christopher

bearing CHRIST

Jesus is Lord

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (Jesus as Lord, or the Lord Jesus) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Were you aware that the commonly used phrase Jesus is Lord never occurs in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible? You will find it in newer English translations: Once in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) in 1Corinthians 12:3, twice in the English Standard Version (ESV) and New International Version (NIV) in both Romans 10:9 and 1Corinthians 12:3, and three times in the New International reader’s Version (NIrV) in Romans 10:9, Romans 10:10, and 1Corinthians 12:3.

In lieu of Jesus is Lord, the KJV contains the phrase Jesus is the Lord in 1 Corinthians 12:3 and the Lord Jesus in Romans 10:9. This latter phrasing is found more than 50 times in all of the English translations.

What I wish to focus on in this brief article is neither the number of occurrences of this phrase, or even the phrasing itself but, rather, the significance of the words used.

The Test

…I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” (or “Jesus is the Lord” or “Lord Jesus” ) except in the Holy Spirit. 1Corinthians 12:3

In 1Corinthians chapter 12, Paul has just addressed the topic of Spiritual Gifts with the brethren at Corinth. He reminds them of their former lives as idolaters and informs them of the one Spirit Who is revealed to each, separately. In verse 3, the apostle presents a test, one which can be used to identify those who have the Spirit of God and those who do not. Paul teaches that the Spirit of God within them will never cause them to declare, “Jesus be damned.”

Paul continues to say that no man but by that same Spirit of God within can declare Jesus to be the Lord. And yet, men say those English words all the time, be they born again or not. If it truly is a litmus test, one of two things must be true:

  1. All men, including authors, actors, and mockers alike, have the Spirit of God and can thus utter the words Jesus and Lord together in some combination
  2. There is something wrong with the English translation of the phrase Jesus is Lord

Item one, above, is simply not the case, as it would invalidate the test. We are left with discovering what might be wrong with the translation.

The Title

And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” Mark 12:29

Most English language New Testaments today have been translated from Greek, a language that, unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, contains no name for God, let alone a title reserved for Him alone. In the imaginations of the Greeks there were many gods, none of whom were elevated to a position requiring the prefacing of their name with a reserved title.

Throughout the Greek New Testament we find the phrase

κυριου ιησου χριστου (kuriou iesou christou)

which translates/transliterates into English as Lord Jesus Christ.

Kuriou/kurios/kurion is very general title in Greek and is used in place of the English titles sir, Mr., master, his Lordship, landlord, lord, etc. This title is used in approximately 700 verses of the Greek New Testament.

Most would agree that saying, “Mr. Jesus” is respectful, but does not convey any reverential significance. It certainly does not declare Who He is. And that is precisely what the Greek language translates kuriou to mean: simple respect for a man, not reverence for the Living God.

English-speaking Christians of yesteryear had to wrestle with the ubiquitous usage of the word lord to identify the aristocracy, the non-peasant class. Today’s English-speaking Christians rarely encounter the word lord outside of religious circles, unless they are renting a property.

My point is, sadly: the English word lord is relatively meaningless as it pertains to addressing the Living God. The same can be said for the Greek word kuriou. Prefacing the name of Jesus with the word Lord does not add weight to Who He is.

So, Who is He?

Who do others say I AM?

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27

Jesus asked His disciples what they were hearing from people regarding Who, exactly, they thought He was. The disciples told Him that some men say they thought He was John The Baptist. Others thought Him to be Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of The Prophets.

Have you ever paused to consider: For the One Who knows men’s thoughts and what is in their hearts (Matthew 9:4, Mark 2:8, Mark 8:17, Luke 5:22, Luke 9:47), the last thing Jesus needed was intel from His disciples regarding what other people are thinking, let alone saying. So why did He ask them Who men thought He was?

The answer is in His follow-up question…

Who do you say I AM?

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29

With the answers of others still fresh in their ears, His disciples were then asked the question of all questions: “Who do you say that I AM?”

Consider the potential for the greatest contrast of all time: Whether some may say He is Bill, Ted, or Jeff, or others may say He is Zeus, or Buddha, or a Great Teacher, what matters for you is Who you say He is!

Incredulously, Jesus then enjoined His disciples to tell no one about Him! Weren’t you thinking that their primary objective was to tell the whole world Who He was? Not according to Jesus. That was/is for the Father, through the Spirit, to reveal to each man.

There are several words/phrases used to refer to the One True God in Aramaic, either as a description, name or title:

  • אלהא Alaha/Aloha – typically translated as God)
  • רוחא דאלהא (Ruukah D’Alaha – Spirit of God)
  • רוחא דקודשא (Ruukah D’Quudsha – Spirit of Holiness/Holy Spirit)
  • מרן (Maran – typically translated as Lord, depending on who is doing the translating)
  • מריא (MarYah – typically translated as LORD, the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew YHWH)
  • אנא־אנא (ENah A Nah, translated as I AM, the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew Ahiah Ashra Hiah found in Exodus, I AM What I AM)

Throughout the Syriac Peshitta, the word MarYah is used exclusively to reference the One and Only God. MarYah is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew YHWH (which is typically translated into English as LORD, or Jehovah). In The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (dukhrana.com) we read: “…in Syriac that (spelling of MarYah) is used only for the Lord God (ie. the Tetragrammaton)…”

Zacharias and Elisabeth

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Luke 1:6

It was said of John the Baptist’s parents, Zacharias and Elisabeth, that they walked blameless in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.

The word Lord or phrase the Lord in this verse is translated from the Aramaic word MarYah. This is YHWH. Jehovah.

Maryam (Mary)

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Luke 1:38

Upon hearing from the angel Gabriel that she, a virgin, would give birth to the Son of God, Maryam said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”

The word Lord or phrase the Lord in this verse is translated from the Aramaic word MarYah. This is YHWH. Jehovah.

Yeshu (Jesus)

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:36

God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ…

Again, the word Lord or phrase the Lord in this verse is translated from the Aramaic word MarYah. This is YHWH. Jehovah.

Do you hear it?

Peter (Shimeon Kaypha) said that God (Alaha) has made this Jesus (Yeshu) both MarYah (YHWH/Jehovah) and Meshika (Messiah/Christ)!

Peter did not declare that God had called Mary’s son, “Mr. Anointed.” Being called mister, sir, master, lord, etc. does not get you accused of blasphemy, let alone is anyone ever crucified for it!

Anyone can utter the English words “Jesus is lord.”

But, just as the Spirit of Holiness will never prompt a man to say, “Jesus be damned,” so no man will claim that Jesus is Jehovah, Yeshua is YHWH, Yeshu is MarYah – except by that same Spirit!

The distinction between the innocuous title of lord and the Name of the Most High, MarYah/YHWH, is impressively obvious.

κυριον ιησουν (kurion iesoun)

     -or-

דמריא ישוע (MarYah Yeshu)

Let’s revisit Paul’s test, the one he gave to the Corinthians:

Remember the Test

…I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” (or “Jesus is the Lord” or “Lord Jesus” ) except in the Holy Spirit. 1Corinthians 12:3

No one can say, “Jesus is MarYah/YHWH/Jehovah” except in the Holy Spirit.

And once again, the word Lord or phrase the Lord in this verse is translated from the Aramaic word MarYah. This is YHWH. Jehovah.

So, Who do you say that He is?

Every Tongue

…and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord… Phillipians 2:11

…and every tongue shall confess that Yeshu the Messiah is MarYah/YHWH/Jehovah to the glory of God His Father!

The word Lord or phrase the Lord in this verse is translated from the Aramaic word MarYah. This is YHWH. Jehovah.