There are two kinds of fathers on Earth
Hebrews 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!
Here, we see both human fathers and the Father of spirits. Who is the father of spirits? Ofcourse, the heavenly Father. Human fathers discipline us and our heavenly Father also disciplines us.
Let’s now look into another Scripture portion which is very confusing to many people.
Matthew 23: 8-12 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
According to the words of Jesus, we cannot call anybody ‘Rabbi/ Teacher’, nor can we call anyone on earth ‘father’. Jesus continues to tell us that nobody should be called instructors, because there is only one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
What does Jesus mean by this? Can’t one call his/her father, father and one’s teachers as teachers?
We should first know the context to understand what Jesus actually meant. Jesus blows against the Pharisees and Saduccees like a storm in Matthew 23 because they took a lot of titles for themselves. They put themselves in some positions and they themselves announced as the Rabbi/ Teachers of the people. In their hypocrisy they were elevating/ exalting themselves to such positions. In the aforementioned verses, Jesus was actually addressing them: ‘If you exalt yourselves into some positions taking some titles, you will be humbled.’
In those days, some of them even claimed that they are fathers, as they taught and guided people through which they gave life to the people.
Originally Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, the Saduccees and the scribes. There’s nothing wrong in calling your male parent, ‘father’’. But nobody is allowed to take the title/ position of the heavenly Father. Nobody can take the place of the heavenly Father and the Messiah. The Messiah is the ultimate Guru/ the Teacher. Nobody can take his place or title.
When we come to the epistle to Corinthians, Paul is calling himself a father to many spiritual children. Paul calls Timothy and Titus as his own spiritual sons. He was more than a trainer/ teacher to them. He loved them so much that he called them his own children.
1 Corinthians 4:14,15 – I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
Paul is claiming here as their spiritual father. Another thing to be noticed is that there are so many teachers in the Lord, but there are only a few fathers. In the church world, there are so many guardians but spiritual fathers are few.
Summary: The heavenly Father is the ultimate spiritual Father and from that heavenly Father we all receive fatherhood. There are earthly biological fathers and spiritual fathers. However, nobody can take the position and the title of the heavenly Father and the Messiah. Nothing wrong in calling our own fathers in the family as ‘fathers’. There are spiritual fathers also. Paul was a spiritual father to the church in Corinth. He was a spiritual father to Timothy and Titus. That’s not a title as such, but a functional thing.
Who is a spiritual father?
Do you have a spiritual father? It is easy to become a teacher or an instructor in the church, but it is very very difficult to become a spiritual father. It is easy to give birth to children, but fathering those children is a bit difficult. It is very easy to lead some people to born again experience through the gospel, but it is difficult to grow them into maturity in Christ with a fathers heart. We will be continuing with this topic tomorrow as well. Stay tuned!
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About the Author
Ps. Damien Antony
Born and brought up in a Christian family, Ps. Damien Antony possessed an unquenching quest for truth right from his boyhood days and eventually his relentless search led him to the Bible. He is a Revival Preacher, Bible Teacher, Leadership Trainer, Author and a Life Coach. He moves under the anointing for Prophetic, Healing, Deliverance, Inner Healing and Financial Breakthrough. God has also blessed him with an Apostolic Mandate to take the Universal Body of Christ to the next level of revelation and anointing.
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