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Don Stewart :: What Does the Greek Word Kurios (Lord) Mean?

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Don Stewart

When referring to the true God, the New Testament sometimes uses the Greek word kurios translated as "Lord." It is important that we have a correct understanding of the word because it is often misunderstood.

It Does Not Always Refer To God

The thought behind the word kurios is supremacy and authority. Kurios is used a number of different ways in the New Testament.

The Word Can Mean Sir

Sometimes the word is merely a polite title meaning, "Sir."

"Sir," [kurios] they said, "We remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' " (Matthew 27:63).

It Also Means Master Or Owner

In some contexts it has the idea of a title such as, "Master," or "Owner."

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master [kurios] (Matthew 10:24).

Kurios Can Refer To Husbands

Even husbands are called by the word kurios.

Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him master [kurios] (1 Peter 3:6).

The Word Was Used Of Idols

Paul uses the plural of kurios to refer to idols.

Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods [kurios] in heaven or on earth-as in fact there are many gods and many lords (1 Corinthians 8:5).

It Can Also Mean The LORD (Yahweh Or Jehovah)

There are many times, however, that kurios is equivalent to the divine name Yahweh, or Jehovah.

But Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord (Acts 15:40).

Jesus Is Addressed As Both Human And Divine

We find Jesus being addressed by the human and divine usages of kurios. The polite form of kurios meaning, "Sir," is used. In John's gospel Jesus met a woman at a well in Samaria. She addressed Him as kurios (sir).

The woman said to him, "Sir (kurios), you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (John 4:11).

There are other times when kurios speaks of Jesus' full Deity as God the Son.

So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10,11).

Paul wrote to the Romans.

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Divine And Human Usage In The Same Verse

We find both uses of kurios in the same verse.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters {kurios] in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord [kurios] (Colossians 3:22).

Summary

The Greek word kurios has a number of different meanings. It can mean sir, master, owner, or even refer to an idol. However on a number of occasions it is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word Yahweh or Jehovah. This is the divine name for God. Jesus Christ is designated as the Lord in many New Testament references. This is the consistent truth of Scripture - Jesus is Yahweh or Jehovah.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.