We know that the Greek word for Lord is κύριος which is transliterated into English as kurios, but, as we will see, it has many other meanings. Let us take a look at a verse in 1 Corinthians where it is Lord:
1 Corinthians 1:2 (NIV)1
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ [Christos] Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord [kurios] Jesus Christ [Christos]—their Lord [not in Greek text] and ours:
We see Lord used in this part of the verse: “…the name of our Lord [kurios] Jesus Christ….” My point is that Jesus is rightly called Lord, many times throughout the Christian Scriptures, but not everywhere. No version handles it correctly throughout, but we will check the New International Version, because it handles it right more than it does wrong. Please do not think I am arrogant in what I am saying, because the Bible, in the context will prove my point.
We in “Living Love with Jesus” are people who never stop studying, and therefore we are willing to revise something we have previously put out. With that said, let us do a brief word study and consider the word “Lord” in the Christian Scriptures. As I said, it is the Greek word κύριος which is transliterated into the English as kurios. We will look at a few places where it is not translated as “Lord.” Before I get to the heart of what I would like for you to see, take a look at the following verse:
Matthew 20:8 (NIV)
“When evening came, the owner [kurios] of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
Here in the NIV, we see that the word kurios is not always translated “Lord,” and there are other verses handled this way [note the KJV says “Lord,” as many versions do, but there are an equal number who translate it “owner”]:
Mark 13:35 (NIV)
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner [kurios] of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.
Once again, we see that kurios is not translated “Lord,” but “owner.” I am not going to show you every use of kurios, but here is another one, where it is translated other than “Lord” or “owner”:
Matthew 10:24 (NIV)
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master [kurios].
Here we see a slave owner referred to as a “master” [kurios], again not translated Lord, though it could be, and is in the KJV. Now consider the following verse:
1 Peter 3:6 (NIV)
like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master [kurios]. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Besides “owner” and “master,” kurios is also translated as “sir,” and here are a couple examples:
Matthew 21:30 (NIV)
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir [kurios],’ but he did not go.
Matthew 27:63 (NIV)
“Sir [kurios],” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
We have seen: “Lord,” “owner,” “master,” and “sir,” and there is yet a fifth way kurios is translated:
Acts 25:26 (NIV)
But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty [kurios] about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write.
Here the context is referring to the Roman Emperor, but he could have been called “Lord,” as he was considered a god by the Romans.
So the NIV renders kurios in four ways besides “Lord.” Could any of those be used to describe Jesus? I believe so. During Christ’s Millennial Reign, there will be kings who call him “your Majesty.” Since his followers called themselves the Lord’s servants, would they not have called him “Master”? And would they not, out of respect, have called him “Sir”? Now we are ready to look at the heart of this topic.
If you have read the book: “One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith,” you know that when Jesus was on the Earth, he did not flaunt the fact that he was Lord or Christ. With that in mind, let us look at some Scriptures.
Matthew 16:13–17 and 20 (NIV)
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
So Jesus warned them not to tell anyone he was Christ.
Mark 8:27–30 (NIV)
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around [location] Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Again Jesus warned them do not tell anyone about him. Now Christ is in the verses, but if Jesus would not want people to know he was the Christ, I doubt he would want them calling him Lord, the two would be tied together. Also in all the records of Jesus reproving or correcting his disciples, was he in the habit of saying things more than once before they usually got it? Once he taught them, they would obey his teaching. We have seen two records of Jesus telling them not to tell anyone. Usually they would listen. Look at this one, which took place on a mountain, where he says not to tell a third time:
Luke 9:18–21 (NIV)
18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” 20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.
Again we have Jesus telling them “…not to tell this to anyone.” I think he meant what he said when it says: “Jesus strictly warned them.” Other than the woman at the well, I see no record of Jesus ever saying to someone, “I am the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord, follow me!” He let his words and his actions speak for who he was. In Matthew he stated: “‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” This would indicate that prior to that time, he had not specifically told them that he was the Messiah, the Christ, or even the Lord!
If, prior to the above records in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus never told his disciples that he was the Messiah [the Christ], and then told them in each record not to tell anyone, then when his disciples were calling him kurios, before these records and afterward, then how were they actually addressing him? They must have been calling him “Sir” or “Master,” and I think we can see that from the context, something I believe Bible translators should be more aware of.
There is more to be done on this topic, but allow me to leave you with this: on the day of Pentecost, when Peter stood up to proclaim the truth of God’s wonderful Word, he made an earthshaking, first time, declaration, and this is it:
Acts 2:36 (NIV)
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord [kurios] and Christ.”
“God has made this Jesus, both Lord [kurios] and Christ” If God made him those things, then he was not Lord and Christ before God did that. Jesus was not born as “the Lord or the Christ.” Rather, he had to earn those titles by living a sinless life, all the way through the Cross, and laying down his life for mankind. His Resurrection, Ascension, and exaltation at the right hand of God proved to his followers, and to the world, that he was the Son of God, the promised Messiah to Israel, and the “Lord” to whom God has given functional equality so that he can one day restore Paradise to its original glory.
Acts 17:31 (NIV)
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
Our Lord, the Christ was appointed to judge the world, and the proof was being raised from the dead. Consider the following verses, which express this same basic truth:
Romans 1:4 (NIV)
and who through the Spirit [spirit] of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God [text can read, according to NIV Study Bible: was appointed to be the Son of God with power] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus was appointed, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. This tells us, that for Jesus to become Christ and Lord, he had to be raised first. Look at this next verse.
Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
I cannot say it any better than those verses: “…was appointed to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord,” and “…After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Now the risen Christ is the Head of the Church, his Body, of which each of us is a member in particular. We were saved by confessing Jesus as “Lord” (our Boss), and we are to daily “…sanctify the Christ as Lord…(1 Pet. 3:15 NASB2) so as to obey him and effectively carry on the mission that he began.
We can today call Jesus Lord and Christ, but the believers who were very close to him [the Twelve] knew who he would become, yet had to keep their mouths shut. It was after he was raised from the dead, that he became Lord and Christ, but I am sure, it was Peter’s proclamation on Pentecost that rocked Satan and everyone else, especially Israel, when he stated:
Acts 2:36 (NIV)
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
1. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible New International Version®, NIV®, © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.