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Related to: Are there any Christian groups that follow Matthew 23:9? and What is the Roman Catholic view on Matthew 23:9?

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.

Recently I was addressed by my academic title (Master, i.e. synonym of "Rabbi"; but maybe it's even less common to address people by this title in English than it's in Czech, I don't know) and I wondered whether some Christians would consider it wrong or not. So I ask this question: is there a Christian group that considers addressing someone as "mister", calling someone's father "father" or talking about someone as a "teacher" or "doctor" (latin for "teacher") to be wrong or even a sin?

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Bad luck for Paul! He calls himself teacher (didaskalos) in 1 Timothy 2:7, and says that he and Timothy are like a father and child (hos patri teknon) in service to the gospel in Philippians 2:22. –  James T Dec 16 '12 at 13:50
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As far as I can tell, there are not, or if there are, they do not take it completely literally.

For instance, the title Doctor, someone with a PhD or MD, comes from the Latin verb docēre, which means 'to teach'; doctor means, literally, teacher.

Mister, Misses, Miss: These all come from the root, master.

As far as I can tell, there are no Christian groups that restrict the use of Doctor (teacher) or Mister/Miss/Misses (master), so I conclude that there are no Christian groups that take Matthew 23:8-10 literally.

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+1. Definitely closest to what I wanted as an answer - I knew it's unlikely for such a group to exist. I hoped that someone would find such a curiosity, but this question tends to attract "I know what it means to take Mt 23:8-10 literally". Drew has honestly admitted not to know any such case, so I accept this answer. If someone proves it wrong by finding some group restricting use of these terms, they have my esteem and +1. –  Pavel Jan 25 '13 at 15:34
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Matthew 23:9 must be understood in the traditional Jewish cultural and religious context.

Students (talmidim) would often refer to their teachers by various titles that indicated significant esteem. These titles included רב (Rav), רבי (Rabbi), מר (Mar), and אבא (Abba). This translate into English as "great one," "my great one," "lord," and "father," respectively.

  • מר (Mar)

Marcus Jastrow: A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, p. 834.

Entry for מר in Jastrow's dictionary.

Example: Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 11, Folio 94a (English/ Hebrew)

Where did he deport them to? Mar Zutra said, "To Africa." Rabbi Chanina said, "To the mountains of Salug."

להיכא אגלי להו מר זוטרא אמר לאפריקי ורבי חנינא אמר להרי סלוג


  • רבי (Rabbi)

Marcus Jastrow: A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, p. 1442.

Entry for רבי in Jastrow's dictionary.

Example: Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 11, Folio 94a (English/ Hebrew)

Where did he deport them to? Mar Zutra said, "To Africa." Rabbi Chanina said, "To the mountains of Salug."

להיכא אגלי להו מר זוטרא אמר לאפריקי ו*רבי* חנינא אמר להרי סלוג


  • Hebrew רב (Rav); Aramaic רבא (Raba)

Marcus Jastrow: A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, p. 1438.

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Example: Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo'ed, Tractate Pesachim, Chapter 9, Folio 92b (English/ Hebrew)

Rav Nachman said, "It is accepted." Rav Sheshet said, "It is not accepted."

רב** ששת אמר לא הורצה רב נחמן אמר הורצה**

Example: Babylonian Talmud, Seder Zera'im, Tractate Brakhot, Chapter 1, Folio 3b (English/ Hebrew)

But Raba said, "There are two kinds of neshef: when the evening disappears and the morning arrives; when the day disappears and the evening arrives.

אלא אמר רבא תרי נשפי הוו נשף ליליא ואתי יממא נשף יממא ואתי ליליא


There are a few others, but I believe this demonstrates the context sufficiently.

Edit: To clarify, there is no reason you may not call your own biological father, "father." It is stated in both the OT and the NT that we are to "honor your mother and father."

The issue concerns calling those in positions of authority (especially religious) by titles of esteem, especially those in the Church. Yeshu'a said that those who were great and first among us were to be our ministers and servants (cp. Matt. 20:26-27). A master does not call his servant, "lord"; likewise, we should not call those who serve us by such titles. For example, "Papa" for the Pope, "Father" for priests, "Rabbi" for Jewish teachers. These are exactly what Yeshu'a was referring to. In addition, to think that he told his disciples that they were not to call the Jewish religious leaders Rav, Rabbi, Mar, Abba, etc., but then Gentile believers can call their religious leaders, "Pope," "Father," is simply nonsensical.

The entire premise behind this prohibition is that there is one alone deserving of esteem, and that is our Lord (Master). All those who believe in him are his servants.

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I'm sorry, your response is a bit beyond me. You end with "this demonstrates the matter sufficiently," but I'm not sure what the matter is... Are you saying the whole issue is in translation, so groups "taking Matthew literally" on the translation would not necessarily be doing so in the original context? –  Drew Dec 22 '12 at 8:49
    
You're right. I edited to clarify. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 22 '12 at 9:15
    
This would be a fantastic answer ... if a similar question about how this should be interpreted had been asked on Biblical Hermeneutics. However this is pointing to what you consider (actually I think I agree with you, that's not the issue) to be truth rather than answering the direct question that was asked which has more to do with what specific Christian groups do with this based on a their understanding (based in a likely poor interpretation). –  Caleb Dec 22 '12 at 9:46
    
Yes, I see that now, Caleb. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 22 '12 at 17:39
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It's not exactly a group.

Christianity Today Article Organic Church not exactly a movement

You will find references to Matthew 23:10 in the following: Making Disciple Makers

Quote

Spiritual fathering – a relationship

All mature believers ought to aspire to be a spiritual father (parent) in the Lord by virtue of relationship and/or stature irrespective of call and grace gifting. Of course, we would only be wise to follow the teachings of Christ and avoid corrupting this precious relationship by turning it into a position or title (Matthew 23:8-10). Thus Billy Graham, for example, would be seen as a father in the Body of Christ. His equipping gift of evangelist has, along with his integrity over many years, given him this platform. But his fatherhood is irrespective of the gift he has. This would also be true of many, many less well-known men and women of God; their fatherhood, gender-neutral of course, is based on their relationship with others and the godly esteem they are held in.

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I didn't understand one thing - does "avoid corrupting this precious relationship by turning it into a position or title" mean that addressing someone as father is always wrong (as it may lead to corruption of spiritual fatherhood to a title) or that it's wrong if someone is not true (spiritual) father? The latter is completely off-topic for my question. The first is better, but still it seems much closer to evangelical mainstream than to extreme position which I'm asking about. –  Pavel Dec 16 '12 at 21:16
    
Oops, my bad. I don't believe there are groups that apply the strictures of that passage to the secular realm, prohibiting the addressing of biological fathers as Father. –  Footwasher Dec 17 '12 at 13:20
    
@Pavel: My understanding of the quote is that turning a spiritual leader into a job or a position is what would corrupt the relationship. In other words, it's a sin to call a Catholic Priest, "Father", but not your biological father, "father". –  Gilbert Le Blanc Dec 17 '12 at 15:12
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It is useful to consider the part of the quote where Jesus says "you are all brothers". The point Jesus is making is that we are all on the same level, just as brothers are the same level. I live in South Korea where, under the influence of Confucianism, it is impossible to address a person other than by the use of an honorific title. Faithful church members, after a number of years, are automatically promoted to 'deacon', and will forever be addressed as 'deacon'. It is thus very difficult to remember people's names, because you never hear their names being used! I believe that God intends to start a new denomination through my ministry. And one of the distinctives of this denomination will be the refusal to allow any form of honorific title. We will be known to one another by our given names. The apostle Peter was addressed as 'Peter'. Paul was 'Paul'. And so it will be in my sphere of ministry. Gospel culture has to replace indigenous culture, however painful that process may be.

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Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our about and specifically How we are different than other sites. This is an interesting answer, and probably even right - but it doesn't do a very good job of connecting itself back to the question. –  Affable Geek Nov 7 '13 at 17:01
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