During a recent discussion with some fellow Christians the topic of the teacher came up. A leader quoted Jesus’s statement in the Bible in Mat 23:8-10 to say that teachers are not required. Here is the relevant passage: “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for one is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for one is your teacher, the Christ.” How should I respond to this? I know Ephesians, James and Corinthians mention teachers, but I remain confused about why Jesus made the above statement, and how to interpret it in light of other scriptures.
Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. ... Nor are you to be called 'Teachers,' because you have only one teacher, the Messiah !
There are so many interpretations of this verse but i am certain of one thing it is literarily literal because we all have access to the Manual . The Bible .
And it is ONE Spirit that Interprets and if you have NOT the Holy Spirit Then you are not of Christ .
This Does not mean you are not to respect those Shepherds who have been placed to Shepherd you by God not anyone else for False Pastors Prophets Teachers Churches & Synagogues Abound Today .
For indeed what can a Shepherd Teach Sheep ? To eat grass ? To Follow him ? But NAY where a True Shepherd is The Sheep will have no choice but to follow him and to eat the grass that is found everywhere in the pastures of the Word of God . The Bible .
The Church is not only a Spiritual Place but one where Sheep go to Pasture and Feed to grow to become Shepherds.
You can not be a Sheep for ever .
What is a Shepherd if he does not feed the Sheep ?
What is a pastor if he does not pastor you (take care of you )
What is a Deacon if he does not Deacon you
Or a Bishop ??
My Sheep hear my Voice a Strangers Voice they will not follow
"But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matthew 23:8-11)
Surely, this cannot refer to the simple practice of children calling their parents 'mom' and 'dad'? Sceptics rightly point out the apparent contradiction between this verse and Exodus 20:12 "Honour your father and your mother". It, more likely, pertains to honorific titles given to ministers of God's word. Jesus suggests to his disciplesF1 that they refuse the titles 'rabbi, teacher and father', but he could have gone on to mention future titles such as 'reverend, bishop, pastor'. In the ones he mentions some have suggested a foreseeing of the Catholic use of 'father' for a priest, even 'holy father' for the Pope, which is certainly to be reserved for God. Or is it? For Peter writes of "holy men" and "holy prophets" (2 Peter 1:21; 3:2), although admittedly concerning Old Testament characters.
Jesus, himself, was apparently called rabbi, though Matthew only writes of Judas doing this. Mark and John record several instances of his being addressed as rabbi, and it being accepted by Jesus.
New Testament offices are not titles but ministries and functions, hence, 'one who teachers, one who ministers, one who pastors...' Paul speaks of situations where he had 'fathered' new believers in the gospel but he does not seek the title 'father'. Nevertheless, he acknowledged Timothy and Titus as sons and pointed to the Corinthians' need for fathers: "For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:14-15).
If Jesus' injunction was to be strictly adhered to then Stephen neglected to take it on board for in Acts 7:2 he addresses the Sanhedrin as "men and fathers". Paul, too, called himself a teacher, and it has been pointed out that English usage of doctor and mister are taken from the Latin terms for teacher and master, both apparently criticised in these verses.
Protestant apologetic against Catholic usage of 'Father' has sometimes cited this passage. For example, Donald Maconaghie's tract 10 Reasons Why I Am Not a Roman Catholic, quotes this text to endorse his claim that "the papacy is a hoax". Another anti-Catholic, Bill Jackson, says in his book A Christian's Guide To Roman Catholicism that a "study of Matthew 23:9 reveals that Jesus was talking about being called father as a title of religious superiority . . . [which is] the basis for the [Catholic] hierarchy" (p.53).
We could have, here, another example of Jewish hyperbole and exaggeration. Just as Jesus doesn't tell us to 'hate' your parents but to love God more, perhaps the intention here is not to hold fathers and teachers in higher esteem than God.
Contextually, though, the reference is to the honour sought by some Jewish teachers. It does not extend to parents but solely to educators who were sometimes called fathers. Jewish rabbis were known by several titles including rabban, rabbi, rab, teacher, fatherF2 , master, even king.F3 Yet, there is some debate over when these titles began. Many scholars point out that the title rabbi was a late development, contemporary with or just after the time of Jesus. Maybe it was its very innovation that Jesus was criticising.
Judaism's most famous teaching schools, those of Hillel and Shammai, around the time of Jesus' birth and youth, were retrospectively called rabbis. But in their time they were not called rabbis and it was their followers who first took the titles. According to some Jewish sources rabbi Simeon was amongst the first to take the title, he was the son of Hillel, and considered by some to be the Simeon in the temple that took the infant Jesus in his arms.F4
So it maybe that Jesus is specifically criticising the very recent innovation of addressing teachers by titles of respect such as rabbi, master and father. He instructs his disciples to stand out as different, not seeking reward or reverence for their teaching, but seeking instead to be humble servants. Thus, this saying of Jesus has probably nothing to say about our earthly parents and only a general criticism of Catholic usage. It is to be applied even-handedly across all traditions that unduly venerate their ministers, whether by rabbi, reverend, father or pastor. Though, hyperbole accepted, the intention may be relative rather than absolute, calling us not to raise teachers to 'guru' status but to accept equality within the brethren and the hope of Jeremiah 31:34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD', for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them".
F1: Although Matthew 23:1 indicates that Jesus was addressing the multitudes and his disciples, it seems clear that his admonition in verse 8 "but you…" refers only to the disciples who had been given the teaching mission.
F2: Juchasiu, 31b & 61b; Maimonides in Mishnah, Peah, 1.1.
F3: Babylonian Talmud, Taanith, 20b; Maccoth, 24a; Khetuboth, 103b; Gittin, 62a; Berakhoth, 27a
F4: See the 16th century Czech rabbi and historian David Ganz's Tzemach David 1.21.1, 1.25.1.
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