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Lord (Christ)

See also Jesus Christ

LORD (CHRIST) (יהוה, H3378, אֲדֹנָ֕י; Aram.: אָדוֹן, H123, מָר; ὁ κὐριος, Lord, master).

The Gr. word for lord (kyrios), like its Heb. counterpart (adônai), embraces the thoughts of power, firmness and competency. It also includes the ideas of lawfulness. When used in the LXX to tr. the two Heb. words for God, YHWH and adônai, names of relationship, it describes God in general as the sovereign of the universe, and in particular as the master of mankind, and as the One who has the right to exercise such authority.

Kyrios is found also in the NT. It was used here, as in the OT, to designate the sovereign God in relationship to His creation (Matt 1:20; 11:25; Luke 4:18).

The ideas of firmness and strength inherent in kyrios were also important to the Early Church. When a Christian, therefore, called Jesus “Lord,” he meant further that he had a foundation upon which to build his life. En kyriō, “in the Lord,” is the frequently recurring phrase best conveying this idea (Rom 8:39; 1 Cor 7:22).

It is worth recalling, however, that the gospels are post-resurrection documents, whose writers wrote from the perspective of Easter. To them Jesus was a teacher par excellence, but more than that, He was their sovereign Lord. Perhaps, then, the evangelists chose kyrios as a title even for the historical Jesus because it could reflect both the superficial understanding of the masses who saw in Him only a Jewish rabbi, and at the same time the later and more profound perception of the believing community who recognized in Him God become man.

Although the Church hailed Jesus as Lord, it also recognized that this role of His was a delegated one. They understood that when He would bring all enemies under His feet, he would then surrender His lordship and subject Himself to the One who subjected all things to Him so that the Triune God might be supreme (1 Cor 15:27, 28).


L. Cerfaux, “Le titre et la dignite royale de Jésus,” Révue des Sciences philosophiques et théologiques, XI (1922), 40-71; XII (1923), 125-153; W. Foerster and G. Quell, κύριος, G3261, (1933) in G. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the NT, trans. and ed. by G. W. Bromiley; W. Bousset, Kyrios Christos (4th ed., 1935); E. Schweizer, Lordship and Discipleship (1960); R. C. Nevius, “Kyrios and Jesous in St. Luke,” AThR, XLVIII (1966), 75-77.