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Reviewing the instruction found in Matthew 28:8-12 from the King Messiah (Christ) – that is for all believers, in that they are not to be called a ‘rabbi’ etc.
This interpretation of Matthew 23:8-12 is shared politely out of love, and requires consideration of the other verses explained here, to arrive at sound context.
The passage reads as follows;
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
Matthew 23:8-10 ESV
The passage is speaking of how a believer is not to be called a ‘rabbi’ and the like.
The reason for this is because if they do in fact believe in Messiah (Christ), then they have essentially been given all of the sound understanding that they have, from God. This is said even when taking into considerationall the time spent studying, tribulations, and hardships a believer may have gone through;
‘…that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another…. What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?’
(1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)
Some Holy Scriptures which shows us that it is G-d whom teaches His people His ways and word are Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:11, 2 Timothy 2:7. These Scriptures are to be taken in correct context with others such as 2 Timothy 2:15 – which instruct us to study in an effort to be competent; effort and diligence are thus required here.
Scriptures Which Feature Men Being Called Teacher and Father, Explained
Generally one could tend to rest here (politely) on this matter – however, then we have verses such as;
‘…Are all teachers?…’
(1 Corinthians 12:29 NIV)
When is says ‘teachers’, 1 Corinthians 12:29 is in no place then advising that a believing person should go call himself a teacher or rabbi – just because they share Holy Scripture and try to give the meaning. Rather they are are away that they are teaching the Gospel, and dwell in the first point made here – that they have essentially been given the understanding from G-d, through their faith in Christ.
And then there’s this verse,
‘…for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.’
(1 Corinthians 4:15 NIV)
When it says ‘…father in Christ…’ of the righteous apostle Paul, the interpretation is that ‘father’ is used in a figurative sense in that, ‘the apostle Paul shared the word which is the ‘seed’ (ref. Luke 8:11), and this seed flourished into a child (new believer)’.
Thus ‘father’ here is not used as a title where it would be continually used as a way of addressing the righteous apostle, be it casual or formal. Rather it is used in Holy Scripture here, in a metaphoric way.
Christ himself is called rabbi and teacher throughout Scripture – however in Scritpure, we see that he disclaims that the Father teaches him what to say. He also clearly instructs fallen man to not thank him, but rather to thank God;
‘…“Rabbi, who sinned…’
(John 9:2 ESV)
‘The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, So that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
Isaiah 50:4 NASB
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.”…’
(Luke 8:39 ESV)
Sadly on that occaision (Luke 8:39), the healed person insisted on speaking about what Jesus did, as opposed to obeying his instructions and giving the credit to G-d.
‘…And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.’
(Luke 8:39 ESV)
In closing, it could be said that one of the main intentions of the passage in Matthew 23:8-12 is to promote a humble attitude amongst believers.
We see that humility, and genuine care are valued greatly by G-d;
The greatest among you will be your servant.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12 NIV
May the holy G-d bless you beyond maximum; believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach).