‘Father’ as a title among the ecclesia of God

The biblical use of the term ‘father’ is best seen as being a concept within the larger idea of a family. As an example Semitic peoples in very early times held a concept of family which embraced more than the idea of a biological father, mother and child. For this reason there is no word in the Old Testament that corresponds precisely with our use of the word family. Perhaps the closest idea is the understanding embraced in the term “father’s house” But note that this word is frequently used to also cover a wider group, such as a clan or even a tribe.

Conceptually the “father’s house” can be visualised as being cone shaped, with the originator or “founding father” at the apex. From this point the members are situated down and out from his headship, and he is always seen as the “father” of the household. The idea was strongly connected with the “staff” of authority and the founding ancestor. He was the “Father” of all and revered as a singular being in the life of the community. In this natural sense the various groups looked back to their ancestral head with respect and pride. From their attitude and the strength of knowing that “we came from our father xxx ” came a binding and cohesive force which knitted the people closely together.

By understanding this tribal relationship we can perhaps appreciate why Jesus, when speaking of the household of the faith, places the Lord God at the apex of the house, and speaks of our relationship to God in a framework of a household. The Jews of the Israel who lived in that day would have easily understood this.

This relationship was not to be confused with the biological father, nor was the title given to sub-leaders within the community group. There can be only one “Father”. There can only be one Father for and in the Body of Christ; the Creator, the Father Almighty.

In the family of the Christian faith Jesus clearly identifies “Our Father” as the Lord God. “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

This same model was taken on into the New Testament by Paul and others

(Gal 6:10 NIV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Heb 3:1-6 NIV) Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. [2] He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. [3] Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. [4] For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. [5] Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. [6] But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
(Eph 2:19 NIV) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,

In this concept of household/clan/tribe there can be only one “Father” in terms of the primary progenitor and it is this fact that must be heeded when considering the use of the word Father as a title in the church.

Jesus makes no mistake about this primacy and leaves no room for equivocation. He was well aware of the habits of the Pharisees in regard to their love of titles and lavish robes by which they swelled their self-importance before the less learned of Israel. He is also wise in the ways of mankind and knows their insecurity.

He was also well aware that among the Romans the title of Father was used by judges and officials. He knows also how they seek to appoint leaders and gladly hand over performance of their religious duties to them. Making leaders and giving them titles helps to cover up each individual’s responsibility.

Consider these ideas:

a. If in the church I give a person the title of king then I have no need to be accept kingly responsibility (BUT WE DO HAVE SUCH RESPONSIBILITY)

(Rev 1:6 KJV) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(Rev 5:10 KJV) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

b. If in the church I give a person the title of priest and he offers sacrifices for me then I can avoid the need to be a priest myself (BUT WE ARE PRIESTS AND HAVE A SACRIFICIAL DUTY)

(Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(1 Pet 2:9 KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

c. If in the church I give a person the title of Teacher then I can avoid the need to instruct others in the gospel (BUT WE ARE ALL COMMISSIONED TO TEACH ALL NATIONS).

(Mat 28:19 KJV) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Once again a clear instruction and authority to every saint to teach and baptise.

d. If in the church I give a person the title of Father then I can avoid the responsibility of fathering another in the gospel (BUT THIS IS OUR CALLING).

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(1 Cor 4:15 KJV) 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.

(John 3:3 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The essential work here is to bring a person to the point of real salvation and the consequent “born again” experience. Such nurturing is the task of every saint of God.

Jesus said:

(Mat 23:2-11 NIV) “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. [3] So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. [4] They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. [5] “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; [6] they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; [7] they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ [8] “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. [9] And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,‘ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. [10] Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,‘ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. [11] The greatest among you will be your servant.

These instructions could not be any clearer. There is NO excuse for using these titles and very little can be argued for using any title at all. Most of the grandiose titles in use throughout the churches have an element of either teacher, master or father and as such are a direct act of disobedience.

(1 Sam 15:22 KJV) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

The implications of this disobedience are very far reaching and have serious effects upon the churches of Christendom. Acceptance of the idea of a “special” priesthood makes a distinct demarcation between the clergy and the laity and begins the idea of two classes. This is not to be found in the gospel but is the result of the infiltration of pagan concepts into the church.

The use of titles result in exclusiveness, and as can be seen in the present church, results in the development of the idea that these titled persons are the only ones who can perform certain rites, are the only ones who can get the ear of God, are the only ones who should be permitted to touch the “holy”, are the only ones who know how to interpret the holy writings, are the only ones who can administer communion.

All of these ideas are seriously wrong.

None of these responsibilities are exclusive; we are ALL called to be KINGS, PRIESTS, TEACHERS, and FATHERS (this term includes male and female)

All of the saints, that is us, are clearly defined as follows:

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Pet 2:9 NIV)

All of the saints, that is us, not a special clergy, have been given the task as follows:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:19-20 NIV)