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.
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.”
It was the last day of Christ's teaching in the temple. Of the vast throngs that were gathered at Jerusalem, the attention of all had been attracted to Him; the people had crowded the temple courts, watching the contest that had been in progress, and they eagerly caught every word that fell from His lips. Never before had such a scene been witnessed. There stood the young Galilean, bearing no earthly honor or royal badge. Surrounding Him were priests in their rich apparel, rulers with robes and badges significant of their exalted station, and scribes with scrolls in their hands, to which they made frequent reference. Jesus stood calmly before them, with the dignity of a king. As one invested with the authority of heaven, He looked unflinchingly upon His adversaries, who had rejected and despised His teachings, and who thirsted for His life. They had assailed Him in great numbers, but their schemes to ensnare and condemn Him had been in vain. Challenge after challenge He had met, presenting the pure, bright truth in contrast to the darkness and errors of the priests and Pharisees. He had set before these leaders their real condition, and the retribution sure to follow persistence in their evil deeds. The warning had been faithfully given. Yet another work remained for Christ to do. Another purpose was still to be accomplished. DA 610.1Read in context »
Christ gave His disciples a most important lesson in regard to who should be His disciples. “In the kingdom that I am about to set up,” He said, “strife for the supremacy shall have no place. All ye are brethren. All My servants there shall be equal. The only greatness recognized there will be the greatness of humility and devotion to the service of others. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased. He who seeks to serve others by self-denial and self-sacrifice will be given the attributes of character that commend themselves to God, and develop wisdom, true patience, forbearance, kindness, compassion. This gives him the chiefest place in the kingdom of God.” TDG 356.2Read in context »
Press Together, Press Together—Love of self, pride, and self-sufficiency lie at the foundation of the greatest trials and discords that have ever existed in the religious world. Again and again the angel has said to me, “Press together, press together, be of one mind, of one judgment,” Christ is the leader, and you are brethren; follow Him.—Letter 4, 1890. Ev 102.1
Strife for Supremacy—Linked together in confidence, in the bonds of holy love, brother may receive from brother all the help that can possibly be obtained from one another.... Ev 102.2
Strife for the supremacy makes manifest a spirit that, if cherished, will eventually shut out from the kingdom of God those who cherish it. The peace of Christ cannot dwell in the mind and heart of a workman who criticizes and finds fault with another workman simply because the other does not practice the methods he thinks best, or because he feels that he is not appreciated. The Lord never blesses him who criticizes and accuses his brethren, for this is Satan's work.—Manuscript 21, 1894. Ev 102.3Read in context »
Those teachers in the church or in the school who distinguish themselves by their zeal in politics, should be relieved of their work and responsibilities without delay; for the Lord will not co-operate with them. The tithe should not be used to pay any one for speechifying on political questions. Every teacher, minister, or leader in our ranks who is stirred with a desire to ventilate his opinions on political questions, should be converted by a belief in the truth, or give up his work. His influence must tell as a laborer together with God in winning souls to Christ, or his credentials must be taken from him. If he does not change, he will do harm, and only harm. FE 477.1
In the name of the Lord I would say to the teachers in our schools, Attend to your appointed work. You are not called upon by God to engage in politics. “All ye are brethren,” Christ declares, “and as one you are to stand under the banner of Prince Emmanuel.” “What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? ... For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His name. He is thy praise, and He is thy God.” FE 477.2Read in context »