Greek DESPOTES: "Sovereign Lord" New World Translation.

DESPOTES which the New World Translation renders "Sovereign Lord" at Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24 and Rev.6:10.

Ralph Earle points out regarding DESPOTES at Luke 2:29:

"Lord. This is not the usual word for Lord, kyrios(749 times in NT), which is also used for the "master" of slaves(Eph.6:5,9; Col.4:1). It is despotes(only 10 times in NT), from which we get despot. Thayer says that despotes "denoted absolute ownership and uncontrolled power" (p.130). This is brought out by the NIV : Sovereign Lord."

And remarks again regarding the occurrence of DESPOTA at Acts 4:24:

"Lord. The usual Greek word for "Lord" in the NT is kyrios. But here we have despota(vocative form of despotes)from which we get despot. Rengstorf notes that the earliest use of despotes was for "the master of the house who normally rules unconditionally his family and household."(TDNT, 2:44). It was also used for "the absolute ruler in the sense of an unlimited possibility of the exercise of power unchecked by any law, as exemplified in the Persian monarch"(pp. 44-45). In the Septuagint "it serves especially to emphasize the power of God"(p.45)or "to denote the omnipotence of God"(p.46). Rengstorf also says: "In Josephus despota is the most common form of address in prayer"(p.45, n.13). That is what we have here.......Probably the best translation of despota when addressed to God is "Sovereign Lord"(R[evised] S[tandard] V[ersion], N[ew] I[nternational] V[ersion]). This emphasizes His supreme power as Ruler."- Word Meanings in the New Testament, pp, 55, 101.

Linguistic Key To The New Testament:

"[Acts 4:24]despotes lord, sovereign lord. A word connected with servants(Bruce).."-Zondervan 1980, Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, page 270.

The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament adds:

" who holds complete power or authority over another(LN, 1:479; TDNT; NDIEC, 4:144)..." -Zondervan 1998, Cleon L. Rogers Jr & Cleon L. Rogers III, page 237. 

See also Appendix 1E in The New World Translation Reference Edition(1984), pp. 1566, 1567

Once again we see that the New World Translation has been faithful to its stated purpose of being a Bible version for study of the original words. Rendering DESPOTES as "Sovereign Lord" at Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24 and Rev.6:10 the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is to be commended for so differentiating between DESPOTES and KYRIOS which many modern English translations do not.

NB: Jesus as "Lord":
Trinitarians may ask how is it that Jesus can be called despoten(accusative, singular. "Sovereign"-NIV) at Jude.4 if he is not the "Sovereign Lord" also? Here though its possible we have two persons in view, first the "only Owner"(NWT) or "only Sovereign"(NIV), that is, the Father, God, and secondly the "Lord" Jesus Christ. We would refer our readers to The Expositor's Greek Testament in its discussion of this verse which argues strongly for the above and which includes a refutation of any appeal to Sharpes Rule, so called, which states that when two nouns connected by kai("and") and only the first has the article(the) the second is also an attribute of the same subject, namely, in this case, that Jesus Christ is being called both "Sovereign" and "Lord." This is not necessarily so here. This is indicated by the simple fact that if despotes meant "Sovereign Lord"(as it undoubtedly does when God the Father is addressed in prayer at
Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24 and Rev.6:10)then Jude calling Jesus Christ as kurios("Lord")also at the same place but connected by kai("and") with despotes would be somewhat redundant! That would mean that Jude was calling Jesus Christ "Sovereign Lord" and "Lord"! So the meaning of despotes here is undoubtedly "Owner" or "Master." There is a textual uncertainty here also. Some mss actually have theos("God")here along with despotes("Owner," "Master," "Sovereign") and the KJV reflects these mss by reading "...and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Two persons. Although the best mss omit theos here it is clear that early copyists understood that two persons, namely the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ is here mentioned and decided to make this clear by adding theos "God." Still, even if one considers that the subject, Jesus Christ, is being called despotes and kurios then despotes here undoubtedly means "Master" or "Owner"(NWT) rather than "Sovereign"(NIV) or "Lord" and in agreement with Jude beginning his letter by calling himself a 'doulos', a "slave of Jesus Christ"-v.1. At Acts 4.24 we see that Jesus Christ is seperate and distinct from the "Sovereign Lord"(NWT, NIV)to whom the Christ is His "servant". Though Jesus Christ is "Lords of lords"(1 Tim.6.14-16; Rev.17.14; 19.16), yet the "Lamb" is always made distinct from "God" in this last book), a title also enjoyed by Jehovah God(Deut.10.17), Jesus Christ's lordship was given him by Jehovah. His, the Son's, lordship is a derived one, one he has because the will and decision of another. See Acts 2.36 and Romans 14.9. When we read Ps.110.1 we see that Jehovah speaks to another and this one is "Lord." Jesus identifies Himself as this "Lord" (see Matthew 22.43-45)as does Peter at Acts 2.34.Yet from this it is evident this "Lord" is a seperate and distinct "Lord" from the one, Jehovah, that addresses him as such! Yes, two "Lords"! Yet this scripture does not say that Jesus was "Lord" before he came to earth as it clearly applies to him after his resurrection as Acts 2.31-33 shows and consequently his being "made Lord" refers after his return to the spiritual heavens to be once again beside the Father, God and refers to the time when he began "sitting at the right hand of God"
Jesus Christ's being "Lord" is not for the glory of some tri-une God but to the glory of "God the Father" only(Phil.2.11) and in the end this "Lord of lords" will subject Himself to "God" so that "God may be all things to everyone"...and this would include the Son.-1 Cor.15.27,28. So, the scriptures clearly show that it was God's decision and will to "subject all things" under the Son. The scriptures show that it was God's decision and will that the Son be "exalted" to a higher position than he had before his earthly life. In contrast the Father's Godship and Lordship is not a derived one nor His because the will and decision of another. This shows us the difference between the Father being the "one God" and the "Sovereign Lord" and the Son being the "one Lord."-1 Cor.8.6. God, Jehovah, is also "Lord" but he has given us another who can rightly be so called but only God the Father, Jehovah, is the "Sovereign Lord" and he alone is the "one God" of the scriptures. Trinitarians then, because of seeking to substantiate a doctrine foreign to the bible authors' intent, confuse these two Lords. Only one is "the Lord God, the Almighty."(Rev.4.8) The son, though the "one Lord" of us does not mean that the One who made him such is not also "Lord"....but this one is the Lord God, the Almighty who is "subject" to no one and cannot be "exalted" to a higher position. He has always been both "God" and "Lord."

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