Defining Lordship

This is a subsidiary post of Lord.

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The most obvious and significant claim of the New Testament documents is that Jesus is Lord.  We have a sense of what “Lord” means in this context, and this sense helps us understand the implications of the claim.  Assuming that we accept the claim, or at least take it seriously, we will help ourselves by seeking a firmer and more precise understanding of this term “lord.”

One way we can achieve this stronger grasp of the meaning of lordship to study the Bible’s vocabulary of lordship.  In addition to that mastering that vocabulary, here are some specific verses from it which will help us zero in on just what the Bible means when it calls Jesus “Lord,” and what this title implies regarding a proper response from those of us who take that claim seriously.

Matthew 8:9 (parallel to Luke 7:8 below)  –  “For I also am a man under authority…”  –  Jesus was “a man under authority.”  If He is our example (and He is per 1 Peter 2:21; Luke 6:40; and other verses), then we, too, should be under authority.

Luke 6:46  –  The word “lord” obviously implies authority.  (In fact, if “lord” doesn’t imply authority, it doesn’t imply anything; it would just be a meaningless word.)  Specifically, it implies that anyone who considers Him “lord” would do what He says.  If someone does not consider Him “lord,” we would not expect a person to do what He says.  Of course, this all seems so fundamental…but there are indeed (as His very question in this verse implies) people who call Him “lord” but who do not do what He says.  (By the way, He goes on to describe the respective consequences of this discrepancy over the next three verses: Luke 6:47, 48, 49.)

Luke 7:8 (parallel to Matthew 8:9 above)  –  “For I also am a man placed under authority…”  –  See note on Matthew 8:9 above.

Luke 10:38-42  –  Something important about lordship is being communicated in this passage about two sisters, Martha and Mary.  Both regarded Jesus as Lord, and treated Him as such.  However, Martha made certain assumptions about what the Lord wanted while Mary devoted herself to listening to what the Lord was saying.  We know from Luke 6:46 above that doing what the Lord says is critical; we learn from these two sisters that knowing and understanding what the Lord says is preliminary and necessary to doing what He says.  Martha had presumptuously take on chores which the Lord had not commanded, and this led to her experiencing frustration rather blessing.  On the other hand, Mary “chose the better part” of taking time to be sure she knew and understood what the Lord was saying needed to be done.  Recognizing this difference recalls verses like 2 Chronicles 12:8 and Matthew 11:28-30.  Martha had obviously taken on service and a yoke that were not actually of the Lord.  We learn from this that it is important to know and understand what the Lord says in order to be able to do it.

Luke 19:27  –  “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them…”  –  This is a description of people resisting lordship.  Such people are resisting the purpose for which Jesus was raised (Romans 15:12).  

Romans 6:16  –  “…when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…”  –  Who is your Lord?  The one you obey.  Many people say they are Christians but obey their own lusts (Romans 6:12, 13).

Romans 16:18  –  “For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites…”  –  An NASB marginal note on “appetites” reads “Lit belly.”  The people of whom Paul is speaking have lust for their lord (Romans 6:12, 13).

1 Peter 3:6  –  In this verse, Peter is giving us a flesh and blood example of what it means to consider someone “lord” – Sarah in her relationship with Abraham.  We have to read the preceding five verses to appreciate what Peter is saying in this verse:  that is, 1 Peter 3:1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  By this analogy, we can see that considering someone “lord” means to become submissive in attitude, chaste and respectful in behavior – all emanating from deep within the person under the lordship.  Peter is not the only one to employ the wife-husband as an analogy for the relationship of Christians to their Lord.  For example, see 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3 and Ephesians 5:22-33.

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