Matthew 23:9–10—Is it wrong to call others our father?
Problem: Here Jesus commanded: “Do not call anyone on earth your father.” Yet elsewhere the Bible not only tells us “honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12), but even uses the term “father” of those who are spiritual mentors (2 Kings 2:12; cf. 1 Cor. 4:15).
Solution: The context of Jesus’ statement indicates that He is referring to taking human beings as infallible spiritual masters, not that He is opposed to having fallible spiritual mentors. In fact, Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy (1 Cor. 4:15) whom he called, “my beloved son” (2 Tim. 1:2). However, Paul was careful to instruct his spiritual children only to “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Showing proper respect to our spiritual leaders is one thing (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17), but giving them unquestioned obedience and reverence that is due only to God is another.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.