Just What does “Lord” Mean?

We have seen that: 

Submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again…
that He might be Lord…of the living.”

However, the term “Lord” is connected to a world in which we no longer live—the world of kings and royals. (Our modern world’s royalty are constitutional monarchs.)

The Greek word is for Lord is kyrios (Thayer’s Lexicon). Kyrios has several different uses in the Bible. (I will not keep writing the Greek word since that makes reading extremely tedious.) 

First, “Lord” in its Biblical context is sometimes simply a term of respect.

Note the Woman at the well’s address of Jesus in John 4:11, when he asks for water—

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir (kyrios), you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.”

She was not submitting to him as a king or ruler. She was merely paying him respect. This is the equivalent of our word “Sir,” in Southern English.


Christ and the Woman of Samaria by Theodor van Kessel (WikiMedia Commons)

Jesus certainly deserves respect from us, but he deserves far more than the mere respect we pay to other human beings. Being respectful of Jesus does not bring us into a personal relationship with him. 

Second, “Lord” can also be used as a title for one’s superior.

This would be a “patron” in the Roman world. One did not operate independently of authority in the first century. One had a patron who looked out for his clients’ interests and demanded certain favors in return (Social Order, 2006).

Maybe the closest we come to the use of “Lord” in this sense is “boss.” Jesus is more than a boss to us. He is not less than that, but doing what one is told doesn’t bring one into a personal relationship with Christ. 

Third, “Lord” has a transcendent quality as a title in the ancient world.

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint = LXX = “70”), “Lord” is used for Yahweh (YHWH) in the Hebrew Bible. “Lord” is the name of the supreme Creator and Sustainer God to whom every creature owes ultimate allegiance.

Note, “Lord” is a title given to Jesus Christ in the New Testament—Philippians 2:9-11—

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is indeed our ultimate Lord! We come into a personal relationship with him when we acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. 

Kneeling before the king

Kneeling to a royal person in the Medieval world was an acknowledgement of his kingship.

Do I only want a person to rescue me or a Lord who is guide for my life? 

At some points in my life I admit I have treated the Lord Jesus as merely the one who rescues me from trouble. I went to church on Sundays, but lived my life the way I wanted to during the week. He gladly rescued me from trouble when I inevitably fell into it and cried out to him for help. But, Jesus did not want me to treat him as if he was only one who handed me a fire extinguisher when my house seemed about to catch fire. 

Instead the Lord Jesus wanted to give me a “lamp”—his authoritative Word—to guide my steps all along the way! Psalm 119:105 gives us a description of a life lived with Jesus as Lord every step of the way—”Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Lord Jesus as my true and ultimate king guides my steps everyday by his Word and his Spirit as I walk in fellowship with him! This is the meaning of Jesus as my Lord! 


O Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior,
I acknowledge you as the true and ultimate one
to whom I owe my ultimate allegiance.
I often fail to follow you as I ought.
I fail to live according to your Word as I should.
Your way is best, and in the future I want to learn more
of your ways and conform my life to your will.



Kurios, G-4416. (2011). “Thayer’s Expanded Greek Definition.” Accessed 31 May 2018 from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/ greek/4416.html 

Leviathan. (2018). Accessed 31 May 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_ (Hobbes_book)

Social Order (2006.) Accessed February 5, 2018 from http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/ empire/order.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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