Why Is God Called "King of Kings and Lord of Lords"?
One of the grandest name descriptions of our God is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” It is used to declare God’s authority over all creation, and reminds believers of His power and might. Even Nebuchadnezzar, a very great Old Testament King, came to acknowledge God as his sovereign in the book of Daniel:
“Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation...Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Daniel 4:34, 37).
While exploring this phrase, I found that this term has been used in both secular and Christian ways. For instance, Merriam Webster’s definition says, “An earthly sovereign,” and then “God; Christ.” And the Oxford English Dictionary refers to both God and Jesus with the term.
“King of Kings and Lord of Lords” has been used to describe a grand ruler in the Middle East, as recently as the early 20th century. It applied to a Pharaoh or a monarch who held a higher position than any other kings in a region. But Scripture makes it clear that only our Lord is truly worthy of the title.
Where Do We See God Called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Though Old Testament books may not use the exact phrase “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” there are many declarations of God’s supreme rule:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Isaiah 40:21-23).
“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).
“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, ‘Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things’” (1 Chronicles 29:10-12).
In the New Testament, this title is bestowed on Jesus as well. “Christ,” which means “anointed king,” was part of His name. And He proved Himself to be a member of what we now call the Trinity - God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples, revealing that God had given Him dominion.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (Matthew 28:18).
Years later in his letters, the Apostle Paul openly echoes Jesus’ claims during and after His earthly ministry.
“When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
“In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:13-16).
The book of Revelation recounts a vision given to the Apostle John in his old age. It includes several mentions of the risen Christ as the victorious King.
“...and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5).
“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” (Revelation 17:14).
“On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
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What It Means for Us That God Is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords"
When we see God as the King of Kings, we are agreeing that He has absolute dominion. The title ought to stir up a sense of respect, worship, and even wonder within us.
Giving God rule over our lives is not meant to be a fearful thing, though. In fact, letting God take His rightful place in our hearts is the beginning of a wonderful new life. For this King longs to be in close relationship with each of His people.
Since He created us, He knows us intimately. And our Lord desires for us to grow in character so that we become more like him. As we let Him change us, we’ll be more aware of His power working in and through us, for good.
Reflecting on God this way will actually impact our character:
1. God is truly all-powerful
He invites us to bring our burdens to Him and release our need to take care of ourselves. Then, humility before God and gratitude for His blessings will take hold.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
2. God is a safe refuge for us
He encourages us to come without fear, as a child runs to his or her Father. As we do, our trust and confidence in our Heavenly Father will grow.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3).
3. God knows us completely, and wants us to know Him
He offers us the chance for a deep and loving connection. When our hearts align with God’s, we’ll take on more of his compassion and grace.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
God is truly worthy of the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” But He will never force us to honor Him that way. If we are willing to lay down our own desire to control, we will see evidence of His righteous rule in our lives.
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- Victory over death
“‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
- Triumph over sin
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
- Superiority over the world
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The very beginning of the Bible gives a detailed account of God creating the heavens and earth. All of nature, animals, birds and other creatures – and finally mankind – came to life at His command. Scripture goes on to celebrate the wonderful fact that nothing God created can ever be greater than He is.
“But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal” (Job 33:12).
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all…” (John 10: 27-29).
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Phrases like King of Kings and Lord of Lords are called “double titles,” which some Biblical authors used to highlight God’s supremacy.
Give us eyes to see You as the One true King. Scripture says that most of creation already acknowledges You are sovereign. So, please lead me to join in lifting You high. And I pray that doing that will grow my faith and my character.
In Jesus’ Name,
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Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby! You can connect with her on her website: heatheradamsworshipwalk.com