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1 Timothy 6:13-16 (YLT):

13 I charge thee, before God, who is making all things alive, and of Christ Jesus, who did testify before Pontius Pilate the right profession,
14 that thou keep the command unspotted, unblameable, till the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 which in His own times He shall shew -- the blessed and only potentate, the King of the kings and Lord of the lords,
16 who only is having immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor is able to see, to whom [is] honour and might age-during! Amen.

vs.

Revelation 17:14 (YLT):

14 these with the Lamb shall make war, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because Lord of lords he is, and King of kings, and those with him are called, and choice, and stedfast.'

Who is "King of kings and Lord of lords"? God or Jesus?

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  • Hi, SRI, I feel this question, will enhance your question. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27242/…
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 8:15
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    Several of your questions set one scripture text in opposition to another, as now: "1 Timothy 6:13 versus Revelation 17:14". It is bordering on offensive because it betrays an underlying attitude to Holy Scripture, that you can pick two texts and imply that there's a fight going on between the two, and one should be the winner. Like as in a boxing match. Further, distinction needs to be made between Jesus the man on earth, and the risen Christ now in heavenly glory. Your question pays no attention to such a critical factor, nor of the full deity of Christ, so that the answer could be 'both'.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 15:17
  • @Anne - contradiction questions can sometimes be very insightful, e.g. see here & here.
    – user38524
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 16:04
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    In both those examples, the PO asked IF there was a contradiction btwn 2 texts; that's rather different to setting two texts up like boxers in the ring, standing in opposite corners, you ringing the starting bell.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 17:05

3 Answers 3

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Great Question that has flummoxed many. Even the standard commentaries are divided about this important verse.

YHWH/Jehovah of the OT is "Lord of Lords"

  • Deut 10:17 - For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.
  • Ps 136:3 - Give thanks to the LORD ... Give thanks to the Lord of lords.

Jesus is called "Lord of Lords"

  • Rev 17:14 - They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
  • Rev 19:16 - And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Note that in these latter NT passages, Jesus is also called both King of kings and Lord of Lords. It might appear to be a simple matter to thus identify Jesus the antecedent in 1 Tim 6:15. However, such an identification is complicated by the fact that:

  • It is God who will show/manifest Jesus Christ at the appropriate time
  • V17 goes on to say that this King of kings and Lord of Lords lives in unapproachable light (1 John 1:1-5) and no man has ever seen Him (John 1:18, 5:37, 6:46, 1 John 4:12, etc).
  • He is also described as immortal (literally, undying) which Christ is not.

Thus, all we can conclude here is that 1 Tim 6:15 "King of kings and Lord of Lords" refers to the Father but that Rev 17:14 and 19:16 also applies the same titles to Jesus.

There is no problem here because:

  • the throne in the New Jerusalem is described as "The throne of God and of the Lamb" Rev 22:3
  • in John 5:23 we also read: "so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father."
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  • You said "He is also described as immortal (literally, undying) which Christ is not." How can that be when Christ' human nature died, but His Divine nature didn't? You affirm the deity of Christ, so Jesus eternally speaking never died, but the body God prepared for Him did. "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me." (Hebrews 10:5)
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 4:14
  • And mightn’t we also add that Jesus just is God incarnate? Surely the Trinity is important here. Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 4:15
  • 1) "He is also described as immortal (literally, undying) which Christ is not." Rather than give a definition of immortal, shouldn't you apply the word (ἀθανασία) to Christ as it is used in the NT (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)? 2) Is κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων saying the same thing as κυρίῳ τῶν κυρίων? Or should you consider how Paul was careful to make a distinction when he wrote? 3) And what of King of Kings? Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 7:22
  • @RevelationLad - I am not sure I understand your point - 1 Cor 15:53, 43 is discussing humans not Christ.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 7:28
  • My point is ἀθανασία does not mean something different when applied Christ. If humans are told to put on ἀθανασία, then it is not referring to avoiding physical death. Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 7:40
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Examining 1Timonty 6:16 ASV

who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen.

Was Jesus inherently immortal before he was resurrected by his God? Considering that Christ actually died, how could it be said that he now is immortal. Is there a verse that show that we mortals can be immortal too? (1 Corinthians 15:54) shows us that Paul wrote that we should seek to put on incorruption/incorruptibility, and "this mortal shall have put on immortality" but this immortality is not inherent in us. Romans 6:9 and Revelation 1:8 show that Jesus was not immortal before his death. Despite being called the king of kings and lord of lord in this verse, the difference between God and Jesus is obvious. God alone is inherently immortal. Nobody gives God immortality.

Who is the only potentate in 1 Timothy 6:16

The context of the verse in question is comparing Jesus with human rulers, Jesus is king of those kings and lord of those lords, As Daniel 7:14 shows these kings and lords of nations will serve him. In addition, none of these kings and lords have been resurrected and given immortality. Thus, Jesus alone was immortal in comparison with human kings and lords.

"dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see:"

Jesus now dwells in unapproachable light after his ascension to heaven and no physical human eyes will see him. Acts 9:3-8 show how Paul was blinded by the light from heaven when Jesus revealed himself to him.

Daniel 7:14 ASV

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Romans 6:9 ASV

knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him .

Revelation 1:18 ASV

and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades

1 Corinthians 15:54 ASV

But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory

Examining the phrase "king of kings and lord of lords" being applied to Jesus.

Jesus was made lord by Jehovah as Psalms 110:1 show. If he is made lord and is now called lord of lords, does that make Jesus God, does that identify Jesus to be the God that he worships because he was called lord of lords? If king of kings always refers to God, is Artaxerxes God? Ezra 7:12. Is Nebuchadnezzar God too? Ezekiel 26:7

Ezra 7:12 ASV

Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth

Ezekiel 26:7 ASV

For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will bring upon Tyre Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and a company, and much people

Psalm 110:1 ASV

A Psalm of David. Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

It was Jesus' God who made him lord as Acts 2:33-36 show but nobody Makes God lord. Psalm 110:1 shows the difference between the LORD YHWH and Jesus lord adoni. The 1st LORD in Psalm 110:1 is Jehovah/YHWH. The second lord is translated from the hebrew word adoni. Adoni is a title which never refers to God. Peter narrated God's plan based on the truth of Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:33-36 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.

Jehovah (YHWH) God made Jesus lord but nobody makes God lord.

The Lamb in Revelation 17:14 is Jesus. The Father is still the God/Father of Jesus in Revelation as Revelation 3:12 show. The Lamb of God (Jesus) in the book of Revelation has God and the Lamb is not God. The Lamb has been slain, Revelation 5:6 but God cannot be slain.

Revelation 5:6 ASV

And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth

Does Jesus being called "king kings" and "lord of lords" identifies him as God because God is also called King of kings and Lord of lords? It was Jesus' God who made Jesus "king of kings" and "lord of lords". 1 Corinthians 15:27, Hebrews 1:9 Nobody makes God God.

1 Corinthians 15:27-28 ASV

For, He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him. And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.

Hebrews 1:9 ASV

And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.

Who is "King of kings and Lord of lords"? God or Jesus? 1 Timothy 6:13-16 vs. Revelation 17:14

The King of kings and Lord of lords in 1 Timothy 6:13-16 and Revelation 17:14 is Jesus, not his God.

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  • 1
    God alone is immortal. Jesus died - you are not using the Greek ἀθανασία as it is used in Scripture: "For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality..." (1 Corinthians 15:53-54) Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 7:27
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    This doesn't answer the question, it's just a distracting snowstorm of verses. In 1 Timothy God is the clear referent of KOKs and LOLs. In the Revelation verse the Lamb is clearly declared to be KOKs and LOLs. Explain how KOKs and LOLs is used of both God and the Lamb without the referents being the same. Are there 2 KOKs and LOLs? Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 13:44
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    I'm Sure he has no Answer for that. @Mike Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 7:11
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    As per the verses in the OP's Q., the only one truly questionable verse, is 1 Tim, 6:15. Are we talking about "The Almighty Himself", or are we talking about who is being previously referenced in V.14, i.e. our "Lord Jesus Christ". While, admittedly, it is not as clear as Rev, 17:14, the title "King of kings and Lord of lords" most probably, here, refers to the only one being referenced, and subsequently, introduced to appointed times (Kairois), i.e. Jesus, himself. So, I'm with Alex on this one. Upvoted +1. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 3:08
  • @OldeEnglish. Nice to hear from you again. Thanks. Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 4:19
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The answer to this is very simple when studying the grammar of the passages you provided and when reading the whole of Scripture.

The answer is both, yet allow me to explain...

1.) So here we have John calling Jesus "The Lamb of God":

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

2.) As you noted:

"These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Jesus is described as both the Lamb/Lamb of God and the King of Kings & Lord of Lords. This is very plain and obvious to all who will study the Scriptures.

Those who would object are not practicing proper contextual exegesis.

Also noted, verse 14 lays the foundation of speaking of Christ in the immediate context, then verse 15 shows Paul speaking of Christ with the following titles:

  • Blessed
  • Potentate
  • King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Then, the list of immortality & unapproachable light follow Jesus Christ’ description. So while God was included in verse 13, Jesus takes the place of the immediate context.

John 1:1-14 shows that Jesus is also God, John 10:30 proves that Jesus is One with His Father; in fact, in the Greek John 10:30 shows a distinction of persons more clearly.

James White, the Greek scholar said this:

"Literally, the passage reads, "I and the Father, we are one." The verb translated "are" is plural in the Greek. Jesus is not saying, "I am the Father." The distinction between the Son and the Father remains even in the verb He uses." (Page 159, The Forgotten Trinity)

Also, based on the following context of John 10:30 we see the Jews understanding of Jesus’ statement to be a claim to divinity:

“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭10:31-33

Also to address the words in 1 Timothy 6:16 about "dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor is able to see" we must acknowledge that while Jesus did show a revelation of His glory in the transfiguration on earth (Matthew 17:1-13), this "unapproachable light" of Jesus would be that of His fullness of divine glory.

We get a glimpse of 1 Timothy 6:16 in terms of the general concept from Exodus, when God said to Moses:

"But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

This is further confirmed when Moses' face was shining from the glory of God's backside:

"And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23)

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him. (Exodus 34:29-35)

It would appear that Moses' face shining in this manner was the result of unapproachable light.

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  • Agree with much of what you say. Yet, with respect to "lamb" there is no question the reference is to Jesus, however, the word in the Gospel is ἀμνός and in Revelation is ἀρνίον, two different words. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27972/… so you should explain how they are the same, despite being two different words. Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 2:25
  • @RevelationLad I can make some edits after doing some more research, as I have not noticed this Greek distinction before. I read some things on your link. I am currently occupied with a tight schedule reading theological books, so yes, Lord willing, later. (1 Cor 10:31)
    – Cork88
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 2:54

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