Did Jesus Label People?

Did Jesus Label People?

One year, during the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, someone complained about the use of labels in our dialog and said something to the effect: “Why do we have to label people as Liberal or Conservative, Right or Left, Progressive or Traditional? Why can’t we just be like Jesus? He didn’t use labels.”

That comment started me thinking about Jesus and the use of labels. (In addition to Bible study, I use a daily reading plan which includes reading through the Old Testament once each year and the New Testament twice each year.)

So, for a year, as I read through the New Testament I made note of occasions where Jesus used labels describing persons. The following list contains, I think, most of His labels (descriptive terms).

Matthew’s List of Jesus’ Labels:

Enemies (Mat 5:44)
Pagans (Mat 5:47)
Hypocrites (Mat 6:2)
Thieves (Mat 6:20)
Dogs (Mat 7:6)
Pigs (Mat 7:6)
Evil (Mat 7:11)
False prophets (Mat 7:15)
Foolish man (Mat 7:26)
Dead (Mat 8:22)
Sick (Mat 9:12)
Sinners (Mat 9:13)
Sheep (Mat 10:16)
Wolves (Mat 10:16)
Children (Mat 11:16)
Wicked generation (Mat 12:39)
Blind guides (Mat 15:14)
Unclean (Mat 15:20)
Lost sheep (Mat 15:24)
Satan (Mat 16:24)
Stumbling block (Mat 16:24)
Unbelieving generation (Mat 17:17)
Perverse generation (Mat 17:17)
Heathen (Mat 18:17)
Pagan (Mat 18:17)
Publican (Mat 18:17)
Murderers (Mat 22:7)
Blind (Mat 23:17)
Fools (Mat 23:17)
Blind guides (Mat 23:24)
Blind Pharisees (Mat 23:26)
Whitewashed tombs (Mat 23:27)
Serpents (Mat 23:27)
Brood of vipers (Mat 23:33)
Cursed (Mat 25:41)

Mark’s List of Additional Labels:

Unclean (Mark 7:23)
Sinful generation (Mark 8:38)
Adulterous generation (Mark 8:38)

Luke’s List of Additional Labels:

Evil man (Luke 6:45)
Unbelieving (Luke 9:41)
Perverse (Luke 9:41)
Foolish people (Luke 11:39)

John’s List of Additional Labels:

Lamp (John 5:35)
Friends (John 5:14)
Servants (John 5:15)
Devil (John 6:70)
Robbers (John 10:8)
Branches (John 15:5)
Sanctified (John 17:19)
Lambs (John 21:15)

I tried not to list the same label twice. That is why there are relatively few listed in Mark, Luke and John. I’ve probably made some errors and welcome your corrections (and additions) to this list.

In any event, I’m certainly glad Jesus didn’t label people and I try faithfully to follow His example.

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