"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

King of kings, Lord of lords

The phrase “king of kings” is found in Scripture six times. Once, the title is applied to God the Father (1 Timothy 6:15), and twice to the Lord Jesus (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). The other three (Ezra 7:12; Ezekiel 26:7; Daniel 2:37) refer to either Artaxerxes or Nebuchadnezzar, kings who used the phrase to describe their supposed sovereignty over their respective realms (Persia and Babylon). The phrase “lord of lords” is used in Scripture five times and only referring to God (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). It is significant to note that, used together, the two phrases refer only to Jesus the Christ.

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is concluding his letter to Timothy, reminding him to fight the good fight and keep his profession of faith.Timothy is to do these things “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” whom he describes as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion.” The title indicates one who has the power to exercise absolute dominion. In the case of the Lord Jesus, his realm is all of creation. Paul takes pains to emphasize the unique nature of Christ’s rule, calling Him the “only” Sovereign, who is “alone” and “unapproachable.” The rule of Jesus stands alone and above all. Jesus trumps all.

The other two uses of the phrase, those in Revelation, refer to the return and final conquest of Jesus. The implication is that ultimately all other rules will be conquered or abolished, and He alone will reign supreme as King and Lord of all.  The writer of Hebrews says of the Lord Jesus: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The next verse describes Jesus as “much superior” to the angels. Clearly, His rule is absolute.

Paul clarifies this rule is derived from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In Philippians 2:5-11, he discusses the lengths to which Jesus went to atone for sinners, and concludes that this is the reason that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv. 9-11).

Finally, the Book of Revelation fully reveals the Kingship of Jesus. In chapter 5, the Lamb (Jesus) is the only one in all creation found worthy to open the scroll containing the judgments of God (vv. 2-5). In chapter 11, voices in heaven proclaim that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of Christ, and that He will reign forever and ever (v. 15). In chapter 12,  the authority of Christ is what causes Satan to be thrown down to earth (vv. 9-10). In chapter 17:12-14, the Lamb conquers all those gathered against Him, and John stresses that He conquers because He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Finally, in chapter 19, we read of His triumphant coming to strike the nations and tread the winepress of the wrath of God, having the authority to do so as King of kings and Lord of lords (vv. 11-16).

Jesus being King of kings and Lord of lords means that there is no greater authority. His reign over all  is absolute. God raised Him from the dead and placed Him over all things, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:21-23).

In a world that questions or ignores his existence, we followers are challenged to remember his authority over us. His commands (e.g. love one another) are not mere suggestions. But what he calls us to do, he also empowers us to do. Why wait for a final judgment day to bow to him? Everything in the universe is his, including you and all you call "yours". Offer it to him now because, he only has your best interest at heart. And as Paul writes in Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts," because Jesus trumps all.