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I was reading 1st Nephi chapter 3 and wondering if referencing the Lord is referring to Jesus Christ or to Heavenly Father. How do you tell the difference between when Lord is used in the scriptures and who it’s referring to?





Hi LeAnn,

This is a common question and is easy to get confused about, especially for those who are young in their gospel understanding, so you’re definitely not alone in wondering this. To be sure, there are quite a few spots in the scriptures where it can become a little ambiguous whether the Father or The Son is being referred to, especially without the aid of living prophets. This is likely why there was so much confusion in the first few hundred years A.D. when there were so many debates in the Roman Empire about the nature of the Godhead in general. But to help clarify this, let’s review two fundamental scriptural basics about The Father and The Son and their roles.

1. The Father is the spiritual Father and creator of our spirits, including the spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior. (see Romans 8:16 and Bible Dictionary: “Firstborn”)

2. Jehovah, the sacred scriptural name title of Jesus Christ, is sometimes referred to as a father figure because, under His Father’s direction, He created all of it. He is also the Father of our Salvation, having paid the price for our sins and our salvation from all negative effects of the fall and mortality. He is the One anointed by the Father to be the means of our Salvation from sin and death.

Keith H. Meservy, an emeritus professor of ancient scripture at BYU, points out the following:

We are frequently told that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament (see Bible Dictionary, “Jehovah,” 710–11). But when we open our Bibles, we find little evidence that this is so. What is missing in the translations is clear in the original Hebrew text, where Jehovah, the Savior’s Old Testament name, appears over 5,000 times!


Why then is Jehovah missing from our Bible translations? The answer can be found in the way His name has been treated by Jews since the days of Malachi and Zechariah. Jehovah is the name of God, and devout Jews, out of reverence for Him, never say His name. Instead they substitute Adonai, a Hebrew title meaning “Lord.” So whenever they speak of Him or read aloud His name from scripture, they substitute Adonai (Lord).

King James translators of the Hebrew Bible followed Jewish practice. Instead of printing Jehovah, the name of God, they substituted the English title LORD, printed in small capitals, every time the name Jehovah appeared in the Hebrew text.

Jesus earned His title as our Lord through His atoning sacrifice. The title “Lord” encompasses all of His unique roles within the family of His (and our) Father. Jesus is our Mediator, Savior, our Advocate with the Father. Sometimes you may hear people within the church discouraging the use of the term “Lord” when addressing Heavenly Father in prayer. This is because The Father did not pay for our sins, is not the same person, and is not our Savior.

So any time we see the word “Lord” in the scriptures, whether it be just that word, “Lord God” or any other use of that term, it’s safe to assume that it’s referring to Jesus Christ, especially since the scriptures are consistently referred to by their authors as “the words of Christ”.

I hope that helps.






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