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Matthew 23:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But be not ye called Rabbi - As our Lord probably spoke in Hebrew, the latter word rabbi, in this verse, must have been in the plural; but as the contracted form of the plural sounds almost exactly like the singular, the Greek writer would naturally express them both in the same letters.

None of the prophets had ever received this title, nor any of the Jewish doctors before the time of Hillel and Shammai, which was about the time of our Lord; and, as disputes on several subjects had run high between these two schools, the people were of course divided; some acknowledging Hillel as rabbi, - infallible teacher, and others giving this title to Shammai. The Pharisees, who always sought the honor that comes from men, assumed the title, and got their followers to address them by it. See on Matthew 19:3; (note).

One is your Master - Instead of καθηγητης, guide or leader, (the common reading here, and which occurs in Matthew 23:10;), the famous Vatican MS., upwards of fifty others, and most of the ancient versions, read διδασκαλος, master. The most eminent critics approve of this reading and, independently of the very respectable authority by which it is supported, it is evident that this reading is more consistent with the context than the other, - Be not ye called Masters, for one is your Master.

Even Christ - Griesbach has left this out of the text, because it is wanting in many of the most excellent MSS., versions, and fathers. Mill and Bengel approve of the omission. It might have been brought into this verse from Matthew 23:10. Our Lord probably alludes to Isaiah 54:13, All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.

Ye are brethren - No one among you is higher than another, or can possibly have from me any jurisdiction over the rest. Ye are, in this respect, perfectly equal.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Be not ye … - Jesus forbade his disciples to seek such titles of distinction. The reason which he gave was that he was himself their Master and Teacher, They were on a level; they were to be equal in authority; they were brethren; and they should neither covet nor receive a title which implied either an elevation of one above another, or which appeared to infringe on the absolute right of the Saviour to be their only Teacher and Master. The direction here is an express command to his disciples not to receive such a title of distinction. They were not to covet it; they were not to seek it; they were not to do anything that implied a wish or a willingness that it should be appended to their names. Everything which would tend to make a distinction among them or destroy their parity - everything which would lead the world to suppose that there were ranks and grades among them as ministers, they were to avoid. It is to be observed that the command is that they were not to receive the title - “Be not ye called Rabbi.” The Saviour did not forbid them giving the title to others when it was customary or not regarded as improper (compare Acts 26:25), but they were not to receive it. It was to be unknown among them. This title corresponds with the title “Doctor of Divinity” as applied to ministers of the gospel; and, so far as I can see, the spirit of the Saviour‘s command is violated by the reception of such a title, as really as it would have been by their being called “Rabbi.” It makes a distinction among ministers. It tends to engender pride and a sense of superiority in those who obtain it, and envy and a sense of inferiority in those who do not; and the whole spirit and tendency of it is contrary to the “simplicity that is in Christ.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 224

Those who occupy important positions, who are brought in contact with souls for whom Christ has died, should place upon men the estimate God has placed upon them and regard them as precious. But many have treated the purchase of Christ's blood in a harsh manner, in harmony with the disposition of men instead of according to the mind and spirit of Christ. Of His disciples Christ says, “All ye are brethren.” We should ever keep in mind the relation which we bear one to another, and remember that we must meet those with whom we associate here, around the judgment seat of Christ. God will be the Judge, and He will deal justly with every individual. TM 224.1

John says, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Let everyone who professes the name of Christ consider the fact that he must meet every act of injustice, give an account for every harsh word, at the judgment seat of Christ. It will not be pleasant to review the words that have been spoken that have wounded and bruised souls, to review the decisions that have worked against souls for whom Christ died. Every action will come into judgment, and the spirit that prompted it will be made manifest. The fruit of every selfish, arbitrary exaction will be made plain, and men will see the results of their doings even as God sees them. They will see that they have turned precious souls out of the right path by dealing with them in an un-Christlike manner. We are living in the great Day of Atonement, and it is now time that everyone should repent before God, confess his sins, and by living faith rest upon the merit of a crucified and living Saviour. TM 224.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 192

While I was in Switzerland, word came to me from Battle Creek that a plan had been formed by which none working in the office should receive more than twelve dollars per week. I said, This will not work; it will be a necessity for some to receive higher wages than this. But double this amount should not be awarded to any man connected with the office; for if a few take from the treasury so largely, justice cannot be shown to all. Large wages afforded to a few is the world's plan; while others in every way as deserving receive far less. This is not justice. 2SM 192.1

The Lord will have faithful men who love and fear Him connected with every school, every printing office, health institution, and publishing house. Their wages should not be fashioned after the worldling's standard. There should be, as far as possible, excellent judgment exercised to keep up, not an aristocracy, but an equality, which is the law of heaven. “All ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8). A few should not demand large wages, and such wages should not be presented as an inducement to secure ability and talents. This is placing things on a worldly principle. The increase of wages brings with it a corresponding increase of selfishness, pride, display, self-gratification, and needless extravagance that the people who do their utmost to pay their tithes and present their offerings to God do not have. Poverty is seen in all their borders. The Lord loves the one just as much as the other, with the exception that the self-sacrificing, humble, contrite souls who love God and strive to serve Him, are ever kept nearer to the great heart of infinite Love than the man who feels at liberty to have all the good things of this life. 2SM 192.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 347-59

[The articles in this section are from Special Testimonies, Series A 9:3-15 (1897).]

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 165-6

“We are saved by hope.” Romans 8:24. The fallen must be led to feel that it is not too late for them to be men. Christ honored man with His confidence and thus placed him on his honor. Even those who had fallen the lowest He treated with respect. It was a continual pain to Christ to be brought into contact with enmity, depravity, and impurity; but never did He utter one expression to show that His sensibilities were shocked or His refined tastes offended. Whatever the evil habits, the strong prejudices, or the overbearing passions of human beings, He met them all with pitying tenderness. As we partake of His Spirit, we shall regard all men as brethren, with similar temptations and trials, often falling and struggling to rise again, battling with discouragements and difficulties, craving sympathy and help. Then we shall meet them in such a way as not to discourage or repel them, but to awaken hope in their hearts. As they are thus encouraged, they can say with confidence, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” He will “plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.” Micah 7:8, 9. MH 165.1

God “looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
He fashioneth their hearts alike.”
MH 166.1

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