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Who Is the “διδασκαλος” of Matthew 23:8?

The latest book I’m reading is A Biblical Theology of the New Testament. In the first chapter, “A Theology of Matthew,” a topic is brought up concerning concerning the identity of the διδασκαλος mentioned in Mat 23:8. Here is the text of the verse:

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher (διδασκαλος) and you are all brothers.  (Mat 23:8 NET)

Now from just looking at this one verse, it appears that there would be two possibilities. First, would be God the Father. Second, would be God the Son – Jesus. I would probably choose Jesus with just this information because of the contrast between “Rabbi” and “Teacher” and the smack down that Jesus lays on those who love to be called “Rabbi” (ie. the Pharisees) just prior to this. However there is more to this passage. It goes on:

And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.  (Mat 23:9 NET)

Again, this would seem to affirm the identity of διδασκαλος as Jesus in verse 8 and remove God the Father from probability. However, curiously the text continues:

Nor are you to be called ‘teacher (καθηγηται),’ for you have one teacher (καθηγητης), the Christ.  (Mat 23:10 NET)

Here a word for teacher is used, but it is a different word than διδασκαλος. It is καθηγητης (used only here in the entire New Testament). And here Jesus is certainly referring to himself. This raises a problem of what to make of διδασκαλος in verse 8. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament gives a possibility:

[It] might suggest that the teacher of verse 8 is understood to be the Holy Spirit.  (30)

If this is true, then Jesus is here giving a trinitarian formula. I think that this is the case. It would follow with the rest of Matthew’s gospel. We see trinitarian formulas in at least two other places: chapter 3 at Jesus’ baptism (vv. 13-17) and in chapter 28 when the resurrected Jesus gives His Great Commission (vv. 16-20).



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