In the OT ‘father’ can have a wider significance than the modern head of the nuclear family. He may be head of a tribe (Gen. 32: 9) or a prophet (2 Kgs. 2: 12). In a family, a father arranged marriages, could sell a son or daughter into slavery, and it was he who gave religious instruction. In the NT, Jesus addresses God as his Father, thus making him an ideal for all human fatherhood (Eph. 3: 14–15). In John, Jesus' activity reflects the love of the Father, and he acts with his authority (John 3: 35). When Jesus forbids his followers to call anyone on earth their ‘father’ (Matt. 23: 9), it is not a prohibition of children addressing their natural fathers in the obvious way, nor of adults thus addressing their spiritual mentors; it is a warning against ascribing authority to any prophet or teacher who is out of step with legitimate tradition.