Elohim - Kurios
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22. We are going to read the paragraph which begins with verse 41:

Matthew 22

41While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.
43He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
44The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
45If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
46And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

I would like for you to notice with me verse 44 of this chapter:

Matthew 22

44The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

I would like for you to notice how the two words Lord are spelled in that verse; and after we point that out to you, I would like for you to keep it in mind until we say a few other things.

You will notice in verse 44, the first word LORD is spelled with all letters capitalized. The second word Lord is spelled with only the first letter capitalized.

We have been studying together for some weeks the names of God. We found in the Old Testament that there were three basic names of God: Elohim , which is translated in our Bible by the word God ; Jehovah , which is translated in our Bible by the word LORD with every letter capitalized; and then the name Adonai , which is translated in our Bible by the word Lord with just the first letter capitalized. We have looked at the name Jehovah and the compound names of Jehovah . We have looked at the name Elohim and the compound names of Elohim . The last name at which we looked was Adonai , which we suggested to you is indicated in our translation by the word Lord , with only the first letter capitalized, but which actually means “Master,” recognizing the lordship of God in our lives in a very special way.

After we considered that in our last lesson, we pointed out to you that the Hebrew name Adonai , the English word Master , is the word or the name that is used most frequently in the New Testament concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is addressed by the name Master more frequently than any other title in the New Testament. We said that the English word Master is a translation of this Old Testament word Adonai . However, we are going to discover as we pursue this study that there are seven different Greek words which are translated Master in the New Testament and addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are going to look at one of them today, the Greek word Kurios , which is translated in the text that we have read to you by the word Lord and is translated by the second Lord of verse 44. “The LORD said unto my Lord,” or the LORD Jehovah said unto my Kurios , “Master, sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

That we are pursuing the right line of thinking is indicated by an examination of the Septuagint version of the Bible. You will keep in mind that we have referred frequently to the Septuagint version of the Word, because it is impossible to adequately study the Word without making some reference to it. The Septuagint version of the Bible is the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek by seventy Greek scholars. That's how it gets it's name, the Septuagint version. It is an interesting parallel study to notice the Greek words that were selected by the seventy scholars to translate the Hebrew words.

A moment ago we referred to the Hebrew word, Adonai , which means “Master.” When these seventy Greek scholars translated the Old Testament into Greek, they selected the word that we are thinking about in this lesson as an adequate translation of the word Adonai , so we recognize immediately that this is another title of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Significance of the Word Lord

What does it mean just to use the word Lord ? Just to refer to the word Lord , does not have any special significance, because most of us have addressed the Lord Jesus Christ in this manner without thinking about everything that is involved when we call him Lord . For example, the Holy Spirit of God said, through the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, that “no man can call Jesus Christ Lord [No man can call Jesus Christ Kurios ] save by the Holy Spirit,” which means that only as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the life and changes the old nature is it possible for a human being to call Jesus Christ Lord .

Surely you realize that He wasn't talking about the mere voicing of the word. An unsaved man could use the word Lord , so he wasn't talking about the mere voicing of the word. The Holy Spirit was talking about calling Jesus Christ Lord with all of its significance.

What does it mean, then, when we call Him Lord ? One of the easiest ways to determine the meaning of any word is to examine the way it is used in other places in the New Testament. When we do that, we are able to determine exactly what the Holy Spirit of God had in mind when He used the word. I want us to notice together several places in the Word where this word Kurios is used and notice the manner in which it is translated. In so doing, I think, we will be able to understand what we mean when we say “No man can truly call Jesus Christ Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

Recognizing the Ownership of Christ

Turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 19. You will notice the paragraph which begins with verse 28:

Luke 19

28And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
29And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
30Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
31And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
32And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
33And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
34And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
35And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

That is far as we are going to read because our primary interest in this lesson is not in the actual story, but in the words and in the way they are used. You will notice that the word Lord with the first letter capitalized, all the other letters small letters, is mentioned twice in this Scripture. It is the translation of the Greek word Kurios . But look down at verse 33, and notice:

Luke 19

33And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?

Notice the word owner . It is a translation of this same Greek word Kurios . So actually if you were reading this in the original text, you would find the word Kurios in verse 31, you would find the word Kurios in verse 33, and you would find the word Kurios in verse 34, which helps us to understand what this Greek word means. What does it mean? It means “owners.” What does it signify? It signifies ownership. Need I make any detail comments on this today? If by the Holy Spirit of God, you call Jesus Christ Lord , you are recognizing the ownership of the Lord Jesus Christ of your life. Remember the Apostle Paul said that only by the Holy Spirit would that be a possibility. Only as the Holy Spirit takes complete control of the life is it going to be possible for you to call Jesus Christ Lord —Jesus Christ, “owner of my life.”

That this might be amplified a bit, I would suggest that we go to chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles, where we will find this word Lord which has been translated “owner,” also translated with the same word that this Old Testament word Adonai has been translated by, mainly “Master.” Of course you are recognizing that the translations of these words are not related primarily to the Lord Jesus Christ in these explanations, but to ordinary, everyday people, which emphasizes such is the meaning of the word.

Complete Servitude to Christ

If you have your Bibles opened to Acts 16, you realize there is a story here concerning the Apostle Paul and the city of Philippi and his relationship to a little slave girl who was possessed with demons. You will remember that the Apostle cast the demons out of the little girl and ruined the business of fortune-telling in that particular city. Notice down in verse 16:

Acts 16

16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
19And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
20And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

We will stop our reading right there because once again we are not interested in the details of the story today, only in the use of the word. Notice, in verse 16, the word masters . Here was a little girl who brought her masters much gain, and then in verse 19, her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone. The word masters here is a translation of this Greek word Kurios . Think with me for a moment and see the significance of what it means when we call the Lord Jesus Christ Lord by the Holy Spirit. Here was a little girl, held in abject slavery by these men. She had no choice about anything she did. She did what they said to do. That is the meaning of the word. When we, by the Holy Spirit, call the Lord Jesus Christ Lord , then we are recognizing His complete ownership of our lives. We are recognizing our complete servitude to Him.

The Sovereignty of Christ

Many, many people recognize Jesus Christ as Savior, who do not recognize Him as Lord and hence, they miss a great blessing in their lives.

Turn with me, please, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12, and notice verses 1-9:

Matthew 12

1At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
3But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
5Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
6But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
7But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
8For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
9And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

We will stop our reading there, calling your attention particularly to verse 8, where we read:

Matthew 12

8For the Son of man [that's Jesus Christ] is Lord even of the sabbath day.

You will notice the word Lord there, which is a translation of our Greek word Kurios and tells us that Jesus Christ is above and beyond every regulation, every law, every custom, every tradition. The Jews had certain regulations and customs related to the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, and they could not understand how this Jesus of Nazareth could do what He did when there was a violation of the custom involved. And He reminded them that He was the Lord of the Sabbath, that He had complete sovereign rights over that day or any other day, which should help us to understand what we are talking about today when we say that only by the Holy Spirit can we call Jesus Christ Lord . Only as the Holy Spirit deals with our lives and changes our stubborn will can we truly recognize Him as the Sovereign of our lives. He has a right to ride rough-shod over any idea that we may have and any desire we have or any inclination that may be ours.

I trust, as we think about this word, we will realize that it is one thing to voice the word Lord ; it's quite another thing to have the experience that backs up that particular word.

Jesus' Example of Service

Turn with me, please, in your Bibles to the Gospel of John, chapter 13, in which we will find yet another illustration of this same Greek word, which will help us to understand what we are talking about when we use the word. In chapter 13 of John, there is the experience in the upper room when the Lord Jesus Christ washed the feet of the disciples. You remember how Peter did not want to enter into that, and the Lord Jesus Christ told him it was necessary, and then Peter was quite willing to follow through with what the Lord had in mind. After the Lord Jesus Christ finished this act of washing the disciples' feet, in verse 12:

John 13

12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

If we are to understand verse 13, we are going to have to anticipate ourselves just a little, because in verse 13, there are two words which are used in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ in relation to the subject of the mastery of Christ in our lives. “Call me Master.” That is an entirely different Greek word than the one we noticed in chapter 16 of the Acts, when we spoke of the masters of the little slave girl. And then we notice the word Lord in verse 13. That is a translation of the word which we are studying, the word Kurios . We will be looking at this word that is translated “Master” another day, Lord willing, but the thing that I want you to notice about this particular verse is that the Lord Jesus Christ said, “You call me Master, and you call me Lord. You are exactly right, because I am; but if you are going to use those titles in relation to Me, then you should learn to back up the use of the words with the acts of your life, because I have left an example for you to follow, and you should follow.”

What was the example that the Lord Jesus Christ left in this particular instance? The example of service. Not one of these disciples were willing to take the lowly place of the servant and wash the feet of the disciples in that upper room that day, so the Lord Jesus Christ girded Himself with a towel and did what they ought to have done and left them an example, that no individual who calls the Lord Jesus Christ Lord should never think any task is too lowly for him to do.

You may be saved and recognize Jesus Christ as Savior and go to Heaven without taking any lowly place of servitude. You may say, “That's too low for me to do, and that's too insignificant, and I'm not going to do it; I refuse to do it,” and the Lord will take you right on into Heaven, because you don't go to Heaven on the basis of what you do. You go to Heaven on the basis of what He has done. But you will never know Him as Lord of your life, you will never know Him in this deep intimate experience that I am speaking about today, made possible only by the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, until you are willing to take whatever lowly place of servitude He may design for you.

There are some groups of people today who wash one another's feet because they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted this ordinance at this particular time. I would not advocate that as an ordinance, because I think a careful examination of the Scripture will reveal that He did not intend it to be an ordinance. But I would suggest that until you and I get to the place where we are willing, spiritually speaking, to wash the saints' feet, we will never be able to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord.

Only One Master

Turn with me, please, in your Bibles, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, and you will notice verse 24, where the crux of the matter is summarized in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ:

Matthew 6

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Notice in that verse the word Master . It is the translation of the Greek word about which we are speaking, Kurios . What is He saying? There can only be one Master in your life—Mammon or Christ. Mammon stands not only for money; it stands for everything material, and He is saying here that either He is going to be the Lord of your life, or every materialistic thing that you know about is going to rule your life. No man is free. May we remember that today. No man is free. Oh, how we boast about our freedom, but we are not free. The Lord is either the Master of our lives, or mammon is the master of our lives. How much happier we could all be if through the power of the Holy Spirit we could recognize Jesus Christ as Lord.

A Title for Rulers

One last thing I would leave with you. If you will turn in your Bibles, please, to chapter 25 of the Acts of the Apostles, you will recognize that this is the testimony of the Apostle Paul before King Agrippa when he was pleading for life. We begin to read with verse 24:

Acts 25

24And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
25But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
26Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
27For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Notice in verse 26 the word lord . Notice to whom the word is addressed. It is addressed to King Agrippa. And so as we follow through with the meaning of this word LordKurios —we find that it is not only related to ownership, it is not only related to mastery, it is related to kings and emperors because it is a word to describe kings and emperors.

Conclusion

Turn with me to the book of Revelation, chapter 17, and we will tie all of this together with the use indicated in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice in verse 14:

Revelation 17

14These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

These words apply to the Lord Jesus Christ, as you well recognize; and you will notice right in the midst of the verse, the statement, “For He is Lord of lords.” He is Kurios of kurios. He is Lord of lords, and that is what He must be to you and to me if we are to enjoy complete fellowship with Him.

I trust today that when we call Jesus Christ Lord , we will recognize His ownership in our lives, His mastery of our experience, His sovereignty of our thoughts, and His rule in our lives.


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