Daily Word

Teacher, Father, Leader | Matthew 23:8-12

8 But do not be called Rabbi (Teacher); for One is your Teacher, and you are all [equally] brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth [who guides you spiritually] your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ. 11 But the greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.

Matthew 23:8-12 (AMP)

Advertising piety

In the last post, we saw Jesus address the crowds about the religious leaders and their Pharisees sub-group. He warned them to listen to what they say regarding the OT laws of Moses. But, do not do as they do, for they’re hypocrites. They walk around advertising their piety.

Today Jesus zeros in on the title and position the Rabbis claimed. He addresses the difference between how the religious leaders (and the world) view the position vs. God’s economy. 

Who is Teacher?

As we read yesterday, the Jewish religious leaders liked to be called Rabbi (teacher in today’s parlance). (Matthew 23:7) But Jesus makes a point that ultimately, we have only one spiritual teacher. Who would that be? The Spirit of God. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.” (John 14:6) Through the Word, the Holy Spirit teaches us about all things. Since Jesus is in the process here of establishing His church, He adds that we are equals under the Teacher.

Who is Father?

On the same note is, “Whom do we call Father?” I like how the AMP version adds the note, the one “who guides you spiritually”. This clarifies that we can call our early fathers “father”. “Father”, our Father who leads us spiritually, is a respected title. The Catholic church recognizes this but violates Jesus’ instruction. They ask parishioners to call the priest, “Father”. 


So how about the title of “leader”? That also goes to God alone for Christ alone is our leader. 

The point?

It seems Jesus’ point is not that we should never use the titles of father, teacher, leader for men. But when they are used to fuel people’s pride (like the Pharisees), there’s an issue. “In the Church of Christ, all titles and honors which exalt men and give occasion for pride are here forbidden.” (Spurgeon) Remember the context here of the religious leaders building themselves up.

God can (and does) use others to serve as teachers and leaders (alongside His Word). Yet anyone who is called and used by God in any of these roles needs to have the mind and attitude of Christ who, “came not to be served but to serve,” (Matthew 20:28). He also became incarnate as a man, not grasping onto His equality with God. Rather, he set it aside to abide with us, become a servant, then die for us (Philippians 2:6-11).


  • Do we rely on the Spirit to teach us? How often do we ask and expect the Holy Spirit, who abides in all believers, to instruct us as we study His Word? Do we expect Him to give us depth of understanding beyond human ability? True confessions. I need to do that now!
  • Are you a leader or teacher in your church? Are you having the same mind of humility as Christ?
Larry F. Blake II, teacher, leader, and father. Image from www.inquirer.com *

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