Article - Call No Man Father

In the sermon to the Jews our Lord said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). It is evident from the context of Matthew 23 that Jesus is not speaking in a physical sense. Jesus used the word father to refer to physical fathers in various passages (Matthew 10:37; 15:6). In this text, Jesus is commanding us not to call any man father in a spiritual sense. Let us notice the importance of this passage for today.

We have only one spiritual father. The reason Jesus gave for not calling any man father is simple. “One is your Father, He who is in Heaven” (Matthew 23:9). We imply from Jesus statement that if we call any human being father in the spiritual sense, we take away from the honor and glory God deserves. Thus, we are exalting men to a place the Bible does not exalt them. To call any human being father in a spiritual sense is to dethrone Almighty God!

We have no perfect earthly fathers. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). From this passage, we learn that every person who ever has lived or ever will live is sinful. The point is this: we must never refer to any fallible human beings as a spiritual father. To do so is a crime against Christianity. Why would you want to exalt a fallible human being to a state that only belongs to God and His Son (Hebrews 4:15)? I find it interesting that as Peter was taking the gospel to Cornelius, Cornelius tried to bow down and worship Peter. When Peter saw this he said, “Stand up. I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:29). The Bible clearly teaches that we must never worship any men or angels (Revelation 19:10; Matthew 4:10).

As you read this article, you may be asking yourself “How does this apply to today?” This text applies directly to any religion where they call another man “Heavenly Father” or “Father” in a spiritual sense. There is one principle that can certainly be determined from this text. Any religion that uses terms the Bible clearly teaches are reserved for God only is not the New Testament church or the doctrine of God. As such, it is stands condemned (2 John 9-11). May we ever make it our goal to do only what the Bible says and call Bible things by Bible names.


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