The Titles of the Lord Jesus Christ

A. J. Pollock

It is needless to say, that these are not used at random in the Scriptures. We propose in this paper to put before the reader some few thoughts on the subject

The title, Lord, is the translation of three Greek words Kurios is by far the most frequent word used. It means authority and lordship as the result of ownership “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Cor. 6:20). Despotes , another word used, but only twice used of Christ. (See 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4.) It is derived from deo , to bind, and pous , the foot. It has the meaning of unlimited despotic authority, which surely the Lord is entitled to. Thirdly, there is the word, Rabboni , which is the Aramaic for the Hebrew Rabbi , meaning my Master or Teacher. This occurs twice, once being translated, Lord (Mark 10:51), and once transliterated, which means “express the words of one language in the alphabetic characters of another” (John 20:16).

Then, again, take the title, Master . It is thrice the translation of the word, Karim . Twice we are reminded in the epistles that we have a Master in heaven. Everyone, the most exalted in this world should be in subjection to the Lord. In our treatment of those whom we may employ, we should never forget the fact that we have a Master in heaven. May we ever do His holy will. Despotes is five times translated Master as applying to the Lord. Otkodespotes (that is master of a house ) is applied by the Lord to Himself in parables that he enunciated. Epistates occurs five times as addressed to the Lord, and means Superintendent or Commander. Didaekalos occurs fifty-eight times, twice explained as meaning Rabbi. This word means Teacher , or, as we should say, Doctor . Our Lord, you may remember, sat among the doctors of the law, asking them questions, when a youth. Kathegetes means a Guide or Leader , and is used three times, the Lord applying the title to Himself in Matthew 23:8, 10. Then we have the title Rabbi , the Hebrew term for Teacher, transliterated into the Greek, as well as the Aramaic Rabboni .

There is in all this a practical challenge to the heart of every Christian as to how far the Lord is really Lord to him or her in daily life and in every way. It is possible to be content to receive the blessings of the gospel, and yet to live self-centred and selfish lives, and not allow the Lord to be our Lord, our Master, our blessed Despot, our Guide, our Leader. If this question is raised in our hearts the study of these titles of our Lord will not have been in vain.

We come now to the titles, “Jesus Christ,” and “Christ Jesus.” Of course the word, “Jesus,” is not a title, but His personal name. All others are titles. This we shall refer to later.

The expression, “Jesus Christ,” varies in its significance in the Gospels and the Epistles. In the Gospels it sets forth “Jesus” [1] as the Christ, the Anointed of God. The emphasis is laid on His name, “Jesus,” but explaining that He is the promised “Christ.” This expression only occurs four times in the Gospels.

In the Epistles it conveys the meaning that the One who was on earth in humiliation is now the glorified, ascended Christ. This is set forth in Peter's Pentecostal sermon, when he exclaimed, “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). He was both Lord and Christ when on earth, but the titles take on a new significance once He is the ascended glorified One at God's right hand.

So we find believers were baptized in the name of “Jesus Christ”; in the name of “Jesus Christ” the lame man at the Gate Beautiful received healing; the apostles were the apostles of Jesus Christ, as witness the superscriptions of the epistles, whether written by the Apostle Paul or the Apostle Peter. Never is it in this connection “Christ Jesus.”

When we come to the titles, “Christ Jesus,” in that order, the thought begins with Christ in glory, but that the blessed One there is “Jesus.” This expression connects itself with the unfolding of the truths of Christianity in a remarkable way. “Redemption . . . is in Christ Jesus”; “the love of God. . . is in Christ Jesus”; we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus”; “our liberty. . . we have in Christ Jesus”; the believer is in “heavenly places in Christ Jesus”; “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works”; God's “eternal purpose” is “in Christ Jesus”; “the high calling of God” is “in Christ Jesus”; the believer's “riches of glory” are “in Christ Jesus.” And so the list might be extended with profit.

It is a great moment in the life of the believer when His thoughts are centred in glory, and our blessings and standing and joys are connected with “Christ Jesus,” the One who has established Christianity in His own blessed Person. It was not, and could not be, till He took His place on high that the Holy Spirit could be given, and the body of Christ be formed upon the earth.

It is significant that the Gospels never use these titles in this order. Only once in Acts is it used, and even there it is a question whether the Divine name should not be “Jesus” without any addition (Acts 19:4).

It might be mentioned here that the title “Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” The title in both languages means “ The Anointed .” In the Old Testament we get three classes of persons anointed: the king for the kingly office; the priest for the priestly office; and the prophet for the prophetic office. The Lord was THE Anointed, to carry out the will of God, anointed to be the Saviour, the Revealer of the Father, THE Prophet; THE Priest; THE King; the Son of Man, with worldwide dominion; the Messiah, the King of the Jews; the King of kings, and Lord of lords, not a King among kings, inter alia , but a King OF kings. All that the world will ever know of blessing flows from THE Anointed One. The precious ointment was poured upon Aaron's head, ran down to his beard, and descended to the skirts of his garments (Ps. 133:2), so all blessing flows from the position that our Lord has got as THE Messiah or Christ, THE Anointed. How securely the glory of God lies in those pierced hands.

The title, “Christ, the Lord,” occurs only once, and is found in Luke 2:2, and stands for “Jehovah's Anointed.”

We come now to the three titles coupled together, “The Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a peculiar power in this combination. The answer to the Philippian jailer's earnest question, “What must I do to be saved?” was in the words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31), words that have given rest and peace to hosts of troubled souls from that day to this. What could be more solemn and impressive than the charge of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church when he instructed them in their solemn duty to excommunicate the “wicked person” in their midst. Twice are the titles, “Lord Jesus Christ,” found in that charge. “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice twice over “OUR Lord Jesus Christ.”

Take the salutations at the beginning of the Epistles.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ ” (Rom. 1:7).

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ ” (1 Cor. 1:3).

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ ” (2 Cor. 1:3).

Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ ” (Gal. 1:3).

So we might go through all the Pauline epistles, and find this salutation substantially repeated in each epistle, save that in those addressed to individuals “mercy” is added to peace and grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,” is practically the ending of all the Pauline epistles.

We have indicated enough to lead some, we trust, to follow up this interesting study for themselves.

There is, however, one important observation to be made before we leave this subject. The name of Jesus is of high meaning, “Jehovah Saviour”—Jehovah the name of God in covenant blessing with His people, yet it was the name given to our Lord when He humbled Himself, coming into this world as a Bondman, in order to die for the glory of God, and that He might be the Saviour, never less than “God, blessed for ever” (Rom. 9:5), but having the name, Saviour, woven into it, by virtue of His atoning sacrifice on the cross. The disciples, be it carefully observed, never addressed the blessed Lord by this name, but always as Lord or Master. We have no record of anyone addressing Him by this name, the glory and moral dignity of His person would preserve from undue familiarity. So we read, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Now turn to the beginning of 1 Corinthians 12 and we shall find a needed warning, and as much needed this day as then, as to spiritual manifestations. These are ever of two kinds, spiritual or demoniac, that is either of the Holy Spirit of God, or of demons, that is spiritism in its various forms, including Christian Science, and all the sects that deny “Jesus Christ come in flesh,” and refuse the atoning character of His death.

Evil spirits will speak of “Jesus,” but refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord. When you find professed religious leaders chary of speaking of Jesus as Lord, you may well be careful as to their teaching. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). It may be that men may take that title on their lips to deceive, but no man can really say that Jesus is the Lord save by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we find true Christians speaking little of our Lord under the titles of “Christ Jesus,” or “the Lord Jesus Christ,” and much of “Jesus” and “Jesus Christ.” In such cases it often means a defective knowledge of the truth concerning this subject as presented in the Scriptures.

We would beseech our Christian readers to weigh this matter over. We have ever felt the power of the full name, “Lord Jesus Christ,” as it falls from the lips of the Lord's servants in testimony, and more especially in these days of spiritual slackness and apathy.

The title, Son of Man, is a deeply interesting one. This is a title that was ever on the Lord's lips as He testified of Himself as recorded in the Gospels.

Adam had dominion over all flesh given to him by God, but soon fell and forfeited this position. There have been futile attempts made in this direction by conquerors such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and will be made in the future day by the head of the revived Roman Empire, signs of which are very assertive at this present time, but no one shall occupy that place save our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. The title carries with it the thought of universal headship and dominion.

It is interesting that over eighty times is the prophet Ezekiel addressed as “son of man.” Eighty-four times out of the eighty-eight times this title is found in the New Testament, it falls from the lips of the Lord Himself.

There is this important difference, however, between the title as referring to Ezekiel and to the Lord. In the Old Testament when used of a human being it never has the article, thus rendering the expression a description rather than a title, that is to say it emphasizes that Ezekiel was a human being. In the New Testament the title always has the article, emphasizing that it is indeed a title, the very highest as far as earthly dominion could go.

It is twice referred to in the Old Testament, once in Psalm 8, quoted in Hebrews 2:5-9, ascribing universal dominion to the Lord, and again in Daniel 7:9-14, where the Son of Man is spoken of as “given. . . dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion. . . an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (v. 14).

How touching then, in contrast to this, is the Lord's saying that the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head; the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they said, “Behold a gluttonous Man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”; the Son of man is the Sower of the good seed of the kingdom of heaven; the Son of man asks the question, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And the blessed answer is given, the revelation of the Father to the soul of Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath; the Son of man came not to be ministered to but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many; the Son of man was to be betrayed, crucified, to rise again; the Son of man walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev. 2 and 3); the Son of man will appear on the clouds, and set up His kingdom, and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.

A.J.Pollock

S.T. 1930

 

[1] For simplicity's sake in this article we will refer to titles only, though ever bearing in mind that “Jesus” was our Lord's personal name.