Should a Preacher be Called Rabbi?

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8).
When one thinks about the term Rabbi it is usually associated with Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day. I find it interesting that one Baptist church in my area has a preacher wearing the title
“Rabbi.” Should a preacher be called Rabbi? The answer is either yes or no.
The English word “Rabbi” is found 8 times in the King James version New Testament and it literally means “My Master” (Strong’s Greek Concordance under No. 4461). Imagine a man claiming to preach the gospel of Christ wearing the title Rabbi? Imagine people calling someone Rabbi, meaning “My Master”! Rabbi was a title of honor used among the Jews which distinguished the Jewish teachers from the pupils.
Did Jesus want us to divide ourselves up with titles that elevated some, while leaving everybody else below them being– as titles imply– inferior to them? If we truly love Christ we will regard the words of Jesus more than the traditions of men, for the words of Jesus forever settle the question. Read the Lord’s words about the wearing of religious titles below:
“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).
Jesus says: “For one is your Master, even Christ.” Would you dare call a man your Master giving him the honor that belongs only to Jesus Christ? Who is your Master? Think on these things and understand that no matter how sincere or even if you don’t mean any harm in addressing men after this manner, the wearing of titles such as Rabbi, Master, Father or Reverend in the religious world is a tradition of men which is clearly forbidden by Jesus. To wear such titles is to disobey Jesus and to bring honor to oneself; to elevate men by bestowing or conferring honorable titles on them robs the honor and glory from Jesus who is the only one deserving of such honor (see also Matthew 15:9; Psalms 111:9). If you will honor and please Jesus Christ, refuse to call men by these honorary titles.

Cite this article as: Michael Baggett, "Should a Preacher be Called Rabbi?," in Answering Religious Error, April 2, 2016,
Should a Preacher be Called Rabbi?