A response to

Because he was called 'Lord'?

The title of "Lord"

Mr. Al-Kadhi asks :

Was Jesus God because people addressed Him as "my lord." Not according to the Bible. In the Bible we find that this was a common practice with many others besides Jesus.
and proceeded to give the example of Abraham, Esau, Joseph and David. Mr. Al-Kadhi's question is justified. But his conclusion is wrong. Because he made no further comments, he appears to imply that :
  1. the title lord is used of man
  2. the Lord Jesus used this title
  3. therefore, the Lord Jesus is a man.
Any student of logic understands the flaw in this kind of logic. Yet, Mr. Al-Kadhi fails to consider one aspect: God is also called "Lord" and most worthy to be called by this title. For example, no one will object that the "Lord" in the following verse refers to God:
[Jesus reads:] The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-21)
Just because God is called "Lord" doesn't mean that He is no longer God. The title "Lord" can be used of God and of man, to mean quite different things. When used of God, this implies a complete mastery over the subject's life. This is absolute Lordship. When used of man, this simply equates to "master" or "sir", and is clearly this sense when used of Abraham, Esau, Joseph and David. Thus, it becomes important that we also understand the context and environment under which such titles are used.

Mr. Al-Kadhi also ignores the issue of languages. He quotes from the Old Testament, which were written in Hebrew, and then tries to apply that to the New Testament, which is written in Greek, the bridge being the English word "Lord." To impute upon the Greek words the same meaning as the Hebrew words as Mr. Al-Kadhi implies is to commit literary suicide. Building a case on something like this is dangerous without understanding the dynamics behind it. Already, we see that the use of "The Lord" (on its own) to refer to God is rare in the Old Testament, but very frequent in the New Testament. This is enough to caution the student of the Bible to be very careful in this respect.

In the Old Testament, the word translated "Lord" is the Hebrew word 'adown or the shortened form 'adon, used both of God and of humans. In the latter case, it usually means "master" or "sir" (as in the four instances Mr. Al-Kadhi cited). This is clearly the case here :

O LORD (Yehovah) our Lord ('adown), how excellent [is] thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (Psalms 8:1, KJV).
God is perfectly worthy of such a title. Just because a man may also be called "Lord" does not mean that God is unworthy of this title, or that God is no longer God. If the Lord Jesus is God, then he is perfectly worthy of this title, and even if man has this title, no one can rob it of Him. This is the mistake that Mr. Al-Kadhi assumes of the Lord Jesus.

The Greek title Lord (kurios), often used of the Lord Jesus, has the meaning of :

Strong's #2962: kurios

1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord

a) the possessor and disposer of a thing 1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
b) is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
c) this title is given to: God, the Messiah
(Source: Thayer's Lexicon, Blue Letter Bible)

What is instructive is how the Lord Jesus actually use the title for Himself. Mr. Al-Kadhi omits Psalms 110:1, where the Lord Jesus used it of Himself:

Jesus asked them, What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him `Lord'? For he says, "`The Lord (kurios) said to my Lord (kurios): "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."' If then David calls him `Lord,' how can he be his son?" (Matthew 22:41b-445, NIV).
The Lord Jesus' quotation of Psalms 110:1 is significant, for it is clear that the second "Lord" refers to the Christ (al-Masih), i.e., Himself, while the first "Lord" is Yehovah God. The same word is used, and this is the key to unlocking the meaning when the title "Lord" is used of the Lord Jesus.

The Qumran discoveries

Before the Qumran discoveries at the Dead Sea, the title kurios applied to the Lord Jesus was thought to have originated from the Greeks who used it of the pagan gods, and the Romans took over the idea. This clearly leads one to associate blasphemy to a person who uses it to mean "God".

"The ptolemies and the Roman Emperor would allow the name to be applied to them only when they permitted themselves to be deified. The archaeological discoveries at Oxyrhyncus puts this fact beyond a doubt. So when the New Testament speak of Jesus as Lord, there can be no question as to what they mean." (Nathan Wood, quoted by Willam Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible, reprinted 1984, p. 46)

Prior to Qumran, using "The Lord" to refer to God was uncommon in Judaism. The Dead Sea Scrolls changed all that. We now find precedents of such use in Jewish writings of the Qumran. Two texts from Qumran have shown that the use of "Lord" on its own was not only possible in the Judaism of the period, but that they refer to the Creator, God. The Targum of Job (11QtgJob XXIV 6-7) uses the term "Lord" (mare') in parallelism with "God" ('elaha'). Similarly, in 4QEnbar (4Q202) IV 5, there occurs the expression "[And to Gabriel] the Lord [said]: Go [to the bastards...]." Thus the use of the title "(the) Lord" to mean God was well known in Judaism. It is in this sense, as we will see in the next section, that the Lord Jesus used this title.

All these sheds enormous light when the Lord Jesus said :

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)
Imagine Abraham saying to Sarah, "Why do you call me 'Lord' and do not do what I say?" Does Abraham have that sort of jurisdiction?

The Lordship of the Lord Jesus the Messiah

In the Bible, the Lord Jesus and his disciples claimed that the Lord Jesus is :
  1. Lord of the Sabbath :
    [Jesus said:] For the Son of Man is Lord (kurios) of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:8, NIV)
    The Sabbath is the holy day God had set aside. Yet Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Thus, the Lord Jesus claimed that the Sabbath day is a holy day to Himself.

  2. Lord of all and God of all :
    [Peter said:] You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord (kurios) of all. (Acts 10:36, NIV)
    If the Lord Jesus is Lord (master) of all, what status is there left for Him to claim?
    Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (Romans 9:5, NIV)
  3. Lord of the believers:
    If I then, Lord (kurios) and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. (John 13:14, KJV)
    Now, here the Lord Jesus used both Lord and Master. What does He mean?

  4. Lord of Lords:
    They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord (kurios) of lords (kurios) and King of kings -- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:14)

    On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD (kurios) OF LORDS (kurios). (Revelation 19:16)

    What kind of Lordship is that?

  5. Lord.
    [Peter said:] "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord (kurios) and Christ." (Acts 2:36)
  6. Lord of glory:
    None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:8)
  7. Lord of Judgement:
    Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, (John 5:22)
    The Qur'an tells us that God is the Master of the Day of Judgment (Sura 1:4).

  8. Lord of Life:
    For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. (John 5:21)

    [Peter said:] You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witness of this. (Acts 3:14)

    In the Qur'an, Abraham said : "My Lord is He Who giveth life and causeth death, he answered: I give life and cause death." (2:258, Pickthall's translation), and "Allah giveth life and causeth death; and Allah is Seer of what ye do." (3:156).

  9. Lord and God:
    Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:27-29)

The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
Answering Islam Home Page