The original title to this post was going to be:

Jesus’ “you have one master, even Christ, and you are all brethren” vs Paul’s “obey your rulers/leaders” and “submit” type rhetoric

But that doesn’t work very well as a URL, so you now have the title above.

When I started to write an article on this subject, I did a google search, and I found a book on google books called Religious equality, a sermon preached at Bridport, December 23, 1838 — By Philip Harwood.  I figured I could save myself some time just quoting it and making a comment at the end. I’m going to reproduce some of it here (ending the quote before he becomes hypocritical, since being a partial Paulinist himself, that’s inevitable):


Matthew xxiii. 8—10. 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, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

Such is Christ’s charter of his Church’s liberties. Such is Christ’s constitution for his kingdom of heaven upon earth :—Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood: the equal brotherhood of a common spiritual nature, common rights, common duties, common hopes, common relations to one Father, even God, and one Master, even Christ; a brotherhood that admits, indeed, of distinctions—distinctions of elder and younger, teacher and taught, giver and receiver—but not of any such distinction as imports command on the one side and obedience on the other. In Christ’s kingdom, all are brethren; fellow-heirs and fellow-servants: and no man can judge his fellow-servant—he may help him, advise him, teach him, but not command, not judge him—for the very reason that he is a fellow-servant, and has his own master to whom he standeth or falleth.

None may claim lordship over a brother’s faith and conscience, none may submit to such lordship, if claimed. The spiritual arrogance of the few, and the spiritual abjectness of the many—each is a violation of Christ’s law of liberty, and each has its own separate and solemn rebuke, in this, the last sermon of the Christian’s Lord. “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, who is in heaven: neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.”

One is almost tempted to exclaim—as did a good man of former times, on reading those commandments with promise which so beautifully introduce the Sermon on the Mount— “Blessed Jesus! either these are not thy words, or we are not Christians.”—Where is this Gospel preached? or, if preached, where is it understood and practised? Where shall we find this liberty? this abstinence from assumption and encroachment? What Christian church practically grants it, even to its own members? even to its own ministers? to say nothing of the yet harder and rarer virtue of granting it to other churches. Where and when have the teachers of Christianity rebuked the superstitious folly that would bow down and worship them, and taken pains to enlighten the ignorance that caused the folly, and declined the perilous investiture with immunities, titles and prerogatives that make distinctions where Christ made none, and repelled the ascription of an ex-officio sanctity, and lived with the taught as brothers with brothers? And where and when have the taught looked upon their teachers, simply as brethren?—better skilled, perhaps, than themselves, by education and study, in the learning illustrative of the records of the faith common to all, (or of course they would not be fit to teach,)—better qualified to set forth that faith in an attractive and convincing form,—elder brethren, perhaps,—but still brethren, men of like parts and passions with themselves, men who have no royal or priestly road to truth, men who have nothing to give their hearers but instruction and moral impulse, who can remit no sins, impart no holy ghost, administer no sacraments which any other Christian might not administer as well, whose instructions have no authority or value apart from their reasonableness, and no likelihood of being reasonable, except according to the care and diligence expended upon them. Where and when have Christian teachers been contented to be simply teachers, freely speaking what they have freely thought,—and hearers to be simply hearers, neither receiving blindly what is old, nor rejecting blindly what is new, but proving all things that they may hold fast that which is good?

The answer to these questions is, unhappily, near at hand, and such as ought to grieve and humble every disciple of Jesus, who loves and honours the Gospel as the charter of the world’s liberties. Christianity is not so understood; is not so practised; is not so preached :—not, with scarcely an exception, by any sect or church of Christians; that is, not consistently, not thoroughly, not by the ruling majority of any sect or church; only partially, occasionally, and by individuals. Christianity has done great things for the world, it has put down many crying evils and mitigated many more, it has produced a noble army of martyrs for truth and righteousness, it has wrought mightily in many a holy life and many a peaceful death,—but it has not answered Christ’s design; to a great extent, and in some most important respects, it has hitherto proved a failure; its grand triumphs are yet to come; it has not purged out that leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy and spiritual assumption, it has not made men brethren, it has not set the world free. There is as much tyranny over thought and the utterance of thought,—there is as much coarseness and worldliness in the agencies by which a dominant sect seeks to perpetuate and fasten its ascendency,—there is as much confounding of the merest trivialities of opinion and ceremony, the very anise and cummin of theology, with the weightiest matters of the law,—there is as much of the spirit that loves to be called Rabbi, and Master, and Father, in this nineteenth century of Christianity and this land of Protestant Orthodoxy, as there was in the first century, in the mother-country of Pharisees and Pharisaism. Our teachers of religion still call themselves priests, and claim a priestly lordship over faith and conscience,—and our people accord the claim in the gross, with here and there a rebellious protest, in the detail, against some of its more odious manifestations,—and our government enforces it by the terrors of law,—and ourselves enforce it by the alternate terrors and blandishments of opinion. In this Protestant and Christian land, this land blessed with a law of which Christianity is part and parcel,—in this age of tolerance and enlightenment, of repeal of penal statutes and desuetude of blasphemy prosecutions,—Christians are not free, Christianity is not a religion of free and equal brotherhood.


So why isn’t it????  Simple. Paul vs Jesus.  Paul says “Obey your masters.”  Jesus says “You only have one master, even Christ, and you are all brethren.”  Checkmate Paulinists.  The “church” is a chaos of gurus because Paul’s “authority” trip doesn’t produce anything but bad, foul, fruit.

I should also note, in one of the instances in the quoted text, “master” is didaskalos (teacher) and in another kathegetes (authority, leader).  Jesus is both our only teacher and only authority, and only leader.   Anyone teaching anything about “the gospel” that isn’t directly based on his words is out of line.

See the NASB of Matthew 23:8-10 with the Greek words in brackets:

But do not be called Rabbi [ραββι]; for One is your Teacher [καθηγητης or διδασκαλος depending on manuscript], and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders [καθηγηται]; for One is your Leader [καθηγητης], that is, Christ.

Yet the Paulinists are always having “leadership” conferences to learn to be better “leaders.”  Jesus is the shepherd. Any other “pastor” (i.e. shepherd) is climbing over the door of the sheep fold and is a thief or robber.  Jesus said so. See John 10.