The Name "Lord"

The Title Lord

Philippians 2:1-11

“And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the God the Father.”

 

            Of the names and titles used of Christ, none was more unexpected and astounding than the title “Lord.”  To understand the significance of the name, we must go back into the Old Testament. Since the New Testament was written in Greek, we must also go back to the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (commonly referred to as the Septuagint). In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words are translated by the title “Lord.”  The first is “Adonai,” meaning “lord, master, or owner.” When it was used of God, it focused on the authority and majesty of God. The second word translated as “Lord” is the name used most frequently of God, and that is the name “Yahweh” (which means “He is” taken from “I am” In Exodus 3:14). Throughout the Old Testament, this became known as “the Name” so the phrase “the name” as became synonymous with Yahweh. For example, in Psalm 66, the psalmist writes, “Sing the glory of His name.”  For the Jewish reader, there is only one name that the phrase would refer to, and that is the name of Yahweh.” While both Adonai and Yahweh are translated by “Lord” in our English Bible, Adonai is translated as “Lord,” Yahweh is capitalized by “LORD” (all capital letters).   

In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh was translated almost exclusively by the Greek word “kurios.” This becomes important for the writers of the New Testament. When they referred to Jesus as Lord (in the Greek “kurios”) they were more than just referring to the authority of Christ. They were affirming that Christ is none other than Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. This is seen in Philippians 2, which echoes Isaiah 45:18-23. Isaiah writes,  “Thus  says the LORD (Yahweh) who made the heavens…that to Me every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear.”  When Paul states that Jesus is given the name above every name, he refers to the name of Yahweh and affirms that Jesus is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. To make this even more evident, he applies Isaiah 45:23 to Jesus.   Jesus was more than a human king coming as a descendent of David; he was more than just a prophet coming to proclaim God’s prophetic word; he was more than just an angel appearing to announce God’s plan; he was Yahweh Himself who arrived in the flesh. This was the proclamation of the angels in Luke 2. When the angel announced the birth of Jesus, he affirmed that he was the Messianic king and that he was Yahweh himself come in the flesh. “For today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (“kurios”). When Jesus was given the name “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23), the implications were far more significant than Joseph realized. Jesus was not just the representative of God; he was Yahweh.  

            Today, people view Christ in many different ways. Some consider him just another religious teacher who teaches about God. Others view him as a flawed man who taught spiritual truths. But Jesus was more than that. The greatest wonder of Christ is that the God of the Universe would become human, not just to dwell with us but to save us from our sins. We cannot claim to genuinely celebrate Christmas until we acknowledge Christ as Yahweh and submit and surrender to him. Just as the Jews were to surrender to Yahweh in Isaiah 45:23, we are to surrender to Jesus, humbly bowing before him and acknowledging that he is God.            

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