Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9, NKJV)
Jesus is speaking in a religious sense when He forbids calling anyone father on the earth. He was not forbidding referring to our human parent (Eph. 6:4; Heb. 12:9). In the verse before and the verse after today’s text, Jesus warned against giving unwarranted religious titles, and the superiority that goes with them, to teachers (Matt. 23:8, 10). That is the nature of His warning in verse 10, too. Giving a person special prominence, title and distinction above his peers is a direct violation of the Scriptures. Jesus taught, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). Plain and simple, there is no clergy-laity distinction in the New Testament. That unholy description developed over the intervening centuries, as men elevated themselves above others, and as men allowed it to be so. No man on earth is our religious “father;” Our Father is in heaven (Matt. 6:9).