DEFINITION OF THE DAY (RABBI)

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      RABBI- (Ra’b’ bi’) Title meaning “my master,” applied to teachers and others of an exalted and revered position. During the NT period the term “rabbi” came to be more narrowly applied to one learned in the law of Moses, without signifying an official office.

     In the NT the title “rabbi” is used in only three of the Gospels. In Matt 23:7-8 scribes generally are addressed. In John 3:26 John the Baptist is called “Rabbi” by his disciples. In all other occurrences “rabbi” and an alternate form “rabboni” apply to Jesus in direct address (Mark 9:5; 11:21; Mark 14:45; John 1:49; 3:2; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2; 11:8; 20:16).

Luke never used the term “rabbi” but the word epistles, the equivalent of “school-master,” a term more meaningful to his predominantly Greek readers (Luke 17:13). A unique relationship existed between Jesus and His disciples, compared to the typical rabbi and his pupils. They were forbidden to call one another “rabbi” (Matt 23:8), and in Matthew, particularly, Jesus’ disciples call Him “Lord” (Kurie). For Matthew, Jesus was not just a teacher to His followers; He was their Lord.

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