The Bible says in Philippians 2:9-11: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:
In keeping with Christ’s exaltation and high name… every knee will one day bow and acknowledge Him for who He really is. Paul stressed the same truth in his letter to the Romans. Both instances reflect Isaiah’s prophecy of the singular greatness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The extent of Christ’s sovereign authority is delineated in the three- fold phrase, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. No intelligent being — whether angels and saints in heaven; people living on the earth; or Satan, demons, and the unsaved in hell — in all of God’s universe will escape. All will bow either willingly or they will be made to do so.
Today’s quote is from Neil T. Anderson. He said: “The inner change, justification, is effected at the moment of salvation. The outer change in the believer’s daily walk, sanctification, continues throughout life. But the progressive work of sanctification is only fully effective when the radical, inner transformation of justification is realized and appropriated by faith.”
Our topic today is titled What Does it Mean that Jesus is “Lord”? (Part 2) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
But what is the meaning of Lord in Romans 10:9-10?
There Paul writes: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Do these verses mean that one must confess Jesus as Master of his life in order to be saved? Unquestionably, Lord means “sovereign,” but is Paul saying in the passage that in order to be saved a person must receive Christ as the sovereign of the years of his life on earth? One writer says that “the saviourhood of Christ is actually contingent on obedience to His Lordship.” If contingent means “dependent on” (as the dictionary indicates), then the statement seems to mean that Christ’s being my Savior depends on my obedience to His lordship or mastery over my life.
Another writer, under the heading “Leading Others to Christ,” writes,
Third, there is something for you to do to be saved.
(1) You must repent … Acts 3:19
(2) You must put your faith in Jesus … Eph. 2:8
(3) You must surrender to Jesus as your Lord (boss) … Romans 10:9.
Does Lord mean “boss” or “master of one’s personal life” in the passage? Not according to Everett Harrison, who writes:
“Jesus is Lord” was the earliest declaration of faith fashioned by the church. This great truth was recognized first by God in raising his Son from the dead—an act then acknowledged by the church and one day to be acknowledged by all…. Paul’s statement in Romans 10:9-10 is misunderstood when it is made to support the claim that one cannot be saved unless he makes Jesus the Lord of his life by a personal commitment. Such a commitment is most important; however, in this passage, Paul is speaking of the objective lordship of Christ, which is the very cornerstone for faith, something without which no one could be saved. Intimately connected as it was with the resurrection, which in turn validated the saving death; it proclaimed something that was true no matter whether or not a single soul believed it and built his life on it.
Notice Harrison’s careful distinction between “objective lordship” and, by implication, “subjective lordship.” The former labels Christ by virtue of who He is, and is true whether or not anyone ever acknowledges it. The latter relates to that lordship or master relation Christ may have to the believer, and is true only when someone acknowledges it to be so for him or her.
William G. T. Shedd, a well-known American Calvinistic theologian, in commenting on the word Lord in Romans 10:9, says:
The word kurios is the Septuagint rendering of Jehovah, and any Jew who publicly confessed that Jesus of Nazareth was “Lord,” would be understood to ascribe the divine nature and attributes to him. It is also the Old Testament term for the Son of God, and the Messiah; and when Christ himself asserted that he was the Son of God, and the Messiah, he was charged with blasphemy, and with equalizing himself with God.
B. F. Westcott, one of the foremost Greek scholars of the nineteenth century, in commenting on 1 John 4:3, wrote:
To “confess Jesus,” which in connection can only mean to confess “Jesus as Lord”, is to recognize divine sovereignty in One who is truly man, or, in other words, to recognize the union of the divine and human in one Person, a truth which finds its only adequate expression in the fact of the Incarnation.
Two other well-recognized scholars, writing on the meaning of the “word” in Romans 10:8, say:
“The subject of the rema [word] which is preached by the Apostles is the person of Christ and the truth of His Resurrection … The power of Christ lies in these two facts … His Divine nature and His triumph over death.”
Explaining the phrase “Jesus is Lord,” the NIV Study Bible note says:
The earliest Christian confession of faith, probably used at baptisms. In view of the fact that “Lord” (Greek Kyrios) is used over 6,000 times in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) to translate the name of Israel’s God (Yahweh), it is clear that Paul, when using the word of Jesus, is ascribing deity to him.
To sum up: Romans 10:9-10 is not dealing with the question of the subjective lordship of Christ, but with His deity and His resurrection. To believe that Jesus (the man) is Lord (God) and that He is alive (which includes the fact that He died) results in righteousness and salvation. Notice too that this interpretation is held by several generations of scholars who represent differing schools of theological thought.