I. Paul Gave Jesus a God-Title

By Em Sumaway

That is, he referred to Him as “Lord.” It is true, of course, that kyrios was used with different meanings in different contexts. Sometimes it meant no more than “master” or “sir,” as when Mary Magdalene thought the risen Jesus was the gardener (Jn. 20:15) and when the priests asked Pilate to have the tomb made secure (Matt. 27:62-63). But when used by Jesus’ disciples in relation to him, kyrios was more than a polite form of address; it was a title, as when they called him “the Lord Jesus” or “the Lord Jesus Christ.” This becomes clear against the background of the OT.

When the OT came to be translated into Greek in Alexandria about 200 BC, the devout Jewish scholars did not know how to handle the sacred name, Jehovah. They were very reserved or restrained to pronounce it. They did not feel free to translate or even to transliterate it. So they put the paraphrase ho kyrios instead, which is why “Jehovah” still appears in most English versions as “the Lord.” Lovers of biblical numerology may like to know that it occurs 6,156 times in the Septuagint. What is truly amazing is that the followers of Jesus, knowing that at least in Jewish circles ho kyrios was the traditional title for Jehovah, Creator of the universe and covenant God of Israel, did not hesitate to apply the same title to Jesus, or see any anomaly doing so. It was tantamount to saying that “Jesus is God.”

The Lord Jesus while He was here on earth positively laid claim to deity. This is clear from the fact that the Jews reproached Him with two accusations: first, that He placed God on par with Himself; and second, that He made Himself God. Jesus is God. Jesus Himself said so. Years later after His ascension, the apostle Paul preached the same theology by giving Him the title which God alone deserves.

It is also noteworthy that the NT writers did not argue the rightness of making the daring identification that Jesus is God. There was no need for them to do so. Paul, at one point, needed to defend the doctrine of justification by grace through faith because it was being challenged. But he did not debate the divine lordship of Jesus, which must mean that it was not being disputed. So already, within a few years of the death and resurrection of Jesus, His deity was part of the universal faith of the church.

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