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Dominion (2)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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DOMINION.—The word ‘dominion’ occurs only once in the Authorized Version of the Gospels, as part of the phrase ‘exercise dominion over’ (κατακυριεύουσιν), in that passage in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 20:25) which records our Lord’s reply to the ambitious request of Salome on behalf of her sons, and the words which He addressed to the disciples at the time. The Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of this passage, as of the parallel text in Mark (Mark 10:42), is ‘lord it over.’ The same idea is expressed in a similar passage in Luke (Luke 22:25), which gives Christ’s words at the Last Supper with reference to the dispute among His disciples as to precedence, by the simple verb κυριεύουσιν, ‘exercise lordship over’ ( Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘have lordship over’).

Again, in all three passages the verbs which are so translated are followed in the parallel clause of the verse by the words ‘exercise authority over’ or ‘upon’ (Matthew 20:25 Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 || Mark 10:42 Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, Luke 22:25 Authorized Version), ‘have authority over’ (Luke 22:23 Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885), representing the words of the original κατεξουσιάζουσιν, ἐξουσιάζοντες. The word ‘authority’ (ἐξουσία) and the verbs formed from it thus suggest themselves for consideration in connexion with the word rendered ‘dominion’ in the passage in Matthew.

1. The passages quoted from the Synoptics illustrate a characteristic feature of the Gospels, the manner in which they represent Jesus as postponing the assertion of His kingly rights, and, in connexion with this, the express teaching which they attribute to Him as to the nature of the dominion which He claimed. Thus, as He withstood the temptation of Satan (Luke 4:6) to assume the royal sceptre which belonged to Him as Son of God, and to reign as the Divinely appointed king of a visible and temporal realm, so He resisted, as a repetition of that temptation, every suggestion or appeal that was made to Him, by the people or by His disciples, formally and publicly to appear as the Messiah. He would not suffer the people of Galilee to make Him a king (John 6:15). He declared to Pilate that, although royal authority was His by right, His kingdom was ‘not of this world, and was therefore not to be won or maintained and defended by temporal weapons (John 18:36-37).

Now the texts which have been quoted from the Synoptics may be regarded as the loci classici of the teaching of Jesus with reference to the nature of the sovereignty claimed by Him, and to the principle of that spiritual dominion of which He spoke. They occur in connexion with what the Gospels tell us regarding the Messianic expectations of the Twelve, who, like most of their countrymen, anticipated in the near, and even, at times, in the immediate, future, the visible establishment of the personal reign of Christ as Prince of the House of David. They were addressed to the disciples at the close of Christ’s ministry, in the one case in the course of His last journey to Jerusalem, in the other in connexion with the dispute at the Last Supper as to who should be accounted the greatest. The answer of Jesus in both cases—to the ambitious request of Salome, and to the dispute among the disciples—was the same, and the principle which He laid down was to this effect. For Master and for disciple the question of dominion is totally different from that which is agitated by the ambition of the world. Among the princes of the Gentiles the way to power and authority is the path of worldly ambition and self-assertion. It is not so in the Kingdom of God. There not self-assertion but self-denial is the way to supremacy. The way to dominion is the way of service. Places of supremacy there certainly are in the Kingdom of God, and they are reserved ‘for those for whom they are prepared’ of the Father. But they are allotted upon a definite, intelligible principle, and that not of favouritism but of spiritual character. They who shall hold rank nearest to Christ in His Kingdom are they who shall most closely resemble Him in respect of lowliness, self-denial, and humble service. For disciple and for Master the law is the same in this respect, that ‘he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ So Christ is ‘among you as he that serveth’ (Luke 22:27). In laying down the principle, Jesus illustrated it by reference to His own mission. ‘The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28 || Mark 10:45). And here as elsewhere the disciple must be as his Master, attaining his place in the Kingdom only by the way of self-humiliation, self-denial, self-sacrifice.

2. The use in these passages, in immediate connexion with the idea of dominion, of the words ‘have authority over,’ ‘exercise authority over’ (ἐξουσίαζουσιν, ἐξουσιάζοντες), calls for some reference to the power or authority (ἐξουσία) attributed to Christ in connexion with His humiliation as well as with His exaltation. That during His ministry He possessed and exercised very complete and far-reaching authority, dominion in the sense of ἐξουσία, the natural synonym of κυριότης, ‘lordship,’ ‘dominion,’ is distinctly testified by all the Gospels.

Lordship (κυριότης) was expressly claimed by Him even in connexion with His state of humiliation. Thus, in controversy with the Pharisees, He claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath, and, as such, to be entitled to interpret the Sabbath law (Matthew 12:8 || Mark 2:28 || Luke 6:5). St. Luke tells us in his account of the healing of the paralytic, that ‘the power of the Lord was present to heal’ (Luke 5:17). The message to the owners of the ass on which Jesus rode to Jerusalem was ‘The Lord hath need of him’ (Matthew 21:3 || Mark 11:3 || Luke 19:31; Luke 19:34). When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, and was applying the lesson of that incident, He said, ‘Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am’ (John 13:13).

As Son of Man, He was invested with special power (ἐξουσία) to work miracles. As such He is represented as exercising a delegated authority, acting according to His Father’s will (John 5:30 ff.), but that with a spontaneity and directness unknown before. Such was His power over unclean spirits that they trembled and cried out at His approach, and were compelled to yield instant though fearful and reluctant obedience to His command (Mark 1:27 || Luke 4:36). With a word He controlled the winds and waves (Matthew 8:26-31 || Mark 4:39-41 || Luke 8:24-25). So wide and great was His authority over the powers of life and death, that His word, even though spoken at a distance, was sufficient to effect an instantaneous cure, as when His word of assurance spoken at Cana to the nobleman was followed immediately by the cure of his child who lay sick at Capernaum (John 4:50); and when He confirmed the faith of the centurion, who likened Christ’s power over disease to his own authority over his soldiers, by speaking the word which healed his servant (Matthew 8:8-13 || Luke 7:6-10). Three times He raised the dead with a word: in the case of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-16), in that of Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-26 || Mark 5:21-43 || Luke 8:40-56), and in that of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). He could even delegate to others His power over unclean spirits and to heal disease, as He did in His mission, first of the Twelve, and again of the Seventy disciples (Matthew 10:5 ff. || Mark 6:7 ff. || Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-16). Again, He claimed and exercised power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6 || Mark 2:10 || Luke 5:24, cf. Luke 7:48).

3. According to the Johannine discourses, Jesus declared that the Father had committed to Him power to execute judgment ‘because he is the Son of Man’ (John 5:27). This function refers specially to His state of exaltation. He came not to judge, but to save the world (John 12:47); ‘I judge no man,’ He said to the Jews (John 8:15). At the same time His work and teaching, even His very presence in the world, meant a judgment, inasmuch as they compelled men to declare themselves either for or against Christ, and so pass judgment upon themselves (cf. John 9:39); and as Jesus said Himself, ‘The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48). To Jesus as Son of Man all judgment and authority and power have been committed. All things are given into His hands (Matthew 11:27, John 3:35 || John 13:2), that He may guide and strengthen His Church (Matthew 28:18), and at His second coming appear as the Judge of all nations (Matthew 25:31 ff.). It is He who is to pass the final sentence upon the just and upon the unjust. On that day He will say to those who have falsely called Him ‘Lord, Lord,’ ‘I know you not’ (Matthew 7:22-23). He will open to His faithful ones the door to the eternal festival of joy, but will close the door of the heavenly marriage feast on ‘the unfaithful’ (Matthew 7:22-23; Matthew 25:11-12, Luke 13:27-29). ‘He shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations’ (Matthew 25:31-32). In connexion with these predictions of the events of the Day of Judgment, Jesus says: ‘The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity’ (Matthew 13:41). The angels are thus represented as being subject to the dominion of Christ in His exaltation, as His servants, obeying His behests; as even during His life on earth they appeared as ministering spirits obedient to His command, and waiting upon Him as courtiers upon their Sovereign (Matthew 4:11; Matthew 26:53, Luke 22:43).

Lastly, as the fruit of His work of redemption, and as part of the glory which He has won by His perfect submission to the Father’s will, there is given to Him, in that time of waiting which must pass before the final completion of His kingdom, ‘all power in heaven and on earth’ (Matthew 28:18), as the Father has ‘given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as he has given him’ (John 17:2; cf. John 10:28). See also Power.

Literature.—Cremer, Bib.-Theol. Lex. s.vv. ἐξουσία, κὐριος, κυριοτης; Grimm-Thayer, Lex. NT, s.vv. κατακυριεῦω, ἑξουσια, κύριος, κυριεύω; H. J. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der NT Theol. i. 319 f., ii. 409 ff.; Wendt, The Teaching of Jesus, ii. 276; Beyschlag, NT Theology, i. 59–191, 241; Comm. of Meyer and Alford.

Hugh H. Currie.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Dominion (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​d/dominion-2.html. 1906-1918.
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