The Creed – Part 9

“… and in one Lord, Jesus Christ”

In the ancient Jewish bible there were no vowels, only consonants. In other words the name “Barbara” would be “Brbr”. The word “beautiful” would be “btfl”. As one can imagine, this made for certain difficulties in reading the words and some words are so obscure that even Jewish scholars don’t know how to pronounce them. One of the words is the “name” of God. In Exodus 3:14 God says to Moses “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.” The consonants for how “I am who I am” are “JHVH” or “YHWH”, and no one knows how they were pronounced in Hebrew or in any other language. For example older Bible translations give this name as Jehovah. Most scholars disagree and say that the name is best pronounced Yahweh, but no one knows for sure. However, the point is that pious Jews did not and do not pronounce the name of God. When they read this name instead they substitute the word “Adonai” which in English is best translated as “Lord”. In Greek the translation is “Kyrios” so Kyrios is actually a way of pronouncing the name of God. When we read the New Testament and we see the word Lord it is a translation of Kyrios. So when we see the word Lord used to address Jesus or describe Jesus, the Greek word is Kyrios. But the word Lord does not always have the meaning of God. For example:
“The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (Jn 4:15 -RSV)
“The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” (Jn 4:49 – RSV)
We see that the word was translated as “Sir” in certain cases. The modern Greek word for “mister” is Kyrie. However, then as many cases where Kyrios really means God. For example:
“…for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:11)
“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”” (Jn 20:28)
“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 1:7)
 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy
Spirit be with you all.” (II Cor 13:14)
So the word Lord applied to Jesus was a way of saying that Jesus was God. The point is this, the apostles, as 1st century Jews, clearly believed in one God. However, through Christ’s words and deeds they came to understand that He was God, but they had to struggle to express this. After all, they did not have the theological vocabulary of Trinity, Person, Substance, etc. So by calling Jesus Lord, they could affirm their faith in the one God and to affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ.
We shall note that the name Jesus Yeshua in Hebrew means “Yahweh saves”, or loosely Savior. And of course, we should remember that Christ is not Jesus’ last name.
Our English word Christ comes from the Greek “Christos” which means Messiah. Messiah means the Anointed One. In the Old Testament prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil. In the past kings and queens were anointed also. Even Queen Elizabeth is an anointed queen. In the church all of those baptized are also anointed.
But the “Anointed One” refers to the Messiah. So we see once again that the Bible is a very subtle book and one needs to pay close attention to draw out the meaning. And of course, we do not make up our own meaning but we accept the church’s interpretation, expressed in us in the writing of the Fathers and in the teachings of the church.

Fr. John