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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Does the Greek Word Despotes (Master) Refer To?

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Don Stewart

Theos and kurios are the common names for God in the Greek New Testament. There is also a third word found in the New Testament that refers to the Lord - despotes. There is where the English word despot is derived. It has the idea of ownership, supremacy, and authority.

Only A Few Usages In The New Testament

Despotes is only used five times in the New Testament. The elderly man Simeon used it when he prayed to the Lord.

Master [despotes], now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word (Luke 2:29)

Peter and those with him used the term when they prayed to God

When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord [despotes], who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them" (Acts 4:24)

The word despotes is used in the cry of the martyrs in Revelation.

They cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord [despotes], holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6:10)

Christ Was Called A Despot

In two instances, Christ is called despot.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master [despotes] who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves (2 Peter 2:1).

Jude wrote.

For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master [despotes] and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 4).


The Greek word despotes has the idea of authority or supremacy. It is only used on only four occasions in the New Testament. Twice it refers to Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate authority - the supreme One.

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