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Greek Word Study - Lord

The full force of “Lord” (Greek: kurios -- KUR ee oss) is not appreciated by English-speaking people. Perhaps if we trace the word through its history and development, it will help. This word came a long way before it was ready to serve as a fitting title for our Jesus. The kurios was originally the owner of a piece of property. Next, the kurios was the owner and master of a slave. Then, when the Greek mystery religions began to develop, kurios was used in reference to the deity they worshipped. By this point in history, then, the kurios was recognized as owner, obeyed as master, and honored as a god.

What happened next had tremendous impact on the word. When the translators of the Old Testament tried to translate the divine name YHWH (Jehovah or Yahweh) into Greek, they faced a problem. No one knew how to pronounce the sacred name, since the vowels were omitted. There was no way to transliterate the name from Hebrew into Greek, letter by letter. The solution was to translate YHWH as kurios! Thus, every time a Jew saw the title kurios, he thought of God Himself.

In light of all this, just think what a momentous confession it is to declare, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11)! We proclaim Him our Owner and Master to obey; our God to worship. He is not just a good man to admire. He is King of kings! He is incarnate God--He is Lord!