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Bible Q

Why does the Bible say, “Call no man father on earth”?

Your full question:

Why does the Bible (Matt 23:9) say call no man father on earth?  Are we wrong to call our biological fathers, father?

We are not wrong to call our biological fathers “father”.  In Matthew 23:9, Jesus is using exaggerated language to make a point – much like when he said in Mark 9:43-47 that eyes, arms & legs should be cut off if they are causing us to sin.  Jesus did not mean we should literally cut off our limbs etc  — he meant we should get rid of things that cause temptation in our life — neither did he mean that we shouldn’t call our fathers “father”.

In Matthew 23, Jesus is castigating the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and love of honour before men.  It is not good for Christian people to be referred to by a title in which they take pride.  In fact, it is better to have no titles at all because Christians are brothers and sisters (Gal 3:28).  We have different roles to perform and some elders are like fathers in the congregation, but the father-like roles they perform are to be done in humility and love — NOT for the honour that they can be awarded in the eyes of the congregation.

There are several passages in Scripture, where Paul refers to himself as a father.  For example:

1Co 4:15  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.

That was fine for Paul to be a father in the congregation.  If he had have taken the title “Father Paul” and gloried in that title and been puffed up in pride to think of himself as a great father, that would have been wrong.

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