Lord of the Old Testament and Lord of the New Testament

When you compare the following two Bible verses, you might get the initial impression that the Bible contradicts itself:

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. (Isa 45:5)

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Cor 8:6)

According to the first verse, the Lord is God, and they are apparently the very same Person. But according to the second verse, God and the Lord are two individual Persons in the Godhead.

However, it is important to note that the word “Lord” is a title applied by translators according to the contexts, and the contexts of these two verses are different. The first verse is from the Old Testament, and the second verse is from the New Testament. The word has been translated from two different words with different meanings from different languages - the first Hebrew and the second Greek.

The translators used the word “Lord” where Isaiah used the Hebrew word Yahweh, which means “I am (that I am).” This is the Hebrew expression that means the self-existent Creator of everything, the God of heaven and earth.

"The divine name Yahweh is usually translated Lord in English versions of the Bible, because it became a practice in late Old Testament Judaism not to pronounce the sacred name YHWH, but to say instead "my Lord" (Adonai) - a practice still used today in the synagogue. When the vowels of Adonai were attached to the consonants YHWH in the medieval period, the word Jehovah resulted. Today, many Christians use the word Yahweh, the more original pronunciation, not hesitating to name the divine name since Jesus taught believers to speak in a familiar way to God." (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

In 1 Corinthians the translators used the word “Lord” where the apostle Paul used the Greek word Kurios, which means a master or leader, and is sometimes used in the New Testament like the word “sir” or “Mr.” In the New Testament, the word "Lord" applies to Jesus because He is our Master.

Therefore, although the word "Lord" appears in both the Old and New Testaments, it is not translated from the same word or even the same original meaning. Thus, the word “Lord” is context sensitive, and it is inappropriate to assume that it applies to precisely the same member of the Godhead in both testaments. We must keep in mind that the writers of the New Testament were cognizant of the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead (see Trinity). But the writers of the Old Testament did not have a clear understanding of this attribute of God. So, we cannot expect a clear application of references to individual Persons in the Godhead by the Old Testament writers.

© 2005 William C. Hamer