Friday, 6 November 2020

Questions and Answers (Thirty-Eight): Call No One Father

I Have a Question

Question:

I have a concern where the church leaders insist on being called (directly or indirectly, especially in the developing world) "father," and it is seen as a mark of disrespect when one doesn't do that. They always reference 1 Timothy 1:18 as part of claiming the spiritual father and son relationship. We call Jesus at every point in time (knowing fully well that He is the godhead - no basis to be compared to our church leaders), and it is not written anywhere that we MUST call him father Jesus to answer our prayers supplications.

In Matthew 23:9 KJV - "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." This makes reference to the spiritual father and son relation.
I'll appreciate it if you could help relate to the common stance of the two Bible verses.

Answer:

Well, to answer your question directly, Jesus's teaching is alluding to the same reason God never planned for Israel to have a king. He was their king. However, the people rebelled against God, forced a king upon themselves, and regretted the consequences.

Same parallel with the church. We are called to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. No other man can fill that position, nor should we allow any to. Unfortunately, like the Israelites, we have rebelled against God's mandate and think we are bigger than life itself. No wonder the atrocities and circus Christianity we see prevalent.

Now, we need to draw the line between pure religious obligations and expectations vs. human relationships. We have biological parents, adopted parents, and godparents outside of religious connections or obligations in human relationships.

There is nothing wrong if you call someone father or son within that human understanding and relationship. That truly is what is depicted here in 1 Timothy 1:18, between Paul and Timothy. Paul was old enough to Father Timothy. That is the true meaning of the Greek word “teknon,” used here.

We see it used in the captured last words of Julius Ceasar, "καὶ σύ τέκνον" (Kaì sú, téknon - You too, [my] child) to Brutus. We see the possibilities of this in the relationships between Eli and Samuel, and Elijah and Elisha. Note the age differences.

Hope the above helps. Let me know what I might have left out.

© 2020 Akin Akinbodunse


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