Jesus: Was Jesus a rabbi? 
(Visit LaleoCafe)

RABBI: The Greek word for rabbi is interestingly enough, "Rhabbi". This was a title used by Jews to address their teacher, as well as to honor them.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A term used by the Jews of their religious teachers as a title of respect.

Holeman Bible Dictionary, 3rd Edition: Title meaning, “my master,” applied to teachers and others of an exalted and revered position.

Easton's Bible Dictionary:
"My Master", a title of dignity given by the Jews to their doctors of the law and their distinguished teachers.

New Unger's Bible Dictionary: A respectful term applied by the Jews to their teachers and spiritual instructors

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament – Abridged (Little Kittles):
A. In Judaism.

        1. The term rab denotes one who holds a respected position, e.g., an official. It is used by an inferior to a superior. Students use it in addressing their teachers, but it may also be used for the Messiah or for God as Lord of the world.

        2. The use for teachers goes back to the second century B.C. Students follow their teachers with respectful obedience. When qualified to teach, they themselves are given the title, which the people as a whole also uses. It occurs on many inscriptions from Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, and Italy.

B. The New Testament.
        1. In the New Testament rhabbi occurs only in the Gospels. Matthew 23:5-7 censures the scribes for desiring the title. The Baptist is called rhabbi in John 3:26.

        2. Jesus is called rhabbi by Peter in Mark 9:5 and Judas in Mark 14:45. The term didaskalos in Mark 4:38; Mark 9:17, etc. has the same force. John explains the use in John 1:38. Jesus is addressed as rhabbi in John 1:49; John 3:2; John 4:31; John 6:25; John 9:2; John 11:8. rhabbouni in Mark 10:51 and John 20:16 is an alternative form. The use of rhabbi shows that Jesus is viewed as a teacher by his disciples and the people. He differs from an ordinary scribe in that he chooses his own disciples and teaches authoritatively. Since the disciples never become rabbis as Jesus is, he also has a unique status as their kyrios (Mathew 8:25-27; Matthew 20:32-34).

3. As the Palestinian tradition becomes less prominent, rhabbi does not occur in other Christian writings. 

Educational Process:

The educational process that a young Jewish boy goes through is not found in the Bible, but is found in the Mishnah. The Mishna are the oral interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. When we look at the Scriptures , we see that Jesus' life closely followed these customs of the time and place in Palestine.

First, let's look at what is gleaned from the Mishna about the educational process:

At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years the Mishnah (oral Torah, interpretations) at thirteen for the fulfilling of the commandments, at fifteen the Talmud (making Rabbinic interpretations), at eighteen the bride-chamber, at twenty pursuing a vocation, at thirty for authority (able to teach others)

Beth Sefer : MOST young men stopped here, went home to their families,  learned a trade and lived out their life.

Beth Midrash: Only the best moved on to level of school and teaching.

Beth Talmid: ONLY the best of the best attended this level of teaching under a rabbi. And only the best of the best of the best ever attained the title of "teacher", or rabbi.

In all that I have studied, it was very unlike today where titles are thrown around and self applied.

If we look then at Jesus life as described in the Scriptures, we see that He paralled this education (as He was in fact Jewish):

Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus "grew in wisdom".
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." (ESV)

Luke 2:41-47 Jesus reached the "fulfilling" of the commandments at age twelve. Note verse 47.....He was an exceptional student!
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (ESV)

Matthew 13:55 Jesus learned a trade with His father.
"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?" (ESV)

John 3:22-26 and John 4:1-3 makes it clear that Jesus spent time with John the Baptist, a rabbi. The simple fact that Jesus and His disciples were baptizing suggest strongly that Jesus and John studied together or with the same teacher.
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
25 Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him."

John 4:1-3
1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. (ESV)

Lastly, keeping clearly with what we have learned about the process of education in Galilee through the Mishnah......... Jesus ministry, when He became "Rabbi" or "Teacher" was at about age 30.

Luke 3:23
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, (ESV)

Let's look at who in the Scriptures recognized Jesus as a Rabbi: (Remember that, according to the "Holman Quick Source Bible Dictionary" that the word Rabbi means "My Master", applied to teachers and others of an exalted position.
-- The Disciples (Luke 7:40)
     --Judas called Jesus "Rabbi" (Matthew 26:25) 
25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
Peter called Jesus "Rabbi" (Mark 9:5)
5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.
(Mark 11:21)
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
     -- Two disciples called Jesus "rabbi" (John 1:37-39)
37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.”
     -- John 4:31
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.
John 6:25
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?
John 9:2
2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
John 11:8
8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?"
-- Nathanael called Jesus "rabbi" (John 1:49)
49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

-- Lawyers (Matthew 22:35-36)

-- Ordinary people (Luke 12:13)
     -- The blind man called Jesus "rabbi" (Mark 10:51)
51 ....And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”

-- The rich (Matthew 19:16)

-- Pharisees (Luke 19:39)
     -- Nicodemus, the Pharisee, called Jesus "rabbi" (John 3:1-2)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus£ by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

-- Sadducees (Luke 20:27-28)