Call no Man Father

And do not be called teachers

“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:9).”

Recently someone called me “Brother Tryphon”. His having addressed me as “brother”, reminded me of a sheriff deputy, who for years addressed me as “Hieromonk Tryphon”, because he felt he could not be biblical if he addressed me as “father”. This deputy had no difficulty allowing his own boys to address him as dad (father), nor did he have any difficulty referring to anyone in his church who taught Sunday School, as teacher. Yet Christ did not say it was OK to call your own blood father, “father”, nor did He say you could call an instructor, “teacher”. He said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father…. And do not be called teachers”.

The protestant claim that calling priests, “father,” is a violation of Scripture, ignores the fact that Jesus referred to our “father Abraham” (John 8:56), and told the story of the prodigal son, using the term, “father” (Luke 15). Furthermore, Saint Paul said, “I have become your father in Christ”. From the beginning, the Church, from Old Testament times, called those anointed by God as “prophet”, “teacher” (rabbi), and “father.” Like the titles “reverend”, “pastor”, and “brother”, these personal titles have served to convey a certain warmth and honor to those who serve the Lord, and who serve us.

Just as love leads us to call our parent “father”, so too do we show honor and love for those who serve us by calling them “father”. That the Lord Jesus Christ warned against calling men “father” or “teacher”, was a reminder that the leaders of His people should remain pure and humble. His injunction that bishops, priests, deacons, and teachers, should maintain personal character, and godly humility, is obvious. Our Lord could have just as easily instructed his disciples to “call no one reverend, or pastor, or Mister”.

Finally, let us consider hyperbole (an extreme exaggeration) as used, especially in ancient Greek, to drive home a greater point. The Gospel stories are full of them. Jesus told us to cut off our hands and tear out our eyes if they cause us to sin (Matthew and Mark). Did he really mean that, or is he making a greater point? How many self-inflicted, blind, amputee Christians do you see walking around?

The point there is to be wary of how these things can, and do, allow us to sin. The same thing applies to the “call no man on earth father.” Jesus made an analogy using hyperbolic language. Humans have fathers, whether they know or like them. No matter how good a human father is, God is a better, nicer, smarter, kinder, and so on, father. Otherwise, the analogy makes no sense and Jesus wasted his breath. In comparison, an earthly father cannot compete with God. Moreover, if it was a real prohibition, someone really should have chastised St. Paul for neglecting to take into account his references to himself as a father (in the spiritual sense), and remove his letters from the New Testament.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: Father Moses driving our tractor.

Saturday May 31, 2014

Afterfeast of the Ascension. Tone five.

Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of Seven Ecumenical Councils.
Martyr Theodotus of Ancyra and seven virgin-martyrs: Alexandra, Tecusa, Claudia, Phaine, Euphraisa, Matrona, and Julia (303).
Martyrs Peter of Lampsacus, and Andrew, Paul, and Dionysia, at Euridinos (249-251).
St. Macarius (Glukharev) of Altai, Siberia (1847).
St. John (Gashkevich), archpriest of Korma (1917).
New Hieromartyr Michael, priest (1932).
New Hieromartyr Damjan (Damian) Strbac, Jr. of Grahovo, Serbia (1940s).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest (1942).
Martyrs Symeon, Isaac, and Bachtisius of Persia (339).
Martyrs Heraclius, Paulinus, Benedimus of Athenas (250).
Holy Martyrs Davit and Tarichan (693) (Georgia).
Martyr Euphrasia of Nicaea (Greek).
St. Stephen the New, patriarch of Constantinople (Greek).
Hieromartyr Theodore, pope of Rome (Greek).
St. Anastaso of Lukada (Greek).
Venerable Martinian of Areovinthus, monk (Greek).
Martyr Julian (Greek).
Hieromartyr Potamon, bishop of Heraclea (341) (Greek).
St. Elgiva, quenn of England.
You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Acts 20:7-12

Ministering at Troas

7Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. 8There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. 9And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” 11Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

John 14:10-21

10Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

The Answered Prayer

12“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises Another Helper

15“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Indwelling of the Father and the Son

19“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

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