Jesus is Lord
The saying "Jesus is Lord" serves as a statement of faith for millions of Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s who regard Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 as both fully man
The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

 and fully God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. It is also the motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 adopted by the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 and by Kenneth Copeland
Kenneth Copeland
Kenneth Copeland is an American author, public speaker, and televangelist. He is the founder of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, which preaches a “prosperity gospel”: "Prosperity gospel assures followers that the more they give including in the form of tithes to the church, the more they will receive...


The term 'lord' applied frequently in Eastern Mediterranean regions to local gods. In a number or Semitic languages the word for lord was ba'al, and prophets in the Hebrew Bible frequently rebuked those who worshipped 'Baal' or 'Baals'.

Interpretation as a creed

Various Christian sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

s have argued over how to tell whether one is a Christian or not. They wrote creed
A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

s that acted as a sine qua non
Sine qua non
Sine qua non or condicio sine qua non refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient...

 for membership within the fellowship. The statement "Jesus is Lord" has been described as the most basic Christian creed in existence.

of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 Christian Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 says, "...if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord
Lord is a title with various meanings. It can denote a prince or a feudal superior . The title today is mostly used in connection with the peerage of the United Kingdom or its predecessor countries, although some users of the title do not themselves hold peerages, and use it 'by courtesy'...

,' and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
From Matthew Henry's commentary on Romans Chapter 10:
"The self-condemned sinner need not perplex himself how this righteousness may be found. When we speak of looking upon Christ, and receiving, and feeding upon him, it is not Christ in heaven, nor Christ in the deep, that we mean; but Christ in the promise, Christ offered in the word. Justification by faith in Christ is a plain doctrine. It is brought before the mind and heart of every one, thus leaving him without excuse for unbelief. If a man confessed faith in Jesus, as the Lord and Saviour of lost sinners, and really believed in his heart that God had raised him from the dead, thus showing that he had accepted the atonement, he should be saved by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him through faith. But no faith is justifying which is not powerful in sanctifying the heart, and regulating all its affections by the love of Christ. We must devote and give up to God our souls and our bodies: our souls in believing with the heart, and our bodies in confessing with the mouth. The believer shall never have cause to repent his confident trust in the Lord Jesus. Of such faith no sinner shall be ashamed before God; and he ought to glorify in it before men."

Social and Political Interpretation

During the first century, the phrase Jesus is Lord was used as a contrast to the popular greeting amongst Roman citizens—Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

 is Lord. Because early Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 followers refused to swear allegiance to Roman empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (and its wars and merchants and kings), the empire saw their refusal as a social, religious, and political threat. In the Roman world emperors encouraged an imperial cult
Imperial cult
An imperial cult is a form of state religion in which an emperor, or a dynasty of emperors , are worshipped as messiahs, demigods or deities. "Cult" here is used to mean "worship", not in the modern pejorative sense...

 following, proclaiming and deifying themselves Lord and 'sons of god' and they were not open to being challenged. Emperors viewed their rule as divinely authorized and protected.

In first century social customs, honor must be proclaimed publicly, or it wasn't honor. For Judean-Christians to refuse to call Caesar 'lord' caused two problems for the empire. First, it was a public insult to the honor of the emperor and Rome. Worse, in proclaiming Jesus is Lord, these Judean-Christians were saying that their God deserved more honor than did Caesar who had beaten them in battle, destroyed Jerusalem (the seat of Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 the God of Israel), and made many of them slaves and refugees (see the First Jewish–Roman War). Second, it showed that the Judean-Christians believed Caesar did not rule by the power of the supreme God of the Cosmos (a form of patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

). In asserting 'Jesus is Lord' they were saying, instead, that Jesus (and YHWH) was the supreme God of the Cosmos, Jesus was the ultimate patron and redeemer, and Caesar was not.

Today, the assertion that "Jesus is Lord" is sometimes cited in order to sanction political action by Christians. But there are many different Christian groups with differing ideas as to how political Christianity should be. In the first century, religion and politics were inexorably mixed: both Rome and the Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 were theocracies (see theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

). To assert one's religious views, then, would have had a subversive impact on the political system at that time. But many of these early Judean-Christians had no desire to be political in the way we know it today. The works of Paul the Apostle entreat citizens to try to blend in and not make waves,, and Jesus himself suggests the payment of taxes exacted by Roman Emperors (Mark 12:17).

The statement that 'Jesus is Lord' was about which God you worshiped, not which political party you voted for. Would you "feed the hungry, care for the sick, clothe the naked, and release the captives" as Jesus and the Prophet Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

demanded, or would you worship Caesar and gain power and authority through acts of empire? Proclaiming "Caesar is Lord" meant one was loyal to the power of the empire and was expected to reap its benefits through patronage. Proclaiming "Jesus is Lord" meant one was loyal to God who expects each of his followers to "love your neighbor." It was subversive, it was not about influencing the political process. It was about following Jesus Christ.

As a worldview

The apostle Paul wrote, "We do not preach about ourselves, but we preach that Jesus Christ is Lord and that we are your servants for Jesus." It is a mindset imperative not only in understanding Christianity, but the very nature of truth itself. Jesus is Lord goes beyond a mantra or political statement and represents a worldview. Christians believe that Jesus Christ represents ultimate truth, meaning and reality whether people choose to accept it or not. It embodies an anchor in a world that sets its mind on a postmodernist worldview.

This statement also represents a strong relevance to the present as indicated by the present tense. It also equates Jesus with eternal sovereignty. As humans cannot exist in the realm of eternity, Christians must deal and act in the present. C.S. Lewis stated, "Where, except in the present, can the eternal be met?" Christians believe the eternal can be met in the person of Jesus and it is here that the need for truth and coherence is met.

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