Call No Man Your Father!
Matthew 23:9

This verse is one of the most mis-quoted, most taken out of context, and most misunderstood by non-Catholics in all of Holy Scripture. What does this verse really say?

"Call no one on earth your father..."

Matthew 23:9, "And call no one on earth your father; for one is your father, who is in heaven." The meaning of that verse is, 'no earthly father must come before your heavenly father'. This is shown in Matthew 10:37, when He said, "He who loves 'father' or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." If you back up to Matthew 23:1, Jesus was actually addressing the 'crowds and His disciples'. It is clear He spoke to two groups. If you jump to verse 8, where he said, "As for you (indicating a select group, NAB), do not be called 'Rabbi' (Rabbi's are teachers, or the learned in Jewish law and the crowds mentioned in verse 1 certainly are not teachers, so He was addressing the disciples). You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers." (He called His disciples His "brothers" in many other Bible verses).

* A parent is called father - Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, "Fathers do not provoke your children to anger."
* Exodus 20:12, the 4th commandment, honor your "father" and your mother.
* In 1Corinthians 4:14-16, Paul said, "I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me."
*Philemon 1:10, "I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment."
* Philippians 2:22, "...As child serves father..."
* Acts 7:2, and Act 22:1, "Brethren and fathers hear..."
* Acts 13:17, "...people of Israel chose our fathers..."
* Romans 4:1-18, Abraham is called "Father" seven times in these verses.
* Romans 9:10, "Isaac our father..."
* Hebrews 1:1, ...spoke in times past to the fathers,
* 2Peter 3:4, "...for since the fathers fell asleep,..."
* 1John 2:13, "I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one."
* Malachi 1:6, "A son honors his father...if then I be a father, where is my honor?'
* Isaiah 22:21-22, "...and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; and he shall open and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open." These verses are a prefigurement of the papacy.
* In John 6:49, Jesus Himself said, "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead."
He said call no man your father in Matthew 23:9, and here he calls their ancestors "Fathers". Is this a conflict?
* How about Luke14:26, Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate (the word 'hate', at the time, meant to 'love less') his FATHER..." Here Jesus said the word "father" again. If you take the literal meaning of "father" the same as some take it in Matthew 23:9, then you could only conclude that Jesus said, "You have to love Me more than you love My Father in heaven." I am sure that is not the meaning of Luke 14:26. Wouldn't you agree?
* A priest is a spiritual "Father", as your blood father is your natural father...
* Judges 17:10, "Stay with me, Micha said to him. Be Father and Priest to me..."
* Judges 18:19, "Come with us and be our Father and Priest."

I would say Holy Scripture itself, corrects the misconceptions and mistranslations of Matthew 23:9, wouldn't you?

What do most people call their male parent? Sire? Dad? Pop? Mister? No, most call him "father".
Are you sinning every time you call your male parent "father"?

Written by Bob Stanley, 1996
Updated December 13, 2001
Return To HomePage