In the New Testament the Greek word used for 'Lord' is often 'kurios' or 'Kyrie', a transliteration of Greek Κύριε (Kyrie), vocative case of Κύριος (Kyrios). I understand and believe the implications from the Septuagint is relating YHWH.

In Luke 5:5 Peter referred to Jesus as 'master', epistates (Ἐπιστάτα), and in 5:8 he used Kyrie (κύριε).

Luke 5:5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

epistates (Ἐπιστάτα) http://bibleapps.com/greek/1988.htm

Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

kurios. (κύριος, ου, ὁ) http://bibleapps.com/greek/2962.htm

My question is more about epistates (Ἐπιστάτα). How would that term have been routinely used during that time period? It seems that Kurios/Kyrie were used interchangeably with people of high standing so would 'epistates' have been used in the same way? I take it to be comparable to addressing a middle manager or Forman and addressing the owner of the company or boss. Relationally how would Peters address be intended and how would it have been received by a common person of the time.


Έπιστάτης appears in the NT only in Luke (5:5; 8:24, 45; 9:33, 49; 17:13). In case except the last, the word appears on the lips of a disciple. Marshall, in this NIGTC calls the make of the last reference a near disciple (203). Marshall agrees with Oepke’s TDNT article (II, 622f.) that the word is a translation of the Palestinian Aramaic, רַבִּי. Marshall also cites Glombitza’s ZNW article, ‘Die Titel διδάσκαλος und ἐπιστάτης für Jesus bei Lukas’, ZNW 49, 1958, 275–278 which demonstrates that ἐπιστάτης also stands in the place of διδάσκαλος in Luke. Marshall concludes the term used here refers to an authority which one would obey. Later, in verse 8, Simon Peter falls before Jesus and call Him κύριος which Marshall admits has a deeper meaning, but he does not think carries the connotation of divinity yet. He does concede that the use of Peter’s full name, falling prostrate, and the deeper title indicate a pitch in the narrative at this point.

I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 203. However, Bock in his BECNT states, “Peter recognizes Jesus’ authority in this action.” (458). Bock at least concedes that Peter recognizes Jesus as a divine agent. Peter recognizes his own sinfulness in the presence of a man of God. “Κύριος is a key term and stands as a stronger term in contrast to the use of ἐπιστάτα (epistata, master) in 5:5.” (459)

Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 1:1–9:50 (vol. 1; Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1994). While the text is moving the reader to the conclusion that Κύριος should be understood in the fuller sense of the LXX as a term for YHWH, it is not clear that Peter understands Jesus fully in this sense at the time he speaks these words. It does appear that Luke uses the two differently weighted words for an authority to demonstrate the heightening of the narrative and to show that Peter understands Jesus as someone sent from God.

It seems best to accept TDNT’s conclusion that ἐπιστάτης is Luke’s translation for רַבִּי and to hold off on giving Κύριος its full weight as a direct reference to the divine at this point and allow the text to develop that idea over time.

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