Even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.1 Corinthians 8:5-6
Certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Sovereign and Lord, Jesus Christ.Jude 4
Many Anti-Trinitarians appeal to 1 Corinthians 8:6 to deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, because St Paul identifies the “one God” as the Father and supposedly the “one Lord” is a lower title. This article seeks to refute this appeal by looking at:
a) the sociohistorical context of Corinth and Greco-Roman world more widely
b) Second Temple Jewish literature related to the pronouns used
c) Patristic theology in light of the this text
d) The relevance of Jude 4
This examination will conclude that in fact these texts are extremely strong proofs for the deity of Christ, and the Anti-Trinitarian argument is misplaced.
The sociohistorical context of 1st century Corinth
Corinth was a major city in Greece, with many temples for various Greek deities as well as statues of various gods, as described by the 2nd century AD traveler, Pausanias:
Before entering the city – Pausanias does not indicate on which road – he found a precinct of Bellerophontes and a temple of Aphrodite Melaenis. In the agora were statues of Artemis Ephesia, Dionysos, Poseidon, Apollo Klarios, Aphrodite, Hermes (two), Zeus (three) and Athena with some Muses. Also in the agora were temples dedicated to Tyche, All The Gods, and Octavia the sister of Julius Caesar, who re-founded the city.Monotheism and Christology in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, (PhD Thesis 1987) pp. 269-270
The roads radiating outwards from the city were likewise lined with religious sculptures and architecture. Along the road to Lechaion, Pausanias mentions statues of Phaëthon the son of Helios, Helios, Herakles, Peirene, Apollo (in the enclosure), Odysseys, Hermes, Poseidon, Leukothea, Palaimon, Artemis, Bellerophontes, and Pegasos. Many temples stood along the road Sicyon: temples dedicated to Apollo, Athena Chalinitis, Zeus Capitolinus, Zeus, Asklepios, and a burnt temple of either Apollo or Zeus Olympios; there were statues of Mermerus and Pheres. Deima (Terror), Herakles, and Hygeia, and there was a well of Glauke.
The ascent of the majestic akrokorinth had two precincts for each of the Egyptian divinities Isis and Sarapis, as well as statues of Helios, Ananke, Bia, and the Mother of the gods. Temples for the Moiroi, Demeter and Kore, and Hera Bunia rose along the way. At the summit stood the temple of Aphrodite with statues of Helios and Eros. Pausanias’s account goes on to give similar lists of gods and goddesses for the towns surrounding Corinth…
As we can see, Corinth had many temples, statues and so forth to various pagan deities. Which leads us to our next point: what does St Paul mean by contrasting “many gods” and “many lords” with “one God” and “one Lord”?
Is “God” a higher title than “Lord” in the sociohistorical context of Corinth?
In short, no. The two titles were roughly synonymous in a Greco-Roman context in which St Paul is writing to the converts at Corinth:
Older expositors sometimes assumed that the κύριοι πολλοί (many lords) were lower divine beings of lower rank than the θεοὶ πολλοὶ…..however, the fact was that it was the High God (at Tarsus) who received the title of Baal, equivalent to the Greek Κύριος. Further studies of the title Κύριος in pagan religions…have shed further light on the problem. We find Θεὸς and Κύριος used side by side to describe rulers in inscriptional and papyrological evidence from the pre-christian period, indicating that these terms were at least to some extent synonymous. High gods given the title Κύριος included Isis and Sarapis, Osiris, Jupiter Heliopolitanus, and, in Syria, Zeus. Olympian deities for the most part continued to be called θεοὶ, but in various places local usage might apply the term κύριοι to such Olympians as Apollo, Artemis, Athena, and Hermes, as well as to the highly venerated Greek gods Asklepios, Chronos, and Dionysos. Now that these facts have been brought to light, scholars generally have abandoned the view that the titles Θεὸς and Κύριος connoted any difference in status.Ibid. p. 157, bold mine
the usage of “Lord” for high gods has also been confirmed by more recent research as exemplified by Nicole Belayche:
Kyrios/a is a literal translation of Semitic divine appellations: Ba’al and Adon for gods, Ba’alat for goddesses. Like in the Phoenician history of Philo of Byblos – Βεελσάμην, ὅ ἐστι παρὰ Φοίνιξι κύριος οὐρανοῦ, Ζεὺς δὲ παρ’ Ἕλλησιν – the bilingual dedication of Seleucos (Bar’ateh in Palmyrenian), son of Lucius, leaves no doubt on the equivalence, though the use does not echo per se a specific religious experience of the god (PAT 1089). In 31 CE – thus before Dura-Europos entered the imperium of Rome, though the presence of Rome is already perceptible in anthroponymy – Seleucos and his son Ababouis (bbwhy) offered a statue (τὸ[ν] ἀνδριάντα) – probably the relief – τῷ Δεῖ κυρίῳ / b’lšmyn in three “languages”: Greek, Palmyrenian Aramaic, and iconographic (thanks to the sculptor / glyptès Iaraios / Yarhai). The document was found in a small structure (thus called “temple of Zeus kyrios”) possibly erected c. 28 CE by immigrants coming from Palmyra. The inscription engraved on the plinth of the relief (Fig. 1) attests to the translation of the Aramaic Ba’al Shamîn as Zeus kyrios. There is only one other testimony in Dura: a Greek graffito dated to c. 210 CE, inscribed on a wall of one the rooms of the Roman praetorium that enclosed the temple of ArtemisAzzanathkona. It can be surmised that Aramaic was Seleucos’ mother tongue, for he calls Ba’al Shamîn “lh”, “my god” (with the suffix of ownership). This is a very thin clue for asserting a deep personal relationship of Seleucos with “his” god. Testimonies are more numerous in the Hauran, and that of Decimus Lucius Fabianus, a Roman legionary (legion unknown after the break of the stone) is more demonstrative for the point: he thanked “Zeus the Lord” for having been propitiated (ἱλ[ασίας χάριν]).
In the Hauran also (Sourdel 1952, 25–27), Zeus is honored as kyrios during the reign of the emperor Claudius. The area, then, was part of the land of the Herodian tetrarch Agrippa II, once it had been separated from the Nabatean sphere of influence half a century before. At Sanamein-Aire (50 km south of Damascus), three brothers with local or Hellenized names (Eunomos son of Hector, Aias and Nikaios), offered to Zeus kyrios some building (τοῦτο τὸ μέρος) in the “temple” (οἰκοδομῆσαι ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ), “by piety and as a thanksgiving”. The temple is unlocated (unlike the Severian Tychaion, Dentzer-Feydi 2010). Yet the naming of the god as kyrios is consistent with the context of a cult place embellished or enlarged by the dedicants. The occasion for the dedication evokes regular religious homages, reinforced probably by euergetic concerns. The epithet of the god expresses in Greek a masterful position in his sanctuary, with no hint of specific experience of the god. One can read a similar semantic use in a consecration to a local ba’al (he is πατρῷος) with a celestial field (he is οὐράνιος) at Damas: once both his divine field and link with the dedicant have been designated, his status is explicitly stated (“the Lord” with article). In Bosra, the dedication of Gaius Iulius Maximus, a soldier of the IIIa legio Cyrenaica, “to Zeus kyrios and Hera, ancestral gods”
Local tradition is more likely expressed in Greek dedications offered to Kronos. At Nebi Abel, south-west of Abila, eleven worshippers offered an altar in 166/167 “to Kronos kyrios after an oracle of the gods Zeus and Apis of Abila”
In evidence of the Roman period, there is only one document (as far as I know) displaying Kronos kyrios as a supreme and cosmic deity. At Maad, in the mountainous hinterland of Byblos, a group of inscriptions was found in a church built on the ruins of a pagan building. One dedication, still discussed, is engraved on a cippus within a tabula ansata:
τῷ Κυρί/ω ἁγί(ῳ) κὲ κυ/[ρ]ίῳ ὅλου / [τ]οῦ κόσ/[μ]ου Σατρά/[π]ε θεὸς / [ἐ]ποίησε
To the saint Lord and Lord of the whole universe, the god Satrapes made (this dedication).
Definitely kyrios points towards rulership of a place, temple or city, compared to despotes, which is more akin to expressing a special experience of the deity and of his/her supreme position. (my note: we will return to this later in our discussion on Jude 4)
Zeus can be kyrios in archaic and classical Greek poetry and drama, as are other deities.Kyrios and despotes: addresses to deities and religious experiences
As we can see, both δεσπότης (Despotes, Sovereign/Master) and κύριος (Kyrios, Lord) were used in a supreme sense among the Greco-Roman audience of Paul, so Paul’s usage of εἷς κύριος (one Lord) in contrast to the κύριοι πολλοί (many lords) of Corinth is already telling and thus should be understood as Jesus being the Lord in its most supreme sense, ie. as deity (for more background you can see for example here). In short then, this is Paul’s subtle way of indicating binitarianism in this passage as both the Father and the Son being the objects of devotion for the nascent Christian community (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2 identifying Christians as “all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, using Old Testament prayer language of the one God for the risen Lord).
‘Through whom are all things’ in intertestamental Jewish literature
It is in addition claimed that “through whom are all things” somehow places Jesus the Lord to a subordinate position to God the Father because “all things” are seen as being “from” the Father “through” the Son. Here I will simply quote relevant intertestamental texts to illustrate this is false and in fact places Jesus on the Creator-side of the creator-creation side of the distinction.
- Romans 11:34-36
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Here Paul applies the same preposition he applied to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 8:6 to “God”. Unless the critic wants to say God is subordinate to Himself, they must concede “from” and “through” do not indicate subordination but simply function.
- 2 Esdras 6:1-6
[God] said to me, “At the beginning of the circle of the earth, before the portals of the world were in place, and before the assembled winds blew, and before the rumblings of thunder sounded, and before the flashes of lightning shone, and before the foundations of paradise were laid, and before the beautiful flowers were seen, and before the powers of movements were established, and before the innumerable hosts of angels were gathered together, and before the heights of the air were lifted up, and before the measures of the firmaments were named, and before the footstool of Zion was established, and before the present years were reckoned and before the imaginations of those who now sin were estranged, and before those who stored up treasures of faith were sealed— then I planned these things, and they were made through Me alone and not through another; just as the end shall come through Me alone and not through another.”
Here God speaks to Ezra and says all things came through Him alone. The Latin uses per which is equivalent to the Greek διά which is applied to Christ in 1 Corinthians 8:6 (cf. Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2, John 1:3)
The key takeaway is that all things came through God alone, not another. Once again we see “through” is not a subordinate to “from” (cf. Philo of Alexandria and the same preposition applied to the divine Logos)
Patristic exegesis of 1 Corinthians 8:6
One would imagine that if this text was such a problem for traditional Triadology, the Holy Fathers would seek to use other texts to construct their theology in light of the Arian controversy. However we see the exact opposite. In fact, the Nicene Creed (both its original 325 version and the subsequent 381 edition) begin with:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages…through whom all things were made…
Other quotes from the Fathers where they use this text to establish the absolute deity of our Lord:
“yet to us there is One God, the Father”.
In the first instance having expressed it without the wordFather,and said,there is no God but one,he now adds this also, when he had utterly cast out the others.
Next, he adduces what indeed is the greatest token of divinity;from Whom are all things.For this implies also that those others are not gods. For it is said: “Let the gods who made not the heaven and the earth perish” (Jeremiah 10:11).Then he subjoins what is not less than this,and we unto Him.For when he says,of Whom are all things,he means the creation and the bringing of things out of nothing into existence. But when he says,and we unto Him,he speaks of the word of faith and mutual appropriation, as also he said before: “but of Him are you also in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 8:30) In two ways we are of Him, by being made when we were not, and by being made believers. For this also is a creation: a thing which he also declares elsewhere; “that He might create in Himself of the two one new man.” (Ephesians 2:15)
St John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 8:1-11And there is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him”.And in regard to Christ again, we must conceive of this in like manner. For through Him the race of men was both produced out of nothing into existence, and returned from error to truth. So that as to the phrasefrom Whom,it is not to be understood apart from Christ. For from Him, through Christ, were we created.
St John Chrysostom correctly notes that the distinction between Creator and Creation is found in creatio ex nihilo. If all things came to be through Christ, He is not part of it, but its Originator (cf. Revelation 3:14)
The same is echoed by St Athanasius:
The Word then is neither creature nor work; for creature, thing made, work, are all one; and were He creature and thing made, He would also be work. Accordingly He has not said, ‘He created Me a work,’ nor ‘He made Me with the works,’ lest He should appear to be in nature and essence a creature; nor, ‘He created Me to make works,’ lest, on the other hand, according to the perverseness of the irreligious, He should seem as an instrument made for our sake. Nor again has He declared, ‘He created Me before the works,’ lest, as He really is before all, as an Offspring, so, if created also before the works, He should give ‘Offspring’ and ‘He created’ the same meaning. But He has said with exact discrimination , ‘for the works;’ as much as to say, ‘The Father has made Me, into flesh, that I might be man,’ which again shows that He is not a work but an offspring. For as he who comes into a house, is not part of the house, but is other than the house, so He who is created for the works, must be by nature other than the works. But if otherwise, as you hold, O Arians, the Word of God be a work, by what Hand and Wisdom did He Himself come into being? For all things that came to be, came by the Hand and Wisdom of God, who Himself says, ‘My hand has made all these things (Isaiah 66:2);’ and David says in the Psalm, ‘And You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands ;’ and again, in the hundred and forty-second Psalm, ‘I do remember the time past, I muse upon all Your works, yea I exercise myself in the works of Your hands.’ Therefore if by the Hand of God the works are wrought, and it is written that ‘all things were made through the Word,’ and ‘without Him was not made one thing’ (John 1:3),’ and again, ‘One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things,’ and ‘in Him all things consist,’ it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian irreligion. For when they say, ‘O all you works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,’ they recount things in heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For they say not, ‘Bless, O Word, and praise, O Wisdom;’ to show that all other things are both praising and are works; but the Word is not a work nor of those that praise, but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God , being His Word and Wisdom, and of the works the Framer. This too the Spirit has declared in the Psalms with a most apposite distinction, ‘the Word of the Lord is true, and all His works are faithful ;’ as in another Psalm too He says, ‘O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In Wisdom have You made them all. ‘Second Oration Against The Arians, chapter 21
St Gregory of Nyssa comments:
And let no one think it unreasonable that the creature should be set in opposition to God, but have regard to the prophets and to the Apostles. For the prophet says in the person of the Father, “My Hand made all these things” [Isaiah 66:2] meaning by “Hand,” in his dark saying, the power of the Only-Begotten. Now the Apostle says that all things are from the Father, and that all things are through the Son, and the prophetic spirit in a way agrees with the Apostolic teaching, which itself also is given through the Spirit. For in the one passage, the prophet, when he says that all things are the work of the Hand of Him Who is over all, sets forth the nature of those things which have come into being in its relation to Him Who made them, while He Who made them is God over all, Who has the Hand, and by It makes all things. And again, in the other passage, the Apostle makes the same division of entities, making all things depend upon their productive cause, yet not reckoning in the number of “all things” that which produces them: so that we are hereby taught the difference of nature between the created and the uncreated, and it is shown that, in its own nature, that which makes is one thing and that which is produced is another.St Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book VII
He also writes:
As we have to a certain extent shown by our statement that the wordSt Gregory of Nyssa, Not Three GodsGodheadis not significant of nature but of operation, perhaps one might reasonably allege as a cause why, in the case of men, those who share with one another in the same pursuits are enumerated and spoken of in the plural, while on the other hand the Deity is spoken of in the singular as one God and one Godhead, even though the Three Persons are not separated from the significance expressed by the termGodhead,— one might allege, I say, the fact that men, even if several are engaged in the same form of action, work separately each by himself at the task he has undertaken, having no participation in his individual action with others who are engaged in the same occupation. For instance, supposing the case of several rhetoricians, their pursuit, being one, has the same name in the numerous cases: but each of those who follow it works by himself, this one pleading on his own account, and that on his own account. Thus, since among men the action of each in the same pursuits is discriminated, they are properly called many, since each of them is separated from the others within his own environment, according to the special character of his operation. But in the case of the Divine nature we do not similarly learn that the Father does anything by Himself in which the Son does not work conjointly, or again that the Son has any special operation apart from the Holy Spirit; but every operation which extends from God to the Creation, and is named according to our variable conceptions of it, has its origin from the Father, and proceeds through the Son, and is perfected in the Holy Spirit. For this reason the name derived from the operation is not divided with regard to the number of those who fulfil it, because the action of each concerning anything is not separate and peculiar, but whatever comes to pass, in reference either to the acts of His providence for us, or to the government and constitution of the universe, comes to pass by the action of the Three, yet what does come to pass is not three things. We may understand the meaning of this from one single instance. From Him, I say, Who is the chief source of gifts, all things which have shared in this grace have obtained their life. When we inquire, then, whence this good gift came to us, we find by the guidance of the Scriptures that it was from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet although we set forth Three Persons and three names, we do not consider that we have had bestowed upon us three lives, one from each Person separately; but the same life is wrought in us by the Father, and prepared by the Son, and depends on the will of the Holy Spirit. Since then the Holy Trinity fulfils every operation in a manner similar to that of which I have spoken, not by separate action according to the number of the Persons, but so that there is one motion and disposition of the good will which is communicated from the Father through the Son to the Spirit (for as we do not call those whose operation gives one life three Givers of life, neither do we call those who are contemplated in one goodness three Good beings, nor speak of them in the plural by any of their other attributes)
St Gregory the Theologian writes regarding the words “and one Lord, Jesus Christ” as follows:
Define our piety by teaching the knowledge of: One God, unbegotten, the Father; and One begotten Lord, his Son, referred to as “God” when he is mentioned separately, but “Lord” when he is named together with the Father—the first on account of the [divine] nature, the second on account of the monarchy; and One Holy Spirit, who proceeds or goes forth from the Father, “God” to those who understand things properly—combated by the impious but understood by those who are above them, and even professed by those who are more spiritual.Oration 25
From these quotes we can see the Fathers did not see this text as opposing the deity of Christ, but strongly confirming it.
Jesus as only Sovereign and Lord in Jude 4
Another hurdle for the heterodox comes from Jude 4 where he calls Jesus “our only Sovereign and Lord”. This is extremely poignant, as illustrated by Gene Green, a New Testament scholar:
Jude concludes the opening of his vituperatio with the claim that they τὸν μόνον δεσπότην καὶ κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἀρνούμενοι (ton monon despotēn kai kyrion hēmōn Iēsoun Christon arnoumenoi, deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ). Jude’s Christology is very high as he identifies Jesus Christ as “Master” as well as “Lord.” “Master” (δεσπότην, despotēn) occasionally appears as a christological title (2 Pet. 2:1; God in Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; Rev. 6:10). In common usage, it referred to the master of slaves (as 1 Tim. 6:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18) but could also be used of rulers. The title underscores their legal control and absolute authority (BDAG 220). But in the LXX it frequently appears as a divine title (Gen. 15:2, 8; Josh. 5:14; Prov. 29:25; Isa. 3:1; 10:33; Jer. 4:10; Tob. 8:17; 2 Macc. 5:17, 20; 15:22; Wis. 8:3; Sir. 36:1). Jude’s use of the title highlights the audacity of the heretics’ act. What slave or subject would dare repudiate their δεσπότης? Jude also calls Jesus Christ “Lord” (see Jude 17, 21, 25; Acts 11:17; 15:26; 28:31; Rom. 1:4, 7; 5:1, 11, 21; 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:9; James 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:8), which was another divine title in the LXX, the common translation for Yahweh (Exod. 19:9; 20:2; Isa. 6:3). Likewise in the Greco-Roman world the title was used of divinities (see 1 Cor. 8:5; Deissmann 1911: 353–57) as well as the emperor as part of the fabric of the imperial cult. Jude echoes the Christian version of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) in his declaration that Jesus Christ is the “only Master and Lord.” The heretics had denied this divine sovereign authority.– Gene Green, Jude and 2 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary, p. 95-96)
Jude uses the well-known rule of Greek known as the Granville Sharp rule which basically states that if two (or more) singular common nouns are used to describe a person, and those two nouns are joined by an additive conjunction, and the definite article precedes the first noun but not the second, then both nouns refer to the same person. Here “the only Sovereign and Lord of us, Jesus Christ” fits into this rule and shows that both nouns have the same referent. The implications here are earth-shattering in light of OT applications of similar language to the God of Israel (cf. Green’s commentary above and Appendix B). It also refutes the critique concerning the Father being called “one God” in 1 Corinthians 8:6 as here Jesus is called “only Lord”, which would mean Father is not Lord, but of course He is! In the same way, our Lord Jesus Christ is God with the Father (and the Spirit), in light of the synonymity of the terms used (cf. above).
As seen above, both Despotes and Kyrios were titles for pagan high gods, so Jude’s statement that Jesus is “our only Master and Lord” is pregnant with divine implications, especially in a Greco-Roman context where the Emperor and various gods were recognized as deities, and in its Jewish context where the God of Israel alone was recognized as Lord over all with same language Jude applies to the exalted Christ here.
In this article I believe we have demonstrated that the anti-Trinitarian critique is both historically and exegetically untenable, and both of these texts are strong proofs for the full deity of the “one Lord”, Jesus Christ, and instead of diminishing His divinity, they manifest His divine glory to us more clearly.
Paul uses “one God” and “one Lord” to distinguish the hypostasis of the Father from the Son, and not saying the Son is a lesser divinity than the Father. Meanwhile, Jude borrows exact OT language and applies it to Jesus, showing His supreme power and authority over the faithful.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one Godhead, one Power, have mercy on us and save our souls.
Appendix A: the KJV translation of Jude 4 and its relevance
Some non-Trinitarians attempt to “muddy the waters” related to Jude 4 by quoting the received text of the verse and claim it refers to two subjects (ie. two lords) instead of one as in the critical text.
(N.B: As Eastern Orthodox, I actually refer by default to the received text instead of modern critical editions)
Certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The confusion arises by the translation of τὸν μόνον δεσπότην Θεόν καὶ Κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν as “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ”. In fact, δεσπότην also has the meaning of “Sovereign” (cf. NIV) or more commonly “Master” (cf. YLT98 with many others). With this translation, the verse becomes more intelligible:
Our only Sovereign God and Lord, Jesus Christ
Our only Master God and Lord, Jesus Christ
An additional question relates to the punctuation of the verse. Because the original Greek has no punctuation, one could also read the verse as giving “Jesus Christ” three descriptors:
Denying our only Master (or Sovereign), God, and Lord, Jesus Christ
(cf. “our only Master, God, and Lord — Jesus Christ — denying” in YLT98)
In any case, this alternative reading does not weaken the deity of Christ, unless one reads despoten as “Lord” which is unnecessary and superfluous in both English and Greek as He is described as “Lord” in the same verse. On the contrary, the plain reading still has each title referring back to Jesus and strengthens His divinity and a better translation of despoten here is Master or Sovereign.
Appendix B: Parallels to 1 Corinthians 8:6b/Jude 4
Ezra said, “You are the only Lord (κύριος μόνος) . You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all, and the host of heaven worships You.Nehemiah 9:6 LXX
He who sacrifices to any god except to the Lord alone (or “to the only Lord“), he shall be put to death.Exodus 22:19 LXX
The Lord my God shall come and all the saints with Him (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:13). And in that day, it shall be that there will not be any light, but there shall be cold and frost for one day, and that day shall be known to the Lord. It will be neither a day nor a night, but towards evening there will be light. And in that day living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem, half of it toward the eastern sea and half toward the western sea. So it will be in both summer and spring. And the Lord shall be King of all the earth, and in that day the Lord shall be one Lord, and His Name one name…Zechariah 14:6-9 LXX
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God is one Lord“Deuteronomy 6:4 LXX
The Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and will be your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord (δέσποτα κυριε), what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus, the son of Masek, my domestic maidservant?”Genesis 15:1-2 LXX
But false prophets also appeared among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master (δεσπότην) who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.2 Peter 2:1