Beginning Commentary: Jesus admonishes the Disciples on Titles – Matthew 23:7-12

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Today we are discussing the admonishing to the Disciples that Jesus gave about using titles in ministry.

Scripture: Matthew 23:7-12

“7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

Prophetic data: There does not appear to be prophetic data in reference here.

Archaeological data: There does not appear to be archaeological data in reference here.

Commentary

Jesus is explaining to His Disciples (which translates over to all Disciples after this that carry on the Lord’s Work of ministering the Gospel) that they should not be as the Scribes and the Pharisees who call themselves “Rabbi,” “Teacher,” “Master,” or “Father.” Jesus charged them with not using titles in front of their name, because it gives the false impression that the Disciple is someone of power or authority.

Instead, they are to be a servant to their brethren, yes, on equal ground with their brethren in Christ. Jesus Christ is the True Master of all, and God is the True Father of all, and God is also “Reverend” (Psalm 111:9). Jesus gives the impression that there is no need for more masters, mystics, deified, or exalted beings. God gave the knowledge of Deity to Jesus Christ, and He is Master.

Those exalting themselves (such as with titles, authority, or other misleading traits) would be humbled, and those who are humble (such as servanthood) would be exalted (which would probably amount to doing more work for His Service in the Kingdom).

Spiritual pride can cause incalculable evil in the Church; however, please note that He is not speaking against spiritual leaders (the greater among men that are servants; also called servant leadership in some circles). What Jesus is speaking against is for those that attempt to distinguish themselves from other members of His Body. Jesus sees all of His People equally and does not show preference (see Romans 2:11).

Other notes: Some source notes for Matthew 23:12 show that “ostentation” should be avoided. 23:8 notes “be not ye called” an ingressed aorist subjunctive from the Greek, possibly to regard the potential adoption of titles to be used publicly as an object of pride of the Disciple or assigned to the Disciple — Jesus did not differentiate whether the Disciple assigned the title to themselves or would allow someone else to assign it. 23:9 “father” notes “Abba”, which depicts the harmonic sense of “spiritual father”, which would be stated to not condemn a person’s Earthly father.