We Must Have Fathers
"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:15).
Ancient Corinth was one of the most commercialized cities of its day. Much of the shipping between the east and west passed through this great city; and with it, came multiple cultural influences that affected the populace. Corinth was renowned for its sensuality and sacred prostitution.
According to history, the deity of the city was Aphrodite, the goddess of licentious love; and a thousand professional prostitutes served in the temple dedicated to her worship. Given the spiritual climate of the city, one can imagine the issues that arose within the church.
It is interesting to note that it was to this particular church that Paul addressed the need for spiritual fathers. There were many teachers who clearly taught doctrine; and the gifts of the Holy Spirit were, without a doubt, operating within the church structure.
The anointing of God was present among the believers. Yet, in spite of this, there was an obvious absence of genuine fatherhood, and as a result, there were cultural issues that infected the body of believers. Paul recognized that these issues could only be resolved through proper spiritual parenting.
Sadly, we see these same moral issues infecting the modern churches today. No doubt the need for true spiritual fatherhood is necessary today!
The word fathers in the above passage is pateres in the Greek and is translated fathers, parents; those who are mature in the Lord. It is a word derived from a root that means nourisher, protector, and upholder; one who is advanced in the knowledge of Christ; one who stands in a father’s place caring for the spiritual children.
Pateres speaks of those who have spiritual stature, stability, and wherewithal. The word does not speak of those who are most famous or have written the most bestselling books.
Pateres also describes those who are grounded in the Word and the Spirit as well as those who are stable, wise, and not easily moved. It is the picture of those who govern and lead others to govern. Fathers and mothers are mature models for spiritual children to follow.
We are in a critical hour in God’s church when the demands for fathers to step up and take their place in both the home and the church have never been more real.
John MacArthur writes, “What do tenderhearted mothers and loving fathers have in common? The motive that drives them is a desire for their children’s maturity and well-being.
A good father is no less self-giving than a nursing mother. But his role is different. The mother tenderly nurtures the infant; the father is the principal guardian and guide.”
There are commonalities and differences in the roles of the mother and father, yet the father has been given first responsibility to establish the identity and destinies of the children.
We are in a critical hour in God’s church when the demands for fathers to step up and take their place in both the home and the church have never been more real. The destinies of generations are at stake.
Qualities of Mature Fathers
Billy Graham has said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets is our society.” He further stated that the greatest quality of a godly father is to be present in the home.
Consider these statistics from the IDS 302 Project regarding education and the presence of the father in the home:
- Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
- Children with fathers who are involved are 40% less likely to repeat a grade in school.
- Children with fathers who are involved are 70% less likely to drop out of school.
- Children with fathers who are involved are more likely to get A’s in school.
- Children with fathers who are involved are more likely to enjoy school and engage in extracurricular activities.
There is something about the mere presence of a father that brings peace, security, and stability to the home. The same is true in the church. The presence of godly fathers in the house brings a notable level of security and stability to the body.
Fathers seem to set the tone for the household of faith. When they demonstrate love for God and others, the impact is greater than we can imagine. Sons are deeply affected by this.
Sons draw strength from a father’s soberness and exhibit a high level of respect toward fathers who consistently and faithfully lead the congregation.
Fathers are those who have a unique relationship with their offspring. In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul made the comparison between instructor and father. Instructor, or paidogoguos, means boy leader, tutor, or schoolmaster.
An instructor is simply one whose occupation is teaching. He is one who disseminates information and assists students in assimilating that information in order to put it to use. Fathers, on the other hand, are the ones who seek to transform children into mature sons by investing a deep personal impartation into their lives.
They may teach, but their goal is not to simply have smart kids who are well learned. They want sons and daughters who are living in their full potential and pursuing their God-given destinies. Paul made it clear to the Corinthian believers that he was not their teacher; he was their father!