Today in this series examining the Divine Names and Titles of our Lord in the New Testament, we will be examining the title “Master.” This word is the translation of eight distinct Greek words, two of which we examined a few weeks ago – kurios and despotes – meaning “Lord,” or more descriptively, an “owner,” or one having “absolute, unlimited, and despotic authority and power in heaven and earth.”
As we observed a few weeks ago, professing that Jesus is kurios (“Lord,” “owner”) is to profess that He is no mere carpenter but is the One Who controls us and Whom we are bound to obey at the consequence of grievous discipline by Him. The word despotes, on the other hand, is used in reference to His swift judgment on false teachers, Him exercising His authority and power (2 Peter 2:1).
This week, however, in examining the title Master for Jesus, the primary word used is didaskalos. This word is often rendered as a “teacher,” but is a much more scholarly word than “teacher” implies. The word could be better rendered as “Doctor,” or “Professor.” He is addressed as didaskalos 31 times and rendered as “Master.” Often this is used by the scribes and Pharisees. This tells us that even they recognized Him as an incredibly wise teacher learned in the Word of God.
However, in many of the cases, such as Matthew 8:19; 12:38; 19:16; and 22:16, instead of talking with them as a scholar like they were, He made plain that He was no mere academic who was simply giving them educated reasonings on the scriptures. Rather, He is the only way of salvation who all people – academic or layman – must follow.
Yet, the Lord does use this word of Himself eight times. In Matthew 10:24, Matt. 26:18, and Luke 6:40 He uses this word to describe Himself in relation to His disciples as students. Although, the most important usage of how the Lord uses this word is in John 13:14 in which He says:
“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
In this verse, He uses both the words kurios and didaskalos. The owner and controller of the cosmos, and the most learned man to ever walk the earth, humbled himself to do the work of a lowly house-servant. He further states that as His disciples we ought to use the spiritual gifts that He has given us to serve one another, not to elevate ourselves.
A final word which is translated as “Master” which we must address is the word kathegetes. This word is used by the Lord of Himself three times in a single passage. In Matthew 23:8, 10, the Lord says:
“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren… Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ,”
This word refers to a “Guide.” He is the only guide to Whom saints and churches should look and prayerfully ask, not each other or a particular person. This is the key the church government; churches should be autonomous with only the Lord Jesus as their Guide and “Master.” The church, under the direction the Holy Spirit, chooses who will pastor their congregation, not some form of “synod,” “counsel of elders,” or elitists separate from the congregation.
This same principle applies to the selection as deacons, as we read in the book of the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples told the Jerusalem congregation, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…” (Acts 6:3). The duties of the deacons not being to rule the church, but rather to primarily take care of the church’s daily benevolence ministry and finances (6:1), but also teaching when called upon (Acts 6:8-15), helping to relieve the pastors of the burden they carry.