pesky Irish immigrants came over and called their priest, “Father”.



A lot of info. on this subject is at ScriptureCatholic.com.

Lots of Scriptural references to folks being called “father” in the proper sense, not in the Godly sense in the passage that your friend cites.


Christ was specifically addressing titles for spiritual leaders, not common nouns.

Mat 23:9 “And don’t address anyone here on earth as `Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.”

We as His followers can choose to obey or not. It is our choice.

We can’t say we didn’t know.


At the time of Jesus there were various sects within Judaism. These sects were the: Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, and Zealots

These sects had houses of teaching within them .

Within the Pharisees there were two famous rival houses.
They were the House of Shammai(Beit Shammai) and the House of Hillel (founder of the Beit Hillel school). The individuals that these houses were named after were considered the “father” of the house.

Jesus warns the apostles not to be fathers to “separate” houses for there is but one house of the Lord. Jesus also says to call no man “teacher” or “master.”

–side note:
Paul was taught by Gamaliel[Acts22:3], a pharisee from the house of Hillel. Gamaliel was, in fact, the grandson of Hillel. Gamaliel was known as an elder and had the title of “Rabban” which means “Our Master.” This title explains why Jesus also said call no one “master”, for there is but one house and one master of all.

Again, Jesus wanted unity see John 17], and does not want the apostles to set up separate houses or schools of thought. The corollary of this is clearly expressed in Paul’s complaint in 1 Cor 1:10-15 where some are arguing their superiority by being baptized by, and belonging to, Paul vs. Apollos, or Cephas, etc. Paul goes on elsewhere to further warn against factions and divisions, and stresses the importance of one mind and unity of doctrine.

The meaning of “call no man father, teacher, or master” concerns unity and consistency of doctrine and has nothing to do with the commonly used references that are seen elsewhere in scripture or everyday use.


Pax, that is very intersting information.

It would seem, if correct, that it is the Luther-ans, Wesley-ans, Calvin-ists etc. that are in the wrong here…

Ironic. Then again, Luther didn’t like his followers calling themselves Lutherans, so he may not be to blame directly.

Where did you get the information btw.?

  • CB


Wait, I don’t see “spiritual leaders” anywhere in this text you’ve quoted. I don’t even see it implied.


OK, so neither is this verse referring to biological father, neither it is referring to spiritual father. But to what kind of father is it referring then?? Please give us a short answer!


](Matthew 23:8-12) “You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your
servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus was telling us that we were all brothers. All equal, and were not to look up to anyone else as greater than them. When a person is called father he is placed in a possession of authority. That is dangerous for that person and for the person calling him father. People should be looking to God for leadership and direction.


Do as Jesus says, ya’ll seem to have no problem taking HIM literal for John 6…


Poor Paul, I guess he got it wrong too…

[quote=St. Paul] 1Cor4:15

15] For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

[emphasis mine]



If you keep reading the following verses, you will find the following:

And don’t let anyone call you `Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.

Many protestant pastors go by the title “doctor”, which of course means teacher. Why is it wrong to call someone father but not doctor?


He didn’t say call me “Father”!!!


No, he called himself father, therefore he must have misunderstood Our Lord’s teachings…otherwise he wouldn’t have called himself that, would he?


This is why Jesus forsaw the Magisterium, to clarify these things…


Your misunderstanding it, it is simple…Priests and bishops and Popes accept and expect to be called Father (such and such) Paul is not saying call me by the title “Father” Paul…

Here’s a good learning tool, bible search the capital F Father, see who they are adressing maybe it will be an eye opener to you when you see it in the title form, addressing God ONLY!


So what do you call your dad?


Deceased! use to call him POPE Simon JK Dad…
Jesus is addressing Priest and spiritual leaders and followers, not kids and fathers…


How’d all you guys miss this great article right there in the CAF library called Call No Man Father?

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