1Cor4:14 ”For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many FATHERS, for in Christ Jesus I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU (I BECAME YOUR FATHER) through the gospel.”
Mat.23:9 ”*DO NOT CALL ANYONE ON EARTH YOUR FATHER*; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”
–These 2 verses seem to be in contradiction. Paul called himself a father unto the Corinthians, while Jesus said to not call anyone father but God; Jesus meant ”father is an absolute way” is only God; Jesus also has used the word ”father” referring to earthly fathers. Only God can give spiritual rebirth (new birth) and spiritual provision.
–Matt.23 verses 8 and 10 forbid to call someone else than Jesus a teacher or guide in an absolute way, but Jesus himself gave teachers to the church Eph.4:11, Mat.28:18-20.
–Word ”*FATHER*” is used about 1700 times in the Bible and most of the time it does not relate to God as a father but to human fathers.
MEANING OF THE WORD ”*FATHER*” IN THE SCRIPTURES:
*01. IN TERMS OF CREATION* God is called ”father” by angels: verse Job 1:6 and 2:1 ”the sons of God” implies angels would call God ”father” but Satan is not included here in the formula ”sons of God”; however, Gen.6:2 and Jude 6 implies some ”sons of God” (angels) became fallen angels or demons; see also Hebr.12:9 ”God, Father of spirits”: God can’t give birth to spirits but He has created all spirits, also James1:17 ”Father of lights”; Hebrew is a poetic language: God is called ”Father” here in regards to his created spirits;
*02. IN TERMS OF NATIONAL ELECTION* Israel is called by God his ”first born” in Ex.4:22;
–”first born” is a title of honor and preeminence, used in ancient culture, which legally included double portion of inheritance, plus succession of the throne or family business leadership;
–Israel as a nation being ”adopted” by God as His first born does not mean that all Israelis would go to heaven (see Korah and his companions who descended to hell, Numbers 16) but that God has decided to reveal Himself in a special deeper way to Israel and to use Israel to bring God’s revelation to all nations: from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) to Jesus who was born as a Jew, then the 12 Apostles, Jews, spread the Gospel into all the world in person, through their disciples and writings; Rom.9:4;
*03. IN TERMS OF SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTH*, only Christians can call God ”Father”: only those who believe in Jesus are ADOPTED AS CHILDREN OF GOD: Rom.8:15, Gal.5:4, Eph.1:5, and in the same time they are BORN AGAIN FROM GOD: 1John 2:29; 3:1,9; 4:7 and 5:1,4,18.
–Angels are not called ”sons born of God” but created sons;
–we are adopted as sons of God through faith in the blood of Jesus, angels dont have this privilege Heb.2:16; we have received the Holy Spirit into which angels desire to look and study: 1Pet.1:12; angels and demons study God’s wisdom by looking at the church Eph.3:10;
–Christians have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, thus having the nature of God inside them: 1Cor.3:16,6:19.
–John8:27 speaks about God as ”THE FATHER”. In an ultimate, supreme way there is only one that is ”the father”, the same way that Sarah called Abraham ”my lord” but she knew that there is only one who deserves to be called ”THE LORD” in a supreme way: God.
*04. IN TERMS OF NATURAL BIRTH*, every human has one father; adoption also offers fatherhood rights;
–in Luke 14:26 and Mat. 15:6 Jesus used the word ”father” to mean human fathers; Heb.12:9;
*05. ABRAHAM IS CALLED OUR ”FATHER”* meaning *OUR EXAMPLE OF FAITH* James2:21, Acts7:2, Rom.4:1,11,12,16,18; Jews would call their ancestors ”fathers” (Rom.9:10 Paul addressed Jews) but in Romans Paul does not write to Jews only but to gentiles mostly;
*06. SATAN IS CALLED FATHER OF THOSE WHO FOLLOW HIM* – in John 8:44 Satan is called father of pharisees; Judas was called ”son of perdition” in John17:12, as he chose to follow the way of destruction, same phrase applies to the Antichrist in 2Thes.2:3;
–in Acts13:10 a sorcerer is called by Paul, ”son of the devil”;
*07. JESUS IS CALLED ”THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD”* and He called God ”FATHER”; ”only begotten” in Jn3:16 means that Jesus is the only Son of His kind: not created as the other ”sons” of God – the angels, not adopted as the Christians, not just chosen for a mission as nation Israel but one that has the same nature as God the Father: Heb.1:2,3, Col.1:17; also Jesus as a human was appointed ”first born” or heir of all things of the Father; ask me for our complete study ”Jesus is God”;
*08. PAUL SAID IN* 1COR.4:14 *THAT HE WAS A ”SPIRITUAL FATHER” to the Corinthians*, meaning that he had brought them to Christ by preaching the Gospel to them; he said this to show to them that he cared about them but he had to rebuke them for their bad spiritual condition and he encouraged them to follow his example v16 as he followed Christ (see 1Cor.11:1).
–Here spiritual father means one that brings someone to Christ and continues his fatherhood responsibility by nurturing them, caring for them, being an example. See our study ”Shepherds according to the heart of God”.
–Many ”men of God” today take this last point, Paul’s expression of ”fatherhood” to control people’s lives, to mean they are the only way for blessing, anointing, prosperity. When the one that brought you to Christ does not follow Christ anymore (Paul said ”follow me as I follow Christ” 1Cor.11:1), then you should continue to love that person and pray for him but you don’t follow him anymore, look to follow someone else who follows Christ.
–Maybe the one who brought you to Christ is not a shepherd: he can’t lead you any further but you need a shepherd now. You are responsible before God to find one. Pray for leading.
–A spiritual father means one to whom you look up for daily/weekly doctrine, a godly example to follow, one to whom you can go at any time for counseling, one from whom you accept exhortation, encouragement and rebukes, one to whom you bring your family as well for spiritual growth;
–You choose who is your spiritual father. Use your Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit to discern who should that be. You need a shepherd who knows you by name (in a big church a pastor should have under-shepherds to help him), one who sees your walk with God and thus can encourage or rebuke you in love;
–Learn the difference between a guru and a shepherd: a guru manipulates, is impersonal, gives certain teachings without a relationship with the students, a guru points others to himself; Jesus in Mat.28:18-20 said, ”teach…and make disciples”, both words in Greek involve teaching through a daily personal relationship, not a school-type teaching;
–A quick test for choosing a ”spiritual father” is this:
1. Is this ”man of God” indeed born again?
2. Did this man of God become rich in a poor church (and/or poor country)? …He may be after your money as well!
Paul worked for his needs at times and was ready to spend of his own money for the Corinthians 2Cor.11:7-9 and 12:15 and he refused to take money from the Corinthians, receiving gifts from the Phillipi church; thus the Corinthians could see that Paul was not after their money.
Ask me for our study ”How to choose a local assembly” for more points that apply to choosing a spiritual father as well.
—*You don’t need to call him ”Spiritual Father”*; just call him ‘Shepherd’ (or ‘Pastor’ or by his name); Paul didn’t establish here the office of ”spiritual father” but a principle; the office that is established by Jesus is that of a shepherd or pastor (‘poimen’ in Greek, see Eph.4:11). Paul called himself an ambassador 2Cor.5:20, a soldier 2Tim.2:3, also a nurse 1Thes.2:7 – we don’t call pastors by these names either.
—*Do not make a quick choice*: you may attend a church for a few months before you can really know what a certain pastor teaches and his life style before making a decision.
Pastor Daniel Timofte, ggzim.org