“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:1-4
Paul used the phrase “Jesus Christ our Lord” more than 50 times in his letters. The Greek is Iesou Christou tou kuriou hemon. The names “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Lord” all have a wonderful history of usage in the Bible, but before we look at that I want to focus for just a minute on the word “our.”
Being a follower of Jesus Christ was an extremely personal relationship for Paul. That may seem like a normal thing for a Christian to think and say, but it’s a strange phenomenon to non-Christians. They can understand having personal feelings for someone you can see and touch, but not so much a Christian’s strong love and devotion for someone they cannot see or touch. Some non-Christians believe that Jesus was an historical figure, but why would anyone have a personal attachment with a dead person that would cause them to talk with Him, pray to Him, confess to Him, and sing to Him? There’s a very good reason for this.
Christians are not in love with a dead person. The Person we love is alive! Jesus “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Christianity is a “personal” faith because our faith is in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You might say that the Apostle Paul had an “extreme” view of the love of God in Christ.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
One of the things I love about Paul is that he was a well-trained Pharisee and Hebrew scholar whose life was revolutionized by meeting Jesus Christ. Paul’s training would have prepared him for a lifetime of separation from unholy people and things, a dedication to the authenticity of the Hebrew Scriptures, and a passion for protecting Judaism.
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2
This well-trained Pharisee and Hebrew scholar would never have spoken of Jesus as “our Lord” if his life had not been turned upside right by his personal encounter with Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6
The Greek word for “Lord” is Kurios, which is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai. Both words carry the idea of authority and ownership. God is Lord (Adonai) and Jesus is Lord (Kurios). Paul understood when he called Jesus “Lord” that he was speaking about Him in the same sense as God Who is Lord.
The name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew Yehoshua ( יְהוֹשֻׁעַ) and the Aramaic Yeshua (ישוע) and is translated into Greek as Iesou (Ἰησοῦς). Yeshua means “Yahweh saves, rescues, delivers.” It is no wonder that God chose that name for our Lord and Savior, the Son of God.
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Paul’s very personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ led him to lead a much different life than he had planned on living when he began his training at the feet of Gamaliel the Elder in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). Instead of becoming a leader of the Pharisees, even a member of the ruling Sanhedrin like his teacher Gamaliel (grandson of Hillel the Elder), Paul served Jesus Christ in foreign lands reaching people of all nationalities with the Gospel of the Grace of God.
“From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: ‘You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:17-24
While some people would point to what Paul “gave up” to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul viewed it much differently. He saw what he “gained” from being a follower of Jesus.
“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:3-11
I share this with you in the hope that we will all have the same attitude as Paul. May we all count earthly things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. May we count them as rubbish that we may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having our own righteous, but that which is through faith in Christ. May we know “Him” and the “power” of His resurrection. May we know the “fellowship” of His “sufferings,” being conformed to His death. What do we have to look forward to? Resurrection from the dead!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”