Please, don’t call me ‘Rev’

Published 8:00 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

Minister, Church of Christ Northside

I enjoy meeting people around town and hearing people comment on reading the articles in the paper and/or watching the videos on YouTube. I like when people say “hi.” I just have one request when you see me out in town and want to talk. Please, don’t call me “Rev.”

It’s short for the unscriptural religious title “Reverend.” It comes from the Latin, reverendus, which means, “one who is to be revered.” Its origins are in Roman Catholicism and was used in reference to the “clergy.” This was carried over into later protestant denominationalism. Since I am neither a Catholic priest or a denominational minister, the title certainly doesn’t apply to me. But, it really doesn’t scripturally apply to any human being. Here’s why: Only God is reverend.

If you were to search the English Bible for the word “Reverend” you would only find it in one verse of the King James Bible. “He sent redemption unto his people: He hath commanded his covenant for ever: Holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9) It is God alone who is “holy and reverend.” The Hebrew word translated “reverend” in the KJV means, “be awesome, dreadful.” That’s why modern translations have it as, “Holy and awesome is His name” (New King James).

How would Paul react if someone tried to “revere” him or praise him as “awesome?” We don’t have to wonder, just read Acts 14:8-18. When the audience there tried to offer praise to Paul and Barnabas, they said, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:15). What about Peter? When Cornelius bowed down to him, he said, “Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:26). I have no doubt that if they had been called “Rev,” they would have said, “please, don’t do that.”

Jesus explicitly stated, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ” (Matthew 23:8–10, NKJV).

It is clear from the context that Jesus was talking about people exalting themselves with honorific titles (Matthew 23:1-12. It is also clear from the context that such people are taking glory themselves that belongs only to God.

Again, I really do enjoy it when you tell me “hi” and talk to me when you see me around town. But if you need to call me anything other than “Norm,” call me preacher. That’s the role I fill in the Lord’s church, serving him, and you as a teacher of his word. But, please, don’t call me “Rev.”