Titles for Preachers
We’ve talked some about the “name” of the church and the “name” of the members of the church. What about common titles used in the Christian world?
The word “reverend” occurs only once in the English Bible. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name” (Ps 111:9, KJV).
The Hebrew word occurs in several other passages, but the word is not once applied to man. It is always applied to God. Then, where do men find the audacity to apply it to their own names? Paul, Peter, and John nowhere tried to apply this title to themselves. Jesus refused even to be called “good” (Matt 19:16-17).
The use of “reverend” for oneself seems haughty and egotistical (Matt 20:26-27).
The local evangelist is not a pastor unless he has also been appointed to the office of a bishop/elder.
Some observations on the use of “pastor.”
- The noun only occurs once in the English New Testament (Eph 4:11). Since the term only occurs once, why do some people love this word? The verb form of the word is used of the work of elders. Acts 20:17, 28. 1 Peter 5:1-4. The noun is used 18 total times in the Greek New Testament. It is often used of literal shepherds. The noun is also used in a figurative way of Jesus in many texts (e.g., Heb 13:20).
- The New Testament provides for a plurality of elders. “Elders” is always used in the plural (Acts 20:17; Phil 1:1; 1 Pet 5:1). There is absolutely no idea in the New Testament that a congregation have a single elder/pastor.
Those who would use this title do so in direct opposition to the direct teaching of Jesus Christ. Matthew 23:9. It’s obvious that Jesus uses this is in a religious context, for the Holy Spirit often used “father” to refer to one’s physical father (e.g., Eph 6:4).
The only way one could use “father” as a religious title is if he thinks he knows more than Jesus Christ Himself.