There has been a move over the last hundred years to analyze Jesus’ life, ministry, and the beginning of the early church through a strictly historical approach devoid of theological concepts. What has resulted from this type of research is a picture of Jesus as a man but not as divine. Scholars such as Bart Ehrman argue that the early church did not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but this was the result of later development in Christianity because of the inclusion of the gentiles who came from various pagan religions where it was commonplace to assign divinity to great men. They interpret the use of Kyrios, translated as Lord from Greek, in the Apostle Paul’s letters to the belief that Paul meant something far different from what the later church would interpret. In other words, Paul did not intend for people to ascribe divinity to Jesus because of the title Lord found in his letters in the same way that they attribute divinity to God. Simply put, the problem is that some scholars believe that the divinity of Jesus was slowly developed over time through the inclusion of pagan gentiles into the church as opposed to a foundational belief of the early Church.
The purpose of this research paper is twofold. The first purpose is to exegete two sections of Paul’s letters, Romans 10:9 and Philippians 2:11, and examine Paul’s usage of Kyrios in these passages. With a proper exegesis of the two passages, it can be established that these verses are early confessions of the Church that affirm the divinity of Jesus. The second purpose of the research paper will be to examine the passages of Romans 10:13 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 to demonstrate how Paul uses the name of Jesus interchangeably with the Old Testament name of YHWH. By establishing that the early church confessed Jesus as Lord and that Paul used Jesus’ name in the same way the Old Testament uses the name of YHWH, it can be reasonably determined that the early church fully believed Jesus to be divine in the same way that God the Father is divine.
Crews, Joshua T.
"Divinity of Christ in the Early Church,"
Diligence: Journal of the Liberty University Online Religion Capstone in Research and Scholarship: Vol. 6
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/djrc/vol6/iss1/2