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Should we call no man father?

Submitted: 1/21/2010
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Question: What does Matthew 23:9 mean when it says not to call anyone father? Does this include people like the priest or my dad?

Answer: In Matthew 23:9-10, Jesus said, 'Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for one is your Teacher, the Christ.' This cannot mean that there should be no teachers in the church, since Ephesians 4:11 says that teachers are a gift of God to the church. Likewise, it cannot mean it is wrong to refer to your natural father as your father or to call him father. After all, he is your father. To understand what Jesus is talking about, we must read it in context.

If we go back a few verses, we read that Jesus is speaking about the Pharisees and warning His disciples not to be like them. He explains, 'But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi' (Matthew 23:5-7). Jesus is telling us not to use titles of honor that set men apart from others and cause them to seem superior. The Pharisees loved appearing to be the best among the people. Therefore, in answer to your question, we would say that a priest should not insist on being called father, but it is okay you call your father, father.