A Question I Was Asked:

Should We Keep Calling Jesus 'Adonai'?

The question:
'A friend of mine was offended when a minister kept referring to Jesus as 'Adonai' - why would he do that? She said, "Are they now trying to deny Jesus' Name?"

My Reply:
Perhaps your friend should have spoken to that minister and asked him - face to face - whether he was trying to avoid using the Name of Jesus by his continual references to 'Adonai.' However, let me just say that 'adoni' is a Hebrew term for 'Lord' just as 'Kurios' is the usual Greek term. 'Adonai' has a more plural flavour as in 'Lord of lords.'

Actually the name Adonai, translatable as "Lord" (that is, with only the "L" capitalized), occurs around 320 times in the Old Testament. This is almost always used in plural possessive form. This could be said to confirm the doctrine of The Trinity (as in the plural name "Elohim"), although not all scholars agree on this. But we should also point out that this very same word is used of men approximately 200 times in the Old Testament in which case it is usually translated as "master." Note, however, that, when used of men, it is used in the singular form ('adoni' rather than 'adonai'). The implication of The Trinity in this name can be observed in such places as Psalm 110:1,

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. (Ps 110:1, KJV).

The true implication of this name in Hebrew indicates "mastership" or "ownership." From this, we can clearly see God's outright ownership of all things in Heaven and Earth, including Mankind. The true believer is called to be a servant to our Adonai (our Lord and Master).

So we may observe that there is nothing sinister about using 'Adonai' for Jesus. Having said that, there are problems with this practice; 'Adonai' does not actually identify the Lord Jesus, which is rather different. Speaking personally, I like preachers to identify the Lord Jesus. Some preachers talk a lot about the names by which God can be described and is described in the Old Testament; that is fine and some of these descriptives tell us more about God, but one should not go too far down that road before getting back to the basic information of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which is the New Covenant full-focus which, in the present age, has been delivered to us and which we take to the world. Some preachers seem to think that they are being 'more spiritual' by repeatedly using Old Testament descriptives for God, but there is nothing spiritual about the practice whatsoever and it can confuse some: let us stick to the basics!
Robin A. Brace, July, 2008.