The Servant Becomes Lord


We have put effort into interpreting the historical character of Jesus. As we noted in chapter three, however, a skepticism must prevail in any effort to speak of the nature of the resurrection and eschatological events. Likewise, we must avoid the temptation to harmonize the Gospel materials; such does a disservice to the nature of these materials. 1 Yet we can work with hypotheses.

Faith in Jesus implies the belief that Jesus has been raised from the dead, but it says little about how he was raised or what actually happened from an empirical or historiographical point of view. Yet there is a further question beyond the question of whether, how, and what happened. This is the question of "so what?" What difference did Jesus' resurrection make? What were its consequences? What is the significance?

These are not historiographical but theological questions -- another level in terms of which the resurrection must be understood. Jesus rose. What does this mean, not in the sense of what happened, about which we must be suggestive and limited to hypotheses, but in the sense of what was its perduring significance? The resurrection of Jesus is meta-historiographical, yet historical. It is also rich with theological significance. 2

The Significance of Jesus' Resurrection

1. In the resurrection, Jesus was vindicated by God. The death of Jesus was not to be the final fact about him. The death of Jesus was not God's judgment about Jesus. The resurrection reversed some of the implications of the cross and allowed the cross itself to be taken up into the workings of God in history. The resurrection thus says that there is more to the death of Jesus than appears on the surface. The resurrection permits the cross to be theologized. Thus the resurrection opens the door for a theology of the cross, a new interpretation of the death of Jesus. The death of Jesus did not mean abandonment by God.

Humankind crucified Jesus, but God raised him up. Ulrich Wilckens has written, "His shameful end during the Passover feast in Jerusalem was a disaster which cannot be overestimated for the discipleship of his disciples. Not only was the actual self-authentication of Jesus now absent -- it was even called into question." 3 The resurrection counteracted the catastrophe of the cross. Jesus had been vindicated. His death did not mean rejection by God.

2. The resurrection said something about the death of Jesus, but it also said something about his whole life and ministry -- that Jesus was what he had said he was. The resurrection of Jesus was the vindication of Jesus in the face of the cross, but it was also the ratification of Jesus' life and teaching. The resurrection permitted a theologization of the cross. It also authenticated the message of Jesus and set the stage for its retention. Jesus was a true prophet, not a false one, and his words and deeds would not be lost. Gerhard Delling writes, "It is through the raising of Jesus that God once and for all identified the whole earthly ministry of Jesus as the work of him who inaugurates the kingdom of God by his preaching and actions, and by his words and acts redeems men and women and brings them into the kingdom of God; God confirms by raising Jesus that his actions were carried out under God's command, and were God's actions." 4

The resurrection disclosed Jesus as God's chosen one, as a prophet of the Most High. The resurrection not only enabled the disciples to recover from the death of Jesus, but it also enlightened them in understanding the life of Jesus -- who this man had been during his life with them on earth. The resurrection of Jesus was thus ultimately the cause of their new faith in Jesus.

The resurrection vindicated Jesus and permitted an understanding of his death. It also ratified the teaching of Jesus, authenticated his ministry, permitted his life to be understood, gave birth to faith in Jesus as "from God," and thus assured that Jesus' life was not lost and that his message was handed on. All these are consequences of the resurrection of Jesus which necessitates a theology of his death as well as a theology of his life and ministry.

3. The resurrection of Jesus not only vindicated, validated, and authenticated Jesus. It was also a source of salvation. There is no theology of redemption which can be complete without including the theology of the resurrection. 5 Through being raised, Jesus became for us a mediator of salvation in a new way. It was necessary not only that Jesus die but that he be raised as well, and not only that his life and death might be revealed as having God's approval but that Jesus might continue to function in a new mode on our behalf, that he might continue to be for us and for our sake. Jesus return to God, to his darling Abba, was a prerequisite for his further work. His mission was not accomplished with death on earth. Jesus continued to be son and servant in a new way. Fellowship with Jesus and the offer of salvation it brings was not only re-established but expanded. The raising of Jesus was part of the divine "must" (dei, as in Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, as well as in John 20:9).

4. One of the direct consequences of Jesus' resurrection was that it reversed the impression left by the cross and thus allowed another interpretation of the death of Jesus, and that new understanding also meant a ratification of the life and ministry of Jesus as well. Jesus' ministry and death were, simply speaking, acts of God on behalf of Israel: Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were salvific acts, a part of the history of salvation, of the history of the acts of God.

The resurrection of Jesus had other consequences as well: Jesus himself was taken up into a new life with his heavenly Father. He was taken home to God. With the resurrection another stage in his life and ministry had begun. Jesus' new life is interpreted as an exaltation, as being at the right hand of the Father, as his having been made Lord of heaven and earth. With the resurrection-exaltation, Jesus becomes Lord. The resurrection is that event which lies behind the birth of faith in the disciples. It also leads to a new life for Jesus himself. The Lordship of Jesus has begun.

5. Still another consequence of the resurrection of Jesus is that it contributed to the birth of the church and its mission. Without the resurrection of Jesus, without his appearances, there would have been no Christians and no church. It was Jesus as raised who appeared to the disciples and brought them to believe in him and eventually to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Christ. Likewise, it was Jesus as raised who inaugurated a new institution on earth, the community of believers, the ecclesia, through the power of his Spirit.

Jesus in his earthly ministry had not founded a church. He had gathered together disciples, created a new consciousness, and precipitated a movement identified with him and his followers. After his death this movement could have collapsed and the disciples dispersed. But after the resurrection, this movement became church, for the sake of the word which had been issued by the Galilean prophet, that it might continue to be proclaimed. And accompanying his proclamation there was now also the proclamation of his resurrection as a witness to it. The disciples and believers became church for the sake of the gospel. By entering into a new stage of history themselves, they were commissioned to proclaim that message of God which Jesus had proclaimed and to proclaim Jesus as crucified and raised as well. "By seeing Jesus, probably there in Galilee, Peter and the twelve experienced the overcoming of this catastrophe by God himself, the reconstituting of the discipleship of Jesus, and the giving to them of a commission to carry on the preaching of Jesus themselves." 6 "If then, resurrection is the principal source of faith in the lordship and messiahship of Jesus, it follows that resurrection is also the source of the existence of the church, and its knowledge of itself as the community of the risen Lord and Messiah, the community of the last days." 7

6. Another consequence of the resurrection is that it heightened eschatological expectation. For many Jews and Jewish Christians, the raising of Jesus could not be separated from the general resurrection of the dead. 8 Jesus was the firstborn from the dead. 9 Would the resurrection of others soon follow? Does this not mean that the end has come? What would happen now? The heightened eschatological awareness led to the apocalypticization of Jesus' message, the expectation that he would soon return as king and judge in the Parousia, and that a new apocalyptic age had begun.

In some of these beliefs and expectations the early Christians were mistaken, but they could not be blamed for what seemed to them an obvious interpretation of the events. In fact, a new age had begun, but it was not necessarily to conform to their expectations of it. Jesus' resurrection was not only vindication, ratification, exaltation, salvation, and proclamation. it was also the beginning of something new in history. God had come. Paul and the Synoptic authors manifest this heightened eschatological consciousness.

7. Another consequence of the resurrection was the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit had special significance in the history of Israel. The gift of the Spirit implied the gift of prophecy. After the exile, the people had experienced a quenching of the Spirit which was to be reversed in the last days. The Spirit, however, was seen to be active again in Israel at the time of Jesus. John had the gift of the Spirit. Jesus was given the Spirit on the occasion of his baptism. Jesus gives the gift of his very own Spirit to all his disciples, to all who believe in him. Whether this Spirit was given on the occasion of the appearance-experiences or shortly thereafter at the feast of Pentecost, we cannot say.10 There may have been many outbursts of the Spirit. But the sending of the Spirit followed upon the resurrection of Jesus. And life with the Spirit led to a new type of fellowship with Jesus. In the Gospel of John, the resurrection of Jesus is a prerequisite for both his going to the Father and the sending of the Paraclete (16:7f, 20:17). John gives the impression that Jesus gave the gift of the Spirit on the occasion of his appearance to the Eleven (20:22-23). Yet he also gives the impression that he does not send the Advocate until after he goes to the Father (16:7f) and that he does not go to the Father until after the appearances (20:17). Luke in Acts provides us with the events that occurred at the celebration of Pentecost (Acts 2). Paul speaks about how fellowship with Jesus has followed upon the life of the Spirit. Through the power of the Spirit one is with Jesus even in this life. We saw this realizable eschatological dimension present more and more in Paul as he grew in his own understanding.

We can see the richness of the resurrection event -- for Jesus and for the disciples, for history itself and for faith -- immediate consequences as well as possibilities for new interpretations and understanding. The resurrrection of Jesus left its mark on history, to be further understood by theology. It was a historical, meta-historiographical, theologically pregnant event. There was and is no limit to probing its meaning and understanding it more fully. It may have had cosmic implications as well.11

C.F. Evans raises the question, "Was the resurrection creative, or was it simply probative?"12 Our response must be that it was both. It enabled the disciples to probe further the meaning of the life and death of Jesus, to understand or see them more clearly, to see in the history of Jesus an event of salvation, to recognize in him the Messiah of God, to proclaim him Lord. At the same time it was creative of new realities: Jesus became Lord, faith in Christ and the mission of the church were born, and the Spirit had been given to the people. A new era had begun which could no longer be contained in the existing wineskins.

The Exaltation of Jesus

Jesus' earthly life came to a close with his death by crucifixion. This, however, was but one dimension of the event, an empirical and historiographically verifiable dimension in contrast to the personally experienced but meta-historiographical dimension of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died and was raised. Death inaugurated his resurrection. But there was a third dimension to this death-resurrection event in the life of Jesus, his exaltation. Jesus was not only raised; he was "given a place at the right hand of God." Jesus died, was raised to new life and also exalted. With the first two dimensions we can identify. Jesus is like us We too die and are raised. In the third aspect of this event, however, Jesus is not like us. He has been exalted in a way that we are not. He is given a name that we are not given. He was made Lord and acknowledged to be the Christ.

What is meant by the exaltation of Jesus? What is the language of exaltation trying to convey? What is the relationship between exaltation and resurrection? Are these two distinct realities, two distinct events, two distinguishable aspects of a single event, or simply different words for the same thing?13

In the New Testament, resurrection and exaltation are variously related. (1) There are passages which refer to Jesus' exaltation which do not speak about any resurrection (Phil 2:9-11; I Tm 3:16; Heb 1:3-4,8:1; Mk 14:62).This does not mean that the authors do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as if the exaltation is a complete alternative to the resurrection. Paul, Mark, the author of Hebrews all refer to resurrection elsewhere. Yet the language of exaltation is separable from the language of resurrection. (2) Sometimes the exalted status or lordship of Jesus appears side by side with references to the resurrection of Jesus (Rom 8:34; I Cor 15:20-28; Eph 1:19-20; Acts 2:32-33, 3:13-15, 5:30-31; I Pt 1:21). It is as if these are the same event or aspects of the same event. (3) Sometimes it appears as if Jesus' lordship actually follows upon his resurrection and that exaltation is a consequence of resurrection (Rom 1:4, 10:9). (4) Luke clearly distinguishes between the two, between the resurrection and ascension. Luke is the only author to give us an ascension as such, a physical way of connoting the exaltation (Lk 24:51, Acts I :9). We can recall Luke's physicalization of the resurrection appearances as well. (5) In the Gospel of John exaltation is often expressed as glorification (7:39, 12:16, 13:31), or as the lifting up of the Son of Humanity, (3:14, 8:28, 12:23-34), a lifting up which implies the crucifixion as well -- the crucifixion resulting in the exaltation of Jesus.

The exaltation of Jesus denotes the conviction of the early Christians that he had been given a special status or prerogative, a name above other names, that Jesus had been made Lord. This status is not simply an inevitable consequence of resurrection and does not necessarily flow from it. Many, indeed all the righteous, will be raised from the dead. However, only one became Lord and was exalted to the position of "the right hand of the Father." This exaltation implies another aspect of God's act of raising Jesus. There are at least two aspects to God's act -- Jesus' being raised and also being exalted. Both are God's act. Jesus neither raises nor exalts himself.14

Since exaltation ordinarily includes within it the concept of resurrection, at least in reference to the exaltation of Jesus, whereas resurrection need not imply exaltation, the concept and langauge of exaltation ought be taken as the more inclusive. Exaltation includes resurrection, but the converse is not true. Thus one can readily speak about Jesus' exaltation without any reference to resurrection, for it is implied (as in number 1 above).

Although resurrection and exaltation are distinguishable, they are still closely connected (numbers 2 and 3 above). Thus it is best to see them as distinguishable aspects, but not as separate events. Only Luke's language suggests a basis for distinguishing two events, resurrection and ascension. For John the exaltation or glorification is almost an immediate consequence of the cross. Thus the exaltation, or glorification or ascension, is another aspect of the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, another action of God which went beyond simply raising Jesus from the dead, or at least a further understanding or interpretation of God's act of raising Jesus. We can thus speak of the death-resurrection-exaltation of Jesus, three dimensions of one historical event in the life of Jesus, the last two aspects of which are both meta-historiographical.15

Although exaltation and resurrection are not necessarily distinct, separable, distinguishable events for Jesus, but simply distinguishable aspects of an event, the language of exaltation for talking about the fate of Jesus is distinguisable from the language of resurrection. The language of exaltation may in fact have preceded the language of resurrection as a way of describing Jesus' destiny. Although it represents another dimension or fuller understanding of the resurrection of Jesus, in the consciousness and proclamation of the disciples it may have preceded an articulation of Jesus as raised. It may also have been the primary understanding. But there is no way of knowing. Both aspects of Jesus' fate and the language to express them are present early in the preaching of the church.

Death-exaltation then is not simply a synonym for nor an independent alternative to death-resurrection. Exaltation and resurrection are distinguishable in meaning but not as events in history. Exaltation expresses the full significance of Jesus' resurrection. In this sense Jesus was exalted (ascended to heaven) directly from the cross. When he died he was raised from the dead and also given authority at the right hand of the Father.16 The image of exaltation captures a further consequence or richer understanding of the resurrection of Jesus as distinct from the resurrection of others in general. Yet, as an event, it is part of his resurrection.

Ascension and Pentecost

We have already indicated that the theological content of ascension is the exaltation of Jesus to the status of Lord.17 It means that Jesus ascended to the heavens, was exalted to the right hand of the Father, given God's glory. Only Luke, in Acts, speaks about the ascension in a physical and temporal way, as a distinct historical event. Yet we have suggested that we are not dealing here with two events, but with one event with several aspects to it. A.M. Ramsey writes, "Theologically the two doctrines are distinct. As to an event of Ascension distinct from the event of the Resurrection, the allusions to the Ascension in the apostles' preaching and letters give almost no hint that it was a separate historical event."18

Matthew's account of the appearance to the Eleven presupposes that Jesus has already ascended to the heavens and entered into his glory. It is an appearance from the heavens.

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Mt 28:18)
John's Gospel also envisions Jesus' ascension as following shortly upon the resurrection (Jn 20:17). Even the Gospel of Luke suggests that the ascension took place on Easter Day or shortly thereafter. If not read in the light of the Acts, there is no interval in Luke between the appearance to the Eleven and Jesus' ascension to heaven (Lk 24:36-53). The Marcan appendix records the ascension and suggests it as an event following the appearances, but gives no precise date (Mk 16:19-20). Thus only the account in Acts suggests a visible ascension forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:1-11). The forty days is symbolic, and various suggestions have been made with respect to the symbolism, for example, Moses on Sinai, the period of the disciples' preparation for ministry in relation to Jesus' own preparation in the wilderness, as an imitation of the rabbinic usage of forty as a norm for the disciples' learning and repetition of their masters' teachings.

The ascension or exaltation of Jesus took place on the same day and at the same time as the resurrection of Jesus. It was an aspect of that one event. Pierre Benoit writes, "The deepest meaning of the ascension is Jesus' entry into glory, and in this sense it took place on Easter Day itself, at the moment of the resurrection."19 The earliest Christian theologians placed the ascension on Easter Day.20 Even now -- although we are accustomed to thinking of the ascension as a feast forty days after Easter -- the liturgical celebration is within the Easter season, a celebration during the continuing fifty-day celebration of Easter itself. It is a celebration of one theologically distinguishable aspect of the Easter mystery. Liturgically it is a celebration of Easter and not a feast or event distinct from Easter.

At the time of the celebration of the feast of the Passover, in 30 or 33 C.E., Jesus was executed by crucifixion outside the walls of Jerusalem. On that day, as he died, he was raised from the dead by his beloved and heavenly Father who also exalted him and shared his Lordship with him. For a period of time after this event Jesus made his presence known to those whom he loved and who had followed him. Jesus had become the Lord and Risen One. The faith and proclamation were born. During this period Jesus also imparted to his disciples the gift of his Spirit. Whereas the appearances seem to have been the immediate source of faith, the gift of the Spirit was the immediate source for the proclamation. Thus Jesus who was crucified had been raised from the dead and became both Lord and Christ. Faith emerged and the church had been born. A decisive event for the history of the church, however, came with the celebration of the feast of Pentecost.

Although the celebration of the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was not as prominent a feast in the time of Jesus as were Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), it was nevertheless a feast which many pilgrims would celebrate in Jerusalem, a festival celebrating the end of the grain harvest. The feast had no fixed date but was celebrated fifty days after the offering of the first sheaf of the newly cut barley. Sadducees and Pharisees reckoned the day for the first offering of the grain harvest differently, but both did so in relation to the feast of Passover. Thus the celebration of the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was approximately fifty days after the feast of Passover.

Given the events of this one particular Passover for the disciples of Jesus -- the execution of their teacher, their fear and disillusionment and sorrow, and later the appearance-experiences and their corresponding joy and faith, perhaps even the gift of the Spirit and the beginning of the proclamation that Jesus had already been raised from the dead -- this was a Passover that would not be forgotten. Did some of the disciples who had returned to Galilee now go as devout Jews to celebrate joyfully the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem? Had the disciples already received the gift of the Spirit (John 20:22-23), or did they receive it in Jerusalem on the occasion of the feast (Acts 2:1-13)? Was this the occasion when the stories of the events in Galilee met for the first time the stories of the events that had occurred in Jerusalem and its vicinity? Was the Pentecostal experience in Jerusalem an experience of the giving of the gift of the Spirit or an experience of the outpouring of that gift as many disciples of Jesus met for the first time since the calamity there at the preceding Passover celebration? Was it an experience of the strength of being back together and thus the first fruits of the gift of the Spirit? Did any of the disciples really return to Jerusalem at this time at all, or was this an event solely within the Jerusalem community? Was this experience at Pentecost the same as the appearance-experience related by Paul when he speaks of Jesus' having appeared to more than 500 at the same time?21 Although we do not know the answers to these questions, the experience of Pentecost in that particular year was an event of historic significance in the life of what would be the Christian Church.

The event included the feast of Pentecost, manifestations of the gift and power of the Spirit, and truly public preaching. Following the description of the event, Luke presents an address, one of the sources for our knowledge of the earliest preaching of Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). This is followed by a report about converts and an idealized description of an early Jewish-Christian Jerusalem community.

What actually happened on this occasion is not our concern here. But the celebration of Pentecost brought to a close the Easter season. It was both end and beginning. It was the end of that period of history in which the disciples experienced the risen Jesus as recorded in the appearances and the end of the resurrection event itself as its consequences draw to a close. It was the beginning of a new period in the story of Jesus, the proclamation and the church. The concluding episode in Jesus' life on earth comes to a close as Jesus leaves with his disciples the gift of his very own Spirit. Jesus had died, was raised, exalted, appeared to his disciples, and gave the gift of the Spirit. The power of the Spirit had already begun to manifest itself. The events following upon the death-resurrection-exaltation of Jesus were coming to a close. The church had been born. Paul was to experience his own call within a couple of years.

Jesus is Lord

The efforts to trace the history of the titles which are applied to Jesus in the New Testament often lead to complex and hypothetical suggestions. There are three principles which will be of help to us, however. (1) It is necessary to be conscious of two phases or at least the possibility of two phases of development behind each New Testament expression -- the pre-resurrection situation and the post-resurrection situation. The resurrection of Jesus had a significant impact on the understanding and expectations of Jesus' followers. Faith in him, which was being expressed after the resurrection, the appearance-experiences, and the event of Pentecost, was no longer the same as the faith in him which the disciples had shown while he was with them in the flesh. Thus we have to ask the question, with respect to the expression "Lord" or any of the titles, what meaning it conveyed as applied to Jesus prior to the resurrection and what meaning it conveyed as applied to Jesus after the resurrection. Behind each expression there lies the possibility of at least two phases of development. (2) After the resurrection, within the development of early first-century Christian thought, one can also distinguish between the situations of Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity. Thus "Lord" as applied to Jesus within Jewish Christian communities may not have carried all the meaning or the same meaning that it carried within a Gentile Christian church. Caution must be expressed, however, with respect to another distinction which has almost become commonplace, that between Palestinian-Jewish and Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity. Given the pervasive effects of hellenization within Palestine, as we saw in Volume One of this series, this is no longer a valid way of speaking and ought not be presumed. Although one can validly speak about Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity, the distinction between Palestinian Judaism and Hellenistic Judaism is on tenuous grounds. (3) In the post-resurrection period, some of the expressions or titles are fluid and flexible, especially some of those which are more significant or frequent. In fact, those titles which were too fixed in their meaning were more likely to die out or be of less use to the church. The expressions which were of greater value to the church were those capable of carrying more and more meaning. Thus, those expressions which became particularly prominent were those about which one cannot be as precise with their meaning. The most valuable titles were flexible, such as Lord, Christ, Son of God.

In discussing here the Lordship of Jesus, we will focus on the first of these three principles. What did the title "Lord" mean and how was it applied to Jesus prior to the resurrection, and what did it mean as applied to Jesus after the resurrection?22 The Greek word for Lord in the New Testament is kyrios (ho kyrios = the Lord, kyrie = Lord, as a form of address). The Greek kyrios translates two Semitic words: the Aramaic mar, lord (mari = my lord, maran = our lord); and the Hebrew 'adonai = my lord); and the Hebrew 'adhon, lord ('adonai = my lord). The Semitic words were used in Judaism in at least three ways.

1. "Lord" means God. In Aramaic literature there is evidence of God's being addressed as "my Lord," mari. In Hebrew, God was also addressed as 'adonai, which was also the substitute for the proper name of God which was the unpronounced tetragrammaton. In the Greek Septuagint, the name of God was translated as kyrios. The Greek word itself, kyrios, entered the language of Galilean Aramaic as an Aramaic word borrowed from the Greek and used to refer to God.

2. In Aramaic, the word "Lord" (mar) was also commonly used as a form of address for human beings, as in addressing a ruler or father or husband. Here also there was an interchangeability between the Aramaic word (mar) and the Greek word (kyrios). Kyrios was sometimes used almost as an Aramaic word and mar as a Greek word. Thus mar and kyrios were practically interchangeable.

3. A variation of this second use was the relationship between "lord" and "teacher." Usage overlapped here, and yet mari was not a synonym for rabbi. "Lord" was used frequently as an address to teachers, yet the word mar connoted an even higher level of dignity or respect and may also have connoted the power to work miracles. The word "Lord" also came to be applicable to the expected Messiah.

Thus we can see that the Aramaic word for Lord had a variety of meanings or uses. It had a thoroughly Palestinian setting. It was practically interchangeable with the Greek kyrios which found its way as a Greek word into the Aramaic language. One cannot restrict the background for its meaning to the Hellenistic Gentile church. The word denoted authority in some form. The varied usage is reflected in Psalm 1 10:1, "The Lord said to my lord," where the first is the tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the second the king ('adonai), both translated into the Greek Septuagint as kyrios. Was Lord applied to Jesus in his lifetime, and, if so, in what sense?

There is sufficient New Testament evidence to suggest that Jesus was referred to as Lord, mari (e.g. Mk 7:28; Mt 8:2, 6-8, 21).23 There is no reason to see this in contrast to ordinary Palestinian Aramaic usage. Jesus referred to as Lord, in the pre-resurrection phase, did not denote the divinity of Jesus, but rather was in accord with the way of addressing someone human with proper respect. We have already seen Jesus in Volume One as a teacher, for some the teacher. He was also a worker of wonders, healings and exorcisms. He spoke as one having authority. The title was not simply an equivalent to rabbi and could have carried several connotations in reference to his earthly ministry.

The post-resurrection use of kyrios, however, was different. The expression may have acquired increased meaning in Gentile churches, but there is no need to go outside Jewish Christianity for its origins. In the post-resurrection usage the expression acquired more significance than it had in reference to Jesus during his lifetime. It was based on the disciples' experience of Jesus as raised from the dead and exalted and their belief that he would come again. It expressed their new faith and understanding. Fitzmyer opts for a Palestinian Jewish-Christian background for the post-Easter application of the title Lord to Jesus, a title already incipiently used by Jews for the tetragrammaton.24 The expression kyrios had its post-Easter origins among the Jewish-Christian Hellenists. The "Hebrews" of the Jewish-Christian community applied to Jesus the expressions mar and 'adhon and may have translated these by kyrios in their dealings with the Hellenists. Fitzmyer also suggests that "Lord," in its post-resurrection usage, was first applied to Jesus in reference to his future coming but then extended and retrojected to apply to the continuing present activity of Jesus, to the exalted Jesus, to Jesus as raised from the dead, and even to the earthly Jesus. The post-resurrection title as applied to the earthly Jesus was different from the way in which the expression was used of Jesus; in his own lifetime.

Lordship contains the connotation of resurrection, exaltation, present activity, and future coming. Jesus is the one who is at the right hand of the Father and the one who is to come again. "Lord" expressed the newly born post-resurrection faith and commitment of the Galilean disciples. Thus we see a distinctiveness in the post-resurrection use as a proclamation of the new faith. We do not yet have here what later comes to be a statement on the divinity of Jesus. We have rather a statement of the earliest Jewish-Christian proclamation (Acts 2:36, 3:12). Jesus shares in the "transcendence" of God, is more than merely human, but is not yet identified as God. The New Testament seldom calls Jesus God and does so only in later writing (Heb 1:8, Jn 20:28).25

We see exemplified here our third principle above concerning the flexibility of some of the titles. The expression "Lord" was particularly useful and used because it was flexible enough to carry the increased meaning or understanding that would be demanded of it. An expression like rabbi or teacher was less able to carry the growing under standing of the church. But "Lord" allowed the consciousness of the church to develop and, as a title, was able to carry more and more meaning. Jesus is Lord, which is to say not only was so on earth but still is, as raised from the dead, as exalted, as present to us, as one who is to come, as the Messiah for whom we had been waiting. "Lord" conveyed an understanding of both the pre-resurrection Jesus and postresurrection Jesus. As Ferdinand Hahn writes, "What distinguishes the use of kyrie and ho kyrios from rabbi didaskale and ho didaskalos is the fact that the latter remains confined in its use to the earthly Jesus, whereas the address 'Lord' was at a very early stage applied to Jesus whose return was expected."26 Even in the pre-resurrection period, rabbi and kyrie were not synonyms, but Hahn is correct in observing that Lord/kyrios would be of greater use to the church. It could interpret both his pre-resurrection ministry and post-resurrection mission as well. Jesus was Risen Lord. The formula maranatha (1 Cor 16:22, "Our Lord, come") reflects the eschatological side of the post-resurrection Palestinian Jewish-Christian understanding of the Lordship of Jesus. This Lordship also includes an exalted status, as is apparent in the appearance narrative in Matthew. The expression "Lord" is flexible enough to carry the development in early christology.

Lord as a title was simply open to development, able to refer both to the earthly and the risen Jesus. It was able to carry eschatological, messianic, and cosmic connotations. It acquired even further significance in the Gentile Christian churches. In its earliest usage it expressed a risen, exalted, and soon-to-return Jesus. ln its Palestinian Jewish setting it did not imply a divine nature. In the New Testament then, Lord (kyrios) can denote (1) God, (2) the earthly Jesus, and (3) the risen, exalted, and awaited Jesus. It is a flexible expression. And as applied to Jesus it has a different meaning in its pre-resurrection and post-resurrection usage.


1 On the futility of such harmonization see Gerald O'Collins, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1973), 18-28; Pheme Perkins, Resurrection, New Testament Witness and Contempororary Reflection (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1984), 17-35.

2 For a theological understanding of the resurrection of Jesus, see C.F. Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, SBT, Second Series, 12 (London: SCM, 1970), 132-83. A Protestant discussion which remains comprehensive and insightful is Walter Künneth, The Theology of the Resurrection (St Louis: Concordia Pub., 1933/1951/1965), a discussion of both historical and theological questions. Also comprehensive is the Roman Catholic discussion, F.X. Durrwell, The Resurrection (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960).

3 See Ulrich Wilckens, "The Tradition-History of the Resurrection of Jesus," in The Significance of the Message of the Resurrection for Faith in Jesus Christ, ed. by C.F.D. Moule, SBT, Second Series, 8 (London: SCM, 1968), 64.

4 Gerhard Delling, "The Significance of the Resurrection of Jesus for Faith in Jesus Christ," in The Significance of the Message of the Resurrection for Faith in Jesus Christ, 99. On this point, also see Pannenberg, Jesus--God and Man, trans. Wilkins and Priebe (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964), 67-68, point b.

5 See Durrwell, The Resurrection, esp. 1-77; Künneth, The Theology of the Resurrection.

6 Wilckens, "The Tradition -- History of the Resurrection of Jesus," 65.

7 Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, 149.

8 On this point, see Pannenberg, Jesus--God and Man, 66-73, esp. points a,c,e.

9 Cf., Rom. 8:29; I Cor. 15:20, 23; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5. The expression, Jesus as firstborn from the dead, indicates the eschatological significance attached to Jesus' resurrection among early Christians. Even if Jesus were not literally the first human being to have been raised, say the patriarchs and martyrs before him had been raised, or that resurrection for all begins at death, Jesus' resurrection would still be considered by Christians as first in the order of eschatological significance. His resurrection has a pre-eminence.

10 See James D.G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1975), 95-156.

11 Cf., Künneth, The Theology of the Resurrection, 161-79.

12 Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, 147.

13 See C.F. Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, 13543, X. Léon Dufour, Resurrection and the Message of Easter, trans. R.N. Wilson (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974), 55-7S. Künneth, The Theology of the Resurrection, 129-49.

14 See Künneth. The Theology of the Resurrection, 129-30.

15 The New Testament distinguishes the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. See H. Sasse, "Jesus Christ, the Lord," in G.K.A. Bell and A. Deissmann, eds., Mysterium Christi (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930), 93-120. This distinction. however, does not imply two separate events as suggested by Acts. See A. M . Ramsey, "What Was the Ascension?" Historicity and Chronology in the New Testament (London: SPCK. 1965), 135-44.

16 Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, 137. Also G. Bertram,. "Die Himmelfahrt Jesu vom Kreuz aus und der Glaube an seine Auferstehung." Festgabe für Adolf Deissmann (1927), 187ff. In spite of critique, it is a valid way of describing the reality even if it may be a mixing of the metaphors. Jesus ascended to heaven from the cross, for the reality that ascension figuratively describes is the exaltation of Jesus.

17 Concerning the ascension, see Benoit, "Ascension," Revue biblique, 61 (1949), 161-203, also in Theology Digest 8 (1960), 105-10; Benoit, The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, trans. Benet Weatherhead (N.Y.: Herder and Herder, 1970), 334, 34142; Joseph Fitzmyer, "The Ascension of Christ and Pentecost," Theological Studies 45 (1984), 409-40; A.M. Ramsey, "What Was the Ascension?" note 15 above; H. Sasse, "Jesus Christ the Lord," note 15 above. Also see Bruce Vawter, The Four Gospels (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967), 410-11.

18 A.M. Ramsey, "What Was the Ascension?" 144.

19 Benoit, The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, 334

20 See Benoit, "Ascension", note 17 of this chapter.

21 For the suggestion concerning the relationship of events to the Jewish festival, see C.F.D. Moule, "The Post-Resurrection Appearances in the Light of Festival Pilgrimages," New Testament Studies, 4 (1957-58), 58-61. For the suggestion of a relationship between Pentecost and the appearance to the 500, see Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1971), 36. For a thorough and critical commentary on the passages from Acts, see Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971), esp. 135-96. Also see Fitzmyer, "The Ascension of Christ and Pentecost," note 17 above.

22 See Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament Revised Edition, trans. Shirley C. Guthrie and Charles A.M. Hall (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1963), 195-237. Joseph Fitzmyer, "The Semitic Background of the New Testament Kyrios - Title," in A Wandering Aramean: Collected Aramaic Essays (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1979), 115-42. Reginald Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965), 184-88. Ferdinand Hahn, The Titles of Jesus in Christology, trans. Harold Knight and George Ogg (London: Lutterworth Press. 1969), 68-135. Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew, A Historian's Reading of the Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973) 103-28. The most up-to-date expositions of the issues are those of Fitzmyer and Vermes.

23 See Fitzmyer, "The Semitic Background of the New Testament Kyrios - Title," 127-28; Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 122-28.

24 See Fitzmyer. fn. 22 of this chapter.

25 See Raymond Brown, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?" Theological Studies, 26 (1965), 545-73. reprinted in Jesus--God and Man (Milwaukee: Bruce 1967), 1-38. Also see Fitzmyer, "The Semitic Background of the New Testament Kyrios - Title," 130-32.

26 Hahn, The Titles of Jesus in Christology, 89.