In this second part of ” Tearing down the false doctrine pertaining spiritual fathers” Find part one here
In this article I discuss three cases that those who support the Spiritual fatherhood doctrine advance as justification for this false doctrine. The 3 cases I discuss below are: that of Paul and Timothy, Paul and the Corinthian Church, Elisha and Elijah.
P A U L A N D T I M O T H Y
The case of Paul and Timothy is common reference point for those who support the spiritual father doctrine. The key verse is 1 Timothy 2:1 where Paul says unto Timothy ” my own son in the faith”
This is normally misintepreted to mean that Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son yet such an misinterpretation ignores the facts.
First of all neither does Paul say unto Timothy ” My own spiritual son ” nor does He say Unto Timothy “my own son in the Spirit”
The greek word for Faith as used in that passage is ” pistis ” and below i have provided the definition as defined by Strong’s greek lexicon.
[ persuasion, that is, credence ; moral conviction(of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especiallyreliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. ]
As you can see the above definition of pistis does not imply Spirit in any sense. The definition of pistis does not in anyway imply that the verse can be made to mean that Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul.
So what does it mean, If Paul says Timothy or Titus are sons in the faith, according to that definition above, its clear that Faith could mean persuasion, moral conviction of truth especially in reliance upon Christ for Salvation and thus Timothy and Titus where sons in this persuasion as presented in the gospel.
We must also look at the working relationship of Paul and Timothy to further understand why Paul calls Timothy a son in the faith. In Acts 16:1-4, is an account of how Paul took Timothy as a companion on His missionary journeys. Timothy being a younger companion who bore the benefit of instruction in the gospel by Paul, it thus could only have been appropriate for Paul to refer to Timothy as His own son in the faith.
W A S P A U L, T I M O T H Y’S S P I R I T U AL F A T H E R ?
I have explained what it means for one to be a spiritual son and I have explained that no man can be another man’s spiritual son because only the Holy Spirit can cause the Spiritual birth of a human being.
And so Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ made this clear in John 3:5-6
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit
So what did Jesus mean when He said ” except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot be born again”?, Jesus was reffering to regeneration a process by which the Holy Spirit causes the Sinner to repent and believe the Gospel.
Regeneration is an activity that only the Spirit can do. Being born of water refers to water baptism which is the outward sign that signifies the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism cannot cause regeneration, it is just but a sign. Regeneration is an activity of the Holy Spirit not a preacher or an Apostle like Paul.
In fact Paul himself had to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, how could He ever have power himself to cause spiritual birth? Therefore Paul could never have been anyone’s spiritual father.
Its worth noting that Paul was just a vessel in the Potters Hands, a clay vessel in the potter’s hands cannot create another clay pot! Paul therefore is just an instrument in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If Paul could ever be the cause of Spiritual birth then it must as consequence follow that man is saved by work of some other person in addition to the Grace of God, the Finished work of Jesus Christ and regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Yet we know that man is saved by God alone not the works of any man, thus his spiritual birth is caused by God who thus becomes His Spiritual father.
1 C O R I N T H I A N S 4 : 14 – 17
Here is another passage1 Corinthians 4:14 -17 commonly misintepreted by those who support the spiritual fatherhood heresy.
14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
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.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
Its clear that Paul was calling the Corinthians “sons” on account of the gospel he had preached to them, elsewhere in His epistles Paul says that the gospel is power unto salvation, andf its foolishness to those who are perishing.. again in this passage there is no hint of Paul having caused Spiritual rebirth in order that he may be called Spiritual father of the Corinthians
W A S E L I S H A, E L I J A H ‘ S S P I R I T U A L S O N ?
We shall now look at 2 Kings 2:11-12, this passage is also used as a textproof for the spiritual fatherhood concept.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
Those who buy into this spiritual fatherhood concept believe that Elisha’s ‘”My father, my father” utterance in refence to Elijah amounts to justification for the erroneous view that Elijah was a spiritual father to Elisha, Also the Spiritual fatherhood heresy proponent will turn to whuch says that Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit, therefore a spiritual father can impart a portion of his spirit to a spiritual son, This notion is mistaken for 2 reasons;
1. Elijah is not a role model to church leaders, He was a pointer to the ministry of John the baptist [ Malachi 4:4, Matthew 11:14, Luke 1:17, Mark 9:11-13] who is himself a pointer to Jesus Christ. In a way the ascension of Elijah into the heavens was a pointer to the ascension of Jesus Christ into the heavens after ressurection.
2. Scripture and personalities therein are pointers to Jesus Christ [ John 5:39, Luke 24:27] not models of church leadership, Paul explains to Timothy the roles and qualifications of church leaders and suffice to say none of the things that Paul says ever make mention of the Elijah, Elisha relationship as a model for the made up spiritual fatherhood doctrine.Old Testament types and shadows such as the temple, the sacrifices, the sabbath, the Levitical Prieshood, Elijah, Elisha point us to Jesus Christ as having fully revealed and Glorified the Father in the work of salvation. Yet some insist that the likes of Elijah as He was to Elisha are pointers to the morden but false spiritual father
3. Even in the Old testament God was always sovereign and it was upon Him to grant spiritual birth, God has always been active even befor creation.Christ was greater that both Elisha and Elijah combined yet instructs us in Matthew 23:7-10, “call no man “father” except your Father in heaven and call no man “Master” except Christ”