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Let's briefly discuss the use of "titles"

Some of our readers have have inquired about the use of various titles in Messianic synagogues, because the Bible seems to suggest we are not to call anyone "rabbi" or "father", etc. But is this true? Let's check it out....

No, absolutely not! The problem comes in when people attempt to exalt themselves. For instance, many people like to use titles in front of their names - titles they've given themselves, such as "Apostle" or "Prophet/prophetess": Apostle Jane Doe or Prophet John Doe....

We must ask ourselves: Does this line up with what the Scriptures say? Do we anywhere in the Bible see where YHWH (Yahweh) told Yeshua to use "Messiah" in front of His Name while He was walking this earth? Did Yeshua ever say, "Hello, I'm Messiah Yeshua"? Do we see anywhere in the Bible where the Apostles called themselves apostles? None of them went around proclaiming: "I'm prophet so and so" or I'm apostle so and so." Yes, the writers of the Gospels used the term Messiah, Apostle, etc., to show who these people were, but nowhere are we ever told we are to exalt ourselves with titles! Yeshua even said as much:

Luke 20: 45 Within the hearing of all the people, Yeshua said to his talmidim, 46 "Watch out for the kind of Torah-teachers that like to walk around in robes and be greeted deferentially in the marketplaces, the kind that like to have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets....

Matthew 23: 5. And they do all their deeds that they might be seen by the sons of men. For they widen their Tefillin and lengthen the Tekhelet of their robes. 6. And they love the chief places at festivals and the chief seats at the assembly. 7. And a greeting in the streets, and to be called Rabbi by men. 8. But you should not be called "My Great One", [1] for there is only one Who is Great and you are all brothers. 9. And do not call yourself Father [2] for your Father is one who is in heaven. 10. And you should not be called leaders, because one is your leader, the Mashiyach. 11. But he who is greatest among you, let him be a servant [3] to you. 12. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Aramaic English New Testament by Andrew Gabriel Roth)

However...We must also view their writings in context!

[1] Aramaic here does not mean "Rabbi" as in "teacher" per se, as in Matthew 28 Y'shua commands his disciples to teach the world. Instead, Y'shua is addressing the more literal meaning of "rab" which is "great" as shown in Genesis 6:5, "the wickedness of man was great on the earth." The previous eight verses teach against elitist behavior, so "do not be called My Great One, for you have One that is Great, YHWH." This is directed to the Rabbis (leaders) themselves, not to the followers. Certainly this does not win popularity among the Rabbis.

[2] This prohibition against calling leaders "father" is to avoid giving high status to men which is due unto YHWH. Catholics openly defy this commandment, but all institutions who use flattering titles for leaders are culpable; see Job 32:21-12. Isaiah 56:10-12 exposes leaders who "can never have enough" and who keep their "followers" in spiritual and often financial poverty by seeking personal gain for themselves. See also 1 Timothy 4:3.

The focus of Yeshua's instruction has to do with desiring praise of man for self-exultation, rather than being a true servant who keeps in mind that YHWH is God, Yeshua is His Messiah, and we are simply passing along what Yeshua our REAL RABBI taught. If someone "loves" to be called Rabbi, then this is a problem to him because he is putting the focus upon himself and deceiving those who follow him.

Yeshua also told his disciples not to call anyone "father" too. Is this to be taken literally? Is it wrong to call someone "father"? After all, it is written, "Honor your father and mother." Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are the patriarchs of our faith and often referred to as "fathers" in the Scripture. Is this wrong? No! Sha'ul (Paul) referred to Abraham is "our father" in Romans 4:1. Was this wrong? He even went so far as to call the Corinthians his sons and his own role as father in 1 Corinthians 4:14-17.

1 Corinthians 4: 14. I write these things, not to shame you; but I instruct you, as dear children. 15. For though you have a myriad of teachers in Mashiyach, yet not many fathers; for in Y'shua Mashiyach, I have begotten you by preaching. 16. I beg you, therefore, that you be like me. 17. For this cause have I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in Master YHWH, [1] that he might bring to your recollection my ways in Mashiyach, agreeably to what I teach in all the assemblies. (AENT)

Was Sha'ul contradicting Yeshua's teachings? No, because this is what the prophets were called by their students! 2 Kings 2:12 shows that Elisha called Elijah "My father." The king of Israel also called Elisha "My father" in 2 Kings 6:21. There are other examples but hopefully this illustrates the point. Is it NOT wrong to call someone "father" or "rabbi" in a spiritual sense if they "fathered" you in set-apart instruction.

In fact, YHWH gives, "some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." Is it wrong to be called "teacher" since Yeshua is our Teacher? No....

What we are doing is merely paying respect to a learned person's office to honor his devoted years of training and dedication. One needs to read the Bible in context and not pick and choose certain scriptures as "proof" to support their own ideas, philosophies or phobias concerning titles.