Does Yeshua mean what He says? Do words mean things?

20 Oct

Does Yeshua mean what He says? Do words mean things?

“But be not ye called Rabbi for one is your Master – Messiah; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters for one is your Master – Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:8-12)

‘Be not called rabbi by any man . . .’ did Yeshua actually mean what He said?
Do the meanings/definitions of words change based on their usages through the ages, and if so, does that alleged change thereby negate the application of Yeshua’s words on this matter and other matters to us today?

Yeshua’s/Jesus’ words are plain and straightforward. ‘We’ are the ones that often times, although perhaps unintentionally or well-intentioned, twist or bend His words in order to find a way around what He says so as not to offend. Standing on the plain and straightforward words of Messiah, The Rock of Offense, will be bring division. It’s not intentional on our part. It’s the inevitable conclusion of light versus dark and truth over tradition.

The word ‘rabbi’ is a Hebrew-based word and was used in the passage above to refer to Judaic/pharisaic/sadducaic leaders, those who held sway over the people of Israel in that day. The word ‘rabbi’ or ‘rabboni’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘rabbah’ means ‘, great, great one’ or ‘that which is great’.

The primary hebrew word for ‘teacher’, as found in the Tanakh, is ‘moreh’ (mem, vav, resh, hay) and comes from the word ‘yara’- to shoot out or send out. It’s the same root word from which we get the word ‘torah’. The greek word for ‘teacher’ is the word ‘didaskalos’ which is defined as ‘teacher or instructor’. It is not the word Yeshua uses (according to KJV) when He says ‘Be called by no man ‘rabbi’ (great one – don’t be looking to man, if you will) for one is your teacher (kathegetes) which is Messiah.
(some manuscripts/translations do use the greek word for teacher in this passage or translate the word as ‘master’).

In the passage in Matthew 23, Yeshua/Jesus is speaking to ‘the multitudes and His disciples and, it is evident by the full text of this passage, He was also speaking to the ‘scribes and pharisees’ that were within the multitude of the crowd that day.
It helps to maintain the contextual integrity of the passage. I notice that Yeshua spoke these words – ‘be ye not called rabbi’- not just to the lay-people if you will, (although it would apply to all) but rather directly to the leadership present in the crowd, the ones that were allowing themselves to be exalted by the people. He spoke to them, both correcting them and exhorting them to set the example and not allow the people to exalt man, but rather to exalt our Father. That principle still holds true today.

Yeshua placed within the body ‘apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers’, gifts to mankind according to Scripture, (Ephesians 4:8-12) offices of responsibility and authority under the leadership of the Ruach, The Son and our Father. And even those in these heaven-sent offices of responsibility should not allow themselves to be exalted. We must also remember the context of this monologue. Yeshua was directing correction to the leadership.

In terms of ‘call no man Father’, He was dealing with the custom of referring to the chief rabbi and other men in position of high leadership and authority as ‘Father’. He was not speaking to the God-given relationship between kids and their earthly parents.

Now let’s look at some words in Matthew 23.
But be not ye called Rabbi (Rabbah – great one)
for one is your Master ( kathegetes – to lead from above), even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters ( kathegetes – to lead from above)
for one is your Master (to lead from above) , even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

(Mat 23:8-12 KJV) Even though the word ‘kathegetes’ can be loosely used to refer to a ‘teacher’ it is not the primary greek word for ‘teacher’. The primary greek word for teacher is ‘didaskalos’, which is the word Yeshua uses when speaking to Nicodemus (John 3:2) and is used by Paul in Romans 2, 1 Tim 2, 2 Tim 1 and in reference to the gift from Yeshua mentioned in Eph.4 and 1 Cor 12.

When I read the passage in question – beginning with Matthew 23 – this is what I discover. Yeshua/Jesus was speaking to the gathered multitude in addition to His disciples (vs 1) and then begins to ‘dress down’ the scribes and pharisees’ by reciting a litany of their transgressions. He then begins to address the scribes and pharisees directly (vs 13), I submit He was addressing them indirectly throughout the discourse, since they were part of the ‘multitude’ gathered.

That brings me to my next thought. Moses speaks to generations to come.Yeshua prays for and speaks to generations to come in his High Priestly prayer in John 17. Yeshua’s/Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 not only speak to those present (including those of whom He was referring) but also speaks down the centuries to any and all that would elevate themselves above their position. He who would be exalted must humble himself and he who will exalt himself will be abased. No man should be called ‘great one’, for there is only One that is Great.

But does not the usage of words change and evolve down through generations? Does not that change in usage necessitate a change in the meaning of the words themselves? Does not this mean that the meanings/definitions of words, not their usages, but rather the meanings/definitions can in fact change, thereby negating the application of Yeshua’s Words on this and other matters to us today? Absolutely not!

So, is this an effort to call out or put down or ‘pick on’ those that allow themselves to be called by certain titles? Is this an effort to demean denominations or religious sects regarding their customs and traditions? Or is it an effort to remind is of the truth that Yeshua/Jesus and the Spirit-led writers and ministers of Yeshua’s day chose their words well, under leadership of the Ruach. Or is it a reminder that words mean things. Their words mean things. His Words mean things. And when we stray from the meanings of words into the gray area of usages, a gray area that changes from generation to generation, we have wandered into dangerous waters when striving to understand how The Written Word is to direct our daily walk under the leadership of the Spirit of our Father. One thing we must always remember . . . our Father YHVH, our Savior Yeshua and Holy Spirit do not change, and neither does The Word.

How does this apply to me personally,  that which is plainly stated in the passage? Does it need be applied in me in more personal ways?  In these last of the last days, is there anything in my life that needs to be abased? Are there areas in my life and my walk that have been allowed to become exalted and puffed up? Am I humbling myself, daily placing the flesh on the altar that Yeshua and our Father might be exalted by the presence of His Spirit in me? Should I not humble myself lest I be humbled? Should I not judge myself lest I be judged?
Father, give me eyes to see and ears to hear and a willingness to bow my heart before you, for a broken and contrite heart you will not turn away. Place a spirit of repentance within me this day and in the days to come. May I decrease that You may increase. B’Shem Yeshua – Amen and Shalom
(Scripture references are KJV)


Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2018 in Uncategorized


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: