Titles For Church Leaders?
April 18, 2002
These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by denominational religions to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men. Bernie Parsons
Titles For Church Leaders?
By Bernie Parsons - April 18, 2002
Hello, Family & Friends,
It is wrong for church leaders to take to themselves titles of honor. This is clearly taught by Jesus.
Matthew 23:1-12 "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
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."
This is enough to refute the present practice of the Catholic religion, and her Protestant offspring, in regard to calling teachers and leaders in the church by titles, such as Father and Reverend. To condemn the practice of using "Reverend" as a title for religious leaders, some erroneoulsy invoke the following scripture from the Old Testament writings:
Psalms 111:9 "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name."
They incorrectly interpret this scripture as meaning "Reverend is one of God's titles, and must not be used by man." Reverend as used here is an adjective, not a noun. It is not saying that "God's name is Reverend." It is speaking of the reverend name of God, as it does of the holy name of God. Were we to use this fallible interpretation, we could not use the word holy in our conversations unless we used it also as a name for God. We would be prevented from saying: "a holy man", "a holy cause", or referring to anything as holy.
On the other hand, God is not the only entity to be revered.
Ephesians 5:33 "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
1 Peter 3:5-6 "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."
This is a unique relationship between husband and wife, and the church (the bride of Christ) and her husband, Christ. It is not described as a relationship between church member and church leader, as a preacher, teacher, or elder.
Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Ephesians 5:28-32 "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."
Revelation 21:2 "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Romans 7:4 "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
The relationship of wife to man, or church to Christ, is not the same as that of the church to its elders, teachers, and preachers.
1 Peter 5:1-7 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
Hebrews 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
Our submission to our elders, and other instructors in the Lord, is to be so only as they submit to God. The leaders are personally held accountable by God for their leadership. Submission by the flock is not to be a blind submission, as there be blind leaders of the blind. Teachers and leaders can be mistaken, as Jesus and His apostles point out.
Matthew 15:14 "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Romans 2:17-24 "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written."
No one cares for His people as much as God does, and He is the ultimate authority for us here on earth. To accept a man on earth as our "head", rejects the very head of the church, which is Christ, and the head of Christ, which is God.
1 Corinthians 11:1-3 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
We should follow our leaders when they follow God, keeping mind the warning of the Apostle Paul:
Galatians 1:6-10 "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
We should not elevate our church leaders above that point which the scriptures allow, including the use of high-sounding titles, a practice condemned by Jesus. They deserve respect and financial support, as the scriptures convey, but are not to be viewed as "more holy" or "more reverend" than any member of the body of Christ.
God bless all!
Love, in Christ,