Martes, Hunyo 12, 2012

And Call No Man Your Father... (Matthew 23:9)

(Matthew 23:9)


Catholic priest are called “Fathers” although they are forbidden to marry and are thus theologically forbidden to have children.  They are called fathers in spite of the biblical prohibition which we can read in Matthew 23:9.  Many a priest gets rilled when compronted by this verse and replies that his being father is not at all referred in Mathew 23:9.  He can even claim that the term “father” is used more than 360 times in the bible but not in reference to God.

What does the term “father” mean?  When is a man called “father”?  Why did our Lord Jesus Christ forbid the use of the term “father” in reference to any man when God commanded, “Honor your father and your mother”?

Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary contains an exhaustive list of meanings for the term.  The first set of meaning is,

     “he who begets a child;  the nearest male ancestor;  a male parent.”

This meaning is not what our Lord Jesus Christ alluded to in Matthew 23:9, because in Matthew 15:4 God commanded “Honor your father and mother…”  In this verse, the father to be honored is not the same “father”, which is forbidden to be called on any man in Matthew 23:9.  That term refers to God the Father in heaven, as the verse indicates.  Obviously, the term “father” used in “Honor your father and mother does not apply to any Catholic priest who practices celibacy.

Another set of meaning given by Webster’s Dictionary, usually in plural, is

     “a forefather or forebear;  a lineal ancestor, the progenitor of a race or family.”

This meaning is not referred to in Jesus’ prohibition, because the Bible speaks of Abraham as the father of the Israelites.
     The term may also refer to the “oldest member of any profession or body; as the father of the bar.”  This does not refer in any way to God, and thus is not included in
Christ’s intended meaning.
     The senators in ancient Rome were also called by this term.  In fact, they were called “Conscript Fathers,” the term also being used to mean the legislators of any nation or state.  We often read in the newspapers “city dads” to refer to the members of the legislative body of a city.  This is apparently not referred to by our Lord Jesus, since God, being the Father, is not even alluded to here.
     The term “father” is also attached to “one who creates, invents, makes, originates, or composes anything; the author, former, or contriver; a founder, director, or instructor; the first to practice any art; as Homer is the father of epic poetry; Gutenbeerg is the father of printing; the pilgrim fathers.”  This is not what Christ had in mind in Matthew 23:9, because He was thinking of the term in reference to God.
     Websters Dictionary includes the term “Father of Waters” to refer to the Mississippi River, a translation of the Indian name; “Father Time” where is personified as a very old man carrying a scythe and a hourglass.  There is also a phrase “gathered into one’s fathers” which means to die.  Such meanings are not in the statement of Christ’s prohibition.

Christ’s meaning of “Father”
In Matthew 23:9

     Matthew 23:9 reads: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  This was part of Christ’s discourse to the Jews on their religious functions (cf. Mt. chapter 23).  Our Lord Jesus Christ was referring to God when He said, “for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”
     In what sense is God the “Father”?  In an all-embracing sense, He is the Father because He is the Creator of all things.  Isaiah stated: Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (Mal.2:10).

God is also our spiritual Father or “Father of spirits”:

    Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Heb. 12:9)

In a narrower sense, God is Father to His chosen people who are specifically referred to as the children of God.  He is “a father to Israel” (cf. Jer. 31:9).  We know that Israel was God’s chosen people in the Old Testament of the Bible.
     God is Father to the Christians in the New Testament.  Christians are those who receive Christ and are given the power to become sons of God:

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:(Jn. 1:12)

This power to become sons of God is the Spirit of adoption:

    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:(Rom. 8:14-16)

In summary, God is the Father in the all-embracing sense that He is the Creator of all men and Father of Spirits.  In the narrower sense, He is the Father to the people, who obey all His commandments, namely, His chosen people, both of the Old and New Testaments—the Israelites and the Christians, respectively.  This is the fatherhood that Christ forbade to be addressed to any man on earth, for there is only one father of this kind, the Father in heaven.

The apostles were never called
“fathers” the way Catholic priests are
Our Lord Jesus Christ forbade the use of the title “father to any man who does the functions of God.  Catholic priest, who are called “fathers” by their followers, justify this by saying that since Apostle Paul called Timothy “my own son” (cf. I Tim. 1:2) and the Christians of Galatia “my little children” (cf. Gal. 4:19), then he must have been called by them “father”.  This is mere assumption, without basis of fact.  Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that the apostles were called by the title “father”.  What is evident in the Bible is that their role was only likened to that of a “father”, but not as a real father.  Such role is even likened to that of a mother, too:  “even though as apostles of Christ we could have made demands on you.  But we were gentle when we were with you, like a mother taking care of her children…  You know that we treated each one of you just as a father treats his own children.”  (I Thess. 2:7, 11, Today’s English Version)

     Thus, this claim by the Catholic priests that they should called “fathers” because the apostles called the Christians “their children” is baseless.  The apostles were only likened to “fathers” and “mothers.”  Would any priest agree to be called “Reverend Mother”?

      Is there any verse in the Bible that states definitely that the apostles were never called “father” in the Catholic sense?
     Christ states, categorically, that there is only one Father who is in heaven.  When Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, said that “… I have become your father by bringing the Good News to you.” (cf. I cor. 4:15, Ibid.), did this mean was likening himself to the father in Heaven?  No, but since he called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (cf. I Tim. 1:2, Ibid.) then Apostle Paul is “father in the faith”.  Apostle Paul became a father in the faith by preaching the Gospel.  This was why Gentile converts of the apostles who were Jews were considered their children in the faith.  This fatherhood is not the same as the Fatherhood of God.

The fatherhood of
the Catholic priest
     In what sense is the Catholic priest a “father?  Surely, not in the physical sense for a priest is theoretically bound by the law of celibacy.  A Catholic priest, Rev. Leslie Rumble, in his work, Another Thousand Radio Replies, third volume, has this to say:

     “Catholics rightly, therefore call the priest ‘father’, not to exclusion of their Father in heaven, but as a manifestation on earth of the supreme Fatherhood of God in the spiritual order, even as an earthly parent is a similar manifestation of that same Fatherhood in the natural order.” (p.75)

Rev. Rumble thus asserts that a priest is a spiritual father like God who is the Father of spirits.  This is forbidden by Christ—to call any man a father in the sense of God’s Fatherhood because that sense is exclusive of God’s alone.

     We know that God is not only our Father.  He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, too, as we can read in John 20:17:

    Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

But Catholic priest claim this honor, because they are called the “parents of Jesus Christ,” (Dignity and Duties of the Priest by St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 32).  In the same book, on page 33, it is stated that “the words of the priest create Jesus Christ.”  Such honor belongs to God alone, the Creator of all men, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father as stated by our Lord Jesus Himself.

     What about the pope, the allegedly highest father of souls, who is called “Holy Father”?  The title “Holy Father” is used by our Lord Jesus Christ to refer to God:

     “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (Jn. 17:11)

     Thus, the term “Holy Father”, referring to a man, the pope of the Catholic Church, is use in defiance of Christ’s command in Matthew 23:9.

Who actually is personified by the Catholic priest?
     The use of the term “father” to refer to any man in the meanings of our lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:9 is a usurpation of the honors that belong to God alone.  The meanings of the term “father” as “Creator of all,” as “father of spirits,” as “Father of Jesus Christ,” and as “Holy Father” refer to God alone.  Using those meanings to refer to a man is what our Lord Jesus Christ prohibited.  The Catholic priest asurp this title.  They are the personification of that “son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (cf. II Thess. 2:3-4).  This is emphasized by De Liguori in his book, Dignity and Duties of the Priest:

     “St. Clement, then, had reason to say that the priest is, as it were, a God on earth.” (p. 36)

The Prophet Isaiah spoke of an individual who had tried to asurp the prerogatives of God:

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  (Isaiah 14:12-15)

We know that this Lucifer became Satan, the enemy of God, the head of devils who uphold the teachings, “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (cf. I Tim 4:3)

     Incidentally, these same teachings are given to the Catholic priests who are called “fathers”.  They are forbidden to marry by the pope.  All Catholics are also commanded by the pope to abstain from meats during certain days of the year in the Lenten Season.

     The title “father”, in the meanings reserved for God alone, should not be used for any man.  Other meanings such as procreator, ancestor, reverence due to age or position, inventor, author, contriver, source etc., are not included in Christ’s prohibition.*****

Pasugo God’s Message
March 1995
Pages 7-9


Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind.