Well, of course, he is, you might respond, particularly if you, like myself, believe the Bible’s account that Jesus is not just a man, but that he is the eternal Son of God who became man. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He is the God man.
Wasn’t he always Lord, you might ask? True. As the second person of the Godhead, infinite glory and power always belonged to him and always will. Yet, without in any way compromising or diminishing his eternal power and glory, Paul can talk about an additional Lordship that is given to him by the Father as Jesus completes his work of redemption.
In Philippians 2:5, Paul tells you to have the attitude of Christ. Then, in verses 6–8 he describes the humility, suffering, and death of Jesus, as he gave his life in the place of sinners. Paul is calling us to reflect that servant’s attitude.
But, because he suffered obediently, because he did his Father’s will, the Father has rewarded him, verses 9–11. He raised him from the dead and exalted him to the highest place. Every knee will bow to him.
The Father has given him the name that is above every name. What is that name? It is not just Jesus, not just the title Christ, but rather what every tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. He who never stopped being God, he who is perfectly glorious, as the risen, exalted Savior, as the one who did his Father’s will, has earned the name Lord in an additional sense.
By the way, don’t get the idea that the word eschatology is simply a big word, a technical term that theologians throw around. It means last things, and refers not just to the events just before Christ’s return, but to the whole period that begins with his resurrection and ends with his coming at the end of the age. Hebrews 1:1–4 tells us that in these last days God has spoken to us in his Son. Like Philippians 2, that passage emphasizes the exaltation that is Christ’s reward.
One of my former teachers summarizes the heart of Paul’s theology:
“The center of Paul’s theology is God’s work of redemption in sending his Son in ‘the fullness of time’ (Gal. 4:4–5), the eschatology that has been inaugurated in Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3–4). This eschatological salvation from sin and its consequences, its guilt and corruption, Christ has accomplished by his obedience, by obediently enduring a lifetime of suffering and humiliation that culminated in his death on the cross. Because of that obedience, God has ‘highly exalted’ him (Phil. 2:8–9). His state of humiliation is now behind him definitively; in his resurrection and ascension, he has entered his permanent state of exaltation as Lord (2:11).” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., In the Fullness of Time: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Acts and Paul, p. 418)”
Was the Son of God always full of glory? Was he always Lord? Yes! But because he has redeemed his people, he has earned the title Lord in an additional sense. Paul reminds you that every knee will bow to him. The question is, will that bowing be the forced surrender of his enemies? Or will it be the willing worship and praise that says, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”?