How did St Paul consider Jesus


In all 13 letters of Paul, except the Pastoral Epistles and Colossians Paul refers to Jesus as ‘Lord’. I believe ‘Lord’ (‘Kurios’) can mean anything from Mr/Sir to God. What did Paul think calling Jesus ‘Lord’ meant?

Also Jesus is referred to by Paul as ‘Son of God’ only in Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians, these include three of the four most important Pauline Letters (Rom, 1 Cor, 2 Cor and Gal). For a classically educated Roman citizen the idea of a son of God was not exceptional, thus the Roman centurion could accept Jesus as God’s son (Mt 27:54, Mk 15:39, Lk 23:47. But for a monotheist Jew the idea of God’s son would have been unacceptable. Also a son of God does not necessarily imply equality. So what did Paul mean by ‘Son of God’.

Also Philippians and Romans may imply Paul held in adoptionism.

Dogma was defined over time, so in the early Church beliefs were not settled. Even Origen, one of the greatest theologians ever and who died in 254 AD, believed the Son was inferior to the Father.

So I would like to know what/who St Paul thought Jesus was. What did he mean by ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God’?

*but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.d (Rom. 1:4 NAB)

he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:8,9 NAB)*


I think Paul’s view changed over time


Hi, Noel!

…do you believe that Revelation changes? What I mean to say, do you believe that one day God would express one thing and then another?

Who is the Lord to the Jews? Is it not Yahweh God or Adonai?

Could there be more than one Lord?

So if one day St. Paul expresses that there’s only One Lord is he confused?:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]6 still for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist.

(1 Corinthians 8:6)
Is St. Paul rejecting the Lordship of the Father? If he is, then isn’t it also true that he is rejecting the Father as the Creator since he insist that His Lord, Jesus, is not only the Creator of all but also the Means by which everything exists?

And how to reconcile:

6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.

(Philippians 2:6-7)

8 Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ: 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally; 10 And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:8-10)
What do you understand by these passages, how can the Fullness of God dwell in Jesus but Jesus would remain only somewhat Divine?

Maran atha!





…or could it be that he had more than one thing to say?

…or that we see things as we limit ourselves to see them?

…or man forget to include the Holy Spirit as part of God’s Revelation so he easily compartmentalize Sacred Scriptures and the Instruments God uses to Reveal Himself?

Maran atha!



Paul had not yet understood, that the Father and Son are one.



…actually, it’s more about man’s understanding than upon Revelation.

Here’s how St. Paul describes his encounter with Jesus:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]11 The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realise this, the Good News I preached is **not a human message **

12 that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, 14 how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me** through his grace and chose **16 to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus. 18 Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, 19 I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord, 20 and I swear before God that what I have just written is the literal truth. 21 After that I went to Syria and Cilicia, 22 and was still not known by sight to **the churches of Christ **in Judaea, 23 who had heard nothing except that their one-time persecutor was now preaching the faith he had previously tried to destroy; 24 and they gave glory to God for me. (Galatians 1:11-24)
St. Paul understood that it was God Himself that Chose him to be His Apostle.

Still, I have come across those who purport that St. Paul had a basic encounter and that after that he was somehow instructed in Christianity–even when they read St. Paul’s description of not receiving any instruction by man’s hand people want to believe that there was no direct Divine Instruction; they continue to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit without understanding that they are in error!

When we read Scriptures we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from the Word of God, both the Oral Teaching and the Written. It is the Holy Spirit that Reveals and Unfolds the Truth. Yet, God does not use the sledgehammer approach to Instruct man; rather, He is patient and slow, allowing man to come to an understand God as his individual capacity allows.

Maran atha!




You wrote* I think Paul’s view changed over time. *
Few, if any, would disagree. The incident on the road to Damascus changed Paul.
But your reply does not really help me.



thank you for your detailed reply. I am always grateful to you for your thoughtful replies to me, which illustrate loyalty, commitment and understanding of our faith, while I am usually confused, even though I am a cradle Catholic.

You ask Could there be more than one Lord? I answer in the positive. Lord (Kurios) can mean anything from Mr to God.

for, if you confess1 with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9 NAB).
Paul clearly sees Jesus as Lord.

*"For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counsellor *(Rom. 11:34 NAB).
Here God is Lord.

In general in the NT Lord is Jesus, while in the OTLord is God.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 1:3 NAB).
Paul distinguishes between God and Jesus.

The Fullness of God dwells in me when I receive Jesus - true God. But I am not God.

You do not answer my query what did Paul mean when he said Jesus was Lord?

PS: I see you are from NJ. I lived there when I was first married and our parish was Sacred Heart, New Brunswick.


Pneuma #5

You wrote:
Paul had not yet understood, that the Father and Son are one.

It is Catholic teaching that the three persons of the blessed trinity are really distinct.

In the CCC I see:
254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.


I have read a really compelling argument that saying Jesus is Lord and Son of God was, in a way, how Paul was subverting the power of Caesar:

“For a watchword of Paul’s time and place was Kaiser kyrios (Caesar is Lord), meaning that the Roman emperor was the one to whom final allegiance was due. In saying Iesous Kyrios, Paul was directly challenging that political and social status quo, which goes a long way toward explaining why he spent a good deal of time in jail!”


Stephen Says

Thanks for referencing Bishop Barron’s article.

It is interesting. But Paul was not an anti-government agitator. His aim was not to attack the Emperor. In fact, in distinction to the author of Revelation/Apocalypse, he was pro-Empire.

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God…This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
(Rom. 13:1-6 NAB)


Well this is something Jesus said, you can find it in any Catholic bible

John 10:30 “The Father and I are one”

they almost killed him for saying that :I

BTW: this doesn’t mean that they are one person, they are two distinct persons in each other.

John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works”

Here Thomas is addressing both of them,

John John 20:28 "Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Whereas Philip didn’t understand this

John 14:18 “Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”


It’s not my intention to argue with you one way or the other…Well, except to say that “being subordinate to authority” vs. calling that authority “son of god” are two different things. I believe he was trying to “take back” the terms LORD and SON OF GOD from Caesar and return them to the rightful owner.


Stephen Says
thanks for your reply. I prefer the term ‘discuss’ to ‘argue’. I think here we try to clarify our thinking rather than make a point.



Your post does not really discuss who Paul thought Jesus was.

But I may have been the first to go very much off-topic by noting that the three persons of the trinity are distinct. The focus here should be on what/who Paul considered Jesus.


Thomas meant that Jesus was both Lord and God, not that the Son is only Lord.


Hi, Noel!

…I was attempting to focus on the fact that to a Believer there could be only One Lord.

…just like the Name “Jesus” only applies with its meaning to the Incarnate Word… even and in spite that there are other people who are named “Jesus” prior to the Incarnation of the Word… to Christians that distinction is almost as clear crystal.

…now, here’s the connection I wanted you to see (which you have somewhat alluded to as you recognized that the only Lord in the Old Testament is Yahweh God, Revealed to us as the Father):

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

(St. Luke 1:43)
…now, the Hebrews understood that God Alone is the True God and that God Alone is their Lord, correct?

…yet, here’s a devote Believer celebrating the Coming of her Lord to her humble home and presence–the recently Conceived Word (St. John 1:1-18), is Elizabeth’s Lord; this cannot be a recognition that the Virgin is carrying a male child (Mr.) or the title of lordship or the title of authority (sir/lord) since the Virgin was not a representative of the Roman or Judean governance nor a wealthy landowner. It must fall to the one title of Lord of Israel which only God Owns!

If a devote Believer understood this (of course it was the Holy Spirit Who Unfolded this Revelation–St. Luke 1:41) how could a consummate Pharisee not understand that Only Yahweh God is Lord?

St. Paul is not ignorant of this… but just as Jesus transferred the consequence of blasphemy against the Name of God to the Holy Spirit, St. Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, understood the transfer of the Name and Title of God to Jesus, the God that Saves, (Isaiah 9:5 For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.) or if you prefer the Immanuel, the God-with-us, (Isaiah 7:14–congruence with St. Matthew 1:23).

St. Paul, the rest of the Apostles and all the Believers must agree that there’s is only One Lord, God; that there is only One King, God; that there is only One Creator, God; that there is only One God Who has Existed from the Beginning as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In each Revelation God is Fully God; yet, each Revelation of God is done through a Particular Person of the Holy Trinity… the best expression of this Unity is found in St. John 1:

1 In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. 4 All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, 5 a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. 6 A man came, sent by God. His name was John. 7 He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light. 9 The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him 13 who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself. 14 The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

St. Paul accepts and make it Thomas’ Confession, Jesus is:

28b ‘My Lord and my God!’

(St. John 20:28b)
It is easy to get confounded by Scriptures when passages are taken apart and view (scrutinized) independently–it is why the Jehovah Witnesses and others have so much trouble Believing God’s Revelation about Himself… I could confuse myself with two Scriptural interpretation of what God has Revealed if I allow my “intellect” and zealousness guide me to what seems clear from the text of the Word of God… but only if I silence the Holy Spirit’s Convictions and Teachings.

Maran atha!




Hi, Noel!

…you are using eisegesis here… would you say Jesus was pro-human authority/Empire?

…well… seems He was… He Commanded His Followers to give to Caesar… and He paid His and Cepha’s taxes without speaking against taxation without rep… :smiley:

What we must understand from passages of Scriptures that Command the Believers to be obedient to civil authority is that God Commands that we Behave righteously at all times; further, it is not a new understanding:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 Listen then, kings, and understand; rulers of remotest lands, take warning; 2 hear this, you who have thousands under your rule, who boast of your hordes of subjects. 3 For power is a gift to you from the Lord, sovereignty is from the Most High; he himself will probe your acts and scrutinise your intentions. 4 If, as administrators of his kingdom, you have not governed justly nor observed the law, nor behaved as God would have you behave, 5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. Ruthless judgement is reserved for the high and mighty; 6 the lowly will be compassionately pardoned, the mighty will be mightily punished. 7 For the Lord of All does not cower before a personage, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike; 8 but strict scrutiny awaits those in power. 9 Yes, despots, my words are for you, that you may learn what wisdom is and not transgress; 10 for they who observe holy things holily will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defence in them. 11 Look forward, therefore, to my words; yearn for them, and they will instruct you.

(Wisdom 6:1-11)
Maran atha!




“The Father and I are one”

they almost killed him for saying that :I

BTW: this doesn’t mean that they are one person, they are two distinct persons in each other.

John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works”

Here Thomas is addressing both of them,

John John 20:28 "Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Whereas Philip didn’t understand this

John 14:18 "Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father"Thomas meant that Jesus was both Lord and God, not that the Son is only Lord.

No, Thomas as Peter and Paul meant God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
2 Thessalonians 2:16 "may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father"
1 Thessalonians 3:11 “may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way”

Thomas finally understood that,

John 8:29 “the one who sent me is with me”


So Jesus isn’t God?

So He lied when He said “Before Abraham was I AM?”

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