Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Devotional by Pastor Jeremy Menicucci

In a recent study in Ephesians chapter 1 I came across something that for the first time I found rather interesting. In Ephesians 1:2 it reads in the NASB “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The phrase that caught my attention was “the Lord Jesus Christ.” The reason why this caught my attention is that in the Greek there is no definite article “the”. It literally simply reads: “Lord Jesus Christ” (κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, kuriou Iesou Christou.)

Many translators would simply assert that the article is understood from the context, and I would have to agree with them but possibly in a different respect and perhaps there is something more theologically profound underlying the lack of the definite article.

I never would have thought much about this phrase until I came across Luke 1:68, which reads: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.”
This passage says “the Lord God”, without the definite article “the” before “Lord” but it has one before “God” (κύριος ὁ θεὸς, literally Lord the God).

You might be asking yourself what the significance of this would be. Genesis 2:8 reads: “The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed.”

You’ll notice that LORD is in all caps. Anytime you see this you know that it is a translation of Yahweh. God in the Hebrew is the word Elohim. Yahweh never appears in the Hebrew text with the definite article. What really becomes interesting is the Greek translation of the Old Testament’s rendering of this passage. It translates Yahweh Elohim (the LORD God) as κύριος ὁ θεὸς (kurios o theos, Lord the God) the exact same way it appears in Luke 1:68.

Genesis 2:15 says The LORD God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
Again, “The LORD God” is the Hebrew “Yahweh Elohim” and the Greek κύριος ὁ θεὸς (Lord the God), exactly the way it comes out in Luke 1:68.

Here’s the other places in Genesis 2 where this occurs, where Yahweh is translated as κύριος (LORD) without the definite article “the” and Elohim is translated as ὁ θεὸς (The God) with the definite article “the”: Gen 2:16, 2:18.

This gets really interesting in Genesis 3:1. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” Once again “the LORD God” in Hebrew is Yahweh Elohim and in Greek κύριος ὁ θεὸς (Lord the God) exactly how it comes across in the Greek of Luke 1:68.

There are scores of other passages that I won’t bore you with that demonstrate that the Greek OT translates Yahweh Elohim as the Greek κύριος ὁ θεὸς (Lord the God) or essentially Yahweh as κύριος without the definite article.

But there are several more that are really important to the conclusion I’m going to suggest.
If you have a cross reference Bible you’ll probably notice that for Luke 1:68 there are several verses that they suggest as cross references. Before we look specifically at these verses let’s look a little deeper at the Greek of Luke 1:68. Luke 1:68 starts out by saying:

“Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel…”

Ἐυλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς.

The Greek word Ἐυλογητὸς is actually normally an adjective and never used of a creature, only true Deity. For clarity on pronunciation, here is the transliterated form Eulogetos kurios o theos.

So with that in mind notice the verses presented in the cross references. First, 1 Kings 1:48, “The king has also said thus, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Isreal, who has granted one to sit on my throne today while my own eyes see it.’”

Literally it reads:

“Blessed be the LORD God of Isreal…”

Ἐυλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς

Second, Psalm 41:13, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Isreal, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.”

Again, literally reads:

“Blessed be the LORD God of Israel…”

Ἐυλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς

Third, Psalm 72:18, “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders.”

“Blessed be the LORD God…”

Ἐυλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς

And Finally, Psalm 106:48, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD.”

Literally reads:

“Blessed be the LORD God of Israel”

Ἐυλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς

It seems abundantly clear to me that Luke is expressing the Greek understanding of the phrase, Yahweh Elohim. So he is literally stating in a Greek connotation that Yahweh visited us and accomplished redemption for His people. Jesus Christ is true deity, as He is truly Yahweh. And perhaps in Ephesians 1:2, Paul is expressing a similar concept of “Yahweh Jesus Christ”, as he presents κύριος (Lord) without the definite article, the way the Greek translation of the OT translated Yahweh.

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