But in Matthew 23:8-12, Jesus gives us the same concept. Be not called Rabbi; for one is your teacher and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on the earth, for one is your Father, even he who is in Heaven. Neither be called masters for one is your master, even the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant, and whosever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Now some people do call their earthly father, “Father,” and there is nothing wrong with that. The point, you see, is not the word, but setting someone up as better than his brethren by the use of a [capitalized] Title, be it Father, Holy Father, Reverend, Most Reverend, Most Right Reverend—you get the point.
The New Testament has no concept of laity and clergy at all. To be quite honest about this, it is even possible to misuse the word “brother” in the same way, by applying it only to people we consider to be worthy of it due to their knowledge or role in the church. Jesus said in that quote above, “You are all brethren.”
Let’s take this a step farther. I have an aunt and uncle who both have doctoral degrees in chemistry. They both taught at a prestigious university and one was even head of the department for many years before retirement. You know
what? No one in the family calls them “Dr. Ayers.” They would be insulted. They accept the title only in the realm of academia, but never in the family circle.
The church is our spiritual family circle. We were all born again, raised to walk with Christ as a new creature, and when that happened, we were all “created” equal. Just as my aunt and uncle would not want anyone in the physical family to use their academic titles, I don’t think I know a true brother or sister in the Lord who would ever expect the family to use their earthly titles except in the worldly realm in which they apply. As Jesus so clearly explained in
Matthew 23: whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.
One of the greatest Bible students I know has a high school education. But he has studied so hard for so long on his own, and has developed such great insight, that I would sit at his feet to learn at any opportunity. Others, who sport more letters after their names than if they spilled a bowl of alphabet soup, make it obvious in their teachings that they spend more time studying things other than the Word of God. Those things may have their place, but it is not as a substitute for the Truth.
The only titles we wear are Christian, child of God, saint, heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. Truly, among the family of God, that should be all the honor any of us needs.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal 3:26-28.