Shepherd on Reverend
Editor’s Note: In the recent past I wrote an article on this same subject. Although I reached the same conclusion I made a mistake by saying that “reverend” only refers to God. I was wrong and I offer this article to correct that error. My hope is that you will be adequately equipped to refute the idea of elevating preachers above everyone else. This mistake should illustrate why we are no more special than any other Christian. This article was penned by my good friend and brother, Michael Shepherd. ---JBE
THE WORD "REVEREND" IN THE BIBLE
It is true that the word "reverend" refers only to God in Psalm 111:9. It is also true that the word occurs only one time in the King James Version. It is not rue, however, that it occurs only once in the Hebrew text from which the English word "reverend" is translated. And it is not true that the Hebrew word for "reverend" is applied only to God in the Bible. Reverence is to be extended to men (Ephesians 5:33; Hebrews 12:9). And may we not overlook the fact that the word "holy stands in exactly the same relation to the name of God as does the word "reverend" in Psalm 111:9. It is not wrong to speak of men as "holy" or else we cannot explain 1 Peter 1:15-16 and Hebrews 3:1. Of course, the word "holy" is often abused as a title of religious significance, such as "Holy Father," or, "Holy See". It is clearly wrong to use "holy" as a title of honor, as any term would become wrong if so employed.
Our word "reverend" comes from the Hebrew word /are (yaw-ray). This word occurs 373 times in the old Testament instances which I shall now list. I t is translated in the King James Version by: "be afraid" (76 times), "dread" (1 time), "fear" (242 times); "reverence" (2 times); "afraid" (3times); "be feared" (4 times); "be had in reverence "(1 time); "dreadful" (5 times); "fearful" (2 times); "fearfully" (1 time); "reverend" (1 im3); "terrible" (24 times); "terrible acts" (1 time); "terribleness" (1 time); "terrible things" (4 times); "affright" (1 time); "make afraid" (2 times), and " put in fear" (2 times). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, the Hebrew word yare, means, "to fear...to revere...to frighten...reverence." If we ad the 143 times the corresponding Greek term
is used in the New Testament to the 373 times the Hebrew word (in its various forms) is used in the Of Testament, we have the root word for reverend" appearing 516 times in the Bible.
The reason it is wrong to use the word "Reverend" as a religious title for preachers is not because it is used only once in the Bible and applies only to God. We have see that neither of those statements is true when you consider the original Hebrew term. In fact, neither "holy" nor "reverend" is used as a title for God, but is simply descriptive of his character. For example, a form of the Hebrew word yare is also used in Isaiah 18:2 to describe the Ethiopians as "terrible." David employed a form of the term yare in Psalm 139:14 to say, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Many other passages could be cited showing the different forms of yare variously translated.
The reason it is wrong to use the word "Reverend" as a religious title for preachers is because there is no Scriptural basis for the distinction between the so-called "clergy and laity" classes. The very system which sanctions such distinctions is a grand departure from speaking where the Bible speaks (2 Timothy 3:16-17;! Peter 4:11). It is also wrong because Jesus clearly condemned the use of special titles of religious honor for his people (Matthew 23:8-10). Such titles of distinction are totally foreign to the spirit of Christ; they are foreign to anything taught in the Bible and ought to be foreign to all people who would speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.