In Matthew 23, Jesus says a curious thing.

“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” (emphasis added).

Matthew 23:8-10 (NIV)

Is Jesus telling us that we can’t call our dads “father?” Coupled with Luke 14:26, it might seem like that’s what Jesus is telling us

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:26 (NIV)

Fortunately, Jesus isn’t telling us we can’t call our fathers “father.” In fact, in Luke 14:26, he isn’t telling us that we have to hate them either. To understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 23:8-10, we just have to read the context below.

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach…they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”

Matthew 23:2-3,6-7 (NIV)

Jesus is talking about leaders in Matthew 23:8-10. Specifically, religious leaders who exalted themselves over God, as revealed here.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)

If someone is leading you to Christ, then it is Christ who should be exalted. Otherwise, that person is a false teacher, and you must stop following them! Not just for your sake but for theirs as well.

The rest of Matthew 23, verses, 13-39, gives us an even better understanding of how wrong the Pharisees and teachers of the law were. These passages are called “The Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees” in the NIV.

What about calling someone “father, teacher, pastor, etc.?”

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.

1 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)

Here, Paul calls himself a father to the Corinthians. That’s because Paul is leading them to Christ, and he sees them as his children in Christ. We see this elsewhere.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.

Galatians 4:19 (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

1 John 2:1 (NIV)

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.

1 Peter 5:13 (NIV)

In these verses, we see Paul, John, and Peter in the place of “fathers” to those they have discipled. Therefore, we know that Jesus wasn’t telling us not to call anyone “father.” Whether it be our natural or spiritual fathers.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.