Mt. 7:23 π Mt. 24:12 π Lk. 6:46 π 1 Cor. 6:19-20 π 2 Pet. 2:1 π Jude 4 π Rev. 5:9Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Lord, Master – despotes – 
One finds a curious misrendering of certain prophecies regarding the end times. Jude wrote:
“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ( Jude 4; top )
And Peter wrote:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” ( 2 Pet. 2:1; top )
Yet one readily finds restatements such as: “In view of apostates who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny Christ, it is crucial that believers ‘contend earnestly for the faith.’” This contraction, so easily made in English, fails to catch some of the deeper meaning held in the Greek. Both Jude and Peter chose an unusual word when they said, “Master.” In the Greek it is “despotes” [ 1203 ] – the word from which we derive the word “despot.” The usual word for “lord” or “master” is “kurios.” But “despotes” stresses the absolute sovereignty of the lord or master in view. In the only other two instances of “despotes” in the New Testament, it is given as the equivalent of the title of God most often rendered “Sovereign Lord” in English. In this case, it is Christ who is the “despotes,” absolute Master.
But the restatements often simply say the renegade teachers will deny Christ, often inferring that the transcendency and greatness of Christ will be denigrated or dismissed. This deception has been aided on by the KJV rendering of Jude’s use of “despotes” as “Lord God” rather than “Master.” But no one – not even the worst of cultic fringes denies Christ in that way. That is, even in the strangest of cults, Christ is at least seen as some sort of superhero or guardian spirit to be emulated, imitated or mimicked – but none toss Him out entirely or deny His greatness. Nor is this what the prophecies said would happen.
The prophecies said they would deny their “despotes” who had bought them. We know Christ bought His true followers with His blood. ( 1 Cor. 6:19-20 , Rev. 5:9; top ) In New Testament times, the slave who had been purchased had no rights, especially one redeemed from indebtedness or prison. For Peter to use both the word “despotes” and the idea of redemption and ownership places more emphasis on denying the right of the Master to command His subjects than it says about denying the transcendency or deity of Christ.
Thus we find Jesus’ dismissal of those “who practice lawlessness” (those who, rather than doing will of the Lord, the Master, did only what was right in their own eyes – Mt. 7:23 ) is right in keeping with Peter’s and Jude’s prophecies. No one dismisses the absolute Lordship of Christ more so than does the one who decides for himself which “theology” to embrace, which “church” to attend, which “pastor,” “apostle,” “prophet” or other “man of God” to follow and support, etc. This is the very question Jesus asked elsewhere, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ but you don’t do what I say?” ( Lk. 6:46 ) This is the lawlessness that is a primary characteristic of the end times. ( Mt. 24:12; top ) Men today most often call this “church” or “Christianity.”
The thrust of these prophecies is not that people would change or distort the nature of Christ – the thrust of these prophecies is that people would not come under His lordship even as they claimed His name. They will deny Him His right and privilege to command and direct their lives at the most basic of levels. No group does this better than the modern “church” which enables people to choose which teacher to listen to, which “pastor” to submit to, which “church” to attend, which laws of God to obey and which ones to violate with impunity – all in the name of Christ! A more perfect way in which to fall away from the simple faith which is in Christ Jesus would be difficult to envision.
Let he who has ears hear.
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