Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Matthew 23:9
The term spiritual father has become, more or less, a canker in the body of Christ. The truth indeed sets us free – so it shouldn’t be a problem when the truth is put before us. You will know what you’re made of if the truth offends you.
Jesus came down from heaven to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Everything He spoke about is how the Father wants us to live in His kingdom. He brought down spiritual realities to carnal people who often needed a parable to understand what He said.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Matthew 4:23
So when Jesus said in Matthew 23:9 that we should call no one on earth our father, it was very clear that in context, we shouldn’t call anyone in the church a spiritual father -because God alone is the Father.
The Greek word translated father in Matthew 23:9 is pater. Pater simply means source. It also means the progenitor, one who imparts life and is committed to it. Therefore, referring to someone as your spiritual father is a serious matter. By implication, you’re saying he is the source of the life you have in Christ.
Jesus was preaching the message of the kingdom to His disciples when He said don’t call anyone your father. His words can’t be taken for granted. The truth will forever be that we cannot call anyone on earth our spiritual father. God, our Father, is the source of the life we have in Christ – and this shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to understand.
ONE IS NOT A SPIRITUAL FATHER BECAUSE HE IS A MEMBER OF THE FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [e]edifying of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12
It is obvious that Jesus placed the five-fold ministry in the church for a purpose. The pastor’s role is to equip the saints and not to play the role of a spiritual father. God is not raising families or children unto people like in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He sent Jesus into the world to raise a spiritual family unto himself.
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father [f]of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Ephesians 3:14-15
The whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name from above. Therefore, a pastor’s role in a local assembly does not automatically make him a spiritual father. It is an error to see every senior pastor as such.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children, I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:14-15
1 Corinthians 4:15 has often been used by those who preach about spiritual fathers to defend what they say. I believe with all my heart that apostle Paul has been taken out of context. Why do I say so?
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:4-6
Is it possible that the same Paul who knew that there is one God and Father of all will be the same person claiming to be the spiritual father of the church at Corinth in Christ? I doubt! 😂 Paul, per bible history, had no biological family (1 Corinthians 7:8). He made the church his family. That was his thinking, but it is obvious from many other texts that Paul knew that the only spiritual father is God.
Let me conclude by saying that this truth does not stop us from honoring our pastors. Don’t stop honoring your pastor! The five-fold ministry was placed in the church for a specific assignment. But God alone is our spiritual father. Stay blessed
Further Reading: John 1:10-13
Prayer For Today
Holy Father, I thank you in the name of Jesus Christ for drawing my attention to the fact that, you alone are my God and Father. Thank you for being the source of my life. Amen