Jesus Christ



33. When Jesus said that we must not call anyone on earth ‘father’ (Matthew 23:9), did He mean that we can’t call even our earthly father ‘father’?




Not at all. Each of us can call his father ‘father’, for when one of His disciples said to Jesus: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (Matthew 8:21 – NKJV), Jesus did not rebuke him for calling his father ‘my father’, but He just said to him: “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22 - NKJV).

We must not call anyone who has some authority in the Church, such as an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a teacher or a pastor, or the brother who first spoke to us about the Lord and so on, ‘our father’ or ‘father’. In other words, we must not act like king Joash (when he went to visit the prophet Elisha, who was sick and near to death), who said to Elisha: ‘O my father, my father” (2 Kings 13:14).

In addition to this, we must not call ‘Father’ anyone who thinks he acts in God’s stead on earth or claims that he is someone great and so he thinks is worthy to be called in this way: a very eloquent example is the head of the Roman Catholic Church whom many call ‘holy father’. However, in the Roman Catholic Church the priests also are called ‘father’ by the Catholics (‘father Anthony,’ ‘father John,’ and so on), therefore when we talk with a priest or we speak about a priest, we must call him ‘priest’ or ‘parish priest’, and not ‘father’. As for the ‘pope’ also, we must not call him ‘holy father,’ but simply ‘the head of the Roman Catholic Church’, or ‘the head of the Vatican City State’. God alone is worthy to be called Holy Father. On the contrary, we can call Abraham ‘our father’ because that’s how the apostle Paul calls the patriarch in the epistle to the Romans (“our father Abraham” Romans 4:12) because Abraham was made our father by God when He said to Abraham: “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee” (Genesis 17:4-6)