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Call No Man Father?

by Art Kelly

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  • Description:
    Did Jesus literally mean that we could not call anyone except God by the name of father? Art Kelly proves by numerous quotations from Scripture that what Jesus said was not meant in a literal sense.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Original, July 6, 2000

Dear Mark,

Do not fear the truth.

As Jesus said in the Gospel of St. John 8:32, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

I hope you have read my letter to Dr. Sheldon Smith with the tremendous number of quotations from Scripture to prove that Jesus founded the Catholic Church and made St. Peter the first Pope. (Gospel of St. Matthew 16:18-19, the Prophecy of Isaiah 22:20-22, Gospel of St. John 21:15-17, 2nd Book of Samuel 5:2, the Prophecy of Ezekiel 34:23, and the Gospel of St. Luke 22:31-32, among many, many others).

For a brief overview of the Biblical basis of Catholicism, I recommend the booklet, Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth.

I've previously pointed out that the Pope is the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome. The English word "pope" comes from the word "papa," meaning father. Throughout much of the world, the Bishop of Rome is called simply, "Holy Father."

You replied that Jesus said to call no one Father.

Here's the full quotation from Chapter 23 of the Gospel of St. Matthew:

[1] Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

[2] Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

[3] All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

[4] For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

[5] But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

[6] And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

[7] And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

[8] But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

[9] And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

[10] Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

[11] But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

[12] And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The point Jesus was making was the need for humility, which he also made in the Gospel of St. Luke 14:7-11

[7] And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

[8] When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

[9] And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

[10] But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

[11] For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Likewise, in St. Luke 18:9-14 says:

[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

[10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

[11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

[12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

[14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Jesus also said:

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, I for I am meek and lowly in heart:" (Gospel of St. Matthew 11:29)

"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." (St. Matthew 23:11)

"And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." (Gospel of St. Mark 9:35)

"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." (St. Mark 10:44)

In the same vein, St. Peter wrote in his 1st Epistle 5:5-6, "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."

Accordingly, one of the well-known titles of the Pope is "Servant of the Servants of God."

I'm sure you do not always interpret the Bible with wooden literalism, since Jesus sometimes used hyperbole to make a point. For instance, in the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says:

[29] And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. [30] And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus certainly did not intend this to be appleid literally, for otherwise all Christinas would be blind amputees. I know of no Protestants who have interpreted this statement literally, since none have mutilated themselves to avoid temptations of the flesh.

Furthermore, throughout the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles continue to refer to male parents as "fathers," indicating that their understanding of this passage was not strictly literal.

Some examples:

St. Matthew 2

[22] But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

St. Matthew 3

[9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

St. Matthew 4

[21] And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.2.[22] And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

St. Matthew 8

[21] And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

St. Matthew 15

[4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

[5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

[6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

St. Matthew 19

[5] And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

[19] Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

[29] And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

St. Mark.1

[20] And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

St. Mark 5

[40] And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

St. Mark.7

[10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

[11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

[12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

St. Mark 10

[7] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

[19] Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

[29] And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,

St. Mark.13

[12] Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

St. Mark.15

[21] And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

St. Luke.1

[17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

[55] As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

[59] And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

[62] And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

[67] And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

[72] To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

[73] The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

St. Luke.3

[8] Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

St. Luke 8

[51] And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.

St. Luke.14

[26] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

St. Luke.16

[24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

[27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

[30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

St. Luke.18

[20] Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

St. John.7

[22] Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.

St. John 8

[56] Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

St. John 18

[13] And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

Acts of the Apostles 3

[13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

[22] For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

[25] Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

Acts.5

[30] The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Acts.7

[2] And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

[4] Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

[11] Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

[12] But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

[14] Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

[15] So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,

[16] And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

[19] The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.

[20] In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:

[32] Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abrham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.

[38] This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

[39] To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,13.

[44] Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts.7

[52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Acts.13

[17] The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.

[32] And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

[36] For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

Acts.15

[10] Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Acts.16

[1] Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

[3] Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

Acts.22

[1] Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

[3] I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

[14] And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

Acts.24

[14] But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

Acts.26

[6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

Acts.28

[8] And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

[17] And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

[25] And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 4

[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

[11] And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

[12] And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

[16] Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

[17] (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

[18] Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Romans 9

[5] Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

[10] And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Romans 15

[8] Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

St. Paul's 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 4

[15] For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

1Cor.5

[1] It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

1Cor.10

[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 1

[14] And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians 5

[31] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Ephesians 6

[2] Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

[4] And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians 3

[21] Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

St. Paul's 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians 2

[11] As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

St. Paul's 1st Epistle to St. Timothy 1

[9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

1 St. Timothy 5

[1] Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

Epistle to the Hebrews 1

[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hebrews3

[9] When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Hebrews 8

[9] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

Hebrews 12

[7] If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

[9] Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Epistle of St. James 2

[21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

St. Peter's 1st Epistle 1

[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

St. Peter's 2nd Epistle 3

[4] And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

St. John's 1st Epistle 2

[13] I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

[14] I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

So, Mark, I think you can see that Jesus and the apostles freely used the title "father."

Without question, Jesus meant "call no man your father upon the earth" in a figurative, not a literal, sense.

Priests are called "father" because they are spiritual fathers in Christ. As the Vicar of Christ, the Pope is appropriately referred to as the Holy Father.

As St. Paul said in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 4:15, "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

Of course, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Cordially,

Art
ART KELLY
13524 Brightfield Lane
Herndon, Virginia 20171-3360
(703) 904-3763
art.kelly@usa.net
ArthurKelly@yahoo.com

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