The Name "LORD" as Used of Jesus in the Gospels

by Geerhardus Vos

THE name Kyrios, "Lord," is in the New Testament a specific designation of the exalted Saviour. Peter, in Acts 2:36, declares that God (through the resurrection) made the Crucified One "both Lord and Christ." According to Paul's statement also, in Philippians 2:9, the "name above every name," which is none other than the Kyrios-name, was bestowed upon Jesus in reward for the obedience of His humiliation, and therefore subsequently to it. Obviously it is a name expressive of the absolute Messianic sovereignty our Lord entered upon when raised from the dead, and to which He Himself refers, Matthew 28:18, immediately before His ascension, in the words: "All authority was given unto me in heaven and on earth."

Notwithstanding this, instances are not lacking in the Gospels of the application of this title to Jesus during His earthly life. He is spoken of as "the Lord" and addressed as "Lord." This raises the problem, whether, taking for granted that these instances are authentic, there is any connection or continuity between the usage in this matter of the later period and that recorded in the Gospel narrative. The question is of importance, not from a theoretical standpoint merely, but likewise, and even more so, by reason of its doctrinal bearing. It touches the very vital point of how early, and with what degree of gradualness, the superhuman position and nature of Jesus, certainly later connoted by the title, and which we sum up in the confession of His Messiahship and Deity, were recognized in Him.

In order to reach clearness of treatment certain distinctions should be drawn. The first of these relates to the persons who speak of Jesus as "the Lord" in the Gospels. Are these in the given instances the Evangelists as authors, or are they the actors within the Gospel story? It makes a great difference for the purpose of our enquiry, whether an Evangelist says: "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her" (Luke 7:13), or whether the disciples are represented as saying: "The Lord has need of him" (Luke 19:34). In a case of the former kind we have, of course, nothing but an instance of the custom, universal when the Gospel was written, of referring to Jesus as "the Lord." Whether the Evangelist did so in his daily speech or did so in writing, makes no difference. In either case it means no more than: He whom we call the Lord. No legitimate inference can be drawn from such a case about the writer's opinion or the actual facts as to the mode of naming the Saviour during His ministry. Even if one were to assume that the title was never given to Jesus while on earth, no charge of anachronism or stylistic slovenliness could lie against the Evangelists for making the freest use of it in their own narrative.

In point of fact there are but few instances in which the Gospel writers, in referring to the pre-resurrection period, appear to have availed themselves of this their indisputable literary privilege. Matthew 3:3 and Mark 1:3 quote from Isaiah 40:3 (combined in Mark with Mal. 3:1) to the effect that John the Baptist went before "the Lord." It is not certain, however, whether by "the Lord" they mean us to understand Jesus, or, as apparently the prophetic word intends it, Jehovah, or perhaps assume the identity of Jesus as "the Lord" with God bearing the identical name in the Greek Old Testament. On the second supposition even these two instances, the only ones in Matthew and Mark before the resurrection, fall away. The same uncertainty exists in the word of the angel, Luke 1:17, and of Zacharias, Luke 1:76. On the other hand Luke himself in the text of his Gospel, as it lies before us, repeatedly speaks of "the Lord." Twelve cases of this occur: 7:13, 31; 10:1, 39, 41; 11:39; 12:42; 13:15; 17:6; 18:6; 19:8; 22:61. But the ancient versions seem to show that in all these Lucan passages "the Lord" may be a later substitute for "Jesus" or "He," introduced from a liturgical motive. In John there are the following cases of "the Lord" in the discourse of the Evangelist relating to the period before the resurrection: 4:1; 6:23; 11:2. Nothing certain can be built on the text of the first. Hort says about it (The New Testament in Greek, Appendix, p. 76): "On the whole the text of the verse cannot be accepted as certainly free from doubt." Zahn also feels doubtful about the text, and that partly on the ground that John elsewhere does not thus introduce "the Lord" in the narrative (Das Evangelium des Johannes, p. 226). The two other cases have this peculiarity, that they occur in side remarks which the Evangelist inserts parenthetically into the discourse. One can almost conceive of them as marginal remarks written by the author's own hand. Consequently they cannot be counted as clear evidence of what the writer made his rule in the regular straightforward flow of discourse. There is obviously a greater degree of detachment in such cases from the scenes and speech recorded than in the ordinary narrative.

We find, therefore, in all our Gospels a remarkable absence of references to Jesus as "the Lord" from the Evangelists themselves. It should be further noted, that when the writers come to deal with the days after the resurrection the abstention is no longer rigorously observed except by Matthew. Mark says (16:19): "The Lord Jesus was received up into heaven," and speaks in verse 20 of "the Lord working with them." Similarly we read in Luke 24:3: "They found not the body of the Lord." And in John 20:20: "The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord;" 21:12: "And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord." Still, even after the resurrection none of the Evangelists drops the old way of speaking. On the contrary, after as before the point named, they go on employing the proper name and the pronoun.

The facts in regard to this author's use or non-use now lie before us. What can we gather from them? The Evangelists evidently agree with Peter and Paul in dating from the resurrection a richer and higher significance of the Kyrios-name. They indicate this positively by a stray employment of it soon after that point. Negatively they do so by almost entirely refraining from its use during the earlier period. This latter feature might possibly be explained from a special fondness for the name "Jesus," so that there really would be no avoidance of the Kyrios-title, but only an unintentional submergence of it. But it is doubtful whether, in point of preciousness, the name "Jesus" had any advantage over the title "Lord." The early Christians were not as one-sidedly occupied with "the historical Jesus" as certain groups of modern Christians are. Their preoccupation in daily intercourse and prayer was rather with the Christ in Heaven, "the Lord" par excellence. Especially must this have been so with a man of the type of John, whose mind was so post-resurrection-centered that it leads him to lay stress, in the earthly life of Jesus, on precisely that aspect of it which was preformative of the glorified state. Here then one would a priori expect a generous use of "the Lord." If it does not appear, we are warranted in seeking the cause in some other influential motive. It would seem to us that a well developed sense of historical propriety on the part of the Evangelists will most readily account for the fact. The writers desired not merely to give a record intrinsically true, but also to make the framework in which they set the picture harmonize in coloring with the picture itself. Since they felt that through their literary presence at the scenes of the Saviour's earthly life they witnessed something differently complexioned from and still falling short of the intercourse with the glorified Christ, they refrained from introducing a title difficult to dissociate from the latter. In this respect they evince an artistic sensitiveness greater than can be exacted or expected from the average historian. It is not even impossible that the scantiness of their acknowledgment of the new, resurrection-born lordship will have to be explained from a recognition on their part of the intermediate character of the period lying between the resurrection and the ascension. Even that time did not yet fully realize the lordship as the Saviour now exercises it from Heaven.

So much for the narrative-practice of the writers. Now turning to the other member of the distinction drawn, which related to the use of "Lord" by persons within the Gospel story, we find this giving birth to our second distinction. This separates between "Lord" as a vocative of address and "the Lord" in cases of third person reference. It is evident that the two things distinguished are sufficiently different to admit the possibility of "Lord" having a different connotation in the one case than in the other. The twofold use of the English Sir may illustrate this. When people commonly addressed one another with Yes, Sir or No, Sir, the word has quite different associations than where some nobleman is referred to as Sir A or Sir B. We must therefore deal with each of these rubrics separately.

The following are the cases where Jesus is spoken of as "Lord" ("the Lord," "my Lord") by people in the Gospels: In Luke 1:43 Elizabeth greets Mary as "the mother of my Lord;" Luke 2:11, the angels speak to the shepherds of "a Saviour which is Christ the Lord;" in three instances, each recorded in all the Synoptics, Jesus designates Himself as "Lord": In the Sabbath controversy He declares that the Son-of-Man is lord of the Sabbath; in the argument about the Davidic sonship of the Messiah He proves from the Psalm that the latter is David's Lord; in connection with the entry into Jerusalem He instructs the disciples to say to the owners of the colt: "The Lord has need of him;" further, according to Mark 5:19, Jesus instructs the healed demoniac: "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee;" after the resurrection we have: Matthew 28:6, where the angel says to the women: "Come and see the place where the Lord lay;" Luke 24:34, where the disciples declare: "The Lord is risen indeed;" John 20:2, Mary's words: "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre," and verse 18, her report to the disciples, "that she had seen the Lord.

In endeavoring to determine what these passages imply we may eliminate as of uncertain bearing Mark 5:19. Here "the Lord" may possibly refer to God. Although the man carries out the injunction of Jesus to proclaim what "the Lord" has done by publishing what "Jesus" had done, this is by no means decisive for the identification of "Jesus" and "the Lord." (Cf. "God," in Luke 8:39.) The desire of Jesus to keep Himself in the background in such cases, sufficiently attested elsewhere in the Gospels, may have come into play. He would then have enjoined the man to refer the cure to God, but, not heeding the injunction, the man would have brought on Jesus the publicity He wished to avoid. It is also somewhat strange that Jesus on this particular occasion, and for no apparent reason, should have spoken of Himself as "the Lord." In the message to the owner of the colt it is different, as we shall presently see.

The remaining cases fall into two rubrics. In some of them "Lord" appears as an adjectival attribute of Jesus; in the others it is a formal title. "Lord of the Sabbath" means, of course, no more than sovereign disposer of that institution. Up to a certain point this applies also to the lordship over the colt; it expresses the right of disposal of the animal. At the same time there is something more here in so far as this right of disposal is derived from the fact that Jesus is recognizable to the owner as "the Lord" in general. The acquaintance with the designation and its currency within a certain circle are certainly assumed; otherwise it could not have been a means of identification. But, closely looked at, even the Sabbath saying, while not indicating a title, has a larger background of comprehensive sovereignty. For it will be noticed that both in Mark and Luke it reads: "The Son-of-Man is lord also [or even] of the Sabbath." Jesus has a wide lordship over things in which many other (or less weighty) matters are included. On the other hand, since Jesus was not the ordinary owner of the colt, and an extraordinary ownership is suggested, it follows that the latter cannot have been restricted to this one animal, but must have included many other things. There is but one step from the ascription of such a comprehensive sovereignty to the recognition of this fact in a fixed designation, and for that the Kyrios-title would be the appropriate medium.

Again, in the argument about the Davidic sonship of the Messiah He is placed not only as a sovereign above David, but this relation is also definitely fixed through David's calling him "my Lord." Besides, the purport of the entire argument lies not in the genealogical sphere; it is to vindicate for the Messiah a position of transcendental sovereignty, in protest against the earthbound idea of the scribes, expressing itself in the other title "Son of David." We shall not be wide of our Lord's intent when paraphrasing: "The Messiah, being Lord even of so high a person as David, must needs be regarded as Lord universal."

Once more, when Elizabeth in her salutation to Mary names the unborn child "my Lord," this falls in no respect short of a formal Messianic title; the only question can be, whether it does not perhaps pass beyond this and anticipate through extraordinary prophetic foreknowledge the later "Kyrios" as a title of Deity. The opposite interpretation, according to which this is only a strong case of extravagant Oriental politeness in salutation, Elizabeth saying "the mother of my Lord," just as somebody, desiring to be exceedingly deferential to a visitor, might speak to him, as of him, in the third person, My Lord this or that, hardly satisfies, because in such a case the direct address of Mary as "my mistress," instead of the indirect "mother of my Lord," would be expected, and because between cousins such extravagance of politeness would be out of place. There is not politeness here but reverence, and the cause for the reverence must lie in the unborn child, and therefore must concern not the person of the child as such but its official destiny and dignity. The statement of the angels to the shepherds, if the ordinary text reading be retained (and there seems to be no cogent reason for departing from it), treats "the Lord" as a formal title entirely on a line with the title "Christ" to which it is joined, "Christ, the Lord," unless we give to "Christos" its adjective sense and render Anointed Lord. But even so, "Lord" would bear no other interpretation than that of a Messianic title. The only way to avoid acknowledgment that Jesus is here, even at His birth, technically called "Lord" would He through altering the text. Some propose doing this by assimilating the reading to that of Luke 2:26, where "Christos Kyriou" is read. This would yield "the Lord's Christ;" "Kyrios" would then refer to God, not to Jesus, and the passage would be eliminated from our investigation.

Finally, in the four remaining instances, from after the resurrection, it is plain that the angel at the tomb and the disciples employ the title in a high, perhaps we should say a heightened, sense fraught with reverence for a unique dignity in Jesus. Apart from this, however, these passages are interesting because they prove a familiarity with the title through previous use. It is, of course, not inconceivable that through the fact of the resurrection, overwhelming as it must have been, the title as a new thing might have suddenly sprung to the lips of the disciples. But the angel presupposes that it is known to the women, and Mary makes use of it before she is aware of the resurrection. A flood of new meaning may have streamed into it; in itself it was of earlier origin. This proves that the pre-resurrection cases recorded and above commented upon were by no means so isolated as might otherwise appear. It cannot have been an uncommon thing among the disciples to speak of Jesus as "the Lord."

From the foregoing we may draw the conclusion that in this mode of referring to the Saviour during His lifetime on earth there was a substantial preparation for the subsequent usage. He was even then to some "the Lord," although they could hardly always have realized with clearness what a stupendous significance in course of time this name was destined to acquire. It is not impossible that, as a Jewish Christological term, the title may have been older even than the Gospel history period. But of this we know nothing for certain. The content put into the form remained subject to development according to the progress of revelation. It was the same title as that of the Apostolic period, and yet it was not the same. The testimony of the Evangelists to its actual early use is not open to suspicion. We need not fear that there is in this a carrying back of the later custom of naming Jesus "the Lord" into the Gospel time. An anachronistic tendency of this kind would not have contented itself with such limited satisfaction. And, as has already been shown, the Evangelists reveal the opposite of such a tendency in that they scrupulously refrain from injecting the Kyrios-title into their own discourse framing in the Gospel story, although here with entire propriety they might have done so. If they abstained even from this, how confidently may we trust them for refraining from making contemporaries of Jesus in the Gospel history speak of Him as "the Lord," unless there were good grounds for believing that this was possible and that it actually happened.

We now turn to the other class of occurrences of the word Kyrios in the Gospels, viz., in the form of the vocative of address. The enquiry into this gives rise to the third distinction to be drawn. It relates to the extent and quality of the reverence conveyed by the address, whether it can be explained on the basis of simple politeness, or reflects the specifically religious recognition in Jesus of some extraordinary dignity, Messianic, or extending even beyond this into the sphere of Deity. On the former supposition, the politeness might shade into respect and admit of various colorings according as Jesus was regarded as a teacher or friend or in any honorable capacity. Still all this would not overstep the line of ordinary human intercourse; it could in no way be characterized as "religious."

On the other hand, if the address to any degree partook of the feelings with which later Christians invoked the Heavenly Christ as "Lord," then it would be something by itself through the reception of which Jesus would be clearly singled out from others. Kyrie does occur in the Gospels as a form of polite address from man to man, and that not merely in the setting of parables, where it might be said that the figure of Jesus stands in the background and consequently no sure indication can be found of what was customary between men as such (cf. Luke 14:21, 22), but also in the account of actual life, as from the Jews to Pilate in Matthew 27:63; from the Greeks to Philip, John 12:21; from Mary to the supposed gardener, John 20:15. The possibility therefore cannot be denied that it may on occasion so have been meant with reference to Jesus. This seems to be further favored by the fact that Kyrie stands in the Gospels side by side with Didaskale, apparently a synonymous mode of address meaning Teacher and (in Luke) with Epistata meaning Master, and that in certain passages where one Evangelist has one the other will have the other. In fact in the Gospel of Mark there is but one instance of the Kyrie-address, that by the Syro-Phenician woman; in all other cases we read Didaskale. In Matthew both, and in Luke all three, forms of address occur.

Hence the view has been entertained that in every passage containing Kyrie this is simply with reference to Jesus what it would be with reference to everybody else, a current mode of polite, respectful address in no wise intended to single Him out in any unique way from the others. In that case, of course, nothing could be learned from this usage as to the estimate put upon Jesus, either Messianic or otherwise, by those who followed it. It would stand in no connection whatever with the supreme Kyrios-title later given to Jesus by the early church. One might for a long time address somebody as Sir, and afterwards, if meanwhile he had been raised to the royal dignity, address him as Sire, but the former would have been in no wise a preparation for the latter. According to a different view the Evangelists have in all these Kyrie-addresses erroneously carried back into the lifetime of Jesus the later church practice; they make the people in the Gospel story speak as the Christians of their own time were accustomed to speak. On this view we may learn something from the Gospels as to what the Kyrie-address implied to the mind of the early church, but we could learn nothing as to what, if used at all, it meant to the contemporaries of Jesus, and instead of a preformation of the later use it would simply be the later use itself anachronistically thrown back into the earlier days.

Neither of these two views appears plausible. Of the second we may dispose by the simple observation that it is entirely out of keeping with what we have already had occasion to observe concerning the extreme scrupulousness of the Evangelists to keep out of their writings the ways of speaking of their own day in the matter of "the Lord." If they were so careful as to avoid this in the framework of the story, and if moreover they resisted the temptation of multiplying instances of it upon the lips of Gospel personages, contenting themselves with recording scarce a dozen cases, above enumerated, then it becomes utterly incredible that they should have scattered this vocative Kyrie broadcast over the surface of their writings, intending that it should be understood in the most pregnant sense, conveying nothing short of the Deity of the Saviour. Their procedure in regard to Kyrios in the nominative shows that such a thing could not even be excused as an anachronism of ignorance; an element of deliberate misleading of the reader would be present.

But the first view, finding in all the instances nothing but an expression of politeness, is equally untenable. Most heavily against it weighs the observation that Kyrie does not appear indiscriminately in the speech of all such as might be expected to observe the external rules of politeness towards Jesus. It is as a matter of fact in Matthew and Mark, though not quite consistently in Luke, restricted to just two classes of speakers, that of the true disciples and that of those requesting supernatural help. Where the approach to Jesus is of a purely disinterested nature, or from even an unfriendly quarter, the formula of address is not Kyrie but something else. Instructive on this point are the following cases: According to Matthew 26:48 Judas, the traitor, hails Jesus with "Rabbi," in keeping with his not being a true disciple; in Matthew 8:19, 21, the scribe says to Jesus: "Teacher [Didaskale] I will follow thee," and then the Evangelist continues: "And another of the disciples said to him, Lord [Kyrie] etc.; according to Matthew 26:22, 25, at the supper the true disciples say: "Lord [Kyrie]," is it I?" but Judas says: "Teacher [Didaskale] is it I?"

It is plain, then, that the Gospel writers were guided in the matter by the principle that, in the mouth of certain people, the word would have been out of place. Positively this implies that to their feeling it expresses something that surpasses and supersedes ordinary politeness. There was a considerable admixture in it of reverence religiously colored. That it had this religious coloring, and was not merely a kind of human reverence heightened to an unusual degree, may be inferred from its appearance in precisely those two classes, that of the true disciples and that of the seekers for supernatural help. For in these two classes the differentiating feature, as compared with others, lies in the affinity of their state of mind with that of religion.

The question may, however, be raised, whether the Evangelists, in feeling this affinity, still remained conscious of a perceptible difference between the state of mind portrayed and the fulness of worship carried by the Kyrie of their own time. We have already concluded that they did feel such a difference as between the Ho Kyrios of Gospel times and that of their own time, and how it proved sufficient to make them avoid the title in their own narrative. There is a bare possibility that they would feel less of this in regard to the vocative. The practical Christology of the direct intercourse with Jesus would, in filling up the word-form with high content, be apt to keep a step in advance of the more theoretical process which issued in the objective name, "the Lord." It is conceivable that they may have felt in the Kyrie of the Gospel personages the whole rich meaning of their own prayer-Kyrie, and have rightly done so. Probable, however, this is not. For, if they had actually possessed this feeling of entire identity of the two mental states, it would have overridden their hesitation arising from the opposite feeling in regard to Ho Kyrios, and permitted them to use the latter freely for narrative. But this we do not see taking place. From not a single one of the numerous instances of Kyrie reported by them do they take occasion to continue the thread of their narrative with an immediately subjoined, And the Lord Jesus, etc. True, in Luke there occur a few such cases (10:41; 12:42; 19:8), but these occur in the passages where the ancient versions render the presence of Ho Kyrios in the original text doubtful.

In view of this it seems to us that the avoidance of Ho Kyrios throws back a light on their understanding of the Kyrie within the story also. They will have regarded the "Lord" spoken to Jesus on earth as at that time in a formative state, carrying indeed within itself all the rich potentialities of its later use, and yet, as to actual realization not uniformly filling up the measure of that later reverence and worship of which they had daily personal experience. By this feeling of the writers we shall have to let ourselves be guided in our own conclusion on the matter.

Of course, it must remain difficult to determine what exactly are the shade and degree of religious reverence present in each separate situation. Being in a formative state the address was not a fixed quantity. It remained for the time being flexible and suited to various states of mind. In this, as we take it, lies the main difference between it and the later use of the same form. That became absolutely fixed, not less so than the Kyrie, which represents in the Greek Old Testament the Adonai as an address to God; it has a necessarily fixed, undiminishable content, because from the notion of Deity implied every element of the relative is excluded. As a matter of fact, the later Ho Kyrios and Kyrie are so identical in religious import when applied to God and to Christ as to make it difficult to decide in a number of passages which of the two is referred to. Here the Kyrios-name is in effect a transference of the nature of Deity to Christ. In the Gospels, while the address may on occasion rise to that level, and while implicitly it carried on most occasions the principle of this in itself, we cannot a priori draw the line at that high point as a conscious attainment.

As is true of all imponderables the determination of how much or how little may have been expressed will necessarily remain exposed to the subjective factor in the exegete's exercise of judgment. There can be no reasonable doubt that in an exclamation like Peter's in Luke 5:8, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord," the maximum of realization of the specifically divine import of the title has been reached, as is also clearly indicated by the accompanying statement, "Simon Peter fell down at Jesus' knees." The same is true of the words of Thomas in John 20:28, "My Lord and my God," although these, dating from after the resurrection, have no illustrative value for the earlier time. The clearest conceivable instance of identification with the later use is found in the words of Jesus Himself, Matthew 7:21. Here false disciples are represented as in the day of judgment addressing the Saviour after this fashion: "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name," etc. A use of the name Lord for prophesying and doing miracles, such as is here described, presupposes its well developed superhuman, religious significance, the meaning in which it was actually put to this kind of use in the later church. Jesus, however, here speaks retrospectively from the standpoint of the day of judgment. This is, strictly speaking, rather an implicit prophecy of the later custom than an anticipation of it in practice during the Gospel history itself. Yet it remains significant that Jesus could in a statement of this kind in such a matter-of-fact way have referred to a future practice. In order to find this intelligible we must assume that a point of contact for that peculiar use of the term Kyrie must already have existed at the time of speaking. On the other hand, it is not capable of proof, that, in each case where a sick person addressed Jesus, the title Kyrie with which this was done rose to this same high level of a virtual recognition of His Godhead. But a mere formula of politeness it never seems to have been even in such a case. An instructive comparison may be drawn in regard to the flexibility of the title Son of God. This title also in some cases is an official Messianic designation, and yet on certain occasions it bursts these bounds and becomes expressive of a judgment on the superhuman nature of Jesus amounting to a confession of His Deity; cf. Matthew 14:33: "They that were in the boat worshipped him saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God."

The ground taken in the above represents a middle position between the theory of absolute equation of the earlier and the later Kyrie and that of an absolute difference between the mere-politeness usage in the lifetime of Jesus and a worship usage in the later church. Those who affirm the equation with the understanding of its being an anachronism, and its not reflecting what was actual or possible during Jesus' life on earth, are to our mind mistaken in both respects. But their mistake on the first point is a partial one, whereas on the second point it contains no element of truth at all. The possibility of the partial mistake is, to our point of view, of great significance and value. That the assertion of identity can be made at all proves how much there must actually be in the Gospels that puts the matter far beyond the pale of what is explainable from mere politeness.

The charge of anachronism against the procedure of the Evangelists may seem to derive some force from the observation that Mark, with one exception, avails himself of Didaskale or Rabbei, and that Matthew and Luke and John not only employ by the side of this Kyrie, but also put Kyrie in passages where Mark has the other, scholastic, term. Does not this look as if the later Evangelists had confounded the role of teacher actually played by Jesus, and correctly recorded by Mark, with the role of an object of reverence and worship subsequently assigned to Him? How can the Didaskale of Mark and the Kyrie of Matthew, with its high accent, be both correct for the same occasion? To put it concretely, when Peter at the transfiguration says, according to Mark: "Teacher [Rabbi] it is good for us to be here," and Matthew introduces the same saying by "Kyrie," has not Matthew unlawfully raised the meaning? Or has Mark perhaps unduly lowered it? It would be a serious mistake to explain the prevailing use of the teacher-terms by Mark on the theory that to this Evangelist Jesus' work was essentially that of a teacher. The entire tenor and color of his Gospel exclude this. There was no inducement for him to lower the sense. If one had to accept the alternative, the suspicion of incorrectness would fall on Matthew. But possibly the problem may be solved in another way. We must not forget that in Kyrie and Didaskale we do not deal with the ultimate realities of the speech of Jesus and the people, but with translations from the Aramaic. In the case of non-parallel passages where the term differs, one might assume that in each case a different original underlay the rendering. This would eliminate the divergence to that extent. As to the parallels with variant terms, the question must be put whether there did not perhaps exist an Aramaic word elastic enough in meaning to suit equally well the need of the lower and of the higher level of approach to Jesus.

Now the word Rab in its usual form Rabbi seems to meet exactly this requirement. In order to perceive this it will be necessary, first, to remove a misunderstanding in regard to its range of meaning that is to our minds almost inevitable. We feel Rabbi as an exclusively scholastic term of respect. If it had been this in the same way at the time of Jesus, then Mark's rendering by Didaskale would have been the only allowable one. As a matter of fact, Rabbi had in Gospel times no such restricted meaning. It was used in a great variety of applications. In all of these the ideas of obedience and unqualified submission stood in the foreground, and far more than in the average relation between a modern pupil and teacher. So that even in the scholastic use there was given a broader basis of contact for a religiously colored employment than appears on the surface. But besides this, the extra-scholastic use of the word had a wide range and a high reach of meaning. By the Samaritans Rab was even used in address to God. Rabban, an intensive form of Rab, has as wide a range of application. Both terms, then, were more than ordinarily respectful forms of address, whose import is by no means exhausted by the Greek Didaskale. My Ruler would be the approximately correct rendering.

An analogy is furnished by the Latin Magister, which also etymologically and originally designates superiors of various kinds, but now has become restricted to a scholastic sense. In the same way the etymology of Rab secured for the word a large flexibility of meaning. Rab means, literally, great one. If we may assume that this was still being felt in the days of Jesus, then the disciples may well have associated with their address of Jesus as "Rabbi" a far deeper reverence than the average scribal pupil would by means of it express for the average scribal teacher, or than the non-disciple might put into it when approaching the Saviour. The uniqueness of even the teacher-dignity of Jesus for the disciple and the religious admixture in it are recognized in the saying, Matthew 23:8. "Do not let yourselves be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher." This uniqueness is not less than that of the religious fatherhood when predicated of God, for Jesus adds: "Call no man your father on the earth: for one is your father." Thus it becomes possible that Kyrie in Matthew and Didaskale in Mark may be but two different renderings, involving a somewhat different distribution of emphasis, of a common term which warranted either emphasis, and associated with each the fundamental ingredient of unusual reverence.

The Lucan form Epistata is evidently an effort to bring out more clearly the sovereignly-authoritative element in the conception. Epistates means, one who stands over, a superior. And the "Master" of our English Bible represents a similar attempt to stress the reverence-element. The Authorized Version and the original revision both have this Master for the Greek Didaskale, and by thus rendering remind us of the approach there may well have lain in the Aramaic word back of it to the conception of lordship. This procedure seems preferable to that of the American Revision, which puts Teacher for Didaskale everywhere, and reserves Master for the Lucan Epistata. The rendering Master is felicitous for the same reason that the Kyrie of Matthew and Mark and of Luke (in the majority of cases) in place of Rabbi is felicitous, viz., on account of its opening the possibility for feeling in the word both elements, that of a pupil's reverence for his unique Teacher, and that of a generally-religious reverence for a Saviour. In many a mind the two attitudes not merely came to meet each other, but must have been so closely interwoven as to be practically inseparable. Herein again lies the peculiarity of the situation that through the earthly intercourse with Jesus the two states of mind, that evoked by His teachership and that answering to His Saviourship, most intimately mingled. In the later days, when the meaning of Kyrios had been definitely fixed, this was no longer possible to the same extent. The lordship in the sense of divine sovereignty, though not logically excluding it, yet forced the other element into the background and to a certain degree superseded it.

We conclude, then, that this Kyrie-Siddress of the time of Jesus' walk on earth is, no less than the third-person-reference use of Ho Kyrios, a real precursor of the standard designation of the Saviour from the Apostolic age onwards until the present time. Both recognize His Messianic character and also His divine nature and dignity as reflected in His Messiahship. The conclusion is important, because it marks one of the several lines of internal connection between the Christianity of Jesus and His time and the Christianity of His followers afterwards. The position He has now held for so many ages is not at variance with, but the legitimate outcome of, the position He asked and encouraged people to ascribe to Him in the days of His earthly pilgrimage.



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