Terms of Fatherhood in the Church

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on June, 12, 2019

Terms of Fatherhood in the Church

Questions and Answers from the New Testament

The Question

“Father” and other terms are frequently used by many churches, pastors, prophets, etc., in Christendom, especially those from or in charismatic churches. Terms like “spiritual father,” “spiritual sons & daughters,” “godfather,” etc., are now common. The terms spiritual father or godfather are used to refer to one’s seniors (those who train or given you training in the Lord or sometimes has inspired you). The terms complementary terms spiritual daughters or sons is also used.

Please do you by any means know any scripture that speaks on those terms.

The Discussion

Yes, there are such family terms used in the scriptures to describe spiritual relationships.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Here, Paul likened himself as a father, a model of how they should live: “devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly.” He also took the privilege to “exhorting and encouraging and imploring” them as a father though he only be a ‘spiritual father.’

1 Corinthians 11:1

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Paul again uses the image of himself as a father in 1 Corinthians 11:1 where he presents himself to be imitated. Children are to grow up in the likeness of their father, though not in an arrogant way. So Paul himself followed Christ and they, his ‘children’ should imitate him. Paul limited their imitation of himself only in the way that he followed Christ.


In some situations, family language, like Father-son, is used to symbolize authority over others. The Scriptures speak of the older believer serving as a godly example but not having control over. Elders, being like grandparents and parents, are entrusted with the leadership of the church (though recognized by the church-not self-appointed).

Some wrongly use their authority to exercise control. The extra authority Christians might have over others can easily develop into unhealthy situations—almost cultish. Of course, there is a father-son image like Paul and Timothy which presents a very healthy situation because it portrayed a healthy mentoring situation.

Timothy 1:2

“To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2 Timothy 2:1

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

questions in the Bible


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