We should not say Master (Matthew 23:10). What about “Mr.”?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Master and Mr.

“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ”.

Matthew 23:10

Because the title “Mr.” is derived from earlier forms of “master,” some have questioned the use of this title. Historically, mister—like Sir or my lord—was applied only to those above one’s own status.  But this understanding is now obsolete, as it was gradually expanded as a mark of respect to those of equal status and then to all gentlemen. Thus, it is now used indiscriminately.

The Matthew Henry Commentary elaborates on this verse:

“not that it is unlawful to give civil respect to those that are over us in the Lord, nay, it is an instance of the honour and esteem which it is our duty to show them; but,  Christ’s ministers must not affect the name of Rabbi or Master, by way of distinction from other people; it is not agreeable to the simplicity of the gospel, for them to covet or accept the honour which they have that are in kings’ palaces. They must not assume the authority and dominion implied in those names; they must not be magisterial, nor domineer over their brethren, or over God’s heritage, as if they had dominion over the faith of Christians: what they received of the Lord, all must receive from them; but in other things they must not make their opinions and wills a rule and standard to all other people, to be admitted with an implicit obedience.”

Therefore, it is clear that Jesus was not referring to our present-day use of the title “Mr.” as a demonstration of courtesy.

Matthew 23:10

On earth, people in high positions tend to “lord it over” those under them. But among the Christ’s followers, power, class, talent, and education are to be dedicated exclusively to serving others, and may never be used as levers to lord it over others (Mark 9:35). He who is greatest will serve others most unselfishly. The approval of Jesus rests upon the desire to “be great” in terms of serving instead of dominating them. A parallel statement in the Jerusalem Talmud (Erubin 13b, 35) reads: “God will exalt him who humbles himself, God will humble him who exalts himself.”

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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