ESV - 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
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I believe that there is nothing wrong with calling your father "father." But it is wrong to call the priest "father" because that way, you are making the priest your head or boss. What Mathew 23:9 is saying is that God in heaven should be our Father (our boss), not some person on earth.
I totally agree with you! I think all we should call another Christian is either "brother" or "sister" Aren't we all children of God? Even calling a brother "pastor" is elevating him. We are all equal. God has no favorites... Jesus said; Mat 23:8 NLT - "Don't let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are EQUAL as brothers and sisters. Mat 23:10 NLT - And don't let anyone call you 'Teacher,' for you have only ONE teacher, the Messiah. We are not to look up to elders, pastors,deacons,...as any more greater than we are. In fact they are our servants... Mat 23:11 NLT - The greatest among you must be a servant. Mat 23:12 NLT - But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Jesus was not talking about a "secular" teacher or your natural father... He spoke of anyone claiming to represent God. Christians should not call them father or teacher... That definitely applies to catholic priests! Praise the Lord and no one else...
Calling no man your (spiritual) father is a concept which includes Teacher (Rabbi), Master, and other titles of honor. I agree that Catholic ministers should not be called Father, Pope (Father in Latin), or Your Holiness. Jesus taught His disciples (Matt 20:25-28) not to lord it over others, but to be servants (slaves). They were to regard each other as brothers and sisters. The Pharisees and Catholics love titles of respect (Matt 23:7). But what about the Protestants? As a pastor, I've often been called Reverend. It makes me shudder. (Psalm 111:9 KJV) speaking of God says: "Holy and reverend is His name." Reverend is one of God's titles. How about "Pastor"? A Pastor is another name for Shepherd. "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..." Jesus said, "I am the good Shepherd." In Heb. 13:20, He is called "the Great Shepherd." Jesus is our Shepherd (Pastor). I might be His little helper, but I'm not to be addressed as Shepherd (Pastor). Yes, Christ gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11-13), but these are ministries (callings), not titles. The NT heroes never insisted on being addressed as Apostle Peter, Apostle Paul, Prophet Agabus, Deacon Stephen, Evangelist Philip, or Elder John. I was once introduced to a lady evangelist and said, "I'm pleased to meet you, Sister." To my surprise she replied, "You need to show me respect and call me Evangelist so-and-so - not Sister." We love to be called by some respectful title, but One is our Shepherd (Pastor), Teacher (Rabbi), and Master. And we are all brothers and sisters (Matt. 23:6-12). So how should the pastor of a church be addressed? Reverend? Pastor (Shepherd)? Teacher (Master)? Or Brother? Calling the leader of a church Pastor is so ingrained in our culture, it's like saying Mister, Mrs., Sir, or Ma'am. I told my congregation, "If you insist on calling me Pastor, do it while thumbing your nose at me." What is the point of all this? True humility is precious in the sight of the Lord. If being addressed by special titles tempts you to be puffed up, avoid it like a rattlesnake. Micah 6:8: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Luke 14:11: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Phil. 2:3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Romans 12:10: Honor one another above yourselves. 1 Peter 5:5: All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Prov. 22:4: Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life. Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. Matt. 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble and lowly], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor. 1:28-29: He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. Matt. 20:25-28: Jesus called [His disciples] together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. So, let us honor each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, not elevating one above another. And let us help each other to be humble and submissive under the mighty hand of God;.
This is called Rabbinic Hyperbole - an exaggeration to drive a certain point. Here, the point is made clear. We are all adopted children of God, we have God as our Father. Spiritually speaking. But it doesn't mean I can't call my dad "father", or my Maths teacher "teacher". My dad passed me his 23 haploid chromosomes, not to mention he provided our family with what we needed, it is only fitting that I call him "father". Miss Belleza came to our class every 10a.m. to teach Geometry for an hour, my grades depended on passing her exams, it is only fitting that I call her "teacher".
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