Is it proper and/or appropriate to call a man Reverend so-and-so? Or Bishop, or Rabbi, or Father, or Master, or Elder, all in a religious sense, or as a religious title? And does it really matter? What do the Scriptures have to say about this subject?
Apparently it matters quite a bit to our Heavenly Father, Yahweh. He tells us that His Name is Holy and Reverend, Psalm 111:9. This doesn't mean, as some Sacred Name detrac-tors claim, that "Holy" and "Reverend" are His names, but that His Name, Yahweh, is Holy, and it is to be revered.
A minister from a former Sabbath keeping group told me once that He has about 43 names. This is ridiculous, and I told him so. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find reference to His "Holy Names," plural. It is always, "My Holy Name," singular, as in Ezekiel 39:7 and other places, or, "His Holy Name," as in Psalm 105:3 and other places. However, He does have several titles, and this is what confuses many who are scripturally unwary.
Men who attach "Reverend" to their names, or "Most Reverend," "Father," etc., are appropriating one of Yahweh's titles to themselves, falsely taking on one of His attributes, making themselves one who is to be revered, or worshipped. We are to worship only Yahweh and not any man. His son, who has His attributes, is also worthy of worship. This is not idolatry, nor does it violate the precept of worshipping only the Father, since He declared that He and the Father are "one."
Yahshua told the multitude and His disciples, referring to the scribes and the Phari-sees, that they loved greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi, Mat. 23:7. This title, Rabbi, equates to Master, as the next verse and John 1:38 show. He said that we should not be called Rabbi or Master, since Messiah is our Master, and we are all brethren. In verse 10, He plainly says that we should not be called Masters.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary has several definitions for "Master," in-cluding, "a male teacher; a revered religious leader; one having authority over another; one who conquers or masters; one having control; having chief authority."
And the same dictionary says of "Mister," "alter. of Master." So, since we aren't to be called "Masters," and "Mister" comes from "Master, then is it proper to be called, or to call others, by the title, "Mister?" How about "Apostle," or "Elder?" The Apostle Peter called himself both elder (1 Pet. 5:1), and apostle (1 Pet. 1:1 and 2 Pet. 1:1. The apostle John also referred to himself as an elder (2John 1 and 3John 1). Paul called himself an apostle several times. And that's what these men were. They were Apostles, Elders, Evangelists, Teachers, etc. But I don't think they went around calling each other by those titles. That's just what they were. Those were the offices they were filling, or, put another way, those were the serv-ices they were performing.
The term used most often in the New Testament to describe Believers, is simply, "Brethren." In Rev. 1:9, John said he was our brother (we also know he was an apostle). Paul called the young evangelist Timothy "our brother and minister of Yahweh," 1Ths. 3:2. Paul also said, in 1Cor. 5:11, "if any man that is called a brother, ......" In 1Cor. 7:15 he refers to both "brothers and sisters." Then in Col. 4:7 and Eph. 6:21, he refers to Tychicus as a be-loved brother and faithful minister in Yahweh.
So, to sum up, I definitely think it is wrong to refer to a mere man as "reverend so and so," or "father such and such," and lately I've been pondering on these others. I know we use "Mister" as a title of respect when referring to or talking to someone else, particularly some-one we don't know well, or maybe have just met for the first time. There is no religious or worshipful intent. But I do NOT refer to myself as Mr. When these charities and others send out the little return address stickers, a lot of them are printed "Mr. Frank Brown," and I do not use them. To me that would be a sign of vanity on my part.
And religious-wise, I'd rather refer to Brother Whoever than to Elder Whoever. So if I just call you Brother or Sister, and drop the title, please don't be offended. After all, Yahshua said the overseers, teachers, elders, even apostles, are merely servants of Yahweh who are serving the Brethren. ~Frank Brown

Back to Index

Back to Main