The Significance of the Word ‘Lord’ When Applied to Christ

By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)

The Significance of the word Lord when applied to ChristIn apologetics, understanding biblical doctrine is very important. We need to understand what we are defending. A key element within Christian theology is the teaching that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh (John 1:1, 14, Philippians 2:5-8). Knowing what the Bible says about the deity of Christ is important on various levels since there are many who deny that the Bible teaches this doctrine in the first place. Apart from the fact that it is rather easy to demonstrate that the bible does teach the deity of Christ, one helpful way of demonstrating this point (and this certainly not the only way) is to examine the Bible’s use of the word “Lord”, especially as it is applied to Jesus Christ.

The term “Lord” within its biblical context has many generic uses, some of which understand the term as a polite address to a superior (Matt 13:27, 21:30, 27:63, Jhn 4:11). It can mean something to the affect as “sir” or a “master of a servant”. However, examples of special uses of the term abound throughout scripture. During the time of Jesus, the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) was in wide usage. The Greek word for Lord was “kyrios.” Interestingly enough, the term kyrios was also the Greek rendering for the Hebrew (LORD/YWHW/Yahweh) as it referred to the Lord God. The word kyrios was used to translate the name of the Lord 6,814 times in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint).

In the New Testament, the Greek word kyrios was often applied to Jesus Christ/The Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear that when the term “Lord” is applied to Jesus, it is not meant to be utilizing the generic sense of the word which would have simply meant “sir” or something along those lines. The term Lord when applied to Christ was meant to highlight his equality with the Father, who is often just referred to as God (referring to the Father) so as to differentiate between God the Father and God the Son (who is called “Lord”). While I will not survey all of the biblical examples of this usage (there are many), perhaps a few examples will bring this point home.

When John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness as a “voice crying out…preparing the way of the Lord…” (Matthew 3:3), he was actually quoting Isaiah 40:3, which referred to the Lord God coming among his people. In essence, John the Baptist was saying that he was a voice crying out: “Prepare the way for the Lord/God (My emphasis) make his paths straight.” We know that John the Baptist was preparing Israel for the soon appearing of the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John was preparing the way of the “Lord” or Jesus himself who was the Lord/God of Isaiah 40:3.

Or again, when Jesus identified himself as the Lord (hardly in some generic sense) when he quoted Psalm 110:1: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet” (Matthew 22:44). The clear force of this statement is that Jesus understood this scripture as referring to himself. In essence, God the Father (Lord), said to God the Son (Lord), sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.

If one couples these statements (there are many more than offered here) with the other clear statements in the New Testament concerning the deity of Christ (Our Great God and savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13, and many more), one can add to their apologetic arsenal thus helping them build a stronger case for one of Christianity’s most central claim: That the Lord Jesus Christ is God in human flesh!

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