Master - "Kathagathas"
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's second letter to Timothy, chapter 2. We want to begin reading with the paragraph that begins with verse 19:

II Timothy 2

19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

Let us notice especially verse 21:

II Timothy 2

21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

Circle in your thinking the word master in verse 21, as we have a word or two of review. You will keep in mind that we have been thinking about the names of God. We have found there were three basic names: Jehovah , Elohim , and Adonai . We pointed out to you that two of those names, Jehovah and Adonai , were added to other words and made many compound names of God. The words which were added to those names, of course, describe certain characteristics of God Himself. Then we told you the word Adonai , literally translated Master , is an Old Testament name that is frequently applied to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. We told you that this Hebrew word Adonai , which is translated Master , takes about seven Greek words to adequately explain so that in the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ is addressed in terms of the word Master . But seven definite Greek words are used to explain that one word Master , and we said we were going to look at them.

In our last lesson, we looked at one of those Greek words which is used most frequently. It is the Greek word Kurois , and it is translated Lord, the idea being Master . It is translated Master as well.

Absolute Ownership Over Individuals

Today we want to look at another word for Master , which is translated by the word Master in verse 21 of II Timothy, chapter 2. The Greek word we want to consider today is the word Despotes . If you were spelling that with its English equivalent, you would be spelling it Despotays , and if you are thinking and putting two and two together, as I trust you are, you will realize that it is from this Greek word that we get our word despot , and you will recognize immediately what the meaning of the word is. It is one who has absolute control and absolute ownership over the individuals.

Those of you who are familiar with history know that in times past, certain reigning monarchs have been referred to as benevolent despots . The idea is that they had absolute control and absolute charge over the subjects of their kingdom, and at least they thought they were providing the subjects of their kingdom with kindness and protection. It's quite beside the point that the subjects themselves didn't always think so. The despots thought so.

Of course, we are encouraged, as we are thinking about our Lord Jesus Christ under this name Despotes , that He is indeed the benevolent Despot. He does have complete control of our lives. Perhaps I should change that and say that He should have complete control of our lives, and He has such control and such interest because He is looking out for our best interest.

I would like for us to examine this word as it is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ in a number of different passages of Scripture. The very context in which these verses are found will illustrate the meaning of the word. You are going to notice as we look at these passages of Scripture that the word Master isn't used, nor is the word Despot used. The word Lord is used, and it is the word that begins with a capital L and the other letters are small. We have told you that the translators have followed that procedure of translating the word Master by this word Lord , so as far as translation procedures are concerned, they are not out of line; but they have not indicated the true meaning of the word by using simply the word Lord . That's the reason we want to look at these passages of Scripture, so that you might be able to see them and be reminded again that our Lord Jesus Christ is one who has absolute ownership and uncontrolled power over our lives.

Turn, please, to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2. We will begin to read with verse 21:

Luke 2

21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

The Greek word from which that word Lord comes, is the word Kurois , at which we looked in our last lesson. Verse 23:

Luke 2

23(As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

“Holy to the [Despotes ],” for that is the meaning of the word there. Look at verses 24-32:

Luke 2

24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

If you will glance back at verse 29 at the word Lord , you find that it is a translation of this Greek word that we are thinking about today, the word Despotes . You will find this word mentioned twice in this one paragraph—in verse 23 and again in verse 29. If you are thinking today, you will notice that in each instance it is used in connection with the ownership and uncontrolled power of the individual life.

Once again we have an illustration of the verbal inspiration of the Bible. Why was it that God, through the prophet Moses, had commanded that every firstborn child, when he was eight days of age, be brought to the temple for the purification ceremony, the parents bringing along the turtle doves and the lambs, etc? Why did God do this? Why did God command it? A careful study of the Levitical law will reveal that He did it to signify once and for all and forever that that child, every child, every animal, every beast that opened the womb belonged to God. Isn't it interesting that when the Spirit of God was recording this He should use this particular name for the Lord Jesus Christ? He is the one who has absolute control of the individual, one who has uncontrolled power over the individual.

Days of Life Numbered

Notice again the accuracy of the Scripture in verse 29. Simeon had lived by the grace of God in the temple for many years, and he recognized that he was living not on borrowed time, but by the permission of God, because God had told him that he would live until his eyes looked upon the Son of God. And so when this little one was held in his arms, Simeon said, in verse 29:

Luke 2

29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

Lord here is Despotes . You see, he recognized that God had absolute control, even over the number of days of his life, that it was God who said, “Thou shalt live thus far; nothing can hurt you. You will live until your eyes fasten upon the Son of the living God.”

Though God has not made any distinct and definite promise to any of us, I suppose, related to any certain event, we need to generally recognize that God has control of our lives, that God has ordained the number of our days that we are going to live, and it is only God who has a right to cut them short in any fashion. Sometimes God does cut them short. Sometimes because we are disobedient, sometimes because we are not doing that which is pleasing to the Lord, he cuts our days short. Sometimes it is because we, like Hezekiah, feel that though God has called us, we are not ready to leave. We plead with him, and God grants us an extension of days, but the days are in His hands. As the Psalmist has said, “My times are in Thy hands,” and they are. That is the reason the Psalmist said, “So teach us to number our days that we might apply our hearts unto wisdom.” He was not praying an aimless prayer that had no certain connection with anything. He recognized that God had allotted to him a certain number of days, and therefore he should be very careful to make good use of every one of the days that were his.

I wonder what a difference there would be in our lives today, if we would recognize that our days are numbered. Of course, most of us don't. Sometimes the doctor, you know, calls us in and says, “Your days are numbered. You can only live weeks, three months, a year.” My, how energetic we get then! There are certain things we want to do before we are through, and we try to cram into three weeks or a year or whatever the case may be, what we wanted to do all our lives but never got around to doing. Well, the doctor may say that, but many times he is wrong; many times he isn't, but God has numbered our days, and every one of us ought to recognize that fact. Simeon did, and that is the reason he referred to the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord , Despotes , “one who has uncontrolled power over the individual life.”

In Control of the World

Turn with me, please, to chapter 4 of the Acts, as we see in this chapter, how again our Lord Jesus Christ is addressed by this particular name. You will recognize this as the record of the preaching of Peter and John when they were arrested and threatened with real trouble if they dared to preach again. Look at verses 18-20:

Acts 4

18And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

I have always loved that verse. If you have heard something, you are going to have to tell it. The reason most of us don't have anything to say is that we haven't heard very much.

Acts 4

20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
21So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
22For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

Now notice verse 23 particularly:

Acts 4

23And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
24And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, [Despotes] thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
25Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
26The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ [against Adonai and His Christ] .
27For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
28For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
29And now, Lord, [Despotes] behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Let's stop right there, because I think we've read enough. Twice in this paragraph we find this one word Despotes . Notice the setting in which it is found. Here they were, two lone children of God, frightened, discouraged, and not knowing which way to turn. The authorities were saying, “Don't open your mouth again in the name of Jesus.” What could they do, two lone men against the whole Roman Empire? They couldn't do anything, but they knew somebody who could, and so they went to the Lord, the one who had complete control, the one who had complete ownership, the benevolent Despot, and said, “Now Lord, you have charge of things; we don't. Nothing we can do, but Lord you made the Heavens and you made the earth. Lord,” and they quoted Psalm 2, “you even laugh at the kings of the earth when they rage against you, and you keep them in their place without any trouble. Now, Lord, take charge of this situation for us. You have control of the world, control of men, you have control of our lives. We belong to you. This is your responsibility.”

Benevolent despots, in times past in history, felt that each subject in their kingdom was their personal responsibility, and they felt like it was their responsibility to see to the needs of their subjects. They felt that any attacks against any of their subjects was an attack against them, and that is the thought that is presented here in this passage of Scripture.

Persecuting the Body of Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ is our benevolent Despot, and He is troubled much by the attacks against His children. You remember in the Acts, chapter 9, when our benevolent Despot, the Lord Jesus Christ, was dealing with the Apostle Paul, He said to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And he had to stop and think, “When did I ever do anyting against you?” Then he remembered that he was persecuting the Body of Christ; he was persecuting the Church of Christ, and in so doing was persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Again you remember how in chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew, when the nations are judged for their treatment of the Jews, he reminds them, “If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.” Isn't it wonderful to know that we are not alone in any of this? Isn't it wonderful to know that if the world and the Devil does anything against us, they have our Master to deal with?

Many, many times, you have had that experience, or heard that phraseology in ordinary realms of speaking, when someone will say, “Now I want you to know, if you do anything against that boy, you are going to have to deal with me.” That's been used over and over again. That's what our Lord Jesus said. Our benevolent Despot says, “If you do anything against Joe Temple, I want you to know that you are going to have to deal with Me about it, because I have control of his life, and I own him, and whatever you do to him, you are doing against Me.”

Let's hurry on, as we look over at the second epistle of Peter, chapter 2, and you will notice verse 1. The chapter is dealing with those who were called false prophets. Peter, in describing these false prophets, emphasizes that their sin was not so much the message they delivered and the liberality of their theological viewpoint, but what they were saying was a personal affront against the benevolent Despot. That is the reason it couldn't be tolerated.

II Peter 2

1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

You'll notice in this first verse the word Lord . It is the translation of the word Despotes , and Peter is saying that it is bad enough for these false teachers to bring in damnable heresies, but worse than that, they are denying the Lord who bought them. They are denying the Lord who owns them. They are denying the Lord who has absolute control over their lives. The Bible says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and God never looks upon rebellion lightly, whether it is on the part of the unsaved or whether it is on the part of the believer. It is a serious thing to rebel against God, because the Lord Jesus Christ looks upon Himself as our benevolent Despot. He owns us, controls us, and He is not willing that anybody try to take that authority away from Him.

Turn to the epistle of Jude, and notice in verse 4:


4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

You find the word Lord twice in this paragraph. The second time, it is the word that we looked at in our last lesson, Kurois ; but the first time, it's the word that we are looking at today, Despotes . Notice, “denying the only Lord,” and you can leave out the word God because it's not in the original text, “denying the only benevolent Despot any of us know, denying the only one that has absolute control over our hearts and over our lives.”

Submission to His Power

One last verse I leave with you with very little comment. Turn, please, to the book of Revelation, chapter 6. In this chapter, the veil is drawn back from the heavenly scene and we see a lot of martyrs, people who have died for their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. They recognize that it is the time of God's judgment upon the earth, and they are saying, “Lord, when are you going to take vengeance upon the people that have persecuted us? When are you going to take vengeance upon the people that have taken our lives?” He gives them the answer. You will find this passage of Scripture in Revelation, chapter 6, verse 9:

Revelation 6

9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

You will notice the word Lord there. It's our word Despotes . “Lord, you own the world; you own everything that is in it. You have uncontrolled power over it. Why don't you exercise it now in relation to those who have caused our death?”

These verses of Scripture should help us to realize today that when we address our Lord Jesus Christ as Lord , we are at least saying with our lips, if not with our lives, that He owns us, every inch of us, and that He has uncontrolled power in our lives. If we will yield to that power today, if we will submit to it, it will make a tremendous difference in our lives.

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