This could be seen as a follow-up question for "Is there any Christian group that takes Matthew 23:8-10 literally?".

There are some groups (usually evangelical) who emphasize Matthew 23:9, especially as an attack against the Roman Catholic church and other churches where clergy is sometimes called "father", but I have never seen anyone forbid calling anyone "master", "mister", "teacher" or "doctor" (which originally meant "teacher").

How is this inconsistency explained by those who take this position?

Matthew 23:8-10 (ESV):

(8) But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.

(9) And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

(10) Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.


1 Answer 1


Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.


Of Hebrew origin [H7227] with pronominal suffix; my master, that is, Rabbi, as an official title of honor: - Master, Rabbi.

Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Mat 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.


From a compound of G2596 and G2233; a guide, that is, (figuratively) a teacher: - master.

1Co 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:


From G1321; an instructor (generally or specifically): - doctor, master, teacher.

1Co 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

Mat 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

As you requested this is from an evangelical perspective. Though my specific group of Word of Faith is split on this issue I will explain it from the side which I take.

In Christianity we have spiritual fathers in Christ. People who taught us the gospel. We can acknowledge their contribution to our spiritual development but we should not refer to them as "father" because Jesus said not to. It's apparently ok to say I birth you in Christ but it is not ok to say You are my spiritual father (this would be ignoring the work of Father through Christ). In Christianity we likewise do not have rabbis, spiritual guides or masters. We have the Holy Spirit instead. We do have a different set of gifts given by Christ Himself to help us work in the ministry: apostles; prophets; and evangelists; and pastors and teachers. These gifts are expressions of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It's ok to say I'm called to be an apostle or any other ministry gift. It's also ok to use that as a title however it's not ok to use that title to gain reverence or some special honor. Ministry gifts should be honored but they should not be revered. If you become annoyed when someone does not acknowledge you as a ministry gift it's a good time to stop using the title.

  • It's not clear to me the connection between the verses, original languages, and your concluding paragraph. Not well thought out.
    – Steve
    Jun 21, 2013 at 2:20
  • @Steve As I point out in the text Jesus says not to call people Rabbi and we do not have rabbis in Christianity. I put the original text there so that you could see the word should be translated rabbi and all other translations are erroneous.
    – user4060
    Jun 21, 2013 at 2:23
  • @Steve I also put the word translated as master or teacher in Mat 23:10 to show that its a spiritual guide and master whereas Eph 4:11 is just a plain teacher. its two separate words which english is not able to differentiate.
    – user4060
    Jun 21, 2013 at 2:25
  • The NKJV translates it as Rabbi! :)
    – Steve
    Jun 21, 2013 at 2:37
  • RC priests use the word Father as a title, not a gift, and that seems entirely consonant with this answer and nothing to object to. Jun 21, 2013 at 6:11

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