I find the languages of Hebrew and Greek intriguing. Learning the names of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, Adonai, Elohim enhance my understanding of God’s character. These names help us know Him more intimately because they all contain shades of meaning that reveal Him. This holds true for the New Testament Greek as well so let’s look closely at some names of Jesus.
Kyrios. This Greek word connects the Old with the New: it means Lord. Used 750 times in the New Testament, it’s the parallel for the Hebrew Adonai. In both languages it contains the meaning of master, ruler, or owner. A kyrios, lord, has authority over others and requires submission from them.
For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God … Deuteronomy 10:17a NLT
He is Adonai; He is Kyrios.
As Christians the title of Lord flows freely off our lips but I wonder if we know what we’re saying when we call Jesus, Lord. Declaring Him Kyrios indicates that we have submitted to Him, to His sovereignty, His ownership, and His rule in our lives. Jesus understood submission and cautioned those following Him:
So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? Luke 6:46 NLT
Ouch. So … what did He say? If you back up in this passage you’ll see that crowds had gathered to listen, be healed, and delivered. His teaching remains practical: love your enemies, don’t judge others, forgive, and be generous. So why do we keep calling Him Lord, Kyrios, when we haven’t submitted and obeyed His instructions?
Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21 NLT
As Jesus approached the end of His life on earth He had a final supper with His Twelve. Do you know what He did? He washed their feet.
You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:13-15 ESV
Think about it this way … foot washing is forgiveness. When we call Jesus, Kyrios, Lord, we’re receiving His grace and forgiveness, therefore, we are expected to extend the same grace and forgiveness to others. That’s submission and that’s obedience; the by-product is peace and joy in our hearts. If you find yourself calling Him Lord, do a heart check; are you obeying Him?
… He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 1 Timothy 6:15b ESV
… and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11 NLT