Why Do You Call Me ‘Lord, Lord?'

  In their desperate attempt to reject the saving work of Jesus Christ, some unbelievers point to the strangest of texts to try and support their claims against His Deity.

  One of these is a passage from Matthew 7. In the context of the passage, Jesus warns His followers against false prophets, and He explains how these are to be most easily identified. 

  Twice Jesus says, "You will know them by their fruit." 

  In short, their behavior will betray "the wolves in sheep's clothing," as Jesus calls them, the false prophets. Then, He continues by saying, 

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 

23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ Matthew 7

  As we mentioned earlier, unbelievers pick this declaration from Jesus to claim that He is denying His own deity. Either they say that He is saying "you are not entering heaven because you called Me, Lord." Or that He is saying Christians are going to Hell because they have addressed Him as God. 

  Both misinterpretations reveal that they do understand that Jesus is using the word "Lord" to mean God, but let us pursue the point to ensure that both are reading Jesus correctly. And to determine whether by "Lord," Jesus simply means master, or lord.

  Jesus uses the same rare reiteration of the phrase, "Lord, Lord" again in Luke 6:46... 

  “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?"

  Where does this phrase come from, and what does Jesus mean when He uses it?

  Several times in the Hebrew Bible, we find the phrase "Lord YHWH" or "YHWH Lord" used to describe the God of Israel. It is only ever used in reference to Him and no one else. Italics are mine:

  Deuteronomy 3:24 

  "Lord God, You have begun to show Your greatness and power to Your servant, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can perform deeds and mighty acts like Yours?"

  Deuteronomy 9:26

  "I prayed to the Lord:

   Lord God, do not annihilate Your people, Your inheritance, whom You redeemed through Your greatness and brought out of Egypt with a strong hand."

  1 Kings 8:53

  "For You, Lord God, have set them apart as Your inheritance from all the people on earth, as You spoke through Your servant Moses when You brought their ancestors out of Egypt."

  Psalm 69:6

  "Do not let those who put their hope in You be disgraced because of me, Lord God of Hosts; do not let those who seek You be humiliated because of me, God of Israel."

  In the verses above, we see God's title of Lord combined with His name, YHWH, giving us "Lord YHWH."

  See also Ezekiel 20:49, and Amos 7:2, 5 for more examples of the usage of "Lord YHWH." 

  On the other hand, the following verses are seen inverting the phrase and giving us the divine appellation, "YHWH Lord."  

  Psalm 109:21 (HCSB)

  "But You, Yahweh my Lorddeal kindly with me because of Your name; deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love."

  Psalm 140:8 (Mechon-Mamre Bible)

  "O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, who hast screened my head in the day of battle..."

  Psalm 141:8 (Mechon-Mamre Bible)

  "For mine eyes are unto Thee, O GOD the Lord; in Thee have I taken refuge, O pour not out my soul."

  Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, however, with the Hellenization of most of the region, fewer and fewer Jews could speak Hebrew. And this led to the translation of the Hebrew (with a little Aramaic) Bible into Greek, which was the lingua franca of the day. That Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is known to us today as the Septuagint, or the LXX for short, in reference to the the 70 Jewish scholars who worked on it.

  It was these scholars who translated the phrase, "YHWH Lord," into the Greek, κύριε κύριε, or "Lord, Lord."

 Deuteronomy 3:24 (bold print mine)

3:24  κύριε κύριε σὺ ἤρξω δεῖξαι τῷ σῷ θεράποντι τὴν ἰσχύν σου καὶ τὴν δύναμίν σου καὶ τὴν χεῖρα τὴν κραταιὰν καὶ τὸν βραχίονα τὸν ὑψηλόν τίς γάρ ἐστιν θεὸς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἢ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὅστις ποιήσει καθὰ σὺ ἐποίησας καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἰσχύν σου

  Deuteronomy 9:26

9:26  καὶ εὐξάμην πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ εἶπα κύριε κύριε βασιλεῦ τῶν θεῶν μὴ ἐξολεθρεύσῃς τὸν λαόν σου καὶ τὴν μερίδα σου ἣν ἐλυτρώσω ἐν τῇ ἰσχύι σου τῇ μεγάλῃ οὓς ἐξήγαγες ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου ἐν τῇ ἰσχύι σου τῇ μεγάλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ χειρί σου τῇ κραταιᾷ καὶ ἐν τῷ βραχίονί σου τῷ ὑψηλῷ

  1 Kings 8:53

8:53  ὅτι σὺ διέστειλας αὐτοὺς σαυτῷ εἰς κληρονομίαν ἐκ πάντων τῶν λαῶν τῆς γῆς καθὼς ἐλάλησας ἐν χειρὶ δούλου σου Μωυσῆ ἐν τῷ ἐξαγαγεῖν σε τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου κύριε κύριε

  This explains Jesus' use of the phrase, "Lord, Lord." He was quoting from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus took a name which was used only for YHWH God, and applied it to Himself. 

  The Septuagint was to become the most-read among Jesus' generation of 1st Century Jews and was the version most frequently quoted by the New Testament authors. 

  Taking that understanding into our Gospel passage and drawing the wording of the original Hebrew into our New Testament to drive the point home, we can see even more clearly than before Jesus' unabashed proclamation of His deity:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘YHWH LORD!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

22 On that day many will say to Me, YHWH LORD, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 

23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ Matthew 7

  Or, returning to this other declaration from Jesus, the point of which is now made even more obvious:  

  “Why do you call Me YHWH LORD,’ and don’t do the things I say?" Luke 6:46

  It is this Jesus, the Lord, Lord, Who allows entry into heaven and prohibits it.

  It is this Jesus in Whose name people prophesy, and drive out demons and do miracles.

  It is this same Jesus Who will denounce those who have not obeyed Him and send them to eternal punishment. 

  The Lord Jesus applies the name of YHWH to Himself repeatedly in the Gospels, that cannot be denied. 

  But in these passages, as God He has issued a very stern warning to those who play the hypocrite, to those who think they can get away with merely paying lip service to His Deity and Lordship, but who do not keep His Word.

  And He reminds them, and us, that in the end, it will be He as God our Judge, Who will decide our fate.

  On the Last Day, there will be none who will be able to claim that they didn't know that Jesus is God. 

  And you have just heard it explained once again. 

  Make your choice to follow Him today!

  See also:

  Where Does Jesus Say, "I Am YHWH (God)" in the Bible?
  For much more Biblical evidence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, see:

  Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ

  by Robert Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski, and Darrell L. Bock 


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