Matthew 23:10
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
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(10) Neither be ye called masters.—The word is not the same as in Matthew 23:8, and signifies “guide,” or “leader;” the “director” of conscience rather than the teacher. (Comp. Romans 2:19.)

23:1-12 The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Ex 13:2-10; 13:11-16; De 6:4-9; 11:13-21. They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Nu 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.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.

9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven, &c.—To construe these injunctions into a condemnation of every title by which Church rulers may be distinguished from the flock which they rule, is virtually to condemn that rule itself; and accordingly the same persons do both—but against the whole strain of the New Testament and sound Christian judgment. But when we have guarded ourselves against these extremes, let us see to it that we retain the full spirit of this warning against that itch for ecclesiastical superiority which has been the bane and the scandal of Christ's ministers in every age. (On the use of the word "Christ" here, see on [1346]Mt 1:1).Ver. 8-10. It is most certain that our Saviour doth not here forbid the giving of the titles of masters and fathers to his ministers, for then Paul would not have given himself the title of father, 1 Corinthians 4:15; nor called the Galatians his little children, Galatians 4:19: nor called Timothy his son, and himself his father, Philippians 2:22; nor called himself a doctor of the Gentiles, 1 Timothy 2:7 2 Timothy 1:11. That which he forbids is,

1. An affectation of such titles, and hunting after them.

2. Rem tituli, the exercise of an absolute mastership, or a paternal, absolute power; so as to require any to believe things because they said them, or to do things because they bid them, without seeing the things asserted, or first commanded, in the word of God.

For in that sense God alone is men’s Father, Christ alone their Master. Pastors and teachers in the church are all but ministers, ministers of Christ to publish his will, and to enjoin his laws; nor must any be owned as masters and fathers, to impose their laws and doctrines. This is twice repeated, because such is the corruption of human nature, that it is very prone, not only to affect these swelling titles, but also to exercise these exorbitant authorities.

Neither be ye called masters,.... Or guides and leaders; not but that, the ministers of the word are in a sense such; it is their business to lead and direct souls to Christ, to guide their feet in the way of peace, and to go before them, as examples to them, in word, in conversation, faith, and purity; but then they are to guide them according to the word of God, and not their own dictates; and teach them to observe the rules, and obey the ordinances of Christ, and not what are of their own inventing and prescribing; and to enforce the authority of their great Lord and Master, and not their own; and direct men to a dependence on Christ, as head of the church, who is the one Lord, as his faith is one, and his baptism one also: "for one is your master, even Christ"; which is said before, in Matthew 23:8 but being a matter of so much importance to the honour of Christ, and men being so apt to set up for masters themselves, in opposition to him, or in conjunction with him, or above him, it was necessary to repeat it; for in an authoritative sense he is the one, and only master of the assemblies. Neither be ye called {k} masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

(k) It seems that the scribes hunted very greatly after such titles, these scribes being the ones whom he called blind guides in Mt 23:16.

Matthew 23:10. καθηγηταί, kindred with ὁδηγοὶ (Matthew 23:16), guides, leaders in thought, desiring abject discipleship from followers. Gradatio: Rabbi, pater, ductor, Beng. The threefold counsel shows the intensely anti-prelatic spirit of Jesus. In spite of this earnest warning the love of pre-eminence and leadership has prevailed in the Church to the detriment of independence, the sense of responsibility, and loyalty to God.—ὁ Χριστός: in this place though not in Matthew 23:8 a part of the true text, but possibly an addition by the evangelist (“a proof that Matthew here speaks, not Jesus,” H. C.).

10. masters] Rather, leaders, guides, it is not the same word as in Matthew 23:8.

Matthew 23:10. Καθηγηταὶ, guides)[990] i.e leaders, authorities. There is a gradation in these phrases: Rabbi, Father, Guide. They were titles of spiritual eminence amongst the Jews. The same principle is enforced in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6.[991]

[990] E. V. “Masters.”—(I. B.)

[991] In the original, “quae destruitur etiam 1 Corinthians 3:5, s.:” lit., “which [sc. spiritual eminence] is demolished also in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6.”—(I. B.)

Verse 10. - Neither be ye called masters; καθηγηταί: leaders, guides. This is just what the Pharisees claimed to be (see ver. 16 and Romans 2:19, 20). One is your master (Kaqhghth/, Leader), even [the] Christ. Hero Jesus announces himself, not only as their Teacher, but as the Messiah, their Ruler and Guide. He is censuring that sectarian spirit which began in the primitive Church, when one said," I am of Paul; another, I of Apollos," etc. (1 Corinthians 1:12), and has continued to this day in the division of the one body into innumerable sects and, parties, ranged under various leaders, and generally bearing their founder's name. "What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him" (1 Corinthians 3:5). How mournful to think that Christ's great prayer for unity (John 17.) is still unfulfilled, frustrated or delayed by man's self-will! Matthew 23:10Masters (καθηγηταί)

Lit., leaders.

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