The names of Jesus in the book of revelation – Part 5
“The Lord” came to be used as a simple yet profound designation of Christ in Luke and Acts.
“The Lord Jesus” was used frequently in Acts as well (4:33) to speak of faith in Christ as Lord (16:31) and to identify baptism as being in the name of the Lord Jesus (8:16; 19:5). The phrase “Jesus is Lord” evidently was the earliest Christian confession of faith. In Acts 2:36; Peter declared that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ.
Paul often used a fuller phrase to speak of Jesus’ Lordship, “the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is significant that he used this in conjunction with the mention of God the Father and the Holy Spirit (1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Cor. 13:14). At other times, Paul used the simpler formulas “the Lord Jesus” (2 Thes. 1:7) or “our Lord Jesus” (1 Thes. 3:13). In contrast to the many false gods and lords of pagans, there is for Christians one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 8:5-6). Paul was certainly familiar with the early confession “Jesus is Lord” because he averred in 1 Cor. 12:3 that “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” The word is used often in connection with the hope of Christ’s second coming (Phil. 3:20; 4:5; 1 Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20).
In Revelation, the title “Lord” has another connotation. The emperors demanded to be called “lord,” and one emperor, Domitian, even issued a decree that began: “Our lord and god commands.” John declared that such titles were blasphemous, and that Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is the only emperor whom Christians can recognise (Rev. 19:16).
Second Peter 2:1 and Jude 4 speak of Jesus as despotes, “Master.” It carries a more emphatic stress on the sovereignty of Jesus as Lord. Interestingly the same word is used to address God in Luke 2:29 and Acts 4:24. Revelation 6:10 also uses this term to address Jesus as the One, Who will avenge the martyrs’ blood.
To an early Christian accustomed to reading the OT, the word “Lord,” when used of Jesus, would suggest His identification with the God of the OT. Contrary to some scholars, who believe that the title was borrowed from pagan cults, the evidence of Acts, Corinthians, and Revelation shows that it belongs to the very earliest stratum of Christian confession. The crucified, resurrected Jesus is the Lord, Who will give back to the Father the judged and redeemed world (1 Cor. 15:28), and He is the eternal Lord over all humanity (Rom. 14:9).
Humans as Lord The Hebrew word adon is used more than 300 times in the OT to refer to human masters or as a term of respect for someone of equal rank and status. Adon is used of the owner of slaves (Gen. 24:14,27; 39:2,7, rendered “master”), of kings as the lords of their subjects (Isa. 26: 13, “master”), and of a husband as lord of the wife (Gen. 18:12).
In the NT the Greek kurios is used to designate one who exercises authority over another person. It also serves as a term of respectful address (Matt. 21:29-30; Acts 25:26). The term kurios (Lord) is also a title of honour sometimes rendered “sir” and is expressive of the respect and reverence with which servants salute their masters (Matt. 13:27; Luke 13:8; 14:22). It is employed by a son in addressing his father (Matt. 21:30); by citizens toward magistrates (27:63); by anyone wishing to honour a man of distinction (8:2,6,8; 15:27; Mark 7:28; Luke 5:12); by the disciples in saluting Jesus, their teacher and master (Matt 8:25; 16:22; Luke 9:54; John 11:12).
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