Dr. S. Lewis Johnson provides commentary on the use of the term Lord with Jesus Christ.
[Prayer] Father, again we thank Thee for the opportunity to study the word together. We thank Thee for the titles of our Lord and for the truth that is contained within these words by which he was designated by his contemporaries. We thank Thee that he is the Son of God and the Son of Man and the Messiah. And we thank Thee that he is Lord. And we pray that tonight as we consider the Lordship of Jesus Christ that thou would enable us to truly understand what is meant when we say Jesus is Lord. We pray Thy blessing upon this meeting. May it contribute to the glory of his name. We pray in the name of the Lord Jesus and for his sake. Amen.
[Message] Tonight our subject in our continuation of the study of the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Scriptures is “The Lord.” And for the Scripture reading, we’re turning to Mark chapter 12, and we’re going to read verses 35 through verse 37 for the Scripture passage that we will later on refer to for some period of time.
You remember on the day of questions, among the questions that were asked our Lord were the questions: What commandment is the foremost of all? And Jesus had answered in verse 29 of Mark 12,
“The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.””
Well after the words of the scribe, the Lord Jesus in verse 35 decides that he will ask them a question. And so we read,
“And Jesus answering began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet.” ’ David calls Him ‘Lord’; and so in what sense is He his son?” And the great crowd enjoyed listening to Him.”
One of the contemporary New Testament scholars has said that of all the titles of Jesus, the title Lord became by far the most commonly used, widespread, and theologically important. It would hardly be going too far to say that the word Lord became a synonym for the name of Jesus.
Now many Christians know of the Nicene Creed or at least they’ve heard of the Nicene Creed. It’s one of the early creeds of the Christian church and really was one of the first, if not the first, of the more general creeds of the Christian church. Someone has called the Nicene Creed one of the few threads by which the tattered fragments of the divided rope of Christendom are held together. What he was trying to say was simply that we cannot agree on many things in Christianity, but we can agree on these basic facts that are found in the Nicene Creed.
Well, in the second article of the Nicene Creed after beginning with “We believe,” then in the second article we read, “And in one Lord Jesus Christ.” Now notice that phrase, those words “One Lord Jesus Christ.” The creed goes on to say, “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven.”
What is meant by the expression “One Lord Jesus Christ?”? What do we mean when we say Jesus is the Lord? Well, what do we mean when we simply refer to the Lord Jesus as the Lord? What’s the connotation of that word for us? Well, that’s what we want to take a look at tonight as we look at the last of our series of studies in the names or titles of Christ.
There are, of course, many other titles of our Lord, but we have selected the more important ones and we will conclude our series on this part of the doctrine of Christ with “The Lord.” So we look now at the meaning of the term kyrios.
Kyrios is the transliteration of the Greek word kyrios which means lord. Generally speaking, when you find the word Lord in the New Testament, it will be a translation of the word kyrios in the New Testament. In the Old Testament it will generally be a translation of the Hebrew word, the tetragramaton, the covenant-keeping word for God, the word Yahweh. Now, of course, it may be also the transliteration of some other words, but these are the general, generally, most commonly, most common words that lie back of the English word, lord.
The term kyrios or the term lord was a very common term in secular Greek as well as in the New Testament. If, for example, you had studied classical Greek, you would have been familiar with the word kyrios because it’s not simply a New Testament word.
Now it does occur frequently in the New Testament. And you’ll find, incidentally, that it occurs most frequently in the Apostle Paul and in the writings of Luke. It occurs over two hundred times in Paul. In fact, Jesus is called Lord in Paul over two hundred times.
Let’s look first at the secular usage, and first under that the classical usage. This is Arabic 1 in our outline: Classical Usage.
In the classical usage of the term kyrios, the idea that lay back of that word was the idea of authority. Kyrios suggested authority and authority in a number of different spheres. For example, the authority that a father had in his family was the authority of a kyrios. He could be regarded as the lord of his family, that is, he was the head of the family and had authority in his family, and so he was the kyrios.
It was the word for the master of a slave. The slave spoke of his owner as his kyrios, again the idea of authority. It was the word for the undisputed owner of property. A person could be spoken of as the kyrios of a piece of property or any kind of property. Plato uses it in that sense. It was also used of a military commander or man who made a decision in military affairs. He was spoken of as a kyrios.
I dare say that among the squad of the Dallas Cowboys, it wouldn’t be out of keeping with the usage of ancient times at all if one of them should speak of Tom Landry as the kyrios, that is, he’s the lord of the squad. And particularly, Golden Richards can speak of that with a great deal of personal, experiential entrance into the significance of the word tonight. But almost all football players sooner or later learn the things that he, of course, has had to learn. And incidentally, football coaches learn too that there is a kyrios above them usually too.
It may connote also moral authority. So it is not simply a word that is used in a material sense, but it can refer to moral authority. It is used of the sovereign authority of the state. For example, the ecclesia of the city of Athens, the assembly of Athens; the legislative body could be spoken of as the lord of Athens. So the word you see lord had a wide secular usage and associated with almost all of these usages is the idea of authority.
The Hellenistic usage is in harmony with that. In everyday speech it was the normal word of courtesy and respect in addressing an elder or a superior comparable to the English word sir. So that, when a person addresses a person today and calls him sir, the ancient term for that used by the Greek would be kyrios. Just as a Frenchman speaks to another Frenchman whom he does not know too well and addresses him as monsieur, so the Greeks addressed a person as kyrios. Or as a German speaks of an individual as Herr Schmidt or whatever it may be, Herr Schicklgruber, it would be kyrios in Greek. So the term then was a term of respect.
Finally, it became the official standard title of the Roman emperors. And this particularly pertained in the east, at least long before it pertained in the west. It was a rather gradual kind of thing, but you can see that as the tendency developed in the ancient world, particularly in the east first, to worship an emperor or a political ruler, it would be natural that they would turn to this word kyrios which suggests authority, suggests standing and address the king in that way.
But it was a word that was used in ordinary speech. One solder by the name of Apion begins his letter to his father, whose name was Epimicus, with greetings to “his father and lord.” So he addresses his father as kyrios. As we would say, he began his letter with, we would say my dear father, they would say my father and lord. And that would be the equivalent of my dear father.
There is another illustration in which Apion writes, “I thank thee Lord Serapis,” one of the idols or gods of the ancient world, “that when I was in peril on the sea, he saved me immediately.” So the idea of salvation by a lord or a god, this the god Serapis, was not unknown.
Gradually in the Roman Empire in the west, the Roman emperors came to be worshiped by the people. And finally in the days of Domitian, the rulers began to take to themselves certain titles by which divinity was suggested. Vespasian, who was the son of Domitian, when he was dying, alluding to the fact that it had become the custom for Roman Emperors to attain to divinity, said rather sarcastically I think I am becoming a god. But he said it with a little bit of humor and a great deal of sarcasm as he knew that he was dying.
Domitian, who was Vespasian’s son, liked to be called dominus et deus noster or our lord and god. And you’ll recognize that that is a title that is referred in the New Testament to the persons of the Trinity. So that what Domitian had begun to claim, and which had begun to gradually penetrate the Roman Empire, was a claim for deity.
The sacred usage of the term kyrios is the next for our consideration. In the Old Testament the word kyrios was used as a translation of the Hebrew word adon. Adon is a word that means master. And adonai really means my master. So that kyrios was the translation of the term that meant lord or master. And it is a true translation of that.
The Hebrews, however, did not feel that they could pronounce the name of the covenant-keeping God Yahweh, and so when they came to Yahweh in their texts, they ordinarily read Adonai. In other words, they read lord. They didn’t say Yahweh; that was a name that was too holy for them. This is incidentally called the tetragramaton because there’re four letters in this particular name. What it means we’re not absolutely certain about, but it probably means simply “he is.” But at any rate, they did not pronounce that. And so they would say Adonai.
It was, therefore, not to be unexpected that when the Greek translators of the Old Testament translated the Hebrew text into Greek into what we call the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, that they would use the Greek word kyrios, which means lord, which is a true translation of adon and adonai, and which was read in the reading of the text when Yahweh was approached. So kyrios came to be used not only for adon and adonai, it is a true translation of these, but it came to be a kind of expository designation of the covenant-keeping God. So in the Old Testament Greek you will read when Yahweh appears in the Hebrew text, as a general rule you will read kyrios. It is an expository equivalent, but it is not a strict translation.
Incidentally, the term kyrios or the term, yes the term kyrios in the Old Testament occurs about nine thousand times. And the great majority of these times, it is the translation of the Hebrew word Yahweh.
The idea back of this is legal authority based on the purchase out of Egypt. The reason that God could be called in the Old Testament Yahweh, or he could be called Kyrios in the Greek, is because he was the God who had purchased Israel out of Egypt through the blood that was shed on the passover night. So Israel being redeemed by blood and power became the property of this covenant-keeping God who had redeemed them. So the term kyrios then suggests legal authority and it suggests an authority because of the purchase out of Egypt. So for the Greek-speaking Jew then, when the term kyrios was used, he would think of the name for the covenant-keeping God Yahweh.
Now let’s take a look at the New Testament usage for a moment. In the New Testament the term kyrios or lord has a purely human use and also a purely divine sense.
Now I’d like for you to turn with me, if you will, to Matthew chapter 20 and verse 8, and we will notice the human sense of the term. Matthew chapter 20, verse 8, we read this. This is our Lord’s parable of the laborers in the vineyard. And we read in verse 8, “And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’” Notice the expression “the owner of the vineyard”.
Now if you have a Bible with a marginal note, you probably will see that in the margin that term translated owner here is really the term kyrios which means lord. So the owner of the vineyard, or the lord of the vineyard, is the owner of the vineyard. Now you can see from this that there is no reference to deity at all. It’s just simply a purely human use of the term lord.
Turn over to chapter 21 and verse 40. “Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” Here another use of the same type of thing, and again the term owner is the word kyrios which means lord, the lord of the vineyard. Just as we said in classical usage, the owner of property could be called the lord of the property, so here the owner of the vineyard is the lord of the vineyard.
Turn over to 1 Peter chapter 3 and verse 6. 1 Peter chapter 3 and verse 6. This is a text that I’ve called to my wife’s attention a number of times, but it has done no good. But it does, however, illustrate the point that we’re trying to make. “Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”
Now you can see that she does not mean by that that she considers Abraham to be divine. But it’s the term of respect, the term of courtesy, the kind of thing that a wife should say to her husband.
And I’ve tried, but it has not worked. She’s never called me lord up until this time. But you see the term lord actually has come to mean something more in English, and it would be wrong for her to call me lord. I wouldn’t mind, mind you, but it would be wrong if she did because it has a different connotation now. But then, the term lord meant simply a term of respect, my husband, my inhere, something like that. So, it is a term then that has a purely human sense.
When Mary Magdalene was in the garden after our Lord’s death, and she saw the gardener, that is, what she thought was the gardener, she addressed him as lord, and thus used the term in its purely human sense.
Now there is also a purely divine sense of this term in the New Testament. And let’s take a look at Luke chapter 2 and verse 9 for a fairly clear illustration of this. We read in Luke chapter 2 and verse 9, “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood between them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were terribly frightened.”
Now here of course, it is clear that the term Lord is a term that refers to the Lord God. It is a reference to the deity. The angel of the Lord and the glory of the Lord.
Look over at chapter 4 and verse 18. And there the Lord Jesus standing up in the synagogue in Nazareth, opening the book, finding the place in Isaiah chapter 61, read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.” And here the term Lord is the term kyrios but used in the divine sense.
There sometimes in the New Testament, it’s not easy to tell whether the sense is that of the human or the sense of the divine. Look back a few chapters to Matthew chapter 14 and verse 30. Now this is the incident of our Lord walking on the water. And remember, Peter also walked on the water. He got out of the boat. He walked on the water. He came to Jesus. But taking his eyes off of the Lord, he turned and looked at the wind and the waves, which were rather boisterous evidently, or at least he must have seen himself in the miracle of the walking on the water and realized that it was a fearful thing. Finally we read that he cried out saying, “Lord, save me!”
Now commentators are not really sure about this. They wonder did Peter really understand that our Lord was God when he said this. Or was he using the term simply as in the sense of respect? Sir, save me. There are places where it is very difficult to tell whether the sense is “sir” or “lord” in the full New Testament soteriological, theological sense.
I’m inclined to think, in spite of what some say, that this is an instance of Peter calling him truly Lord in the divine sense for he believes that Jesus can save him. And furthermore, when finally the Lord and he got into the boat, and the wind stopped, and they that were in the boat fell down and worshiped our Lord, they said, “You are certainly God’s Son!” So, it would seem from this that perhaps Peter, perhaps by a flash of inspiration from the Holy Spirit, does call him Lord.
In the next chapter Matthew chapter 15, we have our Lord’s contact with the Canaanite woman. And we read in verse 22 of Matthew chapter 15, “And behold a Canaanite woman came from that region and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”
Almost all of the commentators that are writing commentaries today affirm that this woman surely did not know our Lord in the sense of Lord, that is, the sense of the divine being. But again, I’m not absolutely certain that that is accurate. We go on to read in this account, “She came and began to bow down before Him, saying (in verse 25), “Lord, help me!” (And then in verse 27) But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (And the Lord commends her faith saying,) “O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.””
Now, it’s not inconceivable that she really did come again through the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand that he was truly the Lord. But there’s no question but that the word does have the sense of simply a human being, a “sir”. It has its full unquestioned sense of deity after the resurrection.
We turn now to the application of this term to Jesus. And we’re going to have to be very selective. I want you to turn, first of all, to Mark chapter 12 and verse 35 through verse 37, the passage that we looked at in our Scripture reading.
In the New Testament, the New Testament, through the authors of Scripture the apostles, applies the term kyrios to the Lord Jesus. Now in this passage in Mark chapter 12 we have read for our Scripture reading, the Lord Jesus asks a question concerning the son of David. “How is it that the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David?” And then he goes on to explain trying to put them on the horns of a dilemma. He wants them to come to realize on the basis of Psalm 110 that it’s true that David is the Lord’s son, but also, David’s son is his own Lord. ““David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet.” ’ David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?””
Now Psalm 110 was used early and constantly in Christian preaching. And that’s the psalm to which our Lord Jesus turns, Psalm 110, verse 1. We know, incidentally, that that psalm was very common because it’s quoted all through the New Testament. In fact, of all of the psalms, this is the one that is quoted most frequently in the New Testament. Almost all of the New Testament writers make reference to Psalm 110 in one way or another. So it evidently was a psalm that was constantly used by the early church.
And perhaps the use of that psalm by the early church arises out of this use of it by the Lord Jesus because they all knew that the Messiah was the son of David. But the thing that they did not fully understand in Israel at this time was that the Messiah was also David’s Lord. They understood that the Messiah would be a human Messiah. But they did not fully understand that the Messiah who would come would also be a divine Messiah. And that’s the reason he said, what about Psalm 110? That psalm says “The Lord (David is speaking) The Lord said to my Lord.”
Now they understood, of course, that the term Lord was a reference to Yahweh. But David calls this other being to whom he speaks “my Lord.” So how can you say the Messiah who is “my Lord”, how can you say that the Messiah is the son of David simply if he calls him his Lord? What he wants them to see is that he is both David’s son and David’s Lord.
Incidentally, New Testament students today of an unbelieving kind, the majority are unbelieving of course in the scholarly world, they like to say what our Lord is saying is really, he is denying the fact that he was the son of David. But that is not the point of our Lord’s words at all. He wants them to understand that the Scriptures themselves teach that the Messiah is more than simply son of David. He is also David’s Lord.
Now taking a look at these words, I want you to notice these things that are implied in our Lord’s statement and use of Psalm 110. In the first place, he sees David as the author of this psalm. Many contemporary scholars deny the Davidic authorship of this psalm. The Lord Jesus says that in Psalm 110 it is David who speaks.
Furthermore, the Lord says that “David said in the Holy Spirit.” So he acknowledges, he claims that this is a statement that comes by divine inspiration. Furthermore, you will notice that the whole of this argument depends on two words in the English text, one word in the Hebrew text, Adonai, my Lord. “The Lord said unto my Lord.” One word. So that our Lord did not hesitate to argue a case on one word.
Now that indicates that he has a high appreciation of the word of God. As a matter of fact, you could make a case for a verbal inspiration of holy Scripture from this because the argument hinges upon this one word. If we cannot rely upon the words of Scripture, the very words of Scripture, then of course our Lord’s argument would fall to the ground.
He says, of course, that he is, he does not deny that he is the son of David. But he affirms that his sonship is a divine sonship because he says “The Lord said to my Lord,” and it’s evident that he is claiming that this passage refers to him. So he refers to himself not only as David’s son but also as David’s Lord.
Now having said that, I want you to notice one final thing. This is a statement by our Lord. It’s a claim by him that he is the Lord. He doesn’t say this directly. He simply says that the Messiah is more than son of David, he’s David’s Lord. Now the other putting all of these passages together, it’s evident that that is the claim that lies back of this. But it’s not stated in so many words. He wants them to reply to that.
But look. Take a look up at the context. We read in verse 29 and 30, Jesus answered in answer to the question “What commandment is the greatest of all?” ““The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”” You see that? The great commandment is “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
Now that’s not an accident that that passage is right here just before our Lord’s questions. The juxtaposition of verse 29 and 30 with verses 36 and 37 in which he said “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I put Thine enemies beneath My feet'” David himself calls Him “Lord”; and so in what sense is He his son?’ What he’s saying is, you see, that the greatest commandment of all is this: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul.’
Who is the Lord? Well, he’s David’s son. And he also is David’s Lord. In other words, our Lord is saying here the great commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart. And then he points to himself as the Lord of David and the son of David as the one who is to be loved.
Now you can see from this that this is a tremendous claim on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the claim to be the ultimate object of worship by men.
Now let’s turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 16 and verse 22. 1 Corinthians chapter 16 and verse 22. The apostle at the conclusion of his letter to the Corinthians adds a few final words of greetings and also a doxology. He says, “The greeting (verse 21) in my own hand-Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be anathema, accursed.” And then he adds the words, “Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Look at the word “Maranatha”. What does that mean? Well, if you have a Bible with a marginal note, and you look over, you will see that it is translated at least in the one that I have, Our Lord come, or Oh Lord, come. If you look through the New Testament you will find that the earliest Christian creed was probably this: Jesus is Lord.
Look back for just a moment. I don’t want to lose all contact with chapter 16, but take your Bible and turn a few pages back to chapter 12 and verse 3 of 1 Corinthians. “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” So that, it’s likely that the earliest Christian creed was a very simple one: Jesus is Lord.
But now what they meant by that was a lot more than we mean when we say simply Jesus is divine. When they said Jesus is Lord, they meant Jesus is the Lord that we have known from the Old Testament revelation. Jesus is the covenant-keeping God who brought Israel out of the land of Egypt through the Red Sea and on into the Promised Land. In other words, Jesus is the Lord that we know from holy Scripture.
One other interesting thing about this text here, Maranatha, is that that word is Aramaic. Now the fact that it is Aramaic indicates that it probably arose in the area right around the land of Palestine. In other words, it probably is a very ancient expression. If it had been simply Greek, we might say it might have been adopted from the Hellenistic world. But the fact that it is an Aramaic expression is indicative of the fact that this idea of Jesus as Lord is something that is very deeply and anciently in the Christian tradition. It’s not something added later on. And the very fact that it is in Aramaic would tend to suggest that. In other words, it has a Palestinian origin rather than a Hellenistic origin.
This word, this is the way it appears in the Greek text, marana tha. Now that can be translated in two different ways because it can be divided in different ways. We could divide it this way, marana tha, in which case it means Oh Lord, come. This would be the imperative, tha. But we can take this a, this is an a, an alpha, and attach it to this theta, in which case we would have maran atha. Now in that case, we would have something a little different. We would have the indicative and not the imperative. And then this would mean, not Oh Lord, come, but Our Lord has come. In fact, it’s even possible, taking it as a prophetic perfect, to render it, Our Lord will come. But let’s just assume it means, for it probably does have a futuristic sense, Oh Lord, come, or the Lord comes, or our Lord comes.
Now then, you can see that the idea back of this is the idea of authority because just what has he said previously? Why, he has said, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord comes.” In other words, the coming of the Lord is the reason why we may expect the curse to be carried out. So that the formula, the Lord comes, or the Lord will come, reinforces the curse implied in anathema. “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.” And the Lord at his coming will certainly execute the proper sanctions.
Every time I look at this text I remember a story that Lehman Strauss told me. Some of you’ve heard me say it, so you’ll have to bear with me again. But Mr. Straus is one of the finest Bible teachers in the country. And he was at a Bible conference in Canada. And he was telling me this story that happened to him. And he said that in the course of one of his messages, he had preached on the Lord’s coming. And he had said that it appeared to him that the Christian church in this country had lost the vividness of the hope of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. And he went on to say to them that the early church thought so much about this, that one of their standard greetings for themselves was “Maranatha.”
There is evidence, incidentally, that this is so, that Christians when they met one another in the early days of the Christian church they greeted each other with, not hello or hi, but they greeted each other by saying “Maranatha, the Lord comes.” It came to be a kind of greeting among the Christians by which they identified themselves. So Maranatha.
And he exhorted them pretty strongly. And he also spoke pretty sharply about how we had lost our hope in the coming of the Lord. The next morning, he said, they were going down to breakfast, and he said he noticed two ladies that had been in the meeting. And they were approaching by another path and he was approaching from another direction, but he could hear them talk. And he heard one of them say, there’s Mr. Strauss. Now you keep quiet. I’m going to greet him this morning. And so she came up to Mr. Strauss as they met and she said, Good morning, Dr. Straus, Marijuana. [Laughter] Well it is Maranatha, our Lord comes. But the thing I want you notice about it is again, that it has in the back of it the idea of authority, the Lord comes.
Another text, Philippians chapter 2, verse 9 through 11. Philippians chapter 2, verse 9 through 11. This is such a great passage, Philippians chapter 2, that I hate to look at it and only say a few words about it. But later on we’re going to look at this in some detail because it is one of the very important passages in the New Testament that concerns the deity of Christ.
In Philippians chapter 2, verse 9 through verse 11, we have the doctrine of hypostatic union. Remember the word hypostatic means personal, the doctrine of the personal union of the two natures in the one person, our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is really the passage that expresses most fully the doctrine of the hypostatic union. We’ll not look at that tonight, but we’ll note simply verses 9 through 11.
Here we read, “Therefore,” in the light of what our Lord has done. He’s just said that he’s become obedient unto death and even such a death as a death of a cross, the death of a criminal. In other words, it was no common obedience and so therefore there is no common reward for the Son.
“Therefore also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” The word highly exalted is a rendering of a Greek word that occurs only here in the New Testament. We do have the word hypsoō which means to exalt in the New Testament several times. In fact, we have it in a passage in 1 Peter chapter 5, where we read in the 6th verse, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” And that is the simple word to exalt.
But this is a compound word that means to highly exalt. And isn’t it interesting that it is used only this one time and in this one time, it is used of our Lord Jesus Christ because no one so humbled himself as our Lord did at the cross and no one has been so highly exalted as our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now he says, “and has given Him a name which is above every name.” What is that name? “That at the name of Jesus”
Now some people looking at this say, well the name is Jesus that he’s bestowed upon him. No that’s not the name. That was his name. But when he says, “That at the name of Jesus” is just like he was saying “That at Jesus’ name every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What is the name that our Lord has been given? Why, it’s the name Lord. That’s the name that is above every name. The Lord. And remember when Peter concluded his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he said, “God hath made that same Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” So the name that has been given our Lord that is above every name is the name of the Lord.
A striking thing about this then is that the Lord Jesus has the same name and title that Caesar had and he said Caesar was Lord. And it is the same name that God has, or the Father has. So he is given this highly exalted position and given the name that is above every name, the name of Lord, the supreme name.
Now I want to say just a word if I. Fortunately, Believers Bible Institute does not start until next week, and then we’ll have to stop at forty-five minutes after, but I’ve a captive audience tonight. Aren’t you happy about this? We might just go on for on and on tonight. I know probably some of you are saying that’s what you’ve been doing so far.
Capital B. The Old Testament citations.
Now I want to just turn to a passage very quickly here because this is an entire series of messages rather than just a reference. I want you to turn with me to Hebrews chapter 1. And I want you to notice something that happens in the New Testament in connection with the name Lord.
Now you’ll know, I’ll say this as you’re finding Hebrews chapter 1, that the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews is the argument of this author to the effect that the Lord Jesus is greater than the angels. He has a greater name. He’s the Son and not simply a messenger. And in the course of the proof, he cites a number of passages from the Old Testament and specifically one from Psalm 102, which we’ll read about now beginning with verse 10.
“And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands; They will perish, but Thou remainest; And they all will become old as a garment, And as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; As a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end.”
Now if you have the New American Standard Bible, you can tell that this is a quotation. And it’s a quotation from Psalm 102. And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that this is a reference to the Son. Look at the 8th verse. “But of the Son He says.” And then the 10th verse he continues, “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth.” In other words, he says that Psalm 102 is a reference to the Son of God.
Now when you look back at Psalm 102, you discover this, there’s no reference to the Son of God in Psalm 102. As a matter of fact, in this very verse in Psalm 102, the word Lord is not even found. Isn’t that interesting? It’s found in the Greek translation, but it’s not found in the original Hebrew text. And yet he has said, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning,” and he’s refering to Jesus Christ. By what authority does he do that?
Some people say that the New Testament Christians just went through the Old Testament and wherever they saw the term Lord they said that was Jesus Christ without any reason. How foolish. It would be wonderful to have a course in hermeneutics by one of the apostles. And I wish it were a required course, and I had the privilege of appointing fifty leading New Testament scholars to attend it because I do think that they would learn a great deal.
Many years ago that puzzled me greatly so I went back and looked at Psalm 102. And I read that psalm over and over and over and over. And I discovered, I think, what this writer had in his mind when he referred it to Jesus Christ.
In the first place, it’s true that in the Hebrew text the word Lord is not found in verse 10. But the term occurs about seven times in the preceding context, and there’s no question but that that verse is a verse about the Lord. And the Greek translators added the term Lord because as they read it, it was about the Lord. And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews cites it because he cites from the Greek translation. The term Lord is fully justified because the Thou is the Lord. The context makes that very plain.
But now what right do we have to apply that to Jesus Christ when in the Old Testament it simply says Lord? Well, you know we believe in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, don’t we? Well, I do. I don’t know what you believe in, but I do. I believe in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. I believe that the Father is Lord, the Spirit is Lord and the Son is Lord. There is one God who subsists in three persons.
Now we know from the revelation as it unfolds in the Bible, that certain functions of certain persons of the Trinity are characteristic of that person. We know, for example, the Father begets. The Son doesn’t beget. We know the Spirit proceeds. The Father does not proceed. We know the Son is begotten. The Spirit is not begotten. But then we also know from the word of God that the Father is, so far as we can tell, never seen. In fact, he is invisible, and in Paul’s letter to Timothy in the 6th chapter, he says he cannot be seen. But in Psalm 102 we have a picture of the Lord appearing and coming to the earth to establish his kingdom.
Now if the Lord appears and comes to the earth to establish his kingdom, which one of the persons of the Trinity can that be? It cannot be the Holy Spirit. He is a Spirit. It cannot be the Father. It can only be the Son. First lesson in hermeneutics, Father and Spirit are excluded. It can only refer to the Son. That’s why he knew that Psalm 102 refer to Jesus Christ ultimately. Very simple.
But the important thing for us to note is that he attributes to him all of the authority that belongs to Yahweh. So it is not contrary to the theology of the apostles at all to say that the Lord Jesus is the Yahweh of the Old Testament. He is the covenant-keeping God.
Now that same thing is done for us in Philippians chapter 2, verse 11. I won’t turn it but when he says “That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” he’s really citing from Isaiah chapter 45 and verse 23. He’s alluding to that passage. And in the context of that passage, the one before whose knee everyone shall bow is called the Lord and he’s also called God. So again, the term Lord is a term that suggests the ultimate authority.
Well I won’t say anything about the Lord’s Supper. All I intended to indicate there was simply that kyrios was frequently used in expressions connected with the Lord’s Supper because it’s in the observance of the Lord’s Supper that we acknowledge our indebtedness and our submission to the authority and saving work of the Lord.
The significance of the usage. Just a few words by way of application for we only have four minutes left. For the person of Christ. It is evident from the use of the term Lord and from the comparison of passages in the New Testament that the same titles of honor that are given to the Father are also given to the Son. The Lord Jesus is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for example. But in 1 Timothy chapter 6, the Apostle Paul calls the Father King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So the same title that is used to describe the Father is used to describe the Son. We gather from this use of the term Lord with reference to the Lord Jesus that we can argue for his deity.
For the work of Christ. Why, it is the Lord whose death has provided the basis of the new covenant. And it is by reason of the fact that he is the Lord that his death has the significance and value that it has for us, sufficient to redeem all of those for whom he came to die and sufficient for the redemption of all, were it the purpose of God to die for them too.
And finally, for the life of the believer. The authority of the Lord is the final standard of our responsibility for the present and for the future. The apostle writes in Romans chapter 14 and verse 8 and verse 9 some words that are I think to the point here. I’ll read them quickly for you. He says, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
When Thomas finally came before our Lord Jesus Christ and bowed before him and said, “My Lord and my God,” he was affirming the ultimate significance of the use of the term Lord for Jesus Christ. That is, that since he is Lord, he should have total submission and obedience. As far as the future is concerned, he’s the one who is to come and to come as Lord, and he will render the judgment that is due and the rewards as well.
Let me close by saying this. John Burnaby has written a little book on the Nicene Creed. And in it he speaks of the Lord Jesus using the term Lord of him in the sense of the plenipotentiary of God. Now plenipotentiary is a person who is given full authority to act as the representative of a government. He is an ambassador.
What would you think of that? Would you think the Lord Jesus is the plenipotentiary of God? Is he an ambassador of God? No, no. That’s the view of the Arians who did not realize that our Lord was truly God. We need more. We need neither a perfect prophet like the Socinians would have us have, nor a plenipotentiary as the Arians would have. But we need a supernal man, the Lord from heaven as the Apostle Paul puts it. No mere man nor any superman can do the job of redemption for us.
Is this an infringement of monotheism to have the Father Lord, the Spirit Lord, the Son Lord? No, it’s a confirmation of the monotheism. It is the Father who has exalted our Lord to the Lordship that he possesses.
You know, the early Christians were faced with a very difficult task. Later in the history of the Christian church and the history of the Roman Empire, when the Roman emperors, such as Domitian, came to be regarded as Lord and God, the Romans saw that this would be a wonderful way to unite the empire. And so they laid down a law. And the law was this, that every Roman, every Roman citizen should come to a certain place once a year. They had different places to which they were to come. And they were to take a pinch of incense and they were to burn it and they were to say “Caesar is Lord.” And so doing, they would unite in that at least. The Romans didn’t care what God they worshiped after they did that. But they wanted them to come, demanded of them that they come and burn that incense and say, “Caesar is Lord.” But you know that was the one thing that a Christian could not do. He could never say “Caesar is Lord.” And so as a result of that, some of the greatest of the persecutions took place for those Christians knew and they believed that Jesus was the Lord. And they knew that in the profession of the Lord Jesus as Lord, they were glorifying God.
Isn’t it interesting that in that passage in Philippians where he says, “And gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
In other words, when men, all men gather around, the lost and the saved in the ultimate, and when they all bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ and say Jesus is Lord, acknowledging him as the supreme being of the universe, God is glorified in it, “To the glory of God the Father.” Don’t ever think for one moment that the Father is not interested in the supreme dignity of the Son of God. And he is most honored in his dignity as Lord when we submit to him, when we obey his word, when we keep his commandments. May God help us not simply to know that he’s the Lord, that’s great, that’s the first step, but to really have him as Lord of our lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s close in a word of prayer.
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