It is so common for church-goers in church-buildings to call one another by flattering titles. "Reverend so-n-so," "Pastor so-n-so," "Brother so-n-so," "Sister so-n-so," "Elder so-n-so," "Deacon so-n-so," and the titles go on and on. Yet, if we look carefully throughout the New Testament, we'll find most of these titles non-existant, and only one used in an extremely rare circumstance. It is the world that loves the titles, and sadly, many Christians have adopted the habits of the world and pagan religion in their use of titles.
We often must be careful about quoting from the book of Job, as Job and his three friends spoke many foolish things they called wisdom, but in chapter 32, Elihu, the fourth friend, spoke up and rebuked them all.
Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel.
-2 Kings 23:17
title (n): an name of dignity, distinction or pre-eminence given to persons
(See 'title', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
holy (adj): perfect in a moral sense; pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful afflictions
(See 'holy', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
reverend (adj): worthy of reverence; entitled to respect mingled with fear and affection
(See 'reverend', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
revere [reverence] (v): to regard with respect tinged with awe; venerate
(See 'revere', Random House Dictionary, Random House Inc, 2013; See also Collins English Dictionary, 10th Edition, William Collins Sons & Co, 2009)
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
The fact is that this tradition of calling someone 'reverend', as most wicked traditions in American church-buildings, comes from Rome. Catholics use titles of "Reverend," "Very Reverend," and "The Most Reverend." It's not hard to see why priests, bishops, and popes of the Catholic church are called 'reverend' when we see them parade themselves around, welcoming the worship and fear of men in honor of themselves.
Catholics even give the title of "Reverend" to women on occasion:
"Sister Mary Angelica... Rome allowed her--despite her young age--to become an Abbess of a new monastery, and Our Lady of the Holy Angels opened on May 20, 1962, just ten months from its groundbreaking. (Upon becoming Abess,
she received the title of respect of 'ReverendMother' or just 'Mother' for short."
-Rev. John Trigilio & Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Catholicism for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons, 2011, ISBN: 9781118053782; Read "Can Women Teach in Church?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.
Though women are given the responsibility to reverence her husband in the marriage (Eph 5:33), it doesn't say that she is to go to her friends and neighbors and give them reverence too. Outside of a woman's God-given position and commandment in a marriage, men are not to be reverenced in the spiritual church of the Lord Jesus Christ because we, as a church, are in a marriage with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 7:4), and so we give reverence to Him, and Him alone, just as the woman gives reverence to her husband, and him alone.
When the New Testament Scriptures speak of giving "reverence" in the church, it is to the Lord God. Even in Hebrews 12, which some will use as an excuse to be called "Reverend," asks a question concerning this point:
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Reverend: Priests ('Father'), Mother Superiors, Mother Generals|
Very Reverend: Papal Chamberlains
Right Reverend: Protonotaries Apostolics, Domestic Prelates, Vicars Generals, Abbots
Most Reverend: Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Latin Titulars, Nuncios
His Holiness: The Pope
(The Roman Catholic heathen Mother Teresa believed the same thing, that Jesus could not come unless through a priest. Read "Wolves in Costume: Mother Teresa" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
The early churches formed by the Apostles of Christ did not use titles, and after seeing all the usage of titles today in American church-buildings, I can see why. With titles comes an automatic respect to their person, which the Bible condemns as sin.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
(Read "Why Are Christian Respecting Persons?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
it is not unbiblical to be called a pastor, but it
unbiblical to title oneself as "Pastor so-n-so."
There is one place in the New Testament where "Brother" is used:
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do... And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
But today, we have church-goers everywhere who use the titles "Brother so-n-so" and "Sister so-n-so" nonchalantly without any thought to it. Certinaly, those who are born-again in Christ Jesus are brethren (brothers and sisters), but there is no need to give them a title. In fact, I have witnessed many church-goers refer to an unsaved person as a brother or sister, but if they are false converts, then it's a lie, and we need to be careful what comes out of our mouths.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
-3 John 1:9
preeminent (adj): superior in excellence; distinguished for something commendable or honorable
(See 'pre-eminent', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
eminent (adj): high; lofty; as an eminent place; exalted in rank; high in office; dignified; distinguished
(See 'eminent', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
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.
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
-3 John 1:9-10
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
-1 Thessalonians 5:13
(Read "Is Tithing a Christian Requirement?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Second, most of them are not labouring in the things of Christ, and finally, esteeming a humble man is not hard at all, but this is a quick Scripture a pride-seeking man can give to demand that you give them the respect they so desperately seek. The bottom line is that it comes down to what's really in their heart, as opposed to what they portray on the outside.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
-2 Timothy 3:1-4
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
-1 Corinthians 5:6
I find it amazing that those who do not hold the title of "reverend" or "pastor" or "deacon," etc, typically write me and say that this article helped them to gain Scriptural understanding about the use of titles, however, those who DO carry one of those titles typically write me and tell me I'm wrong. (What a coincidence!) Those who celebrate Christmas tell me I'm wrong about Christmas, those who drink alcohol tell me I'm wrong about alcohol, and those who have to defend their precious titles tell me I'm wrong on this issue as well.
Let's look at a few of the excuses some men are using to defend their titles:
Let's first take a look at Acts 26:
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers... Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
(Read "False Doctrine: Unilimited Submission to Government" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
-1 Peter 2:17
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Let's go to Acts 26 again:
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
For example, let's look at Luke 1:
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. -Proverbs 8:6
excellent (adj): being of great virtue or worth
(See 'excellent', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Dec 24, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
This is pretty much the same as the last two argument, but let's go to 1 Timothy 1:
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
-1 Timothy 1:18
It's true that they are called "Saint Peter" and "Saint Paul" in the titles of the King James Bible, but the titles of the books are not inspired by God. It is the text itself that is directly from God. A name was put with each book of the New Testament to distinguish the letters from the gospels, and who authored it from who it was written to.
On a personal note, I don't believe the King James Translators were correct in giving them the a title of "saint" in the book titles, even though they are saints in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Catholic church calls many devilish unsaved heathen by the title "Saint" as well, so what's the difference between us and them if we don't sanctify ourselves from attachment to the worldly traditions of men?