Among the various names of Jesus, the three words “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Lord” occur in various combinations and with various other titles. The distribution of the different combinations throughout the New Testament books is interesting and suggests a few things about how the early Christians viewed Jesus.
To see patterns, it helps to divide the New Testament books into gospels and other books by author. Paul wrote many of the letters.
“Lord,” can refer to God the Father or to Jesus:
In the gospels, “Lord” refers to God the Father 75 times. Of those, 8 are the Angel of the Lord, 36 are quotations from the Old Testament (OT) and 3 could refer to either Jesus or God. The word tends to occur in the early chapters from the nativity to the temptation (40 times) plus a few times at the conclusion of the books.
In Acts (49 times), 3 are the Angel of the Lord, 12 are OT quotes, and 3 could refer to Jesus or God.
Paul (51 times), 15 are OT quotes, 23 could be Jesus or God. The word does not occur in Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, or Philippians.
1 Peter: 3 OT quotes.
John’s letters do not include the word “Lord.”
The book of Revelation uses the word “Lord” of God the Father 14 times and of Jesus 4 times.
In the gospels, “Lord” refers to Jesus 108 times. 19 times, it comes in the words of two narrators (Luke 13, John 6). Only 18 times does Jesus say the word “Lord.” Most times Jesus used the word in parables, or to mean “Master,” or He was quoting someone else using it of Him in a hypothetical manner. Matt. 24:42 speaks of the coming Lord. Jesus’ only direct statement about Himself being Lord was when He said that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
Blind men and a Canaanite woman called Jesus “Lord” in conjunction with the title “Son of David” (Matt. 9:28; 15:22; 20:30-33).
When other people in the gospels used the title “Lord” to refer to Jesus, it could have meant either “Master” or “Sir,” it is hard to tell from the context whether anyone was using it as a title of divinity. The understanding of Jesus’ divinity came later, after people understood the resurrection. Consistent with that, “Lord Jesus,” only appears twice in the Gospels (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:3).
In Acts, of the 32 occurrences, 10 are quotations of others using it, the rest are in the narrative (by the author, Luke).
In Paul (122 times), 26 are clearly of Jesus, the rest could be references to Him or to the Father.
Heb. 7:14 clearly means Jesus.
In Eph. 4:5 “Lord” is part of a Trinitarian statement. Also, the title “Master and Lord Jesus Christ” in Jude 1:4 shows that “Lord” means more than “Master.” The coming “Day of the Lord” is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Thess. 2:2, 8 (elsewhere it seems to conform to the OT, which means the coming of God).
A few other names of Jesus include the word “Lord.” Jesus is called Lord of All in Acts 10:36, Lord of the dead and the living in Rom. 14:9, Lord of glory in 1 Cor. 2:8, and Lord of lords in Rev. 17:14; 19:16.
The Greek word “christos” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “mashiakh.” “Messias” only occurs twice; it is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew (John 1:41, 4:25).
The doublets “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are interesting. Paul alone uses “Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24 refers to Paul’s words). Most other authors have Jewish backgrounds and stick with “Jesus Christ.” In fact, all the NT writers except Luke in Acts strongly emphasize the title “Christ.” For instance, among the titles considered on this page, Paul presents a typical pattern. 93% of the titles that he uses for Jesus include the word “Christ” compared to only 66% of Luke’s titles. The Gospels seem to focus on Jesus as the Christ, especially in the last chapters of the synoptics. Each of the six titles that Jude uses includes “Jesus Christ.” Peter emphasizes Jesus as Savior (as does Paul). John emphasizes His sonship and does not use the title “Lord” at all in his letters.
In a few cases, it is possible that the two forms alternate in a chiastic manner (mirrored phrases) namely in the following pairs where “Christ Jesus” and “Jesus Christ” are found: Rom. 1:1, 6; Rom. 3:24, 22; (possibly a double chiasma in Rom. 6:3, 11 and 5:17, 21); 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 (some manuscripts); Eph. 1:1, 5; and perhaps Tit. 1:4, 1.
Lord Jesus Christ
The triplet, Lord Jesus Christ, seems to be a more formal title. 34/61 occurrences are in the introductions or endings of the letters or in prayers. In addition, once it appears in a letter (Acts 15:26) and when speaking of “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” or in exhortations and commands. In all, 65% of the occurrences could be called “formal.”
Overall, the New Testament writers use names of Jesus that emphasis the fact that He is Messiah and Lord.