God’s Sovereignty

God’s sovereignty includes both His power to do all that He wills and His rightful exercise of authority over His creation and His creatures. As the Almighty, His rule is righteous, and He expects human beings to recognize and submit to His lordship.
In the language of classic Christian teaching, God’s power is called His omnipotence. Whatever He wills surely comes to pass. After the New Testament period, the earliest Christian confession (the Apostles’ Creed) opened with the words, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Biblical teaching and Christian belief always and everywhere have declared the twin truths that God has all power and that He rules actively as universal Sovereign.

The Old Testament used various names for God, most of which underscore His rule as Lord, both of the world and of Israel. The following list shows the most important of these. The translation is that of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Other English versions are similar.

 Yahweh (YHWH)
 Adonai Yahweh
 Lord GOD
 Yahweh Sabaoth
 LORD of Hosts
 El Shaddai
 God Almighty

In Scripture, adonai was also used for the human master in a master-servant relationship (Ex 21:1-6). Since the same term is applied to the God-human relationship, this shows His authority and the duty of His people joyfully to submit to Him. This master-servant bond was reciprocal. On one hand, the servant was to obey the Lord absolutely. On the other hand the Master obligated Himself to care for His servants. Those who called on God by His name, Lord, expected Him to take care of them, and God in turn expected their obedience in all things.

When the New Testament quotes the Old, the Greek kyrios (Lord) translates both Adonai and Yahweh. A striking example is the quotation of Psalm 110:1 in Mark 12:36: “The Lord [Hebrew Yahweh; Greek kyrios] declared to my Lord [Hebrew Adonai; Greek kyrios], ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’” Thus, when Jesus’ followers addressed Him as Lord, this meant much more than “master” in an earthly sense. Paul wrote that someday everyone will bow to Jesus and all will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:11). Hence Old Testament belief regarding God’s authority was recognized as fully resident in Christ. The New Testament term “master” (Greek despotes, from which the English term “despot” comes), used infrequently, referred either to a human master or to God as the sovereign Master (Lk 2:29; Ac 4:24; 2 Tm 2:21; 2 Pt 2:1; Jd 4; Rv 6:10).

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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