“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”
-1 Corinthians 2:7-8-
The New Testament uses several names and titles for God, each giving us a little more information into His awesome Personhood. Last week, I endeavored to explain His title “Father,” and that He is not merely “like” a Father, but that He is a Father, and why it is important to call Him such.
This week, we will be examining His title “Lord.” We call Him Lord everyday in our prayers, most likely, but what are we really saying when we say that He is our Lord?
Now, in the Old Testament when we see this word rendered in all capital letters – LORD – it is a translation of the Divine Name – YHVH. However, in the New Testament, this word is a rendering of two distinct Greek words – Kurios and Despotes – and one Aramaic word – Rabboni.
The word Kurios is the primary word used in the New Testament and means “owner,” translated as such in Luke 19:33 referring to the “owners” of the colt that Christ was to ride into Jerusalem upon. Thus, the word expresses authority and lordship arising from and pertaining to ownership. Thus, while this title is used for Christ, the title is also used for masters by their servants. This title is the title that the early Christians were willingly martyred for professing of Jesus – that He is no mere carpenter from Nazareth but their only Lord. This title was also the title that the 3rd century BC Jewish translators of the Septuagint (LXX) chose for the Divine Name.
Further, the apostle Paul makes a stunning declaration about what declaring Jesus as Kurios, Lord, means. In Romans 10:9, 13 the apostle states:
“That if you will confess in your mouth Jesus is Lord [Kurios], and believe that The God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [Kurios, YHVH] will be saved.”
This is an incredibly important passage, the command being to confess that Jesus is Lord followed by the promise that everyone who does so will be saved. However, the promise of Romans 10:13 is a quotation from the Old Testament book of Joel, chapter 2, verse 32, the word “Lord” being the Divine Name – YHVH. Therefore, when the early Christians proclaimed that Jesus is Lord, the proclamation was that He is the God of Creation.
The second word used of Christ which is translated as “Lord,” though, is Despotes, from which we get the word despot. Similarly to Kurios, this word also denotes ownership, but when used of God, it includes the exercise of more absolute, unlimited, and despotic authority and power in heaven and on earth. This word is used of Christ by the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 2:1 in reference to the swift destruction that He will bring upon false teachers.
The third word translated as “Lord” in the New Testament is the Aramaic word Rabboni, from the Hebrew word Rabbi. This denotes Christ as the Master Teacher whose Word is final, having authority, teaching not as others (Matthew 7:29). This word occurs twice, translated “Lord” in Mark 10:51 and transliterated “Rabboni” in John 20:16.
The word “Lord” is a declaration of reverence, that He is not a “buddy,” but is the One Who fashioned this whole universe, Who chained the angels that sinned in Tartarus, and Who uphold the entire world by the word of His power. So, if we confess that Jesus is Lord, our lives should be testaments of that confession; otherwise, we may be guilty of lying under oath in the courtroom of the universe.