Can We Call Any Man Our Spiritual Father?

Hi A____,

Thank you for your question about the e- mail entitled How Are We Christ’s Mother? You ask:

The answer to your question is that in this e- mail, as you have demonstrated, I mistakenly made this statement:

Why does Paul do this? Is Paul ever called ‘Father’ in scripture? Most definitely not. It is of great significance that Christ did not include the title ‘father’ in those who make up His disciples. Paul is not claiming to be Timothy’s spiritual Father, contrary to Christ’s words. What Paul is doing is taking the verse you are referring to seriously and calling Timothy his ‘son in the faith’. Inasmuch as Timothy is Paul’s son, Paul considers himself to be part of “Jerusalem above which is the mother of us all.”

To my chagrin, that statement is wrong, and I will have Sandi take it out of that e- mail and post this e- mail to correct that mistake. The point I make in that e- mail is that Paul considers himself to be the mother of Christ because Paul and all of us are part of “Jerusalem above, which is the mother of us all”, and Paul also considers himself to be part of the Christ who is also our spiritual Father:

Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

So then, Christ’s statement concerning ‘men on earth’, which you quote, is to be understood in the same manner as the verses which I will quote below. They are also concerned with “men on earth” as opposed to men who are in Christ – who is both simultaneously on this earth and in the heavens:
Here is the verse which demonstrates that Christ is simultaneously on this earth and in the heavens:

Joh 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Yes, it is true that Christ ascended into the heavens, and a cloud received Him out of their sight:

Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

However, when we place line upon line and precept upon precept, and when we put together the sum of God’s Word, we find that heaven is where God dwells, and we find that God dwells in His people, and His people are His temple where He dwells:

1Ki 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

Then in the New Testament we learn where this ‘heaven’ is where God dwells in His “temple of God in heaven”:

1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Now we can see why the things of the spirit are foolishness to the natural man, and that the man who is given the mind of the spirit will appear to be a fool in the mind of the natural man. That is why the very next verse in 1Co 3 tells us:

1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
1Co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

So we too, just as Christ was while He was on this earth in a body of flesh and blood, are also “seated with Him in the heavens” while simultaneously being in a body of flesh and blood on this earth.
Here is the verse of scripture which reveals this to be so.

Eph 2:6 and rouses us together and seats us together among the celestials, in Christ Jesus,

With all of this in mind, here are the verses which demonstrate what is the mind of the spirit when it uses the phrase “no man upon the earth”. This is what the scriptures mean by the word ‘man’ in that verse:

Mat 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Is this speaking of “the new man”, whose mind is being conformed to the mind of Christ each day?

Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

No, of course it is not! “Beware of men” in this verse is speaking of carnal- minded men who think they are doing God a service by persecuting God’s elect.
Of this “new man” it can honestly be said that “as [ Christ] is, so [ is He] in this world”.

1Jn 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Do not the scriptures tell us that we “need not that any man teach [ us]”? Yes indeed, that is exactly what the scriptures teach.

1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

But what does that mean? Does it mean that men who are “as [ Christ] is in this world” are not set in the church as teachers? No, of course not. What that verse means is that carnal- minded men of this world, who think they know God but do not, are not ever to be allowed to be our teachers.
Note how the scriptures reveal that “the same anointing teaches you all things”:

1Co 12:28 And God hath set some [ men] in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

So it is with this phase “Call no man your father upon the earth”.

Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

“For one is your Father, which is in heaven” means that Christ is our Father, and if it is true that “as He is so are we in this world”, then it is entirely proper for Paul to tell Timothy:

1Co 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.

So “no man on the earth” is to be called our spiritual Father, but men who are “seated with [ Christ] in the heavens” and are not envious of titles, can nevertheless confess that they have indeed begotten children in Christ, who is indeed the Father of us all. The key to understanding why Paul says ‘fathers’ is in the phrase “in Christ Jesus”. “In Christ” Paul was a spiritual father to the Corinthian church, which seemed more willing to give that title to false Christs and to false apostles than to Christ’s true apostles. I hope this helps you to understand what Paul means there in 1Co 2:15. Paul did not go around demanding to be addressed as ‘Holy Father’ as “men upon the earth” do.

Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
2Co 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

Let me know what you think.
Your brother and fellow student of Christ and His Word,
Mike

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