“And call no one father on earth, for one is your Father, the One in Heaven.” – (Matthew 23:9, The Interlinear Bible, Greek-English)
Many anti-Catholics often quote Matthew 23:9 to assail the Catholic Church for calling priests “Father”. First, we should not understand it literal example, when Jesus Christ said Lazarus is sleeping.
Jesus said this and then added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.” – John 11:11
Is Lazarus literally sleeping? The answer is NO. Because Lazarus is already dead.
Another example that we should not understand literally is the verse in Matthew 10:34.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. – Matthew 10:34
Is that literally that Jesus came here not for peace, but a sword? The answer is NO.
Because Jesus is the Prince of Peace “A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Now if we will study carefully the Bible there are many verses that you read the word Father Example are the following:
1. Abraham calls “Father”.
Not just a father, but God called him a father of nations. Did you mean to say God the Father already disobey the teaching of his Son Jesus Christ?
“Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for a FATHER of many nations have I made you.”(Genesis 17:5, Hebrew-English Bible)
The argument from anti-Catholics in Matthew 23:9 is not the biological father it is about calling a Father to your Faith.
Anti – Catholics said: It is okay to call father as long as it is your biological father, but not in Father in your Faith.
The question now is in John 8:48 – 59 is it Abraham is also their biological father? If we will know the situation of Jesus Christ when he was in the land. When somebody states wrong Jesus is always ready to mock the people who teach a heresy.
Just like in Matthew 22:29 – 30 “Jesus answered them, “How wrong you are! It is because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power. For when the dead rise to life, they will be like the angels in heaven and will not marry.
If we will see it, it happened to Jesus and the Jews.
Our FATHER Abraham died; you do not claim to be greater than Abraham, do you? And the prophets also died. Who do you think you are?” – John 8:53
When the Jews called Abraham Father did Jesus Christ make an action or simply correct them? The answer is NO instead this is what he said
Your FATHER Abraham rejoiced that he was to see the time of my coming; he saw it and was glad.” – John 8:56
2. St. Paul called “Father”.
We know that St. Paul is a disciple of God with a guidance of the Holy Spirit and he is a very careful man.
This is what St. Paul said.
“For I you have myriads of teachers in Christ, yet not many fathers; for I fathered you in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”(1 Corinthians 4:15, The Interlinear Bible, Greek-English)
Of course, anti-Catholics will say that St. Paul does not intend to be called Father. But it is very clear in the verse that “I fathered you”.
Now they will say that St. Paul is not a Priest.
Being a servant of Christ Jesus to work for the Gentiles. I serve like a PRIEST in preaching the Good News from God – Romans 15:16
If we look in the Greek this is what you can read.
“eis to einai me leitourgon iEsou christou eis ta ethnE” the Greek word that use it “Leitourgon”.
Leitourgon is the Greek parent from which is derived the modern word
This is what we can read in a Greek Dictionary.
From leitourgeo; public function (as priest (“liturgy”) or almsgiver)
3. Prophet Elijah called “Father”.
Prophet Elisha is a Prophet of God just like Prophet Elijah.
Did Elisha call Elijah as “Father”?
Elisha saw it and cried out to Elijah, “My father, my father! Mighty defender of Israel! You are gone!” And he never saw Elijah again. – 2 Kings 2:12
Did God get angry when Elisha calls Elijah as Father? The answer is NO.
Now why Jesus Christ say “And call no one father on earth, for one is your Father, the One in Heaven.”
If we will study the first verse and following in Matthew 23:2 we will see that Jesus is talking to the Pharisees.
The role of a Father in Faith is taught how to help their members and this is what the Pharisees do not know Because Jesus said: “So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach. – Matthew 23:3
Abraham deserves to be called “Father” in Faith because he is a good man.
St. Paul deserves to be called “Father” in Faith because he fulfills what he preaches.
Prophet Elijah deserves to be called “Father” in Faith because he is God’s favorite.
The only reason why Jesus said it in Matthew 23:9 is simply we should not follow the teaching of the Pharisees because Pharisees did not want God the Father to be their God. Instead, Pharisees know that their God is their own teaching not the teaching of God. Another reason why Christ said it to his disciples and others who listening to him is you should not know other “Protector” except God the Father in Heaven.
Because Pharisees are pretending to be a “protector” of the teachings, but they are also not following what is the real teaching.
Our Father in Heaven is Honest to his teachings. “If we are not faithful, he remains faithful, because he cannot be false to himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13
We should know that there is another meaning of “Father” according to a Bible Dictionary.
FATHER, a word which means “Protector” and has several meanings. (The New Combined Bible Dictionary and Concordance, Page 72).
Pope Benedict XVI states in his book “Jesus of Nazareth”: In the background we hear the Lord himself speaking: “Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). God’s fatherhood is more real than human fatherhood, because he is the ultimate source of our being; because he has thought and willed us from all eternity; because he gives us our true paternal home, which is eternal. And if earthly fatherhood divides, heavenly fatherhood unites. Heaven, then, means that other divine summit from which we all come and to which we are all meant to return. The fatherhood that is “in heaven” points us toward the greater “we” that transcends all boundaries, breaks down all walls, and creates peace.