Yes! We cannot downplay what Jesus means here. He clearly forbids His disciples seeking after and receiving titles for themselves or referring to each other by title, as the religious leaders of His day did. Jesus teaches here that every ministry gift in the church is to be one of service - not with titular power, but servant power - and that there is always to be a brotherly relationship between Christians, regardless of their ministry gifts (CP V8, 11-12 with 20:26-27). Paul was a father in the Lord to the Corinthian church but he was never called "Father" Paul (CP 1Cor 4:14-15). Throughout scriptures Paul only ever refers to himself by his first name and to everyone else by theirs. We only have to read the first verse of every one of his epistles and the last chapter in Romans (Ro 16) to verify this. And Peter, James and John were the same. No one in the first century church had a title conferred upon them, and if both Jesus and God condemn the use of titles, how can the contemporary church justify them (CP Job 32:21 -22). None of this is teaching against the respect Christians must have for those whom God has raised up in the church to lead and teach them - we are commanded to honour them in love (CP 1Cor 16:14-18; 1Th 5:11-13; 1Ti 5:17; He 13:7). But it is a warning against the development of a hierarchical system of church government which Jesus is totally opposed to (CP Mt 19:29-30; 20:1-16; 2Cor 1:24; 1Pe 5:1-3). When Jesus forbade His disciples using such titles as "Rabbi", "Father", and "Master" in His day, that also applies to "Pastor", "Doctor", and "Reverend" etc, today. The use of titles to define rank and authority in the church has created a conception of the Christian calling in the church that divides Christians into two classes - the clergy and the laity. The clergy designates paid, professional, full-time ministers or priests, as opposed to the rest of the church -the laity. This implies a system of church government with grades of status or authority ranking one Christian above another, which is hierarchical and unscriptural. Titles are necessary to conform to the world order in many instances, but they should never be used in the congregation of believers.
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