Jesus Christ – King of kings and Lord of lords

Addressing specific objections against the reign of Christ as God

Sam Shamoun

Students and scholars of the Holy Bible are aware of the fact that the inspired Scriptures speak of the rule of the Lord Jesus in the exact same way they describe God’s reign. The authors of the Holy Scriptures employ identical language in reference to the kingdom of Christ that they do in regard to God’s dominion.

For example, the inspired written Word states that Yahweh’s kingdom is eternal, one that will never be destroyed:

"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy." Daniel 2:44-45

"At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’" Daniel 4:34-35

"Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." Daniel 7:27

Jesus’ reign is also said to last forever:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6-7

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

"But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’" Luke 1:30-33

"and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:11

In fact, there are certain places where the Bible writers refer to this eternal kingdom as belonging to both God and Christ:

"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Ephesians 5:5

"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord AND OF his Christ, and HE will reign for ever and ever.’" Revelation 11:15

Moreover, God is called King of kings and Lord of lords/kings:

"For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe." Deuteronomy 10:17

"Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever." Psalm 136:2-3

"The king answered Daniel and said, ‘Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.’" Daniel 2:47

"I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is 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. Amen." 1 Timothy 6:13-16

Amazingly, Jesus is also said to be King of kings and Lord of lords:

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16

To reign as King of kings and Lord of Lords from heaven itself, as Jesus is said to do, is to hold ultimate authority and have complete sovereignty over all other rulers, powers, authorities etc., whether spiritual or earthly, which is precisely what the NT teaches concerning the reign of the Lord Jesus:

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Philippians 3:20-21

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10

"and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

And since there cannot be two King of kings or Lord of lords (specifically in heaven) it is therefore obvious that, by applying this title to Christ, the Biblical writers believed that Jesus is God, which also explains why they could refer to his rule in the same way that they spoke of God’s reign over creation.

Responding to the Objections

Not everyone assumes that the Holy Bible teaches that Jesus is God just because he rules forever and is called King of kings and Lord of Lords. Certain anti-Trinitarians often raise two specific arguments against this contention.

The first argument says that even though Jesus is called King of kings and Lord of lords he is never said to be God of gods, which is one of the titles that the Hebrew Scriptures use for Yahweh. The anti-Trinitarian reasons that if Jesus were truly God then the NT writers would have surely called him the God of gods as well.

The problem with this view is that the title God of gods is never used by the New Testament writers at all, not even for the Father! Yet by applying a title of Yahweh to Jesus, i.e. Lord of lords and King of kings, it seems certain that the inspired NT authors would have absolutely no problem affirming that Christ is also the God of gods, especially when we take into consideration that in certain Old Testament passages the titles Lord of lords and God of gods appear together in contexts where Yahweh’s unique status is contrasted with other beings (cf. Deut. 10:17; Psalm 136:2-3). Amazingly, the NT assigns this very heavenly status to the Lord Jesus himself.

In light of this fact, Christ cannot be said to be ruling from heaven itself as Lord of lords without also being the God of gods, since this is the highest position of authority imaginable, one which belongs exclusively to God and which no heavenly creature enjoys. More on this later.

The second objection that is raised is to point to certain verses where human rulers, specifically pagan kings, are called king of kings, such as in the following examples:

"For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers." Ezekiel 26:7

"You [Nebuchadnezzar], O king, the king of kings…" Daniel 2:37a

"Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace…" Ezra 7:12a

These verses are supposed to somehow refute the assertion that Jesus is God on the basis that he is called King of kings and Lord of lords since if this logic were true then these pagan rulers would also have to be God for being called king of kings as well.

This is nothing more than a false analogy since the point these passages are making is that God had given these specific rulers the authority to conquer all other earthly kingdoms and human potentates. As the context of these respective verses demonstrate the title denotes that God had granted kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Artaxerxes sovereignty on the earth, permitting them to reign over all other human kings. However, God did not give them the right to become the highest-ranking authority in heaven since he still rules over all the kings of the earth and can take away a kingdom and power from any human being at any moment he chooses and give it to whomever he wants:

"You [Nebuchadnezzar], O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands HE HAS PLACED mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, HE HAS MADE you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold." Daniel 2:37-38

"‘This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.’ … The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.’" Daniel 4:24-26, 31-32

Thus, these specific pagan kings are called king of kings only in relation to other human authorities, not in respect to the entire creation or over spirit beings who rule.

Jesus, however, isn’t simply called King of kings in the sense that he is higher in rank than any other human authority. Rather, he is called King of kings and Lord of lords in the same sense that God is, by virtue of reigning forever over all powers, whether spiritual or human, from the very heavenly throne room of God itself!

"… Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’" Mark 14:61b-62

"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his flesh see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:29-36

"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’" Acts 7:55-56

"and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:19-23

"… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." 1 Peter 3:21-22

The inspired Scriptures further say that both God and Christ fully possess the same kingdom and that God’s heavenly throne also belongs to Christ:

"The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." Revelation 3:21

"Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." Revelation 5:5-6

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:17

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the THRONE [singular] of God AND OF the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The THRONE of God AND OF the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him." Revelation 22:1-3

This is the one place where no one else besides God could ever be said to rule forever as King of kings and Lord of lords since this is the highest position of authority imaginable, one which belongs exclusively to God! And yet Jesus rules from this very position as King of kings and Lord of lords forever and the reason is obvious; Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, the eternal Divine Son of God who is equal with his eternal Father in nature and essence, as well as in honor and glory.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus, come! You indeed are God the Son, the eternal King of kings and sovereign Lord of lords for ever and ever. We do truly love you by the grace of God since you are the risen and exalted Lord of glory! Amen.

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