The following notes are from a study in the Foundational Series given at the Pauline Church of Christ by Pastor Rick Farwell on Sunday evening July 15th, 2007.
This evening, I would like to present, as a conclusion to our series on the Oneness of our God, a word study of the Greek word despotEs. In the Concordant Version it is assigned the uniform rendering owner, and I am presently convinced that that is the best English equivalent for this Greek word in light of its usage. I believe a careful and reverent study of this word as it relates to our one God will once again bring us to respond, as did Thomas "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
In beginning, I find myself helped greatly by the Concordant Literal New Testament's Greek-English Keyword Concordance, which on the lower righthand corner of page 215 gives the following definition of despotEs, "owner, one who has absolute possession." This was also the definition given in the 1930 Concordant Version's comprehensive Lexicon and Concordance. Now let us examine the relevant Scripture passages in which this word occurs.
And lo! there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name is Simeon. And this man is just and pious, anticipating the consolation of Israel, and holy spirit was on him." And he was apprised by the holy spirit that he would not be acquainted with death ere he should be acquainted with the Lord's Christ.
And he came, in the spirit, into the sanctuary, and as the parents are bringing in the little Boy Jesus, for them to do according to the custom of the law concerning Him, he also receives Him, clasping Him in his arms. And he blesses God, and said,
Now art Thou dismissing Thy slave, O Owner,
According to Thy declaration, in peace,
For my eyes perceived Thy Salvation,
Which Thou dost make ready suiting the face of all the peoples,
A Light for the revelation of nations,
And the Glory of Thy people Israel."
Here we have our first occurrence and it is indeed instructive, but we must be careful and not make a snap judgment from this and conclude that the Owner cannot be the Lord Jesus. Or, conclude all too quickly, that we have here proof positive that there must of necessity be two or three Entities. Even though we have mentioned here the Holy Spirit, God, and the Lord's Christ. Mankind's desire for instant answers and immediate understanding from a few scattered proof texts has given us a plurality of views of God in the form of various Trinitarian, Ditheist, and Arian theologies. Suffice it to say, I believe this study will give us a grander more satisfying view of our Owner, but I anticipate.
Note the usage of the other highlighted word Salvation, this is not the abstract and more frequently found word sOtEria but the less common concrete word sOtErion which has the idea of a saving-work or a salvation-operation. The Lord Jesus, even as a little Boy of just under six weeks of age, is already declared to be God's saving-work! For indeed, the Name Jesus has the connotation of "Yahweh-Saviour", neither is there any different Name under heaven whereby men can be saved, for everyone, whoever should be invoking the name of the Lord, shall be saved! (Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:13).
Another notable feature of this account in Luke chapter two is that in the immediate context of Simeon's prayer to God as Owner, he speaks of himself as slave and the narrator refers to our Lord Jesus as "Boy", a term with a double thought in Greek as well as in many other languages of one who is young, as a child, but also as one who is property, a slave no matter the age. My thoughts immediately go to that great passage of our Lord's self humiliation, "...nevertheless empties Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of humanity,"(Phil. 2:7). He rarely used of Himself the title "Son of God" but often, He united Himself with humanity by calling Himself the Son of Mankind. Thus it was that "The Word becomes flesh, and tabernacles among us"(John 1:14).
With these thoughts in mind, we may now examine the next passage in cannonical order, also penned by Luke, Acts 4:23-30.
Now, being released, they came to their own and report whatever the chief priests and the elders say to them." Now those who hear, with one accord lift up their voice to God and say, O Owner, Thou Who makest heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, Who through holy spirit, by the mouth of our father, Thy boy David, art saying,
'Why are the nations perturbed?
And why do the peoples mumble empty phrases?
Standing by are the kings of the land,
And the chancellors gathered in the same place,
Against the Lord and against His Christ.'"
For of a truth, in this city were gathered against Thy holy Boy Jesus, Whom Thou dost anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the nations and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy counsel designates beforehand to occur. And now, Lord, take notice of their threatenings, and be Thou endowing Thy slaves with all boldness to be speaking Thy word, by the stretching out of Thy hand for healing and signs and miracles to occur through the name of Thy holy Boy Jesus."(Acts 4:23-30)
Here there are many parallels with Luke's account. To name a few, prayer is made to God as Owner, the Lord Jesus is called "Boy." We have mention of Holy Spirit, "the Lord and His Christ" echos "the Lord's Christ" of Lk. 2:26, and of course the word "slaves" is part of the context. However, there are the subtle differences. This is all spoken by those present with Peter and John "in one accord", the Owner is seen as Creator, David is mentioned as "Thy boy David", the Lord Jesus as "Thy holy Boy Jesus," two times. The beseeching seems to be in request of power for signs and miracles, whereas Simeon, a man righteous and pious, was granted the expectation of seeing the Lord Jesus, the Saving-Work of God!
For the sake of time we must continue on to our next passage, which has reference to God as Owner. Keeping in mind that we have yet to arrive at a truely definitive passage as to the full identity of our Owner.
"Howbeit, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knew those who are His, and, Let everyone who is naming the name of the Lord withdraw from injustice.
Now in a great house there are not only gold and silver utensils, but wooden and earthenware also, and some indeed for honor, yet some for dishonor. If, then, anyone should ever be purging himself from these, he will be a utensil for honor, hallowed, and useful to the Owner, made ready for every good act."(2Ti 2:19-21).
This passage from 2 Timothy is Paul's only contribution to our study. God and Lord are used here, "Lord" kurios is often used for the Hebrew name Yahweh, as it is here where this is a quotation from Numbers 16:5 "The ...His", the second part is not a quotation "Let...injustice". The Owner is not identified, but it seems to refer back to "Lord". Many have made a distinction based upon an interpretation of 1 Cor. 8:6, that the one Lord is Jesus Christ, and that the one God can only be the Father. Nevertheless, this is not a definitive passage either, but, soon it will be clear that we need not guess as to the identity of the Owner.
Let us now examine a passage that when combined with Jude's epistle, will illumine all other passages beyond contradiction.
"Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many will be following out their wantonness, because of whom the glory of the truth will be calumniated, and in greed, with suave words, they will traffic in you, whose judgment of old is not idling, and their destruction is not nodding."(2Pet. 2:1-3)
The use of the word "disown" appears to be a play on words, but this is only due to an accident of English. The words in the Greek have no commonality, either phonetically or linguistically. The word is also rendered "deny" in the Concordant Version, it comes from the Greek word arneomai. The word is of unsure origin, Keyword Concordance gives "go back on a word confirmed by sacrifice (un-lamb)", but Strong's Concordance sees it as a negative joined to an irregualar form of the verb reO for declare, so you would have the idea of "un" or "not" declare. One thing that can help in identifying Who the Owner is, is the preponderance of passages in which Christ is said to be "disowned". In one place do we read differently and then only slightly so.
"Who is the liar, if not he who is denying, saying that 'Jesus is not the Christ'? This one is the antichrist, who is disowning the Father and the Son. Everyone who is disowning the Son, neither has the Father. He who is avowing the Son has the Father also."(1Jn 2:22-23)
In all three places the same Greek word occurs, but it seems that the denying/disowning refers to the Lord Jesus, but perhaps the phrase "Who buys them" may help as well.
"and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Suzerain of the kings of the earth. To Him Who is loving us and looses us from our sins by His blood"(Rev 1:5)
"For Thou(the Lambkin) wast slain and dost buy us for God by Thy blood." (Rev. 5:9)
I think these verses makes for a strong case, taken along with the word "deny" that the Lord Jesus is the Owner here in 2 Peter 2:1-3. And now on to the verses in Jude which I think is our key passage to all the verses we have looked at in this study. "Beloved, giving all diligence to be writing to you concerning our common salvation and life, I have had the necessity to write to you, entreating you to be contending for the faith once given over to the saints. For some men slip in who long ago have been written beforehand for this judgment; irreverent, bartering the grace of our God for wantonness, and disowning our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I am intending to remind you, you who once are aware of all, that the Lord, when saving the people out of the land of Egypt, secondly destroys those who believe not."(Jud. 3-5)
Here we have it! Clear and concise, if only we can believe it. The only Owner and Lord for us is Jesus Christ. And if He be a distinct Entity or a different Person from God, then God cannot be our Owner. But if He is God, then all is clear, God now can be known by name, and that name is Jesus, which goes back to the Hebrew name Yahweh Saviour. He is our only Saviour, His is the only name given whereby we must be saved! Father is not a name, Son is not a name, Holy Spirit is not a name. Jesus is His Name, God is One.
"And I perceived when the Lambkin opens one of the seven seals; and I hear one of the four animals saying, as with a voice of thunder, "Come!"
And I perceived, and lo! a white horse, and he who is sitting on it has a bow, and to him was given a wreath. And he came forth conquering and that he should be conquering.
And when It opens the second seal, I hear the second animal saying, "Come!" And forth came another horse, fiery-red, and to him who is sitting on it was given to take peace out of the earth, and that they should be slaying one another. And a huge sword was given to him.
And when It opens the third seal, I hear the third animal saying, "Come!And I perceived and lo! a black horse, and he who is sitting on it has a pair of balances in his hand. And I hear as it were a voice in the midst of the four animals saying, "A choenix of wheat a denarius, and three choenix of barley a denarius, and the oil and the wine you should not be injuring!"
And when It opens the fourth seal, I hear the voice of the fourth animal saying, "Come!" And I perceived, and lo! a greenish horse, and the name of him who is sitting upon it is Death, and the Unseen followed him. And jurisdiction was given them over the fourth of the earth, to kill with the blade and with famine and with death and by the wild beasts of the earth.
And when It opens the fifth seal, I perceived underneath the altar the souls of those who have been slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they had. And they cry with a loud voice, saying, "Till when, O Owner, holy and true, art Thou not judging and avenging our blood on those dwelling on the earth?(Rev 6:1-10)
Because of what we have gathered from all other contexts and from the definitive passage in Jude, the Owner Who will avenge them is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is also portrayed as the Lambkin and as "Him Who is sitting on the throne", in fact, He is called "the throne-centered Lambkin" (Rev. 7:16) and it is He Who is opening the seals in chapters 6-8 of Revelation.
Perhaps the great key to seeing the theme of this last book in Scripture, is in the first three words in the Greek apokalupsis iEsou christou which when properly translated reads Unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is not so much concerned about the future, though indeed it has much of Israel's future contained in it, but it is an unveiling of our Lord and Saviour, our only Owner, Jesus Christ. All the Divine titles are unveilings of Him and Him alone. He is the Great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ(Titus 2:13).
May we now, in humble adoration, confess Him as did Thomas "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
Rick Farwell Last updated 26.12.2007