The names of Jesus in the book of revelation – Part 4
When Moses received his commission to be the deliverer of Israel, God, Who appeared in the burning bush, communicated to him the name to give as the credentials of his mission: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (Heb. ehyeh asher ehyeh); and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you” In both names, ehyeh and YHWH, the root idea is that of uncreated existence.
When it is said that God’s name is I Am, simple being is not all that is affirmed. He is in a sense in which no other being is. He is, and the cause of His being is in Himself. He is because He is. The notice in Exod. 6:3, “By My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them,” does not imply that the patriarchs were completely ignorant of the existence or use of the name. It simply means that previous to their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, they had no experiential knowledge of such redemption. Under Moses, they were to experience deliverance and have the redemptive power of God made real to them and the redemptive name of God entrusted to them.
Previously, as shepherds in Palestine, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had known God as EI Shaddai (“The Almighty,” Gen. 17: 1), proving His power, but not in this kind of redemptive relationship. This name affirms God’s Lordship over His people (Exod. 34:23), as well as His power over the whole Creation (Josh. 3:13). By this name, God avows His superiority over all other gods (Deut. 10:17).
Adonai is another important designation for God as Lord in the OT. It derives from the Hebrew word Adon, an early word denoting ownership, hence, absolute control. Adon is not properly a divine title, as it is used of humans in some places. It is applied to God as the Owner and Ruler of the whole earth (Ps. 114:7).
It is sometimes used as a term of respect (like our “sir”) but with a pronoun attached (“my lord”). It often occurs in the plural. Adonai is, in the emphatic form, “the Lord.” Many regard this title as the plural of Adon.
“Lord” or “Master” (Gk. Kurios, “supreme”) signifies the one to whom a person or thing belongs, the master, the one having disposition of men or property, such as the “Owner of the vineyard” (Matt 20:8; 21:40; Mark 12:9; Luke 20:15); the “Lord of the harvest” (Matt 9:38; Luke 10:2); the “master of the house” (Mark 13:35); “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mat 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5), who has the power to determine what is suitable to the Sabbath, and to release Himself and others from its obligation. This title is given to God, the Ruler of the Universe, both with the definite article ho kurios (Matt. 1:22; 5:33; Mark 5:19; Acts 7:33; 2 Tim 1:16,18) and without the article (Mat 21:9; 27:10; Mark 13:20; Luke 2:9,23,26; Heb 7:21).
Jesus as Lord Kurios is the word normally employed in the NT to speak of Jesus as Lord. The word, however, has a wide range of reference, being used of God (Acts 2:34), of Jesus (Luke 10:1), of humans (Acts 16:19), and of angels (Acts 10:4). When characters in the Gospels speak of Jesus as Lord, they often mean no more than “sir.” At other times, the designation kurios expresses a full confession of faith, as in Thomas’ declaration, “My Lord and my God! (John 20: 28).
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