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MASTER. The tr. of a number of Heb. and Gr. words. 1. אָדוֹן, H123, usually denotes the owner or master of a servant or slave. The RSV renders it “master” 100 times and “lord” 215 times. The KJV and the RSV generally agree in these OT renderings.

2. בַּ֫עַל, H1251, lord, owner, master. A difficult text involving the use of this word is Ecclesiastes 12:11, which in the KJV reads: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” Most modern Eng. trs. abandon “master of assemblies,” as does the RSV, which renders the verse, “The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings which are given by one Shepherd.”

3. עוּר, H6424, to rouse oneself, awake. Malachi 2:12 reads in the KJV: “The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.” Most modern trs. reject the tr. “the master and the scholar.” The RSV has: “May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob, for the man who does this, any to witness or answer, or to bring an offering to the Lord of hosts!”

4. διδάσκαλος, G1437, teacher. This Gr. word, which in the gospels is applied to Jesus forty-two times, is in the KJV tr. “Master” forty-one times, and “teacher” once (John 3:2). The RSV always renders it “teacher.” The reason for the KJV preference for “master” is that in the schools of Britain teachers were called “masters.”

5. ἐπιστάτης, G2181, master, teacher. This Gr. word is applied to Jesus seven times and is always tr. “master.” It is found only in the vocative.

6. καθηγητής, G2762, a leader, teacher. This appears only in Matthew 23:10. Both the KJV and the RSV tr. it “master.”

7. κύριος, G3261, lord, master, sir, Lord. The form “lord” in the NT connotes mere possession of authority, but in such cases the RSV usually tr. “master” or the like (Matt 24:46).

8. ῥαββί, G4806, my master. In John’s gospel “Master” in the KJV becomes “Rabbi” in the RSV (John 4:31).


R. Bridges and L. A. Weigle, The Bible Word Book (1960), 218, 219, 340.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The verb "to master" does not occur in the Old Testament, but we have in Apocrypha (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:18) "mastering thy power" (despozon ischuos), the Revised Version (British and American) "being sovereign over (thy) strengh."