Neither be ye called masters - Καθηγηται, leaders. God is in all these respects jealous of his honor. To him alone it belongs to guide and lead his Church, as well as to govern and defend it. Jesus is the sole teacher of righteousness. It is he alone, (who is the word, light, and eternal truth), that can illuminate every created mind; and who, as Savior and Redeemer, speaks to every heart by his Spirit.
Though the title of Rabbi, mentioned above, was comparatively recent in the time of our Lord, yet it was in great vogue, as were the others - father and master, mentioned in this and the following verse: some had all three titles, for thus in Bab. Maccoth, fol. 24. It is feigned," says Dr. Lightfoot, "that when King Jehosaphat saw a disciple of the wise men, he rose up out of his throne, and embraced him, and said, מרי מרי רבי רבי אבי אבי , Abbi, Abbi ! Rabbi, Rabbi ! Mori, Mori ! - Father, Father! Rabbi, Rabbi! Master, Master!" Here then are the three titles which, in Matthew 23:7, Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10, our blessed Lord condemns; and these were titles that the Jewish doctors greatly affected.
Neither be ye called masters - That is, leaders, guides, for this is the literal meaning of the word. It refers to those who go before others; who claim, therefore, the right to direct and control others. This was also a title conferred on Jewish teachers.
Neither of these commands forbids us to give proper titles of civil office to men, or to render them the honor belonging to their station, Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17. They prohibit the disciples of Jesus from seeking or receiving mere empty titles, producing distinctions among themselves, implying authority to control the opinions and conduct of others, and claiming that others should acknowledge them to be superior to them.
It was the last day of Christ's teaching in the temple. Of the vast throngs that were gathered at Jerusalem, the attention of all had been attracted to Him; the people had crowded the temple courts, watching the contest that had been in progress, and they eagerly caught every word that fell from His lips. Never before had such a scene been witnessed. There stood the young Galilean, bearing no earthly honor or royal badge. Surrounding Him were priests in their rich apparel, rulers with robes and badges significant of their exalted station, and scribes with scrolls in their hands, to which they made frequent reference. Jesus stood calmly before them, with the dignity of a king. As one invested with the authority of heaven, He looked unflinchingly upon His adversaries, who had rejected and despised His teachings, and who thirsted for His life. They had assailed Him in great numbers, but their schemes to ensnare and condemn Him had been in vain. Challenge after challenge He had met, presenting the pure, bright truth in contrast to the darkness and errors of the priests and Pharisees. He had set before these leaders their real condition, and the retribution sure to follow persistence in their evil deeds. The warning had been faithfully given. Yet another work remained for Christ to do. Another purpose was still to be accomplished. DA 610.1Read in context »
The Saviour did not commit the work of the gospel to Peter individually. At a later time, repeating the words that were spoken to Peter, He applied them directly to the church. And the same in substance was spoken also to the twelve as representatives of the body of believers. If Jesus had delegated any special authority to one of the disciples above the others, we should not find them so often contending as to who should be the greatest. They would have submitted to the wish of their Master, and honored the one whom He had chosen. DA 414.1
Instead of appointing one to be their head, Christ said to the disciples, “Be not ye called Rabbi;” “neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” Matthew 23:8, 10. DA 414.2
“The head of every man is Christ.” God, who put all things under the Saviour's feet, “gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22, 23. The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, “All ye are brethren.” All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 2:12. DA 414.3Read in context »
When the mother of two sons made a request that her sons should be especially favored, one sitting on the right hand and the other on the left in His kingdom, Jesus impressed upon them that the honor and glory of His kingdom was to be the reverse of the honor and glory of this world. Whoever would be great must be a humble minister unto others, and whoever would be chief must be a servant, even as the Son of God was a minister and servant unto the children of men. 4T 226.1
Again, our Saviour taught His disciples not to be anxious for position and name. “Be not ye called Rabbi.... Neither be ye called masters.... But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased.” Jesus cited the lawyer to the sacred law code given from Sinai: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.” He told him that if he did this he should enter into life. 4T 226.2
“Thy neighbor as thyself.” The question arises: “Who is my neighbor?” His reply is the parable of the good Samaritan, which teaches us that any human being who needs our sympathy and our kind offices is our neighbor. The suffering and destitute of all classes are our neighbors, and when their wants are brought to our knowledge, it is our duty to relieve them as far as possible. A principle is brought out in this parable that it would be well for the followers of Christ to adopt. First meet the temporal necessities of the needy and relieve their physical wants and sufferings, and you will then find an open avenue to the heart, where you may plant the good seeds of virtue and religion. 4T 226.3Read in context »