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Calling on the name of the Lord: Praying to Jesus

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Call on the name of the Lord
When one "called on the name of the Lord" in the Old Testament it referred to praying to YHWH[*1] as "the everlasting God" (Genesis 21:33).
 There are several passages in the New Testament that demonstrate when one calls upon the name of the Lord it is done in reference to praying to the Lord Jesus as YHWH (the everlasting God).[*2] 
[*1] Genesis 4:26
Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord. (NASB)
NIDNOTTE: The very first prayer is mentioned in Gen 4:26: "At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD." Before that time "men" (Adam, Eve, Cain) conversed directly with the Lord (3:8-19; 4:6-7, 9, 10-15). Now, bridging the developing gap, people began to communicate with God through prayer (4:1062, Prayer, P. A. Verhoef).
For other examples that demonstrate calling on the name of the Lord (or similar expressions) refers to praying to the Lord see Psalm 86:6-12; 99:5-6; 116:4; Jeremiah 29:12; Lamentations 3:55-57; Zephaniah 3:9.
[*2] See post #7 below.
Acts 2:21 (cf. Joel 2:32)
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (ESV)
 These words taken from Joel 2:32 in application to YHWH are also applied by Peter to the Lord Jesus.[*1] This demonstrates that Jesus equally shares the appellation of YHWH with the Father.[*2] 
     1. Stephen Motyer: The New Testament use of this expression is remarkable for the way in which it is applied to Jesus. Joel 2:32 is quoted in both Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13, but in both places "the Lord" is then identified as Jesus (Acts 2:36; Romans 10:14). The dramatic conviction of the first (Jewish) Christians was that Israel's worship needed to be redirected: people could no longer be saved by calling on Yahweh/Jehovah, the Old Testament name of God, but only on that of Jesus: "there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). To "call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2) therefore means worshiping him with divine honors (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Call, Calling).
   2. George Ladd: This outpouring of the Holy Spirit will bring about a great day of salvation, and whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Lord in Joel refers to God, but Peter and the early church applied this to the exalted Jesus (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, page 1128).
[*1] Notice as well that Peter's sermon concludes with him once again applying "Lord" in reference to Jesus (Acts 2:36).
 F. F. Bruce: But the practical application here, as in Rom. 10:13 (where the same text is quoted), is to Jesus (The Acts of the Apostles, co. 1990, page 122).
[*2] The divine work of pouring out the Holy Spirit is shared by the Father (Acts 2:17; cf. Joel 2:28) and the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:33).
Acts 7:59-60

(59) And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
(60) And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (ESV)
     1. Frederick Danker: Just as Israel was to understand her role as one of obedience to the God who saved her, so the Christian is to see the moral and ethical implications of this recognition of Christ's claim to ownership expressed so often in such a phrase as "Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus." Out of such conviction the iron of steadfast confession was smelted. As the stones came flying at Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7:59) (Creeds in the Bible, page 45, c. 1966).
     2. David Peterson: But he pointedly 'calls upon' the Lord Jesus in prayer instead of the Father, trusting him for salvation through death and beyond. Thus, he articulates his belief in the divinity of Christ. Then 'he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Jesus prayed to the Father that those crucified him might be forgiven (Lk. 23:34), and Stephen prays for the forgiveness of those stoning him, once again addressing Jesus as Lord (The Acts of the Apostles, Pillar New Testament Commentary, page 269).
     3. William Mounce: Jesus is the addressee when epikaleō is used in the sense of praying (Acts 7:59) (Mounce's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Call, page 93).
     4. J. Jeremias: Stephen prays: kurie Iesou dezai to pneuma mou (Ac.7:59) (TDNT 5:771, paradeisos).
     5. W. E. Vine: Prayer is properly addressed to God the Father, Matt. 6:6; John 16:23; Eph. 1:17; 3:14, and the Son, Acts 7:59; 2 Cor. 12:8 (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Prayer, page 872).
     6. Marvin Vincent: An unquestionable prayer to Christ.

There are several important points concerning Stephen's prayer to the Lord Jesus in Acts 7:59-60:
     1. The worship of the Father and the worship of the Lord Jesus is demonstrated by Luke in Christ's prayer to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46) and in Stephen's prayer to Christ (Acts 7:59-60). Some try to evade the fact that the Lord Jesus is being prayed to by pointing out that Stephen was experiencing a vision of the Lord Jesus so it really doesn't constitute a prayer. However, the vision took place in the city while the prayer took place after he was "cast out of the city" (Acts 7:58). Others have claimed that since Paul appealed (epikaloumai) to Caesar (Acts 25:11) it doesn't mean that when Stephen called (epikaloumenon) to the Lord Jesus prayer is involved. To this it is answered that in Acts 7:59 the Lord Jesus heard what Stephen said at that very moment. The same can not be said concerning Caesar's ability to hear what Paul spoke at that precise moment. One must consider how the Greek word is used in context. Indeed, concerning the Greek word deomai (Strong's #1189) we see that in Luke 9:40 a man "begged" (deomai) Christ's disciples. This doesn't mean he prayed to them even though deomai is used in Luke 10:2 concerning praying (deomai) to the Lord of the harvest. Notice as well that Paul's verbal appeal to Caesar pales in significance to what Stephen expressed. Stephen called out to the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. This carries with it the idea that the Lord Jesus is God the Creator (see Ecclesiastes 12:7 below). In addition to this is the fact that the Lord Jesus, being the Heart-knower of all, fully knew what Stephen was going to say even before he spoke. This is a powerful proof of His Deity. Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus, but Paul did not pray to Caesar. Still others maintain that Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus in Acts 7:59 but that he prayed to the Father in Acts 7:60. This assertion is really absurd. While the rocks mercilessly pummeled Stephen there is no need for him to say the "Lord Jesus" when he already clearly did so in Acts 7:59.


Acts 9:14
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. (ESV)     
     1. Allen P. Ross: In the NT the word is used is many of the same ways as in the OT, but most notable is the way that the name of Jesus is substituted for the name of God. Now one can call on (i.e., worship) the name of Jesus (Acts 9:14) (NIDOTTE 4:151, name - shem).     
     2. Barclay Newman and Eugene Nida: The phrase call on your name is equivalent to "worship you" (A Translator's Handbook on The Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:14, page 191).[*1]
     3. Daniel Whedon: A clear declaration that the very peculiarity of the Christian was praying to Jesus.
     4. J. C. O'Neill: To call on the name of the Lord Jesus was to worship the God of Israel (The Use of KYRIOS in the Book of Acts, Scottish Journal of Theology, Volume 8, Issue 2, c. June, 1955, page 172).
[*1] Calling upon the name of the Lord (Acts 9:14) also means to believe in the Lord (Acts 22:19). 
Acts 9:14
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. (ESV)     
Acts 22:19
And I said, Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. (ESV)
 If anyone claims to believe in Jesus but refuses to worship Jesus then they do not believe in the biblical Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4). Indeed, just as believing in God with all of one's household implies the worship of God (Acts 16:34), so too does believing in the Lord Jesus with all of one's household imply the worship of the Lord Jesus (Acts 18:8).

Acts 9:21
All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" (NASB - the underlined is mine)
Galatians 1:23
but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy." (NASB - the underlined is mine)
Jude 1:3
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (NASB - the underlined is mine)
     1. Praying to the Lord Jesus as YHWH (Acts 9:21)[*1] is equated with "the faith" (Galatians 1:23)[*2] that Christians must "contend earnestly for" (Jude 1:3). Those who refuse to pray to the Lord Jesus as YHWH do not belong to the Christian faith for their faith/gospel is accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).[*3]
[*1] Those who have been sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus are the same ones who have called upon His name as YHWH in prayer.
Acts 26:18
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (NASB - the underlined is mine)
1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. (NASB - the underlined is mine)
[*2] The same Greek word (portheo) is employed for "destroyed" in Acts 9:21 and "destroy" in Galatians 1:23.
[*3] Concerning "the faith" in Galatians 1:23 the BDAG (3rd Edition) reads: If the principal component of Christianity is faith, then p. can be understood as the Gospel in terms of the commitment it evokes (pistis, page 820).

Acts 22:16-21 (The Lord of the temple)

(16) Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
(17) “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance,
(18) and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’
(19) And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You.
(20) And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’
(21) And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” (NASB)

Although occurring at different times both of Paul's prayers to the Lord Jesus are brought together by Luke in Acts 22:16-17. Paul calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus in prayer (Acts 22:16) and immediately afterwards he is praying in the temple (Acts 22:17).[*1] That the Lord Jesus responds (Acts 22:18) implies Paul was praying to Him on both occasions (Acts 22:16-17).
[*1] David Peterson: Moreover, Paul's vision implies that the risen Jesus is Lord of the temple, who reveals his will and commissions his servant in that context for his mission to the nations. The parallel with Isaiah's call in Isaiah 6 becomes all the more stunning when it is realised that the risen Lord Jesus takes the roll of 'the Lord God Almighty' in directing Paul and warning him about the opposition he will receive (cf. the recollection of Is. 6:9-10 in Acts 28:24-28) (The Acts of the Apostles, Pillar New Testament Commentary, page 604-605).
 There are further similarities when we compare the missions given by the Lord to both Isaiah and to Paul while he was in the temple (the underlined below is mine).
Isaiah 42:6-7
(6) I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations,
(7) To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. (NASB)
Acts 26:17-18
(17) rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
(18) to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (NASB)
 Notice as well that the Lord will watch over Isaiah (Isaiah 42:6) and in like manner rescue Paul (Acts 26:17). The nations (Isaiah 42:6) to whom the light will be sent refers to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17). Before their conversion they were prisoners in the dungeon (Isaiah 42:7) which means they were under the dominion of Satan (Acts 26:18). That God called Isaiah to bring them out (Isaiah 42:7) parallels the message Paul would preach of being forgiven/set free from one's sins by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18).


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Romans 10:12-14

(12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
(13) For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
(14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (ESV)
     1. Peter Pett: That the noun LORD here refers to Jesus Christ and not to God the Father is apparent:
          1) From the previous confession in the context that ‘Jesus is LORD’ (Romans 10:9).
          2) From the applying of a verse of Scripture which has ‘the LORD’ in mind to the Messiah (Romans 10:11; compare Romans 9:33).
          3) From the following verses where a closely linked reference is made to calling on Him in whom they have believed (Romans 10:14), which, from what has been said previously, clearly refers to Jesus Christ (the whole chapter is about believing in Jesus Christ).
So unless we totally cut Romans 10:12-21 off from Romans 10:1-11 it is clear that Romans 10:12-21 also have Jesus Christ in mind, just as Romans 10:1-11 do. Besides the citation would be pointless otherwise, for if we take it to refer to God the Father the Jews would have claimed that they already ‘called on the name of the LORD’, (even if not from a believing heart). Paul’s whole point is that by accepting Jesus as LORD, Scriptures referring to ‘the LORD’ can be applied to Him, and that the Jews have failed to recognise this and to call upon Him for salvation.
     2. Daniel Whedon: By call upon, is meant, praying to. So Stephen, in Acts 7:59; and so Acts 9:14, and Romans 10:13. This last text, in particular, shows that the phrase means prayer in its highest sense as to God, and is a very conclusive proof that the very mark of a Christian, in Paul's view, was truly praying to Christ, as that of a Jew was blaspheming him, and that of a Gentile was worshipping idols.

     3. R. St. John Parry: τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους...for invoking Jehovah as the God of Abraham, Israel, etc. The phrase is therefore a natural consequence of using the term Κύριος of Jesus, and has the same significance (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges, Romans).


     4. See the very insightful paper by Joel D. Estes in Themelios:



1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. (ESV)

 Those who call on the name of the Lord (Zephaniah 3:9) are referred to by God as "My worshipers" (Zephaniah 3:10). Therefore, those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus are His "worshipers" (1 Corinthians 1:2).

   To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. (ESV)
 Those who call on the name of the Lord (Zephaniah 3:9) are referred to by God as "My worshipers" (Zephaniah 3:10). Therefore, those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus are His "worshipers" (1 Corinthians 1:2).
     1. R. T. France: It is striking first to note the 'definition' of Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:2 as 'those who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'. Not only does the phrase itself indicate that prayer to Jesus was a normal and distinguishing characteristic of Christians in the 50's, but 'to call on the name of the Lord' is a regular OT formula for worship and prayer offered to God (Gen. 4:26, 13:4; Ps. 105:1; Jer. 10:25; Joel 2:32, etc.) ("The Worship of Jesus - A Neglected Factor In Christological Debate?", Vox Evangelica 12, c.1981, pages 19-33 -> The quote here appears on page 28 under 3. "The Letters of Paul").
     2. Ceslas Spicq: "Let every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord," that is, God. Such is the object of faith profession and worship: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Henceforth, Christians are those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, who worship his divine majesty and implore his sovereign protection (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, 2:350, Lord).
     3. Richard Watson: In both the Old and New Testament, to call upon the name of the Lord, imports invoking the true God in prayer, with a confession that he is Jehovah, that is, with an acknowledgment of his essential and incommunicable attributes. In this view the phrase is applied to the worship of Christ (Watson's Biblical and Theological Dictionary, Call).
     4. A. T. Robertson and Alfred Plummer: This goes back to Joel 2.32, and involves the thought of faith, the common bond of all. See Rom. 10.12, 13. Here, as there, St. Paul significantly brings in the worship of Christ under the O.T. formula for worship addressed to the LORD God of Israel. To be a believer is to worship Christ (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, page 3).


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2 Timothy 2:22
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (NASB)
     1. To call upon the name of the Lord in reference to the Lord Jesus[*1] means to pray to Him.
     2. Notice how the purity of heart corresponds to a good/clear conscience in the worship of the Lord. 
1 Timothy 1:5
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (NASB)
2 Timothy 1:3
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. (NASB)
2 Timothy 2:22
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (NASB)
          a. Matthew Henry: See the character of Christians: they are such as Observe, Christ is to be prayed to. It is the character of all Christians that they call upon him; but our prayers to God and Christ are not acceptable nor successful except they come out of a pure heart. 
          b. C. Maurer: Calling on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tm. 2:22) is the same as worship with a clear conscience (2 Tm. 1:3). In the formal speech of the Pastorals the pure conscience is the total standing of the Christian. This is particularly plain when the difference between the life of the Christian and that of the heretic is formulated in compendious confessions (TDNT 7:918, synoida).
 Two points are worth mentioning: 
                    1. Calling on the Lord Jesus from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22) is the same as worshiping God with a clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3). The Greek word for "serve" in 2 Timothy 1:3 is latreuo. This demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is the proper recipient of latreuo.
                    2. Since latreuo is properly due unto God alone[*2] Christians worship the Lord Jesus as God while heretics denies such actions to Him as God.


[*1] The "Lord" in 2 Timothy 2:22 refers to the Lord Jesus. 
     1. Joseph Thayer: citing 2 Timothy 2:22 it reads: epikaloumai to onoma tou kuriou, I call upon (on my behalf) the name of the Lord, i.e. to invoke, adore, worship, the Lord, i.e. Christ (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, epikaleo, page 239).


[*2] James Hope Moulton and George Milligan: In Biblical Greek always refers to the service of the true God or of heathen deities (The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, copyright 1982, page 371).


James 5:14
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (NASB)
      1. Ralph P. Martin: The "name of the Lord" also gives this practice its thoroughly Christian character (Adamson, 198), though the precise nuance to be given to the expression ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου is debated. The opinions are (i) as one commissioned by the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 5:4); (ii) by calling on the name of the Lord (Heitmuller, Im Namen Jesu, 86-87; Bietenhard, TDNT 5:277); (iii) by appealing to the power released by the name (so Mussner, 220-21, citing Luke 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10; 9:34); though options (ii) and (iii) can be combined. If so, it seems certain that "the Lord" is Jesus, reverting to vv 5f., and it is the power of the heavenly Lord (2:1) that is at work in the ministrations of the elders (James, Word Biblical Commentary, page 208).
      2. L. Hartman: According to v. 14 anointing of the sick should be carried out "in the name of the Lord," i.e., probably, on the summons of and appeal to the Christ who heals the sick (cf. v. 15b) (EDNT 2:521, onoma).
      3. BDAG (3rd Edition): The elders are to anoint the sick with oil while calling on the name of the Lord (onoma, page 713).

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Rom 10:1-21
(1)  Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
(2)  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
(3)  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
(4)  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
(5)  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
(6)  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
(7)  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
(8)  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
(9)  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

(10)  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(11)  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

(12)  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
(13)  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(14)  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

(15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
(16)  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
(17)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(18)  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
(19)  But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
(20)  But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
(21)  But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Truly a passage well worth highlighting...

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I think it is important to make known how the Greek word kyrios is rendered in the New World Translation by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Acts 9:14, 21; 22:16 and Romans 10:14 do not contain the word kyrios, but calling on the name of the Lord is certainly meant.


Acts 2:21 Jehovah

Acts 7:59 Lord

Acts 9:14 "Your name" (in reference to Jesus)

Acts 9:21 "this name"(in reference to Jesus)

Acts 22:16 "His name" (in reference to Jesus)

Romans 10:12 Lord (in reference to Jehovah)

Romans 10:13 Jehovah

Romans 10:14 "Him" (in reference to Jehovah)

1 Corinthians 1:2 Lord

2 Timothy 2:22 Lord

James 5:14 Jehovah


 Based on the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses it is clear that when calling on the name of the Lord (or similar expressions) is used in reference to Jehovah then it means either praying to or worshiping Him, but when the expression is used of the Lord Jesus then it doesn't mean to pray to or worship Him. The Jehovah's Witnesses will not allow this because they think it is wrong to pray to and/or worship the Lord Jesus. 


Acts 2:21 (Pray to and worship Jehovah)

Awake!: One of the most important prerequisites of salvation is to turn to the true God, whose name is Jehovah, pray to him and worship him.—Acts 2:21. (Does Fate Govern Your Life?, November 8, 1981, see the 4th to the last paragraph)



Acts 7:59 (To Jesus, but do not pray to or worship Him)

 The Jehovah's Witnesses in the past believed that Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus, but today they affirm that he wasn't praying to Jesus because he was experiencing a vision.


They do believe that a prayer is being made by Stephen in Acts 7:60, but it is in reference to Jehovah.



Acts 9:14 (To Jesus, but no advocation of praying to or worshiping Him)

The Watchtower: The first-century Christians baptized in Jesus’ name, cured in his name, taught in his name, called on his name, suffered for his name, and magnified his name.—Acts 2:38; 3:16; 5:28; 9:14, 16; 19:17. (The Name That Leads to True Faith, December 1, 1998)



Acts 9:21 (To Jesus, but no advocation of praying to or worshiping Him)

The Watchtower: But now he himself was preaching that the same despised felon impaled for blasphemy was the Messiah! Had Saul gone mad?—Acts 9:1, 2, 20-22. (Saul's Preaching Excites Hostility, January 15, 2005)



Acts 22:16 (To Jesus, but no advocation of praying to or worshiping Him)

The Watchtower: And Ananias urged Saul of Tarsus: “Rise, get baptized and wash your sins away by your calling upon [Jesus’] name.” (Acts 22:12-16) (What Prevents You From Getting Baptized?, January 15, 1989, see section 15)



Romans 10:12 (Pray to Jehovah)

The Watchtower: JEHOVAH GOD says: “The One planting the ear, can he not hear?” (Ps. 94:9) Anyone, small or great, who prays to him sincerely from the heart, can be fully confident that his petition will be given God’s interested attention. The Bible tells us: “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him.”—Rom. 10:12. (Approaching God in Prayer, September 15, 1976)



Romans 10:13 (Worship Jehovah)

a. The Watchtower: The Scriptures give the assurance that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13; Joel 2:32) Will you call on the divine name in faith as a devoted worshiper of Jehovah? (What Is Your Attitude Toward God's Name?, February 1, 1980, see the last paragraph)


b. The Jehovah's Witnesses used to apply Romans 10:13 unto the Lord Jesus.

The Watchtower: There are verses in the Hebrew Scriptures about Jehovah that are quoted in the “New Testament” in a context speaking about the Son. (Isa. 40:3—Matt. 3:3—John 1:23; Joel 2:32 - Rom. 10:13; Ps. 45:6, 7—Heb. 1:8, 9) (Theologian's Stumble Over God's Name, May 1, 1978, page 12).   


c. And previous to that they applied Romans 10:13 unto Jehovah.

1977 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses: While buildings in a way cause a witness to be given, effective witnessing includes teaching people from the Word of God. That is why during the service year much encouragement was given to all of Jehovah’s Witnesses to try to improve in their personal methods of communicating with others about the truth, in harmony with Romans 10:13-15: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ (The Kingdom Work)


In 1977 kyrios referred to Jehovah.

In 1978 kyrios referred to Jesus.

And by at least 1980 kyrios once again referred to Jehovah.

 Instead of the light of the Watchtower that grows brighter and brighter (Proverbs 4:18), it is far more accurate to say that their light strongly resembles what is described in Job 10:22.


Romans 10:14 (Worship Jehovah)

2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses: We have the hope of salvation and the commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom so that others too may worship Jehovah and share our hope. (Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:13, 14; 1 Thess. 5:8) (A Letter From the Governing Body, see the 2nd paragraph)



1 Corinthians 1:2 (To Jesus, but no advocation of praying to or worshiping Him)



James 5:14 (Pray to Jehovah)

The Watchtower: But you can feel better when you go to an elder and he prays to Jehovah about your problem. (James 5:14, 15) ("You Need Endurance", June 15, 2015, see the 4th to the last paragraph)


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2 Timothy 2:22

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (NASB)


 The reason why I separated 2 Timothy 2:22 from the other passages is because I am unsure if the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the "Lord" refers to the Father or to the Lord Jesus. Based on their writings it seems Lord applies to both. Perhaps others can chime in if I am misunderstanding what they mean. The bold face below is mine. Here goes...


AThe "Lord" refers to the Lord Jesus.

     1. The New World Translation renders κύριον as "Lord" and not "Jehovah."


 I am aware there are times in the NWT that "Lord" refers to the Father (Romans 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:8), but for the most part it seems to be in reference to the Lord Jesus. 

     2. When both κύριος and κυρίου are used in the immediate context the NWT translates both of them as "Jehovah" in reference to the Father (2 Timothy 2:19).


     3. When κυρίου is used in 2 Timothy 2:24 the NWT reads "Lord."


 And they teach that the "Lord" refers to the Lord Jesus.

The Watchtower: I learned that a true follower of Jesus “needs to be gentle toward all.”—2 Tim. 2:24. (A Poor Start—A Rich Ending, May 18, 2018)


 The kyrios

 2:19 Jehovah (x2)

 2:22 Lord

 2:24 Lord

 Based on the fact that "Jehovah" had already been used (twice) just a few passages earlier in reference to the Father (2:19) and that "Lord" is used only two passages later in reference to Jesus (2:24) it seems safe to conclude that kyrios refers to the Lord Jesus in 2:22.

     4. Insight on the Scriptures: Bible writers in addressing fellow believers or describing followers of Christ used expressions such as “believers in the Lord,” “brothers” and “disciples” (Ac 5:14;6:3; 15:10), “chosen ones” and “faithful ones” (Col 3:12; 1Ti 4:12), “slaves to God” and “slaves of Christ Jesus” (Ro 6:22; Php 1:1), “holy ones,” “congregation of God,” and "those who call upon the Lord." (Ac 9:13; 20:28; 1Co 1:1:2; 2 Ti 2:22) (Christian, see the 3rd paragraph)


  It would be rather confusing to have the singular "Lord" refer to two different beings without mentioning any differentiation between them - especially since the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the difference involves the Almighty Creator to that of a created being. Since the "Lord" in 1 Corinthians 1:2 refers to the Lord Jesus it follows that He is the same Lord being referred to in 2 Timothy 2:22.


B. The Lord refers to the Father.

     1. The Watchtower: If you are looking for a partner in life, then, where will you start? May it be among active fellow worshipers of Jehovah, those who share your goals in life and who have a keen desire to serve him forever. (2 Timothy 2:22) (Are You Looking for a Partner in Life?, November 15, 1986, see the last paragraph)


     2. The Watchtower: If the heart is filled with unclean thoughts or fantasies, how can one call upon Jehovah God in prayer out of a pure heart?—1 Tim. 5:2; 2 Tim. 2:22. (Beware of Adulterous Leanings!, September 1, 1973, see the 5th to the last paragraph)




 Based on the above the most logical thing to do is to affirm that the Lord Jesus is Jehovah. This would be the correct biblical thing to do as well.

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Genesis 21:33

Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. (NASB)


When one "called on the name of the Lord" in the Old Testament it referred to praying to YHWH as "the Everlasting God." Notice as well that Isaiah 40:28[*1] expands on these two phrases to include "the Creator of the ends of the earth."[*2]

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable. (NASB)


 Thus to call on the name of the Lord in reference to the Lord Jesus means that He is to be prayed[*3] to as:

 (1) YHWH

 (2) The Everlasting God

 (3) The Creator



[*1] Paul would also cite from this very same chapter of Isaiah and apply the "Lord (YHWH)" of Isaiah 40:13 (LXX) unto the Lord Jesus in 1 Corinthians 2:16.

     a. The Expositor's Greek Testament: Paul translates the νοῦν κυρίου of Isaiah into his own νοῦν χριστοῦ; to him these minds are identical (cf. Matthew 11:27, John 5:20, etc.). Such interchanges betray his “innermost conviction of the Godhead of Christ” 


      b. Peter Pett: It hardly need to be pointed out that here the mind of Christ is equated with the mind of the Lord of the Old Testament, the mind of Yahweh, in such a way as to indicate their oneness. Paul is in no doubt concerning the full Godhood of Jesus.

      c. John Gill:  but we have the mind of Christ; the same with "the mind of the Lord" which proves that Christ is the Lord, or Jehovah, and so truly and properly God; and which is to be understood, not only of the apostles and ministers of the Gospel, but of all true believers


[*2] He "does not become weary or tired" which speaks of His omnipotence. 

     "His understanding is inscrutable" which speaks of His omniscience.

       Both of these apply unto the Lord Jesus since He is the Lord that is to be called upon in prayer.      


[*3] Calling upon the name of the Lord involves "taking hold" (Hebrew: chazaq) of God in worship (Isaiah 64:7). This can also be improperly done unto idols (1 Kings 9:9). So when the Lord Jesus is called upon this demonstrates that He is being taken hold of in worship.

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