Quick Facts

  • Pronunciation: 
  • Strongs Concordance: #G2634
    • to bring under one’s power, to subject one’s self, to subdue, master
    • to hold in subjection, to be master of, exercise lordship over
  • Appears 7 times in 4 verses in the New Testament
  • Common translations
    • “lord it over” (2x)
    • “lording it over”
    • “subdued” (2x)

How katakyrieuō is used in the New Testament

  1. Matthew 20:25 – “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.”

  2. Mark 10:42 – “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.”

  3. Acts 19:16 – “And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

  4. 1 Peter 5:1-3 – “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”

My observations and perspective

The word katakyrieuō occurs seven times in four verses and is no where translated “authority” in the New Testament. I include it here because it is integral to the study of authority in the scripture and provides clarity and commentary to other words in the same verses examined elsewhere.

These verses demonstrate three instances where Christ and an Peter both clarify the use of authority over the church They do not destroy the notion of shepherding or leading, but clarify the limits of such leadership making it clear that it does not include “bringing under one’s power”.

One issue worth considering… when an English reader sees the expression “lording it over”, they will likely think of a person in charge who is being bossy, or reminding others of their authority. Imagine an oldest of several children being placed in charge while their parents are out, then taking every opportunity to control their siblings and remind them of their charge. This is the kind of thing that comes to mind when we see the term “lord over”.

What I find interesting is that the meaning of the word simply means to subject another person to yourself. It means taking possession of authority over another. “Lord over” makes things sound like a person who rightfully has authority over another, but takes it too far. The Greek work would seem to indicate that taking the authority at all would be improper.

Taking the Greek words at their meaning, and in context of scriptures, I would have to conclude that ‘lording over’ is incorrect. Especially given the example in Acts 19:16 where the word is used to describe a demon subduing humans. Does a demon possess such authority? Was the demon just going to far with it’s authority? Decide for yourself.

Whatever overseeing (#G1983) and shepherding (#G4165) are to be, they may not include subjecting others to themselves.

This is a great example of scripture interpreting and clarifying other scripture. It also helps us choose the best meanings for ‘shepherding’ and ‘exercise oversight’ in 1 Peter 5:1-3 which we’ve provided elsewhere on this blog


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