The Shema on the Knesset Menorah

Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord, the Father as God, Shema

The Shema on the Knesset MenorahThe following is an excerpt from an upcoming book, Living Yeshua, chapter 4,”Yeshua as Lord.” What does it mean when people say, “Jesus is Lord?” Here is something worth noting: when Paul in his letters refers to “the Lord,” he generally means Yeshua, not the Father. I’d be interested in seeing some of my detail oriented, brilliant readers respond and let me know any exceptions they might be aware of to this general rule. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt about how the early believers saw both God and Messiah in the Shema (via creative interpretation, not the plain meaning):

By the time the Gospels were written, the early believers saw something that had gone unnoticed before in the Hebrew Bible. There were two primary designations for the deity of Israel in the Jewish scriptures: God and Lord (with “Lord” [Adonai] being a way of avoiding saying the Name of God). In expressing a mystery, the early believers made a distinction in some key verses of the Bible between God and Lord. They primarily used “God” when they were talking about the God the Father and “Lord” when they meant the Son (see more in chapter 9, “Divinity and Messiah”).

A stunning example of this is found in a letter of Paul written in 51 CE. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 we have Paul either writing or (more likely) quoting a pre-existing restatement of the Shema:

For us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom were created all things and through whom we have our being.

This is an expanded understanding, reflecting the new knowledge received by the early believers about Yeshua, of the Shema’s core statement: “The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” They saw in the two designations of the Shema for the deity a shared identity of two in one, of God and Lord. God in the Shema they saw as the Father and Lord as Yeshua in his newly revealed identity as the eternal Son. Two shared on unique and transcendent identity. In a creative re-interpretation, they could see Yeshua and God both in the same Shema.

And so, by the time the Gospel of Luke was written (a few decades after 1 Corinthians) the use of “Lord” is somewhat ambiguous. It could mean God (the Father) or Messiah (the Son). Richard Hays has called it “an overlap” or “shared identity” between God and Yeshua (see Reading Backwards, Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014, pg.63).

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  1. Good stuff Derek. Looking forward to the book. The co-mingling between God and Lord in the NT (or YHWH and Adonai in the Hebrew Bible) is an important study. Reminds me of the similar co-mingling we see at times in Tanakh between YHWH and the Angel of YHWH, two persons treated as the same inseparable whole.

  2. It is interesting that from Gen 1:1 through Gen 2:3 describing the 6 days of creation, the Creator is simply designated God (Elohim), and not until Gen 2:4 after the completion of His 6-day creation and having entered into His Sabbath rest is He called LORD God:
    Gen 2:4 KJV These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (The first mention of LORD God).

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